Falling in Love is Only the Beginning — an Interview with Soul Mate Editor — Char Chaffin
Please welcome Char Chaffin to our blog. She is here to give our readers a new perspective from the other side…I mean, both sides, since she is both an editor and a published author. Char, please tell our readers a little bit about you, such as why did you become an editor?
Char– I studied English Lit and Journalism in college, figuring since nothing else interested me, I might do something with it someday. But I started college late, at age forty. English Lit taught me I wasn’t thrilled with reading the classics after all, but Journalism helped me realize I wanted to write someday. It would be another five years before I began writing my first book, and another eight before it was finally published, in 2011. In 2012 I was asked by my publisher to join their editing team as a junior editor. Six months later I began acquiring. I’m now a Senior Acquiring Editor for Soul Mate, splitting my time between a crazy editing schedule and equally-insane writing career.
Please tell our readers about the publisher you represent.
Char– Soul Mate Publishing opened its doors in 2011, with an original crew of sixteen authors (I was one of them!). Soul Mate started out small, struggled a bit as many new businesses do, but then we grew. And grew. Flourished. Took on more authors, then editors. Seven years later Soul Mate is an established traditional publisher with a solid track record of talented, award-winning authors, exacting editors, and a reputation for excellent marketing and promotion. Our cover artists are amazing, we nurture and mentor our authors, and it’s all thanks to the enthusiastic vision of our Senior Editor/Owner Debby Gilbert, who set the standards we all strive to emulate.
Describe the genre of the most recent release you worked on, and is this the only genre you represent?
Char– As an editor, I represent paranormal, all sub-genres of Historical, some erotic, and I also specialize in series romance. Right now I’m editing a complicated paranormal/fantasy series. My editing schedule for 2018 is kinda scary. ::grin::
Do you have any rejection stories to share? Like a manuscript you passed on that turned into a best seller?
Char– Not so far! I am careful and discerning when I choose a manuscript to represent for Soul Mate. If I don’t think I’m the right editor for the submission, I forward it to other Soul Mate editors who work in the same genre. In most cases of rejection, the author simply isn’t ready to submit their manuscript anywhere. Writing a novel is exciting and harrowing for any author, but first and foremost it’s a learning experience in characterization, strong plotting, solid grammar, excellent spelling, and the social networking enthusiasm needed to promote and market. Authors can’t skimp on any of that.
What is your weekly routine like?
Char– Pretty much insane! We moved to south Texas a few months ago, after Hurricane Harvey came through our winter digs and damaged our property. We’re cleaning up and rebuilding, as I try to stuff a thirty-hour day into, oh, roughly twenty hours. Three years ago my husband and I moved into a motorhome and started traveling eight months out of the year. The darling man bought me a desk which I desperately needed, though when we’re on the actual move, my lap becomes my desk. When I’m on an editing deadline, my writing does suffer, though I try to set aside time each week to keep up with my own projects.
Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Char– Nobody in my family reads. Truthfully I can’t recall anyone actually reading bedtime stories to me. When I was about nine I discovered a box in the attic of a house where my family and I had just moved. In it I found a bunch of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan serials, and his Martian Chronicles, and that got me going. I read them all, then went to the library and checked out Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Bradbury. None of that Nancy Drew or Trixie Belden for me! It set my love of sci-fi and horror nicely. Then I started reading Greek mythology in sixth grade and added fantasy to the mix.
For authors or prospective authors: what influences your decision to read a submission: the query letter; synopsis; a snappy tweet; etc.
Char– I do value professionalism, so the query letter should reflect the author’s desire to be taken seriously as a future published author. If I see typos in the query, it doesn’t leave me with a warm fuzzy regarding the quality of the submission itself. Authors should make every effort to assure their submission is as polished, as grammatically correct, and as plot-solid as possible before they send it to anyone, not just me. That’s basic Authoring 101. Since an email query is really a pitch in disguise, a smart author will keep that in mind when they write up their query. I require a full synopsis, so if you don’t send me one, I might not read further. I want to know how your story ends, so spoil me. Most important of all: don’t send me a three-chapter sample of your work in the body of an email. Always put your full synopsis and your chapter sample in separate documents and attach them. Because then, I can see everything: the way you format documents, your use of italics; your punctuation comes across correctly, your spacing, etc.
What is the biggest no no you see in submissions that makes you reject them?
Char– Probably careless writing, and I’m not just talking about the basics such as punctuation and grammar. Those things can be fixed easily enough in edit rounds, though authors need to make sure they double-check their work before they turn it loose on the world. But in order to create a fascinating read, there are writing processes that need to be in place no matter what: consistent tense, solid character POV, plot points that resolve, scenes that end in an upswing, chapters that end with tension/cliffhangers, and a storyline that matches its chosen genre and reflects whatever research might be needed to work the genre. If those items are not in place, it tells me the author isn’t ready to submit, and they need to better educate themselves first.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?
Char– Sure! Though my method of encouragement might differ from someone else. ::grin:: First, authors should celebrate when they finish a goal even if it’s a single chapter. Because writing is hard work, especially if you’re trying to do it on top of an already-jammed life. It’s one of the most competitive job markets in the world, and that’s even with self-pubbing opportunities. Getting your work out to the public is only the first step, because now you have to find people who will actually buy it and read it, then leave reviews, tell their friends, and thus spread the word. Promoting yourself can be scary, too. If what I just said is daunting to you, then think about what you really want, because writing is also a lesson in humility. If you want it, get tough first, then roll up your sleeves.
If you are determined, then you won’t give up. Do everything you can to prepare yourself by first understanding you will have to promote and market your own work. Regardless if you strive to self-pub or go a more traditional route, you have to be your own best cheerleader. Read books in your chosen writing genre. That alone can really help. Take writing classes, or join a writing critique group. Join organizations like RWA to further educate yourself. Go to writing conferences when you can and make some new friends.
If it doesn’t happen for you right away, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a writer; it only means you are not ready to be an author. So, make yourself ready.
How can our readers find your query guidelines?
Submission Guidelines for Soul Mate can be found HERE
You can also read editor bios and see what each Soul Mate editor is looking for, HERE
You mentioned that you are also a published author. What do you see ahead in your career?
Char– As an author, I write under my own name as well as co-author with fellow Soul Mate editor and BFF Cheryl Yeko, under the pen name CiCi Cordelia. My solo works tend to hover around nostalgia and romantic suspense. As CiCi, Cheryl and I write paranormal and Western Historical. Right now under my own name, I am plotting out a romantic suspense series set in Alaska (my home). And CiCi is neck-deep in a Historical Western series, drafting out Book Two of a trilogy set in Colorado. My original goal was to set a book in every state in the US. Pretty lofty, right? ::grin:: I have since realized twenty might be a more realistic number. Maybe ten. I will continue to write paranormal and Western Historical under CiCi Cordelia with my writing partner Cheryl Yeko, as I mentioned before. Mostly I want to write the stories that move me.
More about Char Chaffin
Char writes multi-genre romance filled with family, rich characters and engaging plots. For her, it all comes back to the love. A displaced Alaskan, Char travels extensively, and lives full-time in a motorhome with hubby Don, a retired Air Force man with a love of Fifties rock n’ roll and a passion for hot, classic cars. Between them they have three children and four grandchildren, all scattered to the far corners of the country.
Her love of romance and erotica interspersed with paranormal, horror, science fiction and fantasy has inflated her reading collection into several groaning bookcases and an overburdened Kindle. Char voraciously reads in between writing novels, novellas, and short stories. She is multi-published, and always working on that next manuscript. She can also be found under the pen name of CiCi Cordelia, with her writing partner and BFF, Cheryl Yeko. Please visit them at https://ccromance.com/ Char is a member of several writing groups, and RWA National as well as AKRWA in Alaska. Website: http://char.chaffin.com ‘Falling In Love is Only the Beginning’