Books come in all shapes, sizes, and genres. Books also come to the reading world either through a publisher or through self-publishing. Every reader has a genre he or she prefers, but readers should not judge a book on whether it is published through a well-known publishing company or through a writer’s own efforts. Either way, the story is available for the world to read and enjoy. Hot Scheming Mess is one such story self-published through Amazon that many readers will more than likely enjoy. This romantic comedy is the first in Lucy Carol’s Madison Cruz Mystery series and houses plenty of entertainment for many adult readers.
Hot Scheming Mess introduces readers to an awkward young woman who is struggling to find her place in the world as an emerging actress. Only able to take small and random acting jobs to make a living and unable to hold a stable relationship, Madison Cruz is thrust into a family mystery full of danger, enemies lurking around every corner, and her having no idea what she is doing on this crazy new adventure. Readers will find Madison to be an incredibly likeable and relatable character: likable in the sense that her character is so incredibly random while also being incredibly loveable and relatable not only to young women, but to any young person trying to find his or her place in the world today.
While readers will find Madison’s character incredibly likable, readers will also find that the author behind Madison is just as likable and just as quirky. “I can’t sit still when I hear dance music. I like avocados, martinis, and flowers. A good hair day is when all the curls are cooperating instead of frizzing. Oh, and I relax with jigsaw puzzles. My dining table is usually covered in colorful little pieces. It’s a way for me to let my brain slowly wind down at the end of the day,” Carol said. “I can turn out the light to my office and walk away, but my mind is still going. I worry over the things that are not my strengths, the things I have to work hard to understand. Jigsaw puzzles give my busy brain something to work on that changes the subject. It distracts me from my worries. I can work to put the pieces together and get little endorphins with each piece that goes into place.”
It was Carol’s intent while writing the Madison Cruz Mystery series to make readers like Madison while also enjoying a crazy, yet fun new piece of fiction. “I’m never sure why these crazy ideas pop in my head, but the fact that I love action movies, love stories, and the Three Stooges, might have something to do with it,” Carol said. “The main character, Madison Cruz, wants to be loved by family, friends, and men, but isn’t sure how this all works. I wanted her to break your heart, make you laugh, and make you cheer for her the way you cheer an irrepressible but immature person who’s trying to do the right thing. You have this sense that they’ll eventually be okay, but meanwhile, it’s painful and hilarious to watch them try to get there.”
Choosing acting as a career path is a tough business to get into and readers get to witness all of the strange and random jobs Madison must endure throughout Hot Scheming Mess. However, readers will discover in Carol’s author bio that she herself was in acting and did strange and random jobs herself and she had some similar moments to share with and through her character. “Singing telegrams can be a strange business. There was the time my agent sent me on assignment to be an irate customer in a funeral home. I had to meet with the funeral director in his office, and yell at him that my dead husband contacted me from the grave and was demanding we do his funeral again, [gosh darn it], and do it right this time!” Carol said. “Poor guy, he looked at me with his mouth hanging open. Then he blinked in such an innocent way I almost lost it, fighting to stay in character. His employees had set him up and were hiding around the corner from his office, listening in. Once I got him to agree to a funeral do-over, his employees started giggling. He looked to the door where the giggling was coming from. He was so confused. Then I broke into the birthday song and the employees jumped out and took pictures. He grabbed his heart, laughing, and yelled to the employees that he [was] going to kill them.”
Along with acting, Carol was also into dancing. However, due to an injury, she had to stop dancing, but writing became a big part of her life while she recovered from her injury. “After a few years of physical therapy, I was able to get back to training. I was glad to be back, but I was unable to attain my former level of skill. I taught only one class a week for a few months, and while I was grateful to that studio owner for letting me give it a shot, the fatigue and back strain made me realize I needed to let it go. I learned I don’t need to teach to still enjoy dancing,” Carol said. And, with every great writer, there is always a great support system. “My [biggest support is] my favorite superhero, Irrational Man. That’s the name I gave my husband when we chose our superhero names. That crazy guy loves me irrationally. He’s hilarious and brilliant, and I love to make him laugh. The superhero name he calls me is Star Stuff.”
Even in self-publishing, it can be very nerve-wrecking to publish one’s work to the world. However, when it came to writing her work, Carol admitted it was very simple. “I merely cut my wrists and bleed on the keyboard. Just a little. I try not to feel like my life will end if the manuscript is not perfect, but somehow, that thought rises up from time to time. The truth is the humor is the easiest part for me. And I love designing a moment that you can taste and feel in your mind. It’s deeply gratifying to hear from readers that it worked. But planting clues and red herrings is much, much harder work, and I’m obsessed with pacing. If the story’s not moving fast enough to suit me, I get fretful. I have to remind myself that not everyone has my short attention span. But the hardest part of all is letting the manuscript leave my hands and go to the editors. It hurts like hell to stop tweaking and let it go. I’m happy to say that each book is getting easier, and faster, as I gain experience,” Carol said.
“If you’ve ever been self-employed, you understand that your business rises and falls with every decision you make, every hour you log in, every dollar you throw at it. It’s easy to get obsessed and work more hours than you should. I’m at the point now where I’ve stopped working 12 hours a day. I’m at 8 to 10 hours now. It’s helped my stress levels. I have a hard time shifting gears, so I use jigsaw puzzles to help my mind transition from work time to being off. Easy? Well, the how-to part is easy if you take the time to read what Kindle Direct Publishing can do for you, and follow their directions. Same for the print version you can publish through Create Space. But in terms of the long hours you’ll want to put in, I’d say no, it’s not easy. You’ll be wearing all the hats and you’ll have to work hard. If you’re hungry, you write great books, and you have an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s definitely an option.”
With the fourth installment of her Madison Cruz Mystery series coming out in the fall of this year, Carol has hinted at some new series that she will be releasing in the future. “I have two new series I’m working on. One series will come in bite size pieces (short stories) with different characters each time. The other series will be in longer form and involve the same group of people who work together. Both series are in the romantic comedy genre. Of course! But I won’t say more just yet. Stay tuned!” While readers are waiting for Carol’s next work, they can receive a free copy of Hot Scheming Mess while also being added to her newsletter for exclusive news on her new books. “I have a free gateway drug on the homepage of my website. It’s the first book in the series, Hot Scheming Mess,” Carol said. “Read it for free and I’ll have you in my clutches. Mmwahaha! [Twiddles mustache.] [Discovers she has no mustache.] [Twiddles curly hair instead.]”
Being a self-published author, Carol, of course, encourages writers to self-publish as well. However, she also expresses the struggles and truths behind self-publishing, not wanting to discourage writers from self-publishing, but rather to inform writers on what may be in store. One of the perks, though, of being a self-published author is that one can control when one’s books are released. Carol’s books provide fun romantic comedy for any adult reader, mainly women readers, and readers will be able to tell that Carol had fun writing her works. Readers can look forward to more of her works in the near future.
“This is going to sound like I’m trying to discourage them. I don’t mean to, but I have to tell the truth. Assuming you write great books, and that is a huge assumption, there is still a lot to consider. If you’re not a self-starter, it’s not a good idea. If you need someone to affirm your books, to tell you you’re good enough, to tell you what to do, then this isn’t for you. This is not for people who want to be hired. This is for people who want to be the boss, with all the headaches and pain that goes with it,” Carol said. “The hours are long because it’s actually two separate businesses. One is the writing business, and the other is the publishing business. They meld together to form a diabolical system of sanity sucking ways to earn money. I find it utterly fascinating, frustrating, and exciting. Sometimes I think we indies are racing each other to the looney bin, as well as the bank. And having said all that, my plan has always been to eventually be a hybrid author. That means you publish both traditionally and indie. It’s just good marketing sense to have some of your books going through a traditional publisher, as well as your own indie publishing efforts, in order to expand your reach.”
Originally published at www.examiner.com on May 21, 2016.