It is my pleasure to welcome Women's Contemporary Fiction Author, Carol Fragale Brill to the blog today. Carol will be talking about two of her novels and some of her experiences as a writer.
What was the thing that influenced you to start writing?
I have loved stories ever since my parents read me Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Black Beauty at bedtime when I was five or six. I know Grimm’s may not seem like the stuff sweet dreams are made of, but mostly they read the ones about princesses being rescued by the prince. I started dreaming about writing a book when I was 20-something. It took me another 20 years to join a creative writing critique group and get started. And, I’m still a sucker for happily-ever-after love stories.
Tell me your success stories in terms of publishing/self-publishing?
Most of my writing time is devoted to my novels, blog, and book reviews for New York Journal of Books, with a little time left over to write and publish the occasional short story. After writing and rewriting my novels many times over a 15 year period, self-publishing both in less than a year is a huge accomplishment for me.
My favourite successes regarding shorter works include an excerpt from my newest novel, CAPE MAYBE being recognized by Poets and Writers as the Maureen Egen Prize first runner-up for fiction—so close! One of my writer friends referred to the prize as my best rejection to date.
My short story “Violets”, a reimagined excerpt from PEACE BY PIECE, was published in The Best of Philadelphia Stories after being voted a reader favourite.
What are your top writing tips for any aspiring writer?
Put in the time to study craft—characterization, plotting, show don’t tell, creating a sense of time and place. When I started writing creatively, I had no idea there were so many elements to writing craft. Once you start to understand craft, grab a few books in your genre and read them like a writer, dissecting how the author uses craft to create emotion and drama. Also, the support of other writers is so valuable. Find critique partners, join a writing group, and open yourself up to feedback. Perhaps the most important lesson is learning that writing is just the beginning, rewriting and working with a professional editor is where the story becomes what it is meant to be.
What are you working on now?
I just wrapped up self-publishing CAPE MAYBE in both paperback and e-book. Now I’m neck-deep in marketing, encroaching on my writing time. I am thrilled— and a little intimated—that many PEACE BY PIECE readers want a sequel. It’s funny because from the day I started writing PEACE BY PIECE, I was always sure the story ended where I ended it. Now, readers have me wondering if there’s more in store for Maggie, Thomas, Izzie, et al.
What do you draw on for inspiration?
About 15 years ago, I read Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST WAY, doing one lesson per week over the summer. The week after I finished the book’s twelve week course, I joined my first creative writing group. I often go back to the wonderful tools in THE ARTIST WAY—like morning pages, where you do a mind dump on paper to clear the cobwebs so the creative juices can flow, or an artist date, where you take yourself out to play to recharge your batteries.
I can’t remember if it is Julia Cameron, or Anne LaMott or Natalie Goldberg, but I heard one of them say writer’s block isn’t about being blocked, it’s about being empty. I try to remember that and do the things like walking on the beach with my husband, reading women’s fiction, watching humming birds and dolphins, that fill me up and rekindle my creativity.
Please tell me anything else you'd like the reader to know about you.
I keep a box of 96 crayons—a gift from my husband—on my desk. There’s a line in PEACE BY PIECE where the main character, Maggie says, “I never had a box of 64 crayons.” After reading that line in a very early draft, Jim bought me my box of 96—complete with the built-in sharpener. That green and yellow box is a constant reminder of his support, and I often skim through the box reciting the names of the colors when I need creative inspiration.
And, I enjoy interacting with readers and hope you will comment here, and on my Facebook page and My Blog
I am also available for in-person and virtual book club visits and talks.
Thank you Carol!
Follow this link to find out more about Carol's books on Amazon