Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I write romances because I love happy endings, historical romances because I’m fascinated by what life was like in earlier times, and Christian romances because I believe in the power of God’s love to change our lives. In today’s world with all the economic uncertainty and political divisions, I think it’s more important than ever to tell stories that affirm positive values, and what could be more positive than love and the promise of eternal life?
I so agree with you. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
The day my husband and I decided we were going to marry. Although we weren’t officially engaged until a few months later, I don’t think you’ve ever seen two such happy people as we were that afternoon.
Yes, I remember that day in my life with James. Very special. How has being published changed your life?
The most important change is that it’s brought me many new friends – both readers and other writers. I find it energizing to be surrounded by people who love books as much as I do.
What are you reading right now?
Your very own Charlsey’s Accountant from the Wild West Christmas anthology. And, I must say, you hooked me from the first page.
I'm glad. That's what I tried to do. What is your current work in progress?
I’ve just started the first of a new trilogy. All of the books will take place in Wyoming in the late eighteen hundreds, right before Wyoming became a state. (Shameless promotion for my new home: Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote, and it had the first woman judge, first women on a jury and first woman governor.) Now, back to my WIP. The first book, which is tentatively titled When Summer Ends, is set at Fort Laramie, the Army post where all the wagon trains stopped on their way West. Since I’ve been intrigued by the journey west ever since I watched westerns on TV, Fort Laramie was one of the first places my husband and I visited after we moved to Cheyenne. From the moment I stepped inside the parade ground, I knew this would be the setting for a book. There’s so much history there – material for many, many books.
What would be your dream vacation?
A Mediterranean cruise.
That would be fun. How do you choose your settings for each book?
Although in most cases the specific locations, like Ladreville in the Texas Dreams series, are fictional, I always set my stories in places that I’ve visited or where I’ve lived. Even with all the research that’s possible using the Internet and the library, for me it’s important to have experienced the area, to know what the sky is like, how rough the terrain is, how tall the trees grow, and on and on.
I chose the Texas Hill Country as the setting for this series of books, because I spent my early childhood in Texas (although not the Hill Country) and have always been drawn back to it. As one reader said, “You can take the gal out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the gal.”
As for the Wyoming Winds books, ever since that first trip to Fort Laramie in 2004, I had been mulling over ideas for books set in Wyoming, so when my editor asked if I would send her a proposal for a Wyoming trilogy, I jumped at the opportunity. And my third trilogy for Revell, which takes place during World War I, will be set in New Jersey, where I lived for a long time. As you can see, they’re all familiar places for me.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Kim Vogel Sawyer. As I mentioned before, one of the pleasures of being a published writer is that it’s put me in contact with other writers, but Kim is one I haven’t met in person. I admire her writing – If you haven’t read My Heart Remembers, put it next on your must-read list – and would love to have a few hours to talk to her about how she creates her characters and plots.
Actually, I know Kim very well. We worked on a novella team that produced a proposal for a novella collection based on the orphan trains. When the collection wasn't picked up by the publisher, Kim asked the rest of the team if we minded her using the idea in a full-length novel. It became My Heart Remembers. I was very happy when that book came out. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I enjoy sewing – in fact, I make most of my own clothes – and cooking. And when we travel, you’ll find me with a piece of needlepoint or a knitting project in my hands.
Finishing the first draft is always a challenge for me. Although I’m enthusiastic when I begin, by the time I reach the middle of the book, I’m convinced that it’s the worst piece of prose ever written, and – if I didn’t have a deadline – I’d probably stop writing right then. Fortunately, I’ve learned that this is a normal (for me) stage and that once I start the second draft, I realize that what I’ve written isn’t so terrible after all – it’s simply a draft that needs polishing. I push myself to finish the first draft, which I refer to as the skeleton, so that I can have the pleasure of adding the flesh and blood, not to mention the fashionable clothing, to my skeleton.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Never give up. No matter how difficult the writing process seems, no matter how discouraged you may be by criticisms and rejection, keep writing.
Tell us about the featured book?
If Paper Roses was my marriage-of-convenience book, and it was, Scattered Petals is my marriage-of-inconvenience story. Here’s the description Revell put in their catalog.
Longing for adventure, Priscilla Morton leaves Boston and heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure she seeks will leave her badly injured and her parents dead. Priscilla is determined to rebuild her life and make a home for herself in the beautiful Hill Country. But the bandits who took her parents’ lives also destroyed her hope for the future.
Ranch foreman Zachary Webster knows what the future holds for him, and it’s not a woman like Priscilla. She deserves a cultured East Coast gentleman, not a cowboy who’s haunted by memories of his mistakes. The best thing he can do is leave her alone.
When necessity draws them together, Priscilla and Zach begin to forge a life that, like the scattered petals of her childhood, is filled with promise. But then the past intrudes, threatening their very existence.
Please give us the first page of the book.
“How much longer?”
Priscilla Morton tried to smile at the woman on the opposite side of the stagecoach. Now that Papa was asleep, Mama’s normally quiet voice had turned querulous, sending waves of regret through her daughter as her words reminded Priscilla for what seemed like the thousandth time that this was her fault. She was the one who’d insisted they come.
“Soon.” Priscilla reached across to pat her mother’s hand, her smile wry when she recalled Mama warning her to be careful what she wished for. Priscilla had wished for adventure, never dreaming that the adventure would involve comforting her mother as if Mama were the child.
When they’d received Clay’s letter inviting the family to his wedding, Priscilla had realized this was the opportunity she had sought for so long and had convinced Mama and Papa they should go to Texas. Though she’d relished the idea of leaving Massachusetts and venturing into parts of the country that her sister had described as wild and foreign, she had been careful in phrasing her arguments. While her parents would not willingly seek adventure, they loved Clay, and so it had taken little persuasion for them to agree that Clay deserved to have family with him at his wedding, even if the family was only his by marriage.
At home in Boston, it had seemed a fine plan. But the journey had been more difficult than Priscilla had expected. Though Mama had been stoic on the train, once they’d left its relative comfort for the bone-jarring stagecoaches, her mood had deteriorated, and the days had turned into litanies of complaints. Dust, mud, insects, the rutted roads, even the scenery, which Priscilla had found beautiful, had bothered Mama, and now that the other passengers had left the coach, she saw no need to mute her laments. This was not the adventure Priscilla had sought.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My web site is http://www.amandacabot.com/ , and I LOVE hearing from readers.
Lena, thanks so much for chatting with me and for inviting me to be part of your blog. This was fun!
I loved having you here, too, Amanda.
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