Carolyn Haines: On Writing, Jack Daniels, and Flatulent Dogs


I first met Carolyn Haines at a conference in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, which is also the same event where I met publisher Benjamin Leroy (Bleak House Books), and literary agent/author Lucienne Diver. The four of us quickly became friends and to this day we still stay in touch.

Carolyn’s innate ability to tell a story kept us all laughing until the wee hours of the morning. Her way with words also shines through on every page of each of her books (over 60 to date). And, when I have questions or problems with my own writing Carolyn is the first to hear my screams. So far, she’s been much to kind to say no.

Recently, I turned to Carolyn again, asking if she’d share a few of her writing secrets with us. Here’s what she had to say.

What time of day you prefer to write?


I live at the whim of my pets, so I write whenever they say I can. First priority, of course, is opening and closing the door from them to come and go. They like to go in and out in 15-second shifts. In between, they like to break anything of value, hurl themselves into the window screens, steal jewelry, and other activities which keep me alert. So while I prefer to write in the mornings when my brain is fresh, I have learned to write at any time.

Your daily word count?


I don’t set a daily word count, but I try to write until I have a sense of accomplishment, even if I know I may have to throw it away the next day. I’m goal driven, and if I feel I’ve “worked hard” one day, then then next day it’s easier to work again. If I have several days where I feel I haven’t accomplished anything, then it’s doubly hard to face the blank screen. One trick I use is to write two things simultaneously. If I get stuck in one story, I can generally make progress in the second one.

Do you listen to music when you write (what kind)?

No. I can’t listen to music and work. I like quiet, accompanied by the gentle snore of a cat or a flatulent dog.

Do you conduct a lot of research before you write the first word?

Depends on the book. Some books require lots of research, others not so much. Sometimes I’m in the middle of the story when I realize I need to research an angle that I thought I understood, but the application of it has changed.

How long does it take you write a 100,000 word novel?


It takes me about a year to write a novel.

Finally, what is your favorite food and drink?


I am a huge advocate of the group of foods known as Brown Foods. Chocolate, Jack Daniels, and coffee. That covers all of the basic human needs.

Please visit Carolyn Haines here.

2 replies
  1. PatMarin
    PatMarin says:


    It’s so nice to know that I am not the only writer who runs her life around an animal, in my case the cat.

    I try to beat her to my workspace each day. If she sleeps on my office chair, I work on my laptop. If she sleeps on my bed, I can’t nap (or change from tee shirt nightie to go out). If she cries for my DH when he steps out the door, I stop writing and go pet her. Did I forget to tell you she really belongs to him? She really does, but that doesn’t stop her from running my life.

    Pat Marinelli

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