Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Amish Fiction? What's the draw?

By Debby Giusti 

I blame Ada Ranch Buchwalter for sparking a genre of books that has taken the Christian fiction market by storm.

Born in 1886, Ada grew up as an Old Order Mennonite. She later rejected the Plain life and was subsequently shunned by her community. The fictionalized story of Ada’s decision to leave her Mennonite sect was the basis for The Shunning, a novel written by her granddaughter, Beverly Lewis. Published in 1997 by Bethany House, The Shunning was an almost overnight success, went on to become a Hallmark movie and, to date, has sold more than a million copies. 

Steve Oates was vice president of marketing for Bethany House at the time, and in an interview with Deborah Kennedy, Oates talked about Bethany House’s initial response to Lewis’s submission. “We thought it was a good, sweet story and that there was potential for it to sell maybe 25,000 in the first year,” he recounts. 

Add another 100,000 sales to his modest assessment of the story’s anticipated success, and you’ll have a more accurate account of the book’s first year marketing history. The Shunning showed publishers how the simple life could capture the hearts of readers who were soon eagerly clamoring for more Amish stories.

Fast forward to 2013 and a Wall Street Journal article by Valerie Weaver-Zercher (“Why Amish Novels are Hot,” June 6, 2013) that highlighted the growth of Amish fiction since that first Lewis novel hit the shelves. 

Weaver-Zercher writes, “In 2003, one new romance novel with an Amish theme was published. This year at least 86 are being released. Five of the top 10 best sellers on a recent list of Christian fiction were Amish titles, and the novels regularly hit mainstream best-seller lists. The top three authors of Amish romance novels— Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall and Wanda Brunstetter—have sold among them more than 24 million books.” 

I first met fellow Georgian, Cindy Woodsmall, at the Atlanta airport when we were were both en route to an ACFW conference. Her debut novel had recently released, and she shared some of the struggle she had faced on her journey to publication, which she also recounts on her website. When Cindy started submitting, publishers backed away. Beverly Lewis was successful, and they didn’t feel there was room for another author writing Amish stories. In 2005, WaterBrook Multnomah took a chance and offered Cindy a three-book contract. A few months later, Wanda Brunstetter’s first Amish book was released. Cindy’s debut novel hit bookstores the following year and sold out within two weeks.

When books sell, editors take note, and so do writers who quickly jumped aboard the Amish bandwagon as the popularity of bonnet fiction increased.

Shelley Shepard Gray has penned 32 Amish stories since Hidden, her debut, released in 2008. “As a writer, I feel that the possibilities for stories about the Amish are endless. There is a ready-made conflict between my protagonists and outside temptations and/or dangers that I find very fun.” Shelley adds, “Readers often tell me that they enjoy the genre because they get to experience a slower pace of life. I think they also enjoy learning about a different culture." (Shelley's current releases: A Sister's Wish, Sept 27, 2016, An Amish Family Christmas, Oct 18, 2016)

In 2009, the editors at Love Inspired Books asked Patricia Davids to write something Amish. “I worked up three proposals and they offered me the contracts. It’s 2016 now and I’m still writing Amish," says Patricia. “I have to admit I was stunned at the success of those first stories. They sold like hotcakes even as reprints. Many people have asked me what the draw is for Amish romances. Beats me. I’ve never figured it out. Is it the sense of nostalgia they evoke for a kinder, gentler time? Is it because the Amish are doing something we can’t, living a simple life without electricity or higher education and they are happy? Or is it the tightness of the community that comforts our readers. Whatever it is, I hope it continues for a long time. Because, frankly, I never thought the popularity would last this long.” (Patricia's current release: The Farmer Next Door by Patricia Davids & Lancaster Country Target by Kit Wilkinson as a 2 in 1 novel)

Mary Ellis fondly recalls the Amish stories she’s written. “Although I’m currently writing romantic suspense set in the South, I enjoyed my years of writing Amish fiction very much. I loved spending time with these devout Christians. I was able to step into their slower-paced world whenever I spent a weekend there researching. I believe that’s why the genre remains popular--readers are able to remove themselves from their hectic lives and enter a world where God and family are paramount.” (Mary’s current release: Magnolia Moonlight) 

Weighing in on the Amish allure, Love Inspired author Jo Ann Brown says the stories she writes “harken back to a simpler time and a simpler life without the hubbub of the modern world, where neighbors know and care about each other and families aren’t separated by hundreds of miles.” (Jo Ann's current release: His Amish Sweetheart, Sept 2017)

Jan Drexler writes for Love Inspired and Revell. “Amish stories require the same elements as other genres: good storytelling, characters with depth, and accurate research,” she says. “The readers want stories that provide a realistic picture of this fascinating culture, and they are wonderfully supportive of authors who provide that. And because of their support and interest, Amish fiction has expanded from contemporary romances to historicals, suspense, and beyond." (Jan's current release: Mattie’s Pledge, on sale now)

As Jan mentioned, Amish fiction includes not only sweet romances and historicals but also suspense stories. 

Alison Stone includes Amish characters in the stories she writes for Love Inspired Suspense. “I don't shy away from some of the issues that crop up among the Amish. These same issues happen in any community. For example, in Plain Protector (May 2016), the heroine is a social worker who works, in part, with Amish who may have drug or alcohol issues. In my books, I try to portray (as much as is possible in series romance) a realistic view of the Amish and those that live in close proximity to them.”  As to the success of Amish fiction, Alison says, "Perhaps the genre is so popular because people long for a simpler time without all the distractions of today's fast-paced life." (Alison's latest release: Plain Cover-Up, Aug 2016)

Love Inspired editor Emily Rodmell shared her thoughts on the Amish attraction.  “Amish romance really resonates with the Love Inspired readers. It is one of our bestselling genres. Readers seem to enjoy visiting a place where times are simpler and people live off the land and aren’t always buried in their phones or tablets. All three of the Love Inspired lines (Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical) are actively seeking more Amish stories. But we are especially seeking Amish stories for our Love Inspired contemporary romance line at this time. So if you’ve ever wanted to tackle an Amish story, now is the time. We’d love to see it. We look for stories that have romance at their core, that put the Amish in a good light (readers enjoy reading about the lifestyle, they don’t want to see it denigrated) and that end with both the hero and heroine as members of the Amish community.”

Debby again...

With Amish suspense, I find the stark contrast between the peace-loving Amish and the villains who try to harm them provides a roller coaster of emotion and an interesting mix of cultures. Having lived near Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania and attracted to their simple lifestyle, I included an Amish community and a heroine who had been raised Amish in The Agent’s Secret Past and was thrilled when the story won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Inspirational Suspense in 2015. My February 2016 release, Plain Danger, also set within the Amish community, hit # 5 on the Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers list so I can't complain about the direction my Amish stories have taken.

I'm now writing a straight Amish suspense trilogy. Amish Rufuge, the first book in my Amish Protectors series, will be out in May 2017 and features Amish hero, Abram Zook, who protects an English woman on the run. I hope readers who read my Military Investigations series will follow me to this new series and enjoy Amish Refuge as much as I liked writing the story. 

As to the draw of Amish fiction...

Some folks speculate that the glut of sexually explicit books has caused so many readers—folks searching for a good story without the sexual sensationalism—to embrace the Amish genre. A Perfect Storm, so to speak, but in a positive way that accounts for the increased sales.  

That may play into the mix, but to me, the draw seems fairly straightforward. Readers yearn for a connection that features home and hearth. Add faith and a happily ever after and you have the growing success of Christian fiction. Add a bonnet—or prayer Kapp—to the heroines of those stories, and you achieve a combination that keeps books flying off the shelves.

Do you enjoy Amish fiction? If so, what’s the draw for you? Maybe you haven’t read any stories with a bonnet on the cover. Is there a reason, and if not, are you willing to give Amish fiction a try? Share the names of any Amish books you’ve enjoyed or stories that made you see the Amish in a new light.

Leave a comment to be entered in SEVEN drawings. Winners will receive a copy of my current release, PLAIN TRUTH, along with two additional Amish books from the Seeker prize vault.

Happy writing! Happy reading!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti
When widowed doctor Ella Jacobsen is attacked and left for dead in her childrens’ clinic, the peace she’s found in Georgia’s Amish country is shattered. Someone is after something in her clinic and wants her out of the way...but what are they looking for? Ella knows only that  her life is in the hands of army special agent Zach Swain. Zach can’t resist the vulnerable but headstrong Ella, who stares down danger to care for the people she loves. With one look, the loner soldier goes from investigator to protector. To save Ella, he must uncover the secrets that swirl around the idyllic community. And he needs  to do it fast, because Ella is running out of time.

Order HERE!


Tina Radcliffe said...

I am loving these author's explanations!

Actually, I think I could eat Amish with no problem. The whole no electricity thing would be a problem. MY HAIR!!!

Are there different and varying types of what is approved or permissible across the board (is there a rule book?)?

Trixi said...

I absolutely enjoy Amish fiction!! Back when I first started reading Christian fiction years ago, I was looking for good, wholesome reads. I ran across Beverly Lewis books in my library and since I'd never read any Amish fiction; I picked up the first book of her Abram's daughters series. I was hooked from the start! Thankfully my library had all the books in that series & from there I looked for other books by her. I craved more Amish fiction, so I began an internet search of other Amish fiction authors and that's when I discovered many of the ones I now enjoy--Wanda Brunstetter, Cynthia Woodsmall, Vannetta Chapman, Shelley Shepard Gray, Amy Clipston....just to name a few! Some of the Love Inspired ones I've read are by Emma Miller, Patricia Davids, Marta Perry & I have some of yours on my shelf too Debby!

The draw for me is exactly the things you've mentioned here. A much more simpler lifestyle away from all the hubbub of the modern world, the strong sense of community, how they live out their faith, living off the land & how strong the family structure is. I love the idea of all those things and I think we could adopt some of those same mind-sets in our own lives. Slow down & take life on a much deeper level, cherish each other & help in times of need :-)

Thanks for the fun post Debby! Please add my name to the prayer Kapp for a chance at your latest book, thanks so much! Now I think I need to go pull a good Amish book off my shelf and get lost in it :-) Your post made me crave one!!

Marianne Barkman said...

Coming from a conservative Mennonite culture (actually more of a cult) I am finding that I want more depth to my stories than most utters of Amish fiction offer. Being so closed off from their neighbors, makes for a lot of possible abuse. Especially spiritual abuse, though other abuse is very prevalent. sorry for the rant, Seekervillagers. I am not trying to run any authors down. In fact, I'd love to read a book that addresses the problems rather than make it so Rosey.

Guess this is what happens when I am dealing with insomnia! Will try to sleep...and I should probably not hit send

Marianne Barkman said...

Debby, I love your novels, and will look forward to your Amish series!

Terri said...

I had an Amish lunch in April. Those ladies can cook!

I Prefer Amish stories where they've either left the Amish lifestyle or they're a secondary character.

Of course I always love your writing.

On a side note, I've made exactly one quilt in my life and it was an Amish quilt pattern. I'd show you a picture, but I'm not much of a quilter.

Terri said...

Tina - no electricity and hair styling would be a definite problem, but at least then I'd have an excuse for bad hair days!

Mary Preston said...

Amish Fiction takes me into a world I find fascinating. A quiet, simple life. Always such a pleasure to read.

Cindy W. said...

I live in Northeast Indiana where there are many Amish communities. I also have a family friends who have a daughter-in-law who was born and raised Amish. Her wedding was catered by her Amish community. It was fabulous!

I enjoy reading about the Amish and their simple lifestyle.

Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Marianne, I haven't yet seen a publisher willing to show the darker side of this the way you're stating. In fact, I'd developed an as yet unpublished series about an ultra conservative Amish sect with a power-hungry bishop and how a young woman left... but my agent was told they don't want that side of it... And I can understand why when you see the #s of books flying off the shelves.

I've always found the Amish fascinating, and have encountered many in NYS and Lancaster, but from sect to sect (or church to church, if you will) they cover a broad range of realities and some of it is less docile.

The other thing to me is that when you close ranks on the world, you're minimizing your discipleship. I don't believe God wants us to shut out the world, but to embrace others to his heart of hearts. I don't know how you can do that if you live a life of "us" and "them".

On the flip side, I do understand the allure of a simpler life in a time of crazy, frenetic, instant informational sharing so writing small town or rural/Western romance is a great fit for me!

You made a great point Marianne.

Jill Weatherholt said...

As a teenager visiting relatives in Pennsylvania, I was fascinated by the Amish, Debby. Like others, I'd have a difficult time with no electricity. Early this year, I read my first Amish story and I really enjoyed it.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Cindy, was your friend's daughter-in-law's community okay with her marrying outside the group?

Had her family left the community?

Curious minds want to know, my friend!!!

Cate Nolan said...

I have to run off to work, but I'm really curious to read more of the comments when I return.

I've included an Amish settlement in the book I am currently writing. What inspired me was some non-fiction I've been reading about the Amish and their beliefs. Their complete willingness to forgive, their sense of grace and desire to live lives in total acceptance of God's will.

I remember joking with Emily Rodmell after RWA15 in Times Square. After spending a week in Times Square, I totally understood the allure of Amish fiction!

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has to share.

Jackie said...

Hi Debby,

Amish men framed our house. They had to leave for a week though because they heard of a good buggy for sale in PA. So they found a ride to get it, but I'm not sure how they got their buggy back to KY.

On the dark side, a friend called me and told me to turn to a certain TV channel. It was about Amish mafia and they had come to Munfordville, KY, a little town where my grandparents lived. (Munfordville is the reason my friend called me.) I'm still not sure I believe what happened, but they were looking for an Amish man who cheated them and was hiding out in an abandoned house. The bad guys ended up blowing up the house. The whole time I watched that episode, I felt sick. Does anybody know, was it reality TV or complete fiction. There really isn't an Amish mafia, is there?

cathyann40 said...

I love anything Amish. I'm loving asmish books.

Debby Giusti said...

Morning everyone!

Sipping my coffee and enjoying the comments! Waving to Tina who stopped by the blog last night.

Yes, the Ordnung is the Amish rule, although each community embraces the rules in varying way, depending on the bishop, who leads his community, and the decision of the community itself. Old Order Amish are very conservative and adhere to the ways Amish lived when they first came to America. Beachy Amish-Mennonites are much more liberal and even drive cars.

Debby Giusti said...

Trixi, I'm so glad you enjoy Amish fiction. I love the way Beverly Lewis writes. The Shunning was very engaging and had me from the first line. I can see why her books were/are such a success!

Thanks for tucking a few of my reads in with all those delightful authors you mentioned.

Yes, your name is in the drawing. Lots of books being given away today...all Amish stories.

Debby Giusti said...

Marianne, I'm glad you shared from your heart. I'm sorry if you were touched by any of the negative that you alluded to. Yes, I'm very aware that Amish folks are human so there's good and bad, even in the more picturesque communities. As Emily Rodmell, my amazing editor, mentioned, Love Inspired Books portrays the Amish in a positive light because that's what their readers tell them they want. That's not too say that the stories don't include true-to-life issues. Even in the few books I've written, I've included some less than savory characters and situations to show a clearer picture of the Plain life. Not every farm looks like the photos we see of Lancaster County!

Note Alison Stone's mention of including some of the tougher issues in her stories. Hopefully, she'll stop by later and perhaps mention how she addresses the various issues.

So glad you're with us today. Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Just saw your second comment, Marianne. Thank you for your kind words. Sending cyber hugs. I hope you know how much your support means to me!

Debby Giusti said...

Terri, I quilted a bit in my former life...before writing. It's relaxing, isn't it! I always imagine the fun the ladies have at their Quilting Bees. I have a very old quilt that my great, great grandmother made. It has tiny blood spots from needle pricks. The stitches are so tiny and the piece is really a work of art.

I'm sure your quilt is beautiful. Such a nice heirloom for your family!

Debby Giusti said...

Terri, laughing at your bad hair comment. I'm not sure what I would miss most. Probably all of my creature comforts! Air-conditioning and indoor plumbing would rank at the top of a very long list.

Debby Giusti said...

Terri, tell us where you enjoyed the Amish lunch. Were you in an Amish home? More details please.

Debby Giusti said...

Mary P, so glad you enjoy Amish fiction. I was totally "into" that simple life when I wrote Amish Refuge. I could see all the reasons why my character was falling in love not only with the hero but also his way of life.

Alison Stone said...

Thanks for including me in your Amish blog, Debby. I fell into writing Amish for Love Inspired Suspense when I heard an editor at a conference say she was looking for more Amish stories. My wheels starting turning... Six Amish novels in, I still often have to explain to my friends that Amish fiction really is a thing. :) I'm thrilled so many readers enjoy Amish stories.

I couldn't live without electricity either. You should hear the groans around here when the power goes out for 20 minutes. ha ha

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, how special to attend an Amish wedding. They sound so interesting. Can you give us some details? Did they have celery on the table? I'm amazed at how many friends and family are given jobs before and after the care for the horses, cook and serve the food, clean up following. So many in the community get involved!

Hope you'll share some of what you experienced!

Cynthia Herron said...

Debbie, I loved this post! I remember when I first read The Shunning and additional Amish books afterward. The stories opened up a new world for me and taught me things I didn't know. I, too, am drawn to this simple life and I enjoy knowing more about their unique culture and lifestyle. I don't think I could live w/o some of the modern conveniences... but then I think what did our grandparents do? I remember my Nana always saying, "You don't miss what you don't have." (Smart phones come to mind. Where would we be without our apps??? LOL)

AND side topic--I think you mentioned yesterday you may start a newsletter one day. If so, I'd love to sign up! :) There are so many angles you could take with that. The wheels were already spinning when you mentioned that. You could elaborate on the Amish culture, provide recipes, photos, snippets of conversation in your books. Ohhh...the possibilities are endless! :-)

Cynthia Herron said...

Sorry... *Debby!!!!!!!!!!! I have another friend who spells it with "ie" :-)

Josee Telfer said...

Last week I googled "Why is Amish fiction so hot?" I find the AFC fascinating, actually. (Amish Fiction Craze-my acronym.) One of my favorite movies is "Witness" with Harrison Ford.

As a teenager, I went to Lancaster and spent a weekend with the Amish with my parents and my sister as my dad had business dealings with the Amish. As amazing as it was to my 13 year-old self, I was happy to return to electricity and trendy clothes.

I agree with Ruthie and while I respect the Amish for their commitment to their beliefs, for me, I guess I feel like we need to get out there and represent Jesus. That said, it's a trap any Christian, anywhere, can fall into: cocooning ourselves in our bubble of Bible studies and church events. That's where writing is such an opportunity!

Cindy Regnier said...

I grew up near an Amish community and I enjoy Amish fiction because it's a return to old memories of the horse-pulled buggies moving down the highway, the girls wearing the kapps and plain dresses to play softball against our jr. high teams, and you could tell the married men from the bachelors because the married men grew beards. I would have to admit there are some Amish fiction authors that I don't read because IMHO, they are not accurate to the Amish faith, or at least don't fully understand it. However, I am pleased to say that our Debby writes very accurate Amish tales that are gripping, suspenseful, and accurate! Doesn't the cover of her book make you just want to open it and read it right now? Thanks Debby, great post.

Laurel Blount said...

I love Amish fiction. It gives me the opportunity to dip a toe into a lifestyle that fascinates me...without actually having to give up my modern conveniences! And of course, I love the sense of family, the work ethic and the appreciation for simplicity that these stories convey. I have a question for you fabulous authors. Do you tend to set your stories in real-life Amish communities? Or do you invent your own fictional community? I've always wanted to go and visit an actual Amish community--maybe I should pick a favorite book and plan from there!

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, thanks for this informative post on the appeal of Amish fiction. When writing my historical stories, I'm drawn to the past, those simpler times when we didn't have electricity and indoor plumbing. But I don't want to live it. :-) The problem I have with writing Amish fiction set in the past is the lines between the English and the Amish were more blurred then as both lived simply, close to family and faith and church dominated life.

I live near Amish. With the limited number of acres they can manage with horses, they can't make a living farming. The men work building houses or cabinets. Homes don't have electricity, but if the owner has a workshop, his machinery is powered with generators. The women clean English homes. So most have cell phones in order to do business and ride in cars or vans to get to job sites, doctor appointments hospital visits and even to go on vacation. A nearby Walmart has an under-roof rail to tie up horses for those who live close enough to drive buggies. The buggies here are not closed so umbrellas protect occupants from the elements. What is permitted varies with the Bishop. I find it interesting how they must straddle both worlds in order to provide for their families.

I love taking a drive into the country in the spring to see all the babies--colts, calves, lambs. On Sunday it's easy to spot the household holding church by the vast number of buggies in the barnyard.


Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, I'm excited you're writing Amish Fiction and hope your wonderful stories find loads of readers!


Debby Giusti said...

Back from church. Grabbing a second cup of coffee and diving into the comments!

Ruthy, how interesting that your agent tried to shop your series and didn't find a home for the stories because of the dark side you featured. We know some churches are openly maligned in print, yet Amish stories show only the positive aspects of the Plain life that includes strong families and deep faith. Staying within those guidelines doesn't trouble me. My editor always provides wise counsel and I trust her judgement, but then I don't have a series like yours that I'm trying to sell. :)

Lots of great comments today...thanks for sharing!

Tina Radcliffe said...

We too visited the Western New York Amish regularly to buy cheese and quilts and such.

I did buy dolls one summer.

So someone tell me why there are no faces on the dolls.

DebH said...

I enjoy reading about the Amish lifestyle for the strong familial and Faith reasons. I also happen to be fascinated with the simple lifestyle and the craftsmanship of the community. As an artist and wannabe woodworker, I love the crafts part. I actually think I might be able to handle the lack of electricity, but would like to keep the generators for woodworking/farming machines.

But I'd pick a community where the heat and humidity weren't bad. I don't do thick air and high heat very well since I'm a Colorado native (no humidity).

would love to be in the draw for another Giusti book. LOVE THEM!!!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Jill, so many of us have experiences with the Amish, don't we, whether having lived near a community or traveling through some of the known Amish areas of the country. The reality TV shows that featured the Amish gave rise to more interest as well, although I'm not sure if "Amish Mafia" had its bases in fact. Anyone have thoughts about that? But I do enjoy watching the documentaries that paint a truer picture of Amish life.

The killings of the school girls some years back touched me deeply. The fact that the Amish community attended the killer's funeral and embraced his mother is a beautiful witness to their deep faith. I was moved by their ability to forgive.

Debby Giusti said...

Cate, I'm laughing at your comment about Emily as you girls chatted in Times Square! That's a crazy place, isn't it!

My thoughts...
Our spirits long for the peace we see in the Amish way. Each of us want to live a life of faith. We seek forgiveness and mercy, don't we. All of which brings the peace that is beyond understanding. I believe that's the draw to Amish fiction.

We see their strength in the midst of adversity. They hold onto family values and virtue in a world that finds even deviant behavior acceptable. In some way, we see them as the ideal, when the world in which we live falls far short of the basic standards of morality.

Am I rambling? I'll blame it on the caffeine in my coffee!

Hope you have a wonderful day at school. You're spreading God's love to all the children you teach...that's a gift! You're a special lady, and I feel very blessed by your friendship! :)


Janet Dean said...

TINA, I'm guessing here. Will leave the real answer to Debby, but I think its because Amish don't have mirrors in their houses as a deterrent to vanity. So I'm guessing their dolls are faceless so as to not put the focus on beauty.


Beth said...

I love any Amish book I can get my hands on. There is just something about their simple way of life that intrigues me

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, I read your comment about the "Amish Mafia" TV show...and had just mentioned the show in my reply to Jill. I'm sure it was fiction, although perhaps based on a tiny bit of fact. We know how writers can embellish! :)

Thankfully, the show is no longer on the air. I've heard the one about the Amish teens going to the big city was a ruse as well. I found both shows depressing and watched only a couple episodes.

Interesting about your Amish builders buying a buggy in PA. They are very industrious about ways to circumvent the rules, yet achieve what they need. Such as using taxis to shuttle them to town or to doctors' appointments. Also they travel by bus, and as you know, sometimes have phones and electricity in their barns. But never in their homes. So that house, that home, always remains free from worldly devices that could pull the family apart. All so fascinating, IMO.

Thanks again for sending the Amish clippings!


Debby Giusti said...

cathyann40! So glad you like Amish stories. You're in the drawing!

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, thanks for all this great info! It's great to hear from you and other authors who have so much experience.

Debby Giusti said...

Alison, so good to see you in Seekerville. Thanks for your great input to the blog. You're right about some folks--perhaps those who don't read Christian fiction--not realizing that the Amish genre exists!

Congrats on the success of your stories. I enjoyed Patricia Davids' comment about not expecting the craze for anything Amish to continue. :) I'm always grateful for readers who are willing to take a risk on buying one of my stories and always appreciate their encouragement and support. I know you feel the same way. We are so fortunate to write for Love Inspired.


Kathryn Barker said...

Good morning, Debby, (It's still morning in California!)

Thank you for this wonderful post! I LOVE your Amish stories and several other authors also.

I've been friends with an Amish family from the Ozarks for over twenty years. I first got acquainted with the matriarch of the family at a little Tuesday Farmer's Market my Grandpa and I went to. This family makes sorghum and I LOVE sorghum...I've never found it in stores in I'd order it and the family would ship it to me, and every time I visited my Grandpa, I visited this family. She would stop by my Granpa's farm and help him with his garden when he was quite old and had difficulty weeding it properly.

I found the woman particularly hospitable and open and absolutely delightfully romantic!! She shared a bit of her own romantic story with me! It was just precious. She was also open to me asking her questions about some of their practices, and carefully explained that each district decided on what their approach would be with things like phones, using technology and etc.

Anyway, when I decided to write again, after a very long hiatus, I wrote an Amish love/suspense story. I was told by an agent I was seeking, that they were not accepting Amish stories (this was about four years ago)...they believed the genre was saturated and on its way out. So, I put the story away and started on a contemporary romance...

Thanks to a dear writer friend, Keli Gwyn, who sent me Emily Rodmell's tweet about wanting Amish stories, I've unburied that manuscript and am trying to revise it...maybe I should just start over...LOL

Thanks again for help in understanding why Amish continues to thrive!

Debby Giusti said...

Cynthia, I'm so glad we met at ACFW!!! You are such a dear lady. Loved that gorgeous dress you wore to the banquet. You looked smashing, as the British say! :)

You've got me thinking about a newsletter. Yesterday's post was so good. A keeper, for sure. But most of them are. Love the information that gets passed around through Seekerville. We're much more savvy because of what is shared here! I keep telling folks just starting their journey to publication that they need to check out Seekerville. The archives are a treasure trove of information and tips for every writer!

CC said...

I greatly enjoy Amish fiction and have read books by all the authors mentioned in the article. I think part of the interest for me is a current day, in some respects, connection to a simpler time and lifestyle similar to that lived by many of our ancestors. I love doing genealogy and enjoy history, so I have studied the simpler and perhaps more interdependent and typically more conservative in values lifestyles of earlier generations.

Linda Truesdell said...

I live within walking distance to an old order Amish settlement. This group is very conservative and only recently have they begun to open shops and businesses to the "English". This is primarily because the need for more farmland is limited by several large farms in the area that are family owned and not likely to be for sale. That and the fact the settlement is within a 30 mile drive to a city has led to the need for this group to sell more of their products to those outside of the community. I confess I don't read a lot of Amish fiction, but when I do I look for inconsistencies to what I know after having lived by and dealt with the Amish families near me. We can sit in our living room and watch buggies go by our house. I especially enjoy watching the young people on Sunday afternoons when they are dressed for church and driving around in their open buggies. Though we have a garden of our own, we do buy produce from them often. My favorite Amish book is Levi's Will. Maybe because we are so familiar with the Amish - 2 families attended my father-in-law's funeral - we aren't as intrigued by them as some might be.

Debby Giusti said...

Cynthia, you mentioned our grandparents and the way they lived being similar to the Amish of today. So true. When I visited the Amish in Ethridge, TN, a sweet lady showed me her cast iron cook stove, which made me think of my grandmother in her youth. No doubt, she cooked and baked in a similar way.

My grandmother had German roots and made homemade noodles that we all loved. She never measured flour for her noodles or her cakes. She scooped the flour into her hand and knew the exact amount to add by the weight or the feel. I loved watching her cut the rolled dough into strips that she laid on a dish towel and placed on top of the refrigerator to dry. The heat from the back of the fridge in those days would dry the noddles even on the most humid days.

Cell phones! Mine stopped yesterday morn and made me pause to realize how much I rely on that tiny device. Thankfully, it finally booted back on. Wasn't long ago, and we didn't have personal phones. Technology changes so quickly.

Alison Stone said...

I just noticed Debby's comment about how I addressed more serious issues in our Amish books. I did try to do that (as much as I could) in Plain Protector. The heroine (an Englischer) was a social worker hiding from her abusive ex-boyfriend. While living among the Amish, she worked as a social worker, helping them with their problems, whether it be drugs, alcohol or dealing with the influences of the outside world. I used this as a conflict in the story when "bad things" started to happen to her. Had her ex-boyfriend tracked her down? Or was someone eager to see the social worker/outsider leave and stop meddling in their Amish community?

As a few other authors mentioned, Love Inspired Suspense is careful to portray the Amish in a positive light, so I was limited in how deeply I could dig into this topic. Just the other day, I saw a local news story about an underage alcohol party among the Amish. Of course, the footage showed a bunch of buggies parked on the side of the road. Yes, even the Amish youth can make poor choices.

I've read some grittier Amish stories in mainstream fiction. One particular author I enjoy is Linda Castillo. Her heroine is former Amish, but she's now the chief of police in a small Amish community where very bad stuff happens. *However, please note, her work would be categorized as MAINSTREAM/SECULAR, not Christian.* If you read across genres, her books are fantastic.

Walt Mussell said...

Every time I read about Amish fiction, one of the things I think about is...this could happen to historical Japan-based romances. Just need one novel for it to take off :-)

Oddly, I've looked at Amish fiction for a different reason. The Amish are no less passionate than anyone else. However, my impression of the Amish is that they are reserved, so the way they show emotion is reserved. I find this informational as a writer.

Missy Tippens said...

Marianne, I'm glad you shared that. That's a great point, and like Ruthy said, could be good to show that side in stories.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Josie,
How fascinating that you stayed with Amish folks when you were a girl. What are some of the memories you have from that time? Anything that you don't hear about these days when the Amish are mentioned?

I used to visit a great uncle and aunt who lived on the farm. They weren't Amish, but they lived a simple life. Oh my, the huge amount of food my aunt would serve! The dining table would be covered with meats and veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh baked abundance of desserts followed. I loved gathering eggs from the chicken coop and plucking fresh corn off the stalks growing in the nearby field. Lovely memories that I treasure.

You mentioned evangelization. Although we're all called to spread the Good News, I believe God uses those who live a more contemplative life as well. Sometimes those who seem to be limited in worldly ways are a powerhouse of prayer that is also of value. I guess that's why we need to listen to the Lord and discern where he is calling us to walk. Sounds as if you're called to minister on a broader base, and that's so good! Yes, writing is a wonderful platform that He can use.

BTW, "Witness" is one of my all-time favorite movies!


Myra Johnson said...

Fascinating post, Debby--interesting to learn about the beginnings of Amish fiction and its popularity, as well as insights from other authors.

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, you've touched me deeply today with your kind words about my stories. I'm so glad they ring true to your wonderful Amish memories. I try to check everything over and over again to make sure I get it right.

How fun to play ball against the Amish girls. So how was their team? Bet sliding into home plate was difficult at times. :)

Debby Giusti said...

HI Laurel,
For my Military Investigations series and this new Amish trilogy, I created fictional Amish communities. I currently live too far from Ohio and Pennsylvania to check details if I placed my stories there. Plus, I can set the rules for the communities as needed for my stories.

My hubby, daughter and I visited Ethridge, TN, last spring. It wasn't too far to drive from Georgia, although we did spend two nights in a hotel. I'm sure you would enjoy the area. The fields were just being plowed. I hope to return during the summer months, perhaps next year, to buy some of their wonderful produce. It's an interesting community and one worth visiting. You'll be at M&M. I can tell you more about it then.

Looking forward to your Seekerville blog!!!


Debby Giusti said...

Janet, thanks for sharing a bit about the Amish in your area. Yes, they do have to use some of the modern technology in their work...and in order to support their families. In Ethridge, the folks train horses for extra income. Some work construction, as you and Jackie mentioned. Also their woodwork and crafts bring in money, especially their baskets. I bought far too many when I visited Etheride, but they were relatively inexpensive and the quality is amazing. I'm enjoying using them throughout my house.

I agree that writing historical Amish would take away some of what makes the contemporary stories more enticing...that struggle between the world of today and the Plain life.

In a way, I almost feel that my research might be similar to yours. Each detail must be checked to make sure we're being accurate, whether to times past or to the Amish way. I wanted two characters to shake hands, but I researched to ensure the Amish take part in handshaking. Three sources confirmed they do so I put it in my story.

Love your books, Janet. You're such a gifted writer! Can't wait for your next release.

Thanks again for telling us about your local Amish. How fun to see horses and buggies outside your Walmart. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Tina mentioned Amish yummy! And their ice cream is creamy rich.

I'm not sure about the doll question. Hoping someone can provide an answer.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Debby, Interesting post. I've always maintained that the Amish books attract many readers who want clean and simple romance without explicit sex. And because most readers don't know what publishers publish what, they are assured they will get clean Christian when they see the bonnet. That's my take anyway.

Happy writing. Love your stories whether they are Amish or whatever. You do a great job with characters and suspense. smile

Debby Giusti said...

DebH, you're in SEVEN drawings! Love the pic of your sweet family.

I can see how you would be attracted to that simple life. It's what many of us want, isn't it? We want to embrace faith and family, to instill good values and virtues in our children, and we want to keep the sensationalism of worldly ways away from our doorsteps.

We can live that way, and many of us do. I want my home to be a place of refuge so that when children enter they feel loved and affirmed. The struggles we find out in the world are to be left outside so that each of us can be nourished and renewed during our time together. Isn't that what most of us strive to accomplish within our families?

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, great answer about the faceless dolls. Thanks!

Debby Giusti said...

HI Beth! Thanks for leaving a comment. So glad you enjoy Amish stories. You're in the SEVEN drawings. Hugs!

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to Missy...who's such a busy lady these days!

Hope you get time to relax with a glass of iced tea. Sweet tea, of course!

Wilani Wahl said...

I wanted to chime in today in spite of the extreme Vertigo, that I love reading Amish Fiction. I have loved so many of the books. Outside of Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter books One of the series that first gripped me and drew me towards Shelley Shepard Gray was her series The Days of Redemption Series. Shortly after that I learned that she was forming a street team and became part of the Buggy Bunch. When her series on Pinecraft was released, she held a weekend retreat at Pinecraft. I was so thankful the Lord provided the money so I could go and meet her in person. It was awesome to tour Pinecraft and learn more about the Amish people.

I think it is the simpler life that draws me towards reading the Amish books.

I would appreciate continued prayers as I struggle through the Vertigo. I am grateful to finally have a diagnosis of Meneire's Disease. I have not been able to write or read as much as I would like this month. Praying it will ease up quickly. The Lord is so good and I am so glad I can depend on Him.

Debby Giusti said...

Kathryn, I remember you mentioning the Amish neighbors who were so sweet to your grandfather. But I didn't know you'd written an Amish story. Yes, dust it off and submit it to Love Inspired. You read Emily's comment, didn't you? Did you see what Alison Stone said?

Submit! Please! The time is right.

Not sure about the advice you received four years ago. Wonder if that agent has eaten her words, because as you can see from this blog, Amish is still HOT! :)


Debby Giusti said...

CC, thanks for sharing your thoughts on Amish fiction. So glad you enjoy the stories. Yes, they do take us back in time to what our ancestors experienced. There's so much to learn from them about how to live without modern conveniences. Sometimes those older ways of doing things are more satisfying. I'm thinking here about the joys of taking time for family and friends, Sunday visits after church services, reading the Bible with the children...

Josee Telfer said...

Hi Debby!

I was fortunate to get an inside glimpse into the life of the Amish. I remember walking around, being given a tour. It was so idyllic... It was a gorgeous summer day too! From what I can recollect, the Amish were soft spoken and reserved, polite, not overly friendly but welcoming. Maybe they were hesitant because we were English? Though I remember my dad telling them "We're French!" They were very generous, feeding us a massive spread of food and sending us home with pies and bread. Come to think of it, there was a lot of baking going on! I remember distinctly feeling like everyone there had a purpose and knew what it was and didn't dawdle. I also remember a strong impression of community.

It actually reminded me of my grandparents' farm in Quebec. My grandparents had 12 children and lived very simply. My dad grew up using an outhouse. They finally put in indoor plumbing sometime in the late 50's. My grandparents used a horse and buggy right through the 70's, never buying a car. I remember a VERY heated discussion between my grandparents because my grandmaman wanted a microwave which my grandpapa adamantly opposed. He favored his wood stove for everything from toast to boiling water. He finally acquiesced and bought her one for mother's day but never touched it! Spending time on their farm are some of my most cherished childhood memories. There was no tv, and every night after dinner we'd sit around the kitchen table, say the rosary, pray and read from the Bible. My grandpapa followed the rising and setting of the sun his whole life.

There was a room upstairs where my grandmother housed her mason jars and other extras along with 3 twin beds. That room was called "The Room for the Needy." Homeless people passing through through town were told if you needed a hot meal and a warm bed to go the Baillargeon Homestead. My dad sad that growing up, there were always 2-3 strangers with them at dinner. I'm so blessed to have had their example of hospitality and generosity.

I agree that each person is called to something different. I grew up Catholic and for a long time wanted to become a nun myself. I asked a nun at my school what they did if they didn't teach and she said "We pray!" What an important role they have! My road to the convent veered when I discovered my love of nail polish and cute clothes and had my first crush.

Thank you for taking the time to walk down memory lane with me! BIG blessings to you!

Debby Giusti said...

Linda, you bring up a good point about the scarcity of farm land. In Lancaster County, many housing developments have encroached on the Amish communities. Newer settlements are springing up as groups split off and travel to areas where land is cheaper and more plentiful.

I love seeing the buggies pass by, hearing the clip-clop of the horses hooves and seeing the wash hanging on the lines. The young men standing up on the flatbed farm wagons as they zip along the country roads amaze me. What balance! :) I would fall off for sure.

Dale Cramer, the author of Levi's Will, lives not far from me. He worked for the Atlanta airport, or one of the airlines there, but his father was raised Old Order Amish. I'm glad you enjoyed his story.

Debby Giusti said...

Alison, I'm a fan of Linda Castillo's stories. Thanks for adding that they are mainstream, not Christian, and do include some topics that go beyond wholesome family values. Just as FYI to our wonderful blog community.

Debby Giusti said...

Walt, I so agree about Japanese stories needing that first one to be a hit and more will follow. I want you to be that author who brings Japanese fiction to the forefront. Larissa Reinhart and her family came for lunch on their last visit to the US. I love following her on FB and seeing Japan through her eyes. It takes me back to when I lived there as a girl. There's so much to the Japanese culture and the history of Christianity there, which you included in your stories. Don't let your manuscripts gather too much dust. Editors change as do their reading preferences. I'm praying your stories sell! Soon!

See you at M&M?

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Myra, for spreading the word about today's blog on Twitter! You are amazing!!!


Katrina G. said...

I really like reading the little tidbits of information on different Christian authors. And I most definitely enjoy spending my time reading Amish fiction!

Andrea Woodard said...

I love reading all the comments from authors. I am looking for a more quiet place to relax. I love to pick up any of these great authors books and start reading. The story lines are very good and I get to the point, I don't want to enter back into the real world. I want to stay and live among the Amish. I want to turn off the war, the news and everything else that brings stress to my life. I can lose myself in an Amish book and not worry about anything.
Thank you to all authors who write Amish stories and Christian stories as well.

Debby Giusti said...

HI Sandra, you're right about the bonnet on the cover alerting readers to a wholesome read. Although I did see that there are some Amish sci-fi stories and time travel as well. Not sure about the level of sensuality in those books. I'll stick with the traditional Amish stories!

Tina Marie Watson said...

GREAT!! article Debby.

I started reading the Amish genre in 2010 about a month after I was left go of my full time job and I have been reading nonstop ever since. I have devoted my time into searching for Amish genre books and posting them on my Facebook page-set up just for that reason, to spread the word.

The main reason I read Amish genre books only is because I feel closer to my Mennonite
great-grandmother that I felt so close too up until she passed away in 2004. I also feel closer to God too. I have also come to learn that I had other Mennonite great-grandparents; unfortunately they passed away before I was born, so I didn't get to know them as well as my Mennonite great-grandmother Lillian "Maye".

What keeps me returning to the Amish genre? It's the same answer that you mentioned in your article Debby and I'm sure others have mentioned too. It's the clean, wholesome, goodness that the Amish and Mennonites are about. And yes, the fact that I can lose myself in the simple life of a fiction Amish book and forget about my problems and hectic world around me.

I have yet to read your books Debby, but I do have a few on my kindle to read.
Thank you again for your search on your blog article.

Many Blessings

Kathryn Barker said...

Hi again, Debby! Yes, I did read Alison Stone's comment. The woman I am friends with mentioned some of the troubles the Amish are facing...she spoke of pregnancy out of wedlock. Even in their publication, The Budget, there are advertisements for helping youth with drug and alcohol abuse. Life is not easy for any of us!! (The Amish invented an early version of FaceBook, you know...The Budget is like a printed version (no photos) of FaceBook...each scribe shares news from their can find out who's in the hospital, who's having a "frolic," who came to visit and who had a baby and who's getting married and who died!! LOVE it!!)

Thanks for your encouragement!! I do need to rewrite that was an early attempt and needs HELP!! LOL

Terri said...

Debby, we ate in a very rural area. I would never be able to find it again on my own. It was a home and restaurant. The family has a farm and on the back a huge dining room where they serve people who come there to eat. I was with a group and they had been there before, so they made the reservations.

They served chicken, roast, homemade rolls, homemade noodles, numerous vegetables and two types of pie. I wish they had served Shoo fly pie. It was a fun place to visit.

Terri said...

Tina, during the country decor phase my sister made the faceless Amish dolls. It drove her husband crazy. He even told her once that he watched a special on the Amish and everyone of them had a face! Cracked me up.

I believe it has something to do with their aversion to mirrors. Perhaps to avoid vanity.

Terri said...

Debby, I think the two reality shows, The Amish Mafia and the one about the teens were probably very hard on the Amish image.

Like you I loved Witness.

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Debby!

This is a wonderful post, addressing many aspects of writing these Amish books! It was fun to read.

One thing that I noticed when my family traveled to Lancaster County when I was a child, was how different that community was from the northern Indiana community I knew so well. I didn't even realize they were Amish until much later.

And that is one aspect readers need to keep in mind when reading different authors. Each community varies in what issues they address in their Ordnung, how they approach new technologies like cell phones, etc., that you can't say the Amish never do X, or always do Y.

So if you're reading one of my books and notice that my characters don't act exactly like they would in a Beverly Lewis book or Suzanne Woods Fischer book, there's a good reason for it. ;)

On another note, "reality" television doesn't show the reality of the Amish. Ignore those shows if you're looking for anything more than entertainment.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Look!!! ANOTHER TINA MARIE!!! Oh, my goodness. WELCOME!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I looked it up. You were close, Janet.

While some Amish dolls have faces, the best-known ones do not, to emphasize the fact that all are alike in the eyes of God.

I love that!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Andrea Woodard!

Welcome to Seekerville, Katrina G!

We love readers. Where are ladies from?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Josee! What a wonderful story that is. Have you thought about writing a historical and putting that in the book?

Debby Giusti said...

We're praying for you...and rejoicing that the doctors diagnosed the problem. Vertigo is so debilitating. Sending gentle hugs!

I didn't know Shelley had an event in Pinecraft! Where was her event held? Did you spend the night in the area, or at a local hotel? I'm hoping Shelley will stop by so we can find out how she organized the gathering.

Jan Drexler first told me about Pinecraft. Janet Dean has been there and sent me information. I'm hoping to visit in the new year!

Walt Mussell said...

Debby, as I set a goal earlier this year in Seekerville of self-pubbing one of my novels if it doesn't get picked up, I'm looking at self-pubbing early next year, with trying for the Kindle Scout initially.

Josee Telfer said...


I have. In fact, I have enough stories from both sides of my family to write for decades. They are an endless source of inspiration.

Debby Giusti said...

Josee, thanks for sharing such lovely memories of your time with the Amish and especially your own grandparents. How amazing that they still rode in a buggy in the 1970s! God bless them for taking in the needy. That's humbling to hear. How many of us, in this current age, would open our homes to complete strangers?

I love your mention of sitting around the table, saying the rosary and reading from the Bible. So glad you cherished that time. I can see how your memories could be turned into delightful stories that would draw readers. Think about it. How nicely that would honor your grandparents as well.

Laughing at your love for nail polish and cute clothes. As a child, I always prayed NOT to be called to the religious life. I wanted to be a wife and mommy. :)

I'm traveling to Montreal in the not-too-distant-future. Can't wait to experience the Canadian culture firsthand. Must brush up on my high school French, although that was so long ago!

Hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Another Amish reader. Welcome, Katrina! Thanks for leaving a comment. You're in the drawings.

Do you have a German background? I lived there for three years and love hearing the PA Dutch, which is somewhat similar.


Debby Giusti said...

Glad you've found stories that take you to a better place, Andrea. That's every writers transport the reader to another place, perhaps another time.

Glad you enjoy Amish stories. There is such an attraction to the Plain life, especially when our world seems to be spiraling out of control.

So glad you stopped by and left a comment. You're in the drawings!

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, I'm so sorry about your job situation, but I'm glad you found Amish fiction and now have time to read and post information about the stories on social media. I hope we're friends on FB! Must check.

How special that the stories make you feel closer to your dear grandmother. You come from that heritage of strong values and faith and family. That's a treasured past for sure!

You're in the drawings, Tina! We're so glad you found Seekerville. We love readers! Hope you'll make visiting this blog a daily habit!

Hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Wonder what "having a frolic" entails, Kathryn? Perhaps you don't need to answer that question, at least not in the comments. :)

I'm excited about your story. Keep us posted. You can do this!!! We're cheering you!

How does one subscribe to The Budget?

Debby Giusti said...

Terri, how interesting that the Amish family has a restaurant attached to their home. I've eaten at a number of Amish restaurants in Ohio, but they're all free standing. You're right about the abundance of food. Oh my gosh! I always went home stuffed. In fact, I'm gaining weight just thinking about those yummy meals!

I agree about the two shows casting a very negative light on the Amish.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Whoa!! I found Great site.

Frolic’ describes a social/work event that takes place from time to time in Amish communities.

Like a barn raising.

All volunteers.

Debby Giusti said...

Jan, thanks again for adding to the blog today...and for your insightful comments! So true that every community has their own rules about the way they live out their common way of life. Words, phrases and the spelling of words vary as well...which can be confusing. Or maybe it adds to the Amish charm! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, thanks for settling the faceless doll question!

Debby Giusti said...

Josee, our own Tina just confirmed what I told you earlier. And what you already knew to be true. You need to write those family stories. Okay? Promise? Pretty please?

Josee Telfer said...

Oh Debby- I love Montreal and I'm just an hour from there across the VT border.

Is this your first time to the city?

Josee Telfer said...

Wow - if this isn't confirmation, I don't know what is!

I'm revising my first manuscript that I've entered into a few contests and I've been contemplating what to start on next. (Too many ideas!)

I think I know what I'm leaning toward!

Also, everyone speaks English in Montreal though they'll be a whole lot friendlier if you at least open with "Bonjour!" and end with "Merci." I'm sure you've done your research but if you like churches and religious sites, there are plenty in Montreal including of course, Notre-Dame Basilica, L'oratoire St Joseph and Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. You've never had a bagel until you've had a Montreal style bagel and if you're into smoked meat, then be sure to try a classic Montreal style smoked meat sandwich.

Debby Giusti said...

Sounds like a good plan, Walt!

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, thanks for the "frolic" info! I'm checking out Amish America!

Nancy Kelly said...

I can't wait to read this book! :) I love this article

Debby Giusti said...

Josee, I'll be seeing all the places you mentioned, plus a river ride and walking tour. I've heard the smoked meat and smoked chicken are amazing and will try both. Didn't know about the bagels. Will try them as well.

How fun that you are only an hour away. Do you travel into Montreal often? This is my first trip. I'm excited!

Connie Queen said...

Ok, am I the only one who thinks of "For Richer or Poorer" with Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley when I hear Amish?

Besides Debby's books, I haven't read much Amish. I LOVE Debby's books.

It's the simple life that make Amish stories attractive.
Right now we watch the old black and white game shows, ie, I Know A Secret, and The Carol Burnett Show and Perry Mason. I get such a kick out of the old commercials from the game shows. They're so sweet and innocent. Has anyone ever heard of the deodorant called, "Stopette." That one cracked me up.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Josee Telfer! I love that story of your grandparents' farm! The Room for the Needy is a wonderful thing... they lived their faith. Their lives were actually an "Alleluia". How wonderful!!!

And the nail polish and cute clothes, LOL!

I never considered the convent, but I have so many beloved Sisters of St. Joseph in my life, and so many that really made a difference to me growing up. What great memories you sparked!

Josee Telfer said...

Ruthie - I love that! Their lives were an "Alleluia" is beautifully put. They were evangelical Catholics before that was even a thing.
My life was largely shaped by the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, among others.

Debby- I hope you enjoy Montreal. It's a very cosmopolitan city and I particularly like wandering the streets of Old Montreal. I was just there a couple of weeks ago but I don't go as often as I'd like. Not with 3 kids anyway!

If you enjoy Montreal, you'll LOVE Quebec City. (I'm from that area so I'm partial) It's my favorite!

Janet Dean said...

DEBBY, the research for writing Amish stories is similar to my research of life a hundred or more years ago. Do you find it difficult to come up with different scenarios with each Amish suspense? Or do you have tons of stories waiting to get out of your head and onto the page?

The horse "barn" is not right out front of the store, as it's a high traffic area, but it's close by. There's a shovel and garbage can to clean up after the horses. :-) My husband calls the manure road apples. :-0


Wilani Wahl said...

In answer to your question about Shelley's get together in Pinecraft. We all stayed in a motel near the Bradenton- Sarasota airport. This was in February of 2015. It began on Friday night with a get together get acquainted time. It was just great to sit around and talk with all our buddies that we had been friends with on facebook.

Saturday began with individual tours of Pinecraft and the shops. Then there was a luncheon book signing at the Amish restaurant Der Dutchmen. Then we toured Yoders and that tour ended with a piece of pie. I decided to try Shoo fly pie since I have read about it in the Amish books but had never eaten before. It was so good.

Several of us went back to Pinecraft in the evening for a local singing.

On Sunday we attended church in the Menonite church that was mentioned in the series she wrote. It was so interesting to attend the service.

Shelley could better answer questions about the setting up and planning.

This year's Girls Weekend trip was to Charm Ohio. I wasn't able to go. This year she joined with some of the other Amish Fiction authors.

Janet Dean said...

TINA, I didn't think to Google the answer. LOL Anymore if we're having a discussion and someone asks a question, one of us will grab a cell phone to find the answer.


Patricia Bond said...

I like to read Amish fiction because of the storylines. Since I live near Lancaster County I feel as though I am in the story living it

Terri said...

Debby, there is no sign or anything on the restaurant. I thinking we were basically at a home and she sells food

Nicky Chapelway said...

Confession time, I have never read an Amish book, and I'm not entirely sure I even want to. I've read the synopses for many even considered starting a few but I can never find it in myself to do it. I find them (and don't take offense at this) BORING. I don't want my books to slow down I want them to speed up. To throw action at my face at every turn (probably the reason why I like suspense so much)

Amish fiction has just never had a draw for me. Please don't burn me at the stake, or shun me, or (worse) try to get me to read an Amish book so that I will change my opinion.

And while I don't know if I will ever read just Amish fiction, but I think I would be interested in Amish suspense (that doesn't sound slow), so please enter my name for the drawing of your book!

Debby Giusti said...

Connie, you're so sweet! Thank you for mentioning my books!

I didn't know the old commercials would still be viewed with the black and white shows. Fun to see. No, I don't remember Spotelle. Reminds me of one of my daughter's friends. The girl loved commercials and could sing every jingle on TV. It was kind of an obsession and funny as well. She was a kick! Wonder what she's doing now?

I used to watch Perry Mason as a child. The show reminded me of an adult version of Nancy Drew. Certain things happened at a certain time in each episode. What was his secretary's name? Was it Stella? Or am I thinking of "Streetcar Named Desire"? LOL!

Debby Giusti said...

Ruthy, The Room for the Needy sounds like the title of a book! More confirmation for Josee!

I hope to take lots of pictures in Montreal. They might end up in a future blog post! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Road apples. Too funny, Janet. There's a group of pooper scoopers in Charleston that keep the streets tidy because so many horse-drawn wagons cart tourists around the Old Towne. They are especially appreciated in the hot summer months! :)

Coming up with new scenarios is always a challenge. I'm working on the second story in the trilogy now and trying to fine-tune all the details. The proposal is due Monday. GULP! I should be writing!


Debby Giusti said...

The weekend in Pinecraft sounds delightful, Wilani. I know they often have sing-alongs at night. How special that you could attend. I believe Janet has eaten at Der Dutchmen. Bet the food was delicious and plentiful!

Debby Giusti said...

Patricia, thanks for stopping by Seekerville. Where do you live in Lancaster County? Do the tourists bother you? I'm sure the Amish get irritated with them, especially if they try to take pictures.

What do you like best about the area?

Debby Giusti said...

How interesting, Terri. I'm sure the local folks frequent her place. I would too. Sounds like a fun road trip! :)

Terri said...

Unique dining experience.

Debby Giusti said...

Nicky, all of us like different type books. No problem about not liking Amish stories. I'm a suspense gal too. Although I have enjoyed adding the Amish element. Authors need to be challenged and that mix of cultures challenges me. Plus, I enjoy the research.

I'm just glad you're part of our Seekerville family. We love readers. We love readers of any and all genres!

But I am adding your name to the drawings.


Valri said...

Debby - I bought your book the other day! I'm looking forward to reading it soon! You know I love all your books! I'm not a real lover of Amish fiction and don't really read much of it but I love your books! I don't have anything against it, it's just not really a draw for me! My parents visited the Amish area in Penn. when they took a trip back East and loved it. I've never been but I'm sure it's very interesting. Thanks for "introducing" me to Amish fiction, even if it's the only one I read!

Boo Smelser said...

To be honest, I've only read one Amish series- I think it was Amish, anyway, it might have been Mennonite, like the other bonnet series I read. They were good- especially the latter- but I admit, I've never understood the mass appeal to them.

Shelley Sabga said...

Debby, thank you so much for posting the really great essay about Amish Fiction. I know a lot of people have been curious about its popularity. Others are wondering if the popularity of the books are waning. So far, I haven't found that to be the case.
One of the reasons, I think, is the writers of the genre. We all try very hard to combine entertaining romances with thorough research. I've enjoyed writing these books so much and am grateful that people are still interested in them.

Shelley Sabga said...


Boy, wasn't that trip to Pinecraft fun? I'll never forget our visit to Palm Grove Mennonite Church. It was such a blessing that they welcomed us so warmly to their Sunday service!
I can't wait to head back to Pinecraft again this winter. I need to get busy, my Amish friends already have their hotel rooms booked!

hugs, Shelley

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Patricia! Great to have you here.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Janet! Google is my best friend next to Siri. The Amish would be appalled. And for good reason. I put the encyclopedia salesman out of business.

Tina Radcliffe said...

So great to have you in Seekerville again, Shelley. And I just LOOOVE the cover of that book in the collage of Amish books. So genuine.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Did I mention congratulations to Jan Drexler for the release of Mattie's Pledge this week?

Congrats, Jan!

Janet Dean said...

WILANI, I've eaten in Der Dutchman in Pinecraft. The Amish food is delicious. Are there tours of Pinecraft anyone can take? I would love to learn more about it. Amish from this area go down on a bus/van. Some for a vacation. Others go for the winter to work in the restaurants.


Janet Dean said...

TINA, you didn't put them out of business all by yourself!


Debby Giusti said...

Valri, you know I appreciate your support. You've always been such an encourager...and that means so much to a writer. We can feel isolated at times as we pound away on our computers. Your kind comments brighten my days and always touch my heart!

I hope you'll give my new Amish trilogy a try to see if you like the stories. I promise you'll find lots of action and suspense. :)

Connie Queen said...

So close, Debby.

Perry Mason's secretary was Della Street.
His PI, Paul Drake, always strode into the room and said to her, "Hello, beautiful."
Call me old fashioned, but I love that.

Sandy Smith said...

Debby, I have to say that I am not really a fan of Amish fiction. I have read some and enjoyed the stories, but it really isn't as appealing to me. I might have to try your Amish suspense, though. That would be different.

As for a darker view of the Amish religion, one of the series by Beverly Lewis portrays a pretty dark view in my opinion. In that series, the Amish were forbidden from reading the Bible on their own without guidance by the Bishop and were told there was no salvation from a personal relationship with Christ. That goes against the basic belief of Christians, so I found that series to be disturbing. However, the light hearted romances are different.

Thanks for an interesting post. I had wondered why there was so much interest in Amish fiction.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Boo,
I'm not sure anyone truly understands the genre's success...except for what's been mentioned here. That simpler way of life, family and faith values, no attachment to technology. I'm just glad folks like the stories! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Shelley, your Pinecraft event must have been wonderful! Do you meet readers at a different destination each year? I'll check your website!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, let's meet for lunch at Der Dutchmen this winter. Anyone else in?

Debby Giusti said...

Connie...I was close. Della instead of Stella. Too funny.

I remember the PI...he was the star in Mission Impossible, right?

Although I forget his name.

Linda Moffitt said...

I Love Amish Books they are clean reads and yours looks Great. Thanks for sharing with us and for the chance to win. My email is iamabho (at) gmail (dot) com

Debby Giusti said...

Sandy, interesting about Beverly's stories. I think she's very authentic, at least The Shunning seemed to be.

Debby Giusti said...

Linda, thanks for stopping by Seekerville. You're in the drawings!

Tell us a little about yourself!

Audra Harders said...

Debby, thank you for explaining the Amish fascination phenomenon. It's exciting to see such a huge readership interest in the plain and simple life. So many distractions compete for our attention making, at times it makes us forget what's important in life.

I'm thrilled with your Amish success! Your military stories are stellar; I can't imagine your Amish books being any less.

You go, girlfriend!

Cate Nolan said...

Hello again, Seekerville. I can add to the faceless dolls discussion because I just read something about that in my research.

From the book, The Amish Way, "The church considers photographs and drawings of human faces taboo, a violation of the Second Commandment's prohibition of idols known as graven images (Exodus 20:4)." This was written in explanation of why a particular artist always makes her drawings and dolls faceless.

Jackie said...

Hey Debby,

I wondered why they could have electricity in the barn but not the house. Thanks for explaining.

We've shopped at a couple of Amish General Stores about thirty minutes away. They only turn the lights on if they have a customer. When no customers, they are working on chores in the home or yard.

We used to visit an Amish bakery in Crab Orchard. It was amazing! (It's not on our diet anymore.)

I've enjoyed your post and all the comments today!

Debby Giusti said...

Sending hugs, Audra! Miss seeing you online. I know you're so busy!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Cate. The faceless dolls have been tossed around a lot today. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, you must have a number of Amish communities near you. Interesting.

Julie Lessman said...

DEBBY!!! Plain Danger hit # 5 on the Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers list???!!!! WOW, WOW, WOW, girlfriend -- why didn't you mention this before? I would have shouted it from the rooftops!!

I fall in line with both Marianne and Ruthy, I'm afraid, as I am not a fan of Amish fiction, ALTHOUGH I am writing this comment as I am watching Hallmark's The Reckoning, so it must have some draw for me. :)

Obviously as romantically passionate as my books are, they are on the opposite side of the spectrum from Amish fiction, so you can imagine my total shock when Waterbrook Multnomah asked me to endorse Cindy Woodsmall a few years ago. COME AGAIN??? But I said yes, read Cindy's book, and absolutely LOVED it, so I think it's the idea of a too-simple life that may be keeping me away. You see, I like LOTS of complicated passion, drama, and angst in my books, and I guess I don't expect to find that in the more simple life presented in Amish novels. Although I wouldn't really know, I suppose, because like I said, I don't generally read Amish! But ... I'm thinking I need to read yours for sure!

Funny story. Right after I wrote The Daughters of Boston series, I was talking to my editor in a hotel lobby, and she leans across the coffee table and says, "Julie, can you write Amish?" I remember blinking at her several times because this was the same woman who jokingly told me to "get 'em out of bed, Julie, get 'em out of bed" when I had the fully clothed hero comforting the fully clothed bedridden heroine sitting up in a bed with a blanket propped between them. "I don't know," I said in surprise after she asked the question, "is there such a thing as edgy Amish?" Now I'm kicking myself because I'm thinking I would have sold a WHOLE lot more books ... ;)

Fun post, Deb!


Jackie said...

#5!!! Debby, congratulations! That is so great! I'm so glad Julie announced it! Whoohoo!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Linda Moffitt !!! Welcome to Seekerville.

Writer or reader??

Debby Giusti said...

Julie, you could have started a new sub-genre...edgy Amish!

Debby Giusti said...

Thank you, Jackie. :)

bonton said...

Such an interesting post, Debby - thank you!! Although Amish isn't my favorite genre, I do read it. I've always loved the Amish for their simplicity, convictions, hard-work, and skills in crafting, baking, woodworking, etc.. I've toured Amish communities in Indiana and Pennsylvania - buying from their roadside stands, eating in their homes, touring their farms in horse-drawn wagons, etc..

Congrats on your success with 'Plain Danger' - please drop my name in the giveaway drawing!! Thank you so much!!

Chill N said...

Oh my gosh, Debby, congratulations on Plain Danger hitting # 5 on the Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers list! Applause, applause!

Nancy C

Debby Giusti said...

Bonnie, sounds as if you've had a lot of Amish experiences. I was able to visit an Amish home in Ethridge. Would love to go inside more of them. The simple way they live fascinates me.

You're in the drawings!!!


Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Nancy! You're so kind! Hugs!

J.E.B. Spredemann said...

Wow! This seems to be a popular post, Debby.
My journey into Amish fiction began with reading. I'll admit that, at first, Amish fiction didn't appeal much to me. When I finally took the plunge, wow! I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. I read book after book of many different authors and then I began doing my own research to see if the books were true and accurate. To make a long story not as long as it could be, LOL, I ended up coming up with all kinds of ideas and writing my own brand of Amish fiction. I call it 'Different' Amish Fiction because I tackle some pretty difficult subjects (and different stories like Amish-themed fairy tales) that I hadn't previously read about from other authors. I also have a strong faith element in my books, so I don't know if my writing would ever fit Love Inspired's mold. I love writing, though.
My hubby grew up Mennonite, and there's quite a connection between them and the Amish. The Amish branched off from the Mennonites originally.
My writing journey was monumental in moving our family across the country, from California to Indiana. Little did I know, when I started writing, that I would end up living next door to an Amish bishop, former Amish members would be some our closest friends, we would regularly attend dinners at Amish schoolhouses, my hubby would drive for the Amish and work alongside them daily, or that an Amish documentary (Breaking the Silence) would be filmed in my house. Talk about immersion! I have a pretty wild imagination, but I never could have dreamed this stuff up! God is good. :)
A note about the different Amish groups: the Amish vary WIDELY. There are hundreds of different groups and each one makes their own rules/guidelines which are constantly changing. As far as their faith goes, that varies with different groups as well. As I have learned from personal testimonies, many Amish never hear a clear plan of salvation. The majority teach what most other religions do, that you have to 'work' your way to Heaven. The only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. This is why groups like MAP (Mission to Amish People) exist. Former Amish, who have found a relationship with Jesus, desire to see their loved ones saved. For those who have a genuine interest in Amish culture, I highly recommend attending an Amish Awareness Conference. The next one will be held in October in Lancaster County, PA.
J. Spredemann

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jennifer Spredemann! So glad to have you in Seekerville.

Thanks for all this information. WOWW!!!

jubileewriter said...

I've read a few Amish fiction and enjoyed them to a point. My own experience getting to know the Amish was considerably different than these stories. But fiction is allowed to do that. So I read Amish fiction sparingly with a little suspended belief on the side.

Jill Kemerer said...

Love this post, Debby! Your insight that readers like "home and hearth" resonated with me. Congrats on the bestseller list!!

I don't see myself writing Amish, but my dad worked with them many times when I was growing up. He always jokingly (or half!) said I should marry one of the sons! My mom assured him it wouldn't be a good match!

Julie Lessman said...

LOL, Debby ... Keith thought so too. He wanted me to make Charity an Amish vampire since both were pretty hot at the time ... ;)


Missy Tippens said...

J. Spredemann, that's so exciting about your writing journey! Thanks for sharing with us and for dropping by today!

Edwina said...


I think Amish fiction is so fascinating because it is so opposite of the way we live today. We are always rushing from one meeting to the next, from one child's activity to the next one and we never slow down, much less stop and take time to really focus on what's important. Amish life is at such a slower pace than our lives and I think, perhaps even subconsciously, we long for a slower life - but just don't know how to get there.

Thanks for an insightful post!

Kim hansen said...

For me it's just a break from the crazy world we live in. To read about a more simple life.

Debby Giusti said...

J, what you wrote was all so fascinating. I tried to friend you on FB, but couldn't find you. Would love to keep in touch.

Looks like you write YA! Wonderful. Will check Amazon for your books.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks to all who stopped by after I headed to bed. You ladies stay up late! :)

Jubilee, I'm amazed how many folks stopped by today who have first-hand experience with the Amish. So glad you left a comment!

Jill, always great to see you!

Edwina, don't we all long for a slower pace. Life moves so quickly these days. :) Hope all is well with you and yours!

Kim, I so agree! The world can be crazy at times. Glad you enjoy Amish stories.

J.E.B. Spredemann said...

Hello, Tina. It's great to be here. I've read the blog a few times but I think this may be the first time I've jumped in. I could have written so much more, but I didn't want to hog the blog. LOL!

Hi, Missy. Yes, it's been one exciting ride! Happy to be here. :)

Yes, Debby! I was up way past my bedtime. If there are any typos, I'll blame it on the hour. ;)
My author page on Facebook is J.E.B. Spredemann, but my personal page is under Jennifer Spredemann. Do keep in touch!
When I began writing, I wrote YA with my then teen daughters, hence the name J.E.B. We have a series of eight novellas called the Amish Girls Series which deals specifically with teen issues. My Amish Secrets series tackles some difficult subjects, so I would classify those books more as women's fiction. I hope that clarifies.

J. Spredemann

Diana Flowers said...

I love Amish books bc even though they are a hard-working people, they live a more simple slower pace of life than we do. I started with Bev Lewis years ago and now I read as many as I can. Cindy Woodsmall, Shelley S. Gray, and Suzanne W. Fisher to name a few! I HAVE to read Debby's or I'll burst! I saw it another blog and started salivating. Lol


Diana Flowers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CentralEast2 said...

I enjoy reading Amish fiction. It gives a different view on things.
centraleast2 at gmail dot com

Debby Giusti said...

Diana, thank you!

Connie said...

Hi Debby, thanks for a great post. Our county became home to several families about the time "The Shunning" was published so my initial reason for reading this book was to learn more about them. I was captivated by Beverly Lewis's story and I wanted to read more. I have since become acquainted with these wonderful people and I admire their decision to choose and to remain loyal to this dedicated life. I don't think that I could easily adhere to NO electricity!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Checking in, very late but had to stop by.

Debby, you've hit on the draw very well, as shown by the other ladies you interviewed. Congrats to you and Jan both on your new releases!!!

I read several of Mrs. Lewis' more famous stories, and saw the Hallmark movies as well. (Books are better, but we know this right?!)

We live near Muddy Pond, TN, a Mennonite community and regularly see the men, women and children around town, even in Kroger! They have a slightly different set of rules/standards/values but live very simply and wear similar attire. Very nice people. There's a wonderful store in town where they sell fresh veggies and plants for gardens, along with a deli with delicious soups and sandwiches. Might need to stop in there again soon for lunch, now that I think of it. :)

They installed our metal roof a couple years ago. Beautiful craftsmanship, polite, on time and nary a bit of scrap anywhere. They do their work as unto the Lord, and are proud of it. What a lovely contrast to most workers today.

Interestingly perhaps, about 2 weeks ago, a local shopkeeper who carries my books and plush sort of snapped to and realized she has a client in Pigeon Forge, TN who she thought might like to see the books, perhaps to carry in his bookstore. So we made the plan to take that Saturday and drive over. A few days before we were to leave, she texted and asked if I knew who Beverly Lewis was, that she was having a book signing the very day we were going.

Can you imagine?!

I posted photos on my FB page. Was very glad to meet this gracious lady, who is incidentally according to her bio, an accomplished pianist as well. She is on book tour with Bethany House so - wow. Go figure. Great to meet her in person. I ended up purchasing an anthology of middle grade since that's what I write. Might as well study up and learn from a master, yes?

Oh, and the bookstore bought books AND plush. That was a blessing too. We also visited the Titanic Museum and ohmygoodness, we spent 4-1/2 HOURS there, split into 2 sessions. Absolutely fantastic and a must see should you be in the area. It's obvious why it's the #1 attraction in Pigeon Forge according to Trip Advisor. Phenomenal. In case that wasn't blessing enough, the violin belonging to the band leader who went down with the ship was on display for only a few more days so we got to see it too, and the case it was wrapped in. That's a beautiful love story in and of itself...

Alrighty. Just wanted to stop by. Great post and thank you. All the best on your latest release!!

Josephine-Anne Griffiths said...

What a super post. I've never been drawn to Amish books, however I feel that is about to change :-)

Becky Lee said...

I've enjoyed Patricia Davids & Emma Miller's Amish stories for Love Inspired but now that I work with & have Amish friends, I'm finding I'm not enjoying the Amish stories as much. Not sure if it is the difference in the Indiana Amish culture that I know & the Pennsylvania & Ohio Amish cultures where most books are based, but when I read Amish books now I have a feeling that something in the portrayal isn't quite right. I have discovered that my spiritual beliefs as a born again Christian don't quiet match up with the Amish belief of honoring the forefathers & baptism as the way to salvation.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Josephine-Anne! Thanks for stopping by.

Becky Lee, thanks for your thoughts.