Ask Mrs. M – Part 4

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So many great questions came in after the “Ask Mrs. M – Part 3” that I have answered them in this brand-new post. Enjoy!

1. From Anne. One question I have is where did you get your inspiration for the three Carter brothers and their personalities? Like did you just think them up or were you influenced by people in your life who are like them, or from characters in books, movies, etc? I like how they’re all so different-it keeps the series interesting. And do you have a favorite Carter brother?

I answered this in the comments but thought I should go ahead and post it here too in case some of you missed it. The Big Valley was my inspiration for my series. I always thought it was a great show (1960s TV western) but I thought it could be improved by adding another, younger character, so I added “Andi.” My stories started out as Big Valley “fan fiction,” but when everybody told me I should get the stories published, I had to do a ton of changing things around to make them MY stories and not fan fiction any longer. My favorite Circle C character is Justin (just like my favorite character from the Big Valley is Jarrod Barkley). Chad is “Nick Barkley,” but since my son Chad is just like Nick from the show, it seemed fitting to name my fictional character after my oldest son, Chad. 😊

2. The next few questions come from Trinity. S. Why did you have Andi give birth to twins? Wouldn’t that make the story seem slightly unreal with Taffy AND Andi both surviving giving birth to twins?

It’s very believable because her father, James, and his brother, Benjamin, are identical twins, so the odds are in Andi’s favor to have twins. And I gave her twins because somebody a few years ago put the idea into my head. I thought that maybe later it would be fun to have a mystery series with identical twins. Also, I thought it would be a fun way to end the story by having Chad put the two incidents together (Taffy and Andi both with twins).

3. How did you come up with the story idea for “Stranger in the Glade” (the story in the book, not the book itself)

I was trying to think of a way to bring the glade back into the books somehow, since I made a big deal about it the first time (and in The Last Ride, but they never went then). I have a history of James and his gold prospecting already in the “canon,” and all I needed was another character so I thought about the Barbary Coast and the history of San Francisco (hardly any women) and I had a history of Elizabeth’s family in a bio already written years ago and decided to combine it all and it just came to me as a nice way to finish up the Glade setting. (I would like to have another sequel when the kids are older and they find the guy and bury him and follow through on his request, but I haven’t had time.)

4. How did you come up with Andi’s favorite meal? (Fried chicken, biscuits, etc.)

It was the meal the family fixed to try and help Andi’s memory return in Dangerous Decision, and it was the first thing that came to mind and sounded good that day (the day I was writing that scene). Simple as that.

5. Andi told her family she wanted a golden horse in Andi’s Pony Trouble. As soon as Taffy was born, she was given to Andi. Did the Carters know that Taffy would be a palomino?

Absolutely the Carters (especially Chad) would know! And at the time of the breeding, their father was still alive (since it takes 11 months for a horse’s gestation), so he would know as well. Right now, Kristel (my daughter) bred her sorrel mare to a cremello sire. There is a 100% chance that the foal will be a palomino (we’re going to name him or her “Taffy”). She had genetic testing done, and so she knows for sure. James Carter, an experienced horse breeder, would know the same thing, only his knowledge would come from years of experience and not DNA testing.

6. If they didn’t know, and Taffy had been, say, a sorrel, would they still have given her to Andi?

Andi would love any colored horse she got as her “very own” horse. 🐴

7. Kinsey R. also has quite a few questions. Do you ever read back through your books, and if so, which is your favorite?

I do, actually. I used to go back and read the books more often years ago. Now, I am so busy trying to keep up with this blog and writing the new Goldtown Adventures books 5 and 6 that I have hardly any time to read at all. I do listen to the books on audio when I’m driving across the state to visit my elderly mother. My favorite book is (and always will be) Dangerous Decision. It has a special place in my heart because it is actually the first Andi adventure I ever wrote (before I ever dreamed of being published). I wish I still had the original story to share. I change Virginia Foster’s name a few times before landing on “Virginia.” “Sylvia” and “Amelia” are two of her original names. I dropped Amelia because it was too close to Andrea, but I can’t remember why I eventually rejected Sylvia.

8. What prompted you to start the fan fiction writing contests? What is it like to have others creating stories with your characters?

Since I am a writer, and since I love to write fan fiction, I thought it would be fun to see what other readers/fans could come up with. Also, putting on a writing contest helps spread the word about the books. It’s AWESOME having others create stories using my characters. If you read in the acknowledgment part of the new Milestones books 5 and 6, you will find that many of the stories were originally thought up from other fans. So without their ideas, I wouldn’t have those two books!

9. What is the most difficult “element” of story craft for you to weave into your writing?

Filling out the “middle” to make sure the story does not fall into “middle slump” and continues to be interesting and exciting.

10. Do your primary characters tend to come to you as a “package deal,” or do you create them from scratch based on what you want/need their roles to be in the story? Or a mixture of both?

The main characters came as a package (see the answer to question #1).

11. Does your publisher have input in what your stories are about, or can you take them any direction you want?

I can (and do) take my characters in any direction I want. The editor helps if she sees something not making sense, etc., but every story is my story, usually without hardly any edits.

12. What is your favorite part of the writing process? Revising the story when the draft is finished.

13. Was there ever a scene that you really, really wanted to put in a book, but it just didn’t fit?

Yes. I SO wanted one scene to be included in The Last Ride. The editor suggested that I not change points of view and I should instead let the reader find out when Andi did about her horse, Taffy. I resisted and said I’d pray about it. Then I decided that my publisher was paying the editor for a reason and she probably had a good idea, so I went along with it. I’m so glad I did. She was completely right about it. If you want to read the original scene, go here: The Last Ride Missing Scene >>

14. “Anonymous” asks: How did you come up with Melinda and Kate’s personalities? How did you come up with Mother and her personality? How did you come up with Riley and Cory’s personalities?

For Melinda and Mother, I just followed the “Audra” and “Victoria” characters on the TV show The Big Valley, but I gave Melinda a little more personality. LOL The Victoria (mother) from the show is my ideal of a strong yet gentle lady in all ways but can ride a horse and lasso is she needs to. However, Victoria on the Big Valley bosses her grown sons to much (IMO) so I made my mother character in a more “hands off” role with running the ranch.

I just made Kate’s personality up, based on what she did in Family Secret (headstrong and rebellious, and that’s how she got into her fix in the first place). She’s not based on anybody in particular.

Cory is a lot like my youngest son Ryan (on the cover of Trouble with Treasure), and Riley started out as merely a playmate for Andi in the Circle C Beginnings. His personality developed in The Last Ride as a combination of Chad and Justin and “another brother” in Andi’s eyes.

15. What is your favorite book and or series?

My favorite adult fiction book is either Gone with the Wind or The Far Pavilions. They are epic, 1000+ pages. My favorite young adult/middle grade book is Caddie Woodlawn, based on the true story of a tomboy girl growing up in the Wisconsin woods of 1864 with her six brothers and sisters. They let her run with the boys because her sister Mary (child #8) died from being too frail so Father asked Mother to give him Caddie to raise with the boys and she grew up healthy and wild. I like it because it’s a true story. Her older sister, Claire, is just like Melinda, and Caddie is just like Andi. Don’t watch the movie. It is lame compared to the book. Get the book!

16. What is your favorite movie and or tv show?

My favorite TV series forever and ever is the original Star Trek. I was almost 13 years old when it debuted so I am an original “Trekkie.” My favorite movie? Too many to choose from, but The Empire Strikes Back is high on my list. My favorite kid movies are The Three Lives of Thomasina (1960s Disney), The Parent Trap (1960s Disney), and Charlie the Lonesome Cougar (1960s Disney).

17. What made you decide that Andi would have an older sister (Kate) whose actions, especially in that time period would shame her family?

A friend at church told me the story of her older son, who at 15 ran away from home when their daughter was born, and they have never heard from him since. That intrigued me. Then, my daughter-in-law at the time told me about her older sister, who was married to an abuser. She left him and came back to live with her parents, bringing along her three little children. That intrigued me too. I knew that in the past (1800s), many young adults (teens) were “shunned” for not toeing the line in their families and either sent to relatives in order to be “straightened out” (like cousin Daniel). Many teens left home to become cowboys or Pony Express riders. (My grandfather ran away at age 16. He “rode the rails” as a hobo for a year but eventually returned home. Obviously, since he married my grandmother and I knew my great-grandmother, his mother, who grieved for him the whole time he was gone.)

Girls often ran off with young men who “swept them off their feet,” like circus performers. And then the family pretended the child had never been born. I figured it was believable enough to use and then have Kate be restored to the family like the theme of the Prodigal Son.

18. Why did you have Andi get a golden horse? Why not a black?

Easy answer. Palominos are my favorite horse color, so of course she would get a palomino! 😂

19. Why did you make Andi’s father die when she was so young?

Since my stories started out as Big Valley fan fiction and the father had been killed by railroad barons six years before the show premiered, I kept the “six years” for my story too. Also, having the father out of the picture paved the way for Justin to take over as a substitute father and thus have a lot of brother interaction (or Andi would have taken all her problems to her father).

20. A lot of people asked why you had Andi marry Riley and not Cory. I also thought that Andi would marry Cory, but then I thought, Why did Mrs. M choose Riley and not Jack, since Andi and Jack were friends too?

Jack was never in the lineup as a future husband for Andi. He was a character I created as a friend but I didn’t like him as much as I like Cory and then when I brought Riley back, I liked Riley even better. Originally, Riley was just a playmate for Andi in the Circle C Beginnings. I never intended to bring him back, but the idea intrigued me because of what happened with my own son Andrew and with his wife Melinda Jane (Yes, I named Melinda after the real Melinda). Read about that here >>

21. Do you have any nicknames? Nope.

22. Have you ever had a close relationship with a horse? Like really good friends with one? Nope.

23. From Jasea Wren: Mrs. M, are you as good at riding a horse as Andi is? I have never fallen off a horse, and I do like to lope. And I think I could be as good as Andi is if I had been raised around horses all my life from childhood, like Andi, and depended on them like her family does. But nope . . . not even close to her skill level.

24. From MP2022: Jenny is even more headstrong than Andi! Why is she and Cory marrying more of a better match? Also, why did you originally change your mind about Cory? I know you said about the personality, but that was after you decided you didn’t want them to get married. One more question! Riley seems to have drastically changed since he left the ranch. Why couldn’t Cory? Couldn’t growing up mature him, like it did Riley?

I could have, but once I decided to bring Riley back into the Circle C “universe,” there was never any question that he and Andi would get together. (See story about the true-life models for this idea above.) I changed my mind about Cory because I wanted Andi to marry Riley instead. It’s as simple as that. After I made that decision, I had to think of reasons why she and Cory would not be a good match, so I made up some reasons. Ah! The joy of being an author and being able to create the characters in any “image” you want.

It’s hard to say that Riley changed since leaving the ranch. He was only a boy (about 8) in the Circle C Beginnings so we don’t really know much about him after that (except what I have thrown together in the Riley’s Ramblings).

Cory did change but I wanted him to marry Jenny instead. They get along fine. Author privilege! 🤣

Thanks for all these questions. It was a lot of fun answering them! If you think of any more questions (after reading all of the parts so I don’t do repeats), feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll put together another “Ask Mrs. M” post later on.

Read Part 5 >>

Published by Andi Carter

I'm the main character in the Circle C Adventures series. I live on a huge cattle ranch in 1880s California. These are my adventures.

38 thoughts on “Ask Mrs. M – Part 4

  1. Love the post!!

    My questions:

    How did you come up with all the horses names/breeds?
    What made you want to start a blog?
    What made you start writing?
    Do you personally own your own horse?


  2. I love these “Ask Mrs M” posts! It’s like getting a peek into your mind.😊
    One other question I have is:
    Was Mitch modeled after Heath or Eugene (or both) from The Big Valley?


  3. Where did/do you get inspiration for the Goldtown books? And when do you think the next books will be available for purchase?? So excited that you’re writing new ones!😄🎉🥳


  4. Mrs. M, when Daniel comes to memory ranch, he gets Shasta out of the barn when it’s on fire, but he dies in the fire. How come? Why did he go back into the barn? Thanks for doing these ask
    “Mrs. M Anything.”


  5. Do you play an instrument? What’s your middle name? Did you ever dream of publishing when you were younger? The Dangerous Decision is my favorite CCA! Why isn’t the first in the CCA?


  6. Where did you get the name “Taffy”? Did you make it up?
    Why Did you make Taffy Die?
    Who Did Jack get married to?
    What Happed to Andi’s friend Bethany?
    Witch Is your Fav. Brother and Sister?
    Thank you for doing them!


  7. Why did you have Justin and Chad get married when they were older and Andi get married when she was young?
    When did you decide to start writing more Andi books after your first one?
    What’s your favorite animal?


  8. Do you ever pick up your own books and read them? Just for fun? And do you use the CC stickers, tumblers, hats, tote bags, etc?


  9. What character in your books do you most relate to?
    What is Andi’s favorite color?
    What is the Bent Pine Ranch’s brand that they put on their cows?


  10. I noticed that the picture you have for Justin on the “characters” tab is Jarrod Barkley from The Big Valley. I imagine Justin as looking just like that, so that’s a great picture to have for him.😄 But why don’t you have the other Carter brothers’ pictures as Nick and Heath from the show? Just because that would be too obvious where they were from? Could you maybe just change Chad’s picture to one of Nick from TBV?😊 I think it would look a lot more like how he’s described in the books than the pic of Chad that’s up. But it’s your blog-I’m not trying to tell you what to do! Just thought I’d ask.😄
    Also, I just got the next two Milestones books and I love them!!❤️ Is there any chance you will write more books in the series??


    1. There is nothing I would rather do, Annie, than put Nick’s picture up there. It’s been a big struggle trying to find a “Chad” that looks close enough to Nick to do that. However, you are exactly right. I could maybe get away with Jarrod’s picture (because there was NO ONE else that could even come close to looking like Jarrod). However, to be that obvious from where I got all my ideas would be a big mistake so I have refrained from doing that, even though I have a bunch of pictures that would be so perfect! So . . . all that said, I have changed Chad’s picture to the one I always wanted to use. Check it out. 🙂 (I also changed Justin’s picture and added more “Nick” pictures to the “read more” section under Chad. Enjoy!
      P.S. I like the picture of Mitch I found more than the one of Heath since Heath looks way too old.
      As far as writing more books in the series, I can’t say. Maybe . . . but I have Goldtown books to write now. Pray for a speedy completion of this huge project!


      1. Wow, Mrs M! That was fast! I looked at the page and I love it! It looks just like Chad should look!😄 Soooooo much better! Thanks so much!
        Yeah, I guess Heath does look a bit old to be Mitch.🙃 I never imagined Mitch as looking quite like Heath anyway.
        Oh, yes! Praying for your work on the Goldtown books! I’m sure they’ll be awesome!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. On the first page of every CCA book, you have a page talking about every book in the series. Why didn’t you do this for your other series?


  12. Oh! Well, i really love it. It’s rustic, goes great with the book, and i love that it’s told from Andi’s POV.🙂


  13. Howdy!
    Thought it might save you some time if I added all these questions in one comment for when you do the next ask Mrs M post! Also added a few at the end! 🙂
    How did you come up with all the horses names/breeds? -Tori H
    What made you want to start a blog? -Tori H
    What made you start writing? -Tori H
    Do you personally own your own horse? -Tori H
    Where did/do you get inspiration for the Goldtown books? -Annie
    And when do you think the next books will be available for purchase? -Annie
    When Daniel comes to memory ranch, he gets Shasta out of the barn when it’s on fire, but he dies in the fire. How come? Why did he go back into the barn? -Tori
    Do you play an instrument? -Anonymous
    What’s your middle name? -Anonymous
    Did you ever dream of publishing when you were younger? -Anonymous
    Why isn’t The Dangerous Decision first in the CCA? -Anonymous
    Do you know Spanish? If so when did you learn it? -Anonymous
    Where did you get the name “Taffy”? Did you make it up?
    Why did you make Taffy die? -IloveAndiCarter
    Who did Jack get married to? -IloveAndiCarter
    What happed to Andi’s friend Bethany? -IloveAndiCarter
    Witch Is your fav brother and sister in the books? -IloveAndiCarter
    How did you get the ideas for your books? Like did you use prompts or use real life scenarios or something like that? -Tori
    What is your favourite breed of horse? -Stephanie
    Are you more of a cat or dog person? Do you have either? -Stephanie
    What is your favourite song? -S.J
    Out of the circle c characters who was the funest to create? -Katie Moen
    Who did Jack Goodwin married? -Katie Moen
    Did Johnny Wilson get married? -Katie Moen
    Why did you have Justin and Chad get married when they were older and Andi get married when she was young? -Jenny
    When did you decide to start writing more Andi books after your first one? -Jenny
    What’s your favorite animal? -Jenny
    Why did Mitch never get married? -Annie
    Do you ever pick up your own books and read them, like for fun? -Brianna
    Do you use the CC stickers, tumblers, hats, tote bags, etc? -Brianna
    What gave you the idea to start doing fan fiction? -Sara
    How did you get the ideas for each of your books? -Anonymous
    What character in your books do you most relate to? -Sophie
    What is Andi’s favorite color? -Sophie
    What is the Bent Pine Ranch’s brand that they put on their cows? -Sophie
    What made you pick Andi’s horse to be a golden color? -Sara
    Have you ever lost all your work or part of it when you were writing a book? -Sara
    Fav fan fiction story ever that a fan wrote? -Sara
    Did you ever enter a writing contest somewhere else when you were younger? -Sara
    Worst Andi book you wrote? -Sara
    How are the goldtown book 5 and 6 coming a long? -Sara

    Okayyyyy…that is a lot of questions! lol maybe enough for two more ‘Ask Mrs M’ posts!!
    Hope this helps you Mrs M!
    Tysm for doing this blog, by far my fav books, series, author, blog, ever!


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