The first book I shared with anyone outside of friends and family was a children’s novella originally written for a class assignment called The Bat Boy. My teacher was very impressed and recommended that I enter it in my school’s writing contest. I was one of five lucky students selected to read our short stories to local grade school children. Of course at the time I felt anything but lucky—I was so nervous reading in front of forty or so people that I could barely keep track of what page I was on.
I have to credit my wife with starting me down the path toward becoming a published author. Knowing I used to love to write—and having watched me fill every available space in our house with paranormal and urban fantasy books I consumed faster than I could purchase—she asked me one day why I wasn’t writing novels of my own. That simple question got me writing again. I decided to pursue a career as a professional writer almost six years ago, while writing the first draft of what would ultimately become Dangerous Waters. The more people I shared sample chapters with, the more encouraged I became that I was crafting a novel with broad appeal.
What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? What I like best is being surprised by where my characters take me. Listening to impulse thoughts of what your character would do in a given moment doesn’t always pan out—and can take you off on some pretty odd tangents—but I’ve learned to let myself run with them and see if I like where I end up rather than rigidly sticking to my chapter outline. As for what I like least, that would have to be the querying process. Boiling your entire book down to a couple of paragraphs that will make it stand out from the thousands of other submissions agents and publishers receive is quite daunting, and the waiting game and inevitable pile of rejection letters can really take their toll if you let it get to you.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? I have decades of experience writing professionally in the business world, but the most transferrable skills from my day job are the social interactions and life experiences I’ve gained. As a person in my mid-forties, I’ve had more than my share of adventures and have traveled extensively. I have countless achievements to draw upon and just as many failures, like having our plan to open a restaurant in Michigan fall through. I’ve lived through the loss of my mother and father and several beloved pets, and I’ve fallen in love. My soul mate and I have forged a wonderful life together for the last twenty years. When I’m trying to picture how nervous a young professional would feel their first day on the job, I don’t need to speculate. I can recall my own first days at the companies I’ve worked for in vivid detail, along with the hundreds of people who’ve joined teams I’ve been a part of, and how new hires have acted that have worked for me. There is no substitute for these kinds of real life experiences to draw upon.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Absolutely! As I mentioned above, that is the favorite part of the entire writing process for me. It sounds weird to say that the characters took you some place you never intended to go, but when you are really in the grove and are channeling the emotions of a scene or a character, you just get feelings on what has to happen next. What a glorious feeling it is to have your characters take on a life of their own. That is why I don’t create too detailed of a chapter outline. You need to let your creativity flow.
You’ve written two novels and are working on a third. What’s your favorite time management tip? Deciding to write a novel you intend to get published is on the same level as far as a time commitment as going back to school, working a second job, learning a foreign language or going to the gym seven days a week. And like those activities, in order to see it through to completion you need to make sacrifices and have tons of support. Some of the cuts are easy… scaling back on TV viewing, doing a little less recreational reading. Others are far more impactful, like leaning on family members to pick up the slack on household chores and ensure no one starves to death. If you are not on a first name basis with your pizza delivery guy, you will be. At the same time, it’s important to not let writing dominate your life completely. More than likely you still have a job to do that pays the bills, and spending quality time with your loved ones should always be top priority. I’m happy to say that, after twenty years of marriage, my wife and I still go out on a date each week. Regardless of what writing deadlines I face that time is sacred. We also eat dinner together each night and look forward to cuddling up on the couch to watch our favorite shows. Your significant other will need to be your cheerleader, confidant, editor, test reader, voice of reason and drill sergeant during your writing journey. It’s easy to take them for granted if you aren’t careful. Force yourself to unplug regularly and show them how much their support means to you.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? I guess I fall somewhere between the seat of your pants contingent and the micro-planners, leaning more toward the former. When I get a new idea for a series I first kick it around in my head for a while, thinking about where I’d take the story, what some interesting sub plots might be, and adding some detail to the central characters. If I find that I’m still obsessed with the idea several days later then I know there’s enough interest on my part to warrant moving forward.
Ideas that make it past the daydreaming stage are captured in a catch-all word document covering everything from a skeleton plot arc to explanations of the supernatural powers that come into play and details on the central characters. This document is continuously updated throughout the writing process, and serves as an invaluable reference as the cast grows and elements are further refined.
From there it’s on to initial research, focusing on the location the book is set in and the defining characteristics of my protagonist. Is she on the swim team? Does she write poetry? Does she work as a barista? Are there pantheons or other mystical lore involved? These defining elements will be referenced throughout the book, and in order to sound at all credible I need to educate myself up front.
Once I have a good feel for the protagonist, the defining elements of the story and the high level plot arc, it’s time to start writing. I start each chapter by putting together a one page bulleted summary outlining the key events that occur, the chapter’s purpose in advancing the overall plot, and important character interactions. This is still very high level, along the lines of knowing I want to get from Detroit to Buffalo and stop at Niagara Falls along the way. I’ve found I write far more impactful scenes if I let the story—how I get from Detroit to Buffalo—come naturally, allowing my characters to take me in totally unexpected and wonderful directions.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? The best advice I could give anyone thinking about writing a book is to not worry about getting published up front. Let yourself enjoy the unbound creativity that comes with crafting your very own world. Invest time up front to put together a plot arc and a rough story outline. Think about each of your main characters. What’s different about them? How do they dress, talk, act? What role do they play in the central plot arc? What challenges will they face? What are their personal shortcomings? What mistakes will they make along the way? The better you understand your characters, and the more clearly you can define your storyline, the easier the entire process will be. Above all else, commit to finishing what you start and making time to write each day.
Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? Music plays a key role in getting me in the right frame of mind to write. The playlist for Omnipotent Blood included all of the below, but by my go to song was Dressed in Black by Sia.
• Radioactive Imagine Dragons
• Yellow Flicker Beat Lorde
• Chandelier Sia
• Run Boy Run Woodkid
• Sail Awolnation
• Animals Martin Garrix
• My songs know what you did in the dark Fall Out Boy
• Dead in the Water Ellie Goulding
• Dressed in Black Sia
• Elastic Heart Sia
• Fancy Iggy Azalea
• Good for You Selena Gomez
• Dark Horse Katy Perry
But not even Lilith could have anticipated the powerful bond Brooke has formed with her family. Or the unlikely alliances they'd forge in an attempt to save her. Her love for Sienna and her sisters prevents her from fully embracing the darkness, but the demon spirit inside her is claiming more control of her mind with each passing day.
As she drew closer I got a good look at her face. The tiny hairs on the back of my neck tingled. I’d seen her before—the creepy room service girl at the hotel who’d held my wrist for about five seconds after I’d taken my glass of wine. “Am I supposed to believe that you just happened to show up here? A hundred and fifty miles from the hotel you work at?”
She grinned, securing her thick, wavy hair in a ponytail. “Of course not—although I don’t actually work at the hotel.” She made a wide sweeping gesture with her arm toward the wreckage. “Who do you think caused the accident?”
This whole encounter was freaking me out. I visualized her flying backward into the snow bank. In an instant the strange connections formed in my mind, physically linking me to all of the cars, people and debris that surrounded me. I didn’t want to hurt her—not yet, anyway—so I only pushed hard enough to send her sailing about fifteen yards into the ditch.
She laughed as she climbed to her feet, shaking the snow off her designer outfit. “It’s been a while since I’ve been knocked on my ass. Impressive.”
I’d never felt so dumbfounded in my life. Even if this psycho bitch was used to fighting my kind it was unlikely she’d ever crossed paths with another telekinetic. She was acting like I’d crafted a wiener dog out of a balloon at the fair. “What the hell are you?”
“I need you to come with me,” she said, making no effort to respond to my question. “And since you seem to be immune to being bound—I’ve been trying ever since you got out of the car—you’re going to have to consume my blood first.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you!” Where the hell were Sienna, Raven and Sandy? Ruby’s escalade might be shielding them from seeing the encounter, but even if it did, I wasn’t exactly being quiet. And Ruby was staring right at us.
“Your coven sisters can’t see or hear you.” She’d apparently guessed my thoughts by the direction I was looking. “A simple illusion. To them you appear as if you’re still sitting in the passenger seat like you were told.”
“Enough!” Her voice boomed with unnatural power, causing me to take an involuntary step backward. “I have no desire to harm you, child, but you are coming with me. Now.”
With all of the abilities that I had been given, I never thought I’d have cause to feel afraid again, but watching her approach me like I was nothing but a petulant child made me shiver. There was no way to fake that type of unwavering and absolute confidence.
Still, she couldn’t possibly know I was far stronger and faster than the vampires she was accustomed to. Like every redneck bar brawler, she’d finally messed with the wrong person. I shifted my feet into a more athletic stance and began to study her movements, searching for a weakness to exploit. My muscles tensed in anticipation. “Take another step toward me and I’ll rip your heart out.”
C.M Michaels grew up in a small town in northern Michigan as the youngest child of a close-knit family of seven. He met his wife, Teresa, while attending Saginaw Valley State University. Together they’ve provided a loving home for several four-legged “kids”, including Sophie, their eternally young at heart, hopelessly spoiled Spaniel.
He has always enjoyed writing, and still has fond memories of reading his first book, a children’s novella, to local grade schools when he was 14. C.M. is currently working on the third book in the Sisters in Blood series along with a Fantasy romance called Kerrigan’s Race.
An avid reader since discovering Jim Kjelgaard novels in early childhood, his favorite authors include Kelley Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Richelle Mead, Rachel Caine and Laini Taylor. When he’s not writing, C.M. can be found curled up with a good book, watching movies or hitting the hiking trails with his wife.
C.M. currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky.
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