Friday, September 28, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Carol J. Garvin

Thanks for inviting me here, Charlie. I’ve met so many wonderful people online, especially within the writing community. I appreciate this opportunity to connect with your readers.

What’s your name, and where are you from?
You’ll find me online under three namesCareann was the pseudonym I used when I began blogging, because it was my Shetland Sheepdog kennel’s name and the name I used when painting, so I felt comfortable hiding behind it as a writer. Iris Whyte is identified with my Young Adult short stories. And eventually I owned up to my real identity, Carol J. Garvin. I added the “J” when I discovered another artist and writer in Florida with the same name.

How long have you been writing?
It depends what genre we’re talking about. I was sketching and writing bad poetry since I was ten. Fortunately none of it survived my childhood! I’ve been writing non-fictiondevotionals, magazine articles, and book reviewssince the early-1990s, but didn’t begin my first novel until 2000.

What genre(s) do you write?
At one time I would have said contemporary suspense, but my stories seem to have evolved into inspirational romantic suspense.

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?
My current story is still in the unfinished draft stage and apt to go through a metamorphosis or two before it develops into anything we’d want to talk about. But my last completed novel is tentatively titled SHOWDOWN and is the story of what happens when a couple’s addiction to purebred dogs and the world of dog shows gets out of control. The price of success is costly!

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?
My current one? I’m retired. Sort of. I’ve been a teacher, secretary, and film consultant, but most recently for a dozen years I ran my own professional dog show business. Its workload was a feast-or-famine thing. I’d work eighteen hours a day for several days, then coast for a week. A writing routine didn’t exist. During that period I snatched time to jot down words whenever they occurred to me. Most of my writing was non-fiction then, with shorter pieces that I could complete in bursts of writing.

I’m also a pastor’s wife, so there are church commitments, plus I’m the Director of Music. Fortunately, I like being organized, and now that my time is less chaotic, I compartmentalize my various tasks, staking claim to mornings and late nights for my writing. The continuity is necessary when I’m writing a novel.

Who is your favorite author?
You’d have to be more specific. What genre? J I enjoy Jodie Picoult, Barbara Delinsky, John Grisham, Diana Gabaldon, Linda Hall, Maeve Binchy, Robert Service, Dan Walsh, James Scott Bell, Jody Hedlund, Jane Kirkpatrick… and so many more, each one for different reasons.

Favorite book?
Oh, dear! Do I really have to pick just one? One of Barbara Delinsky’s novels made a big impact on me a few years ago. SHADES OF GRACE brought me face to face with Alzheimer’s Disease just when a dear friend’s husband was dealing with it. And then a couple years later my father was diagnosed. Perhaps the story was more poignant because of its relevancy, but its one I’ve never forgotten. I wasn’t a fan of her early romances, but I’ve read everything she’s written since that one.

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?
In a nutshell… photography, oil painting, gardening, music and, of course, loving/raising/training/exhibiting purebred dogs… Shetland Sheepdogs and Labrador Retrievers.

What is something unique about yourself?
………. (that’s silence while I try to think of something!) I know God has created everyone with distinct strengths and abilities, but I’m not sure I can identify something truly unique about myself. Does it count that I was the Grade One teacher of the astronaut Robert Thirsk? I did a blog post about that a few years ago

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to?
I do
Careann’s Musings is my blog at
I’m @caroljgarvin on Twitter,
Carol Garvin on Facebook, and
CarolJGarvin on Google+

Thanks again, Charlie. This has been fun!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Many-Years Book

I think the longest I've ever dedicated myself to a book is a year, and I didn't finish it.

When I think of people who spend years working on their novel (Patrick Rothfuss and J. R. R. Tolkien comes to mind), it floors me. Don't get me wrong, I love my stories, but coming back to them time and time again, rewriting them over and over . . . I don't have the patience for it. Or perhaps I just don't have the story. Once my tale is done and revised, I move on.

Photo credit
But man, those novels that marinate and steam and brew for years are fascinating. You can really tell when someone puts that much work into a story. I mean, come on, Lord of the Rings? How crazy solid is that book?

I'm thinking of this because I'm currently alpha reading* my friend Michelle's book--she's an old roommate of mine, and I read this book some four or five years ago when we shared an apartment. And man, has it marinated and steamed and brewed. For eight years! It's amazing. You should all be jealous that you're not her friend! ;)

How do you write? Do you nest and fix and prepare your book to perfection, or do you strive for newer projects? What's the most time you've ever put into a novel?

*And beta-reading my sister's, and my other friend's, both of which I've taken way too long to complete. I'm a bad person. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

What Exactly IS YA Horror?

This is something I was wondering not too long ago, given that I wasn't exactly sure whether or not I was writing horror. That, and I had just read my friend's horror novel. And I had recently finish Anna Dressed in Blood, which, when I picked it up from the library, surprised me with its "YA Horror" sticker.

See, initially I would have pegged something like Anna Dressed in Blood as urban fantasy. There's one scene that I found scary in the book, but only one. The rest is just intriguing ghost-ness and a little bit of gore.

I Am NOT a Serial Killer is also horror, but I never found that scary, either. Morbid, yes, but not scary.

But I think that's the trick, with YA.

Here's the exchange between myself and Hannah Bowman in her blessed Ask Agent:

Me: Exactly how horrifying does a YA book have to read to be considered "horror"?

Bowman: I think it's more a sense of creepiness than outright gore. You don't need to shy away from violence in YA, but make sure it's not gratuitous.

So there you have it--in Young Adult, horror is more a sense of creepiness than actual fear (and I hate being scared, which is why I don't watch horror movies and why I've never read a Stephen King novel).

So yeah, I'm writing a horror. (With a lean toward Dystopian/Urban. I think. Ah well, that's what alpha readers are for.)

Do you like YA Horror? Which books have you read?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Link Blitz

This week has been filled with many blessings for me. I've gotten good freelance work, an interview with a great company, and I managed to make it into the next round of Deana Barnhart's Agent Pitch Contest for GUTGAA. Being unemployed and in a new area has been very humbling these last six weeks, but I'm ever so grateful for what I have!

Onto the blitz!

Writer's Potpourri:

Watch This Author Use a Google Document to Write and Edit a Book in Real-time

How "Personal" Should Writers Get on Social Media?

New Twitter Profile Tips for Writers

The Secret Weapon of Crafting Effective Heroes

Heroes and Villains

Writing is in the Details

10 Famous Authors Who Dropped Out of School

Other Babble:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Idaho Baking Frenzy

This may come as a surprise to you, but there's not that much to do in Moscow, Idaho.

Well, there are a few things, like the farmers' market. But once you've done the few things, there isn't much left to do in Moscow, Idaho.

Given this, I found myself facing two choices: buy Netflix or bake.

For the sake of money and an attempt to decrease the amount of time I spend in front of a screen, I've chosen baking.

I am going to get really fat really fast here, guys.

So what have a made?

Flatbread and hummus!

I'm getting really good at this one. The husband is, too.

Chocolate coffee cake!

Okay, I technically made it with Pero.
Y'know, because I'm LDS and we don't drink coffee.
(I forgot to take a picture of the actual cake.)

Pasta! Like homemade pasta! With a pasta press!

Look Ma! I finally used it!

And the coolest thing I've probably ever baked in my life...

Bacon hazelnut cupcakes with maple amaretto frosting.

That's right, I CANDIED BACON.
You do not want to know how much butter went into this recipe. It goes against everything I stand for.

Tomorrow: Chocolate Madelines. Do I have the pan for it? Nope. But it's chocolate, so a pan ain't gonna stop me.

Maybe next week I'll try that Coca-cola cake.

What's in your oven? Anything I should try?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Freelance Editing and Copywriting

The news of the day: I have gone public with freelancing.

Freelancing is something I've done on the side for the last two years for friends and coworkers, but now I've decided to take it on full-time. My official site is, but you can also find my freelance information on the tab above. (The site is just, you know, nicer.)


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Alexia Chamberlynn

What’s your name, and where are you from?
My full name is Alexia Marie Alderson Chamberlynn (a mouthful, right?). I usually just go by Alexia Chamberlynn or A.A. Chamberlynn. I was born in Tallahassee, Florida, and I’m still there. Though I have wanderlust like crazy and like to travel as often as I can.

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since the age of 5 or so. I started with poems and short stories. The first I remember writing was when I was 5 or 6 and was trying to manipulate my parents into getting me a pony for Christmas. When I was about 12 I started on my first novel (also about horses). I started a couple fantasy novels in my teens as well, since that was what I loved to read, but never finished anything. When I became an adult and had work and kids and stuff to worry about, I quit writing for about 8 years, but in 2009 I came back to it and have no intention of quitting again.

What genre(s) do you write?
I still stick to fantasy. I don’t think I could write something without a little magic in it. At this point, I’ve written two adult urban fantasies, one middle grade fantasy, and a middle grade novella I wrote for my son. I have some young adult fantasy planned for the future, so I’m pretty flexible within the genre. I’m also intrigued by steampunk, so I could see myself moving into that at some point.

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?
I typically have more than one WIP at a time. My most current one is the middle grade fantasy, specifically for the upper middle grade ages (11 and 12-year-olds). I just finished the first draft and am working on edits. It’s set in a fantasy world of my creation, which has been fun, and is about a land whose inhabitants have been stripped of their ability to dream by an evil queen. My main character is the only person who retains the ability to dream, and she sets out on a quest to free the dreams.

I’m also querying an urban fantasy about a witch/vampire seeking revenge on her Maker while trying to save future Seattle from a demon invasion. My first adult urban fantasy about a witch who’s lived multiple lifetimes has been on the back burner, but I’m doing a major rewrite this fall.

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?
I work at an educational non-profit as a department director. I’m a person that works better with structure and pressure, so I think it’s good to have a full-time job and still find time to write. That’s weird, I know J I also enjoy the steady pay check, which most writers don’t have. During our busy season I have to work overtime, which can definitely hinder my writing because I get so tired sometimes I can’t even think about being creative. But overall I find a good balance between my day job and my writing.

Who is your favorite author?
I find that this evolves over time. But at the moment, it’s Neil Gaiman. He wrote Coraline and Stardust, which are more well known since they were made into movies, and also Neverwhere, American Gods, The Graveyard Book, and many more. He’s brilliant and utterly unique and reminds me of the pure joy of reading. He also has a total rockstar life and travels around the globe doing awesome stuff.

Favorite book?
This is practically an impossible question. This answer also evolves, and I sometimes love certain books for certain reasons that can’t be compared to other books. An all-time fave is definitely The Hobbit. I’ve read it about 20 times. One of my recent faves is The Graveyard Book.

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?
Reading, certainly. And as I mentioned before, I love to travel. I’m also a total foodie, so I love tasting new food and drinks. I have a couple horses, too, though I haven’t ridden regularly in years as busy as I am with everything else.

What is something unique about yourself?
Let’s see, you already know I’m a fantasy geek and I own horses. I used to be an equine massage therapist. I’m also a vegetarian and at work I started a string of random unicorn jokes. If I had my way, I’d travel around the world for the next couple decades and live in a number of different countries.

There’s plenty more, but I’ll stop there…

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Website we can link to?
My main website is
On Twitter you can find me at

I’m most active on my blog and Twitter, so you’ll have the best luck there, though I definitely connect through the other sites as well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What Your Style Guides Are Really Saying

American style manuals in a nutshell.

AMA: Think harder.


APA: Stop having fun. No fun allowed. Keep your opinion to yourself. CONCISION!

Chicago: Oh, you think you're a native English speaker? Ha!

CSE: If1 you2,3 can4-7 read8,9 this,10 you11-13 should14 be15,16 a scientist17.

MLA: You're citing it wrong.

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Project: Book #7... YA Horror?

As of today I am resurrecting my daily word count!

It's always weird to go back to drafting after months of revisions, but I'll get the hang of it. I'm hoping all this unemployed-glory-free-time will mean lots more words per day.

As you can see by my progress bar, I don't have a title for this book yet. (Progress bars to the right and down a bit. You will also notice that a friend of mine fixed the awkward spacing.) I'm also doing a little genre hopping again. The YA trap is still set on my foot,* so it's another YA, but I may be adventuring into horror. (Otherwise this will be more post-apocalyptic, because those are SO ORIGINAL right now...)

I'm listening to a lot of heavy metal and rock and otherwise dark music prepping for this one. Here, let me share:

(Ignore the anime pictures on this one...)

Do any of you guys genre-hop, or do you stay pretty straight n' narrow? What projects are you working on?

*I actually have a nearly completed outline for an epic fantasy, but at the last minute my brain sort of re-geared for this project. Too bad; the main character in that one was a big black man in a loin cloth. Can't go wrong there. :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Link Blitz

If you're here for GUTGAA, my Meet & Greet is here, and my Getting to Know You is here. :)

So I've apparently been getting the apartment number part of my address mixed up--almost sent out a query with the wrong one, and apparently I gave my friend the wrong one too, which means that as soon as I do my hair I have to go knock on doors and ask if anyone received a package on my behalf. AWKWARD. I know one of the five other people who live around me. At least I'll make new friends? Right? Maybe I should make cookies first...

Writer's Potpourri:

September Characters: Your Main Character

5 Ways Writers Can Get the Most out of Goodreads

Courting an Agent

Character Development: Exploiting Weaknesses

11 Keys to Writing a Book When You Have Absolutely No Time to Write a Book

12 Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Unprofessional

Other Babble, Cute Animal Edition:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

GUTGAA: Getting to Know YOU

First, if you're participating in the GUTGAA Meet and Greet, my little mini-interview-whatnot is here. :) If you're not, you really should! It's not too late to sign up!

Second, random update for the blog: I'm leaning more and more toward freelance editing/writing. My amazing friend Kristy is even sending me a copy of the APA Style Guide so I can edit theses (being in a college town, I imagine that's where a bulk of my work would come from). If I take this route, I'll have an extra page or a new site blatantly broadcasting my services. And I'll need to print more business cards. But we'll see if I can weasel my way into one of these library positions first...

Third, in the spirit of GUTGAA's Meet and Greet week, (+2 assonance points to me), I want to know more about YOU (even if you're not in GUTGAA!). I loved reading everyone's interviews, especially the questions about inspiration. So if you have an extra minute, please answer my own questions in the comments!

  1. What was the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
  2. What genre do you write in?
  3. What would be your least favorite genre to write in?
  4. If you could make it big in one foreign country, which would you choose?
  5. Someone is making a movie about your life. What actor/actress would play you?
  6. Would you ever be willing to do a Someday Stars interview?
  7. Tell me your favorite joke.

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet

Hey guys! I'm excited to be participating in GUTGAA this year (Gearing Up To Get An Agent, which you can still sign up for, here). GUTGAA is going on all September long, and week one is the Meet and Greet. I'm excited to get to know other aspiring authors out there! 

Deana Barnhart, the gal running GUTGAA (and my new favorite person), asked that we tell a little bit about ourselves, so here's my word-vomit for her survey. ;)

Where do you write?
Currently, at my very small and simple desk in my semi-cluttered office. In Moscow, Idaho. 

Yeah, I know.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

A stack of post-its. 

Favorite time to write?

Morning, definitely. I get stupider by the hour, so it's best for me to do important things right when I wake up. :)

Drink of choice while writing?

Water, ha. I have it in my Renovation water bottle, too.

When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

99 percent of the time I need complete silence. But I like listening to music while I brainstorm.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

Uh... my being too cold in my house, ha. I think it was around February, and I thought, "Gee, it would suck to be like this all the time." XD

What's your most valuable writing tip?

Don't edit yourself while you write. It will slow you down! Draft first, revise later.

I’m a technical writer and editor from Salt Lake City, Utah, currently living in Moscow, Idaho. I play the ukulele, pretend to speak Japanese, and really want a dog.