Author Carolynn Carey is in my local writing group. As part of our PR and Mentoring program we have a monthly featured author. About 30 questions are given for the author to choose from. They are mostly centered around the craft and business of writing. I asked Carolyn if she would let me share her post on my blog also. She was happy to oblige. Readers may find out more about this gracious woman also.
I’m delighted to have been randomly selected to be ETCWA’s first featured author. Felita Daniels provided some thought-provoking questions, and I hope my responses will prove interesting and possibly helpful in some cases.
My initial response will actually touch on at least three of the questions: (1) How long have you been writing? (2) Have you entered or won any contests? What was your experience participating in these contests? (3) What conventions and conferences have you attended?
Although my attempts at writing go back many years, I can trace my serious efforts to around 1990 when I completed a Regency of around 100,000 words. I envisioned The Mysterious Merriana as being the first in a trilogy, so I went on to write the second, The Untamable Antonia, which I entered in the Romance Writers of America (RWA) 1991 Golden Heart contest for unpublished writers. That manuscript was a finalist, which provided motivation for me to attend that year’s RWA conference, which was held in New Orleans. That conference was the first time I’d been around a group of writers, and the experience was amazing. I learned so much in the workshops and just simply listening to other writers talk about their work ethics, their interactions with publishers, and so on.
Two years later, I finaled with another Regency, A Simple Lady, and again I went to the national conference, which again proved valuable for learning the craft and meeting people.
My third and last Golden Heart finalist came in 1996. Compromising Situations was the only one of my Golden Heart finalists to be
published, and that didn’t happen until 2007. The published book won the 2007 National Readers’ Choice Award in the Regency category. That book also won the 2008 Laurie Contest for Published Writers, Historical category.
In addition to the RWA National conferences, I’ve attended other national, regional, and local conferences and can honestly say I’ve gained something from each and every one. I highly recommend attending conferences when possible, as well as entering contests. The Smoky Mountain Romance Writers’ Laurie Contest for Unpublished Writers was instrumental in helping me get published initially. I won that contest in 2004 and the editor who judged the contemporary category liked and bought my book, A Summer Sentence, which became the first in the Barbourville series, a series I’m self-publishing today. (I’m happy to say that my self-published books are also winning and finaling in contests such as the HOLT Medallion contest sponsored by the Virginia Romance Writers.) I believe in entering contests because even if you don’t final or win, some new readers are exposed to your writing and may want to read more of your books.
Another of the questions posed by Felita involved how many books/short stories I’ve had published. Including my self-published books, I’ve had nine contemporary romance novels and one contemporary novella; one women’s fiction; two Regency novels and four Regency novellas. I just submitted a completed manuscript (a romantic suspense) to a publisher and I’ve started on another Barbourville book. I do want to mention, however, that I have four completed manuscripts (two of them being Golden Heart finalists) that I never intend to publish. I was still learning the craft, and those books simply are not written well enough to warrant being published. I’ve tried rewriting them and discovered they are not salvageable. I wish I had not been such a slow learner, but I’m thrilled those books are not out there in my name!
Another question involved the best writing advice I’ve ever received. That
happened at one of the RWA National conferences. One of the speakers said: “It takes three things to be published—talent, luck, and persistence.
But if you have persistence, it only takes one of the other two.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement, but even if you don’t accept it fully, you should keep in mind that without persistence, you’re almost guaranteed to fail.
I’ve enjoyed responding to Felita’s questions, and I hope some of my previous experiences may prove helpful to other writers.