Today Caroline joins me. A Texan, she writes the kinds of stories I gobbled up in high school and college, when I had time to indulge in romance books. Who needed to study? ;)
What draws you to the Civil War/post-Civil War era?
Write what you know. I positively love American history, but especially that of the South and West. No matter where my books begin, the characters end up in Texas. I am more familiar with my own family's history during the mid to late 19th century, and that makes this time especially interesting for me. My family lived in the South moving West at that time, so that's why my books are set in those locales. My dad told stories of his family most evenings at the dinner table. The tales fascinated me then, and still do. Since then, I've learned much more about our family through genealogy and gleaning other relatives' stories. This stuff is better than fiction, believe me! One branch of our family was, um, shall we be polite and say eccentric? Like my friend, Jeanmarie Hamilton, I use a real family setting and/or incident in my novels and then make up the rest to suit my characters.
What else are you working on?
Am I ever glad you asked! I am working on several books at once:
My WIP (what writers call their work in progress) is a time travel, TEXAS SHOWDOWN, set in Central Texas and aimed at The Wild Rose Press' Faery Rose line. In it, a woman from 1896 travels to present day to find someone else living in her home--but it's not her home any longer. The heroine is named after my brother's fiancee and has Penny's red hair, and I'm eager that the book turn out well. Of course, my brother's fiancee is not a time traveler--at least not as far as I know. No, I'm sure she's not. They were childhood sweethearts, so I know she's been around the same length of time he has. Unless . . . no, I won't go there.
I'm awaiting galleys [for non-writers' info, that's the final check of the book text before release] on a western historical, THE TEXAN'S IRISH BRIDE, set in Central Texas. The cover for this book is so great! Nicola Martinez designed the cover and it turned out better than I could ever have hoped. This story is about a rancher who delivers horses to a buyer. On the way home, he rescues a young woman from two kidnappers who are attacking her. In the rescue, he kills both men but is severely wounded himself. During his recovery with her family, he is forced to wed her. He ends up taking her eccentric family home with him. His bride is the most superstitious person he's ever met, her father never uses two words when a thousand will do and has a blessing or toast for every event, and her mother is ill and hooked on laudanum. The heroine has two brothers, and one is a major mischief-maker and thorn in the hero's side. It was a fun story to write and is set in my favorite time, 1885. I can hardly wait for readers to see this book!
I am also involved in edits on a sweet contemporary, TEXAS FIREWORKS, set in West Texas for TWRP's Sweetheart Rose line. In this book a struggling woman in Dallas inherits land and cash in West Texas and must live there for a year to make her inheritance final. The hero and heroine don't have sex because they keep being interrupted. She has a teenaged brother for whom she's guardian, and the hero is a widower with two young children. This one is set near Lubbock, where I grew up, and in the area where my uncle lived and my cousin and her husband still reside. Of course, the characters have no resemblance to anyone in my family, but the setting makes me nostalgic. The name of the small town has been changed. Writing about a fictional town is way easier than using an actual town or city. The make believe place can have whatever businesses and residences I decide! I may make this a series by writing two other books in the same locale with the same extended family because I have the books already plotted.
I'm kinda, sorta, thinking about revising a contemporary, SNOWFIRES, set in West Texas and Dallas for the Champagne Rose line of TWRP. It needs a LOT of revisions, so I'm not certain I can salvage it, but the editor was kind enough to make detailed suggestions. Sometimes, though, it's easier just to ditch a book and start a new one instead of beating a dead horse. I like the characters in this one, so I'll probably persevere in whipping it into better shape. Maybe. We'll see.
Oh, I agree. My first serious uncompleted ms is languishing and I think I can turn it around, but I'd only be able to salvage maybe 3 scenes. THREE scenes from a 75,000 story! Breaks my heart.
Now might be a good time to say I have a book due to be released on June 4, 2010 from The Wild Rose Press, OUT OF THE BLUE. This story is a time travel from TWRP's Faery line. It's set in North Central Texas. In it a clairvoyant young woman healer from 1845 Ireland jumps off an Irish cliff to escape a mob that blames her for their rotting potatoes. She lands in present day Lake Possum Kingdom near the bass boat of an injured detective. He won't let her out of his sight until he discovers how she knows details about his late partner that no one but he knew. He believes she may be in league with whoever shot him and killed his best friend partner. That cover is also great and also from Nicola Martinez.
I certainly hope you'll stop back in June!
What’s your dream story? The one that becomes a New York Times runaway bestseller, the one you hope to one day write?
My favorite story is usually my WIP. Yet, in the back of my mind, I have this BIG story set at the end of the Civil War in which two cousins travel from Georgia to Fort Concho on the Concho River near San Angelo, Texas. Maybe I'll get around to writing it someday. Since the cousins are both female and are going to visit the brother of one, it's more a saga than a traditional romance--although both women find love while they're rescuing the one's brother. There are murder, mayhem, and major struggles in this one. I love books with danger in them, don't you?
And in that vein, I've also written a couple of mysteries that I have yet to market. One is about a young woman who manages her family's garden center and landscape company. The other is about a deputy who becomes sheriff (it's not a police procedural, but more a character study involving a sheriff). I've started a third mystery which actually seems more promising than either of the other two. But what do I know? Impossible to be objective about one's work. I've searched for an agent, but haven't found one. Wrong, I had a BAD agent once who pretty well ruined my career. Now I'm searching for a GREAT agent. I think it's easier to get struck by lightning.
Anything else you’d like to share?
As you can tell, I love writing--even when I am having trouble, even when I'm revising, even when I have to open a vein and bleed my soul onto the page. I'd write even if no one paid me [which is almost true now]. At least with TWRP, my books have great covers and the editors are also great! I guess I'd write even if no one read my books. Oooh, wouldn't that be sad? No, I'd probably print them up myself and give them away if I couldn't sell them. Hopefully, it won't come to that.
I will have to pay for the printing of a book about my father's Johnson/Johnston family that my brother and I are working on. Our dad asked me to do a book about his family. Even though he's passed away, my brother and I want to honor his wishes. Besides, this stuff is fascinating to me. My brother has helped me track down people and facts and we hope to have the book printed late this spring or early summer. I'd already done a book on my mom's family and one about my mother-in-law. I don't publish just boring and dry charts and names. Yawn. My family books include as many anecdotes as I can collect as well as lots and lots of photos. As you can imagine, family history is important to me and I want to preserve it for posterity!
Thanks for having me as your guest.
Thank you, Caroline, for dropping by!