Friday, April 1, 2011

Parenting to Publishing

Greetings from waaaayyy down in the Deep Southern-Fried State of Louisiana! Louisiana is the home of spicy good food, jazz music, Hurricanes, Mardi Gras, mudbugs and a sweet, smiling, single mom with a Southern drawl: Charlynn “Char” Hardin. She loves her family and friends and has a hankering to write good ol’ southern-fried suspense stories! She runs her family’s used bookstore, Hickory Cottage Book Exchange, in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. She writes short stories in her off time and reviews films and novels online at and As you can tell from the names of the sites, she specializes in horror and the musings of the macabre.
Let’s see how she’s doing it:

Charlynn, my blog is titled “Closet Writer”. I only recently “came out” about my writing.  When did you come out of the closet?
Since the very first moment I learned to write my name, a long time ago back in Kindergarten. My teacher said I was a “natural born storyteller”. I have always written stories and have legions of notebooks filled with them.

What genre do you write? My favorite genre is Horror. I love a good killin!  I have always been drawn to the darker side of fiction. And living in the South, I am surrounded with history and mystery, so predominately what I write is southern drama always with a twist of something wicked.

What is your book about? I am currently writing about a female serial killer, who just happens to live in my home town of Ponchatoula, Louisiana. She has a unique way of entertaining guests at her weekend getaway home, that will raise goose bumps and shock the dead right out of their coffins. The main character’s name is Darci and she is just your average girl next door, with a few skeletons in her closet or I should say her resume.

Are you actively seeking an agent? No, at this time, I am not. I am finishing up an in-home course; I started with Long Ridge Writers Group out of Connecticut and I am working on Darci’s story and my reviews. When I get Darci’s story finished, and critiqued, then I will start the query process for an agent.

What is the most memorable feedback (good or bad) you have received about your writing? Good those are so very few, ha-ha, but I did receive one from Reader’s Digest. One of my stories was mailed there by mistake, it was fiction and non-fiction. I receive a sweet message with water stains where her tears had fallen. She said, “I cannot imagine what went on in the skies that day, but I am thankful that my child was not aboard one of those planes. Your story was beautiful and will haunt me. Thank you for sharing your story with me.”
Bad response: From Rue Morgue Horror Magazine. I had entered an article and the response was, “Don’t quit your day job, honey, you are in over your head.” Well, I if I let one man’s opinion keep from writing, then I am not much of a writer. Never take a “NO” to mean no in writing, it just means “not right now” or the person reading your work is not in agreement, but don’t let that stop you because the next person you query may totally love your idea.
Have any websites or articles helped with the query/synopsis process? The best book I found for queries and what editors want is Jeff Harman’s Guide to Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents. He covers it all. The book is huge and so worth the price. Writers Digest is another publication worthy of looking into for information.
How do you feel about conferences? Have you been to any? I have only ever been to one writer’s conference and it was a great learning experience. I would like to go to more as I think they offer tons of information and inspiration for every aspiring author.
Do you have any suggestions of which conferences are good? The one I attended was put on by a local writers’ group, Creative Minds Writer's Group. RWA is a big one and not to be missed. It covers all forms of romance, romance suspense, paranormal, etc. I would love to be able to go to one of them and recommend them to all writers. The Romantic Times Magazine puts on an annual convention that is to die for. I have never gone, but if it gets close to Louisiana…I want to go! YES!! If a convention or conference is near…GO! CHECK IT OUT!
Can you describe your writing routine? The best time for me to write is between 10pm-2am and I try to do that on at least 3 nights during the week and Saturday nights I can stay up longer. When I write, I have a bowl of red grapes on my desk for noshing, I put the kettle on and keep a pot of tea (I love English Teas!) warm. Music…I must have music. I love Yanni, Loreena McKennit, Enya and vintage Duran Duran they are my favorites. Once my tea is ready, music is playing; I put on my headset and write. I do not stop until my allotted time is up (oh I set a timer for allotted time!) and then I go back and edit.
Does any certain music, food, smell or atmosphere get you in the mood to write? Driving in my car listening to my radio or people watching usually sets me off and when it happens I can’t wait to get home and write.
What are you reading now? What is your favorite book? What is your favorite movie?  I am reading Under the Dome by Stephen King right now. My favorite horror book is City Infernal by Edward Lee and my absolutely all-time favorite book and movie is GONE WITH THE WIND!!
What is your favorite writer’s resource? Internet, Jeff Herman, Writer’s Digest and other authors
Tell us about your blog. Any blog advice you can give? My blog is on hiatus. I just do not have time to fit it all in.
What blog do you keep up with the most? Why? Of late, I am on facebook most of the time and I keep up with horror blogs to know what is happening in the world of horror films and novels. I do follow YOUR blog the Closet Writer. With your site, I like to know what you are up to and the challenges you are facing while managing to hold it all together. You are an INSPIRATION to all of us working moms trying to do as you are and BREAK OUT into the world of publishing!
Tell me a little about your family and home life. If you have heard “It takes a Village to Raise a Child”, then you get a sense of what it’s like with my family. We are a close-knit family and my parents and daughter are very supportive of my writing and encourage me to write more for myself than for others.
What kind of support do you have from friends and family when it comes to writing? My apartment is joined by a laundry room to my parent’s house. And my mother and dad are very supportive of my writing and will take my daughter out of the house when I need to write or take her on vacation or mini-trips and I plan my writing around her absence. My friends are all encouraging of my writing. They tell me time and time again, “Char, your stories could be movies! You have a gift for gab, but you have a true gift at storytelling!”
How do you balance running the book exchange, being a good mother and pursuing your writing dream? Day planner calendar get one! I set up a schedule and try to stick to it, in regards to work, writing for myself and my reviews and having time with my daughter. It can overlap and fall apart, that is part of in the moment and life that messes with a well thought out plan.  Most important is to schedule some “Me time”. Turn off the computer, cell phones and television and just relax.
What has been your biggest challenge in writing so far? Any solutions? Writer’s Block. I can be going right along at a nice pace and scenes are unfolding in my mind and the words are flowing from my fingertips and then BAM! I hit a brick wall and cannot get past it. That is the perfect time, to step away from the writing. Take a break and clear your mind. IF you try to rush back to writing and you hit that wall, then leave it for a day or so. Sometimes your mind just needs to take a break.
Any advice you can give to writers? NEVER give up! When life puts up road blocks, write around them. IF you focus on what Life and the World are doing and not on what YOU want to do in YOUR Life and What YOU want to accomplish in this World, YOU might just miss a wonderful opportunity. Keep your Head down with your eyes on the screen and write the story of a lifetime. When you are finished, start the process of Reaching for the Stars. When you attain that success and can hold a copy of your published story, LIFE as you knew it, will mean a whole WORLD of a difference to you and the readers your story finds.

For honest no hype reviews from Char ask for the REEL deal on Horrorphilia and Killingboxx.
Follow her on twitter: CHAR_HARDIN


  1. Thank you Jessica for this wonderful interview!

    Char, it was such a treat to get to know you. And your voice is incredible! I mean, "shock the dead right out of their coffins!" WOW. I can't wait until you start querying this book. I think you'll get snatched up quickly, just on voice alone.

    Good luck, and keep us all posted on your journey.

    P.S. Isn't family support wonderful? We could never do it w/out them.