Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m so excited to bring you Cindy M. Amos! Cindy’s newest release takes place in my old stomping grounds around Saint Augustine, Florida. It is truly one of my favorite places on earth, and when I lived there I read anything and everything with that at it’s setting! I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win her latest release!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. My background is in the natural sciences, so learning to write fiction was a lot like mastering a foreign language. After college I spent five years doing sea turtle conservation work on an isolated barrier island. Afterwards,
I relocated from North Carolina to Florida where I met my husband. The Florida landscape is highly interesting…and full of threats like big snakes and alligators! The last day of that career was the day I went into labor with our oldest son. Before both boys started school, we moved to the heartland where I began writing fiction focused on man living close to the land, mostly ranching themes. On the weekends, we farm and ranch in the Flint Hills to the north of Wichita on the fifth-generation Amos family ranch. I worked at a local nature center as their volunteer coordinator for ten years, but for the last seven years I’ve been a full-time writer.
I recently celebrated the release of my 31st book, having signed on with a small traditional publisher, Winged Publications, in August 2016. The publisher, cozy mystery author Cynthia Hickey, is a pleasure to work with, and her cover designs are top-notch! For 2019, I’ve enjoyed producing eight novellas –all in collections– and am looking forward to my main contract in the Forget Me Not Romances imprint for 2020, The Men of Mustang Pass, a historical series set in Montana.
Tell us about your current release. My publisher recruited volunteer writers to fill the last collection of the year, Romancing the Drifter. Right away, a story thread popped into my head about a man living along the railroad tracks who wasn’t who he seemed. I selected the historical rail line that drove the settlement of south Florida, put in place by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. A fascinating time of endeavoring geniuses, Flagler ordered power stations from Thomas Edison to electrify the hotels he built to house the tourists the trains brought to town. Anyway, the drifter collides with a true-to-life Florida cracker family at a waterstop for the train. In Derailing the Drifter a guy meets pretty girl under adverse circumstances, and the rest of the entanglement occurs between stops from St. Augustine to Daytona Beach as Flagler plans to expand the rail to an unsettled locale called “Miami.” Lots of authentic conflict here between arriving tourists and resourceful natives, and the reader might enjoy discovering one of the first kitschy souvenir shops along the route! Orange marmalade, anyone? I will enjoy sending a paperback of this new release to one lucky reader of Hallee’s blog! What I like about paperbacks is they can be read and then passed along to a friend!
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? That answer is a resounding YES. I remember my Sunday School teacher coming to me after reading Book 5 of my Landscapes of Mercy series, Lifting Lock Runner. She admitted that she cried while reading the book and then thanked me for writing it. I was struck by her response, and then realized I possess no clue as to how my books will reach individual readers. Is suffering the touchpoint? Forgiveness? Redemption? A second chance? Like Scripture says, man looks at the outward appearance but God sees the person’s heart. Under inspiration from the Holy Spirit, I am tasked to write the best book I can, market it with enthusiasm, and trust God with the rest.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? No, I never compromise my standards, which is why writing inspirational romance is so great. I tell everyone their grandmother can read my books, they are so wholesome and clean. I have to take responsibility for every word I write, which comes with the territory of being a published author. At first, it was hard sharing my heart and feelings with the reading public, but it becomes easier to be revealing with each release — and some encouraging reviews from readers!
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? Sometimes while I’m finishing a book, the idea for the next one starts formulating. That’s my only time of “mixed signals” of inspiration. Still, the last scenes are always so vivid,
I can get those completed true to form and then grow excited about the next romantic adventure. Life is full of variety, and I draw from that constantly. On a good week with little interruption, I can start a book and get one chapter done per day. I’ve been mostly writing novellas lately, so I can complete a 20,000-word romance in four to ten days. That only includes the first draft, though I do go back and read through the previous chapter before starting my writing day, which gives me that first chance to improve my flow and optimize word selection.
What’s the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? My mother sat on the sofa in our living room and couldn’t stop crying as JFK’s funeral procession rolled across the TV screen in black and white. That’s hard for a kid to forget. I remember thinking, “What’s going to happen to our country now?” We were raised under conditions of poverty, so any drastic change seemed to be a threat to our marginal world. As it turned out, we were fine and time marched on under Lyndon Baines Johsnson in the White House.
Have you always wanted to write a book? No, the first part of my life I was “nature girl” and lived a very active, outdoorsy lifestyle. After lots of nonfiction endeavors, including being published in national magazines for Christian leadership, ministry, and STEM advisory articles, I kept contemplating the vast arena of fiction writing and became fascinated with the concept. One day, standing in the middle of a pasture eight miles from a paved road, I looked up at the ridge of a hill and asked myself a question. “What if a young man rode his horse across that hill on the way to find something special? I began to write the answer, and by the time I’d finished, it became a five-book series that employed an element of time-slip to link the present-day rancher to his heritage. I still have that series about the prairie saved back, and hope it can become a meaningful part of my book legacy as time goes on.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I began by outlining in the early days, but now find that isn’t necessary for novella-length books. I do use an outline for sequencing a longer book. I write plot-driven fiction, so I don’t focus on the character-driven goals/motivation/conflict sketching out technique. However, I am reading several craft books on character development including ones by James Scott Bell and Jeff Gerke for deepening my characterizations.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Develop your innate ability to write by keeping at it. My best advice to someone who has written a book is to write the next book. You learned something along the way when completing a book-length project, so utilize what you’ve gained and employ it to write a better second book. Build on your success. Keep your writing ‘machine” in operation. Fitness trainers talk about “muscle memory” and I believe writing skills are similarly expressed. Block out time to write and sink into that rich world of creating a story no one else has ever told. When life circumstances prevent me from writing, I begin missing the process immediately. I start scribbling notes, which is a promisorial ticket for a guaranteed return to my “normal” endeavor, the lifestyle of being a writer.
Here is where you can find Cindy online:
Cindy is giving away a paperback of her book Derailing the Drifter to a reader! See below how you can enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway