Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview with J.C Phelps Author of "The Alexis Stanton Chronicles"

Please welcome J.C. Phelps author of The Alexis Stanton Chronicles.

Thank you, Soooz for having me. I really appreciate the time you took to put this all together.

Firstly are we permitted to know what the initials J.C. are short for?

Yes, of course. J is my first name, Jean, and C is for my middle name. I decided to use initials because I didn’t know what genre I’d end up classing my books. From my own experiences, I know a lot of people won’t pick up a female author, especially an author with an unfamiliar name. And, if I’m lucky, I may pick up another genre or two.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in the Black Hills of South Dakota, near Mt. Rushmore.

Is South Dakota still your home state?

Yes. I tried to move away more than once, but I just can’t bring myself to stay away.

Tell us a little about your status, are you married/single?

I am a happy wife and mother of three beautiful girls.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always known, in the back of my mind, that I wanted to write. However, I didn’t embrace it or get serious until after my first daughter was born. There’s something about having children that helps you sort your priorities.

The Alexis Stanton Chronicles are in three parts, did you intend to write a series from the outset or did Alexis take on a life of her own?
Color Me Grey (Book One of the Alexis Stanton Chronicles)
Shades of Grey (Book Two of the Alexis Stanton Chronicles)Reflections of Grey (Book Three of the Alexis Stanton Chronicles)

I think if you have a strong character they always take on a life of their own. So, yes, Alexis did take on a life of her own – and what a fun life. Yet, the only intent I had when starting Color Me Grey was to write a book. So, the first book was written not thinking of a series. The other two books, Shades of Grey and Reflections of Grey, were written with the intention of each of them being the last in the series. Actually, I was happy to leave Ms. Stanton as a daydream after I’d written Color Me Grey but my readers insisted on another and then another and yet another.

Your central character, Alexis Stanton is a very strong determined female, working in a male orientated domain; does this reflect your own feelings of male/female roles?

This is a HARD question.

I suppose one could expect that I would be fiercely pro-female because of my strong female character, Alexis Stanton. That just is not the case. I am extremely independent but that comes from my upbringing and has nothing to do with being female.

Gender roles have and always will play a part in society. The reason for that is because men and women are, by nature, engineered differently. But these are generalizations and cannot fully encompass any individual.

When it comes to career choices my feelings are more centered on the individual rather than a group. I believe any individual has the potential to be the best in their preferred field of study or career choice with no regard to their gender.

Unless it’s me trying to become a singer. That’s NOT going to happen no matter how hard I try.

The central character has attracted many comments about traditional roles in the community, has this surprised you?

I had no intentions of pushing gender roles or flying in the face of tradition. So, yes, it is a bit surprising.

I simply wrote a story of a young woman who is very determined and, given her background, couldn’t stand to be cooped up. The books are based on Ms. Alexis Stanton, A.K.A. Ms. Grey and her personality. They were not written to prove that anything a man can do a woman can do better but were written for fun.

I’ve been told they would be great books for young women trying to find their way; great for giving them the confidence it takes to try something new or push for the stars instead of the top shelf. I’m happy if this is the case but it was not my intention.

How long did it take you to write each of the three books, from first word to publication?

Color Me Grey, before I sent it off to editors, was completed in 21 days. However, rewrites after editing and shopping the book around took me several months.

Shades of Grey took me much longer to write. I had a first draft written within a year of publishing Color Me Grey but ended up rewriting the entire story. I realized the story just didn’t work when I did not want to read the book a second time. The rewrites were torture but I knew it had to be done. So, after all was said and done, I’d say it took me two years to put Shades out.

Reflections of Grey was even harder. I did not write an entire book and then go in and rewrite but I did write a scene or two and then went back in and did the rewrites. Reflections was released about another two years after Shades.

Did you maintain a writing schedule and stick to it?

I did maintain a writing schedule – work on my books when I wasn’t eating or sleeping. I stuck to it most of the time because there was nothing else I would rather be doing. However, I was much more strict on myself with Color Me Grey than the other two. I wrote a chapter a day for the most part. There were a few days in those 21 days that I ended up rewriting instead of doing something new.

Publishing is changing even as we speak, do you agree that the more traditional Publishers will need to change to keep pace?

This is a tricky question and I’m not always good at predictions. But, yes, I believe they will have to change. However, I believe it’s the agents who will have the biggest change coming.

With the ease of self-publishing I suspect more and more authors will cut out the middle man (agents) and publish on their own. The royalties are substantially higher (if you don’t count an advance you may get from some bigger publishers).

The control of your material is one reason some will choose self-publishing. Let’s face it, authors LOVE their books. In the early stages of publishing a book, it’s almost as if the book is a beloved child. Keeping my rights was one of the main reasons I’ve never really shopped my books to traditional publishers.

Some authors will be happy with the recognition and sales they garner from self-publishing and others will continue to seek out the larger traditional publishers for a myriad of reasons such as help with marketing and that advance.

With all this going on, I believe the traditional publishers will be met with less submissions and the only thing this does is lessen their slush pile.

But agents will also be met with the same thing and maybe all it will do is lessen their slush pile as well. However, what I think it will do is send the agent on the hunt for worthwhile clients. I foresee agents skimming self-published authors and approaching them instead of authors having to beg for representation.

Writers will be judged on their ability to write a book and not a query letter or pitch. In my opinion, I believe it’s the book that sells, not the query letter.

Of course, if you are a big name – it’s the name that sells. Most big names out there can thank their agents and publishers for this recognition but they can also thank themselves for writing something worthwhile and for helping to sell themselves.

Marketing your work is often said to be the most difficult part of writing your book, do you agree with that?

Absolutely! The actual writing of the books wasn’t all that easy but it was FUN. Marketing is not so much fun as a real job.

I would think authors are more of a creative bunch rather than business minded. However, we all need to treat our books and names as a business we are trying to tell the world about.

Most self-published authors, including myself, don’t have any extra money to put into advertising and such. This is where a traditional publisher comes in handy. Though, from what I’ve read from other authors, they may have the money to help you promote and some connections but the majority of the work is still up to the author.

Where and how do you promote your series?

I recently uploaded all three to Amazon Kindle and Smashwords, making the books available in numerous places online.

I mainly do my promotional work on Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads and anywhere else I can find online that allows me to. I’m considering a sponsorship to Kindle Daily Nation but need to find some money on a tree somewhere first. And I’m not opposed to making public appearances – if anyone will have me.

Do you have plans for more of the chronicles?

I do have a story for Alex to play out but if she will go along with it is yet to be determined. So far she’s been cooperative but she can be so stubborn at times.

What other books are on the drawing board for you?

I have a few rough ideas but won’t really get into them until I can either finish the fourth book in the Alexis Stanton Chronicles or get to a point where I know I’m stuck for a while. So, at the moment, the only thing on my drawing/writing board continues to be Alex.

Have you found that one gender comments differently from the other on your work?

I can’t recall a time I’ve had a conversation about my books with a man other than my father or husband. I have noticed that my main audience seems to be women. I’m not sure I even have a review from a man.

However, I am not entirely sure of the reasons. I sometimes wonder if it’s because women are more prolific readers and much more social than men or if it’s because The Alexis Stanton Chronicles appeals more to women. I suspect it’s a mixture of both.

Free plug time. Where can my readers access your work?

Your readers can find my books on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback formats (Amazon author page:

Simply click on the images and you will go directly to Amazon.

And also at Smashwords and all of their affiliates such as Barnes and Noble and iBookstore (Smashwords Author Page:

Reviews on "The Alexis Stanton Chronicles."
Praise and Reviews :

Kindleobsessed Said
I have always been “that girl.” You know… the one that when she gets bored wants to jump off of, or out of something. The need for adrenaline has been rushing through my blood since I was a child and even though, with age, I have had to tone down my actions (for the sake of my small children) I still feel this constant need to challenge myself, prove that I can do anything, and more importantly… do it better than a man.

Alexis, the tuff as nails, lead in “Color Me Grey” is also an adrenaline junkie, but I would classify her as more “Adrenaline Junkie on 8 shots of espresso.”

Alex gets everything she wants. Growing up in a wealthy home she not only had the pleasure of private tutors, but also the flexibility to try and/or conquer anything she felt the need to. With a military dad and a artist mom she was trained in everything from how to walk with a tea cup on her head to disabling a man with just her pinkie. With this stability and money also came a boring job in computers, but after 1 early morning revelation, Alex decides she’s had enough of sitting in one place and answers a newspaper ad that not so subtly screams RUN AWAY. It takes only seconds for Alex to realize there is more to this little adventure than meets the eye, and it takes even less time to realize that bowing out gracefully is not an option. Will Alex’s need for heart pumping excitement be what she ultimately needed, or will it leave her 6 feet underground and making friends with worms?

I have always loved books where female leads are thrust into, what is stereotypically, a man’s position, and this little ditty is no exception. J.C. Phelps did a wonderful job of weaving suspense, intrigue, and lust, resulting in what was a very pleasurable, and solid read. Each character had their own unique qualities and the use of “code names” while developing each was an engaging way to keep the reader guessing as to who they “really” were. The plot, however, is where Phelps’ writing really shined. As a reader the push and pull of a story is what keeps you reading. “Where is this going?” “I know something big is about to happen… but what is it?” This more than anything is what made “Color Me Grey” so exciting, you could always feels something bubbling just under the surface… even in the most sedated moments of monologue.

Like I said before… I truly… genuinely… enjoyed this novel, and even though I didn’t have to purchase it, I would… (without a doubt in the world) have absolutely no problem forking over the $2.99 for it.

Get it, live it, love it… pass it on.

Happy reading my fellow Junkies and remember: if the application asks how long it takes for you to assemble an m16… chances are they aren’t looking for a receptionist.
My review of book on goodreads

Author J C Phelphs has created a marvelously fast-paced adventure with the petite MC Alexis Stanton a package of 5'4" dynamite, with long straight hair and a serious attitude if you cross her.

Alexis has a very interesting background including special services training{Private yet}. A wealthy and connected family, with an Admiral for a daddy. Alexis has to draw her own conclusions on just what it is daddy does for the government. Her inherited sense of adventure send her on an interview for a most unusual position.

This is an unusual book, written for a market tired of adventures that only include the undead and people with a nasty overbite. It moves fast, the characterizations are clever yet believable, and the adventure is full on. I look forward to reading the other books in this series.

I have no hesitation  in recommending this for a fast paced read
J.C. Phelps’ Color Me Grey is the first of a three-book series about Alexis Stanton, a spoiled rich girl who decides to trade in her easy life as a data processor living off Mom & Dad for one of action and adventure, by embarking on a new career with a mysterious company where everyone is code-named a color–Mr. Black, Mr. White, Mr. Red. Alexis, code-named Ms. Grey, is the first woman to join this team of highly trained professionals and quickly shows up the men with her skill, daring, and n ...more

Jul 25, 2010

J.C. Phelps’ "Color Me Grey" is the first of a three-book series about Alexis Stanton, a spoiled rich girl who decides to trade in her easy life as a data processor living off Mom & Dad for one of action and adventure, by embarking on a new career with a mysterious company where everyone is code-named a color–Mr. Black, Mr. White, Mr. Red. Alexis, code-named Ms. Grey, is the first woman to join this team of highly trained professionals and quickly shows up the men with her skill, daring, and never-quit attitude. Much of the book is devoted to the details of Alexis’ training as a fighter, scuba-diver, and survivalist, and only becomes a true action/adventure novel near the end when she joins the team on a rescue mission that hits close to home.

The novel is strongly pro-female in that Alexis is continually shown as being at least as capable, if not more so, than her male colleagues, which for me, was a bit unbelievable. That a petite woman could take down a trained male opponent twice her size, while intoxicated no less, was one of several points I had to take on faith, but for younger female readers, Alexis will be inspirational. The book also includes hints of romance, but in this volume at least, nothing that comes to fruition.

Color Me Grey is written in the first-person, past tense point-of-view, and at times, a bit stream of consciousness. I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of first-person POV, but it does lend a youthful, up-to-the-minute air to this novel. The writing itself would benefit from some additional editing, as it suffers from occasional bouts of over-explaining, a few spelling errors, and some misused phrases. I would also prescribe a healthy dose of commas for the longer sentences. Editing issues aside, however, if one enjoys adventure novels where the focus is more on action and less on character and relationship development, Color Me Grey will be just what the doctor ordered.

Jun 15, 2010

Dawn Judd rated it

This is an exciting story of a girl looking for adventure. When she applies for a mysterious job, she gets a little more adventure than she bargained for. I found this story exciting from beginning to end. The attention to detail was refreshing; not too wordy. I enjoyed tagging along on Alex's adventures and look forward to continuing them in Shades of Grey.


Aug 25, 2010

B.L. Newport rated it

I received this book as a winning bid on freado/book buzzer. The synopsis intrigued me because as a little girl, I never wanted to be a princess -- I wanted to be an assassin and this story pretty much described some of the adventures I imagined. I look forward to reading the 2nd & 3rd books of the series. Thank you, J.C. Phelps. You have a new fan.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is one of the best interviews I've read, Soooz. I've known JC for awhile and we've emailed back and forth many times, but I still learned a lot! 21 days, JC? Amazing! I hope Alex loses her stubbornness - I think you'd enjoy writing about her again.


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