Jen’s Jewels with Candis Terry

Summer is the perfect time for a hot, new romance. Don’t you agree? There’s just something about the warm weather, cool breezes, and gorgeous sunsets that spark new relationships.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a trendy teenager or a sexy senior, when the stars align magic can happen. Yet, sometimes relationships have a way of becoming complicated especially when two strong personalities are paired together. But, the end result of finding the ideal match is well worth taking a chance.  

This month’s Jen’s Jewels Candis Terry addresses this very topic in her latest release, Something Sweeter. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with Candis about her amazing career as well as her new summer read. As part of my interview, Avon Books has generously donated five copies for my trivia contest listed below. (Winners will be randomly drawn. Offer void where prohibited.) Be sure to stop by www.jennifervido.com, follow me on Facebook JenniferVido.com, or on Twitter and Pinterest @JenniferVido for the most up-to-date news in the publishing world.

Jen: As a multi-published contemporary romance author, your personal journey to publication is a story in itself. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Candis: My educational background is a mish-mash of the arts—music, art history, design, drama, creative writing. As a kid I was the one orchestrating the neighborhood talent shows. So it was pretty clear early on that I’d never be a person who sat behind a desk pushing numbers around. My professional background is just as diverse. After high school I was a hairdresser, then I worked as a recording engineer in Hollywood, I designed MTV type of costumes for 80’s hair bands, then I discovered the world of graphic design and I worked in the advertising/marketing industry for over 30 years. I took me 22 years of working hard to become a published author. I think discovering long ago all those arts that weren’t widely accepted in the business world helped me develop the patience and stick-to-itness to finally realize my dream.

Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to take the plunge and pursue a career as a writer.
Candis: Well, I didn’t actually decide to take the plunge into the career. I sort of morphed into it. For years I dabbled in writing (angst-riddled teenage poetry!). I had many teachers encourage my writing, including my college drama professor who highly recommended I give up the idea of acting and stick to storytelling. When my daughter was an infant who refused to sleep through the night, a friend handed me a stack of romance novels to read. Reading and rocking that nocturnal baby girl a light bulb went off, but I didn’t begin to write until four years later. From there I developed an unshakable passion for writing. It just took me a while to figure out where I fit in. I always wrote stories that were either before or behind the newest genre craze. It began to wear on me. I’d decided to just write one last book (after 10 manuscripts that never sold) to see if I could get it published after that I’d just write because I love to. But I was going to write that final story in my own way, in my own voice, and to heck with what anyone out there was actually looking for. I never imagined it would sell. I’d almost given up. Until my good friend NYT bestselling author Rachel Gibson laughed at me and said, “I almost gave up too. Right before I sold.” And guess what? That’s exactly what happened to me. Moon and stars perfectly aligned? I think so.

Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to complete a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the process?  
Candis: Generally it takes me a solid four months to write a single title book and about two to three weeks for a novella. Without a doubt the most challenging part is digging deep beneath all the witty banter, the hot bodies, and the sexy grins to find the “real” motivations and backstories of the characters. I’ve often started out in one direction with a pretty solid outline of the story, and somehow the characters always take me in another direction. The weirdest thing is when I’m writing a series, all these little nuances come together throughout each book and work like stair steps into the next book. It’s like I planned it! I’m humble enough to know I’m just not that savvy. My characters (and my amazing editor) are smart enough to help me figure it out. For instance, something pretty major is revealed in Something Sweeter and after it happened, I realized the events that had taken place in the previous two Sweet, Texas books had been leading up to it. I totally didn’t see it coming! Even after I typed the words, I looked at them several times, wanting to delete them because they didn’t fit into what I had originally planned. In the end, I let it go because it made total sense. Bu it still shocked me!

Jen: Your latest release Something Sweeter is the third book in the Sweet, Texas series. For those readers not familiar with the previous titles, what is the premise of the series?
Candis: The series is based on five brothers who are all former or current Marines, except for their oldest brother who was killed in Afghanistan. The overall storyline is based on how each of them deals with the loss and tries to move on and find his way back to the real world. Of course with the help of the woman who’s strong enough to take him on. The Sweet, Texas books are more than just about a romance, they’re about family (even the four-legged furry members), a town, and a community that all come together to help each other out. Most of the time it’s done in a very humorous fashion. But there are plenty of tears to be shed, too.

Jen: Please give us a sneak peek behind Allison and Jesse’s story in your fabulous summer read.
Candis: I’d just finished writing Anything But Sweet with Reno Wilder, the strong, silent, sexy cowboy with a tragic past that has left him unable to move forward. And Sweetest Mistake with Jackson Wilder, a hot, strong-willed fireman with a sensitive heart who always manages to say the wrong thing. Jackson and I went head-to-head every single day I worked with him. By the time we wrapped up his story, I needed a break. Jesse Wilder was my fun guy, who, of course, was harboring a heartbreaking secret. They never make it easy on me. His troubles really start when Allison Lane, the daughter of the man about to marry his mother and who is also the woman who blew Jesse off the night before, pops into his life. Allison might be a wedding planner, but that doesn’t mean she has to believe in the whole happily ever after thing. For whatever reason—maybe because of the way she fills out a pair of jeans—Jesse takes it upon himself to change her mind. Even if personally he has no intention of ever saying wedding vows. It’s a pretty fun ride.

Jen: As you were writing the book, did you feel a certain connection to one of the characters?
Candis: I always do. I guess that’s what makes the books so special to me. Allison’s past haunts me in many ways. The hardest scene to write was the conversation she had with her father about her past. When I reach deep into the characters, I need to find something from real life to relate to. Whether it comes from me, a friend, or a story I’ve heard from somewhere, I need to give that extra connection to my characters. I hope that’s why I get messages from readers who tell me how a characters story resonates in them. That’s very important to me.

Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.  
Candis: I’ve really tried to give my readers and potential readers everything I’ve ever wanted to see on a website. I offer the ‘buy’ links to all the books for easy access. I provide a healthy excerpt along with the Playlist for each book. I also offer recipes from the characters. I always post my blog tours, my upcoming appearances, and there’s also a press kit just in case. I do blog and sometimes run a contest giveaway from there though I’m more likely to do that on Facebook these days.

Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for my readers to keep abreast of your latest news?
Candis: I’m all over the place! Staying in touch with my readers is vital. They are number one. My website is www.candisterry.com Twitter is @CandisTerry and Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candis-Terry/131817443567853?focus_composer=true&ref_type=bookmark

Jen: Are you currently at work on your next book? If so, what may you share with us?
Candis: I just finished Sweet Surprise (Fiona Wilder’s story—February 2015 release), and now I’m actually working on two new books. Sweet Cowboy Christmas is a Sweet, Texas novella that will be published through the Avon Impulse line in early December 2014. And after that will be baby brother, Jake Wilder’s story (a yet to be named late 2015 release).

Jen: When you take a break from writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Candis: Away from a computer! I have a large country garden that challenges me to keep my flowers and vegetables alive during the scorching summers. Also my family and I take our trailer out to the Idaho forests to ATV, fish, and enjoy nature. It’s how I refill my creative well. I write small town romances and we are always stopping in small towns. So I get plenty of food for heart and imagination.

Jen: Are you involved in any charitable causes that have influenced you in a personal or professional way?
Candis: I’ve always been involved in community/charity support and over the years have created many projects to support causes such as the Special Olympics (I had a brother who suffered severe brain damage and muscular dystrophy), the Humane Society, http://www.nowzad.com an organization that rescues strays and abandoned animals in Afghanistan and often reunites the animal with their adoptive soldier, and the Women and Children’s Alliance (safety, healing and freedom from domestic abuse & sexual assault).

Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. Best of luck in all of your future projects! Happy summer!
Candis: Thank you so much for having me here. I’m never to busy to meet and chat with people. That’s how I meet my newest best friends! Wishing you all the very best!

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Candis Terry. Please stop by your favorite online retailer or local library branch and pick up a copy of Something Sweetertoday. Better yet, how would you like to win a free copy instead? Okay, send me an email at jensjewels@gmail.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll be entered to win. Good luck! (Offer void where prohibited.)
What is the title of Candis’ next project?
Later this month, I will be chatting with Kate White, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine about her new release, Eyes on You. You won’t want to miss it. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels the ultimate source for news on today’s hottest authors.

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