Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould is Jackie McNutt! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!
This week we are featuring Carolyne Aarsen! To win a copy of her new book, Before the Dawn (Guidepost, 2013) leave a comment on this post.
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
Married. Check. Kids. Check. Empty nest. Check. My full time job is my writing and I’m so thankful I can work from home wearing comfy clothes. The only downside is that the pantry and refrigerator are only a procrastination away.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest . . .
My usual genre these days is writing romance for Love Inspired. However, I really enjoyed doing the Guideposts books which are closer to women’s fiction. I did four books for the Grace Chapel Inn series and four books for the Home to Heather Creek series and had fun working with the stories and the editors. As for reading, I’m all over the map – fantasy high and low, YA, legal thrillers, police procedurals, literary novels. If it has characters I want to spend time with, I’m there with my hot chocolate and my feet up.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I started writing when I finished reading a book one day and thought that I could do that as well. But I live at the intersection of No And Where and didn’t know how to go about it until I saw an advertisement for a correspondence course that promised to teach me to write from the comfort of my rural home. Better yet, it offered this cheap Dutch woman her money back if I didn’t earn back the initial cost of the course. Thanks to one of the assignments in the course, I started writing a weekly slice of life column for a number of weekly, rural newspapers. From that I earned enough to pay back the cost of the course and pay for a romance writing course – my first ‘love’. That particular course netted me my first book and a slew of rejections.
After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?
I started writing for fun and profit in 1991 and in 1997 I sold my first book to Love Inspired.
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Coffee and me aren’t friends, so no contest there. As for brain cylinders – I depend heavily on my good writing friend, Linda Ford. No matter what project I’m working on she helps keep my feet to the fire and encourages and helps me untangle plot knots. I work best in my office. Stepping into this room reminds me that this is a job. Sometimes, when I’m stuck and need a break or change of scenery, I’ll take my laptop or my iPad onto my deck or patio but my workhorse is my desktop computer in my office. That’s where the majority of my work is done. I have a window for the requisite ‘staring’ that is integral to writing and a chair in one corner for my husband to come and sit with his cup of tea, or sandwich when he’s around. I treat this as a job and show up to the computer anywhere between 8:30 and 9:00. I have a break for lunch when I go for a walk and try to solve some story problem. Then it’s back to work by 1:00 until 4:30 or 5:00 or. Earlier sometimes if I get my word count done for the day.
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?
The biggest help I got was feedback from a couple of writers initially which sent me in the direction of writing courses and writing conferences where I met other authors and talked business. As I wrote I found out more what I didn’t know which sent me on to courses and workshops more specific to what I felt I needed to know. As far as readers go, I write too quickly to wait for reader’s opinions but I depend heavily on my writing friend, Linda, to help me untangle story knots and brainstorm plot ideas and problems.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
In some ways it’s better. I can work from home and don’t have to drive every day to a job. I also have contributed to the family income in a way I never thought possible. I can take time off and schedule my work around family holidays and trips to see my grandchildren. When I started this journey I truly never thought I would have written for three different publishers and written so many books and still want to keep going. I’m blessed and I know it.
What are your biggest distractions?
The internet. Hands down.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Best moment – such a cliché – getting that phone call from a woman with a New York accent telling met that Love Inspired wanted to buy my first book. Nothing has compared to that since. Worst moment – there’s been some bad ones that have to do with rejection of ideas, stories that needed to be completely overhauled. But I think the worst one was finding out that a book I had poured my heart and soul into, the book I thought would be my breakout novel, would never earn back it’s advance. I felt as if I had let the publisher down even though I did whatever I could in terms of writing the story.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I don’t like how hard it can be to come up with new and interesting ideas. I don’t like how it can feel like so much work. Sometimes I feel like I’m just throwing words into the wind and they won’t land anywhere. But then I get a letter from a reader which leads to one of the things I most like about being a writer. Knowing my book has created a moment of pleasure or meaning for a reader.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I depend on my agent to deal with the business aspect of writing so that my editor and I can focus on the creative aspect of writing and the grammar – not my strong point. More importantly, my agent gives me feedback and encouragement and keeps me abreast of the market which helps me make writing decisions.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Fear not. Plunge in. Don’t hold back. It’s just words on a page that can always, always be fixed. Read good writing books – Stein on Writing by Sol Stein, Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, read good writers and try to understand why their books grip you. Write some more and read some more. Take screenwriting courses and always be open to learn.
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book.
This book is about second chances. The second chance at parenting Charlotte and Bob get when they lose their daughter to a car accident, and the three grandchildren they barely knew move into their home. However for the kids, moving from the city to the farm meant moving from their friends and what they knew to many unknowns.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m currently contracted to do the third book in an editor driven series for Love Inspired. I just got the information on the stories. They take place in Montanta and I get to write about a rancher – my favourite type of hero.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
You can check out my website at www.carolyneaarsen.com or my Facebook account
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Carolyne! I can tell you’re my kind of girl! Loved your story about how you got started writing–you could have an entire blog post on that story! Thanks for sharing your writing journey with my blog readers. Hope to meet you one day! Warmly, Suzanne
Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It’s interesting and enlightening. I think there are so many of us that think like you, “Hey, I could do this, too.” Most of us never end up attempting it, though, so I’m glad to read of your success story.
I love your books and would love to win a copy of your new book.
Great interview. Would love to read it. What a feeling it must of been for someone to say we want to buy your book! Awesome.
Never read a book by you but would love to win
I haven’t read any of your books but I’m always looking for new authors.
I haven’t read any of your books, but I would love to win one. I’ll bet it’s great, thanks.
Carolyn Aarsen is a new author for me. Thanks for the introduction.
Thanks for the opportunity for a giveaway of BEFORE THE DAWN.
I love your books and would love to win! Thanks for the opportunity!
I absolutely love adore writing though it does take time to figure out exactly how one wants to protray characters, feelings and emotions.
Would love to win a copy of your book.
Carolyne, I admire your courage to begin writing and sticking with it even when you received rejection letters. I love reading, and like you, I read several genres. I don’t think I could write a story and develop a plot and characters to attract readers. Glad that others can do this and keep us entertained. Good luck on your future endeavors.
I have never read any of your books, have never seen any, but would love to win a copy of Before the Dawn. Thank you!
I enjoyed this interview with Carolyne Aarsen and learning about her writing journey! Thank you so much for sharing and for the opportunity to win a copy of BEFORE THE DAWN!
Would be thrilled and proud to own your new book.
Would love to get started on a new series with a free book.
I never thought I was good enough to even attempt writing a story, until I read your post! THANKS! I copied down the names of the writing books you recommended…(& writing a book is on my “bucket list!”)
I would love to win this book. Thanks for the chance to win. Have a great day!
Thanks for introducing me to this author. I would love to win her book.
Would love to rad this book.
I would love to read this book! 🙂
I would love to win this book. I love to read and this sounds good.
Thanks for this interesting interview. I would enjoy this book greatly.
I’ve enjoyed reading several of her books for Love Inspired. Thanks for sharing your interview!
I would be so happy to win this book.
I haven’t read any of your books yet, but will be checking my digital library to see if they have them. I LOVE give-a-ways. Thanks and God Bless.
would love to win.
Looks like it will be a must read.
Happy to meet you here!! Havent had the pleasure of reading your books yet, but they sound wonderful… would love to win this one to get started with… TY !!
Sounds like a good story! You are a new author to me and would love to win your book. Thanks for the opportunity!
Carolyne sounds like a great person and author. I would love to read this book and others she has written! I enjoyed reading this interview.
NEVER ENOUGH TIME TO READ…
I read one of your Grace Chapel Inn books. I enjoyed the book. Would love to win this book. Thank you for sharing and please enter my name in this giveaway.
Carolyne, I enjoyed reading how you started writing. I have done the same thing but did not start writing.
I am anxious to read this new book. Always looking for new authors.
I can tell by the cover that I would enjoy this book! The internet can give me a problem too!
Thank you for being on Suzanne’s blog! I love to read about new authors! I would love to win this book, but if I don’t; I will be buying it! Sounds so interesting and I sad too!
I loved reading your interview, especially the writing advice! I have been writing for awhile now but I just haven’t been able to finish so I took a break. Your advice I think will help me get started again. I’m always looking for a new authors and series to read too and Before The Dawn sounds as if it will be a wonderful new series!! Thanks for the fun giveaway.
Thanks for sharing with us. I would love to win one of your books.
Great interview. Thanks so much for that. Looks like another fantastic book. Would love to participate in the chance to win it.
The question about pretending you are a customer at a bookstore stopped me cold. What bookstore? Here I am less than an hour from a major city, but 1/2 hour or so from a bookstore. (I am not counting the very, very tiny independent store that does not carry very much inventory at all.) Marketing must be a totally different story in modern times and probably internet driven…hence, Suzanne’s terrific blog with new authors. I have never read one of your books, but will keep my eyes out for one.
I haven’t read any of your books, but am always looking for another good author to read.
I haven’t read any of Carolyne’s books – yet! – but I can’t wait!
What an awesome spotlight — I love that you shared with us like we were your friends. Honest, real, and “out there” for us to see. Thank you, Carolyn, and of course, I would love to read your book!
Your review is very inspiring. It would be hard to keep coming up with fresh ideas. That’s WONDERFUL you can work at home. The book sounds like a great read.
Would love to win! Thanks for the opportunity!
Carolyn, I loved reading about your journey. I’ve never read one of your books but I enjoy getting to know new authors through their books. This book, Before The Dawn, sounds and looks so intriguing to me. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win this book. Judy F
Would love to win and read this book.Thanks for the chance.
Love books and always looking for a new one to read! Would love to win this book!
would love to win a book by you, a new to me author;
I love Carolyne Aarsen’s books! She is great!!
would love to win this book or any of your books they are wonderful books.
Love to meet new-to-me-authors. Great post. Thanks for the opportunity to win…Linda
Noticed the cover is different on this post than on the posting on Facebook!
The people are missing on Facebook!
Thanks for sharing your story! I think I would have gotten majorly discouraged in the years between starting to write and actual publication of a book!
Really enjoyed your interview, Carolyne! I love the storyline of Before the Dawn, & would love to read it. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
Hi Suzanne. Thanks for introducing Carolyne to me. Sounds like she really does work from home. I’ve not read any books by her, but would love to. Thanks Maxie
I have not read any of your books, but would love to.
Can’t wait to read. Hope to win. Thanks for this opportunity.
Would love to win sometime
I thought I was the only one that doesn’t drink coffee and I am pretty sure the internet is a distraction for us all. I look forward to reading your books. =)
Would love to. Read this
Would love to win this book. Thanks for your generosity!
Sounds like a good book. Would love to win! Thanks
I love meeting new authors. I don’t remember life “without Suzanne” and praise God for allowing me to get to know her and her books. God bless…and hope to win.
Oh Sandi…so sweet! XO
Looks like a great read and I am always looking for new authors to try!
Sounds like a great book! Would love a chance to read it, thank you!
I love fellow non-coffee drinkers! This was a great interview; I’d love to read this book!
Entered for book
I’d love to win your book, thank you for the chance!
Your books are always good to read. Please enter me in the contest.
I have never read any of your books, but I am always looking for new authors of Christian fiction. Would love to win this book. Thanks for the opportunity. God bless.
Looks like a must read kind of book.
I’d love to read this book. 🙂
I love your books and can’t wait to read the new one.
Would love to win a copy of this book.
I loved this interview :o) I am going to check out your book, and would love to win it. Thank you for your generosity!
I love Carolyne Aarsem books, especially the ones for Love Inspired. Thanks for profiling her this week. I enjoyed learning something new about her.
Would love to win!
Would lobe to read this book.
I’m married to my high school sweetheart. We have 3 children, 13 grandchildren an 2 great-grandchildren. I’m a disabled nurse. I love reading Amish books. They always have a great story and brings you closer to God. They have a way of restoring your faith. I pray that God will continue to bless all of the authors in writing more books.
Would love to win!
This is a great interview. I really like to learn more about the author’s personal lives. I think it makes reading their books more enjoyable.
Would love to win this book! Thanks for the chance!
I love to read – i enjoy reading about the authors and getting a chance to win free books is always great ! Thanks
What a delightful story, Carolyne. I don’t think we readers give our favorite authors enough credit for all of the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to get a novel written. So, please let me take this opportunity to say, Thank You! I’m looking forward to reading your novel. Congratulations on your success and all the best.
great interview. Before the Dawn sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.
love to win this book
Would love to win and read.
Thank you for sharing with us Carolyn. I would love to win your book!
I think a lot of parents wish they could have a second chance at raising their kids. But losing their child and raising their grandkids would be extremely hard. I would love to read this book.
I would love the chance to win this book. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your writing journey with my blog readers. i love your books and would love to win, thanks for the chance
Shirley B email@example.com
This sounds amazing…I’d love to win it!
Enjoyed your interview. Your new book looks interesting. With 8 grandkids now, I have fleetingly thought about what if we ever had to raise some of them. Then I quickly remind my kids to make sure their wills are up to date w/ their siblings listed as guardians for their kids! I’m thinking 63 is a bit old to think about the responsibility of parenting again. I look forward to reading your book. Thank you for sharing.
Grandma to 5 adorable granddaughters – love to quilt
Love your Books!!
I haven’t read any of your work, Carolyne, but I am very interested! Everyone can use a second chance!
Thanks Suzanne for featuring Carolyne Aarsen!
Have never read this author. Thanks for the chance to win.
Wow!! I’m just like the rest of your reader’s!! I also have not herd of you!! Do you write any Amish Books? I would like the chance to read Book’s I Love any thing Amish!!So by some chance you do write Amish Book’s would you or someone Let me know so can started reading them!! Barbara861@verizon.net Barbara Prisinzano!!
I would love to win!
Looks very interesting!
I would love a new book to read!!!
Do I answer the question here? Or just tweet it (like I did!). Answer anyway. 🙂 Downside….is that the pantry and refrigerator are only a procrastination away.
Looks like a great book – thanks for the opportunity!
Love reading your books and the interview about your writing. Keep up the good work!
Love reading your books and the interview about your writing. Keep up the good work! I’m sure it’s much easier reading your great books than it is writing them.
this book sounds like I need to win it so I can curl up with a Warm Quilt or Afghan and read it from Cover to Cover… Yes every one deserves a Second Chance…. Again I would love to win this book…
You’re living your dream! Yay! Would love to win a book.
would love to win
You are a new author to me this year and I love reading about all the authors on your blog as they are new to me also. And Getting books free that is just icing on the cake..
i would love to read your book. i like to read any books that is written by any new authors.
This looks like a great book!!!
I would love to win your new book.
I do have a few of Suzann’s Book’s!! An what I’ve been reading of them they are Keepers!! Barbara861@verizon.net ” Barbara Prisinzano” Any new Amish Author’s out their Bring them on!! I’ll be glad to read them!!
Interesting post. I’d love to win this book!
Very energetic article, I enjoyed that bit.
Will there be a part 2?