Yesterday, I reviewed Out Of The Blue, the latest novel by Caroling Clemmons. Since it was an exchange review, she also reviewed my book at her site: www.carolineclemmons.blogspot.com. Today she joins me again for an exchange interview, and answers some questions I threw at her.
LR: Tell us a little about yourself.
CC: I grew up in Southern California and West Texas. You would not believe how excited I was when my parents told me we were moving back to Texas. I was crazy about Roy Rogers and other cowboys in the movies. My dad tried to tell me those were just actors and not how life was now, but I was sure any minute I’d see a cowboy riding across the cotton farms where we lived near Lubbock. A few weeks after we moved back, we went to OK to visit my grandmother and drove through ranching country. A large roundup was in process on one ranch and the loading shute and corral were near the highway. Poor Dad. I was so excited, but didn’t see another cowboy for years. Taught me not to tell my kids something never happens, though.
My husband and I have two grown daughters. We live in a rural area with a menagerie of rescue pets. Our married life has been spent in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, with brief detours to northern CA for a year and central FL for three years. My professional career includes secretary, newspaper columnist and reporter, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper for the local tax assessor/collector. Most of the time, though, I was a stay-at-home mom, and that is my favorite of anything I’ve done. Texas weather is the worst and it’s especially bad for people with allergies, but I do love this state.My brother-in-law was in town from the Pacific Northwest one July weekend and it was 113 degrees F. outside. He said he’d forgotten about Texas summers and wondered why we still lived here. I can’t remember why, especially in summer.
LR: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and for how long have you been writing?
CC: I’m not sure the year I decided to become a writer, but I’ve made up adventures as long as I can remember. Most of the early ones featured me saving the West with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I was editor of my school paper, and as an adult wrote newspaper articles, edited newsletters, etc. I had written a very bad novel before I joined RWA. Not that I intended it to be bad, mind you, it just turned out that way. The concept wasn’t bad—but the writing was. I didn’t understand about plotting, character arcs, black moment, inciting incident, internal vs. external. Thank goodness someone told me about RWA and a local chapter! Not many workshops later, I started a new book. That’s the one that sold.
LR: What sort of books do you normally write?
CC: I’m an eclectic writer who writes time travel, contemporary, and western historical romances. I’ve also written a couple of mysteries, but haven’t marketed them yet. My favorite time period is 1870-1895, but I also like working on time travels like my current WIP. Except for one novella, my books are set in Texas. I live in North Central Texas, but this is a big state with diverse topography that offers opportunities for varied interesting settings.
LR: How do you get your ideas, inspiration?
CC: I can’t help it! Ideas pop into my head whether I want them or not. Everything prompts a “what if it were done this way?” idea. I’ll have to live until I’m at least two hundred to have time to write all the stories I have stored in what passes for my brain.
LR: Ha ha, I know what you mean. Next question: is there anything specific you try to get across in your written works?
CC: Oh, yes. First, I want readers to believe that—just as my characters overcome the obstacles in their path—readers can also resolve their issues and find happily-ever-after. Second, I want to celebrate love between one man/one woman that ends with commitment and/or marriage. Please understand that I’m not knocking anyone who writes any other type romance. This is just my personal preference for my writing (and reading). Third, I want to entertain readers and take their minds off anything else for a while—sort of take a break for mind candy, relax, and revitalize.
LR: Who are your favourite writers and why?
CC: My favorite writers are those who take me away, pull me into the story so that I hate any interruption. I have so many favorites, but they include Julie Garwood, Nora Roberts’ romantic suspense books, Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick, Jodi Thomas, Lorraine Heath’s western historicals, Loretta Chase, Maureen Childs as Kathleen Kane, Louis L’Amour, and way too many others to name them all here. I reread some of my favorites. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read Julie Garwood’s FOR THE ROSES and PRINCE CHARMING, my two favorites of hers. I’ve almost memorized Louis L’Amour’s FALLON, but it still delights me. Great writing never grows old.
LR: You also review books. How did you end up doing that?
CC: I started reviewing members’ new releases for my local RWA chapter newsletter. When I started blogging, my eldest daughter suggested I include an occasional book review. I read a lot anyway, so why not? I try to include one review a week and vary the books and genres.
LR: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
CC: Never give up! Never, ever give up! Attend all the workshops you can, read how-to-books, join a critique group with dependable members whose opinions you can trust, and don’t let anyone discourage you. By the way, you need critique partners whose ethics you trust, too. Some of us have had critique partners who plagiarized our work. And don’t believe a critiquer who tells you your writing is terrible. I’ve known good writers who let someone’s vitriol discourage them from writing for years. I stopped reading an author whose books I enjoyed because she lost it and told a supposed friend she’d never be a successful writer—and the person she attacked is a very talented writer. That type behavior is mean-spirited and unnecessary. Don’t let anyone steal your dream!
LR: Where can we find you on the web and purchase your books?
CC: Love that question. My latest release, OUT OF THE BLUE, is a time travel romance in the Faery Rose line from The Wild Rose Press and is also available at Amazon. LONG ROAD HOME is a novella in the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES and is available from the same places. In September, my western historical romance, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, will be released as a Cactus Rose selection from The Wild Rose Press. Used copies of my earlier books are also available from Amazon, THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE and THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. I love those, although I can’t read them now because I see things I want to change. I’m a perpetual editor.
www.carolineclemmons.com and there’s a free read there. I’m on Facebook and Twitter. I feel like that song---“I been everywhere, man, I been everywhere” because I’m at so may sites. (Someone hacked into my Facebook page recently and sent spam as if it were from me, so I had to change all my passwords.)
LR:Is there anything else you'd like to add?
CC: Writing is the best job in the world. Promotion, marketing, etc. is the worst and I’d rather clean toilets than market or promote. Sigh. Writers have to take the good with the bad, and I’m willing to grit my teeth and market and promote so that I can write on the off chance readers will know about my books and—hopefully—read them. I’m basically an introvert, so I love sitting at my computer all day and having online friends with whom I visit. No make-up, loose comfy clothes, what could be better?
Thanks to all the readers who’ve said nice things about my books. Thanks to you, T.K. for hosting me today.
You're very welcome Caroline, and I have to say, I completely agree with you on being an introvert! If you care to check out my interview with her, click on over to her site: www.carolineclemmons.blogspot.com