Interview with Cara Lynn James

» Posted on Jun 18, 2010 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview with Cara Lynn James

This week I’m hosting Shannon Vannatter with White Roses, Linda Windsor with The Healers and Cara Lynn James with Love on a Dime. If you want to enter the drawings, please leave a comment on one of the post during the week with your email address. I will not enter you without an email address (my way to contact you if you win). If you don’t want to leave an email address, another way you
can enter is to email me at The drawings end Sunday (June 20th) evening.

Interview with Cara Lynn James:

1. What made you start writing?
From the time I was a little kid my parents read to me. I loved stories. When I first learned to read and write I decided to create my own story. I’ve never lost that desire, although I put it off for a very long time.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I’ve been writing since I was seven years old–a very long time ago. My first ‘book’ modeled after the Bobbsey Twins was twenty pages long and a gift to my parents for their wedding anniversary. You’d think with such a great beginning I’d have been published before I became a grandmother, but that didn’t happen. Life intervened and took me off course. When my husband retired almost eight years ago I decided to get serious about writing. I sold my first book, Love on a Dime, to Thomas Nelson in June 2009. I’m still smiling.

3. How do you handle rejections?
No one likes rejections, and I’m certainly no exception. I pout for a short time, eat a few too many pieces of dark chocolate and then try to get over it. Once I’m feeling better I reevaluate and try to learn what went wrong. When an editor doesn’t explain her rejection I just shrug off the disappointment and move on. I’m not as thin skinned as I used to be. But rejection is never easy.

4. Why do you write?
I write to get the stories and the characters out of my head. That sounds crazy except to other authors. It’s also a ministry and a way of expressing myself and communicating my faith, my ideas and my interests. Whether I put words on paper or not, my mind is always conjuring up stories or different ways of expressing or describing something.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Most likely reading. Definitely not cleaning my house. I might be baking brownies which I shouldn’t eat or shopping for clothes I don’t need. But I’d spend most of my free time reading some of the hundreds of books on my bookshelves and closet floor.

6. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on book 3 of the Ladies of Summerhill series. It’s called Love by the Book. It’s a sweet romance about a marriage of convenience during the Gilded Age. I’ve recently finished line edits on book 2, Love on Assignment, which will be in stores January 2011.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
I try not to, but a little bit of me comes through in my characters, I think. I want my people to think for themselves and be themselves. Anyway, I don’t have the larger-than-life qualities to make a great heroine! Maybe I’ll appear as a quirky secondary character some day. That might be fun.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
Love on a Dime is a historical romance set in Newport, Rhode Island which was the premiere summer resort of the Gilded Age.

Turn of the century novelist Lilly Westbrook learns that being faithful to her calling means more than just putting pen to paper. It’s the summer of 1899 in Newport, Rhode Island, and Lilly Westbrook is struggling to conceal her career from family and friends because of the stigma attached to dime novels. Lilly feels good about her secret—after all, she’s enlightening working class girls with her books and honoring God by using her talents to His glory.
But her secret is threatened when Jackson Grail, a former suitor, becomes Lilly’s new publisher. He’s determined to revive his floundering publishing house by maximizing their most promising–and most secretive–author. His plan? Find “Fannie Cole” and convince her to go public. When a gossip columnist discovers Lilly’s true identity, she finds that being faithful to her calling involves more than just putting pen to paper. It requires that she stand up for her faith and for herself, no matter the consequences.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep on writing even when you’re discouraged, rejected, tired of a project or bored. Join a good critique group, go to writers’ conferences, enter contests, read books on writing, read novels of all kinds and don’t feel guilty you should be writing instead. Finish a project. Share your writing dreams only with friends who will encourage you. Guard your writing against distractions. Think of writing as a ministry, not just a hobby and take it seriously.

10. How important is faith in your books?
Faith is very important to me and it’s important in my stories. I try to weave it in so it doesn’t stand out like a sermon. Even if I tried to conceal my Christian faith (which I don’t) I’m sure it would be evident in subtle ways. An author’s worldview always comes through in her writing.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
Forgiveness and trust and God’s will seem to emerge as my common themes. I’d like to explore selfishness and greed in another story. When I plan a novel I decide on a theme, but as I get into the story I sometimes see I’ve picked the wrong one. No matter how well I plan, the theme and the story have a way of unfolding on its own.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
I’ve only completed three. Since Love on a Dime sold first it holds first place in my heart. But Love on Assignment was the first book I finished, so it’s special as well. Actually, I wrote five versions of Love on Assignment. Obviously I had to really like the novel to work on it for so long. I was determined to get the story right. It started out as a contemporary set in Vermont. I moved it to West Virginia, then turned it into a historical located in Newport, Rhode Island. Two more versions with changes in the heroine’s social status and occupation came after that. It was fun to write, but I’m glad to finally finish it and move on to something new.

13. What is your writing schedule like?
I have more free time in the morning than any other time of day, but I’m not a morning person. I ease into the day by checking e-mail, reading blogs and skimming the news. I struggle to get as much done as I can before noon. Lattes help. Then I start again in the afternoon, and usually I write a few more pages in the evening. I try hard to write something every day so I don’t have to re-read my notes to get back into the story. That’s a real time waster. Sometimes I’ll take a day or two off, but that’s unusual.