Author Interview ~ Patricia Davids


Pat was born in the farming and ranching country of central Kansas. As the only girl with four brothers, it was inevitable that she grew up to be a tomboy. Her love of books began early in life. In 1996, Pat’s love of reading evolved into a serious desire to write, and she began work on her first novel. After seven years of writing and three completed, revised, and revised again manuscripts, all she had to show for her efforts was a pile of rejection letters. In the summer of 2002, Pat revised her third book for yet another time and the rest is history. To read Pat’s very interesting complete bio, click here.

What new book or project would you like to tell us about?


Prodigal Daughter is a November 2006 release from Steeple Hill. Melissa Hamiton has returned to Davis Landing broke, pregnant and embroiled in a serious family crisis. Attorney Richard McNeil is determined to help the troubled young woman find the courage and faith she needs to face her past mistakes and make a new life for herself. The problem is – he soon finds his interest in her is more than professional.
I’d love to tell you about the ms I just finished, only I haven’t finished it yet. I’m struggling with a story that I thought I was in love with. As it turns out, the idea was good but an idea does not a novel make. The book is called, The Color of Courage, and it is about a woman soldier in the mounted color guard at Fort Riley, Kansas. When I get it done, it will be an August 2007 release from Steeple Hill.

Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

I have always wanted to write. I’m a born storyteller, but being a wife, mother and full time NICU nurse didn’t leave much time for hobbies. It wasn’t until my daughter left home that I began to think seriously about writing a book. My husband was very supportive. He happily read the first chapter of my novel and said , “This is good.” Boy, was I thrilled. I wrote and wrote and gave him the second chapter. He read it and said, “This is filler.”

NOT the response I was hoping for. In researching how to write a romance novel, I discovered RWA. Everything I know about writing I learned from my local chapter, The Wichita Area Romance Authors, and Romance Writers of America. I finished my first novel, landed an agent with it and thought I had it made. WRONG. After six years of collecting rejection letters for my contemporary romances I began to think it wasn’t going to happen for me. Then, Deborah Raney came to speak at my writer’s group.

What a blessing she is! I had no idea that there was a market for inspirational romances. Since my stories already had a strong element of faith, I made the revisions easily to my third manuscript and within a few months I got “the call” from my agent that Steeple Hill wanted to buy His Bundle of Love. My thoughts? Whoopee! Whoopee! It can’t be true. It is! Whoopee!

Then, I realized that God had only been waiting for me to find the right direction for my talent.

Do you still have self-doubts about your writing?

People who know me will tell you that I have an overabundance of self confidence. I think everything I write is wonderful. Thankfully, I have critique partners who will tell me when what I write is missing the mark.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Sure, the thought crossed my mind more than once, but I’m a very stubborn person. I wanted to make sure that every editor who ever rejected my work would one day regret it. I bad. [A.M.: Nah, just human.]

What mistakes did you make while seeking a publisher or agent?

None, really. That is the beauty of organizations like ACFW and RWA. They can teach you about the pitfalls of the business and how to improve your craft. They are wonderful groups.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

Put your behind in the chair and put your fingers on the keyboard. That is the only way your book will get written.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Add more sex to your books and they’ll sell.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I hate it when someone says that romance novels are smut but they’ve never read one. Or when they say, “Inspirational romance? Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

I might wish that I had learned about inspirational romances sooner, but in truth, I believe things happen for reason. Rejections were good for me. I had to walk the path I was given in order to become a better person as well as a better writer.

Was there ever a difficult set back that you went through in your writing career?

This year my husband became very ill and nearly died. I couldn’t write for almost three months and that placed me really behind on my current contract. But now I’m going to finish this book on time. I can do it. I can do it. I have faith.

What are a few of your favorite books?

Ah, my deep, dark secret. I know this sounds terrible, but I don’t read romances, inspirational or otherwise. I’m currently reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is the most beautifully written work I have ever seen.

I will read anything by Elizabeth Peters and I loved all the medieval mysteries by Ellis Peters.

What work have you done that you’re especially proud of and why?

I’m very proud of my career as a neonatal intensive care nurse. Those babies are truly the least of God’s children and I have been blessed to help heal hundreds and hundreds of them. I have also been there to lay dying children in their mother’s arms and weep with them when no amount of high tech, modern medicine can help. You might not think that is a blessing, but I know that it is.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately in regards to your writing?

Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
This is my favorite and I think upon it often.

Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?

Do I have to? You’ll think I’m weird. Okay, Monday through Thursday I rise early by 10:00 or 10:30 am. I drink my coffee on the front porch and feed the cat. Then, I’m off to the YMCA for my Arthritis Water Aerobics class and ten minutes in the hot tub. After that, I fix lunch for my husband if he is up, read and write e-mails and think about getting started on my manuscript.

I do as little housework as I possibly can and think about getting started on my manuscript. I’ll run a few errands and waste enough time until 7:00 pm or so then I’ll make supper. After supper I watch TV with my hubby until 10:00 pm and then I get to work on my book. I write from 10:00 until 2:00 am and then I go to bed. The last half of the week I work 12 hrs night shifts in the NICU, eat and sleep and that’s it. No writing on work nights.

Do you have a word or page goal you set for each day?

I try for 5 pages a day. With my current deadline looming, it is up to 10 and may hit 20 in a few weeks.

Are you an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer or a plotter?

Both. I plot, but the stories sometimes take on a life of their own and I let them.

What author do you especially admire and why?

I’ve been scolded by one fan who said that I shouldn’t admire Nora Roberts because she writes explicit sex scenes and as a Christian I need to be more careful how I witness. Truthfully, I haven’t read any of Nora’s books, but the woman writes eight hours a day, and turns out five to six books a year. I admire her success, but even more, I admire her dedication to her work.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

I love making everything turn out all right in my stories. I love happily ever after endings.
The least favorite part of being a writer is facing a blank page and wondering where to start.

How much marketing do you do? What’s your favorite part of marketing?

I’m proud to say that I’ve done three book signings because they scare me to death. I great at talking to people, but I’m terrible, terrible, terrible at remembering names. I make everyone spell their name for me before I write it in their book. I have a website and I’ve spoken to nearly a dozen varied groups about writing and my career. I love doing that. I’ve given interviews to two local papers and they were fun to do. I guess you could say I just love to talk about myself.
Steeple Hill has been doing a wonderful job of promoting my next book, Prodigal Daughter, as part of the Davis Landing series.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you want to be a writer, put your behind in the chair and put your hands on the keyboard. That’s the only way the book of your heart will see the light of day.

Author Interview ~ Donn Taylor


Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in Korea, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD degree at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. He and his wife live near Houston, Texas, where he writes fiction, poetry, and articles on current topics.

What new book or project would you like to tell us about?

Something new for me after writing suspense: a light-hearted mystery set on the campus of a small denominational college. It’s also the first time I’ve used first-person point of view. The narrator is a reclusive professor reluctantly forced into the role of amateur sleuth. He has a lot to learn. The story capitalizes on my years as faculty at two such liberal arts colleges, but I’m certainly not describing any actual college or actual person in the novel. I also have an allegorical poem gradually working into shape.

Tell us about your publishing journey. How long had you been writing before you got a contract? How did you find out and what went through your mind?


My only contract thus far is with a regional trade-paperback publisher, Panther Creek Press. I’d published individual poems in various journals, of course, but I spent about four years teaching myself to write a novel and collecting rejections from ABA publishers. The president of Panther Creek Press, Guida Jackson, had heard me read two chapters of The Lazarus File to a critique group. She contacted me about publishing it, explained the details, and I said “yes!” before she could change her mind. I think I was too busy trying to grasp the contract details to think about anything else. Lazarus, by the way, was planned as an ABA suspense novel, but in the writing it took a distinctly Christian direction. I suppose a novel will always reflect the author’s worldview.

For those interested in spies, airplanes, and characters who keep their promises, Lazarus is still available through Amazon.com.

I’m still looking for my first contract with a national publisher.

Do you still have self-doubts about your writing?

Constantly. W.H. Auden wrote that when a poet finishes a poem, he never knows if there will be a next one: he never knows if he’s a poet or an ex-poet. The same has been true with all my writing as far back as graduate school. My first thought is always the enormity of the task and my inability to get my mind wrapped around it. I’ve learned to begin with prayer—not for success, but (after I’ve covered all the people and issues I can think of that need prayer) to do my best on the project. Then I get to work, and things eventually fall into place. I’m always skeptical of writers and composers who say, “The Lord gave me this.” Yet I know I’ve never written anything significant without Him.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

I’ve never considered not writing, but I’ve often considered leaving the big projects (novels) alone and concentrating on writing poetry for my own pleasure. But somehow, another significant idea always comes up and I’m back to novel writing. A year ago I’d never thought I’d write a mystery or a first-person POV.

What mistakes did you make while seeking a publisher or agent?

When I first started writing fiction, I underestimated the amount I’d have to learn to convert from technical writing and academic writing to fiction. It took me several years to work into it. With national publishers and agents, I’m apparently still making mistakes. My last two rejections of a suspense novel complimented “good writing…professionally done,” but they didn’t think they could market it successfully from a new author. Those rejections tell me I’m on the right track, so I’ll keep knocking on the door until someone opens it.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

1. Craftsmanship, craftsmanship, craftsmanship.

2. From the poet James Dickey: “You never finish a poem. You only abandon it.” The same applies to other writing projects.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

To write very short sentences in order to make it easy for the reader to understand. Following this advice leads to a literary world without necessary transitional relationships (like and, but, because, however, consequently). Better advice is to vary sentence lengths according to the complexity of the ideas expressed and the reading level of the intended audience. If we dumb everything down into very short sentences, we’ll reach a point where. Each. Sentence. Consists. Of. Only. One. Word. Or. L.E.S.S.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Actually, I have two. The first is novels with supposedly adult characters who respond like junior-high students to members of the opposite sex. Don’t they ever grow up? The second is the attempt to solve rhetorical problems with ersatz grammatical rules like “Don’t end a sentence with a preposition.” (The rhetorical principle is to end with a strong word, not a weak one.)

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

Then, now, and always: efficient ways of targeting the market.

Was there ever a difficult setback that you went through in your writing career?

I don’t think so. This may be because I’m not yet far enough into it, or it may be that I’m old enough to know you have to work through a lot of no’s in order to find a yes.

What are a few of your favorite books?

First and always, the classics: Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, Dante, Ariosto, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, George Herbert, Tennyson. From the Bible: Ecclesiastes and Hebrews. In modern books: Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Forster’s, A Passage to India. In commercial fiction: Anything by the Western writer Ernest Haycox. Gavin Lyall’s The Wrong Side of the Sky. T. Davis Bunn’s The Book of Hours. Georgette Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax. Carol Umberger’s Scottish Crown Series, especially The Mark of Salvation.

What work have you done that you’re especially proud of and why?

Outside of writing, I’m proud to have served my country in two wars. In writing: 1. The poem “Married Love,” which portrays the grandeur and holiness of marriage through symbol and image without direct statement. 2. Scenes in Lazarus in which hero and heroine are tempted by sexual desire but reject it in favor of keeping faith with their responsibilities. One reviewer, an ex-Marine, wrote: ”Taylor … displays the rare ability to convey emotion without resorting to profanity and to convey passion without specifying body parts.” I consider that high praise.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately in regards to your writing?

“Unless the Lord build the house, They labour in vain that build it….” (Psalm 127:1)

Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?

I’m not sure there is one. Mildred and I are usually up by six and like to enjoy a three-mile walk through our community’s hike and bike trails. We talk about a lot of things, often about my current writing project. Then we have a light but leisurely breakfast over newspapers, to include discussion of what we’ve read. I open the computer and check for e-mails (important because we manage our church’s e-mail prayer chain). That done, I get down to writing while Mildred takes care of the phone and other distractions. We get reacquainted over lunch and check in briefly on Fox News. Then more writing and miscellany until supper. I wish I could say we do all this efficiently, but life seems to hold an inexhaustible supply of interruptions.

Do you have a word or page goal you set for each day?

I set a minimum of 1000 words, but I usually get a good bit more. Unfortunately, I sometimes throw half of it back the next day.

Are you an SOTP (seat of the pants) writer or a plotter?

A bit of both. I have the major plot points and major character trajectories firmly in mind before I start. Before writing each scene I know where it will end, but I don’t know the route it will travel until I start writing. Sometimes a character takes on a life of his own and I have to revise the plot. This happened with the character Ramon in Lazarus. He began as a hijacker whom I planned to use only to get hero and heroine together. But then Ramon said he didn’t want to murder the hero because he’d have to confess it to a priest who already had enough troubles, so why would the hero add to the priest’s troubles by getting himself murdered?

After that speech (see the original in the excerpt on my Web site, www.donntaylor.com), I had to find ways to keep him in the story. He ended up as a key player, a cross between Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Walker Percy’s moviegoer. Readers say he’s the best character in the book. So much for elaborate plans before writing!

What author do you especially admire and why?

Commercial author? The mid-twentieth-century Western writer Ernest Haycox. He infused the standard Western and slick-magazine plots with reasonably well-rounded characters (vice the usual flat characters). He also wrote concise dialogue that revealed characters’ motivations while implying the complete worldview on which they were based. (Haycox’s philosophy was naturalism, but he portrayed it well.)

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite: Teaching other writers how to write poetry, including teaching classes at writers’ conferences and working with new poets one-on-one. Least favorite: The fact that most of my friends, including those in my church, have no clue as to what I actually do. Maybe that’s a good thing: it sure keeps me humble.

How much marketing do you do? What’s your favorite part of marketing?

In my present state, the best answer I can give is “as much as I can.” Favorite part? Learning new things and meeting interesting people.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Advice to myself as well as others: For life: “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found,” and don’t waste time on anything trivial. For writing: Keep improving your craft and don’t expect good results to happen quickly.

Author Interview ~ Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman has sold more than 450,000 books since her first novel in 2001, including her more recent anthologies, A Stitch in Time and Kansas Home (which has sold over 120,000 copies). Her novels have been presented with such honors as three 2004 American Christian Writer’s Awards, two 2002 American Christian Writer’s Awards, and several Heartsong Present Reader Awards. In 2004, an anthology Bateman coauthored occupied the CBA bestseller list for several months. She is currently the President of American Christian Fiction Writers. Bateman, along with her husband and four children, makes her home in Missouri.


What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

So many books so little space…

My second Claire Everett book was just released June 15. My second Penbrook Diaries book will be out with Barbour in December Called THE FREEDOM OF THE SOUL, and the (and this is so sad) last of the Claire books I LOVE CLAIRE will be released in January.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I started writing as a kid like most of us do, and just stopped. When I was 26 I went back to college, because with three kids at home I needed to get out of the house for sanity’s sake, and getting a real job was out of the question. So I took this writing class—the one all college Freshes have to take, and fell in love with writing.

My first long paper turned out to be a “short” story that my ten-year-old grad student teacher gave me two grades for and let me forego my next paper since this one was twice the length the paper was supposed to be.

I only got a B on it but I was HOOKED on storytelling. I ended up dropping out my junior year when I got pregnancy (yes, number four was on the way—I failed biology), induced migraines. But between headaches and throwing up, I found some online information, critique groups, etc. And started learning to write.

I targeted Heartsong (so there, Chip MacGregor!!) and did everything I could to fit their line. It eventually worked and after about a year I submitted my first thing, got a nice rejection from Tracie Peterson, quickly submitted book number two, and eighteen months later At about 6 pm, I got the CALL from Becky Germany that they loved the book(okay, I embellished that one—I don’t think they ever actually said “love”) , wanted to publish it and rush it into publication to fill a hole in their schedule.

The thought that went through my mind was…holy crap, she called the wrong number. Second thing was, how quick can I get off this phone so I can go celebrate eat—if it had been a rejection I would have mourn ate. Pizza—the food for all occasions.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Oh man. All the time. I still can’t believe anyone would be dumb enough to pay me for the crap I write. OUCH. Okay. So my publisher doesn’t kill me for saying that… I think as writers we have this love/hate relationships with ourselves. We are ultra critical but know we have what it takes, because if we didn’t, we never would have stuck it out this long—if we could just find that right storyline, the right words, and really, what does Francine have that I don’t (besides a few million adoring fans? ).

Self doubt creeps in and makes me cringe, cry, study, work harder, cover my head and dream of quitting, and lastly but the most important, during particularly rough times, it sends me to the couch to watch—yes I do—lifetime movies. I’ve finally adopted Joyce Meyers’ philosophy regarding this business….do it afraid. Do it when you don’t feel like you can, Do it when it stinks, do it when you’re tired, arms ache, kids are yelling, etc. Self-doubt can and will paralyze you.

So my advice to anyone experiencing the sudden urge to pack it in and forget the whole thing (and I won’t mention any names that start with a T and end with a N), take a couple of days to regroup and then get your BE-hind back in the chair and knock out your wordcount for the day.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

None when it came to the business side…on the PERSONAL side, I’ve spent too much time in the chair and not enough time playing with the kids—now they’re big kids and I missed out on a lot of fun with them. I missed church to meet deadlines (still do but I’m determined to STOP IT).

I’ve dropped all of my service to my local church because I’m too busy to stay committed to it. So there is a definite price to pay when those contracts start coming in. I need to learn better balance.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

From Bodie Thoene’s book about writing (and I can’t remember the title it was AGES ago), she introduced me to The Writer’s Market Guide and said find the publisher who takes at least 25% of their books from new authors and target them. So that’s why I went with Heartsong when my dream was to write for Bethany (who rejects me on a regular basis I might add—but I’m not bitter).

Sometimes God gives you what you need instead of what you want. Six years after I first started writing for Heartsong, I’m still partnering with the Barbour company in addition to a couple of others.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

Anyone can get published if they work hard enough. It’s just not true. You have to pursue this business with intelligence and do it right. There are only so many slots available. Sometimes you can look at certain writers and just KNOW they’re going to make it big—Camy Tang comes to mind.

Others might get one or two small books published and it’s easy to see that’s all that will ever come of it. Work hard, yes. But work smart. Get to know people, and work your behind off getting better. Find a niche no one else fills or fill the same one better than the ones filling it at present.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I was pretty methodic in my approach, so I think I had a real natural progression. I wrote for Heartsong until I felt it was time to try for an agent. With fifteen books and a couple of great recommendations, I got my agent, (Steve Laube—yes I’m a name dropper), the best in the business as far as I’m concerned. And sidebar…I think it’s a HUGE mistake to find an agent when you don’t need one. If you are only writing sweet romances for a company with a standard contract, why would you share your dough?

Wait until you’re ready to branch out into the broader market THEN it’ll be worth their time and your money for the good agents to take you on. After Steve made me sweat it out for FOUR freakin’ months, he agreed to represent me and has placed everything we’ve submitted over the last three years with the exception of one proposal that could have been revised or sent elsewhere, but I decided to submit something else and that one sold.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

The one setback I had was more of a retreat. The summer of 1999, God spoke to me that I had been striving for something that He was going to bring to me anyway and that he wanted me to enter a season of rest and let him work. So He instructed me to stay offline and stop writing for an undisclosed amount of time. I was just to trust. It was HARD. But God was clear and the one thing I can say I’m good at is obedience. I spent the summer and first part of the fall relearning to clean house and reconnecting with my family.

The season ended the night Rebecca Germany called me about buying my first Heartsong.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Tisha, Gone with the Wind, A Tale of Two Cities, Little Pilgrim’s Progress (because the big one makes my eyes cross), newer books: All three of the Mark of the Lion books by Francine Rivers. I think they’re better than Redeeming Love even. I read them at least once, usually twice a year. Anything by Lisa Samson.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

The Color of the Soul—the first of the Penbrook Diaries with Barbour. Because it delves into race issues and women’s issues and Barbour allowed me to be honest. It was so challenging to write and having finished it, even though it’s not the biggest seller out there, I feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s a book that could make a difference.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I think my biggest pet peeve is that the people who win the awards like the Christys don’t sell books!!! Come on people. BUY books that say something. Books that are written with a deft hand and mega talent like Athol Dickson’s River Rising, or ANYTHING by Lisa Samson who is, in my opinion, THE best writer in the CBA.

We are going to lose these major talents to the ABA if we don’t start giving them their due. When I read their books, I read for two reasons…first because the story won’t let me go. Next for the purpose of studying the craft. Books on craft bore me, but if I can read a well-written novel, I can learn scads. And I do from writers like this. But these writers will either jump ship to the ABA or compromise the very qualities that make them so unique and start writing what is selling (and who needs more of that?) if the reading public doesn’t start flocking to stores and buying their books. GO BUY A BOOK BY LISA SAMSON. (and no, I don’t hang out with her nor is she paying me for advertisement. ) Oh yeah, buy CLAIRE KNOWS BEST too.

How many books on average do you write a year?

Four or five. They range from 70 to 85K words. I’m just a hot commodity right now and trying to find a good place to settle in. I’m busy with three publishers. I have a heart love for one, a sense of feeling like a celebrity with one, and an optimistic feeling that one will be where I land and stay and build my career, but that remains to be seen. I’d like to slow down, write for one publisher and build my career within that company. I know which one *I* want, but I have to pay the bills, so it’s not an option at the moment. In a couple of years….Please God?

How do you accomplish that? Extensive plotting? Long hours? Forgoing the bathroom and food?

Forego food? What are you on? Procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate,….Oh my gosh!!! Two weeks to deadline…MOM will you keep the kids this week??????? WRITE WRITE WRITE. That’s my world.
Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I just did. Seriously, I don’t have a set schedule. Schedules make my ears bleed. I have a certain word count I would LIKE to get done each day. I like to sleep, so during the summer I sleep in and stay up late. If I can’t concentrate to write during the day, I take a nap and work after everyone’s in bed. Most days I’d rather watch TV. I learned from Debbi Bedford that twenty minutes of walking is for my mind, forty for my body. So if I’m feeling really sluggish, I’ll think about walking and four hours later, if I actually go do it, I DO feel more alert. I live a life of organized chaos.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

From Susan May Warren (writer extraordinaire with Tyndale and Steeple Hill Café). I would adopt her brilliant mind for plotting. It is so hard for me and comes so naturally to her. I hate brainstorming with her when I’m stumped on my books because our conversations go something like this:

Susie: What’s this character’s GOALS you have to know what she’s working for before you can figure out how to get her there.

Tracey: Goals Shmoals–How should I know what her goals are? I hoped You’d tell ME. If you’re not going to plot my book for me, I’m hanging up.
Seriously, I’ve never been strong on plotting. But I’m even worse now that I’ve been writing mom lit and chicklit. You can have a basic idea and then let the characters run away with the story and it’s GREAT. Susie plots her shopping list. I’d love to think more that way. I take a shopping list to the store and never look at it. That’s sort of how I plot. Write a few things down, and never look at it again.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I want to write to women’s hearts. And eventually have a speaking ministry to go along with it. I have endured and overcome a lot of junk in my life. And learned tons along the way. Surely God has a reason for not taking me out early on when I deserved it. If I can serve Him by serving his precious jewels, I would love to do that.

I’d also like to be an agent some day (Don’t Laugh Steve—I’m eyeing a few of your clients!)

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Not really. There have been times I wished for some time off. But I haven’t reached the point where I’m willing to sacrifice financially in order to take a break.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite…on the lowest, most shallow level…getting paid and not having to work outside my home (I’m really lazy but I gotta feed and clothe my kids).

But on a higher plane, my favorite part is being in a position to be a voice in a world where it’s hard to rise above the other voices out there. If three people get the takeaway message from my book, then I’ve done my job. God has blessed me so much, I won’t take that for granted.
My least favorite part of the job is (sorry Jeane) radio interviews. I just feel like such a social bottom dweller and get really nervous about talking interviews. I don’t think fast on my feet unless I’m kidding around.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I think utilizing the power of the internet is going to be key. I was talking to my publisher about this during CBA, and he said to get it figured out. So I’m trying. But I’m not very good at it. I don’t do a lot of marketing personally unless someone makes me because I just don’t know what I’m doing. That’s why I work for houses that have strong marketing departments.

I’m going to start working on better blog habits and doing online interviews etc. I’m revamping my website and plan to start a newsletter this summer. That’s the best I can do for now.

Parting words?

Boy I’m trying to be wise, but I got nothing.

Author Interview ~ Ramona Cecil

Ramona K. Cecil is a wife, mother, grandmother, free-lance poet, and inspirational romance writer. Now empty-nesters, she and her husband of thirty-three years make their home in Seymour, Indiana. Although she’s been published in poetry for over two decades, Larkspur is her debut novel. When not writing, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest. You can visit her at www.ramonakcecil.com






What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?


I’d like to tell you about my inspirational historical prairie romance, Larkspur, which will be coming out this November, 30th by Vintage Romance Publishing. The story, set in 1835 in a small, Indiana farming community I named Larkspur, was inspired by Conner Prairie, a living history museum near Indianapolis, Indiana. A young woman who’s lost all confidence in the medical elite of the time, practices and preaches Dr. Samuel Thomson’s botanical approach to healing. She has vowed, with God’s help, to save people from the harsh practitioners of conventional medicine. That vow becomes more resolute as well as more difficult to keep when a young doctor arrives fresh from the university and prepares to set up a medical practice in Larkspur.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I have been writing poetry as far back as I can remember. Truly, I remember asking my mother to write down my poems because I hadn’t yet, learned to write. I’ve always been an avid reader. Story ideas were always running through my mind, but I’d stuck to my poetry and hadn’t pursued any of the stories. About twenty-three years ago, I decided I’d try to write a book. I love history, especially Indiana history. One of my favorite places to visit has always been Conner Prairie. Their perpetual year is 1836. On one of my visits there, the idea of Larkspur was planted in my brain. I had no notion how to write a book, so I just started with that grain of an idea and began pounding away at my electric typewriter. I did hours and hours of research (still knowing nothing about the craft of writing). To help with my research, I bought a wonderful, vintage Indiana history book, Historic Indiana by Julia Henderson Levering published in 1910. It is still one of my treasures and a resource I could not do without.

While helping my husband raise our two daughters and working different jobs outside the home, I set the manuscript aside. In the mid 1980’s, I began selling my Christian poetry to a publisher of inspirational gift items. Over the years, I’ve sold over eighty verses to them. I get a kick out of finding my poems on internet sites from time to time.

In 1999 I got a computer and decided to dust off my old manuscript of Larkspur. I rewrote it, and then began writing other stories; two contemporary novellas, another historical romance novel, and a historical novella. At this point, my only education in how to write came from reading inspirational romances and Penelope Stokes’ book, Writing & Selling the Christian Novel. In 2002 I entered Larkspur in the Northeast Indiana Romance Author’s Opening Gambit contest. It placed third and I was both elated and encouraged. About that same time, I found (actually, God led me to) American Christian Romance Writers (now American Christian Fiction Writers) and I joined the group. I wouldn’t be getting published now if it hadn’t been for that decision. I have learned so much from so many wonderful, generous, Christian writers.

I joined a great critique group, began taking online writing courses, and actually began seriously learning the craft. I submitted Larkspur to a publishing house and it was rejected. I wasn’t happy about it at the time, but now I realize it was another stone—okay, a rough stone—in my road to publication.

Last year, an ACFW member posted a notice about Vintage Romance Publishing’s Vintage Inspirations Contest for inspirational stories. Using some of the advice I’d received along with the rejection, I reworked Larkspur and sent it in. Here, I have to thank two wonderful writers, critique partners, and great friends, Staci Wilder and Kim Sawyer for setting aside their own work to critique the story for me. I never imagined I would win. I simply considered it an opportunity for Vintage Romance Publishing to see a sample of my work.

When I learned I was one of three finalists, I was bowled over! I remember going to the Vintage Romance Publishing web site and just sitting and staring at the computer screen. I could hardly believe I was reading my name and the name of my story. So you can imagine how amazed I was a few weeks later, when I received the call from Vintage Romance Publishing’s chief editor telling me I’d won! I was standing when I took the call and had to immediately sit down. I knew part of first place prize was a contract with Vintage Romance Publishing. At long last, I was going to be published! I just couldn’t get my mind around it. She was telling me what to expect but I was in such shock most of it didn’t register. Fortunately, she e-mailed me later with the same information.

Tell us about Vintage Romance Publishing.

Vintage Romance Publishing is a small, but rapidly growing publishing house based in Goose Creek South Carolina. They publish only historical fiction, which is one of the things that drew me to them. They publish both secular and inspirational romance. Visit them at www.vrpublishing.com

Are there benefits to working with a small press? (If so, what?)

I love the friendly, intimate feel. It’s like working with a group of friends, which is exactly what it is. Right from the start, I felt truly welcomed. The entire group of editors and writers are super-supportive and helpful. I’ve already learned so much about the publishing and marketing process.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

All the time. There always seems to be that little insidious whisper in my ear saying, “Why do you think you can do this?” I don’t know how many times I’ve petitioned God saying, “If I’m not supposed to do this, please let me know.” After each of these petitions, He has always sent an encouragement. I just try to ignore the negative thoughts and remind myself that this work is for God. If He didn’t want me to be at this place, at this time in my writing life, I wouldn’t be here. I do think self-doubt is good in some ways. It keeps pushing me to strive to do better work. I keep the verse from Ephesians 3:20 beside my computer. “Glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare ask or even dream of. . .”

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

I once paid to submit Larkspur to a publication that periodically sends blurbs of stories to publishers. There are several of these floating around. For me, anyway, it was a waste of money.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

To remember that this is about God, not about me. The most important thing is the journey, not the destination. As difficult as it is sometimes, this is the work God has given me to do. A second piece of advice was to keep working, never quit learning your craft, and never, never, never give up!

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

That’s a tough one. I have been immersed in such wonderful writing advice since I joined ACFW, it’s hard to remember back to when I might have heard a piece of bad advice. Because I’d reworked this story so many times, someone once told me to give up on it. I’m glad I didn’t take that advice.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I wish I had found ACFW sooner. A writer needs support—at least I do. I don’t see how anyone can do this alone. Find a good writers’ support group, get into a good critique group, and take advantage of all the free advice and writing courses offered by groups like ACFW. It is a well-spring of invaluable writing information, freely and lovingly shared.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I suppose it would have to have been the rejection of Larkspur. But despite all the tears I cried at the time, I don’t see it as a negative now. The story was not ready to be published at that time. I learned so much from that experience, and the great advice I got helped me to make Larkspur a much better story.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

I’ve read so many great ones it’s hard to pin down. As a young person in Indiana, I loved all the Gene Stratton Porter books. Laddie was my favorite. Drums Along the Mohawk by Walter D. Edmonds is another book that springs to mind. Lately, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love; Louise Gouge’s Ahab’s Legacy series; anything by Lauraine Snelling, Janette Oke, and two of my critique partners, Kim Sawyer, and Staci Wilder. Truly, besides thoroughly enjoying their writing, just reading their work has helped improve my own writing by leaps and bounds.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I like a poem I wrote called “If” for a Christian. It was published by Dicksons, Inc. and is written in the same style as Rudyard Kippling’s poem,“If.” I feel I did a credible job of capturing the style of Kippling’s original poem, while giving my poem a Christian bent. Also, I’m always most in love with my current work-in-progress. Right now, it’s a piece of romantic women’s fiction entitled, The Heritage. It takes place in my county in Indiana in 1812. I think the conflicts in this story are particularly compelling.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I suppose it would be writing query letters. I’m not sure how good I am at it, and it’s so important that an author present their work in an attention-grabbing and compelling way.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

My husband works a late shift, so we are both night owls. I usually get up around 10:00 in the morning and turn on my computer and check e-mails and blogs. I don’t really get down to writing business until after my husband leaves for work at 4:30 PM. Between then and 2:00 AM, I work on writing, editing, research, critiques—whatever happens to be on the docket for the evening. I like to spend at least four hours just writing new material.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I wish I could write as fast as Kim Sawyer and with such breath-taking attention to details.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I would like all the stories I’ve written—and will write in the future—to be published. But that is up to God. Mostly, I would just like to feel I’ve used the talents and opportunities God has given me in a way that most pleases Him.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

At least once or twice a month. I think how much easier it might be to simply do a nine-to-five job. But I love writing too much. The stories won’t let me be and God keeps dragging me back to the computer screen. It’s like a comment made by a character in one of my short stories. “I’m not looking for easy. I’m looking for worthwhile.”

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part is the writing and the research. I love both. I even enjoy the rewrites. I’m not as fond of writing a synopsis.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I plan to do huge amounts of marketing. I’ve put together a web site—something I never thought I’d be able to do. Aside from some hair-pulling moments, I find myself actually enjoying the work, and am planning some promotional contests on my site. I had postcards made with the cover of my book on one side and a blurb about the book and my contact information on the other. I never leave home without at least a half-dozen of these cards. I have given them to both friends and total strangers, and have received very positive responses. I’ve even been approached by the district manager of the merchandising company that stocks our Wal-Mart with inspirational books. I might have an opportunity to do a book signing, there. Already, I’ve been promised book signings at my church and local library.

Besides sending out multiple press notices about my book’s release, I will be visiting bookstores with a gift basket containing my book and other goodies. I plan to approach Christian radio stations and let them know I’m available for interviews. I love talking about my work, so I’ll be making myself available to speak to various church groups and possibly, historical societies. I’m presently working toward securing a book signing appointment at Conner Prairie. My advice concerning marketing would be to never pass up an opportunity to market your book.

Parting words?

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about Larkspur and the writing journey God has set me upon. I truly feel humbled and blessed that He has chosen me for this work. With His help, I can do all things, but without Him, I can do nothing. I pray that God will continue to bless my work and use it as a true ministry for Him. I leave you with John 15:16. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”