Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Author Ramona Cecil - SWEET FOREVER - Free Book

I've known Ramona for a long time, and I'm happy to feature her with her newest novel.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Probably more than I’d like to admit. I don’t consciously set out to write character who are like me—especially my heroines. Just the opposite. I sometimes think; I’d like to be that spunky, brave, or smart. But on the other hand, an author’s life experiences as well as spiritual questions we struggle with do seep into our stories. I know many of mine do. They are just disguised in different personalities with different sets of problems in different eras.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I’m dating myself, but when I was in high school a couple of my friends found an article about England’s Prince Charles. It mentioned that he liked poetry. Knowing I wrote a lot of poetry, they dared me to send him some. I did. Nothing mushy—just what would be classified as nature poetry. I actually got a reply from his “squadron leader” saying something to the effect that the Prince of Wales wanted to thank me for the poetry and that he liked it. Needless to say, I won the dare.

How fun! When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Writing has been part of my life since I was very young. Both my parents wrote poetry and my mother actually wrote a couple of books that were never published. I began composing poetry when I was about fours years old, I guess. I remember my mother writing down my little poems for me before I’d learned to write.

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

I enjoy reading anything that has to do with history, both fiction and non-fiction. I like classics like James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. As a young Hoosier I grew up on the works of Gene Stratton Porter such as Girl of the Limberlost, Freckles, and Laddie. Lately I enjoy the stories of many authors of historical Christian fiction including Janette Oke, Kim Sawyer, Louise Gouge, MaryLu Tyndall and DiAnn Mills.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

My published works are Larkspur, a prairie romance, published by Vintage Romance Publishers, and Everlasting Promise, the second of my Heartsong Indiana series. Charity’s Heart, the third book of the series has been contracted, but not yet released. My unpublished works include two historical novellas, Daughter of Orion and To Hear the Angels Sing, two contemporary novellas, London Holiday and Train to Eden, and two more full length novels, Brooksbury and The Heritage.

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

Prayer and keeping my priorities in order. It may be an old cliché, but I do find hemming my day with prayer calms me and helps me get through even the most stressful days. Whenever possible, I also try to set aside my weekends for relaxing and family time.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

A variety of ways. Since I mainly write historicals I’m careful to choose first names that are era appropriate, so I often go for biblical names. My heroine in Sweet Forever needed an Irish name, so I went to an Irish name web site. I found the name Rosaleen and just fell in love with it. Sometimes I get an image of the character in my mind and a name that just seems to fit pops into my head. I named my heroine in Larkspur Becky after Daniel Boone’s wife, Rebecca. I sometimes use old family names for both first and last names. That was the case with my hero Brock Martin in The Heritage. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Brock and her mother’s maiden name was Martin. Sutton, the surname of my hero in Everlasting Promise is a name from my father’s side of the family. But I often get surnames from the telephone book.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Having raised two wonderful daughters who have grown into wonderful Christian women. Second to that would be having three of my historical romance novels chosen by Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line for their Indiana historical series.

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

That’s a toughie. But I guess I’d have to choose a horse. I think they are beautiful animals and have always regarded horses as loyal and hardworking with big hearts.

What is your favorite food?

Born and raised in the rural Mid West I’m a meat and potatoes gal. Fried chicken is a favorite of mine, though for health reasons, I rarely allow myself to indulge.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Everything seemed to be a roadblock from having to learn the computer to learning the nuts and bolts of good writing, both of which are still ongoing. I suppose a huge roadblock was finding editors interested in looking at my work. I overcame it by attending writing conferences. There, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk one on one with editors who might be interested in what I write. Several years ago, when I began getting serious about writing novels, I asked God to put people in my way who could help me. He has continually done that.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

To all aspiring authors who ask my advice, I tell them they cannot do this alone. I suggest they first ask God for His guidance. I then suggest for encouragement and learning, they join a good writing group like American Christian Fiction Writers and to take advantage of the online writing courses and workshops offered. In addition, I suggest they try to get into a critique group which includes at least a couple of veteran writers. But most importantly, I tell them to continually keep working to make your writing better, to always have a teachable heart, and to never, never, never give up.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Sweet Forever is the first in my series of three Indiana historicals for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. It is set in a real place—Madison, Indiana, on the southern border of the state along the Ohio River. The story takes place in 1845, which was Madison’s heyday. The plot is replete with riverboats, riverboat gamblers, and the Underground Railroad, all of which were prominent features of Madison at that time. My heroine, Rosaleen, is desperate to flee the clutches of a notorious riverboat gambler. She gets her wish when the riverboat she is riding on explodes and she is subsequently washed up on the riverbank at Madison. Of the mind that God
hates her, Rosaleen is chagrinned to learn that the young man who rescues and befriends her is a minister of the gospel. While writing the book, I worked closely with Madison historians in my attempt to accurately portray the Madison, Indiana, of 1845.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My web site is http://www.ramonakcecil.com/.

Thank you, Ramona, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. But be sure and check back a week from Saturday to see if you win.


Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

Great interview! Ramona is a fabulous writer, and I'm as proud as punch of her accomplishments. Thanks for the peek into her life!

ladystorm said...

Great interview! Sounds like a book I would read.


Ramona Cecil said...

Thanks Kim and Stormi! And thanks for stopping by. I am excited about my first Heartsong Presents historical--the first of their Indiana historicals. I always like to add that. :o) I'm glad you enjoyed the interview and wish you luck in the drawing for a copy of Sweet Forever.

windycindy said...

All of my husband's family hails from Indiana! It is a wonderful state. Thanks for the author interview and her description of her book. I would really enjoy reading it. Thanks, Cindi

Ramona Cecil said...

Thanks, Cindy! Since you married into a Hoosier family, that makes you an honorary Hoosier, too. :o) Good luck in the drawing for a copy of Sweet Forever. Either way, I hope you check it out.

Lucie said...

"I asked God to put people in my way who could help me. He has continually done that."

I soo appreciate this statement above! How encouraging!

And I also appreciated this statement below:
"...to always have a teachable heart, and to never, never, never give up."

Well said Ramona! Thank you!

Please enter me in the contest to win Ramona's book.

LucieInCA {at} aol {dot} com

Anonymous said...

I love the midwestern setting and the time period of the book and I'm happy it will be a series!

Cara Putman said...

I would love to read one of Ramona's books. She's one of our Indiana ACFW members! Yeah, Ramona!

Ramona Cecil said...

Thanks, Luci!I God has indeed blessed me with encouragements from other wonderful Christian authors, and He continues to do so. In turn, I hope to pass that encouragement along to others. Good luck in the book drawing.

Ramona Cecil said...

Thanks Elizabeth. The next book, Everlasting Promise, is set in eastern central Indiana along the historic Whitewater Canal. That story features another member of the same family.

Ramona Cecil said...

Hi Cara! Thanks for stopping by to check out my interview. Nice to see another ACFW Indiana member! Good luck in the drawing for Sweet Forever.

Ann said...

This spring we took the kids to Madison and Cincinnati, driving along the Ohio River as we went from Clifty Falls to the Creation Museum.

The kids had never seen anything like the Ohio River since we live almost on the Michigan state line.

What fun to imagine those river towns "back in the day!" My daughter adn I will be looking for the book.

Ramona Cecil said...

Thanks, Ann. Madison, Indiana is definitely a beautiful spot. That and the old river town's emphasis on their history were reasons I chose it for the site of my book. Good luck in the drawing, but either way, I hope you and your daughter check out Sweet Forever.

Ruby (Mouth) said...

this sounds like a really great book. Ramona, you sound like an awesome writer and person. Thsnk for a great interview!!

angelleslament @ gmail.com

Ramona Cecil said...

Hi Ruby, and thanks for the compliment. If you like the notion of a Mid West rivertown in the 1840s
replete with paddle-wheel steamboats, riverboat gamblers, and the clandestine work of the Underground Railroad, I think you will like this story. I really enjoyed writing it. Good luck in the drawing, and I hope you check out Sweet Forever.

Abi said...

Oh, I'd love to win this book. Sounds good. I was born in Indiana. I'd love to read this book.

Ramona Cecil said...

Hi Abi! It's always great to meet another Hoosier. :o) Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Good luck in the drawing. Either way, I hope you check out Sweet Forever. And be sure to look for the other two in the series, Everlasting Promise, also available on the Heartsong web site, and Charity's Heart, which is scheduled for release sometime in December.

Janet Dean said...

Ramona, I've been to Madison, IN a couple of times and enjoyed touring the old houses along the river. As a historical writer and someone who loves to read the genre, your book sounds fascinating!


Ramona Cecil said...

Thanks, Janet. As a setting, Madison was tailor-made for this story. Good luck in the drawing!

Kristi said...

I love reading trilogies! Can't wait for a chance to read your books. And thanks for the added bonus of being able to win a copy!


Mary said...

Sweet Forever has an interesting setting with the riverboats, the underground railroad and more. Please include me, thanks!

Debbie said...

Great interview! I love history so this sounds like a book I'd really like to read.

Ramona Cecil said...

Kristi, Mary, and Debbie: Hi ladies! Thanks for checking out the interview, and good luck in the drawing. Either way, I hope you check out Sweet Forever as well as Everlasting Promise and Charity's Heart which is scheduled for release in December.

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I love Ramona's books! And I love her Indiana settings, being mostly a Hoosier girl, myself!

Ramona, I live not far from Limberlost and my backyard (8 acres) is like that.

Anyway, Ramona is part of our ACFW IN group and such an inspiration for aspiring writers. Thanks for doing this interview, Lena!

herblady said...

Thanks for the interview, Ramona. I hope to read your books someday soon.

Cheri2628 said...

I love reading historicals, and Sweet Forever sounds like a fabulous story.