Celebrating with Candis Lynn Terry: Her First Sale!

A winner of several prestigious awards, Candis Lynn Terry began her romance-writing journey 22 years ago. She creates contemporary single title romances set in small towns with a dusting of the paranormal. In March 2011 she finally received The Call, being offered a three-book deal from HarperCollins. Candis’ yet-to-be-titled debut novel will be released for the new Avon Impulse imprint in July/August 2011.

Over the years Candis’ life has changed in numerous ways, from working as a hairdresser, to an engineer in a Hollywood recording studio, to a graphic designer. Making the move from beachy Southern California to an Idaho farm was probably her biggest eye-opener. She considers herself lucky to be married to a wonderfully romantic alpha male who takes out the trash without being asked, and to be the mother of a sassy ex-rodeo queen, MiMi to a darling granddaughter, and kibble provider to two impatient German shepherds and a German shorthair.

Candis promises her life is never boring. After spending years wiping the noses of her daughter’s 4-H sheep and scooping up road apples after her horse on the parade route, Candis now finds time to enjoy her country-style flower and vegetable garden, and camping and ATVing into the breathtaking Idaho wilderness. When a special occasion arises, she loves to bake and decorate cakes with fondant and create fun designs for her favorite people.

Candis, I was thrilled when I saw the announcement of your First Sale on The Golden Network loop. Congratulations once again!

Nothing beats a great Call Story, and yours is a testimony to the value of perseverance. Please share it with us.

Thank you so much! I’m still pinching myself. I pride myself on my Scottish heritage, which really means I’m stubborn. I first began by writing in the wrong genre for my voice. Then I spent a couple of years writing a paranormal when no one was buying them. After that I tried really hard to write for Harlequin but my big, quirky voice never quite fit. I was always ahead of the curve, behind the curve or somewhere in between. I never managed to write the right book at the right time. But it never discouraged me.

I received many compliments from agents and editors . . . in their rejection letters. One agent was so taken with the manuscript I’d sent her that she asked to meet me at a Romance Writers of America conference. But she didn’t sign me. Previously I managed to sign on with two well-known agents. Still no sale.

I sat in workshops. I took notes. I thought I was paying very close attention. Finally I sat down to write the book that finally sold. That book changed everything for me. It was the book that finally taught me who I was as a writer because I absolutely let myself go. No holds barred. It was the book where I finally trusted myself.

Things happened quickly for you when they finally happened. On Monday, March 7th the announcement about Avon’s new Impulse imprint went out, and the next day you received The Call from Amanda Bergeron at Avon/Harper Collins. There has to be quite a story behind your overnight success, though, since 22 years of preparation went into it. How did you keep yourself motivated all that time?

Motivation came with my passion for writing stories about characters and their relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after. My wish to give each of my characters a big memorable love story rich with love and laughter was enough to keep me going.

Believe it or not, the personalized rejections I received were also motivation. Often I’ve re-read those rejections just to see the words written by someone in the industry, telling me I had a wonderful voice or real talent. It gave me hope. Sometimes it was simply the fact that I felt like I was learning and growing in my writing. Other times it was that one question opener all writers ask . . . “What if?” What if I stopped writing and my opportunity was just around the corner?

A birthday cake Candis made for her hubby.

What part did your Golden Heart® final play in your journey? What words of wisdom do you have for those who received that special call from RWA® on March 25th?

Oh my gosh, I can still remember the moment I got that call! It was so exciting. Being a Golden Heart finalist made me feel as though I’d taken a giant step forward. It gave me validation that I didn’t suck. Agents and editors took me a little more seriously. And it made me keep the faith that someday my dream of being a published writer would come true. I just didn’t know it would take so long!

After you receive that Golden Heart call enjoy every darned second. Soak in it like a warm bubble bath. Celebrate. Scream. Happy dance. Then get your rear end back to work. Plant your tush in the chair and write. Being a Golden Heart finalist is no guarantee that you will get an agent, that you will sell a book, or that you will become a NY Times best selling author. Keep your expectations real. And keep it in your heart that there were several judges who all agreed that your writing shines. But there is still more work to do.

And if I might . . . a word of wisdom for those who did not final. This does not mean you can’t write. This does not mean you don’t have talent. This does not mean you will never sell. This does mean you still have work to do. And it does mean you should try again next year. Do not give up! I got very high scores last year with the book I just sold but I didn’t final. So you never know what will happen if you just keep trying. Trust yourself. Never give up. Never surrender.

For those who haven’t heard about Avon/HarperCollins’ new Impulse imprint, what can you tell us about it?

I can tell you that the editors at Avon are very excited and are definitely seeking new talent in romance subgenres of Contemporary, Fantasy, Futuristic, Ghost, Gothic, Historical, Magical, Time Travel, Western, Shifter, Small Town, Steampunk, Suspense, Vampire (and others).

Avon Impulse e-books will be available at every e-tailer, and readers will be able to download them onto every portable reading device sold today…and tomorrow, too. Readers who seek a hard copy of individual Avon Impulse titles will be able to lay their hands on physical books, thanks to a print-to-order option available through major online book retailers.

Submission information is available at http://www.avonromance.com/impulse. As my wonderful agent, Jennifer Schober at Spencerhill Associates tells me, the sun is rising on e-books. I am definitely looking forward to this adventure.

Candis' Country-style Garden

Of all the advice you’ve read or received as you worked toward this milestone First Sale event, what did you find the most helpful?

That’s easy. The best advice I ever received actually came from my husband. Every time I’d receive a rejection or be filled with self-doubt, he’d tell me “Quit whining. This is what you love to do. Get in there and write. I’ll cook dinner.” See, I told you he was an alpha male.

Questions for Candis

•Candis, it’s been wonderful having you at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your exciting news with us. Congratulations again on your First Sale!

I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel, and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer. And, of course, feel free to squee with Candis all you’d like.

Learn More About Candis

Visit her website: www.candislynnterry.com

Friend her on Facebook: Candis Terry

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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25 Responses to Celebrating with Candis Lynn Terry: Her First Sale!

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Candis! It’s great to have you here to help celebrate your First Sale. I love joining in happy dances. =)

    My apologies to those who were eagerly awaiting the post. Instead of scheduling it to appear at 12:01 a.m. as I’d intended, I accidentally put p.m. My bad. =(

  2. Candis Terry says:

    No problem Keli. I’m just happy to be here and I’m anxious to answer questions about this long, crazy road to publication!

  3. Rachel Gibson says:

    Let me be the first to ask you the number one most annoying question you will be asked repeatedly for the rest of your career.

    “Where do you get your ideas for all that sex you write in your books?”

    • Candis Terry says:

      Ok, didn’t see that one coming, Rachel, but you’re right. I was even asked that question when people just knew I wrote romance. Oddly enough I do have an answer and will do my best to give a PG response for anyone who truly wants to know (and I’ll get you later for asking!).

      I know most writers really feel that writing a love scene is one of the most difficult parts of the book. Me included. I just take that opportunity to play voyeur and let the characters dictate what will happen. They set the table for whether it will be hard and fast or slow and sensual. I don’t plan the what, when, where and how. They do. I’m just there to make sure they don’t bring out any whips or chains. Oops, that isn’t very PG is it?

  4. Susan Mason says:

    Congratulations, Candis! Wow, 22 years. That gives a lot of us hope!! LOL.

    I know the feeling of being out of sync with the market. It seems that way to me sometimes, too. But there’s a reason for everything and it all lead to your wonderful contract now.

    Enjoy these exciting moments!


    • Candis Terry says:

      Thank you, Sue! I am enjoying every crazy minute.

      I urge you to stick with it. Listen to your gut. Ride the hills and valleys and let the wind blow in your hair because your opportunity could be just around that sharp curve!

  5. Congrats on your sale, Candis!

  6. Jill W says:

    Congratulations, Candis!
    Did you study writing formally or are you like me, trying to teach yourself as you go? If you are self-taught, what has helped you the most?

  7. Candis, I am in the “down” time of the ups and downs and I knew reading Keli’s blog would cheer me. It also introduced me to a woman who is determined and knows what it takes to succeed.

    I love that your stories are more character driven and I look foward to seeing you on Avon Impulse. Good writing to you and thanks for sharing your great story 🙂

  8. Congratulations, Candis!

  9. Candis Terry says:

    Thank you, Jill!

    I can honestly say I’m an avid student of the school of hard knocks. My education came from various workshops, critique groups, rejections, writing, revising and writing some more. I should have received an A for effort. But the bottom line is, I found myself listening to too many different opinions, throwing my net out in too many waters. I spent too much time seaching for that one person who had all the answers, who had the secret key. Well, there ain’t no such animal.

    In the end I was trying so hard to please everyone else I killed my own voice. I had to finally pay attention to myself, gather in all the tidbits I discovered along the way and put it all together. Most importantly I had to create characters who meant a lot to me, and therefore, they would hopefully mean a lot to others who read them too.

    Oh, and by the way, I am so not done learning yet!

    The very best to you!

  10. Candis Terry says:

    Thank you, Ramblings!

    It makes me very happy to know I gave you some cheer because boy, do I know about those “down” times. Ick! Did I mention that I received 2 rejections in the same week from requested manuscripts? Oh, and that I had sent the manuscripts to the editors 5 years before? No? Well, I’m dead serious. What kind of weird karma was that and who in the heavens did I make angry?

    What did I do that freaky double-rejection-5-year-late week? I laughed. Honestly if I had been an editor I would have quietly tossed the manuscript and pretended I knew nothing rather than send out a 5 year old rejection. But what do I know? Hey, wait a minute . . . I just thought of a requested manuscript that’s been out there for over 2 years. Hmmm.

    You just have to smile and laugh, even if its the last thing you feel like doing. And remember, there are people like me out here who are “cheering” you on all the way!

  11. Thanks a lot, Rachel, for asking the question I really wanted to ask. 🙂

    Candis!!! I’m so happy for you. Your success is well-deserved. We’ve been together through much of those rough, rocky years of rejections, revisions and oh-so-close times. I’m so happy you stuck with it and never gave up. Didn’t I tell you that your time was near? Yes! I love being right. 🙂

    Like you, my road to publication took a long, long time. I had many moments/weeks/months/years where I tried to quit because quitting would’ve been so much easier. I’m sure you had your share of those tough times, too. How did you overcome that? What did you tell yourself to get your butt back to the computer?

    • Candis Terry says:

      Thank you, my friend.

      I’d convinced myself this was the last book I’d write. I just couldn’t take the almosts or the rejections anymore. I’m getting old! But I started this book out with a series in mind and I just wanted to write those other books. I figured, in the end, I would just write them for myself. That’s when I realized that writing is just my passion and there’s no way I could quit. So why not keep trying to sell too. I really love my stories and my characters and I really just wanted to share them with anyone who is interested.

  12. I’m still ddancing and celebrating your sale!!! What about some of those early books that I read parts of and loved. Will you look at them again? Or are you such a different writer now, you’re on to other ideas.

    • Candis Terry says:

      Thank you, Jane!

      Oh, the early books . . . I’ve really changed as a writer and I have a drawer full of new ideas, but there are a few of those past stories I would love to revisit and rework into who I am now as a writer. There are a few of those past characters who deserve to have their stories told the right way. Without me getting in the way of myself. Which I’m pretty darned good at doing.

  13. Tatia Talbot says:


    This is such lovely, lovely interview and you provide a great example of perseverance for the rest of us. I love the whole “tush in the chair” mantra, and I can definitely say that Avon readers are in for a treat. I LOVE your book. The quirky paranormal blend of alpha male, strong heroine, interfering and well-meaning mother, and all the small town idiosyncrasies that you craft so well will definitely fill a niche that’s gone too long unfilled. No wonder the Impulse editor was chomping at the bit to make you an offer! Your story makes me laugh, makes me cry, and I can’t wait to see it on the virtual shelf so everyone else can share the story with me.

    You’re an inspiration to us all and I look forward to seeing the coming stories your wonderful voice will tell!

    Oh, and since I’m supposed to ask a question, how do balance all the demands of your multiple roles? I, too, have the full-time job, husband, and kid detail. I don’t have the adorable granddaughter added to the mix, so I don’t know how you manage to keep all your plates spinning without going crazy! How do you do it?


    • Candis Terry says:

      Oh! I am blushing (and you know I’m not that kind of girl!).

      Great question! I am a Virgo and I love to be organized. My house is organized. My desk is too. But my time . . . not so much. For those who don’t know me, my story may sound very similar to yours. I’m married, have a full-time job, a mother with Alzheimers, a daughter who is a single mom who also works full-time and is going to college at night so I babysit anywhere from 2-4 nights a week and I live on a farm. Maybe most of you don’t live on farms but I’m betting you all have full, busy lives as well. First of all, I rarely watch TV. It’s a total time-suck.

      My method of balance has always been family first. My writing life has always been dash and scramble. I fit in the time to write even if I’m dead dog tired, even if I’m camping in the middle of the forest, even if I’m sitting in the back of a horse trailer and the horse is doing his best to kick me out of his man cave.

      Whether it’s fifteen minutes of jotting down an idea, a dialogue or a description or whether it’s two hours after the stroke of midnight and I’m so bleary eyed I can’t see, I write. One word turns to two. Two words turn to twenty. And eventually I’ve got a completed book.

      • Candis Terry says:

        Oh. And one more thing (please remember this one!). I never chastise myself for how little I am sometimes able to write. Instead I congratulate myself for the progress. Even if I totally have to rewrite it the next day!

  14. Candis Terry says:

    I just wanted to thank everyone and tell you how much I enjoyed all the really thought provoking questions. You all kept me on my toes!

    I wish each and every one of you the very best. Thank you for sharing in my exciting news.

    Keep moving forward! Never give up. Never surrender!

  15. Linda Alviso says:


    I’m so very excited for you & your success! A proud day for you! As it should be. I know you have worked so very hard for this & here it is! With your busy life as a wife, mother, grandmother, caretaker one really does wonder how you manage it all? I just can’t say to you enough how very happy I am for you!!! Looking forward to reading your books.

    Hugs & Kisses From your old stomping grounds here in California!

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