Award-winning author Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. Her desire is to take readers to that familiar place in their hearts called “home.” Her three previous novels have won both local and national awards, including the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She’s been an Oklahoma Book Award finalist the past three years, and Stardust was recently short listed for the INSPY Award. She and her husband have four grown sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren. Sweet Dreams is her newest release.
Welcome back to Day 2 With our guest author, Carla Stewart!
Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?
Luckily, I’m able to write full-time, and since we’re empty nesters, there’s no added pressure of family at home. The downside is that three of our four sons and all of our grandchildren live several hours away. I have to plan ahead so I can attend their special events.
My biggest obstacle is ME. I procrastinate a lot, spend enormous amounts of time researching (most of which doesn’t end up in the story), or deceive myself into thinking I have more time than I actually do. I am learning to say no and guarding my writing time better. Still, I’m so very fortunate to be able to do this thing called writing J
What are one or two of the most interesting things you’ve learned while researching a novel?
In every book, I’ve learned wonderful things, but I’d have to say that the last two books have been some of the most delightful. In Stardust I learned a great deal about polio and the work of the March of Dimes and researched the setting by taking a trip to East Texas. Taking a riverboat ride on the bayou and learning about the ways of the bayou and the cypress that line its banks was like stepping into another world.In my current release, Sweet Dreams, Dusty wants to be a geologist. Her father has made a fortune drilling wildcats. Although I grew up around oil rigs and saw pump jacks every day, I’d never been on a rig or knew what the function/purpose of words I’d heard all my life—things like dog house, slush pit, and crow’s nest. YouTube videos gave me a virtual tour and made my scenes more authentic (I hope!).
What is the biggest misconception beginning writers have about being published?
That your first book is a work of genius, and you will have publishers fighting over it! After the sad reality sets in, I think new writers often don’t know how much time is needed to learn craft and to become familiar with the industry and building a platform. It’s not an overnight process and certainly not for the faint of heart. And it’s something that I’m still learning!
What would you like readers to gain from reading your books?
First, I want to give them an escape from their tattered, hurried world into a different time, a different place. For Baby Boomers, who are a large part of my audience, I hope they enjoy reliving their own youth, remembering the fashions, the hairstyles, the customs that have fallen by the wayside. And the music – I nearly always include music.
At its core, Sweet Dreams is a story about family—loving and accepting the family you’re given. There are so many areas where families break down, so I hope readers will know they aren’t alone, that other generations have struggled . . . and survived. We all have dreams, but we don’t always give ourselves permission to pursue them. I would love for readers to find that freedom and dream big!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Learning the craft is vital, but don’t let that get in the way of finding your own voice. Chances are, you already have a voice (which is your personality on the page). Refine that with hours and hours and hours of writing. Once you’re to the place that your writing starts to sparkle, people will notice.
The other thing that sort of goes along with that is that you shouldn’t be afraid of being unique. Yes, there are many conformities that you must adhere to, but having a unique story to tell and a voice that captivates is a good combination for success.
Any final words?
Sometimes it seems that the more I write, the less I know. I’d love for your readers to know that you’re not alone—that sometimes feeling inadequate or overwhelmed is normal. But writing stories that inspire and entertain readers is also very gratifying. Be bold! And keep writing!
Thanks so much for letting me share with you!
Thanks so much for joining us at Novel PASTimes, Carla! It has been a joy.
To be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Sweet Dreams, please leave a comment with your e-mail address and answer this "Question of the Week" from our guest author:
In Sweet Dreams, the cousins have always made up a dream list of things to do each summer (like a bucket list). What are three things that are on your bucket list?
The contest this week is available only to US or Canadian residents.