(Originally published in "Hampton Hall" Magazine, by n2 Publishing)
Some may argue that there are two kinds of people: those who love numbers and those who love words. But Caroline Leachman Baltzegar is both. A number-savvy former tax preparer, Caroline currently works as Controller for Stoneworks Granite and Marble. However, she has also had a lifelong love affair with books, and she published her own contemporary romance novel last year.
“Books have always been a big part of my life, and I’ve always written things. I still have some of my high school and college papers. I didn’t always get a good grade, but I always loved writing. About seven years ago, I began working on little stories and things, but I didn’t really think of writing a novel at first.”
Yet that’s exactly what she did. However, when she finished the novel four years ago, Caroline admits that she had no idea what to do next. “I knew all about the traditional publishing route and all the turn-downs people experience.” When a friend suggested that she start by going the Kindle e-book route, Caroline was intrigued, but she still wasn’t sure she could do it.
“Even though I’m computer literate, all the formatting and details were Greek to me.” On the advice of another friend, however, Caroline contracted a freelance editor to help, and says it was unbelievably smooth sailing from that point. “Getting Bending Willows into a readable format was so much easier and less expensive than I had ever dreamed.”
So easy, in fact, that, a few months later, Caroline followed up on her December 2015 e-book with the release of a paperback version. The novel, which Caroline describes as “full of twists, turns and surprises,” is about people making choices – often bad ones. Set in Beaufort, the work of fiction also references many real local people and places. Even its cover features a photo of a South Carolina tree that Caroline herself took years ago, thinking, “Maybe I’ll use this somehow one day.”
Originally from Georgia, Caroline moved to the area 18 years ago after she and her husband John, whom she describes as “a man who loves to read,” met on a blind date. John’s business, Stoneworks Granite and Marble, is one of the real locations mentioned in her book. The couple has lived in Hampton Hall for six years, and their neighbors, says Caroline, have been incredibly supportive and positive about her book. Caroline and John’s family, which includes their collective six children and nine grandchildren, have been equally supportive, she adds.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Caroline says that she also enjoys boating, church activities -- and her job. “But I do sometimes wish I could cut down on work so that I could write more.”
Until then, you can enjoy reading Bending Willows. The book is available on Kindle (free on Kindle Unlimited) as well as in paperback from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and various local establishments.
Caroline on Facebook