Cindy Woodsmall


I'm so glad you decided to stop by my website. I never imagined when my first book was published in 2006 that connecting with readers would become my favorite part of writing. I hope you'll take a relaxing breath and a sip of your favorite drink, then spend some time getting to know my books and me. And I'd be pleased if you'd connect with me so I can get to know you as well.

Plain Talk Blog: News & More

Featured Posts:

Pre-release sales on Yesterday’s Gone and Giveaway!

Hello readers! My new book, Yesterday’s Gone releases at the end of this month on August 30! I’m so thrilled for you all to meet Eliza, Jesse, Ruth, Andrew, and their entire community. Here’s a link for more information on the book. My publisher sent me some pre-release sales happening for Yesterday’s Gone, and I want to… Read more »

Yesterday’s Gone Releases August 30, 2022!

Hello Friends,   I’m so excited to share that I have another book releasing on August 30!   I’ve always loved the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. That “what if?” question is part of the inspiration behind my new book.   Eliza Bontrager Ebersol waited years to marry her sweetheart, Jesse. But their joy turns… Read more »

The Christmas Remedy is now available!

I’m so excited to share this special Amish Christmas novella with my readers! Although it’s our third chronological release, this is the first story that Erin and I wrote together. It has a lot of heart and plenty of Christmas cheer! I hope you’ll join me in visiting quaint Greene’s Pharmacy in Amish country. 🙂 … Read more »

Recent Posts:

Fun Giveaway for “The Gift of Christmas Past”

Hello, Readers! Writing The Gift of Christmas Past was a life-changing experience in many ways. And since it is coauthored with my daughter-in-law Erin, I thought you might enjoy it if I shared some of the links to our ongoing blog tour. Each blog tour stop has a different post, with new questions and answers or an… Read more »

The Gift of Christmas Past Release Giveaway

Hello, Readers, I am so excited to share with you that my Southern Romance Christmas novella, The Gift of Christmas Past, is now available in stores and online! This story is very special to me and was so much fun to research and write. Last winter and spring, Erin and I went to Asheville, North Carolina twice. We… Read more »

Fun Giveaway from WaterBrook & Multnomah

I wanted to share with my blog readers a fun giveaway from my publisher, WaterBrook & Multnomah. They are giving away a full set of my latest series, The Amish of Summer Grove, as well as an “Out of Print” brand tote, mug, and bookish scarf. Hop over to their giveaway page to enter:

Giveaway! Release day for “Gathering the Threads!”

Gathering the Threads, the third and final book in the Amish of Summer Grove series, releases TODAY!  To view the series on Amazon, click HERE. Amish of Summer Grove series Book one is Ties That Bind  Won Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award Romantic Times gave it four stars Made several national, top-tier best-selling lists To read Chapter one… Read more »

Twelve Months of Blue Skies ~ Month Five and Giveaway

  Winner-Betty The pile of dirty dishes is mocking me from its home in the sink. A handle to a spoon is sticking out, as if waving and saying, “Hi, I’m still here!” I sigh. Fifteen years ago I washed dishes as needed throughout the day and for a last time before heading to bed. When I… Read more »

Twelve Months of Blue Skies Month Four and Giveaway

Winner- Kathy The Tide I recently went on a week-long trip to the Georgia coast with my middle son, daughter-in-law, and three of my grandchildren.   It’s hard to get a picture of the vastness of the sand and water. We stayed on East Beach on St. Simon’s Island, where more and more sand is… Read more »

Twelve Months of Blue Skies ~ Month One and Giveaway

Blue skies, smilin’ at me Nothin’ but blues skies do I see Bluebirds singing a song Nothin’ but bluebirds all day long Never saw the sun shinin’ so bright Never saw things lookin’ so right Noticin’ the days hurryin’ by When you’re in love, my how they fly Blue days, all of them gone Nothin’… Read more »

Silas is Born and It is Well ~ Guest Post with Giveaway

Update: The winner of the hardback, large print copy of The Angel of Forest Hills and The Four Seasons of Lancaster County 2017 Calendar is Pat of Orange Port, Florida. Congratulations, Pat!  This is a guest post by Erin Woodsmall, Cindy’s daughter-in-law. Like many people, when I enter the New Year, I often look back on the… Read more »

Dogs I Have Loved ~ Dog Cookie Recipe and Giveaway

**Updates: We received this link from a reader with ELEVEN awesome recipes! Check it out by clicking the image below, as there may be an even better recipe for your dog’s specific dietary needs. All the recipes look easy and fun.  The winner of the autographed copies of The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, The… Read more »

Raising Awareness in October (and a giveaway)

  Winner – Traci     October is “awareness month” for many important things: breast cancer, liver cancer, Down syndrome, pregnancy and infant loss, and domestic violence are just a few that I know about. But I want to talk about a cause that has affected our family personally in the past year: dwarfism (also… Read more »

Three Places I’d Like to Be ~ Annual Quilt Giveaway

Update: We have a winner of an autographed copy of “The Angel of Forest Hill” and of the Amish-made quilt. Congrats to Donna K of North Carolina! And to all of you . . . thank you so much for participating. I wish I had time to respond to every post, both here on my… Read more »

Little Cooks in the Kitchen ~ Recipe and Christmas Novella Giveaway

*Winners of the giveaway are Louise start of e-mail address is edl…) and Juanita (start of e-mail address is ser…). Ladies, you should’ve received an e-mail from me already. I look forward to hearing from you soon. ♥           Mixing chocolate, cream cheese, and other ingredients into a bowl, Rose breathed… Read more »

Giveaway. Release Day for “Fraying at the Edge”

*THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the giveaway and helped to get the word out about the release of Fraying at the Edge.  Congratulations to Alison of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania! She’s our winner of the giveaway. She’s won an autographed copy of Ties That Bind and Fraying at the Edge as well as an… Read more »

A Late Start to a New Beginning

A month ago, we entered a new year.   The wonderful thing about beginning a new year is that we put certain events of the past year in a file inside our minds and hearts—whether the events were cherished or ones that will always hurt and haunt us—and we set out afresh with new hopes,… Read more »

Amish Christmas at North Star Giveaway!

Hello, Reader Friends ~ I’m so excited to share with you about a latest release–Amish Christmas at North Star. It’s my first fiction compilation book and it’s now out! It was an honor to write on this heartwarming collection of short stories with four wonderful authors: Mindy Starns Clark with her daughter Emily Clark, Amanda Flower, and… Read more »

Ties That Bind and Amish Wall Hanging Giveaway!

The winner of this giveaway was Betty K. of Lexington, South Carolina. Congratulations, Betty. Each new season brings joy and often respite, but it seems by the end of it, we’re ready for the next season. Will Ariana be ready for the next season that will face her?    Ariana’s comfortable Old Order Amish world… Read more »

Ties That Bind Giveaway ~

The winners of this giveaway were: Lori Mason, Martha Burke, Charlene McDonnough, Kristen Lehman, and Christina Rolsma. Although I didn’t get a chance to post the winners name until now, almost the end of October, the winners received their books the middle of September.  THANK YOU to everyone who participated. I’m so excited to let… Read more »

FIVE Book Giveaway for 21 Days of Grace!

Congratulations to our FIVE winners! Thank you to everyone who participated and left wonderful and encouraging comments! You’re the best! Our grand-prize winner is Mary Gail, and she’ll receive five books. Our four other winners will each receive a copy of21 Days of Grace, and they are Kathleen Berman, Alberta Kliem, Emogene Oliver, and Marion! Again, congratulations!… Read more »

Hope Crossing Giveaway

  One sunny spring day, my husband and I were welcomed into the home of an Old Order Amish woman. Her old brick farmhouse was filled with her people, except for my husband and me. They talked among themselves in their “native” language, Pennsylvania Dutch, but when they spoke to us, they used English. The… Read more »

Party, Sharing, and Win an Amish-made Wall Hanging . . .

This giveaway is now closed. THANK YOU to everyone who participated!! Congratulations to Bonnie of Warren, Minnesota! She is the winner of the Amish-made wall hanging and an autographed copy of A Love Undone. Join me TUESDAY for a Facebook party to celebrate the release of A LOVE UNDONE! I’ll chat with you live on… Read more »

Giveaway and a Great Deal

  A Love Undone, releasing September 9, is a fictionalized account taken from some events that happened within the Amish community. It’s a story of good people living by faith and love, but they are also snared by heartache…and temptation.  This novel has been on my mind and heart for a lot of years. The… Read more »

A Love Undone Giveaway

Congratulations to the five winners, each winning a two-book set which includes The Dawn of Christmas and A Love Undone: Joan of South Dakota, Brenda of Mississippi, Donna of South Carolina, June of Texas, and Cheryl of Iowa. *A Love Undone Releases September 9, 2014! My desire to write what I used to call “Andy’s… Read more »

Amish Lifestyle, Food Preparation, and a Giveaway

A couple of questions I’ve fielded numerous times are: why do the Amish use prepackaged foods in their recipes? Don’t they care about their health and that of their families? Is it authentic for a culture as old fashioned as the Amish to cut corners by using prepackaged foods? I’ve talked to several Old Order… Read more »

Beauty from Brokenness by Katie Ganshert

Today’s guest blogger is Katie Ganshert! She’s been a guest here on the blog before, but in case you don’t know her, allow me to introduce Katie. She is a wife, mom, and an award winning author whose first book came out in 2012. She and I share the same wonderful publisher and editor. If… Read more »

Seasons of Tomorrow Release Day Contest!

I’m so excited to announce that the last book in my Amish Vines and Orchards series, Seasons of Tomorrow is out! It is available TODAY in stores and online! Thank you so much to all my readers who have followed Rhoda’s  journey this far, and thank you to the new readers who are just beginning the journey!… Read more »

Giveaway and Celebration!

Seasons of Tomorrow releases NEXT WEEK, Tuesday, April 15! In an early celebration, I’m offering a special giveaway! Romantic Times gave Seasons of Tomorrow four stars: Wonderful fourth installment…sweet characters who will do anything for their family, even if it goes against everything they believe in. SoI’m going to giveaway FOUR copies of Seasons of… Read more »

Amish and Bible Study, and a Giveaway

A question I’m often asked is whether the Old Order Amish are allowed to have private Bible study or group devotionals outside of church. The Amish community is quite diverse throughout the states where Old Order Amish live, so it’s possible there are a few Amish districts who have bishops that do not want their… Read more »

Fun on the Farm by author Katie Ganshert

Dear Readers, I have a treat in store for you. Today’s guest blogger is Katie Ganshert! She’s a wife, mom, and an award winning author whose first book came out in 2012. She and I share the same wonderful publisher and editor. If you’re not familiar with Katie, I think you’ll be grateful to learn… Read more »

Kitchen Tables Part 2 and Four-book Giveaway!

Last week I shared about kitchen tables I’ve had since I was a young married woman. I gave away a set of all four books in the Amish Vines and Orchards series. The winner of that giveaway was Robin of Raleigh, North Carolina. This week’s post is written by Miriam Flaud, my Old Order Amish friend… Read more »

Kitchen Tables, Recipe, and Four-book Giveaway!

Kitchen Tables ~ Almost all of us have some type of kitchen table. I picked out my first kitchen table over thirty-five years ago. As a young married woman with no children, I thought the style and color of the table itself was important. But I learned that many of the best parts of life… Read more »

Dreams by author Cara Putman

Hello, readers! I hope you have enjoyed your Christmas and New Year holidays! This week’s blog is a guest post from writer friend Cara Putman. Cara is the author of 17 Christian fiction books, including her latest Shadowed By Grace, which just released on January 1st! After Cara shares a reflection on dreams and writing,… Read more »

Special Christmas Giveaway!

Update: This giveaway is over. The winners are Gail and Laurie. Congratulations, you have each won a set of Christmas in Apple Ridge hardcover novellas! I hope you are staying warm and safe during this very cold December! For this week’s blog giveaway, I’m going to draw TWO winners, each will receive a three-book set… Read more »

7 Tips for Celebrating Christmas Like the Amish

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Fraulein Adkins. Congratulations, Fraulein, you have won a framed print of an Amish painting from Rachel’s Country Store! It’s December and reminders of Christmas are everywhere! I’m often asked about how the Amish celebrate holidays such as Christmas. A few weeks ago, I shared a post titled… Read more »

Cooking with a Toddler, Soft Pretzel Recipe, and a Giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Catherine Helmick. Congratulations, Catherine, you have won an autographed copy of The Dawn of Christmas and a bar of oatmeal and honey soap! Hello, readers! This is Erin, Cindy’s daughter-in-law. Since she doesn’t have a staff, I try to help her when I can with behind-the-scenes stuff… Read more »

Amish Women and Their Industries ~ excerpt and giveaway

Rachel's Country Store

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Alana Rowden. Congratulations, Alana, you have won an Amish-made fabric bag from Rachel’s Country Store! As the Christmas season approaches, many of us are brainstorming on what to do about gifts for family and friends. Today, I’d like to share with you again about a store that… Read more »

Coffee ~ A story from author Meg Moseley

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Sharon Holweger. Congratulations, Sharon, you have won an autographed copy of Meg Moseley’s book Gone South! Today’s guest post makes me want to take a coffee break! It’s a lovely story from my author friend Meg Moseley about sharing coffee with her daughter. Then afterwards, she is… Read more »

Christmas novella Q&A and Giveaway!

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Jan Metivier. Congratulations, Jan, you have won an autographed copy of each of the Christmas novellas: The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing, and The Dawn of Christmas! For today’s blog post, I wanted to feature a recent Q&A I did about my Christmas novellas. I hope you… Read more »

Autumn memories, a pumpkin recipe, and giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Alecia Marcum. Congratulations, Alecia, you have won an autographed copy of Sherry Gore’s cookbook, Simply Delicious Amish Cooking! Today’s post is by my friend, Sherry Gore. Sherry is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, a charming book that highlights recipes, pictures, and stories from the Amish… Read more »

Oatmeal and Honey Soap Recipe and Book Giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Tina Harris. Congratulations, Tina, you have won an autographed copy of The Dawn of Christmas and a bar of home made soap! I have a special treat for you that I’ve been waiting for a long time to be able to share: a recipe for Oatmeal and… Read more »

Finding Rhythm, Autumn, and a Giveaway

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Therese. Congratulations, Therese, you have won an autographed copy of Plain Wisdom and a copy of The Esh Family Cookbook! This week’s blog has a couple of vignettes from Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It’s my only nonfiction… Read more »

Author Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Favorite Color

Update: This giveaway is over. The winner is Ellen M. Lopes. Congratulations, Ellen, you have won a copy of Kim Vogel Sawyer’s book What Once Was Lost! Dear Readers ~ Last week we heard from one of my author friends, Meg Moseley, and you had a chance to win two of her books. This week… Read more »

Delicious Family Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who participated! This giveaway is now over. The winner is Carmee Ross. Congratulations, Carmee!   In For Every Season, Rhoda gives her best for Kings Orchard Maine to succeed. Even after all my research, I’m no expert at growing apples like Rhoda or my husband’s family, but I definitely enjoy… Read more »

Rachel’s Country Store ~ an Amish dry goods store

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who participated! This giveaway is now over. The winner is Bonnie Roof. Congratulations, Bonnie! A few months ago, I mentioned Rachel’s Country Store in a blog post discussing what makes Amish businesses so successful. Rachel has shared a bit of her story below, and she’s also giving readers a chance… Read more »

For Every Season is Out! Chapter Showcase and GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who participated! This giveaway is now over. The winner is Katrina Fairchild Taylor. Congratulations, Katrina! I’m so excited to announce that my latest book in the Amish Vines and Orchards series, For Every Season is out! It is available TODAY in stores and online! Thank you so much to all my… Read more »

For Every Season Book Trailer and a GIVEAWAY!

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who participated! This giveaway is now over. The winner is Jean Sterzinger. Congratulations, Jean!   I have a book trailer to share with you! If you can believe it, the latest book in the Amish Vines and Orchard Series, For Every Season, is coming out next week, on Tuesday, August… Read more »

Giveaway! Author copies of For Every Season have arrived!

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who participated! This giveaway is now over. The winners are Carol Dodge and Barbara Gauthier. Congratulations, Carol and Barbara! My author copies of For Every Season have arrived! You know what that means, right? Time to have the first of several giveaways! It is hard to believe that the month… Read more »

Amish Lifestyles, a Summertime Recipe, and a Giveaway ~

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who participated! This giveaway is now over. The winner is comment number 76, Wendy Newcomb. Congratulations, Wendy! Today’s post is about Amish lifestyles and the only Amish Mennonite food and lifestyle magazine. The post is by guest blogger Sherry Gore, editor-in-chief of Cooking & Such magazine and author of Simply… Read more »

Noah’s Ark and a Giveaway

Guest blog by Meg Moseley ~ Years ago when my husband and I lived in Michigan, our pastor and his wife introduced us and our children to the fun of birding. Our oldest was the most enthusiastic learner. By age eight, she knew her way around two different field guides to North American birds, and when we took a cross-country trip, she enjoyed keeping a log of the “new” birds we saw.

3 Modern Amish Quilt Designs and Appreciating Life

Facts about the Amish

In the past, Amish quilters used only scraps of material left over from other sewing projects or worn out clothing to create their quilts. For this reason, the colors of the quilts matched the clothes they wore: dark, earthy tones such as green, mauve, blue, and purple. But Amish quilts have changed over the years. Now, it is common for an Amish woman to shop for fabrics specifically for quilts. They will use bright colors and patterns and create eye-catching arrangements.

A Giveaway and Kim Vogel Sawyer on Hope

Kim Vogel Sawyer

Most people know my author tagline is “Gentle stories of hope.” I didn’t come up with that myself–a friend of mine who read each of my unpublished manuscripts (bless her heart!) made the comment, “All of your stories are so gently told, and they all include a strong element of hope.” My heart sang at her comment, because injecting elements of hope was, and continues to be, my goal.

Sherry and Fannie’s Watercress Adventure

Sherry Gore

The entry time for the giveaway is now over. The winner is Shirley Culpepper. Congrats, Shirley! Today’s post is by my friend, Sherry Gore. Sherry is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking, a charming book that highlights recipes, pictures, and stories from the Amish and Mennonite community in Pinecraft, Florida.  ~Cindy Recently, while flipping… Read more »

How to Make Homemade Old-Fashioned Lemonade

Melissa K. Norris

All of us have heard the age-old admission, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Many times we speak these saying without taking the time to really think about what they mean. This past week, my husband and I encountered some difficulty with a vehicle we’d purchased. I think it’s fair to say when money is involved, things can get stressful quickly. Both of us were extremely frustrated and emotions were high. In fact, I found myself repetitively about two breaths away from tears.

How Does Traditional Amish Quilting Differ from Modern Quilting?

Facts about the Amish

Traditional Amish quilting was very practical. Originally, the Amish would only quilt with scraps left over from other sewing projects, such as clothing. For this reason the quilts would often be made of the colors they would wear: blue, green, burgundy, purple, and black. The Amish have one particular quilting tradition that I think is very special. Often, mothers will save scraps from when they made clothes for their children through the years until the child/children are married or are expecting a child of their own.

Interview with Amish Fiction Author Leslie Gould

Adoring Addie

Today’s post is an interview shared by Leslie Gould. Leslie is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller The Amish Midwife (CBA and ECPA), co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. I think you’ll really enjoy reading about her story and her books. At the end of the post, she’s graciously offered to give away a copy of her newest release, Adoring Addie.

The Magical World of Books

Today’s post is by Meg Moseley, a friend of mine who authored When the Sparrows Fall and the newly-released Gone South. She used to write human-interest pieces for a suburban section of the the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and she was a homeschooling mom for a lot of years. She will join us here on my blog regularly,… Read more »

Announcing…A New Page for Lovers of Amish Fiction!

I have SUCH an exciting giveaway for you! I asked some of my author friends who write novels about the Plain community if they’d like to participate in my giveaway, and I received a great response. I have SIXTEEN books to give away! Thanks to the generous authors we all love, I will give four books to four winners! Continue reading to find out more.

A Chance to Win Your Choice of One of My Books

UPDATE: This giveaway is now over. was used to select the winners. Congratulations to Nora Boy, Rachel Waldridge, and Pat Shrader.   Today, I’d like to share a portion of an interview and a book giveaway! The winner will have the chance to choose one of any of my books, including my most recent… Read more »

Grow Your Own Kitchen Herbs and a Giveaway

Melissa K. Norris

UPDATE: This giveaway is now over! Congratulations to Kerri Williams Ruth. Kerri has won a copy of Pioneering Today–Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way, by Melissa K. Norris.   This week’s post is from blogger and author, Melissa K. Norris. She’ll give some great pointers on how to grow your own kitchen herbs, even if… Read more »

Contest and The Winnowing Season is Now Available!

The Winnowing Season

The Winnowing Season is now available! I’m offering a giveaway of an Amish-made wall hanging and an autographed copy of The Winnowing Season. All you have to do to enter is share about my new release on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, your blog, or leave a review on any number of places where books are sold! Continue reading to find out more.

What Makes Amish Small Businesses so Successful?

Facts about the Amish

Last week, I posted about the different types of heating stoves the Amish use to keep their homes warm through the winter. In The Winnowing Season, Rhoda is excited to rebuild her canning business in the new Amish settlement in Maine. After researching how the Amish start and run a business compared to how we as non-Amish start and run a small business, I’ve seen a pattern that at times gives them the upper hand in becoming a success and hanging on to it. At other times those Amish ways work against them—at least for a season.

Amish Home Fires and a Giveaway

Facts about the Amish

While visiting an Amish friend one winter, I woke to the gentle creaking of old wooden steps, and I knew my dear friend was on her way to the cellar to add wood to the stove. Her husband was on a three-day hunt, and while he’s gone she’s diligent about maintaining the wood stove so her family stays warm throughout the night and no one shivers when crawling out of bed in the morning.

Homemade Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts

Melissa K. Norris

UPDATE: This giveaway is now over. Congratulations to Nancy Cashwell, the winner of an autographed copy of A Season for Tending.    Today’s post was written by Melissa K. Norris. Melissa will be posting here once every other month. She’ll share recipes, tutorials, etc. that reflect the Amish lifestyle for those of us who still live… Read more »

How Do the Amish Find a Spouse?

Facts about the Amish

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought a post about how the Amish find a spouse would be a nice topic. Amish typically get married around twenty to twenty-two years of age, but how did they find romance inside their conservative culture? For generations the parents have had traditions in place to help the next generation find their mate.

Words of Faith and Encouragement


Below is an entry written by Lee Hough: believer, fighter of cancer, and literary agent. Lee is among that select group of American literary agents to have three collaborative books simultaneously on the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. Two of which are Heaven Is for Real and Same Kind of Different As Me. He is an agent for Alive Communications. His words touched my heart, and I wanted to share them with you.

When Amish Children Get Bored

From Miriam Flaud: Like passing plates of steaming meat and vegetables at the dinner table, we often pass stories around during mealtime. Since our oldest boys are married with homes of their own, we rarely have the whole family here for a meal, but when we do, it seems that the conversation is the main course…

9 Ways to Fight and 15 Books to Give Away

9 Ways to Fight Writer’s Block
Today, I’d like to answer a question asked by one of my reader friends.
She asked: “How do the ideas keep flowing once you have started your book?”
My answer: I actually have an arsenal of ways to keep a story going. But let me begin with what doesn’t help: banging my head against a wall and wailing, “What happens next?” That only leaves me with a headache, and it’s much harder to think with my head pounding.

Beef, Biscuits, Blessings, and Babies!

Sherry Gore

Today’s post is by a Plain Mennonite friend Sherry Gore. She’s going to share a story of some exciting recent events in her life, as well as an article and a recipe from her magazine, Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living. Read more for a chance to win a copy of Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living magazine!

How Do the Amish Celebrate the New Year?

Facts about the Amish

Now that our many holiday traditions and celebrations are behind us for a while, I thought I’d share a few things with you about how the Amish bring in the New Year. Last week, I shared a bit about the foods that cultures such as the South, the Mediterranean, and the Spanish eat on New Year’s Day. The Pennsylvania Dutch have a unique New Year’s tradition, as well. They enjoy a meal of pork and sauerkraut each New Year’s Day.

The Greatest Gift We Can Give

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 If we were to meet at a café for coffee and begin a conversation about all Christmas means, we’d have a long and encouraging discussion…. Read more »

A Pioneer Christmas

Melissa K. Norris

One thing we can implement from the pioneers this Christmas season is the art of giving homemade presents. I love receiving a homemade gift. It shows me that the person values me enough to take the effort and time to create something special just for me. A lot of homemade gifts require some crafting or cooking skills like crocheted flower headbands or non-alcohol mint extract, but I wanted to give you a recipe that anyone can follow and have turn out great.

Do the Amish Celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Facts about the Amish

Thanksgiving and Christmas is a special time for Christians and is usually anticipated with great excitement. Since we know how most Christians celebrate these holidays, I thought I’d share what some of my Old Order Amish friends have told me about their traditions. Thanksgiving is a simple time and primarily an excuse for families to… Read more »

Christmas in Apple Ridge trailer and giveaway!

The Amish community of Apple Ridge is a place to discover anew that even though life doesn’t always look the way you might expect and pain can’t help but color our actions…love may just be around the corner, just in time for Christmas! Read more to watch my new book trailer and to enter a giveaway for a chance to win an autographed copy!

How to Make Homemade Applesauce and a Giveaway

Melissa K. Norris

We have a guest blogger today: Melissa Norris. She’s prepared a tutorial on how to make your own homemade applesauce, as well as a fun idea and recipe on how to turn it into a homemade Christmas gift! Be sure to read to the end of the post for a special offer just for my readers and a chance to win Melissa’s book, Pioneering Today–Faith and Home the Old Fashioned Way.

Autumn in Pinecraft

Sherry Gore

When you hear the word autumn, you probably don’t envision Gulf breezes, palm trees, and hibiscus flowers in full bloom. But even in my tropical village of Pinecraft (in the heart of Sarasota, Florida), autumn is as distinct a season as it is for folks in the north. While we don’t have the spectacular changing colors on the trees or a crispness to the air that people enjoy elsewhere in the country, there are other telltale signs of fall.

Share your thoughts for a chance to win!

I would like to thank some of my most loyal supporters: all of the wonderful book reviewers and bloggers who have reviewed my books over the years! Today, I am offering a giveaway to encourage more of you to join in sharing your thoughts about my latest book. And the more readers who participate, the more books I’ll give away! To enter, simply provide a link to an honest review posted on any retailer website or your personal blog. Read more to find out the details.

Recollections from My Childhood

When I was a child, my mom or dad put the food on my plate, and all of it had to be eaten before I could leave the table. I gagged my way through many a meal, was sent to my room during mealtime, and often ended up sitting at the table by myself while everyone else went to watch television. The upside is that I learned to eat foods I didn’t like. The downside is that I still hate most of those same foods.

What Does an Amish Bride Wear on Her Wedding Day?

Facts about the Amish

I’ve received some great questions, and today I want to address a couple of them. I will discuss what an Amish bride wears on her wedding day and what language the Amish speak. I am also offering an exciting giveaway of an advanced reader copy of my newest book, A Season for Tending (the first book in my new series)!

A Celebratory Giveaway ~ Take Two

My sincere apologies to those who did not receive notice about the chance to win my two fall releases —A Season for Tending and The Dawn of Christmas—until after the winners had been pulled. Thank you so much for your excitement about the giveaway and for contacting me about the problem! We had numerous little glitches last week with the new site, so, to be fair to everyone, I’m running a fresh contest this week with those same items. Read on for more information!

An exciting contest celebrating the release of A Season for Tending!

I’m hosting an exciting giveaway that will last now through the release of A Season for Tending! Two winners will receive autographed copies of A Season for Tending and one grand prize winner will receive an autographed copy of A Season for Tending AND a beautiful wall hanging! Read more to learn how to enter.

For the Love of a German Shepherd…In Lancaster County

I have something VERY special to share with you today. I am so excited to have a post written by one of my readers! I know you will enjoy this touching story about one couple’s experience in Lancaster County. After Judy shares her event, I’ll tell you how it connects with A Season for Tending (book one in my new series).

Welcome to my new website!

I have an all-new look for my website, and we’ve designed it with you in mind! Read more about some of the changes to my site and enter for a chance to be one of TWO winners of both of my soon-to-be-released books, A Season for Tending and Christmas in Apple Ridge!

Let’s Go on a Picnic!

What inspires you to have a picnic? Perhaps it’s the warm weather that motivates you to grab a glass of lemonade and a sandwich and head outside. Any meal eaten outside can be done in picnic fashion. As a little Amish girl, I loved to take my lunch and sit on the front steps of the old farmhouse where I grew up.

Why the Amish and the Mennonites Moved to America ~

Facts about the Amish

Today, I will continue the story of the Amish beginnings by explaining why they immigrated to America. As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, the Mennonites came from the Anabaptist movement in Switzerland. The Amish then split off from the Mennonites over concerns on how strict the rules for living and discipline should be. Jakob Ammann led the split to a more conservative lifestyle, and in so doing, began the Amish.

Hot Buttons: Go ahead and press them!!

Hot Buttons Dating Edition

I have something a little different for you today. Instead of our traditional family-favorite recipe post for the first Monday of the month, I’d like to share a different type of recipe with you, the kind that helps equip and guide teenagers through life’s difficult choices. Nicole O’Dell is my guest on my blog today, and she would like to tell you all about this recipe and how it relates to her new book series.

My Father’s Legacy and a Giveaway

Cooking & Such Summer issue

Today’s post is written by my Amish-Mennonite friend Sherry Gore. She will share a story of the memories she has of her father and a recipe for his favorite dessert–strawberry shortcake. I am also giving away a copy of the summer issue of Sherry’s beautiful magazine, Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living. Read more to find out how to enter.

Why the Amish Dress the Way They Do ~

Facts about the Amish

Today I’m going to talk a bit about what the Amish wear and why they choose to dress the way they do. The topic of Amish clothing can be a complicated one. As we’ve discussed before, Plain Amish and Mennonites come from many different sects. Each group has its own patterns and however slight those differences may appear to us, I’ve witnessed time and again how those slight changes in style or fabric are very distinguishing to them. But the similarities can make it difficult to generalize on this topic, so bear in mind that what’s true of the clothing for one group may not be true of another.

Recipes for Friendship & a Recipe Swap ~

Recipe box

It’s Amish recipe time again! I would love it if you’d post a favorite recipe in the comments segment and so would the thousands of recipe lovers who’ll stop by this blog throughout the week. But you don’t have to post a recipe to enter this week’s giveaway. All you need to do is leave a comment so I know you’re interested in participating.

Cooking & Such and a giveaway

My friend Sherry Gore is the editor-in-chief for a wonderful new magazine called Cooking & Such: Adventures in Plain Living. Today, Sherry has shared with us an excerpt from her magazine and a wonderful recipe. In addition, I am very excited to be giving away a year’s subscription to this beautiful magazine that I know you will love as much as I do! Keep reading to find out more.

Changes coming ~

To me, reader friends are the best part of writing for a living! I don’t say that lightly. When I began writing, I hadn’t expected reader friends to move into my heart as you have. I’ve come to love, cherish, and honor you and your thoughts.

With you in mind, I’m making a few changes to how this Plain Talk Blog works.

Home for the Holidays by Susan Meissner

Home for the Holidays and giveaway. Read more to enter!

by Susan Meissner, author of A Sound Among the Trees

Home for the Holidays

Christmas has a way of beckoning us home, doesn’t it? We long for our loved ones to be seated at our holiday tables, gathered cozy in our festive living rooms, and posing for family photos at the blazing hearth. Expectations can be high and disappointments can run deep when what we want – everyone home for Christmas – isn’t what we have. We want to be home and we want everyone we love to be home with us.

Thanksgiving and a chance to win a cookbook!

Cooking & Such by Sherry Gore

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Update: There were over two hundred wonderful participants in this “Win a copy of Taste of Pinecraft by Sherry Gore.” The winner is Sandra Stover! Congratulations, Sandra!


The screen door slams for what seems like the hundredth time as my children brush past the blooming yellow mums, dashing in and out, hopeful for a little taste of something tantalizing from my kitchen.

Later, tummies are stuffed with turkey and trimmings, and the children’s play has wound down to a slower pace. They’ve gathered on the braided-rug-covered floor, taking turns playing checkers, toy cars, and Dutch Blitz. The aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with creamy pumpkin filling wafts through the air as the oven timer signals the pie has baked to perfection.

Reflecting on Thanksgivings past in my home when my children were small fills me with a joy that warms my heart.

As the seasons of the year change, so do circumstances in our lives, especially as we grow older. Some changes are greeted with anticipation and are welcomed, like when our children fall in love and marry, or when a pink or blue blanket gets knitted in celebration for a little one on the way. Other changes are not so welcome and come unexpectedly, such as sickness or even the loss of a loved one.

Win a copy of The Christmas Singing and an Amish-made wall hanging!

UPDATE: There were over four hundred wonderful participants in this “Win a copy of The Christmas Singing and an Amish-made wall hanging” giveaway. Thank you to everyone who helped make this book-launch giveaway so much fun! I used to choose a number, and the winner is Mary Weed! Congratulations, Mary!

The Christmas Singing hits store shelves  October 4!

The Christmas Singing

Three years ago, at Christmastime, Mattie Eash’s life was everything she could hope for. That is, until her childhood sweetheart, Gideon, betrayed her.

Another impromptu book signing ~

This book signing will be at a dry goods store belonging to an Old Order Amish friend. She asked if I could squeeze in a signing during my visit, and of course I said yes. :-)!

I had a marvelous time at LifeWay in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. And I want to thank Justin, the manager on duty that day, for working so hard to make every part of the signing and media event run smoothly! He did a fabulous job!

An Invitation

I’m boarding a plane today for Pennsylvania. Mostly this trip is for spending time with my Amish friends, doing research for my next series, and to be available for a media event. But once there, I’ll have one book signing.

Friday, September 2, 10 to 11 a.m.
LifeWay Christian Store
1108 Sheller Avenue #1
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Phone: 717-264-7775

A tidbit about Amish life

Facts about the Amish

Back by popular demand . . . A tidbit about Amish life ~ The Old Order Amish meet for church service every other Sunday. They refer to the non-church Sundays as “between Sundays.” Since they don’t have a church building, the meeting place is rotated among members of their district. With approximately 25 families in… Read more »

A chance to win two books by Deborah Raney!

* This contest is now over. Thank you to everyone who participated! The winner is Athena. Congratulations, Athena!   Forever After by Deborah Raney * Forever After is the second book in Deborah Raney’s Hanover Falls Novels series from Howard/Simon & Schuster.  I had the pleasure of endorsing the first novel in the series, Almost… Read more »

Amish-made wall hanging giveaway AND Sheila Walsh’s latest book!

* WINNER: Rosemarie of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania! Congratulations, Rosemarie! If you entered the contest after it closed on June 4, 2011, you may notice that your entry never showed up in the comment section. I’ll move your entry to the next blog contest as soon as I post it.  Thank you to everyone who entered! An… Read more »

Book Tour for Plain Wisdom!

~ Two friends from different worlds—one Old Order Amish, one Englischer—share the truths that bring them together. (Nonfiction) Miriam and I while writing on Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women To read an excerpt, click here. With poignant recollections, unexpected insights, and humorous tales, the two women… Read more »

– – – – – – Life, Death, and Family – – – – –

` On May 4, 1998, my healthy, sixty-eight-year-old mother was outside planting her spring flowers when she began to feel nauseated. She died forty minutes later. On January 7, 2011, after a long battle with cancer, my dad died. Two very different stories, each with its own triumph and defeat. Heartache and comfort. End and… Read more »

Book Signing and Amish-made Quilt Giveaway

~ Hello, Dear Readers! I pray this brief update finds you ready for a fresh, new season—for spring is soon upon us. But the greatest beauty is that as we continue in Christ, refreshing change (and insight) is always growing in our hearts—perhaps it’s dormant under the coldness of your current season, but one season… Read more »

Tidbits. Winners. New Contest.

~ Fall has arrived! My windows are open, and I’m loving it. I know many of you are also enjoying this shift in temperature. Isn’t it great? It rained for forty-eight hours straight at one point this week, and I could only pull myself away from the computer to get a little sleep. I love writing when… Read more »

Denki! Reviews! And New Contest!

~ Hello, Dear Readers! I’ve just finished a wonderful and fun book tour! I met fascinating people, had the honor of signing many books along the way, and reunited with some friends from high school! Yes, Cheryl, I can spell your name without any assistance from you…once I realize the name of who’s standing in front… Read more »

Winners and Contest

In celebration and anticipation of the release of THE BRIDGE OF PEACE on August 31, I’m having a month of contests. To read the first chapter or order online, go to I posted a contest yesterday on my Facebook pages, both Friends and Fans. The response was so amazing! Readers never cease to awe… Read more »

Home Fires and the Amish

Facts about the Amish

While visiting an Amish friend this past in winter, I woke to the gentle creaking of old wooden steps, and I knew my dear friend was on her way to the cellar to add wood to the stove. Her husband was on a three-day hunt, and while he’s gone she’s diligent about maintaining the wood… Read more »

Amish Letters & Contest

I received another letter from one of my Amish friends today. As I handled the long white envelope that arrived in my mailbox, I thought about how it had been in a home built in the 1700s and addressed to me in the same manner as if it were the 1700s—by candlelight. I slit open… Read more »

An Amish Home Remedy

Tea Tonic Throughout history, honey has been effective as an analgesic (pain reliever) and perhaps even a healing remedy. Vinegar was always my mother’s favorite antiseptic, as it containing many purifying and therapeutic properties. With this delicious tea, you’ll get the restorative powers of both. Begin by making a cup of hot tea, preferably decaffeinated…. Read more »

Amish-made Quilt Contest

I’m having a special contest that will only last until February 15. CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. The winner of the quilt is Facebook fan Mary Collins! CONGRATULATIONS, MARY! The prize is an Amish-made quilt! The one seen in the photo above. This quilt was sewn by Anna, who is the daughter of a bishop. She’s… Read more »

Helping the People of Haiti ~

Karen Kingsbury sent a letter to all her reader friends.  In it she shares trusted organizations we can give to and ways we can pray. Letter posted by permission. Dear Reader Friends, As you know, Haiti was hit by a massive earthquake yesterday causing the loss of tens of thousands of lives and the collapse or… Read more »

Buggy Ride and Special Contest

While staying with my Amish friends, I needed to get to a book signing at an Amish country store, but all the “Englischer” drivers had been hired out for the day. So we hitched a horse to a carriage on a cold and rainy day. I thought you might enjoy the clopping sound and snippets… Read more »

Making Ornaments, Publisher Contest, New Winners & Contest

I’d like to dust off an old tradition of ours and share it with you. It continues the recent Plain Talk blog theme about preparing some fun for the holidays and making great memories. Christmas memories ~ From the time my boys were little, I loved doing craft times with them during the holidays. I’d pull out all sorts of items I’d picked… Read more »

Christmas Decorating the Amish Way

Facts about the Amish

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Christmas decorations are popping up everywhere! Before October was over, our local Target store was adorned with snowflakes across the entire ceiling, restaurants began to play Christmas music over their speakers, and Starbucks started selling their coffee in red, Christmas-themed cups.  Although it is still a bit early… Read more »

The ease of making family memories

Some of my favorite childhood memories are wrapped around special family times—not when on vacation or having a birthday party, but during those occasions when each family member stepped out of the busyness of their world and truly connected with those who share the same home. From the time I was eight until I entered… Read more »

Home from 2009 Book Signing Tour

What an adventure! I have recently returned home to Georgia from my seven-state book signing tour. Although my husband and I are still exhausted, we were thrilled to get to take such a journey and meet with all the readers who came out to see me! Our tour began on Tuesday, August 11 with an… Read more »

Summer 2009 Book Signing Tour

In celebration of the release of The Hope of Refuge, I’m going on a seven-state book-signing tour. Below are the dates, times, and locations of the stops on the tour. My editor has created a miniature poster that you can print out to share with others or bring to the event for me to sign…. Read more »

A Touch of Amish & a contest

* On August 5, two winners were drawn from those who’d left comments below. The winners are Sheryl, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and Grace of Jamestown, New York. Congratulations Sheryl and Grace!  This contest is now closed. I’ll begin a new contest a week or so after I’m home from my book tour. In the July issue of… Read more »

The Hope of . . . Bloggers?

* Hello Amazing Readers! For those of you who blog and are eagerly awaiting The Hope of Refuge, you might be interested in an opportunity being offered by Random House. The release date for The Hope of Refuge has been moved from mid-September to August 11! Raised in foster care and now the widowed mother… Read more »

ABC Nightline Interview

If you missed seeing my interview on ABC Nightline, Tuesday, May 26, you can view it here: I had a great time; the people at ABC Nightline are absolutely wonderful. Cindy

The Amish and Rumschpringe

Facts about the Amish

I wrote about the Old Order Amish tradition of rumschpringe in my latest newsletter. I mail out a hard copy version of my e-newsletter to those who don’t have computers, and so that list includes several Old Order Amish families. I received thank yous from the Plain community about that article and decided to post that… Read more »

Life on the Run . . .

Does it ever strike you as odd to know that we can be on the run and yet, at the same time, be sitting in a chair at a desk umpteen hours a day? I’m starting to write on a new novel that will be out in 2010. Our oldest son is getting married in May. Our youngest son is… Read more »

2008 Amish Quilt Contest Winner

About a week ago I sent out an announcement and congrats to our 2008 Amish quilt contest winner, Nedra Wright.  Nedra received her quilt over the weekend and sent a photo and a message I’d like to share with you. Cindy, I received my quilt this weekend.  It is gorgeous; the colors are much deeper and… Read more »

Contest ~ Amish-made American flag wall hanging

* This contest is now closed. The winner of the Amish-made wall hanging is Marilyn of Catlettsburg, Kentucky. Congratulations, Marilyn! Orignal post: Last Tuesday, President Obama’s inauguration reminded me of something I bought from an Amish friend of mine—an Amish-made American flag wall hanging. If you’d like a chance to win this, just leave a… Read more »

Happy New Day. Happy New Year

The 2008 Christmas season gave its own special memories—times of laughter, excitement, peace, renewed faith, and tiresome duty. We shared times that were well-planned, spur-of-the-moment, and mundane. All of them too fleeting. I have a lot of goals for 2009. Contracts to fill. Marketing to accomplish. School lessons to teach. Suppers to cook. Souls to… Read more »

Audios, Contests, & Plain News

Many have written asking for the large-print version of When the Soul Mends. I wish I could direct you to where it can be bought, but I’ve been told the large-print version will not be released until spring. For some, an audio version might be the answer they’re looking for. If you’d like to view or… Read more »

Contest and Finding Hannah

For those who receive my newsletter, you had the article “Finding Hannah” enter into your inbox in September’s issue of Plain News.  As part of an invitation to those who don’t receive the newsletter, I’ve posted that article below. Whenever I have the opportunity to mingle with readers, I’m surprised by the number of people who… Read more »

My Latest Trip to Pennsylvania

I arrived home late Tuesday after a wonderful trip to visit family in Pennsylvania. There’s never enough time to see as much of my loved ones as I want, so I often leave with my heart aching for more.   Sally (my step mom) was a constant help from the time my plane touched down… Read more »

The Shape of Mercy and New Contest

Remember the Salem Witch trials? It’s a time period cloaked in mysteries and Susan Meissner has written a powerful book that delves deep into love, fear, and how prejudice and judgment affects three separate generations of women—a young Puritan girl, an elderly librarian, and a college student.    Here’s what a reviewer from Publishers Weekly… Read more »

PA Dutch Words and a Contest

In July, while at the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando, my publisher told me that my three books in the Sisters of the Quilt series will be coming out in audio format. I was THRILLED. It’s something many readers have asked me about. The publisher mentioned that the narrator would contact me in a… Read more »

Winner, a contest, and detasseling

Whew! Time has slipped right past me! I’m under deadline and have been under the weather. Those are never a good combination, are they?  I have so much I want to share, and only a few minutes. First, I’d like to send a huge CONGRATS to RITA winner, Linda Goodnight. I’m so excited for her! It… Read more »

Winner, an excerpt, and a contest . . .

Happy July! The temps are hot, the pantry needs restocking again, and the sink needs emptying . . . again, and summertime rolls on. The good news is the neighborhood pool has plenty of water 😉 Offered in the last blog contest was an autographed copy of When the Soul Mends, to be sent when… Read more »

Authors . . . you be the judge . . .

While in Orlando, I tried to keep a well-known author straight. Did it work? Below you’ll find a photo of Brandilyn Collins, writer of Seatbelt Suspense. What I want to know is when reading her Seatbelt Suspense, where’s the padded bar that both surrounds a person and gives them something solid to hold on to–like the ones on… Read more »

RITA finalist ~ me?

This is the last week for sharing RITA finalist interviews. There are eight finalists who’ve been posting the interviews on each others’ blogs. With a surname like Woodsmall, I’m closing out the final interview.  Don’t forget, I still have a contest running for a chance to win an autographed copy of all three books. For a chance to win you can post… Read more »

A Few Answers to Your Questions

It’s always exciting to send out a new edition of my Plain News newsletter. The June issue went out on Saturday, chocked full of interesting things shared only in the newsletter, including the first chapter in When the Soul Mends, the second half of the article about connecting to the Old Order Amish, a contest… Read more »

Storytellers’ Journal & a new contest

The Hames Contest was fantastic! Nancy Lou of Raleigh, North Carolina received her Amish-made hames in the mail today. A huge thanks to every one of you who participated! I was thrilled with the response! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have an article coming out in the 2008 Storytellers’ Journal that tells about how I connected with the… Read more »

Too Englischer and new contest

The Hames contest ended Saturday, March 15th. We have a winner! Nancy Lou of Raleigh, North Carolina. Thank you for all the wonderful comments!! I’ll begin a new contest soon! Original post: For those who’ve read my books, you know an Englischer is anyone who’s not Amish or Plain Mennonite. But sometimes my life gets… Read more »