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.

This week please welcome Leslie Gould in the spotlight! To win a copy of her book Courting Cate, leave a comment on this post!

What is the smartest writing advice you ever got?

Think of the first draft as the scaffolding. You have to put it up to build the building, but it all gets torn down later. I write my first drafts fast and furious, doing very little editing along the way. After I’m completely done, I begin the rewriting process. Getting the first draft written really frees me to rework the story as needed. Otherwise I tend to over think, over edit, and over procrastinate.

What was your biggest break?

My agent, Chip MacGregor. He’s encouraged me when things looked bleak, paired me with my co-author, Mindy Starns Clark, and he loved my Courtships of Lancaster County idea—retelling Shakespeare stories—from the very beginning.

I’m inspired by…

Stories! Amish stories. Mennonite stories. Adoption stories. Birth stories. Growing-up stories. Farm stories. Overseas stories. Parenting stories. Redemption stories. I love listening to people talk about their lives.

My great adventure has been…

Traveling with my husband to Vietnam in 2001 to adopt our youngest daughter, who was almost four at the time. A planned two-week trip ended up being almost five weeks. There were problems with the paperwork, which caused a lot of stress, but many good things came from our extra weeks there—spending more time with our daughter in her country before bringing her home, connecting with more Vietnamese people, depending on God, and the inspiration for my second novel, Beyond the Blue. It’s not our story, but it’s based on our emotions.

The one thing I hope to discover is…

How to truly live by faith, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. How to wake every morning and say, “This is your day, Lord.” And not take it back in a fit of worry or control or blame.

If I could go anywhere, it would be…

That’s a really hard question. I’d really like to go back to Nappanee, Indiana and visit more with an Amish family I spent time with a couple of years ago. And I’d like to return to Vietnam and work in an orphanage for a few weeks—or longer. Russia has also been on my mind lately. I’ve never been but think it would be fascinating. Right now, though, we have three kids in college and another on her way in a couple of years, so I don’t see any big trips in our foreseeable future!

If you have only…an hour…

I wouldn’t start reading a book—that would be too frustrating! I would go for a walk with my hubby or a friend or one of my sisters and talk, talk, talk.

Describe yourself in one word…

Faithful (even though I have a hard time living by faith ☺)

If your house were on fire, what one thing would you save?

After my kids and husband? And assuming the cats are outside? My laptop. Not only does it have all my documents, it has photos, plus addresses, contacts, and all the stories I still want to tell. (Yes, my laptop, even with an online back system in place.)

What has been your most surreal, “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” moment so far?

That would have to be winning the Christy Award for The Amish Midwife with my co-author Mindy Starns Clark. Being a finalist was so wonderful, and I felt so content with that. But when the first paragraph of our novel was read indicating we’d won, it really did feel like a dream.

What drives you to succeed?

I would write whether I kept getting contracts or not, but having deadlines and making a living at this is great motivation to keep at it!

Best Surprise…

The Amish Midwife making it to #1 on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. I’d never had a bestselling book before at all—I was shocked!

Best Saturday Afternoon Read…

I tend to binge on books—once I get started I can’t stop. Lisa Wingate’s Dandelion Summer is one of my most recent binges. It was excellent! The Secrets of Mary Bowser, by Lois Leveen, is another.

Best Way to Break a Sweat…

Spending a day working on marketing! I feel good about my books and promoting them, but it’s hard for me to talk about myself. I wasn’t raised that way. So I really do try to focus on my books, although this interview is all about me. ☺

Best Time-Waster…

Watching HGTV with my daughters.

Best Indulgence

Crème brûlée at Pho Van, a Vietnamese restaurant in Portland, Oregon where I live. It’s the most amazing combination of the best of French desserts with the Vietnamese addition of ginger to the hard caramel. It’s absolutely divine—this coming from a chocolate girl!

Best Advice…

If you want to write fiction, go to writers’ conferences. Start with a local one and then go to a national one. Network with agents and editors and other writers. Offer to review novels. Be supportive of the industry. Make friends. They will friend you back.

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