Happy New Year!!!!

First, happy new year. I’ve been sicker than a dog with the flu, but I’ll take this time to post to my blog. I often get asked how I do my research for Amish novels. There’s no one way to go about it, but recently I put wrote a summary for the Amish Reader newsletter that I thought I might post here, too. happy reading, and stay well…

Research for the writing of Never Far from Home 

Ah, research…the mere mention of the word causes a stress reaction in students from junior high age on up through graduate school. But research for a writer of Amish fictions is something quite different. I usually can’t wait to get away from my computer, check into my favorite bed & breakfast in Ohio’s Amish Country, and learn more about their fascinating culture. I know I’ll find gorgeous scenery, delicious meals, and friendly people eager to help. My several trips to Holmes County during the writing of Never Far from Home were no exception. I came home from one long weekend with a handmade Swartzentruber quilt and a trunk filled with homemade peanut butter, bulk seasonings, three kinds of cheese, and jars of pickled everything-under-the-sun.

No bleary-eyed studying until dawn’s early light for this gal.

Since Never Far from Home—Emma’s story—involves sheep, one morning I drove the back roads until I found the perfect Amish sheep farm. After I parked my car and ran to the fence to see them, the sheep came running to see me. What a joy to see dozens of God’s gentlest creatures frolicking down the hillside! When the Amish farmer joined me at the fence, he explained it wasn’t my magnetic personality that had drawn them, but their expectation of sweet treats. Nevertheless, asking him my list of questions on a sunny morning proved far more enjoyable than surfing websites.

Not that I don’t do plenty of online research too. Since my other central character, James Davis, is a student at OSU’s Agricultural Technical Institute, I found the college’s course selections and description of campus facilities on their website. But I had driven around their Farm Labs tucked in the rolling farmlands of Wayne County for years, long before deciding to write the Miller Family Series. The day trip to see the Land Lab, Equine Center, and the renowned rose garden of the Seacrest Arboretum was pure pleasure, not work. The town of Wooster with its charming shops and restaurants was a natural for Emma’s first lunch date with her Englischer.

I also scheduled several getaways with my husband to visit craft fairs, flea markets, and horse auctions. But my luckiest research break came inside the basement cafeteria of the Kidron auction barn. After sitting down next to the likeliest candidates to ask agricultural questions, I then proceeded to eavesdrop long enough to confirm the two men were, indeed, farmers. After introducing ourselves and explaining what I was doing, they graciously talked the afternoon away. They explained everything I needed to know about soybeans, crop rotation, farm alliances, and most of all, corn—all for the price of coffee and two slices of apple pie, ala mode, of course. These lifelong farmers provided research that money could never buy.

I hope you’ll check out Never Far from Home, and let me know if my industrious research has paid off.

Merry Christmas & contest winners

Sorry this post has been so long in coming! Don’t we all get busy this time of year with cooking, baking, cleaning, shopping and writing out those greeting cards. Hopefully, we pause and remember the reason for the season.

I also want to post the five lucky winners from the contest I ran on Author’s Buzz. Everyone who sent me an email during the contest received a bookmark/postcard.  And these people received a signed copy of the first in the Miller Family series,  A Widow’s Hope:

The winners are: Barbara Duncan of Charlotte, NC.
                         Wendy Pantony of Brockville, Ontario
                         Mari Ruuska of Maple Grove, MN
                         Laura Merrill of S. Berwick, ME
                         Lorraine LaRose of Mapleville, RI
 Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. I will be running another one in late January for my new release Never Far from Home, from the Author Buzz website.
And thanks to all of you who took the time to post to my blog during 2009.
As a new writer, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.
Have the merriest of Christmases, and a blessed new year!












Release dates for new titles

I’m tickled pink to announce the release dates for the books I’m currently working on. The third in the Miller Family series, “The Way to a Man’s Heart” will be released on July 1st, 2010 and my Christmas novella “Sarah’s Christmas Miracle” will be released August 10th, 2010….to beat the rush for Christmas shopping.

The Way to a Man’s Heart” will be Leah Miller’s story, and as the name implies she’s cooking up a storm in Ohio Amish Country…gaining fans and beaus at the same time.  Watch for the second in the series coming January 1st titled “Never Far from Home.” This is Emma’s story as she embarks on a dangerous Rumschpringe with an English beau.

January will be here before you know it if current temps in Ohio are any indication. Thanks go to all the super people at Harvest House Publishers who are a blessing to work with! They make writing a joy and an honor.

Happiness is time spent with family and friends

We just got back from five days in sunny Florida where I had more fun than I’ve had in a long while. Our handsome nephew, Steve, his charming wife, Rena, & their adorable daughter, Nora, made us feel welcome, comfortable, and best of all…loved! Nothing could’ve been better! (take care of that collarbone, Nora, until it’s one hundred percent better!) Our day spent collecting shells, watching manatees, and touring the weather station at Cape Canaveral was so much fun. Who would ever think a manatee would drink water from a garden hose? Loved our day at Epcot too. The USA “tour stop” at Epcot was my favorite, but maybe I’m just biased. We also got a chance to meet their wonderful friends Kristy (hubby deployed in Afghanistan), Tricia &  Doug, and their kids. (hope you’re feeling better, Sam!) We ate like kings and queens at a neighborhood get-together that emulated what  neighborhoods should be like everywhere.

God bless our active military servicemen & servicewomen and their families. You make the rest of us feel proud to be Americans.

We had a great time visiting our long-time friends Cindy & Dean in their beautiful home in Lake Worth. If I lived that close to the beach I would be there every day. You two are very lucky. give Pete and Katie a hug from me.

Before I forget, sweet Rena was kind enough to set up a FaceBook page for me since she knows the limitations of my time & techo-abilities. If any of you are on Facebook, please check it out. Thanks Rena. Did I ever tell you that you are the best?

Summer’s last hurrah!

I’m always a bit sad when approaching Labor Day weekend. Although I refuse to contemplate summer’s end, still it does give one pause, no?

We’ve still got 3 more weeks before fall according to my calendar, but after this weekend, the white shoes and purses must be packed away, or you risk censure from the fashion mavens. The children are all back in school, Halloween candy is flooding into the stores, and autumn “themes” highlight each merchandising display everywhere.

Well, I’m not ready. Here in Ohio we had a cool, rainy summer so I won’t pack away my shorts and capris until I can see my breath while walking the dog. I will think “summer thoughts”, enjoy root beer floats on the deck, light a sparkler when the sun goes down, and not even think about flannel sheets!

Let’s not give in to marketing folks who tell us it’s time for autumn. No, I’m putting on sunscreen and going to sit out in the sun.  Enjoy.

Benefit auction in Ohio’s Amish Country

If anyone is planning on being in Ohio’s Amish Country on Sept. 5th, there will be a benefit auction for Haiti missions at the Mount Hope auction barn. Proceeds from this auction will benefit the various missions in Haiti, and will bring relief to the sick, the hungry, and the homeless people there. This is a cooperative effort from many churches and individuals and all labor will be donated. If you’ll be in the area, please plan to attend and help a great fundraising cause.

90 degrees in Ohio Amish Country

Summer has arrived in all its glory. For the first time this summer the temperatures soared into the nineties. I, personally, am not complaining. This is what summers were like when I was a child. At least that’s how I remember it! I love hot weather. I even look a dip in the local lake. No you can’t see the bottom…which is a good thing. If anything is getting ready to nibble my toes, I’d rather not know about it. Enjoy the weather. Summer will be gone before we know it.