C. D. Verhoff – why do you use initials instead of your given name?
It fits easier on a book cover. Outside of writing, I usually go by Deanna, my middle name.
Tell us a bit about your family, Deanna.
I grew up in a working class Catholic family from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was the fourth of five sisters (no brothers). My mom was a file clerk and self-taught artist of local renown. My dad worked at a tire plant. He had a tough exterior. All the neighborhood kids were scared of him because he yelled a lot, but he was a good father.
As a child, money was tight, but I never lacked for necessities. I fantasized about having less sisters and more Christmas presents. Now that I’m older, I realize that my siblings are best gifts my parents ever gave me. Even though we live hundreds of miles away from each other, they are my best friends in the world.
Unfortunately, only one of my sisters is open to fantasy and science fiction. It’s definitely not her first choice though. She hasn’t even watched any of the Star Wars movies. Can you imagine? My other sisters are into romance novels. They used to devour Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts paperbacks like candy. I try to be respectful of their reading tastes, but I’m not above bugging them to beta read for me.
Enough about them. Let’s move onto how I met my husband. I’ll start by saying I wasn’t looking for one. Since grade school, I was determined to stay single. When asked why, I’d explain that I had never seen a marriage I’d want to be in. Then I met this one guy. He talked too much, wore his pants too high, raised chickens for a hobby, had zero housekeeping skills, went to Mass every Sunday and my resolve flew out the window (I will testify in court that love isn’t rational). My friends said he wasn’t my type, but we hit it off. It was a whirlwind romance and a year later we were married. My husband has only read one book since I’ve known him...and it wasn’t one of mine. I suppose I wouldn’t want him to bring an inmate home for me to babysit (he’s a prison guard), so we’ll call it even. We have a daughter and a son (in that order).
Moving onto my favorite subject—my babies. Well, they’re adolescents now, but a part of me will always think of them that way. Until I became a mother, I didn’t understand the meaning of unconditional love. It’s fierce, protective, incredibly painful at times and wonderful. Being a mom is my calling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How did you develop your writing?
During my senior year in high school, I decided to write a book. Penning my own fantasy adventure was a fun escape and not meant to be read by anyone else but me. Publishing wasn’t a goal. Converting the images in my head into the written word was all I cared about. In hindsight, this was great practice, but I stayed in this phase for far too long. I wasted precious years repeating the old same mistakes over and over again. Adverbs—the more the merrier! Starting chapter one with a wake-up scene—how original! Avoiding the overuse of ‘said’—it’s only logical!
If I’d have taken the time to research the expectations of the industry and opened up my writing to peer criticism sooner, I’d be years head of where I am today. In my defense, at the time the internet was just coming into its own. Finding online writing tips and other writers to schmooze with wasn’t as easy as it is now. Writing was just a fun distraction as life continued to roll along. I found a real job, got married, had a baby and the writing got shoved to the side.
After a second child came into the picture, I quit my job to stay at home. Living in isolation out in the country on a menu of Candy Land, Teletubbies, and loaded diapers, my brain was turning to mush. Knowing if I didn’t get some mental stimulation fast, I’d soon lose all of my gray matter, I started to write again. To my shock, when I went back and looked over my old stories, I wondered how I had ever thought it was readable. Being able to tell it was bad, but not sure how to fix it, I sought out help from several online writing communities. Eventually, I even formed an independent critique group with three other writers.
It was within the confines of this critique group that my flaws were pointed out to me. After years of stagnation going it alone, the cruel to be kind attitude of my critique buddies helped my writing to improve more in six months than it had in all the previous years combined. This is why I cannot overemphasize enough to beginning writers the power of the humble critique group.
I still need critique buddies and probably always will. But don’t confuse critique buddies with editors and proofreaders. They all play different roles. Even if you self-publish, you can’t do it all by yourself. Nor can a single critique buddy repair your entire manuscript. My best advice is to get a team behind you.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
It doesn’t take a trip around the world or a night in a foxhole to find inspiration. A movie, a book, a personal loss, the beauty of the night sky, a sobering thought, the loud drunk at a party...ideas are born in unexpected places. If you’re seeking inspiration, talk less and listen more.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
Anyone can publish these days, so my first inclination is to say marketing. But the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning toward the middle option. Writing is easy, but writing well is hard. It’s so damn hard only the bravest, or perhaps the most delusional of us, set out to make a living at it.
Do you find it difficult to share your work?
At first it felt like offering my heart on a platter to a stranger. Would they tear it apart or cherish it? I’ve grown a thicker skin since then. So, nah, it’s not difficult anymore.
Do you plan to publish more books?
Red the First, a stand-alone prequel to the Galatia Series, came out shortly after Promised Land. The next book, Seeker of the Four Winds, is so close to being released it might already be available by the time you read this. I published Glory Alley and the Star Riders back in 2012. Its sequel is on the backburner at the moment, but I intend to get back to it as soon as possible. I can’t imagine not writing anymore. It’s in my blood. So, yes, god willing, I plan to write more books.
On a side note, if you are interested in reading my published books, they are difficult to bring up on the internet by the title alone. Try searching in conjunction with my author name: C. D. Verhoff.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
My senior year of high school, I worked part-time in a law office. During my university days, I was a supervisor in a well-known retail store. After that, I was a substitute teacher and moonlighted for a temp agency. I should mention that despite my upbringing, I didn’t believe in god. Then, shortly after college graduation, I had a profound religious experience which returned me to my Christian roots. I was so thunderstruck that I sold my car, gave away my possessions, and went off to live with the Discalced Carmelites. When I returned a year later, I found a job in insurance and finance.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
I can’t pick just one. My ideal university experience would be to learn for the sake of learning and to hell with the grades. I’d love to know more about world literature, ancient history, chemistry, astronomy, geography and more.
Tell us about your family?
My husband and I have been married thirteen years. We have two children (a girl and a boy). Our house sits the middle of a woods. Across the lane is a bean field. I can see the snow lazily drifting across it right now. We have a rambunctious garbage disposal named Casey—a black lab/terrier mix who just stole a loaf of bread off of the kitchen counter. I gave chase, but he gulped half of it before I could stop him. Grumble, grumble, grumble. A stray kitten adopted us a while ago. We named her Twinkie. Turns out he’s a she, but the name stuck.
The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers.
Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence.
Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence.
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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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