Interview with CJ Hunnel

What do your fans mean to you?
My fans help me grow through their feedback on my writing. After several years of submitting manuscripts and getting rejection notices, it is my fans that motivated me to look into publishing on my own. They offer encouragement and support while I learn how to publishing my own books.
What are you working on next?
I currently have four books written and have been editing the last three. I am currently writing book 5, Marisa’s Dream, of my NM Ranch Friends and Relations. I have also been learning the different formatting requirements for the variety eBook devices. I am glad that I have found Smashwords to convert my files for me, so I can spend more time on my writing.
Who are your favorite authors?
As a young adult I cut my teeth on Tom Clancy, Anne McCaffrey and Steven R. Donaldson. I am an avid reader and read a variety of fiction, romance, paranormal, fantasy or science fiction.
Most recently I have been reading a variety of books by: Diana Palmer, Linda Lael Miller, Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, J.R. Ward and Gena Showalter. They all have several books in a series that I enjoy following.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Oh, I have to laugh here. I am not inspired to get out of bed each day, I am wrenched out by my characters. I tend to let the loudest voice win after I've had my coffee and can sit at my computer in the morning. For right now that has been Marisa in book 5. I know I said I was working on that particular book, but I failed to mention that there are three other sets of characters who urge me to hurry up with her story, so I can get to them. I have been known to set one story aside so I can write a section that needs to be written before, I lose the thought.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do a lot of reading and I like to take the time to hike at one of the two state parks in the area. I have friends with horses and go visit as often as I can. I haven't been fishing yet this year but it is on my to do list.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I do. Matt's Summer is a variation of that story and has led to the creation of the fictional ranch in New Mexico. The first version of the story was the sample I used for my college admittance in 1999, so it has been swimming in my head for a while.
How do you approach cover design?
My friend Michele Lee Hoover has a collection of pictures she started posting to her page on Facebook. I love the pictures she takes. I am honored that she has allowed me to use her work for my covers.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle fire. I started out with a regular Kindle when the devices first came out. I read on it so much that it finally quit working for me.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am still very new at this. I have been utilizing my Facebook account to reach out to my friends. I have been grateful for the support there and make a point of sending a private message to everyone who has liked my page. This first book has only been on the market for a few months and I went into this with the mindset that I may not see too much activity until I put out book two. I Have not sold a large number of books to date, but the people who have read Matt's Summer are anxious for my next book in the series. I'll be learning more in the way of marketing as I go along.
Describe your desk
Wow, that is an interesting question, about six months ago I moved everything into the diningroom. I have a six foot square, bar height table that sits in the middle of a very sunny room. I can see the mountains from where I sit and enjoy quiet mornings the best because I can open the door and let in the cool air.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Mojave desert in California. We had horses and would go riding when ever we got the chance. We went to Whitney portals most weekends to get away from the heat. I enjoyed the mountain air, did a lot of hiking and learned to fish during those relaxing weekends.
The influence of the high desert and mountain areas shows in my writing. The experience with horses, hiking and fishing also have a place in my stories. My stories take place in New Mexico because the idea for the series hit me on a trip home from visiting family in Datil, NM. Driving through the snow on RT 60 towards Arizona, to get home after Christmas, I fell in love with the scenery of the snow covered landscape. It was such a wonderful mix of the high desert with the mountains so close that it truly did remind me of where I grew up.
When did you first start writing?
I've always enjoyed writing. It all started when I was in the sixth grade and the teacher volunteered me to write a weekly article for the local newspaper about the current event at the school. The problem was that I had a bear of a time spelling the words I wanted and ended up embarrassed when a very bad article showed up in the paper with my name on it. I spelled phonetically back then, It was the last article I wrote. I continued to write for myself because I enjoyed the process, but very rarely did I let anyone else read my work. I discovered a real passion for writing again, when I started college full time and took a few writing courses.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have been writing with the intent to have my work published for five years now. I sent out my first manuscript just over two years ago and have been trying to sell my stories to a variety of publishers. There is always waiting period of 8 to 12 weeks befor you hear back from a publisher, so you can imagine the number of times I sent my work out over that amount of time. By February of this year I had three books written with a word count of over 100,000 words. I discovered one of the publishers I wanted to work with was looking for new Authors to submit for their new digital program they were getting started. The catch was that they wanted a word count of between 50,000 and 60,000 in the area that I write in. I condensed my first two books, changed the titles and submitted the one I was the happiest with. I was able to pull apart the third on to make two more books.

On the 18th of June this year, I received another rejection notice and said to myself, there has got to be a better way to do this, I did my research on Amazon and found a how to publish for Kindle and downloaded it. I learned how to format my document for that avenue and became a published Author on the 24th of June with Matt's Summer. I honestly thought that was as far as I was going to go with it until I had an outcry from my friends wanting to have a printed copy of my book. I learned how to self publish in print and then I had people asking if I was going to have my book available for the Nook. I learned a whole new formatting to submit to Nook and am crossing my fingers that it shows in the next few days.

The next request was if I had it available for iBooks yet, and here I am. I am still confused by the formatting requirements for Itunes, but thankfully I found Smashwords and my have that issue resolved. So the true answer to my motivation to become and indie author is that after all of the rejection letters I went looking for an easier way to get published. Everything for the last month and a half has been learning how to expand on my original submission to Kindle Direct Publishing. I am still learning through the process.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
First it has been the readers that have been the biggest joy. The positive response I have gotten back and letting me know that they are waiting for the next book has been wonderful. The next thing is the learning experience this past few months has provided me. I have learned not only how to self publish my stories, but the feedback from my readers has helped me improve my writing. My fingers can still get a bit dyslexic and I still stumble with comma placement, but I feel like I am learning more through this experience than I have through all of the rejection letters. Rejection letters that gave no indication as to how I could improve so my writing would be accepted. Hearing directly from my readers and learning through the communication is an exceptional joy.
Published 2014-09-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Andy's Knight
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 51,340. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Western, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
They have been in the same city for years and their paths never crossed. Now they are in the same rural area of New Mexico. When he finally finds her, will she let him have his say or will she run again?
Phil's Hope
Series: NM Ranch Friends and Relations, book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 61,320. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Western, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
She has been at one college campus after another over the years. She is ready to set aside this academic endeavor and return home. He returned home from college years ago and sparks fly when he enters her life again.
Nathan's Storm
Series: NM Ranch Friends and Relations, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 70,850. Language: English. Published: August 19, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Western
Another sister of the NM Ranch Friends and Relations series, returns to her roots and settles into a new job, new relationships and renewed family ties. Follow Autumn’s new start and the discovery that there is a criminal element that could put her life in danger.