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Carol Baldwin, Author Extraordinaire

Carol Baldwin, Author
Carol Baldwin, Author
“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. Monarch Educational Services 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 Monarch Education Publishers? I noticed that they are closed at the present time for submissions.
Rebecca Wheeler who is a writer friend and my co-producer of Talking Story, suggested that I query Jen Lowry with Monarch Educational Services.
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
on the Black History tour in Charlotte with Linda Phillips and Madie Smith
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.

St. Lloyd Presbyterian Church Cemetery Plaque in South Park area 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.

house I used for inspiration for Kate Dinsmore's grandparents
The house Carol Baldwin used for inspiration for Kate Dinsmore’s grandparents.
From one of these windows Kate would look out at the gardens
From one of these windows, Kate would look out at the gardens.
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.
The Steps that Kate walks down to greet
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.
Seventeen Magazine Cover from 1950
iconic magazine from 1950–Kate brags about reading Seventeen Magazine
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely, and Carol Baldwin, February 2010,  Second Ward Alumni House.
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely and Carol Baldwin February 2010 Second Ward Alumni House
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely and Carol Baldwin February 2010, Second Ward Alumni House
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely, February 2010, Second Ward Alumni House.
Price Davis, Vermelle Ely and I 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.
Microfiles
Being able to read microfilm files was enormously helpful.
Microfilm files give great historical information.
Microfilm files give great historical information.
Carol Baldwin on the web:
Email
cbaldwin6@me.com
Blog -Writing tips and book reviews.
www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com
Carol Baldwin's book, Teaching the Story, Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8
Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8.

 

 

 

 

 

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/

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Half-Truths coming June 4, 2025
Amazon Book Reviews
Goodreads
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7180114.Carol_Baldwin

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?

Interview with David Parle, Author and Artist

David Parle signing book
David Parle, Author
Pen Name: Roger Rapel Autographing book

I am excited to have David Parle, Author and Artist visiting on my blog for an interview today. Hello, David. It’s great to have you here.

I would just like to thank you for the opportunity to take part in your blog and answer your questions.

It is a pleasure to share your story and hints for writers and artists. It’s fascinating to me to learn about others and their journeys.  

Let’s get started

  1. Where were you born? Scotland UK
  1. Where was your favorite place to live as a child?
    My father was Irish and mother Scottish as a child spent many school holidays on a farm in Ireland, Great fun driving a tractor and milking cows; plus all the other farm duties, such as hay making.
  2. Did you read a lot of books as a child? I wasn’t a book reader really, but enjoyed magazines and comics.
  3. Did you draw and paint as a child? I loved to draw and paint, but was never any good.

5. How do you keep yourself physically fit?  I love to swim. In my younger days I did martial arts and was very fit.

6. You were a policeman for 30 years. Thank you for doing that. What kept you going? Phew! Hard question. Like most jobs and careers it’s difficult to provide for the family and support them while you work. Sometimes, even when you do your best,  you’re still criticized. That’s when the adage is true; you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I see pictures these days on news reels that only tell one side of the story. Sensationalism seems to sell newspapers and news. They only use pictures that  show the angle they want to emphasize. But hey-ho the public gets the press they want.

7. What was the hardest thing about being a policeman? The hardest thing? Too many to answer, but here goes. Long arduous hours. Leaving home never knowing what time you’d be back home. The expectation that as soon as you go to work no matter about your own home life, they expect 100%. The public expects you to deal with them as if they were the only person that mattered. The list goes on.

8. What was the most fulfilling thing about being a policeman? The most fulfilling? Again many answers but here goes:
Obtaining a confession from a hard criminal. Trying to be empathetic to victims of crime. But one of the most fulfilling was the comradery with colleagues and of course the humour. Some would say sick humour, but that was the only way to overcome and live with the everyday scenes you witnessed and dealt with. All of the emergency services use it as a means to stay focused, for without it you would crumble.

I always remember delivering my first death message to a family as a young officer of a few months, I was told:  “Get in and get out, Do not get involved because you have to finish your shift and deal with lots of other situations.”

I knocked on the door and a woman answered. In hindsight, I should have asked a neighbor or a relative to come a couple of minutes after I went in, but I didn’t.

“Hello, are you Mrs. Jones..”

“Yes, oh no, please no.”

“I’m sorry to tell you that your son has been killed in a road accident.”

Tears flooded as she looked at me. I let her cry on my shoulder. That was it. I had a lump in my throat the size of a tennis ball. I finished the rest of my shift, and dealt with the people who needed my attention. I felt awful. That is why after that day when I delivered a death message, I got in and out, as callous as it may seem. That had to be the way.

9. You give great advice to people who have lost a loved one. What helped you find ways to comfort others. Over the years I have witnessed and been involved in family bereavements. You build up a shield around you and look at life from within that shield. In that way you don’t become personally involved but you can see the grief and sorrow that people are feeling. Death is never an easy matter to deal with especially if it is a close relative or friend. But over the years of dealing with victims of crime you tend to build an expertise on how to handle people. They are skills learned over many years. Trying to say the right thing at the right time; there is no easy answer.  I think many of the emergency service members have their own way of dealing with it.

One of the best ways to help someone is to get them to talk, and you listen, or get someone to write down their feelings. There has to be an expression a release to allow emotions to come out.  As a Detective Sgt for many years the main skill of any investigator is to look and listen. Allowing a grieving person to talk and cry is a great release for them. 

10. What do you do when you think about giving up?Sometimes I just sit and think. But there are times when it all comes on top, I sometimes say that’s it; no more. I give up. I walk away and  talk to myself for a couple of hours, sometimes days. When the cloud of self-doubt has gone, I get on with whatever it was that I packed up. It’s never easy. We all go through it; the day when it all goes wrong and you feel like kicking the door or the cat (not really, but you know what I mean) sometimes shouting. After a coffee or a swim, I calm down and on I go. But no easy answer, I’m no expert.

11. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Why?
Not really I tend to consider the outcome before jumping. Although as a young dad, my two girls would drag me on the fastest scariest rides in Disney and Busch Gardens in Florida. Although great fun, but now my kids are older, at the age I was then. They say they wouldn’t go on those rides now.

12. If you go to an amusement park, what do you ride first? Which ride do you ignore at all costs? I think I would go on a scary ride, but, you never know I might back out.

About David and His Writing

13. When did you decide to become an author? As a police detective you had to compose long and chronological case reports for the prosecutor. When an investigation is being conducted, the information never arrives chronologically. What seems unimportant at first could be vital later.

It was after I retired that I began to think about writing, and used the skills I learned writing those reports to help me. 

14. Which authors and artists inspire you? Why? I like James Patterson, also Chris Ryan. I like authors that don’t use unnecessary embellishment just to make the pages longer and the books thicker.

What does his auntie’s Australian cousin who wears a green dress have to do with the story set in London? I have to admit that I stop reading books when they become boring with over embellishment.

15.  What is your favorite genre to write? My obvious genre is crime.

16. Why did you choose to write under a pen name?       I used a pen name so as it wasn’t associated with me, personally. My pen name is Roger Rapel. Rapel is an anagram of my surname and Roger for Roger and Out when using the radio on a police call.

17. Do you set goals for yourself for your writing? No, I don’t.

18. Who has been the most help to you as a writer and an artist? My partner, Anna, has been a great asset with my writing and as an artist. She has read and loves all my books.

19. Are you writing another book? I am currently writing a short thriller/horror story entitled “The Headless Horseman.” It is about a woman who is researching ghost stories in the UK.  While in a secondhand bookshop, she buys The Headless Horseman and begins to read it. She finds herself being drawn into the medieval times of feudal England. She is captured by the headless horseman and held captive. She sees another woman getting her head cut off by the headless horseman. It doesn’t look good for her.

20.  What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?The biggest challenge was finding a publisher.

21. What has been the most exhilarating moment as a writer, so far? Being published.

22. Do you outline and plot first or let the characters develop their own plot as you write? Some stories just fall into place others meander.  I thought Gift or Curse was going to be a murder mystery but ended up as a spy thriller. It involved a Tarot Card reader.

One day while in a bank in Spain, I met a woman who spoke English. She was a Tarot Card reader. To help me with my research for my book, she gave me a reading.

“When turning over one of the cards, she said,  “Ooh, there’s a woman coming into your life from abroad.”’

I didn’t pay any notice. I was skeptical.

The next week whilst in the community pool where I live, a new Dutch woman was there. We talked in the pool and exchanged email addresses. That was Anna. She is now my partner and has been for four years. Indeed a woman from abroad came into my life!

23. Here are a few tips for writers:

  • I have rushed to get manuscripts out and have been horrified at the mistakes that I found. Read the manuscript once. Re-read. Read again.
  • Give to a proof reader to read for you and mark the errors he finds. Now read it again. You will be surprised what mistakes you pick up. Put the manuscript down. Leave for a week then read it again. After this break you will  see with “new eyes.” You’ll catch the things that are missing and get rid of the things that shouldn’t be there.
  • Research your subject.
  • Ask yourself are you interested in what you’re writing and more importantly will others also be interested in it.
  • Don’t expect to be an overnight success; it can take years. I chose to write in order to keep my mind active when I moved to Spain.
  • Select your characters real or fictitious and mold them. I chose the central character for my crime books (Jim Broadbent) from my colleagues I had worked with and created his persona from three or four of them. Jim Broadbent is not a knight in shining armour; he is a womanizer and likes his drink, but he is a good hard working no nonsense detective. His downfall was a nice looking woman to the detriment of his marriage. I didn’t want to create another super hero; I wanted someone true to life who has personal problems like we all do. Asked if I’m in the character, I plead the fifth-amendment on that one.

About David and His Painting

Here are a few of David’s paintings:

lake with mountains and trees
Lake with Mountain and Trees “Solace”
Sunrise or sunset
Mountains with beautiful skies “Pondering Peace”
Flowres in vase
Flowers in Vase
by David Parle
Flowers
red flowers
Still Life Flowers
by David Parle

24. How did you get interested in painting? Painting, good question. Until I met Anna,  I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush other than decorating since I left school. Anna and I went on a long road trip, from Spain through France and Belgium to Holland, Anna brought back loads of paint brushes and arty things she had collected while going to art school in Amsterdam.

I watched Bob Ross, American artist, on UK TV and on YouTube.  With paintbrush and paint in hand, I followed his instructions and tried to emulate his style. I painted what I called “rubbish.” Slowly, I improved after many paint-overs and start overs. I’ve learned to adapt a style of my own.

I use Acrylic. I love landscapes and seascapes but have begun to push myself out of my comfort zone to try my hand at still life.

I want to try portraits but will need to go to lessons for that.

I never reward myself. I’m never satisfied. Like being back at school, I could always do better, ha ha.

25. I think it’s fascinating that you and your partner are both artists. Do you help encourage each other? 

David Parle and Anna
David Parle and His Partner, Anna

Anna and I use separate rooms for our projects but always show each other our work and make hints to each other on various aspects to improve.

26. Do you have any tips for artists? I’m sorry, I’m not qualified to answer that, I’m still learning and class myself as an infant in the adult world of art.

  • Art as they say is in the eye of the beholder, some I like, some I don’t. Not everyone will like yours.
  • Don’t feel a failure because it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it.
  • Don’t be afraid to start again.
  • Practice, practice and practice.
  • If it doesn’t work,  go make a coffee and come back to try again.

26. Who designed your book covers? They are exceptional. I would also like to thank my daughter, Amy who produces all my book covers.  www.amyparledesign.co.uk

Here are a few of the book covers:

woman with long hair wit finger in front of mouth saying sh
Retribution by Roger Rapel
bad feeling
Bad Feeling by Roger Rapel
Missing by Roger Rapel
Missing by Roger Rapel

Link to all Roger Rapel books on Amazon

Cindy, Where Are You?
Bad Feeling
Who Is She?
Gift or Curse
My Caroline
Seat 3F

Abducted
Missing
Wallet
Retribution

David, thank you for being here with me on my blog today.  You are an intriguing person.

Please feel free to ask David questions or leave comments for him.

Auto-Biography of David Parle

I was born very young, in Scotland. I lived most of my life in Oxford, UK.  I went to a local school, leaving at 15 with no formal qualifications.

I was born shortly after World War II, in the years of having very little. Those were the days of make-do and mend rather than throw away as now.

To be fair I hated school and couldn’t wait to leave. I always wanted to be a mechanic but my father persuaded me to work in an office. I hated it. I was good with my hands and wanted to use them.

Anyway after a couple of more jobs I joined the Merchant Navy, sailing with P&O on passenger liners as a steward in the restaurant on the SS Oriana. I sailed to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Canada sailed the west coast of the states to Frisco, LA and Acapulco. Then through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean Islands.  Florida then back home. I was 18 and it was a great life for a young man (say no more)

I joined the UK Police and stayed for 30 years spending most of my time as a detective sergeant. I investigated murders, rapes, child abuse, serious assaults and many others. I also served as a tactical firearms officer and worked with the drug and crime squads

I married and had two lovely girls and now one grandson. My wife and I separated after our kids left home. We wanted different things from life so separated on good terms and still talk.

I now live in Spain in the sun with my partner, Anna.

That’s me.

Connect with David:
David Parle, Facebook Personal
Roger Rapel, Website
Facebook Page, Author, Roger Rapel
Email, Roger Rapel

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2021 Joan Y. Edwards

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