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Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Carol Post

Today we’re welcoming Carol Post, 2012 Golden Heart® finalist in the Inspirational category. Her manuscript, WHISPERS IN THE NIGHT, has been sold to Harlequin® and will be published as a Love Inspired® Suspense under the title MIDNIGHT SHADOWS. It will hit the shelves January 2013.

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol has the resume of someone who doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She started as a child writing poetry, then graduated to articles which made it into some religious and children’s publications. Several years ago (more than she’s willing to admit), she penned her first novel. In 2010, she decided to get serious about writing fiction and joined Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors.

Carol lives in sunshiny central Florida and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandson live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of three fat and sassy cats and one highly spoiled dog.

Here’s a blurb for MIDNIGHT SHADOWS:

Melissa Langston can take care of herself, so when she learns she is being stalked, the last thing she wants is help from her police detective ex-fiancé. But Chris Jamison is sworn to defend and protect and can’t walk away from a woman in distress, even if said woman broke his heart. As the threats intensify and Melissa begins to question her own sanity, Chris finds himself fighting for her life…and her love.

You can learn more at her website, caroljpost.com, and on Facebook, caroljpost.author.

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I’m so honored to be a guest on the Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood blog. Like Terri, this is my first blog ever.

2012 has been a very exciting year for me. On January 27, I got the call from Harlequin® that they are going to publish my Golden Heart®  finaling manuscript as a Love Inspired® Suspense. I was still on cloud nine from that (yep, it lasts that long!) when I got the call on March 26 that I was a Golden Heart finalist. On May 2, I signed with an agent—the awesome Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

Although I’ve been writing for over twenty years, I’ve been a member of RWA and my local chapter, Tampa Area Romance Authors, for less than three. During that time, I’ve made life-long friendships, learned more about the craft than I ever dreamed possible and gotten the encouragement I needed to keep plugging away when I felt like giving up. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along this crazy ride to publication:

1. Everyone on the planet is thinking about writing a novel.

Tell someone—anyone—that you’re writing a novel, and they’ll tell you that they’re thinking of writing one, too. After all, “How hard can it be?” You just think up a plot, drop in some characters and voila—a print-worthy book. And once they find out you’re finished, they keep asking, “So when is your book coming out?” They don’t understand that the road to publication is usually paved with years of learning the craft and dozens (as in hundreds) of rejection letters.

2. Prolific writers don’t have clean houses.

This was a quote from one of the keynote speakers at the 2010 RWA Conference. I can’t remember who. But it was life-changing for me in a liberating sort of way. I’m a bit of a neat freak. No, let me rephrase that. I have to have things orderly and uncluttered. Nothing wrong with that, right? Okay, I admit it. I alphabetize my spices. But prolific writers don’t have clean houses. When working a full-time day job, being active in my church, and putting at least a little time and effort into my marriage, (and, for many of you, caring for small children), a spotless, perfectly organized house is only going to come at the expense of my writing. Oh, I still have to have some semblance of order—total chaos definitely stifles my creativity. But I’ve picked up a new motto: Out of sight, out of mind. If I can’t see the mess, it’s not there. I’m going to go write.

3. Comparing your progress with the progress of others will drive you nuts.

Just as everyone’s writing processes are different, so is everyone’s path to publication. There’s the occasional writer who makes it there pretty quickly, but for most of us it takes several books. For me, it was book three…take twenty (because I rewrote the thing so many times)! I belong to the TARA book challenge loop. Every Tuesday we report how many new words we’ve written for the week. The purpose is to cheer each other on, not to compare ourselves with one another. That’s a good thing, because if I felt that I had to match Jean’s consistent 25,000-word counts, I’d have given up a long time ago. I read a blog recently where one of the commenters had actually calculated hourly earnings for a category romance author. He used a very “reasonable” estimate of 320 hours to complete a novel (first draft to final edit), based on a rate of 10,000 words per day. Maybe some writers can do that. But if I tried to write 10,000 words in one day, I’d fry all my brain circuits. My husband would come home to find me staring into space and drooling on the keyboard.

4. If you’re going to get that book finished, you have to “dare to suck.”

This is something else I learned at an RWA conference. Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler talks about student performers and how they have this whole freedom thing going on, a sense of no-fear. He calls it the dare-to-suck syndrome. He says in writing a song, you have to put ten stupid things down if you want to get two great ones out. This holds true for novelists, too. We have to dare to suck, or we’ll never get anything down on the page. I’m a perfectionist (which you probably gathered from point #2 above), so this didn’t come easily for me. I’d slave away over my first draft, finding just the right words, and six months later have some great-sounding chapters but no book. When I heard, “Dare to suck,” it was as liberating for me as, “Prolific writers don’t have clean houses.” Dare to suck. If we want to get the story on the page, that’s exactly what we need to do—turn off the internal editor and write, write, write. So what if it’s dreck. Dreck can be fixed.

 So, what pieces of advice have you found most helpful to you along the path to publication?

 

43 responses to “Meet 2012 Golden Heart Finalist Carol Post”

  1. Oh, I’d definitely have to go with the “dare to suck” point. I’m lucky if I can get 1000 words down on the page in a day, but I’m learning through the 7th revision of my “finished” WIP that most of the words change by the end anyway, and I’m doing my best to just get the story down and worry about the quality later.

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  2. Carol Post says:

    Hi Lorenda,

    Thanks for commenting. I know what you mean. My word count has at least doubled since I quit worrying about trying to make that first draft “perfect.” That’s so true about most of the words changing by the end anyway.

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  3. Magdalen says:

    Wow, Carol — These are all such great observations. I still have to take mini “Twitter-cations” where I just don’t read all the fabulous tweets from other writers about how well they’re doing because…well, you said it: it’ll drive you nuts!

    Best advice I got? Not nearly so pithy as yours (you have a knack for hearing those perfectly quotable statements; how do you do that?), but it was to get a “writing coach.” I didn’t actually do that (still not sure what a writing coach is or what he/she would do), but I did hire an editor very early on to read my work and work it over pretty thoroughly.

    This had two advantages: 1) It cured me of some pretty basic “baby writer” mistakes; and 2) it inoculated me so that I could take criticism better.

    Great post!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Magdalen,

      Thanks for commenting. My “knack for hearing those perfectly quotable statements” is more a case of something hitting me upside the head so hard it sticks in the brain permanently. Otherwise, my memory is terrible!

      I’m not sure exactly what a “writing coach” is, either, but I agree your hiring an editor was a smart move. I’ve got two awesome critique partners (one of whom is my fellow finalist Karen Fleming), and one of my beta readers is my senior pastor’s daughter who is currently working on her master’s degree in English. Those extra sets of “expert” eyes are so valuable.

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  4. Great advice, Carol. And congratulations on the Golden Heart final! 🙂

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  5. Hi Carol! Great advice here. I’m a nut about order. I used to not be able to write until everything was in its place. I learned, too, that this was a recipe for not getting much writing done.

    Great post!! Congratulations on the GH final and the contract!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Thanks, Susan. Congratulations on your GH final, too!

      Yes, being a perfectionist can definitely have its disadvantages.

      Looking forward to seeing you in Anaheim.

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  6. Dare to suck. I love that and so spot on! Congrats on your Golden Heart final and have a blast in CA!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Thanks, Autumn. I’m so looking forward to Nationals. It’s always awesome, but it’s going to be doubly so going as a GH finalist this year.

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  7. robena grant says:

    Hi Carol, congrats! on the GH final, and on your recent contract. I love your dare to suck statement.

    I really started to understand the art of storytelling when I grabbed onto the concept of Jenny Crusie’s “don’t look down draft.” She taught me to let go and write that first draft, and then revise. Now if I could just polish up those revisions… .

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Robena,

      Thanks for commenting, and congratulations on your GH final, too.

      I like that–“don’t look down draft.” It ties right in with the “dare to suck” concept. Then on to the revisions–I actually enjoy that stage of the process.

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  8. auralynne says:

    Great first blog Mom! I’m not a writer, I’m Carol’s daughter, but a lot of those points apply to other creative fields such as the fashion/jewelry/accessories design one I’m in.

    Lol everyone also wants to make crafts for a living, and they all think they can just make a few things, post them on etsy, and wait for the sales to roll in! The messy house thing.. Well, amid the piles of lace and fabric and boxes I haven’t finished unpacking from my last show, I can see at least 50% of my floor right now! And so on and so forth…

    My single most useful bit of information gleaned from the years of doing creative things for a living is a fact that follows #1. Once you do “make it” as an artist (or writer), the hard work isn’t over! Making a creative living is less about creativity and more about focus and dedication. To keep up with changing styles and markets, it’s a continual learning process. It would be nice if I could just let my muse free to trip along whatever trail she desires, but the truth is that I have to guide/cajole/drag her into whatever vein of creativity is going to produce cash sales for me in the least amount of time!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi, Kristi (or oops, I mean Auralynne!) Thanks for commenting!

      You’re so right. You can have all the creativity in the world, but if you just let it take you off on all kinds of tangents and don’t have the focus and dedication to see anything to completion, you won’t get much accomplished, at least much that’s salable.

      Good luck on getting all that lace and fabric and boxes back in their proper places!

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  9. Congrats on the final, Carol! Great post!

    I agree with your advice not to be afraid to suck. My first novel was soooo bad that when I picked it up recently to “polish” it, I realized just how bad it was and how much work it needed. At first, I was horrified (OMG did I actually write that???) but then I realized how much I had grown as a writer. I was shocked to see my progress as I guess it sunk in by osmosis. It’s not like I had any “a ha!” moments. 🙂 I’m now in the process of rewriting the novel and ironically, my former “sucky” novel is now one that a publisher has expressed interest.

    Thanks for the great advice! See you in Anaheim!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Terri,

      Congratulations to you, too!

      That’s great that a publisher has expressed interest in your rewritten first novel. Mine was so bad I don’t know if there’s enough that’s even salvageable! I think I made almost every mistake imaginable. To give you an idea, the first four chapters are the hero with his prior girlfriend and their break-up. The heroine doesn’t even make an entrance until chapter five!

      Looking forward to seeing you in Anaheim!

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  10. Hi Carol,

    Dare to suck! I needed to hear that. I have a hard time moving from one chapter to the next without going back to the first. I tell myself I’m just going to skim the chapter I wrote last night so I can “get in the flow”, pick up where I left off. three hours later, I’m still on that chapter and haven’t moved on. Dare to suck. great words of wisdom from Mr. Tyler.

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Kathleen,

      Thanks for commenting. I do the same thing! I always like to read what I wrote the day before, and I have to really push myself to keep moving on to the new instead of editing the old. I set myself hourly word-count goals and that helps keep me on task.

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  11. Meg Kassel says:

    Hi Carol, wonderful post! Your points are so true. Especially #4, which is the hardest one for me. The most valuable bit of advice I’ve gotten is to never give up, which is tempting sometimes, when it feels like #4 is really true 🙂

    But if I had, I wouldn’t be in such lovely company as you and my other fellow GH finalists! All the best to you. Looking forward to meeting you in Anaheim.

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Meg,

      Thanks for stopping by. “Never give up” is awesome advice. I have to admit I’ve given up a few times and completely stopped writing. That ended, though, whenever I joined RWA and TARA, my local chapter. With so many people cheering you on and giving cyber hugs each time you get a rejection, it’s a whole lot easier to keep pushing on.

      I’m looking forward to meeting you, too.

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  12. Oberon says:

    Hi, Carol! Great post. Dare to suck is definitely the best advice I’ve received. It’s really hard to turn off that internal editor, but if you don’t, the book never gets done!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Oberon,

      (I love that name, by the way! I think you should keep it!)

      It sounds like “dare to suck” has resonated with quite of few of us. Kudos to Mr. Tyler. If we can’t get that first draft down on the page, there’s nothing to edit!

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  13. Kay Hudson says:

    Hi, Carol! All those people (and I definitely know some of them) who are going to write a novel on their next two-week vacation drive me nuts, along with the ones who ask “Have you figured out yet why you haven’t sold your novel?”

    I was going to suggest “Just keep writing,” or “Don’t give up” as the best advice, but now that I think about it, I think the best advice might be “Write Because You Want To.” What else really matters?

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Kay,

      LOL – “write a novel on their next two-week vacation” I’ve known a few people like that, too. And “Have you figured out why you haven’t sold your novel?” As if there must be something wrong with you!

      I’m so with you on writing because you want to. I write because I love to write, and each time I quit for a time, I was pulled back to it. I can’t NOT write.

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  14. Nikki McIntosh says:

    Great post Carol – very good for your first time!! 🙂

    I love “Dare to Suck … ” … it’s hard to remember that you HAVE to suck sometimes in order to get good. It’s still hard to read.

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Nikki,

      Thanks for commenting. Yep, I guess that’s the whole point. Everyone who’s really good at something had to suck at it at one time! We often don’t think of that when we’re wishing we could write like this or that bestselling author.

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  15. Tammy Baumann says:

    Hi Carol, wonderful post!

    All great advice you’ve given above. I’m like you, can’t write unless the dishes are put away. My kids used to tell me I should be treated for my ‘obsessive, compulsive, cleaning disorder.’ Of course this very often had to with conversations about their own bedrooms, but with the lack of learning going on in public schools these days, I chose to be proud that they knew what obsessive and compulsive meant! ;0)

    And the ‘daring to suck’ sort of came naturally to me, but only because I didn’t know any better and just dove in. That is, until I met my crit partners. Now they ‘dare me to stop all the sucking, and get pub’d!’

    Looking forward to meeting you in a few weeks!

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    • Carol Post says:

      LOL, Tammy!

      My method of coping with the messy rooms when my girls lived at home was to close their doors and pretend those room were in someone else’s house. It helped me keep my sanity and kept me from strangling them! I get that obsessive-compulsive label, too, but it’s often coupled with “neurotic”!

      I love that your critique partners dare you to stop all the sucking and get pub’d! You’ve definitely gotten your GH mss way past that point, because you finaled! Good things are coming!

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  16. Beth Langston says:

    Stop the comparisons.

    That one resonates with me. If we all sang the same way, we’d never hear harmonies.

    Thanks for the great post.

    Beth (a non-fictional Langston)

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for your comments. I think we all have a tendency to compare ourselves with one another. I love, “If we all sang the same way, we’d never hear harmonies.” That’s so cool!

      I noticed your last name some time ago and thought, “Wow, she has my heroine’s name. I like her already!”

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  17. Congratulations on your sale and GH nomination, Carol. I love your pieces of advice, especially ‘Prolific writers don’t have clean houses.’

    This has never been more true for me than the last few months since I published my first book. Now that I’m making some decent money with my writing, I’m hoping to hire someone to take over the care and feeding of my dust-bunnies. 🙂

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Laurie,

      Thanks for commenting. I’m so glad your writing is going so well. Hiring someone to manage the dust bunnies sounds like a wonderful idea!

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  18. Great post, Carol! Congratulations on the final!

    And such good advice — I definitely identify with Dare to Suck. It goes hand-in-hand for me with “Writers Write.” I use phrase that as shorthand to remind myself not to procrastinate.

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  19. Carol Post says:

    Hi Deborah,

    Thanks, and congratulations to you, too!

    “Writers Write” is a good one, too. Besides reminding us not to procrastinate, a lot of us need the reminder to stay focused–go straight to that fact we’re googling and not be distracted by all the interesting news stories and things popping up trying to get our attention!

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  20. Carol, Congrats on Golden Heart Final and your contract. Thanks so much for sharing both “Dare to Suck” and “Writers don’t have clean houses!’ Made my day. Looking forward to meeting you in Anaheim!

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    • Carol Post says:

      Hi Heather,

      Thanks! Congratulations on your GH final, too! I’m glad you enjoyed those two pieces of advice.

      I’m looking forward to meeting you, too. Two and a half more weeks! Woohoo!

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  21. Elisa Beatty says:

    Sorry not to get here until now, Carol! I’ve been traveling all day and out of internet range.

    Great post! I love to hear that prolific writers don’t have clean houses (please…nobody tell me otherwise!!)

    And “dare to suck” is a great phrase. I’m in serious revision mode right now, and it’s definitely easier to build on SOMETHING, even if it does indeed suck.

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  22. Vivi Andrews says:

    Carol, I’m late to the party but I *loved* all your lessons-along-the-way. They completely resonated with me.

    Congrats on your final and HUGE congrats on your SALE! Wishing you the best of luck with your writing career!

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  23. Jan Nash says:

    Congrats on your sale! I just love your “dare to suck” quote. Sometimes writing new stuff is a struggle for me. So many scenes start out just plain ugly! Thanks for the inspiration. Looking forward to meeting you in Anaheim.

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  24. Hi Carol! So sorry I’m late to chime in here. Love all your tips. These are things every writer should remember. It can be tough and lonely at times, but in some ways, we’re all in this together and we all share the same worries and angst.

    See you in Anaheim!

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  25. Karen says:

    Hi Carol. Sorry I’m late chiming in. Awesome post and very helpful advice. I apply most of it already.

    I think the best piece of advice I’ve received came from a TARA meeting where a pubbed author said find a good critique group. And ta-da, I did in you and Dixie.

    We are going to have a blast at Nationals. Just 16 more days.

    Karen

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  26. Susan Manchester says:

    Welcome to Love Inspired Suspense, my favorite genre! Also, congratulations on both of your big events of 2012! Is Midnight Shadows going to be part of a series? I sure hope so!

    Susan Manchester
    Jacksonville, FL

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  27. Sandy Tilley says:

    Alphabetize your spices? LOL A kindred spirit! I, too, rewrote my novel at least 20 times. I need to follow your advice and just write. As you said, dreck can be fixed–or deleted!
    Good luck,Carol. I can’t wait to read Midnight Shadows.

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