Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Feature: Journeys Toward Publication and Beyond: Carolina Valdez Miller

Welcome everyone, to another Friday Feature. Today, we're talking with the fabulously funny, Carolina Valdez Miller. She's warm and gracious at her blog--I dare you to go over there, check her out and not have a blast. Double dog dare you! Alright, if everyone is back, we'll begin. :)

Carolina, thanks so much for being here today, and thanks for sticking around and answering questions from my blog followers--what a treat! Tell us a little about yourself.  

I write. I read. I play house. Sugar makes me happy. Call me Carol.

Okay, Carol. :) Tell us, what are you currently working on?

Currently working on a YA UF with a bit of a soft SF feel. It’s my third YA manuscript. I’ve never been more excited about a project.

Love urban fantasy. What made you start to write seriously?

I always felt I would write novels, but I never saw myself as a “writer.” I thought I’d be an actress, actually. I won writing contests and awards, and I STILL didn’t see writer as my identity. It was just a part of me, like brown hair. Then I double majored in English (literature) and creative writing, and then in grad school, I taught writing to college students. And STILL, I didn’t know. I was shooting for college professor. I didn’t buckle down and write with the intention of publishing until I stopped writing literary fiction and switched to YA UF in the last couple years.

Sounds like you found your niche! What stage are you in, currently, in your journey toward publication? And--how is that going for you? Has anything surprised you about this stage?

I’m working on a new project while finding a home for an old one. I’ll just say I’ve had some interest from peoples. But yeah, lots of surprising things in this business, at every stage I think. But most of all, I think I’ve surprised myself. I’m a more confident writer than I realized. That’s kind of freaking awesome. 

That is freaking awesome! As is the interest in your work--I'm hoping that you will have good news for us soon! 

Your blog is wonderful, and warmly followed. If you had to pick a favorite blog, what would it be?

You naughty interviewer, asking such a question. Blogs are like ice cream. Who has a favorite? (coffee with Heath) 

Mmmm. Is it too early for ice cream? Carol--tell us about your favorite blog post that you have written.

I haven’t posted it yet. Not sure I will. But it’s called, “Aw, F@#$ Me.”

I know, right?

I'll keep my eyes peeled for that one! What online resource have you found most helpful?

Honestly, I usually keep up while I’m writing. I have a poopy memory, and I’m often wracking my brain for the word that eludes me. I can usually come up with a similar word, so I’ll look it up and check the synonyms. I always know it when I see it.

I like that tip. And laughing about your 'poopy memory'. What has been your biggest trial in writing?

OCD probably. I’m an obsessive writer. I have SuperFocus, and it’s easy for me to tune out the rest of the world and do nothing but write. I’m surprised anyone talks to me anymore. I’m trying to be better about it, though—especially after I looked up from my laptop and realized my children were a year older than I remembered.

That sounds like a very useful 'trial' to have. What tricks have you acquired to make you write or create when you don’t feel up to writing?

I don’t really have that problem…so, I don’t know. I guess my advice would be to pick up writing as an addiction, like crystal meth. My less psychotic piece of advice might be to watch movies. For some reason, that makes me REALLY, REALLY want to write. It’s like an aphrodisiac for writing. 

Another great tip. It's nice to be able to watch movies and call it research! Fun! Carol, do you have a writing schedule? Are you an everyday writer?

I write every day, if you count editing. Actually, I normally write every night. During the day, while the kids are at school, I usually try to catch up on blogging comments or other blogs or…well, okay, sometimes, I’ll write then, too. Who am I kidding? I write all the time. It’s just at night no one’s allowed to bother me. They do anyway, but delusions keep me sane.

LOL. Tell us about a book that has impacted your writing life.

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. My husband read the whole LOTR series to me while I was ill. It was the first fantasy story I’d consumed, and for the first time, I realized fantasy wasn’t lame. It took me a few (lots) of years to realize I could write it, but it planted the seed.

He sounds like a sweet husband. What a wonderful inspiration. What is your practical goal with your writing? Do you have a reach-for-the-stars goal that you would like to share?

Riches. Oprah.

My reach-for-the-stars-goal involves Jared Leto. 

Carol, so far, what has been the best part of your writing experience?

Falling in love with my characters. Meeting other writers and publishing people comes a close second.

I agree--there are some wonderful kidlit people out there! If you could create the perfect place for writing, what would it look like?

I’m thinking some cabin in the woodsy mountains with my muse Jared Leto in a hot tub.

LOL. If you could be a character in a book, and live within their world, what character would you be?

I don’t think I’d want to be my characters. They’re teenagers and angst sucks. So does acne. 

What other distractions are in your life?

Blogging. Driving. Sex.

It’s hard to do while writing. 

I'll say! And, just because I’m curious, coffee or tea?

Tea. Yorkshire Gold with a splash of milk.

Thanks for having me, sweet Heather! I had a blast!

Aww, I'm blushing. You're sweet too! Thanks, Carol for the great interview--I loved hearing more about your writing life! 

Everyone, please be sure to leave a message or question for Carol in the comments--she'll stop by to answer them. And, visit her blog on your way out. She's chock full of fun and encouragement over there!  Thanks again, Carol! 


  1. Carol is awesome! Thanks for this wonderful interview, Heather.

    AND Carol, I bet if you use your creativity you can find a way to do those 'distracting activities' while writing. LOL

    Enjoy your weekend, ladies!

  2. Nicely done, Ladies. Carol, I love that your Hubby read you LOTR while sick! That's awesome!

    Oh and if you ever get stuck for a word and can't find it on your straight thesaurus, try this site:

    I love the reverse dictionary--very helpful some days!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  3. "I guess my advice would be to pick up writing as an addiction, like crystal meth."

    HAHAHA, loved this!! Excellent interview, Heather. And thanks, Carol!! I've been double dog dared to check out your blog and not have a blast, so I'm off to check out your blog and not have a blast!

  4. Carol, as always, you entertain and you titillate. I don't call you my bff for just any reason.

    I can tell you, no one has ever answered Heather's question so frankly, while still causing me to bust a gut.

    Go Carol!

  5. I have to agree that watching a great movie always makes me want to write! Never fails. Great interview!

  6. Great interview, Heather. I've never been to Carol's blog, but I'm heading there now. My favorite quote was this:

    "My reach-for-the-stars-goal involves Jared Leto."

    Isn't it all of ours?

  7. LOVE this interview with Carol! I've always liked her, and even more so after this!

  8. Excellent interview. What a wonderful perspective:)

  9. Yay for Carol! She's always so funny and honest. If you haven't already, PLEASE check out her latest vlog. Her best yet.
    Also, I did not know all of Carol's writing background. You go, girl! Plus it sounds like she has a very sweet hubby.
    Great interview, ladies!

  10. Hah, I loved the Jared Leto answers. Carol is such a sweet, genuine person and a very talented writer. I have no doubt we're going to be seeing big things from her.

  11. LOL about the distractions in her life. I still manage to think about writing while doing those things. But then again, I'm also writing romance and taking a workshop on writing sex scenes. ;)

  12. Carol--I have to echo all the comments thus far--I really feel like I know you better through this interview, and really enjoyed laughing through it!

    I'm throwing a question into the mix--Are a fast drafter? How long do you work on a book before querying? I'd love to know more about your process. :)

    Thanks again for the lovely interview!!

  13. Oh my goodness, I'm a little overwhelmed by all the kind responses! Thank you so much for stopping by. I'll be sure to stop by all of your blogs. I look forward to getting to know all of you better, including those of you I already follow. Heather clearly has a brilliant group of friends over here.

    Kelly, thanks for the vlog mention, girlie! That was very kind of you. All of you were! <3 <3 <3 I adore you all.

  14. Heather, thank you so much for having me over! It was such a blast, and so much fun to consider your questions. It really forced me to think about things in a way I never have before--you know how you just sort of do things without thinking about why?

    As to your question, yes, I'm a fast drafter, although not as fast as some (such as Elana Johnson). But I can crank out a first draft in four weeks or so, depending on the length. But I'm a slow editor, usually a couple months at least. The longest I've edited a project is a year. But querying is painful, so I usually do a lot of research while I'm editing, and then get a lot of help on the query (I suck royally at writing queries). But I've only queried twice. The first time for my first YA, which I still love, but took off the market after 7 queries. I got some interest, but I knew it wasn't ready and would need a lot of work. The second time I'm still in the process of doing. Had a number of requests from both editors and agents, including revision requests, but if it all doesn't pan out, I'll probably return to querying it soon.

    Now when will you come be a guest on my blog?

  15. Great interview as always, Heather. Thanks!

    Every time I encounter Carol I find her to be so incredibly genuine! This interview is no different. Carol, I loved that it took you so long to recognize you were a writer despite writing all the time. I was going to ask about writing subsequent manuscripts. You answered part of my question when you answered Heather's. But also does your process as you move on to the next book?

  16. Ooops! Does your process CHANGE as you move on to the next book?

  17. Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments and questions!

    Carol--I'd be honored to be a guest on your blog whenever you'd like me to. :)

  18. Shari, you are full of magnificent ideas. I will have to give it a try. although I fear writing while driving might lead me to sport a pencil through the eyeball at the next writers conference. :P

    Angela, ohhh, good link! I will be sure to check that one out. I used to think there was no way I could ever consider myself a writer if I had to look things up all the time.

    Marisa, thank you! At times, my writing does feel a bit like an addiction I need to pull away from! Glad to meet you!

    J, you're a dearheart. I adore you. Thanks so much for connecting me with Heather. She's clearly a treasure, as are you.

    Laura, thank you! I'm not sure what it is about movies, but they can feel so inspirational for writing!

  19. Tracey, it's a pleasure to meet you! Jared Leto is quite the dream isn't he? I can't even imagine what I'd do if I actually got a chance to meet him. Probably stutter and drool all over myself! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Penelope, you're so sweet! Thank you!

    Lindsay, thank you! That's a kind thing to say. My perspective can be a bit skewed at times ;)

  20. Great interview. Carol, I'm so impressed that you are always so focused on your writing and write everyday. And that you can do it at night after a hectic day. Good luck with your projects.

  21. Kelly, you are probably the most pleasant, most cheerful person on the planet! I'm so glad to know you! Thank you for the kind mention and for the sweet words! <3

    J, you are a dear friend! I was so lucky to find you! Thank you for your constant encouragement and your invigorating spirit. You are a shining star, and a joy to know.

  22. Stina, I believe that's a sign of a brilliant writer! So keep it up. No one else will ever know! Hehe.

    Heather, I'll take you up on that! I'll shoot you an email. Would love to have you!

    Tina, thank you so much! I've always enjoyed running into you as well--kind, thoughtful, and full of great advice. As for your question, I'd say my process has changed every time. I think the more I write, the better I get at it, you know? I've learned how to get to the heart of the story much faster, in part through more extensive outlining and note taking. I used to be more of a pantser, but I've learned it makes the editing process much harder than it has to be. I like to get to know my characters much better now before I start, especially because the hardest thing to edit is the voice, so I prefer for that to be more solid going into it. But yeah, each subsequent ms gets a little easier as well, primarily because I'm more organized in my approach. But on the same note, I tackle each ms a little differently anyway. The voice, the characters, the plot, setting, mood--all of that forces me to think of the ms in a different way, and that often includes a certain degree of experimentation with structure and language, even with what scenes I write first. But always, I end in the same way, listening to The Cranberries' "Dreams." For some reason, that's the way I hear the end of every ms.

  23. Natalie, thank you! I'm often up quite late. It's an obsession, sometimes an awful one that leaves me without sleep at all. My daughter's preschool teachers are quite used to me dragging my feet, looking like a nightmare when I drop my daughter off at school in the mornings. But I'm hopeful that someday I'll be able to write full time during the day and then just quit in the evening. Hmm, we'll see.

  24. Ahh,Carol!!! I loved this interview..great answers. You know, I feel like I know you even better ;)

  25. Thank you, Christine! It was fun to think about these questions. I feel like I know myself better! <3

  26. I agree, your answers are so thoughtful. Thank you! It was really validating to hear that you learn more with each draft and it gets to be less work because of it!

  27. Carol! <3

    I love that you're finding your confidence as a writer. Also, ask me about Jared Leto sometime.

    Also, also - I was totally there when that picture was taken. Everyone, be jealous. She's just as amazing in person, if not moreso.

    Another great interview, Heather!

  28. Now this is one of my all-time favorite interviews!

    Carol, I'm so glad to know I'm not the only writer with a poopy memory;) I forget stuff all the freakin time! Not good for a writer, lol!

  29. Weird. She looks and sounds just like this girl I roomed with at WFC in Ohio. Small world after all. ;)

    Two thumbs up to both of you.

  30. Great interview ladies!! :) Carol - you always crack me up! :)

  31. Man, I learned a whole freakin' lot about Carol I never knew! Great interview.

  32. Totally laughed out loud about the kids a year older part. So true!

    Blushed at the sex while blogging and writing thing. I guess it could have been worse if you had sex while vlogging!

  33. Tina, you flatter me! It feels like opposite day--I should be reassured by what YOU have to say about writing! Your'e the one with the MFA, chickie!

    Casey, I'm so gonna ask you about Jared Leto. If you tell me you know him, I think I'll be inviting myself to Cali. I <3 you mega, by the way. And miss you like crazy.

    Melissa, you are such a sweet soul! Thank you for saying such a nice thing. Also, I was a little nervous about admitting that! Sometimes, I think we're supposed to have these brilliant writer minds, that I feel stupid admitting I forget basic vocabulary. Ha!

    Karen, thank you! Still the same, although I hide me sometimes! :D

  34. Jemi, thank you, dearie! Cracking people up is my favorite thing to do ;)

    Jonathon, this is why I love you.

    Elana, probably more than you wanted to know. Ha! Thank you!

    Julie, now that would be some vlog! Hahaha. Dang, now I'M BLUSHING!! But I can assure you, I've never done that while blogging. Probably.

  35. Yay!!! I finally got to read this!! Thank you Heather Kelly for the fab and fun interview with the gorgeous Carolina Valdez Miller!!!! It's great to know more about her and her writing! I have to get used to all these acronyms YA UF SF! LOL!!!

    I wish Caroline the bestest with her writing - she's gorgeous and talented and focused and she like Yorkshire Tea!!! With milk!! What a STAR! Yay!!!

    Take care

  36. You're so sweet! Thank you for the kind words. I love Yorkshire tea, but I've yet to be able to find it here. And my last batch I got from the UK is not good any more. I'm hoping my friend will ship me some soon, or I might have to buckle down and pay a fortune for imported PG Tips which is good, but not Yorkshire Gold. (the added milk I learned from my British neighbor while living in the UK, and now I prefer it) Also, sorry about the acronyms! I'm a goober :P young adult urban fantasy with a science fiction feel!

  37. Love this interview! Carolina is such a great writer and a great person :) And too true about teen characters: angst sucks, and so does acne!!

  38. Thank you, sweet Sherrie! You are so kind! I hope you're doing well. Hoping to hear some super good news from you soon!