Those of you that know me will not be surprised that I took note when an Instagram post mentioned that a fictional story was set in Nebraska. I commented. That resulted in me messaging the author. When I looked at her picture, I thought I might be confused. She looked rather young. That is when I discovered that author Cleopatra Margot is in fact seventeen. Yes, you read that correctly.
This lovely young lady, who has already written SIX novels, is still in high school. (I might have teased my own 17 year old that while he struggled to tackle his dual credit chemistry class that someone else across the state was writing books. 🙂 And yes, I am definitely old enough to be her mother). Cleopatra kindly offered to let me preview her latest books, Healing Their Hearts. I definitely enjoyed it.
She graciously agreed to answer some of the questions of what it is like to be a young author. I think you will enjoy reading her answers. When you are done learning about her, please check out her website to find out even more and to see a complete list of her books. By the way, the feature image is one that I took in Northeast Nebraska – I am guessing that the photo was taken within about 30 miles of where she lives.
What is the first story you remember writing?
Oh, goodness, this is a hard question. I know that I wrote lots of little stories in grade school, some of which my teachers “published” by binding them with black spiral binders. I still have those, actually. I also loved to “continue on” from books that I didn’t want to end, such as the Canadian West series by Janette Oke, which I discovered in 2016.
When did you decide to write a novel?
In June of 2017 my cowriter for Love in the Rain, a historical story set in Canada, Kerri Brown reached out to me and asked if I would want to coauthor a book with her. I agreed to it and we had it written in a month or so, then published later that year. Since then, I have branched out into my own niche and written a total of eight books, six of which are published in my Faith to Love series. I originally thought I was better off in the historical genre, but I made the switch to contemporary in fall of 2018 and I am very happy to be where I am!
Many of your books are set in a make believe Northeast Nebraska town which is where you live. What parts of Believe reflect your hometown area?
A LOT of parts of Believe reflect my hometown and the surrounding area. Everything from SantaLand to BerryPepper Days to the homecoming soup supper to the highways I name, etc. I would say about 99% of the geographical places are actually nonfictional in real life. I’ve added embellishments such as Fontaines Café, the ranches around town, and Rae’s coffee house. But I do try to keep almost everything very close to real life. I have had local readers comment on how they recognized certain areas or names, and that makes me really happy.
What all do you do as a part of the process?
The short answer to this question is: everything. I brainstorm, write, edit, revise, edit, maybe edit again, format it, format the cover (or, in the case of my newest novel Healing Their Hearts I took the photos for the cover too), upload to KDP, and then market it afterwards. So yes, I do everything. I would like to thank my beta readers here, because they are immensely helpful to me, as are my reviewers!
Note from Gretchen: Check out her Instagram post to see a picture of Cleopatra the cover photographer in action!
What is the hardest part about the process?
I wouldn’t say there’s a “hardest part” but the most dreaded part for me is the editing. I love the end product because the story is so much better after its edited, but the actually editing is something I tend to drag my feet in doing. Which is why I usually instill a self-imposed deadline, because otherwise it could take a while if I just procrastinated it away. The only other thing would be having patience when starting a new story. I usually have to test a few different waters before I get to the right story, and sometimes that’s frustrating. But it always, always turns out to be good in the end.
Which story is your favorite so far?
Hehe, haha, well, this is a fun question. (Grins) My favorite published story is Healing Their Hearts. I love Liam McKay and his little family, and it was also my first time writing a couple outside of the McKays, Mark and Eva. This story is special because it has two law enforcement officers as main characters, as well as a police officer in uniform on the cover, and I hope that it reaches out and touches people in this time of violence. That said, my next novel may or may not be becoming my favorite already…
Anything else you want to share?
I want to say that no matter how old (or young) you are, don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams. God can create some amazing things in your life if you trust Him to, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Him, my family, and lots of patience and trust. There might be roadblocks or detours in whatever path God is leading you on, but He will not stop you unless He thinks that it’s not best for you. From the outside looking in, people might not realize that I have had struggles with my writing. I’ve cried and I’ve wondered it’s even worth it. I started a manuscript over after I was 99% done with writing it and wrote it in three weeks to have it done in time for publication. I’ve had criticism because my book hasn’t aligned perfectly with that reader. But through all that, I would never trade the amazing things that I’ve gotten to do or experience because I persevered and let God lead me. So here’s my message: pray about it, listen to Him, and then, when you feel ready, go for it.
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