B&BR: Hi Carolyn! Thank you so much for joining us today. Can you please tell readers a little bit about yourself?
CRA: Thanks for having me! A little about me...this is always hard because I suddenly forget most everything about myself. It's like stage freight without the stage. Let's see...I'm a former sales executive and now do freelance writing from home. I left the 'corporate world' in 2001 shortly after September 11th because my husband and I both traveled and I just didn't want to be away from my kids. Now that they're older (the girls are in their 20's and the boy is 15) I sometimes want to run far away! I love them but yikes, girls have a lot of drama! I now write for about 6 local media outlets. I've considered trying to 'go bigger' with my freelance work and hit bigger magazines and such but honestly, these assignments are weekly and just enough to still allow me to write my fiction stuff. Oh, and I'm a certified personal trainer and nutrition counselor though lately I've been too busy writing to focus on my own health. Not good, Carolyn. Not good. I'm still happily married and really, I'm pretty lucky with the guy I have—even though he snores. :)
B&BR: What books have you written up to date?
CRA: I've written three books and one novella. Well, wait. I've had three books and one novella published. I've written more. I've got Unfinished Business and Unbreakable Bonds, both of the Angela Panther series and those are published through Booktrope. I've also got a eating plan book called The Quick Start Weight Loss Program which is self published but getting a rehab and being published through BookTrope. Then I've got a novella, Santa's Gift, which is self published and also published in a compilaton book called Merry Chick Lit-Celebrate the Season with Six Sassy Shorts. That one is a book for the charity Rocking the Road for a Cure. All proceeds the authors would make on that (there are six of us) goes to that charity so we're hoping it will sell again over the holiday season.
B&BR: What gave you the inspiration for the sassy, witty, & humorous Angela Panther?
CRA: The Angela series initially started out as a one book thing but ended up being a series. Initially the character was modeled after me, because of the story behind the story of the book. (I'll elaborate on that more in the next question!)
B&BR: I love Angela’s mother, Fran. Is the character based on anyone you know?
CRA: Fran is based on this wonderful, fabulous, frustrating-made-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out woman, my mom. She died in 2009 from lung cancer and as I struggled through the mourning process, I wanted her back obviously, so I wrote a book with a character that was very much like her. Considering my mother isn't alive, I decided to make Fran a ghost. That way she can do all of the things my mother would do if I could see her. The story itself is based on things that happened after her death, but I don't want to give it away by discussing it. Because it's got a lot of truth to it, each of the characters strongly resembles people in my life. I have two daughters and in the books, Angela has one, so I mushed my daughters together and made them Emily because honestly, sometimes one daughter is enough. :)
B&BR: For those who have read your books we know Angela and Mel love cupcakes. What is your favorite kind of cupcake?
CRA: I'm not sure I can answer that. Picking just ONE is not an easy thing to do. I guess, if I had to pick a few I'd go with Snickers cupcakes and red velvet but the red velvet has to have a middle with the cream cheese frosting in it or it's just not the same.
B&BR: As a child growing up, what did you want to be? What was your favorite toy?
CRA: As a kid, I wanted to be Kris Munroe one Charlie's Angels. Then I wanted to be Sandy from Grease. When I realized that wasn't possible, I just wanted to be older. Finally, I got a little older and in high school decided I wanted to be a cop. I was accepted into the police academy, did my time and worked as a campus cop briefly and hated it. After that I really didn't know what I wanted to be so I just got a job and ended up in sales. I did very well but I wouldn't go back to that. I'm not interested in working 60 hours or more a week and being so aggressive anymore. I guess that's where the feeling old thing comes in.
As for my favorite toy...honestly, when I was really young, I'd go with the Baby Tender Love doll. You could feed her and she peed. That fascinated me! I loved Barbie but my brother always broke their legs off (he's in the books, too and has a similar personality still in them!) so they never lasted long. I read a lot and loved the Judy Blume books. Her book, Forever was so taboo back then. It's funny to think about now!
B&BR: What is your favorite quote?
CRA: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". The reason? I know that everyone has their own personal struggles and I'm not saying mine are worse or more important than anyone else's. I do feel though, that the things I've been through have shaped me and created the person I am today. There have been times I've wanted to crawl under a rock and not come out but I've been able to pick myself up and move forward, so that quote seems to fit for me.
B&BR: What writers have influenced you?
CRA: My favorite writer is the late Robert B. Parker. He wrote the Spenser series...if someone is my age, they may remember the Spenser For Hire TV series, which was based on the books. Parker had a way of saying a lot with very few words and I try hard to do the same thing. He was mostly all about dialog, as I am. To be able to craft a story like he did would be a major accomplishment for me. I'm also a huge fan of Harlan Coben and Robert Crais. I met Harlan Coben once and prior to that we emailed often, before he became hugely popular and was just popular. He's a very nice guy. Never once told him I had aspirations to write though because I didn't want him to think that's why I'd exchanged emails. The three of them have great wit and senses of human and tell stories well. That's what I admire most.
B&BR: What are three books you have recently read and would recommend to others?
CRA: I recently read a book of three short stories by a woman named k.c. wilder. She actually wrote one of the novellas in the Merry Chick Lit book. She's really a fantastic writer and I think people would love her. She's got a romance element to her stories and though I don't typically read romance, she does it well. She's going to be famous someday. I'm calling it now. I'm also a big, big fan of Lisa Scottoline and I've just finished her most recent book Keep Quiet. It's a great book. As for the third, gosh...I don't remember. It was probably two weeks ago and seriously, I can't remember that far. I read so much, though not as much as I used to since I'm writing much more now. I think it was the latest Janet Evanovich book in the Stephanie Plum series...number 723? :)
B&BR: Do you have a new book in the works?
CRA: I have three. One is a children's book that's already written. I have a wonderful illustrator also and we're working on getting the book out. I have a cozy mystery too, that's about 1/2 of the way finished. It's a new series with a reporter character that, during the process of her crime reporting, investigates and solves them. It's got a romantic element to it, so I'm hoping the romance readers will like it. The book is called Death On A Deadline. Booktrope should have it released after the first of next year. I'm also working on the third Angela Panther book. I'm really, really excited about this one, too. I'm just in the beginning stages but hope it will be out by the end of the this year.
B&BR: What are some of your hobbies?
CRA: Hobbies? What's that? Now that I'm trying to get my books out, all I do is market. Is that a hobby? Just kidding. I am odd when it comes to hobbies. I'll do something for a month or two and then totally lose interest and move on. Right now it's scrapbooking. I like to make them, but don't do anything with them. What's up with that?
Reading USED to be a hobby but now by the time I'm able to read, my eyes ache from looking at the computer so I don't get as much done as I'd like. I have recently discovered the 'use a mason jar for anything' obsession on Pinterest and am feeling the nudge toward that. Who knew there were so many things you could do with a mason jar? Seriously!
B&BR: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
CRA: Everyone would say 'write' and yes, that's true but if someone wants to write and publish, my suggestion would be to start marketing yourself and building a fan base before that book is even out because if you think it's going to sell once it's published and you've just started marketing, you'll be bummed. It's all about exposure. I'm still trying to get there. It's a lot of work.
B&BR: If you could tell the you of 8 years ago anything, what would it be?
CRA: "Stop putting off what you want to do and just do it for crying out loud." It relates to many things in my life from eight years ago.
B&BR: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
CRA: I'm on Amazon Central and Goodreads but I have a website, http://carolynridderaspenson.com and have a FB page, www.facebook.com/carolynridderaspensonauthor as well as a Google+ account under Carolyn Ridder Aspenson and a Twitter account @awritingwoman. Let's chat! I'm trying to get this social media thing down but pretty much stink at it still!
THIS OR THAT –
Cat or dog? I have both but I relate to dogs best. I love my cat but she's not as personally attached as my dogs.
Books or movies? Books now because I'm not at all into the YA paranormal movie phase or the sci-fi thing at all. I miss a good chick flick.
Flowers or chocolate? Flowers make me sneeze. Chocolate makes me happy.
Fall or spring? Fall. Except for the allergy part of it.
Chinese or Italian food? Considering I'm Italian (though I can't cook well at all) and Chinese food is not accepted by my stomach, I'll say Italian.
Cupcakes or ice-cream? Both. Why should I be picky and just choose one?
Romance or comedy? I'm a romantic comedy gal.
Soda or juice? Diet Crack. Er, uh...Diet Coke. Whoops. Oh! That reminds me, I bought one at Target today and left it in my car! Going to get it now...
"This story captures how a real housewife would likely feel if her dead mother popped up and
became a regular part of her life. Angela does her best to muddle through with life throwing her
curveballs. There are plenty of moments of laugh-out-loud absurdity and interesting ghost trivia to
entertain readers." - Sarka-Jonae Miller, Amazon Bestselling Author of Between Boyfriends
My Latest Obsession
Carolyn Ridder Aspenson
I am a true blood 'Type A' personality. I like order and structure. No, that's not quite true. I love order and structure. I make lists. If I have a plan to do something, say write in my work in progress, and I'm doing it in a room I wouldn't normally write in, that room has to be a certain way before I can start. If something doesn't feel right, I can't function properly. I didn't used to be this bad but as I've matured it's become worse.
I drive myself freaking insane.
Sometimes though, my OCD/anal retentiveness taps into something fun or something I enjoy and I don't much care if I'm ridiculously focused. A few years ago it was jewelry. I made enough jewelry to open my own boutique. Even considered that but soon that hobby died. Next up was making cards. I made so many cards I had to give boxes of them away. From there I moved on to mini scrapbooks. I have about thirty of those now. Nothing's in them because I don't want to use them. I just want to make them. I dropped that hobby too. I'm like a middle school girl just starting to like boys. For that moment, all I can think about is that one specific thing. All I want to do is that one specific thing and them BAM! I lose interest and I'm on to the next one specific thing.
I'm sure my husband wishes that my OCD would latch onto having sex. He'd be the happiest boy in town if that happened—even if it only lasted a week.
After mini scrapbooks I hit on bookmarks. Then it was handmade marketing materials for my books. I've touched on mini scrapbooks again a bit but right now, I'm seriously jonesing to tackle the case of Mason jars I bought and do something with those.
Pinterest is going to be the death of me.
Have you seen the stuff you can make with Mason jars? Who wouldn't be obsessed?
Check this stuff out!
So I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest looking at all of the amazing things create with a little glass jar and I want to do them all. Here's the problem. I'm not sure which one to do.
There are endless options. Candle holders, craft holders, beauty supply holders, key holders, photo frames (yes, really, photo frames), jewelry holders, planters, centerpieces, etc. etc. etc. The problem is, I have very little space to add any knick-knacks in my home. I'm not opposed to removing things and am strongly considering that option. Seriously, how many pictures of my kids do I need? I know what they look like. Mason jars, however can look a variety of different ways so maybe I should toss the photos in a box and dedicate my family room to Mason jar decor? Considering the fact that a Mason jar has never rolled its eyes at me or smarted off to me, how can that not be a good idea?
Just writing this guest post makes me want to hurry up and finish it so I can run to Michael's and get something to decorate my jars. Maybe some twine or burlap or pebbles. Really, the options are endless. Sadly, my bank account isn't.
Am I the only Type A person who does this or is there someone else out there with a hobby that's filled their house or garage or yard? Do you like Mason jars as much as I do or is my husband right and I have serious issues?
If you've got a hobby or thing you're a little OCD about, leave a comment and let me know. Who knows, it may end up replacing the Mason jars in my life.
Today Carolyn is giving readers a chance to win an e-copy of Unfinished Business, the first book in her Angela Panter series. To enter to win, leave a comment here giving Carolyn a big thank you and share your thoughts...Pinterest: love it or hate it? What's your latest addiction or project thanks to Pinterest? Don't forget to leave your email address! Winner will be chosen via Random on Monday :)