Ramona Cecil is a friend and fellow author. Below my short review is my interview with Ramona. Don't miss reading about her journey to become a published author! Leave a comment and your email address to be entered in the drawing for an autographed copy of Sweet Forever.
Sweet Forever makes perfect beach reading for this summer. Ramona Cecil’s stories always touch the heart, and this is no exception. Many people carry some sort of emotional baggage in this life and wonder how God will view the wrong things they’ve done. Rosaleen Archer is no exception. In fact, she’s had a double dose of condemnation. Raised to believe she is unredeemable, forced into an unsavory life, Rosaleen longs to be forgiven . . . and loved. Her complicated view of a vengeful God conflicts with the simple faith of Reverend Jacob Hale, through whom the healing love of Jesus Christ shines to the lost. Which view of the Almighty will Rosaleen take to heart? Sweet Forever is a gentle, satisfying story of God’s redeeming love that every person can carry into his or her life and eternal soul.
Now, here are Ramona's responses to my interview quesitons:
1. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?
Sweet Forever, the first book in Heartsong Presents Indiana Brides series, was released to their book club this April. The story is set in 1845 in the real town of Madison, Indiana, along the Ohio River. Rosaleen Archer thinks God hates her, so when a riverboat explosion frees her from the clutches of a notorious gambler, she doesn't look to God for help. Reverend Jacob Hale is intrigued by the lovely young woman he rescues from the banks of the Ohio River. He longs to convince her that God loves her, but she spurns his best attempts to bring her to Christ, fueling his growing self-doubts about his calling. The theme of Sweet Forever is that every soul is loved and valued by God. It is this spiritual truth I hope my readers will take away from Jacob and Rosaleen's story. The second book in the series, Everlasting Promise, is scheduled for release to the Heartsong Presents book club this August. The third book, Charity's Heart, has not yet been given a release date. Each book features different members of the same family.
2. How long had you been writing seriously before you got “the call” that you were going to be published? Tell us how you heard and what went through your head.
I had been writing seriously for about five years when I entered my historical romance novel, Larkspur, in a contest sponsored by a small publishing house. I'd found that entering contests and getting feedback from judges was a good way to discover what aspects of my writing most needed improvement. A couple months later, I learned I was one of three finalists. I was thrilled, but never imagined I would actually win the thing. Later, when the editor called me one evening to let me know my story had won first place, I nearly collapsed! Good thing I was sitting down. I knew that part of first place prize was a contract to publish the story. I just couldn't get my mind around it. Though I'd written several stories since, this was the first story I'd ever tried writing. The editor continued chatting, giving me information that just went in one ear and out the other. Fortunately, she emailed me later with the same info. I just kept thinking "I'm going to be published. I'm going to be published. . ."
3. Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?
All the time. There always seems to be that little insidious whisper in my ear saying, “Why do you think you can do this?” I don’t know how many times I’ve petitioned God saying, “If I’m not supposed to do this, please let me know.” After each of these petitions, He has always sent an encouragement. I just try to ignore the negative thoughts and remind myself that this work is for God. If He didn’t want me to be at this place, at this time in my writing life, I wouldn’t be here. I do think self-doubt is good in some ways. It keeps pushing me to strive to do better work. I keep the verse from Ephesians 3:20 beside my computer. “Glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare ask or even dream of. . .”
4. What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?
To remember that this is about God, not about me. The most important thing is the journey, not the destination. As difficult as it is sometimes, this is the work God has given me to do. A second piece of advice was to keep working, never quit learning your craft, and never, never, never give up!
5. What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
Because I had rewritten and reworked it so many times, someone once told me to give up on my first story---the story of my heart. I didn't take their advice, and I'm glad I didn't. I eventually won that contest and it became my first published novel.
6. What’s something you wish you’d known earlier on that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
I wish I had found American Christian Fiction Writers' group sooner. A writer needs support—at least I do. I don’t see how anyone can do this alone. Find a good writers’ support group, get into a good critique group, and take advantage of all the free advice and writing courses offered by groups like ACFW. It is a well-spring of invaluable writing information, freely and lovingly shared.
7. Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?
Yes. 1Peter 4:11 reminds me that whatever I do, I should do in a way that glorifies God. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever."
8. Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?
I would like to begin writing longer stories. I have one completed 90 K word historical and ideas for several more.
9. Do you have any parting words?
Thank you, Louise, for inviting me to share my thoughts about my writing and the release of Sweet Forever. I eagerly await the release of my other two stories in Heartsong Presents' Indiana Brides, series. I'm thankful every day that God has allowed me to write the stories of my heart for Him and see Him bring them to publication, sometimes seeming against all odds. I'm constantly reminded of His promise we read in Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Don't forget to leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win an autographed copy of Sweet Forever.