Hello and welcome to my blog! Today, as part of a book tour through CLP, I'm interviewing author Colleen Oakes.
Hi Colleen, and welcome to Storm Goddess Book Reviews & More. Thanks for answering all my questions!
Tell me about yourself, and your writing:
Well, I’m a passionate Colorado native who really enjoys living in other places! I attended college in Bronxville, NY where I received my degree in Creative Writing. After college, I opened up a successful wedding florist before the writing urge came knocking. Now I’m a night owl who does most of her writing in pajamas. When I’m not drowsily hitting the keys, I enjoy swimming, reading, and immersing myself in all kinds of nerdy pop culture. In 2012, I published my first novel, Elly in Bloom, via Amazon Publishing. I live with my husband in North Denver, where we are joyfully awaiting our first child through adoption. I blog about life (good, bad, and awkward) pretty frequently over at The Ranunculus Adventures. (http://ranunculusadventure.blogspot.com/) I’m currently at work on the sequel to Elly in Bloom and an epic fantasy called Queen of Hearts.
How long have you been writing? How many published books do you have, and what genres? I
have one published book. I always wanted to be a writer – in fact, in 4th grade I declared to my parents that I was going to write books. Though I’d been blogging for about seven years prior, it wasn’t until 2010 that I really put my passion into practice. It was New Year’s Eve - post wild bunco party - and over a glass of wine I confided to one of my best friends that I had started a book called Elly in Bloom in 2007, and that the first chapter was in a drawer somewhere. She looked at me and said “I want to write a book too!” From there on, we met once or twice a week to work on our respective novels. A year later, Elly in Bloom was finished. Her book, Serenade, will be arriving in about two months. Writing is what I should have always been doing, but like any true writer, I dragged my feet – and my pen – for years.
Do you write in multiple genres or just one? If just one, do you ever consider straying outside your genre?
After Elly in Bloom and for most of its sequel, Elly in Love, I didn’t stray outside of the Chick Lit genre. However, I recently finished Queen of Hearts which falls into the YA and epic fantasy genre. I absolutely loved cracking wide open my imagination to write something so different. After that, I decided after that I while wouldn’t tie myself specifically to any genre. That being said, I can’t really see myself writing True Crime anytime soon.
Are you a plotter or do you write from the seat of your pants
? Both. I have a very plotted and thorough outline that tells me what needs to happen in each chapter to get my character where they need to go. Aside from that, I let the story flow through me, and often times it takes different directions than I originally planned. It’s almost its own creature when I’m writing.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
Well, I absolutely work better in the morning hours. My brain is rested and sharp, and my fingers seem to fly over the keys. The unfortunate thing about this is that I HATE mornings, and am totally a night owl. I love writing at night – but my writing at night tends to be sloppier, and I can skip words if I’m not careful. Therefore, a compromise must be made. I get up, shower and sit down to write. I don’t aim for a certain amount of time – I aim for half a chapter a day. Sometimes, that takes two hours. Sometimes, it takes six. I save my evening work period for my blog, emails and social media. Actual writing must be done in the mornings, and usually with a Starbucks at my side.
Who do you love to read? Favorite authors, favorite books?
There are so many, it’s almost impossible to narrow them down! I’m happy to say that this has been a great year for books! The three books that were my best read in 2012 would be: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and the entire Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R Martin. I am convinced that Martin might be the smartest person in the entire world. Some of my favorite authors, besides those listed above are: Barbara Kingsolver, Trisha Ashely, Audrey Niffennegger, J.K Rowling, Kent Haruf and Leif Enger. Far and away, the author that has influenced my writing the most would be Jennifer Weiner. Her books have made me laugh, cry and showed me that there could be enjoyable women’s literature that pulsed with a deeper current.
What is something you'd like to accomplish in your writing career next year?
At the end of 2013, I would love to see three books listed with Colleen Oakes as the author.
If you could have one paranormal ability, what would it be?
I would love to be able to move things with my mind, like Jean Grey from the X-Men. Did I mention I’m married to a nerd?
If you could keep a mythical/ paranormal creature as a pet, what would you have? I always dreamt of owning Swift Wind, She-Ra’s flying, talking horse. A large portion of my childhood was spent pretending that I was riding on Swift Wind, sword in hand.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
Elly in Bloom is the lush and enjoyable story of a woman who must overcome her past to fully come into her own, to bloom into who she is meant to become. To quote from the back of the book: Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, chubby 32-year old Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet little life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique wedding florist in St. Louis. It’s not bad for a woman who drove away from her entire life just two years ago when she found her husband entwined with a red-headed artist. Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a terribly behaved sheepdog and a sarcastic assistant who she simply calls “Snarky Teenager”, but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly. Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for. With the help of her friends, staff and the occasional well-made sandwich, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined. It’s a story for every woman who has ever found herself lost in the past and intimdating by their own bright future.
What is something that you absolutely can't live without? (Other than family members)
Books. I go to the library once a week, and I’m constantly scouting out new books to order and then consume. I imagine life must be so boring when you can’t take weekly escapes into someone else’s life or imaginary world, don’t you agree?
Could you ever co author a book with someone? If so, who would you choose, and what would you write?
I don’t know that I could ever co-author a book with someone. Not because I wouldn’t enjoy the creative process with someone else, but because I would have a hard time relinquishing any control of the story. They might not want to write it with me.
If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?
I am lover of C.S Lewis, and if I had my choice, we would spend the day walking around London, having a delicious picnic lunch and discussing theology and books. I would ask him endless questions about Narnia, but most importantly, how I could find it. J
What are some of your other hobbies outside of writing?
I love swimming and riding around on my cruiser bike (named The Beep Beep). I’m a voracious reader, a dangerous shopper and a lover of laughing with friends.
If you were on the staff to have a book adapted to movie, what would you pick?
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. It was an extraordinary story, and I have an obsession with the dark corners of the Amazon.
What is a talent you wish you had, but don't?
Playing an instrument. I’ve tried several times to master one or the other, but it just never pans out. I enjoy singing and music of all types, but I am not skilled at creating it.
This is constantly changing, so I’ll say that I am going through a coral phase right now. I can’t buy things in that color fast enough.
Weather: Hot or cold?
As much as I enjoy being warm, there are few things as perfect as watching snowflakes dust the ground. There is something mysterious and magical about winter.
Favorite place to read?
Hmm…snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea, on the couch that sits in front of our bay window. It wouldn’t be perfect without Moxie, my dachshund, laying on my legs.
Once a year, my husband and I go to the Melting Pot. Melted cheese, rye bread, shrimp simmered in Coq Au Vin, smore’s chocolate with strawberries – oh my! It’s absolute heaven.
Favorite non-alcoholic drink?
Hot Chocolate, particularly of the Starbucks variety!
If you could travel anywhere and do anything, no limits or money holding you back, where would you go?
I would take a few months to tour Europe with my sister and my husband. We would start in Ireland and wind down from there. I would love to go there, or Asia. I would take either, for I dearly love to travel.
BLURB: The #1 Kindle Bestseller in Contemporary Fiction! Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, chubby 32-year old Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet little life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique wedding florist in St. Louis. It's not bad for a woman who drove away from her entire life just two years ago when she found her husband entwined with a red-headed artist.
Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a terribly behaved sheepdog and a sarcastic assistant who she simply calls "Snarky Teenager", but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly. Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for.
With the help of her friends, staff and the occasional well-made sandwich, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined.
Elly's voice, both charming and hilarious, will appeal to those readers who have been looking for a new voice in chick-lit, and will give women of all sizes the realistic heroine they've been waiting for.
Review rating: 4.5 LIGHTNING BOLTS
Review: There's a time when a character completely grabs your attention...Elly did just that in Elly in Bloom...man could I ever relate to this woman on so many levels! Elly is a woman with curves, and even though she's bothered by it, she wants to learn to be comfortable with herself. This story is Elly's remarkable journey to acceptance....and what a tale it was.
I laughed, i cried, I got angry..this book made me feel. I couldn't stop! What an emotional over drive, I mean seriously, but it's in a good way. This book captivated me that much. I love the humor, the charm...it's a story any modern woman can relate to if you're all about finding yourself in the midst of a crazy world.
I'm anxious for the sequel for sure. Good job, Ms. Oakes!
Colleen Oakes is a passionate Colorado native who really enjoys living in other places. She attended college in Bronxville, NY where she received her degree in Creative Writing. After college, she opened up a successful wedding florist before the writing urge came knocking. Now she is a night owl who does most of her writing in pajamas. When not drowsily hitting the keys, Colleen enjoys swimming, reading, and immersing herself in nerdy pop culture. Elly in Bloom debuted in September, 2012 via Amazon Publishing. She now lives with her husband in North Denver, where they are awaiting their first child through adoption. Colleen blogs about life (good, bad, and awkward) pretty frequently over at The Ranunculus Adventures. (http://ranunculusadventure.blogspot.com/) She is currently at work on the sequel to Elly in Bloom.
Connect with Colleen!
http://colleenoakes.net/ (My website)
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorColleenOakes (Facebook Author Page)
http://ranunculusadventure.blogspot.com/ (My Blog)
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