Interview with C. J. Anaya

What's the story behind your latest book?
This is going to sound so cliche, but honestly I had a dream about a princess's spirit being trapped within a Japanese statue. I woke up and wanted to know why she was trapped there and who she was. In other words I wanted to know her story so desperately that I ended up writing it myself. That's it. That's what inspired The Healer.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm a bit of a control freak. I don't have a problem with people tearing up my work and telling me how to fix it because the goal here is to write something that people enjoy reading. I do have a problem with waiting on other people to get things done. I don't like waiting around for an agent to respond to my query. Nothing against agents. They have massive amounts of queries that they have to muddle their way through, but that's part of the problem for me. I am not the most patient of people. I want things done on my timetable, and I enjoy having creative control over that process. I like being my own boss, especially when it concerns something I've put my heart and soul into.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has opened up an avenue that gives me the kind of creative control I'm looking for and allows me complete control over marketing as well. This is the only venue I've found that is truly interested in the author and making that author a success.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love creating characters that resonate with other people. I enjoy developing those characters and seeing where they'll take me because they almost always surprise me. The process of developing all of the characters for The Healer was such a fun journey for me, but my favorite character by far was Angie. That girl's fire and spirit reminded me of every good friend I've ever had over the years. In this day and age where girls tend to be a bit mean and catty in high school I wanted to showcase a personality that was loyal to a fault, fun-loving, sarcastic, and spunky. I wanted Hope and Angie to have the kind of BFF relationship that tugs at your heartstrings.
What do your fans mean to you?
In a word: Everything! They're my support and my strength. I'm not just writing for me, I'm writing for them. Becoming an author has been a great creative outlet for me, but I know how wonderful it feels to curl up to a good book that can turn the worst break-up, the worst test exam, the most horrendous first date, or the saddest of experiences into something you can escape from and eventually work through because you took a break and enjoyed yourself for a while. Reading is all about personal time and recharging those batteries. I've benefited from so many other author's creative writing skills and now I'm hoping that all of my readers will be able to feel confidant in the knowledge that when they read one of my books they're going to have the same fun and uplifting experience. Honestly, nothing would make me happier than to know that my writing has brightened someone's day.
What are you working on next?
I have two projects going right now. Book two of The Healer, and a comedy called Ward Choir Wars.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love and adore Cassandra Clare. The woman can do no wrong. The way she weaves so many plot lines together and then has it all blend together in the end as if it all came about effortlessly...? I want her to teach a class on her writing process. I would pay good money to attend it. I also love Richelle Mead. She's another girl who handles several different plots and subplots with amazing clarity and efficiency. Lauren Kate is a favorite of mine. When I consider just straight romance my "go to" is Marcia Lynn Mcclure. Of course there is J. K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. I also love Dan Brown, Chris Heimerdinger, and Dean Koontz. He wrote a book called The Husband that I think is total genius. He wrote a lot of other great books too, but that was the first book of his I ever read and I was hooked.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My husband and my children. In a day and age where divorce tends to be a common ending to so many love stories it is wonderful to have the kind of marriage that epitomizes what love truly is. Joe married me when I was sick and not sure if I would ever recover. The beginnings of our relationship would make a pretty amazing love story, especially if Nicholas Sparks wrote it for me, whom I also love as an author by the way. My children are four little miracles in and of themselves simply because we weren't sure I would ever be able to have any. We still plan on adopting, but we're happy that we were able to have some of our own first.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I take kids back and forth to school and preschool. I change dirty diapers, cook food, learn cake decorating (I'm obsessed with cake decorating. Love the show cake boss) write songs, go on dates with my hubby, play games with the kids,watch my favorite TV shows and occasionally sleep when my four month old let's me.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I like to key in whatever genre I'm feeling like at the time, and then I just scroll down until a cover jumps out at me. After that I read the description and if it intrigues me I go for it. I like to read reviews, but I don't necessarily find reviews terribly helpful because a lot of people don't like the same things I do or don't experience the book the same way I experience it. All in all if most of the reviews are favorable I'm on board. I read one book that had terrible reviews and loved it though.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I was thirteen and my friend Leeanna Congdon came to visit me in Salt Lake City, Ut. We hung out playing pool and listening to Queen..random, I know. Then we got this brilliant idea that we would write each other these awesome short stories about the guys we were into. I think she liked Devon Sawa and I was into Andrew Keegan from the movie Camp Nowhere. He was also in Ten Things I Hate About You. I thought our stories were the writings of true professionals. We spent the whole day writing side by side and when we finished we read them to each other. I have no idea where those stories are, but I'm almost positive they were New York Times Bestseller material.
What is your writing process?
I'm an outliner. I have to know where I am going or I can't continue further. Type A personality and all. I generally start with an idea and write a summary of it first. Then I begin to consider the type of scenes I want to incorporate to give my summary more depth and dimension. I start out with a beginning scene, a middle scene and the ending, and then I fill the spaces in between. It has a lot to do with plot points, adding tension and conflict and eventually I have a working outline that changes and morphs into something better than what was originally there. For any of you aspiring authors out there I highly recommend you get the book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Also get a copy of Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and for advice on developing your characters get the book Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master Archtypes by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders. Priceless information. You'll want to take these authors seriously. They were an amazing help to me in understanding how to write a well crafted story. I'm not saying I've got it down pat yet, but my writing has improved leaps and bounds since I read these books and implemented what they taught, and hopefully I will continue to get better as I go.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first real full length novel I read by myself was a Nancy Drew book called The Haunted Bridge. Oh my word I was in heaven. I devoured every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on after that, and then moved on to other genres, but my first love was the Mystery Genre. I was convinced for years that I would grow up to become a detective or an investigative reporter. I even got a degree in criminal justice. Those books got me through some of the worst phases of elementary school and middle school. Bullies you know. Kids can be so cruel. High school wasn't much better. Depressing. Let's talk about something else.
How do you approach cover design?
To be honest I had a very low budget and knew from the beginning I wasn't going to be able to hire someone to design the cover that I imagined in my head so I did a search for pre-made covers and spent hours at various sights before I found one that I thought struck the right note for The Healer. It was perfect actually. I felt like the model on the cover was the perfect representation of Hope, the lights surrounding her tied in the healing factor and overall the effect was eye-catching. The cover needs to pull you in and say "Read Me". I think that's exactly what my cover did for me. That's why I bought it.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love romance and paranormal romance. I also love thrillers and murder mysteries. I find young adult romance a little more enjoyable for me because it tends to be cleaner. I'm not into the kind of romance that makes me feel like I'm watching someone have sex. No thank you. I find that sexual tension is so much better and kissing is even more fun.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a nook. I'm not sure whether a kindle or a nook is better. I just bought what was on sale.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Facebook is amazing. You really can't go wrong in that department because it is free for the most part. Forums are helpful. Pinterest is a must. Goodreads is a great way to market your book to friends and I also like to use a little paid advertising on facebook because I can advertise to a more targeted audience, one that already has an interest in my genre.
Describe your desk
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I spent my first thirteen years in various places in Utah and was on the fast track to becoming a professional ballerina. At the age of twelve I simply couldn't handle the pressure anymore and begged my parents to let me quit. I look back on it now and wish I would have had the confidence to keep with it even if I had no intention of doing it on a professional level. After that we moved to Arizona and then California and each new moving experience helped me understand different personalities and how to interact with them. It was a self-preservation technique. It's hard always being the new girl. I learned to identify people's personality types very quickly which enabled me to avoid potential black holes for friends. You know the kind that suck you dry until you have nothing let to give. Yeah. No fun. Understanding people's personalities and what motivates them has helped me write interesting characters, I think, anyway. Plus I have a very strange sense of humor that may or may not translate well in the books I write. We'll see.
Published 2013-11-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Marry Your Billionaire
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 143,870. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Clean & wholesome, Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Madelyn Knightly wants nothing to do with her father or the Hollywood lifestyle she willingly walked away from six years ago. When her scholarship loses its funding she is forced to consider joining her father's reality TV show, Marry Your Billionaire, to get her trust fund back. She's only supposed to be a contestant for one day, but the bachelor of the show doesn't plan on letting her go.
My Fair Assassin(Paranormal Misfits Book 1)
Price: Free! Words: 39,300. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance
(4.00 from 1 review)
It's not every day a young girl is singled out for assassination. Crysta is faced with a disturbing dilemma when a handsome stranger with lethal intent breaks into her apartment and claims he's been sent to kill her. Yet this assassin isn't what he seems, Is he really there to kill her or protect her from others who will?
The Healer(The Healer Series Book 1)
Price: Free! Words: 99,340. Language: English. Published: November 5, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
(5.00 from 4 reviews)
A girl, a prophecy, and two warring gods equals destiny! Hope hides a dangerous secret; a gift powerful enough to heal the breach between the living and the dead. With two warring gods vying for her love, and a fallen deity determined to take her for his own evil purposes, she must either accept her destiny or take matters into her own hands.