XX Authors Interview: Featuring Tawdra Kandle

Category : Uncategorized

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.

Get your copy here.

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:

FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | BOOKBUB | WEBSITE

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP | THE TEMPTRESSES (PRIVATE READER GROUP)


Lighting the Lamp

Category : Musings

Light the lamp.

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?


Boldly Exploring Audio Space

Guest Post by Bria Burton

My first foray into audio began many years ago as a listener of speculative fiction podcasts, and an eventual participant (more on that shortly). Some stories have a single narrator while others include a full cast production of voice actors, music, and sound effects. The more I listened, the more the itch intensified within me to hear one of my own stories produced on a podcast.

Some examples of speculative fiction podcasts include Escape Pod, Podcastle, Pseudopod, Clarkesworld Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, Journey Into, Starship Sofa, Cast of Wonders, and many more.

Fast forward several years and I’ve now done voice acting for podcasts. On one occasion, I produced a story with sound effects, music, and my own narration. In 2014, I received my first speculative fiction acceptance from a podcast, and it was thrilling to hear my sci-fi story as a full cast production. An upcoming publication will appear on the Journey Into podcast this month. The short story is called “Journey Into the Dying Light of Stars.”

How did I go from casual podcast consumer to amateur voice actor and producer? I started with voice work. Podcasts featuring stories need narrators and/or voice actors, and when a casting call was made on one of the podcast forums I’d been perusing, I thought, why not?

Through the advice of the podcast host, I downloaded a free, open source software program called Audacity where I could do my recordings. Next, I purchased a $35 mic from Amazon. There are much better mics out there, but the one I use is decent enough for amateur voice work. Plus Audacity has some useful editing tools to help with things like removing background noise. If I decide to narrate my own audiobooks, I’ll probably buy a better mic.

One of the great things about podcasts? Many of them are completely free to listen to, such as the ones I listed above. If you’re interested in checking out free stories where I’ve been a voice actor, or free stories I’ve written that have been produced on podcasts, here’s a list:

Stories by Other Authors

Journey Into IFC by R.C. Anderson

The Dragon Muse by David B. Coe

Journey Into the Cosmic Lottery by Emily Asad

Like a Good Neighbor (Part One and Part Two) by Rish Outfield

Beggar’s Canyon by Rish Outfield

A Slight Delay by Rish Outfield

Hope on the Rocks by A.W. Gifford

Wikihistory by Desmond Warzel

Stories by Bria Burton

Journey Into the Dying Light of Stars – Coming Soon!

Switching

A Dream Within A Dream

Questions for the reader: what podcasts do you enjoy? Have you ever considered narrating for a fiction podcast?

Award-winning author Bria Burton lives in St. Petersburg with her wonderful husband, her darling son, and two wild pets. Her fiction has appeared in over twenty anthologies and magazines. Her novelette, The Running Girls, was a 2017 Royal Palm Literary Award Finalist. Her novella, Little Angel Helper, won a 2016 RPLA and earned high praise from the 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. While she writes, her dog and cat do their best to distract her, which is why they star in her family-friendly short story collection, Lance & Ringo Tails. She writes under pen name Shayla Cole for her epic fantasy trilogy, Livinity (awarded a First Place RPLA in unpublished fantasy). At St. Pete Running Company, she’s a blogger and customer service manager. A member of the Florida Writers Association, she previously led the St. Pete chapter and served on the statewide FWA Board. She’s also a member of the Alvarium Experiment, a by-invitation-only consortium of outstanding authors who created The Prometheus Saga Volumes 1 & 2, Return to Earth, and The Masters Reimagined anthologies.

You can find Bria on Amazon or on her website.


Maledicte: A study in Contrasts

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead…

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.


Review Revisited

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.

For more on Mr. Koontz and his work, look here: https://www.deankoontz.com/

Emotion As Fuel

Emotion is a basic component of creativity.

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.

How do you express yourself?


Plot Twists and Protecting the Lore

Did I mention I love Bobble-Heads?

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.

I also love legos…

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 Fan Art

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?


Guest Post: Terri A. Wilson

I love crime shows, especially if there is some type of unique twist. One of my favorites is the show Leverage. It fascinates me that these anti-heroes save the day while still struggling with their own pasts. They do things their way and live by their rules.

“I love crime shows, especially if there is some type of unique twist.

So when the opportunity to write in the Federal Paranormal Unit Book World came up, I knew right away that I would create characters who were criminals. It gives them a different skill set than a detective who always follows the rules would have.

I have also been determined to look at the shifter world differently from most. My main character becomes an Alpha even though he doesn’t want to, and has to develop not only leadership skills, but people skills.

I mean he was an enforcer for goodness sake! People didn’t want to see him.

This was a fun book to write and it was the first time I played with the idea of carrying over one plot thread. Much like a TV series, this book has one complete story with a HEA, but there are two threads that aren’t solved. If you like bad guys with good hearts, women who challenge their men, and snark, you’ll like this book.

AUTHOR BIO:

Terri is a former English teacher and librarian. She taught middle and high school and college. Now she works from home homeschooling her two daughters and living out her dreams via her stories. She began escaping into books a little later than most but was hooked after the first book. It has been her dream to give back to the book world since second grade. When she’s not writing or reading, she enjoys binging on Netflix and painting. Due to her crunchy lifestyle and free spirit, she considers herself a recycled hippie. Her most important goal is to help others jump and learn to fly. To find out more about her characters and the lives they live, check out her website below.

LINKS:

WebsiteNewsletterGoodreadsTwitterFacebookInstagramBookbub

ABOUT Her Damaged Guardian:

Lincoln Talbert lived by two rules; get the money up front and kids were off limits. That’s what made him a standout enforcer for the Mikhailov family. But when faced with the choice to break rule number two, they weren’t very happy with his choice, turned their back on him, and turned him into the FBI. Recruited by James Brock, head of the Federal Paranormal Unit to work with the U.S. Marshals, he now leads a powerhouse team specifically trained for witness protection and paranormal criminals.

Savanah Delacour hides her true identity to keep herself and her family safe. But when she witnesses a murder she must risk persecution in order to save her grandmother and stay alive. Protected by a man who views personal connections as a weakness, she must breach the wall around his heart to save him, his team, and herself.


Expectations

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?

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.

…make an impact The World will notice.

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.


A New Path

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.

Various circumstances led me to view the world with different eyes.

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.

Researching the history and nature of the Tarot…

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 myself.

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 time.


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Gaia's Rebellion
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