Destination Romance: Romantic, Suspense Adventures; Contemporary Romance; Historic Fiction; a travel writer of exotic locations around the world; and a NYS local historian.
There are two interviews listed below. Interview 1 is from Friday, May 25, 2012, an interview with Kim Adam from Hawaii, and talks about me being a military wife, living in Europe, and how I got the travel bug and ended up writing romance novels. Interview 2 is on Taking an Early Retirement to travel and write novels.
When I grow up, I want to be Carol Henry ... she joins me for a cozy chat and you'll learn why I aspire to be her! –Kim Adam in Hawaii--Aloha Blog Interview
Carol: Thanks, Kim, for having me on your blog today. As a military family (of sorts) it’s always nice when someone highlights the veterans who so valiantly served and are serving our country. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a man in uniform. Perhaps that’s why my hero in my second Destination: Romance—Exotic Romantic Adventures, Shanghai Connection with a release date of May 25 (my birthday), was an ex-military commando J.
Kim: Hau`oli Lā Hānau - happy birthday! You are a romance author, travel writer, photo journalist, town historian, community volunteer, and mentor. Whew! I knew military spouses are Wonder Woman but you set the bar high! How much of your life as a military spouse prepared you to multi-task?
Carol: I smiled when you referred to me as Wonder Woman because my husband is always calling me Wonder Woman. His take on it is “I wonder what she’s going to do next,” which isn’t always a compliment coming from him. Although, he does say it with a wide grin when he is talking to other men. When we were in North Myrtle Beach where we go so I can get some writing done, he surprised me with one of those big nostalgic signs of a picture of Wonder Woman that now hangs in my office J. I had to explain it to everyone who saw it there.
As for being a multi-tasker, I think I’ve always been one. I once had a gentleman at a benefit dinner ask if I had a twin because every time he turned around I was there. I do move quickly – I think it’s my high metabolism that keeps me going.
But, being a military wife, even though it was only for three years, I found myself transported overnight into a different world, a different culture, and a different country. And, on my own. Back when I lived in Germany there were no cell phones, no internet, and not much correspondence to and from back home. We didn’t live on base housing, so it was either stare at the same four walls and ceiling all day, or get out and meet people. So I joined Airman’s Wives’ Club, became treasurer, and it went from there. We were all in the same boat, so we pulled together. Many of us still keep in touch after all these years.
(Bitburg personnel participate in Memorial Day Ceremonies
--Photo provided by Kim Adams)
Kim: In your bio, you indicated that your husband’s assignment to Bitburg, Germany enabled the travel bug to bite you both. Tell us about some of your favorite travels when stationed in Europe.
Carol: Oh, my gosh, there were so many great experiences in the three years we lived there. I certainly don’t have room to list them all. The opportunities abounded, and being young, we didn’t have any misconceptions to hold us back. My cousin and her husband were stationed near Heidelberg at the same time, and came up to visit us. We took them to Paris for the weekend. I had taken French in school, so I was able to get directions, order from the menu, and get a hotel for the night. The first thing we did was to pull into Paris thinking that we had driven straight to the Arc d ‘Triumph. We were so giddy, only to find out that it wasn’t ‘THE’ Arc. When we did reach the real one, it was almost a let down we were so tired. And then, my husband took a wrong turn down a back street early in the morning and we ended up in an alley where farmers were unloading produce for the markets and restaurants. We were stuck there for hours until the road cleared again. But it was a surreal experience that I found fascinating.
While in Bitburg, Germany, of course, having time on our hands, and being so close to all those old-world towns and villages, it was only natural that we spend as much of our free time (mostly weekends) traveling about Europe. I attribute that time to ‘getting the travel bug’, even though it wasn’t until much, much later that I realized I could actually write travelogues and features and get paid!
Hamm Castle, Bitburg
Kim: When did you become interested in travel writing? How does one break into that business? What has been the best reward? Biggest challenge? Exciting moment? Scary situation?
Carol: I always dabbled in writing something, but never seriously—not having the confidence. An old English teacher put the damper on that. But thinking to write children’s storybooks, I enrolled in a correspondence course, which led to various writing and eventually writing for several local newspapers. We did a lot of traveling with the kids while they were growing up, then headed out on our own around the States, then started cruising, and traveling internationally. With my love of writing developing into something I felt more comfortable with, and my deep love of traveling around the world, I wanted to share my experiences with others. I started small, writing a series of travelogues for a newspapers. Then got bold enough to query a major magazine publisher – Porthole Cruise Magazine with a feature on Hawaii. That was in May. I didn’t hear from them and was about to give up on them when they actually called me at work and offered me a contract! My travel writing took off from there. And, I still write for them and their company’s many other cruise ship books and magazines. The biggest challenge is getting a contract before I leave home and then trying to pull a feature together by the time I get back. Every travel destination is a different adventure and exciting—there have too many to count. As for scary situations—walking in the jungle in the Amazon. We were told to keep on the path, but honestly, I didn’t see a path or narrow trail anywhere. Thankfully, our local guide knew where we were going. At least he got us out of there safe and sound.
Kim: When did you become interested in Romance Writing? How did you break into it?
Carol: My older sister got me interested in reading romance – Harlequin, of course. So, you can imagine, as a writer of many years, I determined I could write a romance, too. And, like many, I have a few manuscripts that will never, ever, see the light of day again. What was I thinking? That’s when I decided I really needed help. I read a lot books on writing, was teaching a children’s 5th & 6th graders general writing class, and joined a local writing group. I joined RWA, and once I retired from Cornell, I joined a local chapter – STAR (Southern Tier Authors of Romance). By that time I had decided to get serious about writing, and although I thought I was writing a contemporary, it ended up being romantic suspense adventure—Amazon Connection. Who knew I could write a suspense? Well, I did read a lot of mysteries growing up—Dana Girls, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christy…. But it wasn’t until I took a class on branding, that I identified what it was I was writing—Destination Romance: Exotic, Romantic Adventures. Who knew?
Kim: Tell us about Destination Romance.
Carol: Although the learning curve of writing romance was a revelation in itself, it wasn’t until I took an on-line class on ‘branding’ that I was able to understand exactly what I was writing. I know that seems naive, but, again, the lack of confidence was still strong going into romance writing. Working with a critique group was both a good and bad experience, but when I finally hit my stride, worked out my brand, and let my creative juices do their thing, I knew what I was writing was ‘a good thing.’ So Destination Romance: Exotic, Romantic Adventures was born and that became my mantra. In fact, I still have my entire ‘brand’ printed in bold colors posted next to my keyboard. It states the following:
What I write: Exotic Romantic Adventures
My Writing Brand: “Carol Henry writes Exotic Romantic Adventures that will take you around the world.”
My Slogan: “Destination: Romance -- Discover ‘Wild and Wonderful’ Romance with Carol Henry – One Exotic Adventure at a Time”
My Industry Brand: Spirited, Discovering, Achiever
My Look: Vivid Shades of Nature, Bold Colors of the Macaw, Deep Greens of the Dragon, and the Brash Hues of Royalty.
My Brand Promise: Carol Henry takes you to love in Exotic Places -- adventures where the heroine discovers more than the ‘wild and wonderful’ world around her – she finds her inner courage, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.
I’ve been referred to as an ‘imagery wizard’ (I love that), utilizing the exoticness of place as a perfect setting for the backdrop of my stories. I guess that’s all thanks to my love of travel, writing, and the military for sending us to Germany, which opened our eyes to a whole new adventure that’s still in progress.
As for the title of my books, I’ve always looked at my life as ‘connecting’ with something, someone. When I wrote Amazon Connection, it was a working title and I figured the editor would change it. Surprisingly they didn’t. When I was writing Shanghai Connection, it just seemed natural as all my characters are ‘connected’ in some form and are in an exotic location that brings them together. What’s next? Rio Connection of course!
More about the Author:
Carol lives with her husband in the beautiful New York State Finger Lakes area, where they are surrounded by family and friends, and are involved in community activities. World travelers, Carol writes about her visits to exotic locations for major cruise lines’ deluxe in-cabin books, and takes pleasure in sharing her adventures with her readers in her suspense adventure novels. Carol currently writes for The Wild Rose Press’s Crimson line, where her book are available in both digital and print at this link. Her books are also available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. Visit her website at www.carolhenry.org to find out more about her books and where she’s appearing. Of course you can always join her on Face Book at this link.
Taking an Early Retirement from my 9 - 5 Office Job to Follow My Dream and Live the Writer's Life
· I took an early retirement (I was 54 ½), with the express plans to travel and write full time.
· I already had an office at home, so I was still getting up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m., making coffee and going to my office to write.
· Now, as well as my computer set up in my office, I have a laptop I can take out on the deck or in the gazebo and write. Sometimes in the winter I set it up in the living room where there is plenty of light and no distractions from my cluttered office – organized, but cluttered.
· I go on mini-retreats in the winter to write (usually North Myrtle Beach), but sometimes my critique partners and I get together and have a writing weekend at my place – a sleepover. And my laptop goes with me when we travel locally. I no longer take it with me when we travel internationally.
HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND OF WRITING WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU RETIRED?
Before I retired from the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University, I was also writing Human Interest and/or historical articles for several weekly newspapers. I was the Secretary for the Tioga County Bicentennial Celebration in 1990 - 91 and wrote a chapter for the history book Seasons of Change. From there I continued to write local history features, and I had already begun writing travel features for Travel News International, and Porthole Cruise Magazine. I became historian for the Town and Village of Candor about five years before I retired in December 2000, and wrote and published a book on The Village of Candor—Yesterday and Today, for Candor’s Centennial Celebration in 2000.
WERE YOU A MEMBER OF A WRITING GROUP BEFORE YOU RETIRED?
After the Tioga County’s Bicentennial, the Editor for the Owego Pennysaver Press and I started a writers group, which I run to this day. Instead of meeting in Owego, we now meet in Candor, the first Wednesday of the Month at the Candor Free Library. It’s a multi-genre group of about 12 where writers come from several counties including Tompkins, Tioga, Broome, and Chemung. It’s open to all writers over the age of 18, from beginners to accomplished writing skills.
HAVE YOU TAKEN ANY WRITING WORKSHOPS? IF SO, IN WHAT CONTEXT?
I took a couple of correspondence writing course through the Institute of Children’s Literature early on while I was still working. A great confidence builder. I took a class through Cornell Adult University and two additional classes in writing at Cornell while I worked there. They were great confidence builders. I attended conferences, workshops, and even taught adult education classes, workshops for elementary children, and was funded by Poets and Writers to teach a series of workshops on ‘Beyond the Basics’ of novel writing. Workshops and conferences are a mainstay of any writer -- beginner or otherwise. Romance Writers of America holds annual conferences filled with hundreds of workshops, sessions where you meet other authors, editors, agents, and learn about the business of writing. Since retiring, I’ve attended their annual conferences in NYC, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, and plan to attend this year’s conference in Nashville, TN. I’ve taken on-line writing workshops, some of which are offered through the Southern Tier Authors of Romance chapter (which I coordinate). These conference and workshops offer anything from the craft of writing, the business of writing, publishing, research, career, writer’s life, and the writer’s muse. Attending conferences provides the opportunity to meet face to face with editors and agents where you can pitch your novel to them, meet other writers just starting out, as well as major authors that have reached the best seller lists and beyond. It can be overwhelming for a beginner, but the inspiration and knowledge you walk away with is amazing.
WAS THERE AN AUTHOR (OR AUTHORS) WHOM YOU READ WHO LED YOU TO SAY, "I WANT TO WRITE."?
I wish I could say there was one, or even two authors who inspired me. From an early age we always had books at our house. Always. My mother had each one of us (5) enrolled in a book club, and it was nothing to go to the library and scan the shelves for Nancy Drew, The Dana Girls, Trixie Belden, and others. When I first started working at Cornell it was at Olin Library and I frequented the crime club selection shelf weekly. I read a lot of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. Later, I was introduced to romance novels and pardon the pun, ‘fell in love’ with them, too. Their happily ever afters. There were several authors that I enjoyed, one of my all time favorites is Debbie Macomber, although she didn’t write romantic suspense. And I have to say that my romance novel Amazon Connection didn’t start out to be a suspense adventure. But looking back, I’m not surprised that my love of a cozy mystery turned my writing around. And with much success. Amazon Connection, is a lighter version of the mysteries I used to read, although considered more of a suspense, I focus more on the adventure. Right now I’m working on China Connection, another light romantic suspense adventure.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED ON TRAVEL WRITING? ON ROMANCE WRITING?
Travel Writing. My husband and I lived in Germany for three years while he was the service when we were first married. We traveled extensively throughout Europe. Got the travel bug. When we came home it took awhile building our house, and raising our family, being involved in community service. But the travel bug was strong and we started traveling across the states and to then other countries. Did a few cruises. I wanted to share my experiences with others, so I started small with travelogues for local papers, then branched out to bigger papers, and magazines. I now write for several cruise ships such as Princess Cruises, Holland America, Radisson 7-Seas Style, Windstar Sophisticate, P&O Wave, and Seabourn Club Herald, all deluxe in-cabin books/magazines found in all the staterooms on board. I’ve reported on locations in China, the Amazon, Hawaii, Mexico, Peru, Russia, Estonia, to name a few. This year we are off to Egypt. To backtrack, having the small travel articles to submit to other journals as ‘tear’ sheets, helped land the bigger commissions. Of course, the topic and ‘writing’ helps. When I first started writing travel features (smaller ones), I was docked for every grammar error they had to correct (which, thankfully weren’t many), but I soon made sure I edited my work before submitting it. One word of advice for any writer, especially the young still in school – pay attention in English class. Although that wasn’t a big problem for me, in editing and judging contests and manuscripts I’ve found the ‘technical’ aspect of writing doesn’t come so easily for many.
Romance Writing wasn’t so easy. I’ve always finished reading a book no matter how badly written. I have this thing about ‘finishing’ what I start. But one day I just couldn’t bring myself to get through chapter three in a romance novel and literally threw it against the wall. In my mind I started writing words – bits and pieces of a novel, and decided I could do better. After high school I had begun to write character sketches, but I threw them away, not yet being serious about writing or even thinking about becoming a writer. Of course, my first two novels that I thought I could do better at were great examples of how not to write. I knew they weren’t written well, but I didn’t know how to fix them, that’s when I started going to workshops, conferences. After retiring and joined Southern Tier Authors of Romance, I found myself a couple of great critique partners.
DID YOU SUBMIT WORK TO JOURNALS? TO AGENTS? TO CONTESTS?
Yes, to all of the above. Submitting to journals was easier then submitting to agents or editors. It’s still hard, especially with today’s market and economy. Everyone is downsizing, and it’s harder for new authors to break in. E-publishers have become a writer’s dream, especially if they also do books in print. Attending conferences where you have the opportunity to sit down and talk to an editor or agents increases your chances of getting your work looked at instead of it sitting in a slush pile somewhere. Contests are a different kettle of fish. Depending on the contest and why you’re entering it, they can be invaluable. If you’re looking for feedback, then it’s easier to take the criticism. I’ve been on the other end of the spectrum and have judged many contests – and have learned a lot. The best contests are those who do provided constructive feedback. I always try to be positive and encouraging when I judge someone’s work, even if it leave a lot to be desired. I think about my two manuscripts buried somewhere deep within my office. We all have to start somewhere.
WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT WRITING? ABOUT WRITING FOR PUBLICATION?
I’d have to say finding the blocks of time needed to concentrate without interruption is my most difficult thing about writing. I’m lucky in as much as I use my experiences travelling to lean on when writing fiction, which makes it easier in some sense. For example, in Amazon Connection, the beginning scene with my hero and heroine is an alligator hunt at night scene, which pushes the heroine’s comfort level. I experienced that exact scene when we were in the Amazon. Of course as a travel writer I do a bit of research while writing my features, as well as having been to the location to have that research on hand when I wrote Amazon Connection, made it fun to write. Finding a current event that is taking place in the location you’re writing about (such as a pipeline going through the rainforest) gives the plot something concrete to work around. I guess I combine my craft of writing history and with creating fiction.