I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

TOPIC: An Author's Life...with Christina Ashcroft / Christina Phillips

Being a published author is an ... involved ... process, and I take my hat off to those who've been in the business more than a few years now.

As a pre-pubbed author I was always curious about what happened once you received THE CALL and stepped into the world of publishing.

What did it involve? How did they handled the day to day pressures? Did they developed routines, set goals etc.? What did they like/dislike about the process?

So I asked my special guests these questions and many of them have offered some intriguing insights into their lives. Maybe they'll even give you a heads up on what to expect if you're thinking of entering the world of "getting published".

Please welcome my next guest...

CHRISTINA ASHCROFT is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in Western Australia with her high school sweetheart, their three children, an eccentric Maltese-cross and three regal cats.

She can't remember a time when she didn't write, and always managed to include an element of fantasy or the paranormal in her English essay homework. Luckily her English teachers didn't mind, despite the fact these stories generally finished with the hero, heroine (or both) coming to a sticky end.

Thankfully by the time she hit fourteen she discovered romance novels and the wonder of a Happily Ever After. She now writes about hot archangels and the women who capture their hearts for Penguin/Berkley Heat and her books always have a happily-ever-after.

CHRISTINA PHILLIPS has an eerily similar history to CHRISTINA ASHCROFT and is also owned by three cats who believe the world revolves around them. As it happens, they are quite right.

Pseudonym or Given Name on the cover? Why a pseudonym?
I write paranormal/fantasy historical romances as Christina Phillips and paranormal romance as Christina Ashcroft. I chose my middle name Christina because I've always loved that name, and Phillips is my married name.

Ashcroft came about half way through 2011 when my editor suggested a new pen name for my new archangel series as it's a different sub-genre to my Roman/Druid books. Half the time I have no idea who I am and will answer to almost anything!

Location: Born in the UK and moved to sunny Western Australia at the end of 1998.

Published Genre/s: As Christina Phillips I write historical romance with hot Roman warriors and magical Druid heroines, Highland Warriors and vampires (not all at the same time!!!)

As Christina Ashcroft I write about fallen archangels and the women who capture their hearts.

Website/s: http://www.christinaphillips.com     http://www.christinaashcroft.com 

First published in: My first novelette, FORETASTE OF FOREVER, was published in October 2008. My first full length romance, FORBIDDEN, was published in September 2010 by Berkley Heat.

My first book published as Christina Ashcroft, ARCHANGEL OF MERCY, is due for release on 4th December 2012. I've been assured the Mayans got it all wrong so here's to December 2012!!

Number of books published: Three full length novels (including ARCHANGEL OF MERCY in December 2012) and two novelettes.

The Nitty Gritty 
List up to 5 significant events in your journey to publication?
Hooking up with my critique partners, Amanda Ashby and Sara Hantz. I was the last one to be published and those girls kept me motivated through all the lows and helped celebrate all the highs. This journey wouldn't be half as much fun without them!

Finalling in the RWNZ Meet the Editor Contest 2008. This was the first contest I'd entered in years and it was a terrific boost to my morale to be highly commended. The certificate also looks very awesome on my wall!!!

2008 was a turning point for me in my writing. Up until then I'd written contemporary romance for several years, and had just started writing paranormal romance. However, after my CPs dared me to try my hand at writing an erotic romance it was as if everything fell into place. I not only discovered how much I enjoyed writing erotic romance but I sold the first one I wrote. I took that as a Sign from the Universe!

Signing with my agent was a huge milestone for me, and helped validate the countless hours I'd spent hunched over my keyboard during the previous nine years.

What resources/techniques/events did you find useful to develop your writing skills/craft?
The best thing I did very early on was join the e-Harlequin boards. This was when I was targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon, and the wealth of knowledge from published authors and visiting editors on those boards was just amazing. There was a sense of real community and I made some wonderful friends, including my CPs Amanda and Sara.

Can you share the special moment when you received THE CALL/THE EMAIL?
Three months after signing with my agent she sent me an email on a Thursday saying that she'd had interest from an editor and should know more soon. I have no idea how I got through the next five days.

What did "interest" mean? Just how excited should I be by this news? (A totally redundant question since I was so excited I couldn't eat, could hardly sleep and kept breaking out into hysterical giggles at inappropriate moments!) Thankfully I was put out of my suspense the following Tuesday when Berkley made an offer :-)

Looking back over your writing career, how have you grown as an author?
You're not talking about the size of my behind, are you? OK, moving on...!

I was writing for nine years before I was published, and looking back I can see that each time I made the decision to change sub-genre - from category to single title, and then onto paranormal and erotic romance, I made a significant leap forward in my writing. I think it was because I stretched my writing muscles and pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

Even over the last two and half years I can see how my writing has improved and that's down to my wonderful editor who really opened my eyes about several things during our last round of revisions!

How important is it to set career goals? Can you give an example of one you have for yourself?
Before I was published I didn't think much beyond the fact that I wanted to be published. That was my goal. But I do think it's important to set realistic goals because they act as a motivator and reminder of what I want to achieve. By that I mean I give myself daily or weekly word/page goals. At the end of last year I gave myself a January goal - to finish the revisions on one book and edit a second book and I managed both by 30th.

Can you describe your writing process/timeframe from when you start a new book to handing it in at deadline?
The process couldn't have been more different between my two historical romances and my first Archangel book so that's a hard one to answer. Timewise I give myself six months from starting the book to deadline but of course there's a whole heap of other writing related stuff that needs to be done during those months as well.

FORBIDDEN and CAPTIVE both had only minor edits at copyedit stage, but at 70k into my Archangel book I received substantial revisions from my editor which entailed rewriting and finishing the book within a month. And then I had revisions on the full book. I've said it before and I'll say it again - my editor is a goddess!!!

One of the things I found challenging about being a published author is the constant juggling of tasks ie. writing a book, editing another, planning promotion, writing the prosposal for another (and usually this all happens while holding down another job or dealing with family/life etc.).

What do you enjoy the most in the publishing process?
My fave bits in the publishing process is seeing the cover for the first time! I've also loved the back cover blurbs Berkley have done for my books, so I enjoyed reading them through as well. And nothing beats opening the box that has just been delivered by FedEx and giving your book its very first cuddle!

What do you least in the publishing process?
There's nothing in the publishing process itself that I don't like. The waiting can be nerve racking, but I've learned to just get on with something else in the meantime.

What's the most memorable fan-mail you've received?
I will never forget the very first reader who contacted me. It was before FORBIDDEN came out and she'd seen a blurb about it on one of the reader boards. She also took the time to write to me after reading CAPTIVE to let me know how much she enjoyed the series.

Is there anything you think pre-publishers writers need to know about the business/industry before they're published?
Expect the unexpected. Be prepared for rejection even after you're published. And don't take a stinging review to heart.

A Bit of Fun
Favorite color:
Hunkiest hero ever: Clive Owen is hot in whatever movie he's in, and is still my darling despite the times I cheat on him with Henry Cavill. I also have a bit of a crush on Jason Momoa from Stargate Atlantis. *fans self* that guy is so big!!!
Most daring thing you've done in your life: Moving from the UK to Australia.
Greatest love: My long-suffering husband and our Darling Offspring. Mustn't forget the cats, either... 
Timeout/relaxation for me includes: Hahaha! Oh what, sorry...
Special quote/saying you like: OK it's an oldie now, but it's still a goodie - Never Give Up! Never Surrender! From Galaxy Quest.

Another one I live by (although not intentionally I can assure you!!!) is Never say Never. Because you can bet as soon as I say that I'll go and do it!


  1. Wow and wow again! It's always great to see what Christina has to say. I so enjoyed reading this post. And yes, your books are wonderful too!

  2. Shame on me, I haven't read either Forbidden or Captive :(
    just added them to my goodreads though and will definitely get to them soon :)
    Archangel of Mercy has also been added and hello...gorgeous cover and I LOVE a good angel/archangel story so will HAVE to get that one ;p
    Great interview Kylie and its nice to 'meet' you Christina

  3. Hi Kaye! How lovely to see you over here! Thank you so much for that lovely compliment on my books :-)

  4. Hi Book Chatter Cath! I hope you enjoy my Roman/Druid world! I love those hot Roman warriors :-)

    And OMG yes, the cover for Archangel of Mercy is absolutely gorgeous. If you zoom in to Gabriel's face, seriously he is to die for. I can't wait to get an enlarged copy of the cover up on my office wall (for inspirational purposes only, of course!)

  5. That was such a great interview Christina & Christina *g* - it really was!
    You've done an amazing job of straddling the genres,can't wait to read your latest book =)

  6. Thanks, Mel :-) LOL, thank goodness I could keep my same first name otherwise things would be very confusing!! And I'm confused enough as it is!!!

  7. What a lovely interview :) That bit about pushing out of comfort zone resonated with me. I want to try some of that this year...I just wish there was more time in the day, week, month, year :)

  8. A great post, makes me realize how much work goes into creating a book. A long process, and one I am so glad you guys make! Also how fun for you to try your hand at a new genre, nervewracking but I hope you enjoyed it too.

  9. Hey Jenny! Yes, it took me a long while to finally find where my voice "fit". I definitely believe in trying new directions with writing and I hear you on there not being enough hours in the day! I hardly find the time to eat just lately :-)

  10. Hi Lexi! It has been great fun writing my Archangel books, and although it's also been hard work I have enjoyed the process. I've kind of trained myself to enjoy it otherwise I think I might have gone a bit crazy!

  11. So glad you ladies have been keeping Christina busy and entertained while I've been buried this week teaching and writing. This seems to be an endless looping pattern my life has fallen into lately and I won't be surfacing any time soon - deadline hell looms.

    Hats off to Christina for juggling a split personality - not an easy job, at all! :-)

    1. A really interesting interviw, thank you Kylie and Christina.
      Great to know how you're managing the dual name process, Christina, and why you choose to do it.
      Kylie, can't imagine how you're keeping up with teaching and writing, as well as the blogging!

  12. I love reading these journeys. It's so encouraging to know that those gorgeous covers and well-turned words cost published people a lot of work too! Thanks for sharing, christina(s)!

  13. Hey Kylie, thank you for having me on your blog this week! I well know the deadline hell. I feel like I haven't fully emerged from the cave since before Christmas!!!

  14. Hi Imelda! Thanks for stopping by. It's amazing how much work goes on behind the scenes at the publishers when it comes to creating the covers and back cover blurbs. I've been incredibly lucky with mine :-)