Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Welcome Guest Author C.J. Ellisson!

I'm so pleased to welcome
guest author 
C.J. Ellisson 
to the blog today!

And she's talking vampires, so you know I'm happy! ;)=

Welcome!  Please share a little about yourself, your genres, and any other pen names you use.

Hello and thank you so much for having me, Laura! I’ve been writing for a few years now and have books published under both contemporary fantasy and erotica. My preference to write in first person present tense is not common in either genre, but is growing in popularity, and has been well received by readers so far. I’m also working on a middle-grade fiction series for my children and hope to sell it under the pen name C.J. Stern.

Ooh, very interesting! I’m a fan of first-person myself! Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

The second full-length book in my fantasy series, The V V Inn, called The Hunt, released over the summer. It involves all the characters from the first book and introduces readers to new ones as well. In this book, I use six rotating points of view and the story is told progressively from one person to the next, meaning we never go over the same scene again. Like the first one, it has some explicit sex—but, since we’re in other very distinct POVs, the eroticism found throughout the first book, told from the ancient vampire’s perspective, is not as prevalent.

The POVs sound like they’d make this book so unique! Very interesting! Which character is your favorite and why?

When I first started writing it was an escape. Not knowing I was breaking the “rules” by writing in present tense and never expecting the book to sell, I gave the main character, Vivian, many of my own traits, including my hair color. She is by far my favorite character because she gets to say and do things I only dream about. Her husband, Rafe, and the delectable werewolf, Jonathan, would be a tie for second place.

Vivian does sound great! As the author, what surprised you about this story?

A few things surprised me—first, the difficulty in writing from so many POVs and keeping the story flowing well was the hardest challenge. Some of my readers weren’t so sure they wanted to read this story when Vivian wouldn’t be telling all of it. I spent weeks perfecting the opening chapters, trying to make each voice distinct. My next surprise was deviating from the outlined ending. I changed it on the fly as I was writing and think the story came out better for it.

There’s a reason when that happens, I think! Will there be any sequels or other books in the same series?

Book One
Yes, this book is number two and the third one will continue with the underlying story-arc. Each title has it’s own stand-alone adventure, but the plan is to wrap up the main one regarding Vivian’s old enemies in book three.

Book four will be a blast to the past. I’ve mapped out three parts to the book – Vivian’s past, Rafe’s past, and how they came together. Each one will be a novella length (under 40k words) and fitted together in one full-length novel. If the series does well, I’m happy to plan more adventures for the characters

Sounds great! I love series! What was the hardest thing for you about writing this story?

I’ve incorporated people I know into both books. Whether I steal their names, parts of their lives, or borrow character traits, it’s always something. I was about one third of the way done with this book when my 21-year-old nephew, Eric, died in an accident. We’d just spent time with him the previous month and talked excitedly over the werewolf character I was basing on him. His older brother, Asa, is woven into the first book and we thought it would be cool to have their characters meet up in this fantasy world and interact.

When he died, I was left floundering on what to do. Writing the scenes with him in them became particularly hard. This past winter, his best friend, Pat, read the first book and loved it. When he told me how much he thought Eric would have enjoyed it (it was published a few months after his death), I revealed to him that Eric was slotted to be in the second book. I decided to work a new character in and base it on Pat so the two of them could continue to have adventures together forever.

I may never be a NYT bestseller, but being able to memorialize their friendship and Eric means a lot me, my family, and to the people who’ve followed my journey as a writer. In turn, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something bigger with my simple fantasy story.

That’s really special. Thanks for sharing that! What are you working on right now?

Book three in The V V Inn series, Big Game, a fantasy story for my children called Black is for Lies, and an erotica short story collection for my publisher’s Partiotica line, Army.  

Wow, you’re one busy writer chick! I love it! What happened to the first book you ever wrote?

I’m not the typical writer, I didn’t write as a child or in college. I have no stories in drawers I can dust off and re-edit to sell in later years. I came to this new career when I was 38. My very first piece of fiction writing, much to my editor’s surprise, was the manuscript Vampire Vacation, published in October 2010.

Good for you! What do you find easiest and hardest to write?

For me, dialogue and sex scenes are the easiest to write. I have a vivid imagination and tend to listen better than people give me credit for. The first trait makes the sex parts fun and the latter makes writing conversations more realistic.

The hardest for me are fight scenes and deep emotional scenes. I worry about slipping too far into telling what is going on and not showing it. Good writing is not one or the other; it’s an appropriate mix of both. Getting the correct balance in a scene can be a challenge.

Yes, so true! Have you incorporated actual events or people from your own life into your books?

Yes, as you saw above with character names and traits. As for events? Not with the fantasy and erotica works, but with the children’s book the answer is yes. We love to camp and do so quite often in the warmer months. Black is for Lies is set in a place we went camping as a family and has to do with an adventure two kids have while camping with their own families in the same location.

That’s awesome! Is there a theme or message that runs through your work?

In the adult stories there is a definite theme. I call it hot monogamy. I became tired of the kick-ass heroines messing up yet another relationship in their latest adventure – hasn’t anyone realized it’s much harder to maintain a happy, healthy relationship than it is to fall in love/lust with a new fling?

Readers love the married protagonists in J.D. Robb’s In Death series, or Amelia and Emerson in Elizabeth Peters’ many adventures for the couple. Why is this monogamy trait missing in other bestselling series like Sookie Stackhouse, Anita Blake, Dresden Files, and Kim Harrison’s The Hollows?

I wanted to read about a hot married couple, so I wrote one.

Love that! What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

LOL! I’m not sure. I’m pretty open on my blog and on Facebook. They all know about my battle with three autoimmune diseases and the three serious tick-borne diseases (the former making the latter very hard to cure).

Perhaps, what might surprise them is something very small—I have trouble spelling and rarely write handwritten thank you notes to people. When I do a book signing I almost always clarify the spelling of the name first and don’t often write long passages on the title page – secretly fearing I’ll spell something wrong and mess up the book (which I have done in the past when writing in books to mail to readers).

Okay, now, C.J., these are just for fun:
Milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Dark, baby!

Salty or sweet? Salty.

Bed or kitchen table? Gee, what could you possibly mean? LOL! Bed, thank you very much.

Beach or mountains? Mountains with a lake.

Give or receive? LOl, wow, such double entendre questions! I’m always better at giving than I am receiving – especially when it comes to praise or thanks.

How ‘bout a little more about C.J.’s great books? You got it!:
Vivian thinks she can control every aspect of a deadly game with her usual manipulations... but what if she can't?

Seven vampires and seven werewolves pay to hunt a supernatural criminal across the cold, vast grounds of an Alaskan resort. The one to catch her, and live through the encounter, will increase their power by feasting on hers.

The tiny vampire they track is more than she appears, however. To escape a fate of twelve years in silver chains, she'll do anything to survive the weeklong excursion. This time, the darkness holds more than just the stinging bite of the Arctic--it holds death.

Journey along, in this next installment of  The V V Inn series, for a wild ride as the tale is told through the eyes of all the new seethe members.

Warning: This book contains some explicit sex scenes and is not intended for readers under 18.
Excerpt from The Hunt:

Chapter One

As I lie here, curled around my husband’s firm body, I begin to wonder: Am I crazy? What in the hell made me think organizing a hunt, here at our hotel, would be a good idea? Over a dozen supernatural predators are flying in from all over the world; ones who’ve paid an exorbitant price for the privilege of removing their everyday masks and killing one of their own kind. I must be crazy.

I have a feeling this week is going to turn out to be more than any of us bargained for. Self-doubt plagues me as I rise from the warmth of the bed and stroll, naked, to my closet. The glow of the artificial landscape lighting beams in through the windows. The changing gradient indicates it's probably midday here above the Arctic Circle.

Part of my nervous edge could be associated with learning to trust the new members of our seethe. While the vampires appear upfront and honest—as much as a pack of bloodsuckers can be—my old habits of distrust have served me well over the years.

The two months since November’s tracking and killing of Ivan have been a trial for me, this upcoming hunt week has been a long time in the planning, but I don’t have to like it. Having anyone from the Tribunal of Ancients on our property sucks, especially when I have no idea who they’re sending.

Grabbing the clothes I set out in the wee hours of the morning, I head to the shower in our private suite.

The hot water cascading over me fills my mind with horrible memories of my own first hunt. My seethe wore cloth-lined, silver skullcaps to thwart my unique vamp-to-vamp mind-control abilities. They orchestrated the hunt to rid themselves of their “pet” manipulator. What started for the group as demented undead fun, ended with a young, redheaded vampire surprising them all with her ability to kill ruthlessly and without remorse.

The blood of my seethe-mates once covered my body, as the water does now. Later, I stacked their headless corpses in our old farmhouse before setting the structure on fire. Killing that sick group was the least I could do to avenge the murders of my first and second husbands. Considering all I’d been through under their rule for twenty-six years, I let the bastards off easy. Thankfully, even a semi-mortal vampire can only die once—if it’s done right.

The sound of Rafe stirring in the next room pulls me out of my dark thoughts and tells me he’s getting up as well.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” I call out over the noise of the water. “Get enough rest?”

“You mean after you ravaged me for hours? Oh yeah, I slept pretty damn sound.”
 Thanks for coming on the blog! 
Where can we find you on the web?

C.J. Ellisson writes erotica and urban fantasy. Her vampire series, The V V Inn, mixes a heavy dose of erotic elements with suspense, action, a little bit of mystery and some light humor. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a fluffy black cat who makes her sneeze.


Thank you for having me!

Everyone, leave C.J. some comment love! TWO COMMENTERS WILL WIN **BOTH** OF C.J.'S EBOOKS! (must leave email address). Ends midnight EST Weds. 9/14.

Thanks for reading!
Laura & C.J.


C.J. Ellisson said...

Great job, Laura! Thanks so much for your work in putting this together. There was notice in the media kit that I was willing to give out both ebooks to two commenters on the blog today. If you'd like to add that in at the bottom I'm happy to run the contest, just let me know.


Laura Kaye said...

Oh, yay! How did I ever miss THAT??? Adding now! And glad to have you here!

Book Savvy Babe said...

Great interview, I love meeting new-to-me authors! Kudos to writing about a happily married couple, there are just not enough stories about the happily married around. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to reading the VV Inn series :) Book Savvy Babe
booksavvybabe at gmail dot com

SweetMarie83 said...

Great interview! I love learning more about authors and their books from their own perspective. Very interesting. These books sound terrific, I can't wait to read them - and thanks for the giveaway! :-D

Amanda W. said...

What a great giveaway! And yippeee another author that I must check out!
Thanks for the chance to win!


Laura Kaye said...

Thanks for the comment love everyone! Keep it coming!

Erin said...

Laura - thank you again - feeding my addiction I see... I am going to start calling you the "dealer" here... And how have I not come across this amazing author before... Will definitely be checking these books out! Thanks to both of you for sharing!s

Seduced By Books said...

this is great!!! excited for new authors to read

GraceDZ said...

Very interesting! Can't wait to read the series.

Erin said...

So excited about finding a new author - that I forgot my email address...

metallifan15 said...

This definitely sounds like a fun series. I love the idea of reading about a happily married couple and not ones just falling in love. Looking forward to reading them. Putting the series in my TBR pile.

Thanks for a fun, informative interview Laura and C.J!


Twolfmom said...

Thanks for doing the interview. It was great to learn a little more about you! I lived in Vienna,VA in the mid '80's. It is a great part of the country with so many museums & great places to see. I look forward to reading your books! Thanks for the giveaway! Blessings!

Laura Kaye said...

Good morning everyone! Thanks for all the great comments for C.J. Keep 'em coming!

C.J. Ellisson said...

Hello everyone! I stopped by a lot yesterday and didn't see many commenters, but I didn't come back in the evening -- so sorry!

BookSavvyBabe- Thank you! I agree about there not being enough happy couple books, quite annoying.

Marie - thanks for commenting and stopping by!

Amanda - Love your enthusiasm good luck n the contest.

Erin, Jenn, and Grace - Thank you for your interest and wishing you luck in the contest.

Sara - thank you for the kind words and I'm honored to be in your TBR pile! Please stop by and visit on Facebook and let me know your thoughts when you get to it.

Twolrmom- Way cool! I worked in Tyson's in the 90's and live in Sterling right now. We love the museums, too, and visit DC when we can.

Thanks again to all of you for showing an interest in my work!

For those of you who don't win the contest tonight, I hope you'll take a chance and try the first one in the series priced as an ebook at 99 cents right now.

Laura Kaye said...

Cool, C.J.! I lived in Arlington for a number of years and now live in Annapolis, so we're just on opposite sides of the city!

Tricia Schneider said...

I absolutely love first person point of view! I don't understand why publishers think readers don't like it. Your books sound great! I can't wait to read them! :)


Miranda @ My Eclectic Bookshelf said...

Great job, again more books to add to my tbr pile. Enter me in the running


Laura Kaye said...

Alright! Great to have more folks appreciating CJ's great books!

C.J. Ellisson said...

Thanks Tricia and Miranda! Appreciate you stopping by to read the blog today.

Tricia -- first person POV is becoming more and more coming, but telling the story in past tense is much more common. Mine is present tense, meaning the action is happening to our characters as you read it.

More YA is done this way, but I'm seeing great adult reads published too, like Jerri Smith-Ready's WVMP series.

I think Laura will be picking the winners (I'm not sure) and I'll be emailing you with your ebooks. Thanks for playing along everyone!

Laura Kaye said...

Here are the winners of C.J.'s giveaway, chosen using random.org:

1) Sara / metallifan15@gmail.com
2) Jenn / Seduced By Books jennscl@gmail.com


Thanks for coming on the blog, C.J.!