Name C.M. Albert is my publishing name. My friends call me Colleen.
Age 42 & proud of it!
Where are you from I’m originally from upstate New York, near the Adirondack mountains and Lake Ontario. Beautiful, but cold. Have migrated down south ever since to warmer climates and now call North Carolina home.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?I just released my first book, Faith in Love, and was thrilled when it hit #3 on Amazon’s Kindle Worlds Hot New Releases list. I was blown away. But more importantly, I’ve been getting amazing reviews from readers about how the book has really touched their lives, helped them make decisions, and really just struck a chord with them – all from a contemporary romance novella! That’s why I write, so those reviews mean more to me than a number on a list.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a young girl. English was always my favorite class and reading has always been my favorite past time. I started writing fiction seriously and for myself (not just for magazines or Corporate America) after my son was born in 2006. I started a YA urban fantasy / paranormal romance and have shelved it several times to get it just right. I put my writing career on hold for several years when I launched my copy editing career as The Grammar Babe. I made many new friends and learned a ton about writing and what works or doesn’t in the self-publishing world through the amazing clients I worked with. I’ve lessened my editing work load over the last year so I could finally focus on my own writing and dream of becoming a published author.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always considered myself a writer. Because whether you publish or not, if you are writing, you are a writer. I have always written poetry, articles, online content, speeches, PR material, blog posts, you name it. Then I branched out a few years ago and wrote for a few online fiction collaborations and had a short story published under my pen name (at the time) in a book of short stories. Now, I’m focused on my own novels and am enjoying the writing process. I consider myself a published author now, but in my heart, I’ve always been a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve had about five works in process over the last ten years, but never forced myself to finish any of them. I was raising my family and editing, so it was easy to put off finishing one and just doing it already! I believe everything happens for a reason and there is divine magic in the timing of things. This was the right time for me to publish because I have so much more confidence in myself as a woman and a writer now than I did in my 20’s or 30’s. I have a stronger, better writing voice now too, so I’m glad it worked out the way it has.
What inspired me to finally write this book, Faith in Love, was an opportunity my dear friend and fellow author Stacy Eaton brought to me (for which I’m forever grateful). It was a chance to write a novella that tied in to Melissa Foster’s Remingtons Kindle World. I used to edit for Melissa Foster and am a huge fan of her contemporary romance series, so this was a no brainer for me! What it gave me was a deadline (which I clearly needed) and a gentle way to ease into the self-publishing world. It was the best decision I ever made.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
It’s definitely a blend of humor, sexiness, and romance, with a little tug at the heart strings. My strength is definitely in building my characters and in their dialogue. I seriously live and breathe them while they are in my head. I write across genres though, so I have several works in progress this year that are either contemporary romance or paranormal/dark fantasy. I also have the Guardian Trilogy (the one I mentioned earlier) that is YA, and a children’s picture book I need to shop around to agents. I think the main thing to know about my writing is that light and love will always win. There will always be hope of some sort for my readers.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For the Remingtons Kindle World, it had to have Love in the title for branding purposes, just as Melissa Foster’s books do. That way readers could easily know it was a part of her “world.” I knew right away that I wanted to write about a spiritual healer (Celeste) and a broken man who has sworn off love. I think the idea of finding your faith in love again just grew out of that.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think just that you always have choices in life, and you always have divine help if you’ll but ask for it. It’s not a religious book, but it’s certainly one that has a strong spiritual theme because of the main character’s profession as a holistic healer. And that no matter how broken we feel at times, my wish would be that we can find hope again, let love back into our hearts (whether it’s romantic love or not). Sometimes we have to let go and stop trying to control how something is going to happen for us, and just open our hearts to the realization that it can. In other words, we just need to have a little faith.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Very little about the book is based on events in my own life or anyone else’s life that I know. It is truly fiction. That said, I do also happen to be a Reiki practitioner who believes in angels and holistic healing. So even though my life and career is not centered around it as it is for Celeste, there is a small part of my heart and beliefs that are reflected in her character.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
My favorite book ever is The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton. It has one of the best opening lines ever* and is very poetic in its story telling. There’s a dance between societal class differences, teen angst, poverty, forbidden romance, and it just pulls at the heart strings.
Every book I have ever edited has influenced me in some way as well. One of my top ten favorite books ever is Melissa Foster’s Have No Shame. It was such a beautiful forbidden love story that accurately reflected a period of time during the Civil Rights movement. It was brave, heart wrenching, and just plain fantastic.
I also love poetically written YA novels; I’m highly touched and inspired by how an author writes. Their word choices and phrasing affects me deeply. There are so many beautiful ways to express a thought, and when an author can do that in a unique and powerful way, it leaves an impression on you. Some of my favorite YA authors are Jandy Nelson, Colleen Hoover, Katja Millay, John Green, and Tahereh Mafi.
In terms of the fantasy genre, I am in love with K.N. Lee’s Eura Chronicles series and Rosehead by Ksenia Anske. As for other genres, I absolutely loved Gone Girl, A Girl Named Zippy, The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club, all things Bertrice Small and Nora Roberts, Beloved, and Me Before You. There are probably a hundred I’m forgetting. I take a little something away from every book I’ve ever read.
As for a mentor, I’m extremely lucky to have several strong and amazing women authors in my life whom I know I could turn to in an instant for advice, a laugh, or lessons learned. Melissa Foster always offers solid, wise advice. She is like the Queen of Indie Publishing and has experience on both sides of the fence (traditional and indie). She is highly motivated to help indie authors on their journeys and started her two businesses, Fostering Success and World Lit Café, for just that purpose. She’s someone I definitely look up to and go to for advice. Stacy Eaton is like that for me, too. I know I could go to her with the stupidest question and she would be there for me, be a straight shooter, and somehow make me laugh! And my dear friend and author K.N. Lee. She has hustled and busted her ass to get where she is as an author. She has put in her time, learned many valuable lessons along the way, and is like super woman with her non-stop work ethic. She has great experience not only in writing, but in the PR and Marketing company she owns, The Book Nymph, to help indie authors succeed and get their ranks up. Just a gem.
*Opening line: “When I stepped out into the bright sunshine from the darkness of the movie house, I had two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”
~ The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton.
Fiona: Are there any new authors who have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
The author who has piqued my interest the most is Ksenia Anske. She is an indie author who just vomits every part of her life, writing process, and horrific life experiences into the world in the most beautiful, touching, and inspiring way. She was also an author whom I edited for over the course of a few years: the Siren Suicides Trilogy (full set), Rosehead, and Irkadura. The thing about her writing is I think you either love it, or you won’t “get it.” I get it. It is extremely dark based on a culmination of life experiences in Russia with an abusive family, and that colors and influences many of her novels’ themes. I think what strikes me most about her work is that she’s not afraid to “go there” with the darkness and ugliness of some people’s characters. She doesn’t hide behind political correctness or worry about what her readers will think. She writes the character, no matter how vile or dark.
She is raw, funny, humble, a completely open book, a strict and dedicated writer and reader of her craft, and wicked smart. She observes, learns, and grows like no author I’ve ever seen. She’s a freaking genius. Oh, and she both sells and gives all of her books away for free. Yes, I said FREE.
I think my favorite all around writer is Colleen Hoover, and not just because we share the same name. I devour every one of her books the minute it comes out, and I always pre-order and buy all of her books in paperback. She writes a combo of YA/NA with romantic elements, and also there is always a twist so it’s not predictable. She has an amazing way with words too, and her sense of humor is evident in her witty, sharp, intelligent characters. I always get the infamous and coveted book hangover after reading one of her books, where I feel decimated for a few days and can’t even pick up another book because I’m still noodling over and stuck on hers! They’re that good.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The biggest is probably my Colleen’s Angels Street Team and Beta Reading group. It has been building slowly, but I feel like I know each and every one of them as a close friend by now. They have been very honest, extremely supportive, and have cheered me on in a way I didn’t realize I needed and came to appreciate more than I ever could have imagined. They are a special group of women in my life. I’d give them the moon and the stars if I could.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s my main focus right now. I just can’t write as fast as the ideas are coming! It comes second to raising my kids, but it is definitely a rollercoaster ride I have jumped on and have no intention of getting off of anytime soon.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not at all. I’m sure someone can find fault in it, I’m not perfect after all. But I love, love, love Celeste and Egan and their love story. I’ve had so many readers tell me they wished Celeste’s business was real and that they could go there.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My mother was always a writer, editor, and reader, so I know she sparked and nurtured that in us as well. But I always received very positive feedback from teachers on papers I wrote encouraging me to continue writing and that I had a good “voice.” I think that passion that my mother started in me while I was young, combined with encouragement along the way, really helped solidify that interest for me. I also had a pretty tumultuous childhood in many ways, and I think reading and writing were my ways to escape and find the good in the world. Somewhere safe for me to disappear and immerse myself for a few hours.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I am currently putting the finishing touches on Book 1, Part 1 of a dark fairytale series I’m creating called the Dark Woods series. This first book is called Redd’s Descent and they are all a dark paranormal retelling of classic stories combined with a little Celtic folklore, and always with a twist of some kind. Redd’s Descent comes out at the end of May 2016.
Here’s a small snippet:
“Fiona,” she whispered. “My name is Fiona.”
“Redd,” he answered. “I want to know what happened to ye, fair Fiona, but we need to hurry and leave these woods before dark. Bad things happen in these trees after nightfall.” The fear that clouded her eyes and the way she hunched down into Redd’s grip told him that she’d had a taste of those bad things, and his heart ached for her. He couldn’t imagine how she was still alive.
“Sacrifice,” was all she said, and then he knew. She was someone’s sacrifice to the dark woods creatures.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Not really, other than to just be true to the characters and not over analyze what readers may or may not like about them. It’s fiction after all, and you have to write the truth into your characters’ motivations, even if you don’t like or agree with them.
And as an experienced editor, I also have to force myself not to over edit as I write.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I haven’t had to yet. But my first book, Faith in Love, is an Amazon Kindle World exclusive, so there are no paperback copies. It wouldn’t make for a good book signing or convention table! I’ll wait to see how my book sales and readership grows in the future to determine how many events I’ll participate in. At the end of the day though, my kids come first and travel would be hard on the family.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Zoe York designed Faith in Love to be consistent with the other Remingtons Kindle World books that launched in March 2016. There were 18 in total! I got to choose my cover photography, and Zoe did an amazing job bringing it all together. She will also create my novella cover for Kaira Rouda’s Laguna Beach Kindle World that I have coming out on 7/7 called Last Night in Laguna.
Anna Croswell of Cover Couture is creating my cover for Redd’s Descent and will hopefully create all of the covers for the Dark Woods series. She has great vision, creativity, and execution, so I can’t wait to revel the cover when it’s done!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Just trusting the process. Sometimes my brain would start creating and wanting to write a chapter not in order and I would try to resist it, but I didn’t want to lose the creative spark when it was hot. So I just gave in and wrote chapters when they arose, even if they were out of sequential order. It was easier than I thought bridging them, and was just a good reminder for me to let go of so much control and allow the creative process to happen organically.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that when my intentions are pure and in alignment with my soul’s highest good and God’s plan for me, things come easily. When I ask for my angels’ help, the words just start to flow for me. I’m a little enamored with ritual, so when I begin to write I usually light a creativity candle, have a huge citrine point nearby, and say a prayer to Saint Gabriel before I open my book. She’s the archangel who supports creativity and the arts. It may be hooey, but it feels good and works for me.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
This one is easy for me because for Redd’s Descent I have had Michael Fassbender in my mind and as my muse from day one. I don’t always do this, but Redd was created in his image (Redd’s just maybe a little beefier and taller). I drool over am enamored with Micahel Fassbender.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
First and foremost it would be to just write. If you believe you have a book in you, do not give up. I am 42 years old and my dream of becoming a published author just came to fruition for me. It’s never too late. I love this quote from Jodi Picoult:
“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. Thank you for taking a chance on a new writer, thank you for your reviews (I read every one of them), and thank you for your ongoing support. Knowing I have made a difference in people’s lives and that they now consider me a new favorite author means more than anyone will ever know. Thank you for giving up a small sliver of your time to read my book(s). I am honored and have so much gratitude for you all.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Well, I just finished K.N. Lee’s Night of the Storm. It is epic fantasy and is part two in the Eura Chronicles. It did not disappoint after I fell in love with book one, Rise of the Flame. So I literally just started the first chapter of The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. It has dark twists and turns with a promise of being in the same category as Gone Girl…so I have high hopes for it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but some of my early picture books that left a huge impact on me are: Murgatroyd and Mable by Wesli Court, Girls Can Be Anything by Norma Klein, Chicken Soup and Rice by Maurice Sendak, Kevin’s Gramma by Barbara Williams, and Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My kids. Not a day goes by that I don’t laugh because of them, and I cry the hardest when moments seem to be slipping away too fast and I’m trying to grasp them with futility.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
So many. But I have to say that Jesus would be high on my list. I’m not overly religious, but I think he had so much right with his love and compassion, and I’d love a sit down and chat with him to find out what his feelings are on so many of the controversial issues today and how he feels about people using his name to justify their beliefs. Was the bible interpreted in a way that was loyal to how he lived, what he truly believed, and what he taught to others? And, at the end of the day, does it really just boil down to the love, light, kindness, and compassion we show to all others?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Oh sheesh. This is a tough one since I don’t want to be buried. But if I want something said about me, it would probably just be that I was kind, I never gave up, and that I made a difference to others. I do know I don’t want a traditional funeral. I want a roudy Irish wake with people laughing and remembering me with humor over stories; and I want someone to play “If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly. Now that would be a fun way to celebrate my life!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Reading? Ha-ha! I also love to walk and hike, play tennis, spend time with my kids and husband—especially outdoors, watch movies, organize, write letters by hand, take pictures, and spend some quiet time connecting with God and my angels.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love fantasy and intrigue shows like Alias, Heroes, X-Files, Blindspot. I also love some reality TV shows like The Bachelor and Bachelorette, The Voice, Extreme Makeover. I love most anything when it comes to movies, but I lean toward action/fantasy/paranormal/superheroes (Lord of the Rings, The Huntsman, Avengers), dark stuff like Gone Girl, or romantic comedies.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods: Apples, cheese, fresh Vietnamese, pasta, asparagus
Colors: Red is my first love, but I am enamored with turquoise/teal and Pantone 206c, which is kind of a hot pink/fuchsia blend.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
All of the things I’ve ever wanted to do, I’ve done. I’ve been in banking, training design and development, communications (which is what my BA is in), marketing and PR, and book editing (which I still have my hands in some). I loved every job. I’m also a Reiki practitioner, which keeps me balanced and allows me to do my energy work and keep that side of my personality and belief system in my day-to-day life. There’s no other job I wish I had done in my life. I find ways to fulfill those needs in other ways, like volunteering as a sub in my kids’ schools, working with a non-profit, or making time for photography.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes, this is mostly my Blog site and I am in the process of designing a full Web site as a landing spot, but I blog here: http://cmalbert.blogspot.com, and am very active on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/cmalbertwrites.
Direct short link to my book: http://Smarturl.it/RemKW_Faith
Amazon author page: http://smile.amazon.com/C.M.-Albert/e/B01CFCT62S/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1461692891&sr=8-1
Other social media:
Grammar Babe Web page: http://www.colleenmalbert.com/
Thank you so much for having me! Your interviews are always so fun and thought provoking. I really appreciate this opportunity.