Writer Wednesday – Candy Little

Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?
Candy Little

 
Tell us (briefly) about you…
…and a bit about what you’ve written…
…and what you’re working on right now.
I write Christian romance and general mystery novels. I live in Michigan with my husband and two grown kids. I have three books out right now. The Unwilling Bride is a Christian, historical romance. Unforgiving Ghosts is a Christian, contemporary romance. Death By Broken Heart is my general, cozy mystery novella.  

 
What are your earliest book-related memories?
When I was a teenager my mother would read romances then give them to me to read. If they made a movie out of the book we’d watch it together. My aunt is an avid reader and we got most of the books from her. So reading was a family affair!!

 
What are your three favorite books?
Come Love a Stranger by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
A Wedding For Maggie by Allison Leigh
And, The Bible

 
How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?
Unfortunately I haven’t read much in the past two years. I’m lucky if I get the book read for my book club. I did read a Christmas novella, The Angel Song by Marry Manners a few weeks ago. Not reading anything at the moment.
 

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
like a good glass of wine and some romance!!

 
To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I have re-read a few books. However, since I don’t have much time to read I usually have a huge pile of new books to read so I don’t get to re-read my faves.

 
How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
It depends on the other person’s taste. I have read books recommended by friends and hated them. Our tastes were too different. So I’d guess it’s about 50% chance I’d read a book based on recommendation.

 
How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
VERY likely. I do it all the time.

 
What do you look for in a good book?
Vibrant characters.
Good paced plot – it doesn’t necessarily have to be fast paced but it shouldn’t drag either.
I also love adjectives that described the characters, clothing and setting.
And, multiple POV’s so I can understand what other characters are thinking and feeling. When I read a novel that has 1 POV I get bored. You might as well just watch the movie if you have to read body langue and pick up emotion cues from dialogue. Pull me into the story by putting me into the minds of other main characters!!   

 
Why do you write?
Obviously from my comments above, I love to break the rules!! But, seriously, I wrote my first novel, Unforgiving Ghosts, after I had a stillborn daughter. I was able to express myself in a fictional way. Writing is more therapeutic for me. I love expressing my feelings through the thoughts and actions of my characters.  

 
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A teacher.
 

 
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
All my inspiration come from God!!
 

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I’m unorganized and undisciplined, working on both of those. J
But it has also shown my creativity and dedication. I self published after 10 years of rejection and having my family give me no support. I was determined to show them all how wrong they were. And I DID!!
 

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband and kids think it’s a hobby and I don’t really work. Thankfully I have some supportive friends and neighbors who always encourage me.

 
Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I don’t think writers are as shy as they have been portrayed. I’m certainly not shy!!

 
What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Understanding how to market in this digital age. Also, they need to learn the business and understand that book covers and editing are the most important investment they can make.

 
Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Yes, editing!! I had a few friends help go over my manuscript early on. Then a friend who is a retired English teacher helped do the final edit, but we still missed so much and The Unwilling Bride -paperback- is full of errors. I’ve corrected the mistakes in the ebook but nothing I can do for the print copies. I hired a professional editor for Unforgiving Ghosts. I learned that editing is best done by a professional and not friends!

 
Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Can’t think of anything.

 
How do you deal with your fan base?
I love talking with my fans and I’m thankful for each one!! I guess FB, Twitter and Goodreads is how I stay connected to them.

 
Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
that I have a racy mystery coming out with a very sexy love scene.

 
Anything else we should know?
Only that I love you all. Thanks so much, Mandi for helping me promote myself and my novels. Praying that you and everyone have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!!

 

 

 

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Book Review – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Author: Philip K. Dick
Format: Paperback
Written: 1968
Published: 1972

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a science fiction novel set in the future world of 1992. Colonisation of our solar system has been accomplished, which is fortunate due to the devastation that war has brought to Earth. Part of the colonisation effort involves providing a free android to every colonist who migrates away from the dying mother planet. Unfortunately, the androids in question are not always happy with the arrangement. Our protagonist, Rick Decard, is a bounty hunter charged with tracking down escaped androids and killing them.

This book improves dramatically if you ignore the proposed timeline, which was ambitious given the 25 year window between when the book was written and when it was set. Technology has reached impressive heights. Space colonisation is successful, machines regulate mood according to the programming of the user, android technology has progressed to the point where it is almost impossible to tell the difference between man and machine, and hovercrafts are the main form of transport.

The writing style is easy to settle into, and does not get in the way of the story. We are immediately introduced to the personality of the main characters, the values of the world, and the general premise without any info dumps. It is an excellent grounding for the story, which makes it easy to race through the pages.

Both sides of the conflict are well represented as the novel explores concepts of humanity and empathy. We are able to meet characters before we know whether they are human or android, which gives us the ability to make our own judgements first. In many ways the sequence of this novel is representative of the world. This episode is significant in the protagonist’s experience due to the size and complexity, but the underlying power balance remains the same.

While the quality of being just another few days in an incredible life lends a peculiar type of suspense that works well for the novel, it deprives the ending of a resolution to a subplot. I won’t go into many details, because spoilers are unnecessary, but I will agree with the advertising on my novel that the book ends “in a jolting climax that leaves the reader very thoughtful indeed”. I have been thoughtful for days, coming up with dozens of ways that I would have fixed my biggest gripe with the ending.

I had hoped that the unresolved thread was intended to be addressed in a sequel. Unfortunately, the only subsequent work on this world appears to be a result of its adaptation into the movie Blade Runner. The sequels were authorised but written by someone else many years later. I don’t believe in novels written decades later after a movie has been released count for this purpose.

My copy of this book is 183 pages long. I give the first 169 of those pages 5 out of 5. If you haven’t guessed by now, the conclusion to this novel was unfortunate in my opinion. Therefore, I give this book an overall rating of 3 out of 5 pages.

Yes, I averaged the numbers; the ending irritated me that much.

Book Review – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: JK Rowling
Format: Hardcover
Written/Published: 1999

The re-reading of Harry Potter finally continues with book two of the seven part set.

After spending most of summer at the Dursleys’ with none of the owls from his friends getting to him, the Weasleys finally liberate him in a flying car that their father had charmed.  He spends a couple blissful weeks before the obligatory Diagon Alley stop – where Harry uses floo powder for the first time solo and ends up one street over in the bad part of wizard town, where he of course sees Lucius Malfoy being sneaky and evil – and then off to Hogwarts (Hoggy, Warty Hogwarts).  Except that Harry and Ron can’t get on platform 9 ¾, and actually smash head first into the wall when they try.  With no other options, they do the only logical thing that 12-year-old boys can come up with, and steal the flying car, which they crash most spectacularly a bit before the school, and have to walk the rest of it, heavy trunks in tow. They’ve missed the sorting ceremonies, lost the car, and, of course, are in trouble even before the school year begins.

Okay, so I’m going to stop right there.  Mrs. Weasley doesn’t get on the train with Ginny.  The boys missed it by about five seconds.  So shouldn’t she have been right back out there looking for them?  Why is such an obvious plot hole missed?  Also, back to the floo thing, why, exactly, is Harry flooing on his own to somewhere like Diagon Alley?  Couldn’t they have done a test run somewhere?  And why, for somebody so into muggle studies and everything about them, doesn’t Mr. Weasley ever remember that they have to explain everything to Harry?  I’m likening the scene to telling a country boy that you’re taking the subway through New York and telling him to get off at lower Broadway without pointing out which of the many Broadway subway exits you really need.  Just guess, you’ll be fine.  *obligatory condescending pat on the head*

So back to the summary.  At Hogwarts, the new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, is a celebrity – you know, flashy smile, perfect hair, girls swoon – and utterly annoying.  A first form, Colin, thinks Harry’s a celebrity and follows him around taking pictures and making sure to speak to him every time he sees him.

The only thing they learn in DADA is that Lockhart is an idiot, and he can’t even control the pixies that he unleashes on the class early on.  So of course, the dark arts once again attack Hogwarts, and of course, being totally unprepared, the kids have to figure it out on their own.

The attack is bizarre.  A note painted a wall of the school tells that the chamber has been open.  And the cat has been petrified, right there next to it.  Taking refuge in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, Harry, Ron and Hermione all set out to figure out what’s going on.

Until Hermione gets petrified, too.  And Colin, and a couple others and…

Also somewhere in there is Tom Riddle’s diary, which Harry uses to write back and forth to Tom until it’s stolen from their room.  Of course Harry doesn’t mention the theft, so the relatively simple answer doesn’t ever get explained until the very end of the book when the villain reveals way too much.

We also, at several points in there, meet Dobby the house elf, who does very little but try to repeatedly save Harry’s life, in several wonderful manners that make Harry want to just chance things.  (It’s Dobby, for instance, that stops all the letters from Harry’s friends, and stops platform 9 ¾ from letting them in.)  And Harry, of course, tricks Dobby’s owner, Lucius Malfoy, into freeing him in the end.

There’s also a ridiculous scene where the boys end up in the forbidden forest (they seem to think the word forbidden means please, come in), talking to a bajillion spiders, the two large ones, of course, trying to decide if they should eat them, even though they’re friends of Hagrid’s.  I mean, surely Hagrid wouldn’t have suggested they go into the forest if his really-creepy creature friends were going to eat them, right?  *sigh* Hey, at least we find the car that’s been missing since this point, has now gone a bit feral (is it a cat?!), but saves them, because apparently we need an action scene now, so Rowling gives us one.

And even though the book is over a decade old already, I’ll ease up on the spoilers. By the time the book is over, we’ve learned great big secrets from Hagrid, Lockhart and Ginny Weasley.  We’ve also been introduced to Mandrake, which looks remarkably like little potato people with plants coming out of their heads, and we learn that the plant takes a maturing course much like humans (when you plant the saplings, the babies cry, and when they try to move into each other’s pots, you know they’re mature).

We also get to learn a few more plot holes.  For instance, why don’t Ron and Harry visit Hermione in the sick wing any time sooner than they do?  Whenever Harry or Ron need the sick bay, their friends are always at their side as soon as they come to.  But when Hermione went, it was quite a while before they went to see her.  Why?  Besides the fact that Rowling wouldn’t have had a book otherwise, of course.

Also, why was there nowhere else anywhere in the wizarding world that they could get mandrake without growing it in the greenhouse?  Besides the fact that Rowling wouldn’t have had a book otherwise, of course.

Another question that bothers me – why don’t muggle-born Hermione’s letters ever come via post office?

In the end, of course, Harry (with the help of Dumbledore’s Phoenix), saves the day, everyone gets unpetrified, Hagrid gets his name cleared, and Harry returns back to Privet Drive, where he can be a miserable, abused child again until the next book.

So, here’s the thing.  Because the boys are doing everything they shouldn’t be doing, they miss the sorting/welcome feast, Quiddich gets canceled halfway through the book, etc.  The problem I’ve ever had is that the stories themselves are a lot of hype for an okay story, and it’s only because of the world she built that they’re so big and popular.  So in this book, we get none of the world, several plot holes, and not a lot else.

I’m only giving this a three out of five.  Don’t bother if you’re not reading the whole series.

Book Review – Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom by Jenny Nimmo

Title: The Chronicles of the Red King: The Secret Kingdom

Author: Jenny Nimmo

Format: Hardback

Written: 2011

Published: 2011

Having read the entire series of Charlie Bone and his adventures as he learns to understand his special powers and the powers of those who go to school with him, it was perfectly logical to want to read about his predecessor, the man from whom all endowed children of the series came from.  I admit when I approached this book I was a little cautious considering I had only recently finished reading another book by Jenny Nimmo and was less than enthralled by it.  Yet with this book, I was not disappointed.

 

After reading and enjoying the story of a small African boy named Timoken and his flying camel Gabar, I have concluded that Jenny’s earlier words are not as good as her later works.  I’ve heard it said that an author’s first published work is quite possibly their best as they had to prove themselves to be published and once there the effort to do better is not much.  Jenny Nimmo though is the opposite of this adage and her work has vastly improved over time.  The characters are amusing and have depth and the story is just fun to follow as Timoken learns of the magic he had had since shortly after birth as he quests for several hundred years trying to find a home as he had lost his.

 

One of the best parts of the story was how well it tied in to the series that it was designed to precursor and when it came to a long span of time Jenny would recap and move on which was nice to keep the pace of the book going without rushing things too much that I felt lost.  The progression of relationships and interactions made sense and flowed very well and I would have to say that I would happily recommend this book, particularly if you are a fan of the Charlie Bone series that was written before this book.  Overall, I would give this book a 4 out of 5 page rating.

Book Review- Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 4

Book: Alice in the Country of Hearts vol 4, first edition

Author: QuinRose

Illustrator: Soumei Hoshino

Published: 2009

Publisher: Tokyopop

Translated into English: 2010

 

The fourth book in the Alice in the Country of Hearts series picks up where the last left off, with Alice both horrified and frustrated at the total disregard for life. She is found by Boris, who takes her to the amusement park in order to get her mind off of the horrors she witnessed, and she tries to convince him how important he is to her. Meanwhile, we begin to find out the motives of some, and a few more rules in the mysterious Wonderland.

Okay, I admit it. I totally fan-girled over the fact that Boris showed up in over half this book. He is one of, if not my absolute, favorite character in this series, and to see so much of his personality come through was just awesome! Yes, I know I am a full on geek for this, but I can’t help loving such a sweet character. As for Ace, well, after what happened in the last book and what came to light in this one, I was a bit disappointed with him initially, until I started really looking at it. I felt strangely sad over how much he wants to be different, wants to feel something, and it leaves you hoping he finds what he is looking for. Other than that, there really was not too much that was remarkable about this book. The graphics were awesome as usual, the story decently interesting. Overall, I give it 3 pages.

Writer Wednesday – Paul Kater

Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?
My name is Paul Kater, a 52 year old writer and IT consultant.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I live in the Netherlands. Despite having a decent feeling for languages I did not get to make that my work, as there was not much demand for Dutch-speaking translators/interpreters, so I went into the IT business as a programmer and several other occupations you can find in that realm.

Before I started publishing something for real I wrote and co-wrote stories on an amateur writers’ mailinglist. Someone who read my first story about Hilda the Wicked Witch kept nagging me to publish that for the world and after a few months I caved and published that first booklet. Until recently I have never written a story in Dutch. How odd is that for a Dutchman?

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
My most famous heroine is Hilda the Wicked Witch, whom I mentioned before. She is not a nasty or mean witch, but one with a mind of her own. Rules only apply to her if they coincide with her intentions to set wrongs to right. So far 9 Hilda books have found their way into the world, the tenth (“Magic on the Rocks”) is on the brink of making it.

I also wrote a few steampunk books, 2 sets of short stories about Lily Marin, a singer with an alter ego she doesn’t want the world to know, and a book called Bactine, about an intergalactic soldier who is sent off to a very odd (steampunk) world where he gets to fight real pirates and evil ship-owners.

…and what you’re working on right now.
At this moment I am writing far too many things. First off there’s the 11th Hilda book. Then there is a proper novel about Lily Marin. A few years ago I started a detective which I am trying to revive and get done, and finally there’s a science fiction story I suddenly thought up. That’s a strange thing because I am writing that in Dutch and in English at the same time. It’s fascinating to do, but at times also quite confusing.

I am also writing something called Rubanna of which I am not sure where it goes, and the sequel to “Bactine”. Then finally there is the second children’s book, the sequel to Charisma the Young Witch.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
Those are from Dutch children’s books you probably never heard of. “Peter Bell”, about a small kid from Rotterdam who is constantly running into trouble despite his heart of gold, and “The boys from the Chameleon”, about two boys from Friesland (a Dutch province) who cobble together their own boat called the Chameleon. And from even further back there is “Pinkeltje”, about a tiny man the size of a pinky, who interacts with the writer of the books. They were very cute.

 What are your three favorite books?
Oh gods, that again. Why only three?? *grin*

I would put the Game of Thrones books here (as 1 book), by George R.R. Martin, Dune by Frank Herbert, and Tshai the Mad Planet, by Jack Vance.

How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?
Usually I read 2 or 3. Sometimes more. Now I am reading “Song of the Fairy Queen” by Valerie Douglas, “Sherdan’s Prophecy” by Jess Mountifield, “Darwinia” by Robert Charles Wilson, and I am proof-reading a children’s book called “Wizard’s pair” for a fellow writer called James Eggebeen.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ­­___ ­
am in another world, and good luck getting me out of it before I’m ready.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question. Definitely re-read. Not everything, but several books are begging for that as there is so much in them that it’s impossible to get everything out of them in the first read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
That depends on the person recommending it. If I know s/he has quite the same taste that I have, I don’t hesitate. Otherwise I’ll first have a look to discover if it’s worth the time and expense to buy and read it.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
That depends on the book. I know many people with many tastes. When I think someone could be interested in something I’ve read, I’ll certainly point them towards it. The rest is up to them.

What do you look for in a good book?
Movement and real characters. I don’t like flat people in a story, they need to develop and have a background. I also don’t like idle chatter or too much detailing of environments and places. That becomes boring quite quickly for me.

Why do you write?
To get my creativity out of me. I have a very vivid imagination, many ideas bubble up (saw the list of things I am writing?) If I don’t have writing to “relieve” myself of that, I’d go very crazy.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I’d probably try to do something with music.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Literally everywhere. I can see something that triggers me, hear a snip of conversation, see an image or a landscape. Often people inspire me. The way they are, act, behave, think. People are fascinating, there are no 2 alike.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
Quite a few things. Most importantly it taught me that I can actually do this (something I had never believed) because people tell me they love my writing, and that I have the patience to do this (people usually have no idea how much time this writing eats up!).

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
At first most people joked about it, some told me I was wasting my time on that and that I could put it to better use. Now I am becoming a bit better known and some people have read my books (and admitted they liked them), there is a clear change in attitude. Some of the biggest jokers are now quite the supporters.

 Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
I think stereotypes originated because of real people. They just don’t apply to everyone. Some writers are recluses, not going out or anywhere as long as they are writing. Others need the breaks, the outside and the interaction with people to get fresh ideas. There is no accounting for how a writer gets her or his work done, be it stereotypical or not. As long as it works for the person in question, that’s the main thing.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
I’d say the problem of understanding what makes a good book is the biggest. Anyone can write stuff on many pages, but that doesn’t make a book a good book. Don’t be convinced your book will sell just like that. Quality is important, the more as there are so many people coming into the writing arena every week.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Hmmm. I don’t think they were actual mistakes, merely misjudgements. At first I did not think people would read my books so I did not pay much attention to a few things that I am fanatic about these days. Reworks, an editor, beta readers, things and people like that. On the other hand that shows that there is a line of improvement in my work, I think.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Not at the moment. I am happy with what I do, writing my stories, enjoying the feedback from fans, and I am extremely proud that I was asked to join the Alexandria Publishing Group because of the quality of my work. I could not ask for more at this point in my life as far as books and writing goes.

How do you deal with your fan base?
I am honestly still amazed that I have fans. I call them Hilda’s fans, Lily’s fans, the fans of Daniel and Rayko. All of them characters in my books. I’m just the writer, the mediator between the stories and the people who enjoy them. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful to be in touch with them. Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, as well as my website are great tools for that. I think a writer should be accessible for his readers so she or he can learn what they like and what not. Sometimes that helps in deciding where to lead the next story.

 Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me
that I don’t like beer. (I’m a wine person.)

 Anything else we should know?
Perhaps people want to know more about me. For that I have a website at http://www.paulkater.com. There they can find a list of books I have written. And if they want to get in touch with me, then I think my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/paul.kater.author is the easiest place to start.

Thank you for this interview!

 

 

Book Review – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Format: Paperback
Written: 1954
Published: 1973

Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper burns, which makes it a fitting title for this science fiction novel about a man whose job is burning books. The story follows Guy Montag, a fireman, as he struggles to make sense of his unease in a world that is so obsessed with being happy that it is incapable of realising how miserable it is.

Large sections of this book disturbed me deeply. There are many elements that only remain science fiction rather than science fact because no one has thought to commercialise them yet. I shudder to think of what might happen to our world if watching television meant being surrounded by it and having it call us by name. I hope I would share Montag’s horror, but I can also think of many people who would slide happily into Mildred’s unthinking delight.

This is a world where politicians are elected based on their looks instead of their skills. A war is fought without any of the citizens particularly noticing or caring. Marriages are hollow, and having babies by caesarean section is an effective way to minimise the inconvenience of childbirth. Sound familiar? The parallels between the fictional world and the real one are horrifying.

The main conflict in this book plays with the needs of the many versus the needs of the few. Anything that could potentially offend a minority is objectionable, and over time the cultural ideas in books have fallen foul of that perspective. They have been outlawed because they do nothing but cause misery and conflict. The logic is twisted in its simplicity, a million real world concepts stretched to their ultimate destination.

If you are looking for a book that will challenge your thinking about how you live your life, Fahrenheit 451 rightly claims its status as a classic for this reason. Sitting back and turning off your mind is difficult after reading this. If you’re already feeling depressed, this book might be one to steer clear off until you’re a bit more emotionally stable.

Occasionally the writing style gets in the way of the story, but I suspect this is from shifting fashions rather than a failing of the novel. It will probably distract some readers, but the story is worth finishing. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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