Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Always & Forever with Chantel Rhondeau

Hi everyone and welcome to another day of madness. Only that this time, I am not alone in my endeavors. The lovely Chantel Rhondeau is here with me to talk a little about her book and the process of writing it. (And do be honest, I'm giving her some blog space to fill up too, since I'm being so lazy about it).

Stef: Hi Chantel, and welcome to the loony bin Across the border!

Chantel:  So happy to be here, Steph. Thanks for inviting me over.  

S: Great to have you. And as long as you don't go through that door, everything should work out well. So, let us know, Chantel, how do you churn out a literary masterpiece?

C: I actually write best in the midst of complete and utter chaos. Since I’m a mom, I don’t like to lose any time with my kids if I can help it. I write on my laptop, sitting in the living room in my comfortable recliner (usually with a cat vying for space with the laptop). The TV’s blaring, the kids frequently interrupt me for this or that (I hate when they want help with a math question—I suck at math!), and I generally write in short stops and starts. Well, except for the peaceful weekend mornings when everyone in the house is asleep except me. 

Before I ever get to the stage of using my laptop, I like to plan out my characters completely.  That’s all the real plotting I do. I sit down with a regular notebook and my purple gel pen. I start with a secret someone wants to hide, and that is where I get my plot from. Secrets are always great motivation for characters to do the wrong thing and make mistakes. I think it is also important to have a good understanding of the characters beliefs and values. I do this for both my heroes and my villains. I finally round off by writing down how old everyone is, their names, and their physical descriptions. (Even for characters with a small role to play, I always write down their ages and physical descriptions— it’s so easy to forget someone’s eye color!). Once that is done, I start writing and let the characters tell me where to go.  I can’t over plan the story, or I get bored and want to move on to something else. I just let my Muse go where her fancy takes her, and I enjoy the show.

Of course, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are a part of my daily routine, and I take time out to do critiques for other authors through the Critique Circle web site, correspond with new friends, and also sneak in some reading time. For me, continuing to read helps open up my Muse and get her creativity flowing. Either that, or I bore her to death with housework if she clams up and quits talking. Folding a load of laundry always does the trick J. My Muse and I would both rather write than fold laundry.

If I didn’t have a day job, I might actually get a little sleep once in a while!

S: Wow, that does sound hectic. Thanks for sharing your process with the world. Us writers know it's the secret ingredient to our work. (sugar, spice and a ton of murder - that's how it went, right?).
Now, just to make things confusing for everyone, let me throw some random questions your way.

So, how does your process influence the plot and characters?

C:  It’s fun to allow my Muse to take off and do whatever she wants to. Some of my best plot points were things I never imagined would happen.

S:  Do you pre-plan, or do the plot and characters take over?

C:  Beyond a glimmer of an idea about what will happen, I let the characters tell me what to do.

S: Ugh, me too. We all know how dangerous that can become (cough *150k novel *cough).  What was your favorite thing about writing Always & Forever?

C:  Well, first drafts are always great fun and I love them, but the best thing about A&F was connecting with other authors throughout the process of writing and getting their critiques and help along the way. I’ve made a lot of great friends on the road to publication.

S: Yay for writer friends!  What was the scariest thing about it?

C:  Spending so much time in the mind of a seriously abused woman, putting myself in her shoes for every scene. It was actually quite horrible, but I knew I had to tell this story, and I had to be deep in Lilly’s character to do it justice. Though, it probably didn’t help my blood pressure anyway :) Also, letting a stranger read my work for the first time, that took a lot of courage—and at heart, I’m a really big wuss!

S: You're not a wuss. It can be a hard confidence knock back if a lot of people come at you with knifes and shred your masterpiece apart. *shudders* Happened to me, too. Fortunately, I was wise enough to see they were right, and also to have some supportive people there. 
So, I pretty much know this, since I’ve read the book, but what do you as the author believe makes the story stand out and stick with readers?

C:  I’m a pretty positive person, despite the darker parts of this book. I hope what stands out is that your past (or present) circumstances don’t define your future. Lilly and Zach have both had hard lives, but are able to reinvent themselves. Ultimately, I want readers to close my book with a sense of hope lifting them up.

S: I'd say you've got that one nailed. Do your characters tend to borrow some of your traits?

C:  Haha – well, there’s a little of me scattered within each of my characters. Lilly is a bookworm, I love to read. However, it goes to the deeper traits too. Insecurity, kindness to others, inability to trust easily, all sorts of things.

S:  How would you describe the experience of being a now published author?

C:  There’s a LOT more work to be done on the marketing front, which does take away from writing time, but it is very exciting!

S: I know what you mean. I wish I could be a first-draft writing machine and let others handle the rest. But, alas... one can only dream.  Did you have fun?

C:  Writing is one of the greatest joys I have ever discovered. I might be a little obsessed with it, but yes, it’s tons of fun!

So, there you have it folks. Don’t miss out on this brand new, fresh out of the oven story of love and trust.

A huge thank you to Chantel for letting herself be subjected to my questioning. Just so you all know, I've twisted most of her words around and put everything out of context. This is by no means a true interview. Or maybe it is... you'll never know! Mwahahahaha!

Now for some nifty info!

Buy the book on Amazon, B&N and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads.

Also, follow Chantel on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her site.

Always & Forever

A suspected murderess flees her former life in search of tranquility, but ghosts she left behind refuse to die, threatening to destroy her happiness.

Lilly Price is desperate to escape public scrutiny once released from her incarceration. She moves to a lakeside community in hopes of remaining anonymous while rebuilding her tattered life.

Widowed Zach Woodbridge is in no hurry to find a new bride. He longs for a peaceful summer, writing at his lakeside cottage. Things change after an introduction to his grandmother’s new assistant, Lilly.

When Lilly’s secrets are revealed, can their fragile relationship weather the storm?  And when a man from the past returns to reclaim Lilly, using any force necessary, can she and Zach protect the people they love?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, mild language, sizzling love scenes.

Follow Chantel on her blog tour! Next stop is on Melinda Dozier's blog.


  1. Thanks so much, Steph, for having me here! You crack me up so much. You are such a funny lady. Thanks again!

    1. Lovely to have you! You helped with this whole post :)

  2. Great post, Stefanie. I loved Chantel's book and it's nice to get a "backstage look" at how she creates her work. The chaos at home while writing sounds oddly familiar. Stefanie - I second your cheer for writer friends. It makes all the difference in the world.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kimberly, and such nice words! You'll make me blush... Ah, chaos! The spice of a writer's life ;-)

  3. Great interview. Always & Forever is next of my to-read list :-)


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