Shut Up & Read Me: 3 Questions with Author Christie Craig

Steamy and hilarious as ever, Christie Craig is back with a new romantic suspense romp, Shut Up and Kiss Me. Today, we caught up with her for three quick questions.

BtO: First of all, Christie, happy release day to you and best of luck with the new book. Can you tell us a little of the backstory on SHUT UP?

CC: Thank you so much for having me here. Colleen is forever my go-to person when I need something, whether it’s about questions about a publishing contract, writing decisions or just sharing my good news or asking where to hide the body of that Weight Watchers attendant who told me I’d gained three pounds the last time I attended a WW meeting, and I really appreciate having a good friend in the business like that.

Now, about the backstory on Shut Up and Kiss Me. Writers get their ideas from all kinds of places. I always joke that I find mine at the clearance rack down at Wal-Mart but I have to say that with Shut Up, it was a little different. Now, I don’t think I’ve shared this with anyone and it is kind of a funny story. Years ago, before I sold my first humorous romantic suspense to Dorchester, I decided to try branching out into some more marketable sub-genres of romance. Erotic romances were really hot then, so I figured, hey, what not give it a try. I started a book called Under the Precious Sky about a Native American police chief, a photojournalist hired by the town’s mayor to promote local tourism, and the power of soul mates. I entered it in some contests and I think I even finaled but everybody told me the same thing – namely, that I had too much story in there for an erotic romance. So, I reluctantly abandoned the book but after I started making sales to Dorchester, I pulled out that proposal, redid the pages and, well, it became Shut Up and Kiss Me. And I have to say that out of all of my humorous romantic suspense novels, I think I love this one most of all.

Of course, isn’t that what a writer says about every new book?

BtO: Definitely!

I've known you for a long time -- in fact, you were one of the authors who encouraged me when I was first getting started -- but many might not realize the obstacles you faced when first breaking into print, and then breaking back into the business a second time with the kind of quirky humor, heartfelt emotion, and nonstop (sexy) action you've become known for. Care to elaborate on how you overcame rejection?

CC: Oh, boy. As anyone who has seen me do my “Rejection Dump” in workshops will tell you, I’ve been rejected a lot, especially when you add all the rejections for photojournalism assignments, freelance non-fiction to my fiction rejections. And, yep, each and every one of those little suckers stung but I didn’t let them keep me from trying again.

If I had to give two pieces of advice about overcoming rejection it would be this:
1. Dreams aren’t milk--they shouldn’t come with an expiration date. By that, I mean, it doesn’t matter how many rejections you get, they should never be enough to make you give up your dream. So what if you book got rejected by every publisher in the business? Put it lovingly on the shelf and then start a new project. Keep going, keep writing, keep submitting, keep pursuing that dream.

2. Either embrace rejection or kick its ass, nothing in between will do. Now, like I said, rejections sting, whether it’s your first or your hundredth, but how you deal with those rejections, well, that is what separates the people who achieve their dreams from those who don’t.

When I was trying to break into a new market as a freelance author, or break into romance, I did the same thing. I studied the markets and then I studied my rejections, looking for a kernel of knowledge that could make me be a better writer. Well, sometimes I found something and that is where the embracing part comes in . . . but other times, when it was just a half-page “Not for us” type of rejection, I just had to kick rejection’s ass.

BtO: Hah! Speaking of kicking rejection's tail, I used to have a special "I'll show them!" file. And I've head about one now-bestselling author who once wallpapered a bathroom with rejections - although I'm not sure I'd want to be surrounded by them at my most vulnerable!

Love your suggestions!

Can you tell us a little about your alter-ego, C.C. Hunter, and what's next for you?

CC: Yep, I’m now writing a YA paranormal series called Shadow Falls for St. Martin’s Press as C.C. Hunter. I’m really excited about the books, too. Born at Midnight is the first book and it will be released in February of 2011. The series is set at a summer camp for supernatural teenagers, and I’m having such a great time doing the books. It’s been racking up some big foreign sales for me, and I’m working on Book 2 in the series right now.

This is the first pseudonym I’ve used but it’s not the first time I’ve had an “alter ego” in writing. I mean, for years I’ve written my freelance non-fiction as Christie Craig. Right now, I’m a features writer for Houston Lifestyles and Homes and I do articles on interior design. Sometimes when I’m out in a bookstore – yes, I’m checking to see how many copies of my books they have on the shelves, I admit it. LOL – I’ll start talking with people. One woman recognized my name and said she just loved my work. I thought she meant my books but, nope, she was talking about an article I did on choosing new toilets. LOL.

I also write non-fiction books with Faye Hughes. We did The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance, which was out in 2008. In a few weeks, our next project, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You’re in a Romance Novel, will be released. I loved doing that book – it’s a humorous self-help book about what a real woman can learn about love and men from reading romance novels.

BtO: If I had a fourth question, I'd ask when do you sleep? Whew!

Thanks again for dropping by!

For our readers, here's a blurb for Christie Craig's new release. I highly recommend you check it out!

…where fistfights serve as dinner theater and fire ants rain from the sky. The locals are usually very friendly, if a bit eccentric. No pictures please, or you may find yourself a guest of the county morgue.

Photojournalist Shala Winters already had her hands full bringing tourism to this backward, podunk little town, but her job just got tougher. Pictures can say a thousand words, and one of Shala’s is screaming bloody murder. Now she has to entrust a macho, infuriating lawman with her life—but she’ll never trust him with her heart.
Trusted or not, Sky Gomez isn’t about to let a killer get his hands on Shala’s Nikon—or any of her more comely assets, for that matter. Her mouth might move faster than a Piney Woods roadrunner, but all he can think about is how good it must taste…and how she’ll never escape true love.

CC: Thanks again, Colleen, for having me here. It’s been great.


Faye Hughes said…
Great interview! And great book, too - Shut Up and Kiss Me is probably one of the most heart-felt and flat-out funny books yet!

Christie Craig said…
Hi Faye,

Thanks so much for stopping in.

I had a blast writing Shut Up. It was one of those books that almost wrote itself.
Joni Rodgers said…
Thanks, Christie, and have a great ride with the new book!

(And Colleen -- "shut up and read me" -- this message needs to be heard by so, so many people at BEA this week.)
Christie Craig said…
Hi Joni,

It's always a wild ride. Are you have fun at BEA?
I looove those rare birds, Christie - those books where you just have to get out of the story's way and let it spill out on the keyboard. I think I'm about due for one of those, after a string of stories painfully extracted from blood, gristle, and bone marrow.

And I suspect you're right about that, Joni

Great to see you here Faye!
Christie Craig said…
Hi Colleen,

Yup, when the book comes easy our life is good!

Amazingly, even the books hard to write can be just as good and powerful. But give me those stories that write themselves.

And thanks so much for hosting me today.
Phyllis Bourne said…
Fun interview! Now I've got to go on a Walmart run for ideas... or maybe Nordies shoe department.

Congrats on your upcoming releases!
Christie Craig said…
Hi Phyllis,

Yup, look at that clearance table, dig deep, there's a great idea somewhere in there.

Thanks for stopping by.

Suzan Harden said…
I kind of wish Christie found a way to keep the original kitchen table scene in the book. Talk about hot! *waves fan*

Also, the book is very informative. learned new ways to use certain feminine products. *grin*
Christie Craig said…
Suzan, Suzan!!

You would want to keep the table scene. LOL. But you were the one who said it wasn't an erotica!!

jenny milchman said…
The book sounds terrific, and I will definitely watch for that paranormal series debut to read with my 6 year old (I know, I know, but she likes older books)! Great interview.
Jeanna said…
Hi Christie! I can't wait to read Shut Up! and Kiss Me! I remember you from WHRWA when you spoke a couple of weeks ago! I really like your encouraging voice! Have a blast with your success!!
Darn it. Just realized I forgot to ask you the most important question, Christie. What's really under that hat?

Christie Craig said…
Hi Jenny,

Thanks so much for stopping by. Six might be a little young, but hey . . . who knows, plus you might enjoy it.


Christie Craig said…

Thanks so much. I love talking about writing almost as much as I love writing.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy Shut Up.

Christie Craig said…

What's under the hat? A lot of smartassness. LOL. asked and that is how my editor describes my writing voice.


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