Ann's giving away TWO books this week; one each of the two listed here--to two wonderful commenters! Leave your comment and email address. YOU might be the one chosen!
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I picked up pen and notebook when I was ten years old and began writing a mystery something like the Hardy Boy mysteries that I loved to read, but this one starred me and my sister and cousin. I’ve been writing ever since. So I don’t know if I got a “call” but I do think I might have been born with the writing bug.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
I’ve written a lot of different kinds of books. My first published books back in 1978 and 1980 were historical romances for the general market. Then I published eleven books for young people. These were mostly coming of age stories with a little mystery and romance. Now I’m writing for the inspirational market, but I’m still writing different types of books. I’ve written family dramas, and historical stories set in a Shaker village and novels with other historical backgrounds. So you can see I like to keep my writing options open. My goal would be to claim the genre of a good story. I’m also glad that in the inspirational field I can explore my characters’ faith journeys no matter which type story I’m writing. What we believe or do not believe is such an important part of our lives. How can we tell the whole story without including what makes us tick?
You're so right! How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
I want to write every day, but sometimes life intrudes. And sometimes, even though I want to write, I sharpen pencils. That is, I put off the hard work of creating by checking e-mails, Facebook or gosh, my birdfeeder is empty. I mean who can work when the birdfeeder is empty!! But once I get the delaying tactics out of the way, I settle in to work. I treat my writing like a job and spend a lot of time at my desk. I do like to set goals, but instead of words I usually think in pages. That’s because I started writing on a typewriter and not a word processor. Back then, you watched the pile of pages grow. I have always set goals even before I had deadlines, but with deadlines, I have to get more serious with the goals I set. Right now with a deadline looming, I’m trying to up my writing goal of five pages to a near impossible goal – for me – of ten pages a day. That means I almost always get my five pages at least. I have written books in six months but I’m more comfortable doing a book a year. My novels are usually well over 100,000 words and there’s that history to research in my historical novels.
You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
I also have a new Shaker novel, The Blessed, releasing the first of July. It’s 1844 in my Harmony Hill Shaker village. That was during the Shakers’ Era of Manifestations, perhaps the strangest era in Shaker history. Lacey Bishop’s life is a tangled mess. When she was twelve her father sent her to live at the preacher’s house to care for the man’s ailing wife. Years pass and all is well until the wife dies and the preacher convinces Lacey, now a beautiful young woman, that the only decent thing to do is marry him. That way she can continue to act as a mother to the little girl who was left as a baby on the preacher’s doorstep. But Lacey never expected he would decide to take them all to a Shaker village. There she’s still married but living in a community that believes marriage is a sin. To make matters worse she finds herself drawn to Isaac Kingston, a man who came to the Shakers after his young bride died. But of course any notion of love between them is no more than a forbidden dream. Lacey must stop leaning on others’ beliefs and find her own way to the Lord and his purpose for her life.
They sound fascinating. What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
In Angel Sister, the story deals with the power of forgiveness and how withholding forgiveness can poison our spirits. In certain situations, the one who forgives can profit more from the act of forgiveness than the one who is forgiven.
In The Blessed, my characters must each find their own way to faith. While those around us can give us much support and encouragement to believe, the decision is always one each individual must make for himself or herself.
Good spiritual themes. Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?
I have never felt like giving up. I have felt that perhaps I should give up. That I was wasting my time and energy writing stories that nobody wanted to read. At least stories that no editor or publisher thought anyone would want to read. But I never quit writing. Sometimes I slowed down. There were times I took part time jobs to help pay the bills and was unable to write as much as I wanted. Other times discouragement made the writing difficult. But I never quit completely. I am a writer and so I want to write down stories.
I’ve had several dry periods in my writing career. Not writing dry spells, but publishing my writing dry spells. I had two historical romances published in 1978 and 1980, but then I didn’t keep up with market trends and was told my books were “too clean.” So I switched over to the young adult market and was able to publish eleven novels for young teens and middle readers. I liked writing for young adults, but my market dried up there too. I suffered through several years of writing but getting nothing but reject after reject. Suffered is an apt word. My stories were never quite right. So I decided to forget the market and write a story I loved. That turned out to be The Scent of Lilacs and that story did find a loving editor in the inspirational market. A couple of my much rejected stories have been published now after some rewriting. So if you want to write, keep on believing in your stories and write.
Great advice for the unpublished. Who’s inspired you the most?
I like reading books on writing and other writers’ stories about how they got started writing and made their first sale. I had never met another writer before I published my first novel. I couldn’t really say I ever did more than say hello to any other writer before I started publishing in the inspirational market. Now I count several writers among my friends and we can encourage one another. But as a beginning writer, I never had that teacher or family member who read my writing and encouraged me to continue. My mother thought I could do whatever I set my mind to do, but as a young adult, I was very secretive about my desire to be a writer. I was afraid everybody would think I was crazy to even dream such a big dream of being a writer. But the urge to see my words in print was strong within me and it couldn’t be denied.
Would you explain how you “chose” (or were chosen by) a publisher? Do you just go “inny, minny, miny, moe?” Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
For most of my writing career, I wrote the stories and then hoped beyond hope that some publisher would choose to publish it. I did have an agent before I sold my first novel, and I did sort of pick that person with nothing but chance going for me at the time. I was a very young writer then. When I changed agents a few years ago, I was much more sensible about choosing an agent by asking advice and doing my research.
I think you can tell by my previous answers that no, I can’t sit back and relax because I’m published. I want to write more stories and I want readers to have the opportunity to read those stories. That means I have to come up with good ideas and then I have to get those ideas out of my head and into a book. And now I’m thankful for deadlines even when they loom. A deadline means I get to dive into a new story.
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
- I like babies and children. I have nine grandchildren and they are all beautiful and smart.
- I like small churches where everybody is like family.
- I like walking in the woods with my dogs.
- I like meeting reading friends in person or on line.
- I like strawberries straight out of the patch.
- I like a good story and endings that let me hang on to hope for the characters.
- I like bluebirds in the fields and hummingbirds buzzing my feeders.
- I like to see little boys playing in the dirt and little girls splashing in puddles.
- I don’t much like politics.
- I don’t like unhappy endings.
- I don’t like rejections.
- I don’t like caviar or turnip greens.
- I don’t like watching my mother struggle with memory loss.
As far as traveling, I’d like to visit all the National Parks and walk in the waves on a dozen different beaches and hike up a hundred mountain trails. I’d like to go to Alaska and Hawaii. But then I like it here at home too.
- My website is http://www.annhgabhart.com/. I send out occasional newsletters and you can sign up for them from my website. I do book giveaways several times a year that I list on my website and tell readers about in my newsletters.
- I blog on most Wednesdays and Sundays on One Writer’s Journal at http://www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com/. I also have an author page on Facebook – Ann H Gabhart – and I tweet on Twitter under the user name annhgabhart.
- I do enjoy hearing from readers and try to personally respond to each e-mail I receive. I also enjoy talking to book clubs in person if the book club is close enough to drive or by phone if the club is far away.