Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Caroline Clemmons Visits The Morgan Diaries
Mosey on up to the blog. Have we got a dog-gone treat in store for you cowpokes today. We've got the rooting tootingest Western Author sitting a spell with us today. I dun near yipped my kaiyaaa when she agreed to come on The Diaries.
J. Mo, I think you've overdone the Western Channel. Sorry, about that folks. You know how he gets when he gets a burr under his saddle. Great, now, he's got me doing it.
Come on, Morgan O. Let that inner cowgirl out.
Don't think so. Before he goes off and puts his Lone Ranger outfit on again, let me welcome the amazing Caroline Clemmons to our blog.
Caroline: Thanks you for letting me share your blog. Thanks also for the lovely introduction.
J. Morgan: I just finished The Texan's Irish Bride. Let me just say I was floored. You can see your love for the old west shine through with your writing. When did you first discover you wanted to write during that era in American History?
Morgan O: Perhaps, we should begin with what first sparked your love of the genre. For the record, I read The Most Unsuitable Wife and The Most Unsuitable Husband. They seemed like a matched pair, so I read them as such. I was right, they link together nicely.
Caroline: I do love reading and writing about the old west between 1870 and 1895, especially Texas settings. I think my fascination began as a child listening to my father talk about his ancestors coming from Georgia to Texas. When I studied Texas history in school, his stories made what I read come alive. I enjoy history of many eras, but the one just mentioned is by far my favorite.
Morgan O: The details in your books are so rich. How much research do you do for your books?
Caroline: I do a lot of research, even though I've read and written this time period for a decade. Each book requires particular research. For instance, The Texan’s Irish Bride required learning about Irish Travelers, Irish blessings, Irish history, and Central Texas. My daughter and I drove through Lost Maples State Natural Area on a trip from San Antonio. No, it’s not on the way, but it was a lot of fun to see the park first hand. We’d been to Bandera years ago, but went through again and also to Medina. The trip gave me a fresh idea of the land in the story.
J. Morgan: You've got a few series out at the moment. I know this is one of those questions all authors hate, but which one is closest to your heart?
Caroline: The book I’m writing is always my favorite, and currently that’s Bluebonnet Bride, book 3 of the Men of Stone Mountain trilogy. I have to admit that The Most Unsuitable Wife, Book 1 of the Kincaids, is probably my all-time favorite. In 2013, I plan to add another couple of books to the Kincaid series, one about Storm Kincaid and one about the attorney cousin, Gabe Kincaid.
Morgan O: Oh good, I like both Storm and Gabe. But which book presented the most challenges?
Caroline: The most difficult book I've written was Brazos Bride. The three Stone brothers are very close knit, so they look and act alike. Giving them distinct personalities and speech was impossible, but I tried. They develop more in the two following books, High Stakes Bride and Bluebonnet Bride. I’m still writing Bluebonnet Bride, but hope to have it completed soon.
J. Morgan: In Irish Bride, you can really get a feel for the characters, especially Cenora and her family. Do you have anything, or anyone, you draw inspiration from to craft such rich characters?
Morgan O: Also, the settings in your books have an authentic feel to them. Do you base them on actual places?
Caroline: My characters are real to me when I’m writing a book. I see them and hear the sound of their voices. I’m pleased you call them rich because I work very hard to create believable characters for readers, but they are not modeled after anyone. But we are a composite of all our experiences, so I use this bit I've heard and that. For instance, hearing about my neighbor’s dislocated shoulder helped me write a scene in High Stakes Bride where the heroine has dislocated her shoulder falling from a tree. My neighbor’s bull lovingly nudged her into a round hay bale, so the experiences are different, but hearing her helped me make the scene realistic. I prefer writing about fictional towns near real towns. Occasionally, such as with Lost Maples State Natural Area, I use a real place. Using fictional towns gives me the leeway to create whatever I need for the story. No one can say “That street doesn't go there” or “That building was two streets over.”
J. Morgan: You also dabble in Mystery. Which comes easier to you when writing? Suspense or Westerns?
Caroline: Most of my westerns have mystery in them. I enjoy both mystery and romance, so combining them is perfect. I do enjoy writing contemporary mysteries, but right now I’m concentrating on western romance with mystery included, particularly historical romance.
J. Morgan: Before we allow you to saunter off into the sunset, it's a tradition here on The Diaries to hit you with one off-the-wall question before we let you scurry out the door. If you could be transported back to the Old West for one day, would you rob a stagecoach or…
Morgan O: Strap on the tin star and single handedly ride down desperadoes Good looking ones in tight chaps of course.
Caroline: I’d love to be a deputy and ride with the sheriff after those desperadoes which is what I dreamed of when I was a kid. I wanted to ride with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans to rid the west of bank robbers and rustlers. No single-handed captures for me, though. I love reading and writing the Old West, but I’m glad I live now instead of then, aren't you?
Morgan O: Thanks, for stopping by today, but before you ride off into that sunset, we'd love for you to dazzle our readers with an excerpt from one of your books.
Caroline: I thought I would give you an excerpt from High Stakes Bride, book 2 of the Men of Stone Mountain trilogy where Alice Price shows up at Zach Stone’s campsite with a dislocated shoulder.
~ Excerpt ~
Zach slipped into the bedroll and waited, pistol in hand. He feigned sleep, wondering what kind of man tarried nearby. Whoever it was could have picked Zach off, so the sidewinder must not have murder on his mind.
Probably up to no good hiding out like that, though, because any Westerner would share his campfire and vittles with anyone who rode into camp. Zach wriggled into a comfortable spot and lay motionless. Anger at recent events helped him remain awake.
The footfalls came so softly he almost missed them. He opened his eyes a slit, but enough to see a thin shadow move toward the fire. About then heavy clouds overhead parted and the moonlight revealed a boy who scooped up a slice of bacon and slid it into his mouth.
The culprit set Zach’s tin plate on the ground near the fire, ladled beans into it, and picked up a fork. He squatted down and balanced the plate on his knees before he commenced eating. Zach noticed he kept his left hand in his pocket the whole time.
Something must be wrong with the thief’s left arm. Looked too young for it to have been a casualty of the War. Lots of other ways to get hurt out here. Whatever had happened to his left arm, his right one worked well enough. He forked food into his mouth like he hadn’t eaten in a week.
Zach let him shovel beans for a few minutes. Crook or not, anyone that hungry deserved a meal. When the kid stopped eating, Zach couldn’t figure out what he was doing. It looked as if he used the fork to scratch around on the ground, so he must have eaten his fill. Zach slipped his hand from beneath the cover and cocked the pistol.
“Hold it right there, son. I’d like to know why you’re eating without at least a howdy to the man who provided the food.”
The boy paused, then set the plate down slowly. “I left money here on a rock to pay for it.”
Odd sounding voice, but the kid was probably scared. Zach slipped from his bedroll and stood, but kept his gun pointed at the food robber. “Maybe.”
Zach walked toward the kid, careful to train his gaze so the firelight didn’t dim his eyesight. Sure enough, he spotted a couple of coins on the rock beside his pot of beans, or what remained of them, and his empty plate.
He faced the intruder. “Why not just come into camp earlier instead of sneaking in after you thought I was asleep?”
“I—I was afraid you weren’t friendly.”
Zach thought he also heard the kid mutter what sounded like “...or maybe too friendly.” Must be the wind, he thought, as he neared the boy.
Zach motioned with his free hand. “I don’t begrudge anyone food, but I hate dishonesty and sneaking around. Stand up so I can see you.”
The kid stood, hat low over his face and his good hand clenched.
Zach reached to push the brim back. “What’s your name?”
The kid stepped forward. “None of your business, mister.”
A fistful of sand hit Zach’s face. He heard his assailant run. Mad as the devil, Zach brushed grit from his eyes and set out in pursuit. The kid was fast, he’d give him that, but so was Zach. His longer legs narrowed the distance between them. With a running lunge, he tackled the kid.
“Oof. Let me go.” The lad was all wriggles and kicking feet as he squirmed trying to escape.
Zach wasn’t about to let that happen. They rolled in the dirt. In one move Zach pinned the boy’s good arm. The hat fell aside and a mass of curls spilled around the kid’s face.
His jacket parted and unmistakable curves pushed upward where Zach’s other hand rested. Zach stared in disbelief. Registering his hand pressed against a heavenly mound shocked him and he jerked his paw away.
“Well, I’ll be damned. You’re not a boy.”
The woman glared at him. “Right, and you’re not exactly a feather. Get off me.”
Zach stood and bent to help her but she curled into a ball where she lay. “Ma’am, you okay?”
“Just dandy.” She sat up, moving like a hundred-year-old. She glared at him while holding her stomach with her good hand. The other arm dangled uselessly. “You’ve likely broken the few uninjured bones I had left.”
His temper flared. “Hey, lady, don’t try to put the blame on me. If you’d been honest and come into camp like any other traveler, I’d have shared my food with you.”
“Yeah, well a woman on her own can’t be too careful and I don’t know you or anything about you.”
Zach saw her point. Though most Western men would respect a woman, it wouldn’t help if she ran into one of the exceptions.
“What’s wrong with your arm?”
She glared at him and appeared to debate with herself before she said, “Fell out of a tree. My arm caught in the fork of a branch. Pulled it out of socket and I can’t get it back.”
Well hell. As if he didn’t have enough on his mind. Now that he’d decided not to speak to another woman unrelated to him, this bundle of trouble showed up needing a keeper.
Resigning himself to one more stroke of bad luck, he said, “Take off your coat and come over here to my bedroll.”
The campfire sparked less than her eyes. “I’ll do no such of a thing. Don’t be thinking you can take liberties because I ate your food and I’m injured. I paid for the food.”
Zach exhaled and planted his fists on his hips. “Ma’am, there’s not enough money in Texas to pay me to take liberties with you. If you’ll move to my bedroll and lie down, I’ll put your arm back in place. You’ll likely have to take off your, um, your shirt.”
She looked him up and down as if she weighed him and found him lacking. “I figured you for a rancher. You a doctor then?”
“Ranchers have to know a good bit about patching people.”
She straightened herself and swished past him as if she wore a ball gown instead of a man’s torn britches. Watching the feminine sway of her hips as she sashayed to the other side of the campfire, he wondered how he ever mistook her for male. He followed her and tried not to appreciate her long legs or the way the fabric molded to them like a second skin.
When she reached the blasted bedroll he’d been stuck with, she slid out of her jacket. A grimace of pain flashed across her face as the weight of the light coat slipped down her injured arm. In one graceful move she plopped down on the bedroll.
“You’re sure you can do this?” she asked and looked up at him.
Flickering firelight placed her features in shadow. Moving closer, he figured the poor light played tricks on him, for he couldn't tell the color of her hair. He decided she had light brown or dark blonde curls. Whatever color her eyes were, maybe blue or green, they were big and watched him with suspicion.
“Yes. Sorry, I don’t have any spirits with me to deaden the pain.”
“I never touch alcohol. If you’re sure you can do this, just get on with it.” She unbuttoned her shirt and winced as she slid the injured shoulder and arm free, and then stuck her chin up as if she dared him to make an improper comment or gesture.
He knelt beside her, keenly aware of the differences that proved her womanhood. A chemise of fabric worn so thin as to be almost transparent pulled taut across her breasts. He swallowed and willed himself to ignore the dark circles surrounding the pearly peaks thrusting at the flimsy material. The memory of the lush mound he’d touched briefly wouldn’t leave him. He’d been alone too long and had better concentrate on the job at hand.
“Stretch out and try to relax. I’ll be as gentle as I can, but this will hurt.”
“Hurts already, but I better put my bandana in my mouth so I don’t scream. I’m not a whiner, mind, but wouldn’t want to draw attention if there’s others nearby.” She slipped the cloth knotted around her neck up to her mouth like a gag, then laid down.
She moaned but didn’t fight him. Zach had seen this done numerous times over the years and had performed it twice. He probed her shoulder gently, then rotated her arm to slip it back into place.
He listened for the snick of the bone reseating itself in the socket. When he finished, he massaged the muscles of her upper arm and shoulder. She’d likely be sore for weeks, but the harm she had done wasn’t permanent.
“Have to give it to you, ma’am. You were the quietest patient I’ve ever seen.”
J. Morgan: And, don't forget to tell our readers where all we can find you on the internet and some buy links. Okay, Morgan, can I put my ranger mask back on now?
Morgan O: Oh, go ahead. Hi-ho Silver!
Here are buy links for High Stakes Bride:
Print or Ebook at Amazon:
Barnes and Noble ebook
(Yes, I’m everywhere!) Here are my links:
View her BLOG posts Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and find book reviews, giveaways, interview, and miscellany.
Thanks again for having me as your guest. I’ve enjoyed myself. Yours is a fun place to visit!