It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so glad you’ve joined me and my special guests today. I got in touch with our special guests back in June and due to my schedule and theirs, we had to delay the interview but I’m so glad they’ll be sharing their journey as authors with us today. We get the special privilege of seating with a mother-daughter team who’ve found a unique way to combine their creative talents without ever having the local police come to break up a fight. They write in different genres and I was very impressed by their willingness to explore different channels to expose their books to a new audience. Pull your chair a little bit closer and join me in welcoming Helen adn Lorri Carpenter.
Can you tell us about the first time someone complimented you on something you wrote?
It may not have been the first time, but we do remember a compliment we received from a reader in North Carolina who sent a greeting card via postal mail. He said that though he knew our story wasn’t true, he had found it laugh-out-loud funny, and he thought something like that could happen to anyone…and had in fact, happened to him.
We wrote back to express our appreciation for his card, and to tell him the story—which involved us getting locked out of the house and having to climb in through the bathroom window—was indeed true. We also admitted it was less funny at the time…
We write sweet, clean stories the whole family can enjoy. We like to picture our readers snuggled under the bed covers or curled up on the couch or in a sunny window seat, lost in the world we’ve created.
We’re partial to strong, practical, intelligent female protagonists who have a steadfast friend or two with a sense of humor, and a supportive if exasperating family or family substitute. So those are things readers will find in most of our books too.
Helen and Lorri, you co-write books together. Can you tell us a unique challenge this situation presents and how you both overcome it?
We write collaboratively and the challenge is what you’d expect—we sometimes get into disagreements because we each love our words. We find that a reasonable “cooling off” period helps eliminate most of the conflict.
Having a poor memory is useful too.
We tend to get bored easily, so switching genres is a great way to keep the ideas and the words flowing. Another advantage is that there’s always something new to learn, because each genre has its own peculiarities. Hey, we resemble that remark!
Disadvantages include the problem of marketing. We’re readers too, so we understand the desire to know what to “expect” from a writer. On the other hand, as authors, we dislike being boxed in.
Some authors solve this problem by creating pseudonyms for different types of writing. We think keeping up with one persona is enough work, and we figure our readers are plenty smart. If we clearly label our stories, readers won’t be confused.
What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?
Yeah. Marketing. The slow, one-reader at a time method seems to be our default mode. We’ve had the best results with guest posts like this one (thanks for the opportunity, David!) and old-school techniques like giving out bookmarks.
We’re trying new things, too—for example, we entered our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, in the new Amazon Kindle Scout program. The program is essentially crowd sourcing. That is, readers nominate books for a publishing contract. While there’s plenty of chatter about how the program might not be very beneficial for authors, we’re generally open to trying new things. We figure one of the perks of being an indie author is the opportunity to experiment with different venues and opportunities. So we read the contract and decided to participate.
Annnnnnddd…we’re pleased to announce the launch for A Cause for Murder is Monday, October 27!
An excerpt and an author interview will be available on Amazon that day. We’ll let you know how the “cozy” marketing experiment goes.
“We’re not fans of fancy dialogue tags,” they said.
If “said” isn’t enough after dialogue, then something is wrong with the sentence. The reader should know what’s going on from the words, not because the writer has added a description of the way the words are supposed to sound.
Based on editing comments we’ve gotten, another thing to avoid is overuse of character names. “Not that we would know personally of course, David,” they said.
Finally, we think words no one actually ever uses outside of crossword puzzles should generally be avoided…unless your hero is a naturally pompous speaker. “I really must request elucidation on that prohibition,” the hero said.
I’m fascinated to know what your definition of success as an author is?
Our definition changes. When we started writing, we thought finishing a complete manuscript (an entire book, whee!) meant success. Then we thought having an editor respond favorably to our query meant success. Once that happened, we thought being successful meant getting published.
Now…hmmm…let’s see… oh, yes! Reaching the bestseller list and having a book optioned for a movie is definitely success.
After that happens…well, we’ll create the next definition when we get there.
Pretty much anything by Dean Koontz. His characters pulse off the page and his descriptions…well, we don’t have suitable words to express our admiration. Plus he’s funny!
Toy Story or Shrek?
Toy Story. A sweet cowboy hero, what could be better?
What three things should a first time visitor to Florida do?
Stop comparing Florida to the place you came from. Slather on buckets of sunscreen. Sit on the beach wearing a floppy straw hat and snooze.
For maximum enjoyment, do all three of those things at once.
What can we expect from HL Carpenter in the next 12 months?
Well, first, as we mentioned, we’re excited to announce our cozy mystery, A Cause for Murder, will launch in the new Amazon Kindle Scout program on Monday, October 27!
Here’s an exclusive sneak peek at the cover. An excerpt and an author interview will be available on Amazon at launch on Monday, and readers can vote to nominate A Cause for Murder for a publishing contract.
We also have a middle grade novel featuring a ghost that will be ready by year end. And we’re working on another young adult fantasy and a series of themed short stories that will be finished in 2015.
We have a busy year lined up!
You’ll find us in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue. We invite you to visit http://www.hlcarpenter.com/ and sign up for our newsletter to keep up with what’s happening in Carpenter Country.
Or you can catch up with us at
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?
You’ll probably hear about the difficulty of breaking into today’s overcrowded market and the impossible odds of ever reaching the best-seller list. Those things are true.
The market has always been overcrowded and the odds have always been impossible. You can’t win the lottery if you never buy a ticket.
Thanks for being with us today Helen and Lorri. I’ve been inspired by the nuggets of wisdom you’ve shared with us today. I also applaud your efforts to try different paths and enjoy the journey along the way. I hope you’ve gained something from my interview with Helen and Lorri. You can share this interview on various social platforms by clicking one of the links below. We’d also be happy to entertain any questions, comments or differing points of view you may have.