Happy 2021! I know I’m not the only one excited about finally seeing the backend of 2020 and while we still have some difficult months ahead, I can’t help but feel at least a little optimistic about the dawn of a new year.
One thing I know for sure is that, just like we had in 2020, there is a fantastic line up of books on the horizon and I can’t wait to read them. Cara Sue’s newest book is high on my TBR list and I am thrilled to feature her on the blog with a Q&A today.
Enjoy this interview and then get yourself a copy of BLIND TURN when it comes out on January 7!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Beyond writing, my other great passion is dog rescue. We’ve now fostered nearly 200 dogs (and seven cats/kittens!). I’ve written two memoirs about that experience – Another Good Dog is about our foster adventures, and 100 Dogs & Counting expands on that and covers my travels to nearly 50 southern shelters. From that experience, I co-founded Who Will Let the Dogs Out with the mission to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. I currently live on a hillside farm in Pennsylvania, but as our nest empties (which would have already happened if not for COVID), we have begun the process of relocating to the mountains of Virginia where I plan to continue to write and rescue, but also hike daily and savor a slower pace.
What is the premise for your latest book?
BLIND TURN is a mother-daughter story of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident. It’s a story I’ve been working on for eight years—imagining my way through a parent’s worst nightmare. This book has taken a circuitous route to publication and I am thrilled that it is finally finding its way into the world.
What does your writing schedule look like?
My mornings are spent on ‘nonfiction’—blog posts, freelance articles, work for Waldo (my shorthand for Who Will Let the Dogs Out), and the current nonfiction work-in-progress. Afternoons are when I focus on my fiction. That habit was born of necessity when I wrote novels while my children napped so many years ago. At the time, it seemed like the hardest task—keeping my eyes open and creating stories at the time of day when exhaustion hit. It was the only way to find time though, and I taught myself to do it. Now it’s hard to write fiction at any other hour.
I squeeze in social media at lunch and just before dinner. Social media is such a big chunk of a writing life that I had to mention it—I love connecting with readers and other writers, but it’s a constant struggle to keep it from distracting me from the real work of life. I’m regularly pledging to get off social media, but as a writer that’s just not possible.
How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
I took my writing more seriously. Up until that point, it had been relegated to this odd thing I did during naptime, but once I had a publishing contract it was permission to get to work. I pulled back from other commitments and focused on my writing and also on building my platform. Another artist friend told me at the time—“Just do one thing every day to move the dream forward and you’ll get there.” There are a lot of days when I get discouraged, but I try to remember that I just need to do ‘one thing’—even if that’s only a post on Facebook or an email to another author. She was right, and slowly, connection by connection, I’m finding more success.
What do you do when the words just won’t come?
Sometimes I take a walk or play with a dog or snuggle a foster puppy or bake something, but most times I gut through it, putting words on the page, knowing what I’m writing at that moment is probably crap but also knowing that I have to get all that stuff pushed out before I can find the gold beneath it. I trust that words will always come if I just keep writing. It’s a matter of faith and ‘butt in chair’.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? What do you wish someone had told you before you got into this industry?
You have to write from a wide-open heart. You can’t hold anything back or temper your words. Readers love authenticity; they recognize it instantly. So, don’t try to impress, don’t try to be anybody but you.
As far as what I wish I’d known, I wish someone had convinced me to start making connections and building my platform earlier. I wish I’d gone to more conferences and taken more classes when I had the time. I also wish someone had told me that success often comes down to more than talent and drive; it is about patience, persistence, relationships, and quite a bit of luck. You can only control three of those factors. So, write because you love to, you need to, you want to, but not to make money or get famous.
ABOUT BLIND TURN
An examination of forgiveness in the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident.
Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter—honor student, track star, and all-around good kid—despite the disapproval of her father and her small town. How could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.
Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she long ago rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband, while her daughter struggles with guilt and her own demons as she faces the consequences of an accident she doesn’t remember.
Can one careless decision alter a lifetime? A tragic, emotional, ultimately uplifting story, BLIND TURN could be anyone’s story.
ABOUT CARA SUE ACHTERBERG:
Cara Sue Achterberg is the author of four novels, two memoirs, one work of non-fiction, and multiple blogs. She is the cofounder of Who Will Let the Dogs Out, a nonprofit initiative to raise awareness and resources for shelter dogs. Cara currently lives in New Freedom, Pennsylvania, and Bentonville, Virginia with her husband and far too many animals.
Author Website: www.CaraWrites.com
Publisher’s website: www.blackrosewriting.com