Today my guest is Linda Carroll-Bradd whom I met through the fabulous group Authors Helping Authors. Linda is offering a giveaway. More on that later. Let's get to know her first.
Welcome, Linda. Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a native Californian who spent 3 years in Oregon and 12 years in Texas before a great job opportunity for my husband brought us to the southern California mountains in mid-2012. The years I spent working in the secretarial field have proved invaluable to writing fiction because I have a strong command of English skills (grammar, spelling, punctuation). My husband and I have been married for 35 years (yikes) and have 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters. The move back to CA put us within a 30-minute drive of 3 of our kids and in the same state as the other.
I spend the first hour of the day (I try to log on the computer by 9AM) responding to email and dealing with promotional items. Then I dive into the story with a goal of completing 2,000 words that day. Because I can’t separate the editor side of my brain, I admit to going back and doing word tweaks even in the first draft of the story I am a NaNoWriMo failure 4 or 5 times over because I can’t plow straight through that sh***y first draft, as Anne Lamott calls it.
Years ago, I took a plotting course that provided Excel spreadsheets for basic character development and breaking out the action into chapter segments. My plot (both the action and the romance) is laid out in those blocks, I know whose POV which scene will be in (I usually have 2 scenes/chapter) and a timeline of when the action occurs. (same day, next day, 2 days later). Each box may only have a sentence or two but they’re enough for me to know what’s going on. When I’ve tried to grab an idea and just write, I flounder after a chapter or two.
I need this guide and with it, I have a direction—I know I’m writing a scene that has ___ at stake, that the heroine doesn’t want the hero to know ___, but she has to obtain ___ from him. I’m not saying the final story follows this spreadsheet exactly but it’s a roadmap and I’ve been writing long enough to know when I’ve gone off-course and need to rein myself back.
Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?
This is so interesting because I had to create a synopsis early this month for a fall anthology. The publisher provided a theme as the starting point (which is one of my favorite ways to start a plot). But the kernel of an idea that I started with changed wildly over the course of the morning as I dug into internet research.
So my answer is Research because I have to get the location set in my mind first. That’s a fluke of my process. When I first started writing, I read the historical tidbits listed in the travel guides published by the Automobile Club. (Of course, I had to decide on a state or two.) These helped with lots of research—distances between cities, populations, geography, average temperatures by month, etc. Now I look for the same information but online, and I look for unique events or places to include in my stories. So I started the morning thinking my story would happen centered on a woman writer vacationing in a lighthouse. By the time my story was formed, only the location of Newport and Providence, Rhode Island stayed the same—no vacation, writer or lighthouse, but genealogy, pirate treasure and tall ships are included.
What did you learn from writing your first book?
The experts who said “write what you know” didn’t really mean “include everything you know about this subject” in your work of fiction. My first attempt of a romance was written while I was operating a child care business from my home. So, of course, the heroine did the same and that novel included way too many details about feeding and napping schedules, story time. Someday I will go back and see if there’s anything to salvage from that manuscript—which is only in hardcopy form because it was written before computer backup systems.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
“Don’t wait so long to tap into your creative side.” I’ve been an avid reader all my life but didn’t have a clue about writing fiction until I’d read probably my 100th Harlequin book. One particular story made me mad at the inconsistencies and I muttered, “I can do better than that.” That declaration seems to have been what was needed because then I couldn’t think of anything else but how I would create this story. Never mind, I had 3 school-aged children (with after-school activities and homework) and was operating a home-based business. I sought out a one-day class on writing a romance which connected me to Romance Writers of America and I’ve been a member ever since—usually of multiple chapters at a time.
How do you balance a life outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?
Since mid-2012 when my husband and I moved back to California, I’ve been fortunate to balance my time between being a freelance editor and writer. Sometimes, this is more curse than blessing because I am often on the computer for 8-9 hours a day. But that also means I’m never far from my latest work-in-progress.
Of course, my clients’ work comes first and I schedule the editing for the first part of the day, right after I send out scheduled promotional tweets or posts. Then I can dive into research, checking stock arts for upcoming covers, doing revisions, and creating new pages.
When the muse hits, I’m lucky that my husband is very understanding and has his own interests. He’s also willing to go on short jaunts for research purposes. I do make a point of breaking away to share meals (our situation is somewhat unique in that we live onsite at a mountain camp & conference center and the meals are provided at the lodge whenever the facility is rented). Often, I do line-editing of new pages while watching TV in the evening.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I hope readers get a sense that establishing a meaningful loving connection with another human is valuable, no matter the struggles that may be involved. I want the characters and worlds I create to provide them with fun and relaxation—a mini-escape from the readers’ everyday responsibilities.
What two authors would we find you reading when taking a break from your own writing?
Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins. I love their small-town romances and how they create realistic characters who I can relate to.
Tell us about your latest book.
Capturing The Marshal’s Heart is my first indie-title and it’s a western historical that has some adventure elements. This question made me realize that the majority of my stories don’t cross genres, and that I might consider doing so for my next project.
Jessimay “Jazzy” Morgan boards a westbound stagecoach, intent on building a respectable future with the money earned in Miss Veronica’s Pleasure Emporium. Polite society is more taxing than she’d imagined, especially when her first thoughts of a handsome stranger center on the fee she’d likely get. When she finds him in her boardinghouse room, she can’t resist a little playacting. During a sexy night with the marshal, her needs are tenderly considered and she loses a little bit of her heart. The next day, the stagecoach is robbed and the women kidnapped. Jazzy is crushed at leaving a beaten Slade behind. Planning an escape against huge odds is tough, but confessing her past to a respectable man like Slade is almost impossible.
Boarding a westbound stage in San Antonio, US Marshal Slade Thomas realizes three of the female passengers resemble the wanted poster for a bank robber. The audacious behavior of one woman draws his attention and his suspicions lead him to search her room. When she returns, he can’t resist her playful nature and a rousing night of passion ensues. The next day on the stagecoach neither knows what to say to the other. Then bandits attack, steal the valuables and the women, leaving the marshal badly injured. When Slade tracks down the kidnapped women, he must choose between capturing the bandit and saving Jazzy. A choice between his duty and his heart.
Slade pressed the satchel into a corner of the rack on the roof, then opened the door and scanned the dim interior—an elderly gentleman, a young boy, and four women of varying ages. Being the last one to board left him with a middle seat. He removed his hat, hunched his shoulders, and stepped up into the crowded stage. As he maneuvered backwards into the space, he kicked the gentleman’s cane and jostled against the knee of a woman dressed in red. “Beg your pardon, folks.”
He wedged himself onto the backward-facing cushion, tucked his boots close to the seat, and balanced his hat on his knee. Stagecoaches were not built for men with long legs. He glanced up and saw his actions were the focus of the other passengers’ attention. With a start, he realized both women on the opposite bench were of average size, had no distinguishable facial marks, blue eyes, and light brown hair.
Just like the wanted poster.
A voice called to the horses and the stagecoach jerked into motion. People on the sides grabbed at the walls to steady themselves.
Great, he’d been lucky enough to get the lumpiest seat he’d ever sat on.
A tug against his right thigh drew his attention. He turned and something tickled his cheek.
The feather on the top of the woman’s black hat bobbed into his sight. She leaned left against the side wall, using both hands to pull on her skirts. “Excuse me, sir. My skirt is surely trapped.” She pressed a hand against his thigh and shoved. “Can you move your as—can you assist me?”
He froze. Surely, he’d heard her wrong. As his mind scrambled to make sense of her words, his leg heated through his trousers under her touch. He’d definitely been without female company for too long. With one hand flattened against the door-frame over the head of the passenger on his other side and the other tugging on the overhead strap, he easily lifted his hips, until she’d gathered her skirts off the cracked leather seat.
“Thank you kindly, sir.”
He eased down to the bench and turned to his right. Out of habit, Slade reached toward his forehead to touch the brim of his hat.
The woman dressed in green gazed up at him with a smile across her shapely lips.
As he opened his mouth to speak, he scanned her face. “You’re—” Light brown hair, no distinguishing marks. Exasperation stole his words. Average size and blue eyes—blue as a summer sky. Damn, not a third one. And why did her assessing gaze have to be in the prettiest face he’d seen in months?
Through February 27th, this cover is part of the February Cover Love Poll hosted by Lolly at http://www.lollytova.com/februarys-cover-love-poll/ and I would love your vote. Those who do vote and then send the URL for that page to l.carrollbradd(at)gmail.com will be entered in a drawing for a digital copy of Capturing The Marshal’s Heart to be awarded February 28th.
That cover is fabulous, Linda. One last question. Where can readers find you?
It's been great having you here today, Linda. Best wishes with Capturing the Marshal's Heart.