by Rox Burkey
I get tickled when I have the chance to speak to an award-winning author. C.J. Peterson is my special guest today. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as me.
Thank you, C.J. for taking the time to be with me. Not only are your books page-turners, but the story of your journey is inspiring. Let’s talk about you!
1-How did you get started writing and publishing novels?
I’ve always written, but publishing is another story. I mostly wrote for myself over the years. However, when I met my husband, and read one of the books to him, he encouraged me to publish the books.
After a lot of research, I had difficulty finding a publishing company that fit my books. So, I decided to go the Indie route.
Since then, my sister and I have started our own publishing company – Texas Sisters Press. I guess you could say that my writing/publishing career has gone full circle!
2-What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about many things. They include obviously writing, people, bees, and photography. I love photography, because it allows me to capture an image, frozen in time. My favorites are capturing people when they don’t know I’m taking their picture. I also enjoy taking eye-catching landscapes!
As for writing, as I said above, I’ve always been a writer. Reading was always my way of escaping, as is writing. Writing, however, allows me to be in control of the story and how it ends. That’s the thrill of writing for me. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser.’ I write by the seat of my pants. Honestly, I sit down, pray, and type. I never know how the story will end when I start it. I don’t even have a clue as to the direction the story will go. I love that about writing!
As for people. People are similar at their core. It’s their experiences which make them who they are. Whether the experiences are good or not, those experiences are what shapes them. I love talking to people, and listening to their stories. I find people absolutely fascinating.
Bees are another passion of mine. Bees help the environment, and have many different benefits. They pollinate many of the foods we eat each day. As a matter of fact, if the bees die, the planet will die within four years. Bees also produce wax, propolis, royal jelly, and of course, honey!! All of these products are used in daily life. Raw honey also has many health benefits! I could go on all day!
3-What interests you outside of writing?
My husband and I own an apiary. Many of those benefits are described above. We are in the process of collecting melted wax, where I’ll make balms and candles out of it. We currently have eleven hives, and hope to add to them each year.
We also love to travel! We have two little guys (a stuffed koala and monkey) who travel with us. I know this may sound strange, but the little guys are known as Chief and Sarge. They have their real-life adventures on social media for kids to enjoy. We also just launched their first children’s book!
4-How many hours a day do you put into your writing?
That depends on the day. There are days where I write for eight to ten hours. Then, there are days where I don’t write at all. I’m not one of those who feels guilty about not writing every day. There are many project I handle every day. Whether it’s the bees, writing my blog, recording my podcast, or working on the myriad of other projects I enjoy, or even just taking some me time, I know my writing will get done on time.
5-Do you read your book reviews?
Sometimes I read them. When each book comes out, I look for constructive points in the reviews, as well as those who enjoyed the books. The constructive ones, I take notes. For those who enjoyed them, I keep them for those days where I feel like the most horrible writer in the world. The words in those reviews encourage me to keep writing. As for those negative reviews, well, the books weren’t written for that person. Not every book is for every person.
6-Do you leave hidden messages in your books that only a few people will find?
Always! Those who need those messages, or those who those messages are for, find them, and contact me when they do. I love it when they do too! I thoroughly enjoy hearing from readers.
7-Which of the characters that you created is your favorite and why?
Well, there are many characters over the years that I have enjoyed. Picking just one is like picking a favorite child. Each one created, I hold close to my heart for different reasons – including the bad guys.
8-Can you tell me a little bit about your next book and when it will be available?
I’m currently working on three books at the same time. The next one coming out is a rewrite of my very first published book – Strength From Within. I hope to have it available in the fall for release.
In the current books released, the characters crossover story lines within the series. Strength From Within is the story of Stacey Spencer. Stacey comes into play in the Grace Restored Series at the end of book 1 – Seasons of Change. Her story is finished in book 3, Spring Shadows.
Here is the Summary for Strength From Within:
Pine Crest was a quiet little Ohio town, just outside of Cleveland. To the outside world, it seemed to function as any other small town. However, upon closer inspection, Stacey and her father, Sam Spencer, discovered the dangerous secret that was this town’s reality. Corruption had such a massive stronghold that survival seemed to be the way of life.
Asserting her normal independent attitude in this new environment as the new kid in town, could find Stacey in trouble. However, the strength inside her forces her not to back down. Once Sam figures out what is going on, he cannot turn a blind eye to it either. By fighting back, can the Spencer’s help free this town from its bonds? Will it ignite a spark of hope or an all-out war? What would you do if your town was held captive? Would you comply or would you fight back?
Isaiah 40:31: But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
9-Can you tell me a little bit about the characters and how you have gotten traction with them?
My characters face many things through their books. Whether it’s Casey Carter in her firefighting world, or Katie MacKenna overcoming her domestic violence past to become a strong, independent young lady, or Stacey Spencer standing up against powerful people in the new town they moved to in order to help everyone in their town…they all have a strength within them that they never knew they had until they needed it.
The characters also are real. They trip, stumble, and fall flat on their face in life, but with the help of God’s Words, and those He surrounded them with in life, they come through stronger than ever.
As my tagline says, “While the stories are fiction, the journey is real.”
10-Tell me a little about your writing process and how it has evolved?
As far as how it has evolved, I have my editors to thank for that. They have pointed out many various bad habits I had over the years. They have challenged me to write a different way, and have made sure to let me know when I’m wrong.
As far as my writing process, I literally sit down, pray, and write. I write as long as possible, or until I feel the need to stop. When I pick it back up again, I read the last chapter and keep writing again until I stop. Somehow, God makes it all mesh and flow together! I love writing this way!
I am also ADD. I keep a headset on in order for me to concentrate. I keep many songs on there that inspired other stories. The continuous playing allows me to focus on my writing.
11-What is the biggest inspiration to your writing?
Many times, a song will trigger a scene in my mind. That’s usually the only scene I have, a vision for regarding my story line. Some scenes are from stories of people I meet in everyday life.
I also keep the song which inspired the story in my playlist while I’m writing until I get to the scene. I can tell you pretty much which song inspired which story line.
12-I know you write in multiple genres; do you find that satisfying or challenging?
It’s difficult to be honest! I just published my first children’s book. Flipping from YA/Adult to a children’s book was a challenge. It was almost frustrating. Thankfully, I have a wonderful sister who is a children’s book author. She allowed me to bounce ideas off her, and helped me gear the story for younger readers.
As far as writing the YA/Adult books, I worked with teens for over eighteen years. I truly enjoy writing for those young adults and adults who like the books. I make sure to keep the story line moving. If I’m bored I delete it.
No matter the genre, I enjoy evoking emotion. If I can make you smile and cry in the same book, it makes my day!
13-Most authors I come across are readers, does this apply to you? If yes, do you have a favorite genre?
Yes, I am definitely a reader! I can devour many a book in one sitting. As for specific genres, as long as I don’t blush when I read it or fall asleep, I love it! I enjoy everything from YA, to fantasy, to sci-fi, to historical fiction, to adult, to…well, you get the picture.
I was one of those kids who would get in trouble for reading after lights out with a flashlight when I should have been sleeping. Reading is a wonderful way to open my imagination!
14-You are a very busy lady, but I hear you are not only writing but publishing too. Please tell me a little about that and why you chose that path at this time.
Yes. My sister (LM Mann) and I own Texas Sisters Press. We just launched it in December 2019.
The original reason we started it was to save money in publishing our own books. We also have seen many authors taken advantage of over the years, and wanted to give them a viable option to Indie authors being charged too much. It also pains us to see some Independent Author books whose editing or covers resemble that they were done on their own. We wanted to show the world that Indie authors books are just as good as many traditionally published books.
Texas Sisters Press is a hybrid publishing company. We put out quality books. We like to meet with the author via Zoom when they first contact us. This enables us to find out what exactly the author needs or wants. Our only requirement is that the book is professionally edited prior to coming to us. If the author is not sure where to find editors, we have a list of editors to start them on that journey. We do not get kickbacks. These are editors we have run across over the years, or editors who have been recommended to us.
We love authors and the variety of works they produce. We stand behind our authors by providing encouragement and support for those who join our team.
15-Who was your biggest supporter when you began writing?
My family…my husband in particular. I call him Super Hubby for many reasons. One of those is just how much he supports and encourages me in publishing my books. He puts up with the antics of Chief and Sarge. He reads through each and every book I publish before it goes to the editor and just before it goes to publication. I have found a true diamond in my Super Hubby!
16-Do you have any advice for up and coming authors?
Yes. Don’t write for the current world trend. Trends change. Write from your heart. Write the book you want to read. Write what you know.
Also, yes, people do judge books by their covers. Just like when you first meet a person, you decide if you want to continue the conversation within the first five minutes of talking with them. That’s the same with books. The cover needs to be representative of the story, as well as the writer.
Let them get to know you and your style. People enjoy knowing the author. Make sure there are multiple venues in which they can get to know you. I have a blog, and biweekly newsletter, as well as a podcast in which people have the opportunity to get to know me. I also attend book shows and Comic Cons, allowing me the opportunity to get to know my readers. I love readers! I’m honestly their biggest fan! When they come to me either via email or messages or at book shows, and are excited about one of my books, it thrills me beyond belief!
17-Where can folks find you and follow you.
The best way to find me is via my website
There are many things on my site: The Journey To Fruitfulness Blog; The Journey Is Real Podcast; where they can find me on the road under ‘Appearances’; Serenity Acres Apiary (the bees); each series has its own page; and there is even a page of pictures I took on our travels for you to enjoy.
There’s easy-to-find opportunities to connect as well! All of my social media links are on the bottom of each page. There is also a biweekly email list you can sign up for! Check it out! I look forward to getting to know you!
C.J. I want to thank you again for spending time with me and with my readers. I thought I knew you, but I learned a lot. I look forward to your next book. Take care!