It’s time for an author interview!
I’m happy to introduce Carol White, author of the adult fiction novel From One Place to Another. If you missed my October 13 review of her book you can read it here.
Carol, welcome to my blog! Of course, you are no stranger here; I’m pleased to know you are a reader of my blog. Also, you won one of the books I offered here.
Would you please begin by telling us a little about yourself?
Thanks so much for this interview, and for your in-depth review of my latest book, “From One Place to Another.” I began to read your blog when I saw that Delia Ephron was your guest, and I ended up winning “The Lion is In.” Since then, I’ve been a steady follower. I live in beautiful Delray Beach, Florida and I’ve been writing fiction, plays, poetry and articles for about 12 years. I also do a lot of volunteer work in the community, which keeps me grounded.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?
In school I was always considered a good creative writer, and have also been interested in theatre since junior high. I didn’t take my writing abilities seriously until I enrolled in a 12 week workshop based on “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, a wonderful jumpstart to discovering your creativity. Anna Lisa Curtis was the leader and I have her to thank for helping me develop my career.
I’ve considered looking into The Artist’s Way, perhaps I should. As a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?
I read all the time and usually have two books going at once, one on my Kindle and the other in print. I enjoy contemporary fiction, essays and some biographies. Authors I like? Well, Jonathan Tropper comes to mind because I just finished his latest book. Susan Isaacs, ALL of the Ephron sisters, Jennifer Weiner, John Grisham and Emily Giffin are some of my favorites, and for essays, David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs, Calvin Trillin and the late, great Nora Ephron.
Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?
After completing The Artist’s Way course, I called myself a writer. I do feel like giving up at times because the publishing field has gotten so competitive, but I have enough fans who insist that I keep writing. Even a small base can keep you motivated.
Do you have a motto or Bible verse or quote that you try to live by and that helps to keep you going?
This may sound insignificant, but I relate to the song, “So You Had a Bad Day.” That kind of keeps things in perspective and reminds me to count my blessings! I also use the sticky note program on my laptop to keep words of encouragement in plain sight “Be healthy, exercise, give thanks, etc.” I pop those notes up on the screen several times a day and add more if I feel something is lacking.
I believe if something is useful it is not insignificant, and those pc sticky notes are wonderful things. What do you remember about your very first time to be published, how did that happen?
I remember it exactly. I had written a children’s story, The Dinosaur’s Computer Shop and entered it into a contest given by a St. Louis publication, which is now out of print. I won first prize and received a check for $100.00. The story was published on page one of their paper. It was the best $100.00 ever.
What great encouragement that must have been! Do you mind mentioning some of what you have written or contributed to thus far? Of what you have had published what means the most to you? Of those, what do or did you most enjoy writing?
I’ve had a lot of short fiction published by The East Hampton Star Newspaper and the now defunct Writers Journal, several articles in The Sun Sentinel Newspaper, and columns in various magazines and newsletters such as Insight for Playwrights, Working Writers and The Florida Writer. Two of my plays have won major awards and that was pretty exciting. I think whatever project I’m working on becomes my favorite, but seeing my first novel, “Hidden Choices,” in print was exhilarating.
What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?
I keep files in my computer of titles I like, i.e., good phrases for writing, and notes for new stories. I’ve also started to use index cards when plotting out a novel, which helps keep my characters straight. There are times I can’t see my dining room table because it’s covered with cards!
What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?
Once I get going, I pretty much work 8-10 hours a day. When the first draft is finished, I start in with rewriting. The process can take several months. Before I send anything to my editor, I give it to my reader who happens to be my best friend and target audience. She gets back to me with notes, sometimes brutal, but always honest and her input has been invaluable.
What a blessing to have a friend like that! What inspired you to write From One Place to Another?
The novel started as two short stories I wrote years ago when I lived in a country club in Boca Raton. I also worked for a caterer at that time, so was able to create the story using true-to-life experiences, of course greatly exaggerated.
It’s good to know it is greatly exaggerated. How long did it take you to write From One Place to Another? Did you have to do any research? And how did you come up with that title?
Because I already knew the beginning and end of the book, I just had to fill in the middle and add more characters. Once I got going it didn’t take more than a couple of months to put it together as a novel. I did research on some of the local places I mention in the book in southeast Florida, and called others in North Carolina for information. I liked the cadence of the title, and it also represents the geographic and personal journey of the protagonist.
Did you write a little of yourself into any of the characters? Do you have a favourite?
There is a lot of food mentioned in the book. I’ve always had a huge interest in cooking and enjoy entertaining in my home, but similarities to the protagonist, Dina Marshall, stop there. I love Gabriela as a character because she is the antagonist and adds a good dose of spice to the book…the villain you love to hate!
Why did you decide to include some crude language? Was it simply a natural fit with the characters?
Much of today’s contemporary fiction includes cursing. I felt I kept mine to a minimum, but in some places it was absolutely necessary. When Dina’s husband leaves her (and you find that out on page one so no spoiler alert needed) she indeed uses some foul language when relating the story to her best friend. Because I speak aloud as I type, I actually become my characters, so if they’re angry – I’m angry…and if they curse, it’s because I believe it’s what they would do in that situation.
How did/do you go about finding a publisher? an editor? Do you have an agent?
For my first book, I used a large print-on-demand company. They did a good job in certain areas, but fell down in others. My second book was published by Trimark Press, a hybrid company, where you pay for certain services, but receive a lot of personal attention. I was fortunate that they had a spectacular house editor, Penelope Love, and we worked very well together. I haven’t looked for an agent, but I may try once my next book is completed. I’d like to mention that my books are available in both print and ebooks on Amazon, etc. Readers may also order the book directly from me at a greatly reduced cost.
Oh, very interesting. How do you consistently write? Do you have writing goals? daily? weekly? monthly? long-range?
I work on something every week, but not daily. I go in spurts. I wish I could be more disciplined, but that only happens when I get the urge.
What other interests do you have for a change from writing?
I belong to several writing organizations including the National League of American Pen Women and act as their Letters Chair, which means I do a lot of event planning for our writers. I am fortunate to have many friends in the area, so there’s never a loss of fun things to do. I belong to a book club, and attend a lot of local cultural events. I was the executive producer for a local theatre company for almost a decade, and am now getting back into that.
You lead a busy and creative-inspiring life. Do you have another project in the works?
I have several! I’m working on two plays and two novels. One novel is a book of short stories, most of which have previously been published, and I really just have to put it together. The other is a mystery that takes place in Delray Beach, Florida.
Finally, is being a writer/author all you had hoped or thought it would be? Do you have any advice for hopefuls?
To be a writer in today’s day and age, you must push yourself. Here is what has worked for me. Get known in your community and form relationships with libraries, book stores, etc. Submit articles to your local newspaper. Write a newsletter for your community. Enter contests from magazines or blogs to see if you get results. Contests are great because you become familiar with deadlines and word counts. If you write children’s stories, offer to read in libraries and after-school programs. Join writers groups and see if there is a critique group that suits your needs. Give workshops in an area you’re skilled in. Offer to read poetry in nursing homes and independent living communities. Join a book club. Go to book signings where you’ll meet authors and have the opportunity to ask questions. Writing is such a solitary career that we love to talk to people! READ as much as you write. Subscribe to a writer’s magazine to keep current, and read blogs such as yours!
Thank you, Carol, for a very interesting interview. You gave quite a list of suggestions there, great ideas – specifically that last tip.
Now, my friends, as Carol mentioned, you can purchase her book through Amazon, or you can buy directly from her at a lower price. She can be found on Facebook: www.carolwhitefiction.com and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/polowhite
Do you live in Canada or the USA and would like the chance to win a free copy of Carol White’s newest book – From One Place to Another? If so, please leave a comment here and tell us what you gleaned as helpful from this interview. Tuesday, October 23, at about 7:oo PM EST, one name will be drawn from the basket, so get your comment in! Once the winner responds to my email the winner’s first name will be posted here on my blog and Carol will be notified so she can get a copy to that person. Sound good?
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!
PS: Leave a comment and remember to check your emails on Tuesday evening.