C.J. Hill: “A Book That Influenced My Life”

Today, we’re delighted to be hosting a guest blog from C.J. Slayer, author of the new book Slayers (more about that below!).

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When you asked me to write about a book that influenced my life, my first thought was:  Every book I’ve read has influenced me somehow.  Good books uplift me and help me become a better person, but even books I’ve hated have left an impact.

I think about why I hate them. Was it because the main character was a horrible low-life?  (My book club just read a book where the main character is a serial rapist who is letting someone else face the death penalty for the murder he committed. During the entire book I wanted him to be hit by a bus. Sadly, this is just one more example of how there is never a bus around when you need one.)  I was influenced by this book in that I don’t want to be like the main character.  I also don’t want to write books about people like him. As an author, you spend a lot of time with your main character.  You’d better like something about them.

But of course some books have influenced me more than others.

Growing up, I loved Ellen Conford’s books.  She wrote light, fun romantic comedies that made me laugh out loud.  It was a joy to read them. When I first started writing, I could hear her voice echoed in my own. I’ve never met Ellen, but I feel she was a mentor.

My mother’s short stories and book had a big influence on me.  You’ve never read my mother’s stuff.  No one outside my family has.  She became sick from cancer when I was two and died when I was six. She never got past the beginning stages of learning the writing craft. Still, her writing influenced me because it is one of the few things I have that tells me who she was. I don’t remember much about her and she didn’t leave much else behind that told about her personality and beliefs—but it’s there in her stories.

Because of my mother’s writing, I learned from an early age that unless I write down my stories they’ll disappear with me.  Also, the only way I have to let my descendants know who I am is to write, and write, and write.

I’ll mention one other unpublished book that influenced me.  Years ago a woman in my writer’s group asked me to critique her novel. It was riddled with problems, but she didn’t take any of my suggestions.  Instead she defended her writing, telling me why the story/characters/scenes had to be the way she wrote them. She sent her manuscript to publishers.  No one took it, but she kept sending it out, unchanged. After a few years of this, she died unexpectedly.  I still think of her manuscript sometimes.  If she had been willing to let go of her pride and take suggestions, she might have gotten it published.  Who knows how many people would have enjoyed it.

It’s a reminder to me that nobody writes their best manuscript without outside input, and no matter how much I love my first draft, there will be things that need to be changed. Pride usually isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

Well, considering that most of my books have been romantic comedies, this blog post has been chalked full of death.  If you need to be cheered up though, I know of a great book to read.  It’s fun, and sometimes that’s the best way to be influenced.

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Thanks again to CJ for stopping by! Meanwhile, here’s more about Slayers:

Dragons are supposed to be mythical creatures. Plenty of kids like studying them, drawing them, and reenacting times when dragons are said to have roamed the earth. The St. George Dragon Camp is geared toward these young dragon-geeks—but it’s also meant to attract Slayers, an elite group of teens who have not yet realized their dragon-fighting powers.

Senator’s daughter Tori is one of those teens. She’s a little embarrassed about wanting to go to Dragon Camp, but she can’t help herself; she dreams about dragons, and even imagines she can hear their heartbeats sometimes. But Tori’s enjoyment of camp is soon replaced by her realization that the heartbeats she’s been hearing are real. Dragons exist!

Dragons are ferocious, and they’re smart: Before they were killed off by knights, they rendered a select group of eggs dormant, so their offspring would survive. But the dragon eggs have fallen into the wrong hands. The Slayers must work together to stop the eggs from hatching. They will fight; they will fall in love. But will they survive?

Loaded with action and suspense, and seasoned with a dash of romance, by C.J. Hill is a story sure to leave readers asking for more.

Read a free excerpt online, and check out the book trailer below:

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