When I grow up, I want to be Carol Henry ... she joins me for a cozy chat and you'll learn why I aspire to be her!
Carol: Thanks, Kim, for having me on your blog today. As a military family (of sorts) it’s always nice when someone highlights the veterans who so valiantly served and are serving our country. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a man in uniform. Perhaps that’s why my hero in my second Destination: Romance—Exotic Romantic Adventures, Shanghai Connection with a release date of May 25 (my birthday), was an ex-military commando J.
Kim: Hau`oli Lā Hānau - happy birthday! You are a romance author, travel writer, photo journalist, town historian, community volunteer, and mentor. Whew! I knew military spouses are Wonder Woman but you set the bar high! How much of your life as a military spouse prepared you to multi-task?
Carol: I smiled when you referred to me as Wonder Woman because my husband is always calling me Wonder Woman. His take on it is “I wonder what she’s going to do next,” which isn’t always a compliment coming from him. Although, he does say it with a wide grin when he is talking to other men. When we were in North Myrtle Beach where we go so I can get some writing done, he surprised me with one of those big nostalgic signs of a picture of Wonder Woman that now hangs in my office J. I had to explain it to everyone who saw it there.
As for being a multitasker, I think I’ve always been one. I once had a gentleman at a benefit dinner ask if I had a twin because every time he turned around I was there. I do move quickly – I think it’s my high metabolism that keeps me going.
But, being a military wife, even though it was only for three years, I found myself transported overnight into a different world, a different culture, and a different country. And, on my own. Back when I lived in Germany there were no cell phones, no internet, and not much correspondence to and from back home. We didn’t live on base housing, so it was either stare at the same four walls and ceiling all day, or get out and meet people. So I joined Airman’s Wives’ Club, became treasurer, and it went from there. We were all in the same boat, so we pulled together. Many of us still keep in touch after all these years.
Kim: In your bio, you indicated that your husband’s assignment to Bitburg, Germany enabled the travel bug to bite you both. Tell us about some of your favorite travels when stationed in Europe.
Carol: Oh, my gosh, there were so many great experiences in the three years we lived there. I certainly don’t have room to list them all. The opportunities abounded, and being young, we didn’t have any misconceptions to hold us back. My cousin and her husband were stationed near Heidelberg at the same time, and came up to visit us. We took them to Paris for the weekend. I had taken French in school, so I was able to get directions, order from the menu, and get a hotel for the night. The first thing we did was to pull into Paris thinking that we had driven straight to the Arc d ‘Triumph. We were so giddy, only to find out that it wasn’t ‘THE’ Arc. When we did reach the real one, it was almost a let down we were so tired. And then, my husband took a wrong turn down a back street early in the morning and we ended up in an alley where farmers were unloading produce for the markets and restaurants. We were stuck there for hours until the road cleared again. But it was a surreal experience that I found fascinating.
While in Bitburg, Germany, of course, having time on our hands, and being so close to all those old-world towns and villages, it was only natural that we spend as much of our free time (mostly weekends) traveling about Europe. I attribute that time to ‘getting the travel bug’, even though it wasn’t until much, much later that I realized I could actually write travelogues and features and get paid!
Kim: When did you become interested in travel writing? How does one break into that business? What has been the best reward? Biggest challenge? Exciting moment? Scary situation?
Carol: I always dabbled in writing something, but never seriously—not having the confidence. An old English teacher put the damper on that. But thinking to write children’s storybooks, I enrolled in a correspondence course, which led to various writing and eventually writing for several local newspapers. We did a lot of traveling with the kids while they were growing up, then headed out on our own around the States, then started cruising, and traveling internationally. With my love of writing developing into something I felt more comfortable with, and my deep love of traveling around the world, I wanted to share my experiences with others. I started small, writing a series of travelogues for a newspapers. Then got bold enough to query a major magazine publisher – Porthole Cruise Magazine with a feature on Hawaii. That was in May. I didn’t hear from them and was about to give up on them when they actually called me at work and offered me a contract! My travel writing took off from there. And, I still write for them and their company’s many other cruise ship books and magazines. The biggest challenge is getting a contract before I leave home and then trying to pull a feature together by the time I get back. Every travel destination is a different adventure and exciting—there have too many to count. As for scary situations—walking in the jungle in the Amazon. We were told to keep on the path, but honestly, I didn’t see a path or narrow trail anywhere. Thankfully, our local guide knew where we were going. At least he got us out of there safe and sound J.
|Amazon valley from Wikipedia|
Carol: My older sister got me interested in reading romance – Harlequin, of course. So, you can imagine, as a writer of many years, I determined I could write a romance, too. And, like many, I have a few manuscripts that will never, ever, see the light of day again. What was I thinking? That’s when I decided I really needed help. I read a lot books on writing, was teaching a children’s 5th & 6th graders general writing class, and joined a local writing group. I joined RWA, and once I retired from Cornell, I joined a local chapter – STAR (Southern Tier Authors of Romance). By that time I had decided to get serious about writing, and although I thought I was writing a contemporary, it ended up being romantic suspense adventure—Amazon Connection. Who knew I could write a suspense? Well, I did read a lot of mysteries growing up—Dana Girls, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christy…. But it wasn’t until I took a class on branding, that I identified what it was I was writing—Destination Romance: Exotic, Romantic Adventures. Who knew?
Carol: Although the learning curve of writing romance was a revelation in itself, it wasn’t until I took an on-line class on ‘branding’ that I was able to understand exactly what I was writing. I know that seems naive, but, again, the lack of confidence was still strong going into romance writing. Working with a critique group was both a good and bad experience, but when I finally hit my stride, worked out my brand, and let my creative juices do their thing, I knew what I was writing was ‘a good thing.’ So Destination Romance: Exotic, Romantic Adventures was born and that became my mantra. In fact, I still have my entire ‘brand’ printed in bold colors posted next to my keyboard. It states the following:
What I write: Exotic Romantic Adventures
My Writing Brand: “Carol Henry writes Exotic Romantic Adventures that will take you around the world.”
My Slogan: “Destination: Romance -- Discover ‘Wild and Wonderful’ Romance with Carol Henry – One Exotic Adventure at a Time”
My Industry Brand: Spirited, Discovering, Achiever
My Look: Vivid Shades of Nature, Bold Colors of the Macaw, Deep Greens of the Dragon, and the Brash Hues of Royalty.
My Brand Promise: Carol Henry takes you to love in Exotic Places -- adventures where the heroine discovers more than the ‘wild and wonderful’ world around her – she finds her inner courage, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.
I’ve been referred to as an ‘imagery wizard’ (I love that), utilizing the exoticness of place as a perfect setting for the backdrop of my stories. I guess that’s all thanks to my love of travel, writing, and the military for sending us to Germany, which opened our eyes to a whole new adventure that’s still in progress.
As for the title of my books, I’ve always looked at my life as ‘connecting’ with something, someone. When I wrote Amazon Connection, it was a working title and I figured the editor would change it. Surprisingly they didn’t. When I was writing Shanghai Connection, it just seemed natural as all my characters are ‘connected’ in some form and are in an exotic location that brings them together. What’s next? Rio Connection of course!
|Rio de Janeiro from Wikipedia|
Carol lives with her husband in the beautiful New York State Finger Lakes area, where they are surrounded by family and friends, and are involved in community activities. World travelers, Carol writes about her visits to exotic locations for major cruise lines’ deluxe in-cabin books, and takes pleasure in sharing her adventures with her readers in her suspense adventure novels. Carol currently writes for The Wild Rose Press’s Crimson line, where her book are available in both digital and print at this link. Her books are also available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. Visit her website at www.carolhenry.org to find out more about her books and where she’s appearing. Of course you can always join her on Face Book at this link.
1. Leave a comment about travel - please share a funny, romantic, or inspiring place you have visited!
2. Comments are open through Saturday, June 2, 10 pm in Hawaii.
3. I'll post the winner on Sunday, June 3.
Kim in Hawaii