I’m thrilled to introduce all of you to my newest client, Christina Elle! We connected when Kim Lionetti passed along Christina’s proposal (We really do share!) because she thought I might be a better fit. And she was right. Christina writes contemporary romances with a lot of heart and humor, and the project I read had two hilarious grandmothers that reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Grandma Mazur. While you won’t be able to read that project for a while, you can check out one of Christina’s published romantic suspense novels. And read on below to learn more about her! –Jessica Alvarez
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
My process is “anytime, anywhere”. I work a full-time job in addition to being an author, I have two young kids, and a husband who works swing shift, so each day is different in terms of when/how I write. I don’t write everyday (gasp!). But I do try to make the most out of my sessions when I do write. Any few spare seconds I have, I write. I have a writing app on my phone that syncs with my computer, so even if I’m in the car while the hubs is driving, I might sneak in a quick ten minutes to clean up/add a few sentences. Inspiration strikes at the most random times, so for me, it’s more about consistency and just forcing myself to get something on paper when I have the time.
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
Just write. That’s it. I’ve finally programmed my brain to be able to write anywhere, with anything. On a plane, in a car, on the beach—with a phone, computer, paper and pen. I’ve done it all. I try not to get too wrapped up into rituals because I’m the kind of person who would get so absorbed into what I think I need, that if I don’t have it, it’ll hinder me from getting words down. I block out everything and just focus on whatever writing utensil is in front of me. Pretty boring, actually. But it works.
What do you love about writing Romance?
Being able to show just how crazy and fun falling in love really is.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I write fun contemporary romance and quirky romantic suspense. Life is too damn short not to laugh. It brings me joy to laugh while I’m writing, and also makes me happy to know others are laughing along with me. Everyone needs the escape. This is mine.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
I’m a HUUUUUUGE fan of Chris Hemsworth. So you’ll most likely catch me stalking him on social media or watching his movies. Occasionally I eat and sleep.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
I am a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Maryland Romance Writers (MRW).
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
I love, love, love hearing from readers. My website is probably the best place to find out how to contact me. (www.ChristinaElleAuthor.com) That has the links to all my social media and a place to send me an email or message. Don’t be a stranger!
What’s the last book you read?
The Foxe & The Hound by R.S. Grey and it was ADORABLE. Cute, witty, and fast-paced. I really enjoyed it.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
A house on a private beach where I could have a patio or sitting room with a desk overlooking the ocean. Sunshine and warm breeze all day every day.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
You can do a lot more with a crappy page of writing than you’ll ever do with a blank one. My writing has improved so much after I realized (and accepted) that the first draft always sucks. The real magic happens in the editing stage. It helps me write a lot faster now, knowing that I’m going to go back and make my prose shine once I get the initial words out.
Plotter or pantster?
Ha. Both? When I started writing, I was a pantser all the way. That was before I learned about important things called beats and plot points. They kinda have to happen at certain times in the story if you want to keep readers engaged–and not write yourself into a corner. Which I’ve done more than I care to admit. My process now is to jot down the first chapter or so without really plotting anything. I want to hear my characters voices as they speak to me. Once I know who they are, then I start figuring out where they’re going and why. I do a basic GMC chart (goals, motivations, and conflicts) for each character, which drives my plot. Once I have all of that done, I do a small outline broken up by chapter so I know when/how things are going to unfold. I’ve found that I still need the creative freedom of pants-ing my stories, and having a general outline by chapter helps me to do that. When I sit down to write, I know what needs to happen in that scene, but I enjoy not knowing what my characters are going to say or how they’re going to interact with one another. That’s fun. So yeah, I’m a pants-ing plotter.
Synopses, love them or hate ‘em?
Hate. I see the point of them, and once I’ve written one I’m glad I did because it helps me see where my plot could be strengthened, but actually writing them is torture.
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
I set up Pinterest boards for every book I write. It’s fun finding pictures and quotes that hold the essence of each story. But I don’t necessarily reference my boards while writing. I do, however, have a playlist for every book. I don’t intentionally select certain songs for each book ahead of time, but I will find songs that elicit emotion and that help my writing inspiration to strike more often. I’ll listen to the same song on repeat for an entire day without realizing it. My husband hates it. I’ll get into such a zone that I don’t even notice that I’ve played it that much. Mr. Elle actually just gifted me a pair of really nice headphones recently.
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
Water. I’m working really hard to make sure I get enough ounces every day. I notice a difference in my energy levels when I don’t get enough. Before I sit down, I fill up a tall mug and set it next to my computer. Otherwise, I’ll go hours on end without getting up or drinking anything.
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
BookEnds is one of the top agencies in the industry, especially for romance. They were always one of the ones I’d add to my query list, not thinking any of the agents there would ever be interested in little ‘ole me. I still can’t believe I’ve joined their family. I feel so honored to be represented by such a professional, well-connected, and enthusiastic group.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Don’t give up and don’t give in. This industry is HARD. It takes time. Longer for some than others. It took me six years before I got to hold my first published novel in my hands. And I’m grateful for that time. It allowed me to learn. To grow. To arm myself with the tools I needed to be the best writer I could be. I’m much more confident in my abilities now. I appreciate the struggle more.
Just don’t give up. Even when you feel like it’s your only option. It only takes one agent and one editor to love your stuff. They’re out there. Give yourself time to find them.
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
Jane Austen. She probably didn’t realize the visionary she was in her time. I would love to show her what her works have done for authors like me. What her books have inspired.