CLR: Give us the deets – genre(s), length of writing career, how long you’ve been writing – all the basics.
TK:I’ve been writing romance in multiple genres for a long time—most of my life, in fact!—but 2011 marked the launch of my career as a published author.
CLR: What made you choose romance?
TK: I started out writing young adult paranormal, but pretty quickly, I realized my favorite part to write was the love story. Once I’d completed my first four books, the King Series, I dipped my toes into adult contemporary romance and realized this was what I was meant to write.
CLR: How do you feel about female characters?
TK: I am passionate about writing female characters. I’m a woman, raised by strong women and the mother of three incredible daughters (and one amazing, perfect granddaughter!), so I can’t imagine not writing women.
CLR: What are the dos/don’ts of writing them for you?
TK: I have a strict policy about writing strong, realistic, flawed women. I won’t write women who depend on others to save them or to change their lives. It’s important to me that my women characters have courage, yet I also feel it’s imperative that they have a journey, a path to growth, that is part of the story.
CLR: Male characters, same question.
TK: When I wrote my paranormal romance, Undeniable, it was the first time I’d written from the male POV. I had so much fun that I couldn’t wait to do it again, and consequently, I almost always write dual POVs now. Men just have a different way of communicating and relating to each other.
CLR: What do you think about the “strong female character” trope in literature?
TK:I think of Scarlett O’Hara. Talk about a strong lady! Yet she is seldom seen as a likable, appealing character. Often, it seems, strength and relatability have been assumed to be mutually exclusive. Part of our job now as women authors is to change this perception.
CLR: Are there any special challenges to writing female characters in your genre?
TK: One of my favorite subgenres to write is sports romance. Not long ago, publishers believed that women wouldn’t read romances that involved football/baseball/hockey players, because they assumed women didn’t enjoy sports. Oh, how wrong they were! There’s a large and growing population of women who are crazy for sports romance—but while writing it, I have to walk a balance of creating female characters who are passionate about sports along with those who aren’t. I also try not to fall into stereotypes about women no matter what subgenres I’m writing. Traditionally, women in romances, be they contemporary or historical, tended to be needy and stupid in love. Often, women were depicted as manipulative, trying to trick or trap men into love and marriage. Happily, that’s changed—mostly. I don’t read or write romances with wimpy women.
CLR: What does your writing day look like?
TK: Every day is different! I’ve never been someone who sticks to a strict schedule . . . and with my husband’s calling (he’s a priest, a chaplain to the community) lending itself to a need for flexibility, I like to go with the flow. What is a given is that I work every day. When I’m in the middle of writing a book, I’ll usually make sure I have my laptop with me wherever I go. I try to write between 2500 and 7000 words a day, depending on the scene and my deadline.
CLR: Do you think the industry treats male and female writers differently?
TK: I don’t know many male authors, but my perception is that male authors are often seen as more serious than their female counterparts. However, in this new world of indie publishing, I think that’s changing rapidly.
CLR: What outside influences, if any, do you see having an impact on your writing?
TK: My family and their interests and experiences definitely influence my writing. My youngest daughter just graduated from an environmental college, and she is passionate about agricultural sustainability and protecting our environment. Consequently, many of my recent books have some element of that passion. Most of my books also include some of my kids’ real-life adventures!
CLR: Do you make a conscious effort to include feminist themes in your writing?
TK:I don’t think I do it deliberately—I don’t set out to say, in this story, the female lead is going to be a feminist. But because parts of me end up in each character, it would be odder if the women weren’t feminists. I find that often my female characters are discovering parts of themselves, journeying to a place of acceptance and strength.
CLR: What themes are your favorites to include in your writing?
TK: Personal growth and overcoming the past in order to enjoy the future are probably the ones most often found in my work.
CLR: What advice would you offer to new women authors coming up?
TK: Last year, at a conference, I happened to lead a round table about contemporary romance. I was shocked to my core when several of the younger women who are writing con rom claimed that they won’t write strong female characters. They prefer their women characters to be submissive and needy, or so they said. Careers are not needed. Now, as a woman who was a wife and homeschooling mom first and foremost, I have the utmost respect for that choice. But I also know that it’s imperative for us to present realistic, well-rounded women in our books, and most women do have careers. I love giving my characters common jobs with a twist . . .
CLR: What are you working on now?
TK: I’m getting ready to release my 75th book, The Anti-Cinderella Conquers the World. It’s the third book in The Anti-Cinderella Chronicles, which has been so much fun to write. Kyra is a non-traditional woman who marries into the British Royal Family—and you can just imagine what challenges she faces! I’m also writing on my fall release, Sway, which is the sixth Keeping Score book (football romance).
Author Bio: Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include new adult and adult contemporary romance; under the pen name Tamara Kendall, she writes paranormal romance, and under the pen name Tessa Kent, she writes erotic romance. Tawdra lives in central Florida with her husband, two sweet pups and too many cats. Assorted grown children and a perfect granddaughter live nearby. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.
You can learn more about Tawdra and her work at the links below:
Lately (as in, for the last several years) I’ve become gradually aware that I am slowly running out of time.
Don’t worry, I’m not terminally ill or suicidal. But I am a realist.
When I was twenty, I believed that I had “world enough, and time,” as the poet once said. But as I close in on the middle of my sixth decade, I realize that though death is (hopefully) not imminent, neither is it getting any farther away. So I tend to think about life a bit differently, and my priorities are being adjusted accordingly.
I’ve started thinking more about a thing’s importance than its urgency. Watching TV has dropped way down on my “to do” list, while writing has leapt into the top five. I’ve pretty much eliminated computer and online games in favor of reading. I’ve added a number of non-fiction titles to my TBR list, most of them dealing with publishing in some manner. I’ve dropped my attendance at conferences quite a bit, but plan to pick that up again next year.
Spending time with my husband and family was always in the top five, but even there, I’ve done some rearranging, moving it higher on the list. And playing with the GBs? Even writing plays second fiddle to those little bits of starshine.
As far as I know, I’ve plenty of years on my ticket yet. This is simply my way of not riding “gentle into that good night.” Don’t know about you, but I plan on raging until it is full dark.
And then I’m going to light a lamp. There is too much joy and beauty in this world to do anything else.
How about you? Are your priorities lined up the way you want them? What is at the top?
Lane Robins’ Maledicte is an extraordinarily strange and unflinching foray into the human psyche.
Miranda is a street urchin with an extremely sharp edge. When her lover/soul mate is taken from her, she vows not only to get him back but to seek revenge on the taker, namely, his father. But how? Enter the taint of dark magic and the price of dealing with a goddess with an agenda of her own.
None of the characters in this novel are pure and many of
them aren’t even likeable, yet I couldn’t stop reading. Miranda’s
transformation into Maledicte is so complete that she stops thinking of herself
as female, willing to deny a basic component of her personhood in order to
achieve her objectives.
He turned, studied himself
in the mirror, distracted from worrying in the shock of self-exploration. It
had been so long since he had taken the risk of loitering unclothed, or even
thought of himself as Miranda; though he had all her desires, her dreams, he
spoke truly to Janus when he declared her dead. Maledicte could not put himself
back in her position, could not remake time, unable to remember how it felt to
not carry this secret.
The depth of Maledicte’s obsession is fully matched by the
warped nature of her beloved and yet I couldn’t stop hoping that she would awaken
to the costs of vengeance and finally say no to evil.
Robins’ novel is a study in contrasts; darkly lyrical, love versus hatred, female becoming male. Even the gods are dual in nature. Black-winged Ani is the goddess of love and vengeance. Baxit is the god of indolence and reason. Maledicte is the shadowy reflection of a love story coupled with a tainted coming of age, and the offspring of this merging is a very strange child indeed.
Highly recommend for readers of dark fantasy. You can find more on Lane Robbins here.
I wrote this review some time ago, and rereading it now makes me want to go back and read the book again. I hope it gives you a similar desire.
Early this week I finished Dean Koontz’s Fear Nothing, which is one of the most unusual ‘day in the life’ novels I have ever seen. Chris Snow’s life is unusual to begin with and then, when you add the nefarious (maybe) schemes of a shadow government organization (maybe) and animal intellectuals (cats and dogs, mostly. The monkeys can’t be described so kindly), it gets pretty complex pretty fast. Lucky for Chris, he has a support group with secrets themselves. (Good ones, I’m sure. They aren’t fully revealed here, but I’m hoping for the best.)
Koontz does his usual inimitable job of weaving layers
between, under and over layers until even the savviest reader is waiting for
what comes next with only a ghost of a notion of what that will be. In
addition, he leavens the suspense with a healthy helping of humor, which works
well since it is “the main coping mechanism” of the protagonist. All in all, I
came to the end of the book wanting more. And for that, I’ll have to hunt up
the next installment, Seize the Night.
As an angsty teen (weren’t we all?) I used poetry as a way to work through and express the confusion, sorrow, and joy that flowed through my adolescent years.
In my twenties, I used writing to find my way out of the forest of grief that the loss of my first husband landed me in.
These days, all the ebb and flow of life finds its way into my writing. Poetry is still my go-to for personal emotion, but I’ve turned to novels and short stories for the majority of my art and self-expression.
Whether the emotion is sorrow or anger, love or sheer joy, it comes out in my writing. Often it is a process, where the emotion is transformed into a character’s reaction to a situation that is nothing like the one I experienced in real life. Whatever the situation, the feelings it engenders tend to be universal.
Everyone experiences loss, betrayal, ambition, in some form. Everyone needs love, security, happiness, in some measure. Tapping into these experiences and desires creates a universal language everyone can relate to and understand.
The need to communicate those needs is just as universal. For me, writing is the form that communication takes, and emotion is the fuel.
I recently went to see Captain Marvel™ at my local movie theater and was favorably inclined. The acting was good, the action swift and I thought the plot-line held together well while answering a few questions for me. (Most notably, where was Carol Danvers during the whole Thanos debacle in Infinity War?)
Others were not as happy with any of the above.
The objections come in multiple flavors from arguably valid down to outright misogynistic. I’m going to pass on answering the misogyny in this post because others have already taken care of it quite well. But there were a couple of objections in a particular post I read that I’d like to discuss.
One: They replaced an awesome, powerful character with a weak Kree scientist.
I’ll grant you that Captain Mar-Vell was originally envisioned as a nega band wielding male character, and certainly engaged in more physical battles than than the current incarnation. But beyond that there are number of similarities.
Most notably: both the original character and the new movie’s character adopt the persona of a scientist. And neither is weak.
The main complication for both of them is comprised of the realization that the society they serve is unethical. To do the honorable thing, both must turn against a corrupted governmental structure. The original character does so with fists and brawn on behalf of humans, while the new iteration uses science and innovation on behalf of the embattled Skrull.
Both take the incredibly difficult path of fighting against ingrained loyalties against their own interests in order to do what is right. That takes immense strength no matter how you do it, the coolness of nega bands notwithstanding.
Two: The new iteration disrespects the lore.
Plots are twisted all the time, and the movie certainly takes some major departures from the original comic, from the gender of Mar-Vell to the true nature of the combatants in the Kree-Skrull war. The point is, none of this is a new phenomenon.
Look at Spiderman.
Peter Parker has at least two origin stories, one that includes Mary Jane and another that ropes in Tony Stark. And I have no idea how Into the Spiderverse fits in. (Haven’t seen it yet.)
Now maybe the changes were made a while back or maybe it was done more recently to accommodate additional movie plot twists. I’ll leave that to actual aficionados of the genre to determine.
All I’m saying is, the new Captain Marvel isn’t the first time Marvel themselves have tweaked a storyline to suit later innovations, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
And I don’t mind.
Art, including literature, is a reflection of the society in which it is produced. The original Captain Marvel comics were written and illustrated in the late 1960s, some say as a commentary on the activities of HUAC and Senator McCarthy. At the time, freedom of speech was in jeopardy. Some would say this hasn’t changed. Added to that are the recently revivified issues of feminism and social justice.
The world is undergoing an enormous plot twist. Is it such a surprise to see art undergo a corresponding change?
I’ve been having a little trouble recently in the “why the H*** am I in this business anyway, department. And then the guest post that was supposed to go up was unavoidably detained at the blogger station. So that left me with the following questions, considering my recent bouts of existential angst:
What have I got to say? Is it important? Does it matter?
Some days I don’t know the answer to any of those questions and yet, I keep talking,ermm, writing.
Expectation is a strange and ugly beast. Most of the fights and nearly all of the heartache in this world can be boiled down to unmet expectations. It’s easy to forget that the world owes us nothing, and if it did, it would never acknowledge the debt. So many of us have difficulty with the painful lesson that the world does not love us.
Neither does it hate us.
It simply lacks the capacity to care. We say, The World, or The Universe, in proper noun capitalization, as if either were an entity with a mind and a heart that is conscious of us. It isn’t.
Even society, made up of billions of minds, isn’t a
conscious being. It is a hive without a mind. In fact, it’s rather like an
amoral version of Dr. Dolittle’s Pushmepullyou; a dithering head at either end
with a voracious belly in between. Try to ride it and it’s likely to devour
you, two tidy bites at a time.
It isn’t surprising that we often expect the world, or at least society, to care for us. All the time we are growing up (assuming that we have good parents who love us) we are given ideas about what we have a right to expect from the world. Things like fairness, kindness, compassion. Not getting them comes under the heading of radically unfair.
Then we get a zapped at some point in our young adulthood with the discovery that the world had no knowledge of these expectations and further, has no plans to meet them. If expectations, or even needs, are to be met we’re going to have to do it ourselves. The disappointment can be crushing.
The only way to deal with that blow is to realize that the world can do nothing for us, and it isn’t going to try. But we can, and should, do what we can for the world. And by that, I mean each other. We need to lift up our fellow humans with the kindness and compassion that we’d like to see extended to ourselves.
Because what the world lacks as a whole, individuals often possess in abundance.
Our best shot is to put aside the childish notion that the world is bound to give to us and realize the beautiful truth that we are, instead, created to give back to the world.
Do that, and you might just make an impact that The World will notice.
I was sixteen the first time I saw a deck of Tarot cards. I
had heard of them, and been intrigued by the concept. But my knowledge of the
spiritual realm was strictly superstitious. I’d been taught that Tarot belonged
in the occult category: highly suspect and deliciously naughty, but not
something to be taken seriously.
No one taught me the history of Tarot, or worked with me to
gain an understanding of the cards. My first deck was gifted to me with little
instruction. I tried to learn them for a while, but over time, put them aside,
then finally gave them away when the culture I lived in deemed them dangerous.
Fast forward twenty-five years to the recent past. Various
circumstances led me to view the world with different eyes. As a human, I
became more open to ways of understanding the world that weren’t easily reconciled
with Evangelical beliefs. As a writer of fantasy and science fiction, I began
to research mythologies and magic.
Then one day, over lunch with friends, I heard about a place
called Cassadaga, billed as the psychic capital of Florida. Not only does it
sit on a ley line, but it was founded by people specifically intent on
connecting with the spiritual realm. I was intrigued.
Not surprisingly, my next fantasy story was set in
Cassadaga, giving me the perfect excuse for a research trip to the little town.
Since one of the scenes in the story includes a Tarot reading, of course I had
to have my cards read.
By the end of the trip, I was more than intrigued. A new
Tarot deck, along with a book on how to read the cards, sat in the passenger
seat, and I spent the ride home with the psychic’s words revolving in my brain.
Several of her predictions and comments turned out to be correct. Others
remained unprovable or ephemeral, but the positive experience led me to explore
the cards for myself.
As I researched the history and nature of Tarot, I found
that most of what I had been taught was skewed by a world view whose agenda I
was only beginning to apprehend. The cards aren’t powered by evil. Nor are
they, as it is commonly understood, a method of fortune telling. Instead, they
are a medium for conversing with the Divine. That conversation can lead the
seeker to making better decisions, and therefore building a better future. But
mostly, the cards offer a path to understanding, both of the Divine and of
Tarot has not been the only change in my belief system.
There are questions and objections to the beliefs of Evangelical Christianity
surfacing now that I buried for decades. Tarot has simply been one way of
seeing that has recently opened up to me, helping provide a path to change that
I didn’t know existed.
It is unsettling, and often painful, to find that so much of
what I believed for so long is less true than I had been taught. But it is also fascinating and wonderful that
a new connection to the Divine is possible.
So, here I go. Stepping out onto a new path, one card at a
I am starting a series of interviews with authors of the female persuasion. In some cases, this may be the only thing they have in common. As the instigator of this endeavor, I thought it only fair that I start with myself.
BRP: Give us the deets – genre(s), length of writing career, how long you’ve been writing – all the basics.
CLR: I’m an indie author. Been writing my whole life, but my first book came out in 2013. Several others are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Thank goodness.
BRP: What made you choose Sci-fi and Fantasy?
CLR: I’m not sure I chose them so much as those genres chose me. I love the world building aspect, especially constructing the rules for the magic in a fantasy world. And, with both SF and Fantasy, you have so much scope. Anything is possible, which makes for some wonderful story opportunities.
BRP: How do you feel about female characters?
CLR: I am definitely pro-female characters. (Grins.) There is such a lot being said about how women are portrayed in books and movies. I think its important to simply let them be who they are. Strength or weakness should be an aspect of the character without regard to gender. The same is true for honest/dishonest, honorable/dishonorable and all the rest. I build my characters from the ground up starting with whether, at their base, they are a good person or a bad person, then progressing to how good/bad, how strong/weak, etc. Gender factors into that, but it does so as a separate issue.
BRP: What is the hardest thing about being a female author?
CLR: I think balancing work and home life continues to be a bit more difficult for women than it is for men. Maybe that’s a sexist view. I don’t know. I can only speak from my own experience. When I’m working, and something needs to be done (care for children, mess to clean up, meal to be made, whatever) I used to have to battle within myself the idea that I should automatically be the one to do it. Sometimes I still do.
Let me be clear. Neither my husband nor anyone else in my family “makes” me feel this way. It has a lot to do with the way I was brought up. The roles in family life were unspoken, but clearly defined nonetheless. So, when I’m working and something needs to be done, I am learning to ask myself, is this something I, specifically, need to take care of, and if not, I let someone else handle it. It doesn’t work that way all the time, of course. It’s a work in progress, like most of life.
BRP: What is the best thing about being a female author?
CLR: In some ways, being an author may be easier for women than being in the corporate world, because to a huge extent we are our own boss. We choose who we work with, which offers us a huge advantage that women in the corporate sector don’t have. When I was a secretary, for instance, I dealt with sexual harassment on a daily basis, and more than one instance of gender discrimination. Keeping my job meant putting up with it or finding a way around it. But as an indie author, if I have a bad experience with an editor or a cover artist, then I have a hundred others to choose from. (Luckily, the ones I’ve worked with have been awesome.) The competitiveness of the field tends to weed out those who make things difficult.
BRP: How does being female affect your writing – or does it?
CLR: Never having not been a female I don’t know how to answer that. I know that probably sounds like it was intended as a joke, but the truth is, I have nothing to compare it to. I think all of us wear these lenses through which we view the world but, most of the time, we aren’t aware of wearing them. So, it’s really hard to set them aside. It is only when we intentionally remove the lenses, or something happens that knocks them off, or at least sideways, that we can see things differently. And that isn’t just true for women. It’s true for all of us. All we have is our first-person perspective, unless we make the effort – and it is a large effort, make no mistake – to see things from someone else’s viewpoint.
BRP: What do you think about the “strong female character” or STF, trope in literature?
CLR: In as much as it suggests that the “strong female” is a distinct subset, somewhat unusual and rigidly defined, it worries me a little. Everyone has strength. Sometimes that strength comes from gender, but far more often it comes from the totality of who one is: personality and life experience. Some are stronger than others, or strong in different ways. Some don’t access it as often or as readily as they might, but that comes back to character and choices.
On the other hand, I do like the STF as an alternative to the submissive stereotype that used to be more common in literature. The funny thing is, those types of characters are forgettable. They have no staying power. Who do we remember from literature, and why? Do we remember Diana Barry or Anne-With-An-E? Hint: I had to Google Diana. I had no trouble remembering Anne.
BRP: How do you treat misogyny in your writing, or do you?
CLR: It would be foolish to ignore misogyny. As Elie Wiesel said, silence helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. There are people in the world who do bad things out of a warped worldview that sees women as less than. But I try hard not to glorify or reward it in my writing. And I try not to lean on it as a trope either.
BRP: Do you think the market treats authors, and/or protagonists, differently based on gender?
CLR: I have heard it said that in certain genres, readers accept authors of one gender more readily than they do authors of another gender. I have no idea whether this is accurate, and no interest in testing the theory. True or not, I can only write the best stuff I can write, and let the pages turn as they may.
I think readers are looking for someone they can identify with. Gender is part of that equation. To that extent, maybe the market, or rather the reader, wants or expects different things from a protagonist. Whether or not that is based on gender? In part, yes, I think. But there are other components as well that are just as important.
BRP: What outside influences, if any, do you see having an impact on your writing?
CLR: The nightly news has a significant impact on my writing. Things that are happening in the world today – climate change, the #metoo movement, political weirdness – it all shows up one way or another.
BRP: Favorite author? Why?
CLR: As a young girl I loved Anne McCaffery. Her Dragon-Riders were everything I aspired to. Brave, tenacious. Then, as I grew older, I discovered Bradbury and Atwood. Now I don’t try to pick favorites. I just read what appeals to me.
BRP: Do you make a conscious effort to include feminist themes in your writing?
CLR: Not really, but I’m finding they show up more and more. Probably due to the question above about outside influences.
BRP: What advice would you offer to new women authors coming up?
CLR: Don’t give up and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should. Regardless of what field you’ve chosen to rest your passion in, pursue it with everything you’ve got. Even if you don’t meet the world’s definition of success, you may find it better to write your own anyway.
BRP: What are you working on now?
CLR: I am working on the third novel in my Earth Prime series, Gaia’s Revenge. Humans have been evacuated from Earth and are trying to find a new home, or regain the one they lost.
Author Bio: C.L. (aka Cheri) Roman, writes fantasy and sci-fi with a paranormal edge. You can find her at www.clroman.com and on Facebook. Cheri and her ever-patient husband live in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua, and Pye, the invisible cat.