Monday, March 21, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Ann Gabhart

The month long celebration for my Second Blogoversary continues! This week I welcome author Ann Gabhart, from Kentucky. Ann shares a bit about her writing and has offered a copy of her latest book, Angel Sister to one of my readers. Stay tuned for the giveaway details below.



Karen: Thank you for joining us, Ann. It’s a pleasure to have you. Congratulations on the release of Angel Sister!

Ann: Thank you, Karen. So glad to join you here on Write Now.

Karen: When did the idea for Angel Sister hit you?

I’ve been writing for a long time – since I was about ten years old. I got serious about submitting for publication when I was twenty. My first novel was published by Warner Books when I was thirty-one. So you can see this has been a long road and one that’s had some detours and potholes. My first thirteen books were published in the general market – two historical romances by Warner Books and eleven young adult and middle reader books by various publishers.

But then I hit a dry spell and began to wonder if I’d ever see another of my books in print. So I decided to go back to that basic writing advice and write what I knew. What I knew was small towns and country churches and farm life. So I came up with a preacher and his daughter in the little rural town of Hollyhill, Kentucky. That book, The Scent of Lilacs found a home with Revell Books and opened up a whole new publishing world to me in the inspirational market.

So after I had written three books about my characters in the little town of Hollyhill, I began to cast around for a new idea. Since I’d had some success using the background of my growing up years for a book, I decided to see if I could use my mother’s background. She and her three sisters always had such a good time sharing stories about their childhood years. They grew up during the Great Depression, but their memories were mostly happy ones of how their family made it through those hard times with love and perseverance. So that was the spark for the idea that became the story in Angel Sister.   


Karen: How true to life are your characters for Angel Sister? The setting?

Ann: I made the setting as true to life as I could by remembering my mother’s stories of how things were when she was a kid. I wanted to capture the feeling of the thirties and how the Depression impacted the people. I also used bits of my mother’s family’s personal background. My mother’s father was a blacksmith. The father in the story is a blacksmith. My grandfather served in WW I in France. The father in my story went to France to fight in WW I, but my grandfather was a cook and never had to go “over the top” and into battle the way Victor did in Angel Sister. My grandfather did have a drinking problem and he did overcome it in order to keep his family intact, but I know none of the real details of that. Victor’s struggle and the story of his WW I romance with Nadine are completely from my imagination. 

As for Kate, she too is completely from my imagination, although I did try to give her my mother’s can-do attitude. I think that’s the way to come up with good characters. Take a bit of the real and then make up the rest.

Karen: What advice do you have for writers who wish to write historical fiction?

Ann: First, if you want to write, write what you like to read. If you like historical fiction the way I do, then find some event or era that really speaks to you. Next try to figure out why it has captured your imagination. When you know that, you’ll know whether you have a story for the characters you’re ready to drop into that time.

I do a lot of research. One of my favorite ways to really get a feel for whatever era I’m writing about is to read a diary or journal of someone who lived in that time. The history in a journal might be muddled a bit by the person’s point of view and political leanings, but you can get a nice feel for how the average person felt during that era. For Angel Sister, I was fortunate enough to come across a little book of letters that a man had written home during WW I.

Karen: Great advice! What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Ann: I like to write. I really do, but I’m like most writers in that sometimes it’s hard to put my fingers on the keys and actually start writing. I do like coming up with characters and I’m always happy when my characters begin talking to one another. I enjoy writing dialogue. I have more trouble setting the scene or describing what things look like. I want to get on with whatever is happening. Of course I do have to admit that if I’m reading a book with a lot of descriptive passages, I tend to start skimming. So I guess I like writing what I like reading.

Karen: Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Ann: I don’t plot in detail. I do a “what if” bit of pre-writing. And I don’t do as much of that as I used to. Sometimes I don’t think I do enough plotting before I want the story to start spilling out. For my first inspirational novel, The Scent of Lilacs, I said what if I have a young girl whose father is a preacher who is also the editor of the local paper in a small town. What if that girl’s mother deserted the family when my young character was five? What if during the 1960s that kept her father from getting a preaching position? Everything else sort of grew out of those what if questions. So if I guess I’m sort of a combination, but lean more toward the pantster. 

It was a little different for Angel Sister since I had such a wealth of information about how I wanted my family to be. My biggest problem there was ignoring much of what I knew about my mom and her sisters so that I could come up with my fictional characters.  

Karen: I like that "What if?" idea! What advice do you have for fledgling fiction writers?

Ann: The best advice I can give anybody who wants to write is this. Write. And read. Both are essential to a writer learning his or her craft and developing his or her abilities. The next best advice is to persevere and keep writing even when things aren’t going well. Nobody is going to break down your door and demand to see what you’ve written. You’re going to have to be brave enough to put it out there for people to see. You’re going to have to risk rejection. Trust me on this – rejection is not fatal. Unpleasant but not fatal. It’s part of a writer’s world.

Karen: "Rejection is not fatal."  Wise words Ann, thanks so much. :) How can readers find out more about you and your books?

Ann: I enjoy hearing from readers and friends. You can connect with me from my website, www.annhgabhart.com. It’s easy to find information about my books and excerpts there too along with a schedule of my events. If you want to sign up for my occasional newsletter, that’s a great way to find out about my new releases and to be the first to know about new giveaways. You can also keep up with what’s going on with my writing and down here on the farm by following my blog, One Writer’s Journal.  www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com. Then there’s my author’s page on Facebook and I do tweet a little on Twitter. My user name for both is Ann H Gabhart.

Karen: So glad you decided to join us. Thanks you!

Ann: Thank you, Karen. I enjoyed coming over for a visit. So glad to meet you and your reading friends.

My Thoughts About Angel Sister

Is Kate Merritt the glue that holds her family together? At first glance, one might think so, but fourteen year old Kate struggles with issues below the surface. Victor, her father, is tormented by drink, wrestling demons from his service in WW I. Her mother Nadine depends on her, for Kate's older sister, sixteen year old Evangeline, lacks Kate's ability to keep a level head. Younger sister Victoria is not old enough to grasp all that happens in the Merritt household.

Grandfather Merritt and Grandfather Reece are forces to be reckoned with, and contribute much conflict to this heartwarming story. Journey with Kate, her family, and the unusual cast of characters in Rosey Corner, KY as they meet Lorena Birdsong. The young waif is convinced that Jesus sent Kate to rescue her. Forgiveness, truth, and trust in God play key roles as the Merritt family looks to find solutions to their challenges.

Ann's gift for telling a fine story is evident; I was hooked early on. Angel Sister will stir your heart and imagination. Thanks, Ann, for the opportunity to read it!

Giveaway Details

• Leave a comment with your email address. Entries without email address are not eligible.
• Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
• Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on Facebook, your blog, &/or Twitter. Please  comment telling me so.
• This is open to residents of the US and Canada.
• Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Friday March 25, 2011. Winner will be announced Saturday, March 26 and notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.


Do you write fiction? Non-fiction? Some of both? Do you draw your ideas from family, like Ann did for Angel Sister?


Blessings,
Karen

49 comments :

  1. Hi Karen - I'm a follow. You can't get rid of me! lisaricardclaro(at)bellsouth(dot)net.

    My only non-fiction is essays/articles/memoir writing, and I don't do as much of that as I used to. For short stories or novel length work I write exclusively fiction. :)

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  2. That cover portrays so much emotion, I love it! Of course I follow and love to read about surviving the Great Depression. Congrats on your book!

    estrella8888 at roadrunner dot com

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  3. Lisa,
    I don't want to get rid of you! :) Thanks for your input. Your name is on the list!

    Diane,
    It is a wonderful cover! Got you on the list! :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  4. I saw your comment at Elana's blog, and thought I would stop by to follow yours.

    Nice ta meet ya!

    This is also a great interview, thanks for sharing ladies.

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  5. Always great to hear about an author's journey. Nice to meet you Ann!

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  6. Thanks,Lisa and Matthew for coming over to read the interview. And good luck with all your writing, Lisa. I'm like you - I like to make up stuff. :)

    Diane, it is a great cover. The little girl is perfect and looks just the way I imagined Lorena in the story. Plus, doesn't she look as if she might be looking up at someone she thinks is her "angel" sister?

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  7. Thanks, Lydia, for reading about my author's journey. It's been one with a lot of ups and downs, but Angel Sister is definitely one of the ups. I'm so glad people are enjoying the story. And I appreciate Karen's review.

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  8. Congratulations on your novel Ann! It sounds wonderful!

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  9. Fantastic interview and I love her advice: just write! So true.

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  10. Hey amigo! What another awesome interview. I love what Ann said about pre-writing. That's me. I never plot too much. Just a bit of this and that. It was so nice to meet you Ann. I just won over here last week, but I will buy your book. It sounds fascinating. Good job, coolness. :)

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  11. Great interview, Amigo! I love the book's cover - gorgeous!! :-)

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  12. I like those nicknames everybody has for you, Karen. Coolness. That's a good thing to be - cool and collected. And thank you, Tana and Talli, for reading the interview. Talli, you can't be a writer without writing. A wanna be writer maybe, but to be a writer, words have to find a page or computer screen somewhere.

    Robyn, how nice that you want to read my book. I'm glad to meet you too. Sounds as if your a SOTP writer too. The first time somebody asked me if I was a SOTP writer, I had no idea what that meant. I had to confess to being totally out of it when it came to knowing what those shortcut initials meant.

    Shannon, it is a great cover and today it's being featured on the RT Book Review website page. Woohoo! My sweet little girl looks good in between all those other VERY romantic covers. ;)

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  13. Matthew,
    It's good to meet you! Thanks for coming by and following. Enjoyed my stop at your blog too!

    Lydia,
    Me too! There are similarities and differences, you know? But overall, we're a great bunch!

    Tana,
    Glad you stopped by! Yes, I'd say it's pretty wonderful. :)

    Talli,
    Thanks so much for stopping over and following. Enjoyed your blog. We follow many of the same ones so I figured I needed to check yours out! Glad I did.

    Robyn,
    Hey Amigo #1! I know, I have to agree; enjoyed Ann's interview a lot. Thanks for being gracious. :) Back at you, Coolness!

    Shannon,
    Hey Amigo #2! Glad you're back home. Still praying for you and your family. I agree - the cover is very nice!

    Ann,
    I am glad you are here with us this week. We are a little quirky perhaps sometimes, but it's always fun!

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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  14. What a great interview! I agree that you should write what you like to read. A writer shouldn't be forced to write what doesn't interest him/her. Love the cover of your book.

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  15. Thanks for reading about my writing journey, Clarissa. A writer might write what doesn't interest him or her, but I'm thinking most writers will enjoy the writing process a lot more if the story appeals to his or her writing muse. And I love the cover of the book too.

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  16. I follow and read and write and blog and enjoy a good book. Put my name in the mix. sdlbishop2(at)att(dot)net.

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  17. Karen, I said I would be over and I finally made it. Better late than never. My parents were born in the Great Depression and grandparents lived through it. It was a challenging time that built character in poeple that lasted a life time. Best wishes for your success Ann!

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  18. Hi Karen..thanks for this great interview. I always love reading about another writer's journey. Its nice to meet you Ann.

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  19. Hi, Sally. Thanks for reading. I too enjoy a good book. And I'm trying to read more of those good books. I really do believe that reading makes a writer better.

    Stephen, you are so right about challenging times building character. That generation that grew up during the Depression went on to fight in WW II. Ordinary men and women did extraordinary things in that war. Thanks so much for your best wishes for my book.

    Rachna, it's good to meet you too. I'm like you. I too enjoy reading about other writers and their journeys.

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  20. Clarissa,
    Thanks so much! I think that writing what we like to read is sort of like writing what you know; the more we read, the more we know it. :)

    Sally,
    Got you on the list! I'm with you, love a good book!

    Stephen,
    Blogoversary is still going so you are right on time! I agree, character building can only come from things that press us.

    Rachna,
    Thank you. So glad you could stop and say hi to Ann!

    Blessings all,
    Karen

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  21. Two readers were unable to comment (Blogger can be uncooperative at times:) so I'm posting their names so they can be entered in the giveaway.

    Margie Mijares marie(at)mijares(dot)net

    Nancy D'Oporto gr8fullone(at)gmail(dot)com

    Thanks ladies! I appreciate your interest and support!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  22. Hi Karen and Ann,
    Such a great interview. That's why I follow!!
    I love the "what if" questions. Even though I write nonfiction, I can apply that technique. And maybe there's short stories in my future. A novel is too much for me to comprehend right now!
    Blessings to you,
    Susan

    panzica(dot)susan(at)gmail(dot)com

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  23. Glad my "what if" way of planning might be a help to you too, Susan. When I say "what if" I'm just trying to spark an idea or bring one of my characters to life. Good luck with your writing.

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  24. Mizz K, you're so good at this! You sure know how to interview.

    I thought Ann's comments were interesting - write what you like. Write what you know. Write what you like to read!

    I write nonfiction (although a few have been known to dispute that claim, ahem), as you know. I just don't think that God has put The Next Great American Novel in my head at this point. I love writing what I write.

    Happy March!

    Rhonda (rschrockmt@yahoo.com)

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  25. Hi, Rhonda. Sounds pretty simple when you repeat it back to me. I may have used too many words, but then I usually do. LOL. And see, you're already practicing my simple advice since you love what you're writing. That's the key. Work hard but like what you're doing.

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  26. Susan P.,
    Thank you! :) You may not write fiction but you write non fiction well, that's for sure.

    Rhonda,
    That sums it up well! And sounds like what you do. :) Got you on the list!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  27. Great interview Karen, thanks again!! I am inspired, really! If I ever find the time to write some fiction, I will remember this interview... maybe I can use my mother's childhood stories...
    Thanks for sharing your insights Ann!!

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  28. Hi, Marja. So glad you're feeling inspired and it's a great time between mother and daughter to talk about the memories even if you don't turn then into fiction. I used to get Mom to talk about the old days whenever we were waiting at a doctor's office. Now things are harder for her since she has dementia, but she still likes to remember back when.

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  29. looks like a great read loved reading the interview very interesting

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  30. Hi Karen - I gave your contest a shout out on my blog. :)

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  31. The cover shows so much emotion. Beautiful! I'm a follower, and tweeted your contest, too.

    lp(dot)lynnjdesigns(at)gmail(dot)com

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  32. Hi Karen & Ann -

    Thank you for a meaty interview! There's so much good advice for writers.

    I've never read Ann's books, but I'd love to start. Please enter me in the giveaway.

    susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  33. Marja,
    Thank you! And you are welcome! :)Ann's advice is inspiring, truly.

    Shopannies,
    Thanks for your thoughts! Appreciate you stopping by. :)

    Lisa,
    Thanks a bunch! :)

    Lynn,
    It is beautiful, I agree! Thanks for passing along the info!

    Susan R.,
    Thanks so much! I've got you down; I think you'll enjoy Ann's books!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  34. Not eligible for giveaway but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the interview - about the author and about the book. Lovely.

    Denise<3

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  35. Thanks, Shopannies, for reading about my writing journey. Glad you came by.

    Lisa, thanks for telling your reading friends about my interview with Karen. The more who join the conversation the better.

    Lynn, I do love the cover. It's posted - at least it was yesterday - on the RT Book Reviews website home page. My little Lorena looked pretty good even there among those other more romantic covers. Revell did a great job on the cover. Thanks for tweeting the interview.

    Susan, so glad you thought I had some good advice. Writing is such an individual thing that most of us do while we're shut away in our little writing nooks all by ourselves. What works for one might not work for someone else. I do hope you'll enjoy my stories if you get a chance to read any of my books.

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  36. Thanks, Denise. Glad you chimed in with your nice comment even though you couldn't have a chance at winning the book.

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  37. Denise,
    Good to see you! Appreciate you stopping by to say hello. :)

    Ann,
    It seems your thoughts and advice are appreciated. So glad you shared!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  38. Thank you both for the time you put into this interview.

    I love it that Ann did not give up when she hit a dry spell; what inspiration!

    Please enter me in the drawing, and thanks for offering it. I am a follower.

    jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com

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  39. Jeanette, thanks for reading about my writing journey. For sure without perseverance I'd never have published anything. Glad my journey can inspire others.

    Karen, it's great meeting all your reading friends. I'm enjoying my visit.

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  40. Jen,
    Got you on the list! Ann is an inspiration, I agree! :)

    Ann,
    I am thankful for a great blogging gang. It's a blessing!

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  41. I have a friend who would absolutely love this book! Thank you so much for sharing the info Karen, I think I might actually get it for her! :-)

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  42. Lindsey,
    Glad you stopped by! If you like, stop back and leave your email and I'll enter you for her. :)
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  44. I'd LOVE a copy of Angel Sister. Thank you for having this giveaway! My email is flghtlss1(at)yahoo(dot)com. I'm a follower and I shared on facebook also!

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  45. I would LOVE a copy of Angel Sister. This whole blog intrigued me. My father is from rural KY and, last year, for his 70th birthday, we traveled through all his childhood memories: the cave house outside of Wilmore where his uncle had a moon shine and gambling business, the cemeteries in Wilmore and Mt. Vernon, the houses where his grandparents and he lived. We just listened to story after story and have a whole album of pictures. I would love to read how you put all these memories into a book!

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  46. Sorry, forgot to leave my email!
    shanda.oakley@gmail.com

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  47. Hi, Lindsey. So nice of you to think of your friend and what she might like. Hope if you either win the book or get it for her that she'll share it back with you. "Angel" sisters are that way.

    Flghtlss - Thanks for coming by and reading the interview. Good luck in the drawing. I enjoy giving away books to people who are anxious to read my stories.

    Shanda - Thanks so much for your comment. Sounds as if you have a rich KY background. And what fun to take that trip with your father back down memory road and give him the opportunity to share with you. But as for how to turn them into a book, I just used the flavor of my mom's stories in my book, Angel Sister. I did write her memories down, but that was for me and for the family. To be truthful, the first thing I had to do before I could write Angel Sister was to forget my mom's stories so that I could think up my own made up story. But you should definitely write down some of the stories your dad told you. These days you can go on the internet, upload some pictures and make a wonderful memory book for him. I haven't done it but I've seen books that others have done to preserve their memories. Very nice.

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  48. Flghtlss,
    Got you on the list! Thanks for stopping by!

    Shanda,
    What a great way to celebrate your Father's bday! It's nice to share memories. Added you to the list. :)

    Blessings,
    Karen

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  49. Wow, got this in by the skin of my teeth. Enter me as everythinghomewithcarol at yahoo dot com. Also, reminder, I'm already a follower.
    Blessings,
    Carol

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Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input. Have a blessed day!