An Interview with CJ Snyder, romantic suspense author

I’m very pleased to have CJ Snyder with me today.  CJ will be giving one commentor a PDF copy of her latest book, While You Were Dead.  I’ve read it and can tell you it is wonderful.

How did you get started writing?

When I was six I wrote a poem.  My mother said it was extremely good.  As the oldest of four, I took that to mean I was very talented and should pursue a career in writing.  Lol, okay, not really.  I’ve always loved writing and things writing-related i.e. blank pages, office supply stores, freshly sharpened pencils…

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

When I was six, Santa brought me six Nancy Drew mysteries.  I had them all read by New Year’s Day.  When I was 14 I discovered Daphne du Maurier and the die was cast in solid lead.  I write Romantic Suspense.

Tell us about your current series.

The Black Fire series is about a group of men who are sanctioned to do the things no one talks about.  They work as a unit, in the country or out of the country, and they break all the rules.  It’s been fun getting to know them, getting into why they would choose this solitary lifestyle, and then watching them meet their perfect mates.

What move best describes your life?  Why?

American Dreamer.  It’s about a woman who’s married to a man who pats her on the head, but totally disregards her writing.  She wins a contest, flies to Paris, and meets the love of her life.  (Okay, so the Paris part isn’t like my life, and no one has ever tried to kill me but other than that…)

What inspired your latest book?

I brainstormed the Black Fire series with my late husband, and it’s still growing.  A new hero popped up in the middle of Dead Reckoning Book II which will be out later this year.

What is your favorite part of writing?

Whisking away to foreign locales, with dangerous men and beautiful women, all without leaving the safety of my chair.  Oh, wait—that’s reading.  Yep,  that’s what I like most about writing too.  There’s a soul-satisfying thump when all the pieces fall together that’s unlike anything else.

What is your least favorite part of writing?

Editing.  Hates it, I does!

What is your next project and when will it be released?

I’ll have Maverick available at Amazon for Valentine’s Day.  It’s finished, just have to convert to kindle.  I’m hard at work on Dead Reckoning, Book II in the Black Fire series.

What is your typical day like?

I work as an office manager, so I have to slide my writing in when I can.  I have a great critique group (We are Scripsi) who keep me motivated and on-track.  I’m a widow with grown children so my free time is pretty much my own.

How much time do you spend promoting your books?

What works best for you?  Facebook, twitter (learning –I’m learning!), and advertising at have all worked well for me.

How has your experience with self-publishing been?

I absolutely love it.  You have control.  You don’t have anyone telling you, “but you can’t do it that way.”  Self-publishing lets the reader be the judge.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories?

Everywhere.  The idea for the start of Maverick came to me while I was on the freeway in rush hour traffic.  I grabbed a pencil and jotted notes in between the starts and stops.  Sometimes I’ll dream a scene—usually the black moment scene or a beginning scene.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Find a friend who has already traveled the road and follow her advice! (Thanks, Cynthia!)

Do you have critique partners?

The very best in the whole world.  We’ll be having a blog up in a bit where we’ll take turns blogging about our different worlds.  We are a strange group: historical, outer space, scientific, contemporary hilarity, romantic suspense and criminal minds.  Put it all in a blender and you get us:  We are Scripsi.

What is your favorite dessert/food?

Dark chocolate anything.  Comfort food.

How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?

That’s a trick question, isn’t it?  I must say I’ve killed off a few people I didn’t like in my time, but they wouldn’t recognize themselves.  Fair warning, though…be nice to the lady who kills people in her books.

What is most difficult for you to write?  Characters, conflict or emotions?  Why?

None of the above.  My stories thrive on all three.  The hardest thing for me is to fill in the white space.  The rooms, the scenery—I just don’t think about it when I write the first draft.  It virtually always has to be filled in later, unless it’s a part of the conflict.  In Maverick, there’s a scene where the heroine decides to camp out on the Grand Mesa in eastern Colorado.  She’s utterly unprepared for the quick-moving weather system.  Luckily, the hero is hot on her trail.

Was your road to publication fraught with peril or a walk in the park?

More like a long and winding road.  Just have to say, I’m awfully glad to be at this end of it!

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.   While You Were Dead:  The hero is a sniper with one last job to do.  Sadly, that job will cost him everything.  The heroine had her heart broken when Max disappeared.  When he turns up ten years later, not dead, and with their daughter calling him, “Uncle Max”, she’s astonished and then angry.  When their daughter disappears, they have to work together to unravel the mystery of who and why.  Time is running out.

Maverick:  Maggie Chambers will do anything to save the only family she has left.  Including robbing an FBI agent at gunpoint.  Jack Myles is the best tracker in the country.  He’s been that close to catching Maggie for two years.  Now he’s got her.  Will he turn her in or help her catch the killer who wants her dead?

Dead Reckoning:  Ten years ago, Mykael’s life was destroyed with a single gunshot from a sniper.  Determined to avenge her husband, she’ll stop at nothing to gain the sniper’s secret identity.  Black Fire Intel specialist Ghost has to deal with a woman who knows far too much about their team.  Someone wants her dead.  Can he find out who in time to save her?

Do you have a view in your writing space?  What does your space look like?

No view.  I live in the basement.  Don’t need a view, because the scene is inside my head.  Out on our deck I have a lovely view of the Rockies, though.

Tell us about your hero.  Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses. 

Max is black and white.  Everything in his life either fits or doesn’t.  Except for Kat.  Trying to get her round curves to fit in his military-square box makes him crazy.  On the plus side, he’s gorgeous and has a heart of absolute gold.

Tell us about your heroine.  Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

Kat doesn’t know her own strengths.  She’s fought a genetic curse ever since she was ten when her perfectly normal mother was convicted of killing her father.  She doubts herself, except when it comes to protecting her daughter.  She’ll do anything to keep her safe

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