Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Author Interview: Christine Bell (a.k.a. Chloe Cole)

Posted by Laurielu Bona Fide Reflections at 6:42 AM
Welcome Christine Bell to Bona Fide Reflections. She has the dubious honor of being my first author interview. I am very excited and honored to have this experience with her. At the end of the interview with Christine, please leave be kind enough to leave a comment. She has generously offered to give away one of her books of the winner's choosing.  The giveaway will close at noon on September 14, 2011. I have previously written a review of one of Christine's books, A Twisted Tale of Stormy Gayle if you are interested in viewing it. I sincerely hope you enjoy the interview.

Laurielu: When did you start writing and how did you get started?
Christine: I started writing romance in December of 2009. I wrote my first novella, Pray, in during that month, and subbed it to Harlequin’s Nocturne Bites line. Then, I just kept on writing while I waited. I’m the type of person that never does anything halfheartedly, so I wrote a LOT. I also got involved in a bunch of different forums about writing, and really tried to just immerse myself in learning, taking workshops, reading, connecting with other writers etc. In Feb. of 2010 I met some aspiring authors on the E-Harlequin forum Write Stuff, looking to form a crit group. Best. Move. Ever. I learned so much and we all really clicked. I quickly realized, with my CP’s help, that Pray (and all of my other works in progress) had a lot of new author mistakes. By July of 2010 I had completed six manuscripts and revamped Pray entirely. I got my first contract offer on July 4th, from Cobblestone Press for Pray. From then on it’s been kind of a whirlwind. I now have 12 books with four different publishers.

Laurielu:  Is there a place you go for inspiration to write? If so, where and why?

Christine: Although I love to travel and it helps me get ideas about setting etc., I’m actually not the type of writer who waits for inspiration. Mainly because inspiration is both fleeting and fickle. I need to write a certain amount of words a day in order to feel like I’m doing my job. And as much as I love it, I do look at it as a job. If I didn’t, I really wouldn’t stand a chance of supporting myself entirely on my writing, which is the goal for me. I get my word count, whether I’m feeling inspired or not, and 90% of the time, even if I start out feeling lackluster, by the end things are flowing and I don’t want to stop. So I guess you could say that writing inspires me to write more, lol! 

That said, I can’t write when the TV is on, or music is playing or people are talking. I lose focus too easily, so I love to write in my bedroom. With four boys, a husband and two dogs, it’s the only place in the house that’s quiet! 

Laurielu: Who was your favorite character to write and why did you like that character?

Christine: Stormy (the main character in The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale) is my favorite character to write. So much so that, even though I hadn’t planned on it originally, it will now be a series! Carina Press has just acquired the second book. I love her because she’s adventurous, really dry and funny, but she’s also flawed and feels very genuine to me. I’ve had people say that they wish she was real because they would love to be friends and hang out with her. That is the best compliment ever!

Laurielu: Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Which one and what is it about them that is most like you? 

Christine: I think I write aspects of myself into every character. It’s almost inevitable that what you see through your own lens ends up on the page somewhere, in some small way. Stormy can’t choose her favorite color and tries to shield herself with humor. She values honesty and loyalty more than any other quality and is very protective of her loved ones. Mila from Tempting Trent tries to act really tough and cool but in truth is really a bleeding heart deep down. Holly from Naughty Godmother tries to act like she doesn’t care, but in reality, she desperately wants people to like her and approve of her. Those are all traits (and sometimes flaws or quirks) of mine. I write other people’s traits into my characters too. If I find something interesting or funny about someone I know, it will definitely find its way into my books. I also write traits that I covet. Fearlessness, confidence, steely self-discipline etc. Then I get to live vicariously through my characters, since I have none of those traits in real life! 

Laurielu: Has writing changed the way you read? 

Christine: Ugh, yes. I hate it, too. When you spend most of your day actively looking for mistakes, better word choices, awkward sentences, information dumps, too many adverbs, dialogue tags, plot holes etc. in your own work, it’s really difficult to turn that off when reading someone else’s. Before, I was a voracious reader and never left a book unfinished. Now, I leave them unfinished a lot. I still find books I love so much that my internal editor just shuts down, but it’s not nearly often enough for my liking. Definitely one of the biggest downsides of being an author. 

Laurielu: Are you able to read while you are writing your books? If so, what books inspire you when you are working on a novel or novella?

Christine: Yep, I read all the time. It’s my break from reality. I am often inspired when I read something really awesome or love an aspect of a book and it drives me to work on that in my own writing. For example, Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels has the most sensual, tense scenes long before the characters consummate their relationship. It’s a regency romance and, in it, there is a scene where hero takes off the heroine’s glove in a public place. It’s done so well that, with just the removal of this glove, your heart is pounding. It makes me very conscious of tension in my own work, and I strive to be better. Cari Quinn writes the most visceral love scenes. Super super steamy, all the senses involved, and I envy that. When I read her, it makes me pay closer attention when writing my love scenes. Inez Kelley’s wit combined with emotion, Dee Tenorio’s dark, angst-y characters, Julia Knight’s world-building, Lisa Hendrix’s amazing historical sensibilities, all those things that inspire me.

Laurielu: What are some of your favorite books and authors?

Chrisitine: Lord of Scoundrels mentioned above, If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon, Sweet at Sin by Inez Kelley, Ten Ruby Trick by Julia Knight, Deceiving the Protector by Dee Tenorio. I also love Nora Roberts, JR Ward, J.K. Rowling, Shannon Stacey and many more.

Laurielu: What are you reading right now?
Christine:Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase.

Please don't forget to leave a comment to enter in the giveaway of one of Christine Bell's books. Thank you for taking the time to read the interview and to leave a comment.  The winner can choose one of the books pictured above or anything on Christine's website www.christine-bell.com.  Just click the Books tab one her site for a complete list of both Christine Bell books or her steamier Chloe Cole selections

~~~ Nissie from Riverina Romantics won this giveaway!!! Congrats, Nissie! ~~~

Happy Reading from Bona Fide Reflections!!


Anonymous said...

Very nice interview. Mrs. Bell mentioned newbie mistakes...can you name a few of them? I'm curious as to the type of mistakes new authors often make.

Sharon on September 13, 2011 at 7:40 AM said...

great questions and answers! I have never heard of this author and now I want to read her :) I get distracted easily too. I have to have complete quiet to do any sort of writing. Having 4 boys a husband and two dogs and finding time to write?! I bow down to your awesomeness Ms. Bell .

Magda on September 13, 2011 at 7:44 AM said...

Great interview!!
I've seen her book, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, on a couple of my friends lists. Might give it a shot although I've never read any steampunk.

Blue Shedevil on September 13, 2011 at 8:01 AM said...

You did it and it was great! I know what Christine means about correcting editing problems while trying to enjoy reading a book. It is very annoying. Stormy sounds like my kind of heroine, I might have to add to my humongous TBR pile again.

jackie b central texas on September 13, 2011 at 8:01 AM said...

Very nice to meet you Ms. Bell, sounds like you have grounded your feet firmly by making your writing what it is, a job.

Laurie thanks for the invite it is always nice to find a new to me author and one who has multiple books out is even better!


_yay_ on September 13, 2011 at 8:09 AM said...

I love hearing about an author's writing process / setting. I'm not one myself, but while writing my thesis, I HAD to have noise around me Lots. I loved writing to music. Weird, huh? I also find it very cool that you are strict with yourself when it comes to deadlines / how many words you want to write per day. I never thought about it this way, but it IS work. Kudos to you for being focused!
Funny that you mentioned Loretta Chase. Her books were among the first historicals I ever read.
Great interview!
If the giveaway is international, count me in:
GFC: _yay_

Elena on September 13, 2011 at 8:15 AM said...

Interesting Interview! Great Job sweetie!

I'm just here supporting a great blogger.



Book Savvy Babe on September 13, 2011 at 9:14 AM said...

Excellent interview! Christine, I can't believe you get any writing done with four boys around! I have 2 boys, and they are always very loud and very active! Anyhow, thanks so much for the contest! Book Savvy Babe
booksavvybabe at gmail dot com

Madame D on September 13, 2011 at 9:29 AM said...

Great interview ladies!! I've not read any of Chloe's books but I'll be sure to check them out ;)

ParaJunkee on September 13, 2011 at 9:45 AM said...

Awesome interview!

Bona Fide Reflections on September 13, 2011 at 10:19 AM said...

This comment is from Christine Bell:

Thanks so much for all the great comments everyone! And yes, contest is open to international as well!

Hey Scooper- As far as your question, some common new author mistakes are as follows, in no particular order:

Too much exposition- i.e. backstory. New authors often feel that the reader needs a wealth of information told to them right up front. That's almost never the case. Readers like to get their information in bite-sized pieces. Big information dumps are often skimmed over. Try to impart only the neccessary information at first and then sprinkle the rest in throughout the story. Also try to mix it up and use dialogue to express information as well, that way it's not just the author talking at the reader.

Bona Fide Reflections on September 13, 2011 at 10:19 AM said...

Cont from Christine Bell:

Too many dialogue tags and adverbs- Dialogue tags should be kept to a minimum. Their purpose is to A.) Let the reader know who is speaking IF it isn’t clear through context or B.) Assign emotion to the dialogue preceding it. Using “he said” “she said” after every sentence becomes extremely tedious for the reader. If, through context, it’s clear who is speaking, just leave it off. If you want to assign emotion to the dialogue, feel free to continue, but try not to use adverbs too much. It’s really easy to write:

“Just stop,” he said angrily.

But in reality, that’s the lazy way to go about it. Using the adverb to tell us how he’s feeling is cheating the reader out of getting the full experience. Paint a picture instead. Consider this alternative:

“Just stop,” he said through gritted teeth.

Or kill the tag altogether and do:

His jaw tensed and his gaze drilled into hers. “Just. Stop.”
She managed not to flinch at his clipped tone. Barely.

See what I mean? I’m not saying never use an adverb, I’m just saying consider other alternatives first. This is a great lead-in to the next one, which is show vs. tell. Newer authors often forget that most readers want to get lost in a book to the point that they can almost view it like a movie. In order to achieve that, the author should try to create a visual whenever possible rather than narrate what the characters are thinking, feeling etc.

As You Know, Bob- This is where the author has a character make a statement they would never make out loud in order to impart information to the reader but comes off as wooden and strange because the person they’re speaking to already knows it. For example, if your sister was divorced and penniless and you called her on the phone and asked her out to eat, your natural conversation would be like this, maybe:

“Hey, you wanna go to The Chicken Shack to grab dinner later?”
“Dude. You know I’m broke.”

In an effort to avoid backstory, the author might, erroneously, do this instead:
“Hey, you wanna go to The Chicken Shack to grab dinner later?”
“Well, as you know Sally, my husband left me for his secretary a few months ago and cleared out our savings accounts so I can’t afford to go out to eat.”

Sally already knows that, right? People who are familiar with one another don’t talk like that.
Better option would be:

“Hey, you wanna go to The Chicken Shack to grab dinner later?”
“Dude. You know I’m broke.”
“I’ll pay. Once you take that bastard to the cleaners in the divorce you can take me out.”

Okay, not perfect, but you get the idea.

Last new author mistake is characters calling one another by their names in dialogue. People don’t do that. Think of when you speak to your spouse. How often do you say his name? If I’m calling to my husband or trying to get his attention, it’s “Hon. Babe.”
If I am speaking with him, it’s…nothing. We just talk, sort of like this:

“What do you want for dinner?”
*shrug* “I don’t know. Chicken?”
*nods* “Okay, I’ll stop at the store. Need anything else?”

We don’t say:
“Chip, what do you want for dinner?”
*shrug* “I don’t know, Chris. Chicken?”
*nods* “Okay, Chip, I’ll stop at the store.”

It’s weird and stilted, you know? Save calling one another by name for when it matters, like in anger, or to make a point.

So that’s it, those were my new author mistakes, and think they are pretty (read, VERY) common.

Anonymous said...

Makes perfect sense. Thanks for getting back to me!

Anonymous said...

Hey hon!

I, too, hate how writing has changed how I read. However, I've met so many great authors now that I'm writing as well. I never would have discovered all this new talent if I hadn't gotten involved in the romance community.

Great interview. :)


Squeak - MamaMouse on September 13, 2011 at 12:40 PM said...

I really enjoyed reading the interview and the writing tips. My question for Ms. Bell is: How do you avoid the same wording in a hot steamy romance scenes? How do you keep it fresh?

Dorothy - Squeak
Squeak(dot)ak(at)gmail(dot) com
For Books – http://alaskanbookie.blogspot.com/
Twitter -->> @akchocoholic

Nora Weston on September 13, 2011 at 1:38 PM said...

Wonderful interview! Christine...your books sound fantastic. I need to print this comment thread for future reference!

Lupdilup on September 13, 2011 at 4:06 PM said...

Good job girl! Great interview.

ChristineBell on September 13, 2011 at 4:50 PM said...

Thanks so much for the great comments and the support everyone!

Hey Daisy- Thanks for stopping by. I totally agree, writing does open a whole new pool of authors to read, and, even better, meet and chat with. LOVE the romance community.

Squeak- re: your question about keeping things steamy without being repetitive, I do think that's a struggle. Here's how I look at it:
There are a limited amount of words and euphemisms we can use that both make sense, and don't incite snort-laughs. Certain words get used a lot, it's the nature of the beast. Fingers can blaze a trail, linger, press, slide, carress, trace etc. but if you have hundreds of love scenes, eventually you run out ways to say it. And still, each love scene can be a whole new experience even if we have to use a lot of the same words. I think of it like a painting. A color palette is limited. Sure, there are shades, but at the end of the day, there's red, blue, green, etc. It's how the painter puts them together that makes his or her painting unique. Even if we use the same words, no two love scenes should be the same, and moreover, you shouldn't be able to pull a love scene out of a book and slap it into another. There should be something that makes it distinctly belong to those characters.

Jodie Riverina Romantics on September 13, 2011 at 5:21 PM said...

Wow. Loved the interview and all the comments.

I have learned a lot.

Thank you so much and pretty please count me in for the giveaway.

riverinaromantics (at) gmail (dot) com

Jodie @ Riverina Romantics

Megan@Riverina Romantics on September 13, 2011 at 5:56 PM said...

Congrats on your first Interview! It was great!

ebaker on September 13, 2011 at 8:57 PM said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I love the cover for The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale : )

Nissie on September 13, 2011 at 10:14 PM said...

Great job on your first interview! I look forward to reading these books.

Sam S2 on September 14, 2011 at 6:03 AM said...

Oh Im so proud of you! That was an awesome interview and I really want to read these books!! GIMME GIMME!!

Love ya Laurie!

TinaBuriedUnderBooks on September 14, 2011 at 8:37 PM said...

Congratulations Laurie on your first interview-great job. I will be adding Christine Bell to my tbr list.


Anonymous said...

That was a frankly amazing writing!!