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Interview With Ramona Cecil

1) Introduce yourself to us. Name, info on your family, number of books authored, etc...

Hi! I’m Ramona Cecil. I live with my husband, Jim, in Seymour, a small town in southern Indiana. Our two daughters are grown, so we are empty-nesters. Our eldest daughter lives in Texas with her husband and our three grandchildren, while our younger daughter lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana.

To date, I have written four novels and four novellas. Mostly, I write historical romance. Presently, I’m working on my ninth novel, which would be categorized as historic, romantic women’s fiction, and will be larger than my previous works.

2) Tell us a little bit about your road to publication.

I have composed poetry since my pre-school days and consider myself a poet, first. Between the mid 1980’s and 1990’s, I had over eighty verses of poetry published by Dicksons, Inc., a leading publisher of inspirational gift items. I still get a kick out of finding my poems on coffee mugs, bookmarks, throws, and various other gift items all over the country.

It was in the mid-eighties when I began contemplating attempting to write a novel. I’ve always been a voracious reader and lover of history—especially Indiana history. During a visit to Conner Prairie, a living history museum near Indianapolis, Indiana, the idea for what would become my novel, Larkspur, was planted in my mind. I’d had no formal training in writing prose but forged ahead, writing the story that had been laid on my heart.

The basic story was written in fits and starts during the years I was raising our daughters and working various jobs. I would take it out from time to time and pound away at my old electric typewriter, then shove it back into a drawer, out of sight, but never out of mind. All the while, I researched pioneer life and medicine in Indiana.

In 1999, after my daughters had left the nest, I got a computer and began thinking seriously again about writing. I wrote three novellas, two contemporary and one historical, and another historical novel. I bought and studied Penelope Stokes book, Writing and Selling the Christian Novel. In 2002, I entered Larkspur in the Northeast Indiana Romance Authors’ Opening Gambit contest and it finished in third place. I joined American Christian Romance Writers. I truly believe God led me to ACRW, now ACFW. I have no doubt that if I hadn’t joined this group, I wouldn’t be published now. I also joined one of ACFW fine critique groups and with the help of Staci Wilder, Pat Loomis, Amy Wallace, and Jennifer Keithley, I began to learn the true craft of writing. I attended my first ACRW (ACFW) Conference in 2003 and have attended each one since.

I cannot express what a blessing these conferences have been to me in my journey toward publication. Absolutely vital! Although I’ve experienced disappointments and rejections along the way, the wonderful ladies in my critique group as well as many other great writer friends I’ve acquired in ACFW encouraged me to not give up. I went on to write two more novels.

In 2005, I entered Larkspur in Vintage Romance Publishing’s Vintage Inspirations contest. Here, I must give special thanks to Staci Wilder and Kim Sawyer, who sat aside projects to critique my story as I rewrote it for the contest. Early last February, I was thrilled to learn Larkspur had won first place in the contest, and the offer of a contract from Vintage Romance Publishing!

3) Do you write full time? If yes, can you give us a glimpse into your daily writing life? If not, what is your day job?

I don’t work outside the home now, so I guess you would say I write full time. My husband works a late second shift at an auto parts factory in our town, so I do my work at night while he is gone. Before noon, I do any shopping or household chores that require my attention and often don’t get down to writing business until late afternoon.

4) What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

Other than chronic computer problems which seem to be the bane of my existence, I suppose it would have been an especially difficult rejection. As with all problems in life, I overcame it with prayer. Also, through the loving encouragement of wonderful Christian writer friends who believed in me and convinced me I must not turn my back on the gift of writing God had given me.

5) What has been the highest moment of your writing/publishing career?

That would be the evening I got the call from my editor telling me my story, Larkspur, had won the Vintage Inspirations Contest. An absolutely surreal moment, to say the least!

6) Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

The people who inspired me most to write were my parents. They had both written poetry and prose in their earlier years. They were always very proud of my writing successes, especially the publication of my poetry by Dicksons Inc. I am very sad they were not here to see the publication of Larkspur. I like to think they are smiling down on my accomplishments from Heaven.

My story ideas can come from anywhere. Two of my novels, Larkspur and Sweet Forever, were inspired by places in Indiana. I’ve also been inspired by news reports, television documentaries, and family genealogies. My current wip, was inspired by a local legend.

7) Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

I used to be strictly seat of the pants, but more and more, I’m finding plotting to be an extremely useful tool. I’m learning to really appreciate having a direction for my story and don’t begin a story without a solid plot, just as I wouldn’t begin a road trip without my handy driving directions. I may veer from my charted path from time to time when an interesting side road presents itself, but after each brief foray I’m careful to steer back to my main road (plot).

8) I’m notorious for *snacking* while I write! Do you have any favorite munchies you wouldn’t mind us knowing about?

Actually, I never snack when I’m writing. I’m one of those people who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, so as long as my fingers are busy, I’m safe from the calories. Put me in front of the TV, though, and it’s a different story. My scales say I should spend more time writing. LOL

9) How do you strike an agreeable “balance” between your writing time and other responsibilities?

As I mentioned before, my husband and I live a late second shift. I try to keep the time between rising and Jim going to work strictly for errands and our time together. Also, as a rule, I do very little actual writing on the weekends. We like to take drives and even get a little lost, discovering places off the beaten path. That’s when I find the story ideas really begin to percolate.

10) Who is your favorite character in your books, and how did you come up with that character?

Wow! That’s a tough one. I really love all my characters, even the villains. I suppose I would have to say my favorite character is Ephraim Morgan, the young hero doctor in Larkspur. To my mind, he is the quintessential hero—tall, handsome, sweet, heroic, and just good to the bone. Truly, the character just strode into my mind. He was just there.

11) How do you deal with publisher rejections? Crawl in bed under the covers for an entire day? Indulge in double-fudge chocolate? Or just brush it off?

I guess I mope. I’m a moper—is that a word? I pray, have talks with myself, and go cry on the shoulders of my family and friends.

12) Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

I would like to be multi-published by several different publishing houses.

13) These have been fairly standard questions. What is one thing you’d like to share with up-and-coming writers that they may not even know to ask yet?

Choose a genre that you like to write and read authors you like who write in that genre. Then get a current edition of Sally Stuart’s Christian Market Guide and study the submission guidelines of the publishing houses that publish that genre. That will help to lessen you chance of rejection.

14) Your very first book just came out, right? Tell us about it.

The story is set in 1835 in the fictional Indiana farming community of Larkspur. Having watched her young cousin die at the hands of a prominent Cincinnati physician, Becky Hale is dead-set against conventional medicine. She has become a devotee and practitioner of what she considers a gentler, herbalistic approach to medicine.

Ephraim Morgan, fresh from Lexington, Kentucky’s Transylvania University, arrives at his cousin’s home in Larkspur with plans to set up a medical practice. What he hasn’t planned is finding a staunch adversary in his cousin’s pretty hired-girl. When opposing medical philosophies—and young hearts—collide, new love is threatened by pride, distrust, and old wounds.

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