Please tell us a little about yourself: From the time that I was seven, I dreamed of becoming a published author, but it was only when I set myself the goal of selling a book by my thirtieth birthday that the dream came true. A former director of Information Technology, I have written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. I’m delighted to now be a fulltime writer of Christian historical romances. My Texas Dreams trilogy received critical acclaim; Christmas Roses was a CBA bestseller; a number of my books have been finalists for national awards, including ACFW’s Carol award.
How did you select your genre? I’m not sure I ever actually chose to be a romance writer. It seems like it’s part of my DNA. As a child, my favorite stories were the ones that ended, “And they all lived happily ever after,” so when I started writing books, it only made sense that I’d write ones where love triumphs against all odds.
What is your writing day like? I’m a morning person, so that’s when I do the majority of my creative writing. Afternoons are for email, social media and fun. What’s fun? In my case, it’s cooking, sewing and occasionally playing the piano. I keep telling myself that I need to practice the piano every day, but that doesn’t happen. Maybe next year …
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)? I start with a five to eight-page synopsis, which is primarily a selling tool (agents and editors need synopses to decide whether or not they want the whole book). For my own benefit, I create a chapter-by-chapter outline. The goal of that is to provide a road map, showing me which scenes are in which chapter. After that I write two drafts for each book (the skeleton and the flesh-and-blood). Those are followed by a final read-through and minor tweaking phase, which I refer to as the accessories. In keeping with the analogy of turning a skeleton into a living, breathing person, this is the time for makeup, hairdos and jewelry. And if you’re shaking your head over my process, you’re not alone. When I described it at a library function, one of the other authors jumped out of her seat and announced that she couldn’t ever, ever, ever write like that and didn’t know how anyone could. What can I say other than that it works me for me?
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you”? “I started the fire.” When I was writing my first historical romance for the secular market, I had a fire in it. At the time I plotted the story, I didn’t know who set the fire and, quite honestly, I didn’t think it mattered. But as I was writing the first draft, one of the characters announced that she’d set the fire. I stared at the screen, looking at the words I’d just typed, and started laughing. She was right. My readers would have wanted to know who was responsible for the fire and why, and she was the only person with both the motive and the opportunity. Who says characters don’t take on a life of their own?
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters? Actually, I don’t. I’m typically so engrossed in the story that I’m currently writing that I don’t think about future ones. I may jot down potential titles, since titles are very important to me and help me plot my stories, but I don’t have a list of characters waiting for their time on the stage.
What does your work space/office look like? Since we moved to Cheyenne, I’m very fortunate to have a dedicated room for an office. (In the past, the guest room did double duty as my office, which meant that I had to do major clean up before guests arrived.) My new room is set up like a typical office with a desk, bookshelves and a separate computer table. What makes it special, at least for me, is that the wall over the computer desk has framed copies of my book covers. Those serve as inspiration. When I get to the middle of the first draft – my least favorite part of the writing process – and I’m convinced that what I’m writing is the worst prose in the English language and that my editor will reject it, I look at the covers and remind myself that if I can get through that pesky first draft, I’ll have the fun of editing it.
What is your go-to snack when writing? Yogurt, except when I spill it on the keyboard.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why? Oh, my – you would have to ask that question! I’ve spent several days trying to decide how to answer. The problem is, I have so many favorite books by so many talented authors that I can’t decide which is my absolute, all time favorite. But since I don’t want to disappoint you by not answering this question, I’ve decided to recommend the book that convinced me I should be writing for the Christian market, Secrets on the Wind by Stephanie Grace Whitson. I’d written romances for the secular market for literally decades when a dear friend’s death from leukemia made me realize it was time for me to write about God’s love as well as that between a man and a woman. The problem was, I wasn’t familiar with the CBA market and needed a good role model. Somehow, and I don’t even remember how, I got a copy of Stephanie’s book. I laughed, I cried, and when I finished reading it, I knew that this was the kind of book I wanted to write.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why? This is almost as difficult as the previous question, because I have two favorite craft books. If I could choose only one, it would be Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. Unlike my second favorite, Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, Vogler’s book focuses on plotting rather than the mechanics of writing. I’ve found his twelve step mythic structure to be invaluable in creating my plots.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Karin, thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your blog. I’ve enjoyed it! And to everyone who’s reading this, I wish you a year filled with peace and happiness.
Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She’s certain she’ll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he’s promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.
Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction–and disdain from the community–is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they’ll have to decide how far they’re willing to go to find justice–and true love.
For more information on Amanda Cabot visit www.amandacabot.com.