Hello, my name is Carlene Havel. I grew up in a deeply religious home. Daddy preached and Mama did all the rest—music, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, and lots of potluck dinners. We went to prayer meeting on Wednesday night, and church services at least twice on Sunday. When a revival was taking place, we went to hear a sermon every evening for either 7 or 14 days straight. The old saying, “I don’t drink, dance, cuss, nor chew; and I don’t go with the boys that do!” certainly applied to my lifestyle as a teenager. I conformed, but nothing soaked in.
Like a cat escaping from a clothes dryer, I flew away to college. I was required to be in my dorm room by 10 pm. What? Until after dark, I could go anywhere I liked and do as I pleased? Eventually I married and went to work, doggedly doing everything my way. God was far in the rear view mirror, and that was just fine with me as long as things were going well.
If you’ve lived a few years, you know how nasty things can get in the my-way-or-the-highway, no-holds-barred, I’ll-try-anything-once scenario. That’s not to say life was all gloom and doom. Not at all, but there was something significant missing. Honestly, I didn’t want to figure out what it was. It took a lot of adversity for me to admit how empty I felt inside. When I finally came to the end of myself, I found Someone willing to clean up the mess and help me start over. This rebellious preacher’s kid came running back into the arms of a patient, loving God.
I am the only person I know who majored in English yet had no aspirations to author the great American novel. I was sitting in church one Sunday in 2005 (and I love going to church now) when an alien thought interrupted my concentration. “You should write a romance.” You? Second person? Is He talking to me? Of course not! Things don’t work that way. Besides, if it was Him—which it is not—I would be assigned to write a book of theology, right? I tuned back in to the sermon. My pastor spoke of a woman who wanted to contribute to a mission. Having little money, she wrote a poem and gave it to the cause. The words were set to music, became popular, and greatly benefitted the mission. Oh.
I couldn’t type fast enough to capture the romance novel pouring out of my mind. When it was finished, the first publisher I contacted agreed offered a contract. It was all so easy, until the publisher put the bite on me to fund “some of the publishing costs”. Never do this! RUN from anyone who wants you to pay for anything associated with publication. Block their phone calls, delete their emails, and never sign a contract with them! While writing the next book, I beat my head against the wall with this publisher. When they started offering erotica, I asked them to return the rights to my book. To my surprise, they agreed. I still don’t know which one of us was more relieved to be separated from the other.
Soon I had two books written, was clueless about self-publishing, and had no publishing prospects. A magazine took a poem, and another printed a short article. Nothing happened with full-length books. Many of the places where I pitched them didn’t even bother to reply. Three chapters into book number three, I reached a point of absolute discouragement. An email group message contained a message about a new publisher just getting started, seeking submissions. Assuming I was wasting my time, I sent one manuscript to Inspired Romance Novels (now Prism Book Group).
Prism has now published six of my books and I’ve contributed short stories in three other books.
I feel as if I’m doing what I was meant to do, telling stories of faith, hope, and love.