Wednesday, September 21, 2011
REV UP WEDNESDAYS - A weekly booster shot for inspiration... Catching up with CASSANDRA GOLD
This week's spotlight is on mild-mannered middle school teacher by day, wildly imaginative erotic romance author by night, CASSANDRA GOLD. Cassandra is one of a growing number of female authors who loves to write gay romance. Apart from 15 stand alone novellas and short stories placed with various publishers, she's also an author of three series, and presently working on a fourth. Her spicy tales have found homes with publishers such as Total E-Bound, Phaze, Red Rose Publishing, Cobblestone Press, Freya's Bower, Torquere Press and Amber Allure.
If you'd like to get an idea of her work, catch some of Cassandra's free reads here.
ALSO - CASSANDRA WILL BE GIVING AWAY A FREE DIGITAL COPY OF QUINN'S HART TO A LUCKY COMMENTER! THE WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED ON TUESDAY, 27TH SEPTEMBER. PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT OR EMAIL YOUR DETAILS TO ME AT ANGELAGUILLAUME@GMAIL.COM.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for publication for 5 years. Cassandra Gold was “born” in August of 2006, lol.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
I don’t really write for a living. It’s something I do for the love of it, although making money is nice too. :) And I never really decided I wanted to write, at least not that I can remember. I’ve always wanted to write.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always loved writing, so nobody was surprised when I started publishing. My parents and husband are all proud, although I don’t discuss the actual content of my writing with my parents. My hubby endures the odd questions and ideas I pop out with all the time. He doesn’t read the final products—gay romance isn’t really his thing.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
I have a day job. I teach English at a middle school. I love both teaching and writing, and have never considered quitting my teaching job in order to write full time.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
I took a creative writing course in college, for fun mostly. It covered poetry and drama, with a bit of writing short stories thrown in. Other than that, I’ve taken grammar and English classes, but no classes geared toward writing a novel.
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
I didn’t have anyone to help me when I first got started. It would have been nice to have a crit group or mentor then! Now I have a couple of people I do a lot of reciprocal critiques with. I couldn’t live without Beth and Qwillia’s help these days.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
I have one. Living and teaching in a conservative area, and writing gay erotic romance, I decided it would be best to have a pen name. The name I'd always imagined using had already been taken by someone else, but luckily my husband came up with Cassandra Gold. He just tossed it out there during a car trip, and it stuck!
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
It didn’t take me any time at all to make my first sale. I’d say it was a month or less wait time. I entered a contest, and very shortly afterward I got the call that my story had been chosen as one of the winners. My husband came to wake me up because the call came after I'd gone to bed, and I thought he was joking! It wasn't until I got to speak to the editor on the phone that I realized I was actually going to be published.
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
Yep. I wrote my first gay romance story on a whim, for a contest offered by a now-defunct e-publisher, and they took it.
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?
I’ve never been much of a novel writer. I have written many novellas and short stories, but only two novels. The first one is still sitting in a folder on my computer, waiting to be completely reworked. That probably won’t happen with all the other things I’d like to write. The first novel I wrote that I actually felt was publication-ready took me years to write because I kept interrupting it to work on other things. I don’t really write in “drafts,” per se, but it’s been tweaked and reworked many times.
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
I don’t have an agent. I prefer to work with publishers myself. If I ever decided to submit to one of the New York publishers, I would probably try to get an agent.
Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?
I’ve been rejected several times. As a perfectionist, rejections tend to really get me down. The first thing I do is try not to beat myself up too much. Then, I try to figure out what I can learn from the rejection. If I get a personalized rejection, I use the editor’s remarks to improve the manuscript. If I just get a generic, “nice, but not for us,” rejection, I submit the story elsewhere.
What, in your opinion, do agents/publishers look for in a new author in the current market? Is it all to do with talent or with trends?
I would say publishers are looking for both talent and trends. They have to make money, so no amount of talent is going to make up for an unmarketable story, but a trendy book that’s horribly written won’t sell either.
What do you think of the changes going on in the book industry (e.g., e-books vs. print books, and big publishers getting involved in digital publishing)?
I think the changes are great. I’ve been reading ebooks since a couple years before I started writing, and I love the convenience of them. What could be better than carrying hundreds of books around on one tiny device? I’m glad to see big publishers jumping on the bandwagon too (although I prefer to buy from indie publishers). The only real negative I see is how much some publishers want to charge for an ebook. In my opinion, they ought to be cheaper than the print version.
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
It’s not for me. I prefer having the structure of a publisher, and access to cover artists and editors.
That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to it for others. If an author has a story that may not be what publishers are looking for, but they think there’s an audience for it, I say go for it. However—they need to get a good editor! I can’t tell you how many self-published books I’ve seen that the author clearly did not have edited. It’s a shame, because some of them are great stories.
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
All of my books are available in digital format. A couple can be found in print as well.
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
I think the biggest advice is to be able to take help from others. Ask around about publishers. If an editor or another author gives you advice about your writing, don’t dismiss it out of hand. Really think about it.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to The Institute, Book 1: Healer (October 30, 2011 from Amber Allure). The series features a group of people with special abilities who work to help others.
What is/are your favourite book(s)?
Oh wow, that’s a tough question. As a child, I loved Black Beauty and anything with horses. Other favorites included Wait Till Helen Comes (a ghost story), The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (A wonderful adventure book), and anything by Poe. Today, I love Regency romances and too many gay romances to count.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
I read all the time. Writing doesn’t stop me from reading. When I first started writing, I neglected my reading, but not anymore. If anything, I read more than I write these days.
What book inspired you to write your particular brand of stories?
The first full length gay romance I ever read was Jumping the Fence by Stephanie Vaughan. It’s a great book, very realistic with characters I fell in love with. I generally blame that book for my love of the genre, although I had read some gay short stories before.
What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?
I find a lot of my characters challenging because they’re as stubborn as I am. I think the most fun to write has been Ciaran from the Outcasts series, because he’s a demon (my favorite paranormal being), and he’s so quirky and sheltered. He reacts to things much differently than a normal person would, making him a blast to write.
The most challenging character to write was probably Ian from “One Night Stand.” I didn’t want him to come across as a shallow jerk, so I had to walk a fine line between making him self-protective and scared, and making him a total jackass. I like to think I stayed on the right side of the line.
Are you on Facebook?
How do you connect with readers?
I love connecting with readers through Facebook, e-mail, and Goodreads. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some info on latest and upcoming releases:
My latest release:
Sometimes you have to get lost to find yourself...
Tired of being judged by his appearance, Clay Pennington decides the time has come for drastic action. Partying and one-night stands have gotten old, but how’s a boy supposed to find someone when nobody looks beyond his surface to the man inside? A wilderness retreat seems like just the ticket for proving he’s more than everyone else believes—until he actually gets there.
Everything is a lot more difficult than he expected, including the man he’s partnered with for the week. Sexy, surly Trent Raines is a puzzle Clay would love to solve, but the man pushes him away at every turn. Totally out of his element and stuck with a survival partner who barely tolerates him, it’s not long before Clay starts to wonder if he’s made a huge mistake.
If Clay can get through the week, he just might find himself...and a whole lot more...
The Institute, Book 1: Healer
Coming October 30 from Amber Allure!
For years, Dr. Tristan Matheson has hidden his abilities, pretending to be an ordinary doctor. He’s eluded detection—until now. When he’s targeted, Cam, a mysterious shapeshifter, becomes Tristan’s only means of escape.
A member of the Delphic Institute, Cam is capable of taking the shape of anyone he’s ever seen.
Retrieving Tristan was supposed to be an ordinary mission, but the feelings the doctor stirs are surprising and unwelcome.
Tristan and Cam have a bigger problem, though. A war brewing between groups interested in “recruiting” people with special talents could tear them apart before they ever get together.
A little about Cassandra...
By day, Cassandra is a (relatively) mild-mannered middle school teacher. At night, she lets the characters in her head out to play as she writes stories of men falling in love. Unfortunately for her husband, neither of Cassandra's personas enjoys doing housework.
For more information on Cassandra, please visit her website at: www.cassandragold.com. She also loves to interact with readers and authors on Facebook.
~ Angela ~ No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love. "Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.