October 28, 2012

Chewing the Fat with...Candace Shaw

If you’re an indie author (or a traditional one) preparing to launch your first book and aren’t sure what to do, I recommending following the example of Candace Shaw.  Start with a well-written, focused story (preferably a series, since that’s what most readers go for). Have it proofread and edited, avoid stereotyped romance characters and plotlines wherever possible (the domineering, matchmaking mother of the clan; the pregnancy that results from a single bout of unprotected sex—something that does happen but with unusually high odds of close to 100% in romance novels), and be sure to give readers a good idea of whose book will come next to whet their appetite.  Come up with a catchy title and an attractive cover photo (preferably one that hasn’t already been on the covers of a gazillion eBooks already).  Finally, join a few writer’s groups, participate in the conversation if the group has them, and tell everyone about your book (on the appropriate days, of course).

Candace published her first book, Cooking Up Love, in April 2012, in which she introduces the Arrington family of Memphis.  The Arringtons have five children, three daughters and two sons. Candace released Book #2 in the series, The Game of Seduction, in late August.  She is busy writing the next installment in the series, but took a few minutes to chew the fat with me. 
Without further, ado, here’s Candace!

Bettye:  Candace, welcome to my blog, and congratulations on the success of your Arrington Family Series.  It’s wonderful to see a new author launch his/her career so nicely.  Tell me, what inspired you to write this series and to choose that particular setting of Memphis?  I must say I have fond memories of Memphis…my husband and I took a “blues vacation” for my birthday a few years back, first spending some time in Clarksdale, Mississippi and then Memphis.  The music was marvelous.

Candace Shaw: Thank you so much for having me here today, Bettye. I got the idea to write the series while I was in Memphis visiting my husband’s family as well as attending the Memphis in May Barbecue Festival. I had ideas swirling in my head about a family of doctors. While driving down Shelby Street, the light bulb clicked on in my head that Memphis would be the perfect city for my doctor series. I loved downtown with the trolley, blues clubs and barbecue on Beale Street and the park that overlooks the river. One of my dear friend’s maiden name is Arrington, and I knew I wanted to use it for a family series. My husband was raised in Memphis and gave me insight of the different areas and neighborhoods.

Bettye: Give us a quick rundown of the Arrington siblings from oldest to youngest, their approximate ages, occupations and a little bit about their personalities.

Candace Shaw: Cannon: 37, Pediatrician. Workaholic and very goal-oriented. An intellect. Alpha male and an all-around good person.

Raven: 37, (Cannon’s twin sister) Ob/Gyn. Serious-minded, focused and a logical thinker. A widow.

Sean: 34, Psychiatrist. I don’t really know him, yet but so far he’s arrogant and loves the model-type. Alpha male.

Bria: 30, Allergist and naturopathic doctor. Headstrong and determined. Fun-loving.

Shelbi: 27, Medical resident (eventually becomes an endocrinologist) Sassy, easygoing, goal-oriented.

Bettye: Want to hear something funny?  The book I just started writing features a 37-year-old male pediatrician. Do great minds think alike, or what? (Fortunately, my doc's name isn't Cannon.)
When did the writing bug hit you, Candace? Was Cooking Up Love your first attempt at writing a book? (I know that was two questions, but I’m sneaky sometimes.)
Candace Shaw:  I’d been writing since college but never finished a book. Once the education/test prep grammar books (grades 1st to 4th) I wrote for Creative Teaching Press were contracted and published, I decided once again to work on a contemporary romance novel. So in 2006, I started Perfect Candidate for Love, as well as the sequel, and worked on them off and on for about three years, mostly during the summer months when I was off. I did send it to a few publishers but never heard back. I joined Georgia Romance Writers, a chapter of Romance Writers of America in 2009, and I had the book critiqued several times by published authors, including Carmen Green and Carla Fredd, as well as attending conferences and workshops. I found out I wrote the book completely wrong, as far as where I set it, among other things. So I started over again with Cooking Up Love in 2010 and incorporated everything I’d learned. Now I’m going back and rewriting the first book and it will be out in summer 2013. It’s more of a chick lit meets contemporary romance series, sort of like Sex and the City or Single Ladies. Two of the heroines, Megan Chase and Jade Whitmore, were briefly introduced in The Game of Seduction.

Bettye: Speaking of my being sneaky, I always slip in a highly intrusive personal question in these interviews…Now that you’ve been forewarned, here it is: What’s your favorite color?
Candace Shaw: Pink and green.

Bettye: Tell us where your eBooks are sold, and what’s coming next (and an estimate of when we can expect it).

Candace Shaw: My ebooks are sold with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, All Romance ebooks, iTunes, Sony and eDiesel Bookstore. Cooking Up Love is also in print through Createspace.
I’m currently working on a short prequel to the third book in the Arrington Family Series, titled Simply Amazing, which takes place about 12 years before the third book. The prequel is centered around the oldest sibling Cannon and his heroine, Yasmine Dubose. It will be released as a free read (forever) in December 2012. The third book, Only One for Me, will be released more than likely late spring 2013. You’re right about an estimate of when to expect it. I like to take my time when writing a novel. It’s all about quality not quantity for me. It took me a year and few months for me to be satisfied with Cooking Up Love and about the same for The Game of Seduction. I’m aiming for late spring, plus I send it to a professional editor, and that takes time as well. But I have an outline, scenes typed and some still in my head. I plan on officially beginning again once the short story I had no plans of writing is finished.

Bettye: Thanks, Candace!  If there’s anything else you’d like your readers to know, this is the time to fill them in!          

Candace Shaw: Thank you, Bettye. I had fun. I would like to share the blurb for Cooking Up Love.

When Shelbi Arrington accepts a position as a food critic in the hopes of burying her medical career and foregoing her residency, the last thing she’s searching for is love. However, that’s just what the doctor ordered, especially when she lays eyes on the handsome chef, Justin Richardson. While sorting out her secret conflict of continuing her medical career, she falls for his mouth-watering charm, leaving her hungry for anything he has to offer.

Justin is leery of doctors because a doctor’s negligence caused his mother’s death when he was twelve. He has put his focus and energy into his restaurant, which had been a dream he and his mother shared. Justin is immediately smitten by the cute, sassy food critic that has him cooking up different ways to please her appetite. But when things start to heat up, Shelbi learns of a shocking revelation that could extinguish the flame of their relationship. Will Justin be able to forget his pain and commit to the woman who has stolen his heart?
Thhhhhhhat's all, Folks!
October 10, 2012

That's a Promise

As I finish up the manuscript for Something Real, it dawned on me that this has been such a long project because of its structure.  I haven't had this much difficulty completing a project since The Heat of Heat two years ago.  The two projects are structured similarly in that they cover more than one romance (two and three, respectively). Keeping previously mentioned facts as well as timelines straight has been a real challenge, but the end result makes it worth it for me and hopefully for readers as well. There's nothing like patting yourself on the back for a job well done.

Because of the complexities of coordinating the plotline, the length of the manuscript ballooned well past the original estimate.  It's important to me that the readers have a sense of who these characters are, but I have challenged myself...

My next release will be a single romance thread that will absolutely, positively be less than 75K words, preferably shorter than that.

I already have two storylines that will work for this; all that remains is to choose which one to write.

Wish me luck.