Name Jane Carroll
Where are you from
I have lived in Alabama all of my life. Most of the time I’ve been in the northwest corner but I’ve also lived in Birmingham and on the Gulf Coast.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Wow…I’ve been a registered nurse twice as long as I wasn’t. I know…higher math! And then there’s the simpler stuff. I have two daughters and two granddaughters. Now it sounds like I’m boarding the Ark. For now, I’m happily single but who knows what the future will bring.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I working fast and furious with my publisher Kim Emerson and Rebbekah White of Master Koda Select Publishing to get Becoming Bertha released. Formatting and cover design are almost completed…shouldn’t be long…or maybe it already is!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I always enjoyed writing and secretly harbored the desire to write a book. I began to make that a reality about ten years ago.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s funny. I was writing Bertha-Size Your Life! but still considered myself to be a nurse who wrote. One day I was literally driving through a tunnel and thinking about that when I realized that what I was really a writer who earned a living as a nurse. I guess you could say I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The desire to write a book that would encourage women had been hanging around in the back of my mind/heart for a long time. When my youngest daughter got married and fully left home, it just seemed like the perfect time and topic. I originally started a book of exercises for self-discovery for women in the empty nest period of life. Yeah, it was as boring as it sounds. Thankfully Bertha jumped on her soapbox and hijacked it and Bertha-Size Your Life! was born.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m pretty laid back in my writing and enjoy first person narrative. Of course, my Southern accent twangs through in everything I write.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Bertha-Size Your Life! was a phrase in Get the Pom-Poms, one of the stories in the book. I loved the feel of it…like super-sizing so it was an easy choice for the title.
Where the Joys Are: Bertha’s Guided Journal came from a mixture of a play on words with Where the Boys Are and the content of the journal, increasing joy in your life.
Becoming Bertha just really sums up book three. I’d tell you more but I don’t want to be a spoiler.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
All three of the Bertha Series books have a message of encouragement, creating the life you want. I want women to realize that it is not only possible to have a great life, it’s also very doable. And, they can have fun in the process!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
The feelings and emotions in the book are totally realistic and I venture to say are pretty universal. Bertha’s zany antics…not so much…but the techniques described really work. So how’s that for not giving a straight answer to a question?
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some of all of it. As I mentioned earlier, the feelings and emotions are almost universal…of course I’ve experienced most of them, as have many people that I know. When I was writing Bertha-Size, people would ask me what Bertha would do about something and I would turn that into a story for the book. Where the Joys Are really is just a fun way to increase the joy in your life and isn’t based on anything other than that. Becoming Bertha, again, fictionalizes feelings and emotions but I have to say that it follows my personal growth fairly closely.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I’m the girl who loves to read non-fiction, personal growth books. Og Mandino’s and Paulo Coelho’s books are very powerful and have stayed with me.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Kim Emerson of Master Koda Select Publishing has truly helped me with my writing, marketing, and now she’s also my publisher. Kim is just an awesome person who loves to give and see others succeed.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading a Thriller Romance as a Beta Reader before its upcoming release. Personal Growth and Cozy Mystery are probably my favorite genres but I do branch out, especially to see what my author friends are up to.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There are too many to name just one. MKSP has some extremely talented authors and I would recommend their books to anyone looking for a fresh new author. Check out their listings at http://masterkodaselectpublishing.com/
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m working with MKSP on the final edits for Becoming Bertha. Once that is finished, we’re planning a cozy mystery featuring Bertha, a host of teenagers, and maybe a cat or two. Of course there will be shoes…lots and lots of shoes.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Master Koda Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/masterkoda/ ) has been a huge support to me and now the MKSP publishing family, but honestly I have so much support from so many people, many of whom I met online.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I do see it as a career but for the time being it is my secondary career. At first that was frustrating for me. I wanted to be a fulltime writer but now I see that having a nine-to-five job which pays the bills, actually takes a huge amount of pressure off my writing. And, I eat much better.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Becoming Bertha was a long time coming. I wrote the original manuscript at least eight years ago but I never could get the feel of it. So I stuck it in the closet for a long time. When I finally went back to it, it just seemed to click and I knew how to fix it. Of course, I wish it had been finished sooner, but I honestly believe the timing is right…for me and my readers.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
It had to be adolescent angst. That’s when I first started expressing myself on paper…and it was pretty sappy!
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Here’s a tiny blip from Becoming Bertha.
“What’s your favorite?” Bertha asked, peeking over the top of the Pizza Smeetza menu.
“Oh, I don’t care. We can get whatever you want, I’m not that picky.” In deference to her, I laid my menu down. “Well… anything except anchovies. I don’t like anchovies, but that’s not a big deal. If you want them, I’ll pick them off.”
Bertha slid her menu down and her reading glasses up, just as the waitress came by, pad in hand. “We’re gonna need a few minutes, please.” She smiled and waited for her to leave. “What do you mean, you don’t care? It’s your dinner. It’s how you’re feeding your body. How can you not care?”
I shrank down in my seat, wishing I could become invisible. This had all the makings of a soapbox moment, and I really didn’t want to be a party to it, although, I already was. “It’s not that big of a deal. Really, I don’t care which one we get. Just order and I’ll eat it. That’s what I always do.”
“You’ve got to be kidding! How long has it been since you were the one who actually chose the pizza?” Her eyes were wide open and her nostrils flared just a bit as she spoke.
“Well… um… um… um… it must have been sometime before I was married.” If I’d been the Wicked Witch of the West, I would have poured my glass of water on myself, just to get out of this conversation.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
As I mentioned, I work fulltime, so finding time to do it all is challenging.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Og Mandino was my all-time favorite author. I loved how he wove personal growth messages into intriguing stories. Although my style is totally different, I hope I’ve managed to do the same thing.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I have traveled a bit for book signings and speaking engagements but not for writing research. But hey…I’m ready to pack my bags and take Bertha to a tropical paradise.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My sister, Cynthia Dendy is the artist. She has drawn the illustrations for all three books and does a great job with Bertha. Originally, she did the pictures in water colors but they aren’t as crisp as digitally colored paintings so we went to plan B. Robyn Dickson did the colorization and Rebbekah White did the cover design. Nothing with Bertha is ever simple!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I think the hardest part of writing is dealing with the first edits. It can be devastating when someone recommends changes…a lot of changes…to the book that you thought was perfect.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Listen to the editors…they know what they are talking about.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Get a professional editor. They are worth every penny that they cost and will make the difference in a mediocre book and one that is well received. Your Mama can’t do that for you and neither can your sister the English major.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I so appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read Bertha and I hope that the books have made you smile, made you laugh, and made you think. If you haven’t read Bertha, I appreciate you, too, but I do hope you’ll join the ranks who ask me on a regular basis…what would Bertha do?
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember Mama reading Heidi to me and my sister when I was very young. I don’t remember the first book I actually read for myself…but my first reader in school was Fun with Dick and Jane.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Anything can make me laugh. I try to find the humor in everything around me. There was a time when I cried that easily as well…but not so much anymore.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would like to meet and why?
I would love to meet the Dalia Lama. I have so much respect for his wisdom.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Honestly I don’t have much time between work and all that writing involves but I enjoy cooking, reading, riding my bicycle, and doing a bit of porch gardening.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a lot of TV but when I do I either watch something light and funny or HGTV. I don’t get into the drama shows anymore and I’ve never been a huge sports fan.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food would have to be ice cream…preferably sitting on top of a slice of cake. I enjoy light rock and the oldies. Bertha says my favorite color is green because that’s the color of money.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve enjoyed my nursing career but writing is my passion. So, I’m good. I also enjoy speaking to women’s groups and coaching women on a private basis. Of course, Bertha joins me in everything I do.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I do have a blog on my website. I generally post two to four times a week and Bertha usually has something to say when I do. I also contribute to a Facebook Magazine, Women as Visionaries with Lore Raymond, three times a week and again, Bertha puts her two cents worth in.
I would also love for everyone to connect with me on my Facebook pages and on Twitter.
Bertha-Size Your Life! http://amzn.com/B00KNDIGCI
Where the Joys Are: Bertha’s Guided Journal http://amzn.com/B00LZVRKL0
Jane Carroll’s Amazon Author Page http://amzn.com/e/B007M0TY44