Following up her debut novel, IN NAME ONLY, Carol has written another smashing tale of intrigue combined with romance and has graciously agreed to a few questions.
I know so little about you. How did you end up becoming a writer?
I’ve always had stories and characters floating around in my head. And I’ve always made up stories about people I don’t know. I thought everyone did. When I learned that wasn’t the case, I wondered if I was supposed to write these down. I took some writing classes and fiction classes and found my true home.
I love your brand -- Crime Fiction with a Kiss. How did you come up with that?
I needed something to describe what I write. Yes, it’s mystery, but not traditional mystery. Yes, it’s suspense, but not Stephen King or Mary Higgins Clark suspense. And it’s romance, but not contemporary romance or romantic suspense. The romance is more of a love story. So I thought for a while about genres and about what all my books have in common instead of how they’re different. All my novels have at least one crime, and they all have a love story. I played around with different words and phrases for a few days until I finally hit on Crime Fiction with a Kiss. I knew that was the right line as soon as the thought came.
Gee, perhaps we should brainstorm. I want a tag like that.
Are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
Both. I pay attention to three-act structure. I know the things I want the story to cover, and I have a timeline for when they occur in the plot. I know a lot about my characters. I know their backstories and motivations and what they’ll be doing in this story.
As I write this, my muse is perched on a stool behind me filing her nails. “Sure you do, honey. Keep on thinking that.”
She’s right. Once I start to write, the characters and my muse take over. Usually they follow the plan close enough – my in-control self says it’s a good thing there’s a plan or the story would be all over the map. My muse is laughing. Why is that?
What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
My reading habit is eclectic. I love reading work by bloggers I know, and the range of genres is amazing! I love discovering authors whose work is new to me and falling in love with their stories. And, of course, I have favorites I’ve loved forever. My most favorite forever author is Lisa Scottoline. I also like David Baldacci, Lisa Gardner, Suzanne Brockmann, and James Patterson. Left to my own devices, I gravitate to the mystery, suspense, and romance genres.
Now that Solomon's Compass is out, are you working on something else, or are you taking a break from writing?
I don’t think I know the true meaning of “taking a break” – LOL. I’m working on two projects. One will be the next book in this non-series of standalones set on the Texas Gulf Coast. The other is the first book of a trilogy set in San Antonio.
What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
Ah-ha! The trick question. Stop laughing…I’m serious. There are lots of different parts of writing, and I have difficult parts with all of them. Or so it seems when I’m there. It’s difficult to make myself actually “start” writing instead of doing something else, especially on a new project. Getting the opening right is hard. I lose track of how many times I redo it before I’m satisfied. Sometimes I only redo the first page, but sometimes it’s the first few chapters. I’ve learned to embrace this as an important part of my process. It grounds me. Oh…and I really dislike the search and destroy part of editing.
I know that you've self published -- Was that always your goal or had you tried the agent route?
I did try the agent route. I even succeeded and had an agent for a couple of years. She was less than useful, and we parted ways. By the time I queried again, I had no luck. The publishing business as we once knew it was falling apart, and self-publishing was becoming more and more accepted and acceptable. I decided to try it, and so far it’s been good.
What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you began marketing your books?
I didn’t discover anything that knocked my socks off, but I did discover several things that surprised me. I found no way to calculate what works. People don’t always purchase the day they read about your book. Or even the week or month.
It’s important to be yourself and not follow someone else’s formula for what works or doesn’t work. Listen to your gut. Don’t be afraid to try something different or a little “out there.”
Crime Fiction with a Kiss