I want to welcome Chelle Cordero, a multi-published author and freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various publications including The Journal News, Hudson Valley Magazine, Emergency Magazine, Spotlight, Auto Trim News, EMS Products, Sound Management Magazine and more. Chelle has agreed to set the freelance personna aside for today and tell us about her novels.

Tell us a little bit about you and how you got into writing.
I have always enjoyed telling stories. I was the kid who had very believable imaginary friends and even family members. When I was in high school (HS of Art & Design, NYC) I had to take an elective course and a Creative Writing class led by poet Daisy Aldan fit into my schedule – after that I not only knew that I enjoyed telling tales, I had to.While I was in college (Fordham University at Lincoln Center) I had my very first newspaper article published in both a Bronx weekly paper and in my college newspaper. But it took several years before I wrote full-time. While I was pregnant with my daughter I decided that I wanted to both work and be an at-home mom; freelance writing definitely fit in with my plans.

Please tell us about your books.
I am in love with the idea of being in love, so I write love stories. My genre romances Bartlett’s Rule and (coming in February) Courage of the Heart have strong messages as well as inspiring love stories; Forgotten and Within the Law were fun to write because they have continuing characters (but they are both stand alone novels). Another book, due out sometime in 2009, is a departure from the normal romance genre for me: Final Sin has a love story involved but the main story is an edge of your seat crime thriller. I had someone tell me that while they were reading the manuscript, they put a kitchen knife next to them after the first chapter!

How do your stories come to you? Characters first? Plot first? Or does it all just sort of come together at once?
Imagine sitting in a theatre, only you didn’t necessarily plan to be there, and the curtain opens to action on the stage. That is kind of how it is with me. It’s like I see a scene played out in front of me and I give the characters “a life”. Then I play “what if” and I just record my characters reactions to the curveballs.

If you came with a warning label what would it read?
Caution – this person MAY be a little off-balance. She talks to herself and has a whole slew of characters running around in her brain.

Describe your writing space. Do you move around or always write in the same place?
I do most of my actual writing seated at my desk and computer. On very rare occasion, I’ll sit with my laptop on my recliner in the living room. But I do most of my thinking (and creating my stories) ANYWHERE because I never know when a thought will strike.

Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantzer? Do you have comfort drinks or snack foods. Any favorite music you play while writing?
I lay out the initial conflict and I decide on the final outcome – how the story gets there is up to my characters. For instance, in Bartlett’s Rule the initial conflict was that Paige was a rape survivor and she detested Lon because of his alleged chauvinism and his image as a player; by the end I wanted them together as lovers and friends with a happy ever after potential. I took the time to give each major character a history and based their actions and reactions on what “drives them” (similar to method acting). The story basically wrote itself and I just threw in a few twists and surprises now and then. I wind up picking a “theme song” that makes me think of my characters and the conflict they are going through – then I play it repeatedly while I am working, and I do mean repeatedly. The theme song for Bartlett’s Rule was Garth Brooks’ “To Make You Feel My Love”; Forgotten’s theme song was Kenny Chesney’s “Because of Your Love”, and Within the Law’s song was Faith Hill & Tim McGraw’s “Let’s Make Love”.

If we asked your friends to name 3 personality traits about you, what do you think they would say?
Imaginative – Nurturing – Outspoken

When you’re reading someone else’s books what about a man is a turnoff and why?
If he is disrespectful to others, if he doesn’t care about another person’s feelings, if he will “climb over others” without even remorse. A man can be strong without cruelty.

What happened to the first novel you ever wrote?
It was a romance novel called “More Than a Friend” and I tried to submit it to a few of the bigger romance imprints. My story was rejected a handful of times because it wasn’t straight genre (one or two rejection letters actually came back citing “too much going on”). I rewrote it several times based on the numerous suggestions I received from helpful editors to eliminate some story, some characters, some conflicts, etc. My story lost focus and, simply put, it didn’t seem to go together anymore. Maybe I didn’t know how to rewrite it for the market back then but now it is hopelessly outdated. If that were to happen to me today, I would investigate other publishers (ie: small press) and I would not limit myself to a straight romance genre house.

I just got this sweater … do you think it compliments my eyes?
I don’t know, I can’t hear what it is saying… (No? And I thought torquoise spots over purple stripes screamed “love me”! Huh, I’ll have to try again.)

If you could be one of your characters who would you choose and why?
Caitlyn Smythe Price from Forgotten (& continued in Within the Law) – she’s a little bit wild and emotional, but she is also a very strong person and ready to face off against anyone for the people she loves.

If you were sick in bed which movie would be your comfort movie and why?
Actually I dislike watching TV or reading in bed, so if I were that sick, I couldn’t quite come up with an answer. Rarely will I watch a movie more than once; I am just no fun that way. I guess my favorite relaxation movies include The Replacements, An American President, and The Pacifier.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Never give up and never get discouraged. Listen to every critique but don’t treat it as gospel. Believe in yourself in order to make others believe in you.

How does your family feel about your writing?
They are very supportive but I doubt that they truly understand how and why my excitement exists over a printed page or a fantasy that’s just running around in my head. They congratulate me on my successes and brag about me to their friends and generally make me feel pretty darn good about myself.

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I believe I really lucked out meeting the publisher that I did; she is always ready with encouragement and support. She is just so positive that she helps build confidence even when her writers feel a bit unsure. I also have made friends with many other writers, not just with the same publishing company, and I have noticed that, almost without exception, these folks are super friendly, supportive and helpful. These writers have achieved some enormous successes of their own and they are very quick to applaud another’s successes. It’s nice not to have to worry about much of the backbiting that seems to pervade so many other fields.

Chelle … wait, Chelle … oh dear, she’s gone off with one of the cabana boys. I’m sure she’d love for you to stop by her website or friend her on MySpace, Twitter or Facebook. She’d love to have you visit her blog or Yahoo Group. All of her books can be found at Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Chelle is actually very chatty and would love to answer your questions. Feel free to show her some comment love!

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