|The Hope of Refuge, Ada's House Series #1|
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Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother of a little girl, Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and Lori out of New York City toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers and a fresh start. She discovers that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, and it's no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God-"Be me to her"- despite how it threatens his way of life.
Completely opposite of the hard, untrusting Cara, Ephraim's sister Deborah also finds her dreams crumbling when the man she has pledged to build a life with begins withdrawing from Deborah and his community, including his mother, Ada Stolzfus. Can the run-down house that Ada envisions transforming unite them toward a common purpose-or push Mahlon away forever? While Ephraim is trying to do what he believes is right, will he be shunned and lose everything-including the guarded single mother who simply longs for a better life?
Cindy Woodsmall is an author, wife, and mother of three sons. Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim, including a Reviewer’s Choice Award from the Road to Romance website, an ECPA Christian Book of the Year finalist, and became a CBA bestseller. When the Morning Comes is a continuation of the lives of dearly loved characters from the best-selling novel and 2007 ECPA Finalist When the Heart Cries. 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.
Favorite Verse: Ephesians 3:16 (KJV) "That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man."
Our Interview with Cindy Woodsmall
What inspired the concept for The Hope of Refuge?
While staying with an Amish family, I began to understand the heartache and trauma that’s involved for everyone when a loved one leaves the Order. Over the course of a week, I spoke to people from four generations of one family—learning the most from the experiences of the grandparents—and I dared to ask the question: what happens to the future family of the ones who leave. Those intriguing answers became the seeds for this novel.
Is any part of The Hope of Refuge factual?
Yes, but those who shared the particulars of certain events have asked to remain anonymous, so I can’t be specific about which storylines follow real life.
How closely is The Hope of Refuge based on your life experiences?
The story isn’t based on anything I have personally experienced, but there is always a spiritual journey in each book I’ve written that is based on some facet of my passion for life. In The Hope of Refuge, that zeal can be seen in Cara’s jaded heart through her need to protect and provide for her child in a way that is beyond her ability.
I think how my life lines up with several of the characters’ lives in The Hope of Refuge can best be seen in the dedication I wrote to my children:
To Justin, Adam, and Tyler
The Hope of Refuge shares the story of several moms—their strengths, weaknesses, joys, and sorrows. I dedicate this book to you because each of you woke a different part of me before I even felt you move inside me. When I held you in my arms, it seemed my very DNA shifted. Without conscious effort, you stirred me with a challenge to be your mom—to become more than I ever was before. I found strength where weakness had once been. As you grew, you stumbled on weaknesses I hadn’t known existed. But because of you, I discovered that life had a euphoric side. And I learned that where I ended—where my strength, wisdom, and determination failed—God did not.
For Him and for each of you, I am eternally grateful…
How did you choose the location for the setting?
I think the story chose its own setting based on what was shared with me during my time spent interviewing Amish families.
How long did The Hope of Refuge take you to complete?
Between research and character development, I spent about eight months writing the story.
Do you have a favorite character in The Hope of Refuge? Why?
I have three children, and I can give you a long list of why each one is my favorite. And you want me to choose a favorite character? <grin> Okay, I’ll choose…Ephraim! He’s wise and cautious by nature. He thinks everything through based on his belief system. He never lets his desires or emotions make decisions for him. And he’d never do anything that would dishonor his family, his business, or his choice to be Amish—and yet…Cara happens. She shakes his steady and peaceful world.
How much research did The Hope of Refuge require?
It took several of months of research. Since the setting is the Amish community in Pennsylvania, and I’ve been doing research on that area and sect since 2002, I was able to move fairly quickly through much of the research.
How many books will be in the Ada’s House series?
Three. I’m absorbed in writing book two right now, and I can’t wait to start writing book three. These characters are passionate about life, and they’ve drawn me in!
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
My greatest challenge is prioritizing. I tend to get bogged down in the little things. I want to organize and quiet the array of author business that doesn’t have anything to do with writing the next story. I like getting all my ducks in a row so I can focus on the bigger parts of writing. It sounds like a decent enough plan, but those little duckies never stay in a row for very long. Anyone want to give a pet a good home?
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love the flexibility of not working a job with set hours. I work a lot of hours—many more than forty—but I get to choose when I’ll begin and end. If my family wants me to take a day and go do something with them, I’m free to do that. Then I can work until two in the morning as needed to make up for it. It’s not a utopia by any means, but it’s a schedule I prefer.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by the seat of your pants?” Or somewhere in between?)
It looks like I’ll be somewhere in between for the Ada’s House series. I was a super plotter/outliner for the Sisters of the Quilt series. But at times, after working out all the details, the characters wouldn’t follow my plan. When I gave them freedom to lead me, the story was stronger. So I’m giving myself more flexibility this time.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Absolutely. I feel that is a key aspect of writing fiction. Once the research is done and each character’s background, personality, and beliefs are incorporated, the story is not about what the author wants to happen; it’s about the author taking great notes as the life of her (or his) characters unfold. In essence, the author becomes more of an accurate reporter than an imaginative creator.
What message would you like your readers to take from The Hope of Refuge?
Similar to prayers that have been prayed, love that has been set in motion doesn’t stop at the grave. Hope reaches beyond all reasonable boundaries and brings into existence that which nothing else can.
What is your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is being a mom. It’s a long journey from embracing a newborn to helping develop him (or her) into all he (or she) can be while the world throws an assortment of hooks and snares at them, and attempts to drag them off course.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
I was asked this question during a previous CBD interview, and I still feel the same now: Without insights or revelations, we are left with either legalism or fleeting emotionalism. Under the law, I fail. Under emotionalism, I fizzle. But when I open my spiritual eyes to life’s principles, those principles become a part of who I am. Then 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 renews their strength to keep pressing on and gives them refreshment in the true value of living.
What do you do to get away from it all?
I take a week each year to just stare at the ocean day and night; it does wonders toward refreshing my soul. But my guilty pleasure for more regular getaways is eating out and going to a movie.