Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ramona K. Cecil: Hoosier Heartland Historical Romance Writer

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This is 10-month-old Ramona(seated) with her older sister

Ramona is a true Hoosier girl, born and raised.It's the home where she was born, grew up, married, had children and watched them marry and have children of their own. She loved Hoosier writers Gene Stratton Porter and James Whitcomb Riley.  If what Ramona says as her childhood ambitions were truly the desires of her faithful heart(and I believe they were,) then she has been able to see each one come to fruition.

Ramona has loved the history of her Indiana home state her whole life, and when she visited Conner Prairie Farm near Indianapolis, Indiana, an 1836 living history museum, she may have even spoken to my aunt who was an interpreter there back during the time Ramona was there (in Dr. Campbell's home and in The Whitaker’s Home & Store.)

This was in 1983,  and from that point she began to revive her dream of writing fiction that she had even as a young girl. In 2002 Ramona headed for Houston (where I met her, and now she belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana chapter) to her first American Christian Romance Writers conference (now American Christian Fiction Writers.) Her first book came out this month in 2007, so she has been faithful to her craft and love for historical romance writing. She has now sold several more stories, and Ramona continues to plot her romances--all remaining true to her Hoosier roots and predecessors.

 

Let's see what shaped Ramona into the romance writer who writes stories of the Hoosier Heartland History:

Childhood Ambition:

To be a wife, mom, and author. God has granted me all three. When I was fourteen, county historians buried a time capsule on the courthouse square. The capsule would be dug up in fifty years. They invited folks to write letters to their descendants and place them in the capsule. My folks thought that was a neat idea, so we each wrote letters on the onion paper they recommended. One of the things I wrote was that I hoped to be published in poetry and fiction.

They can dig that thing up any time now.

Fondest Memory : 

As I watch a montage of fond scenes from my childhood drift past my mind's eye, it's hard to pick one. But I like the memory of Mom and Dad, my sister, brother, and I loading up in my dad's old panel truck with a grocery-bag full of popcorn my mom popped and a thermos of Kool-Aid and heading to the local drive-in movie theater on a warm summer's evening.

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Ramona's First Grade Photo

Proudest Moment:

When I was in the first grade(we didn't have kindergarten then) and the teacher asked if anyone could tell her the name of the President. Mine was among only two or three hands that went up. When the teacher called on me I stuttered for a moment, afraid I'd not say it right, then correctly blurted out "Ei--Eisenhower!" That dates me, doesn't it?

Biggest Challenge as a Child or Teen:

Being overweight. My weight problem has plagued me practically since babyhood. I'm a life-long yo-yo dieter. And as I believe it was Erma Bombeck who once said, "I've lost enough weight in my life that by all accounts, I should be hanging from someone's charm bracelet." And whether I'm thinner or heavier at any one time, that one thing has always colored my self-image. I really struggle to love myself as God loves me----unconditionally.

My First Job:

My first job beyond my chores around our rural Indiana home was as a car-hop at the local Dog'N Suds when I was sixteen.

Childhood Indulgence:

Reading. Slipping away with a good book. Sometimes it took me up a cottonwood tree, where I'd sit and read and daydream. As a child, I kept a book called Fifty Famous Fairy Tales beside my bed and read one----only one, mind you---each evening before I said my prayers and went to sleep.

The summer I was twelve, I fashioned a teepee from some sapling poles and covered it with an old comforter. I'd sit in there and read Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and Gene Stratton Porter's Laddie, Freckles,and Girl of the Limberlost.

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From Girl of the Limberlost

Favorite Outfit as a Child:

I was a tomboy. I remember a pair of denim jeans with blue and white checkered cuffs. Loved those pants! I've always had short feet, so whenever my younger brother, who had big feet for his age and grew very fast outgrew a pair of his black high-topped boys basketball shoes, I'd latch onto them. Add a red and white gingham blouse and a white sailor's cap, and you have a good picture of my favorite childhood outfit.

Favorite Childhood Movie:

The animated Disney movie, Lady and The Tramp. Loved those dogs!

Favorite Childhood Book:

Aside from my aforementioned "Fifty Famous Fairy Tales," it had to be Gene Stratton Porter's "Laddie." Hands down, my all-time favorite book as a child reader.

Favorite Childhood Activity:

Have I mentioned reading? Other than that, it had to be composing nature poetry while riding my bike along the country roads near our rural Indiana home.

Childhood Hero:

That would be "Heroes," plural. My parents were my heroes. My mom instilled in us an unwavering and abiding faith in God while my dad gave us a strong work ethic. Poets in their own right, they both loved the written word and encouraged my writing. Yet they set aside any personal dreams of publication they might have had, devoting their lives to providing security for us kids.

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Anything else you can share with readers about your childhood that developed you into the writer you are today?

The encouragement my parents gave me to read and write. We had two editions of the complete works of James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier poet in our home. I remember both parents sitting and reading those poems to us. Vacation trips often had literary themes. I remember visiting James Whitcomb Riley's boyhood home in Greenfield, Indiana, Gene Stratton Porter's home in Geneva, Indiana, and Mark Twain's home in Hannibal, Missouri.

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Ramona's historical romance book, Larkspur, just released in November:

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For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord.  Jer. 30:17

Larkspur, Indiana, 1835 READ AN EXCERPT OR ORDER

Becky Hale distrusts all university-educated doctors. Having watched her little cousin die at the hands of one of Cincinnati's most prominent physicians, she returns to her home in Larkspur, Indiana, a devotee of a more gentle, holistic medical approach.

Ephraim Morgan, fresh from Kentucky's Transylvania University, arrives in Larkspur with plans to set up a medical practice. When mutual suspicion turns to admiration, and admiration to love, can God provide a remedy for the chronic differences keeping Becky and Ephraim apart? Will Becky allow her new love to succumb to a festering mistrust when old wounds are reopened?

And when Becky falls ill, will Ephraim rely only on the holistic methods of healing to which Becky subscribes? Or in a valiant attempt to save her life, will he apply the more aggressive medicine he'd been taught in the university and risk losing her love?

 

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from Barbour Publishing

Heartsong Presents in February 2008

Sweet Forever

The Hale siblings' saga continues. . .

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16

Madison, Indiana, 1845

Rosaleen Archer thinks God hates her.  Born out of wedlock and raised by a riverboat gambler, she's been told her illegitimacy makes her hateful in God's eyes.  So she doesn't look to Divine help when she finds herself orphaned, widowed, and fleeing the man who killed her husband. Longing to be accepted by society, Rosaleen hopes her talent for playing the piano will be the conduit through which she will find that acceptance. But the steamboat accident that frees her from the clutches of her tormentor, deposits her on the banks of the Ohio River at Madison, Indiana, delaying her plans to travel to New York and pursue a career as a concert pianist.

Jacob Hale is working to build the church that had been the dream of his late friend and mentor. But he is haunted by the fear that as a minister of the gospel, he will never live up to the legacy of the man who taught him the ministry and so, do both his late teacher and God, a disservice.  So when Rosaleen rebuffs his attempts to lead her to the Lord, it fuels his self-doubts. Can Jacob convince Rosaleen God's love is meant for her, too? And when her dark past come hunting, can he save them both from the man determined to own Rosaleen's life----whatever the cost?

 

If you are interested in writing fiction or are specifically interested in Heartsong Presents books and the editors there, check out the links embedded here:

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American Christian Fiction Writers

Barbour Editors The Edit Cafe' blogspot

Heartsong Presents

From Ramona's official Bio on the ACFW-IN chapter site:

Ramona K. Cecil is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance poet, and award-winning inspirational romance writer. Now empty-nesters, she and Jim, her husband of thirty-four years, make their home in southern Indiana.


Her creative writing credits began first, with the publication of her poetry. Between the mid 1980s and 1990s over eighty of her inspirational verses were published by Dickson, Inc., a leading publisher of inspirational and Christian gift items. It was about that time that a visit to Conner Prairie, a living history museum near Indianapolis, IN, inspired the story that would one day become Larkspur, her first inspirational historical romance novel. In 2002, she became serious about writing Christian fiction and joined American Christian Fiction Writers.

Since then, she has written five novels, four novellas, and several short stories. Her work has won first place in three writing contests and placed highly in two others.


Larkspur, her debut novel, was the 2005 winner of Vintage Romance Publishing’s Vintage Inspirations Contest. Part of first-place prize was a publishing contract with Vintage Romance Publishers, and the book was released November 2006. Since then, two more inspirational historical romance novels, also set in Indiana, have been accepted by Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. Sweet Forever, is scheduled for release March 2008 and Everlasting Promise has not yet been given a release date. When not writing, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest.

8 comments:

Lynda Schab said...

Ramona was in my critique group for a while! Thanks for giving me this glimpse into her past.

And thanks, Ramona, for turning me into a historical romance fan! Looking forward to seeing "The Heritage" on bookstore shelves soon!

Ramona Cecil said...

Lynda,
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my interview on Crystal's great blog! I'm so glad I've made a convert to historical fiction.

Rose McCauley said...

Dear Ramona, I loved seeing the pictures of your younger days, esp. your sweet smile which is still the same! I am so happy for your book contracts and can't wait to read the rest of the Hale family stories. love, rose

Rose McCauley said...

Dear Ramona, I enjoyed seeing your younger photos, and esp. you sweet smile which is still the same. I can't wait to read the other books about the Hale family. love, rose

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Ahhh, Ramona! My very favorite childhood movie of all time is Lady and the Tramp. I can't believe we have that in common. Sigh.

You are a dear dear woman, Ramona. I'm happy for your writing successes. :)

Bette said...

Hi Ramona,

I'm so glad I looked you up on the web. We have a diet group that met weekly for 3 years and now meet monthly. One of our members brought your Dieter's Prayer and we read it often. I would like to see if I might be able to include it in an article I'm writing for the Bible Advocate about dieting. How would I go about getting your permission?

Thanks for your help. Bette

Ramona Cecil said...

Bette,
I am honored that you and your group want to include my Dieter's Prayer in an article. Of course you have my permission. Just mention me as the author and Dicksons, Inc. as the publisher. The poem was published in 1991. As a fellow dieter, I'd love to read the article and learn more about your group. You can e-mail me at writeheart@cinergymetro.net.

Bette said...

Hi Ramona,

I tried to send you the following email but it came back to me. Please reply.

Here, at last, is the article I am writing. You are getting the "raw goods" since it isn't back from my friend/editor ;o) yet. I know it needs some more work but I wanted you to know what we are about and see if you have any suggestions for me before I send it in. I will welcome any input!

Thanks again for your permission to incl your poem.

Blessings, Bette

now maybe I can get some sleep tonight!