Here's an excerpt:
Juanita interpreted her request to the husky Mexican, who smiled, bobbed his head, then grasped Margaret’s hand and pumped it up and down.
Margaret smiled back, repeating her admonishment to him, even though she knew he couldn’t understand a word of English. As he walked away, she said to Juanita, “He won’t go, will he?”
“Probably not.” A grin broke out on the pretty Mexican’s face. “He offered you a chicken for fixing him up.”
“A chicken! What in heaven’s name would I do with a chicken?” Juanita laughed. “Don’t worry. I told him to keep it.” She closed the first-aid box and tucked it under her arm.
The pair headed toward the makeshift dining tent where the housing workers gathered for breakfast. The scent of frying bacon and warm tortillas wafted on the morning air.
Margaret’s stomach growled loudly.
“Shall I save you a place at my table?” Juanita asked with a smile.
Margaret shook her head. “Thanks, but I think I’ll go into town this morning.”
“You have already put in a morning’s work on Esperanza’s house. You should eat. Besides, it is not safe for you to roam around alone.”
“Who would want to hurt a nun?”
A frown creased the bridge of Juanita’s nose. “The world is full of bad people. You should take my brother with you.”
“Thanks, but no. I’ll be all right.”
“Sister Maria won’t like you going alone.”
Margaret ignored the comment. “Juanita, what do you know about the situation with Rafael? He told me this morning he isn’t going to live with his family now that his mother is gone.”
“Are you trying to be counselor to that one?”
Margaret nodded. “You won’t get anywhere. His stepfather does not want him. Only Rafael’s love for his mother kept him here.”
“Where will he go?”
“He has an uncle who might take him in, but Esperanza will roll over in her grave if he goes to her brother.”
“He is a tramposo, with his hand in everything dishonest.”
“Where does this uncle live?”
Juanita studied her. “Sister, you are not thinking about getting involved with this, are you?” When Margaret didn’t answer, Juanita repeated the question.
“He’s hurting so much, I can see it in his eyes,” Margaret said. She loved children and had never been able to resist helping them, especially the injured and the emotionally wounded. She often prayed for the ability to comfort others and Rafael was no exception.
“He is trouble,” Juanita said. “You would do well to listen to what I say.”
Margaret laughed. “You sound like Mother Superior. She said those same words to me before I left on this mission trip.”
Juanita raised a questioning eyebrow, but Margaret chose not to elaborate on Mother Superior’s warning concerning her decision about her final vows. Mother Superior had decided that she, like Maria Von Trapp, might not be the best nun material. She had warned Margaret to think long and hard about her decision. Stubbornness, curiosity, and bluntness don’t become a nun, she had said.
They walked in silence for a minute and then Margaret spoke. “May I borrow your moped?”
Juanita stopped and studied her closely. “Do you promise you won’t go searching for Rafael?”
Margaret hesitated. She couldn’t lie to Juanita. “I’ll be careful.” But I will look, and if I find him, I won’t avoid him.
With a sigh, Juanita dug in her pocket and dropped the keys into Margaret’s outstretched hand. “I think I’m going to regret this.”
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I’ve loved writing all my life. I love poetry and often share some of my pieces on my blog. As for novels, I wrote my first novel at age 16, longhand, and bound it in one of those paper notebooks we used to use for school term papers. There were a number of short stories at an early age, too. Unfortunately, they have been lost over the years.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
My genres are inspirational and sweet romance. I’m not picky about the sub-genres within that category. I read and write eclectically and have several books started in different sub-genres of sweet and inspirational romance. My first published book, The Nun and the Narc, is an inspirational romantic suspense. In inspirational romance the faith journey of the characters is just as important as romance and the external problems the characters face. There are no sex scenes in sweet romance or inspirational romance, Holding hands, a hug, or a maybe kiss is all the physicality in these types of books.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I’m not a very disciplined writer, unless I’m under a deadline. Then everything else comes to a screeching halt except for writing. I don’t usually set daily goals, but often set whole days or blocks of times aside for the task of writing. I have written as many as thirty pages in an eight-hour period. I wrote the first draft of The Nun and the Narc in about three months.
What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
I’m not very good at picking out the themes and messages in books, but if I had to choose one from The Nun and the Narc I think it would be that there are many ways to serve the Lord. As for the take away message … sometimes Christians can feel that unless their entire life and vocation is dedicated to God’s work—like that of a minister, or nun in the case of Sister Margaret—then what they bring to the table isn’t significant. I hope readers will realize that in whatever capacity they serve and whatever they do, no matter how small it may seem to them, is important work for God’s kingdom.
Would you take this time to describe your book to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
The Nun and the Narc is my first published book. Here’s a quick blurb:
Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a
drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on
undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but
when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous
than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her
decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life
at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.
Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at
least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her
compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own
beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best
agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart.
To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.
My book is currently available from Amazon. Here’s the link where you can purchase it. http://www.amazon.com/The-Nun-Narc-ebook/dp/B00CHU9DH2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1368652543&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Nun+and+the+Narc
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
Where do I get ideas? I think I learned how to find ideas when I was a freelancer for the newspaper and writing for children at Standard Publishing. I was always on the lookout for human interest profiles, news stories, and anything interesting that I could pitch to the editors. I mine ideas from everywhere. A snippet of conversation I hear can spark an idea. Something the minster says on Sunday morning can make me reach for my pen and paper. Road signs have sparked book titles. I have newspaper articles in my idea file that have inspired book ideas. Anything I hear, see, or read can be fodder for a story. Ideas are everywhere around us. We just have to look and listen.
A character name has to feel right for me to use it. I’ve actually written books using a fill-in name (Mother-in-law 2) because I couldn’t find the right name for the character. I usually head to a baby book when I’m stumped for a name.
I think there’s always a bit of ourselves, and other people we know, in our characters. I try not to make my characters too much like me or anyone else. I think characters are more interesting when they are an amalgamation of lots of people.
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?
Don’t we all feel like giving up once in a while? Constant rejection can do that to a person. I think I’d have to say the most discouraging thing about writing is getting those rejection letters from editors and agents, especially when you’ve had some almost sales and won contests with your work. That’s when you know your work is good, but you can’t find the right publishing house or agent or editor who loves your book. I had come to the point where I had given myself one more year to sell The Nun and the Narc. If I couldn’t find a publisher, I planned to publish it myself. Then, I pitched it at the COFW conference last October and in November I got THE CALL, or rather the email. Without a doubt, that has been the most encouraging moment of my writing career.
Who has inspired/encouraged me the most? There have been a number of people along the way who’ve made me believe I could do this. My critique partners, the editors at the newspapers and Standard Publishing who rarely changed a word of my copy, and my husband who puts up with the dust bunnies while I write. But most recently I’d have to say it is my editor Debby Gilbert who never sends me an email without the words “awesome book, wonderful book, or fantastic book” in it. That is so uplifting.
Would you roughly explain how you “chose” (or was chosen) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
Relax? Are you kidding me? I’ve been so busy with marketing and editing that I’m way behind on writing time. And the pressure is on even more, especially since I feel like I have to be sure the next book is as good or better than number one. Remember those dust bunnies I mentioned earlier? Well, my husband pointed out the other day that they are now tumbleweeds. We’re learning to live with them. LOL
As for choosing a publisher—It’s harder to find a traditional publisher in today’s Christian market, especially since most of them want you to have an agent or use writer’s services that charge to screen potential authors. I had been looking at smaller publishing houses for some time now, knowing they were more open to new authors. When I pitched The Nun and the Narc to Soul Mate Publishing, I told the editor that it had been a hard sell because it was different kind of inspirational romance. Other publishers didn’t know what to do with a Catholic nun heroine. She was interested in different, unlike the other places I’d sent the book.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could? Etc.
I’m not crazy about driving in snow and will cancel appointments at the first snowflake. Like most writers I like to read. I also like to travel, and if I could I’d go to England, Scotland and Ireland and maybe Italy and Spain. I’m an avid gardener and have won a local award for my hillside garden. There are some pictures of the garden on my website. I also like to visit gardens and have a Through the Garden Gate blog thread on my blog that features different public gardens and beautiful private yards I’ve visited. I also like to quilt and have lots of UFOs (unfinished objects).
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
Sure. You can contact me via by website or come visit my blog at
http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com. I blog there most Tuesdays and have lots of writing craft articles in my archives, and The Through the Garden Gate garden series, too.
You can buy The Nun and the Narc through Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/The-Nun-Narc-ebook/dp/B00CHU9DH2/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1368652543&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Nun+and+the+Narc
There’s also an excerpt from the book on Amazon’s site. I’m working toward getting an Amazon Central author page up. If you come to Amazon and find the page is up and running, drop by and LIKE it, if you’re so inclined. For those who don’t own a Kindle, the book should be out later for Nook and also in print.
Also, I’ll be doing a blog tour sometime in the future. If anyone would like to follow me on that, I’ll have the information posted on my website.
Thanks, Carole, for taking the time to spotlight me on your blog. I really appreciate it.
A bit about Catherine:
Catherine began writing stories and poems almost as soon as she could string words together on paper. When other students groaned at essays and term paper assignments, she relished the chance to research new things and write. Poetry was her first love. Then she tried her hand at fiction as a teenager, writing her first book in longhand on lined paper. It was an awful story of teen love showered upon her favorite teenaged actor. She still has it and, no, you cannot read it. J But you can find samples of her poetry and other writing on her website.
When she’s not writing or working on a writing project with her husband, whom she also coauthors with, you can find Catherine reading. She owns hundreds of books and magazines, on all kinds of subjects, that constantly threaten to overrun the house. She’s trying to control the book habit with her Kindle. It’s not working so well; she may need a second Kindle to keep up. So many books—so little time.
Catherine also likes traveling, singing, and attending theatre, as well as being onstage in the spotlight. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. For weeks after receiving the award she went around the house, wearing a smile big enough to crack her face, saying, “I’m an award winning gardener!” It was—besides marrying her high-school sweetheart, the birth of their daughter, being an ACFW Genesis contest finalist, and receiving her book contract with Soul Mate Publishing—one of the best events in her life.
In Catherine’s Ohio garden you’ll find flowers from friends and from her mother’s gardens that have been moved from house-to-house, city-to-city, and state-to-state. Like stories, which are meant to be enjoyed and passed on, Catherine believes flowers should be shared. If you come to her home when the garden is blooming you’ll leave with a big bouquet.
You can see Catherine’s excerpts from her book, pictures of her garden, read her poems and blogs, connect with her, and follow her at http://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com
Her debut book The Nun and the Narc published by Soul Mate Publishing, is currently available from Amazon as an ebook, and will be available as an ebook and a print book from Soul Mate Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble later this year.
And, thanks, Catherine, for joining us today!
Don't forget, readers, to leave a comment and your email addy, for a chance to win an arc of this book!