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Monday, September 01, 2008

Chatting with Carol Steward

Congratulations to Rae Ann who won a copy of Dana's Killer Cargo, and Monica, who won a copy of Ramona's The Face of Deceit. Monica, please contact us here so we can get your mailing information.

Today we want to welcome Carol Steward to KMIS! Let's jump in and see what she has to say about life and writing.

What was your initial reaction in finding out you sold your first book? In other words, tell us about. . .THE CALL

It was tax day, April 15, 1997. I'd sent in my manuscript about 9 months before, and in the meantime, my brother-in-law had died from leukemia, my father had had a heart attack, and we all desperately needed some good news. I had pulled myself together enough to inquire about the status, and the editor had said she'd get back to me in a few weeks. Even when the phone rang and it was the editor, making an offer, I couldn't believe it.

My whole family celebrated at dinner that night. I called a few published authors I knew from my local chapter and asked what I needed to ask and think about. I really wasn't prepared for a sale, I realize now. I truly hadn't thought too seriously about a pen name, or found out how to deal with negotiations. The next day, when I called the editor back to discuss the business details, it was still very much like walking in someone else's shoes.

In that respect, I feel certain God had this in HIS plan, because it was never mine. I was living my dream of being a full-time mother as a child care provider. I was very happy with that when God shoved me into writing. I've always loved writing, but unlike so many authors, it wasn't my life's dream. I never realized becoming a published author was really something "ordinary" people could achieve. I still think that I'm going to wake up one day and this bubble is going to burst.

Wow. Thanks for sharing. Tell us some of the background behind the ideas for your stories and about the story itself.

My second book was my first chance to write what I love, suspense, with a police officer as a hero. The story was born from an incident in my real life, when I was delivering newspapers to an apartment building at 2 a.m. I had put the van into park, grabbed a couple of papers and jumped out of the vehicle. I started to run between two parked cars, and a young man jumped out in front of me and ran off.

Crazy as it seems, I actually tried to throw the papers. I failed, I was shaking so badly, and finally went back to my car and left the complex to go to the nearest pay phone and called the police. In those days, I didn't have a cell phone.. My husband returned with me after we met up at the end of the routes and we threw the apartments. That afternoon I found out that the police did arrive in time and caught the kid, who'd broken into ten vehicles that night and stolen stereos and valuables. That one incident was enough to keep my brain going for hours. I went home a couple of days later and wrote the entire synopsis in one sitting.

In my current suspense, thankfully, I'm not doing my own "personal" research. I am always listening to news and reading odd stories about criminals and justice. Unfortunately, the research is plentiful. My father was in law enforcement, so understanding the police "mind" is easy for me. Still, I was shocked when my son decided to go into police academy. It makes perfect sense now, looking back, and though it's dangerous, I know he's followed God's calling.

My current series, In the Line of Fire is about three siblings working in different areas of the justice system who find love while struggling to keep peace in their communities and in their family. Drugs, assault, and corruption are all part of the Matthews family’s daily battles. Someone is terrorizing Northern Colorado communities throughout the series; assaulting, kidnapping, and eventually killing female victims and threatening even the heroes’ and heroines’ safety.

Guardian of Justice was a January 2008 release. Social worker, Kira Matthews is on a ride along with Officer Dallas Brooks when a domestic disturbance turns violent. She's caught between a drug dealer and his girlfriend's children, trying to keep the kids safe. Throughout the book, Dallas works to keep her safe from the drug dealer, his suppliers, and two frightened children while all of their lives are threatened.

Badge of Honor will be on the shelves in September 2008. Former FBI agent Sarah Roberts and detective Nick Matthews are trapped in a web of difficult decisions when Nick is assigned as Sarah's training officer. Nick is back from administrative leave, scars still raw after dirty cops implicated him in their drug ring. Sarah has returned to Colorado just before her sister is assaulted. Sarah unravels clues to the serial attacks, an internet predator - but is prohibited from the case is. Can he count on her to follow orders, or is her involvement in the online predator case going to cost them both their jobs, their lives–or possibly both?

In November Shield of Refuge closes the In the Line of Fire series. No one takes the gorgeous party planner, Amber Scott seriously, even when she witnesses the murder of a young woman and they can’t find the body. Garrett Matthews is determined hire into one of the federal agencies and has no room for mistakes in his career, so Amber’s case turns his life upside down, literally, when she crashes into his police car. His faith is challenged when Garrett is ordered to protect Amber. When he follows his gut and openly supports her story, they both become targets of the serial killer. Amber struggles to keep her business afloat throughout the investigation. When Amber's “imaginary” victim is finally found - dead, it's a race to find the killer before he finds their only witness. Is their faith strong enough to tear down the barricade his career builds between them?

I love the premise of your stories! I find in my own writing that I often grow alongside my characters, especially spiritually. Is there a character who you relate to and who made an impact on your life?

My heroines are all pretty strong-willed, and have a LOT to learn—in all ways, a lot like me. When I am writing, I push them and torment them, to the breaking point, and I'm learning those emotional and spiritual lessons right along with them. Most of my books deal with some kind of control issue. Most commonly, learning to rely on God, and not take charge on my own, I mean, on their own. ;o)

What is the number one thing you’ve learned from your writing journey?

I always wonder how I can balance my family and writing, and it always surprises me that when I give up control and turn it all over to God, the words come. When I'm done with a book, I'm worn out. This year I finished 4 books in about 20 months, and I was exhausted. I look back and still don't know how God managed to pull me through it. He's an AWESOME God!

I understand exactly what you are saying about the struggles of balance. A wonderful reminder! Any future plans for your writing you’d like to share? Any specific dreams you’d like to accomplish in the area of writing?

I've done far more than I ever "planned" with my writing, and God keeps telling me He's not done yet. I count every published book as a blessing and never stop coming up with more ideas. Some are sweet, some suspense, and some are totally outside my box, so I do plan to keep stretching my wings to see where they take me. After all, if you don't spread your wings, you can't ever soar. I love writing. I love including faith in my stories so readers can see that God doesn't expect perfection,
He works with us just as we are. I'm not comfortable witnessing in person, yet when it's "someone else" talking it isn't quite as overwhelming.

Because I know there are many aspiring writers out there, can you share any tidbits of wisdom on getting published?

Let God be your guide. Learn as much as you can about every genre you're trying to write. READ as many books as you can from the lines you're targeting to see if what you are writing "sounds" like what they are publishing. Don't ever give up trying new styles until you find what fits you best. That applies to learning from other writers and trying other genres of writing. Finding your own "voice" takes time, experience, and willingness to grow.

Any writer’s resources you could recommend?

Gail Gaymer Martin's Writing the Christian Romance is a terrific new resource. I've found all of the Writer's Digest books on all plot elements very helpful, but the absolute best investment I've made is buying and listening to the RWA conference tapes and CD's. If money's an issue, remember to utilize libraries to find the resources and see which ones resonate.

Thanks so much for the wonderful interview, Carol. Be sure and check out Carol's website and look for her upcoming interview for her next release, Shield of Refuge, right here in November!

And don't forget to leave a comment below with a way to contact you. We'll draw a name next Monday for the winner of Carol's latest romantic suspense!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Carol, on a terrific interview. Although I knew about your books, I hadn't heard so much detail. Your past family exposure to police tactics and lifestyles has been very beneficial to you. Looking forward to reading your newest book. Best wishes on your next writing projects. IB

10:11 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow. What a fascinating read! Congratulations on your new release, Carol!

2:07 PM  
Blogger Ausjenny said...

good interview. I read in the line of fire and really enjoyed it look forward to the other books in the series

5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol, thanks for the inspiring interview. I enjoyed hearing how God pulled you through and not just in your writing. I've put Guardian of Justice on my book list and I'd love to win your current book.


2:53 PM  
Blogger tetewa said...

Sounds good and enjoyed the interview!

11:38 AM  

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