Every month members of VBT - Writers on the Move host another member on the first and third of the month. This month I'm privileged to host Carolyn Howard-Johnson, promoted and author of the Fugal books.
I promised Carolyn not to have the cookie-cutter type interview. Therefore, I invited her over to my house, handed her a shovel to make her way through the clutter, and offered her a cup of Constant Comment tea mixed with green.
After she and I were cozy with mugs of tea and some tasty sugar-free zuchinni bread, I started the questions.
How did/does your history and home background affect your writing, especially since you write nonfiction help books?
Answer: I also write fiction and poetry, Viv. And my history and background (and that of my ancestors) is extremely important in most of that work.
But it is for my how-to books, too. That I started in journalism at the Salt Lake Tribune when I was only 18 and worked as an editorial assistant for Good Housekeeping and as a fashion publicist all contributed to my marketing skills. Then I owned retail stores for 30 years. Operating stores successfully is probably 80% pure marketing. In fact, my latest book is for retailers, A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. It's available at www.budurl.com/RetailersGuide and even includes information on how to incorporate the use of authors into profit-making events. In fact, some authors have said it helped them understand retailing better--all the better to sell an author event to their local bookstores and other retailers.
Wow, I didn't know how versatile a writter you are. (After a sip of the tea, I asked the next questions on my mind.)
Tell us something about your educational background that has made you a better, or more caring, writer.
Answer: I was an English Lit major so that pretty much answers that question. But my education has continued as I teach writers for UCLA's Writers' Program. I've been doing it for about five years now and I constantly am learning more things from writers about what writers need to know. So that helps answer your question about my how-to books, too. (-;
I knew you and I agreed on many things concerning writing, and no wonder. I'm a retired English and composition teacher myself.
Please fill us in on your hobbies, interests, or activities you participate in during your leisure time. *laugh* If you have any – besides attending book festivals and other public appearance.
Carolyn took a bite of zuchinni bread before she nodded to let me know she would be with us again in a second.
Answer: Travel is probably my major interest outside of writing, and it's really integrally involved with writing, too. I find travel contributes to writing in so many ways. It keeps a writers' interests broad. Reading does the same thing. I've been to so many countries I've lost count but I've studied writing at Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; Cambridge University in the UK; and Charles University in Prague, the Czech Republic. Did you know Charles University is the oldest university in Europe--by their reckoning, any way.
What keeps you writing?
Answer: I just can't help myself. (-:
That's an answer I can understand only too well.
You have so many projects going all the time: working on books, traveling, etc.; how do you manage?
Answer: That's impossible to answer. I guess just keep putting one foot ahead of the other and going.
How do you feel when you complete a book? Which book has been your favorite?
Answer: My favorite book was my first, a novel. It is really the story of my life, fictionalized. And it deals with the most important themes that run through all my serious work. It is This Is the Place and is a story of a young journalistic coming of age at a time when women were repressed. She lives not only in a repressive time, but also a repressive place and must find her way by examining the lives of women who came before her.
You are definitely one interesting woman.
What are your writing achievements and goals?
Answer: I am on the final draft of Here's How I Don’t Cook, a memoir, and I'm looking for an agent for it.
Another thing we have in common, not cooking or very little. Who has time?
How do any writing groups benefit you and your writing? Also, we might tie some information about your presentations with this.
Answer: I love my critique groups, the ones I use to better my own writing. I also love the seminars and workshops I conduct to help better the writers of others. Of course, I get tons out of both of them. One of those you know about is the free Muse Online Writers Conference I cosponsor with Lea Schizas. It happens every October and attracts--literally--thousands.
Ah, yes, I'm involved in the Muse Online Writers Conference, but not nearly to the stage you are.
Does writing help better you as a person? How?
Answer: This is such a good questions. If writing doesn't help a writer get better as a person, then that writer probably isn't being as truthful with him or herself as she should be. I do know that many writers fear stripping themselves bare but--really--they are limiting themselves if they let their fears limit them from learning more about themselves.
Thank you, Carolyn, for joining me today. You always have such insightful comments.
Please let readers know how they can purchase your books.
Carolyn: My books are all at Amazon, and Amazon makes it easy and inexpensive to buy them. My Amazon profile is at www.budurl.com/CarolynsAmazProfile. From there each book is but a click away. Also, my how-to books are all available for the Kindle reader.
Any other comments?
Carolyn: Only many thanks for a caring interview. Oh, and a reminder via my motto: "“Careers that are not fed soon die as readily as any living organism given no sustenance.”
P.S.Oh! And come back to Viv's Bubbles blog to read a legend I found in Chile retold for children.
Thank you again, Carolyn. I so enjoyed the visit, and hope you liked the tea and zuchinni bread.
Now about VBT:
VBT Writers on the Move begins a new feature to the VBT: Writers on the Move Mystery Site Give-away. Each month, the winner will have the choice of receiving the Mystery Site Host's book or a guest spot on VBT - Writers on the Move web site. If you're an author and looking for visibility, this is a wonderful opportunity. But, it's going to be a tough choice; our members have great books to offer.
REMEMBER, you can't win if you don't play the game, so please stop by our members' sites during the tour and leave a comment.
4RV Publishing authors Linda Asato, Katie Hines, Elysabeth Eldering, Crysatlee Calderwood, and Vivian Zabel participate.
If you're interested in finding out more about our promotional group, you can send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please put VBT-VBT in the subject line.