A former children’s columnist, CJ has been a flight attendant, co-owner of a small business, executive secretary, records clerk for the detective division of a police department, and she has sold insurance, written radio commercials and sold radio advertising.
One of six children, CJ has three daughters and eleven grandchildren and lives with her partner, Robert Cosmar, who is also an author, in the Villages, Florida. CJ is also a Vietnam War widow.
**CJ’s Books for Children:
Barking Spiders (and Other Such Stuff)
Barking Spiders 2, (the sequel)
Me Too! Preschool Poetry
**CJ’s Books for Adults:
Bits and Pieces
(New!) Anatomy of a Poet
Her Work has been Published by:
Oxford University Press
Cambridge University Press
Castle Rock Research
JFC Publishing House
Grande Prairie Regional College
True Poet Magazine
Dane Publishing House
Your Big Backyard Magazine
Steel Point Quarterly
Tales ‘n Rhyme Magazine
Writers Digest Books
Mature Living Magazine
New Hampshire Magazine.
CJ is actively promoting her three children’s books through school visits, poetry workshops and other personal appearances.
Enter to Win 1 of 10 Autographed Copies of Anatomy of a Poet
Goodreads Book Giveaway: June 1 to June 30, 2013:
What inspires you to write?
My biggest inspiration to write comes from “Life”. I know that sounds overly simplistic, but it’s true.
We are all products of our environment. Everything that happens to us, makes us who we are. Everyone we meet, touches us in some way and, transversely, everyone we meet, we also touch. With each meeting, no matter how imperceptible it may seem, we are changed forever.
When I write, I draw from those life experiences and chance meetings for inspiration. When I’m writing for children, the perspective changes and I write from my inner child’s point of view.
Tell us about your writing process.
I have no cut and dried writing process, per se, although I’m definitely not what you would call a “seat of the pants writer” — I take my writing very seriously. I write when I feel inspired to and the words are uncomfortable down inside. They want out and I have to write, I think, to give them validation.
When the inspiration comes, I have been known to go at it like I’m killing snakes … writing from the time I get up until I finally fall into bed exhausted. (I’m glad that doesn’t happen often).
At times, a story or poem will flow easily, as though it was coming from somewhere else, somewhere outside myself. Other times, the inspiration is there, the words want out, but the subject matter is too close to my heart.
One poem, “Taps for my Soldier”, was like that. It was about my experience as a new widow at the cemetery during my first husband’s military burial. It took thirty years for me to write that one. It was just so painful and yet the words needed to to come out. It was a soul-crushing experience for me, but I didn’t want the poem to be an emotional poem that readers would see as maudlin or tearfully sentimental. The experience had to be factual, and yet real.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My short stories. even the fictional ones, are all based on actual people and events from my life. I may have taken the liberty of changing things around for the particular story, but no, the characters do not speak to me. I actually knew them, or observed them, or loved them, or lost them …
What advice would you give other writers?
If you mean writers wanting to be published, I would tell them — never give up. If you want it so bad that you can taste it, be persistent and never, ever give up.
If you get a rejection, send it out to another and another. Remember, it only takes one “yes” and you are published.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had stories and poems in my head. My love for writing came from an overactive imagination in childhood. I was always pretending and creating magical adventures — I think I put more miles on mama’s broom than she ever did, because it was my pony and I rode it everywhere.
My love of poetry, rhyme, and rhythm came from my mother. When it was raining, she used to entertain the six of us by teaching us tongue twisters while she ironed. The love for words only grew stronger as I went through school — English was always my favorite class.
When I became a mother, I often made up bedtime stories or poems for my three daughters which they wanted retold time and again. That inspired me to come up with even more.
When my mother heard them, she told me I should write them down, so I started scribbling the various ideas and thoughts on napkins, menus, or whatever I could find where I was. When I got home, I put them in notebooks which were piled high on a corner of my desk.
I didn’t begin writing seriously until the 1990’s, when one of my daughters happened to read some of them. She said, “Mom, you really should DO something with these! They’re good. They’re really good!”
With that hopeful thought in mind, I set up a website for children, posting the poems and stories I had written, and adding those I was still writing. Then I began to get requests from parents and teachers, asking whether they could buy them in a book …
So, I decided to give it six months. I quit a full time job and began the daunting task of sending manuscripts to publishers. After 5 1/2 months, (and a pile of rejections) I received a publishing contract and my first book of children’s poetry was born.
That was my only experience with a publisher. The other four books, I’ve self-published through Createspace.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I have no idea what the future of book publishing will be. I will say that Kindle and Nook have certainly revolutionized the reading experience.
Personally, as a reader, nothing will ever replace the feel and the smell of having an author’s book in my hands. There’s just something comforting, and exciting, about turning a real page. A book also allows me a more intimate connection with the author.
To me as an author, it really makes little difference whether a reader buys my book or reads it on a Kindle. My royalty is just about the same, either way … but it would be nice to know that when I’m gone, my physical book is on some shelves somewhere and my words will live on.
What genres do you write?
Children’s Books, Short Stories, Poetry
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print