What’s one quirky thing about you?
I still suffer from some of the same fears I did as a child. For example, I’m terrified of Mr. Peanut, and as a result, anyone in a mask when I can’t see part of their face. I won’t sleep with the closet door open, even just a crack, since I’m convinced sand will pour through it while I’m asleep and suffocate me. (I blame Joan Collins and the Egyptians.)
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Since I learned how to read.
What has been your best experience as an author so far?
Interacting with readers. That makes all the work and the time holed up in my office worth every minute.
What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?
Strangely, it was easier to set aside time to write before this became my full-time job. Now that it is, I find that I’m a lot more easily distracted than I was in the past. I foolishly promise myself I’ll sit down this afternoon, or first thing in the morning, or definitely catch up this weekend. That doesn’t usually work. I need to learn to keep office hours the same as I did when I worked in a newsroom.
Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What’s been the weirdest research you’ve ever had to do?
I think researching health issues, both physical and mental, has been the most interesting. Also music. When writing At This Moment I read a lot about the advent of grunge music and became quite the fan.
The weirdest research would probably be all the studying I did on street drugs. I read a lot of message boards by people seeking to dabble in illegal drugs and answers from regular users giving advice. It was no different than going on a message board to find out what those weird little pear-shaped bugs are on my rose bushes, and then learning they’re aphids and getting a host of advice on how to remove them. So strange!
What advice would you give to new writers in the field?
Read. Read books off the best-sellers list. Read in the genre you write as well as genres you don’t. Read the newspaper. Read non-fiction. When you’re researching, read entire books on subjects that will pop up in your story. Don’t just depend on the internet to answer your questions. Chances are if you do, you’re going to embarrass yourself.
And invest in a good editor and proofreader. In fact, a good editor is the most important piece of advice I could give any author. Editors aren’t cheap, but you can’t afford not to use one.
Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?
When I moved a few months ago, I created a large open office in the second floor of my home. I had purchased all new furniture: a white desk and upholstered office chair; a blue and white buffalo plaid armchair for reading; several floor to ceiling bookshelves; and a daybed to daydream. It was decorated in blue and white, with my favorite toile curtains and accents.
Then life flipped upside down and before I really even got to use my new space, my daughter and her husband moved in and are using the space for their bedroom. I’ve been relegated down the hall to a small library. My bookshelves are in the basement, my armchair is in my bedroom, and I haven’t even bothered with curtains yet. Fortunately, when I get in the zone, it doesn’t matter where I am. I can grab my laptop and write outside or drive north, and write beside the ocean in my beloved Maine.
As for drinks and snacks, I have to have coffee. No coffee, no nothing. My favorite snack is cranberry-pistachio biscotti. I order a box from Amazon every time I place an order. I love them!
Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?
Billy McDonald from my Of Love and Madness series. Billy is roughly based on my musician husband. Some of the situations that occur in the books are based on reality.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m partway through the first book in a new series, Shooting Stars, based on a country music band. There will be several books in the series, but unlike the Of Love and Madness series, which focused on the same couple over twenty-five years, each book in this series will feature a different member of the band. The first book will be a second-chance romance between the lead singer and the girl he left behind. It’s set in rural West Virginia, Savannah, and Tybee Island, Georgia.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully publishing Shooting Stars by the end of the summer. I’d planned on writing at least two books this year and putting the Of Love and Madness series out as a boxed set, but it’s been a rough year. Just publishing one book will be enough for me at this point. Next year, I hope to get to some book signings, if they start up again, and of course, keep writing.
Karen Cimms is a writer, editor, and music lover. She was born and raised in New Jersey and still thinks of the Garden State as home.
She currently lives in Northeast Pennsylvania, although her heart is usually in Maine.
Tell us a little about your new release:
Better Man is the fourth full-length novel in the Of Love and Madness series. While the series effectively ended with the third book, readers wanted more. Better Man is a gift to them.
Where did your inspiration for the book come from?
To answer this, I have to back up to the beginning. I took the old adage “write what you know” to heart when I sat down to write At This Moment. As the wife of a musician, I had a lot of background that I’d experienced on my own or through friends. I knew a lot of musicians, some of whom are good friends and others who can be real dogs and live the stereotypical life of the bad-boy rockstar. While there are parts of the main character based on my husband (not all!), I used some of our friends’ stories, personalities, and foibles to give the series depth. I essentially wrote all three books over the course of a year and then went back and did a lot of rewriting and revising. The fourth book took about a year on its own.
Did you outline the story or dive right in?
I used to write by the seat of my pants. Now I’m more of a plotter, but the story and the characters always tell me what they want to happen next. If I’m smart, I listen. They know best.
How did your characters come to life?
Each morning as I drove to work, they sat in the backseat of my car and talked over each other until I listened to what they had to say. When I got to work, I’d send myself an email with what transpired, and then once I got home, I’d sit down and write.
As for their physical manifestations, I’m very visual. It helps to see them, so I find people who look like the characters do in my mind and create Pinterest boards. I do the same with settings, locales, clothes, instruments, songs, poems, recipes. You name it, if it means something to me and the book, it’s pinned to my story boards. I also create playlists that are very meaningful to me and will listen to them when I drive. Sometimes the playlist comes before I write the first word.
Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?
For my next book, Shooting Stars, I went to Tybee Island for a week. While there, I toured a $2 million waterfront home that will be the home of my country music star. Sandra Bullock is a neighbor. That was pretty cool.
What was your favorite part of working on this story? What was the most challenging?
For Better Man, my favorite part is being where the story takes place, coastal Maine. I visit places that are scenes in the book. Sometimes I just sit and listen to the sounds around me, whether it’s the ocean, the birds, a rainstorm. I watch the sun rise and set, noting the colors reflecting off the water or the clouds.
The most challenging was creating another story when I’d initially felt there was no more story to tell. A reader planted a seed, however, and I let it germinate, and knew I could grow a story out of it. I created a new character as well, so there’s a pretty good chance he may end up with a book of his own someday.
What’s next for this story – is it part of a series? When does it come out?
Better Man is the last in the series. It was released last August.
Share an Excerpt:
From Better Man.
The toilet flushed. A few minutes later, she stood before him in nothing but a pair of hot pink panties. Normally, he had no problem with her prancing half-naked around his apartment, but today it just pissed him off. He couldn’t deal with distractions, and Samantha was one big fucking distraction.
She planted herself in front of the closet, hands on her hips. “Why’re you packing your shit?” She took a deep hit off the joint and handed it to him. “You going somewhere?” Her words were high and tight as she held her breath.
He sucked the acrid smoke into his lungs and held it as long as he could, wishing it was the good stuff he’d scored before his supplier graduated last year. A few hits of Acapulco Gold would’ve been just what he needed to take the edge off, and he’d have been less likely to smell like he’d bedded a skunk.
Opening his mouth, he let the smoke curl out slowly. “Yeah, I’m going somewhere. Away.”
Good question. LA had always been a dream ofhis, but no fucking way could he afford to live in California with what little money he had. Fuck you very much, Mom. Nashville was closer, but the last thing he wanted was to play country music, and if jobs were hard to come by, it might be the only work he could find.
“New York,” he said, the decision made as the words left his mouth.
“Why is this the first I’m hearing of it?” She snatched his T-shirt off the bed where she’d left it and slipped it over her head. “Tyler get you guys a gig in New York or something?”
Tyler. That reminded him.
“Tyler’s stopping by later to pick up the soundboard, my Peavey amp, and the Gibson. Can you be here to let him in?”
Samantha rubbed her face, smearing mascara residue under her eyes. She was hot as fuck, but unlike Luann, his last long-term girlfriend and the reigning Miss Mississippi, she didn’t possess an ounce of class. Samantha was little more than convenient.
“The Gibson? The one you just bought? The one you were salivating over for the past few months?”
Billy kept packing.
“You’re lending it to him? Last weekend, you wouldn’t even let him touch it, let alone play it.”
“Yeah, well now it’s his. I sold it to him.” For less than it’s worth, the fucker.
“Am I trippin’ here or somethin’?”
Intent on ignoring her, he scanned the bedroom, imagining the place was on fire and he had only seconds to grab what was important and get the fuck out. If he thought too much about the Gibson Les Paul Custom he’d sold Tyler for eighteen hundred bucks— seven hundred less than he’d paid for it— he’d likely sit down and cry. He’d fallen in love with that guitar: cherry-red sunburst, circa ’61, with that sweet sound that comes from age. Playing that baby was like making love to the perfect woman, the way the neck rested in his hand and his fingers glided along the fretboard. Balance. Weight. Few orgasms were as good as playing that guitar.
And now it would be manhandled by Tyler’s fucking hairy paws.
Having taken all he needed from the bedroom, he stalked into the living room. No point in packing any textbooks, but there were books he wanted to take— classics that had belonged toGram and books she’d encouraged him to read growing up. He emptied the duffel bag he’d just filled into a heavy-duty trash bag, then scooped Gram’s books off the wood-and-cinderblock shelf and stuffed them into the bag.
He was yanking on the zipper when Sam trailed in behind him. She dropped the roach in an empty beer bottle on the coffee table and tucked a few wild strands of hair behind her ear. “When will you be back?”
Keys, wallet. Winter jacket. Shades.
“I’m not coming back.” With a horrified gasp, she sunk her claws into his forearm deep enough to break the skin. It wouldn’t have surprised him to see she’d drawn blood, only he wasn’t looking at his arm; he was pinning her with a glare he hoped would convey that he was not in the mood for a fucking tantrum.
“What the fuck?” she cried. “What do you mean you’re not coming back?”
He jammed his wallet into his back pocket, hoisted his Strat case over his shoulder, and picked up the case holding his grandfather’s Martin. He tucked the duffel bag under his arm and grabbed the trash bag full of clothes. He’d have to make a second trip for the suitcase. At least his amp and monitors were still in the van from last night.
She jumped in front of him and pressed her back to the door, as if that would stop him from leaving. “What about school? You’ve got a free ride. You’re just walking away? That makes no fucking sense!”
“Yeah, well . . . Life don’t make no sense, either.”
“What about the band? Raven’s Nest is nothing without you.”
Most of the fight seemed to drain from her. “Billy. Seriously. What about me?”
He laughed, but not because there was anything funny about the turn his life had taken in the last twenty-some hours. He was in fucking crisis mode, and not once had Samantha asked if he was okay. She wanted to know what was to become of her.
“What about you?” he asked, his jaw so tense it had begun to ache.
“Yeah, what the fuck am I supposed to do?” She took a deep breath and pushed it out as she ran her finger down his chest. “What about us? I thought I meant something to you. That we had some kind of future.”
He snorted. “We’ve been together less than a year, and I know sure as shit I never promised you anything. You’ve known all along I’d be out of here once I graduated. I’m just leaving earlier than planned.”
She grabbed fistfuls of his shirt and pulled herself into him. “At least wait until I can come with you.”
“No can do, sweetheart. We were never meant for the long haul, anyway. In fact, I have no plans to tie myself to anyone or anything but my music. Ever.”
She uncurled her fists and slammed them into his chest, shoving hard enough to cause him to stumble backwards.
Stepping around her, he pulled the door open. “I’m outta here.”
A nasty response burned like acid on his tongue, but Samantha didn’t really deserve it. She was little more than a convenient, steady lay, but none of what was going down was her fault. What she was, however, was a reminder that he didn’t need to be tied down. She was too much like his mother— a user, another woman looking for what was in it for her and what she could get out of him.
Good riddance to her, too.
He yanked open the door to his van and loaded the remainder of his worldly possessions. Then he pulled on his shades, turned the key, and drove. He drove until Kansas was in the rearview mirror and then stopped to scrape its dirt from his boots.
Sales Links:At This Moment (Book 1, Of Love and Madness series): http://amzn.to/2g60beXWe All Fall Down (Book 2, Of Love and Madness series): http://amzn.to/2vqfEsdAll I Ever Wanted (Book 3, Of Love and Madness series): http://amzn.to/2g7DG9iYou’re All I Want for Christmas (Novella, Of Love and Madness series): http://amzn.to/2gb0kKFBetter Man (Book 4, Of Love and Madness series): https://amzn.to/2ZQWvSF
Social Links:Amazon: http://amzn.to/2is7w9fGoodreads: http://bit.ly/2mYzgTsMailing list: http://eepurl.com/cvMTPTFacebook (author page): https://www.facebook.com/KarenCimms/Facebook reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KarenCimmsVIPRoomWebsite: https://karencimms.com/Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karen_cimms/Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/karen-cimmsPinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kcimms/Twitter: @KcimmsSpotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/12121379046