Today's REV UP WEDNESDAY author is someone I love to read... she's one of the beautiful deities on the amazing line up of The Goddess Blog: Claudia Dain. Claudia's books are written in several series and time periods. Her stories take me to beautiful worlds set in different eras - from the Roman period, to Medieval Knights splendor, to Regency England, to Colonial America. She even writes westerns and womens' fiction. My personal favorite is The Courtesan Chronicles series, but all her stories merit a prominent place on any bookshelf. For the pleasure of Kindle and Nook lovers, the books in Claudia's backlist are presently being re-released in digital format.
It's hard to put Claudia in one neat little box; in fact, it's impossible to do so. When the idea strikes, she pens it. The lady is an avid reader, and a prolific and versatile writer. I feel that she really puts things in perspective because despite the various genres and settings, she remains, simply, the one and only, Claudia Dain, and has never once mentioned the need to use multiple pseudonyms for branding and maintaining diversified readership. She is carving out several niches in the market by using the one pseudonym, without "splitting" herself into different author personas. Personally, I love this, as it happens to be one of the questions I've always had. Why write only in one genre? Why limit oneself to one pseudonym-one category? Historical, contemporary or suspense - the world's a melting pot, and an author can reflect this by creating completely different series and worlds aimed at as many readers as tastes.
Here's a little peek into Claudia's journey as a writer and published author...
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for about 20 years--it shocked me to say that! I hadn't added it up before. That's a long time, isn't it? It's flown by.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
About 20 years ago. I knew I loved to write when I was 12, but it took me a long time to think I could make a living at it.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
My husband and children were very, very supportive; in fact, it was my husband's idea that I get serious and really go for it. He's been my first and most ardent cheerleader.
What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?
I've read everything and the only genres that don't thrill me are horror and erotica. Other than that, I love all literature! I even (gasp) like Oprah type picks. For writing, I'd say that I'm still exploring, and loving it! I've just branched out from historical romance to straight women's fiction (and by that I mean there is no romance subplot). It's a different kind of writing and I've found it to be both challenging and exciting.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
I was homeschooling my kids when I started writing, so I consider that my day job. I homeschooled my kids during the day and wrote in the evenings.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
I have a college degree in English and, unlike many authors, I actually found that to be helpful. I'd read widely and understood how to write a coherent, cohesive paper; it only helped me when I sat down to try and write a novel.
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
No, and I still don't! I think it was my high school and college experience at writing that led me to that. I did all my work solo as a student and it was a natural progression to do it all solo as a professional writer. The idea of letting someone else into my writing process gives me hives.
Do you use a/several pseudonym(s) and if so, why did you choose to have one/them?
I do. I did that because of my children. I wanted a layer of privacy between my work life and my private life when they were small and vulnerable. I'm so glad I did.
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
Five years! I thought I'd never get published. I had written 5 books by the time one of them sold and each book taught me more about how to write a novel.
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
No, I didn't. I sold books three through five. Books one and two are under construction right now; I'm going to put them up for sale digitally and see what happens. They're my husband's two favorites, so we'll see if the world agrees with him.
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?
No, I only write one draft. I edit as I go so that by the time I get to the last page the book is ready to go. I'm always envious of authors who have 'deleted scenes' on their websites. I never have that! If I write it, it's in the book, or a sentence here and there got deleted as I went along, nothing fun like an entire scene. Although, with this women's fiction novel, I might be able to do that. That book is going to be more than one draft, I'm afraid. This is strange new ground for me. I can't say I like it.
Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
I read The Passive Voice almost every day, a sort of clearing house for other writing related blogs. I also dip into the Shatzkin Files on a regular basis. These blogs are mostly about the business of writing.
Did you get an agent first or did you submit directly to publishers?
I did submit directly to publishers at first, but when I got my manuscripts back, apparently untouched by human hands, I went about getting an agent. I've found I really am an author who needs an agent.
If you signed with an agent, how did you go about the process of finding your agent/publisher?
I'm on my 3rd agent now, and this is the one I'll be with for the rest of my career, and I found him the regular way: I queried him.
Did you ever get rejected? If so, how did you handle it?
Did I ever get rejected? Ha! Did I ever! I handled it the normal way, I think. I got depressed. I got discouraged. I considered giving up. And then I kept writing.
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 have no idea. I would think they look for good writing, a good story well-told.
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)? Where do you see the industry going?
I think it's an exciting time to be a writer. There are more options for writers now, and what's not to love about that?
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
Sure! I'm doing it so what else am I going to say? There is nothing wrong with getting your work out there and letting the public decide if they like what you write or not.
How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?
Personally, I think it's sad, but I also think that any time there is massive change in any industry, any major technological change, there are people who are going to be sad about the passing of that era. Then the new era starts and that becomes the norm and then that era passes as well. It's just the way the world goes.
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
Yes, I've got most of my backlist up and available digitally. I had the opportunity to edit the books (which was wonderful) so I think they're better than ever. I also got to have a hand in cover design, and to write my own blurbs, which was a heady and exhilarating experience.
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
Keep writing. The only thing you can control in this business is what *you* do. Everything else is out of your control. So keep writing. Keep telling the story you want to tell. That's the surest way to be happy no matter what happens.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on too much right now, I can tell you that! I am revising Sorority Sisters, my debut women's fiction novel, and I'm writing Much Ado About Dutton for digital release--the next historical Regency romance in The Courtesan Chronicles. And I'm plotting my next women's fiction novel, still in its infancy. Too many characters and plots are swarming in my head! It's no wonder I can hardly sleep anymore.
What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?
Oh, no, I read everything. I'm currently on a Greg Isles and Anne Tyler glom. I'd never read either one of them before and am now consuming everything I can find. Greg Isles writes suspense novels set in Natchez, MS and Anne Tyler writes mainstream fiction novels set in Baltimore, MD. The two writers have nothing in common except that they both are brilliant writers who tell compelling, page-turner stories.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
I always read! I can't help myself.
What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?
Oh, great question. I think it must have been Johanna Lindsay. I loved her books so much, they took me to such a fun place, that I wanted to do the same.
What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?
I don't think I can answer that specifically, but the characters that are the most difficult in general are the ones who are the least like me. The ones who are the most like me just fall out of me like water. I'll leave it to you to figure out which of my characters is the most or least like me!
How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?
I think it's important to have a schedule and to stick to that schedule. This was so much easier for me when I homeschooled my children; the day was laid out and everything was done at a certain time. I thought I'd have so much more time to write once they were grown; the opposite is true! With so much more free time, I find myself frittering it away. So my advice to you is really advice to me--make a schedule and STICK TO IT.
Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?
The only ritual is that I have to know that I won't be interrupted.
Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?
Still writing! That's the only thing I can control and so that's all I know for sure.
What's your website URL?
Are you on Facebook?
Claudia Dain (don't know the link to this, I assume it's searchable?)
How do you connect with readers?
I have a website, FB, newsletter, and blog (thegoddessblogs.com).
Claudia Dain graduated from the University of Southern California with a BA in English. She writes historical romance as Claudia Dain and women's fiction as Claudia Welch.
I don't have a book cover yet for Sorority Sisters, but I have one for the digital release of Much Ado About Dutton, book 6 in The Courtesan Chronicles. Here goes...
Check back on my website for more info.
~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love. "Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.