Friday, April 3, 2015

Chatting with author C.J. Redwine & a DEFIANCE giveaway

Hey all! Shannon here. Today we're chatting with author C.J. Redwine. Not only is C.J. an exceptional author, but she has a wealth of publishing knowledge valuable to writers at various stages of their journey. I'd love for some of that to rub off on all of us. Since some of you may be new to C.J. and her books, I'll throw out her bio and then we'll just get started, okay?  

C.J. Redwine loves fairy tales, Harry Potter, and Sherlock. She is the author of the Defiance trilogy, a post-apocalyptic fantasy from Balzer + Bray. C.J. lives in Nashville with her husband and children. If the novel writing gig ever falls through, she’ll join the Avengers and wear a cape to work every day. To learn more about C.J., visit her website at www.cjredwine.com

WELCOME to Go Teen Writers, C.J. I am a huge, HUGE fan of your books. Will you tell our writers what inspired your Courier’s Daughter trilogy? 

The world itself was inspired by the collision of two different ideas. For years, I’d had the idea of a Leviathon-like dragon creature who lived underground and tunneled up to the surface to lay waste. I just didn’t have a story to go with it. Then one day I saw a picture of a fortress on Pinterest (Because PINTEREST, AMIRIGHT?) and it reminded me of a city-state. I was instantly intrigued by the idea of writing a story where our society lived in city-states. I asked myself why we would do that, and the idea of the Leviathon-like creature met the picture of the city-state and Defiance was born.

The main character, Rachel, takes a very emotional journey from trauma, loss, anger, depression, and ultimately healing and peace. That part of the story was inspired by my own past and the hard lessons I’ve learned about dealing with pain. 

As big a fan as I am of your writing, I’m equally impressed with your kind heart and your presence on social media. What advice would you give young writers about building their online platform?

Aww, thank you! I’d say be authentic and consistent. You don’t have to be followed by everyone or liked by everyone … that just isn’t realistic. But if you post about the things you love, the things you’re passionate about and interested in, you will gather a tribe of like-minded people around you. Also, the best way to use social media is to build relationships. Network with other writers (published and on-their-way-to-being published) and industry professionals by engaging them in polite conversation and by generating interesting content of your own.

Many of our teen writers are light-years ahead of me in the books-written category. Was Defiance the first book you completed and what would you say to writers who worry their hard work won’t ever be published?

Nope! Defiance was book number four. I’d had an agent for two years at that point and had written and submitted to publishers two different books before Defiance. Everyone and their uncle’s roommates sister-in-law’s hairdresser’s dog told me NO. But I kept writing. Kept pushing myself to get better and to try new things. And then one day, years after I’d started writing, I sold the Defiance trilogy. Every book you write is valuable. You are improving your craft and honing your voice and your creative instincts. And also, getting told “no” is good for you. It really is. There are a lot of “no’s” in publishing, including after you get published. Learning to hold on to your belief in yourself and learning that your value doesn’t come from other’s opinions of you is a lesson that will help you immensely as you pursue a career in publishing.

I saw a post the other day advertising your online workshops. Our writers would love to know more about them. Who would benefit and where can we learn more?

Writers of every level of experience benefit from my workshops because my content and my instructional goal is to be thorough enough for newbies to learn the ropes while still being challenging enough that every writer attending takes away valuable insights. I offer workshops on world building, writing dynamic characters, writing a synopsis, querying, and my ever-popular kick butt Writer’s Workshop which takes writers through every piece of novel writing in an intensive two week course. To learn more (I have a few openings left in my spring online workshop and will post fall workshops this summer) go here: http://queryworkshop.blogspot.com

How fun! Tell us, what’s next for you?

Next up for me is a series that I am super excited about! I’m writing a series of epic fantasies inspired by fairy tales. I grew up reading Grimm constantly and am a HUGE fan of fairy tale interpretations. The first book is called THE SHADOW QUEEN (publishing 2/23/16) and is the story of a wicked queen, a desperate dragon shape-shifter prince, and a fugitive princess with hair as black as ebony, lips as red as blood, and skin as white as snow. :)

Ooooo! So excited to read that! Now before you go . . . can we please just . . . the lightning round!!! 

Favorite movie: Harry Potter 1, 3, 5, Pirates of the Caribbean 1, Iron Man 3, The Dark Knight, and The Princess Bride

Favorite TV show: Sherlock, Grimm, Supernatural, and The Flash

Favorite ice cream: Peanut butter moose tracks or chocolate chip cookie dough

Desired superpower: I’d like to have mind control and also be able to shoot laser beams from my eyes when the situation called for it

Pancakes or waffles? Belgian waffles

Captain America or Iron Man? BOTH

Coffee or tea? Herbal tea

Beach or mountains? Beach with an easy drive to the mountains

Plotter or pantser? Both! I write out the synopsis with major plot points fleshed out and then I pants my way from one major point to the next.

Awesome! Thank you, thank you, thank you for stopping by C.J. You've given us all so much to be excited about. I can't wait for THE SHADOW QUEEN. 

C.J. also has a book available for writers called QUERY: Everything You Need to Get Started, Get Noticed, and Get Signed. Be sure to check it out.

TODAY, Go Teen Writers is giving away a copy of DEFIANCE. It's the first novel in C.J.'s Courier's Daughter trilogy and it is stellar. Use the Rafflecopter to enter. The winner will be notified via email next Friday.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

76 comments:

  1. This is so cool! I've never read the book, but it sounds really good! Also, the author sounds super nice, and interesting!!
    Mae :)
    superswankified.blogspot.com

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  2. Oh my goodness Mrs. Redwine like the Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, and cookie dough ice cream!! You are awesome. But you probably don't need me to tell you something you already know. ;)

    Defiance's cover looks sooooo cool. And the premise sounds cool too.

    So, question: I'm working on my...fifth?...novel right now and I've got the feeling that this is The One. While you were writing Defiance, did you ever get that feeling, that it would be The One?

    Thanks so much for stopping by GTW, Mrs. Redwine!

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    1. Hi Linea and Ana! I did have the feeling that Defiance was different from the other books I'd written. I felt that I'd finally landed on my voice and my type of book, and that felt special to me. But I also knew firsthand how hard it is to land a publishing contract, so there was always a very pragmatic part of me that refused to hope too hard that this was the one. It made better business sense to do my best with it and then move on to do my best with the next one in case this one didn't sell.

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  3. PINTEREST, YOUARERIGHT!!! :D Pinterest is great for inspiration, especially because there are so many thought provoking pictures on there, which makes them great for writing prompts. Also, I definitely agree that having someone say "No" to you is important, even though it might be painful. Every time someone has said "no" to me, it's really helped me improve my work. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any less frustrating. :(

    Also, Defiance AND your writing workshops look fabulous!

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    1. You are wise to already realize that "no" is an important stepping stone in your development as a writer. :)

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  4. Ms. Redwine, I am a HUGE fan! I absolutely love 'Defiance' and I can't wait to read the next two and the Shadow Queen! Seeing this post really made my day. My current WIP has two alternating POVs, and I wondered if you had any tips on how to pull it off? Thanks so much!

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    1. For alternating POVs there are two crucial things to consider as you write each scene. First, which of your main characters has the most at stake in the scene (emotionally)? That's the one who needs to narrate the scene. If a scene just isn't working, try changing the narrator to see if that fixes things. And second, your main characters will approach everything differently from each other. They will see the world around them differently, they will evaluate situations through different eyes, and they will respond emotionally in different ways. It's important to remember those distinctions as you write. For example, Rachel saw the world in terms of threats she needed to overcome and people she needed to protect. She responded to situations with instinct and impulsive courage. She was very open emotionally--it was easy to see what she was feeling. Logan, on the other hand, saw the world in terms of tools he could use and strategies he could implement. He was always thinking five steps ahead, listing worst case scenarios so he could be prepared for it. He responded to situations as if they were moves in a game of chess. And he was difficult to read emotionally because he kept himself so tightly under control. I had to make sure that I was responding with instinct and emotion to threats and to loved ones when I wrote from Rachel's POV. And I had to make sure I was responding with logic and analysis to problems that had already been anticipated and could be factored into a large plan when I wrote from Logan's POV. I hope that helps!

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    2. Thanks for replying! Your advice is immensely helpful. :)

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  5. Defiance sounds like a cool book, and so does The Shadow Queen! I enjoyed reading this interview! Thanks!

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  6. Defiance sounds awesome! I'm putting it on my wish list :). And I'll be sure to keep a look out for The Shadow Queen! Great advice as well. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. You're welcome! I'm glad my books are now on your wish list. :)

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  7. That book sounds awesome and so does the author. :D

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  8. Wow, the cover of Defiance is so amazing! I'm definitely putting your trilogy on my reading list! I can't wait to read them! Thanks for the interview, it was inspiring to hear how you didn't stop writing even after rejection, but you pressed on and were rewarded for it!

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    1. Thanks for putting my trilogy on your reading list! And yes ... rejection is par for the course if you choose to pursue publication, but it's important to remember that the only person who can stop you from writing is yourself.

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  9. Sounds awesome! And the love looks beautiful. (:

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  10. It's so great to meet you, Ms. Redwine!! Defiance sounds amazing, and I just put the whole trilogy on hold at my library. :) I can't wait to read them! Also, I LOVE fairy tale rewrites, so I will be watching and waiting for yours to release. They sound great!
    Thank you as well for giving some great advice. It's always so fantastic to hear from someone who has poured in the work for publishing. It encourages us to write more! Thank you!

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    1. Thank you so much for requesting my books from your library! I don't know if you realize it, but requesting books from your fave authors really helps the author. It puts us on the librarians' radar and they are more likely to devote their limited book buying budget to our next books. And I hope you never give in to discouragement for long. Writing is hard work. Learning how to keep getting better is hard work. But it's worth it.

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    2. Thanks for the reply! I've always loved the library, but I'm so glad to hear that it helps authors as well! Sometimes I do worry that reading books through the library isn't very helpful, because authors don't get much from it, so I do try to buy my favorite books. It's great to hear that it does help! I'll definitely request and read with more confidence. :)
      Thanks again for the advice. Writing is so worth it, if for nothing more than putting your own words on paper. Thanks!!

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  11. The series sounds fascinating and Defiance's cover is VERY compelling! Thanks so much for sharing this interview with us. :) Also, PINTEREST.

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  12. I think the hardest part of writing is to keep writing, even when everyone tells you you'll never make a 'real' career out of it. Your story is one of many that prove that perseverance is the path to success. :)

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    1. It's absolutely possible to make a real career out of it. Many of us cobble together an income from writing books, giving workshops, speaking engagements, freelance writing, waitressing, working a day job, selling Pampered Chef ... you get the picture. It takes a while to build up your career to where just writing books is enough to make you self sufficient income-wise, but if this is your dream, then be willing to take on the other jobs and sacrifice the time it will take to make it happen. I'm cheering you on!

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  13. Thank you for this inspirational interview/post! :D It's my dream to become a published writer, but eh, for me is fine too! Lol :P I'm intrigued by your new book, and Defiance sounds like my kind of book. *Crosses fingers for the win*

    Woot, another Grimm fan! :P An Pinterest, ah the endless ideas, haha :D

    Thanks a mil!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! And yay for another Grimm fan!

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  14. I've read Defiance and Deception and they're so amazing. I can't wait for The Shadow Queen it sounds so good. I really enjoyed reading this interview. :)

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    1. I'm so glad you loved Defiance and Deception. I hope you enjoy Deliverance and the end of Rachel and Logan's story just as much!

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  15. Oh my goodness, C.J.! I heard you speak last year at the Kentucky Writer's Conference and it was inspiring! I'm going again this year and saw you on the list of authors attending the Book Fest - I'm looking forward to seeing you again! And I really want to read your books - definitely on my must read list!

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  16. Sounds interesting. I enjoyed reading this.

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  17. Awesome post! So fun reading about publish authors!

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  18. THANK YOU so much for hanging out with us, CJ, and for taking time to answer our writing questions. You rock.

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    1. Thank you for having me! It was a honor.

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  19. Thank you so much for doing this interview! It's awesome how you kept going even in difficulty. And I definitely have to check some of your books out :-)

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    1. Perseverance is as essential as talent in this business!

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  20. That sounds like an interesting book!

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  21. I'm thinking that getting rejected will be hard for me... I don't like people telling me "no", but I'll have to deal with it if I ever want to get anything published. That part of your writing journey sounds hard... But one of my favorite authors got over 200 rejections before getting anything published, so... *shrugs*

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    1. It's just part of life when you enter the arts. Art is so subjective, and there's a huge gap between your skills and what you want to create. Getting published is all about closing that gap with practice, practice, and more practice. :)

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  22. Wow it sounds like you had a tough time but kept going none the less!

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  23. So awesome. I love reading author journeys!

    xo,
    Christen
    ChristenKrumm.com

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  24. My favorite part of author journey stories is pretty much always the number of times their work was rejected before they were able to publish their first book. But then, it's the struggle that makes a story great. :)

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    1. Struggle is an essential part of a creative person's life, I think. It helps shape our voice and our persistence.

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  25. So nice to learn about you and your books, CJ! Thanks for talking with us!

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  26. This book looks so cool!!!! Thanks forthe giveaway :)

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  27. Eep! Defiance sounds amazing! I'll have to add it to my ever-growing list of books I need to read! Thank you for the giveaway! :D

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    1. Defiance would look very pretty in your TBR pile. :)

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  28. I'll have to check out your books, C.J. Always interested in checking out new authors! I am a decided fan of fairy tales retold, and a decide unfan of Sherlock and The Princess Bride...
    http://daswhatchuthink.blogspot.com/

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    1. Yay for fairy tale retellings! But ... an unfan of The Princess Bride?? Inconceivable! ;D

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  29. Haha, Pinterest, YOUARERIGHT. Just proves that all those hours spent browsing pins aren't totally wasted. xD
    I've seen Defiance once or twice in bookstores, but I hadn't paid too much attention . . . I am now. The cover is really cool and the idea of city states is indeed very interesting.
    I'm a fan of fairty tale retellings myself, so when your next book comes out I'll be looking for it!

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    1. Pinterest is such a huge help to me with my world building. :)

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  30. Pinterest has helped me with more than a few sticky situations book wise. I picked up Defiance recently without any prior knowledge about it or the author just from the cover. It's so pretty!

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  31. The avengers disorient me a little because I use norse mythology and my versions of characters are so different from theirs.

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    1. That can be confusing! When I'm drafting, I stay away from anything that is too close to my world because it's either confusing/muddling or I nitpick at it too much.

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  32. I would love to read the fairytale inspired one. :) I LOVE fairytale retellings.

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    1. Me too! I hope you'll give The Shadow Queen a chance next February. <3

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  33. I can't wait to pick up a copy to add to my wonderful library! This book looks amazing :)!
    nurse_mommy(at)live(dot)com

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  34. This has to be one of my favorite interviews GTW has hosted! Loved all the questions and the answers. Your journey is inspiring, Mrs. Redwine, and your advice regarding building a social platform was especially helpful. I'm focusing on that aspect along with editing my novel, so reading what you had to say was timely.

    I can't wait to get Defiance from the library!!

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    1. It makes me happy to hear that you found something useful and inspiring in my interview. I wish you the best as you edit your novel and take the next step!

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  35. Mrs. Redwine, I find your journey fascinating! I am the mother of six children. I have four daughters that love to write. One daughter in particular is a writer. She is working on a saga. I find your comments very helpful, as a parent to encourage my daughter(s) in their writing journey. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I love hearing that you are encouraging your daughters in their writing journeys!

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  36. I LOVE SUPERNATURAL AND FLASH AND MOOSE TRACKS AND THE PRINCESS BRIDE AND PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN!
    Ahem. Please excuse my fangirling.
    Anyways, your book sounds super cool, and I love that cover!


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com

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  37. Oooh now I really want to read Defiance (COVER LOVE!!!), and the Shadow Queen sounds amazing! I can't wait to read them both!

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