For years I could not read women writers, and I still can’t write for women readers very well. My literary heroes have always been roughnecks and drunks and men who know the smell of cordite and sweat, and the books have been about wars and gangsters and despair, things women know as male foolishness.
A couple years ago, my friend Neil Plakcy hosted a party at a Polynesian restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale for the release of his second Mahu mystery. When we arrived, I met an energetic little lady with short reddish whitish hair taking photographs of everybody. That lady was Barbara Parker, an attorney turned novelist, author of the highly successful Suspicion of --series, and we talked and she graciously agreed to read a short story of mine, “Murphy Contemplates Celibacy.”(now “Man and Machine” in my collection) Two days later she sent me an email, full of humor and encouragement, and attached the photos she’d taken, a gesture completely unexpected. I bought several of her books, but my narrow-mindedness got the best of me, and the novels sat on my shelf unread.
Within the year, Barbara Parker was dead, killed by a cancer she must have been under treatment for even at that brief encounter at Neil’s book signing. It made me realize what my own prejudice had left out of my reading life for so many years, that women writers are every bit as tough as men, and that there’s real courage behind a lot of their kindness, and determination driving efforts to succeed where so many men simply surrender.
In that light, when J.C. Phelps first contacted me about reviewing her Color Me Grey series, my reaction was, Great, a lot of chick lit to read. Then I opened the email from Barbara, accidentally, and was reminded of a lady who gave me a little of her time when those moments must have been very precious to her. So SBR readers, with great pleasure I introduce a lady who has written three novels with tough little heroine Alexis Stanton, while raising a family, writing a very good blog, and doing her own marketing.
Tell us about your writing ambitions.
When I was young and wondering "What do I want to be when I grow up?" my first thoughts were Veterinarian until I had a few cats die and I realized I didn't want to deal with that day in and day out. Though, thinking back, author has always been in my mind. It just seemed unattainable throughout most of my life. That was until I got a very strong character idea and I knew I had to "be" this person in places other than my mind late at night. Alexis Stanton was born and has since become very much a part of me. Though, Alex does things I would never do, like jump from a perfectly good airplane and get up early to exercise. What's up with that?
How did you come up with Color Me Grey? And why is it Grey, not Gray?
The title is something I struggled with for more than a month. I can't even begin to remember all the titles I, and another friend, thought of. Shades of Grey, the title for my second book in the series, was actually one of my strongest choices at first. However, Color Me Grey was suggested to me by my father and it seemed right. This is the book where she becomes Grey, so...
I struggled with all the names as I began to write. They really do make or break a character. Mr. White was a character of another story inside my head that I have never written down and the rest of the colors just followed. Grey seemed to be the logical choice for Alex because of my plans for her in the future. As for Grey vs. Gray. It's surprising, in a way, that you'd ask that very question since I've never discussed my books with you before this. My father and I had a discussion about gray being the correct spelling of the color as I was writing. He, being a stickler for all things right, was sure I should use the correct spelling. However, I prefer the look of Grey and I think it makes her more of an enigma with the non-traditional spelling. So, no real reason, other than a feeling for the look of the words on the page and the meaning that look could garner.
Your blog features authors and their work. Tell us about that.
Well, I'm an author and I should host a blog - right? So I did just that. http://jcphelps.blogspot.com However, being a VERY opinionated person I found it very hard to write for my blog. The last thing I want to do is alienate any potential readers so I thought it best to keep my trap shut. Of course this proved to be a problem with hosting a blog. I have plenty to say, but I really shouldn't.
After some thought of what to do with this blog of mine I decided to experiment by listing other authors books. We all need help getting the word out about our books with the sea of Indie authors out there now. So, in the interest of helping myself by helping others I started featuring author's books on my blog. I only hope it helps everyone who participates. If nothing else it will give the author one more link on the internet that points to their book. However, I feel it has the potential to become something both author and reader can utilize. With the lower prices Indie authors offer I believe people who have been afraid to try a new genre will do just that and maybe find that book they will fall in love with - maybe several of them.
How do you find time to write?
I think this is the hardest question to answer. I don't find time anywhere. I think the stuff is invisible or something. I have three daughters, ten, two and eight-months old, so time is something I can never find anywhere. I do make time. It's a bit like counterfeiting money. I'm sure it's illegal. But if I need some, I manufacture it late at night or early in the morning.
What has the indie publishing experience been like for you?
I always wonder, "What if I had shopped my books?" But, in the end, I'm glad I didn't. I'm not saying I won't in the future, though. I love having complete control of my books. I don't care for the marketing much, but I'm learning. From what I've read from traditionally published authors, it's much the same thing, as far as the author is concerned. As a trad you might get an advance and some help in the marketing department, but I'm not so sure the loss of cover creativity (my mother is featured on the back of my second novel) and loss of rights - even for a specified period, is worth that advance and help. Yet, if I were approached in the morning I would most definitely give the contract a look.
Where else are your books available?
My books are available through Smashwords, of course. That means they are available at Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, Sony and everywhere else Smashwords distributes them. They are also available at Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback (http://www.amazon.com/J.C.-Phelps/e/B003FG7JIW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1)
They are also available at Createspace.com ( https://www.createspace.com/3441053)
I also have created my own publishing business and you can find copies of my books there: www.newpubbinding.net
Do you do POD and Kindle?
Yes, I do both and also print my own. I personally own a Kindle. I received it as a Christmas gift from my father this past Christmas and why I finally went the Kindle route.
What new projects are you working on?
I'm slowly working on book four of The Alexis Stanton Chronicles and I have a few other ideas I have yet to put to paper. My main focus right now is to market the three I've already completed.
Who are your ideal readers, and how do you reach them?
Placing into a specific genre and categorizing my books has always been a problem for me. I think my books will appeal to a large audience but to be more realistic, I think my books have a strong pull for women readers because the main character is a strong young woman. The books are strong in action/adventure but also have a woman's touch. How to reach them is something I'm still learning to do. I have joined many reading groups across the internet but my main selling point is word of mouth.
How do people contact you?
I can be found in several places on the internet.
Facebook Author Profile: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=100001056462125&ref=ts
Facebook Author Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/JC-Phelps/116756508344894?ref=ts