Saturday, August 1, 2009

Author of Note - Amanda Cabot

Amanda Cabot

I’m delighted to welcome Amanda Cabot to The Bookshelf. Amanda, I want to hear all about your new novel, Paper Roses, and I have a few just-for-fun questions, as well. But first, tell us about yourself. Who is Amanda Cabot, the gal next door?

If the gal next door is the one who always has her book in a nose, then that’s me. My parents were avid readers, so when I was quite young, I decided I should be like them and learn to read. Ever since, books have been an important part of my life. For me it was a logical step from reading to writing. I took some detours along the way, including many years working a day job in Corporate America, but in my heart, I’ve always been a writer.

I peeked into your website. You majored in French. Now, I’m fascinated by that! It’s such a beautiful language. (I don’t speak it, but I love to hear it spoken.) Are you able to use the language in your books at all?

Un peu. (A little.) One of the reasons I created a fictional town populated with residents from Alsace was that half the town would speak French, while the other half spoke German. That gave me the opportunity to season the book with a few French and German phrases. I was once fluent in German, but – alas – those days have passed. Now I rely on a good friend whose native language is German for those phrases.

Love it! Your novel, Paper Roses, released in January. Tell us a little about the book.

I refer to Paper Roses as my mail-order-bride-meets-Cyrano-de-Bergerac book, but I suspect no editor would have bought it if I’d described it that way in my proposals. Here’s the blurb that helped sell the book:

Socialite Sarah Dobbs never thought she’d be a mail-order bride. But, then, she never thought she’d be destitute, shunned and her young sister’s only hope for a normal life. Drawn to the Texas Hill Country by the poetic letters she calls her paper roses, Sarah believes her secrets will be safe there. But the town is deeply divided and harbors its own secrets, including the identity of the person who murdered Sarah’s fiancé. There’s no one she can trust, not Clay Canfield, and certainly not God. He’s abandoned her.

Talented physician Clay Canfield has only one desire: to find the man who murdered his brother and exact vengeance. He’ll never marry again, especially not a woman burdened with a child. As for faith, that’s not for him, any more than it is for Sarah.

But God has plans for Sarah and Clay, plans that challenge everything they hold dear.

Makes me want to snuggle up with a glass of Dr. Pepper and the book and hide out for a few hours. This book is the first in a trilogy. Can you share anything about the stories to follow?

Let’s see. Where should I start? I love connected stories, so all three of the Texas Dreams books are set in the same fictional Texas town, and the heroes of books two and three are introduced in the previous book. (The heroines are new arrivals.) But, since one of the things that annoys me as a reader is having to read books in order, I’m careful to have each of mine – even when they’re part of a series – stand alone.

As for the second book – if Paper Roses was my mail-order-bride book, Scattered Petals (due out next March) is my marriage-of-convenience book. Only, in this case, it’s a matter of inconvenience. Great inconvenience for the hero and heroine.

As part of the titling process, my publisher asked me to describe the book in two sentences. For someone who’s hard-pressed to stay within word count limits, that was a challenge, but here’s what I wrote for them.

All her life, Priscilla Morton has longed for adventure, and so she heads for Texas, never dreaming that the adventure will leave her alone, badly injured and dependent on a handsome rancher who reminds her of her worst nightmare. Zachary Webster knows he’ll never marry, for that would involve admitting the biggest mistake of his life, but how can he refuse to help Priscilla, even if she’s a reminder of his sin?

(You’ll note that those were two rather long sentences.)

I did notice that! :) Love the cover!

How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I can remember. I can’t say that there was an “aha” moment, because I think wanting to be a writer simply evolved from loving to read, but I do remember being seven years old and announcing to my parents that when I grew up I was going to be a writer. Admittedly, my first efforts, which included two plays that my fifth-grade teacher allowed me to produce for the other classes and a very short-lived neighborhood newspaper, were less than stellar, but I never stopped dreaming of being a published author.

Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

Almost anywhere. One of the good/bad things about my day job was that I was a very frequent flyer. The good part was that I was able to visit a lot of different places, and some of them provided inspiration for books. For example, I was sitting in a restaurant in Phoenix, eating alone (one of the bad things about all the traveling), when the Muzak started playing “Stranger in Paradise.” “What a great title for a book,” I said to myself. (No, I haven’t gotten to the point where I talk out loud and cause strangers to stare.) That started the whole process of asking questions. “Where’s paradise?” Answer: Hawaii. “Why would someone be there and feel like a stranger?” The answers to that question turned into a book. Even though I changed the title, the story begins in Hawaii and the hero and heroine are definitely strangers there.

What a wonderful example! How much time do you spend writing?

Now that I’m retired from my day job, I spend mornings writing. By that, I mean the actual sitting at the desk or keyboard, turning ideas into words. Afternoons include answering email, working on promotions and letting ideas percolate. So, I guess you could say that I write full time.

What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?

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 a publisher is 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. Sorry!

We’ll take all we can get! Give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

Use the children’s section of the library for your preliminary research. The books there cover the highlights, which is all you need to know when you’re starting a book, and they’re short, so you get the basics quickly. Later, when you’re actually writing the book, you may need a “grown-up” book for specific details, but the kids’ section will get you started quickly.

Excellent idea, and one I’ve never heard before.

Now for that off-the-cuff stuff I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?

I’d ask my father (who’s been dead for over twenty-five years) to talk about his experiences in WWII. He was stationed in northern Africa and western Europe, and I’m sure the experiences influenced him, but what he did during the war was never mentioned in our home.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Whitson, The Enclave by Karen Hancock and an older release, Tying the Knot by Susan May Warren.

What word annoys you more than any other?

“Closure” when used to mean coming to an end. It’s so overused.

What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

It may not be a super power, but I’d love to not have to sleep. Just think of all the books I could read (and write) and all the places I could visit if I didn’t need eight hours of sleep a night.

Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

Poor punctuation. Specifically, I deplore the tendency to replace semi-colons with commas in compound sentences. I feel so strongly about this that I wrote an article for one of my writers’ groups entitled “In Defense of the Semi-Colon.”

And I’m pretty sure I read that, because I remember cheering for the title. :) What color crayon best describes you on a good day? Bad day?

A good day would be midnight blue. No, I don’t think of blue as a depressing color. It’s deep, vivid and full of life. A bad day – beige. Totally boring and lifeless.

Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile, Amanda! Where can my readers find Paper Roses?

Paper Roses should be available at all brick-and-mortar bookstores, although since it was released six months ago, readers may need to special-order it. It’s definitely available at the “usual suspects” online retailers: Amazon,,, etc.

Thanks again, and we hope you sell a million!

Thanks so much for inviting me to join you. I had a great time.

About Amanda Cabot:

With both parents avid readers, it's no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than twenty novels under a variety of pseudonyms. Paper Roses is her first book for the CBA market. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading.

Visit Amanda's website


LuAnn said...

I love the sound of these books. I'll definitely check them out!

Delia Latham said...

Hi, LuAnn! They sound wonderful, don't they? Thanks for stopping by.