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Life & Work with C.J. Peterson

Today we’d like to introduce you to C.J. Peterson.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Life has a way of taking you on journeys. My journey started way back in high school, but don’t worry, I won’t take you back that far. Being an avid reader allowed me to escape into different worlds other than the one I was living in.

Making up stories of my own allowed me to take control of the narrative in stories that continued to swim through my brain. People often ask me when I started my publishing journey.

Through the years, I wrote over thirty stories. It wasn’t until I met my husband and read him some of the stories that I even considered publishing. He encouraged me, saying someone needed to hear the words in the stories.

Knowing what most publishers considered Christian fiction to be, I knew I would never fit in their box. So, I chose the Indie route. I published a stand-alone book first in order to figure the publishing venture out. That was in 2012. Now, ten years later, I have sixteen novels, one novella, and two children’s books, I am a participating author in three anthologies and have won eight awards through the years. I thoroughly enjoy writing, but the reaction of my readers is what I cherish.

Getting notes from them as they read the stories brings joy to my heart. Hearing that I made them laugh and cry in the same book, embracing the emotional roller coaster they go on, makes my heart happy! I often tell people that my books are Christian fiction, but they’re not your mama’s Christian fiction!

That is just one aspect of what I do. Back in 2013, I participated in an Indie Author Day at Longview Public Library. After the presentation, one gentleman came up to me and said, “I didn’t know who you were until today. I bought all of your books!” I should have been thrilled. However, the first part of what he said struck me at my core. If people don’t know who you are, how will they find your work?

I made it my mission from that day forward to make it difficult for people not to find me online. I am on almost all social media platforms under the handle: @authoress_cj I have two blogs: The Journey To Fruitfulness and Shelf Life Blog. The Journey To Fruitfulness is where my husband and I are taking our five-acre farm from ground zero to a fully-functioning, self-sustaining farm. I share our joys and successes, our mistakes and epic failures, along with lessons we learned along the way.

The Shelf Life blog has author interviews, book reviews, and spotlights. Additionally, I am a blogger for Lone Star Literary Life, where I share promotions, book reviews, and giveaways. Other ventures I am a part of, including being a co-host on two podcasts: The Con Hour and Book World: The Great Escape. The Con Hour covers everything comic con-related. We interview actors, musicians, voice actors, comic con coordinators, authors, and so much more! Host Greg Kelso does an amazing job in lining up the guests. And when we are at comic cons, Greg, my fellow co-hosts, and I make sure to do live interviews. The Book World: The Great Escape podcast is a podcast for authors and readers. When we interview authors, we talk to them specifically about what it’s like to write in their genre. We also do book reviews and topics that authors, as well as readers, will learn from. It gives authors and writers tips and tricks and gives readers an inside view of what it’s like to be an author.

If all of that did not keep me busy enough, back in 2019, my sister and I started our own publishing company – Texas Sisters Press. We started it for a few reasons: 1) to publish our own books; 2) to give authors a chance to publish their works that may not fit into the box of other publishing companies; 3) we wanted to put out quality books. Some Indie authors save money by not utilizing an editor or having poor covers. This reflects badly on the author’s community as a whole. We wanted to change that.

We treat each of our authors like family. We mentor them, taking them under our wing, teaching them the things we wish we knew when we published. When an author signs up with us, I take them through a marketing/branding class. I make sure that when their book is ready to launch, they are ready in all aspects. Lydia formats and uploads their book, making sure the cover and interior reflect the quality we are looking for.

Then, once they are ready, we tag various authors from our network to join in on the book launch party, allowing the new author the opportunity for cross-promotion. Now, being authors ourselves, we wanted to make sure our authors are taken care of. They retain full copyrights to all of their work (except the ISBN number because that is attached to our company). They also keep 90% of the net and 100% of Kindle sales.

Another aspect I haven’t touched on is speaking. I thoroughly enjoy speaking to groups. I have been on a number of panels, and have done numerous speaking opportunities. I have spoken on everything from marketing and branding, to publishing companies, to surviving the author life, creative holiday advertising, and more.

At each opportunity, I try to share a ‘gold nugget’ (whether advice, a tip or two, or a tool) for those in attendance to take home with them to utilize. Sharing what I have learned over the years allows others to either benefit from or stop them from making the same mistakes I did. My tagline for everything I do is, “While the stories are fiction, the journey is real.” To me, it’s all about the journey.

Everyone’s journey is different. What steps you take to achieve your dream is up to you. When you know the options, it makes it easier to make the choices. What will your journey look like? You can find out about mine on: cjpetersonwrites.com.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
“Smooth” is relative. During my journey, I learned to balance. Keeping everything balanced is a trick in and of itself. When I start another venture, my husband is gracious enough to help pick up the slack until I get that aspect in balance with the rest. I’m going to tackle each of the ventures in relation to this question.

Author: I knew I would not be able to find a traditional publishing company that would look at my work because I have my own style. It’s different. Ideally, I would LOVE for a producer to take a look at them and consider them for a movie. Who knows? It could happen! A girl can dream! In the meantime, my heart rests in taking readers on journeys of the heart they will never forget. Starting out as an Indie author, and finding my way around the publishing world was a challenge.

I had a few authors who helped guide me in that area, but most of it was trial and error – learning what worked for me and what did not. If you don’t take the chance, you will never know! My biggest challenge was getting the word out about my work. I learned that “content, content, content” is key, along with building relationships in sharing my journey on social media helped immensely!

Blogger: I started The Journey To Fruitfulness back in 2019 when we got our first shipment of bees for the apiary. Through the last few years in this venture, we have had many joys and successes. We called on our mentors many times, dealing with things they didn’t face before, allowing us all to learn as well. We also planted numerous trees. Some took and some have not.

Our biggest challenge in this area? The weather! Seriously! Floods, deep freezes, and oppressive heat have played major roles in our success or failures. To us, failure is just a lesson learned to hit the problem a different way.

Podcaster: I used to have my own podcast called “The Journey Is Real.” You can still find them on the various platforms, including YouTube, but the route I went with this podcast caused me a lot of extra work! Working on the two remaining podcasts: The Con Hour and Book World: The Great Escape, allows me to help share in the work of podcasting.

When you have at least one other person helping to cover areas, it creates a better experience for those listeners. Each of the podcasts covers two completely different topics, but I thoroughly enjoy both!

Publisher: My sister has been published since 2015, and I have been published since 2012. Through the years, we have learned a lot and wanted to help other authors. To learn how to publish, we republished all of our books under the Texas Sisters Press banner. Once we figured it out, we opened it up to other authors. Our struggle was finding the first author willing to come on board in a new company.

Once that happened, and the word started getting around, more authors started reaching out! It was fun! We have since put a temporary hold on accepting new authors so we can focus on our current authors. We did not want to grow so fast that we lose the family feel. We will open them back up in a bit, so stay tuned to our submissions page. Our other challenge was explaining what we do.

Hybrid publishers have gotten a bad name over the years. Our publishing plan is not like any other that we know of. We could give our authors a book, but let’s be real – who would read it? So, we chose to take each of our authors through a course to help them learn the various aspects of not only publishing but advertising as well. Again, this falls under the ‘balance’ of time category.

Our authors also know they can reach out to us via email or phone when they need advice or just to ask questions. We’re here for them when they are part of the Texas Sisters Press family. To sum all of the above up in one word: Balance. Finding balance in whatever you do is key to keeping everything going. As an author, you are an authorpreneur.

It is your journey. Make sure to slowly climb into the various ventures you choose.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Creativity is key to what I do. Regardless of its writing or advertising, you have to continuously make course adjustments. In this ever-changing world, everything is fluid. Coming up with new story ideas that people will be excited to read is a challenge in and of itself.

Taking in all the information regarding social media, its numerous platforms, and who they are geared toward changes frequently. Creating eye-catching ads without falling into a predictable pattern is something you have to stay on top of. When you engage in social media, there is also a balance in how much about your life outside of the author world you reveal.

When a person connects with you on another level other than your writing, it creates a bond. I do my best to allow others into our lives in creative ways. For example, I nicknamed my husband “Super Hubby.” He’s a retired Navy Senior Chief, who was a Corpsman for the Marines for twenty of his twenty-four and a half years. I also nickname him MacGyver of his creativity in problem-solving.

As for the others in the household, I often share that our cat, Sampson, who is a Maine Coon/Manx mix, is like Jeff Dunham’s Walter in cat form. Our dog, Delilah, is like Scrappy Doo on crack or like Jeff Dunham’s Peanut. This crazy cast, along with two stuffed animals, Chief and Sarge, makes up the children’s book characters, The Adventures of Chief and Sarge.

The novels I write are fiction. Some stories in the books are real, but I’ll never share which ones are real and which ones are not. Either way, the stories will touch your heart. I do my best to write creative and timeless, meaning not by the latest fad. It’s my hope and prayer that they will allow you to see things from a different perspective.
As for what sets me apart? I’m unique. I know this. I own this.

I’m a fine balance of ADD and OCD. If something seems boring to me, I pull it from the story. I know people either love my work or hate it. It’s not for everyone, and I know that. I don’t have a problem with that. When the books find the right reader, magic happens! I love hearing from my readers! It makes my day!

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
San Antonio, like many Texas cities, has its own personality.

And like most cities in Texas, it’s usually a big one! I love Texas. To me, it’s home. I like the River Walk the best. It’s an escape in the middle of a colorful city!

I’m a nature kid, so that is one place I enjoy. I’m also a history buff. I have not had the opportunity to visit The Alamo yet, but it’s on my list!

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1 Comment

  1. C.J. Peterson

    June 1, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    Thank you so much for having me today! I really appreciate it! 🙂

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