I cannot tell you how excited I have been to do this interview. Cindy Woodsmall is one of favorite authors and I am thrilled to share this interview and giveaway with you! Read on to find out more. : )
Cindy Woodsmall’s first book, When the Heart Cries, released in 2006, it rocketed to amazing success, hitting the Christian best-seller list and becoming a finalist in the 2007 ECPA Christian Book Awards. Her second book in the Sisters of the Quilt Series hit the New York Times best-seller list at 34, and her third book hit number 13 on that list and also made the USA Today list. Best known for writing Amish fiction, Cindy lends an incredible authenticity to her work. Her connection with the Old Order Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Having several Amish friends, Cindy has researched their culture extensively, giving her books a wonderful flair of authenticity.
Cindy, thank you for taking the time to visit us today. I appreciate your taking the time to answer these questions and letting us get to know you better.
I’m so glad to be here. Thanks for inviting me!
1. How long did you write before you were published?
I began writing the Amish story of my heart in 1999. I went to my first writers’ conference in 2002. I had a lot to learn, so I began reading books on writing, attending conferences, and working with a writing mentor, Kathy Ide. Two years later I felt I was ready to turn in the first chapter to a few editors.
I received wonderful feedback on my writing, even a potential offer to put me under contract if I’d write anything except Amish fiction. At the time only Beverly Lewis was writing Amish stories in trade fiction, and editors weren’t sure the market would hold strong for a second Amish author. Besides, they didn’t like the idea of a new writer following in the footsteps of such an established author.
My books were quite different from anything on the market, including Beverly Lewis’s books, but that didn’t make enough difference to the editor who wanted to put me under contract.
I spent a few restless weeks deciding whether to follow the editor’s advice or stick to my Amish stories. It was a rough choice. It didn’t make sense for an unpublished writer to turn down the opportunity for a contract with a big publishing house. But after weeks of sleeplessness, I knew I had to continue with the story I’d written.
With that decision made, I made another—to pitch my story to every editor at every conference possible. Unfortunately, with one exception, the editors I spoke with were not interested in testing the market to see if it could support a second author writing Amish fiction.
In the spring of 2005, I submitted the first chapter of When the Heart Cries to an editor with WaterBrook Press (a division of Random House). The editor asked me to turn in a full manuscript. I did, it passed the committee, and I had my first contract. That book was released in the fall of 2006.
I would love to be able to tell you that I soared with elation. Many of my author friends danced around their homes and embraced the moment fully. But I didn’t even open the box. Hours later, when my husband came home, he opened it. He was excited and coaxed me into leaving my office to take a look at the book. I remember running my hands over the cool, smooth cover, and then returning to my office to work on book two. The deadline for the sequel was pressing in, and my energy and attention were funneled into that project. Looking back, I think I was scared that When the Heart Cries wouldn’t be enough of a success, so I brushed its importance under the rug—as if the only thing that really mattered was the next project.
3. What are you working on now?
Today, June 21, 2010, I mailed off the typeset pages for The Bridge of Peace, the second novel in my Ada’s House series. It’s now officially finished, and the next time I see it, it’ll be a book. It’s scheduled for release August 31. Book one, The Hope of Refuge, is a Christy Award finalist.
Here’s the summary of The Bridge of Peace:
Love and lies abound in Dry Lake, Pennsylvania.
Headstrong schoolteacher Lena Kauffman finds herself at the center of controversy in her Amish community when a young man in her classroom refuses to submit to her authority. Her friends and family rally around her, especially longtime friend Grey Graber. Things go from bad to worse when Grey’s wife, Elsie, becomes an accidental target in trouble meant for Lena. They must both find their way through their private pain in order to find peace and a brighter future.
If you’d like to read the first chapter, go to http://cindywoodsmall.com/bridge_hope-ch1.html
By Wednesday, I’ll finish writing Plain Wisdom. It’s a wonderfully rich nonfiction book that I’ve been blessed to write with my Old Order Amish friend Miriam Flaud. In it we share heartwarming, heartrending, and humorous stories from our lives. It’ll release in the spring of 2011.
Miriam dropped a package in the overnight mail to me this morning that contains her latest handwritten rewrites, so I’ll take those pages and type them into our master document. I’ll send that via e-mail to our editor this Wednesday.
After a business trip to Missouri starting Thursday, I’ll begin writing the third book in the Ada’s House series. I’m really looking forward to pounding that story out!
I wrote one novel a year for the first three, and then I pushed a little harder and wrote a novel and a novella that released in 2009. Now that our youngest child is independent with his newly acquired driver’s license, I’m again stepping up my writing goals. I have five new novels under contract, as well as two more novellas that are contracted but not yet written.
4. Where can readers find out more about your books?
I have a lot of information, as well as the first chapter to each book and an Amish-made quilt contest, on my Web site: http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/
5. What messages do you want to make clear to your readers?
That hope reaches beyond all reasonable boundaries and brings into existence that which nothing else can. Without insights or revelations, we are left with either legalism or fleeting emotionalism. Under the law, I fail. Under emotionalism, I fizzle. But when I open my spiritual eyes to life’s principles, those principles become a part of who I am. Then not only do I understand why I should take a stand, I’m more willing to take that stand regardless of what’s going on around me.
My goal is to write in a way that helps people see life from a perspective that renews their strength to keep pressing on and gives them refreshment in the true value of living.
6. Why did you choose this profession?
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother reading to me before bedtime. After she left the room, I reworked every story she’d read to me. If Cinderella had been the ugly one, how would that change the outcome? If the step-sisters had been the nice ones, how would that have affected the story? I hated when I became too sleepy to continue working on those ideas. That was the beginning of my love of thinking about plotlines and characterization. But I never considered a career in writing, even after I won several writing awards in high school.
As the years moved forward, stories continued to pound me, and I did everything I could to free myself of them—including whining to God to make them go away!
After many years of refusing to write, I worked through my reservations. One of the first things I did was attend an American Christian Fiction writers’ conference (http://www.acfw.com/ ). I took the time to learn how to get the story of my heart onto the written page. Then I went through the process of finding a publisher. It wasn’t easy, but I had peace the whole way, mainly because I would’ve been fine if I never became published. When I received my first contract, I prayed that enough books would sell that my publisher wouldn’t be disappointed. That was my only goal.
I realize now that part of my subconscious assumption that writing wasn’t for me came from not understanding myself. My heart wanted to pursue writing fiction, but the no-nonsense part of me claimed that the story ideas in my head were a waste of time and not worth pursuing.
There are a lot of roads in life, and we often take the wrong one, thinking it’s the right one. I’m very grateful that God kept directing me toward the “write” road.
Thank you for being with us today. Any final words for readers?
Thank you so much for inviting me! I’d like to share a few personal thoughts. I love words, always have. They enlighten. Encourage. Entertain. They can lift a heavy load or bury someone under a load. And they often do so whether we’re paying attention or not. Words come at us all the time through a lot of sources and they’re unavoidable.
Words bring everything we need in life: love that encourages and strengthens, understanding that gives us tools for living, communication between God and us, and between us and our family, friends, and coworkers. God spoke, and light came into existence. He gave names to each thing He created, starting with day and night. Light and dark.
Through our words, we have the power to bring light or dark into our world and the world of those around us. What words will you not say for your loved one’s sake? Which ones will you choose to use?
I don't think there is any doubt why Cindy has come to such great success! She writes in a way that draws the reader in, even with just a short interview. Thank you Cindy!
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