What was your favorite part about writing Their Pretend Amish Courtship?
My favorite part of writing Their Pretend Amish Courtship was coming up with the dialogue between Fannie and Noah when they were sniping at each other. I’d write the scene and then come back to tweak it over and over again until I got just the right amount of tension or humor. I had a lot of fun with them.
How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I normally spend about a month researching before I start writing but I continue to research through the entire writing process. I know a lot about the Amish culture but I’m always learning something new.
What are the traits you admire most in Fannie and Noah?
I have to say it was their youth. Oh, to be that young again. They weren’t the most mature characters to start out with and that made them fun to write, but they both underwent an emotional growth process that allowed them to discover real love.
How long does it typically take for you to write a book?
I will normally write a 55,000-word manuscript in three months after a month of research.
What is your favorite thing about writing romance?
I love everything about writing romance except…writing. I love the birth of an idea that morphs into a story and then finding the perfect characters to tell that story. I love making things turn out right for a wonderful couple. I just hate spelling it out word by word as I struggle to take my ideas and turn them into something that makes sense to anyone who reads it. Writing for me is hard, tedious work.
How many books have you written? Is there one that you would consider your favorite?
I have 32 completed manuscripts including the one I’m about to finish this week. Do I have a favorite? Yes. Two of them. The Amish Midwife is the Amish book I like best because my family and friends helped so much with my research for it. My other favorite is a western historical romance I wrote years ago that has never found a home. I happen to think it's my best work.
What are a few of your favorite books? Do you have any recommendations?
Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer is one of my all-time favorite books. Walking After Midnight by Karen Robards is another and if you haven’t read The Life of Pi you should.
What book are you currently reading right now?
I hesitate to say this but I’m not much of a reader. I know. Shocker! I used to be a voracious reader. I would read two or three books a week. Now, I read mainly for research. Once in a while I’ll read something a friend recommends. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was one I recently finished and enjoyed.
Do you have any tips for people suffering from writer’s block?
Until two years ago I didn’t believe in writer’s block. I thought it was a cop-out used by writers without the determination it takes to slog through to the end. I’m a stubborn person who likes to finish what I start. But after losing my mother and becoming the caregiver for my ill father and then suffering my own health crisis, I ran out of things to write about. Somehow, the creative part of my brain that loves to make up stories just stopped working. I couldn’t come up with a plot to save my soul. I had to take a break. I didn’t write for six months. I was fortunate that my publisher understood and supported me until I found my voice again. My advice is to let go of the guilt of not writing and take care of yourself. When you are in a good place, the voices come back.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I love new writers because they are filled with enthusiasm. They have the desire but they don’t always have the skill. My main advice is to learn the craft. Dissect books you love to see how the author evokes emotions in the characters and in the reader. Study the pacing of the story. Where and how does it rush you along and where and how does it make you dwell in the moment. A new writer must embrace constructive criticism. It’ a hard lesson but it’s a valuable one. Every story can be improved. Finally, never ever give up believing that you will achieve your dream.