By Sarah Whitney
Our next 2012 Conference Blog Spotlight is an author whose expertise in humor, romance, non-fiction, and young adult fiction will help conference attendees of all types add a little southern sass and spice to their writing. I’m pleased to introduce award-winning romance author Christie Craig who will be giving three breakout sessions & a master class in this year’s conference.
Christie Craig grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she’s still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescue cats, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is not a frog.
After selling four novels in one day in 2006, she has gained a reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. Her next humorous romantic suspense series, Don’t Mess With Texas, hit books stores this past August to fabulous reviews, and even a little extra publicity (if you can call it that) thanks to the Texas Transportation Department. As if that wasn’t enough, her first young adult novel Awake at Dawn, writing as C.C. Hunter, will be released this month.
Christie’s breakout sessions are as follows:
· Making Money While You Make your Way up to Nora Status: Writing for Alternative Markets
· The Great Agent Hunt
· It’s not Just Adding a Naked, Tattooed Guy: Using Humor in Your Writing
She will also teach a 3-hour Sunday Workshop Session called “Going Deeper: Taking Point of View to the Next Level,” where she will explain how to bring out deep POV by consciously using setting, plot, dialogue, internal thoughts and characterization.
Christie, thank you for adding a few minutes to your busy schedule to do an interview with me for the Missouri Writers’ Guild Conference preview. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on writing humor and advice for our blog readers now and later this April.
Christie: Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for having me. I love sharing my passion for writing almost as much as I love writing. And I can’t wait to see everyone in April.
Question: You are known for your humorous and sassy writing style. Please, on behalf of the rest of us writers not blessed with such cleverness, how did you get so funny? And could you give us one insight (beyond the naked, tattooed guy) into how to use our own experiences to inject laughter into our writing?
Christie: Humor was beat into me as child, right along with being polite. Seriously, my family sort of used humor as a coping method. We had a lot of things to cope with, so we used a lot of humor. The thing people need to realize about humor is that it’s basically a surprise. When you expect someone to say one thing, and they say another it causes a short circuit in our brains that stops us and that induces humor. So . . . to say…”Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll run out and buy a bass boat.” It’s the last unexpected part that causes us to chuckle.
Now as for our own personal experiences…
First, it generally takes a while before our most embarrassing moments become material for our books. But we all have things that happen to us that are unlikely, surprising, or unusual. Any time our lives go a little haywire, this is material. In Shut Up and Kiss Me, I had poor Jose, a secondary character accidentally put his head though a sheetrock wall. Believe me when I tell you that when my hubby read it, he was a mite surprised. “You used me again!”
Question: I’m really quite curious about your answer to this next question. How is it possible to sell four novels in one day? Could you please tell us that story?
Christie: Oh, it’s possible and was an amazing trip. My agent had sent out two of my manuscripts. One almost a year earlier. One editor from a smaller house contacted my agent with interest, but they didn’t make an offer. The other manuscript was still on an editor’s desk at Dorchester and had been there for over a year. I finaled in three contests with three different editors at Dorchester. When one editor, a different editor than the one who had my manuscript, requested to see a complete, and the editor who had my manuscript requested to see another of my books, well, my agent made a few calls.
The editor who had my original manuscript told my agent, “Don’t send anything to anymore else. Let me read what I got this weekend.” On Monday, my agent got a call and wanted to know if I had other books. We sent him the other books. I think it was on Thursday when he got back to my agent and made an offer on three books. The same day the other editor with the smaller house called with an offer on my other book.
So, when I got the call from my agent. She asked me. “Are you sitting down?”
I told her… “I’ve worked my tush off, I think I can take this news standing up. I sold a book, didn’t I?”
Her response was… “No.”
My heart dropped and then she said. “You sold four.”
My reply was… “Oh shit. I gotta sit down.”
Q: You’ve described yourself on your workshop web page as a contest diva. J Why should writers consider (or not) entering their work in contests? And, I’ll also add, when is the best time to enter, say a first chapter, contest – before or after the novel is finished?
Christie: I really believe in contests. I sold my first book back in ’94 through a contest. I got my agent sort of through a contest. And I sold those four books due to a contest final.
However, if you have a novel that comes anywhere close to bending a craft rule of any type, it’s hard to final. Too many contest judges are against any bending of rules, even when the slight deviation is what makes the book stand out. So, writers who write outside the box, may not find it as easy to place in contests.
Contests can also be expensive. And I’ve seen a lot of people spend their milk money on them.