My Place - Home, Sweet Texas Home by Caroline Clemmons
Today I welcome multi-published author Caroline Clemmons to My Place. Her setting takes me back to good, old TV days. Lovely memories...
Hello, I’m Caroline Clemmons and I’d like to thank Cathie for having me as her guest today. My husband and I live on a small acreage in rural North Central Texas in the U.S. Our daughters are grown, so our companions are our rescued pets: a black Shih Tzu named Webster and two cats, Sebastian and Bailey Erin. My parents and I moved to California when I was a baby and we returned to Texas when I was almost eight. Of course, I believed all the old cowboy movies and expected any minute to see Roy Rogers riding the range. Too bad--my dad was in the cotton business and we moved to a cotton farming area. Now, my husband and I live in genuine ranching and cutting horse country, and I see real cowboys whenever I go anywhere in our area.
My previous occupations have included stay-at-home mom (my favorite), medical secretary, newspaper reporter and columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. When I’m not writing, I love spending time with my family, reading, traveling, researching genealogy, and browsing antique malls and estate sales. My brother and I are compiling a history of our father’s Johnson/Johnston/Johnstone family. My brother accuses that “a passion for genealogical research is contagious, because he caught it from me.” Not quite true, as our dad gave us each a love of history and learning. Previously, I published a family history for my mom and one for my mother-in-law. I’ve also written numerous articles for genealogical journals and area history books.
I began telling stories early, but didn’t have a book published until 1998 when Kensington published BE MY GUEST. That and my other backlist titles are now available from Amazon Kindle and Smashwords for 99 cents along with a mystery available for the first time, ALMOST HOME. My current publisher is The Wild Rose Press, and those books are in print and e-book, except for SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME, which is a novella and only in e-book.
HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME is a sweet contemporary romance that takes place in West Texas, in and near Lubbock. For the most part, I grew up in Lubbock. It is known locally as the “Hub of the Plains.” Cotton farming is big in that area, but so are ranches, vineyards, oil, and many other industries. Although it’s the “land of the tall sky,” the weather is the least appealing factor of West Texas. The locale is plagued with sand and dust storms, tornadoes, drought alternating with thunderstorms with hail and flooding, hot summers and cold winters. One of my friends says the only reason there’s a town there is that’s where the wagon wheel broke and settlers were stuck. So why do people live there? I can’t answer, except to say it grows on you. In reality, the land has a beauty all its own.
Driving west from Dallas as my heroine Courtney and her brother Jimmy would have, the land changes dramatically. Fort Worth is “where the West begins” and terrain becomes rolling prairie dotted with the mesquite trees, cedar, and juniper that plagues ranchers and takes over range land if allowed to do so. At the town of Post (setting for BE MY GUEST), you climb up to the Llano Estacado or “Staked Plains,” as labeled by Spanish explorers. Once the home of Comanche and other American Indians, it’s now inhabited by an amalgam of all races and ethnicities.
Lubbock is a town of a quarter million and still retains something of a small town atmosphere. It is the home of Texas Technological University (yes, residents know that is an illogical name, but are bound to it) and Lubbock Christian University. There are also a medical school and a law school associated with Texas Tech. The Lubbock Landmark Lake Site and the Ranching Heritage Museum are of special interest to those who love history, as are other area museums. Lubbock and the surrounding area have produced many musicians, including Buddy Holly and the Crickets (alleged to be the model for the Beatles. Holly’s songbook is owned by Paul McCartney), Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, and Waylon Jennings.
Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother Jimmy is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers--but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine.
Rancher / entrepeneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic--evidenced by his late wife and now the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. As far as Derek is concerned, all he wants is to be a good dad to his children Warren, aged 8, and Meg, aged 5. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. The only way he can protect his children and himself is to keep his private life very private. Besides, he knows what women do to him--they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He's been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Isn't he?
Set up: Courtney is a normally efficient and cool-headed businesswoman who turns into a klutz around Derek. She has had another of her “events” and has been rushed home by Derek, who has offered first aid. When her brother Jimmy arrives home from school, he is at first suspicious of Derek, then realizes the situation.
When Jimmy saw his sister in bed, he rushed over. “Sis, what happened? What’s with the towel and the ice packs?” He frowned at Derek. “What’s going on?”
She opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out.
Derek figured the bizarre situation defied description. He patted Jimmy on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’s okay now. We were at the cemetery putting flowers on Sam’s and Maggie’s graves and your sister got trapped in the bathroom.”
Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t understand. How could that hurt her?”
Courtney sighed. “The knob came off in my hand and I couldn’t open the door. So, I climbed out the window.”
Derek held out his hands to indicate the small rectangle. “A small, high window.”
Jimmy looked from his sister to Derek. “I still don’t understand what happened.”
Courtney snapped, “I got stuck, okay?”
Now that he knew her to be okay, the week’s tension suddenly snapped Derek and he lost his perspective on the whole situation. He grimaced at Jimmy. “She, um…” He coughed to keep a straight face. “When she tried to go out the window, she got stuck with her head and one arm sticking outside and the rest of her inside.” He stood like a bird with a broken wing to imitate Courtney’s position. A grin spread across his face in spite of all his efforts not to smile.
Jimmy gaped at his sister. “Courtney? But she’s always so sensible. She’s never does anything stupid.” He began to smile also.
Both males burst into laughter.
“Listen, if you two are so amused, go into the other room to discuss my apparently hilarious antics and leave me to suffer in peace.” In spite of her strained muscles and injuries, she threw a box of tissues in their direction. “Go on, get out of here. Now.”
Derek glanced over his shoulder before he left.
She’d stuffed a pillow over her ears, to block out their laughter.
The Wild Rose Press: www.thewildrosepress.com/caroline-clemmons-m-638.html
Caroline's Website: www.carolineclemmons.com
Caroline's Blog: http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com
Team blog: http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com
Twitter: @CarolinClemmons (no E in Caroline)
Facebook: Caroline Clemmons author
This sounds like a great story. Another one to add to my TBR pile!
You said you were at Kensington in 1998. They had some marvelous books come out then. One of my BFFs wrote for them. Maybe you knew/know her . . . Charlene Raddon. I know why she left Kensington, but may I ask why you left? It seems like so many of the great authors from the big traditional houses, like those at Kensington in the 90s, left and are now pursuing digital publication. What was it for you?
Also, I came across The Texan's Irish Bride not too long ago, also on my TBR pile (just realized it was you when I clicked on your buy link above). Having lived in Ireland for what seems a thousand years now and having read a LOT of Irish romances, I'm intrigued to know what your interest in Ireland is, and what research did you do for your story to ensure your Irish bits are accurate?
Great piece today. I'm now looking forward to both new books on my TBR pile! :-)
Caroline, welcome to My Place. I'm delighted to have you on board. Your Texas setting reminds me of the many Western movies and series I used to watch growing up in the '70s. Good to see it's not all a thing of the past and there are still cowboys roaming the plains.ReplyDelete
Kemberlee, thank you for popping by. Excellent questions! :-)ReplyDelete
Really interesting setting, Caroline especially for us English folk! Great premise for a blog series, Cathie! It's fun finding out about so many places writers live and write about. Look forward the next one!
Great excerpt, Caroline. I love Texas around Dallas where I lived for a short time when my daughters were little. My family is from around various areas of the state and I spent a large chunk of childhood in south Texas.ReplyDelete
Rachel and Calisa, thanks so much for joining us. :-)ReplyDelete
Rachel, I agree. It's fascinating to discover so many diverse and interesting settings.
Caroline--well, my friend, you have taken me on a sentimental journey. Of course, I know about every single thing you wrote about the South Plains. Personally, I believe the South Plain is a special place. Maybe it's because I grew up there and have all good memories--and I married there, lived for a while, and then moved away.ReplyDelete
But I do need to make a correction. The proper name is Texas Tech University.
Let me tell you a story--I began college at age 27 when my kids were pre-school. We lived in Levelland and I attended South Plains College for two years, and then transferred to Tech for my Bachelor's.
My graduating class was the first to graduate from "Texas Tech University." There was a big commotion about using Tech, saying there's no such word. But it was so commonly used, they did choose it.
At graduation that year, two tornadoes hit Lubbock--they called it a Twin Tornadoe, but later found it was one small and one very big tornado--not connected.
So, because so much of Lubbock was torn up, the colliseum was used for refugees. No graduation ceremony that year. I had bought my cap and gown and everything.
Twenty-five years later, Tech sent special invitations to all of us from that year to participate in the graducation--we would wear red, while the others wore black.
But I did not go--just enjoyed reading about it.
And now...I'll stop. Very good. Loved it.
For each of us, there's no place like home...ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mary and Celia, for visiting.ReplyDelete
Mary, you're so right. Even though 'home' is relative... ;-)
Celia, what a lovely invitation from your uni. Very moving. Are you sad you didn't go?
Love hearing about everyone's experiences in their home places. Makes such fascinating reading!
Kimberlee, I left because I refused to change my name after my first book came out. It was the last month of the Ballad series, so bookstores didn't buy it and orders were low. The print run was lower--I didn't even get my author copies and had to buy copies for my mom and my daughters. Then the second book got great reviews, but the marketing guy gave me a white cover. Barnes and Noble's buyer won't buy white covers, so my sales were not good and Kensington dropped me except for a novella in an anthology--again with a white cover--in 2004. I spent several years looking for an agent and writing mysteries and romances, but then was introduced to The Wild Rose Press by friends on a private loop. Six of us got together and did a novella set around the Civil War. I loved working with Wild Rose Press, and have stayed with them. My backlist, though, is on Amazon Kindle and I have just published a mystery there. Wild Rose doesn't do straight mysteries, and this is definitely not a romantic suspense althouth there is a hint of romance. Although I love The Wild Rose Press, I am making more from my backlist even though they are priced at only 99 cents each.ReplyDelete
Rachel, thank you for coming by. I love Cathie's site, don't you?ReplyDelete
Celia, I do remember when the tornadoes hit Lubbock. It damaged my inlaw's home, plus terrorized them. I didn't know about the missed graduation ceremony, though. Thanks for stopping by and sharing a part of my hometown I didn't know.ReplyDelete
Calisa, I didn't realize you were from Texas or I'd have said "Howdy."ReplyDelete
Mary, you are so correct--we never outgrow home, do we?
I loved reading about Texas, your blurb and excerpt! Your story sounds wonderful. It was great to learn a bit about you and in the process add a great sounding book to my 'tbr' pile! Thanks for sharing Caroline and much success with your story!ReplyDelete
Christine, thank you so much for stopping by. I love getting to know authors also. Thank you for the good wishes, too. If you like the story, please let me know. If not, shhhhh, please keep it a secret. ;)ReplyDelete
Cathie, thanks very much for making the Lubbock Lake site and ranching heritage center hot links. I'm sorry the gif for the ranching heritage exhibit isn't larger. It's impressive to see. My husband's uncle managed the Masterson ranch for a while, and a stone line shack from that ranch is in the exhibit. I love visiting the exhibit and seeing what's been added. The Lubbock Lake National Heritage Landmark site is near where my husband and his friends used to hunt arrowheads and spear points. Being a sheltered girl, my friends and I were never allowed to go there, but I did ride horses through the canyon while a friend had a horse. As I said in the interview, it's unusual landscape, but it grows on you. Not as lovely as Scotland, of course, but it has a different kind of beauty.ReplyDelete
Great blog and so interesting. Texas is one place I have always wanted to visit. The country side looks similar to the Australian outback. The Texan's Irish Bride was a fabulous story, I could not recommend it too highly. You are definitely one of my favourite authors.
Hello Margaret, thanks for popping in. :-)ReplyDelete
Caroline, you're very welcome. I enjoyed reading about the area and your experiences there. The Heritage Landmark place sounds fascinating. I love checking out links to interesting sites. So many places to discover. Thank you for sharing your place with us!
Margaret, great to see you. Hope you are enjoying your retirement! Soon you won't know how you found time to manage a job. Writing is way more fun.ReplyDelete