An Interview with Chantilly White

Readers, Chantilly is giving away an ecopy of Snow Angel via Smashwords coupon, so leave her a comment to be in the drawing..

Snow AngelHi, Cynthia, thanks so much for having me today, and for asking such fun questions! I’m thrilled to be here.

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and why?

A: I grew up in California, which I loved, but my husband and I moved our family to Wisconsin in 2000, sight unseen, because we had a particular idea about what the state was like (and we’re both huge Green Bay Packer fans, so there was that, too.) I absolutely loved it there. Have you ever had that sensation of really being in “your place”? That’s how Wisconsin felt for me, like I was truly home, where I was meant to be.

Unfortunately, we seriously underestimated the cost of living there—my husband took a rather large pay cut to make the move, which we thought would be no big deal. After three years, we just weren’t making it financially, so he ended up taking another job that moved us to Washington state, where we’ve lived since 2003.

Washington is beautiful, and I have so many friends here. I would miss them terribly if we moved again, but we do talk about it. The constant rain and the frequently dreary skies still get to me sometimes, even after more than ten years. I’m not a fan of the heat, but I really miss the California sun!

My easy answer used to be that I would either move back to Wisconsin, or I’d move to Ireland, which is the only other place on earth that truly calls to me the same way Wisconsin does. I was fortunate enough to visit the Emerald Isle when I was a teenager and fell in love with it. However, it occurred to me recently that the biggest problem with moving to Ireland (other than the obvious difficulties in changing countries) is that their weather is remarkably similar to what we have in Washington! Seattle isn’t called the Emerald City for nothing. And going back to Wisconsin is no longer a favorite option, since the hubby and I are thinking about places where we’d want to retire. As much as I personally love it there, neither of us wants to deal with all the snow in the winter when we’re older.

So… Where does that leave us? If we could afford to live the way we’d like to back in California, we’d most likely go back home. The cost of living there now is so high, though, I’m not sure we’d ever be able to afford it, especially since we’d want to go to San Clemente or Laguna Beach, or maybe even somewhere on the central coast, like Morro Bay or further north to Monterey.

It’s so hard to say for sure where we’ll wind up, and the decision will be based—at least in part—on where our three kids decide to settle. Luckily, we still have plenty of time to make that decision, but we’re open to recommendations, so if anyone has one, leave it in the comments!

Q: Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

A: Oh, yes! During my school years, I worked for various retail stores, grocery stores, a pizza restaurant, the usual places. I worked at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. I was even a travel agent for a time, and a bookkeeper for The Old Spaghetti Factory. I was on the seven-year-plan for college, as my dad likes to say, and bounced around a bit before I settled into my creative writing major.

After graduation, I did what most college grads wind up doing—I looked for pretty much anyone who would hire me, regardless of the field, so I could take home a regular paycheck. Writing jobs were thin on the ground, and I already had a husband, a three-year-old, and a house to maintain, so I wasn’t looking for a major career that would require 70+ hours a week or a lot of traveling just then. I wound up managing a furniture store in the mall.

Retail was not really my thing, and when I had my second child, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with both girls, and then my son when he came along. While they were young, I still dabbled in other things. I was a Shaklee distributor for a while, and my hubby and I looked into all sorts of small businesses, trying to find something we could do together or that I could do on my own while still mostly being a stay-at-home mom.

I didn’t write much during that time period. Writing, for me, requires so much of my concentration and time, I didn’t feel I could manage being a good mom to three young kids and a good writer at the same time. I know a lot of women who do it very well, and who do way more in a single day than I do in a week. They are super women! I am so not! I’m not a good multi-tasker at all, or a good juggler. Plus, I’m easily distracted, and I get bored easily, too, so if there are too many things going on, I’ll just check out and go read. LOL

When we lived in Wisconsin, I started a cheerleading business in our little town. That was my favorite business of all. I taught kids from pre-school aged through junior-high students to cheer and dance, and we performed for all sorts of city events: parades, holidays, ribbon cutting ceremonies, half-time shows at the local high school. It was wonderful, and I miss it still. I still get Christmas cards from a few of my past cheerleaders, who are now in college!

Q: Tell us about your current series/WIP.

A: My current series is the High Desert Hearts series, which is set in a highly romanticized, very fictionalized, nostalgic version of the small California town in the high desert where I finished growing up after my parents moved us there from Orange County. Pasodoro sits alongside the dry bed of the Mojave River and is as perfectly maintained as a movie set.

I never intended to set a series in the high desert, but when Snow Angel barged in my writerly door, that’s where the story demanded the series had to take place. Which is sort of funny, given Snow Angel itself doesn’t spend a lot of time there, but the other books in the series will.

The series follows the lives of the Honeywell and Carlisle families and their friends, focusing mainly on the college-aged generation. This is a small town, family-saga-style series, where everyone knows everyone else, the families are tightly intertwined, and the characters from each book will weave in and out of everyone else’s lives on a regular basis.

Snow Angel is Melinda and Jacob’s love story, a friends-to-lovers tale. Because they’re juniors in college, and have big plans for post-graduation, they’re not ready for marriage and babies just yet. But it’s entirely possible we’ll see their wedding in someone else’s book several years from the “now” of their story world.

Book two in the series, Desert Damsel, will be out in spring of 2015, and is Eddie Thomas’s story. Readers met him in Snow Angel. He’s best friends with Melinda’s cousin, Rick Carlisle, but he’s going to be on his own in dealing with the female crisis that lands in his lap, at least for the first part of the book. While Snow Angel was a more relaxed story, with a slow build of passion between Melinda and Jacob, Desert Damsel starts off with a bigger bang. I’m excited to see how Eddie handles himself with his beautiful-but-challenging damsel.

Future books in the series will feature Melinda’s brother, Zach, who is currently in Japan for work; Gabe, the race-car driving bad boy of the group; as well as many of Melinda’s cousins and their other friends in their hometown of Pasodoro.

Q: All self-pubbed books are rumored to be shoddily edited. What do you say to that?

A: I say pshaw. “All” is a big word, for all that it only has three letters. Of course there are shoddily edited self-pubbed books out there. I might even go so far as to say there are many. But I’ve seen plenty of traditionally published books with serious editing failures, as well, so I don’t think that issue is necessarily specific to self-pubbed books.

Writing is an art form. It’s individual, it’s messy, and fun, and creative, and crazy. It’s not produced from a mold that can be perfected and turned out precisely the same way over and over. Each book is very individual to its writer. Every writer has different skills, a different level of craft, a different history, more or fewer years of experience than the writer on the next stool at the bar. That’s part of what makes writing (and reading!) so fantastic. Give a roomful of writers the same plot and word-count limit, and every one of them will turn in a vastly different story.

That said, is it incumbent upon every writer to polish their work to a high sheen and to publish the best, cleanest, most error-free manuscript possible? Of course. Do they all? Obviously not.

Of course, there are books out there that are technically brilliant that I still can’t get through. The Game of Thrones series contains possibly the greatest prose I have ever read. It’s like a master class in writing fiction. Those books are beyond brilliant at every level, from the big picture stuff down to the last comma. But the stories are so dark! I felt like I needed therapy by the time I got halfway through book five, and I had to stop reading.

On the other hand, I have a new favorite indie author (I won’t name names), whose books I LOVE, but which have a lot of problems. A lot. There’s the usual crop of typos or misplaced commas, but there are also synonym and homonym errors, there’s verb tense confusion. Some sentences are completely incomprehensible. Her stories wander around, they don’t conform to the expectations of her genre, and she has no control over her cast list. I thought the main character was a single mom throughout the first book in the series, only to discover that she’s happily married and has been all along. There’s a son who has almost never been seen on the page and brothers to the main character who weren’t mentioned until about book eight. Where have they been, and what have they been doing? No clue whatsoever.

To make matters even worse, she’s loosely woven two connected series together, but with no rhyme or reason, so her timelines are all screwed up. People will show up in the main series out of the blue, with no introduction or explanation, as though they’ve been there all along and the reader should know who they are, and all about their backstory, and why they’re there now. It’s very confusing.

And I. Don’t. Care.

I so intensely love her stories and characters that I am completely willing to overlook what is, in all honesty, a mess of a book and series, just for the pleasure of spending time in the world she’s created. Will I give that same consideration to just about anyone else who puts out a book in that condition? No. But it just goes to show, story ultimately trumps all. When you find one you love to that degree, it won’t matter if the book is a technical disaster, because you’ll be so entirely hooked on the story.

As authors, however, we cannot and should not count on that level of love to hook people into our books. It’s a rare series that can survive that sort of breakdown in craft and still be so incredibly awesome that people willingly overlook it. But imagine how great her books would be if she got those problems fixed!

When people talk about indie books being poorly edited, I think a decent percentage of those complaints are for—overall—fairly small potatoes. Misplaced commas and typos are annoying, for sure, but if you really love the book, they won’t keep you from enjoying it. They haven’t kept me from enjoying the many traditionally published books I’ve read where I’ve found the exact same errors. What irks me is when indie books are unfairly held to a different standard simply because they’re indie published. To those who would impose that false standard, I’d say: Find me even a small handful of traditionally published NY books with no errors at all, then we’ll talk.

On that note… here’s an excerpt from my latest release, Snow Angel, with (hopefully) no errors!

EXCERPT ~ Snow Angel


“Hey,” Melinda said, breaking into his thoughts. “Where’d you go?”


“You seem a little out of it.”

“Oh,” he said, striving for normality. “Just tired. It’s been a long day.”

“That’s for sure,” she said.

Did her eyes always have to light up like that when she smiled?

Oh, God. Yeah. He was in trouble.

“Come on, roomie.” Melinda poked his shoulder playfully. “Help me make up the beds so we can crash whenever.”

Melinda jumped to her feet and held out her hand like she’d done a million times before, though he noted the slight wince when she put her weight on her left foot.

He was slow to take her hand, wondering for possibly the first time in his life what it would feel like to hold her slender fingers in his, as though he’d never held her hand before, and worrying his palm might turn sweaty, betraying the direction of his thoughts.

“Jake? You okay?”

He’d waited too long, staring at her fingers. Making it weird. It cost him some effort, but he flashed her a big everything’s-great grin.

“Yeah, sorry,” he said. “More out of it than I realized.”

Taking her hand, Jacob let her pull him up, relief crashing over him when it felt completely normal.

Following her to the winding stairs leading to the loft, he started up after her, his eyes skimming her hair where it fell in waves over her slim back, and the sway of her—

Don’t look at her ass, don’t look at her ass, what the hell is wrong with you, don’t look at her ass!

“What’s the movie for tonight, do you know?” she asked.

Pulling his head out of the fog of lust that had momentarily swamped him, Jacob cleared his throat. Then cleared it again.

“Uh, no. One of the Bourne movies, I think.”

She reached the top of the staircase and stepped into the loft. Jacob stopped on the stairs, just for a moment, to catch his breath. He renewed his vow to fix the situation and to keep her from seeing anything strange reflected in his eyes. She never needed to know he’d gone through this… thing.

When he reached the top, she was already airing the fitted sheet over the bed closest to the balcony door. He ignored the way her dark red sweater clung to her curves as she moved. She had a really small waist for a girl with such big—

“Which one do you want?” she asked.

“This one’s fine,” he said hoarsely, indicating the bed closest to the stairs. He gave himself a mental smack.

Get off it, man.

Jacob grabbed the other set of sheets and stared hard at the mattress while Melinda talked about a job she was hoping to get next term. He hoped he answered appropriately, because he had no idea what either of them actually said.

This was going to be a long week.


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Award-winning romance author Chantilly White writes lush, emotional contemporary, historical, and paranormal romances featuring characters readers love. Her works include short stories, novellas, and full-length novels from hot and sexy to scorching. Her latest release, Snow Angel—the first book in the High Desert Hearts series—released October 31, 2014. Remember Me, a paranormal romance, will release this winter, and Desert Damsel, book two in the High Desert Hearts series, will release in spring 2015. Find Chantilly around the web:







Thanks again for having me, Cynthia, this was fun!

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