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A young woman, torn between two worlds and two men, receives wisdom and guidance from secret letters tucked inside a quilt.

On her eighteenth birthday, Mariah Mast begins her Rumspringa and explores the world outside her faith. While she receives attention from a handsome Englisher, her best friend Josiah Weaver watches from a distance with a disapproving eye. An encounter with police, a misunderstanding of intentions, and hurt feelings compound her confusion. Recognizing the teen’s need for space, her grandmother sends her to stay with an aunt in Pinecraft. Upon bidding farewell, the grandmother gives Mariah a pocket quilt with handwritten messages tucked inside. These words of wisdom guide her as she makes a decision that will have lasting consequences for those closest to her heart.

Q&A with Laurie Stroup Smith

What is a Bible verse that inspires you to keep on writing?

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Growing up, I played soccer. My dad worked with me and often illustrated his helpful tips on the backs of envelopes. He’d tell me to “keep knocking, someone will answer the door,” which meant to keep shooting the ball, and I’d eventually score. Since then, these words have inspired me in other aspects of both my personal and professional life.

Waiting to hear what editors think about my writing has been the toughest part of this journey toward publication. While praying for the right manuscript to land on the right desk at the right time, I have continued to knock on their doors. I was writing my seventh manuscript when Vinspire Publishing opened the door and offered me a three-book contract.

Describe the moment that you knew you were born to write.

Around the age of nine, I remember telling my parents I wanted to be an author, but my interests later led me to become a Certified Athletic Trainer. Writing has always been important to me. One of my college professors requested a copy of my master’s thesis to keep as an example for other students, and the manager of the physical therapy clinic where I worked asked me to help write new versions of our treatment protocols. While serving for six years as a Girl Scout Troop Leader, I started a blog as a resource for other leaders. But it wasn’t until I wrote a story for our daughters and shared it with an author friend who then encouraged me to pursue writing that I remembered my childhood dream.

Watching Hallmark movies is my escape from writing because I love a happy ending. I can consider this research, right?

Name a book you’ve read that made a difference to you (or to others).

I could have gone several directions with this response, but given my present situation, I have chosen to explain how the book Me Before You by Jojo Moyes has made a difference in my way of thinking.

Over the summer, my father almost died from sepsis/endocarditis, and the consequences of this diagnosis and resultant prognosis thrust me, along with other members of our family, into the role of caregiver and patient advocate. He is currently under the care of specialists at the Cleveland Clinic. The only “fix” – aside from a miracle – is a complex and risky surgery, if clinically indicated. My dad wants to have the surgery, but I would prefer he not subject himself to the pain and suffering of a third open-heart operation, especially when the risks are so severe.

This brings me to the question that inspired Me Before You: What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Me Before You has made a difference for me as our family faces this uncertainty. Please understand I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with the end of the book. I am saying this story caused me to pause and consider such a situation from different angles—it’s not black and white, and it’s personal. If the conversations about my dad’s care had happened years ago, before I read this book, I would not have been able to handle these discussions with an open mind as I’m able to do today. Regardless of my opinion, I will support my dad in whichever direction he decides to proceed, and I’ll continue to rely on my faith and let go, surrendering everything to God, the only One who has control.

If for some reason you couldn’t write anymore, what would you do with your gift of communication?

Great question! Serving others is important to me. In fact, my tagline is Inspiring Service Through Story. If I couldn’t write anymore, I would search for opportunities to gather groups of people who would then go into their communities and meet the needs of those less fortunate, marginalized, and oppressed.

What’s the best advice you ever received?

To write what’s in my heart—write the story I feel called to tell—and to continue to write despite rejections or bad reviews. . . keep knocking, someone will answer the door.

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One winner will receive:

– One copy of Just Breathe: a 365-Day Devotional Journal
– a handmade pocket pillow
– a Wendell August Forge ornament

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While writing Amish fiction and contemporary romance, Laurie Stroup Smith strives to connect readers with friends and family through her stories while inspiring her audience to serve others. She was named a Finalist in the 2017 ACFW First Impressions Contest and a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 and 2019 ACFW Genesis Contests. She has been interviewed by Loveland Magazine.

Before writing, Laurie earned a bachelor’s degree in both athletic training and exercise science and later obtained her master’s degree in health promotion and education. She now writes full time and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Cincinnati.

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