I don't know about you, but I LOVE Anthologies. I just love how each author creates their stories and it's like getting more books for the price of one. In A Soulmate For Christmas, you get 5! What a great Christmas present for yourself!
Today, we are blessed with the presence of Char Chaffin, one of the authors involved in the writings of A Soulmate For Christmas.
Now that we’re settled in, let’s chat. Shall we?
BK: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not until about ten years ago. Up until then, I goofed around with writing short stories and even a couple of novellas, but nothing I would have clutched to my chest in giddy joy. J My husband was the one responsible for getting me to take my writing seriously. He’s a great cheerleader. Even without the silly pom-poms.
BK: Please share with us how your current release came to life...
It was Angela Scavone’s idea. She emailed our publisher’s yahoo loop and suggested a Christmas anthology. Since we’re a close-knit group at Soul Mate, a bunch of us immediately jumped on it, and although several had to drop out when push came to shove, five remained to finish their stories, enough for a nice novella. I’m also one of Soul Mate’s Acquisition Editors, so I ended up editing what became A SOULMATE FOR CHRISTMAS. We had a great time writing together and there’s already talk of plotting toward Valentine’s Day.
BK: Do you let your characters tell the story, or do you often fight with them on the direction it will take?
I think the characters pretty much do the job. I found out at the start that guiding them gently works best. Forcing them on the plot or vice versa never seems to make it all gel together. I’ve torn apart entire settings, plotlines and the story itself, but I’ve barely veered from the character itself, once I fleshed it out, and that goes for male or female.
BK: How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
Well, let’s face it, there are only a finite number of stories in the entire world, and what you get are variations. I write mostly contemporary romance, which is probably the largest genre. I try to keep mine as original as possible in the way I describe my characters, in avoiding as many romance novel clichés and overused words and terms as I can, and keeping my settings fresh. Sometimes I succeed; sometimes not. I have a few stories buried on my desktop, stories that will never see the light of day until I can figure out how to make them unique.
BK: Which character was your favorite to write for in this anthology? Why?
Within the anthology, I wrote the short story, I KNOW YOU. I ended up with several leading characters owing to the plotline, but my favorite character to write was Matt Hanover, the male lead who actually ends the story. I thoroughly enjoyed letting him see all his dreams fulfilled, and giving him—at last—his Elizabeth.
BK: Tell us about the one scene you had the most fun writing…
I KNOW YOU is actually five mini-stories, each containing two scenes, within one larger short story, with five sets of heroes/heroines. The mini-stories span two hundred years, with a new story every fifty years, beginning in 1812 and finishing with 2012. My favorite scene was 1962’s malt shop scene, starring Boone and Daisy. Their yearning for each other is palpable, but they’re just not quite brave enough to do anything about it. :)
BK: If you were stranded on an island, which character in your books would you most want to be stranded with and why, and what is one thing that would be a must-have?
I’d have to choose Denn Nulo, the hero of my current full-length novel, Unsafe Haven. Denn is the Chief of Police in my fictional, Southwest Alaskan village of Staamat. He’s strong, nurturing, protective. Smart enough to make sure we’d survive and find food to eat; ingenious enough to create shelter. And sexy enough to keep my nights—and days!—hot, hot, hot. Boy, is he ever! J What one thing would be a must-have? Hmm. All I’d need is Denn!
BK: Now for a little fun, tell us a bit about what your office looks like. Do you need silence to write?
Right now, my office is in flux, so I split my time between the living room and the kitchen table. I have a very large office in my house, and it’s full of garage-sale items that never made the sale (recuperating-from-major-surgery hubby and lack of time equals no garage sale!) I prefer silence when I’m working, but I can live with mayhem and noise, if that’s all I’m going to get!
BK: What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Well, there’s always laundry... (Yeah, right) I’m also an editor, so if I’m not writing, I’m editing or I’m reading. I read constantly, at all hours of the day and night. I load manuscript submissions onto my iphone’s Kindle App and take it to bed with me, reading up to an hour before I fall asleep. I awaken early in the morning and read for an hour before I get up. Sometimes those early mornings and late nights are the only times I have for new submissions since the rest of the day and evening gets locked into editing contracted manuscripts.
BK: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
Probably that I’m very introverted and marketing/promotion is really difficult for me. Usually I’m good online, but in public I’m a real wallflower. Sometimes I’ll talk about anything but my books. Luckily I have a hubby who keeps me on track, with a (gentle) boot to my arse. Like I mentioned earlier, he’s a great cheerleader!
BK: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever wanted to write, or have written, even if it never reached public eyes?
I’ve always wanted to write a free-for-all erotica fest, with a fabulous plot. A no holds barred, no censor/no shame sensual feast, and flaunt it right under my familys’ noses and slap my full name (including maiden name) right on the front. I’ve written erotica in the past and I enjoy it. Writing it doesn’t embarrass me. I suppose I’ll put it on my writing “bucket list” and one of these days I’ll sweep my laptop clean of everything, and just start going nuts. Then I’ll probably have to go out in public with a bag over my head, LOL.
BK: What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?
My main advice is: don’t ever think you can do it alone, because you can’t, especially when it comes to polishing a manuscript and getting it ready for submittal to an agent or publisher. It amazes me how many writers don’t take advantage of writing groups and/or critique groups and critique partners. No matter how many novels you’ve written, they all need someone to read it and then tell you what needs to be fixed before you can expose it to the world. In my opinion a good critique partner is worth their weight in gold.
BK: What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ve started my third novel, a vintage romance tentatively titled “Jesse’s Girl.” I’ve also plotted out a historical that takes place in 1870s Colorado Territory. It’s tough to say which one will get the bulk of my attention when I’m not editing! And of course, there’s always that erotic extravaganza percolating in my busy little brain... :)
BK: Where can readers connect with you?
You can find me, here:
I have book trailers!
Book Trailer for Unsafe Haven:
Book Trailer for Promises to Keep:
Char Chaffin started reading romance, science fiction and horror at a very young age. Her love of books is directly responsible for her overflowing bookcases, and the bounty stored on her Kindle threatens to eclipse her entire paper collection. Char currently writes mainstream and contemporary romance filled with family, rich characters and engaging plots. For her, it all comes back to the love.
Char began her writing odyssey as a poet, crafting Victorian-style poetry, then went on to writing short stories. She found her niche when she began writing longer and longer short stories, until she wrote her first novel. It might never see the light of day, but writing it taught her a lot. Over the years she worked a variety of jobs, from farm hand to costume designer to fiscal accountant, before deciding a writing career was her true focus.
In addition to writing, Char is also an Acquisitions Editor for Soul Mate Publishing.
A native New Yorker, Char currently lives Upstate on a sixty-acre farm with husband Don, rat terrier Daisy Mae and two barn cats who constantly slack off on the job of keeping the barn free of varmints. The Chaffin extended family is scattered all over the continental United States including Alaska.
Char and Don divide their time between New York State and Alaska.
When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard or burying her nose in books and Kindle, she tends a huge vegetable garden and helps Don maintain their farm.
A SoulMate For Christmas, five stories that celebrate the wonder, the passion and the spirit of love during the Christmas season.
I KNOW YOU, by Char Chaffin:
Star-crossed lovers, united by death on Christmas Eve, search every fifty years to find each other again.
A VAMPIRE FOR YULE, by JJ Devine:
Two lonely hearts come together during the holidays and discover their destiny.
STELLAR HEART, by Aliza Mann:
Would-be high school lovers Harper Stellar and Alexis Alston are back together to save his family business during Christmas shopping season and hopefully correct his mistakes of the past.
TO GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE WE GO, by Cynthia Racette:
A husband and wife, driven apart by tragedy, are given another chance during Christmas in the country.
HOLLY’S SECRET, by Angela Scavone:
A woman’s need to reveal the truth could ruin the holidays and cost her the man she loves.
Excerpt from I KNOW YOU, from the Christmas anthology A SOULMATE FOR CHRISTMAS:
Boston Harbor, Christmas Eve, 1862
“That young man leaning against the gatepost has been watching you,” Prudence Mowrey informed her cousin, Coraline. “I’ve never seen a more lovesick expression.”
Busy juggling two hatboxes and a small leather crate filled with her father’s treasured Yule crackers, Coraline didn’t bother to look up, much less acknowledge Prudence’s observation.
“Did you hear me, Cora?” Prudence poked her in the side, causing Coraline to drop the crate. Brightly wrapped crackers spilled out onto the snowy ground.
Coraline scolded, “Now look what you’ve made me do. Father pays an exorbitant amount to have these foolish things smuggled from London at Christmas. He’ll be furious if they’re damaged.” Scarcely a second after she bent to pick them up, the young man in question—the very same fellow Prudence said had been staring at her—rushed across the busy street, dodging carts and carriages. She parted her lips to chastise him for his recklessness, then fell silent in surprise as he gathered the expensive holiday trinkets in reddened, gloveless hands and presented them to her.
Seconds stretched into a minute as she stared at him, taking note of the damp, raven-black hair that lay in unkempt curls over the frayed collar of a shabby brown coat. When he raised his face to her, the longing in his gray-green eyes startled her so much, she took a step backward and bumped into Prudence.
Without a word, Coraline held out the crate, and he laid the crackers inside. By the time she brought them back to Mowrey Manor, they’d no doubt be ruined, but somehow it no longer mattered.
Nobody had ever looked at her the way this stranger did. And yet, wasn’t there something familiar about him? Had they ever met? She was about to ask, when a harsh voice from across the street intruded on an increasingly odd moment.
“Ho, boy! Get yourself back here and finish your work.” A grizzled merchant, wearing a stained apron over his massive belly, shook a fist at the young man, who blanched and then blushed a fiery shade of red. He flashed Coraline a curiously sad, sweet smile, before turning and darting back into the street, disappearing through the doors of what she realized was a slaughterhouse.
Coraline stood a moment longer, gazing through the snow which now fell faster. Only her cousin’s hand on her arm brought her out of the trance she seemed to have fallen into.
“Cora, we’re getting so wet. Come. We’ll be late meeting Uncle Herbert. And that long journey back to the manor! We must leave, now.”
Prudence tugged on her arm, and Coraline shook off the snow as well as the strange tingling in her body. Grasping her purchases, she stepped toward the coach that had rumbled to a stop a few yards from where they stood. Prudence pushed her through the door and climbed in after, arranging her skirts on the plush velvet seating.
Ames, their driver, jumped down from the cab and secured the door, then lit the lamps before scrambling back up to take the reins and click his tongue at the horses. With a lurch, the coach moved slowly through the slush-filled street, the large wheels slipping every now and then as the horses clopped their way through the snow.
“Well, what an adventure for you on Christmas Eve!” Prudence blotted moisture from her forehead with her handkerchief as she sent Coraline a mischievous smile. “I vow, nothing so exciting ever happens to me.”
Coraline felt a shudder race through her as she pondered the decidedly bizarre encounter. “I do not know what to think, but I’ll tell you truly, never has any man looked at me the way that fellow did.”
“Well, he was awfully downtrodden, wasn’t he? Working in that nasty place. Handsome, though, to be sure.” Prudence shrugged as she tucked the damp handkerchief away. “Regardless of how he looked at you, Cora, you’ll likely never see him again. It’s not as if we come to Boston every day, you know. Besides, William awaits you, lucky girl that you are.” Prudence sighed wistfully. “Just think, in less than a week you’ll be wed to the most sought-after man in Philadelphia! I say again, you’re a lucky girl.”
“Yes.” Cora stared at the bustling city outside the window of the luxurious coach, barely listening to her cousin’s chatter about the day-long Yuletide party planned for tomorrow at Mowrey Manor, and how fortunate she was to be affianced to handsome, wealthy William Courtland III.
Instead of the falling snow melting against the glass, she saw a pair of intense, gray-green eyes, staring at her with longing and love.
An ache seemed to wind itself around her heart. “I suppose you’re right,” she murmured. “I’m quite lucky. And it’s not as if we’ll return to Boston.”
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