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Daily Inspiration: Meet Carrie Carter

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Carter.

Hi Carrie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Have you ever had that sinking sensation in your belly that your day job was draining your soul, leaving you to wish away your life? I wish it was lunchtime. I wish it was quitting time. I wish it was the weekend. I wish I was on vacation. All these wishes about speeding up time, all related to employment.

I’ve had my share of crappy jobs. I worked for a corporate company once where we had to make cover sheets for our cover sheets, and when the company held an employee motivational meeting, which was in the ballroom of a hotel in another city, you know, so we could relax, ended with my direct bosses being asked to stand for recognition, and then being announced they were all demoted. In a span of an evening, I went from four bosses to zero.

I worked in a place once that had a front office, where we greeted and worked with clients, nothing abnormal or atypical, except the A/C had gone out. Did I mention this was in Houston, during August? There was also a hole in a vent that was letting swarms of mosquitoes into the room, and underneath the building was a dead animal, the stench of the rotting carcass filling the room. The owner said there was no rush to fix anything. Work days were hot, itchy, and stinky.

In another place I worked, we all expected the FBI to raid the files and cart away the computers. We sat in dismay at all the crookedness that had gone on for years. A group of us were hired to help clean it up, set the documents legally correct, but they wouldn’t give us the documentation we needed to do it. In hindsight, they had no intention of correcting the wrongs. At that job, my co-workers and I huddled together on Monday mornings, going over our plan of escape if the fired CEO showed up with a gun. The place had that kind of atmosphere.

I have dozens of stories like this, all adding to my workday misery. None of this felt right, and I longed for something less idiotic, and less stressful. I needed an escape, but my brain was stuck, so I did the only reasonable thing a person could do. I made a list of my interests and likes, and emailed it to my friends. I asked them to come up with the perfect job for me. I did this once a year. They came back with a handful of useless suggestions.

One time after my “help me get out of my work misery” email, my sister said, “combine your love of cats, coffee, and Japan and write a book.”

Why hadn’t I thought of that? No seriously, why didn’t I?

That was how the idea for Whiskers Abroad was born.

It started off as a spy novel, yet I seldom read spy novels, and it only took a few paragraphs in to realize this was the wrong route. But I had been to Japan multiple times, 14 times to date. My husband used to work for Continental Airlines. We used his flight benefits to fly to Japan. I knew what it was like to be a tourist. Not only could I relate to that but I could write about it. The book was taking shape.

I had a woman traveling to Japan, but with her cat, each telling their take on events. I wanted photos of the cat and woman in Kyoto, eating ramen, and enjoying Japan. I knew it would be a magical realism since a cat types but I also wanted it to double as a guidebook. All the locations in the book exist and can be visited, if one so wishes.

I brought my sister on board to do the graphics for the book. We were on our way.

A handful of years later, with multiple revisions, and too many query letters to count, Whiskers Abroad found a publisher with Bayou City Press, and was launched on October 6, 2022.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
To me, the hardest thing about writing this book was finding the time to do it. Something always popped up that took precedence, like work, doing chores, cooking dinner, taking the cat to the vet, exercising, sleeping, etc. It’s hard to fit writing in there.

Once the time crunch glared at me in the face, my motivation starts sank, and procrastination took over.

But I had my sister pressing me, keeping me on track. She said something to me that helped. “Write your two crappy sentences a day.”

Two sentences. That’s it.

So I did.

Some days I even wrote more.

Before long, I had a rough draft in my possession. Was it great? Of course not! But that’s the glory of rewrites, an activity that brings improvement each time you do it, and as I saw the manuscript getting better, my motivation increased. I’m grateful I kept at it.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
A lot of people in Houston know me not as Carrie Carter, but as Carrie Ringwald, the keyboard player for Molly and The Ringwalds, an 80’s cover band. We play corporate events, weddings, birthdays, Christmas at the Continental club, and even the Houston Astro’s uniform launch party in 2015. Back in the day, we played every Friday happy hour at the Continental Club.

I’m incredibly proud of the band and its members. I started the band, inspired by an 80’s cover band that played at a wedding I was working at as a banquet server at the time. They flew in from New York City, and when on break, I asked one of the bridesmaids why a band from New York and not Houston? She said there was no cover band in Houston playing only 1980’s music. An idea shimmied in my brain and I decided I’d be the one to bring a 1980’s cover band to Houston.

It had a rough start, and some cringe-worthy first performances, but we smoothed out the edges, replaced some members with better ones, and found our grove. We’ve been performing for over 20 years now.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
The ability to observe people and situations has been one of my greatest assets in terms of writing quirky fiction. It’s the odd real life events that make things interesting. It’s noticing the office building advertises activites, three days after they happen. It’s watching a cat use the kids’ sandbox as a litterbox and turning that into a scene at a zen garden in the book. It’s the man sitting on a bench with a curling iron plugged in, and he’s bald. No one else pays attention to him.

Then you take those observations and turn them into some usable nugget for what you are writing. This has been crucial in writing Whiskers Abroad.


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