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Interview with Carrie Nichols

Carrie Nichols’ Path to Publication

Today I chat with the wonderful Carrie Nichols, the debut author of The Marine’s secret daughter, which is scheduled for release with Harlequin on the 16th January 2018 in paperback and on the 1st February 2018 in digital format.

2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Winner and 2016 & 2015 Maggie Award winning author, Carrie Nichols, is a hardy New Englander transplanted to the Deep South, where she marvels how two inches of snow can bring a city like Atlanta to its knees. She loves to travel, is addicted to British crime dramas and knows a Seinfeld quote appropriate for every occasion.

She has one tolerant husband, two grown sons, and two critical cats. To her dismay, Carrie’s characters—much like her family—often ignore the wisdom and guidance she lovingly offers. She enjoys weaving heart, home and humor into her stories. Carrie is a member of RWA, Georgia Romance Writers, and Chattanooga Area Romance Authors.


Hi Carrie, I’m so excited to have you on my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your ‘Path to Publication’ experience with us all. I know so many of my readers will love to hear about how you went from an aspiring author to a published one, and many will gather inspiration from the journey!


Thank you so much for having me! I’m very excited to be here talking about my debut book. I admit there were days when I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, but I never gave up and kept moving forward.

I’m so glad you did, as I loved reading your debut ‘The Marine’s Secret Daughter’! It was a great read 🙂 So I’m very keen to hear about your Path to Publication. Let’s get started:


  • How long have you been writing for?

All my life! I remember writing fan fiction back in elementary school with my best friend. Of course we had no idea that’s what we were doing. Then I wrote several old style Harlequin romances in my late teens early twenties back when you had to send in a physical manuscript. I received a form rejection from Harlequin, but the editor had scribbled a note advising me to keep writing and to develop my ‘voice’. I had idea what voice meant nor did I realize that encouragement in the form of a scribbled note was a good thing. I wrote feature articles for the local newspaper for a while and that satisfied me for a while.


  • How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?

Faced with an empty nest, I started back with romance writing late in 2013. In 2014 I came in third in Georgia Romance Writer’s Maggie awards. I joined the forums at Harlequin’s Writer’s Circle, made some wonderful friends and competed in numerous Flash Fiction contests, which helped me tighten and polish my writing. In 2015 I won a Maggie. In 2016 I signed with my agent in April, won a Golden Heart in July, won another Maggie in October and sold to Harlequin Special Edition in December. A dream come true!


  • Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)

I have a home office. When my youngest moved out, I went into his empty room and cried…then I realized the room was empty and begging to be turned into a home office. I listen to music while I write and tend to have a soundtrack for each book. My husband sometimes asks when I will be done with a certain story. He’s sick of listening to the soundtrack!


  • Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?

Somewhere in between. I had to learn to plot in order to sell on proposal but I struggled (still do) with plotting. Then I took a wonderful online class from Laura Baker called Turning Points and felt as though she was talking directly to me. Before beginning, I plot my protagonist’s emotional arc and fill in some scene sketches between the turning points to get to where I want my character to be by the end.


  • What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Writing dialogue and coming up with that perfect first line.


  • What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?

My stories are all about characters. I add description and setting because I have to. LOL!


  • Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):

Characters come to me and tell me interesting tidbits from their backstory or give me the first line of the story. Unfortunately, they expect me to take it from there. My writing process could only be described as messy. I don’t write linear so I have to stop at certain points and print the story out and use a red pen to stitch it all together. I love editing and tweaking to get the words just right.


  • How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write)?

According to the schedule my agent and I worked out, I’ll be writing 3 books in 2018.


  • How did you get your agent, or your publishing contract (if applicable)?

Through determination and perseverance. My wonderful agent mentored and guided me for eighteen months before she signed me. I wrote and re-wrote the manuscript until I got it right and she offered to represent me. Then we subbed and the editor wanted another re-write. So I sat down and wrote the book again. As I used to tell my agent when she’d call and say it wasn’t quite there yet, “Then I’ll do it again until I get it right.”


  • How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?

I confess I didn’t do a lot of querying. I knew which agent I wanted and queried her. Although she didn’t sign me right away, we spoke several times and she guided me in the right direction. Of course when she’d say the ms wasn’t quite there yet, I gave myself a day to pout, then rolled up my sleeves and jumped back in. And I have to say my wonderful critique partner, Tina, talked me off the ledge on several occasions. Without her, I know it would have taken me much longer to jump back in.  


  • Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:

It was in December of 2016 and my agent called and said “Congratulations!” It felt surreal. I think I said “Oh my god” a lot. And thanked her a million times and she laughed and said, “You did all the work.” Later that night we were at Walmart and I was deciding between Starbucks Double Chocolate Cocoa mix or Peppermint Cocoa mix and I said what the heck, I sold a book today. I’m buying both! J I’m glad I did because the next day my agent called back and said they wanted my second book too.


  • Can you describe what your own path to publication was like?

Long! I sometimes felt like such a slow learner but when my editor asks for changes, I’m confident that after a good night’s sleep, I can figure out how to do what she wants. I’ve had enough practice.


  • What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?

I guess I was surprised that my editor didn’t worry over the same things contest judges do…like adverbs. LOL! Story is what matters. Everything else can be fixed.


  • Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?

I listened to the advice, took classes, read books and didn’t give up.


  • Is there anything you wish you could do differently?

I wish I hadn’t given up so easily when I was younger.


  • Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?

Don’t give up.

  • Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?

Don’t give up and, while you need to be open to taking advice and learning, if it doesn’t feel right for you or your story don’t follow it. There is no single right way to do things. I know a lot of writers swear by detailed character sheets and they make me break out in hives.


  • What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?

Sorry, but I’m still figuring that out!


  • What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?

I completed another story for Harlequin Special Edition and am now working on my first of three for Entangled Bliss. I have others in the works but can’t announce yet. 


  • How can people connect with you?

My website or Facebook. Or email me!


  • Anything else you want to add?

Find a good CP who will be there to talk you off the ledge when necessary and will celebrate in your successes.


Thank you Carrie for chatting with me 🙂 I loved hearing about your Path to Publication and I know my readers will too! For those of you who haven’t read Carrie’s debut yet ‘The Marine’s Secret Daughter’ you’ve got to as it’s a great read – check out my review here.


She has his eyes. Her mother has his heart. 

Years have passed since marine sergeant Riley Cooper last held his best friend’s sister in his arms. Bound for Afghanistan, he believed walking away from Meg McBride was the kindest thing he could do. Now that he’s home, he doesn’t blame Meggie for hating him. But she hasn’t told him everything. And he hasn’t met the little red-haired girl whose gray eyes so resemble his own…

The Marine’s Secret Daughter is scheduled for paperback release on the 16th January 2018 and for e-book release on the 1st February 2018.



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