Friday, June 01, 2007

Announcing the Release of Carolina Carpenter Brides

“Love connection, aisle 8. . .”

Brianna Griffith Needs to deal with ugly wallpaper in her new office, so she signs up for a how-to course at her local Home & Hearth Superstore. She never expected to run into Zach Wilson, an old flame from her college days. Will her bad decisions be fixed as easily as the wallpaper?

Kaitlyn Ferrer, an investigative reporter for Blue Ridge Sun, is writing an undercover story on the dating scene at the H&H. Her half-hearted efforts accelerate when she meets dashing Chris Taylor, who is also working “under cover.” It will take more than good words for these two clandestine overachievers to build an honest relationship.

When Valerie Bradford asks a Home & Hearth employee for assistance, she doesn’t guess that she will get more than she bargained for. Austin Hodges can’t believe what the feisty blond woman plans to accomplish by herself. Because of his profession, he knows how much help she needs, but for right now, his advice will have to do. Can God lead them through the misunderstandings they encounter toward a bright future together?

Gary Andrews works security at the H&H when Janice Jones begins working in the flowers and plants department. Soon her activities become suspect. He can have her arrested or try to save her from a life of crime when personal feelings and moral responsibility become entangled.

This Carolina superstore is buzzing with romance, but will love find a firm foundation to build upon?

Sometimes we are allowed a special privilege. One came my way when I became one of the authors of Carolina Carpenter Brides. The other authors are:

Janet Benrey brings a diverse business background—including experience as editorial director of a small press, a professional photographer, an executive recruiter—to writing and literary representation. With her husband, Ron, she has written seven Christian romantic suspense novels for Broadman & Holman, Barbour Publishing, and Harlequin Steeple Hill. Janet operates her own literary agency—Benrey Literary—that represents well-known writers of general and genre fiction and non-fiction books. Over the years, Janet has also been a writing coach and a marketing communications writer. She earned her degree in Communication (Magna cum Laude) from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a graduate of York House College in Kent, England, where she studied commerce and languages.

Ron Benrey is a highly experienced writer who has written more than a thousand bylined magazine articles, seven published non-fiction books, and seven Christian romantic suspense novels (co-written with his wife Janet) for Broadman & Holman, Barbour Publishing, and Harlequin Steeple Hill. Ron is also an experienced orals coach who helps corporate executives give effective presentations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a juris doctor from the Duquesne University School of Law. He taught advanced business-writing courses at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a member of the adjunct faculty.

Yvonne Lehman - An award-winning author of 40 novels, was recipient of the Bookseller's Best Award in the Inspirational Category for her historical mystery, The Stranger's Kiss, presented at the 2002 Romance Writers of America convention in Denver. She is the founder of the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and its director for 17 years until 1993. She is currently Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, sponsored by Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest NC. Yvonne is author of 40 novels including mainstream, inspirational romance, the White Dove series for young adults and the widely-acclaimed historical, In Shady Groves. She is recipient of numerous awards including The Dwight L. Moody Award for Excellence in Christian Literature; Romantic Times Inspirational Award (first in nation); National Reader's Choice Award, and Booksellers Best Award. Her novellas, which continue to appear on CBA's best-seller list, are included in such collections as Winter Wishes and Summer Dreams.

Readers, I'm sure you can see why it was a privilege to work with these people. And you will be recipients of four copies of the novella collection. The winners will be drawn from those who leave comments on the interview.

How did this collection come about?

Janet: We learned that women and men were using stores such as Home Depot and Lowes as safe places to meet one another. Take a class, meet a guy. Take a class, meet a gal. We loved the idea and the result was Carolina Carpenter Brides.

Ron: I wanted to try my hands at writing a romance to expand my range as a writer. When this opportunity came up with Yvonne Lehman and Lena Dooley, I jumped at the idea.

Yvonne: I think if was Ron Benrey who began to talk about people going to businesses for the express purpose of meeting someone of the opposite sex, including home building stores and that sounded like a great idea to me…I mean, to write about, not experience personally.

Lena: I believe Ron and I were the first two who discussed the possibility. When we asked the next two, both were willing. What a lot of fun it was to write!

What are you reading right now?

Janet: I’ve just finished reading Roberet B. Parker’s Pastime. I love Spencer’s witty dialogue and the "surprises" that Parker places into his books, taking his plots in new directions.

Ron: Anne Perry’s Breach of Promise, a good historical mystery set in Victorian England.

Yvonne: Ann Tatlock’s Things We Once Held Dear (one of the best books of 2006 according to Library Journal). Since I’ll be in Paris May 30 through mid-June, I’ll be reading Paris information and taking it all in.

Lena: I want to go with Yvonne. Actually, I'm always reading some book. I do reviews of most of the books on my my Shoutlife page - and in the newsletter on my web site. Right now I'm reading Jennifer Johnson's second Heartsong, Picket Fence Pursuit.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Janet and Ron: We have co-authored: Little White Lies BHPublishing Group, The Second Mile BHPublising Group, Humble Pie BHPublishing Group, Dead as a Scone Barbour, The Final Crumpet, Barbour, Carolina Carpenter Brides Barbour, Glory Be Steeple Hill June 2007 and Gone to Glory Steeple Hill, September, 2007.

Yvonne: See my website: – my recent one (#45), other than Carolina Carpenter Brides is By Love Acquitted.

Lena: All of my books are listed on my web site: My releases for this year are: Spinster Brides of Cactus Corner - April, Carolina Carpenter Brides - June, Montana Mistletoe - September, and Who Am I? - October.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Janet: It was fun working with the other writers. They have a good grasp of this market, which is new to me.

Ron: I’m used to collaborating with my wife, but this was different. We were free to write our own stories within certain parameters.

Yvonne: Great fun discussing what we’d do and how to incorporate the mention of other authors’ characters and events into our own.

Lena: I loved working with these three. All of them had unique ideas and were able to help each other improve our individual books.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Janet: I try to imagine what they look like and search for names that fit both their ages and the time in which they live.

Ron: I find it’s hard to come up with the right name for a character. I’m never sure how I arrive at where I did, but it has to sound right.

Yvonne: Laurel Jones because “mountain laurel” is so prevalent here in the mountains and Laurel works with plants and in landscaping. Jones is non-committal. Marc Goodson because I wanted a name that didn’t conjure up an image, just be acceptable like “John.” “Goodson” because he’s a good guy.

Lena: Naming contemporary characters is easier than for historicals. I think about the person first, then try for a name that fits their looks and personality. With historicals, I do research into what names were popular when the person was born.

What did you want the reader to “get” from your story?

Janet: That it’s always possible to find love, even to renew a love, if one is open to it.

Ron: I never know what a reader will get from my story – I hope they’re entertained while they’re reading it and that I don’t let them down.

Yvonne: Be a “light” to the world, as Jesus tells us to be and to think about the Master Carpenter.

Why are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers?

Janet: This is a vibrant and supportive group of authors who are truly trying to improve their craft.

Ron: I love to know what’s going on in Christian romance.

Lena: This organization provides a venue for connecting with other Christian authors, agents, editors. And the benefits available to members far outweigh the costs invoved. I'm really looking forward to the conference in September, so I can talk to my friends face to face.

Will you be at the conference in Dallas in September?

Janet: I hope to be

Ron: I'm not sure.

Yvonne: Haven’t planned to since I have my conference each May, will go to CBA, and direct a Novel Retreat in October.

Lena: I hope to be able to attend one of Yvonne's conferences or retreats one of these days. I've heard nothing but praise for them. I will be at the ACFW conference in Dallas. As the vice president of the local chapter, I'm helping coordinate some local support.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Janet: Rejection isn’t personal. Keep submitting.

Ron: Read.

Yvonne: Many years ago an editor said, “Your writing isn’t good enough.” I appreciated that and began to examine why it wasn’t and still try to learn and improve.

Lena: The only authors who sell are those who submit, and keep on submitting.

Janet, Ron, and Yvonne, thank you for visiting with us today. It's been a pleasure being involved with you on every level.

Readers, leave comments on this interview and on the other open interviews:

Kim Sawyer - Bygones

Debra Clopton - Meeting Her Match

Cindy Woodsmall - When the Heart Cries


Sheryl said...

Carolina Carpenter Brides sounds like a great collection of stories. I'd love to be entered in the drawing to win a copy.

Thank you all for the wonderful interview!

Kathleen Morphy said...

How funny. I just read a non-fiction book that talked about how people are taking classes at stores like this or community schools just to meet potential dates. What odd timing. Thanks for the interview, Lena and all.

Cherie J said...

Thanks for a great interview! Carolina Carpenter Brides sounds wonderful!

tetewa said...

The series sounds great enter me in the drawing please!

Lacy J. Williams said...

Sounds like a great collection! And what a cool idea, building the stories around the hardware store. Love it!

Carolynn W. said...

Oh I love books like this! Please sign me up too!
carolynnwald [at]

Cez said...

Are their husbands really carpenters? I didn't know there are a lot of carpenters in Carolina. LOL. Hearing "Carpenter Brides" it made me think it was an erotica collection but I discovered the cover too decent and sunny for a sensual story. This is a great story just in time for June brides becoming wives.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Actually, Cez, this title was chosen by marketing. Carpenter was used to indicate the home improvement store in the title.

Rhonda said...

This book sounds awesome!! I'm looking forward to reading it.

Annette M. Irby said...

Hi Lena, thanks for this great interview. How fun to hear from each author. Please enter me in the drawing.

:) Annette