Dear Readers, Cindy Woodsmall is an award-winning author of Amish novels. I’ve enjoyed her writing, and her stories are so authentic.
Hopefully I put very little of me in the characters. My goal as a writer is to develop characters that tell me who they are, not the other way around. I focus my energy on learning who each character is, often by basing a character on a few real people I know and their individual responses to actual incidents in the Amish community. I rely heavily on Plain friends, experiences, and research while developing the characters. While gathering all that information, it naturally goes through the filter of my mind, will, and emotions. In that sense, I can’t prevent the characters from being influenced by me to some degree. For the most part, I think my characters influence me in the story writing far more than I influence them.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I have two main methods. When choosing a name for an Amish character, I start by researching my stack of paperback directories for Old Order Amish districts, which I purchased from an Amish friend’s dry goods store. When choosing a name for a character who isn’t Amish, I often begin with a Google search of the top girl or guy names used in the year that character would have been born. If nothing on that list appeals to me, I search earlier years. To me, a lot of “baby name” sites seem cumbersome and slow, so I usually stick to the online Social Security list of names. After choosing the appropriate research tool, I look for a name that feels right for each character, and that often leads me to research the meaning of the name.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1. Be teachable. Highly opinionated people are difficult to teach, but they rarely see themselves that way. They may listen and ask questions, showing great interest in what an editor or critique partner is saying, but by the next morning, they will have rationalized away whatever insights the person tried to share. These writers will defend their point of view to the end. Months or years later, they won’t be able to figure out why no one wants to work with them. That’s not to say an author should accept everything that’s said. But if an author is resistant to suggestions (even politely), dealing with that person can be exhausting and counterproductive.
2. Be patient with yourself and with the market. Both are constantly changing.
3. Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you sow. (Robert Louis Stevenson said that.) The most important thing we can do is remain faithful. That alone will reap quite a harvest because someone is always watching us, and faithfulness to ourselves and our dreams is impacting our friends and family. When others hit a rough patch in their lives and are tempted to give up, they may recall our faithfulness and find the needed strength for themselves. And we should stay faithful to writing because when we seek, we find … eventually.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
An owl or eagle. Wouldn’t it be fun to soar, like we occasionally do in our nighttime dreams? Most of us are used to seeing pictures of owls perched on a branch, looking much like a stuffed bird. But they’re very skilled at soaring almost silently during the night. In my best dreams, that’s what I’m doing—soaring across beautiful, lush fields in the dim glow of moonlight, the ponds and lakes I fly over shimmering with that same light. Do I fly at night because I’m nearing the midnight hour of my life? Hm. I’ve never swooped for prey, which is a plus because the fun dream would turn into a rude awakening.
If I’m choosing
an animal based on dreams in which I can fly, I guess a third runner-up to the
owl or eagle would be a flying squirrel. Ha-ha. I place that third because in
those dreams, I could only fly from one tree to the next.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m pleased that my family survived as a functional unit while my kids moved from childhood into adulthood. Maybe that sounds weird. But marriage is a little like a three-legged race, with the husband and wife constantly connected to the children. When your kids grow up and get married, you may or may not become a team with your adult children and their spouses. And they may or may not become a team with their siblings and spouses.
My three sons are completely different from one another. I knew each one was distinctive from the moment he began to stir in my belly. And my two daughters-in-law are as different from each other as winter and summer—which only makes sense.
I wasn’t sure what would happen once my nest was empty. Would my sons move as far away as possible or stay in the area? Would their uniqueness put them at odds with one another? Would holiday visits be more taxing than refreshing? I did my best to get my boys to adulthood as friends who knew how to embrace their differences, discuss and have healthy arguments, and give each other space and respect. But what would happen when my mommy-ing years ended?
What did happen was beautiful and unexpected. All of my sons and daughters-in-law tossed lassos around one another’s teams—not just for major holidays or on birthdays, but often. I love it. I’m honored by it. I’m inspired by it. I’m also exhausted by it. But they strengthen me.
I so agree. My two daughters live in adjoining suburbs of
, and our suburb adjoins one
of theirs. Actually, we live just north of and just south of the same major
street. And all the grandchildren and great grandchildren live in those same
suburbs. We get together often. Fort Worth,
Cindy can be found online here:
Thank you, Cindy, for sharing this new book with us. I know my readers will be interested in reading it.Here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Ties That Bind - Chritianbook,com
Ties That Bind: A Novel (The Amish of Summer Grove) - Amazon
Ties That Bind: A Novel (The Amish of Summer Grove) - Kindle
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