This is Amy's first time on this blog. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
That’s a tough one. Jessica, the teenage niece who has trouble fitting into the Amish community, is close to my heart since I remember the feeling of not fitting in during my school days.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’ve been known to be a bit of a goof. I guess it would be when I hopped up on one of those carousels in front of a Kmart to ride it along with my oldest son, who must’ve been two at the time. I was wearing a little backpack purse, and it was scraped along the concrete wall, causing it to tear. My son thought I was cool, and my mom and I had a good laugh about that. And yes, I replaced that purse.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote silly stories and shared them with a friend in elementary school and then got into writing fan fiction that included my favorite television characters and athletes in junior high through college. Those “books” I only revealed to a few close friends. I began calling myself a writer after college when I finally joined a writer’s group and decided to pursue a career.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love a variety. On my bookshelf, you’ll find everything from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum and Motor Mouth series, NASCAR romance by Pamela Britton, inspirational novels by Robin Lee Hatcher and Karen Kingsbury, and many Amish inspirational books.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Some days my life is utter chaos. Aside from writing, I work full-time. I have two awesome little boys and a dear, sweet husband on dialysis and awaiting a second kidney transplant. Beyond that, I’m a volunteer with the National Kidney Foundation. Writing is my stress reliever. Once the boys are in bed, I relax and power-up my laptop while my hubby tinkers in the garage with his latest car project.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
For my first book, I compiled a list of common Amish names and picked my favorites. Also, a couple of my characters, including Rebecca and Lindsay, are named after characters in the very first novel I ever finished.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My husband’s kidney failure has taught me a lot about what’s truly important in life, and I’m an advocate for organ and blood donation. I’m proud of being a blood donor and for signing up as an organ donor. I’m not a match for my husband, and, if we’re unsuccessful in finding him a match, I’m on board to give a kidney through the paired donor program in order to get a kidney for him.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Hands down, a spoiled house cat. I have three -- Molly, Ashlee, and Jet. They have the most pampered lives! Their only stress occurs when the bowls are empty.
What is your favorite food?
Popcorn and Diet Coke!
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
I was writing romances and signed with my fabulous agent, Mary Sue Seymour, in 2005. After writing seven of those novels (yes, I said seven!), through my deep faith, I felt a calling to move to inspirational. I’m half-German, and my father immigrated to the United States with his parents and siblings in 1929. He once told me that the Amish speak the same dialect as our relatives, so I feel a connection to them. I’ve always had a great respect and fascination with their faith and simple lives. I began reading other Amish authors, and I was moved to create my own series. Mary Sue sent out my proposal, and Zondervan picked me up two months later.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
While working on book #2 in my Kauffman Amish Bakery Series, I contracted a horrific case of Writer’s Block after quickly banging out 100 pages. I commiserated to Becky Philpott, my fantastic development editor, and she sent me a detailed spreadsheet, outlining the chapter number, scene number, point of view, date, time, setting, and event. While I’m not usually that detailed with my outline or synopsis, the spreadsheet forced me to map out the book, scene-by-scene. That exercise forced my muse to return from her vacation, and I plotted the remainder of the book. The spreadsheet was a living document, meaning it changed as the book unfolded, but it kept me on track and focused.
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
Surround yourself with other writers. Join a group, such as American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, attend local chapter meetings and sign up for on-line discussion loops. You’ll learn more than you can imagine from other writers, both published and unpublished. Also, it may sound cliché, but don’t give up. Rejection is heart breaking, but you’ll become a stronger writer every time to send out a query.
Tell us about the featured book?
The Kauffman Amish Bakery Series centers on the fictional Older Amish Kauffman family, who live in Lancaster County, PA. In book one, A Gift of Grace, Rebecca Kauffman's tranquil Old Order Amish life is transformed when she suddenly has custody of her two teenage nieces after her "Englisch" sister and brother-in-law are killed in an automobile accident. Instant motherhood, after years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a child of her own, is both a joy and a heartache. Rebecca struggles to give the teenage girls the guidance they need as well as fulfill her duties to Daniel as an Amish wife.
Rebellious Jessica is resistant to Amish ways and constantly in trouble with the community. Younger sister Lindsay is caught in the middle, and the strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as Jessica's rebellion escalates. Instead of the beautiful family life she dreamed of creating for her nieces, Rebecca feels as if her world is being torn apart by two different cultures, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Rebecca Fisher Kauffman’s pulse fluttered as the large SUV rumbled down the narrow rural road past the rolling farmland and green pastures dotted by heifers. The cows chewed their cud and nodded their greeting as if welcoming her back. The serenity of the lush, open fields intersected only by clusters of white farmhouses filled her soul with a peace she hadn’t felt since she’d left last month.
Pushing the cool metal button on the door, she cracked the passenger window open and breathed in the sweet, warm, moist air, free of exhaust from overcrowded city roads. The SUV negotiated a sharp bend, and Rebecca’s heart skipped a beat when the three-story farmhouse came into view. A smile crept across her lips.
The whitewashed, three-story, clapboard house stood humbly near the entrance to her family’s forty acres. The newly painted white picket fence was a stark contrast to the house’s green tin roof, speckled with brown rust that told of its age. The green window shades were halfway up, and the windows were cracked open to allow the springtime air to cool the house naturally.
A sweeping porch welcomed visitors entering the front, and a white barn, almost the size of the house, sat behind it.
How can the readers find you on the Internet?
You can find me at: www.amyclipston.com, http://www.amyclipston.blogspot.com/, and
http://www.amishhearts.com/. You can also find me on Facebook.
Thank you, Amy, for spending this time with us.
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