Mystery Author Finds Out-of-this-World Publishing Success
Carolyn Arnold has rocketed to publishing success in just five years, accomplishing what many authors have taken much longer to achieve. That is, if they ever do. An international bestselling author, Carolyn is prolific in every sense of the word, and her journey is nothing short of inspirational. From May 2011 through April 2016, she’s published twenty-five published books and four continuing series. While she is known primarily for crime fiction, she added a light-hearted mystery series in 2014 and an action adventure series in 2015, expanding her genre diversity. By 2014, she was writing and self-publishing full time, and in 2015, she incorporated her own publishing company, Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc.. At the start of 2016, her husband joined her company full time.
Her road to success began with her first novel. Ties That Bind was published in 2011 with the intention of it being the first book in a series starring a strong female detective—Madison Knight. The book quickly gained popularity on Amazon, and by the fall of 2011, it was climbing the police procedural ranks. By the end of 2011, she’d added two more titles to her credit—the next book in the Madison Knight series and a novel entitled Eleven. Initially released as a standalone title, Eleven’s popularity became such that Carolyn dubbed it the first book in the Brandon Fisher FBI series. This series remains one of Carolyn’s bestsellers and has garnered rave reviews. In the
spring of 2012, Ties That Bind was in the top five of the police procedural genre.
In less than two years, she’d published four books. From May 2011 through the end of 2012, Carolyn had four books under her belt, but she was just getting started. In the spring of 2014 she launched the McKinley Mysteries series. Lighter than her previous two series, McKinley Mysteries appeals to readers who prefer a heavy dose of romance and humor with their murder mysteries rather than the more graphic nature of police procedurals.
Then there were six books. By the end of 2013, her release count had jumped to six, and in February 2014, Eleven officially became the first in the Brandon Fisher FBI series with the release of Silent Graves. Too successful for the day job. Due to her publishing success, Carolyn reduced her hours at her day job in 2013, and just a year later she was able to leave that employment entirely. This decision was the right one for her and was followed by even more success. Carolyn incorporated her own publishing company in June of 2015. Meanwhile, as a result of the praise she’d received for her Madison Knight and Brandon Fisher series, she adopted the trademark, Police Procedurals Respected by Law Enforcement™. She continues to add accolades for her work from those who serve on the front lines to her testimonials page on her website.
A fourth series was born. Late fall of 2015 saw the introduction of her fourth series. This one was a departure from her typical mystery novel, leaping into the action-adventure genre. Her focus, though, was on making the series something that would appeal not only to new readers but to her existing ones. She’s tagged the Matthew Connor Adventure series as being “the action-adventure series for the mystery lover.” The series debut, City of Gold, remained an Amazon bestseller for months. No stopping Carolyn now. June 2016 marked Carolyn’s fifth year as a published author. But she is crafting more than a career; she is putting together the pieces to create an empire. She wants nothing more than to entertain the world with her words and to inspire her readers. She does, however, have her eye on becoming a New York Times bestselling author, and given her proven track record of success, we’ll be seeing her there soon.
ePICKweekly Q and A:
ePICKweekly: Many authors struggle with one book. You write many books from four different series. It seems you are very character focused and the stories come naturally. Tell us, how do you dream these ideas up?
CAROLYN ARNOLD: I hear voices in my head…Not really, but I do sometimes have clear scenes hit me out of the blue, or a few pieces of narrative or dialogue will strike and make me pay attention. The ideas for my novels come from a variety of sources, including dreams and just my imagination running wild. My characters come from the same places, as well as from those I meet in my own life. Real people inspire characters, and strong characters are essential to engaging readers.
ePICKweekly: Did you always want to be an author? How hard was it?
CAROLYN ARNOLD: I thought it would be quite the accomplishment to write a full-length novel as a teenager. I initially saw myself writing romances and being published by Harlequin. Without my parents’ knowledge at the time, I even wrote to them to get their submission guidelines. I remember feeling a little overwhelmed reading about the requirements—the precise length, how to format the document, etc. When I wrote as a teenager, I insisted on my family reading what I wrote, and if they wouldn’t, no problem, I’d read it to them. By the time I had graduated high school, writing had been put aside, and it wasn’t until about thirteen years later, in 2006, that writing reentered my life, and this time, it was here to stay.
As a teen, writing was a fun way for me to get my emotions out on paper, but I never viewed writing as a hobby. This was long before I earned one cent from my stories, of course, and I believe this viewpoint has contributed greatly to my growing success. Choosing to publish was quite a journey unto itself. There is so much more involved in the process than most readers know. It involves months—sometimes years—of hard work and dedication to bring a book from first draft to published product.
ePICKweekly: Tell us what it is like to be working in one field and dreaming about making a huge shift to being a full-time writer. Do you love your daily life now? Is it as you hoped it might be? Share with us a glimpse of the type of struggle and frustration you felt, if any.
CAROLYN ARNOLD: I love how you included the words struggle and frustration in your question because those two words perfectly describe how I felt when I had a day job. As soon as I realized writing was my
passion, I vowed that one day I would be doing so full time. It finally made sense why my employment was always just that—a means of earning a living, nothing more. This is not to say that I didn’t work hard for my employer or even enjoy what I was doing, but before writing, I had jobs. Now I have a career. When I had a day job, I would get up early every weekday to write, and then I’d write again on my lunch break. Of course, on the weekends I was busy writing, too! Every second I could, I was writing…maybe to the point of obsession, but when you’re passionate about something, you don’t usually track the hours.
As for my daily life now, I can truly say that I am living the dream! I get to do what I love every day, and then share that gift with others by providing them with entertainment, motivation, and inspiration. I’m always deeply
humbled and grateful when I hear my readers express how my books helped them through the loss of a loved one or took their mind off chronic pain. I’m rewarded again and again. My life is also no longer governed by the clock. That’s heaven, too!! Of course, I have writing, editing, and release deadlines, but the scheduling is ultimately up to me.
ePICKweekly: You have a lot of fans. Tell us about connecting with them.
CAROLYN ARNOLD: I love interacting with my readers; it feeds my soul. The person I project online is the real me—a true balance of what some might consider black and white. I have this burning drive to motivate and inspire while I also have the ability to tap in the minds of killers. I have a love for justice that propels me to write murder mysteries, and I love writing books that make people think. I’d wager most mystery readers have at least an admiration for law enforcement, and with having the respect of those in the field, it adds to my own credibility.
ePICKweekly: You seem to have a fabulous husband. How does his support matter? What is it like to work together?
CAROLYN ARNOLD: His support matters greatly. He’s terrific at balancing my emotions, bringing me up when I feel down, and lifting me higher when I’m already experiencing joy. We envision our future together all the time, and now that we work together, we have even more of an opportunity to do this. We are living the dream together now, and we’re so grateful for that every day. It’s one thing to marry your best friend, your soul mate, but it’s such a gift to be able to spend so much time with each other.
ePICKweekly: You are approaching your career as more than a writer—as a publisher. Give us some insight into that. How has that mattered?
CAROLYN ARNOLD: This really mirrors where it all began for me in 2006. Writing was never a hobby for me and when I decided to publish in May 2011, I knew in my heart that someday I would be a fulltime author. It was a vision I held on to tightly, even though the sales numbers weren’t there right away. So when I incorporated my publishing company in June 2015, I took it as the serious step it was. It was confirmation to myself and those around me that not only am I not going anywhere but I’m preparing for even larger success. Whether my corporation takes on other authors in the future still remains to be seen, but it is a subject that has been discussed. I choose to think big and this mindset hasn’t let me down.