Author R.K. Bentley Features: Us!
[Author Interview] Leigh Brown & Victoria (Vikki) Corliss
RKB Writes Author Interviews with
Leigh Brown & Victoria (Vikki) Corliss
Often mistaken for sisters, Leigh and Victoria (Vikki) consider themselves twins from different mothers.
We met on the sidelines of our sons’ baseball game and quickly bonded over books, baseball politics, and Mrs. Brown’s ‘famous chocolate chip cookies’. No surprise to anyone, our decision to write a book also came about over a pizza dinner and we’ve been sharing a love for writing and eating ever since.
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Do you have a new book coming out? If so, what’s the title and when?
Funny story: we’ve just spent the better part of two years drafting a story we were so excited to share with our readers, until suddenly, we weren’t, and instead of publishing our fourth women’s novel, we decided to table it instead. Sounds crazy, right? After all the countless time and energy, not to mention brain cells we’d expended bringing our baby to the finish line, why would we simply stop short like that? Well, like the song says, to everything there is a season, including works of fiction and we came to realize that this wasn’t the time for this particular story to shine. Somewhere along the way, our thinking had changed, and exciting new ideas were emerging for another, different tale that’s more in line with both our writing style and what we’re like as women, today. It wasn’t an easy choice by any means, ending a long-term commitment before it reached fruition, in fact, it was quite possibly the toughest call we have ever had to make as co-authors. Understanding that our decision to drop one story to start another could potentially cost us readers, many of whom have been waiting patiently for the next Brown Corliss book to come out, was scary, but it was even more important to be honest with ourselves and each other. And we’re clear, now, if our work doesn’t 100% meet our expectations, we have to let it go, if not forever, at least for the moment. So, even with three published titles under our collective belt, we’re still discovering the many trials and tribulations of being an author, proving there’s always more to learn about the world of writing.
Vikki: I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember, which I believe has also nurtured my love of writing. Before Leigh and I began co-writing together, I worked in Marketing for several years, a career that afforded me many opportunities to try my hand at diverse forms of writing, from speeches and annual to reports, to proposals and press releases. Today, I enjoy writing women’s fiction and penning a genre of stories that coincidentally I also like to read. Everything comes full circle….
Leigh: I wrote my first book in the fourth grade. It was a scintillating tale called “Harry the Frog” and I’m pretty sure it’s sitting in a box somewhere in my attic. My first paid job, at fourteen, was at the town library. My role was to check out books and then shelve those that were returned. I would spend hours combing the book spines and pulling out anything that interested me. That job solidified my love of reading and planted the seeds of one day writing a grown-up story of my own. Many years later, when that opportunity presented itself and included writing with my dear friend, I jumped at it.
Vikki: I write in a small home office with a bay window that provides a lot of natural light and a great view of my neighborhood. From this vantage, I settle into my cozy chair with computer in hand, prepared to write. From this vantage, I also spend a lot of time staring out the window, waiting for the words to come together in my head as I watch the commuters head off to the office and children run for the school bus.
Leigh: I also have a dedicated home office/desk writing space but I can write pretty much anywhere. We always joke that you could plunk me down in the middle of a mall on Christmas Eve and I could still write despite the chaos around me.
Vikki: When we are actively working on a manuscript, I try to be disciplined and be in my office by 9:00 A.M., Monday through Friday. That doesn’t mean I won’t work weekends or evenings if an idea strikes; I have to jump on it before it leaves my head! When we are promoting our books, anything goes really and our schedules for events and programs are very flexible.
Leigh: Vikki and I have very different writing routines. I write as if I have a movie going on in my head and I’m transcribing what I see. We were just recently describing our different writing styles to an acquaintance, and I noted that Vikki creates (the words/sentences are very important and are selected deliberately) while I report (I see the story and I’m telling the reader).
Carefully! We learned this very important lesson the hard way with our first book, Second Chances. Without thinking, we selected the title and released it, never checking to see if there were any other similarly titled publications. Guess what? There are 80,000 Second Chances, just on Amazon alone. We haven’t named a book since without first running a title search.
What was the hardest scene for you to write? Which scene was your favorite to write?
Of our three novels, Second Chances is probably the most risqué. Knowing our mothers would eventually be reading the book, we were very nervous about them seeing the “racy” parts. Whenever asked who wrote those scenes, we would point accusingly to one another and deny, deny, deny having any hand in it. That feeling we had of getting away with something “daring” may also rank them as some of our favorite writing moments.
What inspired your book/series?
Each of our books have thus far reflected something of ourselves in them. In other words, writing from our own perspectives and experiences as women, allows us to create stories that feature a commonality that is relatable for most if not all women who enjoy reading women’s fiction.
What are you working on next?
A major reason we decided to pause work on our fourth manuscript is because we had an idea for another story that has us so excited, we’re chomping at the bit to start writing. That’s all we can say for now except, stay tuned.
What authors or books have influenced your writing?
Vikki: Leigh and I share a few favorite authors, but I particularly enjoy reading anything by Jodi Picoult, Karen White, and Elin Hilderbrand. I also like to read a variety of genres including non-fiction biographies, autobiographies, and historical novels. I appreciate learning so much more now, as an adult, than I did as a student in school.
Leigh: While I have favorites, I like to give all authors a try. I am very fortunate to be part of a few different groups that pass along books and often I’m reading an author’s work that I might never have stumbled on by myself. For those books that I enjoy reading, I’m always trying to evaluate what the author is doing right to keep me coming back for more.
Women’s Business 10/30/18
GoLocalProv LIVE! 10/16/18
The Valley Breeze 10/04/18
The Warwick Beacon 09/27/18
WPRI-12 TV News 12/03/17
Author Expo 2017 was the best yet! Can’t wait until next year!
New Canaan Advertiser 05/28/2015
Thanks to this article, you can now get your copy of The Pie Sisters and Second Chances at Elm Street Books in New Canaan, CT.
Warwick Beacon 04/23/2015
East Greenwich Patch 04/12/2015
Who better to recommend a good read than a bookstore? Symposium Books is spreading the word about The Pie Sisters!
“Talk of the Town” WADK 1540 Newport, RI 03/19/2015
A huge thank you to “Talk of the Town” Bruce Newbury for speaking with us about our new book, The Pie Sisters. A summertime story set on the shores of Canandaigua Lake in New York state’s Finger Lakes region, The Pie Sisters seems to resonate with anyone who knows the joys of lakeside living and the almost universal language of this very special world.
Press Announcement 09/13
A New Novel from Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss Takes Readers on a Ride of ‘Coulda’, Shoulda’, Woulda’
There’s nothing risky about reading Second Chances, the debut e-novel from Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss. On the contrary, this compelling story of three people struggling to dodge their respective past, present, and future faux pas, will appeal to anyone who’s ever made a mistake in life. And honestly, is there anyone out there who can say they haven’t?
Looking to make a fresh start and a brighter future for herself, a young Pashmina leaves her family and home to create a new life free of heartbreak and conflict. Now a successful author skilled in the art of mystery writing, it seems there’s little she can’t do– except outrun her past.
Amelia, Pashmina’s young editor, isn’t sure if it was luck or skill that earned her the top spot working with the Mistress of Mystery but she’s thrilled regardless. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Now if she can just keep her insecurities in check, what could possibly go wrong?
Her boyfriend Tim knows. He’s spent a lifetime building an impermeable emotional fortress around himself making him invincible, invulnerable. But what’s it gotten him and at what cost?
Three lives tightly entwined become quickly entangled and soon they all find themselves wishing for a second chance.
This is a first-time collaboration for Brown and Corliss who bring passion and personality to the pages of their book. “Our favorite books are the ones we can’t put down and stay up all night reading. It’s exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Second Chances is it’s own kind of roller coaster journey through the familiar and the foreign and we hope our readers enjoy the ride!”
Purchase your copy of Second Chances today at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/357298.
Leigh and Victoria live with their families in Rhode Island. To learn more about Second Chances and forthcoming novels from the Brown/Corliss duo visit browncorlissbooks.wix.com/secondchances or email them at email@example.com.
NEW CANAAN ADVERTISER 11/13
“One chapter has ended another is starting. Let’s hope the reading is good.” So read 18-year-old Victoria “Vikki” Stone’s (Corliss) senior quote in New Canaan High School’s 1982 “Perranos” yearbook. Three decades later, following a successful career in public relations, marriage and a family, Corliss is still an avid reader, but now she’s a writer too.
“Second Chances,” released in September, is the debut e-novel from Corliss and her co-author, Leigh Brown. “‘Second Chances’ is a story about getting a new lease on life, new beginnings, and that’s exactly what this book is for us,” said Corliss.
Following long careers in public relations for Vikki, and finance/interior designer for Leigh, and with sons headed for college, they were ready to chart a new course for themselves as well.
The decision to write a book was a natural choice for both of them and a lifelong ambition of Corliss’s. “When my family moved to New Canaan in 1976, the first thing I did was create a ‘writing room’ in my bedroom closet,” she said. “It was a small space, but it had everything I needed, including a light and a door for privacy. I was determined to write a best-seller.
“‘Second Chances’ is 100% fiction, but we couldn’t have written it without the benefit of having lived what I like to call high definition lives filled with sights, events, food, and people that bring so much color into our world,” she said.
Two of those special people are their mothers to whom the book is dedicated. “My mom, Kathryn Stone, still lives in New Canaan,” said Corliss, who now lives in Rhode Island with her husband and son. “Every visit with mom is a trip home and a walk down memory lane for me.”
This is the first literary collaboration for Corliss and Brown but not their last, according to a release. Their second novel, “The Pie Sisters,” set in New York’s Finger Lakes region, is slated for release in 2014.
“Second Chances” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords for downloading to all e-readers such as Kindles and Nooks, tablets, including iPads, and to computers in PDF format.
Valley Breeze 12/10/13
CUMBERLAND – For aspiring authors, putting pen to paper is often the easiest part, as the nation’s handful of major publishing houses do not freely dole out book deals.
But in the age of the iPad and Kindle, more writers are taking the business side into their own hands and self-publishing e-books that can be downloaded and read faster than the time it takes to pitch a novel to industry executives.
Bowker, the country’s official ISBN Agency and leading provider of bibliographic information, reported in October that the number of self-published titles in 2012 was more than 391,000, which is an increase of 59 percent over 2011, and a whopping 422 percent over 2007.
The ProQuest affiliate also reported that more than 80 percent of those titles came through with support from just eight companies, including Smashwords, a distributor of independent e-books that was founded in 2008.
The market for e-books has been rising in tandem with self-publishing, with BookStats, an industry statistics model launched by the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group, reporting in may that the e-book market has grown 45 percent since 2011.
One of those Smashwords e-books was “Second Chances,” a novel written by Cumberland resident Victoria Corliss and Leigh Brown, of East Greenwich.
The co-authors, who met while their sons were on the same baseball team and immediately bonded over a shared love of books and writing, decided to use Smashwords as they stepped into the self-publishing world because of the site’s user-friendly aspects that walked them through marketing, legalities and registering the book’s ISBN with the Library of Congress.
“Let’s face it, we needed ‘Self-Publishing for Dummies,'” Corliss said with a smile.
But getting through the process and coming out on the other side with a published work boosted their confidence in writing and publishing, Brown said. After four years of work, the book about three people facing their past, present and future mistakes is now available through Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
“The beauty of self-publishing,” Corliss said, “is that it gives every author the opportunity to get their book out there right away.”
That means immediate feedback from readers, which helps as authors begin to tackle subsequent projects.
Now that they are beginning to master the business-side of the industry, the authors are onto their second book, “The Pie Sisters.”
Corliss, who has worked in public relations, and Brown, who has a background in interior design, now focus on writing full-time with the hopes of getting the next book out by next year.
Taking on publishing, especially in a digital format, makes that a possibility.
“We’re writing this because we want to share it with people,” Corliss said. “We’re trying to share our love of reading, and use our love of writing to share that.”