Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An Author Chat at the Expo! & a Giveaway!

UPDATE 4/3/09 at 1:45 PM:
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Timestamp: 2009-04-03 18:43:20 UTC

Congrats to mez, winner of Plain Pursuit! Email me your address, and as soon as it arrives, I'll send it on to you!

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One of the authors I had the delight of seeing at the Christian Book Expo is Beth Wiseman (pictured on the right, above, with her publicist). Regular readers of my blog might remember the surprise I had last fall while reading her debut novel, Plain Perfect, to discover the name of my high school; through emails and then meeting at a book signing we discovered that not only did we graduate a year apart - we lived on adjacent streets!

Beth's second book, Plain Pursuit, just became available this week! We grabbed a few minutes to sit down and chat at the Expo.

Tell me about your books that are in the works.

My third book, Plain Promise, comes out in October. And then I’m doing a novella with Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron called An Amish Christmas. This is really fun because we’re each writing an independent story but they have crossover characters. That will release in September in hardcover. And my latest big news is that just [before the Expo] we decided to do a fourth book in the Daughters of the Promise series. It was originally a trilogy, and I’m contracted for six books, but they decided to go ahead and carry over so I’m starting to write the fourth one.

Does it have a title yet?

Not yet, but I’ll give you a hint: it will be Plain something!

Is it hard to keep the ideas flowing?

I don't really have writer's block. I was a reporter and it was so deadline oriented - I don't know if it's that or all the little voices in my head that are constantly going that keep me up at night with all these different stories! I knew I wanted to write from the time I was little. When I was 5 or 6 I remember writing my grandparents little stories. If you've got the bug, it just doesn't go away. And this has just been such a strong calling; it's like the floodgates have been opened.

How were you drawn into the genre of Amish fiction?

I had been pursuing several opportunities and had some possibilities with a secular publisher, but then my her 15-year-old son got sick -- really sick with a havoc-wreaking tumor on his adrenal gland, and we spent a very long time in Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, in ICU and everything. It was terrible. He was on every prayer list across the country. I’ve always been a spiritual person, but something changed for me when he was in the hospital. When you think your child might die, you pray a whole different way. I’d always had a good relationship with God, but something changed.

He was sent home for 3 months, on 39 pills a day at first, while they waited for the tumor to grow large enough to operate. He was mainly sleeping so I decided to start writing just to keep from going crazy. My agent suggested that I might have a voice for Christian fiction, specifically the Amish. I developed close relationships with and visited several Amish families during this time. These families (some of which are Old Order Amish) have shared their recipes with me, answered questions, and read my manuscripts to ensure the authenticity. And they read all my books before they're published. (It is so important to me and to my Amish friends that the books are authentic. I am constantly asking them questions about how they do things and what would happen in different situations.) And Thomas Nelson Publishers bought it (Plain Perfect).

We celebrated and life was great, but we had this huge larger issue hanging over us with my son. When we went back to the hospital, all the teams got together and the head doctor from the Renal Department came in and we asked him if the tumor was big enough to operate. And he told us that it was GONE. I still have trouble talking about that one! I kept asking “What happened to it?” His answer was "We don’t have any kind of explanation." And my son is fine!

Wow what a miracle! . . .Do your books have a message?

I think there are an awful lot of people that are misdirected in their efforts to find the peacefulness that they are seeking and there’s always at least one character in my books that is searching for that calm, that peace that you only get from a one-on-one relationship with God – and they are looking in the wrong places. So my books take the character through a spiritual journey where they come to realize that the only way to that peace is through a relationship with God.”

I want my girl to read your books! They are so good and don’t even have any of the implied stuff that some of the other Amish books have – those things are fine if you’re married, but not if you are a young teen and not even interested in boys!

What is cool is I have gotten emails from 14-year-olds and 80-year-olds. Women have written me and said my daughter read your book and my mother read your book – generations are reading them!

Beth has recipes, photos and other fun facts on her website, and she keeps folks updated and has giveaways on her blog. She also contributes, along with authors Barbara Cameron, Amy Clipston, and Kathy Fuller, to the Amish Hearts blog.

It's plain to see that Beth is an absolute delight! I look forward to reading more of her work and getting to know her better.


A copy of Plain Pursuit is on its way to me to give away to one of you!! To enter, leave a comment on this post by Friday at 12:00 noon CDT and I'll draw a name. Be sure to provide an email address if you don't have a blog so I can contact you. Continental US residents only, please.

Happy Reading!


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Skoots1moM said...

fun...sounds good...add me to the pile!

Robin said...

Great interview. Add me in, too!

Merry said...

Praise the Lord for His miracles! I would love a chance to win, add me please.

Carole said...

I'm a fan of Amish fiction who thinks it's great to see a new author in this field. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of Beth's book.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Cackleberry Homestead said...

This sounds really good, please add me.

Unknown said...

You've got me interested in the Amish fiction books!

She'll go on my need to check out list:-)