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Home > Columns > Interviews > An Interview with Carol L. Wright
Carol L Wright

My first interview on the new A Slice of Orange is with Carol L. Wright, editor for Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC. Carol is a recovering lawyer and adjunct law professor who traded writing on law-related topics for writing fiction. She has published several short stories in a variety of genres and is the author of the Gracie McIntyre Mysteries. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and Sisters in Crime, a member of SinC Guppies, and a founding member of the Bethlehem Writers Group. She is married to her college sweetheart, and lives in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. You can visit Carol’s website at http://carollwright.com, or follow her on Facebook at https://goo.gl/TtR9JL.

Jann: Welcome to A Slice of Orange, Carol. Tell us a little bit about Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC.

Carol: Thanks. I’m very happy to be here.

The Bethlehem Writers Group started out eleven years ago as a drop-in critique group at a local bookstore. While some of our regulars had several published works, many were writers who were just getting started, still learning the basics. As our membership grew, and our skills developed, we began taking on group challenges, such as meeting minimum word counts. That grew into accepting the challenge of compiling an anthology. Since we were based in Bethlehem, A Christmas Sampler Cover Pennsylvania, also known as “Christmas City, USA,” we decided to make it a Christmas anthology. Our writers work in many different genres, and had equally different takes on the theme, so when we decided on a title, we called it A CHRISTMAS SAMPLER: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE HOLIDAY TALES. Sweet, funny, and strange pretty much describes our merry band of writers, too.

Since then, we have published three more anthologies, each with different themes, and are in the process of compiling our fifth anthology, UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL, forthcoming in 2018. In addition, many of our members have published their short works elsewhere, and we have many who have published novels, nonfiction, or memoir.

In addition to our anthologies, in 2011 we began publishing an online literary magazine. Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Shortly thereafter, we started an annual short story contest that offers cash and publication to the top three winners. But through it all, we have never forgotten our continuing mission of meeting as a group of mutually supportive fiction and nonfiction writers to help each other perfect their craft.

Jann: BWG publishes a quarterly e-zine, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, are you accepting submissions?

Carol: We are always open to submissions of prose or poetry. We limit submissions to no more than 2000 words, and the work must be previously unpublished.

In addition to publishing stories and poems, we have other features, including an interview of a writing professional, a column on commonly confused words, and another column from the mythical “Betty Wryte-Goode” (BWG!) with links to useful websites for writers.

Jann: Must the author be published or unpublished?

Carol: We are happy to accept good work, whether the author has been published before or not. We have had the pleasure of publishing award-winning authors, as well as writers who have never published before. Our goal is to bring good work to the attention of our readers—it’s as simple as that.

Jann: Is this a paying market?

Carol: Yes,Let It Snow as of this year, we are happy to be able to offer payment for published work. Our Featured Author receives $20/story. Those whose work we publish, but who are not featured, receive $10/story. Poets receive $5/poem.

Jann: How does an author submit?

Carol: Submissions are through our online form at https://sites.google.com/site/bethlehemwritersroundtable/submissions.

Jann: Where can we read the e-zine?

Carol: It is published quarterly at https://bwgwritersroundtable. Our Spring issue just came out on April 1. No fooling!


Jann: What about The Best of Bethlehem Writers Round Table Winter Collection?

We have been fortunate enough to get some really terrific stories to publish on Roundtable through the years. A couple of years ago, we compiled several in one volume: LET IT SNOW: THE BEST OF BETHLEHEM WRITERS ROUNDTABLE (Winter 2015 Collection). It’s available in print or ebook formats through Amazon.com. (And also in the A Slice of Orange Book Store.)

Jann: As one of the Roundtable editors, what are you looking for in a short story? A poem?

Carol: We describe what we’re looking for on our submissions page, but briefly, we are looking for great stories. We often receive the equivalent of a “still life” in words—mood pieces or character sketches. But unless they are part of a true story, we’re not apt to accept them. We’re looking for three things: character, conflict, and resolution. We want to see that the main character has changed because of the events told in the story. A great story beats flowery language every time.

For poetry, we want emotion, imagery, musicality, and great use of inventive language. Poetry is a subjective genre, but what we don’t want is flash fiction with line breaks, or awkward or worn phrases. If it’s hard to make sense of your lines, we’re not apt to accept them. But if our editors feel your poem, you’ll be published.

Jann: Any writing books that you would recommend? How about classes?

Carol: There are so many great books out there. As a mystery writer, I’ve found the books by James N. Frey (not to be confused with James Frey) to be particularly helpful. He has a series of “Damn Good” books, including HOW TO WRITE A DAMN GOOD MYSTERY. He also has one for novels and another for thrillers. I found his discussion of mythic characters and themes to be particularly useful. Another great resource is the books by James Scott Bell. He has written on every aspect, from writing to editing to marketing. I’m not a horror fan, but loved Stephen King’s book ON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT. Great books about being a writer include the classic BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott.

I think every writer also needs a ton of reference works—both about writing and about the subjects they choose. My shelves are full of books on psychology and forensics because I write mysteries. But I also have a number of style books that I use—but only during the editing process. When I’m writing a first draft, I try not to let my inner editor get in the way of my muse.

There are also a plethora of great classes for writers out there. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get some terrific instruction. If you write genre fiction, such as romance, mystery, or children’s

A Readable Feast

fiction, there are strong, vibrant, national organizations for your genre. They frequently offer their members low-cost or free classes on a variety of writing subjects. For instance, as a member of Sisters in Crime (sinc.org), and its Guppies subgroup, I have access to low-cost classes on all aspects of mystery writing.

There are also “free” webinars offered by self-proclaimed experts on a variety of aspects of writing. These might offer some useful information, but in reality, they are ill-concealed advertisements for their extremely expensive services. They will often tell you just enough to make you want to learn more—for only $99/month for six months!

BWG is now developing workshops for writers, and hope to be ready to offer them to the public later this year. So, if you’re in the Bethlehem, PA area, they might be a good place to start.

When the budget allows, I’m a big advocate of going to writers conferences. You learn a lot from other writers, but you also have a chance to make contacts with people who “get” you. Writing is a solitary profession, and it’s nice to get out there and discover you’re not the only one who is weird like that. I mean—how many of your friends will spend a good portion of their afternoon figuring out how to get rid of a body without leaving trace evidence behind? (Uh–if they aren’t writers, maybe you should find other friends.) I always come home from a conference with renewed energy to write.

But the best thing for any writer to do is to read—a lot. It might be trite, but it’s true. By reading, you learn what does or doesn’t work. You improve your vocabulary, and expose yourself to a variety of voices. Reading opens the world up to you, both as an individual and as a writer. There is no substitute.


Jann: BWG also publishes the Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales Anthologies. Tell us a little bit about these books.

Carol: As I mentioned, it all started with A CHRISTMAS SAMPLER: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE HOLIDAY TALES. We were so excited when it won the 2010 NEXT Generation Indie Book Awards in two categories: Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction.

When wOnce Upon a Time Covere first published A CHRISTMAS SAMPLER, we weren’t sure whether we would ever do another, but after a couple of years, we wanted to do it again. Having published a Christmas book, we wanted to compile one for other holidays as well. Soon, we had ONCE AROUND THE SUN: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES FOR ALL SEASONS which was also a finalist for Best Anthology.

Two years later, we published a collection of food-related stories entitled A READABLE FEAST: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES FOR EVERY TASTE, which earned another finalist medal from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.

Our most recent anthology just came out last fall: ONCE UPON A TIME: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES FOR ALL AGES. It’s a book of children’s stories ranging from the preschool through middle school target audience—and their parents, of course.

Our next anthology, UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL, is due out next year.

Jann: Do you accept submissions?

Carol: With one exception, the stories in our anthologies are by active members of the Bethlehem Writers Group. That exception is that the first-place winner of the annual Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award competition is considered for inclusion in the upcoming anthology. For some of our anthologies, though, it takes us two years to put out the book. For those, we may have two successive contest winners’ stories included in the book.

Jann: A contest? How does that work?

Each year, we offer a SHORT STORY AWARD to the best story submitted to that year’s contest. As it happens, we are currently accepting submissions of original, unpublished, paranormal stories of no more than 2000 words. Our submission deadline is April 30. Members of BWG do the preliminary round of judging, then pass off the finalists to a guest judge.

Jann: Who is the final judge?

Carol: This year, we’re honored to have New York Times bestselling author, Carrie Vaughn as our Guest Judge. She will determine who our winners are.

 

Jann: Where do you enter?

Carol: All entries must be submitted through the form on the contest page of Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Payments are via PayPal. There is a PayPal link on our website to make payments easily.

Jann: How much does it cost?

Carol: There is a $10 entry fee per story.

Jann: What are the prizes?

We offer cash and publication to our winners. First place wins $200 and consideration for publication in our upcoming anthology. Second and Third places win $100 and $50 respectively. Both of these stories are offered publication in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Honorable Mentions (if any) receive a certificate, and might be offered publication at the discretion of our Roundtable editors.

Jann: When will the next anthology be released?

Carol: UNTETHERED is slated to be published in the fall of 2018.

Jann: Take off your editor’s hat for a minute and put on your author hat and tell us what you have planned for 2017.

2017 is a busy year. I have just had a short story published in the anthology THE WRITE CONNECTIONS put out by the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. Another story is due out in July in the anthology DAY OF THE DARK, edited by Kaye George and published by Wildside Press, LLC. All the stories included are related in some way to the total solar eclipse that will be visible in North America on August 21, 2017.

In August, I anticipate the publication of my novel, DEATH AT GLENVILLE FALLS. It is the first of my Gracie McIntyre Mysteries. The story is about recovering lawyer, Gracie McIntrye, whose newly-opened bookstore is vandalized. She is disturbed when the responding officer is strangely indifferent to the crime. When she discovers that he did not file a police report on the incident, she suspects he might somehow be involved. She complains to the police chief, but gets no satisfaction, even as violence against her escalates. She investigates, only to discover that it is all tied to the 18-year-old murder of her former client that everyone thought was solved.

I hope your readers will look for it, and enjoy it.

I would like to thank Carol L. Wright for taking the time to answer our questions. If you have comments or questions for Carol, please use the comment form below. 

Jann Ryan

Jann Ryan

Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.

Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined Romance Writers of America. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.

If you are an author, editor, agent, or other publishing industry professional and would like to be interviewed on A Slice of Orange please contact us using the Contact Form.

10 Comments

  • sallyparadysz
    on April 2, 2017

    Loved the interview with Carol Wright! Such a talent…

    • marianne h donley
      on April 2, 2017

      Thanks Sal.

  • Judith Mehl
    on April 2, 2017

    Intriguing interview. Gear up for a waiting list for BWG. You did a great sell.

  • Carol L. Wright
    on April 2, 2017

    Thanks, Sal! There’s plenty of talented people in BWG to go around!

    And, thanks, Judy! BWG is a lot of fun along with all the writing help, because of the good people who have been part of it.

  • territiffany
    on April 3, 2017

    Great interview! It sounds like your writers’ group has developing into a great support group with plenty of opportunities. I will check out your link for submissions to your e-zine and your novel sounds good too!

    • Carol L. Wright, Author
      on April 3, 2017

      Thanks territiffany. It’s a great group, and we’d love the chance to read your work. I’m so glad you like the description of my novel. I can’t wait to share more about it as the publication date gets closer!

  • dtkrippene
    on April 3, 2017

    As a newbie to the group, what I found separates the BWG from other groups I belong is the professionalism and a focus on writer support and encouragement without getting mired in managing the group itself. Great interview.

    • Carol L. Wright, Author
      on April 3, 2017

      Thanks, DT! We’re so glad you’ve joined us!

  • Geralyn Corcillo
    on April 5, 2017

    Jann, what a wonderfully entertaining and informative interview! I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed Once Around the Sun, and I am happy to learn of the other anthologies. BWG is such a nexus of witerly goodness, thank you for doing and then sharing this interview with us!

    • Jann Ryan
      on April 6, 2017

      Thanks Geralyn for your nice comment. It was a pleasure to interview Carol and to find out about BWG and how wonderful they are.

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