Friday, September 26, 2014

WHERE'S MY SILVER SPOON?


I’ve led an interesting life—or so it seems to me—but if I ever come upon the woman born with the silver spoon in her mouth that should have been in mine, I’m getting that spoon back!

My parents on their wedding day.
No, I don't understand  the the pose either.
My dad was a widower with four kids when he and my mom married. Mom was 23 years younger than Dad and two years younger than her eldest stepson. Yes, we’re an odd family (in so many ways). They lived in a frame house in Dodson, Texas, which went from a thriving community to almost a ghost town once the new highway bypassed Dodson. My dad managed the cotton gin there.

My folks and youngest half-brother, Herschel,
in California several years before I was born
When I was about ten months old, my parents moved to Southern California. My four half-siblings had moved there earlier. We settled in Oildale, a suburb of Bakersfield. My dad worked first as a carpenter and then as a building contractor. The next house he built was always going to be for us, but the housing shortage always won and—after hasty discussion—he and my mom couldn’t turn down the profit of a sale.

One of my favorite photos of my parents and me
In the meantime, I had gone from healthy baby to puny toddler and child. In addition to asthma and allergies, I contracted San Joaquin Fever and it settled in my lungs. Eventually, doctors told my folks we had to leave the valley or I’d die. I was so ill that I don’t remember the move.

I do remember making up adventure stories (starring me, of course) while having to rest and whenever I was sick. My dad taught me to read early as he placed a high value on education.  Mostly I had comic books with only a few books such as HEIDI, A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES by Robert Louis Stevenson, and the Little Golden book of A CHILD’S LITTLE BOOK OF PRAYERS.


To improve my health, we moved to West Texas where my dad again managed a cotton gin. After three years in small communities, Dad decided to buy cotton and we finally were able to have our own home in Lubbock. By this time, my younger brother had been born and was four month old. Poor Dad. Imagine having babies spread over a forty-year span. No, thanks! Poor Mom. She was quite surprised to find herself expecting a second child ten years after the first.

Fifth grade
In the meantime, I had discovered there was more to life than Roy Rogers (sorry, Roy) and had gone on to read any book I could get my hands on, mostly Nancy Drew titles. I waffled between wanting to be a girl detective a la Nancy Drew or a famous writer like Carolyn Keene. Well, I never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer—I had no idea there was no Carolyn Keene.

In Lubbock, I sort of enjoyed school, especially English and reading and history classes. Fie on math and PE! With my dad’s encouragement, I signed up for journalism and eventually became editor of the school paper and won some awards. Turns out the reason Dad wanted to live in Lubbock was so that my brother and I could live at home and go to Texas Tech. I started but only have my associate degree, which was a big disappointment to my dad.

Mom with my brother Donald

Blah, blah, blah, fast forward a few years. I was lucky enough to marry my Hero, the older brother of a classmate. We lived in the Dallas area and each of our daughters was born there. We moved a lot, sometimes for stupid reasons such as we wanted a larger yard or a smaller yard or closer to a park.

Once we moved to Cupertino, California, so Hero could get out of defense work. The company there then used his name to secure a defense contract. We might have stayed there but our eldest daughter developed a dislocated hip and had to have surgery and be in a body cast for nine months. Being young, we blamed California and wanted to come “home.”

Another time, Hero was wooed by a company in Orlando, Florida, but we concluded after two-and-a-half years there that we’re Texans at heart and returned. Although I’d been a stay-at-home mom until we moved to Florida, while there I was a feature columnist and reporter for a small newspaper. I enjoyed the job, but didn’t make much money—but I met tons of interesting people. The good thing was that the owner-editor who recruited me allowed me to work around my asthmatic kids’ sick days and school hours.

Our daughters

We moved back to Texas and I went back to being stay-at-home mom. That is, until our eldest daughter chose to go to Texas Christian University. Tuition sticker shock! I went to work for an emeritus professor who was managing editor of a psychology journal. By this time we’d purchased an orchard in Parker County and planned to build there. About a year after we’d moved, I went to work for the local tax assessor collector as bookkeeper. Yes, I remember I said I didn’t like math, but I meant advanced math. There’s something soothing in the fact that two plus two is always four.

For several years I’d been writing a romance. I finished that one and started another. By this time I’d heard about Romance Writers of America and joined the national organization and a local chapter, then a second local chapter. Wow, what a shock to hear interesting programs on character arc, plotting, character development, point of view, and more. There are rules? Who knew?

Through friends I met in the local RWA chapter, I made my first sale to Kensington in 1998. I was not that happy with the severely cut version of BE MY GUEST, but when rights reverted to me, I revised the book to include the suspense portion that had been chopped out and removed a couple of trite phrases that had been inserted. I published two more books and a novella with that publisher.


Now I’ve a total of eighteen books published, several box sets, and two audio books. My latest effort is a companion duet box set with Jacquie Rogers titled MAIL-ORDER TANGLE. The first in the duet is mine, MAIL-ORDER PROMISE, about Kage Johanssen and Ellie Dickerson. The second, MAIL-ORDER RUCKUS by Jacquie, is about Matt Johanssen and Laura Dickerson. The two heroes are cousins and the two heroines are sisters. http://amzn.com/B00MZ6ZRXC
In a few weeks, the boxed set  WILD WESTERN WOMEN will release and includes novellas by Callie Hutton, Kirsten Osbourne, Sylvia McDaniel, Merry Farmer, and me as well as bonus short stories by a couple of us.  


Later this fall, my Christmas novella titled STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS will be released. Unless I start writing faster while laid up after extensive ankle reconstruction, WINTER BRIDE won’t be published this year as scheduled. (Writing with the keyboard balanced on my stomach is not as easy or as productive as I’d hoped.)

Hero and me on the ferry
from England to Ireland

A year ago, Hero and I downsized to a home in Hurst, Texas near my best friends. We love living here and feel fortunate that our daughters are not far away in Fort Worth and Greenville. Our home is shared by our rescue pets of a Shih Tzu dog Webster, large tuxedo cat Sebastian, and Max, a Manx-Siamese mix cat. Although my mom didn’t like to read until she was retired and my aunt gave her a copy of THE THORN BIRDS, she became an avid reader and my devoted fan, My parents have both passed on, but I know they’d be happy I’ve continued writing. 

8 comments:

  1. Caroline, you had me laughing all the way through this and sniffling at the end -- just like your stories do. What a wonderful look at your life. Thanks so much for giving us a peek at the lady behind the pen. :-)

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  2. Caroline, what a life you've had! So interesting! Now, I can't imagine not wanting to read--like you said your mom was until she read The Thorn Birds--and it seems you've ALWAYS wanted to read! I didn't know there wasn't a real "Carolyn Keene" either. Oh, how I loved those Nancy Drew stories! I couldn't get enough of them. I tried Trixie Belden, but she just didn't do it for me like Nancy did. LOL

    I am so anxious to read this book you and Jacquie did together. It looks fantastic, and I always love "family connections" like what you have in there.

    I'm so glad to get to know you better. My sisters were 10 and 12 when I was born. You're brother probably thought he had two moms, right? LOL

    Cheryl

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  3. WOW what an interesting life you've led. Loved getting to know you better, Caroline.It's interesting how you had those older brothers to watch over you. Thanks for sharing. :)

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  4. Oh Caroline, I loved your mobile life and all the crazy reasons you moved. Your family dynamics are so interesting--and entertaining, I might add.
    Your upcoming winter story looks wonderful. Honestly, I can't imagine writing the way you've had to since your ankle surgery. I don't blame you for holding off on that second story.
    Loved reading about your childhood. All the very best to you.

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  5. Oh, and one more thing, Caroline, maybe it would be better to be born with a silver spork in your mouth--more versatile.

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  6. Caroline, I had no idea you'd moved around so much. Glad you and your hero finally put down roots here in North Texas.

    Your sense of humor shines through even in your personal story. You made grin several times. :-))

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  7. Caroline--I'm so glad you successfully got resettled in your new home. You do sound very happy, as I know you are as a natural thing.
    Oh, yes, I almost forgot that we're probably "cousins", having events and places in our lives resembling. So, howdy, Cuz.
    I do love those photos. Your parent on that IBeam? My Lord, were they really up there or was that photos hopped. Oh, wait..no such thing back then.
    My favorite is you with your parents. Your dad is a classic 50s man in those wonderful slacks and shirt...and so handsome. Your mother is pretty and seems quiet and a little shy.
    You? Love those pigtails.
    Thanks for sharing all this...

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  8. Carolyn - "Blah blah blah fast forward a few years." LMAO You do crack me up. One of the most interesting women I have ever known, and you talk about your life in such a fast-paced, entertaining manner, it was like your editor at the newspaper told you make it short and to the point.I loved it. Very uplifting. Alas, mine will be the opposite. And since I have the flu, I am too tired to go in and try and make it 'fun and entertaining'. Oh, well...

    I had to smile at the photo of you at ten. You still make that same expression. And I love the photo of you and Lilburn on the ferry in Ireland. You need a re-shoot on your next trip there. (((hugs)))

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