I want to welcome Caroline Clemmons. First I’d love you to introduce yourself.
Thank you, Barbara, for having me as your guest today. I live in North Central Texas with my husband and our menagerie of rescued cats and a dog. Our two daughters are grown but live near us. I’m an Amazon bestselling and award winning author who has given seminars and classes on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel. When not indulging my passion for writing, I enjoy family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends. Find me on my blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest. Subscribe to my newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of Happy Is The Bride.
Tell us about your latest release.
My latest release is Amanda’s Rancher, part of Debra Holland’s Montana Sky Kindle World. Here’s the blurb:
One desperate young woman.
A chance meeting.
A life-changing outcome.
Growing up in a brothel, Mara O'Sullivan battled public disdain and contempt, but always remained kind-hearted and virtuous. After testifying against vicious bank robbers, her life is threatened and Mara must find sanctuary far from everything she knows.
One train ride changes her life as she fatefully meets a half-sister and a niece she never knew existed. But when circumstances end her sister Amanda's life, Mara makes a promise that she'll raise her niece Iris as her own and take her sister's place as Preston Kincaid's mail-order-bride. As Mara and Preston grow closer, their marriage no longer seems like a ruse, but a relationship of love, passion, and desire.
Mara's past comes back to haunt her and she finds herself in danger—will her new husband forgive Mara's deceit and protect her as his own?
Now I have a few questions for you – I have found readers do like to know fun things about us writers.
1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
From my book The Most Unsuitable Wife, the assistant villains Burris and Willard Ainsley. They caused terrible problems for the heroine but I couldn’t help liking them. They were simple-minded and meant well, but were forced to help the main villain through intimidation and fear.
2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
That’s hard because I love all of my characters. If I have to choose just one, I suppose it would be Zach Stone from High Stakes Bride. He had terrible things happen to him, but he persevered. He’d done so many courageous things even before he helped the heroine. The heroine, Mary Alice Price, is another of my favorite characters. No matter what she tried, odd things happened to her.
3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
Western romance, both historical and contemporary. Most of my books are historical. I love history, especially Texas history. When I was a little girl, my dad (who was old enough to be my great-grandfather) talked about his ancestors coming to Texas from Georgia in 1876 and all their adventures. I guess you could say I grew up loving history.
4.) What are you working on now?
Right now I’m completing a novella for a contemporary western anthology titled Come Love A Cowboy. This will be released around the first of April. Usually I’m ready early, but this novella is the last one ready for the anthology. First I was writing another book which I completed on time, but then life interfered with my plans. I’ve almost completed the story, though. Mine is set in West Texas near Post and is titled Grant Me the Moon. The hero is a rancher, but that makes him a cowboy, doesn’t it?
I just released book two in the Bride Brigade series, Angeline, on March 1. With so many mail-order bride books (and I’ve written several), I decided to go a different route and have a wealthy young widow go east and bring back several young women to marry and settle in the town of Tarnation, Texas to prevent the town’s men from moving away to find wives. Angeline is one of seven young women who accompany the widow to Tarnation.
5.) What got you to start writing?
As a child, I wrote little stories and illustrated them. The heroine was always blonde with blue eyes and wore beautiful dresses, usually blue. I patterned her after a slightly older relative I wanted to be like. Then later in school, I drifted toward journalism and was the newspaper editor. From there, I just wrote stories for whatever church or club I was in and turned them into the local newspaper. That’s how I acquired a job working for a newspaper. The editor liked my stories and I always had a captioned photo to go with them. One day she asked me to replace a columnist they’d just let go. That was a fun job and I met so many interesting people. Then, my mother-in-law brought me a grocery bag of romance books and told me I could write them. I read some and decided I wanted to try. Several years passed before I was published by Kensington. Now I am self-published and loving the control I have.
6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
I have a friend who answers that question by saying she buys them from a small factory in Ohio. Actually, the answer is EVERYWHERE. When I first began writing fiction, I worried that I would run out of ideas. I kept a notebook of ideas as they occurred to me. Things I see from the car window or I hear on the news might spark an idea. Sometimes just sitting in my office, these characters pop into my head and want me to tell their story. I have so many ideas for books that I’ll have to live to be two hundred to write them all. Thanks heavens!
7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Maybe that I’m basically shy (although I can fake being outgoing for short bursts of time) and that I don’t like writing sex scenes. There are only so many ways to insert tab A into slot B so it’s difficult to find a fresh way to write a sex scene. And remember, the characters are real people to me, so I feel like a voyeur. Yes, I know that’s crazy.
8.) Do you have any special talents?
My mother-in-law asked me to put together a book about her family for her grandchildren and I did. Then we had to order more printed because her nieces and nephews wanted copies. Naturally I had to do one for my mother to keep from hurting her feelings and print enough for her nieces and nephews. Now my brother and I have just finished a larger family history for our father’s family. I don’t know if that’s a talent or a curse.
9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
The usual things made an impression but something you might not expect was to do enough research that I didn’t use anachronisms. I always do more research than absolutely necessary to be certain I understand the history of the time and location. Even in fiction, I believe an author owes her readers a story truly representative of the time and place. When I read a book that has something out of time or context, I don’t enjoy the book as much because the error takes me out of the story.
10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?
There are so many that come to mind so choosing is hard. Maybe Mother Theresa. She made such a vivid impression on me when I saw her interviewed on television. I’m a Protestant, but I have great respect for most other religions. Mother Theresa was from a wealthy family and gave up everything to serve. She must have been a remarkable woman.
11.) What song would you say describes your life?
“I Will Survive”. So far, that’s true. ;-)
12.) If you could come back as any animal – what would it be?
A house cat. Our three certainly lead a luxurious and pampered life.
Excerpt of Amanda’s Rancher:
They reached the church and Preston jumped down from the wagon and came around to help her alight. With a smile, he lifted Iris high over his head before he set her on the ground. Her giggle brought tears to Amanda’s eyes.
That was the first time she’d ever heard her daughter make the girlish sound. Iris had smiled, spoken, but never laughed until she met Preston Kincaid. For that alone, Amanda would be the best wife she knew how to be.
Inside the church, Mrs. Norton handed Amanda a bouquet of daisies secured with a white ribbon. The interior was plain with wooden benches and an altar raised one step above the rest of the floor. Although there were several windows, none had stained-glass as did the churches she’d seen in Georgia.
The minister was waiting at the front of the church and wore a black frock coat and matching string tie. His brown hair and beard were thickly streaked with gray. He stood at a simple lectern with what looked like a Bible in one hand while he conversed with another man.
Amanda was surprised only one other person besides Reverend and Mrs. Norton were in the sanctuary. She’d supposed Preston had many friends in the area and thought at least his ranch hands would attend. The second man turned and proved to be an older version of her groom who came forward to greet her.
Preston cupped her elbow. “Amanda and Iris, this is my father. Most folks call him Tom, but I call him Papa.”
Amanda smiled at the handsome man who must be around fifty. He was tall, but maybe an inch shorter than his son. Silver sprinkled the same dark hair. “May I call you Papa, too?”
He beamed his pleasure and his blue eyes crinkled at the corners. “I’d be honored. And in the absence of your father, may I walk you down the aisle?”
“Would you? I’d be ever so grateful.” She laid her hand on his arm. Nerves had set in and she needed his support or her knees might give way.
Preston said, “Iris, why don’t you stand with me while my papa walks Mama to meet us?”
Iris shook her head. “Mommy, not my old mama?”
Preston frowned. “Old mama?”
Panic sent bile into her throat that threatened to choke her. Don’t throw up on your wedding dress. “Perhaps you remember my mother recently died.”
Sympathy shone from his blue eyes. “Of course.” He took Iris’ hand in his and strode to the front.
Mrs. Norton began playing the piano. She nodded toward Amanda. Papa Kincaid gently led her up the aisle.
Walking toward her husband, Amanda was conscious of Preston’s stare, as if he could see into her mind and knew her for an impostor. Although he held Iris’ hand, the intensity of his blue gaze unnerved her. She wondered if he was disappointed or if he were as numb as she.
Thankful for the presence of her future father-in-law beside her, she tightened her hold on Mr. Kincaid’s arm.
In response, he patted her hand her where it laid on his sleeve. Without looking at her, he whispered. “Steady as you go. We’re almost there.”
Iris gave a tiny wave and Amanda couldn’t resist smiling at the child. The little girl truly was a blessing. Focusing on Iris gave Amanda a target she could face.
When they reached the front, Mrs. Norton ceased playing. Preston took the bouquet from Amanda’s hands. “Iris, would you hold this for Mommy so she and I can be married?”
Iris looked at him adoringly and reached to receive the flowers. Reverend Norton opened his Bible and began the ceremony. Preston took Amanda’s hands in his. She was conscious of his calluses, but also of the size and strength of his palms dwarfing hers.
When the minister indicated, Preston slipped a ring onto her finger. This new one belongs to me, even if my groom doesn’t know my true name.
After the ceremony, Preston brushed his lips gently against hers.
Iris clapped a hand across her mouth in surprise then said, “Mommy? That man kissed you.”
Preston knelt eye-to-eye with her. “I’m your new Daddy, remember? Mommy and I were just married and now I can kiss her whenever she says it’s okay. Do you think you can call me Daddy?”
Iris nodded. “Are you gonna kiss me too?”
He smiled broadly. “I certainly am.” He leaned forward and gave her a loud smack on the cheek.
The child giggled. Twice in one day this kind man had made Iris happy. Amanda owed Preston all her wifely devotion.
She hopes you’ll give AMANDA’S RANCHER a try and let her know how you like it. If you like it, please leave a review on Amazon! Positive reviews are so helpful to authors. Many venues won’t let anyone promote unless they have a certain number of 4 and 5 star reviews.