Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Today I have a special guest on A Writer’s Life. Carra Copelin is one of my three critique partners and a long-time friend. I’m so happy to have her here to talk about herself and her wonderful new release, CODE OF HONOR. You can see by her friendly smile and pleasant expression that she is a lovely person. Trust me, she is as nice as she appears. Don't you enjoy reading a book more when you know the author is a nice person? I certainly do.

Carra Copelin, Award Winning Author

Carra: Thank you, Caroline for having me today. I'm so excited to be here and to meet your readers.

Caroline: Tell us where you grew up and something of your early life.

Carra: My parents moved the family to Arlington (Texas) from Dallas when I was in the second grade. Dad wanted to raise my brother and me in a small town atmosphere. Boy would he be surprised at the size of Arlington today. I spent a large part of my time in choir then worked in high school via the ICT program, but I wasn't a fan of school, and would never've been considered a bookworm or jock.

The DH and I still live in Arlington, have a daughter and son and three wonderful grandchildren.

Caroline: Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Carra: I tend to read mostly romance and romantic suspense in both contemporary and historical. My standby authors are Linda Lael Miller, Barbara Bretton, Sandra Brown, Caroline Clemmons , Lori Foster, and Geri Foster. Periodically though, I'll read action or straight mystery, like Agatha Christie or Mary Higgins Clark.

Caroline: Wow, thanks for including me with those authors. And Geri Foster is another of our critique partners. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge?

Carra: I'm a TV/movie watcher, but on weekends I enjoy watching NASCAR, football and golf. I play Bridge and in winter love to crochet.

Caroline: I used to play bridge several times a month. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Carra: "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting 'Holy crap! What a ride!'" 

Caroline: Great quote. How long have you been writing?

Carra: I began this part of my journey in 1995. Just yesterday, right?

Caroline: Sure, only a day or two ago. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude?

Carra: I have a laptop which I love, since I can write anywhere. This past year, though, I found sitting at my desk seemed to be the most consistently productive. For my feet and legs, I move every couple of hours to another chair in the office.
Caroline: I do better at my desk than with my laptop. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Carra: After trying every other author's way to get the story on the page, I finally realized I'm a pantser. Yes, little ol' ADD me. I have wasted too many years trying to make myself adhere to a strict plotting regimen. I'm envious of my friends who see their whole story, write it out in a full outline and just have to add dialogue.

I realized while listening to guest speaker, Lilliana Hart, last year at a chapter meeting, that by golly, I'm a card carrying pantser. I sit down at the computer, close my eyes, visualize the scene I want to write, add characters, and watch the action happen much like a movie or TV show. Once I get it typed in, I edit the stuffin' out of it before I send it to my critique partners. (Cue lead-in to next question. )

Caroline: Your system definitely works for you because your book is wonderful. Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Carra: A lot of times I try to incorporate real life, but the story ends up coming from my imagination. There are two novellas I'm working on stem from Texas history with a touch of my family's Texas beginnings.

Caroline: I'm eager to read those stories. Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Carra: I do write every day, but generally don't set goals. I know me and if I didn't make that goal I'd be disappointed in myself. There are enough opportunities out there to get beat up, I sure don't need to do it to myself. This past year, I've had one chapter completed for each critique meeting, and while that's been good for me, I'm amping up my output for this next book. I'm excited about writing and I want to finish this next book more quickly.

Caroline: Good news for readers, Carra. Can’t wait to read the next book. What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Carra: I really hope the reader experiences enjoyment while reading my stories. I don't want to get too deep or teach lessons. Some mystery, some action, but mostly romance. I write what I like.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Carra: I hope to put more stories out there that readers will enjoy. I'm getting a later start than some authors, so maybe that gives me more incentive to write faster.

Caroline: Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Carra: I currently have three projects. First is the second book in the Texas Code Series, CODE OF CONSCIENCE, which takes place in El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. It involves cartels, undercover agents, and romance. The next are two historical romance novellas chronicling the Benning and McTiernan clans after they come from Ireland to Texas in 1875. Those titles are, KATIE AND THE IRISH TEXAN, and MATELYN AND THE TEXAS RANGER.

Caroline: What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Carra: Write. Every day. Surround yourself with other writers by joining a local writing chapter and critique group. This may sound cliché, but it is KEY.

Originally, I joined RWA and my local chapter, found a good supportive critique group for several years. We broke up when two of our members moved away, then life happened and, due to my job's demands, I stopped writing. I didn't write consistently for eleven years.

One day, fairly suddenly, I found myself in early retirement. Good things began to happen. I joined my local chapter, Yellow Rose RWA, found a new supportive and nurturing critique group and the rest, as they say, is history.

Caroline: I’m so happy you are actively writing again. Share a fun fact readers wouldn’t know about you.

Carra: I'm a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas by my ancestor, Amon McCommas.

Caroline: For those not from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Amon McCommas was a Dallas pioneer and has a major street named in his honor. Share something about you that would surprise or shock readers.

Carra: Six or seven years ago, my brother and I rode on his Honda Gold Wing to Topeka, Kansas to visit family. We had fun and I found out things about my younger brother that I never knew – some of them might show up in future stories.

Caroline: I am learning things about you, too, today. I know the answer, but will ask for our readers--is your book a series? If so, how long? Family saga, other?

Carra: CODE OF HONOR is book one in the Texas Code Series. Right now there are stories for seven foster siblings plus plans for 6 novellas to fill in the historical end.

Caroline: Can you give readers a blurb about CODE OF HONOR?

Carra: Graeme McAlister has returned home to Texas to discover why his foster brother overdosed on morphine and crashed the company jet. The idea makes no sense, but the NTSB and coroner's reports both confirm suicide. Graeme's determined to unearth the truth and return to Washington, D.C. but, when he sees his brother's widow, will he be able to handle the biggest revelation of all?

A widow at the age of twenty-eight, Maggie Benning, resolves to establish a successful and independent life for herself and her five-year-old son, Andy. Her initial goal is getting back her RN job at the hospital ER where she was accused of stealing the drugs that killed her husband ten months ago. She's reconstructing her shattered life when Graeme McAlister comes back to McTiernan, Texas and stirs up old memories and feelings she thought long buried. Can she overcome past hurt and loss of trust to accept the possibility of a new love in her life?

Caroline: How about an excerpt from CODE OF HONOR?

Carra: Here it is:

Maggie Benning

Maggie took her place behind the scarred, antique oak bar. She tied a worn bleached-white apron over her jeans, gathered the empty glasses and bottles and swiped a bar towel over the sticky remnants of beer and mixed drinks spilled earlier in the afternoon.

She looked across the bar, through layers of swirled smoke, to the handful of customers sitting at tables surrounding the dance floor. Businessmen and good old boys exchanged stories from their day while enjoying the frigid indoor temperature, band members set up their equipment, and a few cowboys played pool off to the right.

Two men sat in a shadowed back corner, their heads angled close in deep conversation. It was too dark to see their faces, but they appeared almost angry at times, each taking his turn stabbing the tabletop with an index finger to make his point. Maggie wondered what their story was. Were they discussing a major transaction, ranchers making a deal or enemies settling a score?

Before her imagination could run any other direction, Harry walked up with a stack of clean towels. He placed them on a shelf behind the bar then stood between her and her curiosity, effectively blocking her view.

Jaw clenched and tense as a bull rider waiting for the gate to spring open, Graeme stared at the drink in his hand as his older brother took verbal swings at his character.

"Now that you're back, do you have the balls to stay, or are you going to turn tail and disappear again?" With that final sarcastic shot, he finally shut-up.

Graeme pushed upright in his chair to loosen the kinks from his back and shoulders. Every muscle screamed a protest at being bunched in a knot.

Elliott's words stung like the slap of Andrew's hand the first time Graeme had openly defied an order. He supposed, in all fairness, his brother had a right to ask the question. Whether one was born a Benning or raised as one, family meant everything. And, while he hadn't had a choice on whether to go or stay, he hadn't been available when the family had needed him.

While Graeme didn't have an answer yet, he damn sure had a few questions of his own for Dallas County's Assistant District Attorney.

Graeme took a swig from his longneck as Elliott mirrored his actions. They were, he thought, like two grade school opponents sizing each other up on the playground at recess. Graeme swiped at the condensation on the beer bottle while deciding where to begin.

"So Wyatt never contacted you, at any time, before the crash? You had no idea he was in trouble?"

"No. Not a clue." Elliott shifted in his chair, repositioned his beer. His foster brother made it apparent that he was unaccustomed to being questioned. Either that or there was something else he wasn't saying.


"Nothing . . ." Elliott swiped at a water puddle under the bottle. "It's nothing."

"Look, if we're going to get to the bottom of this, we have to level with one another. What were you going to say?"

"You know Wyatt. He was never like the rest of us. He didn't act out, never bucked the system. He always kept things bottled up."

"Yeah, that goody two-shoes act used to piss me off. We could never wheedle anything out of him." Graeme shook his head and grinned.

"Well, it was the same thing this time, except…"

"Elliott," Graeme ground out his brother's name, huffed out a sigh in exasperation. "Stop dragging this out. What?"

"Maggie came to the office about a month prior to the accident. She asked me for the name of a good divorce attorney."

That news ripped through Graeme like a shot.  After digesting it for a minute, he asked, "Did you give her one?"

"Yeah, I did."

Graeme McAllister
Graeme leaned toward the table, rested his forearms against the edge. "Did she go? Did she file?"

"No." Elliott picked up his bottle, drained its contents then answered sadly, "Whether or not she intended to, I don't know, because the next time I saw her, Wyatt was dead. Soon after the funeral, she moved in with that ditzy friend of hers like she didn't want anything to do with the family."

"Is that when you decided to charge her with theft of the morphine Wyatt likely overdosed with? When she was alone and vulnerable?"

Elliott scowled. "D.A. Harrison was relatively new in his job and still trying to impress the good people of Dallas County."

Snorting in disgust, Graeme ground out, "And he did it at Maggie's expense."

"Yeah, but not without cause. The drugs disappeared from the hospital's inventory and the investigators narrowed the time down to Maggie's shift."

"What did she have to say about that?"

"She denied stealing the drugs, of course."

"You don't really think she did, do you?"

"I don't want to, but . . . hell, I don't know," Elliott said with a sigh. "You knew her better when we were growing up. Do you think she's capable?"

Graeme pushed his chair away from the table. "I think I should talk to Maggie to get her side of the story."

Elliott leaned back in his own chair, sported a grin, and glanced past him. "Somehow I don't think you'll have to go far."


Caroline: Where can readers find your book?  

Carra: CODE OF HONOR can be found on Amazon for Kindle ebook and print at, and will soon be available on Smashwords and other online sites.

Caroline: How can readers learn more about you?

Carra: Thanks everyone for visiting today. I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you'll leave comments. I would love to hear from you!


Caroline: You read it here. Carra wants to have your comments and questions.

Thanks for stopping by!


Carra Copelin said...

Thanks for having me today, Caroline. I'm having fun! Talk to you soon.

Unknown said...

Carra, such a wonderful post. Our lives sure take a lot of twists and turns. Glad to have you as a critique partner and Love, Love, Love your new releases CODE OF HONOR. I encourage people to read this story, it's very good!

Lyn Horner said...

Hi Carra, glad to find you here on Caroline's beautiful site. I learned something new about you today. Never knew about your trip with your brother. That must have been fun.

Wishing you great success with your Texas Code series and the historical series. Can't wait to read your next book!

Unknown said...

Carra, you little rebel you! A road trip on a motorcycle? You go, girl! :-)

Caroline, you have quite a knack for interviewing. :-)

Carra Copelin said...

Mary, I'm so lucky to have you around to keep me in line story wise (Ha! good luck keeping me in line anywhere else!). Thanks for stopping by today and I'm really happy you like my book!

Carra Copelin said...

Lyn, that was a trip of a lifetime and it happened on a dare. I wanted him to go with me to visit relatives, but, since he didn't really want to go, he said he would if I rode on the bike. Surprised him, I did! Good to see you today.

Carra Copelin said...

There's a surprise or two left in this ol' girl. Hehehe! Thanks for visiting today!

Jacquie Rogers said...

Fun interview! It's good to get to know you a little better, Carra, and best of luck with your new releases. And wow, you're so right that just plain writing is the most important thing to do. I get questions all the time about marketing and promotion, but none of that matters a whit if you don't have anything to peddle. Write, write, write! And hey, that motorcycle trip sounds fun. Do you still have your leathers? Tramp stamp? :)

Sarah J. McNeal said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. I don't blame your dad for wanting to raise his family in a small town. It sounds idyllic.
You're a brave lady getting on a motorcycle. All I can think is how there is nothing between me and the pavement, if there's an accident.
CODE OF HONOR sounds like such a wonderful story.
I wish you every success, Carra.

Ruby said...

What a nice interview. I can't imagine you on a motorcycle. Enjoyed the excerpt.Good luck with your sales.

Jan Hougland said...

Hello again Carra! Just droppin' by to say hi. I'm familiar with Caroline's blog and I'm glad she's got you on a post today. I loved hearing how you rode a Goldwing from Texas to Kansas. That sounds like a wonderful way to travel. My roots go back to Farmersville, Texas and I've been back several times for reunions. Love those Texas cowboys. :-)