Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction author Candace L Talmadge aka fiction author C.L. Talmadge. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Candace. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Candace: Hello, Morgen. I’m based just south of Dallas, Texas. (It’s probably more like the TV series, new and old, than I care to admit.) My background includes four years living in Winchester, Hampshire. I spent what would have been my American high school years going to an English state school, with just other girls and uniforms. As a result, there is a lot about my native country’s popular culture that I just don’t get because I didn’t go to a U.S. high school. No one, however, teaches English better than the English, or English history better than you Brits. I was very fortunate to attend the long since defunct County High School for Girls. My teachers there were the best. I ended up being a writer because writing was my only real skill upon earning the world’s second most useless college degree (history).
Morgen: Thank you for that compliment about our schools. Of course I have nothing to compare it with but I loved my primary school (5-12 yrs). My secondary school was another matter but that was just them vs me, as they concentrated on the top few, of which I sadly wasn’t one, so I lost interest and therefore didn’t do very well. It was a very prestigious school (actually a ‘High School for Girls’ too!) so I did get a good education, which now helps with my writing. Starting with your non-fiction. How do you decide what to write about?
Candace: Much of the nonfiction I wrote in my early career was newspaper articles and features (see below). I specialized in business reporting, and learned a lot. My book-length nonfiction, however, is all about personal growth and healing deep emotional and spiritual wounds. It stems from my training as an energy-healer back in the late 1980s.
Morgen: That’s interesting. I’m chatting with writer, editor and medium Dorothy Davies (also a Brit) tomorrow – you should get in touch. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Candace: Most of the nonfiction I have published lately consists of articles and book reviews I have written for OpenSalon.com. I have a three-decade-plus body of nonfiction news articles and syndicated political columns written with the byline Candace Talmadge for newspapers, magazines, wire services, and websites. I have co-authored two nonfiction books (one published) with the byline Candace L. Talmadge. I write fiction using the name C.L. Talmadge. Confused yet?
Morgen: Keeping up, I think. 🙂 You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Candace: Hundreds of rejection slips! I either did not have the credentials and/or the following to interest agents or publishers in my nonfiction. But I believe in it, and stopped putting it on hold and just went for it back in 1999, when I published the first nonfiction I co-authored.
I also believe in my fiction series and its characters, who have lived inside my head since I was 13. Actually, a tiny independent press picked up the first four novels in my fiction series, but went belly up after publishing the first one. So I took my rights back and went indie.
Morgen: Oh dear, but at least something good came out of it (I could be biased, being an indie myself). Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Candace: My first and published nonfiction is available as a .pdf e-book. I have not yet transferred it to other formats. The reason is it’s outdated and needs revising.
My fiction series is available as Kindle, Nook, and .pdf e-books, and as paperbacks. I was very much involved in converting the manuscripts to e-book formats, but there are still formatting and other kinds of mistakes (ouch) in the final versions. It’s tough to edit your own work, and sometimes in the final formatting process, gobbledy-gook gets inserted into the text even though it wasn’t there when you reviewed it. E-book technology is still very much in its infancy.
I read Kindle and Nook e-books all the time, and .pdfs if I am working on business related writing. I own a Nook Color e-reader and a Kindle Fire. The advantage of being a professional writer is the cost of all e-book readers, e-books, and other books, too, is tax deductible for me in the States.
Morgen: I’ve hung fire on getting a paper back done of my debut novel because I want to iron out mistakes. I been through it numerous times, and I’ve had three others go through it but there are still occasional errors being pointed out to me. We see them in traditionally published fiction but it best to get it as good as possible before committing to paper. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Candace: Lots of input with my nonfiction because I self-published. Regarding my fiction, the defunct small press liked my titles and worked with me on the cover for the first book. Then I went indie and redid everything. Titles and covers are important, but for fiction, the author is key. A book cover draws in a reader, who then likes what the author wrote or the author’s voice and then looks for that author again (more than the cover) to try something else.
Morgen: That’s what I’m hoping, although I have had one person (having read my eShort Feeding the Father, say she’d never read anything of mine again. 🙂 Tell us more about your fiction,
Candace: I write speculative fiction. I love historical fiction and mystery novels, but confess to being intimidated by genre greats like Anya Seton and Agatha Christie. Who could do any better than those two?
Morgen: I’ve not read any Anya Seton (although I’ve seen her books) and whilst Agatha Christie is a legend, there’s not necessarily ‘better’ but ‘different’. I think every (good) author has their own style and merit. What are you working on at the moment?
Candace: The sixth novel in my fiction saga, the Green Stone of Healing(R) series. Book Five is completed but not yet published. The first four are done. There are at least twelve novels in the series and probably more like twenty. I am also trying to find a publisher for the second nonfiction book I wrote called The Healing Circle.
Morgen: Wow, you are prolific. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Candace: My favourite characters are the four heroines of the different generations plus the narrator who ties their tales together. Lady Mary Atlas (the narrator) is very much like Winona Ryder (except a little more plump). For Helen Andros, the first-generation heroine, I envision a dark-haired version of that 6-foot-3 volleyball player, Gabrielle Reece.
Morgen: Renee Zellweger put on weight to become Bridget Jones so maybe Winona would. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Candace: I confess I have never “plotted” my novels in the usual sense. My challenge has always been not putting in too much information and obscuring the plot. That’s because the tale exists already and I am just leaving a physical record with the novels. I believe they are based on at least two of my past lives, and the past lives of family and friends.
Morgen: It’s all too tempting to overload a piece with information but readers know when an author is ‘showing off’. You just need enough to let their imagination do the rest (easier said than done). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Candace: My characters tell me their names. Most I already know even before I bring them into the narrative. A few have popped up as I move the story along but it’s like I am simply remembering people who existed before. Depth and emotion help make characters believable. The more feeling a writer packs into the character and her thoughts and actions, the more readers can believe in the character, even if they don’t like her (or him).
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Candace: First person is great fun but is best for certain types of novels, like mysteries. I love that my fiction series blends short stories in the first person present tense and third-person past tense for the main narrative.
I combine first and third person because the story is complex and long. It is also a tale of how a civilization disintegrates past the breaking point to destroy itself. I want readers to know up front that something good survives or they might not want to keep going when things get really tough. Hence short stories in the present tense about the survivors’ challenges that book-end the past-tense narrative.
An entire novel in the second person might drive me nuts, writing it or reading it.
Morgen: I love second person but I agree. I’ve never reached the end of Jay McInerney’s ‘Bright Lights, Big City’. Do you write any poetry or short stories?
Candace: Yes to both. I wrote poetry in the seventh grade and wrote a haiku when I met one of my spirit guides back in 1986. That was a gift from the guide. I know she could help me write more verse but there’s even less of a paying market for poetry than there is for fiction, and I am not yet independently wealthy.
Morgen: There is, it’s a shame. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Candace: I am a professional writer, which means yes, I write every day. That’s how I earn my living. I have branched into writing coaching for business people who need to write but are not comfortable doing so. Many years of writing on deadline has pretty much trained me out of writer’s block especially in nonfiction. If I am not putting words on a screen it’s because I am not in front of my computer, not because I have writer’s block.
When I was writing the first two novels, I managed 15 to 20 hours a week on the series. That’s because the economy was great and I had steady work from my “day” job. (Since 1994, I have been self-employed as a writer-publicist.) I don’t manage that much at all now because I am trying o develop new business as well as serve existing clients. That takes a lot of time and effort away from writing fiction.
Morgen: It certainly sounds like you pack a lot into your life. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
C.L. As time goes on, my writing becomes more streamlined. I still believe in editing, because every writer needs a good editor. The works of a lot of big name writers suffer because no one dares tell them, “Do this over! It’s not up to what you are capable of writing.”
Morgen: Some say that’s why JK Rowling’s later novels were bigger than the earlier ones. I don’t think anyone’s too good to be told when something’s wrong. The readers will be quite happy to do so and it should never get to that stage. Do you have to do much research?
Candace: Research is necessary for nonfiction, especially newspaper or magazine articles. I have lots of experience doing research on deadline, too. The new online services for journalists and book authors to find expert or lay sources are absolute godsends.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Candace: Not if I can help it! I write to be read, like most writers.
Morgen: I certainly do, which is why I’m serialising my novel every Saturday evening. Do you pitch for submissions and / or are you commissioned to write?
Candace: I am usually paid hourly by clients to write for them. I have pitched magazines only to find my idea pop up later written by a staff writer, so that discouraged me from giving away story ideas. I find freelance newspaper or magazine writing to be difficult and not as lucrative as writing for business clients.
Morgen: I had someone say the same thing to me the other day; that they’d pitched an idea, which was rejected, and then it turned up later. Sadly they have no way of proving it. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Candace: All the time! Rejections are part of the writer’s life, like first drafts and rewrites. I may get angry or discouraged, but then I shake it off and go on. It’s just one person’s opinion. Plenty of writers receive multiple rejections and / or are ignored at first and then go on to succeed wildly.
Morgen: Horror writer Dean Koontz apparently had over 500. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Candace: I have tried half a dozen agents for nonfiction and fiction. They don’t work for me and most are not interested in me because I do not have a big enough platform (following) yet. But I know that some lucky authors have terrific agents who do make a positive difference for them.
Morgen: It is rather Catch 22, isn’t it. Agents raise our profile but we need to have a reasonable basis to secure one. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Candace: I market constantly. Other than writing, that’s an author’s primary job.
Morgen: It’s certainly how it’s become. Marketing is usually the answer to the ‘least’ part of my next question (I think because it’s so time-consuming). What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Candace: Marketing is my least favourite aspect of being a published author. What surprised me about writing fiction is how tough it is to convey real depth of feeling through words. My characters are passionate and I strive to let readers in on their feelings. But words seem so inadequate.
Morgen: Oh dear. I’m sure your readers don’t feel like that. In fact most prefer simple words to flowery ones; you can always tell when an author’s trying too hard (hence the term ‘purple prose’). If you characters are passionate then I’d say that’s how your readers feel too. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Candace: Keep practicing your craft and write something you believe in, not because it’s hot right now. If you don’t believe in your work, how can you expect anyone else to believe in it?
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s so easy to get knocked back by rejection and feel that no-one is going to like what you’ve written but seeing such a variety of books written there is an audience for everything. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Candace: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi. That truly sums up my life and the long healing journey I have gone through to be able to write my fiction series.
Morgen: Writing is very therapeutic. I think most of us have written something to get it out of our system. It’s almost like sharing it with a friend, especially fiction where you can share it with a fictional friend. You write fiction and non-fiction. Are there any differences or similarities between the process of writing non-fiction and fiction?
Candace: Fiction demands that you show readers’ your character’s motives and flaws, while in nonfiction you can discuss the issues around your subject(s). Inserting feeling into both fiction and nonfiction is always the writer’s challenge, because words are so inadequate at conveying great depth of emotion and inner turmoil.
Morgen: Excellently put. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
C.L Yes. I coach businesses and business owners on how to write better promotional text, or copy. Call it part of my “day job”.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Candace: When I am not writing I take clients to meet their spirit guides. It’s neither a hobby nor a party trick, but another part of my “day job”. Conscious daily interaction and conversation with my spirit guides has helped me turbocharge my writing, making it faster and easier. It has also helped me with deep personal issues. I see it improve my clients’ lives, too. This is part of my mission — to awaken people to their spiritual selves through my nonfiction and to help them incorporate practical spirituality into their daily lives.
Morgen: It must be very rewarding. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Candace: The immediate future is a challenge. The Internet has disrupted many of the paying markets that once existed for writers, so finding paying writing work is much harder now than say, even a decade ago. I am optimistic over the long term because technology has also unleashed indie authors to find their own audiences through e-books and online marketing. The big publishers don’t know it yet (still mired in the mid 20th century), but they are no longer the gatekeepers and arbiters of what the rest of us read. And that is a very good thing.
Morgen: It is, absolutely. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Candace: Latest nonfiction: www.facebook.com/TheHealingCircle
Fiction series website: http://www.greenstoneofhealing.com
Copy coaching website: http://www.copy-clinic.com
Guides website: http://www.candaceltalmadge.com
Morgen: Thank you, Candace. It’s been great chatting with you.
I then invited Candace to include an extract of her non-fiction writing and this is from The Healing Circle…
Debra’s Dilemma: Debra was trapped in an agony of indecision. Her eight-year marriage to a man older than she, of another nationality, culture, and religion, had never been easy. Now it was threatening to founder on the shoals of severe financial strain and quarrels over in-laws. At age 29, she already had one child, a daughter nearly three years old. She was pregnant again. This time, Debra couldn’t feel the same joy so many other women experience upon learning this news. She feared the possibility of raising not one but two children by herself. How would she find the courage to give birth again? Should she consider an abortion? The choice was overwhelming. Her husband didn’t make things any easier for her. He said the decision was hers and refused to discuss his feelings about the pregnancy, leaving Debra even more isolated and in greater pain.
Then a friend suggested the healing circle. “I didn’t realize you could do one for an unborn child,” Debra recalls.
She contacted Jana and discussed the situation, and Jana agreed to conduct one for her.
Although her husband didn’t believe in all this metaphysical “stuff,” as Jana calls it, he accompanied Debra and participated in the session, partly out of curiosity, mostly out of genuine if inarticulate concern for his wife. A couple who were friends of Debra and her husband also took part. Both of them, accomplished professionals, had never done anything like this before. At that time they were just becoming interested in spiritual growth and alternative healing.
We always stress one point about the healing circle. We don’t have to be professional psychics, or even consider ourselves to have any psychic ability, to take part in and contribute to the healing circle.
We need only know how to send love.
and a synopsis of The Healing Circle
“Clara,” Debra, “Valerie,” and Marc and Rondi are everyday people with pressing problems that cannot be solved by conventional approaches. They very much need to speak with someone who has died — or who has not yet been born.
A short book long on impact, The Healing Circle tells the stories of how these people resolved their crises through a loving, uplifting method of soul communication called the healing circle.
Filled with tears, laughter, and frequently surprises, the healing circle is one of the most profound spiritual gifts we can offer others — or ourselves. The books recounts how Clara, Debra, Valerie, and Marc and Rondi discovered joyfully that it is never too late to say “good-bye” and “I love you,” or too early to say “hello” and “welcome.”
The book shows readers how they may lead or participate in the healing circle, even if they do not regard themselves as psychic. It teaches the steps involved in conducting the healing circle, and explains in detail how and why it bears almost no resemblance to its bastardized and trivialized cousin, the séance.
The Healing Circle fearlessly addresses the negative stereotypes while providing the how-to for a completely safe experience thanks to spirit guides, who play a special role during the proceeding. The book explains that role and how readers may obtain their guides’ assistance.
And an example of her fiction and this is from The Scorpions Strike, Green Stone of Healing® Book Three…
Staring at death another time, Helen recalled the vision she experienced during one of her first soul journeys. It made horrifying sense to her now, as did the feelings of anxiety she had experienced all day. Finally. It will be over soon.
The calm of certainty having replaced the turmoil of doubt, she maneuvered her body between the attackers and Lady Samantha and the ailing lieutenant, instinctively trying to protect the latter two.
“I’m the one you want,” she heard her voice speaking. “Let the others alone.”
Still choking, the wolfhound nonetheless lunged at one of the warrior monks, catching his wrist between sharp fangs. The man cried out and dropped his knife.
“Samantha!” Helen called out. “Leave! Go! Get help!” Terror rooted the duchess in her place.
The dog had no strength to hang on and wrestle his quarry to the ground. The Shakti soon overcame the weakened beast and flung him into the wall; he dropped to the ground and lay, dazed and panting.
The other warrior monk took aim at Denis, who, swaying and gulping, nonetheless had struggled to his feet and pulled his knife. The lieutenant dodged the Shakti’s first lunge and lost his balance, crashing to the flagstone. The warrior monk stepped on one of the supine man’s arms, breaking the bone with a sickening crunch. The Shakti squatted over his victim, thrust his dagger deep into the lieutenant’s chest, turned it several times, and withdrew it. A geyser of blood spewed forth in a series of decreasing arcs.
Lady Samantha screamed, rushed to Helen, and threw her arms about her stepdaughter, wailing. Having retrieved his knife, the first Shakti bore down on the two women. He ripped Lady Samantha away from Helen and shoved her aside. The duchess tripped and spun frantically to keep from landing on her stomach. Her head glanced against a corner of the bench and she blacked out.
“Samantha! No!” Helen cried. Heedless of her own peril, she knelt by her stepmother, trying to revive the woman. Both warrior monks closed in on her.
And a synopsis of the Green Stone of Healing® Series…
A vanished past roars back to life in the Green Stone of Healing® series, which chronicles what happens when politics, passion, and piety collide in the lost island nation of Azgard.
This heretofore hidden history is really herstory. Four generations of strong-willed female characters are at the epicenter of the power struggles of their country. So are their loves.
The Temple of Kronos has far-reaching authority. Its priests preach the superiority of the island’s dominant Toltecs and forbid sexual contact with the subservient Turanians. Infractions of their edicts risk severe consequences.
The stated reasons for such laws are lies. The Temple fears half breeds’ legendary paranormal abilities. The priests lost these gifts and are trying desperately to reclaim them to maintain their control.
One of the most powerful Toltec lords falls for a Turanian woman, defying this cruel social order. From their secret liaison is born a half-breed, a daughter named Helen Andros.
Thirty-one years later, Helen’s full parentage becomes public, igniting a political firestorm outlined in the series’ first book, The Vision. Helen and her newfound father clash repeatedly out of fear and pain instead of coming together in love and support.
The revelation also shakes the foundations of power. The Temple’s leader orders Helen’s death. His subordinate plots to use her to create more half-breeds in a quest for domination.
The latter bloc eventually assumes control of the Temple, with dire consequences. The Temple and its supporters splinter; groups fight each other and prey on the vulnerable. Armed goons wave holy writ as justification for violence and further repression.
Taught by the otherworldly Mist-Weavers to use the gem’s occult properties of healing and protection, Helen and her descendants offer a loving, inclusive alternative to theocrats whose lust for dominion destroys them and nearly the rest of the world.
Boomer women who desire greater self-assurance take their intuitive skills to a new level by meeting their spirit guides with help from Candace L. Talmadge. Tapping their guides’ wisdom on a daily basis enables these women to trust themselves more in every aspect of their lives.
Trained as an energy-healer, Candace has been taking clients to meet their guides since 1988. Her mission is to awaken others to the unlimited practical benefits of true holistic living.
Since 1976, Candace has written for numerous media that include Adweek, Business Week, the Dallas Times Herald, Forbes, the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, and Reuters America. She has also been a syndicated political columnist whose works have appeared in publications such as Liberal Opinion Week.
In 1999, Candace published nonfiction about emotional and spiritual healing resolution based on the Sunan method of working in the energy of human consciousness. This book—Hope is in the Garden: Healing Resolution Through Unconditional Love— provides an expanded definition of energy that demonstrates the connection between matter, spirit, mind, and heart.
To write the Green Stone of Healing® series, Candace (writing as C.L.) delved into her own past lives and those of her family, friends, clients, and acquaintances.
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