Saturday, August 26, 2017

0 Courtney C. Stevens, author of DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS, on writing in a way that pleases you

We're thrilled to have Courtney C. Stevens stop by to tell us more about her latest novel, DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS.
Court, how long did you work on DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS?

Somewhere between how long it takes to get ready for prom and how long it takes to plan a wedding.

I had the initial spark of Dress Codes in April of 2014. I workshopped the concept with dear friends at a writing retreat and drafted 75 pages in summer of that year. Following the sale, three iterations followed. One in summer of 2015, another in November, back when I called the novel Dressing the Part. Editorial revisions and fantastic critique partner suggestions unlocked key changes to mood and structure in March of 2016. That third version landed. It took two years to march from novel idea to novel execution. Honestly, I want ideas/novels swishing around--like Dawn on a greasy pan--for as long as I can afford to wait, but these days, I'm focused on cutting the number of words I throw out to get to a version I love and keep.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I start by pouring two rings of sugar and three rings of pink Himalayan sea salt around my computer. This bribes the muse to appear. I promptly feed her tacos, because muses, like dragons, love tacos. After the tacos and wet wipes, we post the taco photo on instagram, and then we begin. I dress in black for each and every occasion. Except for my left big toenail, which I paint Kentucky blue.

I wish I had a ritual.

Unfortunately, being an author is always at war with being a writer. However, when I scrape together days at home, they look like this: real clothes, at my desk by 8:00, lunch, exercise, work until 6:30 p.m. When I'm drafting, I'm back at my desk after dinner. I listen to music and often the same music through an entire project. I choose to write at home because I am a dragon and dragons need their lair and treasures, but also because writing out of house means I need to be a respectful patron, and patronage gets expensive.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Listening to advice from writers is like reading the comments section. Be careful. Results may vary.

I think, your goal is to figure out how to write in a way that pleases you, and if you want to publish, also pleases an audience. Walk into any bookstore and you'll seen there are thousands of routes to that destination. Don't get caught up on the ONE WAY until you figure out your way. And don't get caught up on YOUR WAY if it's not getting you the audience you want.


Dress Codes for Small Towns
by Courtney C. Stevens
Released 8/22/2017

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.

Purchase Dress Codes for Small Towns at Amazon
Purchase Dress Codes for Small Towns at IndieBound
View Dress Codes for Small Towns on Goodreads


Courtney “Court” Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small town south. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, and Olympic torchbearer. She has a pet whale named Herman, a bandsaw named Rex, and several novels with her name on the spine:  Faking Normal,  The Lies About Truth, the e-novella  The Blue-Haired Boy, and forthcoming  Dress Codes for Small Towns. As an educator and author, she visits schools, designs retreats, and teaches workshops on marketing, revision, character development, and Channeling Your Brave. She also likes chips and queso and feels deeply sorry for the lactose intolerant.


Have you had a chance to read DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS yet? Do you let your ideas swish around? Have you figured out your way to write? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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