Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Beth: Our publisher, Thomas Nelson, gets credit for this great idea, which Kathy, Barbara, and I fell in love with. My story, A Change of Heart, is about a young Amish woman who loves to write stories (go figure!) and her struggle for acceptance within an Amish community that doesn’t necessarily encourage her dream.
Barbara: Natalie Hanemann, a senior editor at Thomas Nelson, asked Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and I to do two Amish novella collections. The first is An Amish Christmas, out now, and An Amish Gathering, out at the end of November. We discussed our ideas in a conference call, wrote up a synopsis to be approved, and then wrote our stories with inter-connecting characters just like we did with An Amish Christmas. It was great fun!
Here’s the summary for my story, When Winter Comes: Each year at wintertime, Rebecca Miller mourns the loss of her twin sister who was killed in a skating accident. Ben Weaver has been her friend, but this winter he’s vowed to melt her--heart froze--with grief and make her his wife.
Kathy: Barbara and Beth answered the question perfectly. Here’s a summary of my novella, A Place of His Own: When Josiah Bontrager returns to Paradise to fix up his childhood home, he’s forced to face his past and deal with his feelings for his friend and neighbor, Amanda Graber.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?
Beth: We always have Thanksgiving at our house for my family and my husband’s family. There are usually about 20 in attendance, including at least one or two friends who find themselves with nowhere to go for Thanksgiving. All are welcome! It’s traditional all the way! Turkey, dressing, and the works!
Kathy: Since we live far from family, we often have a quiet Thanksgiving at home. I’ve made the meal for so long that it’s usually the easiest one of the year for me to prepare. We either have turkey or ham (this year it’s ham), my mother-in-law’s cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and of course crescent rolls, which are a tradition in my family. Afterward we watch football and nap on the couch. It’s a great day for us to relax and reflect on our blessings.
Which is your favorite holiday, Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Beth: Christmas. My boys, Eric and Cory, are 25 and 18 respectively, and I love watching them open presents as much as I did when they were young. And everyone is together! Christmas is my favorite time of year. I could listen to Christmas music all year long.
Barbara: Christmas, definitely. Maybe it’s because it’s such a joy to watch my four grandchildren open their gifts. And I love all the Christmas stories associated with the holiday as well.
How do you celebrate Christmas?
Beth: On Christmas day, we go to my mother’s house in Houston. We celebrate with my husband’s family usually the weekend before or after. The celebration is similar on both days – everyone brings food, gifts are exchanged, and this year we plan to incorporate some games into the day…like my Amish friends do in the afternoon after the main meal.
Barbara: We celebrate with a Christmas dinner at the son and daughter-in-law’s house and then open presents. The next day my daughter comes to my house and we usually have cheese fondue and then chocolate fondue for dessert.
Kathy: Again Christmas is usually just our family. First thing we do when we get up is open presents, then have breakfast. Then I start on the Christmas meal while the kids explore their gifts, and usually we play a game. Like Thanksgiving, we enjoy a low-key holiday.
Tell us about your family.
Beth: I’m married to a wonderful man, Patrick. My oldest son, Eric, graduated this past May with his masters degree in music performance, and he is a professor at a college in Houston. My younger son, Cory, still lives at home and plans to take college classes next year. I miss my dad terribly this time of year, since Christmas was his favorite holiday. December 1 will be five years since he left for Heaven. My mother still lives in Houston, and we’re very close. My second book, Plain Pursuit, is dedicated to her.
Barbara: I have two children, a grown son, Justin, and a grown daughter, Stephany. They’ve given me four wonderful grandchildren – two boys, two girls! No twins yet even though we have a family history of my mother and my dad being twins…
Kathy: James and I have been married for sixteen years and we have a son, Mathew, who is 15, and two daughters, Sydney (14) and Zoie (11). We also have three dogs and one cat. It’s pretty hectic around our house!
Beth: My Amish friends believe that everything that happens is God’s will, therefore they don’t worry as much, and their lives aren’t driven by fear, which ultimately leads to a more peaceful existence. I am a worrier, which I know is a sin, and I’m aware of it. Fear makes it hard to hear God, so I work on that daily in my effort to have the peacefulness my Amish friends are known for. I try not to just ‘talk the talk’, but to live the best life I can. Knowing my Amish friends has made me a better person. For sure.
Barbara: A cousin in Lancaster County took me to visit the Amish years ago and I immediately admired them for their dedication to family and community, their work ethic, and most of all, to live in a spiritual way. The more that I meet the Amish and do research the more I feel I’m doing the writing I should be doing. Even more, I find that I am simplifying my life and trying to treat others in a more spiritual way.
Kathy: My husband and I have long had an appreciation for the land—we used to subsistence farm and we try to be as self-sufficient as possible. As I learned more about the Amish, I could easily relate to that aspect of their culture. I’ve also had the opportunity to examine my faith and belief system and how I live my life. Writing these books has become more than just telling a story, but also a personal journey.
What is your current Work in Progress?
Beth: I’m working on a new project for Thomas Nelson that I can’t discuss quite yet, but I’m very excited about it. More to come on that soon!
Barbara: I am working on the second of a three book Amish series for Abingdon Press. The series is called Quilts of Lancaster County and the books are titled A Time for Love, A Time for Peace, and A Time for Healing (based on a section of Ecclesiastes which I love).
Kathy: Right now I’m finishing up edits on A Summer Secret, the first book in my Mysteries of Middlefield series, which is a children’s series targeted to girls ages 9-12. The children’s series features crossover characters from my Hearts of Middlefield books. As for that series, I’m also working on the third book, A Woman of Virtue, which tells the stories of Stephen and Ruth, the youngest siblings in the Byler clan.
How can my readers find you on the Internet?
Beth: I blog at http://blog.bethwiseman.net/ and http://www.amishhearts.com/ . My website is http://www.bethwiseman.com/ , and I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.
Barbara: I blog at AmishHearts.com with my collaborators on An Amish Gathering.
Kathy: You can find me on my website at http://www.kathleenfuller.com/ . I also blog on Amish Hearts (http://www.amishhearts.com/ ) and I’m on facebook and twitter.
Thank you, ladies, for spending this time with us.
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