A former director of Information Technology, Amanda has written everything from technical books and articles for IT professionals to mysteries for teenagers and romances for all ages. She’s delighted to now be a fulltime writer living in Cheyenne, WY with her high school sweetheart/ husband of many years.
When did you begin to write your first novel? When did you finish? How long have you pursued a writing career?I started writing when I was about seven years old, and my first novel was all of five pages hand-written. Needless to say, that never made it to publication. It was the approach of my thirtieth birthday that turned what was a dream into reality. I’d set myself the goal of selling a book by that magic date, and – thanks to a TV commercial and lots of hard work – that happened. The commercial, in case you’re wondering, was for Harlequin romances. I’d never read one, but after seeing the commercial, I rushed off to the bookstore and bought two. My career as a romance author was launched. I never sold to Harlequin, and the scope of my stories has broadened beyond pure romance, but there’s always a romantic element and a happily-ever-after in my books.
What do you love about writing?This may sound strange, but then again, writers are a strange breed, aren’t we? Anyway, what I love is the act of stringing words together, turning nouns and verbs, not to mention adjectives and adverbs, into sentences that evoke readers’ emotions.
What facet of the writing craft comes easiest to you?The second draft. Perhaps I’m an editor at heart, but once I have the first draft completed, turning that ugly manuscript that I refer to as the skeleton into a flesh and blood, living thing is pure joy.
What is the hardest thing about writing?After the last answer, you won’t be surprised to know that first drafts are my nemesis. I used to get halfway through one and be convinced that I had created the worst prose in the English language and that my editor would roll on the floor laughing just before she canceled my contract. Now I know that it’s not the worst prose – perhaps it’s the second worst – and that I can fix it during the second draft. The truth is, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I start the second draft and realize that that what I had written wasn’t awful. It simply wasn’t finished.
Do you outline your books or let the story go where it wishes?I have to admit that I’m in awe of pantsers, people who write from the seat-of-the-pants. I’m definitely a plotter. I start with a brief synopsis, which is my primary selling tool, then expand that into what I call the chapter-by-chapter outline. That’s where I decide which scenes will be in which chapters. I’ve discovered that a detailed outline is a wonderful tool for making sure that pacing is correct and that I haven’t gone too long between mentioning secondary characters.
What are you working on right now? Do you work on more than one book at a time?Even though I have two other books already in the pipeline and scheduled for publication in 2012, I’m working on my 2013 release. This is the second of the Westward Winds books and is titled Waiting for Spring. What’s particularly fun about this book is that it’s set in Cheyenne, which is where I now live. Not only is research easy, with both an excellent county library and the state library and archives close by, but it’s wonderful to be able to walk along the same streets that my hero and heroine did. Of course, the city has changed dramatically since 1886, but that’s part of the fun. As for writing more than one book at a time, that just doesn’t work for me. I get so deeply involved in my characters’ lives that it would be jarring to switch to another story.
If you could recommend only one ‘How To Writing Book’ what would it be?Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. It’s one of the two ‘must have’ books that I recommend to aspiring writers. The other is Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. Sorry for slipping in a second book, but I find them both valuable for different reasons. As the title indicates, Swain focuses on techniques, while Vogler goes to the heart of story-telling, the plot.
How do you handle the rejections that are part of the writing life?Chocolate. Seriously. I’ve collected so many rejections over my writing career that I teach a workshop on how to cope with it, and chocolate plays a big role. So does exercise. After you’ve eaten a pound of chocolate, you’d better walk it off. Besides, exercise generates those wonderful endorphins that help make the rejection a bit less painful. Most of all, though, I’ve found that writing is the best cure for rejection. If you’re working on another book, you have hope, and hope is what we all need.
What gave you the inspiration for this story?When I started plotting Paper Roses, I knew I wanted one of my characters to be a Texas Ranger. The problem was, no matter how I tried, a Ranger didn’t fit into Clay and Sarah’s story. Then came Scattered Petals. The opening scene was the perfect opportunity to introduce a Ranger. I was happy. Lawrence was not. You see, he wanted to be the hero of that book, but I had other plans. Still, I knew he deserved his own story, and so I started asking questions. Why would a man leave the Rangers? And, if he did, how could settling in a small town like Ladreville compare to the excitement of being one of Texas’s most revered men? Most of all, what would Lawrence do if he were confronted with a schoolmarm as independent as Harriet? Tomorrow’s Garden answers those questions.
Give us the backcover of the book.As the seed awaits the spring sunshine, so one young woman hopes for a brighter tomorrow.
Harriet Kirk is certain that becoming the new schoolteacher in Ladreville, Texas, is just what she needs—a chance to put the past behind her and give her younger siblings a brighter tomorrow. What she didn’t count on was the presence of handsome former Texas Ranger Lawrence Wood—or the way he affects her fragile heart. But can Harriet and Lawrence ever truly conquer the past in order to find happiness?
Book 3 in the Texas Dreams series, Tomorrow’s Garden is a powerful story of overcoming the odds and grabbing hold of happiness.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?Of course I hope they’ll enjoy my stories, but no matter what they feel about the books, I hope they’ll let me know what they liked and what they didn’t. Hearing from readers is the highlight of my day, and their reactions to my stories help me grow as a writer. I’ve said it on my website, but I’ll say it again, readers are the reason I write.
WHERE TO FIND YOU ON THE WEBhttp://www.amandacabot.com/
Enjoyed your visit and thanks for stopping by, Amanda and sharing with us about writing and your new book, Tomorrow's Garden, available April 1. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon.And thank you, AJ, for inviting me. I enjoyed our conversation.
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Texas Dreams Triology by Amanda Cabot