Authors and their most embarrassing moments

Happy Thursday, Readers,

Today I’m sharing a blog with my fellow authors of Amish fiction. We all answered the same question: What was your most embarrassing moment? Enjoy the replies from my fellow storytellers about the Amish community:

empireJennifer Beckstrand: When I was seventeen, my neighbor set me up on a blind date with her nephew. He was really cute and really tall. He took me to see the premiere of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It was a hot summer day and we had to stand in an impossibly long line for the movie. He turned to me and said, “Would you like an ice cream or something?” I said no. I turned away from him and felt his hand on my shoulder. I turned back and watched as he fainted flat on the ground. He must have overheated. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there and watched as a complete stranger helped him off the ground and to a seat. I must admit, I considered pretending I didn’t know him. The good news is that the theater management let us go into the empty theater to sit and cool off. We got the best seats and free soda.

Shelley Shepard Gray: Unfortunately, I have a lot of embarrassing moments! I’ve fallen down more flights of stairs than I care to recall! But one that particularly stands out happened at a writers conference about ten years ago.

It was soon after I had sold my first book to Harlequin and I was going to my first ever Harlequin party. All the authors had directions on how to get to the party, which was basically to go out the front door of the hotel lobby and look for the correct shuttle, car, or van. So, there I was, all dressed up with my girlfriend Ann, going to our first publisher-sponsored party. Together we sail through the lobby, spy all the shuttles and such waiting out front, and see a very nice vehicle with a discreet sign on one of the windows saying ‘Harlequin’. Our ride!

Feeling like princesses for the night, Ann and I walk up to the fancy van, open up the door, hop in, and sit down. And then notice that we recognize every face. This wasn’t the newbie van. This was the VIP van, filled with very well known, award-winning, best-selling authors. We were in the wrong car. The really wrong car! They were all staring at us like we were crazy stalkers.

I froze. So did Ann! Then one of the authors’ handlers whispered something like, “Honey, you need to get out. Like, right now.”

Without a word, Ann and I scooted out of the van, got in the line for our correct bus, and then laughed until we cried.

I have to admit I still blush every time I see one of those authors!

Mary Ellis: What an easy question! After 30 + years, one afternoon stands out.sailboat

My husband and I were invited to spend the day with a work acquaintance & her husband on their sailboat. I am not a mariner by any stretch of the imagination. When we were pulling up to a dock for lunch, her husband asked me to tie the rope around the cleat. I stepped onto the dock with one foot while remaining on the boat with the other. With my weight balanced between land and boat, I attempted to tie a knot to his specifications. You guessed it….the boat drifted away from the dock and I fell into the water. I was wearing a swimsuit and can swim, but everyone eating lunch witnessed my foolishness. But truly, the other couple was more embarrassed than I was. They never invited us back for anymore outings.

Kelly Irvin: Embarrassing moments? It seems there is a plethora from which to choose! Most of them are work-related. There’s the time I was working as a reporter for a newspaper in Laredo, Texas, where the summers swelter with heat and humidity. So I wore a sundress to cover a City Council meeting. The zipper broke and left the dress rather backless and hanging off my front. I rushed out, raced home, changed, and raced back. Fortunately, the council members were so long winded I didn’t miss much. Unfortunately, the county treasurer was sitting behind me and witnessed the entire debacle.

Fast forward twenty-five years and there’s the time I did a face plant by tripping over a parking lot barrier in front of a Park Police officer and recreation center staff members while discussing an upcoming ribbon-cutting. Or the time I locked my keys in the car twice in one week, once with the car running.

The ultimate blooper, however, occurred very recently. I had coordinated a ribbon-cutting ceremony and I walked back to the parking lot, camera around my neck, purse slung over my shoulder, my hands full with a box of six full-sized gold-painted shears. I clicked my key remote in back of “my” SUV, set the box on the asphalt, and then opened the hatch. The woman sitting in the driver’s seat glanced in the rear view mirror and said, very calmly, “This one’s mine.” Only then did it hit me that the car engine was running. I stammered an apology, closed the hatch, picked up my box, and moved on.

Those are a few highlights from the Kelly Irvin blooper reel. I can think of several more.

Vannetta Chapman: Most embarrassing moment? There are too many to count, so I’ll go with a recent one.

Hubby and I went out to run errands and we even stopped for lunch. Ours is a little town, so you know everyone you see. Only when I got back home, did I notice that my shirt was on in-side out. I would like to say this is rare, but sadly it happens all too often. :)

Amanda Flower: My most embarrassing moment… it’s hard to pick. I’m pretty klutzy and had been known to walk into walls and trip down and up stairs. When I bought my first car, which was a long time ago, I was so nervous while writing the down payment check. It was a lot of money to me at the time. While writing the check, I dropped my pen. When I bent over to pick it up,  I cracked my forehead on the salesman’s desk. Ouch! It hurt! The salesman didn’t say a word about it, and I pretended nothing happened too.

school-busAmy Clipston: My most embarrassing moment took place in high school when I fell off the school bus. Since my stop was the first, the whole bus got to witness my clumsiness. Thankfully, my best friend since Kindergarten, Christine, was with me. We laughed the whole way up the street to our house. My knee was throbbing in pain, but all I could do was laugh!

Amy Lillard: I guess I don’t embarrass easily, but…You know when you are trying to appear professional and all-together? Early on in my relationship with her, I was emailing back and forth with my agent, Mary Sue Seymour. I start my email with “Dear Ms. Seymour, dada, dada, dada.” At the end of her response she wrote “Call me Mary Sue”. Good girl that I am, I picked up the phone and called, but got no answer. I emailed back and said that I tried to call but no one picked up. She responded with something to the effect of “we are busy and don’t always answer the phone. Email is a much better tool of communication for us.” Huh? Then why did she tell me to call her? I let the matter drop and stewed on it a couple of days. Then it hit me–she wasn’t telling me to  call her on the phone but to address her as Mary Sue. Still shaking my head over that one. LOL

We invite any and all sharing of most embarrassing moments in the comments.

You can learn more about these great authors on their websites. And be sure to like our Facebook pages too!

Vannetta Chapman: http://vannettachapman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks

Amanda Flower: http://www.amandaflower.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authoramandaflower 
https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaAlanAuthor

Amy Clipston: http://www.amyclipston.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks

Mary Ellis: http://www.maryellis.net/

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Shelley Shepard Gray: http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyShepardGray

Kelly Irvin: http://www.kellyirvin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kelly.Irvin.Author

Jennifer Beckstrand: JenniferBeckstrand.com

https://www.facebook.com/jenniferbeckstrandfans

Amy Lillard: http://amywritesromance.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Lillard-Author/177732292332322

 

Ask an Amish author about books and such……

Yes, it’s time once again for “Everything you wanted to know about Amish authors but were afraid to ask.” Of course, maybe you aren’t afraid to ask but just haven’t known whom to ask. Well, wonder no further. Jennifer Beckstrand has gathered eight Amish authors together to ask them the burning questions. If you have a question for our authors, please send Jennifer a message via her website (link at end), and we will do our best to answer it in a future blog.

We all have childhood memories of special books. What are some of the books that inspired you as a child?

Mary Ellis: I adored Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I got the impetus to become a writer “when I grew up” from Jo March. I received my first copy around 8 (a highly abridged illustrated edition.) I now own several editions, my favorite being a 1904 copy published by Little, Brown, and Company of Boston. On my bucket list is to find a first edition released by the University Press in Cambridge, Mass. I have been to her childhood home, Orchard House, where she penned her lovely tale in Concord, Mass. Okay, now you know I’m a Louisa groupie!<img alt=”” src=”http://feministclassics.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/jw_smith_pix_bookcover.jpg” width=”170″ height=”237″ />

Vannetta Chapman: My grandmother was a writer, and I can remember sitting with her books in my lap. They were home economics books that had been translated into many different languages. I couldn’t actually read them, but I’d hold them and flip through the pictures. It was very special knowing my grandmother had written them.

Kelly Irvin: All the Little House on the Prairie books, A Wrinkle in Time, Little Women, The Changling, Harriet the Spy, The Oregon Trail. Nancy Drew mysteries. LOL. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. I lived at the public library, going to story hour every week and working as a volunteer shelving books when I was old enough. I think I read every book at the Robert Louis Stevens children’s section of the Abilene Public Library!

Shelley Shepard Gray: I mainly remember reading all of the Nancy Drew books, followed by all of the Agatha Christie novels. I don’t really write mysteries, but those books definitely inspired me to want to create characters that people want to get to know. Those books also spurred an interest in collecting books. At one time I had all the Agatha Christie books lined up in chronological order. That’s kind of a big deal for me, since I don’t even put soup on the same shelf in our pantry.

Amanda Flower: Charlotte’s Web, The Baby-sitters Club, Anything by Beverly Cleary, James and Giant Peach

<img alt=”” src=”http://mybookwormblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/charlottes-web1.jpeg” width=”146″ height=”222″ />Amy Clipston: My favorite book when I was a little girl was Elizabeth by Liesel Moak Skorpen. It’s out of print now, but I have a copy that I cherish. I also knew Good Night Moon by heart. My mother would turn the page, and I would recite it. When I was in junior high I read The Outsiders until the book fell apart. I also knew the movie by heart. I recently bought a set of S.E. Hinton books for my older son. He hasn’t opened one yet, but I’m not giving up hope yet!

Jennifer Beckstrand: Where the Red Fern Grows was one of those life-changing books for me. I remember sitting on the rug in Mrs. Hershey’s fourth grade class enthralled as she read to us. I think I have read that book to every one of my children. One of my favorite memories is sitting on the bed with my boys reading the last pages of the story, all three of us crying like babies when the dogs died.

Charlotte’s Web and The Outsiders are other tear-jerkers that really had an impact on me.

Amy Lillard: I think I had a lot of different reading material than most. I loved the Hardy Boys Mysteries (Not Nancy Drew but the Hardy Boys). I also loved the Miss Pickerell series, about a little old lady who manages to get into all sorts of trouble. But my favorite of all was a book called Shadow Castle.

What are your 4 or 5 favorite classic novels?

Mary Ellis: Gone With the Wind, Cold Mountain, Killer Angels, Great Expectations, The Stand

Vannetta Chapman: Jane Eyre, Little Women, Anna Karenina, Grapes of Wrath<img alt=”” src=”http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/79/To_Kill_a_Mockingbird.JPG” width=”145″ height=”214″ />

Kelly Irvin: That is so hard! To Kill a Mocking Bird. Gone with the Wind. Anna Karenina, Doctor Zhivago, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gaudy Night

Shelley Shepard Gray: Gone with the Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, Little Women, Murder on the Orient Express, Cannery Row

Amanda Flower: Charlotte’s Web, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Stuart Little

Amy Clipston: The Outsiders, Farewell to Arms, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up

Jennifer Beckstrand: Pride and Prejudice–my all-time favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Help, My Name is Asher Lev, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Ender’s Game, Ella Enchanted

Sorry, I can’t choose just 5!

Amy Lillard: I love To Kill A Mockingbird. That’s my all time favorite. I read it every year or so. I also love 1984, Of Mice and Men, and Lord of the Flies. All very different from what I write.

I love seeing what we all have in common as well as our differing tastes. To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women show up quite a bit.

Have you ever used a personal experience in one of your books? Would you like to tell us about it? 

Mary Ellis: I use personal experiences in just about all my books. The trick for the reader is to figure out what’s fact and what’s fiction in my stories.

Vannetta Chapman: Oh, golly yes! Whenever my mind draws a blank — I just put in something from life! In my new release, Murder Simply Brewed, the romance is very similar to the story of me and my husband. :)<img src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-includes/images/smilies/icon_smile.gif” alt=”:)” />

Kelly Irvin: Yes. My March release, Love Redeemed, draws on a personal experience. Without revealing too much of the story, I can share that I lost a brother who drowned in a boating accident in 1991. It’s taken that many years, but I was able to drawn on those emotions and the experience of what my parents went through to help my characters as they struggle through a similar loss. I do think, however, that we draw on all our experiences when we write, even if it’s not readily apparent. Who we are and what we’ve done throughout our lives colors everything we write, even if it’s subconsciously. My writing voice is mine because of everything that has happened to me in my life.

Shelley Shepard Gray: I’ve added all kinds of little ‘Shelley’ things to my books. I’ve had badly behaved dogs (our beagle once pulled a ham from a table two minutes before a dinner party), kitchen mishaps, characters enjoying pie and donuts. (I really love donuts) I’ve also had most of my characters be voracious readers because I am.

Amanda Flower: Well, my first protagonist India Hayes is an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college near Cleveland, and I’m an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college near Cleveland. Strange, right? And in the Appleseed Creek Mysteries, Chloe Humphrey is twenty-four and moves with her cat to Amish Country. Oddly, I moved to Amish Country with my cat when I was twenty-four. How weird are those coincidences?

Amy Clipston: Since my husband has had two kidney transplants, I featured a liver transplant in my book A Place of Peace. My memoir, A Gift of Love, which details my husband’s kidney transplants and my kidney donation, will be available in March. Also, my father had a massive stroke, and I feature a character who is a stroke victim in my novella A Spoonful of Love.

Jennifer Beckstrand: They say that art imitates life, which in my case means: I’ve never been shy about putting my most embarrassing moments on paper.

Anna Helmuth, the feisty eighty-two-year-old Amish grandmother in Huckleberry Hill, loves to knit and cook. Even after sixty years of cooking for her family, Anna likes to pull out her new recipe book and experiment with a recipe she’s never tried before. Anna has many talents, but cooking is not one of them. In fact, she has a well-earned reputation for being the worst cook in Bonduel, Wisconsin. I’m not saying that I am as bad a cook as Anna, but my life definitely provided some inspiration for the character.

Several months ago, my husband and I hosted some friends for dinner, and I broke the first rule of entertaining: Never try out a new recipe on dinner guests. I wanted to make something new and exciting to serve my guests, and the reviews for “Sweet and Sour Meatballs” sounded positively delicious. Trouble came with the cryptic ingredient called “chili sauce.” I bought a quart of the most likely chili sauce I could find and dumped it into the crockpot with my meatballs. As dinnertime approached, I tested my bright orange meatballs and realized that my concoction was going to be a tad spicy. Okay, mouth-on-fire spicy. Inedibly spicy. In desperation, I poured a pint of whipping cream into the crockpot because dairy is supposed to cool spicy food. It didn’t even make a dent and added about a thousand calories to my shame. I was forced to serve the meatballs-from-heck to my friends, who didn’t complain but didn’t eat much either. I take comfort in the fact that those meatballs certainly looked lovely served over noodles. A version of this story appears in Huckleberry Hill. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Amy Lillard: My latest release, Gabriel’s Bride, has several personal experiences in it, though I borrowed them from other people. What does that make them…? Second hand personal experiences? J Though I have to admit Rachel Yoder is more like me than I care to examine.

You can learn more about these great authors on their websites. We would all love it if you would like our Facebook pages too!

Vannetta Chapman: http://vannettachapman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks

Amanda Flower: http://www.amandaflower.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authoramandaflower https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaAlanAuthor

Amy Clipston: http://www.amyclipston.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks

Mary Ellis: http://www.maryellis.net/

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Shelley Shepard Gray: http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyShepardGray

Kelly Irvin: http://www.kellyirvin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kelly.Irvin.Author

Jennifer Beckstrand: JenniferBeckstrand.com

https://www.facebook.com/jenniferbeckstrandfans

Amy Lillard: http://amywritesromance.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Lillard-Author/177732292332322

 

Welcome Amy Lillard, win a free copy of her book Saving Gideon

Good Monday morning, readers,

I hope your weekend was lovely. It hit sixty degrees yesterday in Ohio, which is absolutely fine with me. Today I’m welcoming Amy Lillard, a fellow author of Amish fiction. Amy’s latest release is Saving Gideon from B&H Books . Here is a blurb about the story.

Gideon Fisher wants only one thing out of life— to be left alone.  This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife.  He has lost his faith.  He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community.  But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does he have but to let her in? Dallas socialite, Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere life style.    Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through—–yet another—–bad breakup.  Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money.  All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself.  Avery soon discovers that the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart. But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before.  Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her.  But it has even more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness. Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness.  But as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles or will their sheer differences pull them apart?
And here is a little something about the talented author:
Amy Lillard is an award-winning writer who loves reading romance novels from contemporary to Amish. These two genres met in her first book, Saving Gideon. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. The second book in the Clover Ridge series, Katie’s Choice, is scheduled to release May, 1, 2013. She is currently working on the third in the series. Find Amy on the web at http://www.amywritesromance.com
To win a free copy of Saving Gideon, please post a comment here to this question:
Have you ever wanted to run away from your life and hide away where no one could find you?
Have a great week, readers. And stay safe.  Mary