Thursday, December 29, 2011

Author of The Year!

Charlotte Abel is a full time writer that lives near Boulder, Colorado with her husband Pete. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys hiking, bicycling, and archery.
"Enchantment," a paranormal coming of age romance, is her debut novel. She's working on the sequel and plans to publish it by February 2012.
Future projects include "Shattered," a romantic thriller set in the remote Sawatch Mountain wilderness of Colorado.

I have never actually met Charlotte face to face but the first time I ever talked to her was on Goodreads right after I read Enchantment. That being said, I am so happy to have "met" her and to have the privilege of interviewing her. I am truly lucky. Enchantment is a great book and I absolutely loved it. As did many other readers of all ages. Thank you so much Charlotte and keep up the great work.

P.S. keep us falling in love:)
  1. What inspired you to write your first book?
    This is so embarrassing ... My first full length book was actually a 200,000 word opus inspired by my frustration with "Breaking Dawn." I loved the first three books, but I wanted to throw BD against the wall when I finished it. All that build up with the Volturi and everyone just walks away? Stalemate? Oh come on! Really? Jeeze! Somebody needed to die. (Irena and Bree don’t count).

    I was also disturbed by the whole imprinting on an infant thing and wondered what would happen when Nessie hit puberty. Talk about a "jail bait" situation!

    Anyway … the "what if" questions in my mind began to play out as full blown scenes about the time I discovered fan fiction. I read a few stories and decided to give it a try.

    The response was amazing. The reviews addicting (over 2,100 reviews) and then the story won a couple of awards (including “Best Original Plot”). That gave me the confidence to write my own original fiction. I'm not telling anyone the title of the story or the pseudonym I used when I wrote it. I'm proud of the plot and the original characters I created, but the writing SUCKS! (That’s a hint, by the way).

    I really need to pull the story, but people are still reading it, writing great reviews that make me feel all warm and fuzzy, and putting it on their list of favorites. A lot “Enchantment’s” earliest readers are loyal converts from my fan-fiction days. 

2. Did you always have in mind to make it into a series? 
Yes. Once I get into a story, I want to stick around and get to know everyone.

3. Do you have a specific writing style? 
I write pretty much the way I talk. My loftiest goal is to connect with readers on a gut level. I want them to escape into a different reality, to forget they’re even reading and become so involved in the story that they experience it as if they were there. As if they were in mortal danger, or falling in love for the first time, or discovering that magic is real.

I can’t do that if I’m trying to impress folks with my vocabulary or literary genius. As far as I’m concerned it’s a writer’s job to stay out of the way as much as possible and just let the story happen.
As for my writing process, I’m a reformed seat-of-the-pants writer. I’d get an idea and then just start writing ... without knowing where the story was headed or how it would end. 
That method is exciting and fun while you’re in the writing stage, but it always requires major rewrites to plug plot holes, excise irrelevant sub-plots, find and correct timeline mistakes, slap some sense into characters acting illogically and fix continuity errors. It took me five to six times as long to whip a manuscript into shape as it did to write it in the first place.
I outline now. In-depth. It took six weeks and 10,000 words to write the outline for “Finding Valor.”
Does outlining take the spontaneity and adventure out of the writing process? Not at all. It just shifts it to an earlier stage and saves me a lot of trouble later on. Besides, I don’t force myself to follow with unrelenting rigidity. I’ll chase a stray idea down a rabbit hole if it seems like a better alternative than what’s on the outline, but at least I have a map to come back to if I get lost. 
  1. How did you come up with the title? 

It was pretty much a process of elimination. The original short story was titled “Name Games.” That’s too close to “Hunger Games” so we couldn’t use it for the novel. We tossed out “Enchantment’s Curse” because it didn’t make sense unless you’d already read the book. “Chastity’s curse” was another reject. I liked “Lust, Love and Magic” but it was judged too risky for a Young Adult title. Ha! That was before I rewrote the ending. (Now that was risky! But very satisfying.)
I wasn’t thrilled with “Enchantment” as a title (neither was my publicist) but it’s grown on both of us. Especially since it’s showing up on the first page of results when Googled. (I just checked and it’s fourth out of 21,900,000 results. Not too shabby.) Besides, it’s too late to change it now. 
I’m seriously considering changing the series name from “The Channie Series” to “Lust, Love and Magic.” I’d love to get some input. What do y’all think? 

5. What is Finding Valor about?

“Finding Valor” is a continuation of Channie and Josh’s story. I can’t say too much about it without spoiling the end of “Enchantment” for those that haven’t read it. But I will say that it’s darker and more intense. 
Several readers developed a bit of a book-boyfriend crush on Hunter so they’ll be happy to find he plays a bigger part in this story. Don’t worry, this doesn’t turn into a love triangle or anything. Channie’s heart will always belong to Josh, no matter how many disasters, fiascos and catastrophes fate hurls at them. 
  1. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
    Not really. I just want to entertain and connect with readers. Nothing makes me happier than to learn that a reader has an emotional response to one of my stories ... giggling during a humorous scene or shedding tears over a poignant moment. Nothing touches my heart as much as a reader that falls in love with my characters.

    Having said that, there seems to be a couple of reoccurring themes in everything I write …
    1. True love really can conquer all -- but it requires courage and extreme personal sacrifice
    2. Free will is more powerful than fate.

  1. How much of the book is realistic?
    It depends on who you talk to, most folks don’t believe in love at first sight, but I do. I knew within three weeks that my first husband was the man I wanted to marry. (I call him my first husband just to keep him in line.)

    As far as settings go, it’d be hard to find a spot in the Ozarks today that is as remote as Whistler’s Gulch (a completely fictional town) much less Channie’s hidden community. The bauxite pit in the opening scene is very realistic. I nearly drowned in one just like it when I was sixteen.

    Louisville, Colorado is a real place. So is Heritage Park and Monarch High School. (The real kids at Monarch are a lot nicer than the ones in the book).

    I used to live in the house Channie’s folks rented. I made a few changes, but for the most part it’s the same, right down to the weeping willow in the front yard.

    I didn’t know anything about BMX racing but Josh Abrim insisted that was his sport. (I wanted him to be a cheerleader on a co-ed team but he flat-out refused). So, I had to do a lot of research. I started online and discovered a vibrant BMX community right here in Colorado. I went to a couple of races in Colorado Springs, talked to a couple of families, met David Herman and watched him practice at the track in Dacono. What a nice guy. I had no idea he was such a BMX rockstar until I went home and Googled him. (Look for him at the 2012 London Olympics) He’d make a great Josh if “Enchantment” were a movie.
8. Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The survivalist techniques -- rabbit trapping, and surviving off the land -- are pretty realistic. My folks made a decent living so my brother and I grew up with all the modern conveniences, but my daddy lived in a log cabin until he was about eleven years old. You can still see what’s left of it if you know where to look.

All us kids had BB guns by the time we were eight. There were two basic rules we had to follow. Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to kill. And don’t kill anything you don’t intend to eat. And yes, I’ve eaten possum, squirrel, rattlesnake, rabbit, quail, turtle and a few things I didn’t recognize.

9. What books have influenced your life most?
Wow, that’s a tough one. I’d like to claim a classic like “Pride and Prejudice” but if I’m being honest, I’d have to say “The Twilight Saga” since my frustration with “Breaking Dawn” is what prompted me to start writing in the first place. 

As a kid, I read every book about horses and dogs I could find in the book-mobile. Some of my favorites were: “Black Beauty” “My Friend Flicka” and “Where the Red Fern Grows.” 

In middle school, I gravitated more towards mysteries, fantasies and science fiction. “Lord of the Rings” was definitely a favorite. I was about fourteen when I discovered my momma’s romance novels. Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts and Rosamunde Pilcher are still some of my favorite writers.
When I discovered paranormal romance I was in Heaven! Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series opened up a whole new world. I’ve never looked back. 
  1. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
    Finally an easy one! Yay! No doubt about it. It’s Orson Scott Card.

    “Ender’s Game” is a classic sci-fi that everyone should read, whether you like the genre or not. His book “Character and Point of View” is a must read for every writer. It was my first “how-to-write” book and I still refer to it once in a while.

    When I discovered that he taught juried workshops, I decided to apply. I didn’t think I had a chance of being accepted. He only takes 14 students at a time and only teaches 2 workshops a year. I spent three weeks polishing my 300 word sample before submitting it. I was shocked when I got the news that I’d been accepted.

    He totally bashed the writing sample that earned me a spot in his workshop, but loved the short story I wrote while there. He encouraged me to turn it into a novel. That novel is “Enchantment.”

    I learned more about writing during that week than I did in the previous two and a half years.


11. What book are you reading now?
“August” the second book in the “One Black Rose” series by Maddy Edwards.

  1. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

    Most definitely! Shannon Dermott, Shelly Crane, Amy A. Bartol, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Tammara Webber, RaShelle Workman, Jus Accardo, Tiffany Heiser … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They might not all be “new” writers, but they’re new to me ;-)

13. What are your current projects?I just finished the second draft of “Finding Valor” and am waiting to hear back from my critique partner. I’m really hoping it’s ready for beta-readers so I can launch it on time. It’s scheduled for early February, but I’d love to bump it up to late January -- before everyone’s used up the Amazon gift-cards they got for Christmas.

14. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Just one? Hmmm… impossible. I have to give credit to my very first readers back from my fanfiction days, then my editor, Carol and my publicist, Kris. The Indie Book Collective is the most recent entity to support me. Their advice is responsible for “Enchantment’s” new cover.

15. Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. In fact, I’ve been a full-time writer for a little over three years. I spend at least eight hours a day at my desk either writing, or doing writing related things such as: connecting with readers on Twitter and GoodReads; cross promoting other writers; writing new content for my blog and answering comments and doing online interviews like this one!

16. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh, yeah, most definitely. I sort of wimped out by calling Channie and her family “mages” instead of witches. I grew up in the Bible belt so “witchcraft” is a rather loaded word where I come from. (I know people that want to ban the “Harry Potter” books from school libraries.) With the amount of time my characters spend thinking and talking about sex, I’m pretty sure that’s enough to get the books banned without magic of any kind.

17. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I had a couple of short stories and poems published in high school and got a real thrill seeing my words in print. 

18. Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I love talking about my stories, but my publicist complains when I give too much away ;-) I’ve already talked about “Finding Valor” and can’t say much about the third book either, except that the first draft is about twenty-five percent done and it will be the end of the series.

I’m anxious to start work on my next series, another paranormal romance, but this time I’m not labeling it YA. I doubt if it’ll be any more explicit than “Enchantment” or “Finding Valor” but if one of my characters happens to drop the eff-bomb I won’t worry about it as much.
19. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

It’s really hard for me to write the “tough” scenes. The ones that involve physical pain or break my character’s hearts. There’s one scene in FV where Josh breaks his arm and has to set the bone himself. I had take lots of deep breaths while I wrote that one. I wrote a blog post about it a few days ago titled “Tattooed Hearts” if you’d like to know more.

20. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Believing that it was ready to be published. I kept wanting to tweak it just a bit more. Like any kind of art, no book can achieve perfection. In fact, there comes a time when further changes become destructive.
21. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Take all the classes you can to improve your craft, study “Story Engineering” by Larry Brooks, find a like-minded but tough critique partner, and … write. Even if you don’t feel like it. Read over your outline (you did outline your story, right?) Sometimes you just gotta park your butt in the chair, give yourself permission to write pure crap and then let the story flow from your heart. You can always edit it later.
  1. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
    First and foremost … THANK YOU! Because of your enthusiastic reviews, Tweets and referrals, “Enchantment” is finding its way into the hands and hearts of more readers everyday. Keep up the good work! I hope you enjoy “Finding Valor” as much as you did “Enchantment.”

    I love hearing from readers so don’t hesitate to shoot me an email, char2556 (at) yahoo (dot) com. (Foil the spambots!) Follow me on Twitter @charlotte_abel, and leave comments here and on my blog at

    And if you want my undying devotion, write a quick review on Amazon ;-)

Charlotte Abel
Download Enchantment at AmazonBarnes & Noble or Smashwords



  1. Charlotte - thanks for the mention. So sweet! And now I'm off to stalk the fan fiction sites and find your story. LOL.

  2. Yeah I will be looking for that story too!

  3. Hi Rashelle, thanks for popping in and leaving a comment.

    I really hope you don't find my fanfic! It's seriously cringe-worthy. I think every other word is an "ly" adverb. Like, seriously.

    Read "Enchantment" instead. I'll even gift you a copy from Amazon if you promise not read my first stumbling attempts at story-telling.

    By the way, I love "Exiled" cover art!

  4. Hey Lovely, I didn't find your name anywhere on your blog, so I won't divulge it without your permission.

    I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to "appear" on your blog and for your generous support of "Enchantment."

    Book 2 is close, I promise. I had this major epiphany last light and changed the ending. Which set up Book 3 so that the title "Finding Valor" fits Book 3 much better than Book 2 so I needed a new title for Book 2 ... domino effect.

    ANYWAY ...

    "Empty" fits Book 2 better than "Finding Valor" so I would have changed it anyway. It'll make sense once you read it.

    Thanks again,

  5. Oh cool! I really like the name "Empty". Sounds mysterious. And my bad, my name is Jessica. Lovely sounds much lovelier though:)

  6. Congrats Charlotte! You are definitely my author of 2011 so I'm excited that others agree. So excited to see Empty published and can not wait for the new Finding Valor: Book 3.

  7. How about we all call you "The Lovely Jessica" which you are by the way. You look so cute pregnant! (I looked like a cow).

  8. Hi Kris, Thanks! *blushing* I can't wait to see the next two books published either! LOL

    Hopefully Carol's edit list for "Empty" won't be more than a dozen or so pages.

  9. Ha that's my friend whose pregnant. I am the short one.

  10. Great interview/blog. I always enjoy reading them and getting a little extra information on books. After the teaser at the end of "Enchantment", I really want to know what happens next and what really happened to Josh.

  11. Yeah I would love to find out what happens next!


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