Welcome to Spotlight Saturday! This week we have the lovely Chloe Flowers. She writes historical pirate romance, action adventure, and women’s adventure. Let’s find out more…
Argh, matey! You write about pirates and adventure. So exciting! What inspired you to write these kinds of stories?
What saucy wench Who doesn’t love Jonny Depp and Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean? I’ve seen many Caribbean Islands; I also went to college in the South. I love both.
While in Charleston, I bought a couple books. (shocking, right?) One of them was about ghost stories of the Outer Banks containing a detailed account of pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack Rackham (a lady pirate who kicks ass with an adventurous streak? I’m all in). The other was an actual journal written by the wife of a plantation owner. It contained recipes and remedies…then my imagination took over and I wondered how a British Admiral’s daughter might handle being smuggled out of England after an assassin begins killing members of her family, then plopped on a plantation just prior to the War of 1812 (umm…she doesn’t handle it well, by the way).
Tell us about your Pirates & Petticoats series. Is this an ongoing series, or can each book be read as a standalone? How many books do you plan to have?
Pirate Heiress and the 5th book (soon to be released) can be read as on their own. The first 3 make up a saga and tell the tale of Keelan Grey, an independent, sword-wielding Admiral’s daughter and merchant ship captain, Landon Hart, a scoundrel who’s manages to piss off annoy a vicious pirate. They start in Charleston, S.C., one of my favorite places on the planet. Books 1 & 2 (Hart’s Desire and Hart’s Passion) should be read in order. Book 3 (Hart’s Reward) can easily be a standalone, if you can go without knowing how Landon seduces finally wins Keelan’s heart.
What kind of research is involved in your writing? Are you a plotter or pantser?
Some call it daydreaming, I call it plotting… I plot, plan and scheme. Once I get my story running through my head like a movie trailer, I sit down and write. Sometimes, however, my characters ignore me and take a deviant path, which always ends up in a quagmire of laughs and adventure.
For me, research is the fun part. (my husband just heartily agreed). I spent a few months learning more intimate intricate details of the Battle of 1812, since my books take place during that time. My 5th book starts in Jamaica and travels to Louisiana during the Battle of New Orleans, one of the most miraculous U.S. battle victories of all time. Andrew Jackson had this ragtag, army of misfits (barely 4500 men) made of merchants, hunters, trappers from Kentucky and Tennessee, slaves, free black men, Indians, and Jean Lafitte’s pirate’s against 15,000+ highly trained, battle-hardened British troops. (Can you guess where I’m going with this?) :0)
I imagine writing about pirates and adventure takes you to some faraway places. Have you ever traveled to gain a better sense for your stories?
It’s imperative! No book or video will ever help you describe the sounds, scents and idiosyncrasies of a place like Jamaica, the beautiful Lowcountry of South Carolina, or the castles of Italy.
When writing (and reading), I love becoming immersed in the setting. I want you to feel warm fingers of the breeze caress your cheek, smell the thick, sweet fragrance of Magnolias in bloom, see the lacy tendrils of Spanish moss dripping from the trees, and have your mouth water at the thought of licking biting into a warm, buttery biscuit slathered with creamy butter and dripping with amber honey.
My experiences in Jamaica make descriptions in Pirate Heiress, and book 5 (Working title is “The Pirate & the Nun”…yeah, I know…tread softly, Chloe) more vivid and real. I spent 10 days in San Vincenzo, Italy this summer, which will also be featured in book 5, and possibly a prequel novella.
Have you ever been on a Caribbean cruise? If so, what was your favorite part? Did it help create story ideas?
Yes! My favorite part was making landfall safe and sound in Bermuda. We hit a storm that flung deck chairs around like they were made of styrofoam. Needless to say, I wrote a very accurate storm at sea scene in book 3 (Hart’s Reward).
The texture of breadfruit and the smell of ripe mangoes, mingled with woodsy scent of damp foliage after a morning rain in Jamaica is something that has to be experienced. Although, I was 5 weeks pregnant at the time and had what I termed “awareness sickness” (to this day the smell of Jerk chicken makes me nauseous) Ugh. Just writing about Jerk chicken makes me nauseous.
You worked in marketing before writing. Would you say that background has helped you as a self-published author?
Absolutely. As a marketing maven, goddess,professional, I have once piece of advice for every author out there: Not every person who reads your book is your customer. Stick with me on this.
I owned a gourmet cookie company for 10 years. Our gift boxes were packed with confetti and tied with ribbons and bows-alot of TLC went in there, so they were not cheap. At a trade show, a man sampled the cookies, said they tasted amazing, asked the price and when I told him, he looked at me and said, “That’s ridiculous, I’d never pay that much for a *&%$ box of cookies.” It hurt, and worried me for several days, until I took stock of the orders coming in and realized that other customers didn’t think the price was too high. It was then I realized–that man was simply not my customer. Those readers who give you 4 and 5 star reviews are your customers. The 3, 2, and 1 star reviews (because everyone gets them at some point) those people are not your customers. Let them go; you’re better off without ’em.
What is your favorite part about being an indie author? Least favorite?
Does every author say for both: Making all the decisions?
I’ve put together a boxed set “Pirates of the Heart” with 6 other amazing pirate romance writers (I’m still star-struck, I think) featuring the best authors of pirate romance out there: Barbara Devlin, Katherine Bone, Danelle Harmon, Amanda Mariel, Jennifer Bray-Weber and Kamery Solomon. I stalked them planted seeds in their ears last August, but didn’t start the project until mid-January. It’ll be released this month! I don’t think any big publisher out there could put something together that quickly, but an Indie author with balls a good work ethic sure can.
Crazy question time! Cooking runs in the family, and you also used to work for a gourmet cookie company, does cooking/baking ever help your writing creativity? What’s your favorite cookie?
Cooking is a big crutch as well as stress-reliever. During exam week in college was I studying? (No. I was making pies) Favorite cookie? It’s a toss-up. My Breakfast Cookie (less guilt using that name) has oatmeal in it, but no food that looks like rabbit poop raisins (blech). Instead, I cut out the cinnamon and added dried apples and cranberries. Cowboy Cookies (also called Kitchen Sink cookies) satisfy those chocolate chip cravings. The secret? A little bit of shredded coconut keeps cookies moist and chewy (and most people won’t taste it until you tell them it’s in there).
Here’s the recipe: (If the words “creamy”, “nuts” and “balls” offend you, you should probably stop reading here. Otherwise, let’s have some fun in the kitchen )
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (Use the convection setting if you have it, otherwise regular ‘ole bake is fine) REMEMBER: Like a women’s size 10, ovens differ depending on the brand…babysit the first batch so you know how long to bake your cookies.
Mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups of flour
1 cup of Old Fashioned Oats (NOT quick oats unless it’s an emergency of the highest degree)
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
In a mixing bowl, combine and beat until super creamy:
1 Stick Land ‘O Lakes Butter
1 Stick Land ‘O Lake Margarine (don’t use crappy pretend margarine-this is not the time to try and cut calories)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Slowly add the dry ingredients, so you don’t create a cloud of flour dust.
Last- mix in a 1/2 to 1 bag of chocolate chips. I like to use mini chips, but that’s just me. The better the chocolate, the better the end result. Like thong underwear anything, you get what you pay for…
Add 1 cup of Pecans (or Walnuts if you prefer). You can handle your own nuts (snort-I crack myself up)
Add 1 cup of Raisins if you like that sort of thing. We already established that I don’t. Personally, the only grapes I like are undried and taste like wine.
GOOD: Use a 1 oz. ice cream scoop, put dough balls on a greased cookie sheet and bake about 8-10 min.
BIGGER & BETTER: Use a 2 oz. scoop, and bake 12-15 min.
BEST: FREEZE the dough balls first, then bake them. I usually scoop all the dough onto a single cookie sheet and put in the freezer, once frozen, I store the dough balls in a ziplock bag and bake only what I need. Place your balls (ok…sorry) a couple inches apart on the cookie sheet before baking.
Let me know how they turn out! send me a pic @flowers_chloe on Twitter or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chloe.flowersauthor
Cookies shaped like male reproductive organs immediately get retweeted and shared.
Thanks for having me! I had fun!!