In this episode, we spoke with award-winning author, business executive, Climate Reality leader and professional speaker Carol Van Den Hende, whose second book, Orchid Blooming, was published this month on September 13th. Orchid Blooming is the prequel to her acclaimed debut, Goodbye, Orchid, and a continuation of a trilogy. We spoke to Carol about her path to writing, releasing a debut novel during the pandemic, crafting compelling characters, the importance of research, writing emotional narratives that affect her readers, tips on public speaking, and more!
- Carol talks about her path from studying engineering to working in digital marketing to writing an award-winning novel
- She tells us about joining a writing community and improving her skills by participating in a writing critique group and sharing her work
- Carol gets into her research process, and how she researched the experiences of military veterans to portray PTSD and recovery accurately in her novels
- She also discusses how emotional journeys are important to highlight in the writing of characters with trauma or regarding characters facing life’s difficulties
- She offers advice on public speaking, and how to get over those initial nerves
- Carol talks about what she learned from her professional career, and how her experience has aided the business side of her writing, especially regarding marketing and branding
- She also talks about discovering her personal brand, and what that process was like, and offers some advice for developing your own brand
- And much more!
Carol on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
Mentioned in this episode:
No Turning Back by Bryan Anderson
Carol Van Den Hende is an award-winning author who pens stories of resilience and hope. Her novels Orchid Blooming and Goodbye, Orchid series are inspired by wounded veterans and have won 20+ literary awards, including the American Fiction Award, IAN Outstanding Fiction First Novel Award, and 2020 Royal Dragonfly for Disability Awareness.
Buzzfeed, Parade, and Travel+Leisure named “heartwarming, heartbreaking” Goodbye, Orchid a most anticipated read. Glamour Magazine recommended this “modern, important take on the power of love.” The International Pulpwood Queens, selected Goodbye, Orchid as a 2022 Bonus Book-of-the-Month.
Carol’s mission is unlocking optimism as a writer, speaker, strategist, Board member and Climate Reality Leader. One secret to her good fortune? Her humorous husband and teenaged twins, who prove that love really does conquer all.
Transcription by www.speechpad.com
Tara: Hey, writers. You’re listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast,” where we bring you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We’re your hosts, I’m Tara, the director of Kobo Writing Life for English language.
Rachel: And I’m Rachel, the promotion specialist for Kobo Writing Life. On today’s episode of the podcast, we spoke to author, Carol Van Den Hende. Carol is the award-winning author of the “Goodbye, Orchid” series, which has won over 20 literary awards. And when Carol is not penning stories of resilience and hope, she is applying her MBA to global marketing and digital strategy and is also an active public speaker, as well as an active member of her community as a climate reality leader.
Tara: We had a great conversation with Carol about what inspired her to move from her sort of corporate professional job into becoming a writer, and also what she was able to take from her job in marketing and branding and take that toward herself as a first-time writer. And she also speaks at a bunch of events and has just a lot of excellent writing advice that I think will be super helpful for everyone.
Carol, thank you so much for joining us today. Really happy to get to chat to you. I was wondering if you could start off by telling our listeners a little bit about yourself.
Carol: Tara, thanks so much for that warm welcome. And yeah, I’m so glad to introduce myself, Carol Van Den Hende. I wear multiple hats in life. So, I’ll tell you about three of them. One, I do have a day job in which I’ve had an incredibly wonderful career in digital technologies, in marketing, and in strategy. And now, I also have another hat in life, which is the one that brings us together as an author and a speaker. And then third, I love to give back in my community. I serve on a board of trustees and I also am trained as a climate reality leader. And I probably should not forget to mention that I’m also a mom of twins and married.
Rachel: So, you’re just a little bit busy is what I’m gathering.
Carol: Sleep is optional.
Rachel: I agree. That’s what coffee’s for.
Rachel: So, as you mentioned, you have a day job as a marketer or strategist in digital. How did you get into writing? How did you make that shift?
Carol: Yeah. I mean, it’s such an interesting story because I’ve always loved literature and I know that’s not unique to me. So many of your guests talk about this love of reading from a young age and writing as well. True for me too. And in fact, when I was going to college, I thought I was gonna be an English major, but my traditional Chinese family sat me down and said… this is so funny. Go ahead and laugh. It’s very cliche. They said, “You know, you’re really good at math and science, so maybe you should try math or science or engineering.”
So, we struck this deal that I was going to sign up as an engineering major for one year only. That was the deal. And I’m like, oh, I’ve got the loophole. After a year, then I’ll switch back over to English. It didn’t work because…and then this is hysterical as well, so feel free to laugh at me. I fell for the most cliche lecture of all time. All of the freshman engineers were put in an enormous hall and they said to us, “Look to your left, look to your right, in four years, only one of you’s gonna be left. The rest of you are gonna fail out, flunk out. You can’t make it.”
That got me so competitive that four years later, I’m walking down the graduation aisle with my engineering degree, which set me down the path of working in digital technologies, then getting my MBA, working in brands, working in strategy and insights, all of which I loved. So, I’m not complaining. No regrets at all. But to answer your question, how did I get into writing? I came back to writing because I thought I was writing for myself. I was writing as a place of solace during a time that was hard for one of our twins.
And I was pouring my heart out on the page and the stories were just coming out and I was full of inspiration and emotion. And it turned out, and I’m happy to tell you the story if you want to hear it, that I was really inspired and realized that the story that was really I thought was for me personally, actually had meaning for other people too.
Rachel: I for one would love to hear the story of how you came to that realization because I think there’s a really big difference between writing for yourself and then being willing to share that work with others.
Carol: This is an incredible time. So, let me take you to a time when I…so I first started writing for myself, but I decided to join the writing community because I figured if I’m going to write, let me try to improve my craft, hone my skills. So, I joined a writing group that met in person. It was a critique group in which we would sit around Mary Lee Waldron’s kitchen table in Bernardsville in the next town over, and every other week we would read our work aloud to each other in order to give each other feedback and learn.
So, one of these times I’m reading a chapter from what is now “Goodbye, Orchid.” It’s a very emotional chapter in which the main protagonist, which he had suffered a life-changing accident right in Chapter 1, he wakes in the hospital and sees what’s happened. As I shared this chapter with my critique partners, I brought this table of writers to tears and I thought, “Oh, I think there’s something here. This is more than just for me. This has power to it. It is moving people. It is emotional.” And that’s absolutely what I’ve heard since “Goodbye, Orchid” has come out.
People tell me that either they’ve not experienced what the main protagonist, Phoenix Walker, has experienced, and therefore, it deepens their empathy for people who are going through challenging times like that, or people who’ve been through medical trauma through challenges, tell me that they feel seen on the pages of “Goodbye, Orchid.” And both of those are so touching to me and make all that hard work really worth it.
Tara: That’s super brave of you being able to read what you have written to a group. I think that’s something that can be quite scary for an author, especially when you’re just writing for yourself. But that leads into, I did wanna talk about, you know, the characters as our main protagonists in “Goodbye, Orchid.” They’re so rich. I can see why people were so moved by that point that you’re referring to. So, both of them are changed by kind of different accidents that happen in their life. And I’m wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about the inspiration behind writing both Phoenix and Orchid’s characters.
Carol: Yeah. It’s such a great question. And readers love asking me about this, too, the inspiration behind the characters. The short answer is really combat wounded veterans, but the longer story is that during this difficult time with one of our twins, I had seen a story in the news about wounded warriors. And you know what inspired me was that the strength and resilience that they demonstrated to get back to good gave me hope that the hard things we were going through were temporary and that we could get through them, too.
And so even though my characters are not military characters, I often say that the work pays homage to the experience of wounded veterans because the accident that Phoenix suffers, and his whole journey of recovery, of, you know, going through bargaining and denial and acceptance is actually similar to the arc of many wounded warriors as well.
And then Orchid, although she, again, is not a military character, her experience is that her life is shaped from having witnessed the death of her parents as a child. And that trauma, of course, so understandably carries into her adulthood, colors how she sees the world. And it’s trauma that she carries within and needs to find a way to deal with. And that too and actually…so she, you know, basically is diagnosed with PTSD and meets a therapist that really helps her with that. And so that again is really inspired by the experience of wounded veterans who either have, you know, physical injuries like Phoenix suffers in “Goodbye, Orchid” or PTSD that Orchid suffers in “Orchid Blooming.”
Rachel: And just to kind of continue on this discussion about characters, I’m curious what kind of research went into them because they are so layered. So, there’s so much depth to them and they go through so much.
Carol: Rachel, the research question is so important and I’m so glad you asked about that because for me, in order to honor the experience of wounded veterans, it was really important for me to get the details right. And so the research took two phases. First, there was a secondary source research process, which was reading everything I could get my hands on. Reading books, reading articles, reading about people’s experiences. Also, there’s a lot of video content. There’s a lot of content out there.
And so I was able to learn a lot about what happens when someone is injured the way Phoenix is injured or has PTSD the way that Orchid does. But then I also found that there were some questions that I couldn’t entirely answer just purely through desk research. And therefore, primary research was important as well. And I have to thank, you know, many, many people for helping me with this, including the generosity of wounded veterans that spoke with me firsthand to describe how they felt during what would probably be described as some of the hardest times in their life.
And then also medical professionals, so psychologists, trauma specialists, surgeons, plastic surgeons. So many people gave generously of their time to make sure that the details were right, not just the physical journey, but the emotional journey was authentic. And I think one of the most touching things I heard was from the combat wounded veterans, who said to me…in fact, I’m thinking specifically of Doc Jacobs, he is a purple heart decorated, bronze star valor decorated veteran, who was blown up in Iraq, suffered injury to three of his limbs, lost his leg, and actually was the first veteran to go back into active duty after losing a limb.
He said to me that after reading “Goodbye, Orchid,” not only was he taken back to the time that he spent 11 months at Walter Reed recovering, going through dozens of surgeries, but it actually deepened his understanding of his own experience. And let me explain, because he had always seen those 11 months from his perspective, but he had never thought about his dad and g-ma, or grandma, who’d spent 11 months by his side, what their experience must have been like.
And because “Goodbye, Orchid” is written in multiple points of view, you hear not only from Phoenix Walker who suffers the accident and his recovery process, but also from his mother, from his twin brother, Caleb, from his co-workers, and friends, and those multiple perspectives actually created this image in his mind of what his family must have been through going through that experience with him.
Rachel: That is very powerful stuff. I’m curious, though, because like you mentioned like authenticity, especially when tackling tough subjects is so important, do you have any advice for authors who want to write more serious subject matter and wanna get it right, how to begin this research process, how to find people to interview?
Carol: Yeah, it’s a great question. And maybe I’ll offer two tips. One in terms of finding people for me, I’ll just share my own experience. I have this sample size of one or N of 1 that I can share. And so for me, I found that because I was reading so much material, I was finding people who were putting their life stories out there. So, for instance, Sergeant Bryan Anderson is a triple amputee, was injured, his Humvee was blown up in Iraq. He helped me tremendously with both “Orchid Blooming” and “Goodbye, Orchid.”
And, you know, the way I found him was simply I read his memoir. He wrote about that experience in his book, “No Turning Back.” I initially reached out to say, thank you so much for sharing your incredible life story, and it started a correspondence in which I was able to ask him some questions over email. He was really generous in answering those. And then he offered to get on the phone. He said, sometimes this stuff is easier to talk through. And so it just happened rather organically in that case. So, that’s one way.
But a second tip I would offer is that in addition to the research part, that for me sensitivity readers, once the manuscript is shaped is also really important. It’s one thing to do research and to have a sense of what you wanna talk about and how you know timelines happen or how things, you know, happen in the medical world, but actually, once it’s on paper to be able to have people who’ve lived these experiences read, provide feedback, really was incredibly helpful.
Tara: Yeah. I wanted to ask if you went down this sensitivity reader route. Yeah. You’ve just confirmed that. I’m curious, so you probably had a number of different people reading throughout different points. And what was the feedback that you got from “Goodbye, Orchid” after the fact?
Carol: Yeah. You know, so after “Goodbye, Orchid” has come out, the feedback I’ve been getting is that it is very emotional. People say #bringtissues, you know, like, warning to your readers. People say it really moves them. It touches them. It reminds them of their own experiences, or it gives them, you know, a window into seeing somebody else’s experience if they haven’t been through that. I’ve gotten emails in the middle of the night. People say to me that I’ve kept them up way past their bedtime because they had to know what happened and get to the last page.
Tara: It’s high praise if you’re getting into people’s sleep time.
Tara: We will talk about “Orchid Blooming” as well, but I just wanna chat about “Goodbye, Orchid” a little bit more. Am I right in picking up the Jack White references throughout the chapter titles there, and can you tell me about this?
Carol: Oh, my gosh. That is so funny, Tara. I spent, I think, the entire time while I was writing “Goodbye, Orchid,” listening to Jack White on repeat, you know, “White Stripes,” Jack White on his own, every incarnation, every, you know…
Tara: Yeah. I spotted a Raconteurs in there and I was like, “There’s a theme now.”
Carol: Yes. And I did. I wrote to Jack White to tell him and I showed him all the chapter titles, which are Jack White song titles, you know, to really kind of honor the way that his music accompanied me and really inspired me during that entire journey. I did not hear back from him, but I will still hold out hope that maybe someday that will come to fruition, but thanks so much for noticing.
Rachel: Jack White, if you’re listening, send an email. And just to kind of start the slow shift into talking about “Orchid Blooming”, what was your soundtrack for writing this book?
Carol: So, “Orchid Blooming,” it is also deeply emotional, very moving and personal in a lot of ways too. You know, Orchid Paige is half Asian, which is my twins. I’m Chinese American. So, my twins are half Asian, half Caucasian, like Orchid Paige is. And so for me, when I wrote to music during writing “Orchid Blooming,” I actually needed music that didn’t have lyrics because I was so deeply in my own world, in Orchid and Phoenix’s world. And so I was listening to a lot of like cool, funky, little edgy, or very moody, like emotional music, but lyrics just threw me off. So, I was not listening to Jack White during “Orchid Blooming.”
Tara: With “Goodbye, Orchid,” this came out in 2020. So, I wanna know about, you know, how did the pandemic affect this? I know we’re all very tired of talking about the pandemic, but how did it affect your release? You know, you still had this really successful launch of your very first novel. How did you come about the release strategy for that?
Carol: I think a lot of authors will relate to both the question and the answer because releasing in the pandemic meant that some, or many, or maybe all of the physical ways in which authors traditionally would launch a book weren’t available. Not just to myself, but to all the authors who were launching at the end of 2020. My book came out in Q4 of 2020. And so I found that we all had to just really lean on the virtual interviews. So, I spoke with libraries. I was interviewed by bookstores, by book clubs, and everything was really connecting with people virtually.
And I think all of us at the same time were getting used to being in a much more virtual world at that same time. And so I was able to really leverage those virtual avenues to reach readers. And now in some ways with the new book coming out, the launch is hybrid. It’s both virtual. I have a number of virtual events. I’m gonna be interviewed by the CEO of Adventures by the Book, Susan, this Thursday, but I also have in-person events. So, this is lovely. I have a launch party planned in Spring Lake, New Jersey at Thunder Road Books. I’m also scheduled to sign at a Barnes & Noble in Eastern Pennsylvania, as well as Barnes & Noble down in St. Pete’s Beach, Florida, and a number of in-person and virtual events. And so this is a new experience for me with the second book.
Tara: When will you be at St. Pete’s Beach because Rachel’s gonna be there soon?
Carol: Oh, I am speaking at Novelists, Inc. from…
Rachel: So am I.
Carol: Oh, my gosh, we’ll have to get together in person.
Rachel: I’ll see you there.
Rachel: Absolutely. You can find me by the pool.
Carol: Sounds good. I will meet you by the pool. I’m giving two talks there and while I’m there, I’m gonna be…yeah, I’m signing at the St. Pete’s Barnes & Noble on there. Oh, I’m looking forward to seeing you in person.
Rachel: Me too. I’ll be rocking in my Hawaiian shirts, but this actually will transition well into a question I wanted to ask you, which is about preparing to speak because you do speak at conferences like NINC, you also have professional speaking responsibilities, you do book clubs, like you said. How do you prepare for these events? And if you had to overcome any stage fright or any nerves to get to the point where you’re a confident speaker.
Carol: Yeah. These are great questions. And, you know, I really adore public speaking now, which is very funny because the question you ask about needing to overcome nerves. When I first came out of college and had my first job out of school, I did not wanna speak. My boss asked me to give a presentation. He wanted me to train my co-workers on some software that I had expertise in. I flat-out turned him down. I said, no. And he made me do it anyway and I’m so glad he did.
And now what I find is I absolutely adore public speaking. There’s been a shift in mindset, and I often try to help others who feel nervous about public speaking. I give a few tips. And one of them is that that nervousness you feel before getting up on stage, the physiological symptoms, whether it be sweaty palms, or the racing heart, or the, you know, shallow breathing, those physiological symptoms that we say, oh, that means I’m nervous, those are actually the same physiological symptoms if you were excited about something.
So, just reframe. Before you get on stage, go ahead, have the sweaty palms, the racing heart, and say to yourself, I’m excited and turn that energy into passion because that means that you have respect for your audience. And so what can go awry from there? I mean, and honestly, what I find is because when I speak publicly, my focus, it’s not on me, it’s not about ego, my focus or my spotlight is on the audience. What value can the audience take away from what I’m able to share?
And when I focus on the audience, I don’t feel nervous because I just want them to get good information, to get learning and knowledge and to walk away with something useful. And that fills me with joy to be able to do that.
Tara: I love that. I think that’s a good talent to have, and also just great advice for authors who are used to being maybe on their own on the other side of a computer. So, even with the hybrid stuff, it probably is good to speak online as well before you have to sort of move into a potentially an in-person thing. I know I find the online easier.
Carol: Yeah. And I realize I didn’t answer your other part of the question. I don’t know if you want me to go back to it or not, which was you asked me, how do I prepare for a talk? And actually, I write about this. I have a column in DIY MFA, it’s called Author Marketing Toolkit. And I think I may have written a column on this. I’ve been writing for a while, so I don’t remember if I covered this topic. But in terms of preparation for a speech, I think one is identify what topics you have unique perspective and can really add value on and really focus on those topics.
So, I have five foundational topics in which I speak at writers and publishing conferences. Then when it comes to the talk itself, I often think about the on-ramp, what’s the hook by which I’m going to really get the audience’s attention and excitement about the topic? And then I’ll have up to three main points I’m trying to make. Those points I try to illustrate with both fact as well as storytelling. And then there’s an off-ramp, what’s the powerful close that’s gonna bring it all together? And that structure, that very simple structure, has really helped me over time.
Rachel: I will be taking that advice into my presentation for NINC. So, thank you very much.
Carol: I can’t wait to see it. I hope we’re not speaking at the same times that I can come to yours.
Rachel: I honestly don’t remember when it is. I think it’s early. So, I’ll email you. We’ll coordinate schedules.
Rachel: And just kind of sticking with like the business side of writing, what have you learned in your professional career that you have brought over into your publishing business?
Carol: The professional career has been helpful for my publishing business, and this is actually how I started speaking. If you wanna hear about that backstory, the way I started speaking was when I joined the writer’s community, I actually joined a group in New Jersey. We were having an in-person meeting. When I showed up, they said, all the new people, please stand up, introduce yourselves. I said, I’m Carol Van Den Hende. I’m a marketer at Mars. And I brought chocolate today. And this Gaspard Rose from the audience. And I thought, “Oh, these people really like chocolate. These are my people. This is a good sign.”
It turns out, yes, the chocolate was nice, but at lunchtime, they were peppering me with questions about marketing because they wanted to really get that expertise. And so I often say I was called to speaking at writer’s conferences and publishing conferences. And so I find because I have a background in brands, that I’m able to translate that and help authors understand the concept of personal brand and how to come up with their own personal brand.
I’ve also been able to help authors think about ways to collaborate with designers to get really strategic and brilliant breakthrough designs. I speak about millennials and what forms them as a generation, and especially if you’re an author, who’s writing millennial characters but you’re not a millennial yourself to really try to deepen the insight and empathy there, as well as marketing as a mindset. And so these are some of the foundational topics that I really love to talk about and I’m sharing at NINC.
Tara: Was it hard to find your personal author brand? Because I know sometimes it can be, you know, you know somebody else’s business or the business you work in really well, but because it’s being a writer’s kind of so personal, you’re really putting yourself out there. Was that really easy for you, or was it a bit of a challenge?
Carol: That is a great insightful question, Tara. And so I would say when I put together my own personal brand, it took some iterations, which is true for authors as well. Authors I’ve worked with, authors who’ve been trying to come up with their own brand. It does take some iterations. You try something, you say, does that feel right? Do you wanna tweak it? Over time though, it’s been really helpful for me that I’ve articulated my brand and when I help people help authors with their personal brand, I often start with the inspiring purpose question. What’s the reason you do what you do beyond the obvious profit or functional purposes?
And when I asked myself that question, the answer to it really helped me figure out what I wanted to spend my time on, helped me illuminate where to focus. And for me, that answer is that I aim to inspire hope and empathy for people and planet. That’s not just through my writing, it’s also through my board of trustees’ work, through my corporate day job, through the many hats that I wear, but it does give me a true north to be able to determine where I should spend my time or where I shouldn’t.
Rachel: I think that’s great advice. And we have a lot of guests on here talk about how important having a cohesive author brand is. I’m gonna come to you for advice again. If there was one thing that you would recommend authors look at when creating their brand beyond the beginning question, what would it be?
Carol: One of the things I start with when I talk about author brand in my workshop at writer’s conferences is that there’s a difference between the idea of brand versus branding. And I think this is where sometimes authors get a little tripped up because they’re conflating the concepts. And so I try to simplify brand. First, you know, if you think about the definition of brand, brand really is what makes you unique, your positioning, your differentiation. And quite simply, I could summarize it down to one word. That word is your promise. The promise that you’re making to readers when they come to you for an experience, for a story.
And so I think, first of all, just thinking about brand as a concept or promise is a very powerful place to start. And then think about branding separately second. And that’s really just the visual manifestation of the brand concept. And I think it’s helpful to separate those two ideas because sometimes authors just wanna talk about what does my website look like and what color should I use? And it’s getting very tactical before thinking strategically.
Tara: I think that’s really good advice and I’m sure people will find it super helpful. I wanted to ask about “Orchid Blooming” a little bit more. I know we touched on it a bit already, but this was a prequel. So, was this always the way that you had imagined that you would do it, or was it because you really just didn’t wanna let go of Phoenix and Orchid story? What was the inspiration behind sort of releasing one and then going backward?
Carol: So, there’s two reasons that “Orchid Blooming” is coming out. First of all, one of the reasons is that readers asked for it. So, when I went to book clubs, I met readers at bookstores or at events, libraries, they kept saying to me, I wanna know more about Phoenix and Orchid’s backstory. Tell me what happened before page 1, “Goodbye, Orchid.” When you get into it right in Chapter 1, the inciting incident happens. It moves so fast from there. And people are like, wait, I wanna know more about their backstory.
And so one was just really answering that call from readers saying they wanted that backstory. Secondly, and I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on a podcast before, this is the first, this is the global first right here, that I found that readers when they were reading “Goodbye, Orchid” were questioning Phoenix’s motivation for the choices he made because the real tension in “Goodbye, Orchid” is whether after his accident, when he sees what’s happened to himself and he is thinking about Orchid, he also remembers that she was traumatized by these images as a child, and therefore is triggered by images of trauma.
And in an effort to not retraumatize her, he feels he’s faced with the hardest decision of his life, whether to love her, he needs to leave her. And so readers were questioning, you know, why is he so like stuck on this idea? And they were questioning the authenticity of his motivations, not all, but there were a few. There were enough of those that I thought writing the prequel gives me a chance to really show the depth of what they went through, how they met, and everything they’d been through that made those ideas so strong for him and made him have to take no other path than the one he chose in “Goodbye, Orchid.”
Tara: I think it’s probably a testament to such well-written characters as well that it starts on such a sort of action-packed book. One, that there is so much room for you to actually tell their whole story that you’ve alluded to that you get to write an entire other book about it. So, yeah, I think that that’s pretty good. Will you be diving into any more stories with them, or is this maybe the last? I know it’s the worst question to ask what’s next when you’re just releasing this book, but I’m just curious, are you writing with these two characters any further do you think?
Carol: So, those same readers that I was describing, or maybe other sets of readers were asking me for more of Phoenix and Orchid story. So, after “Goodbye, Orchid,” they also wanted to know what happens after the last page of “Goodbye, Orchid.” And so I’ve actually written a third manuscript that’s in editing right now that is coming out in 2023, which will make this a “Goodbye, Orchid” trilogy.
Tara: Awesome. I love that. It’s a little scoop that we have for the podcast.
Rachel: One thing I wanted to ask is you’ve touched on a number of times the feedback that you get from readers. So, to me, that speaks to like your relationship with your readers. How have you built this community of readership and how do you keep in contact with them?
Carol: Yeah. I mean, there are a number of ways and I’m not gonna state any way that authors out there don’t already know, you know, authors are already connecting with readers in the same way. So, I have an email list, and people do. I sent out an email this morning and people hit reply and, you know, answer my questions and tell me what’s going on with them, which I love and I really adore.
I also have social media, and so people will message me or respond to my posts, comment on them. And I also do have a Facebook group where readers who are really fans of my work will sometimes hear the early scoop on things that are happening with the “Goodbye, Orchid” world or “Orchid Blooming,” the third book that’s coming. And so there’s just a myriad of ways. I think, you know, people like to be connected in different ways. And so it’s a matter of meeting readers where they are, as well as those are all the virtual ways, of course, there’s the physical world as well. And once the world started opening up, I’ve been attending book festivals, speaking at book festivals, in addition to going to bookstores, libraries, etc.
Rachel: And like we touched on at the very beginning of this episode, you are a very busy person. How do you not just get sucked into the social media, email replies of it all?
Carol: I don’t know if I have a good answer to that one. If you find an answer, let me know. I do have to say, I often get the question, how do you do it all given the full-time job, the twins, the author world, and speaking? So, I’ll answer it in two ways. One, I do have to thank my husband because he’s pretty incredible and takes care of things like the laundry and the grocery shopping, and the dishes in order to support me in being the best person I can be. And so I dedicated “Goodbye, Orchid” to him.
Also, I do find if we come full circle back to that original concept, we talked about the idea of an inspiring purpose or knowing your why, I find when I’m clear on my why, it gives me energy to do the things that I wanna do. And that includes getting the word out about this beautiful series that has touched people’s hearts and minds.
Tara: It sounds like that you love what you do as well, so I’m sure that that makes it easier to be able to fit into your schedule.
Carol: It’s so true as I’m sure you guys can relate to too.
Tara: Yeah. We are lucky. We’ve got good jobs, Rachel. You’ve named all the ways that your readers can kind of follow you. And I’m wondering for any authors here is where can they find out about you and is there a place where they can sign up to get…you’ve sort of mentioned some of the writing newsletters that you’ve done, is there anywhere, in particular, that other authors can find you?
Carol: Yeah. Authors can find me in two places. They can either go to DIY MFA, where my Author Marketing Toolkit column is published multiple times a year and find my tips out there. I just launched an article about…actually co-wrote with an intellectual property lawyer about IP, so that one’s really fun. And then, of course, they can find me on my website, so carolvandenhende.com. Sorry about that long Dutch last name, but I’m sure it’s gonna be in the shownotes. And then if they wanna connect with me on any of the socials, I do have a Linktree, linktr.ee/cvdh, which are my initials.
Rachel: We will absolutely include links to all of the above in our shownotes. And I’m just a little curious, you’ve mentioned you’re wrapping up, I don’t know if the Orchid trilogy will stay a trilogy, but do you have any aspirations to write new stories and find new characters?
Carol: It is on my mind, Rachel. We are gonna have to find a glass of wine at NINC and brainstorm this last question because there are ideas on my mind, but right now, I definitely need to be head down getting the edits done on the third book, in the “Goodbye, Orchid” trilogy. And then there for sure will be more writing and more books in my future. That I can say for certain.
Tara: Thanks. Well, thank you so much for chatting with us today. It’s been so lovely. Sorry, I won’t get to meet you at NINC, but I hope that you have a blast with Rachel. Sing some karaoke. Just chill and have a good time by the pool. But thank you so much for chatting with us.
Carol: Thanks so much for having me. I loved it.
Rachel: Thank you for listening to the “Kobo Writing Life Podcast.” If you are interested in picking up Carol’s books or learning more about her public speaking or writing information, we will include links to all of her contact info in our show notes. If you are enjoying this podcast, please be sure to rate, review, and subscribe. And if you’re looking for more tips on growing your self-publishing business, you can find us at kobowritinglife.com, and be sure to follow us on socials. We are @KoboWritingLife on Facebook and Twitter, and @kobo.writing.life on Instagram.
Tara: This episode was produced by Tara Cremin and Rachel Wharton with production assistance by Terrence Abrahams. Editing is provided by Kelly Robotham and our theme music is composed by Tear Jerker. And thanks to Carol for being such a great guest. If you’re ready to start your self-publishing journey, sign up today at kobo.com/writinglife. And until next time, happy writing.