Monday, February 20, 2012

How Would You Like to Have a Main Coon Cat for a Writing Partner?

Carla Rossi has written everything from Christmas Pageants and school newsletters, to poetry, stage plays, and Christian music. After another thousand pages of humorous essays about friends and family, she completed a novel. In 2004, she joined RWA and her local chapter, and set about the business of learning to write romance. When she's not squirreled away in her office with her writing partner - a Main Coon cat - she's teaching Bible study or adding piano, bass and vocals to a worship band. Carla has three grown children, one grandson, and lives north of Houston with her husband and the muse cat.
Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog in anticipation of my March 2nd release of Unlikely Praise.  I can’t wait for everyone to meet Candi and Shade and spend some time with the worship team at fictional Cornerstone Fellowship in Texas.   

SKC How did you come to be a writer, Carla?

Carla    I’ve been scribbling notes and essays in pastel notebooks and fancy journals since I was a kid.  I didn’t think I could pull a whole book together.  It seemed like an overwhelming task to create entire worlds and build in-depth characters from scratch.  In 2004, I read about 25 romance novels in a week and started to think I could do it.  I joined some writing organizations and attended every workshop offered until I felt confident enough to just go for it.

SKC How long does it normally take you to write a book? 

Carla   It seems like lately it’s been taking me forever but, when I’m in a good rhythm and focused, it takes me about ten months.

SKC That's good timing. What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

Carla  I admit to being a plotter.  I usually have a very general outline of where I’m going and I know my characters pretty well before I start.  However, I am often surprised at where individual scenes end up – and that’s the fun part.

SKC Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft

Carla  I definitely edit as I go.  I write by scene and sometimes chapter.  Once complete, I let it rest for a day and then re-read for self-editing.  After that it goes to my critique partners.  We meet once a week and discuss each other’s work.  I tweak according to their suggestions and make what I call “repairs” (line edits).  Then I move on.

SKC What do you have within reach as you write? 

Carla  I have an office at home and that’s where my cat and I spend our time writing.  I sip tea and he rubs his nose in catnip.  I call him Saber the Maine Coon Muse Cat.  I’m not sure I could do this without him…

SKC In your opinion, what is the greatest danger or pitfall in the life of a writer? 

Carla   It’s easy to get discouraged and stop writing when those first rejection letters come.  We all think we’ve mastered the craft the first time we type “the end” on a manuscript.  Then about ten agents and editors or a contest judge assures us we haven’t mastered anything at all.  It’s hard to get back on the horse, but we must stick with it.  Like everything else, the old cliché – practice makes perfect.

 SKC Practice, indeed, does make perfect...eventually. If you could ask our readers anything what would it be?

Carla   From a personal standpoint, I appreciate everyone who reads my work and often wonder if any of the spiritual lessons I learned through writing the book and shared in the story have helped anyone else.  I also am very anxious to know if they had a laugh or two.  I tend to write funny and nothing makes me happier than when someone says they “get” my humor and laughed out loud.  One of my favorite fan encounters is when a lady actually brought her copy of my book to show me where she’d underlined the phrase that, when she read it out loud to her husband, caused him to snort coffee through his nose.  One of my happiest days as a writer.

In general, I like to hear from readers what they’re interested in.  Keeping up with market trends is nearly impossible.  I heard every agent and editor at a conference say they were all sick of reunion stories.  You know, the ones where high school sweethearts find each other again after twenty years and others like that.  Shortly after, I heard several readers say “Gee, I sure love those stories where people find each other after being separated…”  So who knows?  It’s mind-boggling.

SDC: Thank you for your willingness to donate a book. Please give us a brief blurb on it, and then be sure to leave us the information we need to contact you, and also to find you on your Facebook Author Page.

Contact info:
ISBN:  978-1-61116-142-7

Unlikely Praise:

Candi Canaberry has been the worship leader at Cornerstone Fellowship since the doors opened more than two years ago.   A lifetime church musician and instructor of music at the local community college, Candi has dedicated her life to praise and worship.  When Cornerstone explodes into mega-church territory, Candi is sure she’ll be the one to take her team to the next level…isn’t she the obvious choice?  Apparently not.  Church leadership has other ideas when they instruct her to take on a partner and share her duties.  But a one-time rocker with a metallic guitar and zero worship experience?  God must be kidding.

Recently saved Samuel “Shade” Blackledge is new to Cornerstone Fellowship.  He’s convinced a strong church family is what will help keep his head above water as he turns from things of the past and builds a new life.  An ex-rock guitarist, Shade is shocked when the pastor suggests he might be just what the worship team needs.  But could God really want a tattooed veteran of the club scene?  And what about his other secrets - not the least of which is a baby girl he’s never seen?

Worship practice has never been this eventful as Candi and Shade work their way toward each other… and Unlikely Praise.

From a personal standpoint, I appreciate everyone who reads my work and often wonder if any of the spiritual lessons I learned through writing the book and shared in the story have helped anyone else.


  1. I haven't yet read any of your books, Carla, but I learn a lot of spiritual lessons every day from what I do read. That's why I like inspirationals.
    Betty F.

  2. Great interview...I'm so jealous of anyone who can plot! I love Carla's books! Such great messages and sweet love stories!

  3. Enjoyable interview, Carla. I've had the pleasure of reading your book and meeting you in person. Your story inspired me.

    Thank you, Shirley, for featuring UNLIKELY PRAISE.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Betty, Tess and Meb!

  5. I think one of the things I love most about Carlas' books is that I get to experience such a wide range of emotions in a short period. I don't even have to get off the couch to cry, laugh (sometimes so hard I cry), get mad or love.

  6. So nice to see you here, Carla. I've read your work, but I'm so bad at remembering stories before the one I'm reading now! I'm sure if the Lord wanted me to take home a spiritual lesson from one of your characters, I did.

  7. Thanks LoRee and Tiff. And I know what you mean LoRee, there are so many good stories out there with great takeaways, it's hard to pinpoint them all.

  8. Carla, Can't wait to read this book!

    And Saber the Maine Coon Muse Cat? I want me one of those. ;) Sounds pretty awesome.

    Let us know when we can pre-order, okay?


  9. I had to giggle. When i read Diane's response, I thought she meant she wanted to pre-order the Maine Coon Cat. Okay, I know it's early.

  10. I'm a kitty-mama myself, Carla - in fact, I have a striped tabby that lounges next to my lap top and watches me write. :-) Can't wait to read your new release - you're a wonderful writer. God bless, and much success!

  11. Thanks Diane and Marianne! Shirley, I have seen where you can pre-order a cat. Some breeders have waiting lists. ;-)

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  13. Hope I'm not too late. I would love to read this book. I'm not a writer, but I love books that bring out faith.
    Caree Anne Conno