This post was originally published May 2014 on Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz’s blog
Thank you, Penny!
Please tell us about yourself.
We’re Helen and Lorri Carpenter, a Florida-based mother/daughter duo. We write together as HL Carpenter. We work in our studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue. In addition to being multi-generational writers, we’re also multi-genre writers. We like variety!
When and why did you begin writing?
HL Carpenter sprang into life in a galaxy far, far away, when the once-warring worlds of Mother and Daughter signed a peace treaty. Under the terms of the treaty, these two former foes joined forces to create fine works of fiction—and soon discovered great cooperation begets great storytelling strength. Of course, like any fictional superhero, HL has a weakness…and, like any fictional superhero, she’s not going to reveal it.
What is the process for jointly writing a book?
Something tugs at our imagination; a newspaper article, a poem, a picture. From there, we think about what would happen if… Then we work up a character sheet and create a summary of each chapter.
When the summary is finished, we take turns writing each chapter. We pass the story back and forth until we get to THE END. It’s great to reach a stopping point, pass the work on, and get it back with the next scene written—sometimes with an unexpected twist, but always following the general direction of the story based on the outline.
Once a book is done, we set it aside for a cooling-off period, then we revise, revise, revise.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Our first full-length published book is the young adult e-novel, The SkyHorse. It’s a sweet, girl-loves-horse, wish-it-would-happen-to-me story.
The SkyHorse sprang from our love of horses, and our firsthand experience owning—or is that being owned by?—great steeds over the years. And we’ve both always thought it would be marvelous to be able to fly. So what could be better than a flying horse?
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Dream Stealer is a young adult novelette of approximately 8,400 words. It’s the story of Fancy Moonstruck. Fancy is supposed to steal dreams. It’s what her family does for a living, and now that she’s fifteen, the job is hers.
But it’s a job Fancy would rather not have. She knows first-hand what dreams mean to the dreamer because she dreams of her mom, who died five years ago. Losing her dream would be like losing her mom all over again. That’s a pain Fancy doesn’t want to inflict on anyone.
But the rules are clear: Steal a dream—or lose her own.
What are your plans for marketing Dream Stealer and where can readers purchase the work?
We plan to do guest blog posts including author interviews, submit requests to review sites, contact the local library, post the cover and the blurb to Pinterest, and send excerpts and buy links to sites such as Bargain e-books and Bublish.
We’ll also do a countdown and postings on our site and share those on social media. For some of our books, we post first chapters to Wattpad and Goodreads, and we may do that with Dream Stealer. We’ll do audio clips and eventually a full audio version, and we have a YouTube channel that we intend to get more active on (a trailer at minimum), as this appears to be a growing area for Google. In addition, we’ve recently discovered internet radio interviews, and plan to pursue this.
We may also do a press release in the local paper, though we’ve not had success with this in the past, largely due to lack of print copies.
We’ve also been considering how to emphasize the “clean” nature of our books (in terms of language and romance), though this is still in the planning stages.
How do you decide how your characters should look?
This is an interesting question, Penny. We follow other authors on Pinterest, and oftentimes they’ve pinned pictures of models or celebrities to represent book characters. But we’ve never gotten that specific with our characters, which is curious because we’d say our books are character-based.
We do write a general description of height, hair and eye color, and perhaps a quirk or habit. Those come from our own inner-mind image of the character. But we never use actual pictures. Hmm. We’ll have to deal with that when we get our first movie contract so we can pick the right celebrity!
What other types of writing have you done?
Are you ready?
Besides Dream Stealer, our fiction credits include anthologies, a satirical short story, The Demise of Fyne Literature, a New Adult novella, Jack and The Fountain of Youth, and a young adult novel, The SkyHorse. We have samples and excerpts of all our work on our web site.
Our non-fiction credits include accounting newsletters, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Education Direct.
In addition to work published elsewhere, we’ve loaded up our website with articles that provide great research material on taxes, money and finance, which happen to be areas we specialize in, and we’ll continue to add to the library. There’s also humor, in the form of satire. And we write Carpenter Country essays, brief slice-of-life peeks into our escapades in Carpenter Country.
Whew! Well, we did mention we’re multi-genre writers, so you can’t say we didn’t warn you!
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
Surprisingly—or maybe not surprisingly—our tastes are pretty similar. We like mysteries and thrillers and books that teach just by telling a good story. We find those kinds of books across all genres.
What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
Typos! Second on the list are things that don’t make sense—for instance, when a character goes off on a major tangent and all she had to do to save herself a ton of trouble was ask a simple question.
And then there are the illogical reasons a character has for doing something. You know, the too-stupid-to-live characters, the ones you’d like to shake some sense into. On the other hand, we feel something for those characters, even if that feeling is exasperation, so the author did create a compelling personality.
What are your current projects?
Right now we’re in the middle of writing the first draft of a themed collection of short stories. We have another young adult novel in the rough-draft stage, one more cooling off and waiting for revision, and a middle grade novel that’s in the final stage of revision.
We also have a couple of completed cozies for adult readers that we’re thinking of publishing as a series, along with some novellas featuring the same character.
And then there are the notebooks full of ideas that are at the moment only a gleam in our eyes…
Please tell us your latest news.
We have a new young adult novel coming out in May. Walled In is the story of Vandy Spencer, who discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception when her father is accused of fraud.
We just got the final cover approved and we’re working on the galleys. We love Vandy, and we’re excited to introduce her to the world!
Any other news you’d like to share?
We’d like to thank you for making space on your blog for us, for introducing us to your readers, and for giving us this opportunity to talk about our work.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR *****
HL Carpenter is a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit Carpenter Country at hlcarpenter.com.
Also by HL Carpenter:
Jack and The Fountain of Youth. Some people say the Fountain of Youth is a myth. Jack Ponsi Dileonardo Thomas knows better.
The SkyHorse. Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck–until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.
The Demise of Fyne Literature. Who killed Fyne Literature? The Fictional Book Investigation Agency is on the case—and the lead investigator is closer to the culprit than he realizes.
Dream Stealer. Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?
Walled In. When her father is accused of fraud, seventeen year old Vandy Spencer discovers her entire life has been built on a heart-shattering deception.
Pirate Summer. When her brother disappears, Josey is sure she knows where he’s gone. And the only way to bring him home is to travel two hundred years into the past with a boy she can’t trust.
A Cause for Murder. Someone at Happy Haven is a killer. Septuagenarian sleuth Emma Twiggs navigates madcap mayhem, multiple mysteries, and murderous motives to discover who has a cause for murder.