Friday, March 16, 2012

Brazos Bride by Caroline Clemmons: Interview

Western Romantic Suspense
Hope Montoya knows someone is poisoning her, but who? She suspects her mother was also poisoned and knows her father was murdered. Who wants her family eliminated? She vows to fight! She realizes she won't last the eight months until she turns twenty-five and her uncle no longer controls her or her estate. Never will she be dominated by a man as she was by her father, as she has seen her mother and grandmothers dominated. If she marries, she gains control now, but only if she weds a man she can trust. Only one man meets her requirements. Can she trust him to protect her and capture the killer...but then to leave?

Micah Stone has been in love with Hope since the first time he saw her. But he was accused of her father's murder and surely would have hung if not for his two brothers' aid. Most in the community still believe him guilty. But the drought has him too worried about water for his dying cattle to care about his neighbors' opinions. When Hope proposes a paper marriage in exchange for land on the Brazos River and much needed cash, her offer rubs his pride raw. His name may be Stone, but he's not made of it. But he can't refuse her for long, and so their adventure begins.

Possum Kingdom Lake - this is how the
Brazos looks now that the dam has formed the lake

She looked at her hands. Perhaps she was unreasonable. Or maybe insane for sympathizing with a man who'd had to work harder because of her family.
"I know it is an odd situation. If—if you wear your shirt and britches, I guess it would be all right if you slept on top of the cover here." She patted the bed beside her.
He froze. Not a muscle moved, and he only stared at her. Had she misunderstood? Did he think her offer too forward?
She babbled, "That is, if you want to. You said I should trust you. Well, maybe you would be more comfortable where you are." Why didn't he say something? Would he prefer sleeping in a chair to sharing the bed?
From the street below, she heard raucous laughter and someone called to a man named Ben. Music from a piano, she supposed in the saloon, drifted in through the open windows. A gust of breeze moved the curtains and slid across her skin. In this room, though, there was no sound.
Slowly, he rose and extinguished the lamp as he moved across the room. She slid one of the pillows beside hers then scooted down. What had possessed her to offer him half her bed? Would he think she invited more?
Too late to take it back now, for the mattress dipped as he stretched out. Quaking inside at the thought of him so near, she turned her back to him. She heard his weary sigh, as if he relaxed for the first time in a long while.
"Good night," she offered, and hoped he understood the finality of the phrase.
"Yep. Good night, Mrs. Stone." The mattress shook as he turned his back to her. She felt the soles of his feet press against her ankles. He must be several inches too long for the bed and she guessed he had to bend his legs to fit. She didn't dare turn to see firsthand.
She lay perfectly still, afraid to take a deep breath. Soon his breathing changed and she knew he slept. Outside the open window the town quieted and the distant tinkling of the piano was the only sound. Light from the full moon illuminated the room and slanted across the bed. A soft breeze drifted across her, lulling her in its caress.
With a sigh, she fought to relax, but abdominal pain kept her awake no matter how her body cried for rest. Perhaps if she planned, she’d forget the pain and chills that racked her frame.
Plan, yes. She needed a plan for food preparation when she returned to her home. No, Micah said he had a plan. Oh, dear, once more he took charge when it was her life, her home.
Maybe Aunt Sofia and Uncle Jorge would have left by then and things would be fine. Already she felt more secure. She sensed her eyelids drifting closed and the sleep’s blessed relief approaching.
A gunshot ripped apart the night.
The blast startled her and she screamed as something thudded near her head, showering her hair and face with splinters. Panic immobilized her. What had happened?
Micah dragged her onto the floor as a bullet ripped into the mattress.

Does travel play in the writing of your books?
original cedar log cabin on the right connected
by a dog run to the smokehouse on the left.

Travel always inspires “what ifs” for future books. For my current release, BRAZOS BRIDE, my inspiration came close to home. My husband and I love history, especially Texas history. When we heard the Belding-Gibson Ranch a county or two west of us was having an open house, we attended. This ranch was settled in 1854. Incorporating the original cedar log cabin into the newer home, where it is now a bathroom, has preserved the structure. The Belding-Gibson ranch inspired a trilogy about three brothers called The Men of Stone Mountain, and BRAZOS BRIDE is the first book of that series. I can’t begin to describe how lovely this ranch is, although it is smaller than the original due to being divided among family members over the years. Although the Belding-Gibson ranch inspired the trilogy, the actual homes in the three books were inspired by other historic tours my husband and I have taken. The next two books are HIGH STAKES BRIDE and DESTINY’S BRIDE.
When in the day/night do you write? How long per day?

I write from five to ten hours a day, depending on where I am in the book. The longest I’ve written was to finish a novella. I wrote twenty hours straight. Marathons like that are too tiring, though, so I usually stop after no more than ten hours. I tried writing only on weekdays, but I can’t help digging back in on Saturdays and on Sunday afternoons. Writing is an incurable addiction and there is no 12-Step Plan.

If I came to visit early in the morning would you impress me as being more like a chirpy bird or a grumpy bear? Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

I am so not a morning person. Not that I would grump at you if you stopped by at seven in the morning, but I definitely would not be chatty. I get up and check my email, do promotion, do research, and read blogs until I actually wake enough to write. If it were up to me, days would start about ten or eleven in the morning and end around two in the morning. Unfortunately, the world won’t listen to my decrees.
Do you have critique partners or beta readers?
I’ve been through good and bad critique partners. Good critique partners who understand your style and goals are rare and super-valuable. Bad critique partners can destroy your confidence and have a detrimental effect on your writing. One bad cp plagiarized my work, another lost interest when I was published before her, and others, like Jeanmarie Hamilton and Mary Adair, were good but had life changes that sent them in different directions. Sandra Crowley is a former critique partner, who moved away, but still helps me plot when she visits. Fortunately, now I have absolutely terrific critique partners, Ashley Kath-Bilsky and Geri Foster! Our critique sessions are such fun, but I get so much help from each of them. We laugh, commiserate, and inspire one another.

What does your significant other and family think of your writing career? Does your significant other read your stuff?

My beta reader is my sweet husband. At first, he wouldn’t tell me if he didn’t like part of the story for fear of hurting my feelings, but he gets it now and is constructively honest.
Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of questions do they ask? Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.

I love, love, love hearing from readers. Many have asked when the next Kincaid book will be out, and I don’t know the answer to that one other than that I have one planned. The best letter/email I have received was one asking for an autograph. She told me she had bought one of my books when it was reprinted in her native language, and then later found it in English. She was learning English and rereading my book in English because it had inspired her so much.
The funniest one was from someone authors call “the soap lady,” bless her heart. (And I mean this in the sarcastic Southern way.) I don’t know if she is still at it, but she used to write authors and ask why bad words were used in books and did we ever have our mouth washed out with soap? She added why did washing mouths with soap start and who started it? The letter was poorly written in pencil on notebook paper. When I received her letter, I felt I had really made it as a writer.

 Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

When writing, I listen to classical music. Years ago I read Donald Campbell’s MOZART EFFECT, and bought the CD’s. I love them and believe classical music adds a nice rhythm to my writing. I have several other favorites, and also listen to Chakra aligning CDs occasionally. Most of the time, I listen via free Pandora Radio. When checking email and promoting, I listen to the string featuring Carole King, James Taylor, Adele, etc.

Plotter or Pantser? Why? How do you develop your plots and your characters?

I was a sort of pantser, but not happy about struggling with sagging middle (I’m talking my books here, although it also applies to me personally) and tangents that ended up cut from my stories. My RWA chapter had an all-day workshop with Robin Perini and Laura Baker and their wonderful “Story Magic” system of plotting and writing. Wow! What a turning point for me! A friend heard them and didn’t receive the impact from this workshop that Geri Foster, Sandy Crowley, and I did. But now I am a dedicated plotter, still able to take pantser detours along my plot’s journey. I think that makes me a plotzer. Although not strictly plotting, another great workshop that helped me was Margie Lawson’s. And for a series, Robert Vaughn shared keeping a bible of characters so you don’t change important details from one book to the next. I pass that advice on whenever I can because that bible is a part of plotting to me and helps me stay true to the series. This is important, especially with a longer series. One writer I know wanted to bring in a character from and earlier book to be the hero of her fifth book. She remembered his name and relationship in the family, but she couldn’t remember his physical description. Keeping records avoids that predicament.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi
Where can we find you on-line? [Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays]
Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Twitter  |  Website 

Guest Appearances Coming Up Soon! on the 26th on the 14th on the 20th

Caroline Clemmons writes mystery, romance, and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. 
Her latest contemporary and historical romance releases in print and e-book have received excellent reviews. Read about her at or her blog at  She is on Twitter as CarolinClemmons (no E in Caroline) and on Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn and loves to hear from readers at

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Caroline Clemmons said...

Laurie, thanks so much for having me as your guest today. Yours is a wonderful blog and I enjoyed visiting.

Geri said...

Carolyn, I love this book. I think it's one of your very best. Hope is such a great character and you can't help but cheer her on all through the book.


Morgan Mandel said...

Glad you could make it over to the other side and be a plotter. As for me, I can't quite get there. I do make lists about the characters, though, and that helps me keep them straight.

Morgan Mandel

Susan Macatee said...

Always love your interviews, Caroline! Sounds like another great story. Love the soap lady story too! lol

I can't write at all in the mornings. I have to take the dog out, get my workout in then take care of all those pesky things like laundry, errands and housecleaning. Afternoons are when I settle down for writing and other related activities. I think my brain is working better by then, anyway. lol

Best of luck with this new story!

Norah Wilson said...

Lovely interview, Caroline. And 10 hours??? I would be dead! I can certainly spread the writing over 10 hours - lunch, email break, laundry, toilets, anything to divert me. LOL. Amazing focus!
Also, love this cover!

Mona Risk said...

What a great interview. It was a pleasure to learn more about you Caroline.I didn't realize we have so much in common. I like to write straight without interruption and don't even feel I have been in my chair for long hours. My DH is also my beta reader. Brazos Bride is the kind of novel I'd like to read to relax as I enjoy your voice.

Paty Jager said...

Great excerpt and fun interview!

Celia Yeary said...

Caroline--you are so prolific! I love to roam around old homes and sites, too, but just don't get to do it very much. Your newest release sound so good, but everything you write does.
I can write maybe an hour at a time. But when I first began writing, I did so all day and late at night--my husband thought I'd gone mad. I ended up with 8 ms in files, all needing much, much work, but I just wrote--didn't know what to do with them!
Isn't it fun?

Ruby Johnson said...

What a great interview! I have seen a few of early settler homes and was truly amazed at how small they were.I can't imagine living in them and raising a family. I also enjoyed learning some of your writing techniques.I have your book and am enjoying the read.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

I'm so glad you've published this story. I loved the chapters I read while you were working on it at the beginning.

Can't think what the life change would be that you mentioned, except that we adopted a rescue dog a few years ago who has serious fear issues due to her bad treatment in a kennel before we got her at four months old. Yes, we do tend to arrange our lives around her now. ;-)

Can hardly wait to read Brazos Bride. What a great cover! It fairly sizzles! ;-)

Jeanmarie Hamilton

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Those were fun questions - love to see the creativity. :) Your story sounds great, Caroline. Look forward to reading it.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Caroline, I'm reading Brazos Bride right now and I have to say, everytime I think you can't outdo the last book, you do. I't totally loving it!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Laadies, thanks for all your kind comments. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and thank you for stopping by.

Elaine Stock said...

Caroline, great interview! I always enjoy learning more about you. Congratulations on the new book.

Laurie, as a blogger myself (Everyone's Story) I'm curious about something if you'd like to share: how do you insert that cool box that permits for novel excerpts? I've never seen that done before and am so impressed.

Laurie said...

Thanks Elaine! I'll be happy to send you the link that gives you the coding for all sorts of scroll boxes.I actually keep the link on my favorites bar and just go grab code whenever I want to use a scroll box in my post. :-) Drop me an email at lauriej170(at)gmail(dot)com.