Just Who is Candace E. Salima?

So, I’m thinking to myself. Maybe I should interview myself – hey, I’m writing these BLOGS, I’m an author and maybe you should know a little more about me. My bio paints a pretty clear picture of my background, on a surface level. But I’m going to ask myself the same questions I’m asking others. So here we go:

1. What prompted you to become a writer?

My mother taught us how to read before we hit kindergarten. I can’t remember a time when books weren’t an integral part of my life. As a child my reading interests were in the direction of The Pancake Story, Curious George, The Bobbsey Twins and Kavik the Wolf Dog. As I grew older I delved into Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Black Beauty, Black Stallion and more. My point is, I can’t remember when I started writing, although I clearly remember the first story I wrote. I was eleven years old and it was awful, truly awful. From that point, writing became my way of passing time in boring school classes. I never looked back. Now I have four screenplays under my belt, three books and more on the way of both. My movies will be made by Valor Studios, Inc. and I am published by Spring Creek Book Co. and couldn’t be happier.

2. What is your routine, on a daily basis, as far as being a parent and a writer?

Well, I’m not a parent. That, by the way, was not an easy thing for us to accept – but we are at peace with it now. Anyway, my routine is as follows: I roll out of bed and stumble my way down the hall to the computer. I boot up, I pull up WordPerfect (yes, MS Word is evil incarnate) and get to work. This can happen anywhere from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., depending on the events of the day before. I work on books or screenplays until 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. – four hours. I put in four solid hours every morning, except for Sunday. I then prepare myself for the day, pick up the marketing baton and head out. When I’ve completed that, I come back and write until it’s time to prepare dinner. In the midst of this I have laundry going, the dishwasher going and my brain on multiple tasks. Hey, it works for me.

3. What is your genre and why did you choose it? Also, tell me about the books you’ve written.

Well, I started out in suspense action. In other words, I wrote screenplays first and suspense action was the genre I chose. With books, I started out in romantic suspense with my first novel Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light. I love romantic suspense, it has all the elements of a really good story. My philosophy is this, if my book or movie doesn’t make you cry, laugh, jump in surprise . . . literally pull you screaming and kicking straight into the middle of the story, I’ve failed. I don’t want to fail, so I work really hard to constantly improve my craft. My second book jumped the romantic suspense ship straight into sports biography with 13 and 0: Reflections of Champions, a retrospective on BYU’s 1984 National Championship Football Team. Yeah, I was there – it was a great year. Why did I go from romantic suspense to sports—for the love of my dear husband. He asked, I responded. Luckily for him and my publisher, I happen to love BYU football. My third book delved into that which has comprised the largest portion of my reading since I became an adult, religion. Forged in the Refiner’s Fire is in the religious motivation genre and has stories of people from all walks of life who suffered through trial or tragedy and overcame it, not only overcame it, but clearly triumphed. So apparently, I do not have one genre. I write what strikes my fancy.

4. What do you have on your website and why did you choose those particular topics?

My website is www.candacesalima.com and it is a reflection of who I am. The main page gives you the latest news. I have Must Reads (books I highly recommend), LDS Bookstore (books, jewelry, statues, collectibles, paintings, pottery and more), Mormon Speak (LDS terminology found in my books), Quotes (those quotes which inspire me to action), Poetry (those poems that touch my soul), and Speaking Topics (I travel around the nation speaking on a number of topics, here is where the summaries of each topic are located). I also have a Recipes page, a Books page (all my books) as well as a Signings & News page which keeps my readers up-to-date on everything I’m doing. In addition, I have a Talk Back page where comments can be posted and chats are conducted. So there you go, for the insightful person, you have just figured out who I am.

5. What advice do you give to those struggling to become published writers?

Never give up. Always read. Write, write, write.

Never give up your dreams. If your skill is not to the level it needs to be, then make sure you are reading authors who can really write. Attend writing seminars and develop techniques and an understanding of the actual skill of writing. But dreams come from deep inside us and should never be ignored or pushed aside. Now, for a touch of reality – I always wanted to sing and dance on Broadway but I didn’t have the pipes for it. So make sure you can really do what you want to, if not then find a way to be a part of that without actually doing it for a living.

It’s important to keep writing, every day. There are writing exercises you should do, for example, find a word or phrase and give yourself five minutes to write a short story (short being the operative word here.) Do this every day and you will find your creativity developing and expanding.

Find the publishers who publish what you wish to write. Check your favorite authors and who their publishers are, then go on the internet and look them up. Publishers have submission guidelines, follow them. And then submit your completed work.

6. Who are your favorite authors and why?

Wow, I have to admit, Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Kay Hooper and Iris Johansen are amongst my tops. The problem is, they are what I call page skippers (meaning there are sex scenes included that I have no desire to read). Their writing and storytelling skills are tremendous and I literally dive into every new book they write. But I wanted to find authors who didn’t have pages I had to skip. Therefore, I started looking for clean romantic suspense. I found it in the LDS and Christian markets (both Christian by the way). So in the LDS market my favorites are (and my interests go across the board) Dean Hughes, Willard Boyd Gardner, Jeffrey S. Savage, Tristi Pinkston, H.B. Moore and many, many more in the fiction world. In the Christian market, Dee Henderson is tops. In the religious arena, I am a deep fan of Matthew B. Brown, Andrew Skinner, Hugh Nibley as well as all the brethren. I learn, I grow, I am enriched and what more could I ask of books I read?

7. Is it difficult to maintain your standards as a writer in today’s market? Why or why not?

Interestingly enough, I initially had the desire to publish in the national market. Since at the time my intention was to write romantic suspense that presented me with a problem. The submission guidelines for the top publishers required a certain number of sex scenes. So I checked into Harlequin’s Love Inspired line, which was clean but not terribly well written, well developed and carried a generic God. Not really my cup of tea, our Heavenly Father and Savior are anything but generic. So I checked out the LDS market. Here I could maintain my standards but I didn’t know if I was good enough. So I wrote a manuscript – wow, it was incredibly freeing to not edit out my religion. For me, there was a greater prize in that than competing in the national market. So that is the choice I made – to stay in the LDS market and write romantic suspense that was clean and inspiring. This was sheer heaven for the writer in me. I refuse to compromise my standards and that is why I chose the LDS market over the national.

8. How does your faith play into your writing?

My faith plays a huge role. I am a daughter of God. I refuse to ignore that or my understanding of the eternities. So the characters I create are admirable, but flawed. My bad guys are really bad guys. Somebody once told me I had to give my bad guys redeeming qualities, bummer! In order to make my stories realistic, I do have to do that. Anyway, my characters take on lives of their own, spiritual struggles of their own and these are developed throughout the stories. I love not having to edit my religion out of the story.

There are those who say the inspiration in my stories is a little over done. To those I submit: Is it overdone or do you not respond to crises in the way this character does? If my character wants to pray, I let them. If my character listens or ignores promptings and faces the consequences, I let them. (Yes, characters become living, breathing people who I am sad to see go at the end of the book.) Faith / Me – we go hand in hand.

9. What is your funniest memory in recent years?

I think the funniest thing I can think of at the moment (and isn’t it interesting to have dozens of funny stories at the tip of your fingertips and when asked your mind goes completely blank), was an incident with my nephew a few years ago. My sister has four rambunctious, absolutely delightful, children. They outnumber her. For anyone who knows the Color Code developed by Dr. Taylor Hartman, my sister is a yellow and her children are all reds, she is distinctly outnumbered (the book Parenting the Ephraim’s Child was her salvation as a parent). Anyway, she used to pick me up and I ran around and did errands with her, helping her to keep the kids entertained. After several hours in the van, running all over the valley, my nephew (newly potty trained), piped up, “Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom.”

“We’ll be at Aunty’s in a couple of minutes, son. Just hold it.” We were on the freeway and the nearest exit was mine. There was a silence for a moment and then he replied, “Well, can I tie a knot in it?” The swallow of lemonade I had just taken spewed across the windshield as laughter overtook us. I gasped out to him, “Give it a shot, honey. Let me know how it goes.”

Learn more about me at my website www.candacesalima.com.