Thursday, February 23, 2012

Interview with Ann Gabhart

Author Ann Gabhart is back to share a little about her latest book, Words Spoken True, and offer other wonderful writerly wisdom. I've been blessed to meet this talented lady in person - she is a treasure!

Karen: Welcome back to Write Now, Ann. So glad to have you along again. Congratulations on your new book! I must say, I love the title, Words Spoken True. I'm always curious as to how authors and publishers settle on a book title. How did this title come about?

Ann: I work hard to come up with titles that suit my stories. Sometimes the publishers agree and go with my titles. Sometimes they don’t. Traditional publishing contracts generally give the publisher the right to title the book. Most publishers, if they don’t want to use the author’s title, try to work with the author to come up with a title they think will entice readers and be something the author can accept. That’s how it’s been with my current publisher. But at times, the title is simply handed down and the author has to decide to like it. 

It was more that way for me with my first couple of books published in the general market. I don’t remember having any input at all on the titles Warner Books choose for those two mass market paperback books, but that happened years ago and I may have forgotten. I was such a young writer and so excited to be published at all that I doubt I would have argued against anything they suggested. I did like my title for the first book, Kentucke Dream with Kentucky spelled as it often was in that historical era. They changed that to A Forbidden Yearning. They wanted the title to show plainly that it was a love story.

My current publisher considers the title I’ve come up with, but they also have a titling committee of editors and publicity and marketing people to discuss the impact the title might have once it is out there for readers to see. They suggested The Outsider for my first Shaker book and so after that, we had a pattern to follow – the “something.” With that in mind, I was able to come up with titles the company liked and used for my other Shaker novels. Those titles were still discussed and considered by the titling committee.  Angel Sister was my title and I’m glad the committee agreed that it suited the book. They didn’t agree with my title for Words Spoken True. I came up with Words of Fire, a title I admit I still think suited the story. But I trust the publishers’ judgment. They know what draws a readers’ eye much better than I do. They did suggest another title first. A good title, but one I thought didn’t capture the right feeling for this book.

Of course, you have to realize that most of the titling committee haven’t actually read the book when they’re working on coming up with the best title. They’ve probably got a synopsis. They listen to the acquiring editor tell about the book. Maybe they’ve seen some chapters. So it’s not always possible for them to get the feel of the whole story. When I expressed concerns about the suggested title, they took the book back to titling committee and brainstormed to come up with Words Spoken True. My editor had asked me earlier to brainstorm titles myself, but I was too attached to my original title to come up with something different. Now I’m hearing that many readers like the title, and I was even able to work it into the final scene when I was doing some final editing.  

Karen: Interesting! I knew it was a process but wasn't sure what was involved. One thing that drew me to Words Spoken True was the fact that it was historical and set in Louisville, KY, not far from where you and I live. What sparked the idea for this book?

Ann: I like searching for historical happenings or an era that grabs my interest. I read about the election riots of 1855 and how some thought newspaper editors were partly to blame because of their fiery editorials about how the country would be ruined when the increasing number of Irish and German immigrants got the vote. It was feared the immigrants would elect their own people and gain control of the government. As I kept digging deeper to find out more, I knew I wanted to explore that world of newspapers. I read old newspapers on microfilm to get the feel of the era and how stories were written then. It is a much different style than our newspapers today. 

I came up with a spunky heroine who has ink in her blood and hates the social conventions that tell her she shouldn’t be setting type or writing news stories. I drop the strong, handsome hero down into a competing paper. Then I throw lots of obstacles in the way of them ever being able to follow their hearts. But it was my initial reading of what happened on the day that came to be known as “Bloody Monday” in Louisville history that started me down this historical road and made me want to know more about what happened and why.

Words Spoken True is actually a story I first wrote many years ago when I was writing for the general market. It didn’t find a loving editor then. I eventually rewrote it and added the suspense elements. It still didn’t find a loving editor, so it ended up on my closet shelf. But I’ve always liked the story and so decided to rewrite it one more time for the inspirational market. This time the story clicked and now I’m excited to see it out there for readers.

Karen:  I'm glad it made it out of the closet! It is a wonderful story. So tell us, are you a plotter, pantster, or a little of both? Have you always written this way?

Ann: I’m mostly a pantster. In my historical novels, I do have the framework of the historical events. In Words Spoken True, everything is leading up to the dramatic scene during the election riots. So in that way I’m a plotter. I have to tie my characters into the actual historical timeline. I do some pre-writing to get to know my characters and I have an idea of where I hope to go with them. But sometimes the road changes while I’m writing. Sometimes the characters let me know the better story path. I’ve written for so long – my first book was published over thirty years ago – that I’m not really sure I’ve always written any specific way. It’s been an ongoing, learning experience with each book different. Every story has its own voice. I just have to find that voice.

Karen: I love that - "Every story has its own voice." Words Spoken True really does. What do you hope to leave with your readers when they finish one of your books?

Ann: I hope that they will be glad they read my story. I want them to have lived the story with my characters. I want them to have the feeling of falling in love or being afraid or feeling joy – whatever my characters are feeling and doing. If they are entertained, that too is good. I personally like learning new things even if I’m reading fiction. So I wouldn’t be unhappy if my readers got a glimpse of some history they might not know that much about. I also hope reading my characters’ faith journey might inspire them. 

In one of the nicest e-mails I’ve gotten in regard to my books, one of my readers said she had to put my book down to go check a reference I’d made to a Bible story. That was in one of my Hollyhill books. Since one of the main characters in those stories is a preacher and also a newspaper editor (I do like to write about newspaper people), I could incorporate some Bible stories into those books without awkwardness. In Words Spoken True, the historical part of the story and the romance take center stage. The inspirational thread is there, but simply woven throughout as one aspect of the characters’ lives.

Oh, and I always like to imagine my readers nodding with satisfaction as they read the last page and close my books, thinking yes, that’s what happened and I am glad I was there to see it.

Karen: You know, I have to say that I enjoyed the story and characters in Words Spoken True, and came away satisfied. I learned a lot too (this is the reason I read and enjoy historical fiction).

Thank you for sharing with us, Ann. It's always a pleasure. :) Please share your links in case readers want to get in touch with you.

Ann: Thank you, Karen, for inviting me over to talk with your readers. It’s always fun to visit with friends.  I have several ways for people to keep up with what’s going on in my writing life. You can find out more about my books at my website,, and also check out a giveaway contest Revell Books and I are hosting to celebrate the Louisville background of Words Spoken True

To visit my blog, One Writer’s Journal, click here. My Facebook author’s page is here, and my Twitter user name is Annhgabhart. So come on over and we’ll talk!

 Book Giveaway Details
  • You must be a follower and leave a comment, with email address, on this or Monday's post.
  • Gain bonus entries (+1 each) by posting this on Facebook, your blog, and/or Twitter. Please include link with your comment where applicable.
  • Open to residents of the United States.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight EST, Friday, February 24, 2012. Winner will be notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Winner will be announced Monday, February 27.
Do you have any questions for Ann? What are you up to this weekend?

Happy weekend,


  1. Interesting how titles are chosen by a big publisher. My small publisher kept the title for my first book but they are the ones who came up with the title for the second.

  2. How interesting to hear how titles come about. I could see being pretty attached to my own titles and having a hard time letting them go.

    Good luck with Words Spoken True.

  3. I agree with the previous commenters. The title information was fascinating. Thanks for a great interview, Ann and Karen!

    sarah at sarahforgrave dot com

  4. Alex,
    I thought it was interesting too. I like your titles - glad they are working for you!

    I'd be pretty attached to my titles too! I'd heard they often changed but wasn't sure about the process. :)

    It's great to hear about Ann's experience. I appreciate her insight, you know?


  5. This is a wonderful interview! Thank you Karen and Ann!
    I love the part "every book has its own story" and the fact that this book made it out of the closet . . . that gives me hope for my closet book . . .maybe I'll get back to it someday.

  6. That is so true--every story does (and should) have its own voice.

    Great interview, Karen and Ann!

  7. Interesting interview, Karen. Thanks for sharing Ann with us.

  8. I like the title AND the cover!
    Lovely interview and book review (last post).

  9. Thanks, Alex, Theresa and Sarah for your comments. I've probably been able to use the majority of my original titles, but I think it's good the publisher is interested in wanting to be sure the title is one that will draw in readers. They know much more about what readers are looking for than I do and have a better sense of when a title might have a negative sound that might turn off a readers.

  10. Tyrean - I have more closet books. So far I haven't pulled any more out to try to rewrite. I've got to write the new books first, but then who knows? I might remember a story that might still work with a little rewriting. Good luck with your new work and your old work too.

    Lydia, the hard part is finding that special voice that fits the story, but once you do, then the story begins to come together.

    Jean, so glad you read and enjoyed the interview and for coming over to check out my blog too. Thanks a bunch!

    Cheryl, I'm glad the title works for you. It seems to be one a lot of readers are liking fine. The cover is great. Baker Books did a great job making it represent the story well.

  11. This was a fascinating, behind-the-cover look at one facet of publishing. Who knew that so much discussion and debate went into the choice of words on the outside of a book?

    It sounds like you've been writing for quite awhile now. It's always interesting to hear someone else's journey to bookstore shelves.

    Great interview, as always, Karen.

    We're up to way-too-much this weekend, that's what. But fun stuff, so I won't complain.

    Waving and smiling,


  12. Tyrean,
    Thanks so much! I know, I loved that part too! I say you need to get that closet book out. :)

    Don't you love that? :) Thanks a bunch!

    Thank you. You are so welcome. Ann is a wonderful writer!

    I know, me too! Thanks so much; glad you liked the posts.

    I thought so too. Interesting stuff, huh? Ann definitely is a seasoned writer. Have fun with all your weekend stuff!


  13. Thanks, Rhonda, for the comment. And wasn't Karen nice to say "seasoned" writer instead of somebody who's been around a loooonnnggg time. But my first book was published in 1978 so that is a while back. Plenty of time to get seasoned and to have had my share of ups and downs on the writing and publishing road. Hope you have a fun weekend.

  14. this was inspirational, thank you Ann & Karen. I love hearing behind the story stories. I think seeing how similar we authors are is a sign that we're doing the right thing and heading in the right direction.

  15. Great interview, thanks ladies, and how fun that the story is situated close to where you both live!

  16. Thanks, Joylene. I also love hearing or reading the story behind the stories. And you're so right about writers being similar. We write and hope. We dream up stories and write some more. With each attempt we improve our skills and sometimes the story magic happens.

    Marja - thanks for coming over to read the interview. It's been fun talking to Karen and friends here.

    Karen, I love the clean, cool look of your blog. Very restful and inspiring. Thanks so much for inviting me over.

  17. I'd love to win Ann's book! Spunky with ink in her veins is my kind of mc!


    Thank you so much!

    I am working on a presentation for a writers conference this weekend, and going over tax figures with my hus. Great fun! Thanks for asking.

  18. Joylene,
    So glad you liked it! :) Will have to interview you here one of these days!

    Thank you! Yes, It is rather fun knowing it is somewhat local. :)

    I hope you know I meant seasoned as the best kind of compliment! Since I met you in person I know that you are, like me, just 39 and not a year older! Thanks for your kind words about my blog. :)

    And I would love to have you win the book! :) Have a good weekend. :)

    Blessings all,

  19. I still struggle with titles...guess I always will.

    Nice interview!!!!

  20. Titles are my thing. I have a knack most of the time. It looks fabulous! This is a book I'd love to have amigo. *hint* Ha!

    Tweeting and facebooking. xoxo

  21. Where are my manners? Thank you Karen and Ann! I loved reading. Very well done interview. Hugs and smooches.

  22. Laura,
    I probably will in some ways too. Although, I think I can learn to live with a few changes to actually get the book published, depending on what they are. :)

    Your manners are right here! :) Thanks so much for passing this along, amigo! Big hugs back to you!

    Happy weekend,

  23. Jeanette, Adriane was a fun character to write about. Since I rewrote this story several times and changed it a lot from the first finished draft to the one that eventually contained the suspense element, I got to spend a lot of time with Adriane.

    Good luck with those tax figures. Groan - I've got to make myself do that very, very soon.

  24. lbdiamond - I confess that I usually don't title a book until I've finished the first draft. Most of the time I don't even have a working title although if I've had to send in a proposal I do have to come up with some kind of title for that. One of the few titles I had at the beginning of working on a book was one for young people that is yet to be published. I titled it Freak of the Week. If that ever finds a publisher, I might fight for that title if they want to change it.

    Robyn, I feel like I do well with titles too, but that doesn't mean the publishers sometimes don't agree. LOL. Thanks for reading the interview. I appreciate your comment.

  25. Such a wonderful visit with you and Ann. I love the message that "every story has it's own voice".

  26. Great interview, Karen. Thanks for giving me another book to check out!

  27. Hi Karen & Ann -

    I enjoyed the interview and the peek into the titling process. No wonder the synopsis is so important.

    I'm a Follower. :)

    susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com


  28. Annie,
    I enjoyed our visit; Ann is a great guest! :) I know, love that quote too!

    Thank you! And you're welcome! Hope you enjoy it!


  29. Susan,
    I thought you might enjoy this interview; I know I did!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!