As part of the Litfuse Blog Tour for Gathering the Threads, I am honored to welcome author Cindy Woodsmall to the blog today!
Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of nineteen works of fiction and non-fiction with more than a million copies sold. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline,” the “Wall Street Journal,” and a National Geographic documentary on Amish life. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.
Her new book, Gathering the Threads, is the third and final novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series!
Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves, will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together—or completely rip them apart?
After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family?
Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart.
Hi Cindy! Welcome to the blog! I start all of my guests out with a fast four:
Cindy: I’m going to have to go with apples. I wrote a four-book series about apple farmers, titled Amish Vines and Orchards. In addition to that, my husband’s family owned an apple orchard, which was a fantastic help when it came to research. And apples are delicious in so many recipes.
Carrie: Yummm… apples are the best. Especially right now!
Cindy: It’s a close call, but Summer. I love the beauty of North Georgia when everything is green and in bloom. I love sitting on my back porch surrounded by shade trees with an iced tea in hand and the overhead fan going while I write, and it’s such fun splashing in the neighborhood pool with the grandkids.
Carrie: North Georgia in summer IS pretty… but it’s also HOT. lol.
Cindy: Definitely dogs. I’ve loved many dogs throughout my life, and I currently am typing with my dog’s, a chocolate lab mix, head in my lap. Her name is Tassie, and she’s a little over two years old. Dogs are loyal, sweet, and hilarious animals. I haven’t had a cat in about thirty years. My hubby is allergic. But my granddaughter loves cats, especially her beloved orange tabby, Boots, and I have to say they’re winning me over.
Carrie: Resist the urge to go to the dark side, Cindy!!! My dog Zuzu implores you! 😉
Cindy: I have to choose? Hmm. Coffee in the morning because it’s delicious, wakes me up, and encourages morning conversations between my husband and me. Tea parties in the evenings with my granddaughter, Lucy. I’ll always treasure our times of making pink pomegranate tea with entirely too much cream sugar. She prepares it. I drink it.
Carrie: Oh I love that answer!
Q: Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Cindy: I’ll have to stick to the superpower that I would love most: time manipulation. According to superhero speak, that means the ability to slow, accelerate, reverse, or stop time. As a wife, mom, Mimi, and writer, I would love to be able to reverse time. I’d write a novel, juggling all the family and friends aspects of life to the best of my ability, turn in the manuscript to my editor, and then reverse time and be with my family and friends unencumbered by work hours. Ha! That would great. But if having a superhero talent were a real thing, I’d choose something less selfish and more helpful to mankind.
Carrie: I’d think time manipulation might be helpful to mankind too!
Q: Who is your favorite book character from childhood?
Cindy: It’s hard to choose, but I’m going to go with Heidi.
She’s sweet, a hard worker, and has a mean grandfather. I remember being my granddaughter Lucy’s age of five and asking my mom dozens of questions about why the grandfather would be so gruff all the time. He doesn’t seem to like her at all until toward the end.
I still kept asking mom questions even after I’d read the book numerous times—but why couldn’t he figure out how to be nicer, say the same things, expect the same work, but be nicer, Mom; why? LOL. I still have that same book in my office, and I need to reread it and see if he’s as mean as I remember.
Carrie: I am eyeing my own copy on my bookshelf and wondering the same thing lol.
Q: If I asked your characters to describe YOU as an author, what would they say?
Cindy: Ariana – Cindy may be quiet online, but she’s never quiet when it comes to getting to know us, the characters. But in the busyness of life, sometimes she’ll put me in a predicament and then fall asleep while writing, mid-sentence, no less.
She writes what I call dress rehearsals. The characters have to act out all she’s writing, and then she’ll delete several chapters and start again. Goodness, it’s exhausting.
She’s sort of strange too. After writing and deleting chapter after chapter, as if she has no heart while erasing our world, she’ll hit what she calls the real story, and then she cries along with us.
I think she’s a hard worker and she seems to try to be even-keeled no matter what real life is throwing at her, but heavens, don’t let anything keep her from having her morning coffee.
Her pet peeve is being deep into writing and then her body reminds her she doesn’t actually exist in our world. The next thing I know she’s rushing out of her office, mumbling something about returning soon.
I think she cares about us characters very much, as if we were real people she talked with daily, but many characters wish she cared a little less. Still, by the end, it’s all worth it.
Carrie: hahaha!! Love the dress rehearsals!
Q: Describe your main characters and tell me who you would cast in their roles if Hollywood wanted to produce this series as a movie!
Cindy: I have three main characters in Amish of Summer Grove series, and they are completely opposite from one another when it comes to faith, politics, and socioeconomics, and yet they must learn to overcome their prejudices or they will ruin their own lives and that of their loved ones.
In Ties That Bind, Ariana is the charming and innocent main character. I’m a fan of Emma Stone, and she would make a perfect Ariana. One of her memorable roles was when she played Gwen Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man.
Ariana’s pseudo twin counterpart is Skylar Nash, and actress Cara Delevingne from Paper Towns would be a perfect fit for Skylar.
Quill is the rugged, quiet hero in Ties That Bind, and actor Tom Hardy is unflawed in his depictions of the strong, silent leader. He played Ivan Locke in the film Locke, and he portrayed Mad Max in another blockbuster.
Abram, Ariana’s twin, was the hardest character to chose an actor for. Abram is socially awkward and relies on Ariana for leadership, but he grows in inner strength and character. Jack O’Connell, who recently played Louie Zamporini in Unbroken, would portray Abram really well.
Carrie: ooo all excellent choices! I’ll just be here gazing adoringly at Tom if anyone needs me 😉
Q: What surprised you about Gathering the Threads or your characters as you wrote their story?
Cindy: I’ve never dealt with the challenges and complexities of two people—one Amish, one English—not being who they’ve spent their life thinking they are. Each one is forced to live the other one’s life for a season with no physical connection to the family they were raised with. Can a sweet Amish girl survive living with a very vocal atheist? Can a spoiled drug addict see the value of a people she detests?
The girls’ journeys have complications I hadn’t anticipated, but each layer brings clarity concerning the value of life, love, and family.
Carrie: These characters are surely not living in an Amish utopia! And I’m so glad!
What do you most want readers to take away from Gathering the Threads?
Cindy: Through the journey that these characters experience in trying to stay away from each other out of respect of their forefathers beliefs, they gave up the right to follow their heart, to follow what God may be fully approving of. The power of story is the power to slip into someone else’s skin and see nuances of understanding that make life as a broad and beautiful as God had intended.
Carrie: ‘the power to slip into someone else’s skin and see nuances of understanding’ is SO key in our world today!
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Cindy: Thank YOU for your questions! It’s been a pleasure.
I have two upcoming projects I’m really excited about. The first releases October 10th. I’m indie publishing a Christmas novella with my daughter-in-law, Erin. The book is titled The Gift of Christmas Past. It will be in Christian bookstores like Lifeway as a paperback, and we will be offering it free on Kindle Unlimited, for readers who enjoy that service. In addition to being my first indie release, it’s also my first non-Amish book. But the characters feel very “Woodsmall” to me, and I think readers will fall in love with the two feisty women who had to overcome so much in their past.
The second project is in the same “world” as The Gift of Christmas Past, with a working title of Soft Dusks and Noonday Fire. The main character, Tara is the foster sister of Hadley and Elliott. The majority of the setting takes place on St. Simons Island, Georgia, and I did some great in-person research there this past spring. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and I can’t wait to take readers there with me August 2018.
Carrie: I love that you’re writing a novella with your daughter-in-law! How fun!
What about y’all? Which character that Cindy mentioned are you most interested in learning more about?