Interview with Author Caryl McAdoo

My guest today is Caryl McAdoo.  Hello, Caryl!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here today.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?, Marie, and thank you for having me. I’d love to tell you about my VOW UNBROKEN. It’s a historical Christian romance set in 1832 Northeast Texas. That’s where I live with my sweetheart and four grandsons. I put Susannah Baylor, my heroine in VOW on the McAdoo Ranch in Red River County, but before it was even Texas. In 1832, Mexico still claimed it. And guess what I found out in my research. They were having fights in these parts because Mexico’s President Bustamante banned any more white settlers from coming into Mexico! Isn’t that fun?
Anyway, back to VOW UNBROKEN—you have to keep me on topic, sorry—Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster released it across the nation on March 4th and I’m so excited, I can’t feel the ground under my feet! I imagine it’s available about anywhere you buy books.

It’s the story of conquering love. Guess that’s why they call it romance, right? My lady is a young widow rearing two children and she’s had her best crop ever, but if she doesn’t get it to market and collect a fair price, she may have to start selling her land off. She hires a local man with a bad reputation to help her—he was the only one left really—and is disgusted that he’s bringing his flea-bit dog. He’s just as upset that she’s taking her children, but off they go.

Is there anything that prompted your latest book? Something that inspired you?

My agent inspired me to write VOW UNBROKEN! I met Mary Sue Seymour at my writers’ group’s conference in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Since I moved out here from Dallas, I was used to the big city traffic, so I volunteered to take her to the airport for her trip home. On the way, she told me that historical Christian romances set in the 1800s were the easiest for her to sell. She said, “Caryl, if you’ll write me one, I’ll sell it.” 

Wham, bam! I was inspired! I dropped her off on Sunday for her flight back to New York and started writing VOW on Monday! Oh, and I forgot to tell you, Mary Sue’s maiden name was McAdoo! Was that a sign or what? It was as if God tapped us both on the head with a velvet hammer and said, "Mary Sue, Caryl, pay attention. I have a plan." That was at the end of April 2012. I sent the manuscript on July 7. Mary Sue and I edited, she signed me to a contract in August and sold VOW UNBROKEN to Howard Books in October. It was like a miracle dream come true.

Great!  So, when did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?

English was always my favorite subject and I always loved writing. My maternal granddaddy wrote a fantasy called LITTLE TOM and read it to my cousins and me. He’d always tell us the best stories. Then my mother also wrote a book SO YOU WANT TO KNOW GOD AND HEAR HIS VOICE, HERE’S HOW—neither was ever published. Mama’s certainly would never have been able to keep that long title, but their efforts made it seem not so far-fetched to think I could write a book. I got to keep my title by the way, I was so glad of that.

So maybe I loved horses more than writing because I spent much more time at the barn than writing in my early adult years. I wrote poems and long, fun letters, but didn’t write a book until the late 80s. My husband actually started the first book. He’d read a terrible book called NOAH, but always says the author should have called it JOE AND THE BIG BOAT because it didn’t follow scripture at all. He figured if she could get published, so could he.  He started writing, but he needed me so we started writing together.  

Thoroughly rejected, we ended up at the DFW Writers’ Workshop and discovered we’d made every mistake known to newbies. Published authors there mentored us and we learned the craft of creative fiction. After six years, in ’99, the Republic of Texas Press published our first book, a non-fiction antiquing guide, then the next year, our GREAT FIREHOUSE COOKS OF TEXAS came out. For the next several years, we averaged a book a year including four novels and three mid-grade chapter books from four presses, but never hit it big until now.

For everything there is a time under Heaven!

Do you have any favorite authors?

Besides my husband of forty-five years? Yes, I do. Well, I always like to stipulate ‘favorite author that I don’t know personally since I do know so many! But the author I love is Bodie Thoene. I devoured her Zion series and every one made me laugh out loud and cry tears, sometimes so many that I couldn’t read because the words were blurred. That to me is the mark of a great book. Now VOW UNBROKEN does make me laugh and cry. I hope it does for its readers, too!      
Do you write in a specific place?  Time of day?

No, not really. I write morning, afternoon, and night, and then sometimes in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. My computer has an armoire and I can look out the window at the woods. We built our house THE PEACEABLE so far back in the trees, you can’t see it from the road. It’s so quiet and peaceful. There’s nine hundred sixteen acres in all, so I spend a lot of time outside, too. I still have my horse Bliss. She’s a character in those chapter books, The River Bottom Ranch Stories we call them.

I also write on trips – like in the car or on the airplane, or sometimes at one of the grandsons’ games. They play football, basketball, and baseball so I’m on the road a lot there, but I try not to get too engrossed at a game.  But you’ve got to write when the story strikes, right?

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers?  Any advice?

Hone your craft. Always, always be improving. Find a good read and critique group and go regularly and read and listen to the comments and suggestions. If they aren’t being tough on you, find another one. Steel sharpens steel. Sometimes it hurts, I know. But don’t consider what you put to paper as untouchable. You just can’t. I’ll leave you with a favorite quote my husband says all the time. “Only God writes in stone. The rest of us rewrite.” 

Thank you, Caryl.  

Reader's here is the blurb for Vow Unbroken.

A spunky young widow hires a man with a bad reputation to help her get her cotton to market on the Jefferson Trace, a hard stretch of land between her farm on the Tejas prairie and the port where the buyers pay in gold coin. Dangers and troubles are great, but not any worse than the trials that plague her heart when she falls in love. She’s made a vow to God and is determined to keep it, but will it mean she’ll always be alone?
Here is an excerpt.

He took the pinch of cotton Sue offered and rubbed it between his short, pudgy fingers. “I’m truly sorry, Mis’ess Baylor. Two cents is all I can pay.”

She seethed, but forced at least a show of civility. “Mister Littlejohn.” She spoke in a stiff staccato. “A week ago. Before everyone left. You promised three-and-a-half to four cents a pound! You said depending on the quality. That is the main reason. The biggest reason. That I didn’t go with the others.”

The man smiled. “Oh, I might have said two-and-a-half or maybe even three, but things change. You know that.”
She couldn’t stand being talked down to, especially by such a lying loafer.
“I wish I could help you, but two cents it is. I mean, besides, anyone can see.” He held the sample up. “It’s shoddy lint.” He shook his head. “Pardon me for saying, Mis’ess Baylor, but a granger you are not.”
“Anyone can see its excellent quality, you mean.”
A bit of breeze, a very little bit, stirred the top layer of dust from the street; it cooled her skin, but her insides still steamed.
He stuck out his bottom lip. “I’d advise you to take my offer. I can pay half now, the rest when I return.”
Sue studied his face while a hundred calculations ran through her mind. He certainly didn’t look like the weasel he’d turned out to be. Her cotton was as good, if not better, than any of the loads that left last Thursday. She reached up and massaged her neck, then lifted her braid to let some air dry her sweat.
She glanced over at her wagons. Levi had Becky laughing hard. The children would be so disappointed.  Maybe if –
No. She would not allow this thief to take advantage of her family. How could he even think to? The loathsome, immoral oaf! She’d worked too hard getting her crop in. Everyone had, even her nine-year-old Becky. Why, at two cents, she’d hardly realize any profit at all after the extra seed and what she paid the pickers.
She squared her shoulders and determined anew, faced him again. “I’ll accept three-and-a-half cents per pound. All cash. Not a fraction less.”
“Two cents, ma’am. Half now, half when I get back.” He jingled the coins in his vest pocket.
Perspiration trickled down to the small of her back. The sun, though its climb had barely began, already shone bright on the eastern horizon and heated the mid-September air so that every breath scorched her throat. Much like Jack Littlejohn, it offered no mercy. And like the air, her throat held no moisture, though she needed to swallow.
“You’re wasting my time. Good day, Mister Littlejohn.” She whirled and headed toward her wagons. Her face burned, and she knew full well that it had turned red. How dare that man! A grubby hand grabbed her arm, and, whirling her around, jerked her to an abrupt stop. She yanked away from his grasp and glared; she wished the fire inside her would somehow leap forward and set the despicable excuse of a human being ablaze.
“Keep your cheating hands off me.”
He almost looked apologetic. “Be reasonable, Mis’ess Baylor. Two cents is a right fair price. Besides, who else you going to sell to?”
She swatted at a fly buzzing about and adjusted her hat, never taking her eyes from the man’s. “I’ll burn my cotton before I’d sell it to the likes of you.” She stopped next to her wagon and faced the second one. “Levi, we’re going.”
“But Aunt Sue –”
Author Bio
With nine titles released by four publishers, Caryl McAdoo now enjoys a thirty-year, overnight success with her historical Christian romance VOW UNBROKEN set in 1832 Texas from Simon and Schuster’s Howard Books. The novelist also edits professionally (since 2001—credits include several published clients), paints, and writes new songs. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from Irving in the DFW Metroplex to the woods of Red River County. For more than ten years, four grandsons have lived with Grami—as Caryl is also known—and O’Pa. The couple counts four children and fourteen grandchildren life’s biggest blessings, believing all good things come from God. She hopes that her books will minister His love, mercy, and grace to all their readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State.



  1. Nice interview! Vow Unbroken sounds like a sweet story, and the cover is just as appealing.

  2. Yes, it does. It is a great cover, Linda! :)


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