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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spotlight on Cindy Woodsmall and When the Morning Comes

Today's spotlight author is releasing her 2nd book in her Sisters of the Quilt series, but she is also my adopted "big sis," so I'm tickled pink to host her here on my blog.


Cindy Woodsmall is an author, wife, and mother of three sons. Her first novel, When the Heart Cries, released in 2006 to much acclaim, including receiving a Reviewer's Choice Award from the Road to Romance Web site, being an ECPA Christian Book of the Year finalist, and becoming a CBA best seller. Her real-life connections with Plain Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of twenty-nine years and the youngest of their three sons. Click on her picture to visit her web site.

By Cindy Woodsmall


1. This is book 2 in your Sisters of the Quilt series, and it takes Hannah out of her Old Order Amish world from book 1 into the world of the Englischers. What gave you the inspiration for this book?

The idea of leaving the Plain lifestyle for the Englischer world was never far from my mind and heart throughout my childhood. I had a Plain friend who was Beachy Amish. Even before her parents removed her from our public school to begin a one-room school of their own, I was aware of how different her life was from mine. Her roots were deep, mine were transient. Her values were something her family had passed down for generations. Our family values were based on the norms around us. She knew her family tree and who had what trait when they were her age. I knew how to climb a tree. Her family surrounded her in protection while mine felt that to survive in this world, I had to make my own decisions and live with them—even as an elementary-aged child. Her family believed in keeping peace with others. My family believed that standing up for yourself, even if that meant being expelled from school, was more important than getting along with others or walking in peace with others.

If you contrast those two, my family sounds rough. But if you compare my family's conservative ways with many other non-Plain homes, you'll find mine to be very rooted and caring. It's all a matter of relativity.

I knew what I would do and how I would feel if I'd had to leave my family behind as a teenager. But how would a Plain girl experience it?

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of Hannah, Paul and Martin?

Hannah is a mixture of my Plain friend and me. My friend was deeply respectful and wanted to please her parents in every way. Many times as I grew up with her, I wondered, What if you wanted to please them, but your heart wanted freedom from their ways? So Hannah is my Plain friend in roots, heart, and morals, but she's like me in the area of daring to push the boundaries and only being willing to take so much before she strikes out on her own.

Paul has much more of my Plain friend's personality than Hannah does. He's extremely patient, has a heart to help others, is honest with himself and others, and is willing to pay whatever price necessary to make amends for his wrongs.

Martin is a silver-spooned Englischer who was raised by a shunned Old Order Amish woman. He has a good heart, but with his attitudes as a former bad boy mixed with his executive personality, he is constantly challenged when he comes in contact with the woman who raised him as well as her young niece, a former Old Order Amish girl whose heart wants both the Englischer life and the Plain life. Martin has two lives inside him, Englischer and Plain, and he's comfortable with that duality.

What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Hannah has more backbone and guts than I ever intended. She seems to stumble into chaos by her own making and is then surprised to find herself there. But if I ever doubt who she is in certain circumstances, she stands up and straightens me out—in a very nonresistant, Plain-girl kind of way.

Paul's love of mankind keeps his mind open to embrace people for who and where they are in life in spite of the ultraconservative ways he's been taught as a Plain man. I thought that I would fashioned him to react differently than he does in the story. Clearly he too is his own man.

Martin is much deeper than I'd planned. He tends to react with arrogance before he's sure the person deserves it, yet his ethics are deep.

3. What themes exist in When the Morning Comes that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I think the themes are two-fold: Nothing is so bad that God can't help us find our way out, but our lives may never find their original course after certain tragedies. Nevertheless, we have a life to live and successes to find.

I think the underlying theme that developed as the story moved forward is that we can leave our family and roots behind, but we're never completely free of who we once were; we can't will that away. It has to be acknowledged and accepted or we'll never find our heart.

4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

The toughest character to write was Martin's sister, Faye. She wanted to take over parts of the story, causing Hannah or Martin to be there for her purposes. I think that happened because of who Faye is. She swoops in, uses, sucks the life out of things, and leaves her responsibility with others. Most of us have dealt with people like that. If you let them, they will run over you, decide how you will spend your time, and then dump their responsibilities on you. With the help of my editor, we hog-tied the woman and had her take a backseat to Hannah and Martin.

My favorite part was the respect and character growth that naturally took place for Martin. I think it's subtle, but he’s not the same man at the end of book two as he was at the beginning.

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

The third book, which I call When the Silence Whispers, is the conclusion of Hannah's story. A final title hasn't been agreed upon yet, but the publisher and I are hopeful to have it out sooner than the original September '08 date. It's almost completed and is due in to the publisher by September 19, 2007.

In book three, Hannah is twenty. She has to face her past and her present, and choose her future. Silent whispers inside herself are calling to her, but she doesn't want to listen. She wants to choose her own path.

In all three books Hannah fights her own will, trying to bend it to her ideals and logic. As with most of us, there's always the question of which will win out: her will or her idealistic mind-set?

* * * * *

Thank you, Cindy, for being in the spotlight. You're awesome! Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to anyone worldwide.


Deborah said...

enter me please! i love amish related books

tetewa said...

Count me in!

ChristyJan said...

Great interview. Please enter me to win.

Sue H. said...

wonderful interview. Please enter me to win this wonderful book. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

When The Morning Comes is an incredible book. Many chapters left me breathless. I finished it in 2 days. I can't wait for book 3 to come out.

Lindi said...

Loved this insight to the writing of this story, Cindy. Thanks for sharing.

Cindy Woodsmall said...


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Amber, I love the photos and I think the word count buddy is a great idea! Wished I'd had one months ago for reason we won't discuss here;-)

See some of you in Dallas later this week!! It feels like it should be the first of August rather than time for our ACFW Conference. Doesn't it?



Unknown said...

Please enter me for the book. I have enjoyed Beverly Lewis' books and am hoping to find more authors who write in Amish/Mennonite settings. forest_rose[at]yahoo[dot]com

Melissa in Oregon

Anonymous said...

First time poster here - new to blogging. Enjoyed the interview - hope to read the book soon. Love the site. Please enter me too!

Unknown said...

Hi, Amber. Sorry I want get to see you at ACFW this year. Hey, Cindy. I had a fan stop by my blog wanting your book bad. I see that she is here. Forstrose!

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

I am LOVING how many are coming out for these spotlights and posting comments. Only wish I could award more FREE books. :)

Unfortunately, only 1 winner can be drawn and that winner is:

MELISSA in Oregon!

Congratulations. Email me with your mailing address and how you would like your free book personalized, so I can have Cindy mail out your book.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and continued support. New spotlight up today, October 3rd! Check it out.