Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Q & A with author Chantilly White



Thanks for being here today, Chantilly. Would you please share a short bio about yourself?
Thanks for having me, Rebecca! My name is Chantilly White. I'm originally from California, but moved to the Pacific Northwest—by way of Wisconsin—about ten years ago, with my husband and three children.

I have always loved stories—whether reading or writing them—and wrote my first book when I was eight. It was a two-hundred-page treatment of what my life would be like, including a detailed description of every room in my future house, my eight (!!!) children, and all the animals I would have. My plan was to rescue every single animal from every single shelter on the face of the planet and give them all a place to call home. Every species would have its own house, where they'd all live peaceably, happily ever after.

Since the logistics of that plan proved beyond my capabilities, I settled for giving my fictional characters (and their pets!) happily-ever-afters in my stories. I have a degree in Creative Writing from the University of California at Riverside and am currently indie publishing short and novella-length romances, with novels coming soon.

Do you consider yourself a shy and/or introverted person?
I do consider myself a shy person. I don't understand why the people who know me laugh when I say that! I'm very introverted in most situations.

In what ways has being shy or introverted hindered your writing career?
Being shy has hindered me in that it has gone hand-in-hand with a serious lack of confidence in myself and my work. It even kept me from joining Romance Writers of America (RWA) for decades. I was too afraid, and felt too unworthy, to belong to the same organization as all of my romance-author idols. I regret that now, because the moment I walked into my first RWA meeting, with the Olympia chapter, I knew I had found my tribe. The room was full of amazing, fabulous women who immediately welcomed and accepted me, put me at ease, and who have been an integral part of my life ever since. They are a continual source of support, knowledge and friendship. It was their belief in me and my writing, rather than my own confidence, that finally pushed me to take control of my career and get my work out to readers.

In what ways has being shy or introverted helped your writing career?
Being shy—and sensitive to a fault—has helped me in my writing because I am very attuned to emotions, whether my own or the emotions of those around me. I've been told that I write with emotional intensity, which was such a lovely compliment, and I hope it's true. I want to bring as much authentic emotion to my stories as possible, and I work hard to really dig down into my characters' psyches to discover their personal truths.

Also, introverts tend to be natural observers. There's not much else to do when hiding out in those corners! I think surveying the scene—the people, their actions, body language, conversations and emotions, the setting—helps fill the creative well in ways that might be harder to achieve from center stage.

What’s the hardest part of this business for you?
Promotion! No question. I absolutely hate it. I'd much rather promote other people than myself. It's very hard to stand up and say, "Look at me! I wrote this book, isn't it fabulous? Don't you want to read it?" But I love saying, "Look at my friend! She wrote this fabulous book! You must go buy it!" It's something I continue to work on, because I know as an author it's part of the gig—we have to do it if we want to find our readers and make a living. But I sure wish they'd just accidentally stumble across my stories (in large numbers, of course), love them instantly and beg for more. That's my writerly fantasy.

However, as a devotee of Dean Wesley Smith (http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/), author and indie publisher extraordinaire, I love his promotion plan, which is (paraphrasing), "Don't bother. Write another book. And another one. The best promotion is another story to sell." I like the way he thinks. That sort of promotion is a natural fit for me. Writing another story, and another and another, is what I most want to be doing in the first place.

Having said that, I LOVE to hear from readers and build relationships with them that are not incumbent upon me constantly "selling myself" to them. I want to get to know them as people, not as buyers. If they like my stories and choose to read more of them, great! I so appreciate the support. But let's get to know each other, too.

Tell me about a time that you had to step outside your comfort zone either in your writing career or in your personal life?
I stepped way outside my comfort zone when I decided to indie publish. I don't think I have been as nervous as I was that first publication day in years. Maybe decades. It felt like, by putting my work out there, I was suddenly in an enormous spotlight and the whole world could see me standing there with my soul bared. I was so jittery I could hardly concentrate as my friend helped show me the ropes of publishing. I had all the classic signs of a massive panic attack: sweaty palms, racing heart, rapid breathing, icy tremors. It was awful! But the sense of exhilaration once my story went live was incredible, and made the nerves totally worth it.

What’s one tip you could share with shy and introverted people that’s helped you (whether you’re shy/introverted or not)?
Find your tribe. That's what helped me the most. I am very shy, very introverted in most situations, but there's something about being an active part of my personal tribe, the writing community, that freed me from my usual angst. There's a real sense of comfort that comes from being surrounded by a group of people all focused on and experiencing the same things, no matter what stage they're at. My writer friends "get" me on a deep, dark level because they've all been in my shoes at one point or another. I get them for the same reasons. The details of our journeys may be different, but the emotions experienced along those varied journeys are shared. When you have that sort of unquestioning empathy and support, you start to feel like you can tackle anything. And if you feel like you can tackle anything, well then, you can tackle anything.

Would you please share a short blurb of your book and where my readers can buy it?
Sure! They're available on Amazon, B&N and anywhere ebooks are sold.

Pearls of Passion:
Shy librarian Sabrina has had her heart set on Robert, her hunky, reserved colleague, for months. Now she's taking matters into her own hands. . . and anywhere else she can manage. But once she's had her way with him, will she end up with the love match she craves even more than his luscious body?

A short, H-O-T contemporary romance, Pearls of Passion is 6,000 words (about 15 pages).
 

 
Pearls of Wisdom:
A long-simmering love. A proper proposal. One incredible night.

Billy Wingate has never been with a woman. He’s never held a gun. In fact, he’s never been outside his home state of Indiana. But it’s 1942. The world is at war, and Billy’s life is about to change forever.

On the eve of departing for the war, Billy finally gathers the courage to ask his dream girl, sexy town librarian April Collins, to be his bride. But when his proposal turns into a steamy night of passion, Billy is determined to make every moment count. They both know his first time may be his last. . .

A short, H-O-T historical romance, Pearls of Wisdom is 15,000 words (about 35 pages).


Pearls of Pleasure (Available September 24, 2012)
Gwen Coffey's marriage is collapsing. When her fireman husband, David, nearly died in a blaze that took the lives of his friends, she devoted herself to his long, painful recovery. Three years later, he's healthy and back to work—but now, when they make love, panic attacks send Gwen into a spiraling abyss of terror.

His marriage turning to ash around him, David struggles to help his wife. Gwen's pain tears him apart. But despite her attempts to shut him out, he won't give up on her, or their relationship. Desperate, he convinces her to see a therapist.

As Gwen and David work toward a solution, one question burns in their minds—will the doctor's treatment plan save their once fiery passion, or will the flames of Gwen's fear devour their sex life and incinerate the bonds of their marriage?

Pearls of Pleasure is a 40,000 word hot contemporary-romance novella (about 100 pages).


Where can my readers find you on the web?
My website is http://ChantillyWhite.com where readers can find out about current and future projects or contact me via email.
 

 

 

30 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for being here today, Chantilly! I loved your story about how you wanted to rescue every single animal in all the shelters! Are you still an animal lover today?

    Good luck with your sales!!

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    1. Hi, Rebecca! Thanks again, so much, for having me on your blog!

      Oh, the animals, LOL. Yes, I am very much an animal lover. I've been known to take on anyone from a big, mean, drunk man in a parking lot who was beating his dog to a pack of school kids teasing one over someone's fence. When I was in grade school and a neighborhood boy was outside hitting his dog with a plastic bat, I ran home in tears and dragged my dad back out to "deal" with that kid. I also used to carry a shovel around in my trunk, much to my friends' chagrin and disgust, and would stop to bury animals killed along the roadside. This could be the reason those friends stopped riding with me after a while... And the only reason I currently have three insanely destructive cats in my house is because my husband wouldn't let me have four. Or ten. Or... :)

      All of our pets, except one, have been rescue animals, and I'm very vocal about spaying and neutering. It breaks my heart that so many animals are put to sleep every year, or live wild and uncared for, simply because people won't take that one simple step. If I could figure out a way to achieve it, I would still want to move forward with that rescue-them-all plan! I do really miss having a dog right now, but we're not well set up for one here. Someday, though, the cats that currently rule the roost are going to have to teach a dog the hierarchy of the house.

      Lucky for me, my husband grew up on a farm, so despite his ruling of three cats max, he is used to having a lot of animals around. Since I've also had turtles, fish, birds, rabbits and others over my lifetime, and want them again, and he's raised farm animals and had horses, we've always agreed that a house is not a home without at least a couple of furry friends to share it with.

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  2. Wow!!! Eight children??!! Just the thought exhausts me. :-) I have a hard time believing you're shy simply because you are always so gracious and giving in person. I can't wait until your next story comes out!

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    1. Hi, Joan! Thanks for stopping by! And for the lovely compliment, which I return to you a thousandfold. :) The eight children thing... I don't know where that ever came from. The thought of it exhausts me, too, believe me. Three was definitely my limit. When I met my husband and found out his father was one of NINETEEN (and no twins!), the first words out of my mouth were, "Don't get any ideas." LOL!

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  3. Chantilly,
    Good for you for taking the plunge into Indie publishing. And your stories sound hot, hot, hot! It's nice to know another author feels the same way about promos. Happy writing to you and wishing you loads of sales!

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    1. Hi, Ashlyn! Thanks so much, I really appreciate that, and your stopping by to say hello. :) Promo is tough, isn't it? I don't know if I'll ever get used to it. Luckily, I have a lot of really lovely friends, like Rebecca, who are willing to host me on their blogs and give me little nudges (or big ones, as the case may be, LOL) to get out there a little more each time. Their support has truly been key. I hope you're finding ways to get out there, too, and to enjoy it, at least a little!

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  4. I enjoyed reading Pearls of Passion and Pearls of Wisdom. Well-written, sinful delights, for sure! I can't wait to read the next one, Pearls of Pleasure.

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    1. Thank you, Diana! I'm so glad you enjoyed my first two short stories, and I hope you enjoy Pearls of Pleasure, as well. This third one is a little different--longer, for sure, and still hot, I think, LOL, but a bit more focused on the emotions, since my hero and heroine are already a married couple, and they've been through hell. It was interesting to me to see how they overcame their issues to save their marriage, and that's actually turning out to be a theme in my writing. I do have plenty of stories where the hero and heroine start out as strangers, but more and more of my ideas center around already-established couples--people who have gotten to their first happily-ever-after and then discover that's not the end of the fairy tale. That life goes on and sometimes they have to fight to maintain or improve the relationship through the obstacles and traumas life (or mean-spirited authors, LOL) sometimes conjures up. I hope readers will find Gwen and David's story in Pearls of Pleasure emotional and uplifting, as well as good, steamy fun. :)

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  5. So glad you found your tribe, Chantilly. I know exactly what you're talking about. Your book sounds like fun. I look forward to reading it! Great interview. I really enjoyed hearing your true life story.

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    1. Thanks so much, Naomi! I hope you enjoy it!

      It sounds like you've found your tribe, as well, I'm so glad. It's made an enormous difference in my life, for sure. Whenever I meet a new writer these days, I always encourage them to get involved in whatever local chapter they have, whether of RWA or another group. Writing is so solitary most of the time, but I know, at least for me, having that personal interaction has been so important. Even if the interaction is restricted to email--so many writers live too far from a local chapter to participate in person--that contact with another human being who knows exactly the types of things you're going through can really get us through the darkest of times.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

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  7. Chantilly, I enjoyed your blog post as I am a fellow introvert! RWA is great! Like you I found my tribe and confidants there too. Just purchased "Pearls of Passion" and can't wait to start it.

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    1. Hi, D! Thanks for stopping by! And for purchasing "Pearls of Passion." I hope you enjoy it, and I really appreciate the support. I had a lot of fun writing shy Sabrina's sexy story. :)

      I'm so glad that you found your tribe in RWA as well. I wouldn't trade the friends I've made there for anything, or the knowledge they've shared and the support they so freely give. Hooray for finding our tribe! I know that's an important, uplifting thing for *everyone*, introvert or not, but for us introverts out there, I really believe it's critical for us to have that support network in order for us to reach our best potential.

      Have a terrific day! :)

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  8. H-O-T is right. . But more than that, you hit an emotional chord with this stories. I've really enjoyed them.

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    1. Thank you, Lace! I really appreciate that, and the support. And I can easily return the compliment! I'm looking forward to your next release. Thanks for stopping by!! :)

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  9. Wow...what a heart felt and honest Q&A. Thanks so much for sharing yourself in this way. I really enjoyed getting to know you a bit better, hon! And the book sound FAB!

    Hugs,
    Lucy

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    1. Thank you, Lucy! It's so great to see you here. I appreciate the support, and all the time and effort you put into lifting up everyone around you. {{{{{MANY HUGS}}}}} back! :) Chantilly

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  10. Quick note: First, thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has stopped by already, it's been such fun seeing each of you here. And again to Rebecca for hosting me! I have to run out for a bit, but will be back mid-afternoon (Pacific time) to continue chatting. See you soon!

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  11. As I know Chantilly in real life, I chuckle at her protestations of shyness, look grimly at her cats (who all, at one time or another, have gnawed my ankles), and blush thinking about her erotica, which show a completely different side her - ahem - yes. :-)

    Super proud of you, hon! I'll be first in the ether line when Pearls of Pleasure is released!

    Lydia

    Lydia M. Sheridan

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    1. Lydia, tsk-tsk, telling tales on me! LOL! And on my poor, sweet babies. Those are love bites. LOVE BITES. Eh-hemm. (Isn't that right, Jack? He's giving me a gimlet stare right this minute, he knows his auntie is tattling on him again.) Thank you so much for stopping by, sweetie, and for the support, as always! MWAH!!!

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  12. Hi Chantilly, you fabulous writer! Love your blog post and as a member of your Olympia tribe, can attest to your tremendous talent and warm, welcoming heart. Cannot wait to read your next Pearls book!

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    1. Hi, Jane Lynne! You're such a sweetheart, and lovely tribe member!! Thank you so much. Your support means an incredible amount to me! {{{{{{HUGS}}}}}

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  13. Great blog. I read your first story Pearls of Passion and loved it except it wasn't long enough. I have the next one Pearls of Wisdom in my huge TBR pile and I'm glad your stories are getting longer you engage a reader to much for them to end so soon.

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    1. Lavada, thank you so much for that wonderful, amazing compliment! I'm so glad you enjoyed Pearls of Passion, and hope you enjoy Wisdom as well. I very much appreciate your support, in ALL areas, not only in purchasing my stories, and also commenting here today.

      It's sort of funny how they keep getting longer, LOL. I've just decided not to predetermine how long any of them will be and let the story do what it will do. Before, I got all caught up in trying to plot out every little detail and structure it very tightly, and basically by the time it was ready to write, I was bored. I didn't think I was a pantser, but it turns out I am. :) Well, at least a partial pantser. I just write, for about the first 75% of it, then I apply the structure to it to make sure I'm hitting the right spots with everything before writing through to The End. That seems to work better for me.

      In my degree program, all we ever wrote were short stories, so writing a novel felt overwhelming and scary. I have two novels that are "complete" but not fully revised, and I struggled quite a bit to get through them. Short stories, since that is my most familiar form, feel much easier and more organic. But now that I don't sit down at the computer saying, "Okay, you, you're going to write a novel now," I'm free to just let the story develop. Pearls of Pleasure, the one coming out on Monday, was *not* supposed to be a novella! I was as surprised as anybody when it wound up at 40,000 words, but it was a nice surprise, and I really love these characters, especially the hero, David. I hope readers do, too! :)

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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  14. Great interview! Chantilly, I'm so thrilled with your success. The new world of indie publishing has made such a difference for writers, and it's great seeing your fabulous stories coming out at *whatever* length they need to be. You are a fabulous writer - keep up the great work! And I hope Pearls of Pleasure burns up the charts. ;)

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    1. Anthea, thank you SO MUCH! Where would I be without you? Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you have shared with me and your unending patience. You are an inspiration to everyone who knows you. {{{{{{{BIG HUGS}}}}}

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  15. I loved pearls of wisdom, and can't wait to dig into the next two! As one who knows you I can't see the shy part of you but then again I did bombard you at our first face to face meeting! You didn't stand a chance of reaching that corner! Congrats on all of your success, its well deserved.

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    1. LOL Erin! All I remember about our first meeting is you and Tammy screaming my name and charging across the room! After that it's all a happy blur. :) I think shyness is just not allowed in your presence, is what it is. And that's a good thing! Think of all the fun I would have missed. Thanks so much for stopping over here, sweets! See you soon. {{{{HUGS}}}

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  16. Hi Chantilly!
    I totally get the shy thing. People react the same to me as they do with when I say that I'm introverted. My comfort zone is here on my couch! LOL.

    I'm so happy you decided to Indie publish, even through sweaty palms and palpitations. Your story sounds awesome.

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    1. Thanks so much, Susan, and for stopping by! It's lovely to see you, even if only virtually. :) I hope to catch up with you in person sometime soon! Take care, and enjoy your comfort zone, LOL. I'm enjoying a similar spot right this minute. ;) {{{{{{HUGS}}}}} Chantilly

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