Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D to have my friend Crystal Caudill as my guest. I have known Crystal for several years, have served with her on the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and regularly attend meetings together with the Louisville chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writers. We have shared together, prayed together, and supported one another amidst all sorts of life. And now, I can finally introduce you to her debut release! Ya’ll, this book has generated so much buzz in the social media world and now you have a chance to win an autographed paperback copy! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did – and I hope you find you love Crystal as much as I do!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m a wife, mother of two teen boys, caregiver, and author of “dangerously good historical romance.” When not writing, I’m generally drinking copious amounts of loose leaf tea (total tea snob here), playing board or card games with my family, or reading. One look at my desk and you’ll discover I’m a bit of a goofball with all sorts of Teenage Mutant Ninja, Baby Yoda, Rocket, and Groot figurines littering the surface. I love cheesy jokes, having conversations completely in GIFs, word games, logic puzzles, and causing mischief.
Tell us about your current release: From the very first moment I read True Detective Stories by A. L. Drummond, I became hooked on the fascinating history of the Secret Service. For nearly three decades before the first president was protected, the Secret Service’s primary purpose was to thwart counterfeiters and their schemes to make money at the cost of the nation’s economy. Oftentimes, chasing those criminals required going undercover. Enter the inspiration for the plot of Counterfeit Love. More than just an exciting plot, I wanted a romance story where real love and relationships are portrayed as messy and complicated. The ones we love most can and usually do hurt us the worst. How we respond to those hurts profoundly impacts ourselves and those around us. When I wove all those elements together, I ended up with Counterfeit Love—a story of dangerous betrayals, malicious counterfeiters, and the second chance romance between an undercover Secret Service operative and his former fiancé.
Six years ago, Broderick Cosgrove left his former fiancé Theresa Plane as a means of protecting her. When he discovers her entangled with the schemes of the dangerous counterfeiting ring he’s investigating, he risks his career to prove her innocence and rescue her from deadly threats. Having experienced jilted love once, Theresa’s determined to choose a safe, secure future for herself and to rid her militant grandfather of the debt that has dogged them for years. When past and present betrayals collide, Theresa is confronted with the uncertainty of who she can trust. Can she lean into the man who once abandoned her? And what about God—the one who’s stripping everything from her?
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? For me, this is an absolute yes. Writing with the intent of publishing is an act of obedience for me. It wasn’t something I sought out, but God sort of forced me into it. If He wants a book out there for only one person, then I would still write it. Even if I never knew if it had that sort of impact on someone. May He take my humble offerings and always use it for His glory and the good of readers, whether that be one or many.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? It may sound trite, but I surrender my fears, my aspirations, and my will to God. This is NOT easy. It usually comes with much prayer, repeating verses to myself, and reminding myself that God’s opinion is the ONLY opinion that matters. I have three passages that I lean heavily into when I’m struggling: 1 Peter 4:10-11, Exodus 4:10-12, and 1 Corinthians 10:31. This writing journey is an act of obedience, and that means trusting Him with the outcome of every writing attempt—even if it feels like a failure by my standard.
“Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.“1 Peter 4:10-11
“But Moses replied to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent — either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant — because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.”Exodus 4:10-12
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.1 Corinthians 10:31
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I tried a few times to be a full-on plotter, but I always get just a few scenes into the story before my characters laugh in my face and take the story a different direction than I planned. I’ve learned to have a loose idea of what the story is about, key plot points, a general ending in mind, and an open hand. Most days, I only have a very general idea of what is going to happen when I sit down to write. It’s both exciting and terrifying.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Don’t be in a rush to get published. Take lots of time to study writing craft, marketing, the business side of managing writing (because yes, you are a small business), and network with other writers. I know being published seems like the end all and be all, but really, it’s a job. You are far more likely to succeed if you take the time to complete all the training you can before publishing, whether traditionally or independently. And not-so-secret hint, you’ll be much more likely to impress an agent or publisher if you’ve really put in the work to learn, edit, and keep pushing yourself until you cannot go any further on your own. It takes time, years even, but it is worth it. I promise. And in the end, you’ll still feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. 😉
What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? Gah, this happens way too often. A lot of the time, it’s because I’ve lost track of the story. I’ve learned to print out what I have written so I can read it without the temptation to edit as I read. I look for what questions I’ve left the reader with that need answered, what are my goals for the story, what are the next steps and obstacles to reaching that goal, and if there is a particular plot line that needs fleshed out better. However, sometimes, I’ve just overworked my brain and it needs a break. I usually grab a really well-written book to read, because I always end up getting influenced by the writing style of other books as I write. Or I’ll go watch a great action movie, cuddle with my family, or even pull out the board games. Sometimes, your brain just needs a break, and when you come back, the answers are there.
Do you talk out plot lines with others, and if so, who? Praise the Lord for great writing friends. I have four women that have become like sisters to me, and only one of them is historical fiction. Liz Bradford has published eight romantic suspense stories, Voni Harris just signed a contract with Sunrise Publishing to work with Ronnie Kendig, Angela Carlisle is still waiting for her turn (BUT IT’S COMING), and Lucette New writes fun, light-hearted historical romances set in the west. The first three are awesome at talking suspense, murder, and mayhem with me. Lucy is so great at helping me flesh out the romance, finding what’s believable or not, and talking historical details. My stories are all the better for the brainstorming and critiquing these ladies do.
At what age did you know you wanted to write? Iíve heard stories of people who were writing stories in childhood (which is what Iíd expect). But Iíve heard of others who randomly started much later in life, and that is so interesting to me! I’ve always written as a way to process and escape the challenges of my life. I never had any intention of publishing. At. All. However, when God wants something, nothing is going to stop His plans. I’m a teacher at heart and I love to learn. For my 30th birthday, my husband bought me a ticket to a small local writer’s conference I’d seen an ad for but never told him about. (God moment #1.) I went to this conference by myself, knowing no one, and the first person I met introduced me to the concept of ACFW, and then introduced me to Gregg and Hallee Bridgeman. I’ll never forget Gregg asking me why wasn’t I pursuing publishing. Did I believe God had give me these stories? Well, yeah but… (God moment #2) I brushed it off, escaping as quickly as possible, but Gregg had planted the seed. Then all but one of the classes I’d chosen on writing craft got canceled last minute, leaving only publishing classes left. (God moment #3) I left that conference certain that God was calling me to pursue publishing . . . but I fought with Him for six months over it. He won. From that point on, it’s been a journey of obedience to Him. I am excited and bless to be published, but it was honestly something I never wanted without His pushing. Now all I want is for whatever I write to glorify His name and to encourage others in their walk with Christ.
Find Crystal online:
Blog Links: https://crystalcaudill.com/
Newsletter Sign-Up: https://bitly.com/CaudillNews
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/crystalcaudillsreadingfriends/
Crystal is giving away a paperback to one reader! (U.S. – autographed paperback! International, sent via Book Depository!) Here are all the ways you can enter to win!