Today Contessa at the Crossroads, along with Never Too Old for YA Books from Goodreads, welcomes author Brandi Salazar for an interview. You may know a few of Brandi's books:
Explorer Cheyenne Oppenello lives for adventure and has made it her life’s work to seek out the world’s most notorious myths and legends, and she’s determined to make sure that nothing stands in her way. Accompanied by a colorful band of teammates and friends, their most recent hunt has brought them to Iceland where, up on a mountaintop lies a legend so great that, if true, could thrust them into the spotlight making all of their wildest dreams come true. Unfortunately they have no idea that this mission could very well be their last.
Erias is on a mission of his own. And this includes keeping Cheyenne and her teammates from sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Part of The Brotherhood, guardians to The Gate, Erias is charged with protecting the world from creatures bent on death and destruction and he will do whatever it takes to ensure they never see the light of day.
Can Cheyenne’s determination go up against a fierce man like Erias to get what she wants? Or will Erias prove to be the one adventure she wasn’t prepared for?
Jessica Warren comes from a long line of witches. At the age of eighteen her ability to wield magic will intensify and she'll be welcomed into the fold with open arms. That is, until she she risks it all.
Magic isn't something to be taken lightly. With each spell cast the user suffers dangerous after effects that carry the potential of destroying their life. After her parent's divorce, Jessica begins abusing her powers, but she really doesn't think she's doing anything wrong--it's everyone else that has a problem.
When one day her best friend, Amber, informs her that she had a vision of Jessica's mother dying in a car crash, a victim of her own abuse of magic, Jessica is in a race against time to save her mother. Her life is only complicated further when a boy catches her attention and she has to not only save the day, but keep all of her secrets
Brandi Salazar started writing poetry, short stories, and novels at a very young age, weaving tales to share with her friends that were geared toward making them laugh. Today her writing habits reflect that, ranging from mystery/suspense/thriller to paranormal and YA romance, and no matter how different her works may be, you can always find a healthy dose of action, romance, and humor. Under the pen name J.C. Valentine, she also writes erotic romance fiction.
A longtime resident of Ohio, Brandi lives with her husband, three children, a dog and five cats that keep her very busy. She holds a degree in Business and has plans to continue her education so she can one day become an editor to authors everywhere. When she isn’t crafting her next novel, toiling away at schoolwork, or hanging out with family, you can find her curled up in her favorite chair with her nose buried in a book.
*Note to readers: I am always willing to give away a free copy of any of my books--generally in ebook format--in exchange for your fair and honest review. If interested, please contact me via Goodreads or email at
email@example.com. Brandi's Blog Twitter
So, without further ado, let's welcome Brandi and see what she had to say!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t think there was ever a moment of realization in which I told myself, this is what I want to do. I have been writing since I was a kid, mostly just for fun. Only in the last few years has it become something serious. It is just something that I know I need to do, if only for myself.
How long does it take you to write a book?That depends on my mood. I tend to write fast in the beginning, because I know exactly what I want to say. Then I pitter out a bit because I need distance so I can get a better perspective—I tend to get so immersed in my projects that I can’t see my way through to the end. So, it takes me a while, usually as much as six months, but sometimes less, depending on its length and what is going on in my life at the moment.
What do you think makes a great story?There are so many things that can make a story great, but I think the main thing is when one has the ability to shut out reality for a while, to transport you into another world, and even more important, one that makes you care for the characters as if they were your friends or family.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?My schedule is generally packed tight, so writing gets squeezed in somewhere between schoolwork, dinner and bedtime.
How do you balance family and writing?My family comes first, always. When I write, I try to do it when my kids are in school, or after they have been tucked into bed at night. It’s impossible to write anyway when you have little people racing through the room screaming like banshees! Of course, this also means that there are days when writing doesn’t get done at all, and that’s okay too.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?I get ideas from just about anywhere: music, TV, but mainly from my dreams. The information I get to build on it, though, comes from hours of research. I read books, watch documentaries, and surf the web a ton, and I try to adapt my findings to suit my needs.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could actually do it! I am my own worst critic, so when I started writing I was convinced that it was the worst dribble the world has ever seen, but others told me different. It was-and still is-shocking for me when I find that others are enjoying my work.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?I have eight books currently published, one of which is a short story that I worked on with a couple of author friends of mine, and countless others waiting for some much needed attention. My favorite changes with each release, so my current love is Stranded, which I penned under the name J.C. Valentine.
Are your characters based on anyone you know?I don’t think so, but my husband would cry foul on that one. He is convinced that at least one minor character from Darkness and Lies must be him. I believe in writing from experience, so maybe that is true to some degree, but mostly I just form a character as I go in a way that seems true to them.
Do you have a favorite place you love to write?Not really. I just grab my laptop and go. Writing is kind of like giving birth. When an idea decides it’s coming, you accommodate. If I really need quiet time, though, I sequester myself in my room.
How hard is it to get published?
I tried that road for a long time, and I think it is exceedingly difficult. When you aren’t being completely ignored, you are wading up to your knees in rejection letters. As an impatient person, I take my hat off to those who keep at it, because eventually someone will open the door to you. For me, though, I just wanted to see if anyone out there would really read and enjoy what I write, so I took the self-publishing route. It’s simple and easy and offers a lot of flexibility, but I still think I might one day give traditional publishing another shot.
What do your family and friends think about your books?Everyone is blessedly supportive of my writing. My mother says that I am good at it, and my husband is honest enough to tell me when I am not. Mostly, though, I rely on outside readers to give me an honest opinion because they don’t care so much about sparing my feelings.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?Any time I am not writing, I am reading. It is my most favorite pastime, but I also love to do other things. I enjoy spending time with my family, photography, and I have recently taken on an art project that requires drawing and painting on canvas.
Do you have any suggestions to help aspiring writers better themselves and their craft? If so, what are they?If you want to write, write every day if you can. The only way to get better is to practice. Read daily, take notes, then apply what you have learned. Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks. I started out writing fantasy thinking real people in real situations wasn’t thrilling enough, but now I write just about everything. Nothing is off the table. How else do you know what you are best at if you don’t try everything at least once? Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. It’s hard, it sucks, but when it happens, look at it as a learning experience and challenge yourself to be better next time.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?I always wanted to be a veterinarian, then after meeting Buddy Lazier, I decided I wanted to be a race car driver, which later morphed into being an Air Force fighter pilot. I kind of still want to be those things.
What are your favorite books and which authors inspire you?My favorite books are Twig, Acheron, Kiss of a Demon King, and pretty much all of the Vampire Huntress novels. There are so many more, but those are at the top of my list.
For an aspiring writer what do you feel are certain do's and don’ts for getting their material published?Do- check all your options and be sure of which one will work best for you.Do- ask others’ opinion before you market your book. Don’t ask just friends and family, ask strangers, too. They will give you the most honest opinion and let you know what works and what doesn’t.Don’t- throw your book out there to the masses without a solid twenty or more read-throughs. Make sure it is as polished as humanly possible because it will come back to haunt you. If you aren’t good at editing, ask someone else to take care of it.Don’t- publish if you are not ready for criticism. It is coming. Not everyone will like your work and not everyone will be nice about it.
What are you working on now?
I am currently between projects. I am working on the second on the Night Calls series as well as the second in the Addicted to Magic series, both of which I hope to release in 2013.
Thanks so much for being with us today, Brandi. It was great having you here!