Welcome back, Adina. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
He has certainly been bringing opportunities my way … and with those comes my gratitude that He also included time management skills in my former corporate life! Right now I’m finishing up the third book in the Healing Grace series, called Balm of Gilead. Immediately after I turn that in, I’m doing a romance novella for one of the Kindle Worlds (Lucy Kevin’s Four Weddings and a Fiasco world). And after that, I’m going back to the Victorian steampunk era for books 7 and 8 in my Magnificent Devices series written as Shelley Adina. That should take me into the early months of 2015 … where in February, book two of the Healing Grace series (Keys of Heaven) comes out. What a crazy schedule!
Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary, and we have eleven of what my mom refers to as her grandchickens!
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I don’t think writing has changed the way I read … mostly because I see the story in pictures in my head. Of course, since I’m a professional copyeditor, spelling errors and typos will throw me out of a story faster than film breaking and whipping off a projector reel! If anything has changed, it’s the scope of my reading. Most of my friends are authors, so I enjoy reading their work, which has expanded my taste (which tends to mysteries and Regency romance) quite a bit.
What are you working on right now?
I’m in the final moments of Balm of Gilead, which is due in a few days and will be out in July 2015. I’m scrambling to wrap up three separate plot lines, engineer a black moment and a revelation, and wrap up the trilogy in a satisfying and believable way. While I’m doing that, I’m working on the promotion for Herb of Grace, which launched the series on August 5. There are just not enough hours in the day. Yikes!
What outside interests do you have?
Besides chicken keeping, I’m a costumer, a quilter, a teacher, and a copyeditor. When I appear in my steampunk guise, all my costumes are hand made. I have one or two pieces I’d like to work on this winter for an event I’m doing next June. And I absolutely must learn to lace a corset without assistance! In between work sessions on the books, I piece a few quilt blocks at a time. At the moment I’m working on a quilt I’m calling “Chickens in the Yard,” which has 48 blocks pieced to look like adorable chickens, and shading in the background fabrics that makes it look as though they’re enclosed. Then, I’m adjunct faculty in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA program at
, which means
I’m thesis advisor to two students. Seton Hill
How do you choose your settings for each book?
For the Healing Grace novels, the choice was easy. I fly out to
Pennsylvania every summer to teach at Seton
Hill, and is only three
hours away down the Pike. So it seemed logical to set my imaginary Amish
districts there, somewhere vaguely south of Intercourse and east of Strasburg.
When I go there to research, I can actually walk the fields that my herbalist
heroine would walk, and smell the scents of elderflower and hay. I can visit
the home of my Amish friend who reads my manuscripts, play with her kids, see how
she runs her home, and wrap these little details into the story. Lancaster
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
I would love to talk with Jane Austen. Can you imagine her comments on how life has changed between her time and ours—and how some things never change? Plus she had a really good eye for fashion and I would love to talk dress construction and millinery with her.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I wish I had known that keeping a journal and recording the events of daily life would be so useful. There are details of past careers, vacation locations, and other things that just seemed like so much minutiae … which I could really use in novels now. But the brain just can’t hold everything, can it? That’s why we have paper J
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
He’s been very faithful in teaching me the unmistakable lesson that I can’t do it all. I’ve had to cut back on two of the three arms of my business because trying to do too much was literally making me sick. So that’s been an important change over the past year.
That’s a hard lesson to learn when you have a lot of interests. This year, He has had me cut back on a few things I really like to do. What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Don’t get hung up on writing one book and promoting it for the rest of its life. Write the next book. And the next. And the next.
Trust the brain. Every so often I’ll panic about never having another book idea. Then, invariably, in chapter 10 of the current book, the next idea will come sizzling into my head and I’ll have to run for my story journal so I don’t forget it. Hm. Maybe I should amend this to say, “trust the Lord,” since He is the wellspring of our creativity!
Love what you’re doing. Don’t write to the market or because someone says that’s what they want to see for your next proposal. Readers have infallible love-detectors. They know when something really matters to us—because we’ve made it matter to them.
Tell us about the featured book.
Medicinal herbs have been part of the human experience for thousands of years, as evidenced by the multitude of folk names some of them have collected. When I was researching the Healing Grace novels, I realized that people often summed up some spiritual property in certain herbs through the names they gave them, and the idea for this series was born.
In each novel, the folk name reflects a healing property in the herb itself. But going a little further, it reflects God’s healing process in the spirit if we only allow Him the time and the room to do it. So, in Book 1, “herb of grace” is the folk name for rue, a bitter and astringent herb used in small quantities for ailments of the digestive system. And as we know, rue is also a verb meaning to be sorry for something one has done in the past. But there is a world of difference between ruing one’s mistake and coming to that place of repentance where God’s grace can begin its healing work …
Herb of Grace
Amish widow Sarah Yoder has been struggling to raise her two teenaged sons and provide a home where family and members of her Old Order Amish church can find fellowship and friendship. Though she is close to her in-laws, lately it feels like her relationship with her boys is splintering. Her stepson Simon wants to move out west to find work. And her youngest, Caleb, is spending far too much time over at the tumbledown home of a man who left the church long ago. Henry Byler only returned recently to Willow Creek when he inherited the family farm—under protest—and now seems caught in a struggle between the faith of his childhood and the world he’s come to know.
Ruth Lehman, the local Dokterfraa, believes Sarah should use her gift for growing plants to become an herbal healer, too. Sarah is reluctant, however, uncertain if caring for others will take her away from her family—the place where she believes God wants her. But when she feels called to help members of her community, she soon discovers that the heart can be scarred as deeply as the body. As she compiles her herbs, she waits for God to do his healing work in a man who rues a harsh decision, in a lonely prodigal who has lost everything, and maybe even in a herbalist-in-training who firmly believes she will never love again.
Please give us the first page of the book.
When Sarah Yoder ran the quilting needle into her finger—again—the women of her family who were gathered for sisters’ day exchanged glances of sympathy, and her sister-in-law Amanda got up to fetch a Band-Aid strip and some cold water. Everyone in her own family and that of her in-laws knew that God had not given her a gift with needle and thread. But Sarah knew they’d never say a word—except perhaps for Ruth Lehman, who had come down from Whinburg on this windy March day to visit.
Ruth was blessed with the happy conviction that when God put a thought into her mind, it was His will that she pass it along. “Sarah, you were gripping that needle too hard. Stop fighting the thimble and it will go easier. You don’t need ten stitches to the inch. Seven or eight will be just fine.”
Sarah took the cloth from Amanda and dabbed carefully at the droplets of blood that she’d got on the blue border of the quilt. “I’m just grateful you include me in your quilting frolics. I’m a terrible quilter—whether the tourists at the quilt shop know it or not.”
“You’re a good piecer, though.” Corinne’s voice was gentle where Ruth’s had been gruff. “Look at these pinwheels you made for the border, all color coordinated and so pretty. My section looks as though it came straight out of the ragbag.”
Corinne clearly had an obedient, color-coordinated ragbag. But Sarah appreciated the encouragement from her mother-in-law all the same. Amanda wrapped her finger as tenderly as if she were three years old, and took the cloth back to the sink.
“I like piecing,” Sarah admitted, picking up the needle. Maybe she ought to put Band-Aid strips on all her fingers, just in case. “I like putting colors together and making designs. But colors and designs don’t keep the boys warm at night—or Englisch tourists, either.”
“Do they put them on their beds?” Amanda wondered aloud as she took her place and picked up her own needle. “Or do they hang them on their walls instead of using them?”
“As long as they’re able to buy them, it doesn’t matter to me,” said Barbara Byler, who was Corinne’s oldest daughter and married to one of the three Byler boys, who were now in their forties but who were still referred to as boys. “It’s nearly time to plant the peas, and I don’t know about you, but the seed catalogs eat more of my money at this time of year than I do the vegetables at harvest time. I need the money the quilts bring in.”
Now here was a topic where, unlike quilting, Sarah felt right at home. But even the idea of her garden was edged with anxiety about money, because while the garden was a big one even by Amish standards, it still wasn’t enough to support her and the boys. Despite the fact that they both worked hard and Simon gave her nearly all his wages, they still could not completely make ends meet. Somehow she had to come up with a plan to keep body and soul together before her house payments to her in-laws got any further in arrears.
Involuntarily, her hands tightened on the needle, she rammed it against her thimble, and it slipped down and into her knuckle. Tears welled in her eyes. With a mumble of apology, she left the needle stuck halfway through the top, batting, and backing, and fled Corinne’s big front room. When discouragement found its way past her defenses, there was only one thing to do—go outside into God’s creation and look for His comfort.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love visitors! You can find Adina Senft here: http://www.adinasenft.com, and Shelley Adina here: http://www.shelleyadina.com.
Thanks for having me over,
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Herb of Grace - Christianbook.com
Herb of Grace: A Healing Grace Novel - Amazon
Herb of Grace: A Healing Grace Novel - Kindle
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