Dear Readers, I’ve become friends with Carol through American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network. I’m thrilled to share her and her debut novel with you today.
Welcome, Carol. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I met my husband online, thus my life became the genesis of Cheryl Chandler in DWF: Divorced White Female. Additionally, I set the novel in my hometown of
Malone, New York
with Cheryl living "up" south in Mountain View. I figured, if Lisa Scottoline
can set her works in Philadelphia,
her hometown, I can do the same.
Aside from those two issues, I was going to say that not much of me goes into the characters. I then remembered Cheryl's sarcasm. Yep, I guess a lot of me is birthed into my work. Friends say this novel is definitely my voice.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I'm not sure you can call it quirky, but I taught high ropes at our local 4-H camp. Along with most of the world, I love the zip line. However, the Flying Squirrel is infinitely easier to get into. In this particular activity, the participant is harnessed into the line and then tethered to a team of runs. She scampers in one direction while the team jogs off in another. Before she knows it, she's flying. She has virtually no choice in taking off--doesn't see it coming, doesn't have to decide to leap. After I--um, she--screams herself mute, she savors the beauty of the world beneath her wings. The freedom of the skies delights me.
Years ago, Carol. I was the 4-H Program Assistant for the county in
where we lived. Both of my girls were in 4-H. When did you
first discover that you were a writer? Texas
I'm not a typical writer. I wasn't born with a pencil in hand, didn't scribble stories before I learned the alphabet. However, my mother birthed a dreamer greater than Joseph of the Technicolor Dream Coat fame. I day dreamed my life away, invented all sorts of adventures in my head and usually made my friends act out my dramas (always dramas back then). At times, I forced doting parents to pay a nickel to watch us act them out.
As an adult, I wrote Sunday school plays. It wasn't until my forties that I thought I could possibly write a book. And I did. DWF: Divorced White Female is my debut novel.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
The only books I don't read are the demon-possession ones like The Exorcist. They scare the sanity out of me. Aside from that--bring them on. Cozy mysteries? I've finally figured out how to figure them out. The character mentioned once did it. Suspense? I'll read into the night and then curse the author for not letting me get any sleep. Biographies? You read the part of this interview that says I'm a dreamer, didn't you? I become the subject of the bio.
Hands down, my favorites are contemporary, and those with a literary bent. I spent most of my life as an English teacher, so those works must be part of my DNA.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I run. Literally. One day, after a stressful day in school, I knew I had to do something or break. I strapped on my sneakers (I didn't realize we now called them running shoes) headed out the door and ran until my lungs gave out--two or three yards? I did it over and over and felt all the stress ooze down to my feet and out onto the tarmac.
Since then I've run four marathons and written four novels. Running saved my sanity.
As I age, though, yoga is another stress reliever--especially savasana (corpse pose: one simply lies down, empties her brain and enjoys the benefits of having been twisted into a pretzel for the previous hour).
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I eavesdrop. Sometimes a name grabs me and I use it. I've used a fake name generator for lesser characters. Cheryl Chandler got her name because a colleague who was Cheryl's age had her first name. I hadn't read any other books with a Cheryl, so it was unique. I figured a forty-year-old wouldn't be named Tiffany or Kaylie, so my protag became Cheryl.
A lot of names suggest themselves. Cheryl's kids all have androgynous names. That decision came probably more for a challenge for myself and became a symbol of her independence when she names her surprise-baby
unmistakable girl name that reminds her of marinara sauce. Her ex-husband's new
wife is saddled with more unisex names.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Neil, my husband, says it's marrying him. And yes, he's living proof that online dating works.
I think my biggest accomplishment was becoming a teacher. Then again, it wasn't my accomplishment, it was purely God's.
During my last year of college I screwed up with drugs. In my addle-brained mind, I believed I ruined my life, would never have children, and no one would love (so thus, marrying Neil is probably my biggest accomplishment). Because of my mental turmoil, I screwed up student teaching, ruined my academic records and my chance of becoming a teacher.
After graduation, I married the wrong man who gave me the right baby when we moved to the country in upstate
New York. I decided to try teaching again.
With a failing marriage, a ten-month-old daughter, God opened the doors for me
to teach Spanish for a year (I had only two college years of the lingo). I
enrolled in graduate school, worked insanely, got my masters and a full-time
teaching job in my current hometown of Malone.
For thirty-years I developed my craft. The best moments of my life is meeting former students who tell me about the positive effect my love had on their lives.
(I try to forget the ones who hate me.)
It was hard. I didn't know Jesus, but my brother Art did. Probably because of his incessant preaching, I knew, for a fact, Jesus got me into this field, the one I was born to do.
I love to hear real stories of how Jesus redeemed someone from a life of failure. Thanks for sharing that. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A cat in a doting household. We just got two kittens, and their lives are perfect. They play for hours, heedless of curtains or decorations, or the fact that our toes are attached to our bodies by nerves that hurt. They romp where they will. Then they sleep. A lot. They get cuddled, curl between our legs at night. Who wouldn't want that life?
I do NOT want to be a stray or feral. Yuck.
What is your favorite food?
Peanut butter. Cannot go a day without chunky peanut butter.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I haven't overcome my greatest problem. Through the help of good critique partners, I've learned to show and not tell, learned to dive into the emotions of characters and make things worse for them. However, my greatest issue seems to be the muddled middle--especially in sub-plots. Once things begin to resolve, I tire of them and just want to get it done, get to the conclusion. This especially applies to the romantic elements. Once everyone knows said hero and heroine will get together, why draw it out?
Tell us about the featured book.
If you think you’ve experienced a mid-life crisis, Cheryl Chandler will prove you wrong. Ditched by a philandering husband, rearing three weird teens (and a toddler—her failed attempt to save her marriage), she knows only one thing will redeem her life: a man—any man so long as he’s hot.
But how does a forty-something divorcée do that?
The kids have the answer. Go online.
After meeting a string of weirdoes, Tarrant LeClerc befriends her. But he’s too religious, and she will only chat with him as a friend.
Then, when she knows this online dating is doomed, she meets the man of her dreams. Smart, witty and enchanting, Carleton Seymour sweeps her off her feet, but he’s got to meet the kids. Cheryl refuses to hide them—although the thought is tempting.
DWF: Divorced White Female, will make you laugh and come away transformed and transported by Cheryl’s antics.
It’s available at:
Amazon at: www.amzn.to/1wkUlp1
Desert Breeze Publishing at: www.bit.ly/1zoeixz
Barnes and Noble at: www.bit.ly/1wno80d
Currently, the print copy is only available on Amazon.
Please give us the first page of the book.
I slumped onto my bathroom floor, closed my eyes, and imagined myself in Versace sunglasses with a .357 Magnum. I'd hunt down Martin, blow the heat from my gun, stash it in my charcoal grey, Burberry trench coat, and ride off with a Clint Eastwood look alike. After the deed was done, I'd celebrate with a magnum of champagne. Or a Magnum ice cream.
Yep. That would be one solution.
Not the answer to this one.
With new resolve, I picked up the stick and squinted.
Blue lines. They didn't change color. My bluster slipped away like smoke from the snub nosed .357.
I didn't use those exact words. I didn't actually bless any
Ohio city or anything
else. My language that morning was as blue as the lines on the EPT stick.
I thought I had passed the pregnancy phase and blissfully entered menopause -- my golden years of bridge games and cruises and cocktail parties. The kids could care for themselves. Sort of.
had abandoned his dreadlock-headed punk phase and would start high school this
fall. My daughter Bobbie still proved labor intensive, but at least Andi had
completed her first year at .
Country Community College
Correction. In college, but not settled. What was she studying? Massage therapy. As a high school senior, she applied for the music therapy program, then switched into art therapy last year. Now this. All this time, I had thought massage was a euphemism for prostitution. Weren't TV cops always apprehending sexy, skinny, beautiful masseuses -- girls not unlike Andi, despite her purple, spiky hair? I learned to deal with her vegetarianism, her Indian Ying/Yang whatever, but a career rubbing bodies? Would a cop one day come knocking at my door and arrest my daughter for massaging pervs?
Despite his obsession with religion, I still feared the cops with
McIntyre out of the picture and Jesus in it, maybe we cleared that hurdle. Despite
religious kick, he acted normal again. He went to school, did his homework,
visited friends, wanted to be a forensic computer specialist. Insisted we say grace.
Or as normal as a fourteen-year-old boy with an obsession for Jesus could be.
My whole family was obsessed. Or possessed.
With worries about my children, tears flooded once more. I leaned against the wall and cried. I didn't bother to break the toilet paper off the roll, just pulled the thin, cottony sheets like one of those old towel rollers in public restrooms my mother told me about. You'd pull the cloth towel, which would go around and around in circles, recycling the same two feet of yucky material. If luck found you, a semi-clean, semi-dry bit of cloth would materialize, and you could dry your hands.
If my youngest daughter Bobbie encountered a recycled towel, she'd bathe in Betadine for a week...
A very good example of your writing voice. How can readers find you on the Internet?
You can find Carol McClain at http://carol-mcclain.blogspot.com
On facebook at www.facebook.com/carol.d.mcclain
On twitter at @carol_mcclain. She can also be found on google+
Thank you, Carol for sharing this book with me and my readers. I know we're all wondering what is going to happen next.
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