“Carol Baldwin, Author Extraordinaire” by Joan Y. Edwards
Today I am excited to share with you an interview with Carol Baldwin, author extraordinaire because in November, 2023 Monarch Educational Services gave her a contract to publish her book, Half-Truths. Congratulations, Carol! My readers are happy for you. They want to hear all about it. So let’s begin.
Carol: Thank you, Joan, for sharing my story with your readers. “Hello, everyone!”
1. What gave you the idea for writing Half-Truths?
I started with the idea of a farm girl who feels like a fish out of water when she moves to the high society neighborhood of Myers Park in Charlotte, NC.
I wanted it to be an historical novel because I was curious about the history that no one talks about—the history that figuratively lay under people’s feet as they walked around Charlotte. Unfortunately, the city tends to pull down homes and businesses and put up new buildings without anyone thinking about what used to be there. I suppose you can say I was looking for Charlotte’s forgotten history. I was also curious about what it was like before the civil rights period of the 1960’s.
I think that both of these answers reflect who I am: a transplanted Yankee who came to Charlotte, NC in 1986. I was the fish out of water in a new city in the South—both of which I knew little about.
By the way, it took me years to realize how Half-Truths reflected themes in my own life.
2. What year did you begin writing Half-Truths?
My first blog post was in 2007 when I took part of my manuscript to a SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) conference. My best guess is that it was in 2006 or 2007.
3. I understand that you had 24 major revisions, what goals and strategies did you set when you worked on your revisions? Ha, ha! You are implying that I had goals and strategies!!! I wish I could say that I did—but to be honest, most of the time I didn’t.
Many of the early drafts were exploratory—trying to figure out what my story was. From the beginning, I had the idea of a white girl (Kate Dinsmore) meeting a light-skinned Black girl (Lillian Bridges) who turns out be a relative. But the book itself morphed and changed. Since the drafts were exploratory (which I didn’t realize at the time) it took me a while to pinpoint the year that Half-Truths would take place. I also didn’t know where to start the book. Was it with Kate’s father’s history in WWII? Was it when the family moved to Charlotte? I included characters, events, and places which I ended up taking out. I wrote an entire version in both girls’ points-of-view which I never submitted. One of my writing coaches, Rebecca Petruck, observed that I had strayed from my initial intent—to show the relationship between Kate and Lillian—and that I should re-focus on that. Her insight was a major step in pulling me back to something close to what Half-Truths is now.
4. Please list three (3) of the most surprising interviews that you did and why?
I went to all of my interviews with questions. Often my “experts” (the people who lived through this time period in the South) gave me something different.
For example, when I went to the old Rosenwald School which is now a community center in Grier Heights, I met George Wallace who told me about going with his grandmother to the area in which her mother was buried. At the time, it was being excavated to build multi-million-dollar homes. His grandmother knew exactly where the gravesite had been and talked about them digging up bones and cups that had been buried with the deceased. That was the origin of the Blue Willow China connection in Half-Truths.
I went to a discussion with B.B. DeLaine and his brother Joseph about the role their father, Reverend Joseph DeLaine, played in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Reverend DeLaine is not seen on the page, but he has an important role in history and in Half-Truths.
Finally, I have to mention Theresea Elder, one of the first Black public health nurses in Charlotte, and Vermelle Ely, who went to Second Ward High School and continues to be active in the Alumni association. The surprising part of my interviews was how they became my friends and each couldn’t wait to hear what was happening with my book.
5. What kept you going and helped you never give up?
Every time I took a break from the story and came back, I still liked the story. My beta readers—both teens and adults—and my editor, Deborah Halverson, also loved it and wanted to see it in print.
6. What are the top six Carol Baldwin suggestions to help writers never give up?
Keep learning the writing craft.
Network with other kidlit writers who are writing in the same genre as you are.
Believe in your work.
Listen to informed feedback. Someone saying, “I love this book!” isn’t nearly as useful as someone who reads it carefully and offers suggestions that resonate with you.
Find a mentor. She or he will be priceless.
And last but not at all least, pray without ceasing!
7. Why did your publisher, Jennifer Lowry, decide it was a young adult book rather than a middle grade?
The girls share a great-grandfather. The relationship between their great-grandfather and Lillian’s great-grandmother was one of slave and master. There are no explicit sexual scenes in the book but it is implied. Jen Lowry felt strongly that made Half-Truths a YA book. Interesting enough, I wrestled with whether it was YA or MG and went back and forth several times (which was part of the revision process you mentioned in question #3.)
I am perfectly satisfied with Jen’s categorizing the book as young adult. has content ratings for all their books so parents and teachers will know what is being portrayed in the book. I expect that readers between 12-16 as well as adults will read it.
8. What did Jen Lowry with Monarch Educational Services like in particular about your Half-Truths?
Jen Lowry said, “Kate and Lillian have so much heart! I love the growth that Kate undertakes as she is desperately finding her voice and realizing what matters most.”
9. How has writing your blog helped you build your writing skills?
My blog has helped me In two ways. I read and review lots of mentor texts. Each of those reviews has taught me to analyze what makes a novel stand out. I also was able to journal my progress with Half-Truths including reviewing books about the Black experience. The books were crucial to making Half-Truths authentic and the online journal helped me answer your questions!
10. How did you find
Rebecca Wheeler who is a writer friend and my co-producer of Talking Story, suggested that I query Jen Lowry with Monarch Educational Services.
? I noticed that they are closed at the present time for submissions.
Monarch Educational Services will re-open for submissions this spring. You can check the website for what Jen is looking for.
11. What is the proposed date of publication? How can people who would like to share a blog post or a review of an early copy of Half- Truths on GoodReads or Amazon, contact you?
The publication date is June 4, 2025. I am looking for ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) readers who will leave reviews on Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and bloggers who want to be part of my blog roll in the spring of 2025. Reviews on Amazon can’t go up until after publication. Anyone who is interested in being part of my blog roll or writing a review can email me here.
12. What were the three hardest things you had to do while writing Half-Truths?
The hardest thing to do while writing Half-Truths was finding relevant newspaper headlines to use as chapter titles. It was needle-in-the-haystack work. The second hardest was figuring out the plot. The third hardest, which might actually have been the very hardest, was making sure that the book was/is authentic.
13. What did you enjoy most while writing Half-Truths?
I really enjoyed meeting my experts and hearing their stories.
14. Who would you like to thank?
Thank you to Joyce Hostetter who was my mentor throughout this project. She read umpteen drafts and taught me so much about writing inspirational and engaging historical fiction.
Thank you, Linda Phillips, who encouraged me for 16 long years and never gave up on my dream. Kathleen Burkinshaw is my indefatigable cheerleader who taught me to celebrate each step along the way.
15. Here are pictures of people and things that inspired me on my journey to write Half-Truths.
Linda Phillips and Madie Smith on the Black History Tour in Charlotte, NC
St. Lloyd Presbyterian Church Cemetery Plaque in South Park area in Charlotte, NC.
The house Carol Baldwin used for inspiration for Kate Dinsmore’s grandparents.
From one of these windows Kate would look out at the gardens
These are the steps that Kate Dinsmore walks down to greet her guests at her luncheon.
Kate brags about reading Seventeen Magazine, iconic magazine from 1950.
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely, and Carol Baldwin, February 2010, Second Ward Alumni House.
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely, February 2010, Second Ward Alumni House.
Being able to read microfilm on a computer was enormously helpful.
Microfilm files give great historical information.
Carol Baldwin on the web:
Blog -Writing tips and book reviews.
Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8
Copy and paste link below into browser:: https://shop.capstonepub.com/classroom/products/teaching-the-story-2nd-edition/
Talking Story- Facebook Page. Free newsletter for educators and media specialists.
Half-Truths coming June 4, 2025
Amazon Book Reviews
Carol, thank you for sharing about your upcoming book, Half-Truths and telling us about the people who helped you along the way.
We would love to hear your comments and questions.
May God light your path to show you where to go so you
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2024 Joan Y. Edwards
Flip Flap Floodle Firebird Book Award Winner Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?