Hi, Caitlin, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Sure. Well, I’m 27, I live in Colorado. I’m a nurse aid getting my bachelors in Human Services with a concentration in Domestic Violence and then I will be getting my masters as well. My goal after all of this is to open a private practice where my focus will be on helping the GBLTQ community, especially teens, with issues such as bullying, coming out and suicide just to name a few. I would also like to have a program that uses art and animal therapies to help children dealing with domestic violence and sexual abuse. So really my focus is going to be on helping kids and teens and trying to get them the help they need. While this will be my expertise, I will be inclusive as much as possible. The only population I refuse to work with is perpetrators. The flexibility of having my own private practice will allow me to write as often as I want to and still provide for my family when my fiance and I start having kids. The eventual goal is to work part time at my practice, write most of the day and have him stay at home with the kids.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first book was Almost Paradise and I submitted it the day before Silver Publishing’s Father’s Day submission call was due. I got the acceptance email a week later.
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I started writing in this genre back in February I believe so it really hasn’t been all that long. I’ve always enjoyed love stories with a HEA and after reading Duck! by Kim Dare I realized that I was missing out on an entire genre of interesting characters by only writing other pairings. I’d written MF, MMF, MFF and FF up to that point so I wasn’t new to writing erotica and in high school I devoured Yaoi and Shonen-Ai stories so eventually writing my own MM stories was the next step. Now that I’ve started writing in this genre I’ve realized how exciting and interesting it is and how many new possibilities there are. I still continue to write in other pairings but I’m finding that many of the WIPs and the story ideas that I’ve come up with are involving beautiful men who love each other which is perfectly fine for me.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
Hmm. Are we talking about actual writing or once I decided to start getting published? I started writing in middle school and I’ll talk a little bit more about that further down in the questions. I submitted my first short, a MM little story about a guy and a leprechaun, about a month before submitting Almost Paradise to Silver Publishing. That story was not accepted to the publisher that I tried but Silver has it right now so we’ll see if they like it. How many books I’ve written is a little trickier to answer. I’ve completed four MM stories and have written about ten others in different pairings that are in some level of either editing or being ignored. I wrote three in middle school that will never be submitted for publishing but they were good writing experience.
Do you write full time?
No, right now I devote around fifteen to twenty hours a week to writing. Between work and school that’s about the best I can do. Eventually I’d like to double that while I also have my private practice.
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
In middle school I had a therapist who suggested that I write stories about how I wish things in my life had gone. Writing was a great tool at first because I could fix marriages, fight back against bullies, get through a math class and have the guts to ask out the guy I had a crush on. It was all in my head but still, finding a way to express what I wanted back then helped me voice my needs later in life. In the darkest points of my teenage years writing was a refuge when I couldn’t talk to my friends and thought that I had no one else to turn to. No one should ever have to feel that alone and luckily I had an outlet where I could make everything better, if only for my characters. And some days that’s exactly what I needed to keep going and pretend that everything was normal the next day. Now that I’m older, wiser and stronger, I’m glad that I had writing there as a way to cope and can appreciate it for what it did to help me escape. When I write now its because I enjoy it, have fun doing it and because it makes me happy. One of my favorite times of year is when NaNoWriMo rolls back around and I usually have a blast with it. I wish the site could be up all year. I’d get a lot more writing done that way.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Today is going to be one of those all day writing sessions so I’ll tell you how I plan to do it. I got up at 5:30, not really by choice but I was wide awake so I figured I’d go for it. I checked emails and will be putting the final edits on Taming the Lion Tamer. I try to get the editing out of the way first since its a different thought process than writing. After editing I eat breakfast, go outside with my dog for a little while and get ready for the day. Then starts the first stretch of hardcore writing. I’ll turn on my music, get comfortable, have the inspiration images for my characters out on my desktop and jump in. I take a short break for lunch and spending time with my dog, reply to any emails that need my attention and then go right back to it for another few hours. I’ll start making dinner about five and write off and on while its cooking and then once my fiance gets home I usually don’t write so that I can spend time with him unless the characters won’t be quiet.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I write through. I don’t edit unless its a huge issue and I don’t go back and read more than the last page just to see where I was. Editing and revising take me out of a story and make me more analytical than creative so it messes me up.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I’ve done both. Usually I’ve got a beginning idea and then I see where it takes me. Somtimes I have a rough idea of where the story will be going and then I let it. I rarely sit down and do an outline unless I have a ton of ideas and everything is jumbled and I want to make sure that I cover everything. Then I write it all down and move things around to make everything fit and flow right. Even then though I rarely follow that order exactly. It really just depends on the story.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
This honestly depends on the story. For Almost Paradise I did very little research since it was all my ideas of how to work with Shifters. Taming the Lion Tamer has a few different species of big cats in it that I researched. My upcoming story that will be released in September, Marked by Grief, has some BDSM elements as well as some tattooing concepts that I read up on. If I know that I need to know more about something that I’m going to be using in a story to make it genuine and realistic then I will. I hate that feeling when I’m involved in a book and the author has a character do something that isn’t medically right or possible and I catch it and can’t get around that mentally to go back and enjoy it, so I try not to do that to people. My other biggest pet peeve along the lines of research is when I see horse breeds in movies, especially period pieces, that couldn’t possibly exist at the point that they’re trying to convey. The biggest flaw that I usually see is when a Friesian is put into a movie because the director needs a big, gorgeous, flashy black horse. With an animal as distinctive as that breed is I really wish people would do the research to figure out when it would be appropriate to use it instead of assuming that no one will notice or care. My fiance is the same way with the guns that directors randomly throw into movies without any thought to the history of the firearm.
How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?
I try not to put too much of myself in my books but honestly I know that I draw from my own personal experiences and desires so even though I don’t try to I’m sure that it gets in there. From a therapist’s standpoint almost anything can be interpreted as being an unconscious desire, whether I intended it or not so I don’t worry too much about it. You’ll never see my life story in a single character though. As for the people around me, I may take parts of names or occupations but I rarely take personality traits. A lot of that is the idea that I don’t want to offend anyone for writing them how I see them as opposed to how they see themselves. And also, if I base a character directly on a person I think that I’d start studying them, their movements and their habits, which could come across as creepy. Especially when I explain that I’m going to be putting them in an erotic novel. I don’t see that going over so well. When I develop a character I usually start with either a picture or an idea. I’ve got a collection of shots on my computer and I enjoy going through Vish Studio’s deviant art pictures when I need a face for a character that I just can’t get to work and it seems to help.
How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?
If the characters are speaking and the ideas are flowing and I’ve got enough time then I can easily write a story in a day. Usually though it takes about two weeks between work and school and flare ups from characters in other stories needing attention. I don’t revise until the very end unless it’s something glaringly wrong that I can’t get past.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
If a plot point is just taking a little extra work and doesn’t seem to be coming I may skip it and go onto some part of the story that is working for me. If it’s more than that and I can’t seem to get the words out to any story I’ll usually take a break. Sometimes an hour is all I need and sometimes I’m better the next morning.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I want them to enjoy it so hopefully some part of them comes away from a bit of happiness. If they learned something that’s great. If my story impacted them in some positive way that would be really nice. My darker pieces, even though they end with an HEA, hopefully bring the reader some harder emotions like sadness. Not that I want people to cry, but with Marked by Grief for example, it’s a sad story for the most part. That grief is in the title should make that pretty clear. It’s not a happy lovey read like my Taming the Lion Tamer is. But the depth of emotion in it is something that I’m proud of. So if someone tells me that they cried for Kit after reading it that will make me pretty excited.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
First of all, if you’re not willing to work on edits, deal with getting rejected and having to listen to the ideas of others then publishing probably isn’t for you. I don’t understand the people that I see on blogs talking badly about their editors. I know that I’m not perfect, I honestly never expected to be, that’s why editors are there to help. Also, arguing with readers about reviews is not the way to go. I’ve seen that too and it’s really bad form. Reviews are there to help the reader, your editor is there to help you. Every amazing story gets bad reviews. Movies that I love have been trashed in reviews. You choose to read them or not and try your best to move on. It’s honestly not the end of the world. I read every review because I’ve learned things from them. They’re honest critiques of how I write so I value them for that. Alright, final point- do promo stuff. Like this interview, blog hops, hosting other writers, book give-aways, etc. It’s publicity for you, it’s good will with other writers and it’s about networking. Have a blog, keep it active, join some writing groups, talk to readers, make friends. Don’t just promo your book repeatedly in groups. Talk about another author’s book that you just read, talk about a blog hop, talk about whatever it is that is important to you so that people connect with you as a person and want to work with you more often. It doesn’t take that much time or effort to make the connections that will help solidify you in this world.
Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
Both, actually. Almost Paradise I had soon into the book. Taming the Lion Tamer was named that before I got more than the first page done. Marked by Grief went through multiple title changes before it ended up being that.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
Dry and crazy. I find really weird things funny. Doctor Who makes me laugh like crazy and I love the movie Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. That is hilarious. The show Firefly always makes me laugh. Hell’s Kitchen and most horror movies are also pretty funny. My fiance likes to jump out and scare me which always makes me scream and then burst into hysterical laughter. Oh! And the British version of Death at a Funeral is absolutely perfect. If you’ve seen Firefly and Tucker and Dale you might be noticing a theme here.
What is the most frequently asked Kaitlin question?
Probably why I write, how I got started writing or if they can be a character in my next book.
What are you working on now?
Lots and lots. I’m finishing up final edits on Taming the Lion Tamer, I just found out that Marked by Grief was accepted so I’ll be doing edits on that story here pretty soon. I am writing Pine Hollow Wolves 2 and 3, along with a MMM story and a lot of YA stories including Hannah’s trilogy (from Almost Paradise). So there is a lot going on right now in my head but it works well for me. Pine Hollow Wolves 2 will be finished first though since that and the MMM are priorities.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?
An email from NaNoWriMo last year said that you cannot edit a blank page. I remind myself of this when I’m struggling to get the words out.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I love blog hops, interviews, give aways and anything else that can connect me with readers. I’m always game for grouping up with other authors, bringing awareness to a cause that I believe in and helping the MM community grow.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
I’m not really sure. After I started writing I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have stories going on in my head. I’ve always loved to read and thankfully my family has always encouraged that. I like to go driving in the Colorado mountains and a few of my ideas come from that scenery and the small towns that I pass through. Other times it’s a picture or seeing someone in the store that brings out a story.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Really anything with an HEA and interesting characters will have me hooked. I read every pairing, every genre and every heat level. I have a niece and a few nephews so after I read a good YA book I usually pass it along to them and they share their books with me. I like that we can talk about the characters that they love and that I can help them out with their book reports.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
A therapist. I like helping people and always have.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
Everywhere. Any moment can create a story. The boy at the bus stop, the man riding the light rail, the girl with the long braid in my class, a photo, a commercial… really it’s anything. I’m not picky. And once an idea hits it usually doesn’t go away until it’s been satisfied and written into a story. That’s why I’ve always got paper and a pen with me for those just in case moments. I also love writing prompts for flash fiction. Though usually those stories turn into much longer WIPs. I recently did a challenge that I’d never done before. I used another author’s cover to create a bit of flash without reading anything about the story beforehand. The drastic differences between them is fun to see and it was an interesting challenge.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
The cover for Almost Paradise is amazing. The artist couldn’t have done a better job and it sets up the happy, loving feel of the series perfectly.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love movies. Action, horror and sci-fi are my top three. I like intelligent comedies too. Long romances don’t do much for me. Hmmm, aside from movies I like spending time with my fiance and my dog. I’ve got a Blue Tongue Skink that I think is probably the coolest species of reptile that you can own in the states. I enjoy horseback riding, especially trail rides through the mountains. I also like swimming and going to the firing range.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
Taming the Lion Tame and Marked by Grief will both be out later this year. As my second and third books I’m really excited about them and will be hosting giveaways for both of them on my blog on their release dates. The Colorado MM group that I belong to just wrapped up the Out in the Rockies tour and hopefully we’ll be doing something similar to that again soon. NaNo is coming up in just a few short months so I’ll probably be holed up with my laptop, some sweet tea and a bag of Oreos for most of that month.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Write. That’s really all there is to it. Write, keep writing and always write what you feel like writing. Edit later but write now.
What future projects do you have in the works?
Lots of books. My plan is to get the Pine Hollow Wolves series done this year. Along with that ideally I’d love to get through my entire WIP pile by the end of the year as well. Nano should help with that as well. I’d really love to start the new year off with an all new WIP pile just waiting to be filled.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
Here’s an excerpt from my first book, Almost Paradise. Enjoy!
Liam clipped the thin leashes to Lucy and Ethel’s collars with quick, precise movements. They were a tapestry of wrinkles and drool, with small black eyes and long, gangly legs they hadn’t quite gotten the hang of yet in their eight short months of life. He loved his Neapolitan Mastiffs greatly and appreciated them all the more for being a gift from an ally he had helped earlier that year. The man’s generosity had not been a surprise, but the two shiny silver puppies delivered to his doorstep had been.
The small parking lot was nearly empty as they jumped out of the back of his large SUV and landed solidly on the ground. Lucy, the younger of the sisters by four whole minutes and months of maturity, tried gnawing on her leash for a moment before a look from Liam stopped her instantly. He allowed some puppy-like behaviors from them at home but he expected far more from them out in public. And at nearly one hundred pounds each, that was as much for the benefit of society as it was for his peace of mind.
The thin leather leashes were an annoyance in his hand as he entered the small upscale boutique. He disliked them greatly and only used them as a show for the humans to ease their worries. In reality, his dogs, and most others he had met obeyed him because he was dominant and expected nothing less from them.
The boutique was awash with rich sheer drapes in the dramatic colors of plum, indigo and emerald. His boss’s twin, Evangeline, had been a longtime customer and he’d been picking up her purchases ever since. Once a month she would call the owner, a lovely redhead named Miranda, and they would talk endlessly about what was new and what was trendy in the world of fashion that they both loved. Before the girls had arrived, Liam would walk in like any other of Miranda’s customers. He’d brought them in when others were there shopping when they’d been just a few months old as well. But as his dogs had grown, he’d realized that how people reacted to them had changed and he’d started making appointments to pick up Evangeline’s purchases during Miranda’s lunch hour. The quiet and privacy suited him just fine as well.
Miranda gave him a bright smile from her seat behind the small glass case as he approached. “Mr Glass, good to see you again sir. And your lovely ladies as well,” she said, leaning across to give each of his dogs a quick pat. “I swear they’ve grown nearly a half a foot since I saw you three in here last month.”
Liam nodded. “That sounds about right, Miranda.” His dogs took their places, sitting on either side of him as he began to peruse the earrings.
“So who’s the lucky recipient this time?” she asked him, leaning forward to look at the selection as well. “Those little diamond studs are new.” She pointed to the ones she meant and sighed wistfully. “They’re really beautiful.”
Liam smiled. They were nice-looking. She knew that he most often shopped for Evangeline, but the bright silver chain he wore was from Miranda’s shop as well. “My boss has annoyed Evangeline and has sent me out to apologize to her with jewelry while I’m getting the rest of her things.” He shifted his gaze to the emeralds but quickly moved away. They would be too dark against her coffee colored skin.
Miranda giggled. “Have something in mind already?”
He pursed his lips. Normally he’d have just grabbed the first thing he thought might fit the bill and then paid for it. It’s what he did for her birthday every year. But this time Samson had sent him out with the idea of apologizing to her, not an easy feat when the woman kept her grudges like she kept her fine chocolate–as close to her as possible and in a combination locked safe.
Nothing looked quite right and he was about to become discouraged when his gaze caught on a bright gold necklace with a trail of different gemstones winding down like a river. The pinks, yellows, and purples would go beautifully with her skin and the diamonds were brilliantly clear. He tapped on the glass over that one and Miranda instantly pulled it out for him.
“Wow, it’s beautiful,” she said candidly as she stroked the largest of the stones at the bottom of the river, a beautiful yellow gem. “She’s going to love it.”
Liam nodded. “I think you’re right.” He pulled out the credit card Samson had given him and handed it over to her. He didn’t care about the price, didn’t even look at the little tag. Samson wouldn’t have cared and Liam wasn’t going to change his mind on the perfect gift for his alpha’s twin.
As Miranda was boxing up the necklace he saw a pajama shirt and pants set that made him grin. Leaving the dogs where they were he picked it up and brought it back to the counter. It was made of silk and he thought that the pastel pink would go well with Evangeline’s skin.
“That’s lovely,” Miranda said as she began folding up the clothing. She handed the small bag to him along with a few much larger ones that contained Evangeline’s purchases for the month. “Here you are, Mr Glass. I’m sure she’ll love these. There’s also a little bottle of perfume in there for her as well as a thank you for being such a great customer all these years. I don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t for customers like her,” she said wistfully.
Liam took the bags from her with a thankful smile. Evangeline was always easier to deal with when she had shiny new presents. “Thank you Miranda, I’m sure she appreciates you catering to her needs and putting up with the three of us as well. I’ll see you next month. I will need a pair of cuff links then. A friend’s birthday is coming up.”
She nodded and pursed her lips as she tapped one long fingernail on the counter, thinking. “Particular color?”
Liam tilted his head as he considered. “Rubies would be good I suppose,” he said after a moment. His friend’s favorite color was red after all.
Miranda wrote a quick note to herself. “Great. I’ll order them today and they should be in later this week and you can pick them up next month. If you like them, great. If not, you know we have a wide selection of diamond cuff links as well. Sometime you should bring in Mrs Glass, I’d sure love to meet her.”
He nodded. “Thank you Miranda. I appreciate all your help. And there is no Mrs Glass.”
She blushed and he turned away.
He’d known she’d fish for more information sooner or later and he’d let her stew on that for a little while. He doubted she knew why there was no Mrs anything in his life or even that there never would be. But his sexuality had never been open to discussion between them and he would keep it that way. Privacy was one of those little things Shifters liked to keep intact.
The door behind him jingled as another customer walked in. He frowned and looked up at Miranda. She usually locked the door behind him so that they would have privacy during his visits and so that she didn’t have to see customers during her lunch hour. He turned around to see who it was and nearly tripped over Ethel in the process. He took a step back, bringing his dogs out of the way as the man came forward. Liam didn’t think that he’d seen him yet and wanted to watch him for as long as possible.