As the year starts, let’s keep getting to know our fellow chapter members.
Today, we welcome Kerri Carpenter.
Q: What inspired you to start writing romance? Can you tell us a bit about your path to publication?
A: I’ve always been a writer, but often felt like I wasn’t writing the “right” thing. I’ve also always been a big reader, but didn’t discover romance novels until one summer in college. My mom gave me my first Nora Roberts book and I was hooked. So much in fact, that I started writing my own romance novel by the end of the summer.
Naturally, I thought that manuscript was fabulous and would get published and I would be the next Nora Roberts by the time I turned twenty-three. Not quite the case. But I kept writing, joined RWA, eventually found my way to my local RWA chapter – the Washington Romance Writers – kept going to workshops and conferences, learned as much as I could, and improved my writing. After more than a decade, I was about to take a little break (not give up completely) when I got the “call.” Even better, I got three calls and within two months had my agent, a contract for my novella, Flirting with the Competition, and a contract for my full-length contemporary, The Best Kind of Love. I consider myself to be the most impatient person on the planet, but in the end, it took a hell of a lot of patience! (And hard work!)
Q: Your first published romance was a novella, and your debut novel was released in December. How is writing a novella different from writing a novel?
A: I don’t find them to be that different. Both novels and novellas incorporate all of the same elements – plot, dark moment, happy ending, etc. With a novella, you just have to use less words to reach the same goal and that can be challenging. I find writing novellas to be a great writing exercise. And I love reading them because I’m a slow reader. 😉
Q: Other than being great company, how has Harry, your adorable canine sidekick, supported your writing career? Has he worked his way into any of your books?
A: Harry is the BEST! He’s a very supportive puppy. In fact, he enjoys curling up next to me while I’m writing. Sometimes he likes to lay on my laptop while I’m typing or walk across it. If I ever use a pen (because sometimes I still write longhand) he finds much joy in trying to eat it.
He hasn’t found his way into any of my stories just yet, but I’m sure he will at some point because I get all of my best ideas while we take our afternoon walk.
Q: You’re a very busy person! What are some of your favorite non-writing activities? Do you feel they make you a better writer?
A: My day job! Just kidding.
I love to cook and I watch lots of movies. And I really love taking Zumba classes! I put on my super bright clothing and jump around like a maniac while pretending that I’m a Rockette, which I wish I was because there is nothing more glamorous than a Rockette.
In my opinion, anything you do that’s not writing-related makes you a better writer. Not only does it give you fodder for your stories, but it clears your mind.
Q: Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for authors seeking publication?
A: There’s always the standard, Never Give Up. (See above answer to the first question.) But I would say that my best advice is to write, write, write. While you are waiting for that perfect editor or agent to come along and pluck you out of the slush pile, write your little fingers off. Have lots of manuscripts ready to go.
Q: In your opinion, what is the appeal of contemporary romance?
A: For me, I love contemporary romance because it’s set in the world that I live in, but always with a happy ending. Plus, to borrow (and butcher) a quote from the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I live very much in the now, whereas history is very much in the then. Thanks, Giles!
Kerri Carpenter lives in Northern Virginia and has both writer and non-writer friends. She also gets lots of exercise and has lots of hobbies, including taking Zumba classes, cooking, running, watching tons of movies, especially Hitchcock films, and rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. She loves anything sparkly and is obsessed with her dog. Her first novella, Flirting with the Competition, came out with Entangled Publishing in October and her first full-length contemporary, The Best Kind of Love, was just released by Soul Mate Publishing. You can find her at her website (www.kerricarpenter.com), Facebook (www.facebook.com/authorkerri), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/authorkerri). *Glitter Toss*