Meet the Author: Cecelia Chittenden

Ever wish you could sit down with an author and ask them all kinds of questions? 

Look no further because that’s exactly what I’ve done!

This month, I would love to introduce to you another writer friend of mine, Cecelia. The thing I love about Cecelia is her wisdom. To me, she is a fountain of knowledge just waiting to be tapped. She knows so much about so many different areas and I love that. 

Anyway, let me get out of the way and you can see for yourself. 

Where did you grow up and do you live around there still? What drew you to where you live now?
I grew up in Clearwater, Florida on a farm as a country girl. I left Clearwater many years ago and now reside in Springfield, Missouri. Curiosity brought me to Springfield in 2000 and I’m still here but not as curious.

Dogs or cats?
One of each.

Morning person or night owl?

Coffee or apple cider or hot chocolate?

City or country or ‘burbs?
Country but not remote just on the edge of the city.

Favorite music to write to? (or silence?)
I write in silence.

Favorite movie? (It’s okay if there’s a few… I’m not sure I could narrow down to less than 10, haha!)
Pride and Prejudice, Body Heat, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Love Actually. Too many to list. Right now, I am enjoying a series on Netflix – “The Tudors,” 38-hour long episodes. Love it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to work. By that, I like to clean house and cook, garden and read.

Top 3 MUST READ books?
I have read so much in my life I couldn’t answer this. I read books because of the author. For instance, today I picked up a book by Fred Mustard Stewart. I’ve read it before, but he weaves a wonderful story not tomes of wisdom, but books where the story is written well. He is an author that can use words to write a complex story with vivid imaging and give details that make for a powerful story. I decided several years ago to read the classics. I’ve read quite a few and found myself studying the words they used to describe an incident, something unpleasant that had happened in the story without ever telling the reader what the incident was. They wrote very proper. It is interesting to imagine what words they would use now. I find scholarly writers boring. Give me a good story that I can lose myself in.

When did you first know you were a writer? Was there a specific moment when you thought “yes, I want to be a writer” or has it always been part of you?
I knew as I was reading a book what would be written so poorly that when I turned to the next page I knew exactly what would be written. I knew when I read a book where the author had spent so little time on research that their story was left flat and uninteresting or the information they used was wrong. I knew when I became disappointed with what I was reading. I thought, “I can do better than this.”

When did you decide to pursue writing as a career? How did those closest to you respond? Is this a career?
I’m 73 and done with careers. Truthfully, I find people more impressed with me than what I deserve.

What is your general writing process?

What is your general editing process? How long do you wait between finishing the first draft and starting to edit?
I write and edit at the same time. I work a great deal in my head. If I am working on the next part of the story in my head, I will go back and edit what I have written before. I don’t think I am unique as a writer but I don’t exactly run with the pack either. I tend to want to yell at young writers who get caught up in the “suppose to do things” and tell them to do what suits them. Do it their way. Writing is creative – you can’t make rules for creativity. Who says you can’t color outside the lines.

Do you use alpha/beta readers? How do you find them?
I beg. I like to have readers read as I write. It keeps my creative juices flowing.

How many times do you edit your manuscript before sending it off to your editor/publisher?
Too many to count – it’s never finished as there is always room for improvement. No matter how many times I look at it I can find something to change.

What is your character development method?
I visualize everything I write and develop the character when I need one to fit where the story is going.

How do you work your writing/research? Do you write a bit first and then research? Research and then write? Some other combination?
I research as the need arises when I am writing. I also go back and research multiple time trying to enhance the story and add more meaning. I hope to educate a bit, not so it is obnoxious but just so it is interesting.

What is the best piece of writing advice someone gave you?
Write the ending first.

Do you have a writing mentor? How did you find this person?
I did but my writing mentor and my absolute best friend in the world died in November. I will miss her greatly not only as a mentor but as a loyal, loving friend. She made me write when I was convinced my work was garbage. Don’t think I will ever find another and maybe I don’t want to.

What are your go-to ways to overcome writer’s block?
I wait. I can’t put anything on paper but my mind is constantly churning trying to work through the issue I am having. I use this time to edit and polish what I have already written.

If you could give starting out writers a piece of advice, what would you most want to tell them?
Don’t stop, don’t give up. Be prepared to be upset when you get the first critique and even more. Sulk, cry, cuss, throw a tantrum or whatever else you need to do but get over it. Be glad someone took the time to give you a critique because that is how you grow and get better. Get over being shy about letting others see what you wrote. Get out there and do it.

Her Books:

Pelicans Haven
Book 1: Promise of Dreams
Book 2: Now and Forever
Book 3: And So It Shall Be (coming soon!)


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