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Sunday, February 18, 2007

First, tell us about yourself and give us a plug for your latest release, as well as your upcoming releases.

I’ll start with the book, way more interesting than me, I promise.

Petticoat Ranch is a suspenseful, historical, inspirational, romantic comedy. How’s that for a sub-genre? Here’s a brief summary. Sophie Edwards’ life is one long struggle for survival, and, more importantly, the survival of her four daughters. She wants to avenge her husband’s murder, but she has no idea how to do it. And as if she hasn't got enough to do, now a wounded man is disrupting her family’s lonely life.

Clay McClellen left an idyllic, all-male world in the mountains. Sure he had to fight off the occasional grizzly bear, but looking back, he now sees how peaceful it was. After plunging headfirst over a cliff, Clay finds himself at the mercy of a widow and her four girls.
A suspenseful romantic comedy about a mountain man trapped in a pretty, sweet smelling, confusing all-girl world, from Barbour Publishing

Golden Days is coming from Heartsong Presents in April. It’s also a…go repeat that sub-genre again. Golden Days is set in Alaska against the backdrop of the Klondike Gold Rush.

After that I have Of Mice…and Murder a cozy mystery coming from the new line at Barbour, Heartsong Presents Mysteries.

A young woman who likes the big city and hates mice so what is she doing in her dinky hometown living in her great-grandma’s mouse infested house. You know things are bad when the dead guy in her pantry actually means things are looking up.

My favorite kind of books to read are romantic suspense and if the couple makes me laugh while they’re running for their lives and falling in love, then I’m happy.

As for me: I just celebrated thirty years of marriage. I’ve got four daughters, three grown and on their own with real jobs, that have insurance benefits! and the fourth is a senior in high school. I wrote for ten years before I got my first contract. And that is enough about me.

Was there any particular research you had to do for your present release that our readers might enjoy reading about?

I mostly researched for Civil War references, very briefly referred to because my hero and the heroine’s first husband had both fought in the war. And landscape. I had never been to this part of Texas and I wanted to get it right.

Many authors say they grow personally with each book they write, discovering pieces of themselves in their characters as they write. Has this happened to you? If so, can you elaborate?

I don’t think there are pieces of me in my characters. Instead, I think my characters are how I wish I could be. Absolutely fearless, they say whatever is on their minds, they always stand up for themselves. That makes for nice humor and conflict but I don’t think it’s really a great way to live. Filtering the things that come out of your mouth is usually a very good idea.

Can you briefly tell us about your writing process? From the germ of an idea to the completed novel? And how long it takes you?

I’m a pretty fast writer. I write about two books a year, and I’ve done that ever since I started. I have about twenty books on my computer, including the three I’ve sold.

I’ve done seat-of-the-pants writing and I’ve done a full outline before I start so I can do either. I think the outlined books were easier to write, although the outline was very hard to create. But I think I like the SOTP style better. It’s just more fun for me to have a general idea of where I’m starting and where the end is, and let the rest come as part of the creative process.

Is writing your full-time job? If so, are you a nine-to-five writer? If not, how do you fit your writing into your schedule?

I’ve got a full time job as a GED Instructor in addition to writing. I mainly write late at night, in fact being an insomniac has given me those extra hours to write. My writing discipline, such as it is, is to set a goal of three hundred words a day. That is such an easy goal, just over a page, but it does force me to start writing. I very often write more like 1,000 words once I start, which is a 90,000 word book every three months. But included in that is a lot of editing and revising so I don’t have four books a year to show for my writing.

Do you have any particular writers’ resources you use regularly? Any that apply to suspense in particular?

No, my main research is done on-line. The resources that are dearest to me are reading other novels. I belong to a critique group and what I’ve learned there helped immensely so I was ready when my chance finally came.

Do you have any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

I’ve got books in my head always clamoring to be written. My dream is to sell all twenty of those novels on my computer and then settle down to writing two books a year until I’m too old to type.What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?
How to take criticism I suppose. I’ve learned I can stand almost any level of cruelty as long as I can find a nice box of Hostess Twinkies somewhere.

Or maybe patience, I’ve had a lot of waiting to do over the years.

Or maybe that I love writing. I think I’d always write whether anyone published my work or not. I really think of being a writer as who I am rather than what I do. I just love it. I love sitting alone, makin’ stuff up. How strange is that?

Because many of our blog readers are aspiring authors, can you share any tidbits of wisdom about getting published?

Learn the craft. There is so much to learn beyond story telling. That’s basic, to have a good story, but there are so many details. If you’re a member of ACFW www.acfw.com go to the section of the website that has writer’s courses on it. That is a gold mine of information.

Get connected. Go to conferences, take the online courses, get a critique group, meet other writers. I’ve heard a lot of people say, “It’s all about who you know.” What they don’t add is, how easy it is to get to know someone. I credit the ACFW conference with leading to Petticoat Ranch so I’m a believer.

How do you see the future of suspense and mystery in the inspirational market?

I think it’s going to explode. There is a whole world or readers out there who are Christians who want to read for entertainment and would just please, please like a book NOT laced with horrible profanity and other unfortunate offensive topics. But they want to be entertained. There are terrific books dealing with nearly every tough social topic around, and that’s wonderful, those books are saving lives and souls. But there is a huge readership of great, solid Christian people who aren’t going through some dreadful trauma who’d just love a good read that doesn’t sneer at what they believe. I think this is the biggest area for potential growth in Christian fiction.

If you could change one thing about the Christian suspense and mystery market right now, what would it be?

I would just challenge every writer, myself included, to write the best quality fiction they can. I think there is so much room for expansion we won’t be able to provide enough books. I think what’s happening in every aspect of Christian fiction is exciting and I love being part of it.

What suspense/mystery authors do you read for pleasure? (Inspirational and secular)

You know, I hate questions like this. I read so many authors and I can’t remember them all and later I’ll remember another good one, probably someone I know and feel bad. So you should be ashamed of this question.

Well, here goes…Teri Blackstock, Dee Henderson, Susan May Warren, Brandilyn Collins, Rene Gutteridge, Christy Barritt, I’m just finishing my first Jill Elizabeth Nelson and I love it. Also Frank Peretti, Jenkins and LaHaye, Ted Dekker.

I’m also going to have a cozy mystery come out with Heartsong Presents Mysteries soon and I love what I’m hearing about that line, the romance, comedy and mystery combined. Those books are going to be fun. I can’t wait for that to start.

Some secular mystery suspense authors I love; Julie Garwood, Elizabeth Lowell, Linda Howard, Susan Brockman, Clive Cussler, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, old Mary Higgins Clark, old Patricia Cornwell, old Sue Grafton.

I’ll stop now with that, too.

Do you have anything you want to leave with our readers? Something the Lord is speaking to you?

Under the romantic comedy of Petticoat Ranch is the struggle my characters have with hate. They are feeling very justifiable hate towards a man who has done them a terrible ill. My characters, mainly Sophie, Clay and Adam are all on a different section of the path toward laying down that hate.

I try to show how their anger is harming them more than it’s harming the man they hate. Christians are bombarded on every side by terrible anti-Christian messages on TV, in books and movies, in store windows, on newspaper headlines, everywhere. I think we spend a lot of time feeling embattled and that often translates into anger. Yes, Jesus got angry, yes, there is righteous anger. But that’s not usually the right choice.

Anger…hate…is the exact opposite of what God calls us to do. You don’t nag someone into salvation, you don’t scare them into it or yell them into it. You love them into believing in God. Any time a person spends being angry is almost always wasted time. Examine your hearts for the anger and lay it down, live the life of joy God has for you.


Blogger Mary Connealy said...

Candice, Thank you so much for doing this interview. This is a perfect place for a writer of Cozy Mysteries to hang out. :)
And tell your little sister Britney I'm pulling for her, but c'mon! BALD???

9:12 PM  
Blogger Pam Hillman said...

ooohh!!! I get to comment first! Great interview, Mary. And I love this blog. The black background is so cool.

Petticoat Ranch is so fun: get it and read it. I don't think you'll be sorry!

11:03 PM  
Blogger Janet Dean said...

Petticoat Ranch is an action-packed, fun-filled, fabulous book! Loved it! Great interview, too.


8:49 AM  

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