Author Spotlight: Shelley Shepard Gray


Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.

The winner from the last Author Spotlight giveaway of Notes From a Blue Bike is CYNTHIA FERNSTAEDT! Please email with your mailing address to claim your prize.


This week we are featuring Shelley Shepard Gray! To enter to win a copy of her book, Hopeful (Avon Inspire), leave a comment on this post.

Tell us a little about your new book . . .

shelleyshepardgrayHopeful is the first book in this year’s Return to Sugarcreek trilogy. The heroine is Miriam Zehr, who is a baker and server at the Sugarcreek Inn. She’s  had a crush on Junior Beiler for pretty much forever. And Junior? Well, he’s got his eye on Mary Kate, the new schoolteacher in town. Mary Kate, unfortunately, is in hiding from an old boyfriend, who, even more unfortunately, is still stalking her. It’s kind of a fun romance with a hint of danger.

How can readers find you and your books?

I have a website, and on Facebook an awful lot, too. My books are available just about everywhere, from Walmart to Barnes & Noble to or Christian Book Distributers.

Anything new for you on the book horizon?

Yes! My first historical with Zondervan will release in July. It’s called Secrets of Sloane House and it’s about a girl who goes undercover as a maid in a big mansion during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. It’s kind of like Downton Abbey meets an old Agatha Christie mystery.

I’ll also have Thankful and Joyful, the next two books in the Return to Sugarcreek series, Snowfall, a Christmas novella, and Redemption, a post Civil war Amish romance.

I’m so thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to write so many stories!

Why do you write?

I write because it’s my absolute favorite thing to do. I would write even if I didn’t have a book contract. It makes me happy.

What are you best known for . . . writing or otherwise?

I think most people who know me think of me as Tom’s wife, Shelley, who really loves to bake. I bake a lot!

If you could wish one thing for your future, what would it be?

I would probably wish for my two kids to continue to be happy and healthy. When they’re happy, I’m happy.

Best author moment?

One of my best author moments is walking into the Harper Collins Publishing building, telling the security guard my name, and being told to have seat, they were expecting me. It was a pretty surreal moment.

Worst author moment?

I can’t think of one particular moment, though I will say that I really don’t like revision letters and I always get revision letters. I’m always pretty hard on myself and wish that I had turned in a better book.

If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?

Since I used to teach 6th grade, I guess I would teach. If I could do anything I wanted, I would probably teach adults to read. I would love that.

Describe your ideal circumstances to write.

I can pretty much write anywhere—I’m good at blocking things out and staying on task. But I have to say that I write best in my office, at my desk, first thing in the morning.

Right this moment, what does your office look like?

As usual, it’s a mess. Years ago, I taught myself to only ‘write’ in my office. So I go in, do emails and write, then leave! Consequently, I’ve got stacks of books, papers, folders, and stuff from meetings and conferences. I also keep a spiral notebook for every book . . . so there’s tons of spiral notebooks scattered around.

How would you describe your writing style to a reader?

Hmm. I write 10 pages a day, six days a week. That’s it.hopeful

If you could write any book–on any topic–and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be? (Or genre?)

Oh, that would be westerns. I love writing westerns. Something about handsome men carrying around rifles and not putting up with much makes me happy. Silly, huh?

Ever had a bad review?  How did you handle it?

Oh, Suzanne. Absolutely! The second book I published was given a 1 Star review in Romantic Times Magazine. Those reviews are usually the first to come out, about a month before the book’s release. So I got to think about that review for a good long time.  I was crushed and embarrassed and cried.

Then I realized that 1) it was just a bad review, not the end of the world and 2) I had already been contracted for another book, so that one was sure to be better!

Seriously, I’m kind of glad I had that bad review. It hurt, but I learned from it. It’s also made me very sympathetic to authors receiving bad reviews!

What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in last five years? Last year? Last six months?

I published my first book about 14 years ago. My first editor is now an agent for a major literacy agency. I’ve learned that it’s a fairly small ‘world’ and that it pays to be nice. People have long memories.

Five years ago I was writing for three publishing houses. I learned that writing for three houses was a mistake! All I did was work!

Last year, I learned that it was okay to have an opinion. I used to be too afraid to do anything but agree. Now I will occasionally voice an opinion. : )

Finally, in the last six months? It’s probably that I needed some help. I hired an assistant three months ago!


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About Suzanne

Suzanne Woods Fisher writes bestselling, award winning fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. Her interest in the Plain People began with her Old Order German Baptist grandfather, raised in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne's app, Amish Wisdom, delivers a daily Amish proverb to your phone or iPad. She writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine. She lives with her family in California and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you can't take life too seriously when a puppy is running through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.


  1. Kathleen Berman says:

    Thanks for entering me in the drawing for your book. I have spent many pleasant hours enjoying your stories. Thanks!

  2. Wilani Wahl says:

    Shelley, it was great to learn more about you. What a great interview! Love your books.

  3. Melanie Backus says:

    Great interview! I know I would love this book.

    melback at cebridge dot net

  4. Wen Dee says:

    I look forward to meeting you this week in Sarasota. I can’t wait to read your new book “Hopeful”. I’d be blessed to win this contest. Thanks

  5. Jennifer C says:

    An Amish mystery… it sounds interesting. A friend of mine is really down on Amish books until I read her part of an Amish mystery book I was reading. I’m hopeful this one is just as exciting.

  6. Tracy Melhinch says:

    Thank you for the awesome interview! and for the chance 🙂

  7. Melissa Weaver says:

    I love Shelley’s books. I own several already and would love to add this one to my ever growing Amish library. I have several of yours as well, Suzanne. Thank you for the opportunity to win another book. The first was in this series was amazing and am looking forward to reading this one as well. Amish books are my favorite to read.

  8. Linda McFarland says:

    Shelley, I’m with you on the westerns. I enjoyed the Heart of a Hero series. Would love to win….Thanks for the opportunity!

  9. Jaquelyn says:

    I love Shelley Shepard Gray and her books! She is one of my favorite authors! I would love to win her new book, thank you for the opportunity!

  10. Sandie W says:

    I haven’t read any Shelley’s books, but after reading this spotlight, I’d love to have one of her books in my hands! Good luck and I now have another book on my TBR list!

  11. Jackie McNutt says:

    Love Shelly’s Books. Thank you for post and opportunity to win.

  12. Thankful for good authors like you are, and for the books that keep me engrossed til the end… and even thinking of them afterwards… 🙂

  13. S. Ansell says:

    I’d love to win this book. I read a lot in the winter…and it has been “winter” all winter here…as in snow snow snow! God bless!

  14. angela chesnut says:

    would love to win.

  15. What a delightful interview! I would love to win a copy of HOPEFUL and appreciate the opportunity to do so!

  16. MS Barb Dawson says:

    Thanks 4 sharing about yourself–I like your idea about only writing in your office–I like & need tips that help me stay focused on what my numerous projects!

  17. Hi Shelley! Loved your interview–thanks for sharing about your working life (ten pages a day!) and even about your crummy 1 star review. You are such a lovely person, Shelley, as well as being a wonderful writer. So glad we are sharing this journey!
    Warmly, Suzanne

  18. Connie Price says:

    Great interview!! Love Shelley’s books!! Would love to add this book to my library!!!

  19. Linda Knott says:

    I always enjoy reading Shelley Shepard Gray’s books and would love to win a copy of Hopeful.

    Thank you for your blog and your daily messages about people, places, and traditions.

  20. Renee says:

    Loved the interview! And would love to win the book.

  21. Ruth says:

    Very interesting interview. Would love to win the book!

  22. Shirley Beesmer says:

    Thank, you for the author information. I love Shelly’s books and look forward to being entered into the drawing.

  23. Linda Landreth says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!!

  24. Elaine Rieder says:

    Enjoyed the interview and would love to win the book!

  25. Would love to win this book!

  26. Emma says:

    great interview!Hopeful sounds wonderful. Please enter me in contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.Have a wonderful week.I enjoy reading your books.

  27. Judy B says:

    I met this beautiful lovely author in Shipshewana last September. I have been a fan of hers forever! I was so excited to meet her in person I was giddy! She has such a gentle soul. I’ve read most all Shelley’s books and loved everyone. Winning a copy of Hopeful would be great!! Loved the interview. A lot of books coming out. I can’t wait!

    Judy B

  28. Love all of your books

  29. michelle conti says:

    Looking forward to reading Hopeful. Thanks for a chance to win 🙂

  30. Lee Ellen Hicks says:

    Enjoyed your interview and looking forward to start reading your new series …Lee Ellen Hicks

  31. Love your books. I’m glad you would write even if you didn’t have a contract. So happy you love to write.
    I love reading your books.
    Would like to win Hopeful.
    Carolyn J.

  32. Sherry Murchison says:

    This was a great interview! Shelley, I have read many of your books and love them all! Would love to win this new book! Thank you!

  33. Susan Fletcher says:

    Since I’m a teacher, I love reading Amish books about teaching or with teachers in them. Hope to win! Yep, I’m HOPEFUL!

  34. Linda says:

    I have already read Hopeful. Wonderful story. Great writer

  35. Jan Hall says:

    I’m glad you didn’t let that one review stop you from writing. Sounds like you have learned a lot of good lessons over the last 14 years. I would love to read Hopeful.

  36. Donna B says:

    Another great interview! I would love to read this book!

  37. vickie says:

    I would love to have this book -sounds so good!

  38. Looking forward to reading your new book

  39. Jackie Tessnair says:

    Great interview!I love Shelley’s books and loved reading this post.Thanks for the chance to win a book.

  40. Teresa King says:

    I love both yours & Shelley’s books & I am always ready for more of them to read! It is great to learn more about the authors & a little of what their personal lives are like from the Author Spotlight. The new books coming out never get here fast enough for me.

  41. Linda Kish says:

    I think for everything in life it pays to be nice. And, yes, people do have very long memories. Especially for the bad stuff.

    I also like to express my opinions. Sometimes it gets me in trouble. Oops.

    I would love to win a copy of your book.

  42. Sharma Darby says:

    I love your books. Just got thru reading Eventide. I hope that I win. Sharma Darby

  43. Sharyl B. says:

    Shelley, I really enjoy reading your books. Thanks for sharing with us.

  44. shelia hall says:

    Great interview Shelly! Love to win your book! Thanks Suzanne for the giveaway and great blog!

  45. Tina Watson says:

    An amazing interview. the things you learn about an author can surprise a person sometimes.


    AND when is one of you coming to Franklin County, Pennsylvania????

  46. sharon miller says:

    I sure enjoy reading Westerns and liked your series on Western cowboys Shelley.
    Please enter me to win this book, HOPEFUL. Thanks for the contest.
    sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  47. Connie H says:

    Great interview. Would love to win your book!

  48. Maryann says:

    I love Amish fiction and I would love to read Miriam and Junior’s story. Suzanne thanks for the great interview with Shelley.

  49. Jan says:

    Sometimes people are critical of our views/writing and our successes. I truly enjoy your writing style and how I can actually connect with your story line as I read your books. Don’t be discouraged by one person’s opinion when your readers know better and appreciate you and your writing talent. Please keep these Amish novels coming… I love them! We’ll just keep “Hopeful” that other “first” reviews are more positive.

  50. Evelyn Lortz says:

    I just finished reading this book! It was wonderful. I’d love to have a copy of it. I love Shelly’s Amish books!

  51. Very quickly this web page will be famous amid all blog visitors, due to it’s nice posts

  52. Debbie Hale says:

    Love her books! Would love a coup to keep!

  53. Hello Suzanne. I love the Spotlight of yours. Thanks for the interview with Shelly. I do have a few of her books but not a complete series yet. This book sounds really interesting. I would love to visit Sugarcreek, Shelly. I would so love to win this book of yours. Thanks for a chance to do so. Maxie

  54. Joan Crothers says:

    Would love to win a copy of this book!

  55. Staci Kinman says:

    Loved reading the interview! Thanks for doing a giveaway!!

  56. Brenda says:

    Shelley, it was great to learn more about you. Love your books. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

  57. Lauren Boughner says:

    I have never tried a book by Shelley, this could be a great start!

  58. Janice says:

    Thanks for having the giveaway. One can always Hope!!

  59. Becca M. says:

    I have read quite a few of Shelly shepards Gray books. I love them! It would be awesome to win this! Thank you for the opputunity! God bless

  60. Janice Clark says:

    I would LOVE to win one of these wonderful books… Thanks so much..

  61. Donna Cochran says:

    I love your books and would love to win the new one!

  62. Joan Hoffman says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to win one of your books. I have throughly enjoyed all of your books that I have read!

  63. Sharon says:

    These are my favorite books! And my 82 year old mothers faves!!

  64. Brenda Melahn says:

    Would love to win this book!! Love Amish fiction — thanks for the opportunity.

  65. Jason Longwith says:

    I believe my wife would love this book.

  66. Linda Landreth says:

    Please enter me in this contest. I love your books! Blessings!

  67. Becky McCoy says:

    I would love to receive a copy of this book! I just recently read one of her books. I would also be willing to do a review. Thank you for sharing this!

  68. Jolene says:

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift with the world!

  69. Lori says:

    Shelley, I love your books, I use them as a method of mental escape during chemotherapy/iron infusions and blood transfusions. I become so enraptured with the story I am able to forget what is going on around me, even for just a short while. Keep them coming, Thank you

  70. susan greenoe says:

    i love this book and would to win it

  71. donna durnell says:

    It was nice to find out a bit about you, Shelley. I like that you bake a lot, and that your office isn’t *pristine*. I still don’t know how any writer can actually come up with stories and write them down — but that’s because I have no creativity in that area myself.
    Will be looking forward to reading some of those Westerns you will write someday. 🙂

  72. Lisa Cowell says:

    I am really looking forward to “Returning to Sugarcreek.” I have read the “Seasons of…” series and really enjoyed it. I have not been back to Sugarcreek since the last weekend in July. It’s time to plan another trip! I like reading about places I have actually been.

  73. Janice Clark says:

    I would love to win one of these books.. Thanks so much!

  74. Jan C. says:

    Winning this title would be wonderful. Thanks for the chance!

  75. Cindy Ann Snider says:

    Thank you for the chance to win one of your books! Much appreciated!

  76. Tricia says:

    Absolutely love Amish books. Yours are amazing.

  77. Karen Hall says:

    You are a very talented author. I absolutely love reading your books and am always looking forward to the next one to come out. Thank you for the time you spend on your creative writings. You entertain so many! You are a gift! 🙂

  78. Elizabeth Dennison says:

    Love reading ur books!!!

  79. Would love to win – love her books. But, I want to say thank you to you, suzane, for bringing us these interviews with other authors. I helps me learn more about them, and I just love that you do that for us! Bless you and have a good evening! 🙂

  80. Sorry I spelled our name wrong. I need to learn to proofread my messages before I post them. Sorry!

  81. mary ellen ashenfelder says:

    Very interesting interview. I enjoyed it very much . I have several books by Shelley and would love to add this one to my collection. Thank you.

  82. Marlene McDermeit says:

    I am “hopeful” for a copy of this book from one of my faves!

  83. Carol Edwards says:

    Looks like a great chance for a great read.

  84. Andrea Sgroi says:

    I love to read Amish books.. Would love to win this new book. thanks

  85. Debbie Spinelli says:

    This sounds like a wonderful read… thanks

  86. alison damiano says:

    I appreciate this chance to win a copy of “Hopeful”…

  87. Teresa Sgroi says:

    Would love to win this Amish book. I am sure I will love it. thank-you