November 14, 2011


By Caroline Clemmons
November is National Literacy Month. Obviously literacy is important to you or you wouldn’t be reading this. Celebrate literacy by volunteering to help someone learn to read—whether encouraging an adult or tutoring a child. Give yourself a break and curl up with a good book. If you don’t have one handy, please let me recommend any of mine at For those of you with an e-reader, my backlist is now available on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords for 99 cents each. Blatant self-promotion, but I feel compelled.

 Can you remember the first book you read? The first one I read alone—not counting the newspaper comics my dad used to teach me to read—was a small Golden book of prayers. At the time, my mom wasn’t a reader, so she didn’t buy me books. Occasionally she’d let me buy a comic book. My dad read the newspaper and any book he could get his hands on, but didn’t buy books or use the library. I have no idea why. Still, he loved to read and encouraged me to learn at an early age. Probably he tired of me nagging him to read me the funny papers and comic books. At the time, I thought Bugs Bunny was the funniest thing on earth. I was five, okay? (All right, I admit I still like Bugs.)

 Do you remember the first book you chose to read from a library or bookstore? Can you remember the first book you purchased on your own? Mine was a Nancy Drew mystery, but I don’t remember which one. Using my allowance, I bought one book each week at the dime store next to where my mom bought groceries. After I’d combed through the available Nancy Drew books, I moved on to Louisa Mae Alcott and LITTLE WOMEN, LITTLE MEN, and ROSE IN BLOOM. Shopping for and reading those books resurrect fond memories. Fortunately, after that I was old enough to ride the city bus to the county library and check out books for free. Well, not counting bus fare.

I especially have fond memories of reading to our children, even long after they could read themselves. It was a cozy bedtime ritual whose memory I wouldn’t trade for any amount of money. They’re both avid readers now and were good students in school. In fact, one has her PhD in clinical psychology and one her Masters in Library Science.

The ability to read is necessary to excel in any field, even math. If you don’t read well, you don’t even pass the personnel application test—now always given on a computer—necessary to get a job. So, if you don’t read to your children or grandchildren, do yourself and them a lasting favor and start right away.

On to business, my business, that is. My latest romance, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME, is now available from The Wild Rose Press and is quite a departure for me. Instead of sensual, it’s sweet, which means that there is no consummated sex. Lots of sexual tension exists between the heroine, Courtney Madison, and hero, Derek Corrigan. Plus, it’s set in West Texas near where I grew up. Courtney has a teenaged brother for whom she’s guardian since their mom’s death. Derek is a widower with two young kids. Oh, you see where this is going, don’t you? Maybe. Maybe not. No one dies, no one is kidnapped, but there is a little larceny involved. There’s also humor, pathos, and romance. I’m happy to share that HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME has received excellent reviews. Here’s a blurb:

Courtney Madison has battled poverty her entire twenty-five years but is determined to make a safe and happy home for her teenaged brother Jimmy after the recent death of their mom. Her mom’s illness left Courtney with a mountain of hospital bills, her formerly sweet brother is now cutting class and hanging with a rough crowd, and she’s just learned she’s being downsized in two weeks. Hanging on by the threads of a fraying rope, she learns she’s inherited two million dollars from a kind elderly man she befriended when he was in the hospital across the hall from her mom. She thinks her inheritance in West Texas is the answer to all her prayers--but Courtney learns that while money improves her life, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. This modern Cinderella encounters problems even a fairy godmother couldn’t imagine.

Rancher/entrepeneur Derek Corrigan has incredible instincts for flourishing in the business world. With women, not so much. In fact, his friends bemoan he’s King Midas where money is concerned, but his judgment of women is pathetic--evidenced by his late wife and by the flamboyant woman he’s been escorting of late. His life is devoted to his children. Meg is aged five and Warren is aged eight. Derek suspects the worst of his new neighbor and vows to fight his attraction for her. He knows what women do to him--they always leave and take chunks of his heart with them. He's been there, done that, had the vaccination and is cured. Or is he?

Here’s a short excerpt after Courtney has been injured while stuck in a window, and Derek has taken her home and is sitting with her when Courtney’s brother gets home from school. Jimmy believes he is Courtney’s protector, since he’s the man of their two-person family.
When Jimmy saw his sister in bed, he rushed over. “Sis, what happened? What’s with the towel and the ice packs?” He frowned at Derek. “What’s going on?”
She opened her mouth to explain, but nothing came out.
Derek figured the bizarre situation defied description. He patted Jimmy on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, she’s okay now. We were at the cemetery putting flowers on Sam’s and Maggie’s graves and your sister got trapped in the bathroom.”
Jimmy shook his head. “I don’t understand. How could that hurt her?”
Courtney sighed. “The knob came off in my hand and I couldn’t open the door. So, I climbed out the window.”
Derek held out his hands to indicate the small rectangle. “A small, high window.”
Jimmy looked from his sister to Derek. “I still don’t understand what happened.”
Courtney snapped, “I got stuck, okay?”
Now that he knew her to be okay, the week’s tension suddenly snapped in Derek and he lost his perspective on the whole situation. He grimaced at Jimmy. “She, um…” He coughed to keep a straight face. “When she tried to go out the window, she got stuck with her head and one arm sticking outside and the rest of her inside.” He stood like a bird with a broken wing to imitate Courtney’s position. A grin spread across his face in spite of all his efforts not to smile.
Jimmy gaped at his sister. “Courtney? But she’s always so sensible. She’s never does anything stupid.” He began to smile also.
Both males burst into laughter.
“Listen, if you two are so amused, go into the other room to discuss my apparently hilarious antics and leave me to suffer in peace.” In spite of her strained muscles and injuries, she threw a box of tissues in their direction. “Go on, get out of here. Now.”
Derek glanced over his shoulder before he left.
She’d stuffed a pillow over her ears, to block out their laughter.

Thanks, Anna Kathryn, for hosting me today. I’ll be giving away a pdf. of HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME to one person who leaves a comment.

Caroline Clemmons writes Romance and Adventure
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Amy @ bookgoonie said...

Read all the Nancy Drews. They were like crack. Your new book sounds awesome.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Anna Kathryn, thanks for having me as your guest.

Amy, yes, those books were like crack for me, too. Wish I'd saved all of them, but I think my mom put them in garage sale.

Tanya Hanson said...

hi Caroline, I read all the Nancy Drews and Trixie Beldens. I loved the Bobbsey Twins, but I think the first book I really remember was Little Women. Louisa May Alcott is probably my writing hero.

Congrats on the new book! oxox

Paty Jager said...

I learned to read when I was five because I was determined to learn at the same time as my brother who was in first grade. I devoured books used the county library in the summer when we'd make a once a week trip to town for groceries and the school library during the school year.

My grandfather who lived with us read westerns. My mom wasn't a reader but she encouraged it in me.She ordered the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series and had them coming to our house on a regular basis. My dad wasn't a reader when I was growing up but since his retirement has been reading a lot.

I also read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Good luck with all your books!

Susan Macatee said...

My first book that I read over and over was about a collie. Can't remember the name of it though. I also had a collection of Nancy Drew books and Cherry Ames, a nursing series. I remember getting my first library card and checking books out, but can't remember what the first one was.

But I've read so many books over my lifetime, it's no wonder I can't recall every one. They all shaped me into the writer I am today.

Sandy L. Rowland said...

Your new book sounds fun.
Love the voice.
Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins,
all good.
I was a library junkie--still am.
Thanks for sharing the great interview.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

This is a great story! I highly recommend it.

I think the first book I read because I wanted to was an Oz book. Can't remember which one though. My sister had been given them and my mom had read them to us. The one I read was of course one of my favs. Then I read short books that we bought through the readers club at school, and the stories I bought were always about horses. ;-) Mysteries and Nancy Drew and Black Stallion books, and then historicals my mom had in the bookcase before my first romance in my freshman year,a contemporary I found at the highschool library. I think it was called First Kiss. ;-) Then it was on to Bond of Blood by Roberta Gellis, etc. I always liked historical romances that were long and exciting adventures. I'm still into adventures and love to write them now, whether western historicals or werewolf contemporaries. I like a story with angst, and your stories have it.


ella quinn said...

Very nice. My mother said I was reading by the age of 3. I don't remember the first book I ever read. I do remember reading Wurthering Heights in 6th grade. I bought Rose in Bloom when we were in Toronto for Easter and I saved my allowance to by every Nancy Drew published. Although I'd read it when I was young, my son and I read the whole Little House series out loud to each other.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I wore out Heidi and My Friend Flika. When I finally made it to Switzerland, I had my niece and nephew look for the Alm Uncle's place (that was Heidi's grandpa in case you didn't read the books).

When the kids were little, my favorite one to read was Morris the Moose. They would get mad at me because I would laugh so hard, I could hardly read. Very happy memory there.

Good luck with lots of sales on your stories.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Thanks for sharing your memories. I had forgotten HEIDI, but I loved it too. When I finally got to visit Switzerland, I saw houses that looked just like the one in my book. I also read all the Trixie Belden mysteries I could find. I also loved reading to our daughters. So many children's books are written so adults can appreciate the humor. PICKLE CHIFFON PIE was a favorite of our kids, as well as all the Frances books. They quickly passed me and moved on to C.S. Lewis and Madeline L'Engle.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Ah, Susan, I read Cherry Ames in middle school. The school library had first voyage into Romance! LOL. One of the first books I really remember reading was a biography on Clara Barton, that would have been 4th grade. I read the Box Car Children and Bobbsey Twins. I didn't read Nancy Drew very much.

Thanks for taking us down memory lane, Caroline.

Paul McDermott said...

The Bobbsey Twins were popular in the UK when I was growing up ... and a series of books about Kemlo & friends who lived on Sattelite K orbiting the earth ....

I fear for the current generation of children in the UK.
BBC documentary this week interviewed children and asked about reading. More than one just looked blank and shrugged, one actually said [quote!!!] "What's the point of learning to read?" AND HE WAS DEADLY SERIOUS!!!!

Nancy Jardine said...

I read lots of weekly comics and (The sunday Post cartoons-oops the Scottish bit here) before I read a real book around the age of 4/5. I can't remember the very first book that I read myself, but I know I read all the Enid Blyton books.(I got a huge donation from my older cousin) enid Blyton's 'Wishing Chair' pops into my head but I'd need to do a bit of research to see if that really is the actual name.

Paul McDermott said...

Nothing wrong with your memory, Nancy: "The Wishing Chair" is a Blyton title!
And as for the Sunday Post ... used to be the ONLY Sunday paper which was considered "family friendly", I imagine it still has the same clean image!
My father claims I was WRITING stories by the time I was 5 or 6, says he still has a (4 x school exercise book) story of mine called "The Invisible Man" from about that time ....