Friday, January 28, 2011

When That Spiritual Thread Makes All the Difference

Meeting author Cara Lynn James, and hearing how she writes her books, is perhaps a bit like threading a needle for that unforgettable tapestry you want everyone to remember forever.

Full-time Author Cara Lynn James lives in northwest Florida with her husband, son, daughter, four year old grandson and papillon named Sparky. She's been a Naval officer for eight years, a bookstore owner and home school mom.

SDC: Before we get going, Cara, I often ask this to other authors and would like to ask you the following question as well. What would you say your theme scripture is as a writer? One that explains your vision and makes it plain to the readers why you write.

Cara: I don’t have one particular scripture that guides my writing. But I do have a Christian theme which influences the spiritual thread in all my books. I think our Christian beliefs should be lived in all aspects of our every day lives and not confined to Sundays. It’s who we are. We can’t compartmentalize our faith and bring it out only when it’s convenient.

SDC: We sure can't. Tell us about your publisher and your experiences in working with them. Also fill us in on what you have coming out soon.

Cara: Thomas Nelson is my tremendously supportive publisher. They have fantastic editors and great publicity and marketing department. The best thing is whenever I contact them they reply really quickly. I’m so impressed with their professionalism and how much they care about their authors. They’re very patient with me!

Love on Assignment came out January 11th. The last book in the Ladies of Summerhill series, Love by the Book, will be released in July 2011. All three books (Love on a Dime, Love on Assignment and Love by the Book) are set in Newport, Rhode Island during the Gilded Age. Right now I’m working on a stand alone historical novel also set at the turn-of-the-century, but located in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains of New York state.

SDC: I love stories written during Regency period, and around the time of the War Between the States. And the Gilded Age, I believe, is like reading the topping of the cake. Though this next question might seem similar to the first one I asked you, let's get a little more detailed. How do you thread faith, love, and hope along with the reality of life together in your stories?

Cara: My characters’ faith has to inform how they live their lives and deal with their problems, large and small. In Love on Assignment my heroine Charlotte isn’t a Christian at the beginning of the story, but in the middle she accepts Christ. This changes her entire philosophy of life, including how she treats others. She realizes she can’t lie for her own gain any more. Her spiritual problem is at the heart of the story. How she solves it and relates to the hero are the most important aspects of the book. Coming to faith shifts everything in Charlotte’s life and it’s not easy for her.

SDC: How long did you have to wait before getting published the first time?

Cara: I wrote about 6 ½ years before I received ‘the call.’ During one of those years I had two major surgeries, so I didn’t write very much. But I ‘practiced’ writing all my life, although I never took it seriously until my children were grown and I had more spare time. I’m glad I didn’t get published any sooner since I really wasn’t ready.

SDC: Right now as I write down my questions, I have a candle lit at the corner of my desk. Just the scent gets my creative juices flowing. But I have a difficult time sitting in this lonely office for too long a time before I have to get up to go say hello to my husband. Does a room, or special place or thing, play any part in your story writing, and if so, how?

Cara: I can’t write with music on or TV or people talking. I like solitude—except that I like the sound of birds chirping just outside my window. They’re noisy, but to me it’s a soothing sound. I write on my sun porch or in my bedroom. I have books and a desk in both places. Neither place gives me enough privacy, but I take my laptop and switch back and forth.

SDC: How does your family and the ministry with your church correspond with your time to write and do research for your writing?

Cara: I try to balance all my activities. My family, especially my husband is very cooperative and supportive. We help our daughter take care of our four year old grandson, so I have to devote a lot of my time to the little guy. But he’s learning when I have a deadline, I really do have to write. So I’ll make sure to spend some time with him first. I give him ‘quality time’ and my husband gives him both ‘quality’ and ‘quantity’ time.

SDC: Family support makes all the difference in the world, doesn't it? What question would you like one of our viewers to answer that would help me select the winner of your newest book coming out?
Cara: What do you think of love stories which don’t have happily ever after endings? Do you like to read them?

SDC: Good question, Cara. Thanks.
It’s been a real pleasure having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts. Please include your URL and where people can find your books.

Cara: Please stop by and visit me at  and Seekerville.

Cara has put forth a great question for all of you folks coming by.
Please take a few minutes to respond to her challenge above.
I hope I draw you name in a few days. (Don't forget to include your email address.)

Cara: My books are available at local bookstores and through and

Congratulations to our winner, Casey Crow of Mobile Alabama. Be watching for your book. And thanks for being a part of A Pen for Your Thoughts.


  1. Hi, Cara! I finally got a chance to begin reading Love on Assignment last night and picked it up again this morning. Really enjoying it! Congrats on another great job!

  2. Interesting interview, Cara and Shirley! I'm looking forward to reading Love On Assignment! I loved Newport when we visited several years ago. It's fun to go back, not only to the place but to the era via your stories, Cara.

  3. What do I think of love stories that don't have happily ever after???


    Happily Ever After is fundamental.

    In fact, I have quit reading authors who are known for writing romance and then pull a 'Scarlett O'Hara' ending.

    I don't mean I won't read a non-romance, but if I THINK I'm reading a romance and the rug gets pulled out from under me, i'm very, very unhappy.

    BTW don't put me in the drawing. I have my copy of Love on Assignment

  4. What a wonderful post, ladies! Love the information. :-) God bless!

  5. Informative post. I'm not quite sure I know exactly when the gilded age was, but I so lack in knowledge of history. I probably read one historical to a dozen contemporaries. Sounds like a wonderful group of books.
    To me, a romance has a happily-ever-after ending. A love story is what Nicholas Sparks writes. However, don't Christians live both? But, that's just my humble opinion!

  6. Thanks for having me on your blog, Shirley! I guess I should always stick to HEA even if that makes the ending predictable. At least it makes everyone smile and that's important!

  7. I love HEA but if the story does not call for HEA I can understand not having. When I read a book with HEA it makes me feel good. I laugh and or cry while reading but at the end I do love HEA as it lifts me up and makes me happy. Life is not fair and as the song goes, I never promised you a rose garden, you do have thorns to deal with. Would love to read your newest book. Great interview Cara. Thanks for the opportunity to enter this giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  8. Not only do I love the historicals, and the gilded age, I love ALL kinds of endings if they fit the story. Some are more serious than others, and the happy ending (gushy kinds) just don't necessarily fit. I will always welcome a twist if it's needed.

  9. I don't think we like to read about love stories that don't have a good outcome. Even though it is a reality. We like to read to escape (especially romances) so we always want the characters together :)

  10. Great interview! I'm with Mary. Gotta have that HEA in a romance.

    On the other hand, if I'm told up front (either by the blurb on the back, the category, or comments on Amazon) that a book isn't a romance, I'm fine.

    Don't enter me in the drawing. I already have a copy of Cara's gorgeous new book!

  11. I love how the cover on this book looks so cute and mischievous all at the same time. Excellent cover for the content!

  12. Cara,

    I'm so happy for you. I am hoping Love on Assignment sells like crazy. I really enjoyed Love on a Dime and would love to read Love on Assignment.

  13. Hey Cara,
    Great interview! I loved LOVE ON A DIME. It's in my "keeper" box now! Looking forward to more of the Gilded Age, which is something I wasn't previously very familiar with, but you make it so interesting!
    Casey Crow

  14. Love on a Dime was a great book! Looking forward to Love on Assignment. Love stories are different from romance novels, in that love stories don't always end HEA, but romance novels do. For instance, Love Story. Thank you for the giveaway.


  15. Life has enough non happy endings. I'll take a happy or satisfying ending every time. Thank you very much.

  16. I remember how much I liked Gone With the Wind when I read it as a teenager. But I think I would've liked it much better if it had a HEA.