As seen in the September issue of Uncaged Book Reviews
Uncaged: Can you tell readers more about the different series you have out now?
My first series is called The Carmichaels and it follows the lives and loves of five glamorous sisters in a prominent political family as they deal with change and growing up. I have sisters myself and it was inspired in part by the closeness we have but also the need to be separate individuals. I tried to capture that quality across multiple years and five books.
The second series is called Extra Credit and is more typical New Adult: it takes place on a college campus among a set of friends who meet in a class for students in trouble. I wanted it to feel like a college-level Breakfast Club and hope I succeeded!
Uncaged: What do you have coming up next that you can tell us about?
I am writing a fourth installment of the Extra Credit series now and trying to catch up on reviewing the backlog of romances I’ve read. The new book, The Experiment, follows another unlikely couple as they figure out their feelings for each other. You can read the first half on my website at www.charlottepennclark.com or by signing up for my newsletter.
Uncaged: Are you nervous, scared or excited (or all three) when you release a new book?
I’ll answer like it’s multiple choice: all of the above!
Uncaged: Do you read your reviews? What do you take away from them?
I do read my reviews and I actively consider the feedback when I draft new books or even revise older ones. Sometimes that means confronting criticism, which is a necessary part of getting better at anything, but sometimes it means figuring out what’s already working too.
Uncaged: What is one of the nicest things someone has said to you about your books?
I am most flattered when reviews compliment the writing itself. I spend a lot time working on details like word choice and tone and it’s great when someone notices!
Uncaged: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Everyone says, persevere! And that’s the hardest lesson of all: to keep faith in yourself and your work. Or how about this advice (which I should try to take myself!): when you’re struggling, ask yourself “what would my hero or heroine do?”
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Where is one of your favorite places on Earth?
I do like normal places like beaches or mountain vistas but, honestly, I’m a city person and my favorite activity tends to be walking around different neighborhoods, looking in shop windows and getting kind of lost. Wandering idly around an art museum is always therapeutic and relaxing for me too. No agenda– I’m not trying to learn anything. I just like to let my eyes loose.
Uncaged: What can you tell us that is very unique about you?
Like most romance readers (and writers), I’m a voracious and wide-ranging consumer of words. But I’ve also studied literary criticism and taught literature and college composition so I think that gives me a unique perspective on “high” (or academic) and “low” (or popular) culture. Those categories are blurred anyway (and always have been) but the gray area in the middle is a very interesting place to be!
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
I would like to say thank you to each and every reader. You can’t imagine how it feels to know strangers are reading your hard-won pages and connecting with the creatures born in your brain….
Readers can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and my newsletter – or just email me at email@example.com. I love to hear from readers!
Thanks so much for hosting this virtual conversation!
So far she’s published eight books in two series: the Carmichael series interweaves the lives and loves of five privileged sisters in a political family, while the Extra Credit series tells the stories of three unlikely couples thrown together on a college campus.
Charlotte Penn Clark
They’re partners…with benefits?
Kyle’s got a problem. He needs to pass college composition to graduate but he can’t get words on a page. And it’s landed him in a pilot class called Extra Credit for students in trouble — when all he wants is to be left alone.
Lani’s got a problem too. She doesn’t like making waves and it gets her stuck in the Extra Credit class. When she ends up partnered with Kyle things start getting complicated. Kyle is angry, restless, impatient; Lani is calm, introverted, bookish. But when these opposites attract can they manage to stay “just partners”?
Extra Credit is a New Adult series that takes place on a college campus and puts unlikely couples together to see what happens. Each book is in dual point-of-view with a happy ending that can be read as a standalone, though they’re better together…! The series includes sexy times that are only meant for readers over 18.
Chapter 2: LANI
On Wednesday I’m the first to class at 7:45, leaving me enough time to sip my chai tea while I review what I wrote in my notebook. Marjorie had given us homework: think about how and why we got in trouble and what might help. We were told not to obsess about the writing. It could be notes to ourselves, lists, even doodles. But the writing was the fun part.
Pushover. That’s my problem. It’s not even that I can’t make waves, but I won’t. So here I go rolling downhill instead of standing my ground. Wait, there’s some metaphor going here: nature, motion, levels. Brains are amazing!
Why not stand up for myself? What could happen? Friends would get in trouble—I won’t like myself. I wouldn’t BE myself.
I described a dream I had about diving into the ocean at Hanalei and getting tumbled in a rough wave. I hit the sandy floor hard and ended up gasping for air.
What To Do? 1. Decide whether it’s worth changing or not. Change is hard. 2. Evaluate how I choose my friends and why. 3. Work harder to make up for missteps. 4. Raise my head, my hand…. Wow, metaphors are everywhere!
“You’ll need a partner to work with. I want you to choose your own.” Marjorie’s voice startles me.
I look up and the room has filled, with Kyle reclaiming the seat next to me. Our eyes meet, his blue blue blue like that ocean. His presence hits me like the wave in my dream. He’s crazy hot—with sharp features set off by those intensely blue eyes and an expressive mouth that seems to default to sulking or scowling. His hair could be dark blond, but it’s so short it’s hard to tell. And his expression is hard to read—it’s like wariness and confusion and tension and uncertainty and interest and anger all mixed up.
“You,” he says, pointing at me. I blink and nod slowly. I can handle this. There’s a pause and then he adds, “I need to work with a writer.” Whether he’s explaining this to himself, to me, or to Marjorie I don’t know, but I just nod again as conversations ebb and flow around me.
“I want you to swap notebooks with your partner and annotate the pages. Underline things you think are important, add notes or questions. You want to focus on reflecting back to your partner what patterns you see in what may be otherwise disconnected writing. Think of yourselves as doctors diagnosing a patient. What can you make of the symptoms in front of you?”
“Again with the f**king patterns!” Kyle grumbles, handing me a piece of paper covered in an oversized scrawl. I suppress a smile and hand over my notebook.
I hate writing. I hate writing because. I don’t like writing things down. It’s frustrating. Goddammit, what am I supposed to say? How long is this supposed to be? Is this enough yet? The assignment: 5-7 pp on an ethical controversy in the news. With 3 sources. To Do: choose a stupid controversy (google controversies), find 3 sources (google sources), write 5 fucking pages (13 pt font, 1.5” margins), hand it in, graduate and get the hell out of dodge—and into the army.
I can’t help but feel for him as I make some notes. We swap and I see he’s written in all caps in the margins on mine: DREAMS ABOUT WATER REFLECT YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARD SEX. If he thinks to make me blush, he can hold his breath. One good thing about my dark coloring and perma-tan is that I don’t redden.
“Says who? Freud?”
He shrugs and grins, leaning back in his chair to study me. He stretches his arms out so he takes up the whole space. Kyle’s not huge like football players, who always look a little grotesque to me—like cartoon figures. He’s just…solid.
“You’re from Hawai’i?”
“Yes. Please spell it correctly even in your head. There’s an apostrophe between the i’s.”
He glances over me. “You always wear fifty layers of clothing?
“I’m cold! Were you born and bred in the freezer section?”
“Yep. Southern Illinois. Could be worse. Could be twenty below. Could be gale winds. Could be ice storms.”
I give an exaggerated shiver and raise a palm to stop him. For some reason, his attention is giving me confidence. He eyes me steadily for another over-long moment.
“You dance.” This is a statement, not a question.
“Yes,” I frown, looking back at what I’ve written. “How did you know?”
He waves a hand over my words. “All that motion? And the hair.” He waves a hand around my face now and I remember that today I’ve scraped my long hair into a tight bun for class later. He’s looking at my neck and it feels naked.
“Oh.” I shift uncomfortably. “I dance hip hop and ballet. I also take yoga classes and teach basics on Saturdays at the rec center. I’m thinking about training to become a certified yoga teacher.”
Kyle frowns. “What about dancing?”
I shake my head. “I can’t dance professionally.”
I avoid his eyes. “I don’t really like performing,” I admit reluctantly. That’s not the half of it but it’s all I need to tell him.
“Why not?” He’s like a bulldog. I make a face at him but he ignores it, waiting.
I sigh. “I have pretty bad stage fright. I love dancing, but it’s hard to perform.” I need a redirect.
“You’re obsessed with numbers,” I blurt out.
Now he frowns, looking at his page.
“5,7,3,3,5,13,1.5” I read. “Why so worried about quantity?”
“Easy for you to say when you can just write.” He sounds glum. “I’m going to fail freshman comp–again–if I can’t hand in those five f**king pages. And I need it to graduate.”
That sucks, and I think it may have been hard for him to admit.
“You curse a lot.” I point to more words on his page.
“You offended?” His eyebrows rise. I realize I enjoy watching him fidget and shift. He’s big but graceful in his constant motion. I tilt my head, ignoring the question because why would he care?
“So it’s not that you can’t write, but that you don’t want to,” I muse, thinking.
“Like you,” he says, eyeing me. “You said it’s not that you can’t make waves, but you won’t. How’s that working out for you?”
I sigh, slumping into my chair. “Not so well. What about you? Don’t you want to graduate?”
He barks out another laugh. “Well, duh. Of course I want to be done with school already. Just a few more months.”
I’m watching him closely. “Then what? The army, right?” That last thing he wrote just hung there.
He shrugs again. I have to say I’ve got a soft spot for people who communicate through their bodies—though somehow that thought feels wrong.
“If you don’t pass comp, though, you’ll fail and you won’t graduate.”
“I won’t fail,” he says confidently. The big grin is back and I’m glad that flash of uncertainty I glimpsed is gone.
“How do you know?”
“Because you’re going to help me.”
This is a first book I’ve read from this author, and I have to admit, I was entertained, and I’ve actually seen a “Kyle and Lani” in classes before. Both characters take on an extra credit class, and if two people are any different than these two, they would have to be from other planets. Kyle and Lani each just want to work alone, and when they are partnered up, sparks fly.
Normally I don’t like first person narratives, but the author jumps between the two characters POV in each chapter so you get both Kyle’s and Lani’s voices. I think that Kyle acts a bit like he’s in high school in a detention rather than being in a college course at times. I did enjoy the secondary characters also and this is a nice, light-hearted read perfect for a rainy day. Reviewed by Cyrene