We're back today with Carol Cox with her third book about the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. She had me at the cover, and the book lived up to it. I did a review of the book on my blog on my Shoutlife space: www.shoutlife.com/lenanelsondooley When I post my June Newsletter on my website, the review will be in it: www.lenanelsondooley.com
I feel so blessed by everything He has brought about in the ten years since my first book came out! I’m looking at several new ideas at the moment, but I’m trying not to rush the process. My goal is to take the time I need to develop them into stories that have real depth and meaning.
Tell us a little about your family.
My family is one of my favorite topics, and another way God has blessed me. Dave and I have been married nearly 34 years. He’s a master at multi-tasking, pastoring two churches and operating a saddle shop in what we laughingly call his spare time. Our daughter just turned 12 and is getting ready to pass me in height any day now. Considering that I’m only 5’1”, that isn’t a huge milestone, but I don’t have the heart to point that out to her. The three of us enjoy doing things together, especially if it means spending time outdoors. We also love to travel and learn about the history of the places we’ll be visiting.
We have a grown son who married the daughter-in-law of our dreams, and they have an adorable little girl who is almost a year old. They recently moved to Texas. Having that much distance between us is hard, but it does give us an excuse to visit one of my favorite states more often!
You should contact me when you come to Texas. Maybe we can get together. Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I don’t have nearly as much time to read for pleasure as I used to. That’s frustrating in a way, but it means I have to be more selective about what I do read these days. I enjoy a wide variety of fiction as well as books on the craft of writing.
What are you working on right now?
I just finished a contemporary cozy mystery for a Guideposts series called Mystery and the Minister’s Wife. I’ve turned in the manuscript, and now I’m waiting for the revision letter. I’m also working on developing those story ideas I mentioned earlier!
What outside interests do you have?
I’ve always enjoyed handcrafts. My favorite is crocheting, something I learned from my grandmother. And through the research I’ve done for my historicals, I’ve become interested in 19th-century dressmaking. I’ve found replicas of some patterns put out during the 1880s and 1890s, as well as books from that period on dressmaking techniques. I’m not an expert on the subject by any means, but the topic fascinates me.
It fascinates me, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?
Sometimes I think it’s more a matter of the settings choosing me than the other way around. Often, a place I read about or see on my travels will catch my attention, and I’ll find myself wondering who would have been in that place and what would have happened to them there. Pretty soon my imagination starts adding characters to the setting. When they start interacting with the place and with each other, I’m off and running!
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Can I switch the question around a bit and make that a historical place instead of a person? If I could step into a time machine and choose one place to spend an evening, I’d visit the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. I spent so much time poring over maps, floor plans, and old photos in researching my current series that I feel like I could navigate the grounds as easily as I move around my home town. It was an amazing moment in our history, filled with a sense of wonder and excitement. If I could go there, I’d buy a bag of Cracker Jacks and munch on that brand-new snack food while strolling along the edge of the lagoon. One evening wouldn’t give me nearly the time I’d need to see all the exhibits, but I could at least enjoy the beauty of the marvelous buildings that housed them and experience the thrill of seeing the grounds lit up by thousands of tiny incandescent lights. And of course, I would have to take a ride on the very first Ferris wheel!
(And, dear readers, all those things are in this books.) What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
The writing life is a journey, not a destination. Publication does not mean a writer has “arrived.” There is always room for growth, and that’s a wonderful thing!
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
The Lord has been bringing a number of verses to my attention lately that are centered around the theme of learning to wait on Him. When our lives are focused on Him, we’re eager to do things that are useful to His kingdom. But sometimes we get so caught up in “working for the Lord” that we don’t have time for the One we claim to serve. And I have to remind myself that my level of activity isn’t always a reflection of my usefulness to Him. It’s all about relationship, not busy work.
That is so true. What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Be patient. Like any career, writing requires preparation and training. The learning process takes time, so gear yourself mentally for a marathon rather than a sprint.
Be teachable. No matter how much you learn, there are always more ways to build on your skills and improve them.
Be willing. If we’re called to write for the Lord, we need to do this for His glory and not our own. Place your writing in God’s hands and be willing to give Him control as to what happens with it. He’s the one who sees the big picture and knows what’s best—both for us and for His plan.
A Bride So Fair is the third book in the series A Fair to Remember. Knowing it would also be the last title in the series made it hard to say goodbye to the setting and characters I’ve grown to love. At the same time, I enjoyed being able to tie up loose ends that had been left dangling and finishing the series in a way that I hope will satisfy my readers.
In A Bride So Fair, Emily Ralston is delighted when she lands a job at the Children’s Building at the Chicago World’s Fair. When she meets Stephen Bridger, a handsome Columbian Guard, sparks of attraction singe the air. When Stephen finds a lost boy, he delivers him to the Children’s Building to be cared for until his mother is located. But when a dead body believed to be little Adam’s mother is found, the intrigue deepens and danger grows.
Stephen Bridger has appeared in all the books in the series. Once he appeared in the first book, Ticket to Tomorrow, I knew I wanted to meet him again. Then I realized he needed to star in a story of his own instead of staying in the background as a secondary character. And then there’s Mrs. Purvis, the boardinghouse owner, one of my very favorite characters. That quirky little woman has won a permanent place in my heart . . . and in the hearts of readers, judging from the letters and e-mails I’ve received. Throughout the series, she’s been looking for the treasure her late husband left her. Many have written to ask if she’ll ever find it, and that question is finally answered in this book.
I loved the way that question was answered. How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can visit my website at www.CarolCoxBooks.com to learn more about me and my books. By the way, I’m currently in the process of redesigning the site to give it a fresh, new look. I’m not certain of the official launch date for the new design, but I hope you and your readers will keep watching for it. I’d love to hear what you all think!
Thanks, Lena, for letting me spend time with you here. It’s always fun to chat with a friend!
And thank you, Carol.
Readers, I've read each of these books and loved them. You will, too.
You can leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this one, but please find the other two and read them first. Each story is a stand alone story, but I believe you'll enjoy them more if you read them in order.