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 Kelly Long is AL! Please email my assistant Amy with your mailing address. (email@example.com)
This week Cindy Woodsmall is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Cindy’s latest book, The Harvest of Grace, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
My husband and I will soon celebrate thirty-four years of marriage. We have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and our first grandchild is on the way!
I began writing as a hobby about twelve years ago. At the time I was still a homeschooling mom, but the only student I had left was our youngest child. Today, he no longer home schools, and I write full time.
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write books with an Amish setting. I was drawn to writing about the Plain life because while growing up in Maryland, I had a best friend who was Beachy Amish. The moment I stepped inside her house at nine years old, I could sense that there were a lot of differences between her home and mine. Neither of our parents liked the relationship, and we spent years navigating around their disapproval until my family moved to a different region of the country when I was fifteen. Years later I connected with an Old Order Amish woman through a mutual acquaintance. We became friends, and for years I’ve stayed in her home as often as time allows us that gift. Our relationship has been a precious one; after years of discussing my fiction works while we sat outside sipping coffee near her lilac bushes, we embarked on becoming coauthors of a nonfiction book—Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into An Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women—and working on that project drew us even closer.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I spent most of my life being highly annoyed by the continual stories taking place inside my head. My earliest memories of them was when I was four or five, and I reworked (in my mind) all of the classic fairy tales.
Once an adult, I did everything I could to make the stories shut up. To me, the stories wanted to pull me away from my family and into a dream world. But they grew so loud that I could no longer ignore them. I prayed they’d go away. When they didn’t, I began to realize that maybe I wasn’t meant to simply read fiction. Maybe instead of keeping a lid on the stories, I needed to remove the lid and stir the pot, so to speak.
I started writing, and soon one story stood out—an Amish one based on the journey between my childhood Amish friend and me. I went to my first writers’ conference in 2002, where I learned a ton and then returned home to apply all I’d learned. By my next conference the following year, I was ready to show some of my work to a few editors. I received wonderful feedback, even a potential offer from one publisher to put me under contract if I’d write anything except Amish fiction. At the time only Beverly Lewis was writing Amish stories in trade fiction, and editors weren’t sure the market would hold strong for a second Amish author.
I spent a few restless weeks deciding whether to follow the editor’s advice or stick to my Amish stories. It was a rough choice. It didn’t make sense for an unpublished writer to turn down the opportunity for a contract with a big publishing house. But after weeks of sleeplessness, I knew I had to continue with the story I’d written.
With that decision made, I made another—to pitch my story to every editor at every conference possible. Unfortunately, with one exception, the editors I spoke with were not interested in testing the market to see if it could support a second author writing Amish fiction.
But after a lot of disappointing feedback, I met with one editor who felt that my writing and story were strong enough to sell regardless of its Amish setting. She agreed to take it to committee, hoping her publishing house would feel as strongly about the story as she did. To my amazed delight, they offered me a contract for a three-book series—Sisters of the Quilt. The publisher was WaterBrook Press, an imprint of Random House. I’ve been with the same publisher and editor ever since.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
If memory serves, I started writing seriously about a year before my first writers’ conference, which took place in 2002. I received my first contract in 2005.
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 husband has been my staunchest supporter from the start. One time, early on, we’d both heard about an excellent conference—the Mount Hermon Writers Conference—and he felt strongly I should go. I bemoaned that I was making no money as I learned how to get the story of my heart onto the page, and I couldn’t see paying for another conference. He looked thoughtful and said, “Well, it’s a long way from Georgia to California, but I suppose we could do it one of two ways: I purchase a plane ticket and you go or I purchase two tickets, and I’ll drag you.” I went…alone, and that one conference opened many doors for me. Here I am seven years later, and he is still supporting me every way possible—from helping me get books in the mail to winners of various contests to brainstorming with me to reading the manuscript as I work.
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
It takes as much time and energy as I’d always feared it would, but it has become a part of me and I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life.
What are your biggest distractions?
Loved ones! Today is a good example. I’ve had four loved ones come into my office and want to chat for a minute, which took anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour each. One loved one needed a favor, so I had to leave my workspace for a couple of hours. As soon as I was back in my office, I received phone calls from my sons, whom I love very much, and one from a sibling. About that time I’m thinking I need to rent an office space at an unknown-to-others destination. But without loved ones to talk to and help, what’s the point of anything we do?
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
My husband and I became a single-income family many years ago, so the best part of my career was that day when I told him that I had a contract and that he was no longer the only breadwinner. He was jubilant! Then came the worst day, which was moments later, when I confessed that the amount of my pay didn’t quite cover the costs he’d spent on all those conferences he sent me to. 😉
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
I’m not sure I’d have known how to answer the question about my least favorite part before this past year. But my husband and I each lost our fathers this year, and my special-needs brother moved in with us. So I can safely say that the toughest part of being a writer is when life demands more of you than you can give, and there is no substitute teacher or temporary worker who can take your place. The deadline still looms, and if you want to be paid, you have to make that deadline. But during those times, it’s difficult to be creative.
My favorite time is when I hear from readers who are excited about one of my books! When I read how the story uplifted them and that they’ve passed the book on to a family member, friend, or coworker, I’m ready to dig in and write another novel.
What advice would you give to new writers?
If you want to succeed in this crazy world of book publishing, learn the craft of writing well. Work with people who can help you improve your skills. Network with folks in the publishing industry. Keep pursuing the passion God has placed in you, even in the face of rejection and discouragement.
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.
Cindy Woodsmall’s newest book, The Harvest of Grace, hits bookstore shelves August 9!
Reeling from an unexpected betrayal, Sylvia makes a painful mistake that forces her to seek work far from her family. Can she find relief from the echoes of her past…or will they shape her future forever?
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m excited about the upcoming release of The Harvest of Grace. It is the conclusion of the Ada’s House series and was so much fun to write! Following that, The Christmas Singing comes out in October!
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
I love hearing from readers! They can connect with me by going to my website, www.cindywoodsmall.com. And I enjoy hopping over to Facebook during my writing day: https://www.facebook.com/authorcindywoodsmall
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
Thank you so much for inviting me! This has been wonderful.
Thanks for sharing! I love learning more about my favorite authors!
Inspiring, uplifting, realistic, charming, intriguing, fulfilling, makes me want to read and read and read your books some more! To coin an old grandparent phrase that is simple and to the point " Keep up the good work!" nuff said!
God has given this woman great talents. She Is a wonderful writer, and her books are very uplifting and inspirational.
Great interview. Love getting to know these authors in a more personal way.
Cindy is one of my favorite Amish authors. Read all her books..this one looks like a winner too.
I would love to win a copy of Cindy's book. Debra B.
In reading your books I have found so much help in my personal and spiritual life. We need more writers like you. God Bless!
Great series, I'm anxious to read the next book. Thank you for sharing this wonderful interview and especially the giveaway.
Have a God Filled Day
I love Cindy Woodsmall and would love to win this book. Her books are wonderful. God bless.
I enjoy reading Cindy's books and would would love to read this one as well. I enjoy all of the inspiration that comes in each Novel!
This interview was inspiring to know that you should always continue to do what you dream. That God always orders your steps in the path he has created for you. Love Cindy Woodsmall writing and storylines. This interview gave me a greater respect of her writing. Awesome!!!
Hi! Thanks for the glimpse into your world. I read the one book of yours that our library had & would love to win your new book.
I like learning about great writers when I enjoy reading their books so much. Enter me in the contest. Can't wait to read the new book.
You asked for us to share a bit about ourselves, i.e. "empty-nesters". I think that most of us are uncomfortable sharing this info in these forums. I think we are ALL a group of people who love a certain genre of books, favorite authors, etc and love to talk about it and share. That said, we all appreciate the opportunity for books to lose ourselves in! Loretta
Here…I am leaving my scathingly brlliant comment…(cough, cough). Seriously, Cindy, I am a big fan of yours. I have loved reading your novels. I always look foward to when new ones are released. I really enjoyed reading the interview. Life is not easy, but you have met life's demands brillantly and with so much courage. My heart goes out with you..my heart is inspired by you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing Amish Fiction Novels. Blessings and best wishes in all that you do.
I loved the interview with Cindy. I have been a fan of hers for a long time. I've read everyone of her books.
I would love to win a copy of "Harvest of Grace". I have been waiting for this book to come out!
Thanks so much for the giveaway. Blessings on you Suzanne and Cindy!
Thanks for sharing so much of yourself, Cindy, in your writing. I look forward to another "good read" – I have enjoyed all of your books
I am a fan Of Cindy's and I would love to win a copy of this book.
I have never been married and no kids. Just Cats. I do child care in my home.
I love reading Cindy's books. When I start reading, I don't want to put the book down. Would love to win a book.
Cindy, I loved reading about your life. It is always interesting to learn more about the writers that we love. It gives us more insight into your passion of writing and why you love to write about the Amish. I would say that those of you who have friends of the Amish have been given a gift that is extremely valuable. The value of living a simple life, well lived.
Thanks for the chance to win Harvest of Grace.
Thank you for sharing your precious gift with us. May God continue to bless you and your family.
I love her books! Thanks for the chance to win the new one! :0)
I love your books and look forward to the next one! Wonderful interview too!
I love hearing about all my favorite authors!
I would love to win Cindy's book! Thank you for sharing the wonderful interview with us.
I love Cindy, she is one of the best writers I have read. She inspires me to read daily. I only wish she would write her books as fast as I read them. Her characters take me to another world that is so deep in thought and family life. It allows me to see my kids and family members from another whole perspective.
HUGE fan! Cant wait for this release!
Cindy is an amazing author, I just love her books! I would love to win her newest book, thank you so much.
I enjoyed the interview, thanks for sharing a bit about yourself and the way you write. I love the fiction stories with an Amish setting. I share my books with my mother who loves them too. I would love to win a copy of The Harvest of Grace.
I love Cindy's books…I am looking forward to reading her new book.Thanks Suzanne for your interviews,there great.Keep up the great work and to all the authors,"Keep those great books coming".firstname.lastname@example.org
I picked up Sisters of the Quilt at Walmart 2 nights ago and have read up to 200 pages already and just love the book. I also have always wanted to write and have done some small newsletters and magazines in Sarasota, FL. When I moved to KY 4 years ago I began a freelance photography business and when I offered to do Shannon Gore's wedding photos for her (Knew her from Yoder's Restaurant) I finally met my new Facebook friend Sherry Gore. I like Cindy have developed a very special bond with my dear friend Sherry and am enjoying working with her on her photos.
And I can also relate to Cindy's challenges as a caretaker as my 93 and 94 year old Grandparents moved in with me 2 years ago and the challenge to find time that I need for work is the most difficult part of all. But I am grateful that my work allows me to care for them as well.
I hope to meet you soon Cindy! As well as you Suzanne!
I have read all of Cindy's books. I can't wait for this one to come out. I have been waiting for a year. Thanks Cindy for living your Dreams so the res to us can enjoy it.
Would love to win a copy of Cindy's new book. I am going to get to meet Cindy at a booksigning in Little Rock next week. Can't wait!!
I love your books. And I think it's wonderful that you take care of your special needs brother. God will bless you for that. I know it can be challenging, but isn't that true of any life? Can't wait to read your next book. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you for the look at your life. Take care!
Love your books, Cindy! Would love to win a copy of your latest book! God bless & continue writing those inspirational books! Dar Guidry
I just finished Plain Wisdom and loved it!! Please continue writing about the Amish, I thoroughly enjoy them all!!
Reading books about the Amish always put me in a peaceful frame of mind. Love Cindy's books. This one sounds great.
would love to read cindy's novel….thanks for the chance 🙂
kmkuka at yahoo dot com
Thanks for sharing Cindy, love your books, I can't wait to read The Harvest of Grace!
Suzanne, thank you so much for sharing with us the opportunity to win a copy of Cindy's book. Oh my goodness how I have enjoyed each of her books and was hooked with the first one! What a blessing to meet Cindy and her dear husband at Oprymills Mall in Nashville, TN when she was there for a booksigning. Cindy is a blessing to all who meet her. She immediately made my daughter and I want to take her to dinner with us!! lol. Thanks again and appreciate all of your writings as well! God Bless!
Love Cindy's books and am anxiously awaiting the newest one!
I love Cindy's writing! Would love to read her book.
Can't wait for it to come out. Just love her books. They just crap you.
Thank you for the interview. I have always been intrigued with the Amish and their lifestyle. I have learned so much by reading Amish novels. I also enjoy learning about the authors and their lives. I would love to win Cindy's new book. Thank you for the opportunity.
I absolutely love Cindys books. She has to be one of my favorite authors. Keep writing and I will keep reading.
Thank you for your interview with Cindy. I would like to win her book. njones127 at tampabay dot rr dot com
I have been waiting so long for this book!! I love Cindy's writing and she is 100% responsible for my Amish fiction addiction. Thank you so much:-)
Author's spotlight, in this case Cindy Woodsmall's, was most interesting!
Thank you very much for sharing!
My favourite part? To be sure, when she mentioned reworking all the Faerie tales in her mind! I thought I was the only one!