Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Hi there! My name is Chelscey, but I use my pen name since spelling Chelscey can get complicated when you say it like Chelsea. I was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area where I attended the University of Southern California (Fight On!) for both my Bachelors and Masters, and then worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts ranging from fast food, to cars, and video games (my personal favorite). After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, I went back to my first love—writing—and haven’t stopped. I’m the author of “The Monster of Selkirk” series, a six book young adult, epic fantasy about a young woman’s journey to discover just who she is and what she wants, all while battling feral elves, and my horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country. When I’m not writing you can find me treating my three fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince my husband to go to more concerts. And reading. I do read quite a bit. Also, I run weekly giveaways for new newsletter subscribers for a signed copy of the first book in The Monster of Selkirk, and monthly giveaways for all my book club members!
How do you deal with creative block?
Usually, if I’m writing and I get stuck in a story, it’s because there is a plot hole, or subconsciously something isn’t meshing well in the story. I don’t do a lot of heavy plotting, as it tends to take the sparkle out of writing before I’ve actually written anything, and I like my characters to drive on how they get to the major events of my stories. Because of that, it means I tend to “forget” things, or to accidentally skip important events, or create plot holes without even realizing. So, when I get stuck, I go back and edit the last few chapters I’ve written. That helps me see what I may be getting hung up on, and get back in the flow of the story so I can move on. But if I get stuck between projects, then I go out and consume a lot of good media; reading amazing books, seeing movies, going to concerts, things like that help me recharge my creative juices. And, if that doesn’t work, I play the “but what if” game. Basically, you take something you like, be it a trope or a character type, and say “Elves are cool, but what if they were evil monsters instead of regal beings?” It helps make for some really interesting story ideas!
How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
As an author, it’s often said you shouldn’t read your reviews. Reviews are not meant for the author, but other readers and helping them determine if the book is the right read for them. But I can’t help it! I still read my reviews. So when I read negative reviews, it’s hard to not take it personally. But, after a day or a few hours of feeling bad or angry, I remind myself that book reviews are subjective. Someone’s favorite book will be someone else’s one star book for the same reasons that someone initially loved the story. As for feedback, negative feedback in the early stages of writing is a given. No one writes a perfect novel right out of the gate. Usually the book that gets published is an authors 7th+ revision, and the story has gone through multiple hands and editors by that point. Hopefully, the people giving the feedback aren’t cruel about it, but hurt feelings happen. When they do happen, if someone’s feedback comes across as mean or they don’t like a character I thought I wrote really well, I take a step back, maybe take a break from editing, and remind myself that this will ultimately make my story stronger. But I’m always a little salty when going through feedback, because, at the end of the day, it’s still people pointing out the flaws in your writing. So I take lots of breaks, and remind myself that I asked these people for feedback for a reason, and then plow ahead!
How has your creation process improved over time?
It’s a popular saying that to become an expert in something you need to spend 10,000 hours doing that thing. The more I write, the more I create new worlds from scratch, my process has evolved and gotten a little better. I started being a complete pantser, meaning I plotted nothing ahead of time and let the characters tell the story. As I’ve written more and edited more, as well as beta read for other authors, my process is now more of a hybrid between pantsing and plotting. I completely world build and research all the elements I need to, I draft character traits and come up with lists of names, along with the core idea for the plot, well before I write a single word of the new book. Then, as I go, I roughly outline the major points that need to be achieved within the next chapter. I only do a few chapters a time this way because my characters are still firmly in the drivers seats, determining how THEY want to get to the inciting incident, or what new enemies they make along the way. It keeps writing exciting as I discover things alongside my characters, but also helps me tell a cohesive story.
What role do emotions play in creativity?
A huge role! You need every emotion in your arsenal; they are crucial to write both exciting scenes, emotionally devastating sections, action sequences, and creating in-depth characters that react differently, but authentically, to every situation. It may sound painful, but every time something bad happens to me, I make note of what that does to me both emotionally and physically. I make notes on what I’m experiencing and what triggered it so I can lean on that again in future projects. It really helps me show versus tell what my characters are thinking and feeling. But sometimes emotions are the creative spark, too. You experience something, you cope with it, and it might be so big/interesting/dramatic that it becomes this thing that you just HAVE to share with people, either as a way to help others cope through your characters story, or through a poem or short story. The most painful emotions I’ve ever had have sparked ideas for really wonderful and well-rounded character ideas. So at least there is a silver lining to something that may otherwise be considered negative!
Do you have any creativity tricks?
If I am having trouble feeling inspired to write, to come up with a new story or craft a new character, I do something else creative that isn’t writing related. I don’t force myself to come up with something amazing by banging my head on the keyboard! But, unlike how I work through writers block, getting that creative spark can come from anywhere. When a story isn’t forming in my head, I make fairy gardens, or landscape. I dabble with photography, or do home renovations/decorating. It’s creative, without forcing the creativity into only one outlet, which usually frees my mind to wander, and then the ideas for the next story or character usually start flowing!
What are your plans for future books?
I am a firm believer that authors shouldn’t have to write only one genre for the entirety of their career. There are certain stories that just fit better in certain genres than others, and if it’s a story you want to tell, then you, as a writer, shouldn’t limit yourself. That’s why the future books I have planned range from women’s fiction family sagas, adult cyberpunk fantasy, to contemporary fiction; all of which are very different from my first series genre of young adult fantasy! But all my books have one thing in common: damaged main characters that are striving to be someone they can be proud of come the end of the story. Some of these books are in the “done” phase, others are still in the revising stage, while some are still being planned out, but they all focus on “broken” main characters, all female (right now). With that uniting factor, I plan to keep writing a variety of genres, even though my first love will always be fantasy.
Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
My mom spelt my first name oddly (It’s Chelscey, or more commonly, Chelsea), which is why I mainly use a pen name! Since my name doesn’t sound any different then the more acceptable spellings, it can be rather hard to find me. I also like to dye my hair a plethora of fun colors, currently it’s a creamsicle orange and pink!
Etsy (for signed paperbacks): https://www.etsy.com/shop/BooksbyCEClayton