Friday, October 21, 2016

Christmas of Hope Anthology

Dear Friends and Family,
I’m excited to announce my upcoming book release on October 24, 2016. My novella, A True Christmas Present will be part of an anthology called Christmas of Hope:  An Anthology of 7 Christian Inspirational Holiday Stories. We’re publishing just in time for Christmas! It will make a great gift or an encouraging read for you. Below are brief descriptions of each of the stories.
A Collection of Christian Inspirational novellas by 7 different authors, with a little romance and an abundance of sweet, heartwarming moments that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit this Christmas.

Homespun Christmas—by Darlene Panzera. When her family informs her they are only exchanging handmade gifts this holiday season, Cassie Sutherland only has one week to ditch the ones she'd bought at the store and find creative replacements. Can handsome newcomer, Logan Whittaker, offer inspiration and help her rediscover her God-given talents?

O' Night Divine—by Debby Lee. This Christmas someone is trying to vandalize the county museum. Can the night watchman, Dane Cassidy, help Karena Smith find out who it is?

A Christmas Shot—by Julianne M. Haag. Elise Forstner thought she left behind her dreams to be a travel photographer long ago, but when Tom Adessi, her globe-trotting ex-boyfriend, walks back into her life, her heart is torn between her reasons to stay and her longing to go.

Silver Lining—by Robin Gueswel. Anita Crispin longs to open her own hair salon after her irritable boss, Bernie, embarrasses her in front a customer. Can the handsome new realtor show her that maybe God has a different plan?

A True Christmas Present—by Carol Caldwell. Widow Rebecca Blakeley is building her dream art studio, but her neighbor, Walker Rumpf, is fighting her and the game he plays is anything but fair.

Christmas Gone Awry—by Jeri Stockdale. Emma needs to stand up to a slew of opposition if she is to land the open teacher position she longs for. Will her friend, Angie, and new love interest, Nathan, help her to see God has it all under control?

All I Want For Christmas—by Beverly Basile. Janee Peters is shocked to find herself pitted against an old rival when she competes for the marketing position of her dreams. Can her new landlady, Mrs. Martin, and her nephew, Ryan, convince her that God uses all things to work together for good?

The anthology is available for pre-order now as an e-book, and will be delivered on October 24th. Or, if you actually wait and order it on that release date it will bump us up in Amazon’s ratings and make it easier for others to find our book. Print copies will be available soon. Christmas of Hope will also be available through Barnes & Noble online. This link will take you directly to Amazon’s page to order: 
If you know someone who might be interested in our anthology, please feel free to pass this on to them. If you read it, please take a little time to leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads for us. You can just rate it with stars, or leave a written comment as well. My fellow authors and I thank you for your support. God bless you!

Carol Caldwell

Sunday, July 10, 2016

I’m a Children’s Book Writer, What Am I Doing Writing an Adult Story?

When I began writing, it was natural for me to write for children. After all, it probably was my “inner child” that was the true author. Using a child’s voice to a middle grade voice was easy. Dialogue flew through my brain. Then one day I found myself under the mentor ship of a published author, Darlene Panzera, taking a class on how to write a short story, an adult short story.

I was sure that whatever I learned would translate into middle grade stories. No problem. But wait a minute. We were to create our adult characters, develop the plot, and when we were all done, we would publish them together in an anthology.

I had the kernel of an idea for a middle grade story and I thought I could use that. No. The main character had to be a woman. This story would be an inspirational fictional piece for women. I took my kernel and popped it, turning the main character from the granddaughter to the grandmother.

As we developed our story line, Darlene encouraged us to use Pinterest to pick pictures for inspiration. Pictures of location, people who looked like we imagined our characters to be, and jobs they might do. Looking under “older women” I found a wonderful picture of a woman holding a young child. She had whitish hair and a beautiful smile. She was a grandmother, but pretty. She was my heroine.

I had to find an antagonist to create conflict, so I went to “older men” on Pinterest. The minute I saw a picture of Paul Newman, I knew he was it. Whenever I wrote dialogue for his character, I heard his voice from movies I'd seen, I sensed his movements. He was handsome, but he made a good bad guy.

Developing the story line was a learning experience. For children’s stories, I let the children tell the story. I listened to them and they talked to me. Now I had to plan scenes with goals, conflicts, disasters, emotions, thoughts, and decisions. Darlene pushed us to find the deep point of view, get into the character's inner thoughts and emotions. I wrote and rewrote, edited, and rewrote some more. But in the end, I liked my story. I got to use big words, complicated sentences and adult situations. I was thankful for the experience and when it was finished I could say “It is good.”

There are still lots of children’s stories in my brain waiting to find the light of day, but I have learned that I might not stay to one genre. In the meantime, the anthology will be published in October 2016 as “A Christmas of Hope.” My novella included in it is “A True Christmas Present.” Look for it as an e-book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I am starting out the new year with pictures from my recent book signing and reading at the Silverdale Barnes & Noble. The Community Coordinator was very nice in setting the stage in the children's book section. Very friendly people there.
 These lovely ladies are from MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers). We are all Mentors helping young moms. Standing next to me is Claire, my granddaughter and muse for my story. Thank you friends for coming.

This is the cover of my book. Illustrated by Dianne Gardner in beautiful watercolors.
My friend Cecelia and yours truly.

Claire and I

Claire and I

Claire was asked to sign some of the books also. This was a memorable event for both of us. She is also an aspiring writer.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

An Interview With Dianne Gardner

Today I'd like to treat you to an interview with a marvelous artist and writer. I met Dianne Gardner about the time I began my first children's book. She was working on her first book series then, and we joined with several other writers to form a Children's Book Critique, meeting twice a month. I have been impressed from the beginning with her descriptive powers, the ability to use words like oil paints to construct a picture. She is also a gifted artist, so that should not surprise me. Dianne has written ten or more books in the time I've written half that. When she has a story idea, she is driven to completion. And there is always another idea waiting it's turn to find a place on paper, being sculpted into interesting characters committing daring deeds who save the world. That is an introduction to my friend and illustrator of my first book, Princess to the Rescue.

Carol: Dianne, you are a successful artist. What made you take on writing also?

Dianne: Well, I am a frustrated artist. (Most artist are.) Whereas a lot of people love my oil paintings, and some even "get" that they tell a story or capture the character of the person whose portrait I paint, I feel like after all these years of story telling through my art, the story hasn't been read.

Aside from wanting to write something to spark the interest of young readers who don't ordinarily read (I love a challenge) I also have always loved to write. And one day I decided I had plenty of paintings, but no stories. I used to write poetry when I was young.

Carol: What sparked the idea for Ian's Realm Saga?

Dianne: When I decided to begin telling stories I no longer felt inhibited in what I painted. I've ALWAYS want to paint a dragon, so I did. As I painted I thought, "I know a boy who is going to conquer this dragon?" And so I began to tell the story of Ian.

Carol: You drew from different cultures for names and elements in your stories. What countries did you research and why?

Dianne: I went by geographic elements that I created in the Realm. All of the peninsula from Alcove Forest to Menek is cold country so I chose to gather names and words from Denmark. The Kaemperns are a tribe that were exiled from Menek, so they speak the same language.

Carol: "Altered" and "Pouraka" are different from Ian's Realm. What sent you in other directions?

Dianne: I was waiting for the publisher to continue the Realm and while I waited I thought I'd branch out to other sub genres. Also, both "Altered" and "Pouraka" touch on subjects that I am passionate about. I spent time with the Hopis in Arizona and love their legends and the prophetic value of them. One of their sayings is "All I have is my planting stick and my corn. Come and live peacefully with me." I see in our future, and the future of our crops, a need to get back to the basics. "Altered" touches that need.

"Pouraka," along the same vein, touches on mankind's pollution and destruction of the humble and peaceful beings in this world.

Carol: How did you research mermaids living underwater? Did you incorporate existing fables?

Dianne: Not really. I sort of made it up. I incorporated the mermaid yes, but there are so many different stories of mermaids that nothing is set in stone. I likened the Pouraka mers more to sea creatures and their struggles and reference the dolphin hunts specifically. Those are real.

Carol: What is the favorite of your books and why?

Dianne: Oh that's a difficult question. It's always the one I'm working on or the next! We get better as we go.

Carol: Tell us about the Cassandra Project.

Dianne: Cassandra is Book 5 of the Ian's Realm Saga and we're in the process of negotiating filming. At this moment I can't really tell too much about it. We've been in pre-productions, have a cast and crew, but again, we're back on the negotiation table. I'll let you know more soon.

Carol: What advice would you give to someone just starting out writing?

Dianne: Educate yourself. Learn how to story tell and write. Read books, go to workshops, find mentors, editors, critique groups. Fill your life up with learning the skill and being around other writers, especially those whose work you admire.

Carol: Which do you prefer, traditional publishing, e-publishing, or self-publishing and why?

Dianne: Do you mean small press? I've never been traditionally published, so I can't say whether or not I prefer it. I think I would prefer to have at least one book traditionally published because it is very difficult to get your work read by any other means. Small publishers do not have the funds to market your work to get thousands of readers. And that's really what I would prefer, is to have people read my books.

Between the two small press and self-publishing, I think self-publishing is more beneficial as your profit will be greater so you may be able to break even with the money you use for marketing.

Carol: How important is social media (facebook, blogging, twitter, etc.) to a writer?

Dianne: I don't see how you can sell books without social media. I just doesn't seem possible these days.

Carol: Thank you very much for your time Dianne. If anyone else has questions for Dianne, click on the link above and it will take you to her blog.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Today I went to California. Bob and I drove to Silverdale, WA and back, but the beautiful sky, the comfortable air and breeze blowing with just a hint of a nip, all of that opened memories of my younger days growing up in southern California. My guess it was from the 1960s and the air in Inglewood wasn't so polluted. We could still breathe clean and fresh. It felt like a California winter, you know the kind when you go to the beach the day after Christmas.

In my mind we were either driving to Disneyland or San Diego. I closed my eyes and I was there, in the memory. I felt a comfort and an excitement of good things to come. It stayed with me the whole day.

Being able to reach a memory that evokes emotions is an important skill for writers. How can a writer describe what is going on inside of a character in a fit of ecstasy or of anger or of boredom, if the writer hasn't felt the same thing? A writer has to become one with the characters, be empathetic.

In my book Princess to the Rescue, I was inside the mind of Princess Claire as she looked down from her window and saw a boy waiting to see her father the King. Boys never came alone. They were always with their fathers. Why was he there? Wouldn't you be curious if you were Claire? Wouldn't you want to rush down and ask him, "What are you doing here?" Curiosity is the start of many adventures.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Good Books

I’m not an expert on what makes a good book. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been writing, but I know I still have a mountain more to learn. In the last several years I’ve tried to read as many young adult and children’s books as I can get my hands on. I’ve searched libraries, garage sales, and half price book stores for stories that are different. Of course I have my writer friends to recommend books and even lend them. It occurred to me that I want to tell you about what books I like. Maybe you'll discover something new.

I first discovered The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien as a young mother, a century ago. I think I’ve read the four books twice, and each time I never wanted them to end. I’m a reader that jumps into the story so that it surrounds me, flows in and out of me, and when I’m finished reading for the day, I’m still in Rivendale. What magical elements go into creating a story like this? Is it vocabulary? Is it action verbs? Is it character description and development? Is it plotting twists and turns? I’d say yes, yes, yes, yes, and more. Oh how I would love to write like Tolkien!

I came to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, later in life. I loved it that there were seven books to tell the whole story because it was almost as if it would go on forever. It’s the story of Narnia, a wild and miraculous world where animals talk, the ruler is the lion Aslan, and humans visit. Narnia is a place of growing up. It’s a place of discovery. It’s a place of becoming so much more than you ever thought you could be.

Madeline L’Engle’s books come next. My boys were too old to discover her in school. A friend of mine introduced me to her in A Wrinkle in Time and I was hooked on everything she wrote. I found a set of five books called the “time quintet’ involving the Murray family: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. What an imagination she had! That reminds me that if I’m going to write children’s stories I need to free my imagination from all confines of convention.

Look for more jewels to come....

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rabbit Trails

It is an inconvenient truth that this blog does not write itself when I'm busy. When I'm creating, I'm writing my book or I'm making fused glass. There has to be another part of me that puts things on this blog. After all, blogs are ways we share ourselves with like-minded people. There isn't enough of me to go around. For instance, my book project is a two part story of a thirteen year old girl who has a passion for horses and is grossly misunderstood by her family. Yes that sounds like a cliche, but it isn't, believe me. I have a working title for the story, which I'm still writing, but it doesn't say much about the story, Mandy & Min. So I stop writing to think of other titles, none of which I'll need until the story is finished. Do you get where I'm going? It's called procrastinating Rabbit Trails.

I consider about the plot elements. Then I look for actual words from the story as possible titles. I Google my ideas to see if others have used them, and cross those out. Here's what is left: Understanding Mandy, Mandy Inside Out, Growing Up Mandy, I'm Not Cinderella, I Can't Believe You'd Do That, Don't Put Me In a Box, Life Is More Than a Box, Then I'll Go Live In the Barn. I haven't found the one that speaks to me yet. What do you, my reader, think? What title would you pick up? I don't know why it should be so hard to name a book. I can call it My Thing and be done.

After I exhaust my title ideas, I wonder how I would use my name as author. Would it be first & last name; first, middle & last name; first, middle & maiden name; first & maiden name? I Google all combinations. Yes, there are lots of Carol Caldwells out there. Then I conclude it doesn't matter. However, when I use my maiden name, I get a number of genealogy hits. (I like genealogy, for the fun of it.) So I am off on  German names sites, leaving behind my as yet undecided book title. I can rabbit trail with the best of internet users.