This week's winner of our new "15K" contest -- which will feature the writer who referred the most new members each week from now until we hit the 15,000 member mark -- is CARLEEN BRICE! (WE LOVE YOU CARLEEN!) SW Founder Kamy Wicoff asked her Five Questions...invite writers to join SW, and next week, it could be you!
CARLEEN BRICE is author of the novels Orange Mint and Honey and Children of the Waters. The Lifetime Movie "Sins of the Mother" based on Orange Mint and Honey, won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding TV Movie. For more about Carleen and her writing, visit her website and blog. Here, she answers five questions from SW Founder KAMY WICOFF...
Kamy Wicoff: Tell us about yourself and your work!
Carleen Brice: I'm author of the novels ORANGE MINT AND HONEY and CHILDREN OF THE WATERS. My work is contemporary women's fiction. Or "up market" fiction--a mix of literary and commercial. I like to tell stories about women's relationships and search for identity and meaning. In ORANGE MINT, the main character is a young woman, Shay, who's mother, Nona, was an alcoholic while she was growing up, but is now sober. The story is about how the two women deal with the past, and asks really important questions about forgiveness and redemption, and what it means to be a mother and what it means to be an adult. CHILDREN is about two women, Billie, who is black, and Trish, who is white, who discover they have many things in common, including being related! This story also deals with how our choices in the past affect the present and future and asks questions about what is that makes a family? CHILDREN didn't sell as well as my first novel, even though Essence Magazine and AOL Black Voices (amongst others!) loved it. Call it the sophomore slump. But I'm very proud of this novel, and hear from people who have read it that they enjoyed it.
Kamy Wicoff: What's the hardest thing you've ever done as a writer?
Carleen Brice: Keep going. There are so many opportunities to quit. Before you're published, it's easy to think that writing that first novel is the hardest. Maybe that will be true for all of you, maybe not. For me, each novel has it's own hurdles to jump and there's always news from the publishing world that makes me want to throw in the towel. But so far I haven't.
Also, for me, it's hard to balance my sense of self. Some days it feels like every other writer is getting a better offer, a bigger advance, more awards, more attention and love from the universe than me. And on those days it's sometimes hard to not feel like a big, fat failure. Most of the time knowing that every other writer feels the same (at least occasionally) helps. Reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott also helps in those situations.
Kamy Wicoff: How do you balance time spent on social media and your writing? Any tips?
Carleen Brice: Oh God, don't look to me for tips on balance! I'm a Gemini. I don't know from balance. I'm either all blogging, Tweeting etc. or all hiding out writing. I don't have a very good middle ground. I wish I did. But I can share advice that I've seen from others that I think makes sense: write first before you check email or look at your blog or SheWrites. Because if you're anything like me, that "quick check" turns into hours of surfing and chatting.
Kamy Wicoff: What do you think it means to be a "successful" writer?
Carleen Brice: Great question because I've really been thinking a lot about this in the last year or so. Because of the Lifetime movie made from my first novel I think some people assume I'm swimming in money. I am not. Some assume that my career path as a writer is carved in stone. It is not. So I've won awards and had a book translated into film, and yet I still struggle a bit because my book sales haven't been stratospheric. Am I a success because of the awards? Am I a failure because of the sales?
I think the healthiest, sanest way to think of success in writing is: Did I finish the books even though I had so many fears and doubts? Yes. Did I try to write something that had meaning to me and that I hoped would matter to others? Yes. Did I tell the stories to the best of my ability? Yes. Did I work my ass off to promote the books? Yes. Okay, then I am a success. In the end (and the beginning and middle for that matter), the work is what matters. Not reviews. Not sales. Not money. Money! Ha!
Kamy Wicoff: What do you have in the works? Promote yourself! You earned it!
Carleen Brice: I am working on my third novel, CALLING EVERY GOOD WISH HOME. And really loving it! Yay! It's a story about a woman who's estranged from her father. He dies. She meets his widow and they become close and the widow shares the story of what really happened when the main character was young that made her father leave her. There's also a subplot about the main character's cousin and best friend falling in love with a woman. This book explores what love is.
I'm also working on a sequel to ORANGE MINT AND HONEY, which I'm planning to publish in a groundbreaking way: a chapter at a time via download on a new website called www.AChapteraMonth.com. It was started by author Victoria Christopher Murray and I think it's revolutionary! Right now about 16 authors are selling new works on the site and each month, I believe, a new author is going to join. I start this summer. Readers can buy a chapter for .99 and test out a new author. And in addition, the authors will be interacting with readers on forums and via video. It really sounds like fun and like a genius way to reach readers. For authors who might not be able to sell 100k copies it's a way to still earn a decent profit from your writing.
You can follow Carleen on Twitter at @carleenbrice, or on Facebook. And don't forget, if you are the one to refer the most new members to She Writes this week, from Monday, April 4th to Sunday, April 10th, YOU AND YOUR BOOK, WORK OR BLOG will be featured next Monday on 5 Questions!