Good morning! It is my pleasure to welcome author Cara Lynn James to the Inspired Prompt.
Hi, Cara. So glad you could join us. First question:
Tell us a little about yourself?
Cara: I was born in Hamden, Connecticut where I spent the first 23 years of my life. My parents split when I was just a baby, but I have younger siblings (3 sisters and a brother) from blended family situations. I don’t pay attention to adjectives like “step” or “half” when it comes to my siblings. They’re my siblings, and I love them.
Thanks to visiting my dad on the weekends, I was in church every Sunday and grew up learning the Bible. I also started going to a Christian school in the fourth grade. But while I professed Christ at 9 years old, I pulled away from my faith in my teens and early twenties and made a few bad decisions. Once I hit what I considered bottom, my best buddy Chris invited me to come to live with him in New Hampshire and get back on my feet. It ended up being a great decision as God used the experience to draw me back to him and I rediscovered the faith I’d discarded. I’d been writing all along, and now my faith influenced the things that came out in my work.
New Hampshire has certainly had its ups and downs for me, but the one constant has been God, and He has been absolutely faithful through it all. I’m thankful for a God I can completely surrender to, and I’m thankful for the gracious blessings He grants me in this life. He just keeps giving, though I never could deserve it, and I’m now a published author.
What do you love most about the writing process?
Cara: Once I finish the rough draft, I love editing because I enjoy finding just the right words. Editing seems so much more manageable than actually writing the first draft. That’s a sprawling, messy process. But I also like that, too, because it’s very creative and I’m never quite sure where the story is going. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Cara: I’m embarrassed to say I have six half-finished books resting in my computer. My only excuse (and it’s not a good one) is I often get bogged down in the middle and tired of the story. If only I could go from the beginning, skip the sagging middle and sprint to the end. I’m half-plotter and half-panster, although I’m trying hard to plan ahead and avoid tumbling down rabbit holes. So far I’m partially successful.
If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?
Cara: I’d have a serious talk with myself about how wonderful writing can be as long as I keep learning the craft and practice what I learn. I’d always accept criticism graciously, and develop the discipline to finish a project. My advice would be to steel myself against rejection, rejoice with every success, large or small, and never compare myself to others. Be as happy for my friends as for myself when good things happen. (Actually, I am and I think that’s very important.) There’s no room for envy. I’d try to make a lot of writer friends because they’re the ones who understand me and listen enthusiastically to my chatter about characters, plot, edits, etc. They understand the joys of writing and commiserate about the inevitable disappointments along the way. They ‘get it.’ And lastly, be generous and helpful with other writers.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Cara: One common trap is publishing a book before it’s ready for prime time. With self-publishing so easy, aspiring authors have to be sure to study their craft and have patience while they’re learning. Be grateful others will critique your story and don’t be defensive if you disagree with their comments. They’re trying to help. Try to stay focused and not let yourself get overwhelmed or discouraged.
What does literary success look like to you?
Cara: Success means writing what God wants me to write, enjoying the process, having readers and interacting with them. Making a little money along the way never hurts either.
Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?
Cara: I’m contracted for three inspirational novellas, two historical romances and one contemporary.
The first novella is The Fabric of Love, a story set in a small Connecticut town around the turn-of-the-century. It’s about a young widow who struggles to support her mother and three kids. Against her will, Eliza Baldwin and Clark Henderson, the town’s new storekeeper, quickly fall in love. Eliza needs a job so she’ll be able to send her son to a private school, her late husband’s dearest wish. But the headmaster’s wife doesn’t believe in women working outside the home. Should Eliza confront society’s conventions and work in Clark’s store anyway? She’d risk her son’s acceptance at the school and the possibility of an academic scholarship. But more importantly, should she shed the familiarity of widowhood and move forward into a new life with Clark?
The other historical romance is The Innkeeper’s Promise which, not surprisingly, is about an innkeeper who tries to convince her business partner stay and help her manage the inn when he’s anxious to expand his horizons and move on. Despite their conflicting goals, they fall in love. Can they compromise and reconcile their differences?
The third novella is my first contemporary story set in New England. A young home stager snags a job to freshen up a kids’ summer camp so the owner can sell the property and make a good profit. The owner’s grandson hires her and they quickly fall for each other. But can their romance continue when he’s offered the presidency of his grandfather’s company in Arizona? They both have life-altering decisions to make and despite their growing love, it’s not easy.
Thanks so much for joining us!
Cara Lynn James writes historical romance often with a twist of mystery and occasionally contemporary romance. She is an award-winning, multi-published author of four Gilded Age romances, Love on a Dime, Love on Assignment, Love by the Book and A Path toward Love. Her first novella, The Fabric of Love, will be published September 31, 2019, on Amazon, and will soon be followed by The Innkeeper’s Promise and Staging a Romance, her only contemporary novella to date.
She’s been a finalist in many writing contests including Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest which led to publication. She won the American Christian Fiction Writers Noble Theme award in the historical fiction category.
Eliza Baldwin, a young, bereaved widow, and mother of three struggles to support her family and save enough money for her son’s private school tuition.
Loyal to the memory of her late husband, she wants to fulfill his fondest wish to send their son to Whitfield Academy. But that’s out the question unless she can find the tuition money. Her best option is to rent a room in her spacious home to a respectable, god-fearing woman. But when Eliza advertises the room, the only person interested is a handsome male stranger.
Reluctantly, she rents the renovated space over the stable to Clark Henderson, the new owner of the Whitfield General Store. Right from their first meeting, Eliza and Clark feel a strong attraction toward each other. Yet, despite their growing feelings, Eliza believes any romantic relationship would show disloyalty to her late husband.
When Clark asks her to accept a position in his store, the headmaster’s wife makes it perfectly clear that working will jeopardize the boy’s acceptance at school.
Clark offers Eliza love and a chance to shed her widow’s weeds and genteel poverty, but she’s unsure about what the Lord has in mind for her. Will she reject Clark’s love and his kindness and hold fast to her old, familiar life? Or will she defy the headmaster’s wife and take a step forward into the future with Clark?