Caroline Clemens is a poet, writer, and author of the new spy thriller novel Three King Mackerel and a Mahi Mahi.
A professional Registered Nurse for decades, Caroline specializes in the human condition, when we are at our weakest. A cardiac clinical manager in the ICU for open heart surgery, she was surrounded by excellence and precision, not to mention blood. She brings the heart of the matter to her novels. Chocolate for Lilly was her historical fiction debut.
Voted twice “Nurse of the Quarter/Year” by fellow employees, she embodies the great nursing care given in this field of medicine. Gratefully, she has brought this expertise to her eight years of writing and literary coursework from the internet.
From the city of Atlanta where she calls home, she continues to derive inspiration via the late writer, Margaret Mitchell, who penned “Gone with the Wind.” In addition, she credits her famous last name Clemens, alias the witty Mark Twain, and her own father’s anecdotes giving her just the humorous edge she needs to persevere.
Digital covers for three of her novels plus a newsletter for a speaking event.
Q & A:
Indie Author Questions by Teri Polen
- What are your favorite books in your genre?
I’ve done a few genres including YA, historical fiction, and thriller/suspense. Funny thing is I don’t like to be scared so writing a thriller appears unnatural for me. John Grisham’s 1997 The Partner was my re-entry into reading after parenting three kids close in age. (I found for a while I could only read magazine articles for many years). I bought this book at a garage sale in 2010 and the book was an eye opener into spying, surveillance, and the mob. Misery by Stephen King is right up my alley, she’s a nurse (me too) while he’s a writer (I’ve written nine books) who ends up in a wheelchair (my grandmother). I have a soft spot for those unable to walk. The Shining, Silence of the Lambs, and The Exorcist scared me to death! The last two I had to hold up my hands in the movie theater to block the screen while I trembled in fear. Why on earth have I written a thriller?
- How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
I was way behind and needed to relearn word usage, proper English, longer sentences, comma usage, etc. As a nurse we used precise single words for description, nothing extra. Now I had to make things colorful and display feelings. I asked my teacher-sister to edit my first manuscript, a novella, and she wouldn’t do it. I was in bad shape; what now? I tried my best. Maybe she wouldn’t because the story was about her. After that I took a big leap and wrote my first big story. Of course, I wrote about what I knew but also places and things I didn’t know about. Research. Truly it excited me. I wrote the story in a notebook-read as many writing tips I could absorb about plot, rising action, characters, blurbs, genres, etc. Then I typed and had it edited. That’s a trying process. Editors tell you all sorts of things that they would change, and since you are a newbie you want to take their ideas but some things you want to keep. This process can make you go mad!
My first real book Into the Vines I wrote out in three notebooks by hand. For the next book I made an outline, and wrote by typing. This was a huge leap! And it worked. Therefore, I now write on a yellow tablet with an outline, characters, places, and put the chapters down with a small description, word count I want for each chapter (depending on word count for the book) and start typing. After nine years of writing this decision saves me an incredible amount of time. Two books a year is my plan, screenplay and assistant director are thoughts.
- What do you do to get book reviews?
I have tried and tried to get reviews through social media and online venues. I have not succeeded in this while I saw others matriculate to great outcomes. This was very difficult and discouraging-a true heart break. It’s not that I thought so highly of myself; it’s that I thought why not, why can’t I write or get noticed by someone? I thought my endeavors were more worthy. Maybe this has kept me going. Most likely I was in the wrong hands, hands that didn’t want to help but maybe actually harm me. Trolls come to mind. However, this gal persisted. I’m not sure why. Here I am and now where do I go? I kept trying, kept writing, and now I have three more stories to publish. I’ve sent off queries with many rejections. I actually counted my rejections. Ask me if you dare. I may have to self-publish again. I’ve just discovered another site for book reviews. Alas, I will repeat, and try, try again. Why? Because I’d like to obtain readers, even if it’s a small group. Why does a performer keep trying? Because they enjoy the giving and just maybe someone will offer their review, critique, or applause.
- What’s your favorite kind of cookie and why?
Gingerbread! Christmas gingerbread men to be exact. My mother introduced me to this ritual and I kept it up for many years. A couple years I missed (three kids close in age) due to not enough time, and yes, a lack of enthusiasm. I look forward to re introducing this timeless holiday tradition of mine.
- Who would win a fight between Spiderman and Batman?
Batman. Bruce Wayne is such a great story. I mean the bat cave, a butler, books, and then a side kick named Robin, not to mention the bat mobile. Oh yea, he gets to be in disguise. That’s cool.
- How would your best friend describe you?
My best friends dad told her I was regal. I thought that a funny thing to say-then later I realized it was a very gentle thing to say. And my dad’s best friend said to me one day during a discussion, “You’re very diplomatic!” I consider regal and diplomatic to be the two best things someone has ever said about me. I never would have come up with words like these to describe my nice disposition and hardworking nature.
List of books I’ve written:
Kiss Ride The first book/novella I ever wrote. I went back and changed the names to protect the innocent. Ha ha. Actually I was nervous and had no idea what I was getting into. This sweet little story is about my sister meeting her future husband on the train in Atlanta.
Into the Vines This second book is three novels in one, a trilogy titled the Vintage Blue Trilogy. I wrote it over three years and it has around 177K words. I received nice reviews from family and friends but couldn’t market it further. Believe me I tried. It’s a coming-of-age story with bits of magical realism entwined just when its needed. A classic novel which travels across continents, it has a happily ever after with heroism from the pilot and two of his adopted children. When my daughter told me she was reading Lord of the Flies I told her I wrote a book for HER and the females of her generation. I believed it was time for a new book. I couldn’t fathom that they only had princess tales for the very young or books about boys being boys. No wonder women are behind men in equality.
Brie’s Story This was previously titled “French Bleu.” The first book from Into the Vines is about two women meeting on a vineyard in France in the Loire Valley. Each has a different reason for this vacation at a cooking school. The drama continues quickly and love interests mingle with the pilot who saves stranded souls from around the world. The story is a continuous saga into book two and three. They can be read together in order or separately.
Someday This was previously titled Bleu Moon. I received two honorable mentions for this middle segment of Into the Vines. That made me extremely happy. I think my writing really took off during this novel. It’s a page turner and I wrote about Paris, a place I’ve never been to. As a self-pubbed author I cannot put it out everywhere-this is more than a job for two or three people, let alone one person.
This story is about Francis and Hawa joining the family that inhabits the vineyard and has the lifesaving company that goes global. Angie is the name of this new age idea that we can encompass the globe without interfering into the rights of countries, that we can save lives through the use of private and government assistance, by employing some of our extraordinary individuals such as navy seals or national guard type persons. This is a story about heroes, young and older. The secondary plot is the adoption of two characters who join the family from far, far-away.
The Pilot Log This is the 3rd novel (previously titled Sapphire Souls) and follows the ongoing story, steps right into the Congo and other areas of Africa. I did the best I could to describe another place I’ve never been. I believe my nursing background precluded how I could write about other people from far away. You see we are all human with unique individual traits, yet quite alike in numerous aspects. I was extremely creative in this third novel and am proud of what I wrote. This title has an epic ending using my nursing-healthcare resources and scope of aviation with desire to tell stories about people who want to save others! This completes Into the Vines but could continue …
Hawa gets her wings and the story is set. She is the heroine and ready for action!
String the Cranberries This was my NaNoWriMo from 2013. I love this story. I combined many things from my own life in here and made a unique story that is grim with a happily ever after. Brandon leaves the army and doesn’t know what to do with his life. He works in his uncles barber shop, sees an ad, and goes out west to become a ranch hand, or cowboy. He meets Leia, which is a good thing, but doesn’t last long. This ironic tale is heartfelt and filled with goodness. I received a one star review for this novella and it tore a hole through me. I would love to find readers for this or see this as a Xmas movie. Smiles.
Autumn Quotes This is my poetry collection I never intended to write. But I did and I’m good with that. Poetry is painful and can come quite easily once you start. It was a good introduction for me to begin writing. For that I am grateful. A few of my poems I truly love and would like to see them out there more. I entered a few contests with no luck. I think you need a MFA in writing to obtain an agent, a contract, or be seen. Pity that because many who have walked on the other side of the street don’t get noticed. My aim is to change that. I have applied to mainstream high end contests. Maybe they laugh, maybe they don’t, or maybe I’ll have to open my own literary voice online magazine. I did. I got nowhere. I don’t have enough time for everything. I have the title for my next project.
Coming soon. I have three titles I released before Christmas! They are: a historical fiction titled, Chocolate for Lilly, a thriller/suspense titled, Three King Mackerel and a Mahi Mahi, and a little short story titled, Maiden Voyage-A Lighthouse Tale. These are either entered in contests or queried out to agents/publishers. I gave that time to no avail. This may be a do it yourself writing life.
Update. Chocolate for Lilly and Three King Mackerel are published while Maiden Voyage- A Lighthouse Tale found a home in my short story trio KISS RIDE, out Dec. 2019.
Chocolate For Lilly
This historical novel of fiction set in the jazz era of the 1920’s, prohibition, women’s suffrage, post war with the attraction of two souls, is intended for young adults, women’s fiction, and adults. Think The Great Gatsby meets Little Orphan Annie by way of Murder on the Orient Express. Chocolate for Lilly has 58,070 words and is complete.
It’s 1919 and women’s lives are about to change but before Emmaline can figure out that future, she must find her sister that she never knew she had. Robert has just finished college studies and already has a sizeable portfolio noting his inventions. These childhood friends meet up at the perfect moment in time, and decide to help one another, setting off on an adventure only the spirited would undertake. Pretending to be married they board the train from New York City, and first up is the idyllic setting of their childhood summer homes in North Carolina. What they find in their secret pool alerts them to nearby bootleggers but they are on a journey to find her sister, that didn’t perish in the burned out orphanage, and he to showcase his prized paper inventions to none other than Thomas Edison.
A train strike doesn’t stop them, a party at the Vanderbilt estate, a shootout nor two opposite coasts of business. They even meet an undercover Washington D.C. reporter, who delivers the chocolate for Lilly, willing to help them as he is after the hit men and their bosses. Her long lost sister, Lilly, gets out just in time on the east coast, and the couple, Robert and Emmaline, who are on the west coast share a first kiss while rowing out from the shores of Edison’s winter retreat.
Sensitivity. Sensuality. Security.
In the end the two sisters, Emmaline and Lilly, are united with all the family present in North Carolina and Robert has partners to back his ventures. This could be a series going forward with the story of their inventions and hotel business in Florida.
I’m an Indie Author and delighted to introduce myself to you! I’m on Amazon.com under the pen name of Caroline Clemens. I blog at carolineclemens.com and theivorytide.com. I’ve written eighty journalism styled articles for The Guardian Liberty Voice and received two honorable mention awards for “Bleu Moon,” which is the middle segment of my contemporary novel “Into the Vines.” I find this creative process to be a work of art. Both my historical fiction & thriller titles could be a series.
Present. I’m working on my next novel titled, “Magenta Fleurs” and the plan is six months to publication-so it will be an end of June read!
Available: I’m available for book signings, events, talks, discussions, how-to’s, and I can speak on topics such as adoption, books, cooking, momma/family times, poetry, reading, and writing. My interests include the environment (recycling & ocean health), healthcare, politics, and women’s equality.
Thank you for visiting my site!
Caroline Clemens *pen … Kim Troike