I’m married to Joe. I’m the busy mom of two (human) sons (Zac and Matt) and four cats (Molly, Lily, Rico, and Jet). My wonderful mother, Lola, also lives with us. Our house is never quiet, and I love it!
What is your go-to research when you’re writing? A specific book? A website? An individual?
I have a wonderful Old Order Amish friend who lives on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania. I try to visit her at least once every year. Also, like most women in her community, my friend has a phone shanty. Her phone shanty is located at the end of her driveway, and she shares it with her father-in-law. My friend utilizes voicemail and checks it once every day. I often leave her a message on her voice mail, and she calls me back and generously answers all of my questions. I know of other Amish families who have their phone in a nearby barn or phone shanty, and they run to answer it when they hear it ring. My close friend, however, utilizes voicemail and will call folks back. Her teenage daughters also have their own phone number, so they receive calls from friends on voicemail, too.
Let’s talk about studying the Amish up close. Where has book research taken you?
I have enjoyed researching the Amish, and I’m so thankful for my Amish friend, who has shared so much with me. I have cooked with her, visited with her family, toured her farm, and attended a church service in her barn. I hope that I can continue to write Amish books for many years!
What was the first thing you learned about the Amish? What were a few things you had to “unlearn” about them?
I remember visiting Amish Country in Pennsylvania as a child. We toured an Amish house/museum and I remember the tour guide explaining that the Amish would hang their chairs on the walls during the day since they believed it was a sin to be idle. My Amish friends don’t hang their chairs on the wall, so that must have been an old tradition. I also heard that the Amish don’t believe in mirrors, which isn’t true. My Amish friend has a beautiful dresser with a mirror that her brother made for her.
Amish fiction authors are accused of romanticizing the Amish, of glossing over real problems. Some feel very vitriolic about it. How do you respond to that concern?
There may be Amish fiction authors who romanticize the Amish culture; however, I try to write about real-life issues and problems. The Amish are human, and they have problems and struggles just as we non-Amish do. I do my best to include real-life issues and problems in my novels and novellas. Some of the issues I’ve included have been strained/estranged family relationships, illness, single parenthood, unexpected death of a loved one, and financial problems. I believe that readers relate better to real life issues they may have experienced in their own lives.
What are your thoughts about the growth of Amish fiction? Why do you think it is such a popular sub-genre?
I am thrilled that Amish fiction continues to grow as a popular sub-genre. I think readers see Amish fiction as a nice break from our busy modern lives. Amish fiction takes us away from the craziness of everyday life.
A Season of Love is the fifth and final book in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series. It was an emotional novel for me to write since it was my final story with my beloved characters. I held back tears when I wrote the final chapter; however, it was fun to revisit all of my favorite characters once more and tie up all of the loose ends. I hope my readers will enjoy taking one last journey with the Kauffman family.
Here is a blurb:
In the fifth and final novel of the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series, three young women are about to change their lives. Lizzie Anne and Samuel have decided to get married, and Lindsay is about to be baptized in the Amish faith and is courting Matthew. While Katie Kauffman is happy for her friends who seem to have settled their futures, she is also finding herself something of a fifth wheel. When Lindsay’s sister Jessica returns to Bird-in-Hand, she finds that Jake Miller has moved on with his life. He lost hope that Jessica would ever be satisfied to settle in rural Pennsylvania and takes comfort in becoming close friends with Katie. However, it’s not an easy road as Jake is Mennonite and Katie has just been baptized in the Amish faith. Her father forbids them to see each other, adamant that his daughter marry an Amish man.
A Season of Love is filled with surprising twists that will grip you to the very last words. As the stories of your favorite Amish community draw to a close, join Lindsay, her friends, and all the people of Bird-In-Hand for one last volume.
I’m passionate about…
Some readers may not know that my husband, Joe, has endured two kidney transplants. Joe received a kidney from his brother in 2004, and it only lasted four years. In 2008, he went back on dialysis, and he was very ill. I was willing to donate to Joe, but I wasn’t a perfect match. Instead of donating a kidney to Joe, I found another way to help him.
I donated a kidney on June 14, 2011, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through my donation, my husband, Joe, received a second kidney transplant. My husband and I matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. I donated a kidney to a woman, and in exchange, her husband gave a kidney to Joe. I wrote a memoir about our struggle with his disease, and it’s called A Gift of Love.
Due to Joe’s kidney struggles, I’ve become an advocate for both organ and blood donation. I volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation, and I also run blood drives at my church. If you are healthy and able, please give the gift of life and donate blood.
People don’t know I’m good at…
Many readers may not know that I work a full-time job, along with writing books. My job includes both Human Resources and Finance. A few of my HR duties include hiring employees, processing payroll, and helping employees understand their benefits. On the finance side, I pay invoices and process contracts. Working full-time, having a family, and writing novels can be hectic, but I’m thankful that I have a patient and supportive family!