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Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Welcome to Caroline Clemmons
I’ve been making up adventures as long as I can remember. Many of the early ones involved me saving the West with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Later, I moved on to reading Nancy Drew and decided I could be an even better detective. I don’t know exactly when I started writing down my stories, but I think it was by junior high. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that I found RWA and local chapters. That’s when I discovered the workshops I needed. The 1996 Dallas was the first RWA National I attended, and I was overwhelmed. I really believe Dreamin’ In Dallas is more helpful. It’s more intimate than Nationals yet we still have workshop choices.
How did you get from an office career to writing romance?
One day my husband reminded me that we were paying income tax on my paltry salary at his pay level. At that time I worked as bookkeeper for the Parker County Tax Assessor, and their pay scale is about half of that in Tarrant County. My husband said that unless I loved my job, I should quit. Although I enjoyed being a bookkeeper, I wanted to write full time. Zoom, I couldn’t turn in my resignation fast enough! That was in mid 1994 and I was first published in 1998.
Who is your favorite author(s) and why?
My favorite authors depend on what mood I’m in. It’s hard to narrow it to one—or even a few—when there are so many great authors from whom to choose. DARA includes many wonderful people who are also wonderful authors, and I hate to mention anyone for fear of leaving out a favorite. However, I love Lorraine Heath’s books—especially her westerns. Lorraine is not only a great writer but is also very helpful to other writers. Sandy Blair, Jane Graves, Barbara Harris, and Ashley Kath-Bilsky are also favorites.
Across the board, though, I’d say my all-time favorites are Nora Roberts, Julie Garwood, and Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick. My first inkling of writing a romance came from Nora Roberts. In addition to romance, I also read a lot of mysteries—Tony Hillerman, James Patterson, Robert B. Parker, Mary Higgins Clark, Marjorie Allingham, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Rhys Bowen. And, I’m a big fan of Louis L’Amour and we have most of his books.
Tell us about your new book.
OUT OF THE BLUE, released June 4th from The Wild Rose Press, is a time travel romance with suspense elements. My friend Sandy Crowley helped me plot this book, and we plot well together. Writing OUT OF THE BLUE was so much fun. It’s my husband’s favorite of all my books.
Here’s the blurb: Deirdre Dougherty never cursed at anyone, much less put a curse on the potato crop of her remote Irish village. She’d rather take her chances with the Atlantic lapping at the bottom of the cliff than the mob intent on burning her as they have her cottage. Deirdre leaps . . . and plops down over 160 years later in a Texas lake. She doesn’t understand how she’s ended up with the man from her recent visions or why he has the same name as the saint to whom she prayed. She’s in danger of falling for the handsome policeman who rescued her, in spite of the fact that he thinks she’s lying to him. How can she convince him her story is true when she’s finding it difficult to believe the tale herself?
Police Detective Brendan Hunter wants answers. Who shot him and killed his partner? Why? And why does Deirdre know details of the event? Her story has to be a colossal fabrication or else she’s a beautiful psycho. Either way, he wants her gone before he becomes even more fascinated with her. But he can’t let her out of his sight until she confesses to how she learned details no one but he and his late partner knew.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Fasten your seat belt.” Brendan strapped himself in place.
Deirdre pulled at the shoulder strap as he had done, but it didn’t budge. She paused in her efforts as panic struck her. “Please, I don’t want to be tied to the seat.”
He ignored her. “Here, I’ll do it.” He reached across her and pulled the binding forward.
His face was only inches from hers. Their lips almost touched. He smelled like fresh air after the rain and morning sunshine and pinecones from the forest. She stopped caring about being strapped in. Instead, she breathed in deeply while scandalous thoughts raced through her.
His breath fell soft on her mouth and he stared into her eyes. He didn’t move. In twenty-five years of life she’d never been kissed on the mouth. Only family had kissed her cheek. Wasn’t it time she experienced a man’s lips on hers?
He blinked and ducked his head to fasten the strap at her hip. “Er, um, you put this metal part in the fastener here. Don’t they have seat belts where you’re from?”
She exhaled. “No.” Saints forgive her, a regular Jezebel she’d become, boldly wanting him to kiss her. But she’d sensed a connection when he’d gazed at her. How could that be?
Perhaps Brendan had experienced the same sensations. His hand shook when he poked beside the wheel with a shining metal key. A new sound started, like the boat but not as loud. Recalling her vow not to scream again, she clamped her mouth shut and gripped the edges of the seat.
They were flying. No other coach or cart ever moved so fast. As they proceeded along the road, she saw other coaches without horses and decided this must be the way people traveled in the hereafter.
What is the appeal of writing romantic suspense and mysteries? I love romances that have intrigue and mystery; I love mysteries that have romance in them. It’s lovely when those two elements work together for a strong story. I want insurmountable obstacles and a little mayhem in every book.
What kind of writing turns you off? What stops you from writing? Writing with inaccuracies/anachronisms turns me off. I can overlook typos the copyeditor missed. But reading a historical with anachronisms makes me stop reading and toss the book. I stopped reading a popular mystery writer the third time I found inaccuracies in her books. In one, she based the entire plot on an inaccurate premise. What a turnoff!
Just when I’ve made substantial and interesting plans, life interrupts and stops me from writing. Last year I had a lot of health issues, but I have hope for this year to turn out differently. And fortunately, I can ignore piles of laundry and dirty dishes by facing my computer monitor. My sweet husband is so supportive of my writing that he pitches in with nary a complaint.
How have you shocked your readers? Shocked? Hmmm, I’m not sure I ever have, but I like to think I’ve surprised readers. I believe there are surprises in store for readers of OUT OF THE BLUE and in the western historical, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, due out in September.
How do you get your ideas? What is your writing day like? My ideas come from everywhere. A news story might contain a kernel that becomes a contemporary plot. You know, I always think, “Oh, it would have been a better story if it had happened this way” and rewrite the story in my head. Or, a bit of family history might spark a historical idea.
I write during the day, then stop for dinner and spend time with my husband. He loves reading as much as I do, so a lot of evenings we forget TV and read or watch a movie.
Can you share three writing tips?
1. Don’t let anyone steal your dream! Beware of cynics who tell you it’s impossible to be published now or that you don’t have what it takes. If you’re not receiving constructive criticism, ignore it!
2. Write the kind of story you enjoy reading. And keep reading and reading and reading. I always distrust writers who tell me they don’t have time to read. That’s like a doctor deciding he doesn’t have time to keep up with advances in medicine.
3. Revise. Don’t keep revising until the spirit is beaten out, but revise to hone your work until it is your best. Then send it off.
How much do you love cake? Not that much. However, milk chocolate and a Dr Pepper make many problems tolerable!