Exclusive Interview with
Rhonda Lee Carver
When did you start writing?
At the age of 13, I started writing short stories. From then on, I treated it as my "hobby" through college and starting a family. In 2010, I decided if I didn't take it seriously, I'd never reach my dream of becoming a full-time writer. I wrote a couple of stories that were rejected and I specifically remember on a plane trip returning from San Antonio, Texas, I had an idea for a contemporary western romance and it was picked up by a publisher...and that's how I started writing cowboys. However, in actuality, a paranormal I had written previously (that was rejected) was accepted by the same publisher and because of timelines, the paranormal was published first.
What makes writing your passion?
Creating a world with all its characters and drama is exciting. The stories, characters, situations, etc, come from my imagination (and a bit of reality tossed in for good measure). Every book has a part of my soul entwined within the paragraphs like ivy growing alongside a brick wall. However, readers are also a part of the passion. To have them pick up my books and love them is what keeps the road paved.
How long have you been writing?
Published since 2010.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Like I suddenly grew wings and was taking my first flight from the nest. It was a cocktail of excitement, nerves, fear, and joy.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I'm known for writing flawed, relatable characters. Life is NOT a playground, so who wants to read a story where everyone is farting sprinkles and climbing rainbows? Part of the mountain is the climb, like in romance. The tension builds and builds, and then you're at the tip of the mountain, and swoosh, you're falling downward. Just like in the roller coaster of life. However, love prevails and every book has an HEA.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Learning the marketing skills necessary in building a career in writing. When I started this journey I had no marketing or business skills. ZILCH. My education was in social work, which is useful in writing stories, but not the promotional side that makes up 50% of the career. I saw writers around me coming on the scene and finding their niche. I felt like I was beating my head against a brick wall. Then it finally clicked, and I gained some traction. There have been setbacks for sure, but I'm moving forward. I only wish when an author signs with a pub house that someone would guide the newbies in what to expect. Like a bootcamp on how to conquer.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I could write a book on this blasphemy.
I keep pounding away at the keys, even if I think I'm writing s*&$. I vomit everything down and then, usually, by the time I'm polishing I have my mojo back and can pull it together to create something readers will love. A little secret...those books that I've almost trashed because I hated them have been the best sellers. Beats me :)
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
In real estate, the three most important things are...
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! (Yes, I did earn a minor degree in real estate).
In writing, the top three most important things are...
READERS. READERS. READERS.
They can make or break a new author. Come in hot, find your tribe, and love them dearly.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Have more self-confidence. You can, and will, be successful. And never, ever, measure your success to someone else's. Oh, and grow a tough skin because you'll need it.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
When my book is released, I'll read the first reviews because I know that most of them are from my fans and they're very gentle. After a few days, for my mental health, I steer clear. I've been in the biz long enough to realize I can't satisfy everyone. Some readers will hate me, and some will love me. And some are indifferent. I truly believe I offer a unique style and it doesn't click with everyone. I've published around 100 books. I feel every reader can find at least one, or two, they like.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
Like Tarzan standing on the tip of the tallest mountain pummeling his chest.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
Yes! In every book. There's a piece of me in every novel I've written.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
Trick question because every character is me...in a sense. They are created in my mind and molded into words. I give birth to them, yet, somewhere within the pages they grow their own personalities. Sometimes a character takes on the characteristics of someone I know, especially villains (lol).
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
In a sense, the cover is more important. It's the first impression. If a reader is in love with the cowboy on the cover, they have already created a connection with him.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I believe I do connect with readers. In fact, a few readers are more like friends than fans. I like to give readers opportunities to name the characters in a book. This creates a personal connection. I also do my best to respond to emails and messages, which isn't always easy.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
A few years back I took a trip to India. One of my readers came up and introduced herself as a fan. I loved meeting her. Then later on a trip to Italy, I was recognized in an airport. Again, I loved meeting a fan. Locally (I live in a small town), I don't get approached. They send me private messages telling me how much they love my books. I'm unsure why they aren't comfortable speaking to me in person. Maybe it's a respect thing. Maybe a judgement thing from others. But a lot of locals read my work and will tell me through a message.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Pride and Prejudice.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
It's not a who, but rather a what. What I'd like to be is a bright light in a reader's day. The cause for a smile or laugh. A match to a flame. A gentle thought they can't quite shake.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
Yes. Yes. Yes. A hundred times yes.
Hindsight is always clearer than forward sight.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I believe in my heart that we can pinpoint a "troll" from the rest of the wonderful population who's just giving an honest opinion.
However, for those who set out to destroy, hurt, offend, disrespect an author...
"If you can do better, go write your own book and prove it."
What would you say to your readers?
I love you all to the moon and back. You are the core.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I live in Ohio but have dreams of moving somewhere warm, or close to the mountains. I have three wonderful children, and fur babies galore. My husband likes the simple life and stays behind the scenes.
What is your day job if you have one?
Writing is my full-time career.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
Painting. I enjoy it so much. I wish I had more time. Hockey. Friday nights under the neon lights watching my youngest cheer. Unplanned road trips. Family movie nights.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Which helps me write better flawed characters.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
Possibly wanting a different life than the one I was given as a child.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
Only the current book I'm working on. It's due out October 25, 2022.
All Cowboy and a Holiday Bride (Book 6, The Brothers of Dove Grey). A bittersweet novel to end the series.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
We're lacking so much. Public schools focus on making kids stars in sports, and not academics. A lot of the time we see kids reach their peaks in HS and have no clue what to do after the spotlights and cheering of the crowd is gone. Coaches put so much emphasis on talent (mostly social politics) and forget these kids are in HS. The likelihood of most of them reaching college level sports is very little. So why not let them have fun, build character, team skills, and confidence? Nope, because it's about winning. Yet, is that winning? Because when a leader is mistreating a player, that's not winning.
Yes, this is my soap box.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
1. That my children love their careers so they never work a day in their lives.
2. Continue growing my base, and backlist.
3. Health, happiness, and peace in the world.
What is your favorite music?
I like a bit of every genre. Right now, I'm on a Billie Eilish kick.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I'm afraid of failure.