About C.J. Shane:
C.J. Shane is a writer and visual artist in Arizona. Shane’s writings have been primarily non-fiction, but that will change soon as her first novel is in progress. Her latest non-fiction book is Voices of New China. She writes frequently about art, artists, environmental topics, and about her experiences living and working in China and Mexico. She is publisher and editor of the on-line arts journal, Sonoran Arts Network (SonoranArtsNetwork.net.) Shane has degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (journalism), and the University of Kentucky.(MS Library Science) She has worked as a professional newspaper journalist, academic reference librarian, professor of library science, ESL teacher, and freelance writer. She exhibits her artwork nationally and internationally. Shane is currently working on a novel set in late 19th century Tucson, a mystery set in contemporary Tucson, and two nonfiction books about the American Southwest. When she’s not writing or painting, Shane likes to grow vegetables in her desert garden. She also likes to take her doggie friends on long walks in the desert.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is both a creative and an intellectual activity for me. I am inspired to tell a story that I think no one has told yet. I want to tell stories that need to be told.
Tell us about your writing process.
Usually I start by doing a lot of research. This is true both for fiction and nonfiction. I try to organize the material I’ve gathered in a compelling way so that readers will find it as interesting as I do. I emphasize the stories of real people (be they fictional or nonfictional) to show how the abstract concepts and ideas underlying events can impact real people in real ways.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen! I start by taking a bike ride or going for a long walk. Then I imagine myself accompanying the character. If I can shut up my “monkey mind” internal chatter and start to really listen, the characters will begin talking to me. Sometimes the characters take me in a direction I did not expect!
What advice would you give other writers?
I’ve spent a lot of time in China, and I’ve been influenced by Chinese culture. I like the Book of Changes known as I Ching or Yi Jing. The first hexagram is The Creative. It reads, “The Creative works sublime success. Furthering through perseverance.” “Perseverance furthers” is good advice for any person who follows the path of creativity. Keep going! Don’t give up! Perseverance furthers!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
About 10-15 years ago I published six books with a traditional publisher. I felt that I lost control of many aspects of the book to meet the needs and biases of the publisher. When I contacted publishers about my seventh book, Voices of New China, I found that they wanted to put a spin on the book, and to make it more “provocative” (one editor’s word) so it would sell better. But I wanted to maintain the integrity of my book so I decided to self-publish. These days, self-publishing is a very viable way to go provided that the author is willing to do marketing and promotion himself/herself. That’s what I intend to do in the future through my small publishing company, Rope’s End Publishing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Already we’re seeing both medium-sized and large-sized publishers go out of business or be bought out by huge conglomerates and then outsourced to India and China. Self-publishing is growing dramatically. The problem with self-publishing is that too many writers don’t give proper attention to fact-checking, editing, and proofreading. I think there is a growing role for small publishing companies that have a good relationship with writers and that take the time to produce a quality book, both printed and digital.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: nonfiction, historical fiction, mystery fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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