No phone or electric wires hanging in the air like kite strings.
Photos taken in beautiful Lancaster, Pennsylvania
When my 2nd grade teacher gave me encouragement by saying a poem I had written about a moth was exceptional, I knew I wanted to become an author.
Q. Does your writing offer you an escape to express yourself or to entertain others?
It does both. I enjoy sharing my love for the Amish people with my readers, and I find fulfillment in creating characters and writing what God lays on my heart.
Q. What is the inspiration for your love affair with the Amish culture and way of life?
When I married my husband, Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, we were introduced to an Amish couple in Pennsylvania. While visiting with them, I felt drawn to their way of life, and determined that I would learn all I could about the Plain faith. Later, I discovered that my great-great-great grandparents were also part of the Anabaptist faith.
Q. What was the most enjoyable and rewarding aspect of writing about the Amish people and culture?
The most rewarding aspect is when a reader tells me that something they have read in one of my books has helped them through a difficult time in their life or has lead them to a closer walk with the Lord.
Q. What are the three major lessons you have learned from the Amish community that will serve mainstream Americans well if they incorporate them into their lives?
1.) Put God first in all you say and do.
2.) Spend more time developing a close relationship with your family and friends.
3.) Reach out to others when they have a need.
Q. The Amish seem very committed to community. What are some ways we can build community with one another?
Getting to know our neighbors. Paying closer attention when there is a need in our community. Asking others for help when we have a need of our own.
Q. Do you have a “recipe for living” you would like to share with our listeners this morning?
My recipe for living is to put God first in everything. Proverbs 3:5-6 sums it up nicely: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
Download an excerpt from Plain and Fancy here.
Wanda Brunstetter is a New York Times bestselling author who has published over 60 books and has more than seven million copies of her books in print.Wanda’s books have also been translated into four foreign languages.Wanda and her husband, Richard, have two children and six grandchildren.
Wanda will be presented with the distinguished RT Book Reviews magazine’s Career Achievement Award for Inspirational Fiction during the Awards Ceremony of the 2014 RT Booklovers’ Convention in New Orleans on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Wanda will also speak at the convention on the “Writing the Inspirational Novel” panel on May 16, 2014 and will hold a book signing during the Giant Book Fair at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, 555 Canal Street, on Saturday, May 17, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. That signing is open to the public. For more information, visit https://www.rtconvention.com/
Purchase Wanda’s books here.
Q. How are the Amish able to accept bad things that happen and move forward?
~ Terry Petrino
A. Amish people believe everything that happens is because God allows it to happen, and that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord. That doesn’t mean they don’t feel pain or grief, but trusting that God has a plan that is much higher than their own allows them to move forward in faith and accept, without questioning, His will.
Q. Do the Amish practice arranged marriages or are they free to date and marry whomever like would like?
~ Linda McFarland
A. I don’t know of any time in Amish history that there was ever a practice of having arranged marriages. The Amish are free to date, fall in love, and marry whomever they choose, as long as the person they choose is Amish as well. Most of the time the couple will ask for their parents’ blessing but, with or without it, they are free to marry whomever they want.
Q. Why did you decide to write a short story?
The idea for a short story came from a character, Will Stoltz, who had a leading role in The Haven and a small appearance in The Letters. Will is one of my favorite characters–a great combination of charm and chutzpah. And there was something I wanted to finish up for him. A perfect opportunity to try a short story!
Q. Can The Rescue be read as a stand alone?
Definitely! You’ll be swept right into Will’s current dilemma.
Q. Which is…?
Will just finished vet school and has a dream: To start a wild bird rescue center in Stoney Ridge. Maybe…two dreams. On a previous visit to the Inn at Eagle Hill in Stoney Ridge, his heart was captured by a beautiful young woman named Jackie Colombo. She had encouraged him to start the wild bird rescue center and even helped him lease retail space for the center in Stoney Ridge. But when Will arrives in town, Jackie is nowhere to be found.
Q. So what happens next?
Well, I can’t tell you without spoiling the ending.
Q. But isn’t this an Amish story about an inn?
Good question! I’m glad you asked. Will is staying at the Inn at Eagle Hill while he is setting up the wild bird rescue center and trying to find out what happened to Jackie. So even though he’s the main character of this story, the Amish play a strong supporting role. They are the ones who point him in the right direction. Actually, many right directions.
Q. How does this short story fit into the ‘Inn at Eagle Hill’ series?
Q. Anything else you’d like to add about The Rescue?
Do you remember reading O. Henry stories in school (Gift of the Magi, for example)? He’s famous for startling twists at the end. I love twists and turns! That’s what happens in The Rescue–it ends on a note of surprising irony. Hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction, and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. The Search won a 2012 Carol Award. The Waiting was a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award, The Choice was a finalist for a 2010 Carol Award, and The Letters is a finalist for the Christian Retailing 2014 award. Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World and Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Purchase Suzanne’s books here.
In celebration of my Suzanne Woods Fisher’s new novella, The Rescue, she’s hosting the “Birds of Springstagram” giveaway! In The Rescue you’ll “fly” back to the Inn at Eagle Hill for the untold story of one of your favorite characters and experience the miracle of love.
Enter to win $100 Amazon gift card by doing the following:
1. Take a picture of a spring bird returning to your town now that the weather has finally warmed up!
2. Follow @SuzanneWoodsFisher on Instagram.
3. Tag @SuzanneWoodsFisher, #TheRescueGiveaway, and #BirdsofSpringstagram (contest name).
4. Grab the URL to your photo (by going to your Instagram profile on a web browser), then fill out the below form.
5. If you don’t have Instagram, fill out the Rafflecopter widget (located below the form).
The contest runs from May 5–25! I’ll announce the winners on her blog on May 26.
The pages of Cooking & Such magazine are filled with delicious recipes like this one for Skillet Pear Ginger Pie.
Use your favorite flaky pie dough for double crust.
(Make extra for filling a deep dish skillet. For the best pie make 1½ batches of your favorite recipe and bigger circles than usual for a pie pan.)
8-9 Bartlett pears
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk
1 teaspoon raw, cane or light brown sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 375°. Lay one pie dough circle into a 10-by-12-inch cast iron skillet. Slice pears and place in a large mixing bowl.
In separate bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Pour over pear slices and toss to coat. Lay mixture in the skillet and then drizzle the heavy cream over the mixture.
Top with second circle of pie dough. Press edges to seal crust. Cut several slits in the crust, using any extra crust for decorative fall leaves. Lightly brush crust with egg and milk mixture and then sprinkle with raw sugar. Wrap foil around outer edge of crust to avoid burning; remove about halfway during baking process to brown.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until pear mixture is bubbling. Let cool enough to set and serve with your favorite ice cream. Super yummy when drizzle with a caramel topping.
Raise your hand if you love Key Lime Pie!
Cookbook author Sherry Gore has shared this tasty and simple recipe with us. We’re thinking it will be the perfect addition to our Memorial Day Weekend plans.
1/2 C. fresh lime juice
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 – 2 C. whipped topping
1 baked pastry pie crust
additional whipped topping
Beat lime juice and milk together. Add whipped topping and pour into pie shell. Top with additional whipped topping. Refrigerate before serving.
– – Laura Yoder, Sarasota, Florida
(Find more recipes like this in Sherry Gore’s cookbook Simply Delicious Amish Cooking.)
Q. How realistic is it for an Englischer like me to become Old Order Amish?
A. It’s very unrealistic and extremely difficult for anyone to become Old Order Amish if they were not born and raised that way. Out of all of the people who try, about 95% of them fail. There are a few reasons for this, beginning with the language barrier. The Old Order Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch, and in order to be a fully-accepted part of the community, you would need to be able to speak it fluently. Another reason why it’s so difficult is that the ordnung needs to be accepted without question. The reasoning behind most of these rules is never given, and for an Amish person born and raised in the community, that is fine. Yet, it can be very difficult for someone coming into the community from the outside to adjust to the many, many little day-to-day things the Amish do without even thinking.
Even the Amish like to take a vacation.
Better yet, hire a driver from Pinecraft to pick us up at the airport. Because once we get to the village, the best way to get around is to ride a bicycle or walk. Several residents rent bicycles by the day.
Once we get to Bahia Vista Avenue, we start to see bicycles here, there, everywhere, and many more in the winter time. Bicycles outnumber cars on the village’s streets, which sport familiar names like Fry, Yoder, Graber, Kruppa and Kaufman.
The village’s high season of vacationers runs from November until early spring, during which the population swells to several thousand.
Hotspots in Pinecraft include Yoder’s Restaurant, an ice cream shop called Big Olaf’s, along with other establishments like Village Pizzas by Emma and Der Dutchman Restaurant. Signs posted in the neighborhood will direct you to people selling cheese by the pound from Ohio, or you can purchase grapefruit on the honor system from a small table at the end of someone’s driveway.
When you step into Pinecraft, toss out your preconceptions about the Amish and Mennonites. You’ll see Old Order Amish ladies, their black aprons fastened with straight pins. You’ll see men with long beards waving in the breeze, much like the Spanish moss does from the nearby trees.
There aren’t any wood stoves or homes without electricity in Pinecraft. The Plain who don’t have electricity back home are permitted to stay in homes and small apartments that have electricity, I’m told.
In Pinecraft during the winter, there’s always something going on—an impromptu singing at a local home. People find out about the singings via word of mouth or by notices posted on light poles.
Pinecraft Park is a hubbub of activity from morning until late night, with a playground for the kiddos, fishing in Phillippi Creek. You’ll hear the clank-clank of shuffleboard players, the grunts and discussion of men playing bocce. The park is often the setting for gospel concerts and singings.
The youth play volleyball at the court—if they’re not at the beach nearby, that is. Siesta Key Beach, voted the Best Beach in America, is only 15 minutes away and last winter, the city set up a bus stop in Pinecraft. The girls love to change out their sturdy plain shoes for snazzy flip-flops and they stock up on the suntan oil to get a tan before heading back north.
Is it possible to be Plain in the middle of a thriving, worldly city? Yes, and they do in Pinecraft.
Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of over 15 titles for Barbour Publishing, Harlequin, and Abingdon Press. Her latest title is A Season of Change. Lynette was born in Western Massachusetts in the shadow of the Berkshire Mountains, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country. She loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip. When she’s not writing fiction, she works as a reporter for her city newspaper and has a weekly column called My Front Porch.
Purchase Lynette’s books here.
I was telling someone recently about a new series we’re launching at Herald Press. Entitled ‘Plainspoken: Real-Life Stories of Amish and Mennonites’, the series contains books about daily life and faith written by Amish and Plain Mennonite writers. The person I was talking to suggested that I’ll likely have to do extra-heavy editing of these writers, considering that they have only gone through the eighth grade.
Not necessarily, I told him. The first book in the series, which will be published in October, contains some of the best, funniest writing I’ve ever edited. An elementary teacher and an auctioneer, this Old Order writer has a knack for writing laugh-out-loud stories about his sassy students, prankster friends, and a younger sister who managed to be late for church twice in one day. Most of my edits are just icing on what is already a very tasty literary cake.
My acquaintance is not alone in thinking that Amish people must not be good readers or writers. Granted, there are likely lots of Amish folks, just like in the general population, who dislike reading books or writing. But the Amish have fewer digital distractions than most of us, never facing the dilemma I encountered last week: whether to read a novel or watch an episode of The Good Wife. I’ve talked to Amish people who’ve read Charles Dickens and Toni Morrison and Annie Proulx, and many love the writings of authors like Max Lucado and Rick Warren.
And in terms of writing: the author of the first Plainspoken book has lots of company. The authors of the The Amish write that despite suspicion of higher education, “the Amish have prolific writers, and every large settlement—and some smaller ones—include Amish printers and publishers.” Amish scribes write about their lives and communities in publications like The Budget and Die Botschaft and a plethora of other Amish-run periodicals. Amish writers have produced textbooks, novels, genealogies, cookbooks, and doctrinal works. Most of these find readers only within Amish communities, but the work of a few writers, like Amish-fiction novelist Linda Byler and now the writers of the Plainspoken series, are available to a general audience.
So while Amish life spills over with work, children, church, and household responsibilities, Amish readers and writers, like readers and writers everywhere, manage to snatch time in their busy days to sit down with a book or a pen. Some of those writers will keep their writing close to them, in diaries or memoirs for their grandchildren. I’m grateful that others will draft and revise and publish their work in books that—if we’re lucky—the rest of us might get to read.
Valerie Weaver-Zercher is managing editor of trade books at Herald Press. Her book about Amish-themed fiction, Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. The first book in the Plainspoken series, Chasing the Amish Dream, will be available this fall.
Purchase Valerie’s books here.