Sunday, August 30, 2009

Publisher Interview with NADENE CARTER

Nadene Carter is a woman of many talents: writer, editor, and publisher. She is the author of a handful of books, and has dozens others to her credit as editor. Most recently, she is the founder of


You’re a bit different from most of the published authors I’ve interviewed thus far. You also wear the hats of editor and publisher. How do you handle the madness?

Occasionally, things do get a bit crazy, but two things keep me sane: I’m passionate about what I do, and I’ve learned to prioritize. On any given day, I can have 8 or 10 projects I’m working on: reading and evaluating manuscripts NorLightsPress is considering for publication; editing manuscripts in various stages of completion; pre-press preparation of edited manuscripts; designing layout, formatting and paginating books ready for print; and designing and creating book covers. Every day, I also do some writing.

I know you’ve published books in at least three different genres, including mystery and non-fiction. How long have you been writing and what prompted your diversity?

I’ve loved stories and writing as long as I can remember. That interest naturally led to work where I could use that interest: writing and publishing the monthly corporate magazine for a hand and nail care company and creating the sales literature—brochures, flyers, and all the order forms—for that company; and later, writing and publishing proposals to attract work for an architectural company. The diversity of genres in my writing happened quite by accident.

The seed idea for Echoes of Silence sprang from my interest in spinning and weaving as an art form. In 1980 I was living in Adrian, Oregon, a small town about sixty miles west of Boise, Idaho. I belonged to the local Spinners and Weaver’s Guild, and three of us from that Guild went to a Weaving in the Woods Workshop near Chiloquin, Oregon. The workshop taught Native American weaving, where each of us built and lashed an upright loom between two trees, designed our own pattern, and created a tapestry. The three of us from our guild camped in a tent together. One evening around the campfire, we were exchanging background information about ourselves. I had moved to Adrian the year prior, and one of the women and her husband had recently moved there from the Midwest and purchased a business. The other was a Japanese woman, Janet Takami, about 25 years old at the time. I asked Janet how she came to live in east-central Oregon.

I will never forget the shocked look on her face and her words, “My parents were part of the Japanese internment during World War II.”

Then it was my turn to feel shock. I was 40 years old at the time and had never heard of the Japanese internment. To learn that U. S. citizens had been detained in camps was impossible for me to understand. After the workshop I went home and spent days in the Ontario library researching the Japanese internment. I learned that for years ‘the internment’ had been a taboo subject, seldom discussed or acknowledged. Later, I talked at length with George Iseri, who had lived in the camp. He was Nisei, second generation Japanese-American. He told me the history of that small group of families from the Minidoka, Idaho internment camp who agreed to move to a small work camp near Nyssa, Oregon to work as laborers in the sugar beet fields rather than sit idle until the war was over. That’s how they came to be located there.

He told of their plight after the war was over. Everything they owned before the war began was gone; they had nowhere to go. This group of Japanese families pooled their funds, formed a lottery, and bought the first family a farm. The farm family and the people still at camp continued pooling their money until they had enough to buy the second family a farm and so on until every Japanese family owned their own land.

I spent several years gathering information and trying various ways to construct a fictional format that would present the story of courage and tenacity of these people in the face of adversity.

That story wouldn’t let me be. It was a story that begged to be told and wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written the book. The genre is U.S. historical fiction.

My reading of choice is mystery/suspense, which is the genre of the next novel I published, A Cobweb on the Soul. It’s set in Park City, Utah, within driving distance of where I live. I visited there several times as I did the necessary research during the writing of that book.

My third book, The Sense-ible Writer, grew out of my work on my novels. It’s a craft of writing book that provides specific help to writers: those working to learn the elements of fiction writing and for more experience writers as a refresher course.

What are the three most important things to you, as an editor, in your relationships with your authors?

The author and editor spend several months together editing a book. The most important element in that relationship is for me as editor to establish a rapport with the author and with the story. An editor must believe in and be passionate about the book and the author. The second most important element necessary to the successful editing of a book is for the author to be open to change—and modification of the story if necessary—to make the best presentation of that story. The third element for a successful relationship is for the editor to always be respectful of the story and not run roughshod over the author. That requires an editor to know the story and understand the intent behind the author’s creation of that story.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an editor?

Occasionally an author will become so overprotective of his writing that the project bogs down in explanations about why a request for change was made and with the author objecting to every word change. The challenge sometimes comes back from the author as, “You’re changing my “voice and style.” As an editor I make sure I know the story and the author’s style of writing before I ever begin the editing process, and I guard against letting that happen. Poor writing can never be glossed over as “voice and style.” My primary purpose as editor is to be an advocate for the reader. If I find something that might trigger the reader’s “NO WAY” button, then it’s my job to work with the author to correct the error. (Interviewer note: I know one author who raves about what a wonderful editor Nadene is and how she helped make his book stronger.)

Tell us about your publishing company, NorlightsPress.Com.

NorLightsPress evolved out of a vacuum in my life. Several months earlier I’d left the publishing house I was working for, with good intentions of devoting all my time to writing the sequels to the two novels that are already published. But I missed the challenge and passion I have for publishing and the joy I found working with authors to bring their creations to life. One day out of the blue my webmaster called. After a few minutes of small talk, he blurted out, “How would you like to help me start up a publishing company.

I had specific requirements for how I thought a publishing company should be operated and the kinds of books we’d need to attract for us to flourish and grow as a publisher. It turned out that his ideas were an exact match to mine. We took three months to research the business angle to make sure we could launch on strong footing, both financially and with enough staff to carry the load. Finally, with everything in place in March of 2009, we opened the doors for business and have never looked back.

We publish a nice mix of nonfiction and fiction. To date, our nonfiction books have enjoyed phenomenal success.

Sea Fare, a young chef’s memoir of her travels aboard a yacht also contains 30 exotic recipes she’s collected from around the world. That book is a great success not only in the U.S. but in Canada and in Europe.

Speaking of Dialogue, another nonfiction that has sold well, provides specific instruction and exercises for creating powerful dialogue, regardless of the media: fiction, nonfiction, or screenwriting.

In what direction do you see NorlightsPress.Com heading and where do you expect it to be in 5 years?

Our initial goal was to publish 25 books by the end of the first year. We are on track and it looks like this will happen. We want our books to also be available as eBooks on Fictionwise, and they require a publisher to have 25 books in their stable before applying for a contract with them.

Our next goal is to establish wider distribution channels for our print editions. Our overall goal is to provide NorLightsPress and each of our authors with a diverse exposure, through both traditional avenues as well as through online marketing contacts, so our books enjoy phenomenal success.

In 5 years, our goal is to have authors recognize NorLightPress as a premiere publisher, the first publisher an author would approach to publish books in the genres we cover.

What are some of the projects you are working on now—in any/all of your capacities—and when/where do you expect them to be available?

On the publishing end, the following is a listing of books that will launch before the end of 2009:
The Smart Patient’s Guide to Surgery: [nonfiction, medical] Written by the ultimate insider—a nurse with over twenty-five years of experience—this book provides the latest information on forty-four surgical procedures. In addition, the candid discussions of what to expect after surgery include positive and negative statements from patients who’ve undergone each procedure. This guidebook also includes simple explanations of medical tests, samples of common medical forms, and a glossary of medical terms. Available in August 2009.

Rich Johnson’s Guide to Trailer Boat Sailing: [nonfiction, travel, sailing] If you’ve ever dreamed of casting off in search of adventure wherever your heart may lead, this book will help turn those dreams into reality. A trailerable sailboat is the ideal way to explore every part of the country — wherever there are lakes, rivers, reservoirs or ocean coastline. Available in August 2009.

Pilot Your Career - 18 Strategies for Career Building and Navigating the Economic Downturn: [nonfiction, career-building, self-help by wll-known marketing executive, Neal Lemlein.] Reboot Your GPS for Corporate America! Pilot Your Career offers a road map for today’s journey through corporate America. Career seekers need guidance to navigate and maximize opportunities within the contemporary workplace. Available in August 2009.

The Road to Blood Marsh: [U.S. historical fiction by G.G. Stokes, Jr. This is book one in the author’s Colonial Southeast Series. Two books in the series already published. Manuscript in final editing.] Available in August 2009.

Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue: [science fiction, by Hugh C. Howey, an amazing a new author. His first novel of a series. Manuscript in final editing] When Molly Fyde is expelled from the Naval Academy, she loses the only two things that matter: flying in space and her training partner Cole. Months later, however, the discovery of her father’s old ship gives her another chance at both. Tasked with the craft’s retrieval, Molly sets off with Cole to recover the ship and reconnect with her past. Along the way she must learn to rely on a new family: the crew of the starship Parsona. Available in Septembert 2009.

Call of the Land - An Agrarian Primer for the 21st Century: [nonfiction by agronomist Steven McFadden] A sourcebook exploring positive pathways for food security, economic stability, environmental health, and cultural renewal. While no single remedy meets the many challenges to our farms and food, hundreds of positive, creative options are already in place for families, neighborhoods, suburbs, and cities. The Call of the Land illuminates the paths forward, revealing a range of models to establish a sustainable agrarian foundation for the fragile high-tech, digital-wave culture emerging so dynamically in our world. Available in September 2009.

Call Me Katherine: [woman’s fiction by a new author, Virginia Meyer. Manuscript in editing] After fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom Kitty has a career as editor for the Home section of Maine Scene magazine. But her husband takes a job in Oregon. Kitty struggles to adapt and accept the loss that fate has brought. "Who am I, what am I and what do I want to be?" she asks. The story follows Kitty's life as she gradually matures and builds a new life, in her new community. Although the circumstances may differ, Kitty's struggle to redefine herself is not unlike that of many women who in midlife are confronted with earth-shaking life changes. Available in September 2009.

Adventures in Flight: [memoir collection by aviators Ken Larson and Tom Holton. Manuscript in editing] The list of contributors to Adventures in Flight reads like a “Who’s Who of Aviation,” including some of North America’s most famous women pilots. This book introduces the exciting, often harrowing, lifestyles of stunt pilots, fighter pilots, wing walkers, and men and women who brave the elements in the most barren places on the planet. Each chapter is a stand-alone tale that takes readers through flying in World War Two, across North America, to the bush of Alaska, the ice of Antarctica, and the deserts of Africa. The stories are touching, humorous, exciting, and often dangerous or miraculous. Aviation humor and quotations are included to bring out the nuances of aviation and the writers’ exciting lifestyles. Available in October 2009.

Chapel Perilous: [U.S. historical fiction, paranormal by Eppie Finalist Steve Bartholomew. Manuscript in editing] Available in November 2009.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give a new writer?

Actually, I can provide several tips. If your book (nonfiction or fiction) requires research, be sure to document sources, places obtained, and dates. That information could be vital later during the publishing process. Make sure you’ve created something in the first few paragraphs that will grab the reader. This “hook” is what keeps the reader reading (remember your 1st reader is your editor or publisher). Don’t send “your baby” out into the world riddled with errors. Find someone with good copyediting skills to help you work through your manuscript to locate errors in grammar, punctuation, and errors of omission (words missing, etc.) An occasional error is understandable, but if error upon error begins to pile up, the manuscript will quickly slip to the “no go” vote.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I’ve had to put my writing on hold for the near future to get NorLightsPress up and running. I’m hoping to get back to it soon, but who knows… I love the publishing end of this business so much that my own writing my have to take a back seat for some time, and that’s okay. Publishing is my passion. Who can ask for more than that in life?

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

(twitter) nrc1940


  1. Nadene and Linda -- fascinating interview, ladies.

    Nadene, I like the eclectic mix of books you're publishing. I admire anyone jumping into the publishing game (and every new publisher is a great thing for authors--we cheer you on).

  2. Thanks for sharing your knowledge

  3. Awesome interview with an awesome woman!