Thursday, 26 July 2012

Welcome self-published romance author, Charlotte Stout!!



1.      Welcome, Charlotte! I would love to learn more how you came to self-publishing. I think it is extremely honorable when an author decides to take their work and truly make it their own. I wouldn't have a clue where to start!
      
      Looking forward to learning more about you and your work...

When and why did you decide you wanted to be a published author?
I have been tinkering with the idea of becoming a published author for years.  When I said to myself, “okay girlfriend, if you are serious you better get some assistance,” I signed up for writing courses through Writer’s Digest.  This was back in the 90’s when technology was not as sophisticated as today and my assignments were sent in and returned to me, corrected with red ink mind you, by snail mail.

I was surprised how much I learned through the courses and how much I enjoyed them.  They required me to be focused and creative on a variety of topics. 

Then I wrote 120 pages of a book back in 1997.  I shared those 120 pages with two girlfriends.  Their reaction to the story was a huge confidence booster.  I decided at that time that I would definitely pursue writing but career got in the way and I didn’t get back to it until 2007 when my husband and I were living in Hong Kong for a year.  I wrote a book but never took steps to publish it.   

Recently (four years ago) I was unable to continue in the corporate world for medical reasons.  Life has a way of hitting you head-on with surprises all the time.  To say what happened was a shock is an understatement.  But I digress.

Once I was feeling strong enough to sit at my computer I decided now was the best time in my life to pursue this dream I have had for such a long time.  So, I fine-tuned and self-published Seattle Delight in July 2011.

2.      What is the best and worst thing you have learned from an editor/agent?
I haven’t worked with an agent and I have not worked with a professional editor.

My editors, critics and greatest supporters are my girlfriends and my husband.  They are the ones who slog through first drafts, second drafts and final copy.  They tell me, “Charlotte, this is crap; this is good; this doesn’t make any sense.” 

Even with my critics being close, close friends and my husband, it is hard hearing criticism about your work.  I am a normal person with an ego and that ego is sensitive.  I dislike the criticism but I know they mean well.  I take their comments to heart and I rework where I need to, discuss reasons why I disagree with a comment they may have and move forward. 

What I have learned through this process is to pull my big girl panties up and enjoy the give and take of good collaborative dialogue.

3.      Favorite authors?
I’m a romance gal who loves really hot guys and strong women in a story.   I don’t have an absolute favorite author.  It depends on what my mood is as to what I am reading at the moment.  I read so much that my favorite authors change from year to year.  Here is a list of some of my favorites, not in any particular order.

I love J R Ward and the BDB.  The men are hot, hot, hot and the women are not marshmallows.  The storylines draw you in and you want to stay for a long time.  I have found myself spending hours sitting outside reading and getting lost in the world of hunky vampires and the latest challenges awaiting them. 

Lynn Viehl is another author who is fabulously talented in her character development, storyline development and creating hot and delicious men who are attracted to strong women.  I keep track of when her next book is due for release and I always pre-order it. 

Laurann Dohner and her New Species series intrigues me.  I find the concept believable and horrifying at the same time.  She creates this fabulous “New Species” that we can’t help be attracted to.  They New Species men and women  are created and held captive in a medical facility until they are released by a special unit of our government. 

Having been a human resources executive for twenty-five years, I abhor discrimination and promote diversity and acceptance of everyone’s differences at all levels.  Laurann’s New Species books had me so angry at how these people, who were so different from “normal” people, were abused and harassed.  I enjoy how they triumph in every circumstance.  But getting to the triumph is a wild, hot and sensual ride.

Tess Gerritsen who writes the Rizzoli and Isles series is another author whose work I enjoy.  Her characters are strong, sharp, and her who-dun-it storylines are intriguing. 

4.    What is your typical day?
I have an eleven and a half year old silky terrier named Tess.  She is my alarm clock.  We are up by 6:00 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. without fail.  Even if I take her out to go potty at 4:30 a.m., in hopes of sleeping in until 7ish, she doesn’t tolerate that tactic.  When she wants to get up, we are up.

I normally read for an hour or more before I shower and have breakfast.  I check e-mail following breakfast and my dream is to be at my computer for the next several hours, alone, with no disturbances.  No phone, music, NPR, or friends please.  I pop out of my writing room for nourishment and drink only when I can’t tolerate the deprivation any longer. 

Alas, I have other commitments that tear me away from my computer, which is probably good or I’d be a hermit and very lonely.

My rising ritual is normally a constant in my life unless I need to be at the Mayo Clinic for a 6:30 a.m. procedure.  Don’t you think it should be considered torture to schedule appointments that early?  I do.  I live an hour and a half from the Mayo so, when I have appointments that early I don’t get my morning reading fix and that makes me cranky.

Besides frequent medical appointments thr0ughout the week, I volunteer, am studying French and squeeze in time to visit with friends or play a court game with girlfriends.  So, my days are eclectic. 

Since my illness I have made it a rule to shut down the brain not later than 6:00 p.m. and spend the evening reading, watching mindless television, exercising or visiting with girlfriends.  I normally retire between 10 and 10:30 to start the ritual all over again the next day.

5.      Who would you cast to play your hero and heroine in a movie?
Wow, you are making me think.  For Charly I would pick Tina Fey.  Tina is hilarious, adept at playing many different characters, is not wafer thin and is smart.  She’s strong, independent and yet quirky, which is how I envision Charly in Seattle Delight.  Charly is not a raving beauty. She is a wholesome girl with good values and morals but is a bit naïve.  I believe Tina would be able to embody those characteristics perfectly and convey the naiveté.  The only enhancement needed may be a curly wig.  I think Tina, as Charly would keep Julien a bit off balance.

For Julien, I would select Gilles Marini of DWTS fame, Brothers and Sisters television series and Sex and the City – The Movie.  He is French, hot and built.  Have you seen his abs and pecs.  I mean come on.  He is perfection.  His accent is perfect, his eyes would require blue contact lenses but other than that he is sex on legs – IMO.

6.     Did you plan this book, or write it as it came to you?
I don’t know how it happened, but I wrote the first draft of this book in a period of a couple of months while we were living in Hong Kong in 2007.  I didn’t plan it. I just went with where it led me. 

As I flushed out the story over many edits, I changed Julien from being a Seattleite to being from France.  That was a major change that required significant editing from page one.  It was almost like a total rewrite of the story.  In the end I wanted the book to be fun, funny, light and romantic and I believe I achieved that.

I normally get a story idea, flush it out by writing a first chapter and then create a brief outline of the story.  When I say a brief outline, think one page double spaced.  I don’t like feeling constrained by an outline.  I’m a free-spirit at heart.  I then follow the general outline, making changes along the way.

7.      What surprised you most when you became published?
I’ve done all of this on my own with only my husband’s help. What has surprised me the most is how much work is involved in getting the book published.  Professionals say that writing the book is the smallest part of the whole process and the easiest.  I now know of what they speak.

Navigating the self-publishing landscape on your own is quite daunting.  I am thankful my husband is somewhat technical or I would still be sitting at my desk with the book in a file folder on my computer trying to figure out what Godaddy is. 

If my husband, or anyone, starts talking technology to me my eyes glaze over and I travel to a distant planet.  For as much as technology plays a factor in our lives, I just don’t have an interest in how things work.  Give me my IPhone and computer. Tell me how to turn them on and use them and leave me alone.  If either stops working, buy a new one.  I don’t have the time or patience to figure out what is wrong with a printer, or why my computer IPhone won’t work.  Get the picture?

I asked friends to edit the book, we built the website charlotteastout.com and associated blog, had to decide where the website would be housed, the book cover, pricing, where and how to sell the book, and the list goes on ad infinitum.  All of these things take incredible amounts of time.  It’s the amount of time they take that surprised me.

Now that I have one book under my belt, I am hoping the process for the second book won’t be so time intensive.

8.     Do you have a dedicated writing space?  What does it look like?
I have a wonderful writing space.  There is something to be said for ensuring you have a space that inspires you.

When I wrote Seattle Delight I was living on the 38th floor of a high-rise condo complex in Hong Kong.  My writing space was a desk facing a large picture window that provided a view of Victoria Harbor, which separates downtown Hong Kong and Kowloon.  If that is not inspiring, I don’t know what would be, especially for romance.

My current writing space is a comfortable room tucked at the back of the house.  The room has bamboo wood floors and ten foot ceilings. My desk faces a large window looking out on a golf course.  It is quiet, private and with just the right amount of distraction as golfers periodically hit errant shots that slam holes in our stucco, dents in our barbecue or break windows.  However, those incidents are infrequent.

My space has a radio so I can listen to NPR while reading the paper, a television so I don’t have to watch what my husband wants to in the evenings, a long counter for spreading out my papers, built in cabinets and drawers to hide all my ‘stuff’, an easy chair with ottoman for my reading and lots of light.  The walls and built-in shelves are filled with mementos given to me by dear friends.  So, wherever I look in this room I am reminded of someone who is dear to me.

9.     What’s next for you?
I am looking forward to getting more involved in the online writing community.  I am fascinated by what I find in my searches for blogs, writers, writing groups, etc. and I want to continue my pursuits in this area.

I started a novel about a woman who wants her husband dead for a variety of reasons with a great opening and closing sentence.  The whole book is being written around those two sentences.  It is taking me places I never originally imagined.  It is a romantic suspense.

Two of my girlfriends read the first 120 pages of the above described book back in 1997 and have been asking me for the finished product ever since.  It was the first book I started and it may be the last one I complete at this pace.  Just kidding!

I also have a romantic suspense in its second round of editing.  I am hoping it will come out in July of this year.  It is about a woman who is being stalked from Minnesota to Alaska.  There is murder, mayhem, hunky guy and of course, sex. 

I am taking French lessons and plan a trip to France to write a sequel to Seattle Delight.  That will be forthcoming in the not too distant future. 

In closing I want to thank you again for taking the time to interview me and sponsor me on your blog.  Your interest and willingness to do this is so appreciated.

Bonne Journée
Charlotte



Seattle Delight
By
Charlotte Stout

BLURB:  

Charly’s life was simple and uncomplicated, just like she wanted it.  Or so she thought!  One chance encounter with a devilishly handsome stranger in her local coffee shop would turn her world, and her heart, upside down.  She would be thrown into a realm of privilege and romance, and more than just a little danger.  

How will she handle the dark gorgeous man who has inserted himself into her domain?  When danger threatens those she loves, will she have the strength of heart and spirit to do whatever it takes to save them?  Share Charly’s adventures as she navigates through the quickly changing landscape that has become her life. 

EXCERPT: 
Chapter One

“Hey, watch it,” Charly said as someone bumped her table and precious drops of the caffeine laced fuel danced across the table.  She couldn’t afford to lose a microgram of caffeine. Not today – well not any day!  Considering she’d written two lines and a finished first draft of her book was due in two months, she knew she was in a world of hurt.

Charly turned to see who had been so rude.  Okay, as a romance writer it was Charly’s job to write about hunks but what she saw before her left her breathless.  Looking at her with Caribbean Sea blue eyes, copper skin, and dark hair falling in waves to the top of his shoulders was a God.

“Pardon, I am so sorry,” he said in a deep, richly accented voice bowing his head in her direction. 
His eyes – those incredible blue eyes were intently focused on Charly making her feel self-conscious.  Charly regretted that she hadn’t taken more care with her appearance this morning.  Her damp hair was a mass of unruly curls, her face devoid of makeup with the exception of a dab of lip-gloss.  Charly rested her chin in her right hand appreciating the view before her until she laid a finger on her upper lip.  Panic rose within her; she felt it and if he noticed it she would be mortified.  Damn, why hadn’t she waxed her mustache last night?   Why did women get mustaches in the first place? It’s not like we don’t have enough to worry about. 



AUTHOR INFORMATION:
Charlotte lives in Arizona with her hunky husband Warren, and her spoiled Silky Terrier, Tess. Her life has been filled with serious endeavors, including earning a Master's degree, owning her own business, consulting and working in the corporate world as a human resources executive. Before penning her first novel, Charlotte had written several practical guides for business applications, not exactly steamy stuff. Luckily, she never lost sight of her dream to write a novel that would encompass her passion for gorgeous men, adventure and a love of life. Enjoy


LINKS:

Web site:  http://www.charlotteastout.com
Blog:   http://www.charlotteastout.com/blog   



Charlotte will be giving away a $75 Amazon GC! Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2012/05/virtual-book-tour-seattle-delight-by.html

 Comments??


10 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting Charlotte today.

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  2. Rachel;
    Thank you for hosting this stop on the tour.
    Charlotte

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  3. I learn so much about you on every stop of the tour. It is fun reading.
    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

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  4. Well, it sounds like your book has plenty of humor in it, but I'm still having trouble getting a handle on the main theme of the story. Will you be offering up more excerpts as we travel the blog tour with you?

    This book sounds like a romantic comedy by your next book sounds more like a romantic suspense/thriller. What genres or sub-genres do you give your books?

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

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  5. It sounds as though you have had some great writing spaces. They must have been good influences on your writing as I really loved reading your book and I recommend it too all!

    So are you following Gilles on social media?

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  6. Dear Followers;
    I have tried to use the "reply" button to respond to your specific comment but have not had any luck getting it to work. Ah, technology is great when it works but when it doesn't it can be bothersome!

    Ingeborg, thank you for following the tour. I am glad you think it is worthwhile to learn more about me and my writing. LOL

    Karen H;
    Seattle Delight is a light and fun romantic comedy tinged with a hint of suspense.

    "It's A Good Day To Die," my next book, is s romantic suspense. I'm a romantic and enjoy writing in the romance genre. However, I don't think I will ever be just a straight romance writer. There will always be a sub-genre to my romance like suspense, comedy, satire, mystery, etc.

    There may be other excerpts from Seattle Delight along the tour. It depends on what the host decides to post. I provided a variety of excerpts and the one posted at each stop is at the discretion of the host.

    I hope this helps and thanks for the interest
    Charlotte

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  7. All your diverse influences sound really intriguing...it'll be interesting to see how they've helped shape your work!

    vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

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  8. I loved the description of your writing space in Hong Kong. It was an inspiration in itself. You have created a wonderful space for yourself at your current home. I'd like to be able to cocoon myself in such a room. Everything you need right there for you.
    Research for a book is as good an excuse as any for a trip to France. Shouldn't that be considered a job related or business expense? I hope you have a great time.

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  9. I took French in college...I wish I had stuck with it and studied it for more than the required 2 semesters. I admire your interest in studying it now. That's a great way to prepare for a dream trip.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

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  10. A wonderful interview thank you. The writing & publishing process does fascinate. I have family & friends who have visited Hong Kong. They all loved it.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

    ReplyDelete