Last week, Belle Monday Lisa Wingate introduced us to a writer’s blog tour and invited me to join in the fun this week. So, I thought it would be fun to showcase someone many of you may not know, a writer friend I met at one of my very first writers’ conferences in 2006. Cara Putman and I both sat at a table, wide-eyed and filled with enthusiasm for learning the craft of writing fiction and for making contacts in the publishing industry. We quickly learned how much we had in common, most notably that we both worked in the legal field (Cara is an attorney and at the time I was still working full-time as a trial paralegal and legal investigator).
Over the next couple of years, I watched as Cara’s career as a novelist took off, with her first book Canteen Dreams debuting in 2008. Cara delighted readers with several more books in the following years. Her most recent, Shadowed by Grace has garnered rave reader reviews that include words like breathless, beautiful, captivating, fascinating, unforgettable, and passionate. This week Shadowed by Grace hit the coveted #1 on Amazon Kindle Sales, showing even more how much her readers are loving this story!
So, here’s how the blog roll works. Both Cara and I will take turns answering the blog questions and then we thought it would be fun to do a book give-away. Here we go . . .
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
KELLIE: I’m currently contracted to write the Texas Gold collection, four contemporary women’s fiction stories all set in metropolitan cities of Texas. The first, A Woman of Fortune, just released and tells the story of a Dallas socialite who loses her lavish lifestyle when her husband is arrested for commodities fraud. This one has sparked some lively discussions in books clubs as readers ponder what they would do if faced with this kind of betrayal by a man they loved. In my upcoming February release, Where Rivers Part, Dr. Juliet Ryan devotes her scientific acumen to corporate America, providing safe drinking water for millions–and affording her plenty of perks along the way. Then, without warning, a fast-moving disaster sweeps Juliet into a whirlpool of corporate scandal. Later in October, the one I’m working on now will release. The still untitled story is a tale of a broken marriage that gets rekindled (with a strong romantic line that is really challenging me!) The fourth will come out in 2016 and will be set in Austin.
CARA: I’m currently working on page proofs for my novella in Where Treetops Glisten. It’s a WWII Christmas novella collection that Tricia Goyer, Sarah Sundin and I wrote together. I’m so excited about this book that releases in September. I’m also dreaming up a legal suspense idea. It’s been fun and quite a change from the WWII books.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
KELLIE: If you are a huge fan of the popular television shows, Parenthood and The Good Wife, then you’ll love the Texas Gold collection! I spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America. I was one of the lead paralegals in the Jack-in-the-Box litigation, where uncooked hamburger resulted in the deaths of several toddlers and made many more critically ill. In the late nineties, I investigated the nation’s largest cattle fraud, which is now the subplot of my recently released A WOMAN OF FORTUNE. My books not only explore the heart issues that matter most to women, but often allow readers an inside peek into my former legal world.
CARA: For my WWII Historicals, my work differs because I love to find the unexplored stories. That means I stay away from known events and battles and instead focus on either what happened on the home front or a story of a group of people like the Monuments Men. Usually I stumble on some event or activity and the rest of the story builds around it. That’s what happened with Shadowed by Grace, a story of Monuments Men. I discovered their role in WWII, and then backed it up to Italy where they were first involved. Add in a heroine who was a photojournalist right behind the frontlines and a mystery to solve, and it was a fun book to write.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
KELLIE: I am meant to write stories for women that focus on relationships, and the deep places in life. People have many layers, and never more than in family dynamics and hard times. I’m intrigued with the coping mechanisms we employ to fill our empty places—that space inside of us designed to be inhabited by God. These are the stories of my heart.
CARA: I write what I do because I love to tell stories. I love to delve deeper into the question of where is God in life. How can I find Him when life looks bleak or uncertain. I write WWII novels because I want to honor the men and women of the Greatest Generation and their all encompassing roles in WWII. They are often unsung heroes and think they did nothing out of the ordinary. Attending a reunion in 2010 with a group of them was awe-inspiring because they were so humble and down to earth. Yet they freed concentration camps, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, lived heroism. I want to capture that and transmit it to a new generation through the lens of story.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
KELLIE: My ideas are often sparked by a story on the news, or from a former legal case. Each have an electronic file on my computer, kept in a popular writer’s software program called Scrivener. As time progresses, I throw thoughts and notes into those files and when a particular file has grown in size, I know that idea is likely one to carry a novel. When it’s time to work on a new story, I choose from the candidates in my files. From there, I build character worksheets, I gather maps, photos and travel information on the city where the novel will be set. I also travel to that city and gather more information and get a “feel” for where my characters live, work and encounter the issues of life. Next, I prepare a very basic outline of the plot that includes what their general world is, what interrupts the general world, and several plot points that will force a change in my main character so that she’s different at the end of the story than where she started. Usually, going through that process helps me identify the novel’s theme and what I want to say with the story. As I work through the writing process, and chapters start stacking up, the story often deviates from the original plan along the way. I discover new things about my characters, and encounter the unfolding story through their eyes. Sometimes I’m surprised to find the theme actually changes from what I anticipated, but that’s what makes the writing so fun for me. Because I am now a career novelist with a contract and looming deadlines, I write nearly every day. Most days, I start by nine and finish up around three o’clock in the afternoon, with a short break for lunch. That doesn’t include research trips and the weeks I spend in marketing activities around the launch of a book. And I spend about an hour in the morning and evening connecting with readers on social media sites, which is one of the best parts of this job!
CARA: My writing process is ever-changing. I write around life. Most often that’s in the wee hours of the evening and morning. Other times, it’s camped at my local Panera for several hours. But I write and create because I love the process. I love creating characters, dreaming up their story, understanding why they are the way they are and more. There are days it is hard work, but I love the end result.
Thank you for joining us, Cara! Even though we’ve been acquainted for years, I learned many new things about you and your books. And, I was so tickled to introduce you to the Southern Belle View followers.
You can learn more about Cara and check out all her books at her website: www.caraputman.com
To follow the blog tour and learn the gritty details of more behind-the-scenes writer-lives, visit Lisa Wingate’s post last week or time travel writer Lynne Gentry’s blog post next Monday. Cara Putman will be hosting an author as well….so watch her blog site!
Writer Girls Blog Tour Giveaway!
In celebration of the blog tour, we’re giving away signed copies of A Woman of Fortune and Shadow of Grace, two stories that will capture your heart. To enter, leave a comment answering the question of the day. We’ll announce a winner back here in the comments on Tuesday morning at eight o’clock am!
Question of the day: Cara likes to write about unsung heroes. Tell us – who is your unsung hero?
DON’T FORGET TO BUY YOUR COPY OF THESE RECENT BELLE RELEASES: