#1: When the Heart Cries, Sisters of the Quilt Series#1: When the Heart Cries, Sisters of the Quilt Series
Cindy Woodsmall
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Raised in an Old Order Amish family, 17-year-old Hannah Lapp wants nothing more than to break with custom and experience the outside world---so when her longtime Mennonite boyfriend proposes, she joyfully accepts! But will her choice damage her family forever? And when tragedy jeopardizes her upcoming marriage, can she cope without her community? 323 pages, softcover from Waterbrook.
     

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Cindy Woodsmall 

Cindy Woodsmall

Favorite Verse: Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that he would give you, according to his glorious riches, strength in your inner being and power through his Spirit in the inward man . . .

 

 Our Interview with Cindy Woodsmall


 
Is any part of When the Heart Cries factual?

No parts of the story are factual, but the fiction is based on years of research.

What led you to become a CBA author?

 At first I didn’t make a conscious decision of whether to write CBA or ABA. I began writing as a hobby because the stories of my heart grew louder by the year even though I was desperate to quiet them. As I gave the stories voice, each one carried the value of God’s life principles, a subtle acceptance of His Word as being true, even if the characters chose to go their own way. I chose CBA because it is a place where characters can sin, but God’s truth is honored.

 How did you come up with the concept of When the Heart Cries?

 During my first Mt. Hermon writing conference I had an opportunity to have my work reviewed by Anne Goldsmith. When she and I sat down to talk about my first chapter, she said she really liked my voice, but she’d like to see more of the main character’s backstory—and could I begin my story at an earlier point in  the character’s life and then move forward with it? 

  As we talked, a quiet explosion of plot lines happened inside my head and I suddenly longed to turn Hannah’s story into a three-book series. Anne thought it was worth a try and if I was willing to do the work, she was willing to read various stages and give feedback.

From that moment until the story was finished, ideas and plot lines pounded against me relentlessly. When the story was finished, other things came into play and Anne didn't end up contracting the book, but I’ll always be grateful for her input, time, and guidance. I'm not sure I would have had the confidence to take on writing a three-book series without Anne’s enthusiasm and willingness to read my first efforts at When the Heart Cries.   

 

What is your favorite verse from the Bible?

I have at least twenty favorite verses that I've used as prayers over my family for well over two decades, but I did manage to select just one.   Ephesians 3:16 "I pray that he would give you, according to his glorious riches, strength in your inner being and power through his Spirit in the inward man . . . "

How closely is this novel based on your life?

 The events as they’re laid out in this story are completely fiction, but the emotional ties to certain plot lines, like Luke and Mary’s buggy accident or Hannah’s family and community expecting submission to their ways, are based on life as I’ve experienced it.

How did you choose the story line?

  Well . . . I think it chose me. For years a snippet of a scene with the heroine doing something would come to me. I wasn’t a writer, so it didn’t dawn on me to jot it down or give the scene leeway to play out in my mind.  But I remember asking myself questions like: why would she do that?  Isn’t that an odd way for a modern woman to handle a situation? Eventually the answer became clear: because the character had been raised Amish.

 So, over the years the story grew and grew, one tiny scene at a time, until I started dreaming that I was pregnant with a baby so large I couldn’t give birth. It wasn’t until after the Mt. Hermon conference that my dreams changed and rather than having one infant too large to give birth to, I dreamed I gave birth to triplets.

Do you prefer to write contemporary fiction? 

Yes, based on what I understand of myself, I’ll always write contemporary. I want to connect with people through emotional and spiritual struggles that affect and tempt us in today’s lifestyles. At the same time I want to address life’s darker side from a perspective of deep moral conviction. Those two desires cause a contrast in writing and that’s where, for me, insights take place for today’s living and whenever an insight unveils itself we can then grab onto it and become better at living.

What are some of the challenges you face being an author?

The biggest challenge, other than getting the story written, is the time that must be devoted to the other aspects of being a writer.  My admiration for those who have been writing for years has expanded greatly through my experience over the last year. It’s quite a feat of nonstop juggling, but I feel blessed to be allowed this opportunity and very, very grateful that WaterBrook and my wonderful editor, Shannon Hill, don’t mind giving me a year to get a novel written.

The other challenge for me is how little I knew of the industry coming in. I get hit regularly with new aspects to the writing industry that I was totally oblivious to. So, although I was offered my first three-book contract without an agent, I wanted to get one before I signed the contract. I’m very grateful to have Steve Laube as my agent. Not only has his presence calmed me on numerous occasions, but he’s someone I can e-mail long lists of questions to and know he’ll have sound answers that will help me get the issues into perspective as well as make much wiser daily decisions.

How long did  When the Heart Cries take you to complete?

 It took me five years of learning to write and doing research among the Amish, but once When the Heart Cries became an idea it took a year write it and a few more months to get it to a point where I was willing to turn it in to a publishing house.  

 

How much research did When the Heart Cries take?

After years of researching the Amish lifestyle, I was blessed to spend time during two summers in the home of an Old Order Amish woman and her family. Even after all of that, my Old Order Amish friend read the entire manuscript and found a couple of mistakes. She wrote to me, explaining what I had wrong and how to fix it. Interestingly enough I’d used a well-known research book about the Amish on the items I had wrong. :-)

 In anything we’re writing, a person living the life is so much more knowledgeable than a houseful of research books.

Do you have a favorite character? And  why?

Both Hannah and Paul are favorite characters, but of those two it has to be seventeen-year-old Hannah. She really wants to do what’s right in life and she longs to do as her parents want, but she’s driven by desires that just won’t let her. She’s strong willed, although that’s not her goal at all. She’s naïve and vulnerable in ways that tend to make every situation even harder, but she can’t see how to handle things differently. I think a lot of Hannah’s inner struggles are universal to most women at some point in their lives.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

 A few weeks ago, I finished and turned in book two in the Sister’s of the Quilt series. It’s titled When the Morning Comes. I’ll soon begin the third book in the series. After that, WaterBrook is talking with my agent and me about doing another series. Since I know more about writing and developing a story, I’m feeling much more freedom and joy in this next project.  

Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

To get to a place where I allowed myself to write was a very drawn-out battle. The constant influence throughout that journey was God, patiently showing me step by step that fiction had a place and I could allow myself to write stories without the fear that I was “escaping” into a fantasy world.

After that battle was won and I understood the validity of my reluctance as well as the validity in the strength of Inspirational fiction, my husband was my greatest influence. He encouraged, sacrificed, and prodded me onward.

 I mentioned earlier about my meeting with Anne, well before that could take place, I had to get to the conference where she was. I had already been to a conference on the East Coast that year, so I was reluctant to go to another one. I mean, I had no idea beforehand that going to Mt. Hermon would be so helpful and so I’d balked at paying out hard-earned money to get on a plane and attend a conference on the other side of the U.S.

After trying to convince me for a couple weeks, my husband gently said: "Well, we can do this one of two ways. I can pay for two plane tickets and drag you or we can pay for one plane ticket and you go alone." He felt that strongly that I was supposed to go. He won. I went. We’re both glad.

    

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

  Never underestimate the power of prayer. Everyone has an opinion about each step of the writing process and it’s easy to get confused. Our times of hearing God in the quiet of prayer and praise time will be what keeps us in faith and steady as we move forward in our writing journey.

After that, read Stein on Writing, find a critique partner, and write some each day. If you can’t get to a national writers conference, after that year’s conference is over go on-line and buy the teaching CDs from the classes you would have taken had you been able to go.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Through my mother’s consistent and gentle prodding, I learned to love reading. She read to me when I was young, but by the time I turned six, she began trying to get me to read on my own. Sometimes her plan would work and I’d read for hours. Other seasons she couldn’t get me to spend more than two minutes on a book—even if the boredom of summer loomed long in front of me. I was probably ten or eleven before she found a series that drew me to books and never let me go. Marquerite Henry’s Misty series was the one that jump started my love of books.

It wasn’t just Ms. Henry’s stories, it was that we lived near and visited Chincoteague. That connection made the stories take root in my heart. After that, I enjoyed everything from classics to pre-teen pop culture.

What message would you like your readers to take away from When the Heart Cries?

The same message I want and need shared with me over and over again, seek wisdom. Never assume how a situation should be handled. No one person has all the answers for another person and that includes us as parents for our children. The Old Testament talks of wisdom crying aloud in the streets. James 1:5 says that if we ask for wisdom He’ll give it to us. James 3:17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without variance, without hypocrisy.  We need to apply all of God’s principles, but one that is often neglected is the value of taking whatever amount of time we need to seek and hear wisdom.

What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?

Without insights or revelations, we are left with either legalism or fleeting emotionalism. Under the law, I fail. Under emotionalism, I fizzle. But open my spiritual eyes to life’s principles and then it becomes a part of who I am and not only do I understand why I should take a stand, I’m more willing to take that stand regardless of what’s going on around me.So my goal is to write in a way that helps people see life from a perspective that helps renew their strength to keep pressing on and gives them refreshment in the true value of living.

Is there anything you would like to add? 

As much as I love writing, I know I have just as much to learn as I’ve already learned—maybe more. But I’m really grateful to have Shannon Hill guide me through this process from my debut novel through to the end of this series and even beyond as we make plans to begin my second set of novels.

  

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