After four weeks of packing, unpacking, folding, ditching, storing, and generally trying to settle down after a major house move, nothing pleases me more than sitting at my computer and posting another inspiring story of an author. My guest today is author Carly Fall, who I met while posting my Six Sentence Sunday excerpts. She is friendly, outgoing, easy to talk to - and it wasn't long after knowing her that she invited me to participate in her Holiday Blog Hop. Carly is one of those people you instantly like and want to get to know better.
Like anyone, Carly has a family - kids, husband - a job (working long hours helping with her husband's online business) - and a household to run. Amid all the chaos, she writes stories with happily ever afters. She's the lady with the big smile and positive attitude. Life can be overwhelming at times, she admits, but she does what she can and doesn't complain. Bit by bit, stealing minutes here and minutes there of writing time, her stories have taken shape. This proves that there's no excuse - anyone can do it if they really want to. It's simply a matter of determination and motivation.
But I don't want to bore you with the pep talk. Let me just allow Carly to do the talking from now on. Here's her story...
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was sixteen. I'm not going to tell you how many years that's been! I did the High School yearbook and the college newspaper. I have been writing business material for about fifteen years.
When did you decide that you wanted to write for a living (that "aha" moment)?
That “aha” moment came to me about ten years ago. I was just too chicken to put anything I wrote out there.
What did your family say when you told them you wanted to be a writer?
My husband was the only one I shared my writing desires with. He has been supportive since day one. Since publishing, I have told my closest friends and my parents. All are incredibly supportive.
What is your preferred genre both for reading and writing?
I like writing paranormal/fantasy romance. I like to read a lot of genres. I love a good “whodunit” or a good romance.
Did you start by writing full time or did you have a day job?
My husband and I own our own online business that keeps me very busy. So I work on the business and also try to spend as much time as possible writing.
Did you take any writing courses or did you just sit and write a book?
When I graduated from college with a business communications degree, I was six credits shy of also graduating with an English degree. Since then, I haven't taken any formal courses, but I sometimes wish I had finished the degree. Although it wouldn't do anything except give me two degrees!
Did/do you have a crit group or mentor to guide you?
I guess my mentor is my editor. She is a fabulous person who understands me as a person and a writer, and “gets” me and what I am trying to do as a writer. That's so important!
How long did it take you to make your first sale? What was your first thought when you did?
I put my first book up on Amazon, and I had my first sale the same day I put it up. I did a happy dance :)
Did you sell the first story or novel you wrote?
Oh, no. I have been writing fiction for years, and I have deleted thousands of words!
How many drafts did you write of your first novel before you felt you got it right? What about now - do you still write several drafts of a story?
My first novel took me over a year to write, so there were many, many drafts. My second took me about three months, and there were three or four drafts. My third took me a couple of months as well, but that thing just flowed from my fingertips, and only needed a couple of drafts before heading for the editor.
Do you read industry or writing related blogs? If so, can you share some useful links?
Unfortunately, I am really bad at this. Between trying to run our business, getting some words on paper and promotion, it isn't easy to be connected to a writer’s world. Denise Grover Swank had a good blog about writing. She had an amazing 2011 as a self-published author! I also like Chuck Wendig at www.terribleminds.com. He is hysterical, and also has a lot of good advice for authors. However, if you are put off by colorful language, don’t visit :)
Do you think writers should consider self-publishing?
I LOVE self-publishing. We have a couple of books for our business that were self-published before it became easy. Just a few years ago you had to hire a bunch of people to make it happen. To give you an idea, our first book with editing, layout, cover design and copies cost our company around 20K. It's become a LOT easier!
I was reading an interview with an established author (the interview was on terribleminds.com I think) and he said that he was going to write 12 books in 2012 so he could jump into the self-publishing pool and see what it was all about. Self-publishing offers you so much freedom. Unfortunately, just like with anything, there are people who don’t take their work seriously and throw up a bunch of unedited, poorly written crap. Those people sometimes give self-publishing a bad name.
How do you feel about so many bookstores closing across the US? Do you think this trend is similar in other countries?
I love bookstores, so it makes me sad. However, it is understandable. With the Kindle, Nook and other e-readers, it's much easier to get books online that going to a brick and mortar store. I assume it is the same in all developed countries.
Are your books available in print or in digital format?
My books are available in both.
What advice do you think aspiring authors should heed today?
I think aspiring authors need to realize that actually writing the book is the easiest part of this business. It's the marketing that takes the work.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on marketing and writing my next book that doesn't have a title yet, as well as running our business and spending time with my family.
What is/are your favourite book(s)? Do you read only books from the genre you write in?
No, I enjoy may different genres. I love the Alex Cross series, as well as the Jack Reacher series. I have a serious crush on Jack Reacher. I also love John Sandford. I wasn't too hot for Virgil Cross at first, but that boy has grown on me, and I will read anything featuring Lucas Davenport. For my own genre, I like JR Ward, especially her new series of Fallen Angels. As for other authors in my genre, I've read some that are good, but don't hit home like JR Ward does. I'm trying to expand my reading ventures and I am currently really enjoying a historical romance-a genre I’ve never read before- by Elise Marion, who is a self-published author. Self-publishing is giving a lot of really good writers and storytellers a way to shine.
Do you read when you are plotting or writing a story?
No. I need to be in my own head to plot and write. Which probably explains why I read so few books last year – I've been very busy writing.
What book inspired you to write romance (or whatever genre you write in)?
There wasn't a particular book that inspired me. I supposed it was many books over a few genres. What it comes down to is I love drama in a story that ends in a happily ever after. It's that simple.
What hero/heroine/character was the most fun or challenging to write for you?
I have a soft spot for all my characters. I love Noah from the Light Within Me for his innocence. I love Rayner from Finding My Faith because he is so focused on one thing and he can't see the bigger picture of life in general. From Hidden in the Night, I may have fallen a little in love with Aiden myself, and I would want Holly as my best friend.
How do you juggle work, writing, chores and family/personal life? Do you have a secret to time management that you want to share with readers?
LOL! I have NO time management. There are some days where I am fortunate to write for hours on end. I will never forget the Saturday that my son had a friend over and I banged out 5,000 words. Most of the time it is ten minutes here or there, or a late night.
Do you have a ritual that you follow when it comes to writing?
In both series, the Dark Forces and Six Saviors, I have a pretty good idea where I’m going with all the characters. I find that even the best outlines leave spaces that need to be filled, or a character takes the story somewhere you don’t expect. I often find that the old adage of “sleeping on it” is the best way to work through those. I can't tell you how many times I've left the writing alone for a few days and thought about my dilemma before going to bed. After a couple of good nights rest, the answer comes to me incredibly clear when I wake in the morning. That’s about it for rituals. Maybe I should start some!
Where do you see yourself, careerwise, in 5 years time?
I would like to be able to step away from the business and be a full time writer.
What's your website URL?
Are you on Facebook?
How do you connect with readers?
I connect with my readers through a newsletter as well as Facebook and Twitter. To sign up for the newsletter, simply go to CarlyFall.com and fill out the box on the right hand side of the page
Carly Fall lives in Arizona with her incredibly supportive husband, their son and dog. She loves her family, the Arizona weather, writing and wine, and depending on the day, not necessarily in that order.
Latest and upcoming releases:
The Light Within Me was released in November 2011. The sequel to The Light Within Me, Finding My Faith, is due out in March 2012.
Excerpt from The Light Within Me:
It turned out that Noah enjoyed his Bad Idea. Immensely..
The steak house was a family owned and operated business, a small restaurant with only ten tables and a small back room. Legend had it that the mob used to meet back there, but the owner, Saul wouldn’t confirm it, nor would he deny it. So it remained legend.
Saul greeted Noah as an old friend. He stood at five foot five, about two hundred pounds, had a head full of thick, black hair, and loved to laugh. Noah also believed that Saul loved his restaurant and its patrons more than he loved his wife. He didn’t bother trying to hide his surprise when Noah introduced Abby. Noah had been frequenting the place for years, and never once had he brought a woman with him. In fact, he had come here when Saul’s dad ran the place. When it was time for Noah to ship out of the area because hey, he wasn’t aging, he missed the place. He had to wait for Saul’s father to die before returning to the restaurant.
Saul sat them at the back table and lit the small candle in the middle of the red tablecloth. The lights were dimmed, and soft jazz played over the speakers. The walls were decorated with old pictures of Reno and Sparks, as well as Saul’s family going back many generations.
Saul knew how to do two things great. The first was steak, and he did it right. He owned his own cattle ranch just outside of town where the cattle were range fed. It translated into a succulent meal every time. The second was pairing wine with dinner to accommodate the taste of the guest.
Noah didn’t think his system could take any more alcohol, but as he sipped the Merlot Saul had brought for them, he found that his system was enjoying it. When his dinner arrived and he sampled the filet mignon and garlic mashed potatoes, his system was totally on board and very happy. Or maybe it was the breathtaking woman sitting across from him that had him flying high.
After her first two questions, the interview pretty much went out the window. He turned the tables and began asking questions about her. He couldn’t help himself. He wanted to know everything about her. That little voice in his head was screaming at him to get up and run as far and as fast as he could, but the more she talked, the more that voice in his head sounded as though it had been locked in a closet and gagged. By the time dessert arrived, the voice was nothing but a low hum in his head and terribly easy to ignore.
With prodding and a lot of questioning, he found out that Abby’s childhood hadn’t been pretty. She grew up in Sacramento, California where her father had died before she was born, and her mother was murdered just after Abby’s ninth birthday. He watched as her face saddened, but then the sadness disappeared as she continued talking.
“I suppose that’s why I have such a fascination in unsolved murders,” she said quietly, her finger slowly tracing the lip of the wine glass. Noah knew it wasn’t meant to be seductive; it was just something she was doing while she thought about what she was saying. But damn, it was sexy as hell. Her nails were cut short, and her fingers were long and graceful. There wasn’t a ring on any of them. She explained how she collected old murder files from the Reno and Sacramento area, and often looked through them, wondering if something had been missed at the crime scene, or if the murderer was just that good. She also said she had wondered if some of them had been committed by the same person, simply for the lack of evidence in some of the files.
“They never caught my mother’s murderer. I have this fantasy that one day I’ll be digging through old files and something will jump out at me, and I’ll somehow solve the case.” She sat back and scoffed. Her eyes met his, and he wanted to hunt down that killer and gut him, just for her. He prayed it wasn’t one of his Colonists, but just some human scum.
Drawing her out wasn’t easy. She seemed closed off and shy. Not like she had anything to hide, but like she wasn’t comfortable letting anyone get close to her. However, once he got her talking, once she seemed to trust him, she unveiled a lot of herself, which pleased him immensely.
She told him of growing up in an orphanage, as none of her remaining family would take her in after her mother’s death. She worked hard in school and went to the University of Nevada, Reno on a partial scholarship, student loans, and credit cards. In college, she’d learned how much fun partying was, and the boozing helped her break out of her shell a bit and make some friends. She kept her grades just good enough so she could keep the scholarship. When she graduated with her journalism degree, she wasn’t anything special, so any hope of getting into a big city paper pretty much flew out the window. The Reno paper was happy to have her, and the rest was history.
As he split the last bit of wine between their glasses, he asked how she liked her job.
She sighed. He really liked that sound. Depending on her mood, it seemed to convey so much feeling. Right now, it was uncertainty. When he had talked to her on the phone, it had been frustration. He had never known anyone who could communicate so much with so little.
“It’s okay. It’s fine. I can pay my bills.”
He thought it was a shame for such a pretty and intelligent female to be stuck doing something that she obviously didn’t like all that much.
Noah glanced at his watch and saw that the sun would be going down in about an hour. He was surprised that they had spent three hours together. It seemed like minutes. He hated to leave, but the last thing he needed was to explain why his eyes were glowing orange. His tech-head Talin had actually invented contact lenses that kept the nighttime glow of their eyes to a minimum, but they were highly uncomfortable, and Noah had not bothered with them except for a couple of times. He wished he had some now, because he felt like he could sit at the table with her all night.
He looked at Abby. Her cheeks were slightly flushed from the wine, her eyelids just a little droopy. As she sat back in her chair—her slim fingers twisting the stem of the wine glass—he really, really, didn’t want to leave, and he couldn’t remember the last time he had enjoyed himself so much. Probably some party on SR44 was the last time he had been this happy—certainly never on Earth. But often what one wanted to do wasn’t what one needed to do.
“I have an appointment at six,” he said quietly.
She paused a beat, then sat up in her chair, seeming to go back into business mode. “I understand,” she said. “I should get going as well.” She reached behind to get her purse that she had hung off the back of the chair.
Noah threw a couple of bills on the table and began walking out behind Abby.
“Noah!” Saul called. “Noah, you know your money isn’t good here!” It was the same thing every time Noah dined in the place. And just like every time before, Noah didn’t look back, just gave Saul the one finger salute over his shoulder. And just like every other time before, he heard some of the other patrons laugh, Saul’s chuckle the loudest of all.
Noah walked Abby to her car, a red Honda that should have been made into scrap metal about ten years ago. But at least the damn thing got her from point A to point B most of the time.
“Thank you for everything,” she said as she fished around in her bag for her keys. “Dinner was really wonderful. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted steak like that. I’m going to have to remember this place.” As if she could afford it on her salary, but maybe if she saved up it could be a special treat for herself.
She watched Noah out of the corner of her eye as he leaned his back against her car and looked her over, smiling. It made her feel slightly uncomfortable, the way his eyes roamed her face, watching her dig through her purse as she tried to find her damn keys. She felt herself flush and chastised herself for not putting her keys in the designated key pocket of her purse. That was what they made all the pockets in purses for—a place for everything, and everything in its place. It was too bad she ran her life a little bit differently, despite her best intentions. Mainly, wherever it dropped was where it stayed. If she put things where they belonged, she wouldn’t spend a good portion of her time looking for things and wondering where they were. She certainly wouldn’t be digging through her purse looking for her keys.
Finally, she found them.
She met Noah’s eyes and smiled. What she saw there surprised her. She watched as his eyes grew even darker, but yet the half grin on his face made him look endearing, almost like a little boy who had been caught stealing cookies and was sheepishly trying to get out of it. She held her breath as his hand suddenly grazed over her cheek, slid down her shoulder, and briefly squeezed her hand.
“Goodnight, Abby,” he said quietly and turned back toward his car. As he walked into the sunset, Abby watched his large body move, feeling stunned. Her cheek burned where he had touched her, and she found her heart beating a little faster. She reminded herself to breathe. She loved the way his shoulders seemed to roll with every step, the way his long, strong legs carried him with a lethal grace.
She shook her head and tried to bring herself around to reality. If he could make her feel like that with just a touch to the cheek, she couldn’t imagine what would happen if he kissed her
~ Natalie ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love... and a little Mystery.