Monday, August 1, 2011

Southern-Style Meet & Greet with Carla Stewart

I don't know about y'all, but I have been having the most *mahvelous* time on these weekly Meet & Greets.  Seriously, y'all have been some of the most fun folks to talk with every week, and of course, I've loved all the fab-o authors that we've gotten to meet.  :o)

Last week, we had a RECORD number of entries for Annalisa Daughety's interview, and she so graciously offered to give away a copy of her newest book, Love Finds You in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Thanks once again to our friends at, we've got a winner!  Congratulations to....

Barbara Ann (barbarabeers@...)

Barbara Ann, be watching your inbox! I'll be contacting you shortly for your mailing address.

And now to this week's author!  Carla Stewart is our featured guest on today's Meet & Greet, and she really saved my bacon this week!  I had a completely empty slot a week ago, and thanks to her (and another helpful friend named Jeane Wynn), my problem was solved!  :o)  I had the great pleasure of reading Carla's debut novel last year, and oh, what a treat it was.  I can't wait for y'all to get to know Carla better as we talk about all sorts of things today.  And as always, read to the very end for a little somethin' extra.  :o)

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved paper and pens and books, so even as a kid, I was always scribbling something. When I was around twelve, I wrote a romance that I thought was pretty “hot” and sent it to Hollywood. I don’t remember how I figured out where to send it, but I was sure they would cast Sandra Dee and Richard Chamberlain (I was in love with Dr. Kildare on TV) in the movie. I sent them my only copy, but I’d love to read it today. :) When I didn’t hear back, I thought my writing career was over so I wrote term papers and some really bad poetry in college. I’m still in love with paper and pens . . . and writing.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be and why? (This is, of course, assuming that writing IS your dream job!) :o)

Writing is my dream job, but I also liked science and math and went to college to become a nurse. I like to think of that as my extended time gaining life experience so I would have something to write about.

But my real “dream” job would be to have become an actress on Broadway – not as a leading lady, but a character role – someone like Betty White or Kathy Bates. Why? There’s always been something fascinating to me about getting inside the skin of another person, and in the few acting stints I had in high school, college, and later in music productions at church, I got a glimpse of what it was like to look beyond the footlights and be someone who is totally not me. Yeah, I loved the applause, too. :)

I won't lie, Carla...I had the Broadway dream when I was growing up, too!  I used to tell all my high school friends to watch for me on Broadway, but to this day, I've never even been there.  *shakes head*  It's okay, though...I don't think this Southern girl could handle the craziness of NY!

What genre do you most like to write?

Nostalgic fiction, primarily for women. Most of my settings so far have been in Texas and Oklahoma.

Do your own personal experiences, or those of family and friends, ever find their way into one your stories? If it’s not too personal, do you have a funny one you can share with us?

The setting of my first book was from my childhood – the petroleum camp where I grew up. The premise grew from questions I had as a child – what did it mean when someone had “nerve” problems and went for shock treatments? I knew I had to be really careful to make my characters a combination of the wonderful people I’d known growing up so no one would think I’d written about them. That was fun and a challenge.

When I was researching for my current book (which has jazz theme as a backdrop), I went to a few concerts at the Jazz Depot in Tulsa. There I “discovered” one of my minor characters in Broken Wings. He was perfect! During the concert, I scribbled down everything I could about him – the way he smiled, what he was wearing, etc. Then during the intermission, I stood close enough to listen to him talk, but not so close that he would notice. I snapped pictures of the stage, the people in the room, and yes, one of him. I’m sure he never knew I was stalking him or that he would end up in a complete stranger’s book. Every time I go back to the Jazz Depot I look for him, but that’s the only time I’ve ever seen him. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Haha!!  I'm sure if you ever get the chance to tell him about that, he'd consider it a great compliment!

What do you hope readers “take away” with them after they read one of your books?

Most of my books are nostalgic or have strong nostalgic threads, so the first thing I want readers to take away is a memory or a feeling of another place and time. Every era has its woes and its wonders, so it’s important to me that readers get a glimpse of that and that by the end, they’ve walked in the shoes of my characters and experienced the same hope that my characters have for the future. Life isn’t always rosy, but we do have a Savior who sends people to surround us when times are tough.

What is your latest book release?

Broken Wings is my most recent release.

In the twilight of her life, Mitzi clings to her memories of being a jazz singer with her singing partner and husband, Gabe. He, though, has slipped into the muddled world of Alzheimer’s leaving her to ponder her future alone. When Brooke, a young professional, trips into her life after an abusive encounter with her fiancé, Mitzi reaches out to her. Both women have an uncertain future, but as they navigate the transitions of their lives, their friendship grows, making them both stronger and able to face the future.

As every author does, I’ve had a hard time leaving my characters behind, but my hope is that readers will find treasure in Mitzi and Brooke’s friendship and cherish their own friendships more. Even in the most difficult of times, there can be great joy!

Carla, the folks at FaithWords did an incredible job on your book cover!  It's definitely one of the books on my ever-growing wish list!  :o)

Are you currently working on another novel, and if so, can you give us a snippet about it?

Stardust will release in May, 2012 (FaithWords).

In 1952, the Stardust Tourist Court beckons an East Texas widow to a new life, but when her dead husband’s mistress arrives and polio strikes, Georgia Peyton’s dreams are crippled.

Oooo, that one sounds great, too.  :o)

Where can readers find you on the web?

My website:
My blog: Carla’s Writing Café:
Follow me on Twitter:
Google+ :

What is your most favorite thing about the South?

I was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Texas, so whether I’m southern or not, I’m not sure, but one thing is certain - I’m “country.” I love the feeling that you’re family five minutes after you meet someone from the South. I’ve been back in Oklahoma for a number of years, but the minute we cross the Red River and enter Texas, my heart feels like it’s home.

Iced Tea—sweet or un-sweet?

Un-sweet, please ma’am.

Carla, I promise I won't hold that against you.  *grin*

BBQ Pork or BBQ Beef?

Either one. I love BBQ pork ribs or beef brisket. And you can’t beat pulled pork on a bun with a side of corn on the cob.

No, you sure can't.  Fresh corn on the cob is the best.  :o)

Potluck dinner or restaurant dinner?

That’s a hard choice, but probably restaurants because you can get what you’re hungry for (and take home the leftovers – which I just did today). I do love church potlucks in small towns with mouth-watering deviled eggs and custard pie. You don’t often find those on a restaurant menu.

Summer or Winter? (There are only two seasons down here…really.)

Definitely winter, but only because I can stay inside in my cuddly sweater and write and don’t have to get out in the cold and snow.

Country gal or city gal?

I’m a country gal at heart, but love living in a mid-sized city with plenty of opportunities for shopping, eating, and going to concerts or the theater. Tulsa is the perfect size, and we have lots of visits with friends and family who still live in the country or in small towns.

You, you all, or y’all?

Y’all. And all y’all is plural.

You're absolutely right! We say "all y'all" down here, too.  :o)

I certainly hope "all y'all" had a ball (who knew I could rhyme?) today!  :o)  I know I did.  And just like almost all of our other Southern-Style Meet & Greets, we've got another giveaway this week!  This time, it's not just for the Americans...the Canadians can join in, too!  Carla will be sending one special person a copy of her newest book, Broken Wings, so if you'd like a chance to win, please leave a comment on this post along with your email address before Sunday, August 7th.  No email entry, sorry.  The winner will be announced on next Monday's Meet & Greet.

So, what're y'all standin' around for?  I can't wait to read your comments this week!  ;o)


  1. Great book cover, and very appropriate for the summer. Richard from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa

  2. Carla, you'll pass for southern on everything except that UNsweet tea issue ;) (j/k)

    Does being a writer, and getting inside your characters heads, fulfill any of the longing to be on stage? Do you ever find yourself acting out any of the scenes more than in your head?

    Your book sounds good and it is definitely a lovely cover!


  3. Christy! Thanks so much for the warm welcome.

    Sorry about the sweet tea "thang" Anne! Yes, writing characters does satisfy some of the "stage" craving. I often visualize scenes in my head like I'm watching them on stage or in a movie. The more I can connect with them, the better the emotion is on the page. Thanks for asking such a great question!

    Richard - thanks for coming by. You live in a wonderful area. I've only visited once and it was in the winter, but I was totally captivated and long to go back.

  4. Wonderful interview! The book sounds great and I love the cover!

    I live in Wisconsin, not really a southern gal, but I love my sweet tea :)

  5. It was so nice to get to know Carla a bit, and this novel sounds wonderful! Please include me in the giveaway. Thanks :)

    reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

  6. I loved meeting Carla. She is so interesting! I love the cover of Broken Wings. This book is on my must read list. I'd love to win a copy.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    God Bless,

  7. Please enter me! This book just went on my to-read list...both because of the cover (delightful) and the story line. :)


  8. Thanks, all! Enjoying the comments. My publisher does wonderful covers :-)

  9. Great interview, Carla. The book sounds like quite a interesting book too and one that I want to read. Please enter me.

    Jo from Southern Arizona

  10. Hi Christy and Carla! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful interview! I read Carla's first book, and it is certainly one of my favorites! I look forward to reading her latest. Thank you for the chance to win. : )

    scraphappy71 at sbcglobal dot net

  11. Carla, i loved your comment about how its tough to leave your characters behind. I feel the same way as a reader! I get this sort of sadness at the end of the vook because I've enjoyed my time with the characters so much ;)' Your booke looks great!

  12. As a reader, I have a hard time saying goodbye to characters I have come to love. Another reason to be happy that so many great authors write series! Sad to think I will never again read that book for the first time....

    aregeetee5162 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  13. This book sounds so good. I would really like to win this giveaway.
    njones127 at tampabay dot rr dot com

  14. Always enjoy your interviews Christy. Carla, I enjoyed Chasing Lilacs. Looks like I need to add Broken Wings to my wish list - if I don't win.

    pam [at] daysong [dot]com

  15. I'd love to read this book! Sounds great!

  16. Thanks for including Canadians :)

    Please enter me in the draw!

    I'm following you on GFC (Darlene), and my email address is darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  17. Phyllis says: Would love to read this book, never read this author. My mother is in the mid-stage of Alzheimer's, so am reading books on the topic. PBS nickname--emptynester.

  18. Hi Christy and Carla!

    Thank you for posting such a great interview! You make reading the book even more tempting than the cover!!

    Please add my name into this Giveaway:

    madley (AT) cogeco (DOT) ca

    Blessings to both of you!


  19. Even tho I was born in the North I have lived in the South so long that I feel Southern. Love the interview and looking forward to reading the book. So glad I found this blog.
    Rita (mamarita)

  20. Thank you for all your great comments and interest in Broken Wings. Alzheimer's is such a devastating disease - I only hope that reader's who are going through this with a loved one will know they're not alone.

  21. i agree, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. i think this one might be a little sad, but i would love to give it a try. thank you for the contest!

    inthehammockblog at gmail dot com

  22. Great Interview. I always enjoy coming here and reading them! This book sounds wonderful so I would love the chance to win it. Thank you for hosting this giveaway!

    countrysunset40 (at) aol dot com

  23. I love the book cover!!!

    Great interview, btw!!

  24. Carla, I love the story of sending your manuscript to Hollywood!! So sweet!! :)

    I would love to be entered. I've heard such wonderful things about both books, and haven't had the chance to read one yet.

    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com


I love your comments!! They make me happier than cold sweet tea on a hot summer day! :o)