Mendham Author’s Debut Novel Getting Rave Reviews

By Steve Sears

It’s the dream of every writer, especially those writing a novel: to see it in print, and then get positive reviews.

Mendham author Carol Van Den Hende is living that dream. Her debut offering, Goodbye, Orchid, was listed as an anticipated fall read by Buzzfeed, Parade, and Travel & Leisure, and it’s also been named as the 2020 American Fiction Award winner for urban fiction, and 2020 Pinnacle Achievement Award winner for multicultural fiction.

The official release date for the book was October 1.

“It’s been a very thrilling week,” says Van Den Hende regarding the release of her book. “Because here it is, live and in the world, which is something I dreamt of a long time and not for ego reasons or for myself, but for – as my publisher said, when he signed the contract with me, ‘This book will do good in the world.’ That makes me excited to have it out there.”

For Van Den Hende, the message she seeks to deliver with Goodbye, Orchid is empathy and optimism. Readers have told her that they have suffered medical problems over the last decade, and after reading her novel have become more optimistic about their own outcomes.

From Van Den Hende’s website, a description of Goodbye, Orchid: “What happens when an entrepreneur suffers an accident that changes him forever and he has to decide: to love his woman, will he need to leave her?

One July morning in Manhattan, handsome athlete and entrepreneur Phoenix Walker accompanies his love, half-Asian beauty Orchid Paige, to the airport. Neither believes today is goodbye.

But soon after Orchid leaves, disaster strikes.

Phoenix wakes in the hospital, broken, forever changed.

Now, he’s faced with the hardest decision of his life. Does he burden the woman whose traumatic childhood makes him feel protective of her? Or does true love mean having to say Goodbye, Orchid?

Rising from ashes is hard. Leaving the one you love is harder.”

“The impetus for the story, initially, was inspired by combat wounded veterans,” she says. “Phoenix Walker is not a military veteran, but what he goes through is what some of our combat wounded veterans go through. And what’s really touched me is people who are combat wounded veterans read Goodbye, Orchid in a way which moves them.”

Van Den Hende is unique in that she speaks to groups  about branding and marketing of books, and now she does the same with her own. Initially trained as an engineer, she had a career in digital technology, and then got her MBA and worked in marketing in both the United States and China. When she returned from the latter country, she began a career in strategy and insights. “All of it has taught me a lot, but what happened when I joined the writer’s community with an intent to reach a broader audience and to publish, the writer’s community called me into public speaking.” She wanted to give back to the writing community that had reached out and supported her in so many different ways. She has certainly done so. 

Goodbye, Orchid succeeds where the author intended. “I’m aiming for authenticity on the page of emotion,” she explains. “When I have readers writing  reviews or writing to me and telling me how much the story has touched them so much, how it’s been really emotional, that makes me feel I’ve done my job as a writer.”

For Van Den Hende, who’s given presentations for Writers’ Digest, Women Who Write, Authorpreneur, Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, NJ Romance Writers, Rutgers, Liberty States Fiction Writers’ conferences and other events, a new project is in the works. 

She has advice for wannabe authors. Having a great work ethic is one. There’s more. “I find for myself that it’s been helpful to articulate my inspiring, ‘Why?’ And I talk about this when I teach personal branding at writer’s conferences. What’s the reason you do what you do, beyond the obvious functional or profit purposes? So, it’s your meaning in life, your purpose in life. For me – and this is broader than this one piece of fiction, Goodbye, Orchid – I would say my aim is to inspire hope and empathy for people and planet. Add to that, having the clarity of what’s important to you, what helps you both stay motivated as well as focus your energy and effort in the places that are most important.”

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