I'm delighted today to have here at GLIAS a gifted and prolific storyteller, Carolyn Brown. Carolyn is no stranger to our blog and we love having her here!
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and a RITA finalist. The author of more than eighty published books, she’s also the three-time recipient of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a Bookseller’s Best Award, and a Montlake Diamond Award.
Carolyn and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, as well as what they’re doing and when—and they read the local newspaper on Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.When she’s not writing, Carolyn likes to sit in her gorgeous backyard with her two tomcats, Chester Fat Boy and Boots Randolph Terminator Outlaw, and watch them protect the yard from all kinds of wicked varmints like crickets, locusts, and spiders. Visit her at www.carolynbrownbooks.com
Today we'll be visiting a bit about her new book SOMETIMES SISTERS. Carolyn describes it as a women's fiction story with romantic elements! (My kind of book!!) I asked if she could give me a little insight to the book...
CAROLYN: The Sometimes Sisters started out to be a humorous book but it didn't turn out to be that way. It has humorous moments but it's so much deeper. Three sisters all with emotional baggage inherit their grandmother's small lake side resort when she dies suddenly. They have to run the convenience store/gas station/café and the few little cabins together and through it all, with the help of the old black man who does the cooking in the café, they find they can be more than just sometimes sisters.
When they were growing up, Dana, Harper, and Tawny thought of themselves as “sometimes sisters.” They connected only during the summer month they’d all spend at their grandmother’s rustic lakeside resort in north Texas. But secrets started building, and ten years have passed since they’ve all been together—in fact, they’ve rarely spoken, and it broke their grandmother’s heart.
Now she’s gone, leaving Annie’s Place to her granddaughters—twelve cabins, a small house, a café, a convenience store, and a lot of family memories. It’s where Dana, Harper, and Tawny once shared so many good times. They’ve returned, sharing only hidden regrets, a guarded mistrust, and haunting guilt. But now, in this healing summer place, the secrets that once drove them apart could bring them back together—especially when they discover that their grandmother may have been hiding something, too…To overcome the past and find future happiness, these “sometimes sisters” have one more chance to realize they are always family.
Amanda: This sounds like an amazing excerpt! Would you mind sharing an excerpt?
EXCERPT for The Sometimes Sisters:
“Promise me,” Annie whispered.
“I promise.” Zedekiah nodded with tears in his eyes.
“You’ll bring them all home where they belong.” She reached up and touched his cheek. “They need to heal.”
“I’ll get them here. You rest now.” Zed cradled her frail body in his arms.
She’d been in and out of consciousness for two days, and each time she awoke she made him promise all over again that he’d bring her granddaughters home to the lake resort. Suddenly her eyes opened wide, and she cupped his cheeks in her hands.
“You . . .” Tears flowed down her face.
“I know, Annie.” His salty tears mingled with hers when their cheeks touched.
“I’ve loved you since we were kids.” She inhaled deeply and let it out slowly.
“Oh, Annie—” he started to say, but then he realized that she’d taken her last breath.
Time stopped as he hugged her closer to his chest. One heart beat steadily as it silently shattered. The other heart that had kept perfect time with his for decades had entered into eternity without him.
“Why, God!” he moaned. “I was supposed to go before her.”
Stop it! Annie’s voice was so real in his head that he watched her lips to see if she might start breathing again. I told you that there would be no mourning. We’ll be together again before long—remember when we were separated while you were in the military. You’ve got work to do now. So suck it up, Zedekiah, and call the girls.
They’d talked about this moment for three months and gotten all the pieces in order. Even though they’d argue about things sometimes, the plan was in place for the next step, as she called it. And now it was up to him to make sure that her wishes were carried out. But dear sweet Jesus, he’d never thought about the pain when he’d have to let her go for good.
He laid her gently on the pillow, laced his darker fingers with her paler ones, and bent to kiss each knuckle. “Oh, Annie, life without you isn’t life at all.”
The girls will help, the voice in his head said sweetly. Now let me go, Zed. You’ve got things to do.
“I can’t,” he groaned.
He sat with her for half an hour before he made the call to the doctor, who was also the coroner for the county. When they came to get her, he accompanied the gurney to the van with his hand on hers.
Amanda: Wow! I've got to get this on my TBR list! Now for a little bit more about you and your writing. As is tradition, we love to share with readers more about the author behind the stories.What do you love most about writing about family dynamics? How much of it is personal for you?
CAROLYN: It’s very personal for me. I was raised in a very unconventional family. I lived with my blind grandmother when my grandfather died. I became her eyes and led her wherever she wanted to go—church, to visit her aunts, or just on long walks. She was my idol and I adored her because she taught me that blindness didn’t have to be a handicap. My mother and father divorced when I was four and Mama didn’t remarry until I was twelve—my step father was a great guy but he was 32 years older than her. My father, that I seldom saw, was married ten times and the last time he was 55 and the new bride was 18, just two years older than my son. I really think that I should get at least an honorable mention in the “Guinness Book of World Records” because at one time I had a two year old half brother and an 80 year old step sister. I was forty two that year and it was the year I realized that my family had every dynamic in the world. From young to old, I had an example. From good to downright ornery, I had an example. From religious to alcoholic, I had examples. And I don’t regret a single experience because it’s given me so much understanding of human behavior for my books.
Amanda: Do you prefer quiet when you write, or music? Maybe the sound of something else?
CAROLYN: Basically, I love the quietness so I can hear my characters talking to me and feel whatever emotion they are facing. Shhhh…I know I have voices in my head but they tell the most amazing stories.
I can’t write about a sad scene when I’m giggling over a funny line in a song. However, that being said, when I write myself into a corner, sometimes I listen to country music. I like the slow ballads by the older artists. That gets me right back into the writing mood.
Amanda: What is the greatest compliment a reader has ever given you?
CAROLYN: Two come to mind. One was from a friend who said, “To be as far advanced in your career as you are, you are the most humble person I know.” To some folks that might not be a compliment but it is to me. I never want to forget where I came from and how hard it was to get where I’m going. And I sure never want to forget to stop and help a struggling author who might need an answer to a question. The other one came recently from the daughter of a lady in southern Texas. Her mother had lost a husband many years ago and later remarried. Then this past summer, she lost her second husband and her sister within a few months of each other. The daughter was writing to tell me that my books had brought her mother out of a deep depression and when she called to talk to her every day she talked about the characters in my books as if they were real. She told her daughter what they were doing and what was happening in their lives. If I can write a book that will help someone—well, that’s pretty special!
Amanda: What do you do to unwind and relax?
CAROLYN: I have a large family and I love to cook. I also love watching reruns of NCIS, Justified (that Timothy Olyphant just steals my heart), Golden Girls and Friends.
Amanda: What can readers look forward to from you in the coming few months? Will you be attending conferences this year?
CAROLYN: I’m planning on going to RWA in Denver this summer. I have an author buddy that I didn’t get to see last year and I can’t wait to spend some time with her—hello, Shirley Marks. What’s next on the publishing schedule? Cowboy Bold kicks off The Longhorn Canyon trilogy, a new cowboy series, in May and Small Town Rumors, a women’s fiction book, has a July publication date. After that Cowboy Honor, the second book in the new series, has a late September date. Then the final book in the series, Cowboy Brave, will probably be published in January. Right now I’m working on a women’s fiction, The Magnolia Inn that will be out in early 2019.
Now it’s my turn to ask a question. Do you buy a book based on the title, the cover, the back blurb or maybe the first few lines on page one? What makes you put a book in the cart and take it home?
Carolyn is giving away a copy of SOMETIMES SISTERS to one lucky reader chosen from comments to the question above!! So give us your feedback!! Authors want to know!
Learn more about Carolyn and her work by following her online:
Thank you, Carolyn!! I look forward to seeing you again in July when we talk about your small town women's fiction book-SMALL TOWN RUMORS!!