Gabe Kincaid has reasons to hate lies and those who tell them. He moved from Austin to Kincaid Springs and joined his great uncle’s law firm. Gabe believes he’s happy and pushes aside those moments of loneliness, of wishing for more. He strongly believes in the law, in justice, and obeying rules. Doing what’s right is fulfilling, isn’t it? Then why is he so fascinated with a circus fortuneteller who spins tales faster than a cowboy whirls his lariat?
Katie Worthington poses as Dorothy Duncan in a small-time circus. If she isn’t behind the scenes mending costumes or in the circus kitchen, she’s disguised as the fortuneteller, Maharani Shimza, Mystic of the East. Even so, she worries about being killed by the men pursuing her. She fears a brawl at her fortune telling tent that sends her into the Kincaid’s protective custody will end with her exposure and death. Then, a death at the circus implicates her. How can she escape when that attorney pops up every time she turns around?
Will Gabe and Katie let the sparks between them ignite into a passionate romance or will her secrets destroy their chance at a happily ever after?
She pressed her hand against his arm. “Don’t, Gabe. It’s such a nice afternoon. Don’t spoil it by prying.”
“All right. But I wish you’d trust me with all your secrets, Shimza. Damn, I feel like a fool calling you that but I don’t even know your real name.”
“Shimza will do. And I do trust you to keep me safe here.”
“But you don’t think I could if you told me more, is that it?” He gently clasped her shoulders and turned her to face him.
She met his gaze, pleading with him, “Please, it’s too . . . complicated.”
Slowly he slid his hands across her shoulders, lightly up her neck, and caressed her face with his thumbs. He rested his hands gently on either side of her face. “Then let’s make it a little more complicated.” He leaned forward and claimed her lips.
She dissolved against him. His gentle kiss increased in fervor. Her arms slid around him and her fingers weaved into his hair.
His hands slid across her back. Stroking. Touching. Hugging.
One of his strong hands skimmed her ribs beneath her breast. Brazenly, she wished he’d move higher where she ached to be touched. As it was, the heat of his touch near burned through her clothing.
He broke their embrace, his chest heaving. “I’ve never kissed a client. Damn, Grandpa will have my hide.”
She rested her head against his powerful shoulder. “Mmm, I don’t think so. Perhaps you noticed we were seated next to one another at dinner. I could be wrong, but I think the Judge and Mrs. Gamble are conspiring. Judge Kincaid smiled when we left the dining room together.”
“You don’t say? Then, if it’s all right with you, I’m kissing you again.”
And he did. Not that she was an expert, but her verdict was he kissed very well indeed.
Do you have a pen name? How did you come up with your pen name?
Yes. Both my maiden name and my married name are very common names. So, I chose my grandmother’s maiden name as my pseudonym. I’ve used it since my first book was published in 1998, so by now I feel like this is me.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I have to plot books. I think of plotting as a road map. While it’s true that I sometimes take detours along the way, I always go back to the main highway.
What do we have to look forward to in the future?
Right now I’m writing the second of my Texas Home trilogy, BACK TO MY TEXAS HOME, which will be out in June. After that, I’ll be writing a book to pair with one by Jacquie Rogers in our duet we plan to release in September. I also plan to do the second of the Texas Home trilogy in the summer sometime. Later I will do another Men of Stone Mountain book.
Which one of your characters do you most identify with? Why? If not one of your characters then any character.
Probably Pearl Parker from THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE. Because that book started with a little story my grandmother told me, I’m always reminded of Grandmother when I think of that book. In general, I always identify with my characters, especially the hero and heroine. As writers, I believe we put a bit of ourselves in each character, whether good or bad.
If you could sit down with anyone in the world who would it be?
I’ll say maybe the Pope or the real Dali Llama. Or maybe Nora Roberts. LOL You see how my mind is all over the place.
You are a published author! What made you succeed where others fail?
Luck! You know Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, said the harder he worked, the luckier he became. LOL I have worked hard (18 titles, two anthologies, and 5 boxed sets) through the years. I take my writing seriously. I try to keep up with this business that changes almost daily. Even though writing is a lonely profession, we must network to stay abreast of changes in the industry. That’s where indie publishing is so great—we indie authors don’t have to wait for bureaucracy to change. We can jump in and change immediately.
What advice would you have for someone who is just starting out?
Hone your craft. Read a lot. Find good critique partners who are strong in your weak areas, but make sure they are people who will offer constructive criticism. Don’t let anyone steal your dream! Persevere.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My crazy mind. I hear something on the news or read something that sets the wheels turning and a story idea pops up. Of course, if you are a writer, you know the idea is the easy part. Writing the book is more involved. Anything can plant a kernel that becomes a story. Even driving down the road, seeing an old house or barn, can spark what ifs. You’ve probably heard that a writer is either writing or thinking about writing. It’s true about 90% of the time.
What attracts you to your genre?
I write several genres—contemporary western romance, time travel, mystery, and western historical romance. Most of my stories are western historical romances, though. When I was growing up, my dad would talk about when his ancestors came to Texas about 1875 and on until 1900. I loved hearing those stories. When I was in school, I had several good history teachers. The best one was at Texas Tech. These educators furthered my love for Texas history that began with my father, and I especially enjoy 1870-1890. By now I have tons of research material and books in this era and can immerse myself for a story.
What does your desk look like?
Oh, dear, right now it’s a mess. It’s a wonderful faux dark cherry corner desk my Hero bought me to encourage my writing. I have shelves above for the most important research books. (The internet is great, but some things need a book for validity.) right now my big 18 lb cat, Sebastian, is sitting on my left arm. He thinks he’s a kitten. My radio/CD player is on my right for mood music. Behind the cat is my land line phone. Near the radio is my cell phone. Behind me is a long bookcase. My desk is in my tiny office, only seven feet by ten feet. I love my space though. It’s painted pink and has all my knick knacks in a glass-door hanging cabinet over another desk at my right on which my printer sits. It’s my own private paradise I call my pink cave.
What was the first novel/short story/poem you wrote? Did you ever publish it?
My contemporary western romance, BE MY GUEST, was published by Kensington in 1998 as my first published novel. For years I had written newspaper stories. I also wrote long (like 20 page) letters filled with anecdotes about our lives. My sister said she hated when I started writing novels because the letters turned into short notes.
Any spoilers you can give us about upcoming releases or projects?
BACK TO MY TEXAS HOME is a sweet contemporary (yes, I usually write sensual) romance set in West Texas in which a bad boy returns to his hometown to take charge of his seven orphaned nieces and nephews. A bachelor suddenly thrust into the parental role for seven kids aged from 18 months to 12 years faces quite a challenge. His old reputation creates a problem when there’s a robbery in town and he’s suspected. Even though he soon clarifies the matter, he has some upsetting moments. Of course, there’s a gorgeous woman who happens to be the social worker for the local children’s home—and also happens to still have a crush on him after his 13 year absence.
Where do you like to do your writing?
I prefer to write in my office at my desk on my PC. I know, people say the desktop is a dinosaur soon to disappear. I have a laptop, but I think better at my desktop with my favorite keyboard and my cushy desk chair. My husband keeps a spare keyboard ready for when I wear one out, which I’ve done numerous times. I have a favorite style keyboard with a particular touch that allows me to write faster. In addition, about a year ago I bought one of the large monitors, which I love.
How do you come up with your titles?
The title has to relate in some way to the book. I’ve learned my lesson with long titles, though. From now on they’re going to be as short as possible and no song titles. I already had published HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME, the first of the Texas Home series, when I had this revelation to stick with short titles. Hence, my latest title is GABE KINCAID.
Do you have a specific writing style?
Every author does, don’t you agree? I don’t know what mine is—it’s just me. I also have written newspaper articles, for newsletters, etc. My mom told me she could always tell when an article was mine, so I guess I’m consistent if nothing else. LOL
Is there a message in your novel you want your readers to grasp?
Occasionally one of my books will have personal fulfillment as a theme, but most have redemption as a basis. I strongly believe that no person is beyond redemption and no situation is so bad that it cannot be turned around.
How much of the book is realistic?
It’s called fiction for a reason. ;D Seriously, I hope that all of my books are presented so that they are credible. I do a lot of research, even on the contemporary novels, and hope readers can immerse themselves into the story as if they were there.
Now, that’s not to say that a real event doesn’t inspire the fiction. As I mentioned above, my grandmother’s very short story about a girl she knew as a child inspired Pearl Parker in THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE. On a drive home from visiting our parents in West Texas, my family was caught in a thunderstorm near the Salt Fork of the BrazosRiver. That reminded me that when I was in high school, my theater teacher and his wife rescued a family whose car had been swept onto the high train trestle between Snyder and Post, Texas. By the time we arrived home from that trip, I’d come up with the plot for BE MY GUEST, my first published book.
What books have influenced your life most?
So many books have left their mark that I can’t choose only a few. You probably don’t mean Nancy Drew or Little Women, right? I’ve been a voracious reader since I learned to read. As far as what I write now, I think it would be Nora Roberts. Also Maggie Osborne, Lorraine Heath’s western historicals, Julie Garwood, Loretta Chase, Louis L’Amour, Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz, and Agatha Christie made a big impact. Goodness, it’s hard to single out a few when so many great writers have impressed me, but those are the authors I consistently reread for their phrases, descriptions, and anything else I can learn.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Early on, Lorraine Heath was very kind and encouraging. Sylvia McDaniel, Carol Rose, and Kathy Shaw helped me get my first sale by sharing information. Now, Geri Foster is my main encourager and pushes me to do more. Geri, Carra Copelin, and Brenda Chitwood are my critique partners who encourage and inspire me.
What book are you reading now?
Just started Nora Roberts’ THE COLLECTOR today at the dentist. Hard not to play hookey to see what happens next.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Aren’t there some wonderful new authors? Carra Copelin, Tessa Gray, Kristy McCaffery, and many others.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Yellow Rose Chapter of RWA members have supported and nurtured me. Before that chapter was formed eleven years ago, Dallas Area Romance Authors (DARA) filled that place. I’d go to DARA more often, but it’s quite a drive for me.
Do you see writing as a career?
You bet I do! It IS my career. A day I don’t write something is rare.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Yes, I would have plotted it. I need to work from a well plotted plan but the last two books have been ones I just outlined. I just can’t work that way. From now on, I plot thoroughly! In fact, three friends and I are going on a plotting weekend this Friday to plot three books each. (Wine and chocolate may be involved.)
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My father inspired me. He read a lot and taught me to read when I was young. Once when I was dithering about having to write a paper for school, he told me I could write a story about anything. He pointed at a fly on our wall and told me I could write a story about where the fly had been, what he’d seen and heard. He said a person with imagination can write a story about a speck of sand. He died before I was published, but I know he would have been very proud of me.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Marketing! I love writing, love research, love plotting. I do not love marketing. It’s fun to connect with friends on Facebook, but not fun to engage in social media to promote books. I just want to write my stories. This is called the author’s lament, by the way. Serving cheese with that whine?
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Oh, no, you’re not trapping me with this question. How can I mention one without offending others? Nope, not answering this question. ;D
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Unfortunately, no. I always come up with a story wherever I travel, of course. Since I write Texas settings, I’ve been to the areas where my books are set. My youngest daughter and I did detour (our motto is “It’s on the way”) by Lost Maples Natural Area for my book THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE. Usually, though, I’ve already been to the places in my books. I think I need to set a series in Ireland or Costa Rica, don’t you?
Who designed the covers?
When I started indie publishing, we were on a tight budget and started with my husband designing the covers with free or low cost stock photos. As time progressed, we realized we needed more professional help. My husband has been willing to learn whatever I need help with, but he is not a graphic designer and really isn’t interested in becoming one. I bought a couple of premade covers from Jimmy Thomas at Romance Novel Covers. We have switched to Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs and Ramona Leatherwood at Book Covers by Ramona. I’m always looking for a good cover. The cover is so important to a sale.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keeping life from interfering. While I was writing THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP, we downsized houses from 5250 square feet with a lot of storage to 1900 square feet with very little storage. At the same time, I had foot surgery and my daughter had surgery. Things like that play havoc with writing and concentration. While I was writing GABE KINCAID, I had some medical problems, friends and a niece died, we were trying to make a few changes to our house, yada yada. At last, things are settling down (fingers crossed)
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I always learn something, even if it’s from the research. This last book had circus people involved, so I learned a great deal about a late 19th century circuses—much more than was included in the book.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my books. I love you, love you, love you! ♥ ♥ ♥ And, please leave a review and please sign up for my newsletter!
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
My difficulties are just from life and health interfering. When allowed to do so, I write up a storm. My husband is so supportive and does everything he can—including the cooking—to help me succeed. He said he wants me to make enough money to keep him in the style to which he’d like to become accustomed. ;D He is a treasure, which is why I call him Hero.
What were your expectations for your novels before you were published?
I wanted to be published. I thought then I’d have life made. Yes, I was naïve.
What are your expectations now that you are published?
Now that I’ve made Amazon’s bestselling list in western romance, I want to make a NYTimes or USAToday list or both. It cost no more to dream big.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you get through it?
If I get stuck, I ask my critique partners for ideas. They really are partners, and toss out ideas. But if I’ve plotted well enough, then that keeps me from getting stuck.
Do you ever write naked?
Not so far, but that would cut down on laundry, wouldn’t it? I do write in jammies and a robe some days. Mostly I write in jeans and an old tee shirt or baggie pants and a tee shirt. When I start putting on makeup, the pets sense I’m going out and get nervous.
Do you ever find yourself jealous of other authors? Who? Why?
Not jealous, per se. but I do wish I could increase my sales. No matter how much, I want them to increasse next month. We have to be reaching and stretching to grow.
How do you react to a bad review?
Usually, I just laugh it off. There is one for my last book that devastated me, though. Writers are so insecure. We can have dozens of great reviews, but we focus on that one bad one. I’m still gnashing my teeth.
Are the names of your characters in your novels important?
Sometimes. For my time travel, the name of the detective is Brendan Hunter. Brendan is the name of the saint to whom the heroine prayed when she came forward in time and was saved from a mob. Hunter is a good name for a detective, don’t you agree? Usually I use names from my ancestry for the time period, but I chose the Stone surname for the Men of Stone Mountain series because it’s such a strong, unyielding name.
How many people have you murdered over the course of your career?
Not nearly enough. More to come in future books. I’ve murdered this one man who hurt my great grandmother about ten times. ;D
How many hearts have you broken?
Usually two a book, but they meet, mend, and live happily ever after.
Ever knocked someone off only to regret it?
Never. Die, you villain, die!
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
My look-alike, Stana Katic. Oh, wait, that’s only until I look in the mirror. I give up. I don’t think I’m destined for movie of the week.
Any topic you want to write about but don’t have the nerve to try?
I have a women’s fiction I have toyed with and don’t know if I’ll get around to or not. Also I would like to do this long, involved post Civil War novel about two cousins, one white and one black who flee Georgia and come to Texas.
Any topic you will never write about?
No true crime or horror for me. Can’t even read them.
What are the most important attributes to staying sane as a writer?
Chocolate and Dr Pepper. Seriously, my husband, daughters keep me sane. And my critique partners and I call our critique meetings our group therapy sessions.
What do you consider your biggest failure?
Becoming a grandmother. Neither of our daughters married. Big sigh.
Has your dog ever eaten your manuscript?
No, but our new puppy is determined to chew on everything else—in spite of all the rawhide chews she demolishes. She’s tried to devour two Amanda Quick hardbacks, but we’ve discouraged her. She’s too young to read that heat level.
How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?
Hmmm, I was a day-dreaming, imaginative kid. Hey, look, here I am doing the same thing for a living.
What are books for?
To entertain, educate, and give us hope that we, too, can rise above our flaws and obstacles to obtain a happily-ever-after.
Why do you think what you do matters?
See the above answer.
How many hours a day do you devote to writing?
If you count marketing, about eight to twelve hours a day.
Do you write every single day?
There are rare exceptions, but almost every day.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Not really. Sit down, start writing. Pretty basic stuff.
What kind of pen do you use?
A Dell. ;D
What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?
A good desk chair, a dependable computer system, and somewhere to set the computer or laptop. Some authors need quiet, some need music, some need white noise. I just NEED the first three. I enjoy also having music, a/c, and other niceties.
Do you prefer e-books, paper backs or hard covers?
Yes. I read anything, including box labels. I buy hard covers for books I intend to keep to reread multiple times. I buy paperbacks to give away or pass on. I like e-books for convenience and ease of reading. There’s no absolute: each has it’s purpose.
Do you buy a book by the cover?
If I don’t know the author I do.
Do you watch the movie and spoil the book or read the book and spoil the movie?
The book is always better than the movie, so I prefer to read the book first so I know what the movie omits or changes. Sometimes the book is so good, I don’t want to see the movie and have Hollywood mess it up. A case in point I saw and which disappointed me was THE HELP. It was good, but not nearly as good as the book. That’s a shame because many people will never read the book and know the difference. Or, as in the case of LONESOME DOVE, the actors—although I really like those chosen—did not match the people in my head so I just couldn’t see the movie. Yes, I know that’s crazy, but then I’m a writer so what do you expect?
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her latest release is GABE KINCAID, book four of her popular Kincaid series. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline is a member of Romance Writers of America, Yellow Rose Romance Writers, From The Heart Romance Writers, and Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Her latest publications include the acclaimed historical Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and BLUEBONNET BRIDE and the audio books of BRAZOS BRIDE and HIGH STAKES BRIDE.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. Prior to writing full time, her jobs included stay-at-home mom (her favorite), secretary, newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, bookkeeper for the local tax assessor and—for a short and fun time—an antique dealer. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with family and friends.