Welcome, Jan! Thanks for dropping in so close to your book’s release day! Let’s start with the basics: What part of the country do you live in? Who fills up your household?
My husband and I live in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. Mt. Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Devils Tower National Monument, Wind Cave National Park…these are our neighbors! We live where other people take their vacation.
And our household is shrinking quickly. Up until June, all four of our adult children were living at home. But then our youngest son found a house to share with friends, our daughter married the love of her life a week later, and in February our oldest son is marrying our daughter-to-be. It’s been a whirlwind, and we’re not done yet. The son left at home is finishing up his undergraduate work in another semester or so, then he’ll be off to grad school.
In a way, we’re looking forward to an empty nest…but we’re glad that so far they’re all staying in the area. And then, of course, we still have the dogs at home…including the one who is actually a cat (but don’t tell her!)
Fill us in on “Mattie’s Pledge.” It’s part of a series, right? What inspired this particular story?
“Mattie’s Pledge” continues the story that started in “Hannah’s Choice,” as the families from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania meet up with their friends in Somerset County to head west to Indiana together.
The story was inspired by the research I’ve been doing, trying to learn about my Amish ancestors. I knew that my ancestors had gone west from Lancaster County, to Somerset, to Holmes and Wayne Counties in Ohio, finally settling in northern Indiana. Research can answer the questions of what happened, who was involved, and when they did things, but writing fiction is the way I explore why my ancestors made the move to Indiana in the 1800’s.
So, Jan, if you weren’t able to write, what would you do?
I love teaching, and the day I retired from homeschooling (also known as my youngest son’s high school graduation) was a hard day. So if I wasn’t able to write, I would probably either work as a consultant in the homeschooling community or teach in a Christian school. Neither one of those options sounds as much fun as writing is, though!
What book is on the top of your TBR pile?
My TBR “pile” is a bookshelf…or two. But the book on the top right now is “The Silmarillion” by J.R.R. Tolkien. I read voraciously, and in several different genres. Next after Tolkien is “As the Crow Flies” by Craig Johnson, and then “Her Unexpected Family” by Ruth Logan Herne.
If you could write any book–on any topic–and be guaranteed a publishing contract, what topic would it be? (Or genre?)
I’ve had this idea that’s been at the back of my mind for a while now. I’ve always loved family sagas, even though they aren’t popular these days. But I’ve gotten to know a family who are fourth generation ranchers, and their story is fascinating. Cowboys, Native Americans, the Badlands…. I’d love to write their story as historical fiction.
Ever had a bad review? How did you handle it?
Every author gets bad reviews, and they happen for a lot of different reasons. If something in my writing has offended someone or they don’t like something I’ve said, I want to know. If they have a legitimate reason for giving the bad review, I consider their points. But most of the time, the reviewer is just having a bad day. I tend to forget about those reviews.
What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in last five years? Last year? Last six months?
I started writing fairly recently (2011), so everything I’ve learned about the publishing industry has been in the last five years. It’s been a steep learning curve!
But the one thing that has really stood out to me is that no one knows what will be the next big seller. Authors, agents and publishers try to guess, but we don’t know what the readers will want in twelve to eighteen months. So the main thing is to stay flexible!
How do you solve a grammar dilemma?
I do what I told my children to do when we were homeschooling: Write the sentence the way you think it should be written, then look at it. Does it look right? Then it probably is.
If I can’t solve the problem that way, I have fabulous editors I can rely on to give me the right answer.
A fire in the woodstove, a fine old movie on television, and a needlework project in my hands.
Anything new for you on the book horizon?
“Naomi’s Hope,” the sequel to “Mattie’s Pledge,” is coming out in June 2017! Watch for it!
So how can readers connect with you?
And on Mondays at the Yankee-Belle Café: http://yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com/
Thanks again for dropping in to share your story, Jan. And readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Mattie’s Pledge! And don’t forget to stop in next week to see if you’ve won!