Congratulations to the winner of last week’s Author Spotlight giveaway of Every Girl Gets Confused, DARLENE HOLLEY. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Melody Carlson, author of The Christmas Joy Ride, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy.

Carlson_MelodyIntroduce us to you as an author: When did you get bit with the writing bug? How would you describe your writing style?

Although I always loved writing and storytelling, I didn’t get the “bug” until around thirty. And when it “bit” me, it really got me good! At the time my two sons were pre-adolescent and I was running a daycare center/preschool from my home. Consequently I had little time to write. Even so I made the time, writing feverishly whenever I got the chance. First on a legal yellow pad (I wrote a whole book) and later an electronic typewriter (another book). When home computers became available, I was over the moon—now I could write really fast! I came to realize that part of my writing style is to write the story quickly. It’s just how I work. As a result I’ve written a LOT of books over the past few decades. My favorite sort of stories involve ordinary people with everyday challenges—along with a few twists and turns. But exploring and developing characters is probably my favorite part of writing.

Tell us about your new release:

The Christmas Joy Ride is about an 85-year-old widow named Joy. And Joy loves Christmas so much that she’s been hosting a blog called Christmas Joy. About to relocate her life from Chicago to Phoenix, she decides to drive her old motorhome along route 66 shortly before Christmas. Her plan is to spread Christmas Joy along the way by decorating the homes and businesses of several people who need encouragement. When her young neighbor Miranda hears what Joy is doing, she’s understandably alarmed. And the next thing she knows, she’s going along for the ride. Of course, many wonderful—and not so wonderful—things happen along the way.

How can readers connect with you online?


Anything new for you on the book horizon?

When you write as prolifically as I do, there’s always something new coming. I’ve even dipped my toe into indie publishing by releasing the first novel in a historical romance series. It’s about an educated young woman who moves to the ‘Wild West’. It’s called Delia and the Drifter and I plan to release several more of these next year. I also have my third Dear Daphne book releasing in October (Home, Hearth, and the Holidays).

After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?

It was relatively quick. I sold short stories within the first year. Contracted a book in the second year. Of course, at the time, it seemed like forever. And I submitted so many manuscripts (by mail) that I was constantly getting rejection slips in the mail. Going to the mailbox was an emotional rollercoaster. But after a few years I took off.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?

Coffee is crucial. After that I just have to force myself to jump in. Even when I don’t feel like it. But once I’m connected to the character I’m writing about, it usually just takes off and I’m pulled in.

Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?

Right now I’m writing in our motorhome (in Colorado Springs) where we’ve been having a little driving vacation. I also like writing at the beach (we have a tiny cabin there). But most of the time I write in my little office at home in Central Oregon. I average about six hours of writing a day, five days a week. Unless I’m crunching on deadline—then it gets longer.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first-draft reader?

My biggest help was a wonderful critique group. I learned more there than anywhere. We met faithfully for about six years—and then I moved. I still miss them.

Do you prefer reading physical books or e-readers?The Christmas Joy Ride Book Cover

I really like physical books, but e-readers are handy when traveling.

Why do you write?

I write because I love to write. I can’t imagine my life without writing. I think I’ve always been a storyteller.

What are you best known for … writing or otherwise?

Writing. I speak occasionally, but would rather be writing.

What book have you reread the most?

The Bible.

If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?

Good question. Probably something to do with interior design. Or maybe house-flipping.

Right this moment, what does your office look like?

Empty—because I’m on the road in our motorhome. Right now my ‘office’ is the dining table. There’s a coffee maker to my left, with a cute moose lamp next to it, as well as a vase of fading flowers (from our anniversary) in a green canning jar.

What book is on the top of your TBR pile?

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

If you could write any book–on any topic–and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be? (Or genre?)

Good question! I’ve written so many genres, but I do have an apocalyptic YA book that would be fun to publish (I might go indie with it).

Ever had a bad review? How did you handle it?

Of course! I try to avoid reading amazon reviews because even if I have dozens of five star reviews, it is that one single star review that will get stuck in my head.

What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in last five years? Last year? Last six months?

The biggest thing I’ve ever learned about this industry is that it’s always changing—and as a result, I must change with it. But I like that—it keeps it fresh. And more recently, I’ve been learning a lot about the indie industry. The bottom line is that it’s all about connecting with your readers.

What is the role and importance of an agent?

My agent has been very involved with my career for nearly twenty years. She’s more than just an agent, she’s my friend. And she does more than a traditional agent too. She is even partnering with me in the indie books. In this changing industry, I’m not sure that everyone needs an agent. But I know I couldn’t get along without mine.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Follow your heart—write what is meaningful to you. Yes, it’s good to pay attention to trends, but the book that will connect with a reader must come from your heart. Besides that, you have to develop thick skin—be willing to take advice and critique . . . and rejection. The publishing world is not for wimps. And if you’re more interested in being ‘published’ than in actually ‘writing,’ you might be in the wrong business. You should get into writing because you love to write. And then you should just do it. Again and again and again.

[Tweet “Follow your heart—write what is meaningful to you. Writing advice from Melody Carlson #amwriting”]

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