Monday, October 29, 2007
Larkspur by Ramona K. Cecil
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ramona K. Cecil lives with her husband in a small town in Indiana. Raised in rural Indiana, the daughter of poets, she’s written poetry since early childhood. Over eighty of her inspirational verses have been published by a leading company in the inspirational gift industry. A self-professed incurable romantic, Ramona’s love of God, writing, and history—especially the history of her beloved Hoosier State spurred her to attempt writing inspiration historical romance novels. Larkspur, her debut novel, won first place in Vintage Romance Publishing’s 2005 Vintage Inspirations contest. Since becoming a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in 2002, she’s penned five novels, four novellas and several short stories. Besides the 2005 win in the Vintage Romance Publishing contest, her writing has won awards in the Northeastern Indiana Opening Gambit Contest, American Christian Fiction Writer’s Noble Theme Contest, the East Texas Writers’ Association Contest and A Writer’s Toolbox Short Story Contest. Two more inspirational historical romance novels set in Indiana—both spin-offs of Larkspur— have been contracted by Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. As long as God gives her stories, she plans to continue writing those stories in a way that exalts her Lord and touches the hearts and souls of her readers. Or as encapsulated in the tagline on her business card, writing “Romance. . .God’s Way.”
Why did you become a writer? Was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I'd written poetry since early childhood. I always loved making up stories in my head, but never really wrote them down. But even as a child I found the idea of one day writing books, alluring. When I was fourteen, our county decided to bury a time capsule on the courthouse lawn as part of a celebration honoring the man who donated the land for the courthouse a hundred years earlier. Everyone in the county was invited to write a letter to their descendants, and the letters along with sundry other items would be placed in the capsule, which would be buried on the courthouse lawn to be dug up fifty years later. My folks thought it was a neat idea, so we all wrote letters. I remember stating in my letter that one of my goals in life was to write books. It makes me smile to know God allowed me to see that goal met before they dig up that capsule.
What do you love about being an author? Is there anything you dislike?
I love creating my stories and breathing life into my characters. I love hearing readers say my descriptions put them right in the story. I love history, so I actually even like the research. I also like to use my journey to publication to testify about the many blessings God has brought to my life by way of my writing. As far as things I don't like, I'm not a big fan of writing under pressure.
How do you balance your personal and writing time?
I try to do most of my writing and writing related work in the evenings Monday through Friday, while my husband works a late second shift job. We are empty nesters, and I try to keep the weekends open so we can spend time together.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story?
Usually, something sparks my imagination. I ask the question, "I wonder what would happen if. . ." and it grows from there. Sometimes it's an interesting character, but more times, it's a tiny grain of a plot idea.
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
I write mainly historical romance, although I'm working on a longer women's fiction historical. I love history---always have, especially Indiana history. I have written a few contemporary novellas and short stories. But everything I have planned for the future are historicals. The time period before the 1960's just seems a simpler, more romantic time to me.
What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
That it is an easy, glamorous life with tons of money rolling in daily. Nothing could be farther from the truth, at least not for me. It's hard, hard work which I mainly do back in what I call my "cave" in comfortable ( think "sloppy") sweats. I've spent at least as much if not more, on my "writing habit" than what I've earned.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
My characters are all fictional, but often traits of people I have known find their way into these made-up characters.
Out of all the characters that you've written, who is your favorite and why?
My favorite is Becky Hale, the heroine in Larkspur, because she was my first heroine. A close second would be Widow Riley, an old lady who appears in that story.
If you were writing a script for the big screen, who would you want to act in your movie?
It all depends on what story it is, and how I envision my characters. In my current work in progress, The Heritage, I could see Evangeline Lilly from the TV series, Lost, playing my heroine, Annie, while Christian Bale would fit the character of my hero, Brock, very well.
What would you want readers to take away from your books?
That down through the ages, regardless of the era, people have always, and will always need God in their lives. And despite how dire your situation, or how conflicted your relationship with those you love, God can heal it, and mend fractured hearts back together.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers in regards to writing a book?
Get in a good writing support group where you can learn and grow. For those who write Christian fiction, you can't do better than American Christian Fiction Writers. If God had not led me to this group, I would not be published today. I have no doubt about that. Also, have an open, teachable heart and be willing to take criticism. Then use that criticism to find your weak points and work to strengthen them.
Who are your favorite authors?
Gene Stratton Porter,Kim Vogel Sawyer, Louise Gouge, Di Ann Mills, Lauraine Snelling, and Liz Curtis Higgs.
What are you reading right now?
Louise Gouge's Civil War era story, Then Came Hope. I recommend it highly.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
After watching her young cousin die at the hands of a prominent Cincinnati physician, Becky Hale declares war against conventional medicine. She returns home to Larkspur, Indiana, promoting a gentler, herbalistic approach to medicine, while preaching against the evils of university educated doctors.
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, Becky Hale. When opposing medical philosophies collide on the Indiana prairie, will new love succumb to pride and distrust? Or will God provide a cure?
“Oh, Becky, wait!” The sound of Sarah’s quick footsteps followed her breathless warning.
Already at the top of the stairs, Becky froze just outside the open door of the guest room. Surprised to find a man standing in Sarah Jordan’s guest bedroom, she jumped back as if someone jerked her by the shoulders.
Tall dandy, was the first thought that sprung to her mind. Dressed in a blue broadcloth coat and black dress trousers, he gripped the brim of a dark beaver hat. His black cravat, if a bit limp, was tied in an intricate fashion around the starched collar of his white linen shirt.
She felt the corners of her mouth pull down in a frown. The vision of Albert Covington, the young man in Cincinnati, who’d won her affections, then discarded them like a faded boutonniere, flashed before her eyes. She barely noticed the sound of hurried footsteps on the stairs.
“Becky,” Sarah’s breathless voice puffed beside her. “May I introduce my young cousin-----”
“Ephraim Morgan at your service, miss.” The dapper stranger dipped a bow. “Late of Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, I’ve come to establish a medical practice here in Larkspur.”
Sarah’s hand on Becky’s back urged her across the threshold. “Ephraim, this is Becky Hale, my hired-girl.
Becky’s jaw slacked as she looked with disbelief into the dark eyes of the stranger who seemed the embodiment of the things she’d come to despise.
“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Hale.”
He closed the distance between them in two long strides.
She involuntarily jerked when he took her hand. Bending his dark head, he brushed his lips against the backs of her fingers.
Yanking her hand away, she pushed it beneath her apron. “Mr. Morgan,” she managed to mutter, unwilling to acknowledge the title, “Doctor.” Her gaze fled his dark eyes. Hypnotically dark-----so dark, she could hardly tell the pupils from the iris.
“Becky, please bring up a pitcher of water so Ephraim can freshen up, and then you can help me prepare a fine breakfast for him.” Sarah’s voice had taken on a nervous tremor, suggesting she’d suddenly remembered Becky’s aversion to members of the medical elite. With a worried glance, she retreated down the stairs.
“I’ll get your water.” Becky walked to the washstand and snatched the ivory-colored china pitcher from its matching bowl. She couldn’t help imagining how much more satisfying it might be to throw the water at him rather than pour it in the washbowl.
A bemused look clouded the man’s swarthy features. “I thank you for your trouble, Miss Hale, and will endeavor not to be too much of a burden.”
For some reason, God had sent this man to Larkspur. Perhaps it was to test her resolve as a champion for gentler medical practices. With an adversary in Larkspur, her conviction would be less likely to weaken. Because she must accept God’s purpose in this-----and because he was Sarah’s relation-----she had no choice but to treat him with respect. However, she felt it only fair to warn him of her views.
She stiffened her spin, squared her shoulders, and fixed him with a glare. “Mr. Morgan, it is not for myself I’m concerned, but for those in Larkspur who are, or may become, ill. I must tell you, God has laid it on my heart to see no harm comes to them.”
The puzzled look on his face slipped into a frown, his dark brows pulling down into a V. When he spoke, his voice sounded crisp as the vacated shell of a locust. “My dear Miss Hale, you’ll be glad to learn I’ve laid my hand upon the Holy Bible, and in the tradition of Hypocrites, made a sacred vow to God to keep my patients from harm and injustice.” The tension along his square jaw seemed to relax and a smile tipped his well-formed lips. “I do believe we are in complete agreement.”
Warmth flooded her cheeks, rekindling her irritation. It’s because you’re angry. It has nothing to do with the way his mouth looks when he smiles, she told herself. Hadn’t she learned not to trust a handsome face?
Lifting her chin, she fixed him with a searing glare. “I wouldn’t say that, Dr. Morgan. No indeed, I wouldn’t say that.” Turning stiffly, she fled down the stairs, dimly aware she’d attached the prefix “Dr.” to his name.
"Ramona Cecil’s ability to make 1835 come alive is masterful. I could almost smell the wood smoke in the air as I traveled about the town of Larkspur. With characters that experience love, hope, forgiveness and a willingness to see past their own misconceptions, I didn’t want to leave this lovely story. I hope to see more by this fabulous writer. "
-- Sabrina Fox-Butcher, CFBA Reviewer
"Larkspur is a sweet, engaging romance, reminiscent of my favorite Grace Livingston Hill stories. Woven into Becky & Ephraim’s story is fascinating information about early medical practice. Strong characters make Larkspur an enchanting read."
-- Reviewed by Sheryl Root
"Ramona Cecil’s Larkspur is a delightful historical romance. The concept of what works best—traditional medicine or herbal treatment—not only fits the time frame in which the story is written, the same arguments are still heard today."
-- Barbara Warren, Blue Mountain Editorial Service
"Larkspur is beautifully crafted, intricately detailed, and so real I walked the flower-laden hills with Ephraim and Becky. Ramona K. Cecil creates magic..."
-- Kim Vogel Sawyer, multi-published Christian author and speaker
Larkspur by Ramona K. Cecil
Publisher: Vintage Romance Publishing
Release Date: November 30, 2006
$11.01 from Amazon.com
Purchase Larkspur by Ramona K. Cecil HERE!!!