Today we talk to Carolyn Chambers Clark who has self-published a number of books for both teens and adults. I had a chance to preview 3 of her teen novels: JANE EYRE, BEWARE; HOW I BECAME A WIMBLEDON BALL GIRL, MET THE QUEEN, AND FOUND THE BOY
OF MY DREAMS; and VIRGO RISING.
Tell us about your writing experience.
I'm a nurse, wellness educator, and forensic examiner. I started out
writing nonfiction, health-related books, then switched to fiction.
They are like night and day and sometimes my linear, logical
nonfiction side is hard to hold down. In fiction, it's my creative
side that needs to come out. I still write an occasional textbook for
nurses, so switching back and forth is a challenge. Sometimes, I also
write with a partner, my husband. This is great fun! We complement
each other. He gives the male perspective and helps when the plot gets
bogged down, or if I need help with dialogue.
What lead to you coming up with the stories?
I get ideas for stories from many places. Sometimes I wake up with a
plot in my head, or at least the beginning chapter. That's really
exciting. Sometimes, I'll see a movie or read a book and think, "I'd
love to write a story on that topic, only from a different
For example, in DANCING WITH A VAMPIRE, I was watching "Dancing with
the Stars," which I adore, and thinking, what if a teen had to dance
with a vampire and try to win a dance contest?
Mysteries and thrillers have always interested me, starting with Perry
Mason. When I became a forensic examiner, it was only a small jump to
writing them, using my experience as a a starting point (FORENSICS BY
THE NUMBERS). The cozy, humorous mysteries are just so much fun to
write. CANDY, MURDER & ME just came to me, mostly the feisty character
of Cookie Berelli arose full-blown, and there was no stopping her,
ditto her dog, Sigmund Freud. The idea to include family recipes came
later and my husband and I had a blast adding Norwegian sweets (my
heritage) and Italian dishes (his).
I had a dream that led to MORGAINA, HER MAGIC HORSE, GHOSTS, & GODS.
Ditto THE FOGGED MIRROR. Although I've never been to Paris, I was
fascinated by the language and the city at the time and so the teen
protagonist had to solve the mystery in that city.
The romances came from my own experience--at least the kernel of the
idea. No, I never did all those things that happened in them, but
fiction is an exaggeration, so that works out fine.
The other young adult stories also came from my experience, but then,
of course, I exaggerated and the story took on its own form. I did
play Jane Eyre in a high school play (JANE EYRE, BEWARE), but wasn't
into revenge like my main character is, and I was an au pair for a
summer (MY SUMMER AS AN AU PAIR), but never ended up trying to choose
between two boys. Although I was never a ball girl, I did play tennis
competitively at the club level and still watch Wimbledon every year
(HOW I BECAME A WIMBLEDON BALL GIRL, MET THE QUEEN, AND FOUND THE BOY
OF MY DREAMS).
VIRGO RISING, my sci fi/dystopic novel came to me after
I read a novel about school shootings that focused on bullying, but
completely overlooked the fact that many of the kids who came to their
schools with guns were on antidepressants, which have suicidal and
homicidal side effects.That gave me the idea of a future society
hooked on prescribed drugs so they became either violent or
lackadaisical, unaware how polluted and dangerous their air, water,
and food had become, and the two teens who set out to help their city
survive before they are captured and eliminated.
So, each of the novels has a kernel of reality to it, but only a
kernel. The rest, my characters urge me to write.
What led to your decision to self-publish the books?
Reading on several websites about the pitfalls of contracts
traditional publishers demand, the fact that ebooks are outselling
paper books, the fact there are really only 6 major publishers and
they are looking for a sure thing. The biggest reason is that
electronic books are the wave of the future and are now outselling
paper books was the clincher. Also, having total control over the
cover, when it gets published, and how it's marketed is important to
me. I've been working with publishers for decades and they move very
slowly and have their own contracts and demands, which they are
hesitant to change.
What obstacles did you come across in the process?
Finding reviewers and ways to market the books are the biggest
obstacles, and they continue to be. That's why it's so great you're
doing this for writers. Thank you, Jennifer!
Uploading e-books to Amazon.com, Smashwords.com and Barnes & Noble are
relatively simple, once I realized I had to reformat the books to fit
their standards. Learning HOW to do that took several tries, but
eventually I got it and after that I had no problems. I also did all
the covers, which I adore doing. It's great fun to try to find images
that match what's inside the book and see the title and colors and
images come together into a whole impression. My husband used to own a
printing business, and he reminded me often to keep it simple and make
sure people can see the images and read the words. I also consulted
him on colors that would stand out and which colors to use for words
that would contrast well.
Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?
Amazon. I just read an article yesterday from a daily newsletter I
get. The author did a calculation and concluded you can make as much
publishing e-books as you can from signing with a traditional
publisher. The traditional publisher's first advance is about $5,000
these days. Most authors never make their advances via royalties, so
that's about all an author will see and the book will probably be out
of print soon, unless it becomes a bestseller. E-books go on forever.
They never go out of print and our children and grandchildren can reap
the benefits for years.
So, how does an e-book self-publisher make that $5,000? According to
the article, by selling one book a day for 10 years, an author will
make the $5,000, but will keep making money forever and outrun the
income a writer who published with a traditional publisher will make!
And that's only for one book. The odds are, if a writer has more than
one book e-published, readers will find that second or third book, if
they liked the first one, and so income increases.
It's 2047 in this YA sci fi dystopian adventure and sixteen-year-old Tyler Haden joins the Rebel Alliance to stop her environment from being poisoned and end the useless violence in her community; if she fails, she'll have her brain wiped clean of all memories and her town, the last city in the US of A will be destroyed. What a decision...
Sixteen-year-old Sarah Jane Witherspoon would sooner date a toad then live in London her junior year, but when her father takes a teaching job there, she and mother and brother are forced to follow. To get in with the in-crowd in this sports romance, she's forced to join the competition to become a ball girl at the most prestigious event in tennis—Wimbledon—even though she’s tall and lanky and uncoordinated.Then there's the Queen and the boy of her dreams ...
In this coming of age school romance, seventeen-year-old Jane Lloyd not only has to star in JANE EYRE, she has to stop boys who are groping girls at her school, but if she follows through, her actions could cost her admission to Columbia University and a chance to uphold family tradition. What will she do?
I read these three books and I enjoyed them all. The characters are going to be easy to relate to for teens and for those of us who have not been a teen for a while, its how we once were. The stories are easy to get into and move at a good pace. If you or your teen has read everything in the bookstore, why not try these e-books next!
And Carolyn is going to make this even easier, for the next 10 days she will giveaway ONE copy of either JANE EYRE, BEWARE; HOW I BECAME A WIMBLEDON BALL GIRL, MET THE QUEEN, AND FOUND THE BOY OF MY DREAMS; or VIRGO RISING to anyone who blogs or tweets about this post. All you need to do is send her an email with a link to the post or copy of the tweet and the title of the book you wish to receive!
Send the email to email@example.com and Carolyn will get it to you!
To find out about her other books check out her site at http://www.freeandbargainebooks.blogspot.com/