Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and forty-third, is of multi-genre writer Carolyn Haley. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Carolyn Haley is a writer, editor, and reviewer living in rural Vermont. Through her business, DocuMania, she writes a mix of articles for regional and national magazines, and commercial copy for catalogues and websites. She also helps other authors with diverse projects through editing, proofreading, production, and training.
Ms. Haley began writing novels in her teens, and favors hybrid romances that incorporate other genres. Her first novel, The Mobius Striptease, arose from her questions about anomalies, spirituality, and reincarnation. She formulated answers in a romantic-suspense story centered around a metaphysical mystery. That e-novel metamorphosed into The Aurora Affair for print, published by her imprint Borealis Books.
At the other end of the spectrum, Ms. Haley’s nonfiction book, Open Your Heart with Gardens, explores the whys and hows of interacting with the living green world. It formed a volume in DreamTime Publishings Open Your Heart series, designed to help people master their lives through what they already know. Gardens won an Honorable Mention in two categories in the 2008 Indie Book Awards.
Ms. Haley’s yard and garden blog, Adventures in Zone 3, spun off this project.
Forthcoming works include a horsey romance titled Into the Sunrise, a repackage of Open Your Heart with Gardens as a stand-alone book, and a Vermont-based romantic-suspense series. When not writing, Ms. Haley enjoys several outdoor pursuits–gardening, paddling, walking, riding, birdwatching–along with autosports and spectating the arts. Her enduring passion, however, is books.
And now from the author herself:
Unlike many authors, I was not born with the urge to write. Instead, I was an artist, who by mid-teens had started adding narratives to drawings—on track to become an illustrator or a graphic novelist.
But after college I needed to make a living, and I had one marketable skill: the ability to type and spell. So I went to work as a word processor.
This, by accident of circumstance, led me to an almost overnight switch from artist to writer.
It happened during my first corporate job, in the engineering division of a huge manufacturer. The company shut down for two weeks every summer, forcing vacations for everyone except a skeleton crew. I, at the bottom of the totem pole, was required to come in full time for a handful of engineers who gave me nothing to do. Yet I wasn’t allowed to occupy or amuse myself with non-work activities.
I did, however, have a fancy memory typewriter at my fingertips, behind a door with no window. With years of diary and journal writing under my belt, I knew how to fill a blank page with my thoughts and feelings. Which is how I made those long days pass.
I took everything that was going on in my life at the time, mixed it with personal history and fantasy, and hung it on questions that had always haunted me about psychic phenomena. The result was 150,000 words of pure drivel.
But it contained a good story idea, which caught my imagination so much that I put aside my pencils and paints and undertook learning how to write a novel.
Thirty-two years of lessons, research, rejection, feedback, and revision passed before I composed a fictional scenario that worked. I titled it The Mobius Striptease, and it was finally published in 2009 by the Canadian e-publisher Club Lighthouse Publishing.
Ta-daaa! The biggest goal in my life achieved.
Turns out, that was only the beginning. I still didn’t have a book to hold in my hand, and many of my potential readers had not yet adopted e-books so were waiting for a printed copy to come out.
By this time, so much had happened in the publishing world that I knew a cross-genre midlist title was not going to fly with traditional print houses. My time and energy would be better spent producing it myself, since I now had the core skills and my own business through which to do so.
My contract with Club Lighthouse was for electronic rights only, leaving me free from day one to publish in all other formats through any other venues. It took half the contract’s three years to make decisions, and the other half to compile the resources. Ultimately, I chose to repackage the book.
Experience showed that my audience was spread across several genres. To reach them all, I needed to change the title (too many people don’t know what a Mobius strip is), change the cover (its sexual suggestiveness threw a vibe that was turning some readers away), and change the synopsis (shifting emphasis to a different aspect of the story). I also had to decide which genre dominated the story so it could be placed on bookstore shelves.
Thus came about The Aurora Affair, a contemporary fantasy. It’s the same book as Mobius save for American vs. Canadian spelling conventions, and some single-word or phrase tweaks for page-fitting during layout. But its new outfit makes it feel and read like a whole new book.
Which brings me to another start point: keeping the work in print. I still need to invest in marketing and conversion to yet more formats. But I’m taking my time, letting results build at a tempo appropriate for the scope and diversity of my readership. Meanwhile, I’m digging out new time to write the next book.
The first one occupied more than half the years I’ve been alive, so the clock is ticking against me. Thankfully, I’m a two- or three-book wonder instead of one of those prolific folks bursting with more stories than they can possibly write. I know enough now to repeat the process in a fraction of the time the first novel took. Still, getting the right words in the right order doesn’t come easy or fast. I’m hoping that I will live long enough to finish!
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.