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Author Interview: Candace Havens

Readers, Writers and Friends, I have a special treat!  An almost Halloween treat, yummy like a rice krispy treat.

An interview with Candace Havens: Author, Editor, Journalist.

She has written for Harlequin, Berkley and Entangled Publishing. Candy has written biographies, paranormal romance, omance and anthologies. She is an Editor with Entangled Publishing. In addition, she is an Entertainment Journalist, reviews on radio and conducts workshops for aspiring writers.

Candy, how many books have you written and had published?

First, thanks for letting me hang out. And about 20 books so far.

Do you have a favorite?

That question is like asking someone if they have a favorite child. I’m working on the second book in the Take it Like a Vamp series, and I really love that world, so maybe.  If you’re more into straight contemporary romances, Model Marine is my favorite Harlequin Blaze I’ve written.

I’m especially fond of the character Maisy in my steam punk series. I really want to write more of those.

With multiple jobs, including entertainment journalist and mom, how do you juggle all the responsibilities?

Honestly, some days I’m better at it than others. My children are grown, so that helps. But I work a lot of hours. There’s no other way to get it all done.

Have you had a favorite interview in your role as entertainment journalist? 

I’ve been writing about television and film for a long, long time. Tom Hanks is a favorite. He never changes. He’s funny, charming and kind. You don’t always find that in Hollywood.  And his wife Rita Wilson is an amazing human being. But I’ve talked to a lot of great folks through the years.

I know you write very quickly. How does that happen? Do you have a fully fleshed idea? Have you outlined the story? Or do you just sit down and write until your fingers fall off?

I just sit down and write until my fingers fall off. Once I get in the zone, sometimes I can’t type fast enough. I took two full years off from writing fiction to focus on editing. It’s been hard to get back in it, but last weekend I “accidentally” wrote 40 pages. I sometimes have a synopsis, a necessity to sell on proposal, but I’m definitely a pantser. I like to just sit down and write.

You give workshops and seminars, are often a guest speaker and share your knowledge with other writers and readers.  What is the best piece of advice you can give to an aspiring author? What writing techniques and skills do recommend and teach?

Sit your butt in the chair and write. And then take as many classes as you can. Hone your craft. I’ve been writing fiction for 10 years now, and I still take classes. I learn new things all the time. I would hope that I get better with every book. Write and learn. It’s pretty simple.

Please tell me more about your workshops.

The online workshops are free and paid. (Some workshops you have to pay a fee, some are free.) The free one is The Write Workshop. I have more than 2000 students. And I bring in all kinds of instructors, authors, editors, agents to teach.

Then I also do paid classes. I teach Fast Draft/Revision Hell a great deal. That’s where I teach you to write a book in two weeks and polish it in two weeks.

See what I mean about a fast writer? Phew.

But I also teach a comprehensive class, that I’m going to do again next February. It’s six weeks of intense, crafting a story. From concept to revision.

Do you have a favorite author? A favorite book?

I have about 30 favorite authors Nora Roberts, Jodi Thomas, Jasper Fforde, Stephen King, Kim Harrison, J.K. Rowling and the list goes on and on and on. This will be posted and I’ll be like, “Dang, why didn’t I mention so and so?”

I love to read everything. Fiction and non-fiction, adult, YA, steam punk you name it. That’s also why I write in so many genres.

You have written some short stories with Shannon Leigh.  How does writing with another person differ from being the sole author? What does Shannon bring to the story?

She’s an amazing writer and I like the way she sees the world. She’s technician, but she’s also great with emotion. And for me, it’s just fun seeing how someone else views the story. I can’t work with just anyone. We’ve known each other a long time, so that helps. I write some, she writes some and then we edit each other. It’s kind of magic.

What is your next book and when can we expect the release?

I’m working on Linc’s book from the Take It Like a Vamp series. We don’t have a title yet. If someone thinks of one, let me know. I also have a new Lovestruck series from Entangled and a Brazen I’m working on. Hopefully those will be out in 2015.

Tell me about Entangled Publishing and your role.

I’m an Editorial Director there. I bounce around a bit, and help where I’m needed. Right now I’m running our Covet (category paranormal romance) and Embrace (new adult) lines and helping out with Select Otherworld (single title paranormal romance).

So I have this extreme need to help people. It’s one of the reasons I started my free online writing workshop. With Entangled, I get to help make authors’ dreams come true every friggin’ day. It’s exhausting work, but it’s the most fun I’ve had in a really long time. I like the editing side of things. I can’t believe I’m saying that, because I hate doing revisions on my books.

But I can see the potential in books and I’ll do whatever it takes to help the author get it where it needs to be. Like with Shannon’s books, here’s an amazing author who had all but given up on the business. It took a bit of coercion and twisting of arms, for me to get her back into this. And the world would have missed out on some truly amazing stories. That would have been a terrible waste.

The worst part of the job for me, is having to reject stories. I know how hard it is to craft a story, so telling someone it isn’t quite right is tough for me. But I hope they take that information and make it even better, or find a home with an editor who loves them just the way they are. (Smile)

Is there anything else you would like to share?

To authors everywhere, be kind to one another. Our business is changing faster than any of us could have imagined. Lift each other up, help each other out. It may sound PollyAnna-ish, but my life has been filled great mentors and friends, people who have been there every step of the way and helped my career along. So do that for others, please. Be there for your friends. Encourage their success. Be kind.

A big thank you to Candy for taking time to share with us. 

See more books and reviews from Candace Havens and Shannon Leigh go HERE and HERE AND HERE. A review of Shannon’s work can be found HERE.

My review (and the only Amazon review posted) of Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance Tales, Vol. 2 focused on Shannon’s first published work of fiction. Though Candace Havens and many others contributed.

Under The Tupelo by Shannon Canard is compelling. Rowan Summerall, a treasure hunter seeking to save her family legacy, unearths something unexpected. What will Rowan do with what she finds buried Under The Tupelo? Canard has a strong voice and a surprise gift for readers. I want more.





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Sunday is Lazy & Planning Day

Sunday always begins as a wonderful day.  Lazing around, doing nothing and other miscellaneous activities I feel like doing.

I don’t have to clean, I probably did that yesterday or last week.35334-planplease

I don’t have to cook, I understand the concept but practical application is rarely put in practice.

I might groom the doggies, depends on ‘our’ moods and the current level of cleanliness.

I read.  I surf the internet. I read blogs. I read science news.

I drink coffee, leisurely of course. I look for items and books I want to blog about.

I enjoy the majority of Sunday – until – planning for the week ahead and setting my alarm. Anguish.  Not because the week ahead will be anguish though sometime there is suffering.  Because my laziness has come to an end. If I think about this too early in the day, the laziness ends and anxiety creeps into my body.

So I am going to write a quick note to my blog reading friends.  Ask a question or two and tell you some upcoming plans.  I will then proceed to reading Archaeology the magazine and the website Archaeology Today.


Sexy Cover

I am scheduling some author interviews. I do have some friends that are authors.  I have sent requests to Shannon Leigh of Deconstructing Lila and Candace Havens. Shannon & Candy have collaborated on Tycoon Reunion (Entangled Indulgence).  Candy has a large library of published books (and I swear more energy that a two-year old – really).

What would you like me to ask them about? Do you have a question about a favorite book? Their writing technique?

What authors would you like me to interview? I’ll do my darndest to get that interview.

What authors want me to interview them?

I am finishing Hugh Howey’s Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga), Shift Omnibus Edition (Shift 1-3) (Wool Trilogy Book 2) and Dust (Wool Trilogy Book 3). Enjoyable. Review coming.

I am fairly certain that later today I will watch (re-watch) Orphan Black, Season 2. Amazing series from BBC America with a very talented lead. Recommended!


So enjoy your day.  Your input is welcome. I appreciate your stopping by and comments.


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Interview with Terry Maggert Author of The Forest Bull

Interview with Terry Maggert. See Review Here.

Can you give me a Synopsis of Your Book?  See Book Review. …That’s the official blurb, but the short version is that three hunters who kill immortals are asked to find stolen jewelry, and the thief might be Satan. What does Satan look like? How do three lovers get along? And what happens when you find out that you might be more than human, and less than immortal?

What is the primary theme of your book?

Sometimes, evil can be outwardly beautiful, but in truth, some cultures have created a myth that there is an expectation of cruelty from beautiful women. I started to think about how we assume that looks determine the character of a person, but good-looking people may get away with more because of how we’ve been trained as a society. The whole notion that women could be evil, but the head honcho of Hell was a man, seemed curious. Then, I began to write a character that blew up the assumptions about the “devil”, especially given that many people associate Satan with being a male, and apparently, someone who dresses like every day is Halloween.

What drove you to write this book?

I’m not a true Southerner, but I found that I love the culture. I mean, sweet tea? Biscuits? Pinto beans? Please and thank you! There was one thing that was completely new to me– roadside crosses at places where people died in car accidents. I started wondering, “What if someone, or something used a roadside cross for a very dark reason?” I wrote a story about a ghoul and her human helper, who roam the American Midwest using a roadside cross to lure teenagers to their death. From that, I created characters that would hunt that ghoul, and show no fear, and one year later, here we are!

What is your writing process?

I see an entire novel; start to finish, with all of the characters and high points. Then, I chew it over while doing mindless tasks, and chunks of dialogue come to me, but on occasion, I’ll blurt a phrase or concept to myself that I just have to write down. There are little notes scattered across the spaces I inhabit, sometimes I use them, and sometimes, they get lost. It seems to be the most natural way for me to write, so I’ll go with it until I develop telekinesis, or train my basset hound to write, although, with his fat paws, that doesn’t seem likely.

526478_744665232226724_1494465586_aYou used Create Space Publishing. Why did you choose this publication path? Can you share the pros and cons of self-publication?

Let’s start with the “why”. I write urban fantasy that features a male narrator who has a stable, albeit unusual relationship with two women. That isn’t the most common theme in the genre, and I was a first time author. Publishing me would be a risk, so, after two months of queries, I came to the conclusion that I would let the readers (if I could find any) decide on whether or not my fictional world had any merit. I’m pleased to say, it was a good decision, and I think that we can now admit the publishing world is changing—regardless of what established elements in that field might think.

There are some drawbacks to self-publishing, starting with the stigma surrounding independent authors. For every indie you read and love, there are some authors who choose, in their haste to publish, not to edit thoroughly, or didn’t have access to a quality editor. My wife is an English professor, with additional degrees in technical writing and editing. I’m lucky, her rates are reasonable. I urge anyone who writes and is thinking of publishing on their own to edit, re-edit, and then edit again. The more eyes that scan your manuscript, the cleaner it will be, and that’s the best solution for shining in a field of many, many authors.

If you were to re-write your book or edit anything in the published version what would you change?

Delphine really took me by surprise. I was actually laughing out loud at some of the things she said, so she figures heavily in the second volume in the series. I would have included more Delphine, more of her humor, and perhaps a touch more of her personal history. I reveal all of her past in the second book, simply because she’s taken on a life of her own, and her beginnings are both sad and compelling.

Do you have more books in the works?

The second and third books that follow “the Forest Bull” are well on their way. The next volume, “Mask of the Swan”, will be in print March, 2014. I’m also working on an adventure thriller featuring a character seeking revenge for the murder of his wife, but he chases the killers under the earth in an enormous, unknown cave system. I’m a bit of a nerd about geology and the New Madrid Seismic zone, so it’s a chance for me to release my geeky side and mix some excellent revenge and action, all at once. I foresee him as a recurring character, not unlike Dirk Pitt, one of my favorite literary figures.

Why did you really buy a pub?

I make a mean grilled cheese, so. . .

But really, my family had restaurants that opened in the 1950s, called “Ted N’ Peg’s Pie Stand”. They were located in three towns, two in upstate New York, and one in my hometown of Hollywood, Florida. Cooking and baking were second nature to me, and I needed a job. The pub came available and I thought it would be an excellent chance to have fun while doing something I loved. To this day, if there isn’t a pie in my kitchen, I’m not happy. It was a good move, and now, as a college history professor, I can look back fondly at the whole experience. I can also think about how hot the kitchen could get, kick back in the air conditioning of my classroom, and smile.

Is there any one thing you would like to share with readers?

Tell me what you think! Above all else, I’d like to know if my story resonates, because even though I love writing, I’m constantly surprised by how readers interpret my own words. It’s like rediscovering my own thoughts, and I love the feeling. Thanks for having me, and thanks for the excellent blog!

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Review: The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering

The Starlight Chronicles: Slumbering by C.S. Johnson.

The Prologue opens with an episode much later in the book. Wingdinger is introduced in an episode fighting a sinister-ling, in this case Daiken. Daiken had a “villainous twinkle in his eye all too reminiscent of his many demon predecessors and his fearless Sinister leaders.”  Wingdinger is a super hero accompanied by Elysian, who is a celestial dragon/changeling. He is unsuccessful in his fight and is upstaged by Starry Knight.

In this world of the Supernatural, God created the Stars as He created People: Each for a different purpose, Each to bring glory to His Name. But Stars can be just as fickle as Mortals. These are their stories: The Starlight Chronicles.

The chapter gives young adults a teaser to excite as the next part of the book introduces the ordinary world of Hamilton Dinger.  Hamilton is a self-absorbed, egotistical sixteen year old. He has charisma, good grades and loves to play video games. He is sure of himself and his place in the world.

Then the earth is hit by a meteor and evil is unleashed and brings an end to Dinger’s world.  Hamilton’s life is changed as he and his friends are attacked my forces they do not understand.  All Hamilton Dinger wants is to play football, participate in the school play and continue life as a normal teenager.

As the reader is introduced to evil forces, changeling dragons and ‘sinisters’ Hamilton learns he is marked and has supernatural powers.  What Hamilton Dinger has a difficult time with is not just believing but accepting his role. Why should forgo his happiness and be a superhero? “Here’s the thing about beliefs – real beliefs. They change you….I didn’t think, even when the meteorite struck the earth, I would ever change, or ever believe in the truth that began to stalk me.”

Johnson has written the first book in a new YA series. Ms. Johnson has a way with words as evidenced in this sentence: “The nails sank in harder, a black steam rising as she released toxins of deceit into Gwen’s blood.” The Starlight Chronicles Slumbering is fantasy with strong spiritual overtones.

Here’s the thing about beliefs – real beliefs. They change you….I didn’t think, even when the meteorite struck the earth, I would ever change, or ever believe in the truth that began to stalk me.

I enjoy some young adult literature.  I like TCS Slumbering. I believe young readers will become fans of the series even though – and fortunately – there is no angsty love triangle.

The story engaged me as a reader. Two small issues bothered me about the book and they are small issues. The first being I am so removed from high school I found the recitation of everyday activities of students bogging me down. I wanted the storyteller to pick up the pace. However, this may be something that will lure and appeal to young readers.

Second, again because I liked reading, I wanted Hamilton to move from continuing denial and self-absorption to acceptance and action.  However this is an important factor in the tale so my complaint is unwarranted.

Johnson has written an excellent book for young adults.  Parents will have virtually no issues with the story or the message. The underlying theme is about belief and choosing to be a part of a greater good. Recommended. Check out an interview with the author C. S. Johnson.

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Author Interview: C. S. Johnson

Author Interview  For the book review go here.

Can you give me a Synopsis of Your Book?

“Slumbering” is the first book in my epic (not just awesome but the literal epic) novel series. It follows the story of Hamilton Dinger, who is a cynical narcissistic but charismatic and talented teenager, who insists he leads a ‘perfect’ life (so he says!) Hamilton finds out after a strange meteorite crashes into his town he has supernatural abilities, which he must use to protect his city from danger. He is reluctant to do so, however, knowing if he does, the control he has on his life will likely vanish. Along with the evil Seven Deadly Sinisters, and their leader, Hamilton finds himself in the company of Starry Knight, a beautiful warrior with a deadly bow and arrow, and Elysian, a changeling dragon who breaths celestial fire. It quickly becomes apparent the self-sufficient Starry Knight views Hamilton as a nuisance, and Elysian is more a hindrance than a help, as he asserts himself into the position of Hamilton’s ‘mentor.’

What is the primary theme of your book?

The main theme is about belief. There are ideas and events in our lives which define us, but we can just as easily define them on our own terms. Hamilton, determined to follow the life he has chosen for himself – which includes finding a girlfriend who is ‘a good fit’ for him and his life, gaining recognition for his athleticism, and graduating at the top of his class and eventually becoming a successful government worker – doesn’t want to believe there is anything better for him than what he has planned out. So when something supernatural does happen to him, he is anything but happy. Much of the book seems to focus on his origins as a ‘superhero,’ but it actually is more concerned with his moral development and his gradual acceptance of truth. He goes from wondering if he is insane, to forced ignorance, to denial, to wondering if he is physically unwell, to being paranoid, irritated, and constantly inconvenienced by the new truth in his life. Needless to say this makes for some very funny scenes and relatable reading, but it is really only funny because it is true of us as well.

What drove you to write this book?

A complicated amount of incidents, really. ‘Wingdinger,’ Hamilton’s superhero name, sparked the character idea; a stirring debate over morality and religion set the stage for his cynicism, and my own self-reflective identification with the character’s simultaneous disdain and yearning for a true surprise lent itself to the plot. High school memories, both pushed away and held close, provided a starting stage. Life inspired the true love despite pride.

What is your writing process?

Fru-fru coffee, write, go back and edit, write some more, wash, rinse, repeat, read it completely, take half of it out, change the tense, change it again, get reluctant husband and/or other victim to read it, try to determine how ‘nice’ the reviewer is being vs. how truthful, go back, read, think “This is great! I can’t believe I wrote this,” submit to whoever or whatever I am writing for, read it again, get depressed, more coffee, lots of hoping and praying and trying not to go crazy, read other books, think, “My book is WAY better than THAT,” then pray to ask God for forgiveness for being so proud because of secret fear I will lose my writing ability if I get too cocky, see the reception of my writing, see all the good, and feel like I just conquered the world within myself, and see the one bad remark and feel like the world just collapsed…talk to my mother and then begin again.

You self-published through Westbow Press. Why did you choose this publication path? Can you share the pros and cons of self-publication?

I actually submitted my manuscript through the 2012 Munce Manuscript competition. I won 2nd place, which won publication though WestBow (I was aiming for the grand prize, which was publication through Thomas Nelson. I am still hoping they call me up and offer 2.4 million for the complete series) I chose the publication here because I didn’t have to pay for it, which is the major con of self-publishing. The pros of self-publishing are just that you can write, design, and market your book your own way; these are things which depend on your purpose and goals for writing. Personally, I see writing as both a necessity and an indulgence. I need it, and I need it to matter. And the WestBow team assured me, out of the 250+ manuscripts, mine was really great.

If you were to re-write your book or edit anything in the published version what would you change?

I don’t think I would really change anything. Some of my reviewers have told me Hamilton is a bit over the top, but I know people (including myself) who act a lot like him. The major difference is you can read his thoughts, and see how proud and cynical and conflicted he is, but you do start championing for him in the end. Others have told me the dialogue sounds a bit forced, but I can only say the teenage years require a lot of that. So does adulthood if you haven’t gotten it all out of your system! There is also a lot of extra curricular events, including sports and drama which people said didn’t seem to be needed quite so much, but I secretly laugh at them. There are very important and intentional reasons I included what I did, and a lot has to do with the series itself as it unfolds. I insist on keeping my writing realistic, even though I am writing fantasy, and ‘real’ life goes on even if the world is ending. Besides, the first time Hamilton meets someone like Starry Knight, do you really think he is going to pay the ‘proper amount’ of attention? No, he will walk right by her several times, maybe looking at her but never truly seeing her.

Do you have more books in the works?

There is a whole series in front of Hamilton and company with “The Starlight Chronicles.” I am hoping to get book 2 finished by the end of next year, though possibly sooner. I have an interim short story for the series coming out in anthology soon, which I call the Christmas episode. I also have my debut adult fiction work, “Soul Descent,” out for judgment on The Next Novelist (via nextnovelist.com) and I have a new trilogy in the works that is much more sci-fi and much less satire than “Slumbering.” I also have a couple of good ideas for stories that I need to research.

Is there any one thing you would like to share with readers?

The books I write are much more than paper and glue splattered with silly ink patterns. They are my brainchildren, the making-real of the worlds I have escaped to when chased by pain, teasing, and heartbreak. To you, $3.99 for the ebook might seem like a lot, but I could never put a true price on these stories. They are a very real part of my life, even if they are not really real. And while I wrote them for God, and for myself, I also wrote them for you.

If it helps, think of the $3.99 as shipping and handling costs and buy it anyway (please.)

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