“A True Story of Choosing to Live an “Amish” Life”
Notice the “” around Amish? Yeah…
I read a lot of Amish fiction. Anyone who follows my reviews knows that, but there’s something about this that doesn’t ring quite true.
It’s possible there are huge differences in Amish fiction and Amish reality – I kinda figured that one anyway…
It’s possible the publisher really doesn’t know the difference between Amish and Mennonite…
It’s also possible they’re using the word Amish because a lot of other people don’t know the difference between Amish and Mennonite…
Whatever the reason – this book is a good read. Well, it’s not always a good read. Some of the things Sherry has been through are enough to make the average person incredibly thankful for their nice, quiet, boring life.
But it is an interesting read and there is a lot of good in the life Sherry has chosen for herself.
In fact, I could easily see myself doing much of what she does.
I can’t give up my car or my phone but I wear long skirts all the time already and I love the idea of living more simply. The world has become so complicated, it’s amazing any of us are sane.
Whether you enjoy Amish fiction, Mennonite fiction or just reading about someone’s crazy, messed-up, overwhelming life – “The Plain Choice” is a good choice!
Raised in a broken family and emotionally overlooked, Sherry Gore grew up without a solid foundation, a prisoner of her own poor choices, and at times without hope. A series of terrible mistakes left her feeling wrecked and alone and a sudden tragedy threw Sherry into an emotional tailspin too powerful to escape.
Sherry hangs by a thread, unable to see how she can go on living, until it happens: on a morning of no particular significance, she walks into a church and BAM the truth of Jesus forgiving love shatters her world and cleaves her life in two: She goes to bed stunned; she wakes up a Christian.
Unwilling to return to the darkness of her former life, Sherry attacks her faith head on. Soon the life Sherry Gore remakes for herself and her children as she seeks to follow the teachings of the Bible features head coverings, simple dress, and a focus on Jesus Christ. Only then does she realize, in a fit of excitement, that there are others like her. They are called Amish and Mennonite, and she realizes she has found her people.
The plain choice that Sherry makes is not easy and life still brings unexpected pain and heartache – but it changes everything for her, as she becomes one of the few people on earth to have successfully joined the Amish from the outside.
She has found her place. And her story proves that one can return from the darkest depths to the purest light with the power of God.”
I was blessed to receive a copy of this free in exchange for an honest review!
What’s it like to be one of the few outsiders to leave the Englisch way of life and join the Old-Order Amish—and stay? In Called to Be Amish, this rare memoir by Marlene C. Miller, she recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates.
This is the first memoir that I have read from someone who grew up and then chose to become Amish… and to be honest, it really wasn’t even close to what I was expecting to read!
Marlene did what very few people have ever been able to do… join the Amish faith – and be accepted by the Amish community!
In her memoir, Marlene does nothing to gloss over the hardships she encountered while growing up, or the lifestyle she experienced during her adult life in an Amish home – with things we take for granted. She gives examples of things she had a difficult time adjusting to (for example – she continued to use kerosene lamps because of her fear of starting a fire with the newer lamps).
Although they had plenty of good times together, Marlene seems to dwell a bit more on the hard times her family experienced.
Marlene C. Miller joined the Amish as an adult and has been a member of the Old Order Amish for almost 50 years. She and her husband of 48 years live on a farm in Ohio surrounded by their nine children, more than 40 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Fewer than one hundred outsiders have joined the Old–Order Amish—and stayed—since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them.
In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates.
Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God’s love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community.
Accompany her as she dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized. Learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy, and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Turning Amish has proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God’s call as an Old Order Amish woman.
How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation . . .
This is not a book about politics.
This is a book about love, grace, faith, respect, and family. This book is the Santorum’s way of sharing their love and devotion to their daughter, Bella! And they have the opportunity to reach many families with their story.
It greatly saddened me when I read that the doctors encouraged the Santorum family to give up on their daughter – just because of a disability. Well, I wasn’t really surprised – just disappointed.
Children – all children – are a blessing… and it doesn’t matter if they are “special” – as some wonderful people refer to those born with physical or mental disabilities. I love how Rick and Karen share their story about Bella – and how they see her as a blessing. Their respect for Bella, for all life – even before birth – is a blessing to everyone they touch.
Bella has enriched their lives and the lives of their family in more ways than can be recorded in a book. At her birth, Bella had already beaten the odds, and she continues to do so – thriving – at a miraculous seven years old!
If I knew nothing else about the Santorum family, because of their love and commitment to Bella, they are worthy of my respect – and my prayers. God bless you, Santorum family!
This is most definitely a book I’d highly recommend!
More about this wonderful book from Thomas Nelson:
Rick and Karen Santorum’s inspiring story of life with Bella, their special-needs youngest child.
Four days after Rick and Karen Santorum welcomed their eighth baby into the world they were given the devastating news that their little girl, Bella, was going to die. The full story of life with Bella has never been told until now. This inspiring family memoir explores what it means to embrace and celebrate the life of each person, and find hope, even in the midst of painful challenges.
“Bella’s Gift” is the story of how the entire family came together to love and care for Bella and how God strengthened them during the storms and blessed their family with grace, peace, and joy.
Searchingly honest, faith filled, and surprisingly joyful, “Bella’s Gift “is a loving, lived-out testimony to the truth that everyone counts, even the least of these. “
Click on the links below to find more info and where you can get your own copy of this GREAT book!
“The Faces of Cancer” is a story of the hard journey of a very courageous woman.
Sarah Price has been down a similar road as many other women in this world – and she has penned a tome of encouragement and hope for those still to come.
She shares her experiences along a difficult path with us; using humor and an upbeat outlook that amazes me.
I’ve not been through cancer of any kind personally but I can not imagine that I would be able to handle it as well as Sarah has.
Although a big part of the book is Sarah’s message – that with God, anything is possible!
An excellent read – whether you’re facing a similar diagnosis, you’ve already been through the same thing or know someone who has, or even if you’ve never had any association with cancer at all.
And here is what Amazon has to say about The Faces of Cancer:
In May 2013, best-selling author of Amish fiction, Sarah Price, learned that she had breast cancer. From hearing “we caught it early” to almost having Stage 3 breast cancer that had spread throughout her lymph nodes, Sarah Price fought it with humor and acceptance, her faith in God’s plan stronger than her fear of cancer. After multiple complications (that are still on-going), she wrote this to help inspire others who are dealing with cancer, whether as the patient or as the family/friend providing support.
Mixed with Scripture and prayer, this story is about one woman’s struggle to balance her cancer diagnosis with the concern from family and her thousands of friends on social media who read and love her books. Readers will finish this book and know that God gives us what we can handle and, if you look at situations with a Sarah Price attitude, you will find that nothing can be too heavy for our shoulders.
APPROXIMATELY 160 pages
Enjoy and God bless.
Proceeds from this book will be donated to the TJ Martell Foundation the music industry’s largest foundation that funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures for leukemia, cancer and AIDS.
You can find more information and/or buy the book from these popular sites.
I recently discovered a NEW author and I am here to share a bit more about her today!
Spotlighting Martha Rogers!
About Martha Rogers and her wonderful books
Martha Rogers is a freelance author of both fiction and non-fiction and a speaker. Her stories and articles have appeared in a number of compilations and magazines. Her first fiction novella released in 2007.
Her experiences as a public school teacher, Sunday school teacher, youth leader, First Place leader, Mom and Grandmother give Martha a unique field of ministry.
Martha is am alumni of CLASS and is available to speak at Women’s Retreats, conferences, and luncheons on topics of interest to women of all ages.
As an author, she is available to speak at writing conferences and workshops on a variety of topics of interest to writers.
– What first drew you to the Historical genre? Do you have plans to give any other genre a try in the future?
Our son lived in Tulsa, and we drove up there to visit about 3 times a year. We always stopped at the visitor’s information center for a rest stop, and they had all kinds of information about Oklahoma. I loved Texas history and wanted to know about our neighboring state. The more I read, the more interested I became in Oklahoma and her past. From that interest was born Becoming Lucy, my first historical novel.
Right now my agent is submitting a contemporary romance series, and it’s a series close to my heart perhaps because it’s set in Houston.
– Christmas focused stories are becoming ever more popular at the moment… will we be seeing more Christmas stories from you any time soon?
I have a contract for another Christmas book, but it won’t be out until the fall of 2016 because of a backlist of Christmas novels for my publisher. That book will be a part of my present series based in part on a lot of my family history.
– I’ve noticed that many published authors’ journey to publication did not “follow the rules”? Would you share a bit about how you got started? Did you journey “follow the rules” or is it one-of-a-kind?
I started in the early 1990’s seeking publication. I had several articles as well as submissions to collections published, but not a book. I followed the rules somewhat in that I went to conferences, joined a writing group and a critique group and signed with an agent. After so many series and stand alone novels were rejected, Becoming Lucy landed on the desk of an editor whose publisher had made a decision to branch out into historical novels. Mine was there, she liked it, and she bought it as well as three others in the series. It was all God’s timing and not my planning.
– You have done several series and also several stand-alone novels. Do you prefer one over the other? Which are you in line for next?
Actually the two that people think of as stand-alone are part of the first series. The Christmas book has two of the characters from Lucy in it and the family in it are from the town in Lucy.
– Can you tell us about the project you are working on right now?
I’m working on the Christmas novel, Christmas at Stoney Creek and polishing up the first novel, Faith on Trial, in the contemporary series.
Thanks for having me Rachel.
Here is a bit about Martha’s most recent release:
“Love Never Fails” by Martha Rogers
At odds over their beliefs and separated by the war, Molly and Stefan must learn to depend of God.
In book three of the Homeward Journey series, Daniel and Sally Delaney’s daughter Molly finishes school and returns to her home to teach. When old friends of her parents come for a visit with their son, Stefan, Molly is attracted to the young man, but all he is interested in is talking about his position in the army. When he leaves to rejoin his regiment, Molly is both relieved and saddened. Can they overcome their differences and find love?
I am a firm believer that you should start at the beginning of a series…
It is April 1865, can Sally and Manfred overcome the distance that the war has put between them and find love?
Three strong women from the South forge ahead to new territories to establish a new life and find happiness through their staunch faith. Related not only by blood but also by courage, they prove that love knows no boundaries, and when all else is gone, love will be there. Covering the themes of family, loyalty, belonging, and the journeys we take to find love, this new series by the popular author of Becoming Lucy will be sure to please her many fans.
AND WATCH FOR my review later this month of Martha’s Christmas Book:
“Christmas At Holly Hill” BY Martha Rogers
Can Clayton Barlow prove he has changed his ways in time for Christmas?
It is October 1898, and Clayton Barlow has just returned home after serving time in prison for his part in a bank robbery.
His family welcomes him, but the townspeople are skeptical. Bored with life in the small town but determined to make a new start, he goes to work with his father, hoping to regain the town’s trust.
Clayton recognizes the schoolteacher at the Prairie Grove School as his childhood friend, Merry Lee Warner, and old feelings surface. Still, he doubts that he could ever get a woman like Merry to love him.
As the townspeople prepare for Christmas, their suspicions about Clayton lead to trouble.
Will the trusting heart of an unlikely new friend be enough to restore Clayton’s relationships with his neighbors and reunite him with God and Merry?
I can hardly wait to see what she writes next!
And those are not the only books Martha has in her repertoire…
I met Jody not too long at a workshop she held in one of our local libraries.
I admit, I had never stopped to think about the roller-coaster ride that can be the road to adoption…but The Eye of Adoption has shown me.
It has also shown how having an amazing attitude can make the journey one that will change you – yes – but for the better.
Even the cover shows this unique contrast. You see the wind whipped clouds above a relatively calm sea of soothing blue and white and all you have to do is step in…
Once upon a time I considered the idea of adoption (as I was told by several doctors that I would never have children naturally) but God had other plans for me.
But… WOW! Am I glad I read this book!
Jody Cantrell Dyer has a wonderful outlook and a delightful sense of humor about the whole experience.
Whether you are considering adoption or not… read this book!
Jody takes us through every step of her journey with humor and helpful advice and she does it in such a way that shows us all the difficulties of the journey while making us laugh and feel joy with her!
What a wonderful gift this book would make for anyone in your life who is considering adoption!
Here is what GoodReads has to say about “The Eye of Adoption”:
“No one just adopts.” From the very first steps of acknowledging adoption as a choice to the final document that seals the deal, Jody Cantrell Dyer paints a raw, warm, heartbreaking and eventually triumphant portrayal that narrates the entire adoption process through compassionate and humorous prose.
Dyer’s candor and soul color each page of The Eye of Adoption. She directly addresses the sorrows of infertility and the demands of adoption while consistently word-weaving a life rope of assurance, humor, and optimism for her readers.
A middle-aged wife, mother, and teacher, Dyer “tells it like it is” in hopes that waiting adoptive parents, birthparents, adoptees, and those close to them will find kinship through her story.
You can find more information and/or buy the book from these popular sites.
I recently discovered her books and so far I LOVE each one I have read!
Here is a bit about Laura:
About Laura V. Hilton and her wonderful books
Laura is an award winning author, a pastor’s wife, married over twenty-five years and has five children. She home-schools, reviews favorite books and writes books herself.
Her books include Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, Promised to Another, Healing Love, Surrendered Love and Awakened Love.
The Snow Globe will release in Sept. 2014 – and Swept Away in Nov. 2014.
You can connect with Laura through TWITTER, FACEBOOK or through her blogs. You can follow Laura’s book reviews HERE and read more about upcoming books HERE.
My interview with Laura V. Hilton
– Do any of your novels have a basis in reality – maybe something similar happened to a friend or a family member?
Well, yes. In PATCHWORK DREAMS, date-rape is an unfortunately common occurrence and in fact, it happened to me. I didn’t get pregnant as a result, but I did have the trauma that went with it. The guilt… What if it was my fault? The boy who did it was someone I thought I loved. We planned to marry – and it killed the relationship.
In Surrendered Love, there are two real events. The bear sleeping in the tree in Seymour really happened—and it was guarded by a police officer. My aunt-in-law lives on that street. The second was the police car/buggy “low-speed chase,” where the Amish teens jumped and ran really happened, and the buggy/vehicle accident really happened. Except in real life it was a school bus. And yes, there is a cross on the highway where a police officer was killed.
In Promised to Another, buggy/vehicle accidents on the highway are all too common.
There are more, but that’s enough for now.
– Are we going to see more Christmas novels to go with the series you’ve already published?
I *hope* so! Whitaker House is “trying out” Christmas stories with me and with Sharlene MacLaren to see how they sell. If they do very well, they might be open for more!
– Is there another genre you are interested in writing or are you perfectly content to stick with Amish Fiction?
I love Amish fiction, it is near and dear to my heart. It also enables me to research my Amish heritage. But that said, I have a finished contemporary romantic-suspense that I would like to sell (some publishers are interested, but they are not one of the big ten) and I have several contemporary romances and historical romances in various stages of completion that I would love to have published some day. Some of them made it through all the rounds of elimination with Barbour and/Abingdon and were held back for further consideration by these publishers.
– Can you tell us a bit about the project you are working on right now?
At this very moment I’m on deadline for the last book in the Amish of Jamesport series. It is called The Birdhouse and the book question is: When she is forced to leave all she holds dear, how can he bring her home to roost?
– Probably a silly question but… why don’t you have a paid .com website?
There was a big debate on ACFW about that some time ago. Some writers maintain you HAVE to have one. Others maintain that the author blogs and pages on social media site are enough. I see no point in paying for a domain and a web-designer when I can maintain a blog and a social media page—and update them daily—or at least often. I am on pinterest, twitter, and facebook, and I have three blogs, and am part of a team of bloggers on a fourth.
THANK YOU Laura for sharing so many wonderful details!
Here is a bit about Laura’s most recent releases!
“Swept Away” by Laura V. Hilton & Cindy Loven
Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her ailing, stubborn grandmother.
When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don t always go as planned.
Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter. Still, it doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him.
What she discovers could change her life and her heart forever.
I’m especially excited about Laura’s Christmas books!
A White Christmas is Webster County is available NOW!
A Mother’s Helper
Mercy Lapp is ready for a fresh start. Having lost her beloved fiance in a fishing accident during his rumschpringe, she escapes the painful memories by moving from her community in Shipshewana, Indiana, to Seymour, Missouri, where she takes a job as a mother’s helper. She isn’t exactly shy, but she’s hesitant to get involved with the youth in the community because she isn’t going to stay. She especially doesn’t want a new romance.
An Adventurous Hero
Abner Hilty is excited to see his twin brother, Abram, for the first time in years. The two fled their hometown of Shipshewana when their witness of a murder put their lives in danger, Abner heading to Montana to work on a ranch and hunt big game, Abram meeting a girl in Missouri, marrying, and settling down there. Abner decides to spend the holidays with them in Seymour, but he has every intention of returning to Montana, maybe even for good.
An Unexpected Snowstorm
At a chance encounter, Abner is immediately drawn to Mercy, and even more so when he realizes that they’ve met before, back in Shipshewana. Initially alarmed, Mercy soon warms to his attentions, even though she keeps him at arm’s length. She also branches out and begins attending youth functions, forming new friendships that are solidified during a rare snowstorm. Just when Mercy and Abner are beginning to think about a long-term relationship, Mercy gets a phone call that changes everything. The information would have been welcome months ago, but now that she knows Abner, she’s torn, and she will have to do some serious soul-searching to decide how to act on it.
The Snow Globe releases in November of 2014
A Compassionate Young Woman.
Esther Beachy enjoys working for an elderly woman who is wheelchair bound. Her client, Anna Petersheim, is pleasant and tells captivating stories. Plus, her home is quiet and far more peaceful than Esther’s, with so many siblings. She only dreads the day when Anna’s grandson, Viktor, will return from the river to take over the farm. She and Viktor were classmates years ago, and he’d been an obnoxious flirt who paid attention to every girl but her.
A toughened riverboat captain
A seasoned riverboat captain, Viktor Petersheim has seen his share of trials. He left the Amish after the death of his parents and siblings in a house fire for which he still feels responsible. Now, after years of working on the Mississippi River, he returns home to claim the farm he inherited from his grandparents and, hopefully, to repair some of the damaged relationships and broken hearts he left in his wake.
Love off the river.
When Viktor arrives home, it doesn’t take long for him and Esther to realize their mutual attraction. Even so, their relationship remains as tumultuous as a shaken snow globe, like the one Esther finds at a garage sale and gives to Viktor’s grandmother as a token of affection. Viktor isn’t the only man with an eye on Esther, and soon it looks as if she’s ready to make a future with someone else. Will the two go their separate ways again? Or will the hand of God work something beautiful out of their angst and agitation.
I also have a bit of a sneak peek for you:
The Postcard is not scheduled for release until next year some time (despite what GoodReads says) but I have a little teaser for you!
The Post Card – scheduled for release in 2015
David Lapp (from Promised to Another)
survived a “code blue” when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he’s developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds work in the area tying flies and basket weaving, selling his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.
Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Obadiah Graber, but wonders if there’s more to life. When she sees David’s name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he’s in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he’s called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?
Don’t they all just sound AMAZING!!!
Don’t forget to go back and read the series Laura has already released:
If you read this post an hour ago when it posted, you may have noticed that it was incomplete.
We had a few technical difficulties but I think I’ve got them all sorted out now.
Today I am reviewing “Dear Son” by David Bruskas.
I mostly requested this book because I am a single mother and I need all the help I can get with my young son – who is 11 at the moment.
And my advice to you, is to
BUY THIS BOOK!
Whether you ARE a father, or you plan to become a father some day… Whether you are a single mother or a man who is new to Faith and in need of help along the way… If you are a man who has not been the father you need to be or the son who needs to heal the relationship with their own father.
This is the book for you!
This is the book for ALL fathers, sons, young men about to become fathers or single mothers who don’t know how to teach their sons what they’re missing from the father who should be there.
Dave Bruskas GETS IT. So many people today say that things have changed – and while that is certainly true – God has not changed and he never will. And, while our world is confusing and troubled – the relationship between father and son is just as vital as it always has been.
Now, I am not a man or a young boy but I had a distressing relationship with my father for years and when I finally began to realize that I needed to treat him the way the Bible told me to, we began to relate in a way that we never have. I can only imagine the drastic changes we would see in this country if all young men began to do this as well.
One thing Dave Bruskas seems to understand better than most pastors I know is that God truly is a Father to the Fatherless – even those who have a father who is physically there but doesn’t really know how to BE a father. Most of us don’t think about those children. We focus on the children who don’t have a father physically present in their lives. Those are the kids who miss out – right?
Not the ones who understand that God is their Father!
There are parts of this book that are a bit brutal and I applaud that. Too many people tiptoe around the truth because they’re concerned they might possibly offend someone. And, while I am not a fan of the harsh ways some people try to evangelize (bloody pictures of Christ on the side of a bus or truck or a depiction of what we think Hell might be like on a billboard), I do believe that people need to hear and see the truth. And sometimes that truth needs to be brutal.
The words may be harsh in places but the format of the book is not – quite the opposite actually. Dave writes a series of letters to the son he never got to see grow up. It’s heartbreaking but it gives a unique perspective that so many of us – with perfectly healthy young sons – take for granted.
I am truly blessed to have found this book and I am anxious to pass it on to my son. Most of the information in it is helpful to me right now but one day soon, he will need to read it too.
Here is what Tynedale House Publishers has to say about “Dear Son”:
Today’s culture doesn’t encourage men to grow up.
Everyone from pastors to op-ed columnists have described a crisis of masculinity, fostered by a media culture that uniformly make men the butts of jokes.
Men are much more likely to give up on life than women. One indicator of this is the large gender difference in suicide rates—men are four times more likely than women to drop out of life. This points to a profound lack of effective mentoring of men, especially in the church.
Dave Bruskas seeks to fill in this gap with this book. Two decades ago, Dave lost his only infant son to a congenital heart defect. That devastating loss fueled his desire to provide effective mentoring to young men.
Dear Son contains the guidance and insights Dave would have given his son if he had lived through the milestones of growing up: from first dates to first jobs, from weddings to births, from friendships to funerals.
Dear Son contains heartfelt wisdom for life’s journey, especially for guys—and for those who want to strengthen them.
You can find more information and/or buy the book from these popular sites.
Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.
And here is my interview with Melanie Dickerson:
You talk a lot about researching the towns and time period of your novels. What research have you done for the fairy tale part? Do you study the original fairy tales written by the brothers Grimm, Hans Christine Anderson and Charles Perault?
I wouldn’t say I study them, but I usually read them. More often than not, my stories are loosely based on the Disney movie as much as they are on the original fairy tales. My goal is more to write a story with some of the familiar elements that people relate to the Beauty and the Beast story, or the Sleeping Beauty story, or the Frog Prince story. For instance, in my upcoming book, The Princess Spy, which is a Frog Prince story, the heroine loses something valuable—a family heirloom bracelet—in the well, just as the girl in the original story lost her favorite ball in the well, and the “frog prince” offers to get it for her. In return she is expected to do something for him. So I try to incorporate some of the little details of the story into my books, and I also try to use some of the same themes from the original story, as well as the overall premise.
Your story plots are so intricate and many times, it seems impossible that things could work out like the tales we know so well. Do you sketch out a rough draft or an outline before you start writing? How often does a plot twist surprise you in the middle of writing?
There is always at least one plot twist that surprises me during the writing of the book. I do try to have a rough outline, at least in my head, before I start writing, but the details tend to work themselves out as I write and think ahead. I don’t write detailed outlines, though, before I write the first draft, and the first draft usually just needs a little tweaking and editing before it’s ready to send to the editor at my publishing house.
How do you come up with the names of your characters? How close are they to the original names of the fairy tale heroes or villains?
Right now I’m trying to decide what to name my Rapunzel heroine, which is the book I’m about to start writing. Should I call her Rapunzel? Something similar? Or just some Medieval German name I like that seems right for the character? I don’t know, honestly. My Snow White character I named Sophie, since Snow White seemed too unrealistic, and for my Beauty and the Beast character, I named her Annabel instead of Belle because it seemed more British, which is where I decided to set that story. So I usually try to make the name similar but accurate to the time period.
You recently signed a new contract with Thomas Nelson. The first book you mention sounds as if it will be following a similar line as your YA fairy tales. How much more adult will those stories be?
They will not be very different at all. Maybe one or two extra kisses, and maybe a slightly more mature situation here or there, but not very different at all from my “YA” stories, which appeal to adults as well. The heroines will be slightly older.
Any chance you have an idea for Rapunzel’s story? That would be a tricky one to make “real” I would think. (Yes I asked this question with no idea of how Melanie would answer my above question…)
Yep. I have to start writing it right away since it’s due to my publisher in 4 months! The heroine is a surprise, so I can’t say too much about her, but you will catch a glimpse of the hero, Sir Gerek, at the end of The Princess Spy. He is one of Duke Wilhelm’s knights who falls in love with a mysterious midwife’s only daughter. But when the midwife decides to separate the two, Sir Gerek will do anything to find her and get her back.
Thank You Melanie for giving us your time and sharing a bit about your work!
I don’t know about everyone else but I LOVE reading about how an author goes about their process and what’s next for them. It makes me feel like I’m chatting with an old friend.
And it makes reading the books that much more special too!
Click HERE to visit Melanie’s blog for updates and info, HERE for her Facebook page, HERE for Twitter and HERE for her Author page on GoodReads!
And now here’s a look at Melanie Dickerson’s most recent release:
The Captive Maiden
A Cinderella Story
Happily Ever After…Or Happily Nevermore?
Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother.
So when Gisela meets the duke’s son, Valten–the boy she has daydreamed about for years–and learns he is throwing a ball, she vows to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart.
But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.
And don’t miss the other fantastic titles in this wonderful series!
The Fairest Beauty
A Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Retelling
A daring rescue. A difficult choice.
Sophie desperately wants to get away from her stepmother’s jealousy, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be Sophie’s one chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?
Gabe defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the girl’s inner and outer beauty has enchanted him. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises himself he will see the mission through, no matter what. When the pair flee to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Now both must not only protect each other from the dangers around them—they must also protect their hearts.
The Merchant’s Daughter
A real-life tale of Beauty and the Beast
An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice.
Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf’s bailiff—a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past.
Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff’s vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger.
Ranulf’s future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.
The Healer’s Apprentice
When destiny sleeps, it can only be awakened by true love’s kiss.
Two Hearts. One Hope.
Rose has been appointed as a healer’s apprentice at Hagenheim Castle, a rare opportunity for a woodcutter’s daughter like her. While she often feels uneasy at the sight of blood, Rose is determined to prove herself capable. Failure will mean returning home to marry the aging bachelor her mother has chosen for her—a bloated, disgusting merchant who makes Rose feel ill.
When Lord Hamlin, the future duke, is injured, it is Rose who must tend to him. As she works to heal his wound, she begins to understand emotions she’s never felt before and wonders if he feels the same. But falling in love is forbidden, as Lord Hamlin is betrothed to a mysterious young woman in hiding. As Rose’s life spins toward confusion, she must take the first steps on a journey to discover her own destiny.
Watch for her upcoming releases!
The Princess Spy
Coming in November!
Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.
Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself ‘Lord Colin’ is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment.Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed.
Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest
The first book in a NEW series Melanie most recently signed to publish with Thomas Nelson Publishers!
“Swan Lake” meets Robin Hood when the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant by day becomes the region’s most notorious poacher by night, and falls in love with the gamekeeper.
Jorgen is the gamekeeper for the wealthy margrave, and he is in pursuit of the poacher who has been killing and stealing the margrave’s game. When he meets the lovely and refined Odette at the festival and shares a connection during a dance, he has no idea that at night she is the one who has been poaching the margrave’s game.
Odette is caught up in a ring of black market sellers of poached animals. She thinks the game is going to feed the poor, who are all but starving, both in the city and just outside its walls. However, most of the animals are being sold by the greedy leader of the ring–her stepfather. When Odette discovers what he is doing, she threatens to expose him, putting herself in great danger.
The gamekeeper finds her poaching one night and shoots her, wounding her. When he realizes who she is, he hides her to keep her from being executed by the margrave and also to protect her from her stepfather. Jorgen and Odette will band together to stop the black market poaching ring . . . as they fall in love. But what will the margrave do when he discovers his gamekeeper is protecting a notorious poacher?
THANK YOU for joining me for this special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!
And don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews –
there’s a new one up almost every day!
As a preacher’s daughter, Jamie traveled with her dad—to and from Bible studies across Indiana—where they talked theology – creation and the fall, God’s love, the earthly walk compared to the spiritual walk, and how we are born for more than what we can see or touch.
The highlight of those nights was stopping at a truck stop in the middle of the night where her dad would spend a little of the offering basket on two slices of pie and a couple of Cokes. Nothing ever felt so special as a middle of the night slice of pie with her dad. And nothing could stop the writing pouring out of her.
As Jamie grew up, she discovered her heart was filled with songs and poetry. During high school she wrote lyrics for her brother’s band. After college, Jamie married, had two sons and decided to stay home with them. During this time, she wrote skits, poems, plays and short stories for schools and churches.
When her eldest son turned five she dove into the world of novels. She’d read romance novels for years, but couldn’t relate to the flawless, saintly heroines in Christian romance novels. So she decided to write her own.
Snow Angel was born on a frosty night in an old farmhouse in Fishers, Indiana, where the cold floor gave plenty of motivation for the snow scene. Jamie loves to write late at night when the house is quiet and the darkness seems alive. Elizabeth and Noah had been playacting in her head for a long time, so the story went fast.
Ten years later Snow Angel was published and won the ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, was a National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and a 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. It was the beginning of her dream career. Her newest novel, Rush to the Altar, is her first contemporary – a warm, funny and poignant love story about a widow woman who falls in love with an NBA player.
Jamie and her husband Tony have been married for twenty-five years and live in Indiana with their three sons, a giant dog named Leo and their newest baby, a half Siamese/half Snowshoe cat named Luna.
If she could only say one thing to her readers it would be, “Live the dreams God has destined you for!”
And now for my interview.
Is there any particular inspiration behind the Forgotten Castles series for you?
This was my first series so I was initially excited to have the longer story arc to work with. A typical novel is around 90,000 words and while I find that comfortable it was challenging and thrilling to create a world/characters for more like 270,000 words. My other main inspiration for the series was Alexandria, the heroine. I wanted an adventuress who solves a mystery and then I had the idea of I’s. She travels to three countries that all start with I (Ireland, Iceland and Italy) to find her parents. I didn’t realize the challenge of setting a book in Iceland when I made that decision! Lol! The language and names had me banging my head against the keyboard on more than one occasion but I learned a lot writing that series. I fell in love with Ireland and Italy and have since traveled to Ireland and Scotland. (Italy is next!) I was so blessed to find an Irish historian while writing book one of the series, The Guardian Duke, who checked my work for accuracy. My husband and I were able to meet him when we visited Killyleagh last September (for our 25th wedding anniversary) and I was able to actually tour the private castle, Killyleagh Castle, that is on the cover! I can’t tell you how amazed, blessed and surreal it felt to stand at the top of the castle and see the beautiful village of Killyleagh below after researching it for Alexandria and Gabriel whirlwind adventure around Ireland.
Are any of the characters modeled after real people you know? Family/ friends?
I never admit to that – lol! No, seriously, I think all of my characters are bits and pieces of myself, family and friends…and even other characters I’ve read about or watched in movies or on TV. It’s a wonderful mystery to me how a character starts out as a vague idea and then becomes living and breathing on the page with personality qualities and thoughts and feelings I didn’t know they would have. That is one of the glorious moments of creating a story.
What made this story so different from your others – this is the first of your stories that you’ve stretched into a series…
I think instead of that “historical” feel I was pulled toward solving a mystery, going on an adventure and, of course, true love. Love, what it looks like and the depths of it, is a theme that I will always explore in my writing. God’s love has no end and it is reflected in us and through us, his creation, so I will never reach the end of what it can look like. I love the thought of that!
Will we see more books in the series – perhaps focusing on other characters we’ve become attached to?
I’m not sure if I will ever revisit these characters or not but I consider it a huge compliment when readers ask for that. That means you fell in love with my characters like I did and a writer can’t ask for more!
Or do you already have another series planned/ in the works/ pitched? If yes, Would you tell us a little about it?
I am now working on another three book series called the Land of Everyoung. It’s about three sisters who, when their father passes away, are sent on individual journeys that he has arranged for them in his will and set in the fantasy world of Everyoung. Think Lord of the Rings but with a lot less fighting scenes and more romance. It won’t be a continuous series so it can be read out of order. I hope to get book one, The King’s Chatelaine, out before the end of this year and as always, I’m very excited about what I’m currently writing and what is swirling in my mind for books two and three. Check my website www.jamiecarie.com and my Facebook here and here for more to come and contests coming up!
THANK YOU Jamie for taking the time to chat with us a bit! I don’t know about everyone else but I always enjoy reading about the story behind the story!
NOW for the announcement you’ve been waiting for! (Don’t go away until you’ve read all the way to the bottom of the post though – LOTS of interesting info below the announcement)
Who has won their choice of a book from Jamie’s Forgotten Castles series?
The winner is:
Alyssa Faith Washburn
I will be contacting you shortly with info about how you can claim your book!
And now for some more about Jamie Carie and her wonderful books!
Jamie’s most recent release is A Highlander for Christmas – A special Christmas novella! Read on for more information.
Lady Juliet Lindsay has made a colossal mistake. In the face of her parents’ rejection she realizes that a single stolen kiss could cost her everything. Sent to her aunt and uncle’s home in Scotland, she finds something in the rugged highland beauty that steals her heart…and a highland man, who seems her other half.
Iain MacLeon, chieftain of the clan MacLeon, has one thing on his mind in a time where politics are like a tempest brewing—sheep. He loves his people and his land but he didn’t know he also needed a woman to share the load. And then he sees her…the flame-haired Englishwoman who steals his heart and holds it hostage against all his beliefs and all he holds dear. But how will he persuade his clan to love her as he does?
The Forgotten Castles Series is a three book series that follows amateur sleuth, Lady Alexandria Featherstone, as she travels to Ireland (book one – The Guardian Duke), Iceland (book two – The Forgiven Duke), and Italy (book three – A Duke’s Promise) in search of her missing parents. Full of adventure, romance and mystery the three books sweep readers across Europe in pursuit of a famed invention. Along the way, Alexandria develops feelings for her guardian – the brooding Duke of St. Easton, who has recently suffered a physical blow that is changing his life. Gabriel thinks of his new charge as an unwanted complication in a time when his life is coming apart at the seams but soon comes to cherish her letters and admire her faith. Their journey will be fraught with danger as they come ever closer to God’s plan for their lives.
“Someday I will meet you and see your face.”
Gabriel, the Duke of St. Easton, is ordered by the king to take guardianship over Lady Alexandria Featherstone whose parents are presumed dead after failing to return from a high profile treasure hunt. But the heart-driven Alexandria ignores this royal reassignment. Believing her parents are still alive, she travels to faraway lands to follow clues that may lead to their whereabouts.
Gabriel, pressured by the king’s ulterior motives, pursues Alexandria across windswept England and the rolling green hills of Ireland but is always one step behind.
When they do meet, the search for earthly treasure begins to pale in comparison to what God has planned for both of them.
Tethered by her impulsive promise to marry Lord John Lemon—the path of least resistance—Alexandria Featherstone sets off from Ireland to Iceland in search of her parents with a leaden heart. Her glimpse of her guardian, the Duke of St. Easton—the path less traveled by—on Dublin’s shore still haunts her. Will he come after her? Will he drag her back to London, quelling her mission to rescue her treasure-seeking parents, or might he decide to throw caution to the wind and choose Foy Pour Devoir: “Faith for Duty,” the St. Easton motto. The Featherstone motto Valens et Volens: “Willing and Able” beats in her heart and thrums through her veins. She will find her parents and find their love, no matter the cost.
The powerful and wing-clipped Duke of St. Easton has never known the challenge that has become his life since hearing his ward’s name. Alexandria Featherstone will be the life of him or the death of him. Only time and God’s plan will reveal just how much this man can endure for the prize of love.
From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen — Italy and the marble caves of Carrara — but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.
Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other — a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.
Who has read Jennifer Beckstrand’s new book Huckleberry Hill the first book in Jennifer’s the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series yet? What about the second book in the series, which was just released – Huckleberry Summer…?
Want to know some of the back-story behind the series?
But first… details on the giveaway!
All you have to do is reply to this post. On Thursday, July 3rd we (my son) will pick a winner and notify them ASAP!
Rules – I know, I know, but we’ve got to have some…
One entry per person!
No spam please.
The contest begins TODAY and will run until Thursday, July 3rd at midnight CDT!
My contest is not run by rafflecopter or random.org or any other site. The form above will e-mail me when someone enters and I will be drawing the winner’s name out of a hat (actually my son has that pleasure this time around).
The winner will be notified by e-mail and announced here on my blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.
PLEASE share the contest! Post it on Facebook. Tweet about it. Re-blog this post. Send them this way. (not really a rule – just a request, and it does not affect your chances of winning. It’s just MUCH appreciated!)
And read her books – whether you win or not. They’re wonderful!
For the spotlight!
Jennifer Beckstrand was the second author I interviewed so she gets to go next in my NEW AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT! And don’t miss my SURPRISE AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT coming in two days!
I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.
I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.
My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.
And here is my interview with Jennifer Beckstrand: This interview focuses on Jennifer’s NEWEST book: “Huckleberry Summer” – the 2nd book in her Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series.
Is there any particular inspiration behind the Huckleberry Hill series for you?
We all want our children and grandchildren to be happy. I love the idea of two Amish grandparents making matches for their grandchildren and giving them a chance at a happily ever after. Anna Helmuth, the adorable and tenacious grandmother in Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Summer, is a little bit like my mother. She’s such a delightful character to write because she’s without guile, and she is always doing something surprising and funny.
Are any of the characters modeled after real people you know? Family/ friends?
Besides my mom, there aren’t many characters in the Huckleberry Hill series modeled after people I know. I definitely take personality traits from my friends and family and use them to craft three-dimensional characters. The one character from Huckleberry Summer based off someone in real life is Aden Helmuth’s dog, Pilot. Pilot is based on my neighbor’s dog of the same name. They are both goldendoodles, they both have unruly fur, and they are both puppies at heart. Both Pilots are irresistibly lovable. Lily Eicher doesn’t like dogs, but she can’t help falling in love with Pilot, and his master. 🙂
You recently wrote that you were finishing up edits on book 5 in the series. Will that be the last one or are there more planned?
So far there are six books in the works in the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series. Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Summer have been released. Huckleberry Christmas comes out in October. Huckleberry Christmas is about a character in Huckleberry Summer who deserves his own love story. Three more books come out in 2015: Huckleberry Spring, Huckleberry Harvest, and Huckleberry Hearts. I’m so excited for all of them. After that, Anna and Felty Helmuth have a lot of grandchildren. They might just be matchmaking well into their nineties.
Do you already have another series planned/ in the works/ pitched? If yes, Would you tell us a little about it?
I have about a dozen ideas for books in my head, including a Western historical series, a cozy mystery, and a romantic fantasy. I’m not sure where my writing will take me next. I’ll keep you posted.
The Helmuths’ thirteen children are grown and moved away. Anna and Felty Helmuth, full of vinegar and spice, are looking to stir up a little excitement. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? And who would ever suspect two elderly Amish folks of mischief? With a little help from the Helmuths, Huckleberry Hill could turn out to be the most romantic spot in Wisconsin.
Huckleberry Hill – Book 1
Lia Shetler is resigned to being a spinster. She’s too tall and sturdy to ever be marriageable–so says her overbearing dat. Instead, she’s helping her pretty, spoiled sister Rachel secure the perfect husband–the Helmuth’s grandson, Moses Zimmerman. But the more Lia sees of Moses’s gently teasing ways and quiet understanding, the more she wishes he could be hers alone.
Moses knew his grandparents couldn’t resist trying to find him a wife. But he never expected it would be the graceful, sensible Lia–a woman who is tall enough to look him in the eye and honest enough to make him question a promise holding him to his past. Now both will need the kind of miracles only faith and courage can bring to finally reach for a lifetime of happiness.
Huckleberry Summer – Book 2
Cautious to a fault, Lily Eicher strives to live up to her dat’s high standards. She’s certainly not the kind of proper Amish girl who would make time for someone as impetuous as the Helmuths’ grandson, Aden–even if his lively spirit and caring ways are showing her just how wonderful following her heart can be. . .
Recklessly doing the right thing got Aden into big trouble. A fresh start at his grandparents’ is just what he needs. And shy, pretty Lily is turning his world upside down and making him want to prove he can do good within the rules. But now both must find enough faith and understanding to risk pursuing their dreams–together. . .
AND the following titles are COMING SOON!
Huckleberry Christmas–Book 3
Young widow Beth Hostetler has come to Huckleberry Hill to start afresh and make her own way without the interference of her late husband’s family. In addition to a feisty toddler, Beth has dresses to sew, cows to milk, and great-grandparents to care for. She doesn’t have the time or the inclination to entertain thoughts of a husband, even if every widower and bachelor in Wisconsin seeks her hand. Her first marriage to a harsh, demanding man was hard enough. She is perfectly happy being alone, not answering to anyone but God. Tyler Yoder is no different than the rest. With his infuriating sense of duty, he sees Beth as a woman in need of rescuing. His offer of marriage doesn’t tempt her in the least, but his handsome face and kind heart just might. Will this be the Christmas that she finally finds love?
After having been burned by love once, Tyler Yoder has given up on the whole idea of romance. He simply wants a godly wife with whom he can share companionship and the load of daily living. Beth Hostetler comes along at just the right time. She’s a hard worker, an excellent mother, and a beauty, to boot. And, with a son to raise, she needs a man’s protection. But when Beth spurns Tyler’s marriage proposal and offers to help him find a proper Amish wife, Tyler realizes where his affections really lie. Will he be able to convince Beth that love is at the heart of his persistence? And will she accept his heart for Christmas?
A Perfect Amish Christmas
A collection of short novellas from three of your favorite Amish authors to get you in the Christmas spirit. Available in October!
Anna and Felty Helmuth’s grandson, Gideon, plans to spend Christmas on a beach in sunny Mexico. But Anna is quite sure he’d rather be with them, snowshoeing, ice fishing—falling in love. And she knows the perfect girl. Not only is Dottie Schrock an excellent quilter and baker, she’s having a party. There’s just one complication—Gideon is not invited. Dottie has her reasons, but Anna trusts that the spirit of Christmas—and true love-will change her mind, and her future …
THANK YOU for joining me for this special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!
Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews –
there’s a new one up almost every day!
Recently I found a better way to conduct my author interviews and, to be fair to everyone I have already interviewed, I am going to re-post them in the same format. Since Beverly Lewis is the first author I interviewed, she gets to go first here too.
Fair Warning: The interview was given to accompany my review of The Last Bride – so, if you have not yet read the book, you may find information below that you consider to be spoilers.
Beverly Marie Jones (Lewis) was born in the heart of Amish country—Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the tender age of nine, she began writing short stories and poetry. Prior to that, she made up lyrics to the “little fingers” piano pieces she learned, at the age of five.
“My mother saved everything I wrote, even the stories I dreamed up during my grade school years,” Beverly says. One such tale is semi-autobiographical, about a young girl whose parents can no longer afford to give her piano lessons. The manuscript was 77 pages long and titled “She Shall Have Music,” penned under the shade of a lone willow tree. “Reading, writing, and playing piano have been top three on my list of favorite things,” she says.
Not until her own children were well into middle school did Beverly seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular Cul-de-Sac Kids series of chapter books—see list of Bev’s children’s books).
1- Is there any particular inspiration from your own life for ‘The Last Bride”?
The concept of close inner-marriage among a closed community has captured my interest–and my heart, especially more so lately with many Amish and Mennonited children being born with unique genetic disorders…some fatal.
2- Are you planning more books in the “Home to Hickory Hollow” series or are you moving on to a new series?
The Last Bride if the fifth and final book in this “stand-alone” approach to a beloved and popular series. I just finished the edit for The River, which debuts on September 2, this fall–it is a true stand-alone with no connections to any other character or series. I’m crazy about this story. My readers will love Tilly and Ruth’s story–I promise. 🙂
Also, Child of Mine, a novel I’ve co-written with my husband, David Lewis (best-selling author of Coming Home).releases soon, on June 3rd. If you loved Sanctuary, our first co-written novel, 12 years ago, you will love Child of Mine.
3- Is there anything you can tell us about your next project or is it still hush hush?
The River (my fall ’14 novel) is set in a most heavenly farmland setting in Lancaster County Amish country–”Eden Valley.” I fell in love with this area when I was a young girl growing up nearby…and more recently, while I was visiting there, following the Amish schoolhouse shootings in the fall of ’06. It’s the story of two young Amish women–one courting age, the other married–who left their Plain roots but have returned for their parents’ landmark wedding anniversary celebration. There are serious family secrets to resolve, and several understandings to overcome. And the coming to grips with the younger sister’s first love, who still seems to care for her, even though she has gone “fancy.” I can hardly wait for my readers to take Tilly and Ruth’s story journey with me!
4- Do you still regularly attend conferences? If yes, is it for your own benefit or only to share your advice and experience with others?
I attend as keynote speaker or teacher, yes. Going to writers’ conferences is invaluable and I heartily recommend to anyone wishing to be published traditionally. Or simply to glean and hone their craft of writing.
5- Is there a piece of advice you have for new or aspiring writers?
Read the best literature. Write your heart. Don’t be hesitant to revise, rework, and re-do. Writers are re-writers, if they want to be published. Have a teachable spirit when you do land your contract and start working with editors. Think of yourself as the pencil and the editor as the eraser. Truly. Sometimes what/s on the page just isn’t working. And, oh, did I mention–the best writers are voracious readers?! Also, go to the local bookstore and visualize where your book will land on the shelf, once you’re published.
I hope you have enjoyed my review and Beverly’s interview.
THANK YOU Beverly for taking time out of what I’m certain is a very busy schedule to answer my questions. Your advice is especially inspiring to me and I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity.
I pray God continues to bless your writing and I look forward to many more books in the future!
Beverly’s most recent release is: CHILD OF MINE – a standalone novel she has written with her husband, David Lewis. (a book that I will also be reviewing soon – I know…shameless plug)
Flight instructor Jack Livingston has been raising his eight-year-old adopted niece, Natalie, since the accident that took her parents’ lives. When he travels, Natalie is tenderly cared for by her Amish nanny, Laura Mast, who loves the little girl as her own.
Eight excruciating years ago, Kelly Maines’s baby was kidnapped. Determined to find her child, Kelly has tirelessly pursued every lead to its bitter end. And now, with the clock ticking, one last clue from a private investigator ignites a tiny flame of hope: Just a few miles away lives a young girl who matches the profile.
Can this be, at long last, Kelly’s beloved daughter?
Amelia “Amy” DeVries, a 24-year-old violinist, is disillusioned with life and love after the collapse of her long-running romance. Weary of endless rehearsals and performances, Amy sets out on a road trip through the Pennsylvania mountains. She leaves her cell phone behind so life’s demands can’t intrude on her solitude. She doesn’t know, nor care, where she will end up.
When her car breaks down deep in the mountains, Amy realizes the flaw in her “no cell phone” plan. She abandons her car and walks the winding roads, searching for help. Following the smell of woodsmoke and the sound of music, she finds a rustic log cabin. There she meets a young Amishman–and through him a community–that will change her life forever.
Twenty-four-year-old Joanna Kurtz is so far proving the adage “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.” Yet despite appearances, she has a beau who is secretly courting her from afar.
Eben Troyer hopes to make Joanna his bride–if he can ever leave his parents’ farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet Eben’s hopes to build a life with Joanna hinge on his brother’s return from the English world. Will her hidden passion for writing and his responsibilities to his family keep them forever apart?
When Jodi Winfield comes to Lancaster to house-sit, the last thing she expects to find is a disheveled little girl alone on the side of the road. The young teacher is mystified when she learns there have been no reports of a missing child, and the girl herself is no help, since she can’t speak English. It’s as if the child appeared out of nowhere.
Then Jodi turns her attention to Hickory Hollow–and the cloistered world of the Old Order Amish–in search of answers.
Jennifer Burns shocks her family and friends when she bids farewell to her modern life in favor of the Old Order Amish world, settling in with Samuel and Rebecca Lapp.
The people of Hickory Hollow are curious about the beautiful young seeker among them–one handsome Amishman in particular–and Jenny faces many challenges in the Proving time the brethren set for her…challenges of the heart, as well as the spirit.
Of her Old Order parents’ five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie’s father opposes the match.
Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they’ll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?
Serena B Miller was blessed to have made some very good friends among the Amish community who helped her to research her first novel Love Finds You in Sugarcreek Ohio and she was further blessed to receive an invitation to their daughter’s upcoming wedding.
She has written a wonderful account of that day (and a few of the events leading up to that wonderful day as well).
And I must say that it reads just as beautifully as her fiction.
Although it is clearly a true account.
Not only that, Serena really shows a unique understanding of the community and their ways. The wedding day, the ceremony and the celebration that followed were nothing like Serena was expecting and she handles those unexpected revelations with grace and a sense of humor.
Through her eyes we see the intricacies and the delicate handling of what so many of us in the “world” see as nothing more than an event meant to impress.
Clearly the Amish understand that the day is about celebrating and not about impressing anyone. They see it as a time to come together and enjoy each other’s company and fellowship and Serena shows us all of that with her beautifully crafted recounting.
As far as I can tell, the story is only available as an eBook but it’s .99 on Amazon so the price can’t be beat. Anyone who can and who is even remotely interested in Amish culture, should definitely buy it and read it!
Here is what GoodReads has to say about the book:
Amish fiction author Serena B. Miller takes you “behind the barn door” in this true e-short account of her experience of attending an Amish wedding.In her years of researching her Amish novels, Serena Miller has gotten to know several Amish families in Holmes County, Ohio. When she was invited to attend the wedding of one of her friend’s daughters, she expected it to be a casual affair: muck out the barn, throw a potluck together, send the bride and groom off on their honeymoon in a buggy with a Just Married sign hung on the back. But when the young bride shyly brings her a formal, professionally printed invitation, she realized everything she thought she knew about Amish weddings was wrong.
From the hand-arranged centerpieces—made from flowers the bride grew herself—to the portable kitchens the family rents to the elaborate and formally served meal, she realized that every detail of this wedding has been carefully and beautifully orchestrated by a bride and a society that cares very deeply about marriage. On the day of the wedding, Serena sits through the three-hour sermon preached entirely in German, after which the ceremony itself lasts under two minutes. She sees the grace with which the bride cooks for and serves her guests, and then stays to clean up after everyone has gone home. She is inspired by the way every member of the community seems to have some role to play in the event.
Serena, a pastor’s wife, has attended hundreds of weddings, and draws comparisons between the overblown weddings she normally attends and this “simple” wedding. She is inspired by the immensity of the vows this young couple is making—not just to each other, but to their community—and the faithfulness of the community that puts the focus on the marriage far more than the wedding itself.
Click HERE to find this eBook on Amazon. It’s only .99 and what a GREAT price!
Three things I have found lately that are equally ironic and incredible.
One: I checked out a book from the library and was absolutely shocked when I got it home and started reading.
Now I know what you’re thinking… why didn’t I just read the back to see if I was interested.
Well, I’ll tell you.
Before that book, I never really needed to worry about something as gross as “vampires” with an “AMISH” fiction book.
Granted there have been Amish fiction novels I have not cared much for – but the back of those books did not give me even a hint that I would feel that way.
So I didn’t think to look. I saw the “Inspirational” sticker on the spine and I saw Amish characters on the cover so I drew the natural conclusions… And before you think I’m a dummy – the picture on the cover did not give me any real hints that there was anything about vampires inside. I figured the slightly sinister look was advertising a suspense story or a murder mystery.
I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG!
Suffice to say, I DID NOT read the book. Right back to the library it went.
Really! Did I miss something? Since when did “Amish” become synonymous with “vampire”!? Does no one stop to think before writing…much less marketing or publishing such a thing?
Yes I know it’s fiction.
Yes I know it’s not real.
What I don’t know is how anyone who genuinely loves or livesfor God, could think such a thing is even a little bit appropriate!
Anyway, on to number…
Two: I was scrolling through my reviews on Amazon and I noticed that someone had clicked one of my reviews (Minding Molly) as not helpful. Well of course I was immediately curious. Amazon doesn’t tell you who didn’t like it or why but I did notice that there were several other reviews (that were along the same lines as mine) that were also marked that way. So I’m guessing someone went through and picked out several reviews that were not flowery and gushing and clicked that they were unhelpful.
Oh well, right…
Maybe if you’re someone who is completely unaffected by other people’s opinions…
I, however, am not. I work very hard on my reviews. And, in the small number of reviews I have given, in which I didn’t love the book, I still try to be positive. I point out what the writer did well, talk about any good points and then state that – while I didn’t care for the book, someone else might.
And while I still don’t appreciate the action, I suppose I understand the irony.
I didn’t like the book. They clearly didn’t like my review.
and now for…
Three: I applied to review books for a certain publicity company awhile back (I’m not going to name them). We went back and forth with e-mails for a long time and then I finally broke through that glass ceiling – I got an invite to join. I was required to agree to their terms, which I happily did. I e-mailed my agreement and waited. …and waited. …and waited.
I e-mailed a couple of times since, trying to see what happened and trying not to take the implied rejection personally. I mean, why would a person invite you to review for them and then never get back to you once you’ve accepted?
Weird – right?
Today I wandered over to their website and checked out all the books I’ve been missing all this time. And do you know what I found?
I really haven’t been missing anything. In fact, there are quite a few books that I personally object to – strongly.
Remember the library book I talked about – this one was so much worse! With the library book, I couldn’t tell just how nasty the book was from looking at the cover (although I’m starting to think that might have been better – to know, going in, what it’s all about) and at least it made some attempt to paint the evil as actual evil. The book I found on this site not only had a nasty cover, it was blatantly flying in the face of the evil…painting it very much in the “they can’t help it” light.
My first thought:
These are Christian books… REALLY!
I know the Christian genre has expanded quite a bit lately to include a selection of fantasy and sci-fi but there is still supposed to be a line… right? Somewhere there is supposed to be a line between what the world likes and what glorifies God – am I right? Or has all that just gone the way of the “old-fashioned” hymns in church?
Anyway, thisleads right into the part of this post that talks about how God orchestrated all of these things to keep me on the path that he intends for me.
With the book – He is reminding me to be careful of what I bring into my life and my home.
With the comment – He is telling me that I must give my disappointments to Him. He will be my comforter and He will give me the strength I need to get past things like that.
And with the website – He is telling me that I need to be very careful about who I associate with and I need to be especially careful about who I “Promote”. By writing reviews for them and adding my expertise to their site – I am, in essence, saying that I approve of the material there.
Now I review for multiple companies and there are books on each one that I’m not terribly fond of but this one is a very different story. There are books on their list of titles that are so far beyond appropriate for Christian readers, it would be a horrendous idea for me to endorse them and it would most likely destroy my witness.
So I’m very much better off without them!
On that note, I’m also going to be looking a bit closer at the other companies I review for. And, as much as I’ll hate to miss out on good books, I certainly don’t want to promote the nasty ones.
THANK YOU GOD!
Thank you for protecting me from myself, and others around me who care nothing for my eternal soul. Thank you for loving me enough to put up with my mistakes and waiting oh so patiently for me to come to my senses. And Thank you for forgiving all the terrible things I do – that I shouldn’t.
Now a question for you…
Is there anything in your life that falls into one of the categories above? Or another…
Could God be trying to get your attention with something seemingly small?
Are you listening?
“Be what you wish others to become.”
– Amish Proverb
Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below. I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.
Working at home while raising kids and juggling a career and family responsibilities is no easy feat. Author and homeschooling mom Tricia Goyer shares her tips for finding balance among all your many hats as a mom.
I follow Tricia Goyer on Facebook and twitter and her blog and I LOVE her books!
And I must admit that I too wonder how she does all that she does – or I did, until I read this book.
“Balanced” is a wonderful way of finding out the answer to all those questions. Tricia shares with other work-at-home moms how she handles all the hats she has to wear.
I’m not going to spoil it for you but I will say this – At one point in the book, Tricia makes a point of saying:
“Disclaimer. This book may not be for you if: You are looking for a simple how-to manual with only schedules, outlines, and agendas. You don’t think your spiritual life impacts your work and home life. You think the whole balance issue depends on you and not on your dependence on God.
In this book, there is as much inner work I’m going to talk about as there are ideas, helps, and tips for balancing. Because as someone who’s been working at home nearly all of my twenty-four years as a parent, I’ve discovered three main things:
What I do isn’t as important as who I am.
What God can do in my life and what He’s capable of doing can be two very different things—I don’t want to limit Him.
My outward goals are only reachable if I submit my inward soul to God.
If this sounds like a book you need, good. If not, I understand! We moms only have so much time. You need to spend your time, energy, and hard-earned money on a book that will meet your expectations.
Know that I’m praying God will speak to your heart through my story. I hope you’ll discover good advice to help you follow the dreams God has placed in your heart and be the wife and mom you’ve always wanted to be.” – Direct quote from Tricia Goyer (Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom)
I really respect her for that. It takes a lot of courage and faith to present women with a reason they should not buy your book – and then to tell them you’re OK with it. Ironically, that makes me want to buy the book even more!
Tricia and I have a lot of different ideas on how a person should carry out their faith but they stem from the same ideals. And each Christian really does need to understand that they have a very different journey. Your walk with God is a very personal thing and what God calls one to do – he may not call another to. The point is this – I can see Tricia’s faith in every word. She may go about her faith and her witness differently than me but she definitely puts it all out there for the world to see!
As a homeschooling mom, I am encouraged by Tricia’s story and it definitely tells me I am doing something RIGHT! As a single mom, I am excited to see that Tricia gives so much of her time to help out other mothers – single and married alike. As a struggling writer, I am inspired by Tricia’s journey through writing and publishing and there is a lot of information in this book that benefits me greatly. Tricia talks about homeschool, faith, writing, family life and social media – and how to weave each one into your life without de-railing everything else.
And through it all is woven – a tale of faith so heartwarming, it renews my love for God all over again!
I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who is a struggling writer, a work-at-home mom, a home-schooler, new to Christian faith, or someone who is just interested in Tricia Goyer’s life! It’s a great read – no matter your reasoning!
Click HERE to find out more about the blog tour and for other extras from Litfuse.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity book review program in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I haveexpressed are my own.
Disclaimer: I have no control over the ads you may see below. I am sorry if any of the content is inappropriate.
This book was not at all what I expected –
in a good way.
Yes it is exciting to read about Candace and Kirk’s childhood and rise to Hollywood fame but it’s also very exciting to see how they managed to avoid the pitfalls that so many other Hollywood stars fall right into.
It is comforting to see that the family is very much like most of our own. I think a lot of people tend to think that just because someone is in a movie or on TV – they’re nothing like “normal” people.
Cameron makes a point of letting us know that her family was very normal as she was growing up and that she and her husband do what they can to provide their children with as normal a life as possible now.
I will hazard a guess that there are things in the book that people will not agree with but they should remember this:
Just because you do something in a different way, doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong – it’s just right or wrong for your family. A lot of people I know say they could never homeschool but it is exactly the right choice for our family!
All-in-all, it’s a great story. And I really enjoyed the read!
As far as the read itself – It’s very well put-together and it flows beautifully. I’m not sure if the “with Dana Wilkerson” means she is the one who did the writing or if it was more of a collaboration but whoever did the writing did a Great job!
It pulls you right in, moves quick and will have you laughing all the way through. The descriptions are so vivid, I can see it all unfold right in front of me and you get a very real sense from it. This is no fairy tale story that has been crafted to make life sound perfect – it’s real!
I am also thrilled to see how Candace weaves her faith into everything. Even talking about her childhood, she credits her parent’s morality as one reason for her faith. BRAVO Candace! I know a lot of people have had nasty things to say about the whole “proverbs 31 woman” thing but I am really impressed that Candace has stuck to her beliefs and her faith! It’s not easy when you’re being attacked on all sides.
Please know that you have plenty of supporters too Candace!
Well worth reading! You won’t regret it!
And the cover gets my son’s approval – which is a VERY big deal. He likes that she’s wearing a dress and that she’s covered nicely – no low cut top or too short skirt. So, GOOD JOB to the cover designer as well!
A GREAT READ!
Here is a bit more about the book from B&H Publishing Group:
“How do you do it all?”
That’s the question that wife, mom, actress, and best-selling author Candace Cameron Bure is often asked. And it’s a question that women everywhere are asking themselves as we seek to balance all of our roles, responsibilities, and opportunities.
So, how do we do it? Working since the age of 5, Candace has been in a balancing act for nearly her entire life. She is the first to tell you that there is no miracle formula for perfect execution in every area of your life, but there definitely are some lessons to be learned, lessons that come to life in Candace’s story.
Come along and dig into Candace’s story from her start in commercials, the balance-necessitating years on Full House, to adding on the roles of wife and mom while also returning to Hollywood. Insightful, funny, and poignant, Candace’s story will help you balance it all.
We just finished this book and started on the next one. These are wonderful books to read as a bedtime story. Each chapter is just long enough!
I highly recommend reading this series to your children. They are “seen” through the eyes of a young child so they appeal to children.
The story also provides an excellent look back at the humble beginning of our country.
God is central in this journey of young Laura and her family!
An excellent series to share with the whole family!
I’d give it is 10 stars if I could!