Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I’ve been writing romantic fiction full time since 1994 but only sold my first novel in 1998, a contemporary western titled Be My Guest to Kensington. Since then, I’ve written numerous contemporary and historical western romances. Since 2011, I’ve been a self-published author and love the control (plus I make far more money on my own than I did with a publisher).
What’s the logline that describes your writing?
Heartwarming romance and adventure.
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
First I see characters, which are engaged in some scene in the story—usually the inciting incident. The plot comes from there.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I write with classical music. I do email with light rock, swing, or jazz—depending on my mood at the time.
What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?
I prefer to do my research first and save it to the book’s folder. That helps me plan the plot. If something else crops up, I research at the time.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
Most. My latest two are set in Montana and Washington state, and I’ve never been either place. I relied on extensive research and advice from people who have been there. Most of my books are set in Texas, which is where I live. I’ve been to all of the settings in those books.
Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
I have written several contemporary western romances and will have more releasing in 2016. I’ve written a couple of mysteries but probably won’t do more.
What’s your dream vacation destination?
A month in Ireland. After two trips there, my husband and I decided that IF we return, we’ll rent a cottage and spend a month touring at our leisure. We also enjoy England, Scotland, Switzerland, and southern Germany, but our favorite is Ireland.
Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
I use a storyboard. Years ago my plotting group heard Laura Baker and Robin Perini present their “Story Magic” plotting method. I imagine there was a light bulb flashing on over my head during the workshop. The method made so much sense to me and helped me overcome many of my plotting problems. Yet, a few who heard that presentation didn’t find it helpful. We’re all different, aren’t we?
In what genre do you read?
Telling you what I don’t read is easier. I never read true crime, horror, zombies, or much sci-fi. I especially enjoy western historical and western contemporary, women’s fiction, and WWII mysteries such as those by Leeann Harris and Susan Elia Macneal, and British mysteries and Regency.
What resources do you use for picking character names?
If writing a historical, I use names from my family genealogy. If writing contemporary, I Google names popular twenty-five to thirty years ago. Names are important and require the right sound. For instance, hard consonants make a hero sound stronger. For a historical heroine, I prefer an unusual name or after someone in my family or both—as in Parmelia in Long Way Home. Sometimes a heroine’s name can be a contrast to her personality.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
My husband and I have one dog and three cats, all rescues. Our little Shih Tzu is almost blind and is hard of hearing now, so he is not adventurous and doesn’t play as he used to do. Our cats are each very different. Sebastian is a huge tuxedo who lets only me pet him and usually sleeps beside me. Max is a Manx and always into mischief. Jasmine is a rag doll that is a shy, sweet, cuddly cat.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
I hope they reach the end of the book with a happy sigh for the pleasant experience, a temporary escape from their problems, and entertainment.
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 gracious. 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’s life, Mara makes a promise that she’ll raise her niece 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?
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.
Caroline is gifting an ebook of the winner’s choice.Name to be selected from those who leave a comment.
Snippet from a 5-star review
“When I first started reading this book, I thought that it was going to go a different route than it did. The way that it turned out was fantastic. Loved the characters, and I would like to have more stories about Vern and Ben, they need their own books. Thank you for writing such a great story about Ranching and Farming.”
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, WattPad, Shelfari, and Pinterest. Subscribe to her newsletter here to receive a FREE novella of Happy Is The Bride.