Who could write your life story better than you can? If you’re struggling with reasons why you can’t write your own story, listen to why you must believe that you can and how to do it. Arlene and CJ Peterson discuss the healing power of writing, giving back to the community through your book, and helping others heal their hearts and stand courageous. CJ has published 13 fiction books that include parts of her real life journey and she donates part of the book sales to nonprofits who help battered women, first responders, and others. She talks about how and why we chose to share her trials this way. Arlene and CJ agree that it’s terrifying to open up your life to people you don’t know, who may even judge you for it. But if there is one person in need of what you have write, who might find hope in their circumstances because of your story, why not give it a shot.
“If it’s in your head and it’s in your heart, you’re the one who needs to write your story because you’re the only one who CAN write it.” -CJ Peterson
03:40 Real Life in a Fiction World
08:26 The Healing Power of Writing
14:42 Giving Back Through Writing</span
18:01 Speak Up
20:31 Chief and Sarge
26:29 Put Your Heart Out
31:20 Let the World Hear Your Story
34:51 Who Can Write Your Story Better?
Let the world hear your story. Jump into today’s episode with@arlene_gale and @authoress_cj as they teach how you can make the pages of your life live through the pages of your book. #BookWritingBusiness #BusinessBuildingBooks #stories… Click To Tweet
Face Forward Move Forward- The Journey To Discard A Painful Past And Determine A New Legacy of Peace and Possibilities by Arlene Gale
Grace Restored Series by CJ Peterson
Book One: Seasons of Change
Book Two: Winter’s Verdict
Book Three: Spring Shadows
Book Four: Summer Secrets
Book Five: Forever Fall
Divine Legacy Series by CJ Peterson
Book One: Divine Legacy
Book Two: Army Rising
Book Three: Hearts United
Book Four: Chains Broken
The Holy Flame Trilogy by CJ Peterson
Book One: The Call to Duty
Book Two: Operation A.N.G.E.L
Book Three: Angels Among Us
The Adventures of Chief and Sarge Children’s Book Series by CJ Peterson (COMING SOON!)
The Journey Is Real Podcast With CJ Peterson
Journey To Fruitfulness Blog with CJ Peterson
05:10 “I’m not a victim of anybody. I’m a survivor. And as a survivor, I know what people are going through.” -CJ Peterson
09:10 “Writing is such a powerful tool for processing struggles, life events, and pains.” -Arlene Gale
16:42 “Abuse is cyclical. It just keeps going and going and going till somebody puts a stop to it. You have to be strong enough to put a stop to it, not just for you but for your children.” -CJ Peterson
22:03 “A lot of times kids don’t have a lot that’s just for them.” -CJ Peterson
31:24 “Write what you know. When you write what you know, the person reading it will know.” -CJ Peterson
34:37 “You leave so much more room for light, for hope, for peace, and all of the possibilities that your life was created to fulfill when you get that stuff inside you onto the page. It’s so powerful. It’s so freeing.” -Arlene Gale
34:57 “If it’s in your head and it’s in your heart, you’re the one who needs to write it because you’re the only one who can write it.” -CJ Peterson
Connect with CJ:
CJ Peterson is a four-time award-winning author, blogger, and podcaster. She also speaks about a variety of topics such as writing, social media and branding, and domestic violence. Before she made her break in book writing, CJ served as a Youth Leader, army brat, Catastrophic Insurance Adjuster, and EMT. With her bag of experiences, and her open heart, she’s able to relate well to people of all ages. As an author, she’s best at taking her real life stories and making them alive and relatable in her books. They reflect a lot about making each day a worthwhile adventure, finding passion, and overcoming obstacles. As she always says, “While the stories are fiction, the journey is real.”
Arlene Gale: Hi everybody, welcome to today’s episode, you see anything different? Anything new? Yes. My friend and guest today who is an amazing person, but also somebody who’s stretching me to my limits has convinced me to do a video.
C.J. Peterson: You look beautiful.
Arlene Gale: Well, I don’t know about that. Nope, don’t start lying to me, girl.
C.J. Peterson: I’m not, I don’t lie. I can’t lie.
Arlene Gale: So during this time in our world, I keep telling people, take this time and do something different, learn something different. So I said that to my dear friend and guest today and she took it to heart. So we’re trying video out. Yay us.
C.J. Peterson: Yay.
Arlene Gale: Oh, boy. But the main reason I have my guest on today is because I always get asked or people come to me and they talk about, Hey, I want to write my story, but I can’t for this reason, or this happened to me and I can’t write that because of this reason. And I specialize in helping people write nonfiction. Most of the nonfiction I write is people writing their real story, but I’m also helped people take their story and learn to use it as a way to process their information and deal with their pains or their learning experiences, and write that in a book that is takes in a story that is impacted, or is affected by, or on other people. They can take their situation and build a world around it. So not only does it help them as an author, but it also helps the world. It changes the world because readers don’t feel so alone, even if it is a fiction book. So that’s one of the things I want to do today when we talk about book writing is to kind of give an example by somebody who I think is fabulous about taking her story and then putting it in the book, and series of books. I mean, she’s written 20, how many books? 20 books?
C.J. Peterson: 13.
Arlene Gale: I’m building you up.
C.J. Peterson: I’m working on a standalone at the same time.
Arlene Gale: There you go. It just feels like 20 books. But she’s actually written and published 13 books, and her motto is you could kind of see behind her while the stories are fiction, The Journey Is Real. And so I don’t want to take any more time because I want you to meet my friend, and author, and fabulous person, C.J. Peterson. She’s a four time award-winning published author, but she’s done so much more than that. Before that, she was a catastrophic insurance adjuster, easy for you to say.
C.J. Peterson: Basically when the insurance adjusters get overloaded, when hurricane, tornado or whatever is hit, they call the catastrophe adjusters in for backup.
Arlene Gale: There you go.
C.J. Peterson: Where the hardest hit areas like Joplin several years ago.
Arlene Gale: Oh, wow.
C.J. Peterson: That’s what they call us, Katrina, that’s what they call us in for.
Arlene Gale: Wow. So she’s also been an EMT, she was raised an army brat, she’s been a church youth leader, but what she’s known for and love for today is her book writing. And one of the things don’t let me get off of here without talking about how you wrote one of your series that actually is giving back, and you’re being a responsible financially supportive citizen, and why don’t we start there, talk about that series, and why you wrote it, and what you’re doing with it.
C.J. Peterson: Okay. Well, first of all, my name is C.J. Peterson. And my website is cjpetersonwrites.com, that’s C-J-P-E-T-E-R-S-O-N-W-R-I-T-E-S.C-O-M. I have three series is out. All three series a portion of proceeds actually goes to charity. So the Grace Restored Series, which is the one we’re going to be talking about for the most part today. A portion of the proceeds goes to Hope’s Door, which is a domestic violence shelter and Plano, and you can find them at Hope’s Door. Divine Legacy Series and The Holy Flame Trilogy, both of those, a portion goes to Airborne Angel Cadets of Texas who ship packages overseas for the military. Basically, I pick an element that’s within each story, and I find a charity that matches it, and that’s a portion the proceeds goes to that particular charity.
Arlene Gale: So that’s cool. So you’re taking parts of your real life, the nonfiction elements of your life, and you’re building them in and weaving them through the characters and the worlds in a fictional way. So talk a little bit, why would you make that kind of choice? Why not just go pure nonfiction?
C.J. Peterson: That’s a tough one. You ask the tough ones first. Basically, I’m a domestic violence survivor. I don’t say victim because I’m not a victim of anybody, I am survivor. And as a survivor, I know what people are going through. My domestic violence ran the gamut, every way, twister form, you could think of, I survived it. Having survived those is not something you went to. It’s almost like you’re ashamed to, but you know that story has got to come out. So what I did for example, in Seasons of Change, which is the first book and the grocery stores series is I took elements of my story and put them on Katie, so Katie’s surviving it, Katie McKenna is the main character. And doing that, I find it really ironic because some of the reviews I get say, well, no one ever really does it, or that doesn’t really happen, and I’m like, I’m, hello. That’s actually one of the elements, it’s true. And doing it, it’s kind of therapeutic as well because I can change the outcome of the story if I choose to. I can make her strong where I was weak. I have gone through multiple years of counseling, and have found my strength, and my strength is in writing and showing a story. When my husband and I decided to publish the books, which by the way, he is not one of those who abused me, straight and clear. He’s a prince charming, literally. But because of everything that I have survived, we took certain elements of it and I placed him in there. He’s a retired Navy Senior Chief. He was a Corpsman. So he was my military and my medical advisor.“I'm not a victim of anybody. I’m a survivor. And as a survivor, I know what people are going through.” -CJ Peterson Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Wow.
C.J. Peterson: And he also does the read throughs with me. We read through aloud where I read it aloud, and he reads along, making sure that what the words are in the pages matches what I’m saying. Basically he’s my editor, but he went through the first few years around marriage. If you touch me, I jump.
Arlene Gale: Yeah.
C.J. Peterson: It’s stuff that you don’t think about. I had gone through all those years of counseling. I was stronger, I was good. And I could face every day, but there were still certain things that are less now, more so than ever, that still trigger me, different thoughts that creep in. Or I’ll smell something like a scent, or song, or something that triggers a memory that’s not good. But I take those and I give them to God. Number one, I am a Christian fiction author and that is at my core, regardless of anything that I write or anything that I do. And in doing so, God and I had it out. I mean, we did for six to eight weeks. We just downright, I was mad. I was done and I was mad. And he and I went at it, and he took that time, he molded me, he shaped me, he cared for me, and he basically put me on his lap and said, it’s okay daughter, I got it. We got this.
Arlene Gale: So did you write about that struggle in your books?
C.J. Peterson: That particular time? No, that’s mine and God’s time. However, the different stuff that I’ve faced is weaved within those books, yes. The stories that I experienced are within those books.
Arlene Gale: Yes. Well, I just think it’s interesting because my first book, ‘Face Forward, Move Forward’ is the story of my life growing up in a household with multiple generations of abusive alcoholics. And I wrote about my struggle with God and duking it out. And it was interesting because basically Christians and non-Christians didn’t like that part of the book. Christians didn’t want to know that I had a crisis of faith, and non-Christians didn’t believe that I resolved anything that way either. So that’s why I asked you because it is very, very personal and it really does push a variety of buttons, but hearing you talk about that, again, it’s part of what we go through in our real lives that is really painful, but writing is such a powerful tool for processing all of these struggles and all of these life events and pains.“Writing is such a powerful tool for processing struggles, life events, and pains.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
C.J. Peterson: Yes. Well, I am a Christian, I’m a realistic Christian. And the reason I say that is because my characters do have a crisis is in faith. More spoiled brats that God takes them and goes, hello, my character’s trip, and they fall flat on their face, and they get mad, and they get angry, and they have conversations with God. It’s not specifically the one that I had, but they do. And people appreciate that. They’re like, okay, this is actually real. A lot of Christian fiction publishing companies, what everything in a pretty little box with a pretty little bow on it that once you’re saved, you never fall back. Now, that does not how it works in real life. Things happen at the end of, actually I think it’s at the end of the army rising in the Divine Legacy Series, there is one sin that is called the unforgivable sin. I don’t know if you know what that is or not, and the pastor does it. But there are different subjects in my books that I’m not afraid to touch. Being a realistic Christian, abortion. And the good portion of how it turns around, there was Casey Carter was raped, but she gave the daughter up for adoption. And another one, there was a 15 year old girl that got pregnant, it was Katie’s neighbor, and they talked the parents into raising the child. That child was a girl and she ended up marrying down the road. She ended up marrying Katie and Nick’s son. So it shows the different twists and turns of real life. And that’s the beauty I like about this series is because there is a 20 year jump. The Holy Flame Trilogy series are going out at the same time. And then the Divine Legacy Series is 20 years later. So you can see those characters from this first two series and where they are now. And it gives it a unique perspective.
Arlene Gale: Absolutely. And I think that I’ve always said, I’m not that special. The things that are happening to me or I’ve experienced, I think other people are experiencing too. And I almost felt like it was my responsibility to share that story in such a way that it would give hope to other people or it would help people to see. Yes, you can move forward. Your past does not have to define your future. And I guess also not to feel so alone.
C.J. Peterson: I was going to say, and that’s the key, that you’re not alone. You’re not the only one that this has happened to. And look what they do with it.
Arlene Gale: Right. I want to give people permission to not only process their own lives in their way, but also to tell their story, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction in such a way that it does give hope, healing, I don’t know that, misery loves company, companionship element that is really, really powerful. But also the fiction gives us safety and distance.
C.J. Peterson: Yep. And you can take your story and you can put it out there, but you can put it out there in a way that it’s not specifically you.
Arlene Gale: Right.
C.J. Peterson: I had a lady who read my books and she’s just like, okay, this is me. This is me. This is me. Did you know me? I said: “I wrote this and it was published long before I even knew who you were.”
Arlene Gale: Wow. Yeah.
C.J. Peterson: You can take those elements of the parts that you were afraid of, or the parts that you really don’t want to face, or the parts that ended really badly. And you can put a different spin on it and you can either make it not end badly, or you can make it end badly, but you can also go through and see how it’s changed you and made you stronger.
Arlene Gale: That’s really powerful because we are in control of our destiny, and if we’ve learned something from what’s happened in the past and we can write a different ending, we’ll never go back there again.
C.J. Peterson: Exactly.
Arlene Gale: Wow, that’s amazing. I hope people are hearing this. So I want to come back and talk to you a little bit more about your books and how you support nonprofits, and a little bit about how you turn your books and your story into speaking to other people because books are not a one and done kind of thing. Books help people build businesses, and if that means you can go out and speak, then more power to you. So we’re going to come back in just a minute. So you guys don’t go anywhere. We’ll be back with C.J. Peterson in just a second.
So welcome back to Mindset Meets Mastery with Arlene Gale, and my guest today, C.J. Peterson. And if you’ve been here in this conversation, you’ve heard that C.J.’s been through a lot of stuff. She has a life that has not always been easy, but she’s processed that and used her story to write fictional stories to reach and help other people. So with that in mind, talk to me a little bit about, why did you feel the need or the desire? I think it’s fabulous because I don’t know anybody else who does this. All of your books are used, the sales of those books go back to support some of these nonprofits. And we touched on that a little bit in the first part of the program, but where did that idea come from? And why is it important for you to continue to use your books, 13 books and those sales to give back to the community?
C.J. Peterson: Well, here’s the thing is charities do charity, they do hard work. When I write, I write from the heart. And when I write from the heart, I want the messages of those to get out. Like I said, I went through and there were certain elements that allowed me to pick certain charities that I wanted to donate to and when we’re done. And the reason is because I wanted to give them more exposure. But then there’s also that cross pollination where they get those, they also advertise the stories. And then the messages in those stories can reach a different set of people that I can’t reach or I may not be able to have the connections to reach. When my husband and I decided to publish the books, we said: “Even if each book helps just one person, then it’s worth publishing the books.” And it’s helped a myriad of people. Not to mention the fact that when they do purchase books, a portion does go to different charities and those charities also benefit from it. I’m a little creative in it, what I do is I wait until the North Texas giving day, where they will double what you do, and I hold on to everything until then and then I donate it then and it gets doubled and it gets sent to the charities. Those charities are doing work for people. Hope Door is doing amazing things for domestic violence survivors, and it is male and female.
Arlene Gale: Oh, wow.
C.J. Peterson: It is both. And of course the children, they’re stopping that cycle where they can, so it doesn’t get passed down to the next generation. Because abusive cyclical, it keeps going, and going, and going until somebody puts a stop to it.
Arlene Gale: Right.
C.J. Peterson: You have to be strong enough to put a stop to it, and not just for you, but for your children, regardless if you’re male or female.
Arlene Gale: Absolutely.
C.J. Peterson: As far as the Hopes or the Airborne Angel Cadets, they’re sending packages to military members overseas, so they know they’re not forgotten. People forget in their daily lives that there are people still fighting for our freedoms. They’re trying to stop another 911 from coming, and they take stuff that you’d be surprised what they don’t have. They asked for mattresses before and mattress pads, they live in metal boxes. And Airborne Angel sends them stuff to help them. And I wanted to give them exposure, and that’s the main reason that I did it.
Arlene Gale: Yeah. Because I didn’t know about Airborne Angels. That’s interesting.
C.J. Peterson: They’re actually out of Carrollton, Texas, and Hope’s Door out of Plano.
Arlene Gale: So let’s talk about, do you believe that writing your story through the characters in your book has helped you, give you some street creds so that you could get out into the world and speak, and be real, be authentic, who you are as the author of these stories?
C.J. Peterson: In a manner of speaking. For example, I have a podcast called The Journey Is Real Podcast. I do the same thing with the podcast as I do with my books, I give different people exposure. I talk to people about their passions, Airborne Angels and Hope’s Door are both among them. In doing so, again, it’s sharing my heart. People know me through my writing, whether it’s the books, whether it’s the blog that they are writing, and Journey To Fruitfulness, whether it’s the podcast and they get to know me, the author, through my heart. So in a matter that I am speaking, but I’m speaking through the podcast, if that makes sense.
Arlene Gale: Absolutely. So tell everybody while we’re on the podcast topic, the name of the podcast again and where they can find it.
C.J. Peterson: The Journey Is Real Podcast is where it’s called. It’s on 12 different platforms, including Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, iTunes, Google podcasts, the whole gamut.
Arlene Gale: YouTube, don’t forget YouTube. That’s why you were looking at me.
C.J. Peterson: And the video version is on YouTube, so there is The Journey Is Real Podcast on YouTube because people prefer television. They prefer to watch, prefer to see the animation. I’m Irish, so I’m going to have it.
Arlene Gale: Yeah.
C.J. Peterson: And then if you go to cjpetersonwrites.com, my website, C-J-P-E-T-E-R-S-O-N-W-R-I-T-E-S.C-O-M. For those watching on YouTube under The Journey Is Real Podcast, you’re going to see all of the current podcasts, you’ll see all the landing pages, really easy to find. You can browse through the ones that are currently up there. There’s a little paragraph and telling you, you can click on either the YouTube or the Anchor.fm, Anchor.fm will take you to wherever you want to go. Or just literally, if you have, say you’re a Spotify listener, only literally click on a landing page for Spotify and every single one of them are listed.
Arlene Gale: That’s cool. So no excuses, you cannot not find C.J. Peterson, you just can’t. You’re everywhere, you’re everywhere. You got an exciting thing, because I cyber-stalk you, I’m not fortunate enough to have you in my life everyday. So you got something interesting going on right now with Chief & Sarge and it’s a whole different genre and different world for you. So as an author, using your imagination and using your stories, tell us about Chief & Sarge.
C.J. Peterson: Well, I gotta tell you, first of all, flipping a switch from young adult, adult to children’s is a whole different animal. And I stumbled upon it, it was an accident. When we were in California, we adopted Sarge, which he’s a little stuff monkey and you can pet him pretty much everywhere. And we took them particularly to the grand Canyon on the way home. People absolutely loved him because he’s a naughty little monkey. He’s going to be getting into stuff. So when we went to Baton Rouge, we took him to the USS Kidd, and we took him to the Louisiana Rural Museum, and we got into lots of trouble. People were falling all over loving this little guy. So in September we adopted Chief. Chief is a little koala, he started just a little bit bigger brother, so he was meant to keep Sarge, but sometimes Sarge got him into trouble too.
Arlene Gale: Bad influence.
C.J. Peterson: He’s branching into it. They’re kind of balancing, etcetera, but there are little guys, their tagline is the [inaudible] with these two. They go on all sorts of adventures and originally after the original concept point out was just real life adventures, so people can experience it with their kids. Initially my idea with it is to show the different military bases. We’ve taken them to NAS Jax, we’ve taken them to Pensacola’s NAS, and we’re going to be eventually doing books on them, again, the USS Kidd. Military things, because the military kids don’t have a lot of, it’s just for them.“A lot of times kids don't have a lot that's just for them.” -CJ Peterson Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Right.
C.J. Peterson: But then I got to thinking, a lot of times kids don’t have a lot that’s just for them. And these two little guys are like little kids. We’ve adopted them into the Serenity Acres family. We live on Serenity Acres and that’s our apiary and all sorts of fun stuff. So it’s all intertwined. So after a little while people are like, they’re adorable and we love them, and people were getting a picture taken with them. If you go to the website, there’s almost a hundred pictures of people getting their pictures taken with Chief and Sarge. They just love them, it’s great. We went on a cruise, I handed out every single card that I had because Trevor took them down the water slide and people loved them. I carry it around in my backpack. The staff got their pictures taken with them, they thought they were adorable. We went to the military bases, like I said, I have a picture of two soldiers standing with them, which was like my treasured picture of them, that’s my most favorite with them. So we’ve started turning them into children’s books, we’re currently working on their first book called Cruising.
Arlene Gale: So you’ve got this children’s book that’s coming up. If people want to find out when it’s going to be released, how can they do that?
C.J. Peterson: Well, the beauty of the way that I do my emails, I do my emails every other week. I don’t like to spam, I hate spam, I hate it, hate it, hate it. So I literally only do one every two weeks. You go to my website, sign up for my email, you can be the first to know when Serenity Acres has honey, and we make our honey raw, we literally just send it through a double-sieve.
Arlene Gale: Oh, you’re into everything.
C.J. Peterson: So it’s here, and raw as you can get it. That’s what’s kept me healthy through all of this cold and flu season, and also now. They’ll be the first to know when Chief and Sarge book come out. They were the first to know that there was even going to be a book. They were the first ones to find out. There’ll be the first to know when I relaunched my books. My sister and I ran a publishing company, we’re running the books through, so we’re going to be relaunching all 13 books.
Arlene Gale: So where do they get a hold of you or connect with you to get all of these updates?
C.J. Peterson: Here’s the beauty, if you sign up for the email list on cjpetersonwrites.com, it’s on pretty much every page on there, you cannot go in there and not find a way to sign up for the email. It’s almost at the top of every single page. When the email comes out, you literally just hit reply and it goes right into my inbox.
Arlene Gale: Oh, wow. That’s cool. So the other thing, the reason I brought up Chief and Sarge is because they also play out part of your story and who you are to a different target market. So being creative and writing your passion in your way is something that should be encouraged, whether it’s writing adult romance or writing children’s books. So that’s what I want people to take away from this. However you can write your story or use your story to impact the world, that’s what I think C.J. and I would really encourage you to do.
C.J. Peterson: Exactly. I grew up army brat, which is why military kids–
Arlene Gale: I’m Air Force brat.
C.J. Peterson: Really? That’s why military kids are close to my heart. That’s the original intention of Chief and Sarge, actually why they’re named Chief and Sarge. My husband’s retired Navy Senior Chief, he was a corpsman. So 20 of his 24 and a half years we’re with the Marines because the Marines don’t have Doc’s, and the Navy provides them as corpsmen, that’s their medical. So Sarge represents the Marines and Chief represents the Navy, and they actually have a little backpack and each backpack has a little insignia of Marines and a Navy on it.
Arlene Gale: You think of everything.
C.J. Peterson: So yeah, they have little backpacks and have a little sunglasses. They’ve got a little outfit, top secret, which should be coming out by the time this comes out is that we’re going to start, my office is called The Tree House, and we’re going to start reading books on the reading of the Chief and Sarge. The Tree House is my office, it has games, it has toys, it has all sorts of fun stuff in here. But I originally had said I was going to do this Tree House and now is a good time. So I’ll be launching that soon too.
Arlene Gale: So if I want a one away from home, can I come there?
C.J. Peterson: You’ll be surprised how many offers I get?
Arlene Gale: Are you ready for, I want to be adopted. So anyway that’s all a different story.
C.J. Peterson: Chief and Sarge is that it also ties in with adoption.
Arlene Gale: That’s cool. So alright, as we get ready to wrap this up, I want to put you on the hot seat. You’re ready?
C.J. Peterson: Okay.
Arlene Gale: Okay. So the name of my podcast is Mindset Meets Mastery. So I want to start with this question, did you have a negative mindset when you started writing that almost or could have shut you down and kept you from becoming a published author of, right now, 13 books?
C.J. Peterson: Oh, definitely. Without a doubt.
Arlene Gale: Can you share one?
C.J. Peterson: First of all, putting your heart out there is terrifying anyway. People are brutal on reviews. I mean, they are like gut wrenchingly brutal. You take a three to 400 page book and they will find the one thing that’s wrong and pull it out, and they will give you a two or three star for it, that’s number one. So you’re putting your heart out there. Number two, you’re putting a portion of your story on and don’t you dare tell me that’s not terrifying because it is. So I saw people, parts of me are within each one of these characters, only I will never tell which ones they are, you’re going to have to guess for your own.
Arlene Gale: Yeah.
C.J. Peterson: But you’re still going out there. That’s your baby, that’s your heart. You’re still putting a portion of yourself out there regardless if it’s fiction or nonfiction.
Arlene Gale: Right. So you could have allowed all of those things or potential happenings to shut you down, and you would have never gotten to where you are now. What can you point to that was maybe one mindset that you changed, and how did you change it so you are who you are today.
C.J. Peterson: That would be when I got out of the abusive situation. I went through Hope’s Door, which is why a portion of the proceeds goes to Hope’s Door. I’m extremely familiar with how Hope’s Door works because I went through them during that time. Like I said, the counseling and stuff, I became stronger. I became from the victim to the survivor and that’s what they do, and they make you stronger. So like I said before, it stops the cycle. And because of that, I explained to people, I said, abuse is like somebody coming up to your bookshelf, and your bookshelf has all of your life portions in it and going, Oh, that’s an interesting one. Can I have that book? Sure, no problem. You could take a look at it. Take it off, and they never bring it back. They come back and they take another one, and another one, and another one. And sometimes they replace it with their book to the point that you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. And when I realized that I dumped the shelf and I put my stories back on there. And even to this day, I will give you three shots across the bow and then I will cut you out. Because I did not let people talk to me in any way, shape or form. That will hurt me again and I don’t want them to do it to my family either.“Abuse is cyclical. It just keeps going and going and going till somebody puts a stop to it. You have to be strong enough to put a stop to it, not just for you but for your children.” -CJ Peterson Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Absolutely. Well, that in and of itself can be a double edged sword, but that’s a whole nother podcast. Yeah. Don’t ask me how I [know.
C.J. Peterson: I give you three shots. You don’t learn by the third, then you are on your own.
Arlene Gale: Yeah. But there are some people out there, it’s just like duh. They just, I don’t know. Anyway, like I said–
C.J. Peterson: One of those people that if I’m quiet, you’d better ask yourself what you did or why. Because there’s something going through my mind and it’s either a hurricane is brewing, potentially a tornado, or there’s a lot going in there and I’m extremely upset and don’t talk to or touch me or it’s going to end up ugly.
Arlene Gale: Yeah. Yeah. So let’s leave on a more positive note.
C.J. Peterson: Take that stuff that you are terrified of doing. If you don’t want to put it out there in the nonfiction way, that’s fine, put it out there in the fiction way. Change your story for the better, change the dates, change the times, change the place, change the characters. You can make them somewhat reminiscent.
Arlene Gale: Well, and I love what you said earlier about changing the outcome, change the outcome. I mean, there’s so much power in that you can write a different outcome. You can learn from that and then you can live that too. So it’s kind of a give and take. I just loved that part, changed the outcome.
C.J. Peterson: I’m a Pantser, there are two types of writers. There’s a Planner and a Pantser, I’m a Pantser. I literally sit down, pray and write. I only have a list of characters. So for like 12 books, I literally had three pages of notes, that’s it.
Arlene Gale: Wow.
C.J. Peterson: And most of that was characters because they’re fire department. But in doing that, it gave me the freedom that those stories that are in my life can be woven in a lot easier and it all flowed together.
Arlene Gale: So what does one little golden nugget, just one thing, if somebody is listening, well, and now watching, what is one little nugget of encouragement that you could give somebody who feels like they have something powerful to write, to share with the world. What is one little nugget that you can give them that we can leave with them with?
C.J. Peterson: There’s a couple, one, you write what you know. When you write what you know, the person reading it will know if you can make somebody cry and laugh in the same book, it’s a success. And I totally go with that theory. You laugh, cry, you scream, people told me they wanted to throw the books across the room. Some people told me they have thrown my books across the room, and I’m like, yay. Do you know why? Because that means I hit them at their core. I could not have hit them at their core if I did not know what I was talking about. So you know what you’re talking about. You are the only one that can tell that story. And that story that you are afraid to tell may help somebody down the road to know that they’re not alone. Like that lady who wrote a book said that that’s me, that’s me, that’s me, that’s me. You know what? I never even met her until that point. And that was way after the books were published. That woman knew, not only was she’s not alone, but I knew where she was coming from.“Write what you know. When you write what you know, the person reading it will know.” -CJ Peterson Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Exactly. Exactly. So you said there’s two, don’t leave us hanging.
C.J. Peterson: The other one is write what you know.
Arlene Gale: Write what you know, write what you know, write what you know, write what you know , everybody.
C.J. Peterson: And write timeless.
Arlene Gale: Yeah. And just sit down and do it. Just do it.
C.J. Peterson: Somebody needs to hear your story.
Arlene Gale: Yeah. And I don’t know, I guess, let me get your comment on this, you sit down to write your story and maybe have no intention of publishing it. Maybe you’re doing it to help grow yourself, to help process your past so that you can see a different way or whatever the outcome needs to be for you. Writing your story, fiction or nonfiction is so powerful in processing. I don’t know. What do you think?
C.J. Peterson: I totally agree. When I originally wrote the stories, there are like 35 to 40 in the little folder that are written that haven’t been published before that I wrote just for me. And when I read one of them to my husband, he’s like, no, people need to hear this story because this story will touch their heart. So what I’ve done is as I go through to rewrite and pull some of those 20, 35 books off, I actually just start with the character and I just let it flow. Sometimes it resembles those books, sometimes it doesn’t. But here’s the things, the original ones were written for me, these are written for everybody else.
Arlene Gale: Yeah. Well, and that’s really interesting because my first book Face Forward, Move Forward, which is my life, I wrote for me and for my children so that they could see, so when they say, well, that’s just not fair, it’s like, ah, let me tell you what’s not fair. But to see that we have this legacy and look at the things that I’ve done to create a new legacy and help them to understand, I hope that they will understand how to live the new legacy because it’s not always easy. Sometimes it’s hard and it makes me do it.
C.J. Peterson: I said there’s a book that I wrote, Survival of the Fittest, that will never see the light of day until I am under the ground because that is my story in the raw form.
Arlene Gale: Right. But it’s so empowering just to get it out of here, and even out of here because I don’t believe light can exist where there’s dark. So when you dump all of that stuff on the page, you leave so much room for light, for hope, and peace, and all of the possibilities that your life was created to fulfill. When you get that stuff on the page, it’s just so powerful and it’s so freeing.“You leave so much more room for light, for hope, for peace, and all of the possibilities that your life was created to fulfill when you get that stuff inside you onto the page. It's so powerful. It's so freeing.” -Arlene Gale Click To Tweet
C.J. Peterson: Yeah. I mean people keep telling me, I have a story I need to write. I need you to write this story. No, I’m not the one who has to write it. If it’s in your head, and it’s in your heart, then you’re the one that needs to write it because you’re the only one who can write it.“If it's in your head and it's in your heart, you're the one who needs to write it because you're the only one who can write it.” -CJ Peterson Click To Tweet
Arlene Gale: Absolutely. Absolutely. C.J., it’s been great talking to you today. I think we could talk forever and ever because we’re both so passionate about helping, and healing, and writing. So you in the fiction world, me in the nonfiction world, but I think the point that I want people to take away is whatever your story is, write it and just maybe there’s a way that you can use it to change the world for the better.
C.J. Peterson: Yeah. I mean like my tagline says, while the stories are fiction, the journey is real. Regardless if you write it fiction or nonfiction, the journey is real.
Arlene Gale: Absolutely. Absolutely. So again, thank you very much. People can find you on YouTube, Facebook. What other social media are you on?
C.J. Peterson: I am pretty much everywhere. My handle is @authoress_cj, so that’s @A-U-T-H-O-R-E-S-S_C-J, and yes, I had to think of how to spell that, or you can find them all by going to cjpetersonwrites.com, C-J-P-E-T-E-R-S-O-N-W-R-I-T-E-S.C-O-M all the way to the bottom and just click on a little icon.
Arlene Gale: That’s awesome. So listeners, thank you too for being here today. I’ve just been so shocked, amazed and humbled that I’m getting listeners from all over the world. So no matter where you are, I thank you for being here today and joining us in this conversation. But I want to leave everybody with these thoughts, and I hope you will take it to heart. Don’t let the world dictate your story. You get to choose how you live and how you write your story every single day. The power is yours, so what are you going to do next? Thank you. Bye C.J. Bye everybody.