Tell us about yourself.
My name is Ina Carter. I was born in Europe and moved to the US in my early twenties. I live in California with my husband, two kids, and one rescue cat named Rose. I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology and Social Studies, and later when my kids were born, I went back to school to study Graphic Design. I always had a creative side, and writing was part of it. I started writing as a teenager, but for many years it was just a hobby. This year I finally made the decision to share two of my novels with the world. Both Crimson Snow and my romantic comedy Big Gray were released in May 2020 through Amazon KDP publishing. I am still finding my way as an independent author and trying to navigate the marketing side of promoting my books.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
My first published work was a love poem I wrote when I was eleven. My sixth-grade teacher caught me scribbling verses in class and not paying attention to his lecture. He “confiscated” my notebook, and the next day told me I had a talent, based on the creative essays I wrote for his class and the poems in my journal. He encouraged me to submit my work to a young writer’s magazine, but I was too shy to give it a try. He submitted one of my poems behind my back, and to my shock, the magazine published it. It didn’t go well with my parents, who were strict and conservative, and didn’t think writing about my first crush was an age-appropriate subject. Even though I didn’t follow my dream when I was a teenager, I collected ideas that I wanted to put on paper one day. I write in multiple genres, but to this day, romance is my favorite. To me, Love is the strongest force in the Universe.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I’ve always been an avid reader, and I read books in all genres. As a kid, I devoured all of Mark Twain’s and Alexandre Duma’s books and spend hours in the library engrossed in the fantasy worlds created by Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, and Alexander Belyayev. I still enjoy a good fantasy and paranormal story and read the whole “Game of Thrones” series, as well as all Charlaine Harris and J.R. Ward’s books. I also love comedy, and to this day, my favorite authors are P. G Wodehouse and Kurt Vonnegut. I discovered my love for romance through the novels of Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts. Those are epic love stories, centered on the premise of long-lasting love, and are not about relationships based purely on physical attraction.
I try not to read too much in the genre I am writing because you can always tell if an author reads too much romance. My book ideas come from personal experiences, and I don’t follow the market trends. Staying somewhat detached from the popular books in my genre is a way to maintain certain originality to my plotlines and stick to my own writing style without unintentionally copying some fellow author’s ideas.
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
Crimson Snow is a New Adult novel, but it’s not typical for the genre. Adults would love it too, considering it has a literary feel, and my two young protagonists are intelligent and mature for being in their early twenties.
What is your current release or project?
I am currently in the editing stages of my next novel, “The roots of Love.” It’s a follow up on “Crimson Snow,” and it tells the story of one of my secondary characters from the first book – Liam Tanner. I am also half-way through the rough draft of the second book from my romantic comedy “In the dark.” My next release is coming in early 2021 and is a new paranormal romance series. The first book is called “The Sodalis Prince” and is in the final editing stages.
Tell us about the key characters
The main characters in Crimson Snow are Lauren Wilcox (who used to be Julie when she was a missing child) and Kevin Tanner.
Julie grew up in a trailer park in rural Texas, and when she was eight years old discovered that her mother stole her from the hospital as a baby, and she was returned to her biological parents. They were rich but cold and distant people and never accepted her as part of their family. They changed her name to Lauren, which was the name they gave her when she was born. Lauren became a rebellious teenager and ran away from home when she was sixteen. For years she suffered from PTSD because of the trauma she experienced as a child, and her only mission in life was to find the little boy from her childhood – Kevin, who she believed then was her half-brother. Kevin disappeared without a trace, and twelve years later, Lauren found him by pure coincidence, only to realize that he is now a popular athlete in the college he went to.
Kevin also had a painful childhood. His mother abandoned him when he was only one year old, and he was raised by his abusive alcoholic father. When he met his half-sister Julie, she became his best friend and the center of his small world. The two of them hid from their miserable life in the library, and from the books they read, they found out what lies outside their small town. When Julie was taken away, Kevin’s life changed when he was adopted by his high-school baseball coach at age fifteen. He took his adoptive family last name Tanner, and this is why Lauren never found him.
Crimson Snow wove together the past and the present of the two heroes and follows the development of their relationship after they are reunited twelve years later. It’s a story about the many forms of love you can feel for one person and how the two heroes overcome their painful past.
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
The Greeks had seven words for LOVE. I felt all of them for ONE MAN…
My name is Lauren, and I was a stolen baby.
They found me in a trailer park in rural Texas when I was eight years old. My childhood wasn’t perfect, but then I had Kevin. He was my everything…
When they returned me to my biological parents, we were torn apart. My new family desperately tried to fix me, make me forget him… My father kept me on a short leash and controlled every aspect of my life. The one thought keeping me afloat was to find Kevin, but he vanished without a trace.
I searched for him for twelve years, but the man I found was not the boy I lost. He is a college baseball star, tattooed, moody, and dark… And he hates me.
Can Kevin help me defeat my demons, or does he have too many of his own?
Share an excerpt (up to 800 words).
“The Greeks had seven words for Love, Laurie. And somehow, I know I’ll experience all of them with you… Philautia is the only selfish love and for a long time I didn’t love myself. When I doubted myself, I remembered you, and how you used to look at me. To you, I was a giant, someone who could move mountains and conquer dragons. Even now, you look at me the same way, and I feel stronger in your hands, and want to be a better man…”
He was telling me things that were making my heart hammer in my chest, but at the same time, his fingers were burning fire on my skin, because with every button he undid, he caressed the skin underneath. Kevin was seducing me with his words, and I was melting under his fingers.
“When we were kids, my love for you was Philia – a brotherly love, that innocent feeling you have for a friend. It might have been platonic, but just because you are small doesn’t mean your capacity to love is less. In fact, a child’s love is unbridled, unconditional, the purest form of emotion I can think of… And you and I will always have that… To this day, I feel Philia for you, and I always will.”
Kevin then leaned and placed a kiss over his name on my chest, leaving an imprint more permanent than the engraving on my skin.
“Philia, baby, is also the love of the mind, and it is what makes us feel safe in each other’s presence. With you, I am not afraid to share any of my struggles, and you freed me. I carried so much pain internally, but you took it away…”
….. He moved away to look at me, and his nostrils flared with the big intake of breath he took. The way he looked at me was like a physical touch, like a scorching caress of fingers leaving marks everywhere. I saw myself through Kevin’s eyes, and there was no doubt in my mind that at this moment, I was beautiful. I understood what gave confidence to a woman – it was the man who looked at her like Kevin was looking at me.
“What I am feeling right now, babe. This is called Eros. You have always been the most beautiful girl I’ve seen, but now… This is how I want to remember you the day I have to leave this world. Because you are exquisite. I wish I had flirted with you, experienced Ludus – that easy playful love when you slowly fall for someone, but like everything with you, it was intense and not easy. Ludus is fun love, and maybe we can do that later, when I don’t want you so desperately that I hurt. On that day when I saw you dancing in the kitchen, I felt not Thunder, Lauren. It was like a meteor that struck the earth and shattered me. I wanted to kiss you so badly, to consume you… Maybe that’s why I didn’t talk to you for a while because I needed time to sort my feelings. It was never innocent for me. When I touched you – I burned, when I held you to me, I had to cover the fact that I was hard as a rock. After the first night I laid with you in your bed, I had to stay away because I was not able to control myself. Right now, I am at the end of my wits, prolonging the torture because I am afraid, I’ll frighten you with my need and the thing I want to do to you…”
At the end of the book, when he proposes to Lauren, Kevin elaborates further on the same concept, and speaks of the other types of love that the Greeks described, which he wishes to experience with her as they grow old together.
….. “See, I tried to write something down because I knew I would choke, but then it was all too simple, and I have to say something more… I’ll try not to mess this up, so bear with me, okay!… Lauren, I love you in so many ways. As my friend, my lover, my love, but the truth is, nothing seems to satisfy my need for you. I want to experience Pragma with you – the mature love that comes after years of relationship, that is about companionship and deep understanding. I want to share with you Storge – the love for our children, that is unconditional and giving. I want to be your little birdies’ father, and love and cherish our ugly sparrows before we send them strong and free into the world. You make me so happy like a kid on Christmas, babe. So, what’s Christmas without snow?”
Kevin threw the paper shreds above me, and they fluttered in the air, glittering like real clear frozen snowflakes. Beautiful and pure. I grabbed one and held it between my trembling fingers. I looked at the words, and my heart expanded. “Will you marry me?” it read.
“It’s magic, remember?” Kevin smiled, but his hand holding mine was shaking.
Do you have a favorite scene?
Even though the book is a heavy emotional journey, one of my favorite scenes is lighter and funnier. It is the moment Lauren realizes she might have feelings for her best friend. They are on their way to the library, and the topic of conversation is not helping Lauren’s predicament not to show her attraction to Kevin. His speculations about women’s preferences in books and the conclusions he draws about their sexuality are hilarious.
…. “We got in his car, but there was silence between us. Kevin broke it, and his voice sounded light, completely at peace.
“You know I always loved libraries…” He said matter of fact. I exhaled the breath I was holding because this was something we had always shared, and it was good to bring the conversation back to normal friend stuff.
“Me too, Kev. I could stay for days in a library if I had the option. It’s so quiet, especially when you find an empty room where no one can disturb you, and get lost in a book…” I said wistfully.
“Really, Lauren? In the library? I know some people totally do it, but you?” He smirked.
Jesus! I was about to kill him. I reached over the dash and slapped his chest, not finding this funny.
“Shut up, Kevin. I don’t masturbate in libraries. Books are not a fetish for me.” I fumed. He was leading my mind in the exact direction I was trying to avoid. I was totally overreacting because, in the last few weeks, I discovered that Kevin had a dirty mouth, and said provoking things all the time. Just a few weeks ago, I wasn’t reading anything into them, it was simply a friendly banter between us.
He was totally enjoying watching me this flustered, and his grin widened. “I personally like to watch… People in the library, I mean.” He kept going with the innuendo, “You can tell a lot about a person by their reading choices.”
“Really, like what? Avoid every girl who reads Jane Austen and drools over the book since she is obviously a clinger?” I hit back because this was a game two could play.
“Why not? If the girl likes Darcy, it means she might be into the silent type, so it works for me,” he countered me.
“You are not always the silent type, Kevin. And honesty, I am not a big fan of Austen.” I lied, “The way she sees love is too trivial. Human relationships are a bit more complicated than suddenly have a change of heart and fall for a man you hated a few pages ago. Elizabeth Bennet is a total gold digger if you ask me. Bookcase, in fact.” I was totally projecting my feelings into Austen, who I didn’t hate at all. I think she captured the history of her time perfectly and was a social critic of the English higher class, but I was trying to prove a point to Kevin.
Kevin started laughing, giving me a side glance. “You want to hear my theory behind people’s reading choices and sexuality?” he asked.
“Okay, go ahead. Enlighten me.” I waved a hand, wondering what other buttons he might push.
“So, here is my theory – if a girl reads nonfiction – she is totally grounded in reality and curious about the world, but still not my type because she might lack imagination in bed. Whimsy is like a big checkbox on my list. If she is into a murder mystery, possibly means she has a boring life and is looking for a thrill, which can be a fun wish to fulfill. I still won’t risk it though. There is always the possibility she might be plotting an actual murder and is reading the book as a reference.” He paused because I couldn’t help it and started laughing. His speculations about people’s choices in literature were actually hilarious and typical Kevin.
“Keep going. I need to hear about horrors?” I urged him.
“Oh, that girl I might like a lot. If she is not afraid of monsters, I won’t scare her when she sees my…” He grinned, not finishing his sentence, totally leaving it to interpretation. And considering where my mind went, a sound between a growl and a moan escaped my lips.
“You are either bragging about your dick or overcompensating, so either way, it explains why you won’t do underwear ads.” I did go there, and this time he squirmed, his hand tightening on the steering wheel.
“Keep on going, Kevin. Why did you stop?” I kept pushing him; this was not innocent whatsoever, but totally entertaining.
“You want to hear what I think of a girl who reads romance novels? If she reads those books in a public library, she is totally into smut in private, and I am all in,” he blurted.
“What happened to being a relationship guy?” I teased him.
“I didn’t say I was a good boy. Those are not mutually exclusive things,” he said quietly.
“Oh, and there you go, movie Mr. Darcy. I hope your quirky Bridget Jones is waiting for you in the library.” I nodded towards the building in front of which we had just parked.
“I’ll make sure to be on the lookout,” he joked. “How about you? What books are you picking up today?” He turned the table on me.
“Oh, you know me. Whatever falls off the shelf. I am totally indiscriminate towards books because there is something valuable in each one. As I was telling you earlier – people are more complicated than being put in a box, and you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In your case, literally.” I said in a bit more serious tone because the question of what books I liked after the sexual innuendo was dangerous territory.
“If we leave the jokes aside, I can tell you one thing I do notice about a person. The book in their hands doesn’t matter. It matters if they smile, or cry, or feel anything while reading it. People show their true emotions when they are engrossed in a story. Books reveal a lot about who we are inside, especially when we think we are not being observed.”
He was saying this to me since I noticed he’d been watching me when I read a book. His admission tugged a string in my heart that sang a familiar melody. Kevin saw under the surface, cared for my emotions, and wanted to know who I was deep down.”
What advice would you give a beginner?
- The advice I would give to a beginner is to write stories that you emotionally connect to. Emotions bleed through the pages. When readers reached out to me and shared what scene in my books made them laugh or cry, I realized those were the exact scenes that made me chuckle or bawl my eyes out while I wrote them.
- Once you feel like you have a complete manuscript, hire an editor! Even if you an English major and trust your editing skills, having a professional editor is a must! I had good and bad experiences with editors, and it takes time to find the right people you trust with your work. It’s not about cost – I didn’t spare expenses, but the quality of the edit was not always the best. If you don’t know where to start, join a writer’s group and ask fellow writers for personal references. For one of my novels, I found my editor on Reedsy. On their website, you can find professionals that edit novels in your genre and read reviews about their work. Most offer a sample edit, so you can get a good idea of their editing style.
Personally, I realized that the best editors are the tough ones. It’s great when you get compliments, but it is so much better if they offer constructive criticism and improve your writing.
- Another piece of advice is that after a developmental and copy edit, hire at least two independent proofreaders. When you and your editor have read your manuscript multiple times, you become somewhat “blind” to some typos or mistakes. The proofreaders should be able to take a fresh look at the book and fine-tooth comb through the issues.
- When you have an edited manuscript, the decision of whether to go with a traditional publisher or self-publish your novel is up to you. Just keep in mind that even if you are querying agents with your manuscript, don’t submit unedited material. Impressions matter, and if you already have a good professional edit, your chances to secure a good book deal a much higher.
Self-publishing gives you more creative control, and this is why I chose that route for my novels, but you need to understand the demands of self-promoting your books and spending a lot of money not just on editing but marketing and advertisement.
For me, it was a bit easy because I have a second college degree in Graphic Design and didn’t have to spend money on book cover design, websites, or marketing materials.
Good luck on your journey, and be yourself!
Ina Carter will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
Amozon purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088KQKNZJ