MY INTERVIEW WITH USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR C.M. ALBERT
1) What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m Colleen, but I write as C.M. Albert and typically write contemporary romance novels.
2) Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
My newest book that just came out is The Stars in Her Eyes. It’s a new-adult reverse harem contemporary romance love story. I always swore I’d never write a RH even though I enjoy reading them. But the genre never felt like it would fit my style of writing in a way that made sense and stayed true to me. But I was asked by Captive Quill Press to write a reverse harem novella for a box set called Forbidden Desires. I put it out of my mind for a few days, but then Creslyn Knight (the main character) and the entire plot for TSIHE came to me like a bullet train. I knew her story needed to be written, and could only be written by me. The book ended up being three times the length I intended it to be as it flushed out into a full novel.
3) How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?
As an avid reader, and someone who likes to read spicier stories from time to time, I had already heard of and read RH stories. Paranormal or fantasy ones made more sense to me though, since everything seems more acceptable when the main characters are shifters or vampires or Fae. But for me it was harder to see how I could realistically and believably write a relatable character who could find herself in this situation, being romantically involved with at least three men. But the idea grew on me as I worked to solve those character and relationship complexities.
4) What kind of research did you do for this book?
Umm . . . blushes. Let’s just say I had to use my “Privacy” search filter on my iPhone QUITE a bit while doing research for this novel. Creslyn finds herself in many romantic situations that I myself have never been in. I have a wickedly dirty imagination and can conjure up the scene and motivation, but there are some things that take a certain “know how” in order to write a convincing love scene. Let’s just say…when you’re writing a romance with multiple partners, there are logistics that simply need some sorting out while making it believable but not too technical.
5) Can you tell me about your series?
TSIHE started as a 25K word novella, and then morphed into a 100K word full-length novel—my longest yet! The characters were so vividly clear to me, and the group of friends was so inspiring and just fun to write. I knew that I needed to give the others their chance at love. Before I was even done with the book, I created the Love in LA Quartet and knew who would be getting books 2-4. I am beyond excited to finish writing this series for everyone! I even have ideas for a spin-off series for some of the smaller side characters that would showcase some diverse LGBQT relationships—because every love story deserves to be told. That series is tentatively called LA Lites and will all be novellas.
6) Do you have a favorite book out of this series?
We’ll soon see! =) I’m having a ton of fun writing book 2 – The Fire in His Touch. But I think TSIHE may be one of my all-time favorite books of mine.
7) Where did you get the inspiration / idea for your series?
I’ve never written a set of characters quite so young and unlike myself. But Creslyn Knight came to me fully formed with her own voice and motivations and was like—“I’m here! I’m bigger than life! Write my story!” She truly is the sun around which everyone else revolves. So she inspired the entire series.
8) What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
I’m very fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom and a full-time writer, so my days are very loose and vary greatly depending on the kids’ activities and my inspiration level—so I never set daily writing goals. I live on a lake, so I usually write on the back patio or the boat dock when it’s nice but not too hot out. When I can’t, I write in what my “Reiki” room. It’s become more of my writing room these days, but it has a very soft, calming feel to it. Reiki is a Japanese alternative healing modality that I practice and teach. It’s my favorite room to be in, so I get very inspired in there.
My day usually goes something like this: Coffee, carpool, breakfast, walk dog, work out or meditate, write, lunch, write, carpool, and then family activities for the rest of the night (unless I’m on a writing jag!).
9) Do you have a new book in the making and, if so, what’s the name of the upcoming book?
I’m currently in the process of writing two books and both are about half way finished. The first is The Fire in His Touch, which is book 2 of the Love in LA Quartet. I’m also almost done with Visions of Love, which is book 3 in my Arden’s Glen Romance series (Rosalie’s love story).
10) How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
They are very important. I have to connect with a name to start connecting with the character and immersing myself in that person’s life. I’ve never been one who can use a placeholder name. 99% of the time, once I’m done naming a character, it rarely changes. I like having unique names, but not so far out there that people either can’t pronounce it, can’t connect with it, or are put-off by it (like cliché).
I can’t remember how I came up with the name Creslyn; however, it is such a unique name that there is literally very little data you can find about it in baby name meanings. The closest name listed (with no meaning) is the masculine form—Creslin. There are approximately 19 Creslyns nationally according to research I was able to find. So it’s a very unique name to say the least. Matías was the first male I named in TSIHE, and he’s my uber-sexy guy; his name literally translates to “Gift of God,” and when you see the model I used as inspiration, you’ll see how fitting this is =) For the rest, I chose names I loved for their specific characters, but didn’t pick them based on their meaning. Creslyn’s best friend is Cannon, and I chose that because I have a friend named Cannon and always swore I’d name a character after her because it’s such a cool, unusual, badass first name.
11) Where do your ideas come from?
My crazy, creative, wonderful, never-quiet brain. I’m constantly creating characters and writing scenes in my head when I’m not doing something else. I usually get most inspired when I’m walking, showering, or can’t sleep. I’ve written many chapters on my iPhone’s Notes app late at night.
12) Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
Cozy Mystery. I have a series I’ve started writing already and am about 25% in to the first book. It’s fun so far but is definitely a stretch for me.
13) What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Writing isn’t usually the hardest part, though as a former book editor, I often have to get out of my own way and just write the damn story first and worry about the rest later. It’s hard for me to do that as I like to edit as I go. So the hardest part for me isn’t the actual writing but the business management side. I need to hurry up and get famous so I can hire people way more experienced and natural at those tasks than I am.
14) What do you think of book trailers? Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book?
I love watching book trailers, but haven’t attempted one yet. I did get a “teaser” video made for TSIHE and I loved how that turned out.
15) What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
My best accomplishment was honestly publishing my first book, Faith in Love. I talked about writing a book for years, but it always seemed like some far off dream. I’d started a book series called The Guardian Trilogy that I worked on first and haven’t published yet. It was a YA paranormal series that I hope to resurrect someday. But I would never have had the nerve to publish my first book if my friends Stacy Eaton and Melissa Foster didn’t push me with a special writing project that forced me to have a deadline. It was an amazing opportunity I am forever grateful that I didn’t pass up on. That was one of the most proud moments of my life—seeing my first book, one that is so near and dear to my heart, published for the first time!
16) What’s the best thing about being an author?
Hands down it’s when someone tells me they were inspired or touched by my book in some way—that they took something from it or it made a difference in their lives. Even if it was just one reader who ever told me that, it’s the best feeling in the world to know that my words did that.
17) Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I could never possibly dream up what God has in store for me, even being the creative, imaginative person I am. I always find that God has way bigger plans for me than I could ever imagine. But I’d like to still be writing, and maybe have a movie or two made of my books if I’m dreaming big. I’d love to have my hubby be able to retire by then, and our youngest would nearly be out of high school, so I’d love to be traveling the world with my husband while writing!
18) Have you always liked to write?
For as long as I can remember.
19) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I’m very passionate about this question, because I meet so many people who say they have always wanted to write a book, but they see it as an impossibility. I was over 40 when I published my first book, and am now a USA Today Bestselling Author. I was in their shoes seeing all the obstacles to why I “couldn’t” publish. But the truth is, if you have a book in you, it’s easier than ever to self-publish now. Do not ever give up on your dreams. If I could do it, I promise you can, too, if you want it badly enough.
20) If you didn’t like writing books or weren’t very good at it, what would you like to be doing for a living?
In addition to being an author, I’m also a Certified Medical Reiki Master. I do that part-time on the side, along with spiritual/intuitive coaching. I would probably be doing that on a more full-time basis.
21) Do you read reviews of your books? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do. Even though reviews are for readers, I figure if someone took the time to leave one, I should at least read it and learn from it. It helps me know what aspects of my writing readers enjoy and what they don’t connect with as much. That said, I don’t dwell too much on the one-star reviews (and every author gets them). Everyone has a right to their opinion, but it’s just that—one person’s opinion. Now, if it has legitimate feedback, I would consider what the review is really saying; however, I find that most one-star reviews usually don’t offer very constructive criticism.
And I usually never respond to a review—good or “bad.” Like I said, reviews are for other readers. That said, I responded for the first time ever to a 5-star review of TSIHE just the other day because it was seriously epic! I laughed so hard while reading it, and it was one of the best reviews I’ve ever read, so I had to thank her. It seriously made my day.
22) What is your least favorite part of the writing / publishing process?
Marketing and advertising…for sure. Wish I could just write and poof! It gets in ALL the readers’ hands. =)
23) Can you give us a few tasty morsels from your work-in-progress?
I can’t share anything from The Fire in His Touch since it would significantly spoil TSIHE, so here’s a short excerpt from Visions of Love, book 3 of the Arden’s Glen Romance series.
“I heard that!” Brecken yelled, as Rosalie grabbed her purse from behind the cash register and slipped out the front door into the humid afternoon. She wished she’d been smart enough to grab a sweet tea before leaving the restaurant. Luckily, LuLu’s was just one street over.
She rounded the corner and nearly slammed into a wall of chiseled muscles. Hands steadied her before she could make sense of what just happened. When she looked up, she was standing just inches from the greenest eyes she’d ever seen. Ones she remembered all too well from her first run in with the handsome doctor two weeks ago at her friends’ gathering.
“Zade! What a pleasant surprise,” Rosalie said, taking a big step back. “How are you this afternoon? Sure is hot out here, isn’t it?” she rambled.
“Or maybe it’s just me,” she said, now more than a little self-conscious. She adjusted her white T-shirt, realizing how tight and transparent it must look in the bright afternoon sunlight. The store’s signature lime green lettuce leaf and cartoon rapper were conspicuously placed across the ridge of her generous breasts. She tugged at the hem of her shirt, well aware that Dr. Zampogna’s eyes were scanning over the images—trying to make sense of them.
He laughed, the sound rich and warm, sending goose bumps up and down Rosalie’s bare arms. “It’s definitely you, Rosalie,” he said, his voice now husky. “I like your shirt by the way.” His eyes rose from her chest, pinning Rosalie to the sidewalk with their intensity. “That’s clever.”
Rosalie grinned. “It’s all Brecken. He has a quirky sense of humor,” she said, tightening her pony tail as they chatted. “I like your shirt too,” she said, attempting to be funny as she nodded to Zade’s doctor scrubs.
“Thanks. It’s made out of boyfriend material,” he deadpanned.
Rosalie’s mouth ran dry, and she involuntarily licked her lips. The lines around Zade’s eyes crinkled, his mouth in a too-sexy-for-his-own-damn-good smirk.
“Maybe that’s why I didn’t recognize it,” she muttered, half under her breath.
24) Where did your love of books come from?
I started reading very early—I think by age four. My mom used to tell me how other little kids would be reading picture books in waiting rooms and I’d pick up a Ms. Magazine and read it. I came from a family that was big on reading—we always had full bookshelves all over the house. Plus, my mother was a natural writer and editor, so reading and writing was just a part of life for all of us.
25) Do you have any favorite authors or books?
So many! My all-time favorite book is The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I also love Haven Kimmel, Colleen Hoover, Katja Millay, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Tahereh Mafi, Nayirah Waheed, Bertrice Small, Elle Thorpe, Skye Warren, L.J. Shen, Melissa Foster, and Elizabeth Berg. And way too many books to name . . .
26) Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
I have a sweet spot for Celeste and Egan from Faith in Love, I think because they were my first couple. There’s a little bit of my husband and myself sprinkled in them and they have such a soulmate kind of love like we do. Celeste is a soul sister after my own heart, and Egan . . . swoon worthy, romantic, hot, a good guy that’s had a rough go of things. They’re just pretty special to me still and always will be.
27) Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing absolutely energizes me! It’s the rest of the business side that’s a little exhausting! 😉
28) What is your writing kryptonite?
Sweet tea. Hands down.
29) Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?
A little bit of both, but mostly original and true to my heart. I follow the inspiration. That said, I do know which series or books my readers are chomping at the bit for to read NEXT. I definitely take that into account. 😉
30) What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’m actually lucky to have an amazing circle of writer friends who help support me, raise me up, inspire me, encourage me, teach me, or make me laugh when I feel like pulling my hair out or crying. My bestie is New York Times Bestselling Author K.N. Lee, and she has taught me more about writing than I think anyone. She is a beast in terms of her writing and release schedule – and writes the most epic fantasy books. She inspires me to keep dreaming, keep being visible, and keep pushing forward. I also learned so much from NYT and USAT Bestselling Author Melissa Foster about writing romance, and USAT Bestselling Author Stacy Eaton about writing romantic suspense.
31) If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?
I choose love.
33) Where can your fans find you and follow?
I am most active on Facebook and IG, but they can find me most anywhere online. I love hearing from readers, too! So reach out, say hi, and let me get to know you.
Reader’s Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/602979050062067
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s been fun.