Thursday, March 23, 2006

Interview with Carol Cox, part two

Today we are continuing the interview with Carol Cox. Her book Ticket to Tomorrow is coming out from Barbour. You can find out more about Carol and her books at

Yesterday we left you hanging with the chilling question What is a javelina? I'm sure you were up all night just waiting for the answer. Well, I won't keep you in suspense any longer. Here's the rest of the interview with Carol.

And for those who don’t know, what's a javelina?

LOL Around here, a javelina is also known as a wild pig, although biologists insist its proper name is a peccary. But we aren’t talking about an appealing barnyard animal, like Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web. Think “pig with an attitude.” And tusks.

Not something soft and cuddly. It isn’t unusual to spot them from time to time when we’re driving along the highway, but occasionally they show up a bit closer to home.

At one time, we raised show rabbits. (Which could probably spark off a whole new line of questions. ) One morning my son and I were getting ready for a rabbit show, and he was down by the barn, loading the rabbits and their carriers into the back of our station wagon. I went out onto our back porch to check his progress and stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted a javelina hanging out between me and the barn.

Uh-oh. My son would be walking out to the car at any moment, and I needed to warn him. Calmly, of course. Unfortunately, a calm tone raised to a pitch loud enough to be heard some distance away can bear a marked resemblance to a panicked shriek. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Be careful when you come out to the car! There’s a javelina in the yard.

Son (in a nonchalant tone that would have done Gary Cooper proud): A what?

Me: A javelina!

Son: What kind?

Me: BIG!!

Please explain to me how his snickering could bridge the distance between us so much better than my attempts at vocal projection. I thought he handled it all with remarkable aplomb, considering this same son was once treed by one of the critters while visiting a friend’s house. He tells me the tusks make an interesting clacking noise when snapped together. Apparently he was able to observe this at length before the javelina decided to saunter off in search of something more entertaining.

Okay, now that we have the Arizona questions out of the way, let’s get back to the writing. What are you passionate about? What keeps you at your desk when you have letters imprinted on your forehead from banging your head against the keyboard? (Or is that just me?)

You noticed the “waffle” marks on my forehead? : ) The thing that keeps me going during discouraging times is the concept of stewardship. I have been given a certain number of days to use the gifts God has entrusted to me. He has called me to write; therefore, I’m responsible to make the best use the time I’ve been given.

I like that answer a lot because it makes it less about me and more about Him. Ooh, and to be controversial, what do you think about "gritty/edgy" Christian fiction? Where do you see the CBA going?

Good question! The Christian fiction we see today is far different than what was available just a few years ago, with a wealth of different genres opening up. With the recent spate of CBA publishing houses changing hands, there has been a lot of speculation about the direction the CBA will take. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all turns out in a couple of years.

I agree. I think it's a great time to be a writer (or aspiring one) in the CBA. What's the most devastating thing you've heard about your writing? What did you do?

I once got a reader response from a woman who said, “I got as far as page 28, then said Yuck! and threw it down.” Just the thing to brighten a writer’s day. LOL Years ago, something like that would have devastated me. This time, I grinned and told myself I had a viable entry for the “worst review” contest held by a writers group I belong to. If something really bothers me, I allow myself to sniffle for a limited time, then I get back to work. My skin has gotten a lot thicker over the years.

What do you do spiritually to keep writing or to help your writing?

The most important thing I can do for my writing is also the most important thing I can do for myself, and that is to stay in God’s word and continue to build my relationship with Him. The lessons He teaches me and the truths He instills will overflow into my writing.

Who are your favorite authors or authors who have influenced your writing?

I have a hard time picking favorites, because there are so many writers I love, and the list grows all the time.

Me too. I can never answer that question. Which is why I asked it. What's the funniest thing that's happened to you as a writer?

A couple of years ago, my husband and I attended a retreat for pastors and their wives. One of the pastors there came up and told me he’d seen my name mentioned in a recent magazine article. When I smiled and told him I was glad he’d seen it, a dumbfounded expression crossed his face and he said, “You mean that was really you?” LOL I guess it was easier for him to assume some other CBA author shared my name than to believe he was actually reading about someone he knew.

We hear a lot about marketing. Some writers seem to be in the camp of write-the-best-book-you-can marketing. Others believe only the author has the passion to really sell his or her book. And there’s everywhere in between. What are your thoughts here?

I absolutely believe that writing the best book you can is essential. At the same time, I’m getting more and more involved in marketing my books. I think the key here is to find a good balance. I need to do my fair share of marketing, but I can’t spend all my energy on that, or there won’t be enough left over to craft a compelling story.

What are some things you have found helpful? A waste of time?

Helpful things: Connecting with other writers. Reading books on the craft of writing. Learning about different approaches to plotting, etc., and deciding which one works best for me.

Waste of time: Stressing over the direction my career takes. (God is in control, and I need to remember that.) And I’ve really tried to cut back on that head-banging thing. It seems to create a great deal of distress for my chiropractor.

Advice for all of us wannabes?

When those inevitable rejections come, remind yourself that the Bible tells us perseverance produces proven character. What a wealth of opportunities we writers have to develop character! The good news is, more training and support is available than ever before. Get involved with a local or online writing group. Go to conferences, where you can learn both the craft and business aspects of writing and connect with others in the field.

Remember that it’s God’s business when and whether we get published; our responsibility is to obey and be faithful. Delight yourself in the Lord. Focus on becoming the person He wants you to be. Career accomplishments only last for a fleeting moment. Eternal rewards are. . .well, eternal. : )

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Jennifer. It’s been fun!

Thanks, Carol. It was fun and you had a lot of really great things to say.

Just as a reminder, anyone who leave a comment will be put in a drawing for Carol's book this weekend. If you don't have a Blogger account, make sure you leave a way for me to contact you.


Malia Spencer said...

Finally I find out what a javelina is. Imu here we come for some onolicious kalua pig! Don't you just love it when I get all native on you Jen? ;)

Thanks for sharing Carol. I really enjoyed reading the interview.

Dell said...

Recently, I read Carol's novel Copper Sunrise set in Arizona. The heroine didn't have to deal with javelinas, but those of us who live in rural Arizona do have to deal with them.

I enjoyed the interview.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Great interview, Jennifer! Carol, thank you for sharing yourself. Blessings to you both.

Jenny said...

While visiting my mom in Payson a couple years ago we spotted a family of javalinas meandering across someone's lawn--a mother with about 5 babies. We definitely stayed in the car but took some cool pictures.
This was a great interview, Jen and Carol. Cannot wait to read Ticket to Tomorrow. And, for the record, I really did try to post a comment for part one and I wasn't going to give away the answer, but I'm thinking since I couldn't get through, you don't trust me Jen. Hmmmm! Gotta go ponder that. Of course, you can make up for this by letting me win the book. :-)
Abundant blessings!

Margo Carmichael said...

Hi, Jennifer,

I miss the javelinas, coyotes, quail that visited our front yard in Tucson and drank from the terra cotta saucer I placed under the prickly pear. However, this week, we did have a snake and an armadillo in our backyard north of Dallas. Neither has the character of the javelina, though.