I've known Cara Putman for several years. We're both in American Christian Fiction Writers. Right now she is in charge of publicity and doing a wonderful job. I'm happy to help introduce her first book.
It really depends on the character. Audrey Stone, the heroine in Canteen Dreams, longs to find her place in the world. She wants to serve others but doesn’t know how to start. I can relate all to well to that. Dani Richards, the heroine in Double Image, is a reporter with a drive to win and get it right. She also doesn’t know how to back down. Again, characteristics I have. Then Hayden McCarthy, in my current WIP, is an attorney who’s had her world turned upside down. In the process she fights to find God again. I’ve had a similar season in my life this spring. Ironically, I started thinking about her and her story long before this season started.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hmm. This is a good question. Quirkiest thing would probably be knowing my husband was the man I would marry…quirky because I realized this five years before he did :-)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
For me it happened in stages. From the time I was given a journal in third grade, I have loved to write. My journals were – and still are – often my way to communicate what is happening inside me to God. Then I met Colleen Coble two years ago and she encouraged the dream of writing. She called herself my midwife because I would email her with updates on how much or little I’d been writing. She smiled and kept encouraging me. Finally, when I got my first contract I thought, this might actually happen! But each day when I sit down to write, it’s a reminder that this is a dream God has blessed.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m all over the place. I LOVE a good suspense. Mary Higgins Clark, Lisa Gardner, Brandilyn Collins, Colleen, Wanda Dyson. I also enjoy historicals, particularly Tricia Goyer and Kim Sawyer. I just finished Defiant Heart by Tracey Bateman and really enjoyed it. Then there are those days I need to laugh. Kristin Billerbeck has a gift for chick lit. And Allie Pleiter and Sharon Hinck have touched my heart with tears and laughter with their Mom Lit books.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have completed two books. Canteen Dreams releases this month from Heartsong Presents. Double Image is under consideration at another house. I also have two sequels to Canteen Dreams to write that are under contract, and my legal thriller proposal to finish.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Not very well. I’m a mom to two adorable kids, teach a summer class at Purdue, keep the house organized, run women’s ministry, etc. And it’s truly tough to balance it all. I try to take my schedule to God periodically and ask Him to help me determine what I should be doing at this time in my life. I’ve by no means arrived, but I strive to honor Him with my time and commitments.
My sister-in-law worked until she retired as an administrative assistant to one of the officers at Purdue. How do you choose your characters’ names?
For the historicals, I spend time on the Social Security Administrations website to see which names were popular in the 1920s. Sometimes I just know. Audrey and Willard are the h/h in Canteen Dreams. They are also my grandparents’ names. Since I’m borrowing a part of their romance, it just fit to use their names. Dani and Hayden have always been those names to me. I honestly can’t imagine them as anybody else. For others I’ve run through the Baby Name Survey book and other baby name books. The meaning of the names is very important. Danielle means God is my judge, and in Double Image, Dani is wooed back to God, so it fits on that level, too.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being married for 11+ years and being a Truman scholar. I think I was the first homeschooler to achieve that (Truman scholar, I mean).
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A Horse. They are beautiful creatures and have an amazing ability to run.
What is your favorite food?
Pasta … all the time. I could eat it for just about every meal.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
For me it’s that stage where you have the germ of an idea, but I’m not sure how to flesh it out. I’m there with my legal thriller. I have the foundation, the setting, the key characters. Now plotting enough of the story to sell it to a publisher. That’s the work. The writing itself is discovery. I enjoy that.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
First, join ACFW (www.acfw.com). You will find a community of Christian writers (some published, some not) who will encourage you and help you learn the fundamentals. Then write. We call it bottom on chair time. You have to invest the time in the writing. Then have others read it. In that you will learn what’s working and what needs to be fixed. Then go to conferences like ACFW’s, so you can learn the craft while meeting industry professionals. Most of all pray. God can do amazing things when you let Him lead.
The same advice I give to new authors.
Every wondered what it was like in the early days of World War Two in American? In Canteen Dream I tell the story of a couple and a town in Nebraska. The couple learns how to serve in the home front war effort while falling in love. And North Platte pours out its love to more than six million service men and women between Christmas 1941 and April 1946. I often wonder if we would step up as communities to meet needs like that anymore. It’s a story of sacrifice that I find challenging each time I think about it.
Hopefully, readers will enjoy the romance, love the characters, learn a little something without realizing it, and be challenged to serve in new ways.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My blog is The Law, Books & Life at http://carasmusings.blogspot.com. I also have a Shoutlife page.
Thanks so much for inviting me to join you, Lena. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity.
And thank you, Cara, for spending this time with us. I can hardly wait to read Canteen Dreams.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book. You might want to check out these other interviews.
Susan Marlow - Dangerous Decision
Sharlene Maclaren - Sarah, My Beloved
DiAnn Mills - A Texas Legacy Christmas
There's still time to leave a comment on them for a chance to win a free copy.
If you don't want to miss any of these interviews with authors, or the notices about winners, sign up for Feed Blitz in the right column under my profile. Notification will come to your inbox.