Summer of Promise, Westward Winds Series #1Summer of Promise, Westward Winds Series #1
Amanda Cabot
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Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont with her sweetheart, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads West to Wyoming. The endless prairie seems monotonous, but when her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day.

When circumstances--and perhaps a bit of matchmaking--put Abigail and Ethan together, there's certainly attraction. But Abigail is planning to marry another man and return to life in Vermont as soon as she is finished attending to her sister. And Ethan loves his life in the Army and the wilds of Wyoming. When summer ends, will Abigail go back East? Or will she fall in love with this rugged land herself?
     


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Amanda CabotAmanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names. She is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the co-founder of its New Jersey chapter, and an avid traveler.

Favorite Verse: Joshua 1:9 (KJV) Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

 


 

 Our Interview with Amanda Cabot


 

 

What is your favorite Bible verse?

Mine is Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

Would you please tell us a bit about yourself?

From the time I was seven, I dreamt of being a writer, and that dream came true with the sale of my first book just before my thirtieth birthday.  Since then, I’ve written more than twenty-five novels as well as four technical books and what I describe as “enough technical articles to cure insomnia in a medium-sized city.”  Until 2004, I wrote for the secular market, but then a dear friend entered the final stages of leukemia and everything changed.  Sharing her last months and seeing how her faith strengthened her made me realize that it was time for me to write about God’s love.  Now that I’ve made the move to the CBA, I know that I’ll never go back.  These are the stories I was meant to write.  

How did you come up with the concept for Summer of Promise?

It probably sounds like a cliché, but I fell in love with Fort Laramie when I first visited it, so when my editor asked if I’d like to write a series set in Wyoming, I knew that at least one book would take place there.  The fort was so different from my expectations and its history was so intriguing that I wanted to share it with readers.  And the more research I did, the more excited I became about having a book set during the final years of Fort Laramie’s existence. 

Do you live in Vermont or Wyoming?

Since I moved to Wyoming, one of the things I’ve enjoyed is helping debunk friends’ and family’s impression of the state.  (No, we don’t all ride horses, and no, not everyone lives in a log cabin.  Yes, we have running water, electricity and cable TV.)  I hoped to do some of that in Summer of Promise, so I created a heroine whose first impression of Wyoming is less than favorable.  (Notice that I said ‘first impression.’  The hero makes it his mission to change her mind.)   It was great fun to take Abigail from the Green Mountain State to the high prairies and see her reaction to a totally different environment.  Why did I choose Vermont as Abigail’s home?  The answer is simple: it’s one of my favorite places.  I used to live on the East Coast and spent many weekends in Vermont, skiing, hiking, bicycling and – of course – buying maple syrup. 

Where do your inspirations for a story come from?

Almost anywhere. When I wrote for the secular market, one book was inspired by a song that I heard in a restaurant, and six other books were the result of a chance encounter with a carousel horse in – of all places – an interstate rest area. In the case of Summer of Promise, it was that first trip to Fort Laramie that started my mind whirling with possible stories.

Can this story be read as a stand-alone title? How many books will be in the Westward Winds series?

There will be three books in the Westward Winds series, and yes, each can be read as a stand-alone title. One of my pet peeves are series where I feel like an outsider when I read books out of sequence, so I’ve made sure that all of my books, including the Texas Dreams trilogy, can be read in any order.

Do you have a favorite character in Summer of Promise? Why?

As far as human characters go, my favorite is Abigail, the heroine. She’s stronger than she realizes, and though she describes herself as sensible, there are times when her tender heart and her desire to solve everyone’s problems make her downright impulsive. You probably noticed that I qualified my first sentence and listed Abigail as my favorite human character. That’s because I have a special place in my heart for Puddles, the puppy she rescues. His antics and the way he causes trouble just by being a puppy made me laugh as I wrote the book. I hope readers will enjoy him as much as I did.

How much research did Summer of Promise take?

I do a lot of research for all of my books, but I’m not complaining. For me that’s one of the enjoyable parts of being a writer. I love learning new things and being able to share some of them with readers. Much of my research involves books – everything from histories to picture books to diaries – but Summer of Promise also included three trips to Fort Laramie. Although I’d been there twice before at different times of the year, last year I traveled there in early June, which is when the book begins. I wanted to see what was blooming then, how high the river was, what the air felt like, how long it took to walk from the bakery that had been turned into a schoolroom to the heroine’s house. All those details don’t necessarily find their way into a book, but they help me create a world for my readers.

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Summer of Promise?

I suppose I shouldn’t have been, but I was shocked by the disparity between the lives of officers and enlisted men. Imagine working all day and having nothing but bread (plain bread, no butter or jam!) and coffee for your evening meal. Is it any wonder the desertion rate was as high as thirty percent?

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

Probably the biggest challenge is finding a balance in my life. It’s very easy to let writing and the associated marketing and social networking consume all my time, and that’s not good.

 

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?
 
I’m a charter member of Romance Writers of America and have learned a great deal from that organization, in particular from its monthly magazine.  A few years ago, I joined ACFW and continue to find its email loop to be a wonderful source of information.  But, like most writers, I need personal contact with other writers.  I get that from my local group, Front Range Christian Fiction Writers.  As several of our members have said, it feels like family.

When you meet someone who has a passion for books and writing, what advice do you give them?

I have three pieces of advice.  The first is to read extensively in the genre you want to write.  That’s the best way to learn what publishers are buying.  Secondly, join a writer’s group.  ACFW is wonderful for writers in the Christian marketplace, and Romance Writers of America is excellent for anyone interested in writing romance.  A writer’s group provides support, networking and so many other resources to the aspiring writer that I can’t over emphasize the importance of joining one.  And lastly, never give up.  Rejection is a fact of life.  I won’t sugarcoat it: rejection hurts.  But if you let it defeat you, if you stop sending out your manuscript just because it was rejected, you’ll never be published.  Believe in your book and in yourself.  Oh … that was four pieces of advice, wasn’t it? 

What were your favorite books as a child?

I was a great fan of Louisa May Alcott’s stories, especially Little Women and its sequels, and of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books.  Hmmm… Do you see a pattern here?  Both heroines wanted to be writers. 

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

I love Christmas stories, and so I’m delighted to tell you that I have a Christmas novella due out in September 2012.  Like Summer of Promise, it’s set in Wyoming, but it’s a stand-alone story of an itinerant carpenter searching for his father and a widow who’s worried her daughter’s future. That will be followed by the second and third Westward Winds books, and after that, I’m scheduled to write three books set during World War I.  

What message would you like your readers to take from Summer of Promise?

One of the themes of Summer of Promise is the fallibility of first impressions.  Abigail and, indeed, all the key characters, learn to look beneath the surface.  I hope that message will resonate with readers.

What is your greatest achievement?

My prayer each day is that my stories will touch readers’ hearts and deepen their faith, and so when I receive a note from a reader, saying that I’ve helped her through a difficult time or that my story brought her a measure of peace, I know that I am following the path God has planned for me.

What do you do to get away from it all?

For me, reading is the greatest escape, and so it’s rare to find me without a book or an e-reader in my hand.


 

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