You’re an author with an extensive history in writing. Beginning as a free lance writer for newspapers, to writing articles for travel magazines, somewhere in between all this, you found the time to write a cookbook, and several historical books about your home town of Candor, New York before jumping into romance with your latest release “Amazon Connection”.
Can you tell us a little about the book?
CH: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about Amazon Connection. A subject that brings a smile to my face every time I think about it. Some people may think it’s all about saving the rainforest and that my heroine goes on and on ad nauseam about it. Not true. That’s not me. It’s simply a backdrop that gives the heroine an excuse to be in Amazonian Rainforest, or jungle as she comes to think of it. End of lecture.
As a world traveler, was it a visit to the Amazon’s that seeded this storyline?
CH: Definitely! I fell in love with the Amazon. Although we had lived in Europe for three years and had done a lot of traveling around the States, that was the first of our ‘vacations of a lifetime’, and the experiences lived on. In fact, I sold to Porthole Cruise Magazine (that furthered my career in writing for cruise ships in-cabin books – but that’s another story). I was reading the newspaper one day and read about a pipeline that was going through the rainforest. That led me to do some plotting. What if? It didn’t start out to be a suspense adventure, but that’s what it turned out to be.
Is this a mildly tame or hot erotic romance novel?
CH: Amazon Connection is a mildly tame romance. It’s set in an exotic location. The hero and heroine make love, but the reader doesn’t get a blow by blow description of the actual act, body parts. I’m not a prude, but I have a hard time (for now, anyway) thinking about the people who know me who are going to be reading this book and I tend to try to ‘keep it clean’. In fact, my 21-year old granddaughter was a little shy about reading it knowing that her grandmother wrote sex scenes. I’m sure she’ll get over it once she finally reads the book. Of course it doesn’t help that my husband jokingly tells everyone that I practice all my sex scenes with him! Naturally, he enjoys telling all his male friends he’s going to be busy again because I’m starting my next book – China Connection.
What inspired your heroine’s character? Are there any parallels to you and the heroine?
CH: I’m lumping these two questions together because they sort of go hand-in-hand. Holly may be a bit like me in some ways, but not in others. I like a good adventure, but a safe one. Although I never shied away from the ‘creepy-crawly’ things, Holly on the other hand grew up afraid of such things. I needed a heroine that had to overcome an internal conflict (or two), and having her face these fears was ideal. Otherwise her trek through the jungle wouldn’t have been such a struggle for her. And having Jake rescue her would have been too easy. She had to come full circle and finally face her fears. It just cried out to me, and I couldn’t resist. Don’t we all have fears that we want to or need to overcome? There really are no other parallels that I can think of, although others in my family might disagree.
There are parts of the novel that really happened. I especially wanted to include the alligator hunt scene, but wasn’t sure how to fit it into the story. In fact, I didn’t put it in until after the first few drafts. Then, I found it the perfect opportunity to have Jake force Holly to see that she wasn’t capable of delving deep into the rainforest/jungle with him. The hunt really happened like that (including the alligator, the paperweight spider, the sprawling anaconda, and the snakes wrapped around a young girl’s hand shoved into my face!), so describing the entire incident was easy. It’s an adventure I’ll never forget and I wanted to share it. I think it set things up nicely for what Holly was going to face later in the rainforest/jungle later in the story.
Was there an AH HA moment as your wrote this book?
CH: The AH HA moment was when I realized there was more to writing a book then starting on page one and ending on page 200+. Although I’d attended a lot of conferences and workshops on writing, and I had a ton of writing books on my neatly arranged bookshelves, I was talking to a friend who mentioned The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing by Evan Marshall, and I said, “Hey, I’ve got that book, too.” So I pulled it off the shelf and read it from cover to cover this time. The things I learned about what goes in a book, and how it all comes together. I must admit that combined Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon, I made up my own forms to follow, I filled them in according to what was already happening in Amazon Connection, and found out that I was missing was a boat-load of motivation, action and what if’s. My characters were flat and there really wasn’t anything very interesting about them.
I had another AH HA moment when my hero didn’t seem to come to life and be a hero. Stevi Mittman was giving a talk at one of our chapter meetings and she mentioned she had the same problem until she changed the name of her hero. So I tried it out. Wow! Jake is a far better hero’s name/action figure than Adam – at list in this story. For me the character really took off and became the hero he needed to be for this story.
Okay, so I have another AH-HA moment. I took a branding class and found out what it really was I was writing. Boy did my story take off. Confidence in you and your story is key.
What would you tell inspiring writers?
CH: Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Having said that, know that maybe you need to find that learning curve, and above all else remember that everyone has their own likes and dislikes – critique partners, editors, agents, and especially well-meaning family members. Find what works for you and stick to it. And Don’t. Give. Up.
What really pushed me along on the road to writing a full length novel was retiring and having the time needed to finally concentrating on the actual writing process without interruption. Every writer who is married with children, single with children, or taking care of someone else, knows how difficult it is to be able to focus for long periods of time on their creativity. It isn’t always easy. I can only urge them to not give up their dream. It may take sometime, but if you give up, you will never know the euphoria of success!
Having sold several nonfiction books, and now your romance novel, what would you say was the most important steps you made to make that first sale?
CH: The most important step? Submit it! Get it out there, but make sure it’s really ready. Here’s where I went wrong. I had the opportunity to sell Amazon Connection to Harlequin. Twice. But both times it really wasn’t ready. So of course it was rejected. I hadn’t hit that big learning curve yet and it showed. But I didn’t give up and I took their advice (although general) and went back to the drawing board. I’ve got to admit that Amazon Connection now is not the Amazon Connection I submitted to them. It’s a completely different book. But, I didn’t give up. Bottom line!
If you could do getting published over, what steps would you avoid or eliminate taking, this time around?
DH: Isn’t hindsight great? This is hard to say. Avoid negative people that aren’t supportive. I once went to a President’s Retreat at a RWA conference and the topic was about toxic people who bring you down and that you should break away from them immediately. I took heed of the advice and it was the best thing ever. Took some time to get over the negative experience, but if I hadn’t done that I probably still wouldn’t be published in romance. You need to have supportive, nurturing people around you. People who are encouraging, yet honest in their critique of your work. Brainstorming is a good alternative to critiquing if you find yourself changing everything about your story according to everyone’s wishes. You simply lose your own voice and your story will show it. Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to go for it.
What is the most important promotional tool to you as an author?
CH: Publishing in an internet-savvy world today, and being published with a smaller house that mostly does e-publishing, I’d say great sites like yours are very important, as are reviews from many of the sites that do reviews. Of course getting a great review helps. A lot! Also, knowing a bit about marketing helps. And not being afraid to market yourself along with your book. Sometimes not easy for the first time novelist. Especially romance.
Amazon Connection is available through The Wild Rose Press website store as a e-book or POD book, or from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble website, or can be ordered from a book store near you. Feel free to visit Carol’s website at: Carol Henry or write to her at email@example.com.
Awesome and very informative, Carol. Thank you for your time.
Readers, come back next Sunday and enter my contest. Yes, I’m going to make it harder! And Blodevedd you send your answers to my private e! ;-) LOL
Carol’s offering a very gracious give away. The winner of the contest will get a free copy of her signed book “Amazon Connection” AND the second and third place winners will get a free copy of her Cookbook! Woo Hoo!!!
I hope everyone’s having a super great day!
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