Cara is back with the second in her Sandhill series for Heartsong Presents. Welcome, Cara.
God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
My dream is to move into writing legal suspense. I also would love to write a longer World War Two series. Both would require a higher word count to get the twists, turns and layers in. I’ve been working with my agent on getting the high concept right for the legal suspense. I know I’m getting closer, and with each book I learn more about the craft of writing.
But I also try hard (and believe me it’s a struggle for this Type-A) to relinquish the control to God. He has been amazing in the way He has orchestrated this journey so far. And He’s surrounded me with the right people. For example, an agent who encourages me to slow down so I have the time to breathe, think, and dream. Of course, then I go off into a new project, she shakes her head and keeps on encouraging me.
Tell us a little about your family.
My husband is a development officer for Purdue University, his alma mater. We have three kids…Abigail is eight, Jonathan is five, and our baby is six months. I homeschool them and love the extra time that gives me with them. I teach business law at Krannert, which is a great job as I invest in them.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Absolutely! It is so hard to read a book without turning the editor on. To see the book as a whole, enjoyable experience without seeing rules and violations. It’s hard not to analyze what works and doesn’t work. So when I find a book that so totally sucks me in that I forget about the actual writing, I love it!
What are you working on right now?
After a crazy summer of rushing to colliding deadlines, I’m now working on the second book in the Ohio World War Two series. I’m so excited to get to research a top secret project that was handled in Dayton, Ohio. I’ve always been fascinated by Enigma: the machine the Germans built for communication that was almost impossible for the Allies to break. When they would, the Allies would start winning because they could read the Germans’ mail. It is absolutely fascinating stuff! So imagine my excitement when I learned that the second attempt to break the code (after the Germans added a fourth wheel to the machine) occurred in Dayton. I could see God smiling when I found that!
What outside interests do you have?
I love to teach! Right now I’m teaching business law to undergrads at Krannert, and usually teaching adult Sunday school and/or a women’s Bible study. I also love just about anything crafty: Scrapbooking, creating cards, cross-stitching, etc. Fortunately, my daughter loves crafts, so especially as she gets older, we can spend more time together on those kind of endeavors.
I love to teach/speak, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?
For me, I have to pick a setting that will support a story or one that I know intimately. Deadly Exposure is set in Lincoln, a city I know very well. The Nebraska World War Two series grew out of an idea from my hometown. The Ohio series grew out of a convergence of one story idea and the availability of the state. God did the rest. He has been so faithful about leading me to the ideas that will flesh out one book into a series.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Queen Victoria. She was an amazing woman, and as a teenager I inhaled every biography I could get my hands on about her. I would love to sit down with her and get her perspective on her times, actions, and decisions.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
That God would ask me to strip so much out of my life to make time for the writing. I still only have 24 hours a day. Now I’m just running on less sleep. I hope it won’t always be like this. But for right now I have to write in the hours of 9 p.m. to midnight or later. But it is worth it. And I’m willing to pay the price.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
This year’s He’s been reminding me how very much He delights to use people who fail. It’s so easy to think we have to be perfect before God can use us, but nothing is further from the truth. He chose Abraham to start a nation that would bless the world, because Abraham was willing to follow when God said move. Even though Abraham made many mistakes and some over and over. Moses is called God’s friend even though he refused to speak directly to Pharaoh. He had the kind of relationship I would love to have… to speak directly to Him, to see His back – though I really want to see His face. And David…a man after God’s own heart. Despite all his sin, he knew where his hope was and always returned.
These men and so many other examples in the Bible give me hope that God can use me when I stand here with my arms thrown out saying, “Use me. I’m ready. And I’m Yours.”
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1) Read craft books. Some that I have relied on heavily are Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins, Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Martin and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas. There are many others on my shelf, but I continually return to these four.
2) Connect with other writers through organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers (www.acfw.com). I have learned so much by walking this journey with people ahead of me, right next to me, and behind me. And it really helps to know that there are people out there who understand how my mind works. Not everyone has voices talking in their heads or sees a plot out of the most innocuous events.Put your bottom in the chair and write. Every day. Even if it’s just a few hundred words. There is something to the discipline that will grow a book over time, and you’ll be amazed how you improve.
Sandhill Dreams is the second book in my Nebraska World War Two series published by Heartsong Presents. I loved researching and writing this book, because it’s a story that I don’t think many people know about. World War Two was the first time that the United States made a concerted effort to use dogs in war. Half of those used during the war were trained at this little fort in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska.
Here’s the backcover blurb:
With her dreams shattered, will Lainie Gardner allow God and a soldier at Fort Robinson to breathe life into new dreams that will bring her more joy than she imagined?
Lainie has no dreams left
Lainie Gardner dreamed of becoming a nurse. Of serving her country. Of doing something important in the war. But rheumatic fever changed all that, and instead of running home, Lainie is determined to find a job at Fort Robinson in Nebraska’s sandhills.
Tom Hamilton had dreams, too. Dreams of preparing the horses at Fort Robinson for duty on the warfront. Instead, he is assigned to train war dogs and their handlers, meaning that each day he must face the fear he’s had of dogs since he was bitten as a child.
Lainie and Tom wonder why God seems to have denied them their dreams. But is it possible new dreams will bring them more joy than they ever imagined?
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is www.caraputman.com. My blog is one of the tabs there, or you can go directly to it at http://carasmusings.blogspot.com. You can read excerpts of my books on my website, see reviews of the books, and more. And I blog Monday – Friday about Life, Law and Books. I often have book giveaways and lots of reviews, so be sure to stop by.
Cara, thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of Sandhill Dreams. Don't forget to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won.