Interview with Cora Morgan

Who are your favorite authors?
So many great authors, so little time. Tom Clancy, Richard Adams, Jane Austin, the Bronte Sisters, Bryan Sykes, Patrick O' Brian, I have friends who have never published who I think are amazing. Right now I'm really loving "the Change" series by S.M. Stirling and a stack of books at my bedside just screaming for me to dive into them. It really depends on what genre we are talking about and the mood I'm in while reading.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm a morning person, so it doesn't take much. I love to catch the first light of morning, I tell everyone I'm getting farm chores done but really I'm just enjoying a big cup of coffee and a fresh new day no one has seen yet. Some of my best ideas I dream up while hunting down hidden chicken nests or filling up water pans. I love those quiet personal moments. They keep me going.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I paint. I read. I outline new stories. I can't think of a single moment when I don't have a piece of a story in my head or I'm not chewing over some little detail which I think would make a good element to a book. But I tend to sit on those and keep my hands busy cooking or quilting or just going fishing. I love to fish. It's a good time to turn your mind off and refresh, but of course the more quiet I get the more the stories nag at me so it isn't long before I have a notepad and a pen going again.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Ebooks are new to me. I can be a purist, I like the way a book feels and smells. But when a friend of mine turned me onto Smashwords I was amazed at the range of genres I could find. I have a reading addiction so this can be dangerous. Between this site and Project Gutenberg for classics, I could be spending a lot more time with an e-reader in my hand.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
When I was little my dad would work the swing shift, so I was going to bed just as he was getting up. He would tuck me in with a story usually based off of my favorite books and we would make up the plot together. My favorites were the stories we would tell about Floppsey, Moppsey, and Cottontail. When Dad ended up on Graveyard that dynamic changed and I didn't have that story time with him anymore. So I had my mom help me with writing the stories down. I was five so my spelling and grammar weren't perfect, but I could draw the pictures ok and we would leave them for Dad to read when he got home. Somewhere he has a stack of papers stapled together with stick figure rabbits who go to the moon or are buying birthday cakes at the bakery.
What is your writing process?
I get an idea stuck in my head and I will outline it in a journal or a notebook. Some of these sort of develop themselves and I feel more like I'm channeling than creating. And then I type them out and hide them. I rarely let anyone read my stuff just because I think it's clumsy or I'm not happy with the way a character turned out. I actually wrote The Shaker's Daughter about five years ago, but I thought the plot was a little shallow so I just kept stripping it down and rewriting until I thought I had a fairly decent story.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Richard Scarey's Animal Nursery Tales. That was one dad would read to me. I loved the "Wolf and the Kids" where the mother goat would leave her kids home alone and the wolf would sneak into the house to eat them all up. It was really scarey in a fun fairy tale sort of way. I think maybe cautionary tales like that sort of speak to my inner adrenaline junkie, which isn't really what they are supposed to do. Some of my first novels were Gone With the Wind and Watership Down, I remember feeling very accomplished when I finished them and understood them while the rest of my peers were still reading picture books. The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series were also big favorites. Having my dad take me to the library every week, that was like taking me to the fair. He used to let me run loose through there and we would eventually meet up at the check out desk. I think I had the Dewy Decimal system memorized by the age of eight, so it is hard to nail down the ONE book which impacted me the most.
How do you approach cover design?
With fear and trembling. I was really grateful for the introduction video Mr. Coker put together, where he talks about cover design and other formatting dos and don'ts. I found that so helpful. In the end I begged the assistance of a friend who had experience in design. I explained to her what Mark had said and what I wanted and I think it turned out really good! Much better than if I had been completely flying blind, so the style guide and the tips provided by Smashwords are an invaluable resource. Putting yourself and your work out there is intimidating, so it is nice to feel like from the very get go I had people pulling for me who wanted my cover and my book to look great and read well.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Oh gosh, my FIVE favorites? That list changes every week. I love "Persuasion" by Jane Austin; I like love stories that seem more sad and hopeless than fluffy and predictable. You can't know for a fact that everything is going to turn out perfectly, otherwise why read the book? I found "Adam's Curse" by Bryan Sykes to be fascinating. Who knew genetic research could be so readable and exciting. I am an absolute history freak so my copy of "Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King" by Charles Beauclerk is rather dogeared. He really treated her story and her person with care and brought her to life for me. The same goes for Steven Saylor's "Roma", only it was an entire culture resurrected for me rather than a single person. So often when we learn about people or peoples in history we are taught "it is this way" but there is no real explanation as to why. I love authors who can reach through that veil and bring it to life and explore the "why" human side of a story. Other than those, really anything by Louis L'Amour. Especially "The Tall Stranger", but that's just because I have a "thing" for the main character Rock Bannon.
What do you read for pleasure?
Anything that catches my attention at the time. I go through phases where one book leads to another to another. I think I spent an entire summer once reading nothing but epic poetry. I read a ton of nonfic because some of the best fiction has roots in fact. My fiction fall-backs are always mystery and romance novels, maybe something with a paranormal twist to it because of all the twists and turns that sort of an element brings to the plot. Also, when in doubt pick up a classic. There is a reason why these stories endure.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I either read on my laptop or my old Sony E-Reader. It's ancient by technology standards but it was a gift from my husband when I was finishing my degree to make it easier for me to keep my coursework and syllabi in one place rather than carting around a ream of assignments everywhere I went. It cost him next to nothing - he really got a great deal on it - but it was such a sweet gesture I can't bring myself to upgrade the dang thing for something flashier with more features. I'm pretty attached and not really one to quit on a device if it is still functioning and humming along without a hitch.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am a total nube here! I am still reading the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide for advice and help. Right now I have a Facebook page and I'm doing a Friends With Benefits promo where if you like the page and message the admin there I have a discount code. For Shaker's Daughter it is kind of a lot to ask of people to like AND message, but the great thing is that as I add other titles to this series or even entirely new books I can just share a discount code to the page directly so all of my friends get a piece of the savings. Ergo... friends, with benefits. I am also on Twitter, I set up an account just for my writing because the potential for reach there is astounding. Right now I have one tweet on there directing people to the FWBFB page... it's a little beggy, but I am no where near done there. I have used a lot of nonfic resources to build up by stories so I want to do a Fun Fact of the day. It isn't directly related to the marketing itself but it is interesting.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up all over the American Southwest. For a while there we even lived inside a national park. Dad was a pastor, but always in small towns built up around family ranches and small time farms so he wasn't making a ton of cash like those preachers you see on TV. He had a work a day job during the week and took the pulpit on Sunday. If he got laid off or the town lost enough people because people were moving to bigger cities in the hopes of better jobs, we had to pack up and move. Mom said she didn't know when we moved more, when Dad was in the Army or when he was preaching. A lot of people would think that sort of gypsy lifestyle would be lonely for a kid, but for me it wasn't. Small towns are easy to fall into, and there is so much more appreciation you get for the few people you do know. And you learn to be comfortable with your own thoughts. Without a ton of people to talk to, you end up arguing most of your thoughts against yourself. Makes for a population of deep thinkers. I hope I reflect this in my characters, I know Shakespeare said "If there be nothing new, but that which is Hath been done before" but I disagree. I think there is always another way to look at the same situation, some different point of view coming from someone who has a different experience to draw from and this is where we find shades of truth rather than black and white facts.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Shaker's Daughter is my first published novel. I finally decided it was time to publish or get off the pot, so to speak. My main character is Jane Anne Wilkes, or Anne Rook. She was born to a couple who joined a splinter sect of Shakers who have pulled away from the main faith in order to exercise a heavier degree of control over their doctrine than even the main body of the Shaker faith would have exhibited. I came up with this idea while reading about the Puritan Witch Trials which occurred about a hundred years prior to the emergence of the shakers. It kind of occurred to me that we teach kids in elementary school that people came to the American Colonies for "religious freedom", but that simply isn't true. People came here for many different reasons, but the religious sects migrated to the colonial frontier because living under the watchful eye of society they not only had massive competition doctrinally from the main line churches but also were not able to exert the control over their members which they would like. In many ways, the US was founded as a collection of Jones' Towns where no Senators showed up to attempt to rescue members who wanted to quit the church and go home.

Jane Anne is one of these outliers, one of the people in the flock who can't quite fit in. It isn't because she isn't trying. She does try. But she has thoughts and feelings and dreams which don't necessarily fit into their doctrinal box. First and foremost, she is hopelessly in love with the Baptist Reverend's son Johnathan. And it seems like he feels close to the same for her, but that relationship is interrupted before it can really develop. Johnathan becomes part of the Colonial Militia and is killed by some of the Torry forces in exile in Canada who are raiding through the frontiers of New York. The relationship is discovered however and Jane Anne is very violently excommunicated from her own church. In an effort to preserve the family name, the Rooks forge a marriage between Jane Anne and their dead son and sort of trundle her off to the outskirts of civilization.

However, while there, Jane Anne (now just going by Anne) comes across a wounded man by the name of James Brandon. His family manufactures a main share of the weapons being supplied to the Loyalists but he has heard some disturbing rumors as to how the rifles are being used. For him and his father it is a mater of family honor that the rifles they produce are being used in a gentlemanly fashion against open combatants rather than against civilians and just the open population of the colonies. Its a story of competing ideals and the fall out between those ideals.

Anne takes him in and nurses him, falls in love with him, but she is still very much married in her mind to Johnathan Rook so it causes conflict. Mr. Brandon, as well, has a casual not casual relationship to return home too and in normal circumstances may have never given Anne Rook a second glance. But they fit each other well. They want to fight it, but fighting just seems to pull them closer.
Published 2015-03-31.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Shaker's Daughter
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 41,000. Language: English. Published: March 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Jane Anne Wilkes has become a war widow before her time. Now living alone in a remote valley as Anne Rook she saves and falls for the handsome Englishman James Brandon, son and heir to the munition's company supplying the very men who have killed her husband. Passions ignite as the American Revolution boils over into her remote valley forcing her to flee her home, leaving behind those she love.