Hannah on front page of Wall Street Journal & contest

Hello! The original post (found below) went live on September 10. Today is October 6, and I’m popping in to let you know that although I’m running late for pulling contest winners, I’ll pick FIVE winners tomorrow to help make up for it. I’ll contact the winners and then post a new blog entry as soon as I’ve heard from each one. Until then I’m busy writing, writing, writing on book two of the Ada’s House series.


While on my book tour, a journalist from the Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter accompanied me during a visit with my Amish friends. Some of you may remember that in the last blog post I wrote a little about Alexandra joining us.

I was thrilled to see that her article – and a sketch of Hannah’s face – were featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal yesterday!  The piece ran in the newsprint, but you can find the online version here.

The only small correction I have is that my books have actually sold over half-a-million rather than the 134,000 that the Nielsen BookScan reported.

In preparation for the October 6 release of The Sound of Sleigh Bells, I am offering a chance to win an autographed copy! Simply comment on this post to be entered.  Click here to read more about The Sound of Sleigh Bells. The first chapter will be available online in a short time, so check back soon!

I also wanted to share a piece from my upcoming newsletter, Plain News. It features the visit to Daniel and Miriam’s house, which Alexandra mentions in her Wall Street Journal article.

Excerpt from “Plain News September 2009.” The newsletter is free and is sent four times per year. To sign up to receive this free newsletter, go to: Plain News

Amish Connection

On the last day of my book-signing tour, my husband, my editor, a journalist, and I pulled into the driveway of one of my Amish friends. Miriam and Daniel and their two youngest children came out of their farmhouse to greet us. Feeling Miriam’s arms around me for the first time since May, I did not want to let go. After hugs and warm welcomes, we introduced them to my editor and the journalist.

Daniel invited us into their home, where Miriam’s kitchen island was covered with goodies. The aromas of fruits, cheeses, and homemade desserts filled our senses. We put some of the delectables on our plates, took cups of coffee, and moved outside to sit under a shade tree. After more than a week of changing hotels every night and pushing to get to each event on time, it was relaxing and pleasant to enjoy these treats with such great company!

After our midmorning refreshments, we went to the barn to hitch the horse to the buggy for a short ride. Although I’ve written books with characters hitching a horse to a buggy, I needed greater detail about it for my next novel. The smell of hay and horse feed filled my nostrils. In another part of the barn, calves added their young voices to the sounds of the horses.

I watched carefully, asked a lot of questions, and took notes as Daniel showed me the blacksmith’s tools, explaining what each one was used for, and then hitched the horse to a two-person carriage. Once Daniel had the rig hitched, he gave each of us a ride. August’s temps bore down on the black asphalt and shadeless road, so we took short rides in order to spare the horse. I find buggies rather difficult to climb in and out of, but well worth the effort. Alexandra (the journalist) had never traveled to Amish country before, so it was fun to see her enjoying the farm and the ride.

After the buggy rides, Shannon (my editor) and I visited my friend’s craft room, which is located above the carriage house. The room smelled of old wood, reminding me of attics and of my writing room at home. It had a lot of items that Shannon had seen on my Web site and in my newsletter, including decorative hames, which are wall hangings made using a quilt patch between two old wooden pieces of a harness, the part that goes around the horse’s neck. The craft room also had various sizes of baskets lined with sewn fabric and topped with hand-painted lids, frames with paintings, antique foot-pedal sewing machines with scenes painted on them, and cute birdhouses made from old boots. When I visit, I always enjoy seeing the new crafts Miriam has created.

When we returned to the house, all the refreshments had been removed and dinner was being set out. My friend’s teenage daughter had been hard at work as the adults were busy visiting and riding in the buggy! The aromas were delicious, but the food tasted even better than it smelled. We had roast beef and lots of fresh seasonal vegetables from the family’s garden. The small potatoes had been boiled in a tasty mix of seasonings, the home-grown green beans were perfectly crisp, and the ice-cold water did wonders to quench our thirst after being outside in the heat.

Time seemed to drift away as we continued to chat while enjoying our dessert of pumpkin roll and ice cream. In fact, we were enjoying our visit so much that when I glanced at the clock, I gasped. We had very little time to get to our next signing! Everyone jumped up and rushed about, only taking enough time to put the leftovers in the refrigerator so they wouldn’t spoil.

The book signing at Rachel’s Country Store was very busy. During the signing, Daniel and my husband took my editor to the train station in Harrisburg. She had a flight to catch in Philadelphia. Since our vehicle was in Harrisburg, and we hadn’t come in a horse and buggy, the journalist waited for me to finish and then took us back to Miriam’s home before she left for New York.

Within minutes, Miriam and I were reclining under the shade tree again as if there were no dishes to be washed. She said we couldn’t use valuable chat time doing work—not during such a short visit. I promised to be useful during our next stay. When the men returned, they joined us, and the conversation flowed nonstop until my husband and I had to leave.

While on our way to our van, rain began sprinkling the farm while the sun shone brightly. I turned to my friends and said, “We’re about to see a rainbow.” As we hugged good-bye, we marveled at the gorgeous rainbow, commenting that it felt like a promise that even though our trip had been short, we’d have more visits in the future.

My husband and I visited my dad, stepmom, and brother while in Pennsylvania, and by the time we arrived home, we’d traveled more than three thousand miles. But Home Sweet Home greeted us at the end of our trip…as did bills, yard work, and a teen who’d successfully weathered most of the first two weeks of school without Mom or Dad.

Excerpt from “Plain News September 2009.” The newsletter is free and is sent four times per year. To sign up to receive this free newsletter, see link above this article. I tried to post that same link here, entered the same URL, and took all the right “techie” steps, but the link kept leading to weird places. Sorry.

To enter to win a copy of The Sound of Sleigh Bells, comment on this post!

The Sound of Sleigh Bells

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