Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Tribute to Charlee Boyett-Compo by the Naughty Literati

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
On January 20th The Naughty Literati lost one of our own, Charlotte "Charlee" Boyett-Compo, one of our founding members who contributed her wonderful stories to every one of our releases since we all began to write together. Today we celebrate the life of this strong, charismatic, sarcastic, creative, prolific author and dear friend who touched each of our lives in indelible ways.

One of the things I cherished most about Charlee was her candid way of saying exactly what she thought without beating around the bush or worries of being politically correct. You always knew exactly where she stood on things.

I have fond memories of her intense dislike of polls, which we often use in the Naughty Literati to help so many opinionated women come to a group decision. In one particular case Suz asked, "Can everyone please weigh in on this so I don't have to do another poll and upset Charlee? (Snicker--please say 'no, we want another poll!' just because)." Charlee's response was classic and priceless. "Yeah, may the bluebird of happiness fly up your: (1. Nose (2. Ass (3. Other." 

People will hate you, rate you and break you. How strong you stand is what makes you. Charlee was one of the strongest women it has been my honor and privilege to know and work with. I love you and miss you, Charlee. Thank you for being my friend. I take solace in knowing you are once again in the arms of the love of your life.

-- Nicole Austin

Around 2007, after she had already pioneered an impressive backlist of books that stemmed back to the early beginnings of ebooks in the mid to late 1990s, Charlee first blipped onto my radar as Charlotte Boyett-Compo, author of the Reaper ™ aka WindLegends ™ book franchise… or “my creations,” as she referred to them.  I was thinking of trying to write a romance for arguably the largest epub in the romance market at that time when I happened upon several of her titles on said epublisher’s website. An avid romance-aholic with a penchent for dark fantasy, I gobbled up her entire backlist in short order.

Flash forward to near-end of 2014. By that time I was published with the epublisher in question and had “met” Charlee in a couple of online forums for the authors. When several of us authors decided to band together and indie publish our own short romance anthologies, I was very excited that Charlee wanted to be one of our founding members. The Naughty Literati was born. And from the first moment, Charlee was our Georgia peach who proved she was a real Steel Magnolia to boot.

Her direct, intelligent input and vast, published author experience was vital to the early formation of The Naughty Literati; I recall it was initially her idea to incorporate “Naughty” into every antho title as part of our brand. Her blog posts here were always insightful, bursting with her own, indelible writing voice, and usually held a message that possessed more gravitas than most romance blog posts ever hope to contain. Christmas MemoriesCharlie's last blog post for this website, was December 21st. Just barely a month ago. In it she speaks so eloquently about her bittersweet Christmas memories as a child in Georgia where the beginnings of her social conscience were seeded and took root. It ranks as one of my top favorite pieces of her writing ever.

On our online group (and on Facebook), she often regaled with us with peppery tales of some residents in the small town of her adopted “Ioway.” She loved her country house with its wealth of cat “Overloards” who habitually lolled upon any given square inch where she wanted to sit or work.

She was annoyed yet resigned when people misspelled her name. Usually, people wrote “Campo” instead of “Compo,” but I once committed the faux pas of mispronoucing her maiden name before the hyphen. “It’s Boy-yett (emphasis on the yett). Boy-yay is the way a lot of folks pronounce it. It's actually German.”  She forgave me quickly, saying I was the least offender. “It's not a problem. I had an internet radio interview once and the lady announced me as Charleen Boyer-Campton. I took great delight in correcting her. To get all three names wrong was inexcusable.”

She loved to cook robust home meals for her loved ones, and shared some of her favorites with us - I’m drooling to try her Southern Chicken Dressing and her Lime Yogurt Pie soon. She was committed to doing service for her church and loved her sons, who relied on her and vice versa.

Perhaps the most revered corner of her heart was reserved for late husband, Tommy Compo, her high school sweetheart and love of her life whom she referred to always as “my Tommy.” She scoffed at the idea of dating again after his passing, declaring she’d already “had the best.” She believed he was her guardian angel, for she declared he always took care of her in life; why wouldn’t he continue to do so once he was in Heaven?

Now that her own epic love story with Tommy has resumed on the celestial plane, we are left with the unique worlds and fascinating characters she created in her books beloved by so many of her fans. As well as the memory of her friendship and the wisdom she imparted to us while she was here.

She always ended correspondence with, “May the Wind be always at your back…” A reference to an Irish prayer and also her own WindLegends ™ creations.

May the Wind always be at your back, Charlee. And thank you.
-- Belle Scarlett
I didn’t know Charlotte Boyett-Compo until about October 2014, when she and I were part of the group that became The Naughty Literati. Charlee wrote dark fantasy and paranormal romance which, generally, I don’t read simply because it’s not my taste.

Charlee had, and still has, a huge following. She built elaborate worlds involving Nightwinds, Reapers, Shadowlords, and WyndMasters – characterizations I cannot even fathom ever creating and still don’t quite understand. The sexuality of her worlds was dark, and I appreciate and applaud that direction in erotic romance. She was the consummate professional and a willing mentor.

I never met Charlee in person, I only knew her online. But nowadays, that is sometimes the only way we know colleagues. The lack of face-to-face interaction does not diminish the impact a person can have on another.

I learned a lot from Charlee, and was quite inspired by her example. She wrote prodigiously this past year, almost like she knew she had to get all the words out. She achieved new success this past year even in the face of some pretty aggravating publishing hurdles. She had health problems this year and yet soldiered on tenaciously.

Farewell, Charlee, and thank you.

-- Regina Kammer

Charlee on her wedding day to her high school sweetheart and love of her life, Tommy Compo.
I’ve known Charlee for ten years. Not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it feels like a very long time indeed in the writing community where most of the people I knew five years ago have disappeared. I was thrilled when we both joined the Naughty Literati when it began, and I was able to spend time with her again. I love Charlee’s characters that leap off the page, her incredible, detailed and consistent world building, and her smart wit that enables her to be endlessly patient when explaining something to a newbie, yet still demonstrates her low tolerance for stupidity. Sometimes all in the same sentence.

-- Berengaria Brown

I first met Charlee when I ran a book review website, back in the late 1990s. She was one of the "go to" people that everyone recommended for dark fantasy, so I picked up one of her books and got lost in her world. Hours later, I came back to the world, disoriented. I'd devoured the book so thoroughly that the outside world ceased to exist. When I finally stumbled to my feet, it was with the knowledge that my reading world had changed. E-books were so young, so new, and while I was open to them, I can clearly point to reading Charlee as a turning point.

When we found ourselves at the same publisher, I was over the moon. With each and every release, she deepened the reader's experience and colored her world more vibrantly.

And who can forget the enduring love she had for Tommy. Her love and affection for him was a living and vital thing that just grew through the years.

In 2014, I was delighted to find myself working with Charlee in the Naughty Literati. Her stories were fantastic, and the trailers she made were just perfect. Charlee, we miss you more than words can convey. Thank you for everything.
--Alexa Silver
I first "met" Charlee online in 1999 when we were both writing for one of the very first epublishers. (I was writing under a different name at the time.) Her book with that publisher (and I'm sorry that I can't remember the title now) was also one of the first ebooks I ever read, on my clunky old laptop since even the early ereaders were still a couple of years away. It simply blew me away. At the time many people argued that ebooks weren't "real" books, that they were inferior, things the authors couldn't sell to "real" publishers. If ever a book demolished those denigrations, Charlee's book did. It blew me away with its depth, its ferocity, the brilliant, unforgettable characters, the marvelous writing, and a plot that left me in tears at the end. I can't remember the title, but I do remember the plot and characters quite vividly after all these years.

In 2002 or 2003 I was delighted when Charlee offered a few of her books to the publisher I was writing for at the time.  When a group of us became the Naughty Literati, I was even more excited that she was part of the group, too.

I never met Charlee in person, but from all the interactions we had on various author and fan lists, and occasional off-list exchanges, I felt like I knew her fairly well. Her acerbic wit found humor in unexpected places and her creative mind extended into many other areas of her life. We found common ground in the discovery that we were both practicing Catholics who found writing erotic romance an integral part of our extended world view and not something sinful or disgraceful (though we both had struggles with fellow Christians who didn't share our outlook on sexual activity as a vital and glorious part of God's creation). 

She had a talent and passion for writing that still fills me with awe when I read her stories. Pardon the innate sexism in this, but in the spirit of a "mankind" that is bigger than just male persons: "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." The loss of Charlee leaves a huge hole in our lives.
-- Katherine Kingston
I think of all of us, I knew Charlee the least. The Naughty Literati brought us together and I wish I'd had more time to get to know her better. I did have the great pleasure of editing her. The hardest part was getting so wrapped up in her amazing words that I forgot to look for errors. I can't count the number of times I had to backtrack (not that I ever found much that needed changing). I think, as someone else intimated, our somewhat loosely controlled chaos drove her bats, but she was good about telling us exactly what her position was. I can't see a poll anywhere now without thinking of Charlee's aversion to them. 

The world is a little darker now, without Charlee in it. May her words and her creations live long into the future. 

The wind is always at your back now, Charlee. 

-- Terry Rissen
I'd seen Charlee's posts on an author loop I belonged to and I remember that she always had interesting things to say and helpful advice for those of us who were newbies and struggling. Back in 2009 or 2010 (I think, my memory is a little foggy), Charlee made big news. Or rather one of her books did. A print copy of one of her books was being listed for sale on Amazon at $75,000 dollars. I think it was an out of print book, but still that was insane and it was all over the place. It was at that point that I realized that she lived just down the road from me - I in Newton, IA and she in Grinnell, Iowa. I hesitantly emailed her and asked if she ever got over to my library in Newton. She showed up one day and we got a chance to meet. She was so sweet and kind, a real joy to talk to. We talked about her wildly priced book and she laughed. She said it made for good publicity as she'd been interviewed by local newspapers and a local tv station.

Since we've been working together on The Naughty Literati projects, I've been impressed by her great ideas, her work ethic, and her kindness. She will be truly missed. Good bye, dear lady. We who remain here will miss you, but I'm sure you're happily reunited with Tommy, the love of your life. A true romance if ever there was one.

--Francesca Hawley

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