#WriterWednesday- Interview with Chicki Brown!

This week I am happy to introduce you guys to one of my writing mentors, Chicki Brown! I met Chicki at Writer’s Workshop that was held at my local library in 2010 when I started writing. Chicki was kind enough to take me under her wing and bring me into her critique group, introducing me to several other very talented women. She guided me as I floundered around, trying to find my writing voice and style. This was just about the time she self-published her first book, Have You Seen Her? I’ve had the privileged of watching Chicki continue to grow as an author, friend, and mentor. So grab that cup of coffee and take a few moments to get to know Chicki Brown!

My Author Photo 

What inspired you to write?

Honestly, it was pure boredom. At the time I worked on a job that was so slow that I was desperate to find something to do to keep myself awake. When I’m bored, my mind wanders, and the idea for a short story about an interracial couple popped into my head. I hadn’t written anything in two decades, but once I started I couldn’t stop. That short story turned into a four-hundred-page manuscript I entitled, Lyrics. I never published the story, because it required too much work to make it publisher-ready.

What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?

I write contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and inspirational romance. There are the genres I read, so I suppose they chose me.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

 I get up around six AM, make a cup of tea and go through my e-mail and check my online sales numbers for the previous day. Next, I go to my social networks and respond to messages, retweet for followers and post book promos for the day. That all usually takes about two hours. Around eight o’clock, I’ll shut everything down, make my second cup of tea, read my Bible or daily devotionals and pray before I start writing.

For the rest of the morning I write/research, break for lunch then write until I have to break to fix dinner. After dinner I watch TV or read until I crash, because by then my brain is so fried I’m useless.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

This probably isn’t all that interesting, but I have to work with music. Complete quiet stifles my creativity. Vocals are distracting when I’m writing, so I listen to smooth jazz, New Age or classical instrumentals. When I work out in a public place, my headphones are standard equipment.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I am definitely a plotter. My normal process when I begin writing a new book is to start with a general outline, fill out character profiles for each of my main characters, find photos that represent what the characters look like, where they live, what they drive, etc. and create a collage. This helps me to keep everything fresh in my mind. Recently I even purchased a copy of Scrivener, a well-known writing software program to help me with my plotting ways.

MJ: I must say thank you again, Chicki, for staying on me about the panster thing! I remember numerous conversations on the phone and in your car about why I should stop flying by the seat of my pants and plot it out! When I did, I really did see a difference. Now I can’t write any other way!  J

Are your stories based on experiences or someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the character/stories you write? Can you share an example?

I have included some childhood memories in my stories and have thrown in a character or two based on someone famous. For instance, in Have You Seen Her? Dani Reynolds recalls happy days as a young girl with her family in Atlantic City, one of my father’s favorite places to take our family when I was young. In Hot Fun in the Summertime, Kinnik was loosely patterned after an infamous former video dancer who made a name for herself by sleeping with famous rappers and music moguls.

Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become better writers? If so, what are they?

I talk to a lot of aspiring authors online, and the main point I always try to stress is that being a published author is a business and it is a LOT of work, particularly when you are self-published. They will need to learn how to go from creative mode to analytical mode, from artist to businessperson in order to do the necessary e-book formatting, marketing, promoting, accounting tasks. As authors we thrive when we’re in the creative zone, but the business tasks can’t be ignored.

Getting the story down on paper is only the start. They need to learn as much about the craft and about the industry before they jump out there. Things are changing in the publishing industry at the speed of light, and if they don’t know what’s going on, someone will inevitably take advantage of them.

If they understand the basics of their genre and sub-genre and the basics of how the publishing business works, they will have a much better chance at success.

MJ: Great advice! Yes, being aware that being an author is more than just writing, it’s about marketing and selling your product (yes, once it’s published, it’s a product!) and time management – and that’s before you add in real-life responsibilities – is something every aspiring author needs to know. Learning that too late can make the dream of becoming a published author turn into a quick nightmare! Thanks for the warning! J

Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?

After trying to go the traditional route for almost ten years, I made the decision to self-publish. Back in 2008-2009 I had been following the rise of electronic publishing and was fascinated by author Joe Konrath’s Great E-book Experiment (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/08/great-ebook-experiment.html.)  The more I learned about his success, the more I wanted to try it for myself. I released Have You Seen Her? which was actually the sixth book I’d written, onto Kindle in 2010. It became my bestselling book up until the release of Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.

What are your current projects?

 I had an idea about writing a family story about a large family with several sons. As I began searching online for pictures that represented my idea of each of the sons, I ended up with eight men that looked similar enough to be related. Eight was too many, so I cut it back to six and decided that each brother would have his own story.
The patriarch of the Stafford Family is a successful doctor who wanted all of his sons to follow in his footsteps. Three of them went into medicine. The youngest has just finished college with an undergraduate degree focusing on pre-med courses, but is still undecided about making medicine his life. Only two of them went against the grain – Greg, who became an on-air television host and Marc, who went as far from traditional medicine as he possibly could.

A Woman’s Worth, the first book in the series, is Marc Stafford’s book. He is a personal trainer and raw vegan who lives in Las Vegas.

AWW REVISED COVER

When Marc comes home to Atlanta for the first time in four years for a family celebration, he meets Gianne Marvray, a woman who hijacks his heart. He soon discovers she’s recovering from a catastrophic illness and that she is his father’s patient. I can’t tell you too much more without giving spoilers. J I anticipate a late summer release

Where can readers find you online?

Blog      Twitter     Facebook     Amazon Central Author Page     Pinterest

Thank you so much for stopping by!

MJ

Authors Delaney Diamond and Chicki Brown Discuss Love, Romance, and e-Books!

Love, romance, and e-Books…what a combination. It’s also a hot topic for romance writers and readers everywhere.
Last week, I had the privilege of joining my critique partner, Chicki Brown, and GRW author, Delaney Diamond, as they hosted a meeting at the Fulton County Library to address the topic. Both authors have first-hand knowledge of the subject.

E-Book or tree-book; that is the question. I’d never heard of traditional books being called tree-books, but it does make sense after all. With the popularity of Kindle, Nook, and a myriad of other e-readers, book lovers have a wide variety of choices as to how they want to read. Some people consider the book-sized electronic readers a blessing, because they can carry every book they own in their purse or pockets. Others prefer the weight, texture and feel of traditional books in the palm of their hands. Whichever format you prefer, e-Books are here to stay! 
Another highlight to the evening was information shared on the history of the romance genre. First of all, it is one of the most popular genres available. Moreover, unlike other genres, Romance has a plethora of sub-genres, such as romantic suspense, romantic comedies, chick-lit, interracial/multicultural romance, women’s fiction, erotic romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, science fiction romance, military romance…and the list keeps growing! No matter what you prefer, it’s out there. Long gone are the traditional ‘bodice rippers’ your grandmother used to read. Today’s heroines are not damsels in distress waiting for the strapping hunk of a man to come along and rescue them. Today’s woman is strong, goes for what she wants, is not afraid to be alone and still be content. She’s a woman that is capable rescuing her man if he needs it. They hold jobs, take care of house, kids, and continue to be the ultimate lovers. These novels are not just written for women. Men are reading them as well. 
Let’s face it people, at the end of the day (or night) who doesn’t want a little bit of romance in their lives? It’s human nature! 
Another fact about the genre, one I was not aware of, was shared by Delaney Diamond, something she picked up from author Maya Rodale. As most readers know, romance novels have long held a stigma causing lovers of the genre to ‘hide’ their books for fear of what may be thought of them. Authors, as well, have endured ridicule for writing what some consider ‘book porn’. 
Where did this come from? Are all romance novels overtly steamy? Are the stories about nothing but sex? What about relationships? Life outside of the bedroom?
Visit this link, Dangerous Books for Girls: the Bad Reputation of Romance Novels,Explained, for some eye-opening information about the genre. 
 
Author Chicki Brown, who is also one of my critique partners, published her first book, Have You Seen Here? in 2010. Her journey to publishing started long before then…back in 2001. What began as a hobby turned into a dream in 2002 when she was laid off her job.
For seven years she queried and dealt with those dreaded rejection letters. Several years – and two agents later – she decided to take a stab at self-publishing. Have You Seen Here? was published through Amazon and various other e-Book formats and has seen much success. In 2011, SORMAG (Shades of Romance Magazine) voted her Author of the Year. The magazine also awarded Have You Seen Here? as the Fiction Book of the Year. 
Since the publication of her first book, Chicki has published four more novels and been a part of an anthology, The WG2E All-For-Indies Anthologies: Viva La Valentine Edition
To learn more about Chicki Brown, visit her blog, Sisterscribbler, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For her books, click this link to go to her Amazon Author page. 


Next up was Author, Delaney Diamond. Delaney has a different story. Not only has she been published by a publishing house, she’s also self-published some of her books. Let me explain.

Writing had not always been her goal. She won several short story competitions while in high school, but her career focused on other pursuits. Years later, after taking a trip with some friends, she decided to write. Those first works have not been published. As with most writers, our first works are practice for perfecting our craft and may never see the light of day. In 2009, Delaney visited the Decatur Book Festival. After visiting the Georgia Romance Writers booth, she decided to join and give writing another try. After joining GRW in January 2010, her first book, The Arrangement – the lead book in her Hot Latin Men Series – was published in November 2010. The books have been nominated for Best Series in the 2011 Swirl Awards

Three books later, Delaney created The Hawthorne Family Series, which surprisingly was not picked up by her publisher. Undeterred by the rejection, she decided to self-publish. As a result, it has seen much success, proving readers are the ones who determine what they want to read, not the publishers. Book two, A Hard Man to Love, hit #1 on the Amazon Multicultural Romance Bestseller’s List and was one of the top 20 on the Contemporary Romance Bestseller’s List. 
To learn more about Delaney Diamond, visit her website, Delaney Diamond.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter. For her books, visit this link to go to her Amazon Author’s page
Don’t have access to a Kindle or Nook? Don’t worry, you can still purchase an e-book! Sites like Amazon offer free downloadable applications for your blackberry, ipad, androids, pc, and mac. If your nervous about purchasing an e-book without testing the features of the application, do a quick search for free books and grab a few. Don’t be surprised if you see one of your favorite authors offering their book for free for a limited time. You’ll be glad you did!

MJ

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