Wisdom from a Wordsmith – Episode 24

I am so enjoying Crystal Caudill’s debut novel, Counterfeit Love. Often when I am short on time, I will do a quick read for a book I need to review, but this one is such a treasure that I have decided to slow down and savor each page.

I am delighted that Counterfeit Love begins the last day of the same year that my debut novel took place — 1883. Having researched what it was like ‘across the pond’, during Victorian times, it is lovely to read Caudill’s take on Cincinnati.

I am about halfway through the novel since I have my own time-constrained writing projects. (Plus progress reports due this week!) So far, I love the build-up of suspense, the angst of bitter, lost love, and the obstacles that crop up, just when headstrong and courageous Theresa Plane seems to be catching a break. I adore Theresa’s loyalty and love to those who are undeserving. She never gives up. I also love Broderick’s commitment to the Secret Service, and his protectiveness of Theresa even though she is engaged to another man.

Crystal’s writing reminds me of my favorite historical mystery series, Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight Mysteries. I love rich history combined with mystery and a smattering of romance. The fact that there are so many God-sightings throughout Crystal’s novel, puts the Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series even higher in my estimation. Congrats on excellent writing, Crystal!

I have enjoyed Crystal’s presence on social media, having gotten to know more about her in some of the Facebook groups we share. Her love of history and museums, her transparency and her enjoyment of quirky, fun things, and her love for Christ — well, those are attributes that I enjoy in a fellow author and Facebook friend! I am proud to introduce you to Crystal Caudill! Stay tuned until the end for the GIVEAWAY!

What aspects of your childhood inspired your love of writing?

Writing has always been a way for me to process life and escape from difficult circumstances. While I wouldn’t change my childhood, it had lots of struggles that made stories of danger and adventure a necessary escape. I needed to see that if others could survive things much worse than what I was going through, I could survive this. This overflowed from my reading choices into my writing choices. Even as a young kid, I wrote stories filled with danger and a search for answers. 

My family also did a lot of traveling, and we often hit history museums which always inspired my love of history and the plots running through my head. After all, when trying to escape difficult circumstances, what better place than escaping to a completely different century? While the culture and technology may be completely different, the emotions and struggles of man are universal through time. As I grew older and formed a relationship with Christ as a high schooler, writing became a way for me to also process my faith. That’s why when you read any of my stories, you’ll see danger, history, faith, and messy families. Mine was and is messy, but I love them and appreciate all that I have learned through living life with them.

What is something unique about you that readers might not already know?

Depending on what context you meet me, you might think that I’m a very professional serious person, but I’m not. I’m a goofball. I have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Baby Yoda, Rocket, and Groot figurines on my desk. I sing funny songs like “A Peanut Sat on a Railroad Track,” “Down by the Bay,” and “I Had a Little Chicken Who Wouldn’t Lay an Egg” with my boys even though they are teens. I LOVE corny jokes and funny memes, and I have a darker more morbid side to my humor as well. I also may seem sweet and innocent, but a look at conversations with my suspense author friends and you’ll find that my search history is probably something to be afraid of.  All around, I don’t take myself too seriously.

Tell us about Counterfeit Love.  What do you want readers to take away from the novel? 

Counterfeit Love takes readers back to Cincinnati in 1884 where Theresa Plane finds herself in a precarious situation. Her grandfather has racked up quite the debt and his creditors are calling! After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa feels she owes it to him to save the family name—and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors’ threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn’t all Grandfather was hiding. The secrets he kept have trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home—and the truth.

After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a notorious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiancé is connected. Can he really believe the woman he loved is a willing participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career—but that’s better than failing her twice in one lifetime.

Counterfeit Love is a story of dangerous betrayals, malicious counterfeiters, and the second chance romance between an undercover Secret Service operative and his former fiancée. 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 and its pursuit of counterfeiters. 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 writing Counterfeit Love, I wove all those elements together to hopefully produce a story that not only entertains but touches lives.  

As far as what I hope readers will take away from this story, it’s that “even if” everything is stripped away from you, you can trust and love God. We all walk into our faith with preconceived notions of how God shows love to us. If He doesn’t behave in a way we think He should, it rocks our world and causes us to distrust His goodness. But He is always good, and His ways are not our ways. We all reach a point in our faith when we have to decide if we will choose to love and trust Him in those “even if” seasons of our lives. And that struggle is at the heart of Counterfeit Loves faith message.

What is your advice for aspiring authors?

It’s not what you want to hear, but don’t be in a rush to get published. Seriously. 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 just like any other career out there. There are things you are going to love, things you are going to hate, and things in-between. 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 a 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. 😉

I hope you enjoyed Crystal’s interview as much as I did! Her advice to slow down to hone writing skills is so valid. I have had to tell far too many authors who asked for reviews that I couldn’t provide an honest review that would help their ratings. Some of them had awesome ideas, and will have beautiful writing voices, with some more editing and revision — and with some workshops on wordsmithing. Just seeing how much I have learned and grown since I began my own writing journey, tells me that there would have been much value in slowing down myself!

I also love how Crystal owns the brokenness in herself and her family and sees how her struggles are what also give her strength as a writer and a person. What an important thing for all of us to remember!

Here is the link to the giveaway! https://CrystalCaudill.com/giveaway

Here is the link to tonight’s launch party! https://fb.me/e/36JjYlTde

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