Interview with C. A. Simonson

When did you first start writing?
I first began writing as a small child, making up stories, putting them into little chapbooks. When I was in fourth grade, I won a reading contest - by writing the story, and then reporting on it as if it were a real book. That story is on my website casimonson.wordpress.com, entitled "The Budding of a Writer." My first published piece was a poem at age 17, published by a national youth magazine. I received $7.50 for it, and I was thrilled!

My real writing endeavors for nonfiction articles didn't begin until I was in my 30s, and a whole new avenue opened up. I found people liked to read what I wrote, and that was a pleasure to me. I didn't publish a fictional work until my debut novel, "Love's Journey Home," came out in 2013. It is a coming of age/ family adventure book. The sequel, "Love Looks Back" came out in spring 2015. It is a cozy mystery. The third book in the series, "Love's Amazing Grace," is a war-time adventure which brings all siblings back together in sweet reunion. It was released in Dec. 2015.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is Love's Amazing Grace: The Reunion, the third in the Journey Home trilogy. Seven siblings have been abandoned in the 1940s on a cold, rainy Nebraska night, left to find their own ways in life. Love's Amazing Grace follows the oldest, Guy, who was almost fifteen when he was left to care for his six brothers and sisters. Abandoned once when his drink-ruined father left him and his siblings, Guy felt abandoned all over again. Alone on a sinking ship in the middle of the Pacific, he promises to make things right if he ever makes it home alive. He will admit his guilt of killing his Pa. His brothers and sisters have searched for years, not knowing he ran off to war, and have battled their own agonies of being separated. Two of the girls were adopted, but it turned out to be abusive for one. Jo hates her life, and as she struggles to find her way, her sister Grace has become the spoiled brat. In a unique turn of events, the siblings find each other again in a sweet reunion. No matter what circumstances prevail, or how intense the struggle,through persistent determination and prayer, strong family ties can never be broken.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is finding out what my characters want to do with the story. Believe it or not (and maybe only other authors will understand), the characters do write the story. When I think I have the plot all planned out, they can take it a whole different direction, and won't let me rest until it's written.

I don't believe in "automatic writing," as some might - but I do believe the mind is a curious and amazing God-created computer that sometimes stores information we don't even realize is there. Once we start putting pen to paper, it sometimes leaks out!
How do you approach cover design?
I look for a cover that describes the place of my story. If I cannot find a picture in the templates provided, I search through free online pictures (through Morguefile, for example). If I still cannot find what I'm looking for, then I search for a place, a building that will have the impact I want. The first two books in my Journey Home series have had covers I've designed. That is not always the best practice, but I took the pictures of the buildings, did a little swapping with a photo editor to get the sky and surroundings right and saved it as a jpeg for the cover. I believe the cover needs to be inviting and compelling, because people do "judge a book by its cover." I have had more than one person tell me they bought the book simply because the cover looked appealing.

If you cannot take your own pictures or design your own cover, then look for a good template. Better yet, hire a professional designer who can create a beautiful appealing cover for you.
What are you working on next?
I have started a rough draft of another drama - "Evil This Way Comes." It is a story of an unwanted child who was illegitimately born to a young girl enticed and ravaged by a traveling preacher. Through a reckless turn of events, the grandmother ends up raising a child she does not want. The child must go through terrible circumstances before she comes full circle to meet her father, and for her grandmother to forgive him for what he's done.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was in fourth grade. The class was in a contest to see who could read the most books for the month. I was one behind for the lead. Instead of reading another book, I WROTE a little story, and then reported on it as if it were a book. I won the contest. Immediately, I was stricken with guilt because of my deception. This story, "The Budding of a Writer," can be read on my website, casimonson.com.
What is your writing process?
If I get an idea, then I pan it out, roll it around in my mind, eventually put it into outline form, and then start writing. Sometimes, the chapters come all together at once. Other times, they come in "chunks", and I have to sort them out later. For instance, in the book, "Love's Journey Home" starts out with seven siblings abandoned by their drunken father. This was a true incident in the lives of some of my relatives - the rest of the story are slices of life and true events from other family members. In the last book, while doing research, I found that two men were abandoned on the U.S.S. Yorktown when it was about to sink in the Battle of Midway. They were not named, and only one survived. It played right into the plot of the third book and made a perfect instance for the oldest child to feel abandoned all over again.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have found Facebook to be a great resource for marketing as there are so many marketing groups to belong to. LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as Goodreads, are also good resources. Bookmarks or some type of handout are crucial for the book-signing events (which I collaborate with my craft fairs). Guest blogging is another effective way as many blogs allow a link back to your book or website.
What do you read for pleasure?
I love to read cozy mysteries - the good old-fashioned Nancy Drew kind. Science fiction is also a favorite, and simple romance where the good wins out, such as in Laura Ingalls Wilder-type books.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I belong to a local writers' club - which is something I recommend to all authors. Besides excellent critique and help on your work, they also give wonderful suggestions. So much can be learned from other authors who have already gone the course - both independently and traditionally. You learn from their mistakes. I first learned about it from a fellow author, and decided I could do it too. I'll never regret it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing fiction, I am writing nonfiction - technical writing for computer software instruction manuals. When I'm at home, I love to fish, sew, bake, create paintings with spray paint, and garden.
Who are your favorite authors?
Nancy Drew stories were a favorite growing up. I love the way Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories have the down-home, feel-good plots and endings. I have striven for that flavor in my own novels. Ellen Gunderson Traylor knows how to do great historical fiction, and I appreciate all the research that has gone into her books to make them so vivid and realistic.

Frank Peretti is another favorite with the way he can spin a tale and twist it around into a nail-biter every time. Ted Dekker falls within those same lines.
Published 2016-09-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Love's Amazing Grace: The Reunion
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 48,380. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Christian » Historical
Abandoned once when his drink-ruined father left him and his siblings, Guy felt abandoned all over again. Alone on a sinking ship in the middle of the Pacific, he promises to make things right if he ever makes it home alive. He will admit his guilt of killing his Pa. His brothers and sisters have searched for years, not knowing he ran off to War and have battled their own agonies of separation.
One Minute Stories: 56 Stories in 26 sentences
Price: Free! Words: 24,120. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Flash fiction
"One Minute Stories" is a travel companion to keep you entertained for hours. Quick flash fiction stories are written in every genre by forty-two talented authors from all over the world. The challenge: to write a complete story from A-Z in 26 sentences.
Love Looks Back: The Search for Siblings
Series: Journey Home, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 41,070. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
Love Looks Back: The Search for Siblings is book two in the Journey Home Series. Frank,now a young man, returns home to find answers, settle old scores, and make peace with his past. In his search, he finds some happy surprises, but also unearths some disturbing questions. It is a cozy mystery with a message of forgiveness for life's disappointments and healing from life's hurts.
Love's Journey Home: The Search for Love
Series: Journey Home, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 55,170. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
Abandoned at age 10, separated from brothers and sisters, Frankie was left to find his own way in life. He pawns his muscle for room and board to a neighboring farmer. Thinking he's being sold for labor, and treated harshly by the farmer's wife, Frank stows away on a train to find a new life and belonging. That's when he meets Anne, and Anne changes everything.