Please Welcome C.J. Redwine !!!!

Welcome CJ Redwine

Today is a super fun Writer Wednesday for me because today I am hosting the ultra cool, mega-fun, C.J. Redwine! *Clapping & jumping & Wooting ensues!* CJ Redwine does it all, and with a smile. She writes snarky pararom (my nemesis- pararom, not CJ), she is a wife, a mother, a blogger, a teacher, and everything else, plus, I think a fortune teller and mind reader.

I met C.J while wrestling with a query, to which  I now have an agent *please bow, CJ, as I curtsy to you*. She also taught a workshop on how to write a killer synopsis and another on plotting and pacing. I took all three. Yep. I was so happy with the first that I just kept registering. I also met some very fun writers in those courses, one of which I still keep in touch with! Erin? Are you reading?? LOL During my plotting workshop I had an hour long chat with CJ wherein we discussed my pararom and she asked everything that had never crossed my mind. She made suggestion that I love and half the book landed in the gerbils cage (*GO GREEN! *Also I don’t really have a gerbil). So, what I’m saying is, she’s brilliant. CJ has an incredible insight for writing, which is a great gift, and she shares. She’s busy, but still makes time, and this interview is a wonderful example of that.

If you haven’t met her yet, you must. She’s an asset in your writing arsenal, and who can’t use one more girlfriend? You can read about CJ on her blog The Last Word. You should definitely follow her on twitter @cjredwine, and check out her workshops here.

OK, are you ready? Please welcome…..CJ Redwine!!!

C.J., Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with me. I have enjoyed you so much these past few months and hate to think that there are still writers out there who haven’t yet met you. *Imagine* *Oof* So, let’s see, I always want to know about when writers came into the bug. How long have you been writing? Was writing always your passion?

I spent most of my childhood with my nose stuck in a book. My mom brought my sister and I to the large public library in our city once a week and imposed a strict 20 book limit on me. I gobbled up all 20 and eagerly returned for more. In second grade, we were given the assignment to write a short story. I believe the teacher asked for a page. I turned in four pages, front and back, and realized the words I found so magical between the covers of a book could come from my own head as well. I’ve been writing ever since.

That’s amazing! I was way older (over 30, actually). So, when did you first decide to try to get your manuscript published? What was that attempt like for you?

I’d dreamed of having a book published for YEARS, but between having three boys (who routinely try to kill both themselves and the ENTIRE STATE OF TENNESEE on a regular basis) and a job, I kept telling myself there wasn’t time. I thought life had to line up perfectly before my creative juices would flow again, and I could actually craft something as scary and time-consuming as a novel.

In 2004, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and everything changed for me. Once I was finished fighting cancer, I realized that life is a tenuous thing and there are no guarantees. I decided my dreams wouldn’t wait for life to line up perfectly and I sat down and started writing.

My first attempt at a novel was a 140k monstrosity that showed glimpses of what I would one day be capable of doing but was, in all honesty, mostly useful for lining a cat box. I didn’t know that, though. I was so proud of myself for finishing an actual book! I sent it out to an editor at every major publishing house (thank God I knew enough to only send a query and not the entire manuscript!) and one agent. All of them graciously turned me down, but one volunteered to take another look if I edited it down to 95k.

I figured taking out 45k would ruin the story, but gave it a shot. Turns out I was the Queen of the Long, Convoluted Sentence. *polishes crown* The lessons I learned about craft and about my own emerging style by revising that never-going-to-see-the-light-of-day manuscript were invaluable.

I personally removed about 30 pages single spaced of the word “that.” I understand bloat in a very intimate way. LOL. Tell us about that blessed call when you finally landed your agent!

I was nervous! What if one of the boys burst into the office screaming that his brother had just shoved him into a toilet? What if the cat decided to hork a fur ball onto my lap at a crucial moment? What if I lost my head and started babbling about how AWESOME I thought she was and started sounding desperate?

Thankfully, none of the above happened. Instead, it was a fabulous conversation where Holly and I discussed my novel, my career goals, her communication style, what we both expected from a working relationship, and a list of other things I’d had the excellent foresight to write down in case I forgot what I wanted to say. (Other than “Holy Cow, I adore you!”)

I finished the call calmly, hung up, and then shrieked to my hubby that I had an agent. He was nearly as excited as I was!

What happened next?

Well, first our family went to a Japanese Hibachi Grill that night to celebrate. :)

Then, Holly sent me some revision notes and I went to work polishing up the manuscript for submission. And I kept trying on the words “I have an agent” until one day they finally felt like they fit.

How has it affected your life at home?

My hubby is one of the most supportive guys around so he’s always made it possible for me to take my writing seriously, even before I had an agent. He simply continues to support my efforts (days of leaving him in charge while I settle into the corner of my local bookstore to write, me staying up late to finish a scene etc) while asking excellent questions to try to understand the business side of publishing.

Having a support system makes all the difference, Kiss your hubby for all of us women writers who are applauding him from our couches right now. What’s your newest project CJ? What can we get our hands on next??

Hm. Well, the project on Holly’s desk right now is CASTING STONES. It’s the story what happens when impulsive, perpetual screw-up Lilli pretends to be a qualified private investigator and discovers secrets about her sexy new boss that could drag them both into hell. Literally. It’s very Supernatural meets I Love Lucy.

But my newest project is a YA that tells the story of rebellious, feisty Abbie who seems to lose her mind on her sixteenth birthday and is committed to a run-down privately owned asylum where nothing is what it seems and the secrets buried in the walls could cost Abbie her life.

LOVE it!! I am smiling over here just reading that summary. I want it. If you ever need an ARC reader ehem, I’m just saying… What was the best advice that you have received about writing professionally?

Wow. I’ve received a lot of excellent advice, so it’s hard to choose! I’ll have to pick three things. 1. Finish a book. Commit to an idea and see it through. 2. Be professional in your web presence. Keep the rants to a minimum and don’t slam others in your profession. Publishing is a small world. 3. Keep your eyes on your own test paper. Every writer’s career looks different and comparison can kill your spirit.

Thank you! Any final thoughts or words of wisdom for the struggling writers out there?

Keep writing. When you hit a snag in your WIP, keep writing. When you read an incredible book and worry you’ll never write half as well, keep writing. When you get a slew of rejections, sit your butt down and keep writing. Action combats insecurity and depression, so keep writing. :)

Well, I hate to say goodbye to you, but I suppose I must. I can’t wait to see the comments roll in. I’ve asked everything I am dying to know, but there is more out there. Can’t wait to read responses. Thanks again for the interview and *all hugs and prayers* for your next project. Fully serious about the ARC copy ;) Take care!

OK, feel free to comment below! Make time to follow CJ on twitter and check our her fabulous blog. She’s absolutely amazing and I hope that you are all inspired now! I am pulling on my boxing gloves and dragging that pesky pararom of mine back onto the table. I can do it!!


12 comments to Please Welcome C.J. Redwine !!!!

  • Thank you so much for having me today, Julie! I’m honored by the high praise you sent my way and SO EXCITED to hear you signed with an agent. :) I’ll check in later to answer any additonal questions commenters might have.

  • What a great interview! C.J., whats been your favorite book so far? I am sure you connect with all of them, seeing as how you wrote them, lol, but if you had to pick a favorite? Maybe who you connected with the most?

  • Hi, Nikki. :) I’d have to say Casting Stones. Lilli was so much fun to write! I literally laughed myself silly through most of the book. And it didn’t hurt that Jonathan (her boss) is intriguing and tortured, so he was fun to write too.

  • That was an awesome interview. Inspiring and helpful. Thanks for sharing your story, CJ.

  • Great interview! And I can vouch for CJ’s awesome query letter skills & all-around nice person status.

  • Great interview, both of you! C.J. you are an inspiration!

    Julie – LOL on taking out the “thats” OMG I have so many of those ;o)

  • Julie, GREAT interview, as always. Love, love, love you girl.

    CJ, what advice can you give for having more than one idea at a time? I seem to be bombarded with ideas right now. I’m afraid of not working on them at the same time, I might forget something crucial! And the social networking and research…Aaah! It’s enough to make a newbie want to toss a book at her computer! I’m so thrilled and excited (and heartbroken when the rejections come in). It’s such an emotional rollercoaster for me. Not sure how to handle it all! Thanks so much for your wonderful words of wisdom!

  • Erin Edwards

    Hehe! Julie, you never know when I’m lurking around.

    Hi, C.J. :)

    Fantabulous interview guys!

  • Wulfie – Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Erica – I think I shaved 10k off my first draft just by removing every superfluous “that” I could find. lol Sneaky little word.

    Valerie – I keep a file for each budding idea I have (because even though I’m writing one book, I’m usually plotting three or four others in my head). I put EVERY SINGLE DETAIL down into the file so that I won’t lose any of it, but I work on one manuscript at a time. I find if I try to work on too much at once, nothing actually gets finished. :)

    Erin – Glad you were lurking. ;p

  • Hey there, Rae Ann! Thanks for stopping by. :) You have a pretty awesome all-around nice person status too.

  • Nice to see you finally interviewed for a change. I honestly am surprised one of the boys didn’t burst into your office with the latest impending doom…like when they tried to see how many Oreos they could flush down the toilet.

    Okay, now that I’ve been inspired by you once again, I’m off to write–7 day long fever can just suck it.

  • Lol, HC! I’m so glad my boys’ oreo flushing days seem to be behind them. *knocks on wood* *twice*

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