BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE!
Caroline Clemmons writes historical and contemporary genre fiction. Historical romances, contemporary romantic suspense, mysteries, and paranormals are among her current works. Learn more about her at www.carolineclemmons.com
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
GUEST TESSA GRAY SHARES HER TEXAS DREAM CATCHER SERIES
Author Tessa Gray
grew up in the foster care system, so I had several different homes, but when
the dust settled, I ended up living in Osseo, Minnesota, a small town near
Minneapolis. As a child, I wasn’t a particularly avid reader, but in elementary
school, I loved a series of books about the adventures of three Swedish
triplets: “Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka” (I kid you not!) Another series I enjoyed was
the Trixie Belden adventures; I even had Trixie Belden paper dolls and spent
hours playing with them, making up more stories.
genre I love best is women’s fiction because the characters are
multi-dimensional with real-life experiences. My favorite authors are Kristin
Hannah, Anita Shreve, Nicholas Sparks, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Debbie
Macomber. When I’m not writing, I love to spend time quilting. It’s a fairly
new hobby for me, and I find it therapeutic. I’ve been a singer all my life, so
I’m always finding myself a gig. I always tell friends, “I’ve never met a
microphone I didn’t like.” It’s true…I love entertaining very much. During my
early years, singing sustained me. As a life-long educator I realize that every
child needs something they excel at, and for me it was music.
have a favorite quote that most people are probably familiar with: “An
unexamined life is not worth living.” While there’s a great deal of debate as
to who said it (Socrates or Thoreau), it remains a staple for me. I teach
college students to write argument essays and in preparing them, I insist they constantly
reexamine their values systems and explore other people’s ideas. In doing so,
we learn a great deal about ourselves. I practice what I preach and incorporate
this motto into my own writing, and it helps me create better, more believable characters that often undergo
a complete metamorphosis as the book comes to an end.
I always made up stories in my head as a child (inventing that perfect family I
never had!) I didn’t begin seriously pursuing writing until 2004. I generally
sit in my family room, staring out into our pasture, watching our goats and
miniature donkeys as I write on a laptop. Music, of course, is required, and my
taste fluctuates between Celtic, Classical, and Country. Since I’m writing the
Dream Catchers series set in the small, West Texas town of Alpine, country
music is what I most often listen to know: George Strait, in particular.
probably not your typical writer because I spend at least a month “thinking”
out my storyline and characters before writing a single word. After I’ve
thought out the book, I grab my trusty storyboard and get to work. I plan the
turning points, black moment, etc. When I’m finished with that, I use different
colored sticky notes to plot out every single scene. By the time I begin the
book, it’s completely planned out. It changes along the way, of course, but the
skeleton of the novel is in place. That’s the teacher in me; I simply can’t
must confess that the people and events in my novels are based on often based
on real life. Several years ago a recently divorced acquaintance made a trip
back to where she was raised and went to pay her respects to a relative buried
in a small, Texas cemetery. Coincidentally, a classmate of hers happened to be
there, paying his respects to his deceased wife. The two reconnected and they
ended up getting married. That image stuck in my mind, and when I wrote LAST
CHANCE TEXAS years later, I knew from the beginning of the novel that the
couple would meet in a cemetery. Nathan Wainwright is a widower, paying his
respects to his wife; Kelsey Malone is an out-of-towner who pays her respect to
a distant aunt. When some girlfriends and I took a road trip to the tiny, West
Texas town of Alpine, the first stop I made was at the Alpine Angel’s Cemetery.
That became the first scene in the book.
don’t write every single day and make no apologies. For me, I need a break from
writing and that’s often when I either quilt or do some singing. I think life
is all about balance and in the end, if you pursue other things and don’t ‘put
all your eggs in one basket’, you’ll be a better writer.
most important job of writers (in my opinion) is to bring real, true-life
characters with enormous depth. The third book of the Dream Catcher series
features Jake Crenshaw. Jake’s a washed up rodeo rider who tends bar. He’s not
well educated and relies on his enormously good looks to get him the girl. I
suspect some readers will be taken back by the fact he’s blue collar, but in
the real world, not everyone has a college education. I think it’s so important
to write about real people. My books stress hope and change; I know this sounds
like a political commercial, but it’s true. People can change at any age;
that’s so important!
long term plan is to continue teaching and writing. I can’t imagine a time when
I won’t enjoy helping young writers find their own, authentic voice. What could
possibly be more fulfilling? I do have several things on my “bucket” list. One
of those includes taking a line dancing class at a nearby community center.
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I can’t wait to start! Next summer
I’m flying to Ireland with friends to go back to my roots. My ancestors came to
America during the Potato Famine of the 1840’s, and I’ve always been curious
about what that part of the world is like. I’d be lying if I didn’t say the
Irish pubs and whiskey tours weren’t an additional draw!
addition to finishing up my Dream Catchers series, I’ll be working on four
novellas set in a fictitious Minnesota town called
Crescent Falls. Each novella features one of four sisters (the Hanlon girls)
who are forced to deal with their father’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Like all
siblings, each one reacts differently to tragedy, using completely different
coping mechanisms to survive. Sarah’s story begins in December of 2013, and the
other siblings (Maggie, Clare, and Chloe’s will follow in March of 2014, June
of 2014, and September of 2014, respectively.)
best advice I can give any writer is to write for the love of it. If you want
to quit after receiving rejections, you’re really not a writer. I think of
writing as fulfilling a mission; giving readers your own, unique message that
no one else can give them. It’s an awesome responsibility.
been asked to give an interesting fact about myself, so here it is. I’ve sung
the national anthem at a Texas Rangers game. In 2003, my women’s quartet,
“Forward Motion” was honored to perform and we did well! As I looked up at the
huge screen and watched all of us sing that marvelous song, I thought that I
was the luckiest person in the world to be able to perform in front of over
17,000 people and have the time of my life! I’ve also been asked about
something that would surprise readers about me. This past year I joined the
world of Twitter. Vice President Joe
Biden asked people to tweet a question about gun safety, and I responded, as
did thousands of others. My question was selected as one Mr. Biden would
address at a town hall meeting on February 19, 2013. It was amazing to hear him
spend five minutes on my question. I almost felt famous!
ending this discussion, I’d love to present readers with an excerpt from the second in the Dream Catchers series STARS OVER
TEXAS which has a September 15th, 2013 release date:
Just put a gun to my head, Blake, and let’s get this over with. I’d
rather die than stay married to you.
Meredith Chapman’s stomach pitched
violently as she readjusted her seatbelt, preparing for take-of. Her husband of
fifteen years sat next to her, his shoulders stooped, head slumped over as he
pounded out another text message. Aware he’d probably blow her off, she made
one last attempt to get him off the phone. “The plane’s about to take off,
Blake. Please turn it off.”
Blake shot her an angry glare, his
piercing blue eyes sending chills through her. “I’m almost done. Quit nagging,
“Sir, all electronic devices must
be turned off.” The meticulously dressed flight attendant leaned over, hands on
her hips, and glared at him as she spoke.
As several nearby passengers watched
the drama unfold, Meredith smiled weakly; just as she always did when
apologizing and trying to run interference for a husband she’d fallen out of
love with years ago.
The attendant’s voice grew louder
as she implored him to comply. “Sir, I’m telling you one last time. Turn off
your cell phone.”
“Oh, all right.” Slamming it shut,
he sank down in his seat, looking like a small child who’d been reprimanded.
Without warning he grabbed Meredith’s arm, wrapping his fingers around it so
tightly she nearly blacked out. “If you ever embarrass me like that again
they’ll be hell to pay.”