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01 February 2012

Chatting It Up with Vannetta Chapman

Your hostess this week is Delia Latham.

Vannetta Chapman
Vannetta Chapman writes Amish novels for Abingdon Press, Zondervan, and Harvest House. She lives in a small town in central Texas with her husband and herd of deer.

Today I'm chatting with Vannetta Chapman, "inspirational author of fiction full of grace." She's also the author of this Clash's Excerpt B, taken from her novel, Falling to Pieces. I think you'll enjoy hanging out with this Texas writer. :)

Here are some of the comments our readers made about Vannetta's excerpt:

Excerpt B definitely gave a clearer sense of the Amish world.

Both stories seem well written, and I liked how the second author explained the medallion quilt, then named it.

Obviously grief-stricken, Callie was able to collect herself to at least hear the story of the her aunt's agreement to sell Deborah's quilt goods.

I enjoyed both excerpts, but Excerpt B left me so intrigued - I definitely want to read more!

Let's get right to our chat.

Vannetta...welcome to COTT! How long have you been writing, and how many published novels do you have? When did you see your first book in print?

I started with freelance articles, 14 years ago. Falling to Pieces was my 2nd inspiration book in print (though it was my 10th book to complete). My first inspy was A Simple Amish Christmas (Abingdon, 2010).

It just so happens that I have read and very much enjoyed A Simple Amish Christmas. I'm so glad you made the effort to get this one in print. Is Amish life familiar to you, or does writing this genre require a lot of research? If the latter, what type of research do you do?

It's only familiar in that I find it similar in many ways to rural Texas life. There are many similarities to life on a small farm and life on an Amish farm (though electricity isn't one of them). But you still deal with tumbling down barns, stubborn cattle, and the trials of weather! My grandfather was born in the late 1800s in Pennsylvania and I may have Amish ancestors, but the genre does require a lot of research which I enjoy. While this is easier with the internet, I also spend time in every location I write about. Nothing replaces boots on the ground (in this case, deer-skin boots).

Research is not one of my favorite things to do, so kudos to you! LOL Although I think I would tremendously enjoy research that put me in the middle of an Amish community for a week or so. :) Do you write exclusively in this genre?

I'm published exclusively in this genre, but manuscripts 1-8 covered everything from romantic suspense to westerns. I enjoy writing, telling a story, and creating characters that come to life on the page. I'll write whatever my publisher thinks is a good fit for me.

Now, that's smart! I think a willingness to be flexible and work with your editor is crucial to being successful in the world of publishing. What's the thing you most enjoy about writing (Amish novels or otherwise), and what aspect of it is the most difficult?

I enjoy the connection with readers a lot. Last week I had a Facebook letter which read, "A Simple Amish Christmas moved me and changed me for the better. I'm glad God uses whatever He wishes to obtain the changes he wants in His children. Thank you for this wonderful novel." When readers take time from their day to leave me that type of note, I am so grateful for my "job." What aspect is most difficult? The uncertainty. You have no idea if you'll have another book following this one, or what your paycheck will be. God knows, but you don't. : )

What a wonderful reader response! And I agree, nothing is more satisfying than knowing your writing has actually touched someone's heart and effected a positive change in them. Do you have a favorite verse of scripture...a "life verse"? What makes that verse special to you?

Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

I went through a VERY difficult time as a single mom, years ago, and it seemed so dark and hopeless. But I never doubted that God had a plan for my life. I never doubted that HE had not given up on me or my child. I literally clung to this verse.

This one is a favorite among so many writers, and it isn't hard to see why. What single piece of advice has most influenced your life as a writer?

I had a graduate professor who said that most people (90% or more) are rejected when they send in their work because they don't read and follow the directions. This man was very bright. He'd taken classes from Carl Sagan. I respected him so much and learned an immense amount from him. So I took that comment to heart. I decided that everything I submitted, I'd read the directions carefully and I'd already be in the top 10%. I think that advice helped me to win over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups, which in turn led to my acquiring a literary agent. It continues to serve me well.

That's excellent advice for any writer. Thank you for visiting with us at Clash of the Titles, Vannetta – it's been a pleasure having you!

Thank you, Delia!
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