Saturday, May 19, 2007

Cindy Woodsmall

I just love introducing my American Christian Fiction Writers friends to you, Readers. Today's author is Cindy Woodsmall. You're going to love getting to know her.

Cindy, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

The depth of emotions each character feels is pretty on target with who I am. It only takes a momentary experience in life—when paying attention and adding imagination to it— to carry the emotive feel of that connection forever. One only has to haul hay in the grueling heat for a few minutes to then carry an emotional connection to that and then put it into a character in a book. But the integrity of each character is their own—however strong or weak.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I think to date the wildest thing I’ve done while researching a book is boarding an Amtrak at midnight with my eleven-year-old son. We took an eighteen hour trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, so I could get a sense of what Hannah experienced. It was a huge undertaking and only a smidgen of that experience needed to be written in the book, but it set the tone in my heart for who Hannah was and how she felt about her life.

Interesting, Cindy. I loved the train scene in the book. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Sometime after I’d faced being 29 for the umpteenth year in a row. :-) But . . . my earliest memories of childhood are of me mentally reworking stories that my mother had read to me. I didn’t realize that was a desire to write sprouting in my young heart. Even after I won a county-wide writing contest when I was in high school, I never thought for a moment about pursuing writing as a career. Actually, winning did more damage than anything, because it embarrassed me to walk across the stage and receive a three-foot trophy. I hid it in my locker and vowed to never enter another thing that might win a trophy. But, throughout my adult years, desire to write grew stronger with each passing year. Unfortunately, I stood against it as a thief of my time. There is so much to do in a day and sitting at a desk didn’t seem the right way to use my time. It wasn’t until the stories became so loud that I could no longer quiet them that I began consciously wrestling with the idea of writing. By that time I had two older teens and a kindergartener.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Hmm. I fell in love with books through historical fiction. That genre covers such a plethora of cultures and centuries of life for mankind; I love it! Right now my greatest love is reading works by the numerous authors I’ve come to know over the last five years.

I know what you mean. My reading world has been greatly enriched by the books of my ACFW friends, yours included. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have a stack of will-never-see-the-light-of-day works that I pounded out after I gave myself the okay to start writing. The stories had been held back for so long that I couldn’t focus on just one work. I think I wrote something like eight full-length, horrid-writing-beyond-belief novels in my first year of writing. My goal was to let the dam pour forth and hopefully at the end of that time, I could focus on one project at a time.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Pretty much the answer to that is wrapped up in two words: God and family. God, who gladly shares His wisdom for organizing, His gentleness in causing me to decline taking on too much, and His peace for what can’t be organized or declined, but must simply be endured. Second on my short list is my family, especially my husband who always helps me carry plenty of life’s loads.

An understanding husband is a gift beyond words for an author. How do you choose your characters’ names?

Since I write Amish, the beginning point for me is research. Only certain names are used for characters who were born a couple decades ago or longer. The Amish are more accepting of newer names now, but most of my characters were born at least seventeen years ago. Added to that certain Amish surnames belong to specific regions of Amish country, so my Older Order Amish friend and I have spent a fair amount of time discussing names.

Research is very important to any book. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

The greatest accomplishment I carry is not one I performed. And every achievement is rooted in that first accomplishment, which is offered to every human; the work of Christ living in us.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

An eagle. It soars like we can only do in our dreams and it most often nests in places where the bustle of the world does not disturb its home life. :-)

What is your favorite food?

Ready-to-eat Cereal—the whole grain, low sugar, no preservative stuff. It’s a great breakfast and lunch food. Hmm. Maybe I should serve it for dinner sometime ;-)

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

I’d love to tell you about the only project I have going on: A three-book series called Sister’s of the Quilt. Book one: When the Heart Cries hit the shelves September 19, 2006.

When tragedy strikes Hannah's Amish world, in one unwelcome encounter, all that she has known and believed is destroyed. As she finds herself entangled in questions that the Old Ways of her people cannot answer, Hannah faces the possibility of losing her place in her family, in her community–and in the heart of the man she loves.

The seeds for When the Heart Cries were sown through the fun, heartache, and confusion I had through the close friendship with a Beachy Amish Mennonite girl. [Beachy Amish females wear the caped dresses and prayer kapps. Electricity, cars, and education up to the twelfth grade are allowed. Television and radios are not allowed and often they attend a privately run Beachy Amish Mennonite school or they homeschool.] That friendship lasted through most of elementary school and until I was fifteen when my family moved seven hundred miles south.

But one of the coolest experiences in this writing journey is that a door to making a new Amish friend opened. Miriam, an Old Order Amish woman, and I have deeply enjoyed this writing journey together. [Old Order Amish use horse and buggies; they do not allow electricity in their homes. The children attend a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade, and if they receive permission from the bishop to have a telephone, it must be outside the home.] I’m thrilled that she not only opened her life, heart, and home to me, but she’s so excited about the story. She critiqued the entire manuscript for me and is more than ready for me to finish book two and send it to her. We talked on the phone yesterday (she has a phone shanty about a hundred feet away from her home) and we discussed the various Amish aspects of book two. Neither of us can believe I was unable to make it to her home this past summer, but I hope to make up for that next summer.

What a blessing, Cindy. No wonder your book was so full of authenticity.

Readers, I have read this book. It's a page turner from the very first. I reviewed it in the newsletter on my website. This link will take you to the review:

Remember to leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a free copy.


:-)Ronie said...

I totally LOVED Cindy's book, too!! She's such an awesome writer. I can't wait for book 2. Oh--and she's a fabulous lady and friend, too. :-D

Cherie J said...

Great interview! I have heard wonderful things about this book! Please enter me in the drawing.

tetewa said...

Sounds like a wonderful series, enter me in the drawing please!

Deborah said...

great interview. i love stories about the amish. please enter me!

Emma said...

Great interview. Please enter me in the drawing.Sounds like a wonderful series.

Cindy Woodsmall said...


Thanks for the interview, Lena! You do a marvelous job asking the right questions. And thank you to all who've read the interview and left a comment. What fun!



Christy LaShea Smith said...

Thanks for the great interview Lena and Cindy!

I read this book in record time ~ would not put it down until the wee hours of the morning until I ran out of pages.

Why, Oh WHY, Publishing World do we have to wait FOUR MORE months for Book Two? I was ready to read it in Sept 2006!!!

If you have not read When the Heart Cries, you must, it is a wonderful story. Cindy is a gripping and accomplished writer!

And she's a pretty awesome friend and fellow ACFW'r, too :)

Norma said...

This book sounds great. I love that you actually have friends among the people you are writing about. Please enter my name.

Carolynn W. said...

Please enter me in the drawing....I've been looking forward to reading this book for a while now....can't wait!
carolynnwald [at]

Carole said...

I love books with an Amish theme, and this is one I really want to read. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

I love your choice of an eagle, Cindy, and the reasons you gave.

The Write Life said...

Thank you for the interview, Cindy! And Lena, I really enjoy these interviews, and appreciate your doing them.


lollipops said...

Great interview! Great book. Thanks, Cindy, for sharing your story with us.

Pattian835 said...

The interview was great..
certainly intensified my interest!
I spent time in the PA Amish country four years ago. Awesome people.

Cindy Woodsmall said...

Thanks to EVERYONE who dropped by. You've encouraged me!