1) Tell us about your latest book.
First, I want to say thank you for this opportunity to visit with the Dames! It’s an honor to be among the wonderful authors y’all have visited with, and I’m grateful.
I’m so excited about VOW UNBROKEN, my historical Christian romance set in 1832 Texas, that’s just been released from Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. My heroine, Susannah Baylor reluctantly hires Henry Buckmeyer to help her along the Jefferson Trace—a hard stretch between her Northeast Texas farm and the cotton market—where she’s determined to get a fair price for her crop.
It’s been a long, rough ten years since her young husband died, and she’s in danger of losing the land left to her and the children and must get both her wagons safely to Jefferson. Henry has reputation as a lay-about. While she’s prepared for his insolence, she never expects his good looks or irresistible, gentle manner. Soon they are entwined in a romantic relationship that only gets more complicated because Henry doesn’t know God the way she does.
Dangers arise on the trace–but none as difficult as the trial her heart is going through. Will Susannah and Henry’s love overcome their differences? And will she get her crop to market and sale it for enough to save her farm? I pray readers will enjoy Sue and Henry’s adventurous tale, and that they’ll be drawn into a closer relationship with God for reading it!
2) Can you share a little bit about what you’re working on now or what’s coming next?
The next title of my Lone Star Novels series is HEART STOLEN and twelve years have passed. Levi, Sue’s fourteen-year-old nephew in VOW has grown up and is a Texas Ranger under the Republic’s first president Sam Houston. He’s dispatched to pick up some stolen women and children from Comanche camps across Texas, and runs into a Sassy Fogelsong, a long-ago playmate of his cousin-sister in VOW, Rebecca. He gives up his own horse and gun in trade for her and promises to get her home to Red River County, hopefully in time for Aunt Sue’s Thanksgiving dinner.
3) Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
It is really hard for me to get through a book because of time issues. Besides writing, I’m rearing four grandsons and those boys are always wanting to know what’s for eats! However I do always have a book going, and mostly those from my author friends, because I want to read theirs and support them. And when I get into a series, I love revisiting people I already know. Right now, Stephanie Landsem’s THE THIEF and Amy Lillard’s GIDEON’S BRIDE are in my queue.
Favorite authors back before I started writing was Bodie Thoene, love-love her Zion Covenant and Chronicles series especially. Those books make me laugh and cry, and my heart is bound to Israel. I also enjoyed Colleen McCullough’s way with words although she tells a lot, it’s beautiful telling. I devoured her FIRST MAN IN ROME series.
4) Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
Oh, I don’t hate marketing at all. I love that part of being an author almost as much because that’s what brings me into contact with the people, my readers who I get to visit with and share testimonies of God greatness. I do enjoy the writing process, but it is the vehicle that gets me to my readers. I believe they are why I write. Granted, the hours spent on the computer and phone setting up launch parties, book signings, interviews, TV shows and radio spots are long and lonely, but then comes the reward for all the effort—being with the folks!
5) How long have you been writing?
Though as a twelve-year-old I aspired to being an intergalactically famous author hopping from planet to planet autographing books by the year 2000, I didn’t start writing seriously for publication until the mid eighties, and was writing with my high school sweetheart husband then. We co-authored nine titles released from four presses starting in 2000, so I did at least make to publication, though the space program let me down. So, it’s basically going on thirty years that I’ve been writing. VOW UNBROKEN is my first novel from a major house, I’m so blessed!
6) What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
Having the friends I’ve created on the page being enjoyed by others has got to be the most fun and satisfying part of writing for a living. Of course, I love the freedom to work anywhere, and I really enjoy seeing McAdoo on those spines! I don’t know why I love the spines so much, but I sure do!
7) Tell us a little bit about where you live.
After more than fifty years of being a city girl in the DFW Metroplex, God led us to Red River County, known as The Gateway to Texas for all the famous first Texans who arrived by way of the river and entered the state on our borders. It’s in the far northeast corner close to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. TV calls it the Ark-La-Tex.
We moved into a brand new home the Lord built in July 2013 I named The Peaceable. It’s five miles south out of Clarksville, the county seat. We’re about a thousand yards back into the woods, and you can’t even see any evidence of it from the road. My kitchen window looks out onto a pond—they call ‘em pools in east Texas—and I adore living here, I known it is exactly right where God wants me to be!
8) If you could talk for thirty minutes with any person, living or dead, who would it be?
You know, I’ve answered similar questions and King David is usually my answer, but if I was honored to ne gifted thirty minutes with any person, my choice, I’d ask for my mother, Naomi Ruth Cloyd Lawrence. She’s been living with her King going on seventeen years and I still miss her. I’m always thrilled when she visits in a dream. I’d want to hear all about Heaven of course, and hold her no-longer-crippled hands and hug her and touch her face.
9) Beside “writer,” what else are you?
Were I to be called something other than an writer, it would surely be a singer! I do love to make music, it bubbles up from my heart pretty much all the time. When I’m sad, it makes me happy; it boosts my faith and encourages me to trust God more. I enter His gates with Thanksgiving—I have so very much to be thankful for! Then I dance into His courts with praise, He is so awesome, praise comes natural. And then, worship – – – it takes me into His manifest presence, into the Holy of Holies where I want to always stay, I never want to leave. My name, pronounced carol, means ‘joyful song’ and since the ‘80s God’s regularly given me wonderful new songs to sing!
10) Why do you write?
I write because I so enjoy visiting with my characters and seeing what they are doing. It isn’t until I sit down at the computer and get into their heads that I can find out. I’m working on a novel that jumps back and forth between 1857 (pre Civil War) and 1920 (post WWI) where I have a man I really like on trial, and I’m always so eager to get back to the computer and pull up THE BEDWARMER’S SON to see if I can get him off. I want to get him off, but can I make it believable that a confessed murderer walks out of the courtroom scot free?
11) How many hours a day do you write, where, any specific circumstances help or hurt your process?
My normal place to write is at the CPU armoire in our bedroom. To my left is a beautiful fireplace and to the right, a window that looks out into the woods with our drive curving off to the left. The specific circumstance that totally helps and hurts my writing process is the same: Are the four boys home from school?
The bus picks them up at 6:50 in the morning and returns them home at 4:20 that afternoon. At school – HELP; Home from school – HURT J Not that I don’t love the little darlin’s, they are just loud and find it practically impossible to keep their hands off one another. They just love ruckus, and that’s the Truth.
We got them eleven years ago when the baby came home from the hospital from being born; newborn, three, four, and six. The oldest is a senior this year, graduates in June, and will be off to college next August, and then there’ll be three J
12) How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre?
Once upon a time, a beloved mentor told me, “Caryl, pick a genre.”
Jack Ballas wrote twenty-something westerns for Berkley, and was writing mystery, thrillers, mid-grade, inspirational romance, and military novels. But not until I wrote VOW UNBROKEN, my first historical Christian romance at the request of my agent Mary Sue Seymour did I find my niche in the publishing world. Now I will say I enjoy contemporary almost as much as historical, but I am definitely a Christian romance writer!
I do have a mid-grade dystopia The King’s Highway trilogy that’s submitted to a publisher; book one, STARFISH PRIME awaits a contract, and I readily admit I Love writing for children, too because I love marketing to young readers. God gives me songs that go along with my stories and I sing when I do author presentations as well as teach the craft of creative writing. The three chapter books I co-authored with husband Ron are written as Grami and O’Pa McAdoo. There’s nothing like being in front of two hundred third graders—or twenty.
Thank you again so much! Hugs and Blessing, Peace, and Joy from Texas!