Author Spotlight: Ann Gabhart

Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Erik Wesner is Krisin Jager ! My assistant Amy will be in touch for your mailing address.

This week’s Spotlight Author is Ann Gabhart. Leave a comment here to win a copy of Ann’s book, The Seeker.   

Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?

I married when I was very young and all these years later we’re still together. Our three children are grown and married and have blessed us with nine grandchildren so our house can be a little crazy on holidays when we get together. For the last four years I’ve been writing full time, but before that I held a number of part time and temporary jobs that helped pay the bills but made it hard to write as much as I wanted.
 

And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest… 

I like writing historical fiction, but I have also written for young adults and middle readers. My Hollyhill books were considered contemporary novels even though they were set in the sixties. That seems like historical times to a lot of people. My last three novels have been set in my Shaker village of Harmony Hill in the 1800’s. It’s been interesting researching the Shakers to bring the history of this unique and fascinating group of people to life in my books.

How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?

I’ve been writing since I was ten years old. At first I wrote for the sheer joy of putting words together but even then I looked to the future and knew someday I wanted to have my words out there for other people to read. That was not only my dream, but my goal.

After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?

I started out submitting short pieces to magazines. It was maybe a year before I made my first sale – a story for a teen church magazine. That was followed by a couple of poems and personal experience pieces in other church magazines. The third novel I wrote was published by Warner Books in 1978. My first inspirational novel was published in 2005 by Revell so I’ve taken a long and often winding writing road full of potholes and detours to where I am today.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing? 

I take tea, not coffee, but I do like it strong. I have my own office now, but for many years I had a desk in my kitchen. I love my four windows where I can look out on the farm, but then often my eyes are turned inward to my story characters and what’s going on in their world. I try to work at least an eight hour day, but often longer if a deadline looms.  Not all those hours are spent creating new stories. A writer has to think up those stories and do research. She has to edit stuff and try to reach out to readers through this or that publicity channel.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first draft reader?

My biggest help in my journey to publication was my sheer desire to write and my determination to write books that a publishing company believed readers might enjoy. After publishing 20 books, I attended my first writers’ conference last year. I’ve been to three meetings of a writing group – all in the last couple of years. And my mom never read my first drafts. Perseverance and the refusal to give up in the face of rejection and discouragement – that’s how I did it.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be? 

Not exactly. When my first novel was published years ago, I was very naïve about the world of writing. I thought my book would be in every bookstore and would stay in print forever. I also hoped rejections would be a thing of the past. We learn some hard lessons as we grow older. But now I am older and I see that the “writer’s life” can be different for different folks. The “writer’s life” I want is the one where I can keep writing and keep finding readers.  

What are your biggest distractions? 

Family obligations. Grandkids – I love those distractions. Keeping up with e-mails and social media.

What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?

One of the best moments in my career was when I got the news that Revell was going to publish The Scent of Lilacs. That was an answer to prayer because it had been five years since I’d published a book. Also I love the characters in that story and I was thrilled that I was going to be able to share their story with readers. One of the worst was when my agent at that time rejected the second novel I wrote without giving me any encouragement that I could rewrite it to make it better. That’s been over thirty years ago and I can still remember my disappointment. But then, that agent found a publisher for my next novel.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

I like most writing stories and meeting readers.  I like least having to rush writing to meet a deadline.

What is the role and importance of an agent? 

An agent should be a savvy guide in the business of writing while encouraging your creative spirit.

What advice would you give to new writers?

If you truly want to write, believe in yourself and never give up. Everything you write is practice and can help make you a better writer.  Very few writers don’t have a few rejections in their past and many have spent years learning their craft before they got that wonderful “it’s going to be published” news. Also read. Words are your tools, but they are also a gift.

Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your book. 

That book you’re holding – The Seeker – is the story of how two people walk some strange paths through a Shaker village to find faith and love in the desperate times of the Civil War. Plus Suzanne Woods Fisher says it’s “a definite can’t-put-it-down book.”

What’s on the book horizon for you?

Angel Sister, a book set in the 1930s, will be released in February 2011. This is a bit of a departure from my Shaker books, but it is a story of my heart. I based the setting on the stories my mother and her sisters told me about growing up during the Depression years, but what happens to the characters is all from my imagination. It’s a family story of forgiveness and love with a WW I romance woven throughout. Then in July 2011, my next Shaker book, The Blessed, will be released. I think my readers will enjoy my characters in this one, especially Lacey who is down to earth and oh so vulnerable at the same time.

Last question, how can readers find you and your books?

Readers can catch up with what’s going on in my writing life and down here on the farm on my website, www.annhgabhart.com, my blog, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or on my Facebook Author’s Page.  I also just signed up with Twitter.

My Shaker books, The Outsider, The Believer, and The Seeker are available at many bookstores, retail locations, and online booksellers. They are also available on Kindle, in large print and audio and as selections in Crossings Book Club. Revell plans to repackage my Hollyhill books and re-release them in the next couple of years.  Meanwhile watch for Angel Sister and The Blessed coming out next year.

Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet your bleaders.

About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Comments

  1. Melissa Keller says:

    Ann, it was nice hearing about the life of an author, being a reader I never considered what path the author took to get to the book in my hands. I was wondering though, you say with your upcoming book it is based on stories your mom told you. How do you decide on a story idea, is it generally something from life experience or family or just an era in time that you find fascinating? Looking forward to reading your books, historical fictions are my favorite type of stories they are just so "romantic" to dive into another time and place.

  2. Nancy Six says:

    Thanks so much for introducing us to new authors and books! I'd love to read The Seeker.
    nancy6@graffiti.net

  3. Suess says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to meet a new author. Reading is my #1 sport, smile. sans753@gmail.com

  4. Judy says:

    I loved Ann's book The Outsider. I have the book The Believer but I haven't read it yet. I would love to receive her book The Seeker. Ann is a talented story teller!
    judyjohn2004@yahoo.com

  5. Lenijay says:

    I am reading The Outsider right now, so it was interesting to read about the author! I would love to win The Seeker, thanks for the opportunity!

  6. Romance Girl says:

    I am an avid reader and have been since I was a child. I know the writing process is long and hard for all of you. For myself as a reader, it is really hard at times because I can't possibly read all of the books that I want to read. There just is not enough time; but I will continue to try, as long as, fantastic authors like you both continue to write for us.Thank you for all of your books that you make available.

  7. Tammy G. says:

    Love your blog and writings. Thanks!
    cluedn{at}embarqmail{dot}com

  8. Jennifer Pederson says:

    Oh goody! Another author to follow. Thank you for introducing her to us.

  9. Kathy says:

    What an interesting interview! I love reading about authors who are new to me. Thank you for the opportunity.

  10. Margie Mijares says:

    I haven't read any of Ann's books yet so it would be really nice to win a copy of The Seeker to get me started. I'm always on the lookout for new reading material!!!!

  11. LeAnn Mooneyham says:

    I haven't read Ann's book. Great interview. Sounds like a read and would love to read her book to.

  12. Marie Ferland says:

    Thanks for sharing with us about Ann and her journey in writing. I'm looking forward to reading her novels.
    mariefluffy@yahoo.ca

    Marie

  13. Betty Thomason Owens says:

    I love hearing about Ann's writing life! I was one of the fortunate ones to meet her at her first writer's conference and sit in her classes. She is an inspiration, because she makes the life seem attainable. Her books are well researched and thoughtful. Thank you, Ann!

  14. Rose McCauley says:

    Great interview, Suzanne and Ann, and thanks for the encouragement to persevere! I already have The Seeker so don't enter me in the contest as I want others to get to read Ann's books. And I highly recommend her other books, especially the first two books in the series altho you don't have to read them all in in certain order. They are all set at the same place, but with different main characters. Enjoy! Rose

  15. Ann H. Gabhart says:

    It's snowing here in KY so what a great time to read all your wonderful comments. I was supposed to be Christmas shopping at a bookstore today – my favorite place to shop – but instead I'm snowed in. It doesn't take much snow to do that out here in the country.
    I appreciate each of you who have read one or more of my books. Thanks Rose, Judy, Lenijay, and Betty. And I hope those of you who like historical fiction will enjoy my stories if you give them a read. As I said in the interview, my two favorite things about writing is coming up with new stories and getting to know people like you who love books, reading and writing.
    Romance Girl, I'm totally there with you on too many books and not enough time. I have a huge stack waiting to be read and keep adding to it all the time. What's better than opening a book and being plunged deep into a story that might carry me back to another time and let me live the characters' adventures with them.
    I'm thankful for the blessings of books and for reading friends like you. Glad you joined the conversation.

  16. diane ashley says:

    Wow, at least eight hours a day! I am wondering if you have a daily word goal, Ann. How do you pace yourself? Thanks for the insight on your journey to publication. Please enter my name into your giveaway loves_the_c{at}yahoo{dot}com

  17. Ann H. Gabhart says:

    As I said, Diane, that's not always 8 hours of continuous writing although sometimnes it needs to be. I do time wasting stuff and fun stuff like answering reader mail and keeping up with other writers and doing interviews. But I always want to be writing, so I say 8 hours of working and hope most of it is spend writing. Or researching.

  18. Sheila says:

    "The Seeker" sounds like an interesting book. Like Ann, I am writing a fictional version of my mother's life during the Great Depression!

  19. Ann H. Gabhart says:

    Gee, I could have proofed my last comment better. That's what you get when you try to do things fast.

    Just wanted to wish you luck with your Depression era memory inspired story, Sheila. I am very excited about Angel Sister being available to readers soon and hoping those readers will enjoy the story.

  20. Kristie says:

    I loved The Seeker. I find The Shakers fascinating. Can't wait to read more of your work. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com

  21. Ann H Gabhart says:

    nThanks, Kristie. So glad you enjoyed The Seeker. And what a nice comment to read as I start my morning.

  22. crazycatlady58 says:

    I love reading and I would love to win this book.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I would love to win a copy of the book as I love to read and it looks like a very interesting book. Susan steveac@bellsouth.net

  24. Linda says:

    If I wrote "scathingly brilliant"…scrilliant comments, then I would most likely be an author & would not be writing a comment to hopefully win Ann's book!

  25. Jeannine says:

    8 hrs a day??? wow!

    I would enjoy reading your book.

    jm (underscore) ca (underscore) 2000 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  26. Barbara says:

    I sure would love to read that book!
    ibittybarbara at gmail dot com

  27. Autumn Blues Reviews says:

    Thank you for sharing Ann. I can only imagine how difficult it can be as an author to share your trials and tribulations. I have started to read again now that my children have gotten older. I used to be an avid reader before I had them so I have alot of catching up to do. Good luck with your new book!

  28. Ann H Gabhart says:

    I do appreciate every comment and all of you who were so encouraging about my writing and eager to win my book. I wish I could send each of you a copy, but then that would take the fun out of Romance Girl winning, wouldn't it? I do have book giveaways all the time on my website and blog and usually announce them in my newsletter if any of you are interested in signing up for that.

    And Linda, you can be pretty sure that authors don't always write scathinly brilliant comments either. Evidence my answers to yours. But it's fun to try, right?

    Autumn Blues Reviews, I'm glad you're back in the reading game. I don't mind sharing my ups and downs in writing at all because I think it might encourage other writers who might be experiencing some of their own ups and downs. Or anybody who is walking through a few valleys. We can't stay on the mountain top all the time.

    Barbara, Jeannine, CrazyCatLady, & Anonymous, hope you decide to give one of my books a try. So fun to hear from you all.

  29. robynl says:

    another book I'd love to get into my hands

    yourstrulee(at)sasktel(dot)net

  30. Anonymous says:

    I would love to read Ann Gabhart's new book, it is always rewarding to find new author's .Will look for her books.
    Patti Benson
    bensonc4684@aol.com