Today I’d like to introduce you to a plunge-write-in (get it?) type of author. Claudia Shelton writes romantic suspense among other genres for a very specific reason she’ll tell you shortly. First, her official bio and then we’ll get to the interview itself.
Award-winning author Claudia Shelton could write her name before the first day of school, but now she writes romantic suspense, thrillers and contemporary romance. In addition, she presents workshops for readers and authors. Her debut novel, Risk of a Lifetime, released to 5-star reviews, reached Amazon’s Best Sellers Romance Series Top 100 and was named one of eBooks Galore top reads for 2014. She is also a two-time nominated Daphne Du Maurier (Unpublished) finalist for excellence in mystery. Claudia is the author of the Shades of Leverage action-adventure romantic suspense series.
On a personal note, Claudia considers herself a traveler, music lover and water person. A cool drink while listening to the splash of waves is always nice—so is a mug of hot chocolate in the falling snow. Her main priority is spending time with family, friends and her two sweet, conniving rescue dogs.
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
I have completed six manuscripts and have published three of them with Entangled Publishing.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
Claudia: I write romantic suspense because I love a fast-paced action adventure with lots of plot twists, yet also want the happily ever after of a romance. Gradually, I’ve learned there can be a happily ever after, or happy for now, within a suspense or thriller; so with that in mind, I’m planning a series that is even more suspense/thriller based. But, don’t worry I’ll always have a romantic suspense work in progress or ready for release.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
Claudia: I’ve always thought of myself as a water person, and Dangerous Lies is definitely set around water.
To ex-Navy SEAL Mitch Granger, responsibility isn’t just a word. It’s his Code of Honor. But when assigned to protect Coercion Ten’s latest target, she challenges his authority, defies his rules, and wreaks havoc on his personal willpower. Fighting for her isn’t a problem. Giving his life for her isn’t a problem. Forgetting their world-stopping kiss? Definite problem. And if he can’t concentrate solely on keeping her safe, it may cost them both their lives.
Journalist Liz Walkert’s missing father sent her a cryptic message that she was in danger. What he didn’t tell her was why. Unbeknownst to Liz, her family has been in Witness Protection all her life. Mitch may be her bodyguard, but his protection comes close to being control, the one thing she has none of in his presence. After a kidnap attempt and a narrow escape from attacking CT forces, they both realize they’re going to need to focus on the mission and fight their attraction if they have any hope of surviving.
Each book in the Shades of Leverage
series is STANDALONE:
* Slater’s Revenge
* Dangerous Lies
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
Claudia: I’m lucky enough to have an office which I’ve decorated in a beach theme.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
Claudia: No rituals, however music sometimes helps me in planning out my book. I’m not a plotter till half way through the manuscript, but I do write scenes in my head and certain songs can help that process. But every manuscript has a different song that helps (sometimes two).
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
Claudia: Never give up!
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
Claudia: My alpha heroes, plot twists, and exciting action-packed endings.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
Claudia: At least one character! Sometimes the other character arrives close behind, but occasionally I have to search for the other one. After the first character, there’s usually the location, then the premise of the story—no plotting, just the premise.
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
Claudia: I’m involved in my writing daily, with a few days off here and there. But when I’m on deadline I calculate the amount of words left in the story, divide by days left before deadline and make sure I get the allotted amount of words in weekly.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
Claudia: Time crunch. Writing, marketing, social media and everything else that publishing entails, doesn’t just happen in one neat ten-minute slot.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?
Claudia: No…that’s not how I write.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
Claudia: Depends on my mood. I usually have more than one book being read at a time.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
Claudia: I have certain books I keep, but I seldom go back and reread them.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
Claudia: Most times not the same genre. However, if it is the same genre, I make sure it is in no way close to the story I’m writing.
Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?
Claudia: Full-time writer.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
Claudia: I write my stories because the characters speak to me. I write my stories because they need to be told. And, I write my stories for you—the reader. In turn, I need you to leave a review or tell the world how much you enjoyed the book, the characters, the setting, my writing. Otherwise, the publishers can’t know how the readers feel about my book and my stories may never see the light of day.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
Claudia: Write! Attend workshops and conferences. Write! Find yourself a critique group or start one yourself. Write! Read books on writing a book, and also ones on writing your specific genre. Write, write, write— And never give up!
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
Claudia: My publisher has me writing the third book in the Shades of Leverage series, which will be set in the northwest. Think mountains and river rapids, horses and a secluded cabin, and lots of action-packed romantic suspense!
And later this year, I will self-pub a couple of books—one of which will be a Christmas book.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
Claudia: Instead of Romantic Suspense, I’m planning a future series that centers on the Suspense/Thriller genre. And I’m always playing with the idea of a cozy mystery.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Claudia!
I think her stories and her writing process are both equally fascinating. If you enjoy romantic suspense, I hope you’ll give Claudia’s books a try.
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