Another Lady in Red: Carol Ritten Smith

Introduce yourself:  My name is Carol Ritten Smith–well, that’s my pen name. I added my maiden name, Ritten, to the mix because there are a kazillion Carol Smiths inhabiting this earth. You may already know one.

Details: I was one of those girls who got married right after graduation and everyone wondered if we’d make it. My husband Denis and I are happy to be celebrating our thirty-ninth anniversary this August. We have two grown children, a son and a daughter. Both are married. One of the benefits of parenthood is grandparenthood. It’s wonderful and so much fun! Denis and I live on a bison farm near Red Deer which is in Central Alberta, Canada. I own a picture framing/scrapbooking shop and art gallery. I’m fortunate to have the gallery because from it I sell the pottery I make and my polymer clay art.

My one physical characteristic and things I love to do: I’m short, but that’s okay. I get that trait from my mother who is “shrinking” more every year. To make up for the height gene she also presented me with a creative gene which was passed down to her from her grandfather who painted for the King way back when. Thank you, Mom and Great Grandpa. Besides writing, I’ve done many hobbies, but the one I stuck with throughout my entire life is pottery. About fifteen years ago I picked up a ball of polymer clay and loved it ever since. But right now, clays are set aside. (Can’t type on the laptop with muddy hands!)

Why write romances: A friend said read The Flame and the Flower, by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Wow. Forget “Hooked on Phonics”, I am “Hooked on Romances”, especially hers! I love reading how two people who abhor each other at first sight can find eternal love. So I decided to write one of my own. I also write short stories, romances of course. While my book was busy getting turned down at publishing houses, I decided to write and illustrate a children’s book which would combine my two loves, writing and clay. “Adam and Even and the Special Tree” was born. (Think Barbara Reid’s, “Two by Two.”) I hope to self publish it as a POD someday.

My personal experience that helped spark my novel Stubborn Hearts was attending Christmas parties and church at the Big Bend School. At the time we went there, it was no longer used as a one room school but as a community center. An old picture of the Queen still hung at the front and the blackboards were still in use. Even black and white pictures of the students and teachers were on the walls. I felt compelled to write about that place and a young school teacher. Big Bend School was resplendent with memories and sounds and smells . . . even a dingy basement much like the one my character had to descend into to get the Santa suit. The building is now part of a museum, thank goodness! It would have broken my heart to see it torn down!

Did I cut anything from my novel that hurt? Yup, the first three chapters, about eight thousand words, at the suggestion of my writing friend. She was bang on. I easily wove the pertinent information in later as it was necessary.

The best part of writing is when your characters speak to you and you can hardly write fast enough to keep up. The worst part is when your characters snub you for putting them into a situation they don’t know how to get out of.

My next book? I’ve been trying to decide whether to write about a woman disguised as a young boy who becomes a cook at a lumberjack camp and falls in love with the foreman OR about a widowed woman who falls in love with the shy preacher in a small town and finds out her first and abusive husband is very much alive. I’m leaning toward the first one. The other one can wait. Once again the setting would be around the late 1800s for both. I have an appreciation for the women of those days. They were very stong, yet called the weaker sex. Guess who said that! Anyway, I admire those women, but I’m thankful I’m not one of them…praise God and Amen!

 

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10 Comments

  1. Hi Carol! Great to get to know you! And I totally agree – I love writing about the 1800s, but I wouldn’t want to live there! (OK, maybe for a day or two, but that’s it!)

  2. Hi Carol – isn’t a good critique partner or beta reader invaluable? I’m looking forward to Stubborn Hearts!

  3. Wow, you’re so creative, Carol! Nice to get to know you some more. Congrats on the book!

  4. Three chapters – ouch. But I’m sure you were spot on in your evaluation. I’ve hear sometimes we write the first couple chapters so we as the writer knows the story.

    Congrats of Stubborn Hearts!

  5. Love hearing about someone else who is creating in both the visual and literary arts–my other love is kiln-formed glass. Are you planning to include your clay art in a romance some day?

  6. Nice getting to know you a little better, Carol! I’ve been fascinated by Alberta for years!

  7. Loved getting to know you better, Carol! Both books you have in mind would make great stories, IMHO.

  8. Kristina, you’d better convince RadioMan to do a trip with you to see our cowboy country. There’s a lovely road called the Cowboy Trail and it heads south from Calgary. You’re driving along the foothills with the Rocky Mountains just beyond. If you’ve ever heard of Ian Tyson, (true life cowboy and popular country music artist) he hails from that area. He even has a restaurant in the town of High River. The TV show “Heartland” is based in that area. Plus while you’re here you might as well check out our Banff National Park, all in the general same area. And the Calgary Stampede. Call it research and write it off! Okay, I’m starting to sound like a brochure for Travel Alberta. But I do love it here! Cheers. Carol

  9. Hi Carol! It’s great to get to know you. And, I’m there with you on the value of crit partners… sometimes cutting is exactly what a story needs!

  10. Congratulations, Carol! Love your title.


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