Do you ever wonder about the person behind the prose? What is it that makes words sing, moving you to turn pages?
I do. That’s why I enjoy getting to know the force behind the proverbial pens. No matter how advanced technology becomes, there’s no bypassing the root cause of good stories. Seasoned authors with diverse backgrounds and a clear life lens cut to the heart of what stirs us. Making us laugh, love, long for happier times, or embrace God’s gift of today by taking us on a suspense ride best lived in a book.
J. Carol Nemeth is one of these people, a master of living whose on the job training comes through with every word she writes. Yes, we’re discussing books, but today’s focus is the bookmaker. You may just discover a kindred soul who speaks to your spirit because she expresses shared experiences — and struggles — so well.
Give us a short bio. Who is Carol Nemeth? And why WRITING?
The daughter of an old-fashioned Baptist preacher and a native North Carolinian, I’ve always loved reading. My grandmother was a school teacher and she would always give us Scholastic books for our birthdays and Christmas without fail. (Scholastic was my lifeline, too!) I’ve enjoyed making up stories ever since junior high school, most set in the places I’ve lived in or traveled to. I worked in the National Park Service as a Park Aid after college, and I served in the US Army. I was stationed in Italy where I had the opportunity to travel to over thirteen countries. (A lot of fodder for stories, huh? Perhaps I’ll get there eventually.)
I met the love of my life and best friend, Mark Nemeth, also an Army veteran, while we were stationed in Italy. After we married, we lived in various locations, including North Yorkshire, England where our daughter was born. We now live in West Virginia. In our spare time, we enjoy RVing, sightseeing, researching for my books and are active in our church. We have two grown children, a son, Matt, who serves in the Army Special Forces and a daughter, Jennifer, her husband Flint, who serves in the Air Force, and three grandchildren, Martin, Ava and Gage. Our four-footed kid, Holly – a black lab- is pretty special too. She loves traveling in our RV, and when it’s time to pack up and go, you’ll find Holly waiting inside for us to head out.
Why writing? As a young teen, like so many other girls my age, I used to devour Grace Livingston Hill’s book. They were the original clean Christian read. (A classic combo that never goes out of style!) My mother didn’t have to worry about what I was reading with them. I decided back then if Grace could do it, so could I. And I set out to write. It was a long, long journey, but by the grace of God, I was finally published.
You write romance, but what’s your message, Carol?
I actually write more than romance. I write romantic suspense with a faith message. (Of course ;^) It was by God’s grace that I became a Christian and it’s by God’s grace that I was published. I can do nothing on my own. It’s ALL by His grace. I want my writing to reflect Him. When I write, I pray that He’ll give me the words that HE wants me to write and that the story will be what HE will have it to be. More of Him and less of me. If I try to do this on my own, it’ll become one big mess.
How does family/work/personal life show up in your writing?
Well, I don’t work outside my home anymore, but there are a couple small ways family does appear in my books. In A Beacon of Love, the sheriff and his sister are named after my oldest grandson Martin (age seven) and his sister Ava (age 5). That’s the prequel to Ocean of Fear, my newest release that just came out in early March. The hero in that book is named Gage after my youngest grandson (age two). I’ve also immortalized a couple of our dogs. One we just had to put down because she had cancer. She was 14 years old. Haley can be found in Canyon of Death. If you’re related to me or are one of our pets, you’ll eventually end up in one of my books. But the biggest claim to fame is my daughter’s picture on the cover of Canyon of Death wearing my old National Park Service uniform. She’s beautiful. But I may be a little biased.
Give us a quick rundown of your body of work.
Because I used to work in the National Park Service and absolutely loved it, I wanted to write a series with a book from various parks, the Faith in the Parks series. I’ve published the first three books and I’m starting the fourth. There will be five in the series.
My debut novel is a stand-alone. Yorkshire Lass takes place in England at the end of WWI. It’s also a full-length romantic suspense novel. I’ve written two novellas which are historical romantic-suspense, both prequels to novels in the Faith in the Parks series. Dedication to Love is the prequel to Mountain of Peril and A Beacon of Love is the prequel to Ocean of Fear.
Both of these novellas also appear in collections that our publisher put together. Wilderness Weddings and Prohibition Hearts. I’m also writing a short story series entitled Peaceful Valley Wounded Soldier Series that honors our wounded veterans. This series is dedicated to my son and son-in-law as well as all the men and women, both past, present who have served our country in the military. I’m writing the 4th in this series now. (Sounds like a must read!) All of these full-length novels, novellas and short stories can be found and purchased on Amazon.
Take us through your writing your process.
My writing process is probably different from most writers. At any given time, I can go from being the only one living in my house to having a house full. It obviously affects how I write, and when things in the household change, I have to change with it. One thing that never changes is that I’m always a pantser. Never a plotter.
Having said that, I do jot down notes as ideas come to mind. But I never make an outline. However, I always make a detailed character sheet for each of my characters. It lists not only the character’s physical attributes, but their physiological attributes as well. What makes them tick? Their likes and dislikes. Their strengths and weaknesses. Their backstory. These character sheets are kept in an electronic folder on my desktop. I want to know these characters well, inside and out. I always have the folder available for reference when I need it.
I do a lot of gathering of research materials and do some research before I begin writing. Then I do research as I’m writing. I try to travel to the place I’m writing about if at all possible. The next story in the Faith in the Parks series will take place in Denali National Park in Alaska. I visited there last summer while I was still writing Ocean of Fear. I was gathering research material. I plan to go back in June of this year. Only this time, I’m writing the new story.
The biggest most important key to my writing? Prayer.
What has your writing journey taught you about yourself?
That after publishing six books, I’m the same as I was after publishing my debut novel. Yes, I’ve learned a lot about writing, and my readers have told me my newer books are better than my early ones. (I hope so. That’s the goal of every author.) But I still depend on the Lord to help me get up in the morning, to help me write, to help me market, to help me edit, to help me be what He would have me be. I need Him every day, no matter what. That never changes
What’s next on your horizon?
What’s next on my horizon? The two upcoming books in the Faith in the Parks series. They will take place in Denali National Park (no title yet) and Gettysburg National Battlefield, title – Battlefield of Deceit. I’m excited about both of these books. (Me, too!)
As for a personal adventure, I’d say my upcoming trip to Alaska in June. My husband and I are looking forward to that for sure. Last year we camped on the Arctic Circle. Wonder what amazing thing we’ll do this time? And the research part of the trip is going to be awesome.
Do you have a favorite recipe? Inquiring minds are often closely connected to their taste buds and other places that enjoy being filled up!!
I do have a favorite recipe I’ll be happy to share. I take it to church quite often. I even get a marriage proposal from one of the fellows at church. I keep telling him it would be easier if I just give his wife the recipe.
Peanut Butter Apple Dessert
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 24 squares)
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ plus 1/3 cup peanut butter, divided
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 carton (16 0z) frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 cans (21 oz each) apple pie filling
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
In a bowl, combine the cracker crumbs, brown sugar, ½ cup peanut butter & butter; spoon half into a 3-qt. baking dish. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth; fold in whipped topping. Spread half over crumb mixture in dish. Top with one can of pie filling. Combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and remaining peanut butter until crumbly; sprinkle half over pie filling. Repeat layers. Refrigerate until serving. Yield about 20 servings.
What would you recommend to new writers/established writers? (Outside chowing down on that delicious desert?)
I don’t think I could recommend anything to established writers, but I have something to tell new writers who have never been published. Never, ever give up. (I’d say this applies to established writers, too, as we all experience seasons of doubt and new challenges.) It took me over twenty-six years to publish my debut novel and with a lot of rejections. I would get discouraged, put it away, and ask God what he was doing. Did He want me to write? Was this His plan or not? What did He want me to do? I tried again with one publishing house and they asked me to rewrite and send it in, then they told me they didn’t want it. Until you get it in writing, don’t do it. (This is pure GOLD!) That’s how it’s published now, although I would have preferred it the original way. My advice? Never give up. Yes, you’ll get discouraged, but don’t give up no matter what.
My pastor jokingly told me that I labored longer than Jacob did for Rachel. In reality I suppose he’s right. But as difficult as it was in all those years to see what God was doing and to understand why He was doing it, I did learn one thing. Our time is not God’s time. And although we can’t understand why He’s doing things the way He is, we have to acknowledge that He see’s the big picture while we only see one small step at a time. I was homeschooling my kids at the time, and although there are a lot of homeschooling moms out there who write and publish novels at the same time, perhaps I wasn’t one of them. (Hmm. No wonder Carol and I click, one retired homeschooling headmistress to another. But managing kiddos, classes, family life, and multiple cross-country moves, I couldn’t do it all either. Not at the same time.) Who knows? I probably won’t know until I get to heaven and all the answers to my life’s questions are revealed. But one thing I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt. I can trust that He knows what He’s doing and He’s doing it at the right time. So can you.
Where can reader’s best connect with you?
I’m on Facebook the most, I suppose, but drop me an email if you like. Here are my social media links:
So there we are. Carol Nemeth is one experienced gal who knows what shifting priories can do to a career. She gets it. Nobody can do it all by himself. But waiting on dreams–letting them steep and deepen–is often the fertilizer that makes them come to perfect fruit. Because God is always there, ready, willing and ABLE to lift us up in His time. Perfectly!
I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to get to know Carol better. I hope you all feel the same. Explore her growing body of work – just one click away at Amazon. Read on and…