Thursday, February 19, 2015

Interview & Giveaway ~ Carla Olson Gade, author of Proving Up, a novella in The Homestead Brides Collection

Welcome to Stuff & Nonsense, Carla! I appreciate you being here today, sharing your love of history and writing with us. And also for offering a copy of The Homestead Brides Collection to one of my blog followers.

Tell us a little bit about your novella and why you wrote it?
My novella, “Proving Up”, is one of nine stories in The Homestead Brides Collection from Barbour. Each of the stories is set on a homestead in the Great Plains. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided an opportunity to earn a “free” 160 acres in exchange for making improvements on the land over a period of five years. The person who took out the claim also had to live on that property. To homestead. “Proving up” is the term for providing proof of complying with the requirements. When I learned about The Timber Culture Act of 1873 I immediately saw potential for an interesting story. This Act allowed homesteaders to enter a tree claim to earn an additional 160 acres of land. Thousands of trees had to be planted and cultivated over a period of time, trees that would transform the landscape of the barren prairie absent of much needed timber for shelter and fuel. There was my story. I became fascinated by what I learned through my research and wanted to tell about this little known piece of history through the lives of my characters. 

I can tell you, Carla, that I was equally fascinated by the history. Proving Up really is one of the best short historicals I have read.

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Tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey.
I’m from New England and have always been interested in the rich history all around me. As a child my imagination would always soar thinking about days past, when King Philip’s Indians roamed the woods in my own backyard, or when my ancestors came to Massachusetts on the Mayflower and other early ships. I never read much fiction since I would occupy my inquisitive mind with reading non-fiction books. When I wrote it was mostly poetry, newsletters, articles, and Bible studies. But when I had children I started to write a few stories for them while convalescing from several surgeries that I had. But it wasn’t until I was in my thirties when I first picked up a Catherine Palmer novel in a church library that I was introduced to inspirational romance. I knew then that I wanted to write some stories of my own. In fact, characters seemed to instantly pop into my head and haven’t stopped pestering me since!

After many years of studying the craft of writing fiction and networking within the writing and publishing community, I signed my first contract in 2011 for my novel, The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter.

I love genealogy and digging into family history, too. My ancestors on my mother’s side came from Ireland, the Collins’. So much history there. Also, I once made up a bedtime saga for my oldest son when he was a toddler, about a mouse named Frank. Maybe I should have written it all down!

What do you think makes a good story?
As an historical romance author, I think some of the best stories are inspired by interesting events and places from the past. Although a work is fiction, many facets of real life can be incorporated into the setting and ignite plot points. I personally enjoy learning about history through the experiences of characters in a story.

If history had been taught like this in school, I would have learned a lot more!

Where is your favorite place to write?
I enjoy writing outside when the weather is warm, but in Maine that only gives me a couple of months. Usually I stretch out on my sofa with my laptop. But silence is definitely golden to me while writing.

The sofa sounds so much more comfortable than a desk. 

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and just have to get up and write down a thought? If so, do you keep a tablet on your bedside table or go to the computer?
Oh, yes! A writer’s brain never fully shuts down. I used to keep a notebook by my bed and jot down an idea, phrase, a bit of dialogue, but now I usually just get up and go to my laptop. But when that happens I often will remain up for a few hours. I’m a night owl so it is not unusual for me to already be up in the middle of the night while on a writing project!

Maybe I am a writer at heart because my brain never shuts off, either! Sometimes I have to get up and write down my thoughts about a book or I will forget what I want to say. I also keep a grief journal, so often I get up to write in it. 

Do you talk to your characters? Keep story boards? Pictures? 
I’ll never tell. ;) I am a very visual person so I have always kept a file of pictures that inspire my writing. Now I use Pinterest to share these images and research resources with my readers. You can find my story board for “Proving Up” HERE>>as well as boards for each of my books.

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I love Pinterest! It’s a valuable tool for so many things. Especially the tea parties we like to attend, and finding just the right dress. I wonder if Elsa ever went to a tea party? Hmmm?

Can you give us a glimpse into your next book or story idea?
I have too many story ideas to count, so we won’t go there. I am currently writing a story about a group of Swedes who come to America to build a colony. This is based on a real event and the plot is guided and inspired by the real experiences of these pioneers.

That sounds interesting! I look forward to reading it.

Have you traveled to locations that your books are set in? Where is the one place you would love to set a book but know you can’t possibly go there? Would you write it anyway?
I’ve traveled to most of my book settings remotely, thanks to the internet (Google Books & Google Maps). But as an historical author, it is not so much about the place as it is the time of the setting. I have been to Boston (Pattern for Romance) many times, but I needed to visit colonial Boston through research sources. I did not write a setting in Colonial Williamsburg, but needed to visit there to research colonial customs. I did however, visit Mystic Seaport in Connecticut to learn about my character’s occupation for “Carving a Future” (Colonial Courtships). I also visited the historical town of Glastonbury, Connecticut (also for this novella) which has more homes built in and before the 18th century than any other town in America, save one, and all of Connecticut. So visiting there actually put me physically in the midst of my story setting, almost as it was hundreds of years ago.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever make it to England—it would be a dream—but I have a few works set there and would love to travel there in person.

I would love to visit New England! Virtual tours are nice but I can’t imagine how beautiful it really is.

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In your spare time, do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
I love to research my ancestor’s history! I also enjoy photography, as you do, Anne. Another hobby since my teen years is to draw house plans. In fact, I have recently designed a home for a relative and have had the opportunity to have an architect render my drawing into blue prints. Such a thrill! My other “hobby” is my almost 2 year old grandson who I care for two days and an overnight each week.

Oh wow! An architect, too.  Plus a genealogist and photographer and grandmother.  We really are kindred spirits!

Do you have a favorite book? What about it makes it stand out from others?
If you could only see my bulging bookshelves! If I must choose one, it would be The Rogue’s Redemption by Ruth Axtell. She writes with skill that I admire and the story (a sequel) is a satisfying adventure in redeeming a most unsavory character. Genius. 

Let’s not talk about how big a bulge the bookshelves are. I haven’t read that one by Ruth but obviously I must rectify the situation.

What’s the one food item you can’t live without?
Edy’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. It’s become a staple in my diet, unfortunately.

Does it contain chocolate? Because if so, I know what I will be buying this summer!

Where can you be found on the internet?
My personal blog is Adventures of Heart at I also blog at the Colonial Quills and Heroes, Heroines, & History blogs.

I Tweet on occasion and connect with readers on Facebook.

Is there a question you would like my blog followers to answer in order to be entered to win a copy of your book or novella?
What are your hobbies? Have you ever worked at one of your hobbies professionally?

Those are good questions! My husband wishes I could make money with my hobbies. Well, secretly I do too. :)

There you have it, Blog Followers! Answer the above questions for an opportunity to win a copy of The Homestead Brides Collection. Yes, you must be a follower to be entered in this giveaway. There are multiple ways to follow. Just check them out in the sidebar. Please include how you follow when you answer the questions Carla asked above.

US ONLY paperback copy because postage costs are ridiculous overseas.
Kindle copy for another winner, no matter where you live. Giveaways will end on Feb 26th, and I will announce the winners on Feb 27th. IF you absolutely DO NOT want to be entered for the Kindle, speak up now or forever hold your peace. Seriously, though. I want you to be entered for the right book format. Carla is offering an autographed copy, signed by all nine authors!!! I am offering a Kindle copy to anyone, anywhere.

Remember: You must be a follower of Stuff & Nonsense (tell me how you follow). Also, leave your email address, please, so you can be contacted if you win!

9 Pioneering Couples Risk All for Love and Land
Through nine historical romance adventures, readers will journey along with individuals who are ready to stake a claim and plant their dreams on a piece of the great American plains. While fighting land disputes, helping neighbors, and tackling the challenges of nature the homesteaders are placed in the path of other dreamers with whom romance sparks. And God has His hand in orchestrating each unique meeting.

Proving Up by Carla Olson Gade

Swedeberg, Nebraska, 1886
A young Swedish widow applies her scientific theories to growing trees on the barren Great Plains intruding on
a handsome homesteader’s hard work and experience. Will their dreams come to ruin or will love prove their success?

Native New Englander Carla Olson Gade writes adventures of the heart with historical roots
from her home amid the rustic landscapes of Maine. With seven books in print, she is always imagining more stories and enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla’s great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at a historical museum, it’s easier to connect with her online at


  1. Jackie McNutt posted the following comment on the review post instead of the interview post, so I am copying and pasting it in here for her entry in the giveaway:

    I loved this interview featuring Carla. Her writings are always very inspirational and I greatly enjoy her books.
    I sew things for a hobby and make things for my home and gifts for family.
    Homestead Brides Collection looks like a great read and I look forward to doing so soon !
    Thank you for the giveaway.
    I follow Stuff and Nonsense by e mail

    1. Hi Jackie! Thank you for coming by and for your kind comments about my books. What a nice hobby! My mother is a seamstress, too, so I have been the recipient of many hand sewn things made by her through the years. I do not have that same gift, but do enjoy crafting sometimes.

    2. Would love the paperback! Thank you

  2. My hobbies? I love to read and write. In the past, I contributed articles to a monthly journal in my field of Christian Education, and yes; actually got paid for it. I love to advance read, but that's a volunteer "job". Great interview, Anne! I follow you on Facebook and your blog.

    1. It is a very satisfying thing to be able to earn some money from writing and I'm glad to hear you've had that experience. As far as reading, you may not realize how much authors appreciate what you do as an advance reader. People like you and Anne are very helpful and great encouragers!

    2. I knew you're a professional writer, Rebecca! Your reviews are outstanding.

  3. I follow Stuff and Nonsense and I thank you so much for this great interview. My hobbies are my three grands, reading, and watching tv. I dabble at writing every once in a while.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Hi Melanie, Grands are the best hobby, but reading come sin a close second. ;)

  4. Grands are the best hobby of all! And, of course, I also have a special fondness for writing and reading as do you. Glad to have you join the conversation, Melanie.

  5. In my spare time I mostly read! But I also like to cross stitch every once in a while, never for money... I'm planning a wedding at the moment, so not much spare time.


    1. Hi Patty, I have cross-stitched before but it has been a while. Oh a wedding! How exciting. Yes, that will keep you busy.

  6. You might say my hobby is reading. As for a profession, I work in my church library 3 days a week and have for 36 years.
    I am a subscriber and a follower. I would love to have a paperback copy of your book.
    Janet E.

    1. Hi Janet, I have always wanted to work in a library! Books, books, and more books....what could be better? ;)

  7. I have several hobbies, but never worked with any of them professionally, unless you count teaching 3rd graders as a hobby. (ha ha) My hobbies include collecting odd pieces of soap, collecting cabbage patch kids, reading, and playing the piano. I follow by e-mail.

    1. Hey Susan! You do all kinds of interesting things. I wish I played piano. That's my favorite instrument.

  8. I loved your interview and learning more about you and your writing journey, Carla - my thanks to you and Anne!!

    You and I have several things in common, not the least of which is the love of peanut butter and ice cream (all the better if they're combined), LOL. I also used to do a lot of scenery photography, enjoy genealogy, and have been a night owl all my life (fueled by health issues and insomnia in recent years). My other hobbies are traveling (curtailed by health issues now), reading (yes, my shelves are filled to over-flowing and books are located throughout my condo), music (singing, playing musical instruments), numerous collections (including beautiful lights and candle holders, angels and porcelain dolls), and baking.

    I read primarily non-fiction until about 4 years ago when I was introduced to Inspirational Fiction through the novels of Liz Curtis Higgs. Little did I know what I had been missing- I am so thankful that God has led me into the area of encouraging Inspirational Fiction authors and am blessed by their writing, prayers, and friendships!!

    Re: working at one of my hobbies (or loves) professionally - I did work for a friend, one summer, in her ice-cream shop located in a harbor on Lake Michigan - another one of my loves: beaches and large bodies of water. And I was a cast member of a Passion Play (singing and acting) for a year - one of the most spiritual experiences of my life!! I also fueled my love for music by working in other capacities at theaters and with music entertainers in a resort area for a number of years.

    I love the history behind your novella "Proving Up" - and would love to read it, as well as the other 8 novellas in "The Homestead Brides Collection".

    I follow your blog by e-mail, Anne, and have shared this post on Facebook!!


    1. Hi Bonnie! Thank you so much for sharing the post. Wow, we have a lot in common, too. Except working in the ice cream shop, but that would be detrimental to my waistline. hehe
      I was in Drama Club in high school and had a part in Dracula, not quite a spiritual experience, but it was fun. ;)

  9. What a lovely interview! We had the same historical deal in Canada, with officers being granted lands, as well.

    1. Hi Jennifer, Thanks for stopping by. I am fascinated by these land and timber deals.

  10. Thanks for the interview! My hobbies include sewing, crocheting, reading, and hiking. I haven't done them professionally - only for pasttimes.(o:

    I follow via email kathrynlvoss(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Hi Kate, Your hobbies sound fun! I always enjoy hiking with my family in the spring or autumn, not so much in the heat of summer. But I take a long my camera because I am a photo fanatic. :)

  11. Let's see I have a few, crochet, knitting, spinning, sewing, writing, hand dyeing yarn, gardening, photography... I guess you could say yes. I have sold and sell my crochet and knitted items and I've sold photography in the past! :)

    I follow via the Join this site button under Amada Chavez and by email with feedburner. I follow your pinterest also! :)

    Blessings, Amada (pronounced:

    1. Hi Amada, Spinning and hand dying yarn sounds fascinating. And you've made money at your hobbies, which is probably a great affirmation of your talent.

    2. Thank you! :) I'm not quite to "talented" with my spinning yet, but I am learning! :D Quite a few months ago God lead me to two Shetland Sheep so I'll have more practice with their wool this spring!

      Hugs, Amada

  12. My hobbies are sewing, cross stitch and watercolor painting. I am not a professional but I give gifts that I've made once in a while! :)
    I follow via GFC-Merry.
    worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com

    1. Merry, Receiving handmade gifts is such a special treat for anyone, I think! I have a dear friend who gifted me with a watercolor painting. Glad you stopped by to enter the giveaway.

  13. Hello. I am a subscriber and follower of this blog. I so want Carla's book. I love these books they are so interesting and love the way they are made. Sure hope I can get lucky and win the paperback. Have been trying but no luck so far. Thanks!
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

  14. Anne, I forgot to answer Carla's question. I used to sew a lot. Clothes, toys, baby doll for a granddaughter. Sock dolls and sock bunnies for my grandchildren. Also sewed clothes and embroidered, and made other crafts like things for refrigerator magnets, but got a bad neck and back that stopped that. No, the only time I ever made money from it was when I made the girls the sock dolls and made pretty dresses for Christmas a friend paid me $10.00 to make one for her collection. Now I like to read and chat with author friends on my computer. Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

    1. Hi Maxie, Making special gifts for your children and grands is a loving gesture from the heart. My mom always did things like that, and she sewed all my girls' dresses when they were little!
      I'm not super hand crafty other than scrapbooking on occasion. But I do have a lot of supplies for when the bug hits. ;)

  15. Love the information in this interview. NO, I don't want a Kindle copy. YES I followed via my email.which you can kind-of figure out from this.... godleyv [at] yahoo {dot}com

  16. I love to crochet and cross stitch. I have been able to sell some of my crocheted items in the past. Definitely not enough to pay the bills lol, but I do enjoy it. I haven't had the pleasure of reading any of Carla's books yet but would love to win this and read it. I have a blog that is all about books and I think this book would be a good addition :)

  17. I forgot to say I follow through Google friend connect. :) also on blogger

  18. It's been so nice hearing about everyone's interests! So glad you all stopped by and thank you so much to Anne for having me on the blog!


I am so delighted that you've taken time to come by and comment. Blessings for a joy-filled day!

1 Corinthians 1:3 ~ Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.