Welcome author Carol James to Writer Wednesday!
When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?
While I have always loved reading and happy endings, I never aspired to write. I majored in English education in college because I love grammar (weird, I know) and I believed that class would allow me to get to know the hearts of my students better than math or science.
I definitely was called to write. I was teaching part-time in a small private school when my husband suffered a health issue and lost his job. It was up to me to move out into the “real” world to support our family until he could get back on his feet. One morning I was sitting in our local park eating a Chick-fil-a chicken biscuit (some things are worth the calories), when God showed me some verses in Isaiah. Isaiah 43: 18-19
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
I realized then that He would take this time in our lives and use it for His purposes and glory.
For about ten years, I tried various different ministries and activities, but nothing was the “stream in my wasteland.” Then my boss confessed to me that she was an aspiring author, and asked if I would edit her current work in progress for grammar errors. I did, and a little spark was lit in my heart. If she could do this, I could, too. We could be like C.S. Lewis J.R.R. Tolkien. When I put my first words on the paper, I knew this was it. God was calling me to write as a ministry.
What’s your pet peeve?
Oh, I r-e-a-l-l-y hate to say this, because it’s so unpopular in our relaxed culture. My pet peeve is tardiness. My father was a career Air Force officer, and his mantra was, “If you’re on time, you’re late.” I cannot remember a time when we were late for anything. We were always on time, generally early. This was drummed into me as long back as I can remember. I have come to believe that being on time shows respect for other people, and habitual lateness shows a lack of respect for another’s time and schedule. But, I will love you anyway, whether you’re on time or late.
What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
I still remember the first writers’ conference I attended. One of the workshops was about crafting conflict. I’d only been writing for a couple of months. I was working—I was certain—on this world-changing, earth-shattering number one best selling novel. I sat down at the table, so sure the moderator would see the artistry of my writing and the magnificence of the plot. Right? When she started asking me questions about the conflict, the black moment, etc, I had no response. I didn’t even know what she was talking about. Obviously, I had a lot more learning and work to do before I graced the world with my work. LOL
What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
My most difficult challenge is not to compare my work to that of other authors. It’s easy to compare my success, or lack of it, with contemporaries. I have to constantly remind myself that my job is to be faithful and obedient to the ministry to which I have been called, and the rest will follow. I may never write a number-one bestseller, but as long as my words minister to and uplift those who read them, I am being obedient. And it might be a life-changing book to that one person who needed to hear the message.
How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
You know, as writers we have so much time, sweat, and emotion invested in our work, that rejections feel like someone telling you your brand new, precious baby is ugly. Rejections hurt, and I’ve been known to go to my husband and complain about how thick-headed that reviewer was, how he or she didn’t get it. How they don’t know what they’re talking about. But then, I take a deep breath and ask, why exactly did that person say that? Often, I can see the validity of the critique. Some of what started out as the harshest critiques have ended up being the best and those that taught me the most.
What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
One of the most memorable moments I have experienced was after my first novel, Rescuing Faith, was released. It’s the story about a woman who’s husband has been unfaithful to her and how she moves past his infidelity and rejection. Not long after the novel was released, a gentleman at church came up to me and gave me a big hug. He said the book addressed exactly what his daughter was currently living through and that reading it had really ministered to and encouraged her. To me, that is success. That is my whole purpose for writing.
What is your current work in progress?
My current work in progress has a working title of A Time for Singing. It’s a story about two people who have both been left at the altar and how they overcome those rejections. It’s set in an old Victorian Inn in a small Texas town. Several years ago my husband and I stayed at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Massachusetts. One of the most exciting surprises was discovering the Secret Drawer Society. The letters we found were sometimes fiction, but other times they were accounts of the writers’ life-changing experiences. I knew then, I would write a novel that included the SDS.
Carol James is an author of inspirational fiction. She lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell “Terrorist,” Zoe.
Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she’d been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.
Her debut novel, Rescuing Faith, has been a number one bestseller on Amazon.
Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And most days, in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.
Latest book release: The Unexpected Christmas Gift, November 2019
Coming 2020: Season of Hope