What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
None that I know of, unless you mean spiritually
What is the first book that made you cry?
I couldn’t begin to answer that. My emotions are intense when I read or write, just as if I watched a movie
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
That depends on where I am in the story. Getting through the fodder that is necessary to advance a story can be extremely exhausting. But when I get past it and into an important part of a story, time slips away without me realizing it.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
This is hard for me to say. I never intended to be a writer. I spent 2 years writing my first and only novel. Nine additional novels later, I can look back and see that I might have been aspiring at one time. I guess giving up on a story after rejection would be a common one. My breakout novel was rejected by four publishers. I reworked it and changed the ending twice, adding 3 chapters in the process. I submitted to 4 new publishers and immediately heard from one of them.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Description. It’s not that I’m no good at it. It’s that I sometimes forget to add it in.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have several author friends. I run a writer’s club, which has helped me pick out some of the mistakes I’ve made and offered other ways to write certain lines. But in most recent times, VJ Allison has been the biggest inspiration. She has an energy that kind of rubs off on everyone around her.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I made the mistake of finding the wrong publisher right from the get go. I signed a contract with Publish America without knowing how much they planned on listing my novel for. After a year of no sales, I bought the rights back and self-published. They wanted to charge me $500 to buy back the cover I provided them. I got very strong response to my book once I published at a reduced price from $29.95 to $9.95 (they were charging $29.95 for Kindle, too), but I didn’t learn anything about the publishing work until my third novel. Looking back at that first one, the story was great, the mistakes in it—numerous. That’s why I tried so hard to get my fourth novel traditionally published
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’m no salesman. And with the newest book coming out, I have every intention of paying for advertising, but I haven’t as yet found a site that will give me a return for my investment. The costs of some of the more popular sites look to me as a guaranteed loss. I’m looking for suggestions.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My fourth novel was to become my first romance. Technically, I had no intention of writing in that genre, but I came up with an idea that exploded with potential. It was while writing “Straight from the Heart” that I found I could write and cause myself to tear up. If I could do that to me, all I could think of was the power of the story and the knowledge that I was going to make others cry—In a special way, of course.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I would have to say the second of my Heart series, “Back to the Heart.” I felt the depth of the main characters were really portrayed. My professional critique said I had them eating too much, but she didn’t go into enough detail about the characters for anyone reading her critique to appreciate the story. Still, she gave me 4 stars.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I don’t do symbolism.
What does literary success look like to you?
I haven’t achieved it. I would like the money, but I haven’t been able to get my own family to read my stories. My sisters have, but none of my wife or kids. I have turned that to my advantage in a way. I’ve been able to write some intense scenes without concern for their thoughts.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I suppose the sex scenes. I think I have the dialogue down, but I have a little trouble with describing sensations from actions involving foreplay to intercourse.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
No. However, I have read things that made me think carefully about purchasing self-published works. I’ve read some that are fairly good, but others that weren’t good enough to even be read for free. There is something to be said about traditional publishing. Even if you’re good enough to be published, there is nothing more important than the editors who help you hone the story. And believe me, I’ve had my share of disagreements with them, but I’ve learned to choose my battles carefully.
How do you select the names of your characters?
It’s the luck of the draw. I’ve tried things like naming one gender list starting at A and the other starting at Z, even doing it that way with first and last names, but it comes down to me thinking of a name I like and not using too many in the same alphabet for the same book.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
You bet. My “Heart” series is loaded with places that only those living in the town or my family would know because they are specific to my childhood memories. I made videos for all three of the novels explaining with pictures the actual buildings and places and placed them on my website. I really lucked out when I went there one Sunday with my wife to take the pictures. We arrived in town at exactly noon. I stopped outside the church that my parents were married in because I had characters marry in it. The pastor came out and we got to go in and see the inside. WOW! It was absolutely gorgeous. The video doesn’t do it justice.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I don’t have any difficulties in writing my scenes. I only write what will move a story forward. I have written male/male sex and female/female sex (this may have been my hardest) but in both cases, they only made a point. The story was in no way focused on those scenes. And in reading some of the other stories involving sex, my scenes are considered tame.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Curious George Rides a Bike. Loved the paper boat. And I learned how to make French Toast with the Snoopy Cook Book
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
This is where I find that the other authors I know blow me away. I have difficulty coming up with an idea for a story. And once I have one, I need to come up with issues that occur in the stories. I’m amazed that some writers can turn out a book in two months. The best I ever did was six months, but that was after I designed a board game to write the story around.
When you die – what would you like the universe to say to you as you walk into the next life?
I’m not sure what I’d want the universe to say, but I say, “Please don’t bring me back as a cow!”
Curtis A. Cooper
Author - Extasy Books & Devine Destinies
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