Friday, July 2, 2010

My Friend Cara - Interview & Giveaway

Way back many moons ago, I met a lovely young woman named Cara. Cara wrote reviews for us at the Christian Review of Books occasionally, and she participated in some of the fun games we ran. When she started getting publishing contracts and had books coming out, I was very excited for her. And now I'm super-thrilled to be able to host her here as she celebrates the release of her first trade-paper novel with Summerside Press, Stars in the Night!

Cara has generously offered a copy of Stars in the Night to one lucky reader, so leave your comments and an email address for a chance to win!


About Cara

Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, is history. There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing books. This year her 8th, 9th and 10th novels release, including Stars in the Night.

Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW and its conference committee. She served as the Publicity Officer for 2007-2008 and Membership Officer in 2009. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and currently serves as the Area Coordinator for Indiana.

Cara is also an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women's ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School. You can learn more about Cara at


About Stars in the Night

Stars in the Night (July 2010) is a historical romantic suspense set in Hollywood during 1942.
When Audra Schaeffer's sister disappears in Hollywood, Audra flies there to find her, but has to identify her body instead. Determined to find the killer and bring him to justice, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan. Together with Robert Garfield and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States as the stars sell war bonds. When Robert's ex-wife and another woman are found dead on the train, Audra knows the deaths are tied to her sister's. Is the killer is the man she's falling in love with? And can she identify the killer before he targets her?


What's your latest book?

Stars in the Night released yesterday (July 1)! It’s part of Summerside’s new Swept Away line, and I’m so excited to see it in print.

Yay! So cool to be getting you right at release time. And allow me to say that your cover is STUNNING! But let's get to the book, which sounds so awesome. (I think this one may be coming on vacation with me next week!) What's your favorite part of the story?

I love the setting and the strong suspense element. What’s more glamorous than Hollywood in 1942? You’re talking big stars when the studio system was in full swing. Add in the push to all pull together and do something for the war effort, and I couldn’t find a better setting and time period. Then add in a touch of Murder on the Orient Express, and you’ve got a romantic suspense filled with glamour and a ticking bomb. But truly my favorite part was marrying my favorite historical time period with my favorite genre: romantic suspense.

Sounds sooooo good. What was the hardest part to write?

The hardest part of writing Stars in the Night was all the settings. Because the stars board a train that takes them to Washington, D.C. and then on a southerly course back home to Hollywood, there were about a dozen settings. I hadn’t anticipated how much work that would be. For example, I knew they would start in D.C. because that’s where the real caravan went. But instead of performing at the White House, I thought I’d have them do a public performance at Ford’s Theater, the wonderful, intimate theater in downtown. Only problem was that as I researched, I learned Ford’s Theater was basically abandoned and used for storage. So then I considered the National Theatre. Fortunately, it had been in continuous use since the early 1800s and there were no shows running there the summer of 1942. So I didn’t have to play with history, and it worked beautifully. But imagine doing that kind of research in multiple cities. In Atlanta, I had to research a theater, hotel, the train station, and the roads that existed. All to get the setting right for a couple chapters.

The research was a huge challenge, but I love that I’ve got the details right!

Always a combination of pulling your hair out and shouting in victory, isn't it? The joys of historicals. =) Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?

For Stars in the Night I relied a lot on historical resources, particularly When the Stars Went to War by Ray Hoopes. That book is filled with short vignettes about the many different ways the stars helped the war effort. Some enlisted. Some participated in USO tours. And some went on the real Hollywood Victory Caravan.

I love many craft books and turn to Writing the Breakout Novel Don Maass and Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell often, but with my historicals I often rely more on non-fiction related to the events I’m including in my novels.

Do you remember where you were when you got your first or most important call about a book contract?

I received my first contract at the 2006 ACFW conference. I will never forget that moment because it was such a kiss from heaven. I’ll never forget attending my first conference in 2005 and watching Mary Conneally receive her first contract from Heartsong Presents. I sat there, so excited for her, but also with a fresh realization that it really did happen. People really did get publishing contracts. Little could I imagine that one year later I would be the one hearing my name and title announced from the front of the room. It’s probably as close to the Academy Awards as I’ll ever get, but there is nothing like sharing a moment like that with hundreds of people who understand how important a step that is.

With Stars in the Night, it was a process, starting with an email from my editor asking if I was interested in talking to her about a possible project. Yep! I’m so glad we were able to talk and share excitement for the project. As only God can work things, I was already thinking about a romantic suspense set in Hollywood and that was one of the settings the publisher was interested in. Only God can arrange things like that.

That is just so cool! Is there another author who has greatly influenced your writing?

Two authors have been a great influence, because they have mentored me in different ways. Colleen Coble has breathed life into the dream I had and encouraged me every step of the way. She’s always introducing me to people, and brainstorming to help me turn ideas into books. But she’s always said I could do this. I can’t imagine writing without her friendship and mentoring.

Tricia Goyer let me read several of her books as she wrote them. I learned so much about structuring a novel by going through that process. What an opportunity to watch someone else’s creative process and how they pull all the different threads together. We still share chapters, and that’s been a huge gift to me as well.

Now it’s my honor to turn around and do the same thing with others. A joy considering the great examples I’ve had.


Thanks so much for visiting, Cara! Readers, be sure and check out her website. You can purchase Stars in the Night at ChristianBook or CrossPurposes.

Void where prohibited. Entry into the contest is considered verification of eligibility based on your local laws. Contest ends 7/8/10. Winner will have two weeks to claim book.


  1. The storyline of this book sounds intriguing! I love the fact that the setting goes from Hollywood to the southern U. S. I would love to win a copy!


    hspruitt AT juno DOT com

  2. It's so funny with the internet, and by being a book reviewer, I get to "know" authors before I've gotten to read their work. I have been a fan of Cara's for a while and have yet to read one of her books. I would LOVE a chance at winning this book!

    Michelle V

  3. I have read a few of Cara's books and have loved them. This one sounds very intriguing and would love to read it as well. Please enter me in the drawing.


  4. Cara, with everything you've got going on, it sounds like you're qualified to write a book on time management. I would take some tips :)

    Your book sounds fascinating. I don't think I've read a historical romantic suspense before.

  5. Sounds like a great book. I'm amazed at all the research you put into this. This would be my first historical romantic suspense also. Usually they are historical romance. Please enter me.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  6. This book sounds FABULOUS! I love historicals and romance and suspense so all three in one book is AWESOME! Please enter me!

    Mollydedwards AT yahoo DOT com

  7. Oh! Please enter me! I can't wait to read this book. :D


  8. This book was a blast to write, so I hope you enjoy reading it. Good luck to all of you!

  9. This sounds like such a fantastic book. Please enter me:)

    kristengjohnson [at] gmail [.] com

  10. this book is on my 'wish list'...thanks for the chance to read it :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  11. I would love to read this book.

    lkish77123 at gmail dot com

  12. Please don't enter me as I am supposed to be getting a copy but I just wanted to stop by and say hi. This book looks like it will be a great read! Thanks for the interview:)

  13. The book looks really good! If Colleen Coble and Tricia helped you learn how to write, I am sure it is great! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

  14. Please count me in on the

  15. Like the new look of the blog! Count me in on the giveaway as well!
    tiffanyniekro at gmail dot com

  16. This book sounds SO good!!! Please enter me in the draw!! the cover is awesome too! :)

  17. LOVE the cover of this book. Wow! Cara this really looks good and the cover is eye catching for sure. Thanks for the interview and putting my name in the hat at a chance to win this book.


    Nora St.Laurent
    The Book Club Network
    norafindinghope (at)

  18. Cara, I get so excited when I hear other's journey to publication. I'm happy for you! WWII is one of my favorite eras and I love vintage mysteries, so I can't wait for this one. If I don't win I think I will pick this one up anyhow.

  19. Stars in the Night sounds exciting, I love the setting of WWII, the train and the Hollywood stars. Please include me in the drawing. Thanks!

  20. would love to read!
    june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

  21. Wow! All in one basket. My favorite genres are Historical Romantic Suspense. These are not always found in one plot. I bet the author is a great writer.

    Carman sent me.


    I follow you.

  22. I'd love to read Cara's book!

  23. Have been anxious to read Cara's book...please enter me. Thanks!!!

  24. What an intriguing story idea and time.
    Another book to put on my must read list.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

    A J Hawke

  25. Thanks for all the comments and encouragement, gals. If you don't win here, be sure to pop by my blog and learn about the huge giveaway celebration I'm having tied to the release of Stars. Lots of chances to get a copy through that, too!

  26. Wow sounds like a fantastic book. thanks

  27. I really love books that are set during the WWII era. This book is definitely a MUST read for me. Thank you for a chance to win it.

    Cindy W.


  28. I'm glad to hear that Summerside opened another line. I love hearing from Cara wherever she is. Enter me! lisalickel-at-gmail-dot-com

    author of Meander Scar: a story of finding home

  29. I am so glad to see Cara published and know I would enjoy Stars in the Night. Thank you for an enjoyable interview and chance to win a copy.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

  30. Hi,

    Count me in too


    p/s Carman sent me

  31. Please enter me. I really want to read this one! :) bluerose_shelnut(at)yahoo(dot)com

  32. What a beautiful cover! I would love to read this book!

    TaraTagli at gmail dot com

    *Carman sent me!

  33. I would love to read this! WWII is one of my favorite time periods to read about. Please enter me :)


    *Carman sent me, as well!

  34. I love historicals and this book has a great cover. Wonderful interview.
    Please enter me in this contest.


  35. Carman sent me to your site. I would love to read this book! Please enter me in your drawing.