Carol E. Wyer wants to live in a world where gummy bears do not rot your teeth and everyone laughs at least fifty times a day.
As a humorous writer and blogger, she’s been featured in and written for Womans’ Own, Yours, Choice, and Woman’s Weekly magazines, the Huffington Post and been interviewed on numerous BBC radio shows, NBC and Sky television and BBC Breakfast television.
When she’s not hiding in her garret writing books and articles, you can find her quaking in the wings, waiting to perfom her stand up show, Smile While You Still Have Teeth or being a Loud Mouth on BBC Radio Derby
Her books all encourage us “older folk” to enjoy life, carpe diem and laugh. Her most recently-released book — Grumpies On Board — hit the shelves in June and has attracted a lot of attention from the travel industry and means she and Mr Grumpy will have to take more holidays soon.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I’ve been writing since I was in my twenties. I had spinal problems that resulted in operations and lengthy spells of recuperation in hospital where reading and later writing kept me sane.
My first job was in Casablanca, Moroocco, so I wrote a series of children’s stories that captured the magic of the place while I lived there but never considered having them published. It was only when I was in my thirties and had completed a series of stories for young children that taught them French, did I think about publishing. In those days, you had to work through the Writer’s Handbook and post everything so after a couple of years I had enough rejection slips to make up a vast tome but finally got interest from one of the big six publishers. A few weeks before we signed contracts, my illustrator and best friend died suddenly and I didn’t feel right going forward without her. I self published those few books we’d completed with illustrations and took them into schools with much success. In hindsight, maybe I should have signed the contract.
In 2009 I began writing for the adult market as I felt there was a gap for humorous novels aimed at older readers. I’ve not stopped writing since!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I suffer from insomnia so my days are long. I work on marketing and social media stuff in the morning until about 10:30am then go out with Mr Grumpy for an hour or so to break the day up. After lunch and my house chores I settle back down to write articles until dinnertime. I don’t work again until after Grumpy dozes off then I write until I am tired – usually about 3 or 4 in the morning. I then grab a couple of hours sleep until the Grumpy One gets up at 5 or 6 and off we go again.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’ve never suffered from it. New voices replace the voices in my head all the time. In fact, it’s a job to keep them all satisfied. Sometimes, when I have an article to write for the Huffington Post or a magazine that I can’t get right, I run a bath and cogitate there. The water soothes and relaxes me.
4.Are you a plotter or panster when it comes to writing a story? Plotter for sure. I spend months thinking about plots and characters and letting them find their voices, then I play the whole story in my head like a film, making edits and so on until I am ready to start writing. Than, I go for it…
5.Are you traditionally or self-published, and what was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? Oh boy, it was hard to start with. After rejections by agents and larger publishers, I decided to self publish my debut novel. It took me forever to get it edited and I had to use services of others to help me get layout and formatting sorted. I started off using FeedARead, Amazon and Smashwords and surprisingly I became a best-selling author. I was lucky to get noticed and was interviewed in Woman’s Own magazine. Feeling more confident, I sent the sequel to Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines called Surfing in Stilettos to Thornberry Publishing and had it and the first novel taken on by them. They only published the eBook version so I used FeedARead for the paperback editions. I was then invited to submit my next script (my first non-fiction How Not to Murder Your Grumpy) to my current publisher, Safkhet Publishing who I met at a festival of Romance in Bedford. They have been really good to me and have published all my books ever since.
Last year, I self-published a selection of short stories entitled Love Hurts on Amazon mainly so I could offer free books to my readers. It is on Kindle Select and I can choose when I want to make it free. That allows me control of the book.
Advice for new writers, don’t be in a hurry to get published. It will take months but send to smaller publishers and be patient. No, more patient than that. You need to be very patient indeed. While you are waiting keep writing! Make sure you have other books to offer and indeed make sure you have synopsis and biographies and blurbs all ready to accompany your work.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? There have been two highlights – the first was being interviewed on BBC Breakfast television, not once but twice. The first time I was interviewed about Grumpy Old Menopause (you can see that interview here) and a second when I was called in to be a guest and chat about ageing. The other highlight came this year when Grumpy Old Menopause won the People’s Book Prize award. The whole event took place at Stationer’s Hall in London and was televised (see it here) on Sky and I was even interviewed afterwards.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My most recent book is a humorous non-fiction book aimed at people who want to go on a holiday with a difference. Each adventure and crazy idea is commented upon by Mr Grumpy himself and the whole book is not just for travellers it is entertainment for anyone. I bet by the end you have a list of destinations and “must do” holidays planned. The book is filled with anecdotes (why you should never go ‘snuffle trunting’) jokes, stories, trivia and some fantastic ideas. All my non-fiction books have suggestions and help for anyone who is looking to enjoy life.
My novels pick up a similar theme and my last was Three Little Birds:
If your friend challenged you, would you dare? Charlie Blundell cannot get over the tragic death of her only daughter. She drifts between her job at the Art cafe and her hospital radio show, the only things which give her life purpose. Her best friend, the madcap Mercedes, cajoles Charlie into writing a ‘carpe diem’ list, but then swaps Charlie’s list with her own. Now, each must complete the other’s challenges, and the outcomes will astound both of them. The challenges begin as a series of relatively harmless, fun activities. Soon, though, the stakes increase when Charlie has to complete her challenges to save the hospital radio station. As the tasks become more demanding, a handsome stranger takes an interest in her, but he is not what he seems. One challenge causes a secret buried deep within her to surface, which may prove to be her undoing. Three Little Birds is a story of love, friendship and discovery, laced with hilarity and topped by a wickedly funny parrot called Bert.
8.What audience is your book targeted for, and what genre does it come under? I write for older men and women that is to say anyone over forty, yet the books appeal to a wider audience than that and even twenty-year-olds enjoy them. They all come under the category of humour and while the non-fiction are humorous and factual, the non-fiction could loosely (very loosely) be termed as romcoms or chick lit.
9.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I write a lot about carpe diem and not wasting opportunities so I spend free time working through a bucket list of challenges. Last year, having written about two women exchanging bucket lists and doing the challenges on them, I decided I ought to do the challenges so I did belly dancing, zip lining, ate a bush tucker meal of locusts, crocodile, ants, mealworms and kangaroo and then went zorbing. My lovely publisher came too to film me and make sure I completed the challenges.
Also last year, I took up stand up comedy (Thanks to a suggestion in Grumpy Old Menopause). Little did I realise what fun it would be and how successful it would be I did my first gig to a sell-out audience and then was invited to tour around the Midlands. I’m working on more material for that now too and hope to take it further this coming year.
10.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Be yourself for one thing and chat to people. I started by blogging (I didn’t use Facebook or Twitter then) and visiting other people’s blogs, leaving comments. After several months had built up a following of over a thousand people. When I launched my first book, I held a virtual part – a proper house party, with rooms where contests were taking place and there were guests you could talk to via a chat box – on my blog. It took over a month to prepare but it was well worth it. Everyone enjoyed it and I made enough sales to propel my book to number one in humour in the Amazon charts and to keep me in the top ten best sellers at FeedARead for six months. What I am saying is, be interactive. Social media is about that—being social. Don’t try and flog your book all the time. It is like being at a large party. Drop in, meet guests, have a drink and talk to them. Listen to them. Tell them something about yourself. Listen to them some more. If they like you, they’ll come and buy your book. Maybe not immediately but if they enjoy engaging with you, they’ll buy it eventually.
11.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? I could get myself into trouble here. Anyone who knows me will also know I have based quite a few episodes in my books on actual people and life.
Some of the amusing incidents that Amanda writes about in Mini Skirt and Laughter Lines come from personal experience, including some of the embarrassing episodes that occur when Amanda tries to get her grumpy husband to take up a hobby.
In Just Add Spice, Vivacious Viv was based on my bubbly post lady and apparently; I got her character spot on. Bert the parrot in Three Little Birds was based on a Facebook friend’s parrot (called Bert) that captured my heart with his online antics. Of course, a lot of the antics and characters are exaggerated including the character of Grace, Amanda’s mother—the partying, smoking, drinking socialite who spends half the year in Cyprus. Grace is of course, modelled on my own mother. When she read the first book, I was petrified she would be angry but she loved it and in fact, has since become more like the character than she was in real life. In Surfing in Stilettos, Amanda’s mother gets online and Skypes her daughter. I fabricated the story and used my imagination to make Grace become the flamboyant, much-loved character she is. My mother up until then had never used a mobile phone and certainly not a computer. Little did I know she had taken the lead from the character, purchased a Smartphone tablet and learned to use them. The first I learned was when she emailed me and then Skyped me—not bad for an 81-year-old!
Member of Romantic Novelists Association: http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/about/author/carol_wyer