Welcome, June. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I’m sure there is a part of me that goes into each of my protagonists, but it isn’t consciously done. My daughter often recognizes me in different characters. When I wrote about my life as an innkeeper, (Inn Sane), it was first person and yes, that was the real me.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
This came to my mind the other day and I can’t think of anything any quirkier. My husband and I were vacationing in
Jamaica and had
not rented a car, thinking we’d stay at the resort the whole time. One day we
walked to a tourist attraction. It was farther than we realized, and on the way
home, my feet were killing me. Those lousy thong sandals cut into my skin.
Soooo, we hitch-hiked! Believe me, you don’t want to do that in a foreign land!
Or anywhere else, for that matter. Fortunately, a nice elderly native in a
rickety truck squeezed us into the front seat, patches and all, and took us
back to our resort. Looking back, I realize how dangerous it was!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Though I always loved to write and aced my English courses, I never attempted a full-length book until my adult children pushed me into writing about our eleven years running a 38 room inn in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. We had so many interesting tales to tell and as time passed, they began to fade. Before they would totally evaporate, I was assigned the task of recording the events we found most interesting. I enjoyed the process so much, I began a novel, which ended up being a series of three books. I have not submitted them to anyone yet, as I’m editing them now and they need work. (I guess my writing has improved.)
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Before I began writing seriously, I read mostly non-fiction—either religious, political, or historical biographies. Once I began writing fiction, I switched to my genre—Christian fiction, and then the Amish books. I don’t read many of the books by Amish writers though, since I don’t want to emulate them. That’s a comment some of my readers have made; my books are different in the approach I give them. I always read before turning in at night and enjoy using my Kindle, since it is light and easy to hold.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That’s a tough one. Am I sane? Hmm. It’s easier now that my children have all grown and left the nest. I do wear several hats though—I own an antique shop, sell on Etsy (JunesShoppe), garden, and travel on occasion. I don’t have as much time as I’d like to sit at the computer. I’m an early riser, so I spend my first hours writing, editing, and plotting my next book. When I’m writing a first draft, I write with intensity, spending several hours a day virtually in total isolation. (Hubby supports my habit) I can complete an average length novel in three to four weeks, though I’ll spend the next month editing it. It’s important to prioritize, and I will always find the time to write.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Some names pop into my head without effort, but there are times I’m stymied. There are web-sites, which give the most popular names of the different decades. I refer to them sometimes. I also check out Amish names in The Budget, a newspaper for the Amish and Mennonite communities.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’d have to say that raising five kids to be productive, moral adults, is the most rewarding accomplishment, however, it’s difficult to take much credit for that, since so many factors go into raising a child. Today’s society makes it far more difficult for young parents and my heart goes out to them as they struggle to impart their values in such an immoral atmosphere.
In writing, I guess, I am proud to have completed my first book. It took determination and persistence to write “the end” to my manuscript. It did take more than a year to get to that point.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Probably a lioness. I love their beauty and graceful movements. And hey, they live with lions! How cool is that?
What is your favorite food?
I’m embarrassed to admit I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Always have. On the slightly more gourmet side of things, give me roast duckling or grilled lamb chops. Yum!
I love duck. Whenever we go to a restaurant that serves it, I have to try it. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Perhaps it was—and is—keeping all my characters in my head at the same time. After a few chapters, it gets easier, since they become real and I envision them, hear them speak, and get into their minds. I like doing a series, since my characters have become my friends and it’s easier to write about them as they go through their trials. It’s helpful to keep index cards for each major character. I include birthdays, physical and mental traits, and other pertinent data.
Tell us about the featured book.
Ruth’s Dilemma danced about in my head for some time before I put it on my computer. I loved her character. Having been a music major myself, I could relate to her love of music. Her love for an Amishman, who was also her sister’s choice, became a major problem in her life. She also struggled with the two worlds open to her—the Amish and the English. When she had to make her final decision, I suffered with her. So much to consider. I believe she made the right choice, but my readers will be the final judges of that.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Ruth Zook was aware of Jeremiah Fisher’s eyes on her as she tried to emerge from the buggy with a semblance of grace. Her foot slipped and she was headed for the ground when firm hands reached around her waist to steady her. Jeremiah’s boyish grin, as he released his grip on her, made her feel even clumsier. A flush reached her cheeks. “Danki.”
He gave a slight bow, removed his straw hat from his golden locks, and beamed at her. “You’re willkum. See you in church, Ruthie.”
Ruth’s older sister, Emma, jumped down from the buggy, grabbed Ruth’s arm, and snatched her away from the smiling group of young men resting against Bishop King’s fence. “That was so deliberate,” Emma whispered. “You knew Jeremiah would grab you in time.”
“Don’t be silly. Why would I want to look like an oaf? Besides, Ezekiel Schrock was closer.” Ruth tucked a loose strand of her shiny brown hair under her kapp and quickened her pace.
“Don’t get any ideas about Jeremiah Fisher, Ruth. He’s far more interested in me.”
That thought had never occurred to Ruth. Perhaps he did favor Emma. After all Emma was twenty, the same age as Jeremiah, while Ruth was only eighteen.
“Then I suppose it would have been better if I’d fallen flat on my face?”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Oh, let’s forget the whole thing. Mamm and Katie are waiting inside for us. Church services should start soon and I want a good seat inside where I can see into the next room and watch Jeremiah.”
Ruth sat next to her mamm, waiting in silence, for the service to begin. She could see Jeremiah talking to friends as he placed his hat on a wooden peg by the front door. Her heart danced each time she saw him. He always had a strong affect on her and in Ruth’s eyes, he was the most desirable man in the district. That was for sure and for certain. Was what she felt true love, the kind you have for a husband, or was it just girlish infatuation?
Emma had never made it known before how she felt toward Jeremiah. If only Ruth had expressed her feelings sooner—staking her own claim. But then it was only in recent weeks that she realized how much she actually cared for him.
Ruth’s older brothers arrived with their families and soon the rooms were filled—women and children in one room and the men seated in an adjoining room. It was cramped in the farmhouse, but since it was early April, it was still too cool to meet in the barn for the service.
Church lasted over three hours. Ruth’s favorite part of the service was the music sung from the Ausbund. It was poignant as everyone sang in unison. One of the Zook men started the “Das Loblied” and everyone in the congregation added their voices. Ruth closed her eyes as she included her soprano voice to the others around her singing praises to the Lord. She could hear Jeremiah Fisher’s strong tenor voice from the next room and smiled, visualizing his startling blue eyes as he sang. Someday Jeremiah should be the vorsinger, she thought to herself. He could easily lead the singing.
How can readers find you on the Internet?You can reach me by my domain name: junebelfie.com. If someone wants to e-mail me, it is: email@example.com. Add writer somewhere in the heading, or it might end up in spam. I also have a personal site on Facebook and love to have readers join me.
Thank you, June, for letting us into your life and for sharing this book with us.
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Ruth's Dilemma (The Zook Sisters of Lancaster County) - Amazon
Ruth's Dilemma (The Zook Sisters of Lancaster County Book 1) - Kindle
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