DELANO Delano native Connor “CM” Moore jokes that, like a cat, he had nine lives while serving in the Army. Those “lives” were taken by nine explosions that he survived while on three tours of duty in the Middle East, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury, a compressed spine, six bulging discs, and knee injuries.
That kept him from going back to work for his family’s electrical business.
Writing books, however, has given Moore new life, a life he has embraced.
His new career started with some prodding from his wife, Monica.
“We own a book store together in Paynesville,” Moore said. “My wife goes, ‘I have nothing good to read.’ I said, ‘We have tens of thousands of books, and you can’t find anything to read?’ I told her I was thinking of writing a story like the Bourne series because I like espionage and black ops.”
They began working on it together, first as a sort of joke.
“As it started to come to fruition, Monica added that, ‘It’d be better if you made it a love story,’ because that’s what she wanted to read,” Moore said.
He said the resulting book series, titled Ice Era Chronicles, is “like Robert Ludlum meets Debbie Macomber or Janet Dailey.”
The series began with the book “1:05 a.m.,” which was released in November of 2016.
“The story opens up following Keith Davis, who is ex-Russian mafia,” Moore said. “You get introduced to Karmen-Marie, his daughter. She becomes her father’s assassin to get his ‘business’ growing. It’s set in a dystopian future after the fall of the government.”
Karmen-Marie, who becomes known as Karma, tries to quit her killing ways after her father’s death, but is tasked with one more mission: to kill her old flame, Rea (pronounced Ray) MacBain.
The story complicates from there.
Shortly after releasing “1:05 a.m.,” Moore released “Grinding My Gears,” the first book of a parallel series titled “Off the Rails” following secondary characters. In this case, the secondary character is Rea’s friend Adam, also known as Gears.
Moore has already released “2:05 a.m.,” and will be releasing “Raiden Out the Storm” in March. For reference, raiden is a Japanese word pronounced “ridin’.”
Each adult romance novel follows a different generation of the same family.
“The mainline story is going to follow a family lineage,” Moore said. “I need a lot of time to pass so we can rebuild the government. It’s not going to be done in one generation. There’s a rise and fall. There’s a whole story arch.”
When Troll River Publications agreed to publish the series, Moore needed to provide an outline of the storyline of the entire series.
The way Moore was paired with Troll River Publications is a story in itself.
After writing a rough draft and coming across a book written in a similar way, the Moores decided to reach out to that book’s publisher to inquire about the query letter process.
Moore was asked to submit the first 10 pages of the story. When he did, he did not receive a positive response.
“In less than a week, she said, ‘This is garbage. Don’t quit your day job.’ It was even more harsh than that,” Moore said.
But the rejection also included an opportunity, as she told him if he was serious about writing that he should read a couple books she suggested.
“After the sting wore off of being a sucky author, we pulled the books out, read them, applied what we learned, and wrote the story,” Moore said. “Six months later, the publishing house wrote back and asked if we’d made any progress. It was a surprise. I didn’t think we’d hear back.”
He sent the first 10 pages of his new draft, and received a much better response.
“She said, ‘Now you have a story,’” Moore said. “It was a test to see if we would take criticism . . . That editor is very picky about who she works with.”
She also wanted to see how hard Moore would try and if he would learn from his mistakes, or give up.
“Now we take her criticisms without weeping,” Moore said. “We kind of laugh at them. She said, ‘You used this word so many times, I could turn it into a drinking game.’”
Working with the publisher, Moore will publish a total of four books in 2018.
“The publishing house doesn’t play around,” Moore said. “(The editor) Steph believes you have to be in the reader’s face, or you’ll get lost and forgotten.”
That method has worked, as Moore has found a following, primarily amongst females aged 18 to 45.
However, his friends from the military have also read at least one of his books, which influenced his choice of cover art.
“I specifically made the cover art to look like video games for two reasons,” Moore said. “I wanted them to stand out on the shelf. No. 2, all my military veteran friends wanted to read my book. I kind of did it for them so they wouldn’t be uncomfortable reading a romance novel.”
To his surprise, many said they loved his book.
“They read a romance novel without batting an eye,” Moore said. “My platoon sergeant called and said, ‘Hurry up and get book two done.”
From friends and from strangers, the reviews have been positive.
“1:05 a.m.” has been reviewed 40 times on Amazon and has a 4.6 rating, while “Grinding My Gears” has an average rating of 4.7, while “2:05 a.m.” has a perfect 5.0 rating currently.
“Someone will hate it; give it some time,” Moore said with a smile. “So far, the negative reviews have been to our faces. You know you’re a published author when someone gives you a harsh review.”
Whether every reader loves his stories or not, Moore loves writing them, and that doing so has taught him more about himself.
“I like exploring different sides of myself,” he said. “When I started, I was really struggling after I returned from Afghanistan. War had changed me in a way I couldn’t explain, and I couldn’t go back to who I was.”
Wounded Warrior Project taught Moore to find his new normal.
“Writing did that for me,” he said. “When I write, I discover pain I’m holding onto. I find joy, as well . . . I think, on some level, every character I write about is a small part of something I am exploring deep within me.
“I don’t mind when people hate the books,” Moore continued. “I know these stories feed my soul. I’m just blessed that some people like to read what I have to say.”
Moore’s books are available on multiple online platforms, which can be found at www.authorcmmoore.com. Books are also available at Moore’s bookstore, Ben Around Books in Paynesville, and at book signings Moore hosts periodically.