Caryl McAdoo is the founder and creator Thanksgiving Books & Blessings collection two, which was just released this past week. Her Christian western romance, Texas Tears, is book three in that collection and its my pleasure to review it here today on Writing to be Read for this month’s Christian fiction theme. (You can also catch my review of book four from this collection, Mail-Order Misfire, by Davalynn Spencer here.)
Some of the transitions in Texas Tears were abrupt and unclear, and I found myself having to reread to determine who was speaking at times, or what setting we were in, but nothing some well placed dialog tags wouldn’t fix. The historical details are accurate to time and setting, and the story itself is heartwarming, with a delightful Southern twang.
Texas Tears is the story of two young girls, childhood friends and cousins, Miss Arlene Van Zandt and Miss Charity O’Neal, both hoping for their perfect dream man, with their sites set on one in particular. The same one, Hart de Vecchi. Hart seems content to be the wedge driven between the two friends while he tries to make up his mind, but by playing with the hearts of both women, he risks ending up alone.
A story of love, faith, and endurance. Texas Tears is everything a Christian western romance should be. I give it four quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.
As we seek out Christian fiction, I’m reviewing two books from the recently released Thanksgiving Books & Blessings collection – a gathering of Christian western romance, authored by six Christian fiction authors. I have the privilege of reviewing two books from this collection; book two: Mail-Order Misfire, by Davalynn Spencer, last Friday, and book three: Texas Tears, by Caryl McAdoo. In addition to reviewing these Christian western romances, I’m pleased to be interviewing both authors. Last Monday, Davalynn was my guest, and today I have the pleasure today of chatting with the author of Texas Tears and founder of the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings collections, Caryl McAdoo. Please give her a big welcome.
Caryl: Hey, Kaye! It’s great being here with you, and I want to thank you again for this opportunity. I love meeting new bloggers who enjoy reading!
Kaye: It’s great to have you here. To start, can you share a little about your author’s journey? How did you come to be a Christian fiction author?
Caryl: My husband Ron and I wrote a three hundred eighty-five page novel by HAND back in the late 1980s. We paid to have it transcribed and sent it to New York! Again and again and again . . . rejections were aplenty! So in 1993, the Lord led us to a writers’ workshop where we were mentored and learned the craft of writing creative fiction.
That took six years before the first book was published in 1999. For the next nine years, we contracted an average book a year, all with smaller publishers. Then we met a New York agent at an East Texas Writers’ Conference. She said to write her a “Christian historical romance” set in the 1800s and she’d sell it. We did, and she did! To Simon and Schuster’s Howard Books Imprint! We thought we had arrived. That was our tenth title to be published, VOW UNBROKEN, and also where my dearly beloved’s name was removed from the front cover. First the agent then the editor at S&S said one author’s name was best, and female’s preferred for the genre.
So though we were Christians most our lives and our first ten titles were “clean” for the most part. It was our agent who caused us to write our first ‘Christian’ book. And we still write them all together—that’s why I have such strong heroes. We love discussing the story’s plot and about the characters. I adopted the tagline “Praying my story gives God glory!” and that’s exactly what I do! It’s a joy writing clean novels with no cursing and no on-scene intimacies!
Plus, I love the “community of Christian authors and readers. It is such a blessing and honor to serve God’s Kingdom on earth by writing.
Kaye: When did you know that you wanted to become an author?
Caryl: Well now, that goes WAY back to 1962 when I was in the 7th grade and wrote a homework essay on what I’d be doing in the year 2000. I was twelve then and would be fifty in 2000. I wrote about being an “intergallactically” famous author rocketing from planet to planet autographing books! But what can I say? The space program let me down!
Kaye: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
(image of HEARTS book cover)(image TEARS book cover)
I guess after marketing, I mostly play games! Ron and I play a game called Quirkle almost every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.We’re very competitive and keep all the scores and stats and know who won the most games for the month and had the most points accumulated.We also play bridge Thursday nights and once a month on Tuesday at our bridge clubs, and there’s a couple who comes to our house every Friday night to play,too. We take turns fixin’ dinner. One night a week is planned or dinner and games at my son’s, usually Farkle.
Kaye: What is the biggest challenge of writing Christian fiction?
Caryl: Hmm . . . I guess I’d have to say getting the stories out there to the readers. To me, there’s no challenge in the actual writing. In the beginning there was — understanding point of view! POV was not easy to grasp, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it! An author’s good understanding of POV is why readers feel like they are right there IN the story WITH the characters; why they love the characters so much.There was a LOT of other stuff to learn, but it was easy to get. After writing as many books as I have now, the writing isn’t really a challenge. I’d say it’s fun and rewarding, exhilarating!
Kaye: What is the biggest joy of writing Christian fiction?
Caryl: Working with so many awesome people! Readers and authors and promotion folks, the whole nine yards! I get to write awesome stories that help people learn to forgive, stop worrying, not be fearful, watch the words they say . . . doing all these things cause one’s life to be more peaceful. If they get the principles down,they will find they have more joy, too. What a blessing to affect lives in such a positive way!
Kaye: You write in several sub-genres of Christian fiction: both historical and contemporary romance, Biblical fiction, and mid-grade/young adults. Which is your favorite to write in? Why?
Caryl: Without a doubt, my favorite is the historical romance genre. I love the stories of falling in love and the gentler times of bygone days. Folks worked hard, and families stuck together back then. Women were more modest, and children had plenty of time to be kids. Most of the time, Father went to work and earned the income that housed and fed the family while Mother stayed home to keep the house, cook, and care everyone. Children helped out, too. They felt no entitlement and didn’t resent their chores. It was what was expected. They didn’t have air conditioning back then or so many of our modern-day conveniences, but they had each other and shared so much that the younger generations today have no concept of. Those adventurous souls who left hearth and home to settle the new lands in the West were a rare breed indeed.
Kaye: Texas Tears is your most recent novel, featured in the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection. What can you tell me about that story?
Caryl: It’s a continuation of my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, book three, and there’s a big Thanksgiving dinner surprise at the end. Set in 1845, the Texas Congress is deciding whether to join the Union or remain a Republic, thus the“Texas tears.” Plus there’s this one handsome Prince Charming kind of fellow and two best friends both think they love him . . . more tears. It’s a romance and there’s a happily ever after for at least one of the young women.
Kaye: What is the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection and how did you get involved in the project?
Caryl: Back in 2013, I planned a multi-author Facebook party I called the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Bash, inviting some of my author friends to participate. That’s my favorite holiday of the year. I did that every November following until last year in 2018.
Since it was the event’s fifth anniversary, I wanted it to be special, so I came up with the collection idea and asked the authors that year to write a Thanksgiving story. I had nine that first year, and so this will be the second year for the collection. I’m so excited about having Mary Connealy, Samantha Bayarr, Allison Pittman, Davalynn Spencer, and Liz Tolsma joining me this year! It’s going to be so special! We’re all writing stand-alone novels or novellas with Thanksgiving playing a big part in the story. Readers loved the idea last year, and this year is already surpassing all my expectations. I suspect it will grow every year as I plan on keeping it going!
Kaye:What do you think is the most important element that makes a Christian story?
Caryl: To my way of thinking, all Christian stories will be free from on-scene intimacies and cursing. But what makes it ‘Christian’ is at least one character, maybe several, who live their lives seeking God, His Word and wisdom. I try to include themes such as dealing with fear or worry, the value of forgiveness, responding in love when hurt or disappointed instead of anger or bitterness.
This all makes for some great conflict. In TEXAS TEARS, one of the young heroines has a wonderful character arc, from being self-centered and prideful to caring for others as much as herself. So without being preachy, Godly principles are lived out through my folks.
Kaye: In addition to being an author, you also teach creative fiction. Tell me a little about that. How did you get into it? Why do you find it fulfilling?
Caryl: Well, that aspect of my daily activities came from receiving so much help and mentoring as a new writer. I want to give back, help others on their writing journey to be successful by sharing what I’ve been so privileged to learn. We all pretty much make the same mistakes when we first start.
I determined that from editing professionally for eleven years. I put out a great help a few years back in STORY & STYLE, The Craft of Writing Creative Fiction, told in an easy to understand conversational format with tons of examples. It helped me to not repeat the same things over and over.
Writing creative fiction is different from every other kind, and it can be learned. The same tools—Point of View (POV), scene and sequel, active versus passive, where to open a story to hook your reader, and a satisfying third act, bring the story to an end readers will love and remember.
But the writer must be a storyteller first, and that, I believe, is a gift. And every writer must be willing to rewrite. One of my favorite sayings is ‘Only God writes in stone, the rest of us rewrite!” I googled that one day to quote its originator, and dear Google gave me the credit. I think it might actually have been my husband.
Kaye: How many different series do you have published? Tell me a little about them.
Caryl: I have the two historical romance family saga series, Texas Romance and the Cross Timbers Romance, plus the historical collections I’m in: Lockets and Lace, Prairie Roses (covered wagon stories), Gold Diggers, and Thanksgiving Books & Blessings we’ve already discussed.
As a reader I always loved family sagas and I find I enjoy writing those just as much. I come to love the folks in them. It’s so hard to leave them behind. When my patriarch of Texas Romances passed in book eight, COVERING LOVE, I wept through the writing and the reading at my writers’ workshop!
That series has ten titles, but then there are six extras (so far) I call “Companion Books” with more tales of either ancestors or descendants. And I’ve started the new Cross Timbers that TEXAS TEARS is book three. I have a Red River Romance series of contemporary stories.
The Generations is my Biblical fiction series that so far covers from Adam to Abraham in the generations of God’s book. I love reading Biblical fiction that bring those old familiar characters to life, but am adamant that the fictional story does not deviate from the Bible’s. I mean how dare anyone think they can improve on God’s stories!
Kaye: You are pretty prolific in your writing. How many books have you released in 2019?
Caryl: Seven, and it was almost overwhelming! I believe all of them were over fifty-thousand words, but four of them are full length novels (around ninety to a hundred twenty-five thousand words). If it was just the actual writing, no problem, but being an Indie, I deal with editors and proofreaders — making their corrections and considering their suggestions, getting graphic artists to get the covers done, the formatting of the book’s interior, uploading to publish at Amazon, then the marketing with ‘Cover Reveal’ and ‘Launch’ events, and always on-going promotion.
Kaye: How big a part does networking play in the success of Christian writers?
Caryl: Huge. Christian authors for the most part all help one another. It’s beautiful how there’s so little jealousy and infighting in the community. The large majority want to see the others succeed as much as we want to be successful ourselves, so it just makes everything run so smoothly. And in God’s economy, everyone involved in any project or endeavor walks away blessed.
Kaye: What is your greatest writing accomplishment to date?
Caryl: There is one novel, my first ‘Companion Book’ that went back to the ancestors of the family first met in book nine MIGHTY TO SAVE, the Harrises, who I love. Its title is THE BED WARMER’S SON. One reader says it is her favorite all-time book of all the ones she’s read. Many called it the best of the best or my Magnum opus or my piece de resistance. I love the story, too, and have been thrilled at its reception!
Kaye: What’s next for Caryl McAdoo? What can your readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Caryl: Well, I’m planning five new titles in 2020. One for each of my collections — Prairie Roses, Gold Diggers, and Thanksgiving Books & Blessings, a special year as the authors will all set their stories in the Civil War era—and the Sweet Americana Sweethearts’ collection lockets and Lace, plus an extra story LEAVIN’ TEXAS for the Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga series. That one is coming in January. I’ve just passed the sixty thousand word mark writing that one.
Caryl: Thank you so much again, Kaye for inviting me to share with your readers! I so appreciate the opportunity and would like to offer a GIVEAWAY for them! For one of those commenting, I’ll send a print copy of either family saga’s book one—VOW UNBROKEN or GONE TO TEXAS, winner’s choice—AND—an eBook of the same to a second winner, so readers in other countries can win, too! (Print books to U.S. only please)
Please answer this question to enter: How many books do you prefer in a series like mine and how many is too many? (if there is such a thing)
Thank you so much Caryl for joining me here and sharing with my readers. This has truly been a fun interview. I hope everyone will be sure to take part in the giveaway by responding to her question. You can learn more about Caryl McAdoo and her many books on her website or on her Amazon Author page. And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Texas Tears today, too.
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