I am pleased to welcome Palessa to CJ’s Book Corner. Palessa is the author of Unchained Hearts – Book 1 in the Baxter Family Saga Series.
CJ ~ Tell us a little about yourself and your background –
Palessa ~ I’m probably one of the last people you would expect to be a writer considering that I have a technical degree. I started writing when I was really young and it’s taken me a couple of decades to feel like I could write fiction again. It’s a long story and the journey isn’t over.
CJ ~ What inspired you to write your first book? –
Palessa ~ Well, I started reading fiction again, particularly romantic fiction and this idea just came to me. I knew that the character’s name was Newton and that he was married to one woman but deeply in love with another, a maid for his rich family but I knew there was more to the story than that. So I decided to put pen to paper and flesh it out. That was when I thought, OK, I think I may have something here.
CJ ~ Which books have had the most influence in your life?
Palessa ~ I am a HUGE lover of A Woman of Substance and Their Eyes Were Watching God. I have read both multiple times. The story of Emma Hart inspired me to just go for it. She overcame her circumstances to create this life and legacy that endured for years and generations. She’s a hero of mine. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, you have Janie who has been taught that as a black woman in the 1930’s, she is the “mule of the world” meaning she’s going to have to bear the load of much and many. She survives abuse, the law, a storm and loss and realizes she’s still standing to tell her story.
CJ ~ How much truth is in your fiction
Palessa ~ I think there’s a fair amount of truth in it. The stories are inspired by my experiences, by people I’ve met and situations I’ve had to deal with or know of and trying to understand the emotions behind them as well. There is some truth with a lot of wiggle room because they’re taken to a whole new level based on the characters themselves.
CJ ~ What are you currently working on? What is your next project? –
Palessa ~ Well, I’m in the initial editing stages of Book 2 of the Baxters and it’s definitely a more intense ride this time as Grayson’s story is a lot more emotional. I’m fleshing out Book 3 at the same time little by little but one story at a time. I want to make sure I feel good about Book 2 before moving on to #3
CJ ~ Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Palessa ~ I am a 10-20 percent plotter. I have to put the initial idea down on paper first. I usually write it out and it’s divided into named sections. I then relax and just start writing, making special effort not to judge the initial stages of the process, which is a challenge of mine. My first task is always to get a majority of it out of my head in a way that makes sense.
CJ ~ Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? –
Palessa ~ I don’t know that I do have such a subject. If it’s germane to the story, I have to put it in. It may be painful or hard but if it’s part of the story, it’s got to go in and I have to be comfortable with it. At the end of the day, I want to write stories that I can stand by come what may.
CJ ~ Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
Palessa ~ I find love scenes challenging because I am single, LOL, and it’s just a challenge to represent the same basic act. It’s like in the movies. The finished product looks great and romantic but when you work on the details of what goes where etc, it is a challenge. So for me, it’s what goes where, where’s the bed? Is the couch closer? Can her body really bend like that? Why not? All the technical stuff.
CJ ~ What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process? –
Palessa ~ Editing. Not because I’m that so in love with my work and think it’s perfect. It’s not. But it’s just a picking-the-bones-apart process that can make you defensive if you take it the wrong way. So I’ve decided to not take edits personally. I submit what I’m happy with overall so that’s a good foundation. I basically have said that if the editor says xyz and I’m not married to keeping it in, then fine, I’ll change it. Now, if xyz has to be a part of it, I’m not taking it out but I may need to clarify some points about what makes it important.
CJ ~ What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Palessa ~ First of all, write for yourself. There are going to be people on all sides of this. Some will like it, love it, dislike it, hate it…if you like what you’ve produced, there’s a strong chance that you will find others who feel the same way. Second, you’re not E.L. James or J.K. Rowling. Those are two cases of flukes that are so mythically rare. I’m glad they happened because they shined a light on lesser known authors but it also might give a false impression. That’s not to say that it won’t happen to you but it’s better to write a good story than to fantasize that you’ll have a Disney theme park ride licensing deal. Write good stories that you enjoy and let the rest take it from there. Lastly, go for the smaller houses and ignore the big guys. Big publishers have their agenda and you probably don’t fit, nothing personal. Smaller houses, like Beau Coup, tend to work hard at really doing the best for their authors. They’re building a grass roots network that complements your own advertising effort. Yes, you will have to do some of your own advertising because the landscape has changed and the minute you published, you became a brand and a business.
CJ ~ Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Palessa ~ Oh so many. I keep mentioning Bora Bora as it just looks so peaceful and beautiful and inviting. Mont Blanc is another place that I would just adore, I think. I’m also thinking of Positano, Italy. I have a friend in Italy from University and I would love to just visit with him and his family and then make a beeline for a villa in Positano where I can do some writing, reading, eating, shopping. There are many more places…
CJ ~ Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Palessa ~ Healthy first and foremost. Happy, like to the point of giddy happy, which is close to what I am now. The author of at least 10 books that are doing pretty well. I’m enjoying writing even more and the ideas are working for me. Traveling wherever I want, whenever I want, my companies built and sustainable and I’m enjoying the world and the food in it! Ah, to dream…
Kyle Avery, CEO of Mama Avery Foods, has been summoned to a special meeting by a note from her late mother, Virgilia Avery. When she arrives, she meets the elusive mogul Newton “Cass” Baxter, CEO of Baxter Chemicals and learns of the nearly forty year history her mother shared with Cass, as well as the obstacles they’d been forced to endure. As Kyle struggles to understand their history, she’s forced to confront the man who loved and left her, Brandon Hall, VP of Baxter Chemicals and the adopted son of Cass Baxter. Kyle and Brandon unite in love, but separate in tragedy. They are forced to deal with the sad legacy of their parent’s lives as well as their own heartbreak. It’s up to them to finally break the chains which bind their hearts and find their own path to happiness.
*Content Warning: Adult Content, may have some explicit scenes.
To read an excerpt of Unchained Hearts: Baxter Saga Book 1, check it out now.
You can connect with Palessa on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
Check out her podcast interviews: Bennet Pomerantz’ Anything Goes & Literary Symposium