Tuesday, January 18, 2011

LOVE ON ASSIGNMENT - Cara Lynn James - Free Book

Welcome, Cara Lynn. I loved your first book in this series. Love on a Dime. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

As little as possible. I like my story people to be themselves and not reflect my ideas, tastes etc. Except I think they’re probably more like me than I think. If I’m not careful they react to situations like I would as an introvert. And that doesn’t work well for an extraverted character. I try hard to get into my characters’ minds so they don’t become me. So far I’ve never used my life experiences in my books and I don’t plan to. But who knows.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I’m definitely not a quirky person. But I’ve done a couple of adventurous things, even though I’m not at all adventurous! The first thing was my girlfriend and I took a bus down the Dalmatian coast in Croatia in the middle of the night while the country (Yugoslavia) was still Communist. We were the only two Americans on board a bus full of drunken Yugoslavian soldiers and we were the only young women. Sounds like a dumb thing to do, doesn’t it? We were travelling from Italy to Split, Croatia, to meet the ship, the U.S. aircraft carrier our husbands were serving on. They were both Navy pilots. Going by bus seemed like the easiest way to get there, but certainly not the most relaxing.

The second adventure happened several years later. My husband and I travelled to Colombia to adopt a baby girl at the height of the drug wars. Planes were exploding midair, bombs were going off in airports and on the streets, but we went down there anyway. The State Department warned Americans to return home, but we travelled there instead. Fortunately, all went well, and our daughter is now a young adult.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I was seven I wrote a book for my parents’ wedding anniversary. My story, based on the Bobbsey Twins, was twenty pages long. The covers were red construction paper and I bound it with pieces of light blue yarn. I loved reading and writing! I decided I’d become an authoress like Laura Lee Hope. My career got off to a great start, but then it stalled for several decades as the practicalities of life took over. Eventually I realized that if I wanted to be an author the time was now or never.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I love to read romance, women’s fiction, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, literary, non-fiction and occasionally children’s books. My favorites are historical, although I enjoy contemporary as well. If I live to be one hundred I’ll never finish all the books on my selves and on my computer. I could easily read all day without getting tired of it.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I pray for peace in my life because I can’t work well if I have problems to resolve or brush fires to put out. In order to write I have to focus. Unfortunately I can’t concentrate in the middle of noise or chaos, although if you saw my house (sometimes) you wouldn’t believe I need serenity to work well. When I have a deadline looming I have to work no matter what’s going on around me, so I ignore the chaos and lock myself in my bedroom to write. But give me peace and quiet and I’m a lot happier.

If I need to settle my mind I often pray, read the Bible or read a novel. Getting away from writing and all the commitments it involves, even for a short time, refreshes me. I don’t give in to pressure because I’m afraid it might lead to writer’s block. Another great stress reliever is taking a walk, but I’m allergic to any form of exercise. Only kidding—I do walk a lot, just not as often as I should. And I don’t enjoy it too much. I’m a couch potato at heart.

I try to keep organized, not over commit or let myself become overwhelmed. Getting enough sleep is important too. It’s crucial to keep my writing in perspective. It’s a career I love and appreciate, but it’s not worth ruining my health over. And family is the most important part of my life.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Mainly the character names just come to me. Sometimes I google baby names for 1880 or 1890. Many of the names popular during the Gilded Age are not too popular now, so I don’t use them for my heroine. A few might be Gladys or Gertrude or Bertha. I might use them for secondary characters. If I write about a Horace or Willard, he probably won’t be the hero. I give my heroes and heroines names that were popular back at the turn-of-the-century and also popular today--or at least pleasant sounding—Lilly and Jack, Charlotte and Daniel, Melinda and Nick.

Since I write about 19th century New York and Newport society, I try to use similar last names. Many of the people were on English or Dutch descent so those are the type names I look for.

Sometimes a name pops into my head. For example, I have a character named Elvira Plunkett who hasn’t made it into print yet. Her name came to me before the character herself. But it’s obvious to me she’s a middle aged southerner, probably a country woman, or a lady from a small town. Very colorful and very opinionated. Her name suggests a personality to me.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Finishing my first book. It began as Joanna’s Treasure (contemporary) and eventually was published as Love on Assignment (historical), the second book in the Ladies of Summerhill series. I tinkered with it for years changing the location from Vermont to West Virginia to Rhode Island. It took a long time to get the story right, but I kept at it. I’m so glad I did.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Definitely a cocker spaniel. When I was in my early twenties a little cocker spaniel named Holly owned me. She was a delight, at least to me. I’d love to be pampered like Holly. My husband would probably say I am pampered and he’s right.

What is your favorite food?

I couldn’t possibly narrow that to just one favorite food! I love sword fish with lemon, mashed potatoes and chocolate cake. If you’d like an essay on my favorite foods I could write one without any trouble. No writer’s block.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Over editing. I’d write a paragraph and revise it to death until I got it perfect. Sometimes I’d suck the life out of it. I’d never make any progress. When I joined a writers’ group I was amazed that authors actually finished their manuscripts. I couldn’t conceive of completing anything, not even a chapter. But I learned to buckle down and keep typing one word after the other without rereading and fixing. Yes, I still have a tendency to edit as I go, but I don’t let it stand in the way of progress. I try hard to write 1,000 words a day. Not a lot, I know, but those words do add up.

Tell us about the featured book.

My second book in the Ladies of Summerhill series is called Love on Assignment.

While Charlotte is focusing on uncovering sordid information on columnist Daniel Wilmot, her heart leads her into uncharted territory. During the summer of 1900 Charlotte Hale, a native Newporter and secretary for the Rhode Island Reporter, accepts an undercover assignment as temporary governess to Daniel Wilmont's children in order to secretly gather evidence against him. As he helps her rediscover God, Charlotte learns that Daniel is an honorable man. They unexpectedly fall in love despite their different backgrounds and social positions. Charlotte soon realizes she must defend Daniel against the forces set against him—a willful student with a romantic crush and the newspaper editor determined to destroy his reputation.

I'm going to like reading this one. Please give us the first page of the book.

July 1900



Charlotte Hale’s legs, hidden beneath her long serge skirt, wobbled like a newborn colt’s. But she pinned on a confident smile and gazed directly into her boss’s dark granite eyes.

“Please be seated, Miss Hale. We have something important to discuss.” He gave her a curt nod as he loomed behind his polished mahogany desk, an engraved nameplate resting on the edge. Arnold Phifer, Editor.

Dressed in his well-tailored navy suit and silk vest, he stared at her as if assessing her value. A cherrywood pipe protruded beneath a white handlebar mustache, waxed to stiff perfection.

She slid into the chair across from the middle-aged editor of the Rhode Island Reporter, stenography pad in hand. In the three years she’d worked at the newspaper, Mr. Phifer had never once summoned her to his private office which overlooked the bustling Thames Street, except for dictation.

He pulled the pipe from his mouth and placed it in an ashtray beside a ceramic jar of tobacco. “Miss Hale”—his bushy brows drew together across his pink forehead—“I’m impressed with your work.”

I'm intrigued. How can readers find you on the Internet?

I’m at caralynnjames.com and at seekerville.blogspot.com

Thank you, Cara Lynn, for the delightful interview.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Coolestmommy said...

What a great idea. I love it when people 'go undercover' and find more than they bargained for.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Patsy said...

I haven't read any of Cara's books yet but am looking forward to. This book sounds great. Thanks for the giveaway. From Southern US

Katie Marie said...

ohh, I'd love to win this book - I have heard So much about Cara James and her two books!!

from Florida

Cara Lynn James said...

Good morning! Lena, thank you so much for having me on your blog today.

Glynna Kaye said...

Cara! This one sounds every bit as good as the first! I love the Gilded Age--visited Newport and some of those beautiful mansions several years ago. Definitely a story-worthy setting!

Wyn said...

Oh my Cara, we have so many things in common, it was like reading about me except of course for the authoress references. I love historical fiction, hope to win a book.


Wendy said...

Fantastic Interview and Blurb on "Love On Assignment".
I would love to win this book.
Please enter me into the drawing.
Thank you for the chance.
I live in Northern Michigan. Near the Mackinac Bridge.

Anonymous said...

If you ever need some research for a small Virginia town, I can help you with that...:)Or Maine, for that matter! I'd love the new book!
Congratulations on your second work.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi Cara and Lena.

I just bought Love on Assignment last Sunday. I LOVE this book. Cara and i are in a critique group together and I've watched it morph from the contemporary to the historical, but she's made more changes since then and I can't WAIT to read the finished product.

Also, I love your covers Cara. Really eye catching.

And there's one more coming in this series, YAY!

Jo said...

I haven't read any of Cara's books yet. This sounds like a awesome book and would love to win it.


Myra Johnson said...

Wow, Cara, I learned some things about you I never knew!!! (Or possibly just forgot.) So thrilled for your publishing success and the release of your latest book!

Julie Lessman said...

Great interview, Cara and Lena!! Can't wait to read the book, Cara, it sounds WONDERFUL!!


Jillian said...

WOW! Cara- learned something new about you today- you're something of a daredevil. Glad you survived those 2 harrowing trips!

Unknown said...

Would love to be entered in this giveaway! Read Cara's first book and would like to read this one.

Nauvoo, IL

Cara Lynn James said...

Thanks for stopping by, ladies. I've discovered how important it is for me to choose a setting I really love. It's almost like a character to me. I'd have a problem writing about a place I wasn't familiar with or didn't like. I couldn't have set this story in many other settings.

Jackie S. said...

Have Cara's first book on my TBR shelf.....would love to add this one and read both at once. Thanks for the chance.....GEORGIA.

windycindy said...

I really enjoy reading the writing
style of Cara Lynn James...
Please add my name to your book
Many thanks, Cindi

Nancye said...

Sounds like an great book! Thanks for the chance.

Nancye in Kentucky
nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

Linda in California

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Sandy Jay said...

I have Love on a Dime. I'd love to win this one. Thanks for the giveaway.

forwhlz at gmail dot com

Cindy W. said...

I would love to win a copy of Love on Assignment. I have Love on a Dime so this would be a great follow up. Thank you for the chance.

I live in Auburn, IN.

Cindy W.


kathy taylor said...

Somehow my earlier comment didn't show up. I have a signed copy of Love on a Dime, so please don't enter me in the drawing. I dropped by just to say how much I love the book's plot and characters, including the sinister ones. It's always good to have someone we love to "hate." Thanks for a beautiful story, Cara.

Toyin O. said...

Great interview, she sounds like a great author, thanks for sharing.

Janet Dean said...

Great interview, Cara and Lena!!

Cara, I'd say your two adventures rank up there with a suspense heroine.

I can't wait to read Love on Assignment! I love the cover! Your books make me want to revisit Newport.


Judy Cooper said...

Cara is a new author to me, but I am really looking forward to reading her books. Thank you from Southwest Louisiana.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Love on a Dime was a great book, and I'd love to win Cara's new book!
Ann Lee Miller
Gilbert AZ

cynthia said...

Thanks for the great interview. I loved your first book and can't wait to read your latest one. It's always interesting to compare and contrast our lives to the lives of characters set in the past.
I live in California. Thanks for doing the book drawing.

Edwina said...

I always enjoy your interviews. Your quesions help us to get to know the author better.

Your book sounds great!I'm looking forward to reading it!

I live in Georgia.


Unknown said...

i love this type of story...wouldn't want to be an agent, or detective, etc. but love to read about them. i would love to win this book. mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]come

kristen said...

This sounds like a fun read.

Please enter me!

Kristen from WA

Anonymous said...

You have to love a fellow chocolate cake lover.

I've read book one-loved it and am excited to start on book 2!!!!

scottsgal said...

sounds like a book I'd really enjoy
I'm in illinois brrrr
msboatgal at aol.com

MaureenT said...

Ohh I really want to read this book. I have the first book in this series!
Thank YOU!

apple blossom said...

please include me in this giveaway thanks. I live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Pam K. said...

I've been seeing "Love on Assignment" advertised a lot lately. It looks like it would be fun to read. Thanks for the chance to win this book.


Charlotte Kay said...

Blessings to you for making it possible to win this book:)

Charlotte Kay
charsaltz at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Hi! My name is Angela. I am from Kentucky. I would love to win a copy of this book. Thanks!!!!

Merry said...

Love on Assignment sounds like a great story. Loved hearing about Cara's travel adventures.
Merry in TX

Anne Payne said...

I'm sure this one will be as good as Love on a Dime! Cara's books are so much fun.


Emily S. said...

Please enter me! This sounds like a terrific book!

Carman said...

Please enter me! I can't wait to read this new book! :)

I live in the midwest. :)

booklovercb at yahoo dot com

holdenj said...

I read the Bobbsey Twins as a kid too! Love on Assignment looks really good, thanks for the info and chance to win! Happy reading from MN!

Kristen said...

This sounds like a great book! Please enter my name into the drawing.

jkfreitas at sbcglobal dot net

ladybug101 said...

please include me!