Carly, tell us all about you! What would you most like your readers to know?
I live in a small town in Kentucky where I have lived within a three mile radius my entire life. I love to read, write, go for walks, hang out with my daughter, and flirt with men. I am active in my Church and enjoy spending time with my friends. I have an interest in Genealogy. I love history so researching the family is like being on a scavenger hunt––you never know who or what you will dig up next. Finally, I am a major control freak.
Are you one of those writers born with a pen in your hand and ideas flitting through your mind, or did your interest develop later?
I’ve always had stories going through my head, but never wrote them down. It wasn’t until I graduated from college (after a divorce) that the idea of writing seriously took hold.
When did you become serious about seeing your name in print and begin writing your first romance novel?
I became serious with writing after my divorce. I was an avid reader and needed something to take my mind off of my failed marriage. I started writing my first book, which is safely tucked away until it gets a major edit, during that time.
How long did it take you to complete your first manuscript? Did it fly from your fingertips, or did the story emerge slowly?
It took FOREVER to write that first book. Not because the story wasn’t there, but due to the fact that I didn’t own a computer or typewriter at the time. I wrote it all out with many colors of ink pens and notebook paper. The story was good, but the writing definitely needed work.
Tell us about your writing process. Soft lights and music? White noise? Child-and-pet confusion? Locked in a room alone? What sets your writing mood and pushes you forward?
I really don’t have a preferred setting when I write. I have a nook in my bedroom where my desk is in front of the window. Some days, I write with no noise. Other days, I write with my IPod blasting away. Still other times, I write to the sound of my daughter and her friends playing. Noise doesn’t bother me.
What are some life experiences that have infiltrated your stories?
Oh wow, there are so many. I have written about particularly fond memories of former loves (names were changed to protect the wicked . . . I mean innocent). I have taken characteristics of one friend and those of another to make one character. I wrote about my first time on a motorcycle with my friend from high school.
Literary Inspiration: throughout your life, what novels have lifted you, made you think, “Someday I want to create something like that . . .”
There have been many authors over the years that have influenced me such as Nora Roberts, Meg Cabot, and Cassandra Clare to name a few. The most influential is Carolyn Haines. I love how she weaves mystery, mystical, romance, and humor into her Mississippi Delta mysteries. I even wrote to her when I first started writing and she gave me some very nice advice.
Let’s talk about romance. How do you set the mood for your characters, what do you draw from that helps your H/H achieve oneness with each other? And how much conflict do you give them, along the way?
Most of my characters enter into romance with a side dose of humor. There is some conflict such as that fine line between love and hate, an age difference, different beliefs. It’s never enough to keep them apart forever, but enough obstacles to keep the tension mounting until they finally break through all barriers to find one another.
What shining moment in your journey stands out the most as a real turning point for you as a writer?
I think it was my first writer’s conference I attended. I met Nora Roberts, Ann Macella, Sabrina Jeffries, and Brenda Novak. They were all very gracious to a newbie. I remember seeing all those famous authors, not to mention the agents and editors, and thinking that it was happening. I was really a writer.
Five vital things surround you as you create. What are they? What makes them special to you?
My New York desk lamp and painting of New York City. I love New York so these inspire me to keep writing. A plaque a dear friend made me with words of inspiration. My Jase Robertson bobble head because who doesn’t think he’s one handsome man? A picture of Will Friedle from Boy Meets World. (He was the inspiration behind one of my main characters.) Lastly, a picture of my daughter because I am doing all of this so she can have a better life someday.
Writers face many time-constraint challenges. What are some of yours? What do you do to overcome them?
I work full-time and I am a single mom. I am an only child so there are no siblings to help out when things go south. In addition, to writing, I am learning about editing too. I am active in my church, book club, and organizing the monthly Renegade Mom outings. My schedule is also full of blog spots, school activities, and keeping up the social media sites.
What is the most thrilling aspect of the writing process for you?
When the character comes alive and starts dictating the story.
What aspects of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Writer’s block. It’s frustrating because I know where the story is going to end up, but I can’t figure out how to get it there.
How do you begin a story? Do you just sit down with an idea in mind and start writing, or are you a person who wouldn’t dream of starting without a detailed outline, character sketches, and pages of research data?
I just start writing. Sometimes a title or character pops into my head and the story will take off from there. I rarely plot anything in advance. I usually do character sketches on Pinterest. This sometimes sends the story in a whole new direction, but that is a good thing.
Tell us a little about what you’re currently working on.
I actually have three WIPs. The first is a middle grade series for boys although girls would like it too. It’s about a boy who can try out his future career for one hour by time-traveling to his future. The second is the second book in the Sasha Bishop Retired Slayer series. The last is an adult romance titled, The Last Girlfriend. A woman meets up with her two high school friends ten years after graduation. She will marry one in the end, but has many obstacles to overcome before that happens.
How about a favorite moment in your life?
I mentioned before that I am a single mom. This came about after my divorce. I wanted to have a daughter, but I could not have children of my own due to a hysterectomy. I decided to try foreign adoption. It was both the most thrilling, yet hair-raising experience of my life. The paperwork alone is enough to give you a lifetime migraine. After waiting, I was told that I was approved to adopt an eight month old girl. She was a cutie named Maria. I was just a few months away from when I would be able to travel to get her when the adoption agency called and stated that Maria’s mother had decided against the adoption. She was pregnant again and wanted to sell them as a sibling group. I absolutely did not have the cash to adopt and provide for two children. My heart was broken. I had never held Maria, except photographs of her. I still loved her and thought of her as mine. A few months later, I switched to a new adoption agency. I had to redo some paperwork, but this time, the adoption process flew. I got the call at work that my daughter had been born. I was cautiously optimistic. I knew it would be a few months before the adoption would be processed. On July 29th, I got the call that the adoption was completed. I had to be in the country on August 16th. I looked up and all my co-workers were standing around me, waiting to hear the news.
On August 16, 2004, I left to go get my daughter. I didn’t realize how much my community was invested in this adoption. I work in the import/export business. When I checked in at Delta, the guy who took my ticket looked over my license and read my name. He asked where I worked. When I told him, his eyes widened. He told me his name and asked if I was on my way to get the baby. When I replied yes, he picked up the phone and called some of the guys over at U.S. Air and told them. The news spread throughout the airport and with the trucking companies. I never realized how much these guys cared and had waited for this day to come.
Life in the other country was one giant hurdle after another. It amazes me of all that went wrong, only to have everything turn out perfectly. God was in my corner and watching over me. I took one look at my daughter, who looks enough like me to be my birth child, and realized she was always meant to be mine . . . somebody else just had to give birth for me.
On August 19, 2004, we landed back in the United States in Atlanta. I never wanted to drop and kiss the ground as much as I did in that moment. I had to run to Customs and declare my new bundle of joy. It was pretty funny to be an import agent and having to “clear” my daughter through Customs and Immigration. We then had the mad dash to the plane to get back to Kentucky. At last we were home.
Carly’s Debut book with Soul Mate, FOREST OF THE MIST: TRAVELERS:
Seventeen-year-old LILY LAVERY never dreamed her homecoming night would turn out like this. First, she was chauffeured to the dance by her parents, while her boyfriend followed in his car behind them. Second, she never dreamed her Dad would lose control of the car and wreck. Third, she never expected to become orphaned, in a coma, and enter an alternate reality, all in one evening. No, she thought she would arrive at the dance to the cheers of her classmates after being crowned homecoming princess at the big game, dance the night away with her handsome boyfriend, ALEX McGUIRE , and maybe end the night in his arms.
CONNOR O’BRIEN took one look at the girl, who arrived in the alternate reality known as Paradise Valley, and knew she would be trouble. She oozed it from the top of her tiara, down to her cheerleading uniform. Connor knew that type of girl and vowed to stay away from her. The problem was she looked so sad and broken from her experience. The large class ring on her left-hand, ring finger should have been enough to warn him away, but he found himself drawn to her anyway.
Together, Connor and Lily must battle Kramm, the Warrior King of the Dark Land, and his second in command, COLIN O’BRIEN , Connor’s twin brother, in order to access the portal paths that will lead them back to reality and their sleeping bodies.
What will happen when they return? Will Lily continue her previous life with Alex, or will she stay with Connor, the man of her literal dreams?
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Carly, thanks so much for visiting with us today!