Friday, June 18, 2010

Wild Wicked & Wanton--Christie Craig & Faye Hughes

I had the chance to interview two authors who swear they were separated at birth and are really sisters. Hmmm, I'm wondering if their respective parents know about this? Christie Craig and Faye Hughes, are both southern women and this is evident in their writing. I warn you now, never be taken in by the whole butter wouldn't melt in their mouths and those sweet, sweet drawls. Underneath all that sweetness there are brains that work better than a well oiled steel trap. If you've read their books you will find that hot southern nights do spawn some hot activities and they both write them so well. And a word of warning; never tick off Christie. She bypasses the whole come to Jesus chats and has a special place just for people who do. 

Christie and Faye conduct various workshops at writing conferences, (in fact you'll have a chance to take one of their workshops if you go to RWA National) have an online site called Write With Us and their courses are adaptable for online classes as well as in person. Definitely check it out; it's a very interesting site. 

They have also written two non-fiction books together, The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel, and Wild, Wicked & Wanton:101 Ways to Love Like You're In a Romance Novel.
My curiosity was aroused and so I chatted a bit with them regarding their latest, Wild Wicked & Wanton, and working together as co-authors, among other things.
Please welcome to Over Coffee, Christie Craig and Faye Hughes.
  • I know both of you write fiction, I've read some of your books, so tell me a bit about yourselves, if you would.
Christie Craig: An ex-waitress, I grew up in Alabama with a southern family who used humor as a coping method. Laughter was how we dealt with good times, bad time and really sucky times. I was the only girl between two brothers who thought burping and making farting sounds with their armpits was dinner conversation. I married the wrong man way too young, divorced, was a single parent, and then found my real life hero later on. Being Southern, and from a long line of storytellers, I had inherited a bit of the talent. But being dyslexic, writing was something I sucked at. It took me ten years of learning and trying and retrying to sell my first book. And only thirteen years later to sell book two. However, all those years of struggle must have taught me something, because the day I sold book two, I sold three other books. Talk about feeling as if I’d won the lottery. My stories are Southern, funny, and have a bit of sizzle to them. And because I’m a Scorpio and have been known to get ticked off occasionally, I also throw a little murder in my books. My logo is Sexy, Suspenseful And Seriously Funny. And I try to live up to it.
Faye Hughes: When Christie and I first met back in 2005 on a writers loop, I told her I thought we might be related because, I swear, we are so alike in so many ways we could be sisters. We’d even lived in Southern California at the same time and a few blocks or so away from each other, too. We shopped in the same stores, frequented the same restaurants and clubs, probably even ran into each other in the ladies’ room a few times, but we never met until years later. I just find that remarkable. Now, I’m not from Alabama. I grew up in Mississippi, which is right next-door. I always wanted to be a writer, and I started my first novel when I was nine. It was about an 18 year old college freshman, a wild mustang and the struggle between environmentalists and ranchers in Montana. Um, I did say I was nine, right? And living in Mississippi? LOL. 
  • Aside from writing romance you also have writing workshops. What are some benefits of taking your workshops?
FH: Oh, that’s a great question, thanks for asking it. Christie and I love doing workshops and we did our first one together at a writer’s conference, we discovered we had the same approach. (I’m telling ya, we have to be related. And with Mississippi and Alabama being so close . . .) Anyway, we try to make a promise to the people attending our workshops that if they’ll give us their time, we will give them three things in return: we will entertain, motivate and educate. And I think we accomplish those goals. We make our workshops fun and inspiring and, yeah, you might even learn a thing or two. Speaking of workshops, we will be giving one on surviving rejection at RWA National in Orlando with literary agent Kim Lionetti of BookEnds and editor, Rose Hilliard of St. Martin’s Press.
  • Are the workshops a compilation of subjects you’ve spoken about at conferences or new material?
CC: Both. We’ve both been writing so long and have given workshops, writing articles for writing magazines over the years. I personally taught an on-going writing class for about five years. And since Faye and I wrote the book The Everything Guide To Writing a Romance Novel, we’ve covered a lot of subjects. So sometimes we pull from our book and sometimes when we’re brainstorming workshops for conferences, we will hit on a new subject or just a new approach to an old subject. And if we still can’t come up with something we must make up stuff. LOL. Hey, we’re fiction writers.
  • This is the second non-fiction book you two have written. What inspired you to write non-fiction to begin with? And how did you come up with such an idea?
FH: When people ask me this question, I always answer by saying that Christie called me up one day and said, “Do you want to write a book?” (You have to imagine her saying this with her Alabama drawl, too. LOL.) I told her sure, thinking she was joking and the next thing I knew, we had a contract. LOL.

Seriously, though, here’s how it happened: Christie had written a book for Adams Media several years ago called The 250 Questions Every Homebuyer Should Ask. They liked working with her and so when they decided they wanted to do one of their Everything Guides about writing a romance novel, they asked if she was interested. She called me and asked me what I thought about the project—CC and I were critique partners. She’d just sold three books to Dorchester and was going to be tied up writing those. I told her I thought it was a great idea and she should do it. I insisted she do it, in fact. And that’s when she said she’d do it but only if I wrote it with her.
 Christie, don’t you agree?
CC: Yup, I’d say they’ve worked out very well. Co-writing a book with someone can be tricky, but we found our work ethics, our dedication to the project really were the same. Also our writing voices complimented each other. It was a win/win.
  •  You’re a writing team. How do you handle creating a book together?
CC: We piggyback. And believe me, having Faye on my back isn’t easy! LOL. Seriously, when we decided to try to write another book after The Everything Guide, we just started brainstorming ideas and talking about possible subjects that we felt we had some knowledge in and then one of us would throw something out and the other one says…”Hey, that’s not too shabby of an idea. Maybe if we did tweak it like this it might work.” Since both us do mysteries, we considered the idea on how to kill an ex. But in the end we decided it might be too incriminating.

FH: Yeah, especially since we have all of these agents and editors buried in Christie’s compost heap in her back yard. Oh, and I think there is also a Weight Watchers attendant out there who made the mistake of telling CC she’d gained a couple of pounds one night at weigh-in. Trust me. Huge, HUGE mistake. LOL

  • Do you have any difficulties/differing opinions? Say, in how a subject is or has been covered as you’re writing. How do you handle differing opinions on a subject you both are writing?
FH: Okay, I did mention CC’s compost heap, right? LOL. Okay, seriously, I can honestly say that CC and I have never had any major arguments about this although we do have differing opinions. We decided in the beginning that we’d do a 50/50 breakdown of the work. We’d agree on the topics and then we’d choose the ones we want to write. If either of us has a problem with a chapter topic, that chapter would get added to our list. (It may sound crazy but it works for us.) Then we’d critique each other’s work and point out any problems we had but the ultimate decision about the chapter would be made by the author of that chapter. I think it honestly helped that we were critique partners first. I respected her writing and she respected mine. Our voices mesh and we both have the same goal when we write together – to write the best book possible, so we always put the work first.

Oh. One more thing. We also have this agreement that when people tell us, “Oh, I loved XYZ chapter or scene,” that we tell them, “Thank you, that’s the one I wrote.” But if they say they weren’t that happy about PQR chapter or scene, “Oh, that’s the one SHE wrote.” LOL

  • What made you decide to write a non-fiction book for women about loving like you’re a heroine in a romance novel?
CC: I’ve written over 3000 non-fiction articles for magazines and while I loved that career because it allowed me to stay at home while I continued to write novels. However, since I was selling novels I only wanted to write non-fiction that somehow helped support my fiction career. Faye and I were brainstorming once and we both agreed that if real women spent anywhere near as much time plotting their relationships as a romance author plots her novel, there would be more happily ever afters in real life. That sort of got us piggy backing and thinking of how we could use this concept in a non-fiction book. And bam! We realized that our romance heroines actually could teach real woman a lot about love.

  • What do you hope readers will take away from reading this book?
CC: Like Faye said, when we give workshops we tell everyone our goal is to entertain, motivate and educate. I personally think that it’s the same with our books. WW&W is written to entertain you, to inspire you by giving you hope that you too can be happy in love, and to hopefully educate you or offer insights to some of the pitfalls of finding a true love and making the relationships work.

One reviewer also pointed out that this book would be perfect for a bunch of girlfriends to read before going on a girlfriend weekend. It will bring to mind all the funny situations with men and relationships and help you laugh about some of the hiccups with romance with which most women face at one time or another.

FH: Ditto. And especially the entertain part. This was such a fun book for us to write. We really hope readers enjoy it as much as we did.

Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You're In a Romance Novel
Sure, romance novels offer are fun, pure fantasy, but can they actually teach a woman anything about love?


Think about it, if a woman spent as much time plotting her romantic relationships as authors did in plotting their romance novels, there would be far less heartache. If real women took their cues from romance heroines, there may be more real-life Happily Ever Afters. Romance authors Christie Craig and Faye Hughes have turned their philosophy into a humorous self-help relationship book that lists 101 ways a woman can love like she's a romance heroine.

Romance heroines aren't perfect, they make mistakes. But by the end of the book, they've earned their walk into the sunset. How do they do it? Courage, wisdom, and some good ol' kick-ass gumption. Heroines don't wish they'd said something, they say it. They don't fret about their problems; they fix them. And couldn't we all use a little bit of their wisdom to deal with real life and with real men?

Meet Jayne. Like most romance heroines - and most real life women - she's had her share of heartaches. In Wild, Wicked and Wanton, Jayne's search for true love teaches her:

· How to recognize a Keeper . . . and a Creeper

· How to tame a Bad Boy

· How to trust her instincts

· How to find her own Mr. Right

· And Much, Much More!

Search inside this book

You can find out more about both Christie Craig and Faye Huges on their joint website, Write With Us 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blog Awards and Appreciation

This past Monday I was awarded a lovely blog award by blogger extraordinaire, Helen Ginger--Straight From Hel. It means a lot to me because she has taught me many things since I started my blog sixteen months ago. What I really appreciate is her availability when I had questions. From her I learned about Twitter and sharing buttons and whatnot. She also has some very informative posts on all manner of subjects.  If you haven't checked out her blog you should.

Another blogger who has taught me much and when she doesn't know the answer she's knows who to put me in touch with, is Houston A.W. Knight, aka Hawk. Thanks to her and the wonderful Lea, my blog expanded to a 3 column template and Lea helped me coordinate colors and HTML--I knew nothing about them when I started.  Hawk, like Helen, is approachable, both are writers, both knowledgeable about writing, the publishing market, and both have been very supportive. They're very cool ladies with some solid blogs.

I read many blogs and have a nice circle of cyber blog friends as a result. Those I enjoy I list on my own blog with links. It's a way of giving praise to their blogs regardless of how often they post. When I see a good article posted on one of the many blogs I follow, I try to tweet them, or put them on my facebook wall. This way others will see them too. It's a way of showing appreciation and paying back or paying forward, depending upon how you look at it, to some wonderful bloggers.

To have someone like Helen, who watched me start and build my blog, give me this award is an honor. It may seem silly to some, but having experienced bloggers give commendation is special. For one, we know the effort needed to consistently publish a blog. This one is called the Meat and Potatoes Award. It tells you that the blog content is more than fluff but offers some solid information. Helen passed this award to five bloggers and I in turn am to do the same.

 "This prestigious award goes to a particular group of wise and experienced bloggers who have proven themselves over the course of time, trials, and tribulations.
If you're looking to follow someone’s guidance for writing, publishing, promotion, and thought provoking articles, then I suggest you look at this group:
If you get the chance, stop by and say Congratulations. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

Coming up on OVER COFFEE in June: Christie Craig and Faye Huges, Kate Douglas, Kathryne Kennedy, Marie Force and several others.

Regarding interviews, what authors would you like to see interviewed and why?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Recharging: The Saving Grace of Laughter

Laughter isn't just the best medicine -- it's life's saving grace.

Everyone needs time away to refresh not only his or her creative spirit, but time to let go of stress. Ever notice when you spend time with friends or family laughing and having a good time, you tend to come back to every day chores with a renewed spirit? The manuscript you flung across the room in frustration suddenly has redeeming value again. You no longer want to send your kids and/or husband to homestead on the moon. What do you mean there is no oxygen or gravity? You’re so brilliant make some. (I figure I might as well put them to work while they know everything.)

The past week, I had a lot on my plate. I had deadlines, interviews to conduct, people I had to see, and places I had to be. I was still dealing with two weeks of sleep deprivation from when my son was recuperated from surgery—brings back memories of dealing with infant feedings every two hours. I had some late nights. I can tell you now, it ain’t pretty when those toothpicks propping open your eyelids fall out, nor is keyboard marks embedded in your face. I reopened a chapter I was writing while I was in the zone. I just didn’t realize what *zone I inhabited when I wrote a part of it. Sigh…yep, I found I had channeled three paragraphs of a foreign language from somewhere in the universe. Not sure exactly where and the UN has no known translators of this language.


*Metaphorically throwing the manuscript across the room while muttering, ‘I so suck’.

Saturday, I had had it. My nap was interrupted, I had a stream of ranch business visitors, and I was grumpy. I grabbed the kid and said, "change clothes; we’re heading to Grandma’s house and bring your bathing suit." Just mentally shut the door on everything. Put on Seether, Breaking Benjamin, and Five Finger Death Punch, turned it up loud and Jake and I sang all the way to my mom’s

I had a wonderful time. I dropped Jake off at my brother’s house to visit with his cousin, and I went to my mom’s. No husbands and just girl time. We giggled and laughed. We swam in her pool, ran in the house just ahead of lightning and thunder. Mom has a healthy respect for both now but then proceeded to tell me tales of her misspent youth; a rowboat with an outboard in the middle of the lake on my grandparent's resort in Wisconsin. My mother gunning the engine to jump waves in the middle of a horrendous thunder storm, not once, but many times. *eye roll.

You’ve heard of ghost tales around the campfire? We shared, it’s a wonder we’re still alive tales. We sipped coffee and ate chocolate, we laughed at all the do you remember when stories and watched the Lightning bugs rise. We stayed up until 11:30 p.m. and had a blast. Sunday morning we got up to watch the birds sing up the sun and slipped into conversation on current events, music, books, and movies. Mom’s a great conversationalist and a well informed person and it’s amazing how smart she’s grown since I was a teen. *Wink

My younger brother came up to the house (he actually lives next door, sorta, on the family compound) at 7:30 for morning coffee and talk about his upcoming wedding. He’s twenty-six and marrying for the first time. Gads, I never realized what a romantic he is. We rounded off the morning with a visit from my other brother and his partner and my sister. Then it was time to go to my brother Mike’s house to pick up the kid. I was bubbly and relaxed--even when I had a blow out on the gravel road to my brother’s house. He played Knight in a shiny pick-up, had my tire changed in less than ten minutes (good thing as it was 90 degrees), picked up the kid and off for home.

I was energized, was able to finish the chapter I working on—in English this time, take care of blog stuff and still had time to do some work with my Arabian.

I need those fun times.

  • What do you do to recharge or relax? You know, those weeks when life has you by the throat and you feel like any creative spark you’ve ever had must have died an ignominious death?