1. Why do you use initials in your pen name?

I decided on my pen name long before I was published. I wanted something that sounded SF-y and romance-y, but I also wanted a name that was mine, too. C.J. is my real first and middle name initials, so I decided to go with that.

2. Were you already fascinated by books at an early age?

Absolutely. Science fiction in particular spoke to my imagination and my restlessness. I still remember stories I read thirty years ago. They challenged me to think outside the box – a concept that I embrace even today.

3. Can you tell something about the pains and hardships of getting your first novel published?

Although I had read several hundred romances in the year before I started writing, I didn’t understand the market at all. I just decided I had this great story that I wanted to tell. So I started writing UNCHAINED on my own. I didn’t know about RWA until I was well into the manuscript. I joined RWA and my local CNYRW chapter in February of 1999. That’s when I discovered this crazy thing called POV and GMC and genre. I didn’t even know the genre I was writing at the time! So I had a pretty steep learning curve. But I finished UNCHAINED and sent it out. It was rejected by most traditional romance houses, generally because it had too much science fiction for them. Luckily, there were up and coming small press publishers like New Concepts Publishing who were willing to look at cross-genre work. They bought UNCHAINED in December 2000.

4. How was this book received by the public?

The feedback I’ve received has been very good, and it was a finalist in the 2003 awards so I was pretty happy about that.

5. Would you like to explain think it’s important for a beginning author to join the RWA? We’re both members, as it is.

See above! I have learned a great deal from RWA’s website, loops and conferences, but I’ve learned even more from my local chapter, Central New York Romance Writers. There is no way I would be published today without their generous support. I’ve been a member since 1999 and am currently Vice President of the chapter. I am also a member of the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal online chapter. I attend as many RWA National conferences as I can. It’s an intense five days, but very worthwhile with great workshops, events and networking. RWA has some great information on their website and an excellent annual contest for both unpublished and published authors.

6. Why did you choose futuristic romance as your genre, and not something else?

I think it stemmed mostly from my very early love for science fiction, movies like Star Wars and my technical background as a computer programmer/IT manager. When I think of a story idea, it’s never quite “normal”. There’s always some unusual paranormal angle to it, and I like it that way. It’s more fun and hopefully that comes through in the final product.

7. Can you deal with criticism?

I have learned to. <g> It was hard at first, but there is criticism in every step of being an author – agents, editors, critique partners, reviewers, even readers. It’s part of the business. I try to remember that writing is very subjective. I’m never going to please everyone, all the time. But the important thing is that I’m proud of my work, and that my readers enjoy the stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

8. Do you have an agent? Why (not)?

I sold both UNCHAINED en UNEARTHED unagented, but I do have an agent now. Roberta Brown from the Brown Literary Agency offered me representation in December of 2001. Not only is she a terrific person and great agent, she is my number one fan. I rely on her expertise and experience in the industry and in my career. I feel very fortunate to have her in my corner.

9. Would you like to become a full time writer?

I would at some point. I currently work as an Information Technology Manager for a plastics manufacturer. I love my job, but it’s very difficult to juggle day job and kids and writing. And I really miss sleep!

10. Any plans for future books? Do you want to unveil a little?

I’m tinkering with several options right now. Some are futuristic, some are paranormal, and some are near-future. Whatever I decide to write will be paranormal in nature, which covers a lot of territory. As for specifics, I’m not sure yet, but I guarantee it’ll be something you have never seen before.

Thanks so much, Nickie, for inviting me to your interview. I wish all your readers good books and many happy endings.

 

 

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© 2005 Nickie Fleming/Jansan