The Story Behind Linda Mueller by Leslie Gould


The story behind Linda Mueller, the heroine of The Amish Quilter
(and what a fascinating minor character can lead to)

by Leslie Gould

When Mindy Starns Clark and I started writing the Women of Lancaster County series nearly a decade ago, Linda Mueller was an unnamed daughter of a midwifery client in the first book, The Amish Midwife.

Today, she’s the grown-up heroine of her own novel—The Amish Quilter, the fifth book in the series. She follows her sister Izzy, who was the heroine in The Amish Seamstress, the fourth book in the series. (All of the stories, although loosely connected, can be read on their own.)

What led to the two youngest Mueller daughters having their own stories in the series? The answer might surprise you.

Writing teachers will tell you to make your fictional characters, even minor ones, fascinating. Give them a past! Make them mysterious! And sympathetic!

Peggy Mueller, Linda and Izzy’s mother, was one of those minor characters who leapt onto the page. In The Amish Midwife, Peggy was close to forty and pregnant with her eleventh child. We find out Peggy was an unwed mother when her oldest daughter was born, and no one ever talks about the girl’s birth father. Peggy, who can be a little standoffish, enjoys time alone in her buggy, running errands without any of her children tagging along. After her last baby arrives, a boy named Thomas, her daughters care for her and take over all of the household chores.

Long after Mindy and I finished The Amish Midwife, Peggy and her girls stayed with us. So, in The Amish Bride, the third book in the series, it wasn’t surprising that the middle daughter—Izzy—played a supporting role.

Around that time, I had to know more about the Muellers and Peggy in particular. The best way, in the fictional world, to get acquainted with a person is to write her story, so I came up with “Lasting Love,” a short piece set nine months before The Amish Midwife. Besides finding out about Peggy’s backstory, I also wrote about her daughters: Sarah (called “Sadie” by her sisters), Becky, Izzy, Tabitha, and Linda.

By the time Mindy and I were ready to write our fourth book in the series, Izzy took the lead as the main character. Which brings us back to the fifth book in the series, The Amish Quilter, and to Linda.

Thanks to Peggy, a fascinating minor character, we now know her story along with the stories of her daughters. Authors can’t anticipate where a character, no matter how small her role, might lead!

You can download a free copy of my short story, “Lasting Love,” to find out Peggy’s story. (Click HERE to read it now!)

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leslie-gouldLeslie Gould is the bestselling and award-winning author of 26 novels. She received her master of arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Portland, Oregon. She and her husband, Peter, are the parents of four children.

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Would you like a chance to win this book series and a handmade quilt from Lancaster County? Don’t miss our giveaway, which ends in just a few days on May 31, 2018!

You can find the giveaway by clicking HERE, or by clicking the image below…


*Photo in top image by sydney Rae on Unsplash


Art, Quilting, and Writing | An Interview with Mindy Starns Clark

We’re so excited to share this interview with Mindy Starns Clark on the AmishReader blog today! Mindy is the coauthor of the Women of Lancaster County series, and we’re chatting with her about The Amish Quilter, the latest release in the series. We hope you enjoy learning more about Mindy, this new book, and the Amish culture!

(If you’d like a chance to win this book series and a handmade quilt from Lancaster County, enter our giveaway, which ends May 31, 2018!)


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AmishReader: Welcome, Mindy! The Amish Quilter focuses on art, especially quilts and paintings. What do most Amish communities think of art? Why is it controversial?

Mindy: Many Amish see art as a pursuit that could lead to pride, which they’re careful to guard against. In a culture built around community, individual accomplishment and acclaim is to be avoided whenever possible.

Thus, at least in the past, art as an occupation was usually prohibited. Over time, however, restrictions relaxed somewhat, and nowadays it’s more likely for Amish communities to take the position that art is “allowed but not encouraged.”

Of course, that varies widely from district to district—including that of a young Amish woman I know in Lancaster County who regularly paints and sells beautiful artwork. When I asked if she had to get special permission to do so, she said no and even seemed surprised at the thought. So, as per usual with the Amish, there is no one hard and fast rule for every district across the board.

AmishReader: Do you personally enjoying creating or viewing art?

Mindy: Yes, both! I’m not all that good at it, but I really enjoy drawing and painting, and I actually do have one published sketch, the map in Secrets of Harmony Grove. I sent it in with my manuscript, assuming the publisher would have one of their people reconstruct it more artistically, but they ended up using my version instead. So that was fun and very gratifying!

I also love flipping through art books and going to art museums. My nephew, Andrew Starns, is an incredible artist, so it’s especially fun to go museum hopping with him. Andrew served as our art expert when we were writing The Amish Quilter, and he patiently answered all of my frantic texts with exactly the info we needed each time.


Andrew Starns painting

Photo: A portrait by Andrew Starns, who served as the art expert during the writing of The Amish Quilter

AmishReader: Do you or Leslie quilt? What kind of research did you have to do for that aspect of the novel?

Mindy: I believe Leslie quilted some when she was younger. I have not quilted at all, but in the writing of this book I found myself really wanting to try. I even went so far as to buy some batting and a pack of coordinated fabric squares, but once I sat down and got to work, I quickly realized that the best way to learn quilting is not via YouTube videos! I teach myself a lot of things that way, but I think quilting is a skill best learned in person. At least the supplies didn’t go to waste; I do sew, so I ended up using them for a different project.

For our story, Leslie took the helm on the quilting research, learning from interviews with quilters and supplementing that with various books and videos. Then, with that knowledge, she laid all of the groundwork for our various quilting scenes. On my end, once I gave up on my own teach-yourself-to-quilt experience, I headed to an Amish quilt shop instead and simply picked the owner’s brain to make sure any quilting stuff I’d added to the manuscript was correct.

That quilter was extremely friendly and helpful. And if I ever find room in the budget for an actual Amish quilt of my own (they run anywhere from $600 to $3000+), I’ll be sure to check hers out first as she had some of the most gorgeous quilts I’ve ever seen. At least I was able to purchase some smaller quilted items, two of which I’ll be giving away on my blog this month.


Photo: Mindy's favorite quilt in the Amish quilt shop where she researched The Amish Quilter

Photo: Mindy’s favorite quilt in the Amish quilt shop where she researched The Amish Quilter

AmishReader: Awesome! [Readers, I hope you’ll check out that fun giveaway!]

What was the best part about writing The Amish Quilter with Leslie?

Mindy: As always, the best part about writing with Leslie is simply getting to spend so much time with her. She’s such a special person and a dear friend. She’s also a tremendously gifted writer and a true pleasure to work with.

After eight books, we’ve gotten this thing down to a science, and it’s fun to see what a well-oiled machine we’ve become! Co-writing is such a unique endeavor, one that requires flexibility, ingenuity, compatibility, and much more. It also creates numerous practical and logistical challenges, especially when you live on opposite coasts, as we do. But because we’ve been doing this for so long, we’ve pretty much learned our way around whatever the book-writing process might throw at us.

Creating these books with Leslie has been a rewarding process from beginning to end, and I’m deeply pleased with what we’ve managed to accomplish together.

AmishReader: Your teamwork and enduring friendship are so admirable!

Do you have a favorite line or scene from The Amish Quilter that you can share with us? What makes it especially meaningful to you?

Mindy: One scene I really like is where Linda is chatting with her elderly friend, Ruth, about the Amish attitude toward art…

“I’m thankful things have changed,” Ruth said. “In the old days, such talents were discouraged.” She turned toward me. “Like your poor grandmother.”

“My grandmother?”

“Nettie used to paint. She was good too, but all it brought her was trouble.”

I looked at her, startled. “You always said Mammi Nettie was creative, but I didn’t realize you meant she was an artist.”

“Oh, yes. But she had to hide her skills under a bushel. I always felt so sorry for her. I remember discussing the matter with others more than once. I’d say, ‘Would the good Lord give a bird wings and tell it not to fly? Of course not. So why would He give Nettie such a gift and then tell her not to use it? Couldn’t she paint for His glory?’

That particular passage is meaningful to me because I’ve often said the same thing to aspiring authors who are doubting whether or not God wants them to write. I always respond the same way: If He’s given you the talent and the drive, then why wouldn’t He want you to write?

It was fun to express a similar sentiment in this story.



AmishReader: Which book in the Women of Lancaster County series was the most fun to write? Which one was the most challenging (or rewarding)?

Mindy: The most challenging was probably The Amish Midwife, just because neither of us had ever co-written before and hadn’t a clue how it was done. We also didn’t know each other, so we were having to navigate this complicated process while also learning each other’s styles and rhythms and methods. We managed to figure it out as we went, and our friendship blossomed in the process, but it’s definitely gotten easier with each subsequent book.

As for the one that was the most fun, it’s impossible to say because they’ve all been enjoyable in their own ways. The Amish Nanny was fun because our characters got to travel to Europe. The Amish Bride was fun because I loved Ella so much and found her entire tale quite compelling. (It’s my favorite in the series). The Amish Seamstress was fun because I really enjoyed the Amish-and-the-Indians historical elements, something that I’d known nothing about prior to the writing of that book. Finally, The Amish Quilter was fun because the romance between Linda and Isaac was so intricate and satisfying to help construct.

If I’m really honest, the most rewarding moments of the entire experience came when The Amish Midwife hit #1 on the bestseller list and then went on to win a Christy Award! Somehow, sharing both of those high points with a co-author made them twice as nice.


Leslie and Mindy with their husbands, Peter and John, after winning the 2012 Christy Award for The Amish Midwife

Photo: Leslie and Mindy with their husbands, Peter and John, after winning a Christy Award in 2012 for The Amish Midwife

AmishReader: That’s wonderful!

Which heroine in the series is most like you?

Mindy: Great question! I’d have to say it’s a tie…

First, I’m a lot like Ada Rupp, the main character in The Amish Nanny, just because of her love of travel and adventure and her desire to see the wider world. She’s also very visual, as am I, and she delights in beautiful things, both man-made and in nature.

Second, I’d say I’m like Izzy Mueller in The Amish Seamstress, because she’s such an introvert, content to work the hours away in solitude, always feeling when she is in a crowd just a bit like a square peg in a round hole. Mostly, however, what Izzy and I have in common is that we both fell in love with our best friends.

When I was in college, my best friend was a guy named John Clark, and we just loved spending time together, hanging out, laughing our heads off, talking for hours, and so on. Then one day, after we’d known each other for more than four years, I realized to my astonishment that I was in love with him. (I also realized that he loved me too, he just didn’t know it yet!) So, like Izzy, I bided my time until he came to his senses—and the rest is history. We’ve been married for almost 30 years now, and he’s still my best friend and favorite person in the whole world.

AmishReader: What a sweet love story, and how perfect to end our interview with a true happily-ever-after! Thank you so much for joining us today, Mindy.

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Mindy Starns Clark is a bestselling and award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million books sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. Visit her online at

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Eager to read The Amish Quilter? You can pick up a copy today through your favorite bookseller, such as,, or!


The Amish Quilter Giveaway (You could win a quilt and books!)


Happy first day of May, Amish readers! Today is the official release day for The Amish Quilter, book 5 in the Women of Lancaster County series by Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould. (Its available now through favorite booksellers, such as,, and, if you can’t wait to pick up a copy!)

We’re so excited to celebrate this much-anticipated release with you by giving away some awesome prizes!

Here are the giveaway details:

  • Grand prize: The grand-prize winner will receive a handmade quilt from Lancaster County and the Women of Lancaster County series (5 paperback books)!
  • Runner-up prizes: Three other winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Amish Quilter, a mug, and a kit for making their own mug mats!
  • How to enter: In order to make sure your name is entered in the drawing, you’ll need to use the Rafflecopter form below. Log in with your email address or Facebook account, then complete one or more of the tasks to submit entries!
  • Can I submit more than one entry? Yes! You’ll need to subscribe to Leslie’s or Mindy’s e-newsletters (or already be a subscriber) to get your first 3 entries. If you subscribe to both, you’ll see on the form that this will unlock additional ways to enter the drawing. The more tasks you complete, the more entries you’ll have in the giveaway.
  • Terms and disclaimer: Four winners (one grand-prize winner and three runner-ups) will be randomly chosen and announced on June 1, 2018. We apologize, but due to varying international giveaway regulations and shipping restrictions, this giveaway is open to US residents (age 18 or older) only. Void where prohibited. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Rafflecopter or Facebook.

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Book Preview: My Sister’s Prayer by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

In this excerpt from My Sister’s Prayer (the second book in the Cousins of the Dove series by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould), Celeste Talbot, from a family of Huguenots, finds herself in a desperate situation on a voyage to America…

Enjoy the preview! And if you’d like to learn more about the similarities and differences between the Amish and the Huguenots, be sure to check out Leslie’s article.


Deep in steerage on the Royal Mary, Celeste Talbot pressed her palm against the ruby ring tucked inside her skirt, launching a new wave of guilt. For the hundredth time she wondered how Maman and Papa had reacted to her note about leaving for the New World. She wondered if they realized when they read it that their other daughter, Berta, was gone too. And the ring. How long before they discovered that it was also missing?

The bunk she shared with her sister creaked with the rocking of the ship, which was now more like the gentle rocking of a cradle than the fury they had endured for the last week. Berta groaned, and Celeste put her hand to the girl’s forehead.

The fever had returned. Celeste dropped to the filthy floor, knowing her sister desperately needed to see the doctor.

But how would they ever pay for it? Besides Berta and the ring, all Celeste had left was a simple porcelain brooch from Jonathan that wasn’t worth anything, a pittance of money, and one wool blanket. Everything else had been stolen several days into the voyage by some fellow passenger. Celeste had been trying to be a Good Samaritan, tending to those who were sick as best she could, when she realized one of the sickest—a young woman tucked away in a bunk on the far side of steerage—was her own sister. In her shock and the rearranging that followed, Celeste had neglected her belongings and someone had snatched them.

Now it was time to sell the ruby. There were plenty of first-class passengers who might be interested in such a purchase, and she could use some of the money to obtain food and another consultation with the surgeon.

Berta shifted in the bunk, and Celeste raised her eyes to meet Spenser Rawling’s. He was a kind young man who had stayed near their sides since Celeste first discovered her sister. He’d jumped in to help right away, carrying the ailing Berta over to Celeste’s bunk, and then soon after when Celeste realized that in all the confusion she’d been robbed.

Since then, Spenser’s cheekbones had grown as hollow as hers and Berta’s, but his square jaw helped give the impression that he wasn’t as famished. And his confidence that they would all survive had given her an inkling of hope even as her internal storms, as powerful as the gales that had threatened to tear the Royal Mary apart, battered her soul.

When Celeste had decided to sneak away from home and sail to America on the Royal Mary, she’d had no idea nearly two hundred humans would be packed in worse than cattle, with little sanitation, water, or food, and rarely any fresh air. Though her family could have well afforded a first-class ticket, she hadn’t much money of her own and had been forced to sign an indentured servant contract in exchange for a place in steerage. At least she’d had Spenser’s help, thanks be to God. He wasn’t the sort of person she would have given a second thought to back home, but she was grateful for him now.

Spenser stood, pulling his brown hair back in a leather tie. “I’ll go get water.” He’d had to steal it from the first deck the last few times. Perhaps the storm had filled the barrels—though whether he would be allowed access to them or not was another matter.

“Thank you,” Celeste said. “When you get back, I’ll buy food.” There were rumors of passengers on the upper decks who would sell some of their leftovers to the starving wretches below.

Spenser raised his brows, and his hazel eyes questioned her. He knew she was nearly out of money. She’d been holding on to the little she had left for when they docked, to provide for her and Berta until they reached Jonathan. But if she could find a first-class passenger to give her at least a portion of what the ruby ring was worth, she’d have more than enough for food and medical care.

As Spenser headed toward the ladder, carrying the water bucket they shared between the three of them, Celeste leaned closer to her sister and whispered, “Berta, I’ll get you the help you need. I promise.”


Excerpted from My Sister’s Prayer by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

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The Fun and Fabulous Christmas Gift-Giving Guide for Amish Fans

Who wouldn’t love a good book for Christmas? Wonder no more about what to get your friends and loved ones—just find the closest description below and away you go!

*Disclaimer: Of course, we can’t guarantee someone will love their gift. But seriously, what’s not to love, right? We hope you enjoy browsing this fun Christmas gift-giving guide. Who knows? You might even find a little treat for yourself, too! Just click the image or one of the links below it to find a site where you can purchase a copy of the book.

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Amish Reader Gift Guide 1

1. For the foodie who wants some “yum” with their fiction, we recommend…Made with Love by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 2

2. For the Amish fiction lover who’s read it all and wants something new, we recommend…My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould!

(Note: This story is about another Protestant group called the Huguenots. Learn more about the similarities and differences between the Amish and the Huguenots in this article by Leslie Gould!)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 3

3. For the friend who needs to believe in miracles this Christmas, we recommend…Anna’s Healing by Vannetta Chapman!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 4

4. For the ebook aficionado who loves sweet novellas, we recommend…Amish Christmas Memories by Jerry S. Eicher, Mary Ellis, and Murray Pura!

(Note: This is an ebook-only collection of three previously published Amish Christmas novellas titled Susanna’s Christmas Wish, Sarah’s Christmas Miracle, and An Amish Family Christmas.)

Kindle | Nook | Christianbook

P.S. Did you know you can gift ebooks via email? Read this article to see how to gift a Kindle book from


Amish Reader Gift Guide 5

5. For the teacher or student who knows the value of a good education, we recommend…An Unexpected Match by Gayle Roper!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 6

6. For the incurable romantic who likes a lot of drama with the sweet, we recommend…Miriam and the Stranger by Jerry S. Eicher!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 7

7. For the loved one who has always dreamed of living the simple life, we recommend…My Life as an Amish Wife by Lena Yoder!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 8

8. For the curious soul with lots of questions about Amish culture, we recommend…Plain Answers about the Amish Life by Mindy Starns Clark!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 9

9. For the one who wants to be inspired in her faith, we recommend…The Amish Book of Prayers for Women by Esther Stoll!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 10

10. For the cook who knows the way to your heart, we recommend…99 Favorite Amish Recipes by Georgia Varozza!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House


Amish Reader Gift Guide 11

Bonus: For the child or grandchild who shares your love of the Amish, we recommend…Blossoms on the Roof by Rebecca Martin!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christianbook | Harvest House

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Happy Christmas shopping!


Book Preview: The Amish Bride

The Amish BrideWhile not all Amish get married in the fall, this season does involve quite a few weddings in various Amish communities! (We shared a few fun facts on this topic on Facebook from Mindy Starns Clark’s Plain Answers About the Amish Life.) So we thought we’d share an excerpt from The Amish Bride in honor of the season—and to give you a taste of one of the prizes you could win in Leslie Gould’s giveaway, which is open through November 24, 2015!

This excerpt is from the very beginning of the story, when Ella’s grandmother gives her a special book…

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Mammi’s eyes moved to the book in my hands. Gazing at it, her face began to cloud over, and I could see she was troubled.

“There’s another thing, about the book,” she said.

I glanced toward the door, feeling bad for Ezra, though I didn’t protest lest she give me one of her disapproving looks. Neither his family, which was entirely Amish, nor mine, which was a mix of Mennonite and Amish, made any secret of the fact that they weren’t thrilled about our relationship.

“This is just between us,” she continued, oblivious to my impatience. “There’s something unique about it that you have to understand. And there’s something important I need you to do for me.”

Her odd tone brought my attention back to her. Curious, I lowered myself to the chair on her left and waited for her to elaborate. She gestured toward the book, so I opened it up and flipped through it, angling it so that she could see the pages.

“All of those tiny drawings at the tops and bottoms…” Her voice trailed off.

“These nifty little doodles?” Glancing down, I tilted the heavy tome my way. “It’s funny, but they kind of remind me of icons. You know, like for a phone app?”

She stared at me blankly. Of course she didn’t know what a phone app was.

“They’re symbols,” she said. “Each one represents something.”

“Oh, yeah?”

I flipped through more pages and saw that the various icons weren’t just random—they were repeated the exact same way in different places. She was right. Symbols.

“What are they for?”

“I’m not sure. But there’s more.”

She again gestured with her hand, so I tilted the book back toward her and continued to flip through it.

“There.” She placed a pointed finger on the page to stop me.

Glancing down, I saw that she was indicating the middle part of the book, the pages of weird squiggly lines. They reminded me of letters or numbers but were completely unreadable, like a foreign language that used a completely different alphabet.

“What is this?”

She sat back and clasped her hands in her lap. “It’s a code.”

My eyes widened. “A code?”

She nodded. “My mother didn’t want just anyone reading her journal. So she invented a code to keep parts of it private.”

“Cool.” I was really starting to like my great-grandmother Sarah.

I was studying the squiggles more closely when I realized Mammi was leaning toward me in her chair, her expression intense.

“Ella, I need you to decipher that code. Figure out how to make sense of it. The symbols too. I want you to translate the code and the symbols into words. I need to know what it says.”

My first reaction was to giggle, but her face was so serious I held it in. What was this, the CIA or something?

“I’m not exactly good at this sort of thing. I mean, Zed’s way smarter than I am. Why don’t you ask him?”

Mammi placed a hand on my arm and gave it a firm squeeze. “Never mind him. I’m asking you, Ella. You can do this. You have to do this.

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Excerpted from The Amish Bride by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould

Intrigued yet? You can order the book directly from the publisher or from your favorite book retailer. And don’t forget to enter Leslie’s giveaway for a chance to win this whole series OR her new book, My Brother’s Crown!


Of Kapps and Carriages: A Comparison Between the Amish and the Huguenots (Plus a Giveaway!)

Article by Leslie Gould


During my research for The Women of Lancaster County series, which I co-wrote with Mindy Starns Clark, my fascination with church history expanded exponentially. For a while I was “living” in 16th century Switzerland, the time and place where the Anabaptists—the foundational movement of both the Mennonites and Amish—originated. The more I learned about the era, the more fascinated I became with the Reformation and the many branches of Protestantism it produced.

When a reader told me about her Huguenot (French Calvinists) ancestors who immigrated to America about the same time as the first Amish came to Pennsylvania, I was immediately intrigued.

My Brother's Crown coverMy research into this group of early Protestants resulted in another series with Mindy—Cousins of the Dove, a modern/historical saga that traces a fictional French Huguenot Family from the 1600s to the modern day. The first novel in the series, My Brother’s Crown, released in October, and we’re currently writing the second, My Sister’s Prayer.

As I continue to immerse myself in Huguenot history, I can’t help but compare and contrast the Huguenots to the Amish. Following is a very brief and very simple introduction to what Mindy and I have learned through the years. To see how we were able to weave this knowledge into compelling fiction featuring brave heroines who face nearly insurmountable odds, you’ll have to read the books!

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1. Origins
Verdict: very similar

Both the Anabaptists and the Huguenots originated in the early 16th Century as a result of the Protestant Reformation. The Anabaptists had their start in 1525 and the Huguenots in 1530.

2. Formative Years
Verdict: somewhat similar

The Anabaptists began in Switzerland and then spread, largely due to persecution, throughout Europe and eventually to both Russia and America. They were often referred to as being part of the “Radical Reformation.”

The Mennonites were Anabaptists who followed the teachings of Menno Simons. The Amish broke off from the Mennonites in 1693, believing the original group was drifting away from the teachings of Simons, and were led by Jakob Ammann.

John Calvin, the founder of Calvinism, was French but ended up fleeing to Switzerland and eventually pastoring a church there. However, his teachings led to the establishment of many churches in France too, and by 1562 there were two million French Calvinists—or Huguenots, as they were soon called. Like the Amish, most were eventually forced from their homeland. During the 1680s alone, an estimated 400,000 Huguenots fled France due to persecution under Louis XIV, going as far away as South Africa and North America. (There was a small group of Huguenots who stayed in France, and they will be explored in the fourth novel in our series.)

3. Baptism
Verdict: very different

A belief in adult baptism was one of the reasons the Anabaptists broke off from the Swiss Reformed Church. The Anabaptists believed only adults could make the decision to be baptized and quit baptizing their infants, which led to persecution by the Reformed Church, the Swiss government, and the Catholic Church.

On the other hand, Calvinists retained the tradition of infant baptism, believing it to be a covenant with God. (There are, of course, other theological differences between the two groups, including predestination. A primary source on the subject is John Calvin’s Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Against the Libertines. There are also, however, many basic similarities in the theology of the two groups.)

4. Simplicity
Verdict: different

Throughout their history the Amish have been known for their simple living. They, generally, reject modern ways, choosing to drive horses and buggies and to live off the grid. From the beginning, the Amish dressed simply and even referred to themselves as “Plain.” Today, the women still wear Kapps, modest dresses, and aprons, while the men wear suspenders and wide-brim hats. Traditionally, the Amish worked as farmers. Today, as the population grows, they’re running out of land and more are opening businesses or working in factories or other manufacturing jobs. Most Amish communities continue to meet on one another’s properties instead of in a church building, just as they’ve done since the beginning.

The Huguenots included members of the French wealthy class and even the gentry. Many had large homes, fine carriages, and a significant amount of material goods. (Although there were certainly poor Huguenots too—more so in rural areas.) Congregations usually built churches (called temples) where they worshipped together. Although their dress may have been more modest than the latest fashions, they did not focus on a simple lifestyle as part of their overall philosophy.

amishgirlspublicdomain.bb5. Today
Verdict: very different

Within a couple of generations the Huguenots assimilated into the dominant cultures that they joined—but they also left a lasting influence on those societies. Eight of our U.S. presidents had proven Huguenot ancestors, including George Washington, whose great-great-great-grandfather arrived in Virginia in 1620. Twelve other U.S. Presidents had credible claims to Huguenot ancestors. The experiences of the French Huguenots also seem to have contributed to the inclusion of Freedom of Religion in the First Amendment of our Constitution. Today there are Huguenot societies around the world, including one in Virginia that Mindy and I visited, that continue to preserve and share the history of their ancestors.

On the other hand, the Anabaptists have assimilated to a lesser degree. There are a total of 2.1 million Anabaptists worldwide, including Mennonites, Mennonite Brethren, Hutterites, and Amish. The Amish, as we know, are one of the groups who have assimilated the least. Today, there are nearly 300,000 Amish in the United States, up from 5,000 in 1924 and 84,000 in 1984. They are one of the fastest growing groups in the United States thanks to a birthrate that is three to four times higher than the U.S. average. (There are also Amish settlements in Canada and a Beachy Amish Mennonite Fellowship in Ireland.)

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ManakinHuguenotThank you for stopping by today! I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick comparison.

Please leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a set of The Women of Lancaster County series OR a copy of My Brother’s Crown.

Fine print: Giveaway is open internationally and lasts through November 24, 2015. Participants must be 18 years old or older to enter. Two winners will be randomly selected—one for The Women of Lancaster County series (four-book set) and one for My Brother’s Crown. These winners will be contacted via email on Wednesday, November 25. The prizes will be provided by the author, and the giveaway is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook, WordPress, Pinterest, or Twitter.

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Leslie Gould is a bestselling author of 20 novels. She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. Connect with Leslie at


Meet Leslie Gould, author of The Amish Midwife

Leslie Gould is a professional author with a background in magazine journalism. She grew up in the small farming community of Pomeroy, Washington and earned a degree in history and communications from Judson Baptist College. She also holds a master of fine arts degree from Portland State University. In this interview, we’ll get to know Leslie as a person and as a writer, as well as learn about what led her to write her first Amish fiction novel. Enjoy!

So, Leslie, can you give us “you” in a nutshell? Try to describe your life in a paragraph (but if you need to use two paragraphs, that’s OK).

How about three?! I’m definitely a member of the “sandwich” generation. My elderly father lives in a nearby care center, and I take him to his appointments and try to see him as much as possible. My husband, Peter, and I have four children and all are at home—the youngest is 13 and the oldest is 23. The 13-year-old plays club soccer, which means lots of practices and games and trips. I always take my laptop along and write during practice and the hour-long warm ups before games. It’s crazy but it works—every hour of writing helps get a book done!

Peter is in the Army Reserve and was just promoted to colonel, which people say makes me a general since supposedly I out rank him. :) The Army Reserve definitely adds another twist to my life, but a very important one. I’m proud of Peter and thankful for his service.

Besides the Lord, my family, and all the good friends that I’ve been blessed with, the thing that makes me the happiest is writing a story. I feel such harmony when I have a stretch of six or seven hours to just write. It’s pure bliss when it all comes together and the words flow. (It’s the same feeling I have when reading a good book.) Of course there are plenty of days when the words don’t flow but the interruptions (mostly self-inflicted) do—so I’m always very thankful for that sense of harmony when it does happen.

What are your favorite things to write about, and what inspired you to write in the first place?

I love writing about families, friendships, and other cultures—which made the leap to Amish fiction very enjoyable.

As far as my inspiration to write, I’ve always been intrigued with the process of writing and storytelling. The first word I ever wrote was “sky.” I was four and thought it was absolutely magical. I also used to make up stories about the alphabet when I was little. Each letter was a character with its own personality and there was conflict between some of them, especially those next in “line” to each other—although I don’t think I ever got as far as actual plots in those stories. By junior high and high school I was keeping a journal (oh, the drama) and writing short stories (pretty bad stuff) and poetry (really bad stuff).

After college I did PR, curated a museum in Ashland, Oregon, worked for the Port of Portland, and later was the editor of a bridal magazine, along with writing freelance articles. I enjoyed the nonfiction writing that I did in all of those jobs, but what I really wanted to do was write fiction. I’d write scenes and character sketches and had ideas for novels, but it wasn’t until Peter’s unit was deployed to Germany in 1990 that I finally took a fiction writing class and started finishing short stories and working on novels.

One thing led to another…ha! Not really. One year of writing fiction led to another year of writing fiction, and although I had a couple of short stories published and I placed in a couple of competitions, it was 10 years from the time I took my first fiction writing class until I sold my first novel.

What interested you in Amish fiction to the point that you said, “I want to write an Amish series!”?

23 years ago when our oldest was a baby, Peter and I loaded up our VW van and the three of us took a six week road trip around the US. (Yes, we were crazy, but we didn’t know it at the time—and our little guy turned out to be a good traveler, thankfully.) Peter had lived in Pennsylvania as a boy and remembered visiting Lancaster County, so that was one of our stops. We ate shoofly pie, shopped in a couple of stores, and took photos of beautiful quilts hanging on clotheslines. It was absolutely fascinating.

Fast-forward a few years. Our next two babies were born at home in Portland and I started reading everything I could about midwifery, including A Midwife’s Story by Penny Armstrong, who was a midwife to the Amish. It became one of my favorite books and as I read it and reread it, I came became more and more fascinated with the Amish women and their stories.

When Amish fiction became big, I had an interest but didn’t feel as if I had the credibility to write it. I live in Oregon. I didn’t know anyone Amish. The closest experience I had was that all four of my children went to a Mennonite preschool—but it was a Montessori Mennonite preschool and certainly not anything close to Old Order. (There’s no Old Order anything in Oregon, except in Hillary Manton Lodge’s wonderful novels!)

When/how did you team up with Mindy Starns Clark to write the Women of Lancaster County series?

When my agent asked if I was interested in writing Amish fiction, I told him I didn’t think I could pull it off. I’m a history major—I want things to be as accurate as possible, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get Amish fiction anywhere close to “right.” But then he suggested that Mindy and I write a novel together. She lives in Pennsylvania. She’d already written Amish fiction. I thought it was a great idea! So Peter, our two girls, and I traveled to Pennsylvania for a research trip and to meet Mindy. (Who is absolutely wonderful, by the way.)

From the first Amish farm we drove by, I was absolutely hooked. I found it even more fascinating than I had 23 years before!

What are some significant events in your life story so far?

Being married for 27 years is one of the most significant “events” of my life. I’ve been blessed with a good man who is willing to work hard at this ongoing endeavor. We keep growing and learning and moving forward. Being a mom is also one of the most significant and challenging ongoing events of my life. I tell people that parenting and writing are two of the most humbling things there are (but also two of the most rewarding).

Another significant event was adopting our youngest child from Vietnam. I took the emotions of that experience and turned them into a fictional story, which ended up becoming my novel Beyond the Blue. I turned the emotions of another significant event, Peter’s Army service and the impact on our family, into the novel Scrap Everything. Like most writers, my significant events find their way into my writing, but some are definitely more obvious than others.

What’s something you still hope to do someday?
I hope to go back to Vietnam and work in an orphanage or do some other type of service there. I’m fascinated by the stories of Vietnam and have been since I was a child, and I would like nothing more than to make a contribution to the people there.

After our kids are all grown, I hope Peter and I can do short-term missionary trips to wherever God would have us go—but I do hope Vietnam is one of the places.

Just for fun…

What’s your favorite dessert? Crème brulée

Which household chore do you dislike most? Unloading the dishwasher (yes, I would rather clean toilets and empty the cat box than unload the dishwasher—can’t explain it, but it’s true).

What do you think you would like best and least if you were to “go Amish”? I would definitely like the family working together the most and stopping school after the eighth grade the least.

Do you collect anything? Books, books, and more books! I’m basically a book-a-holic.

What’s your favorite book? How about my favorite story and my favorite book? My favorite story is “Jonah and the Whale.” I’ve loved it since I was little. Isn’t it a shock when the whale swallows him? Can you imagine? And then Jonah keeps on whining, even after all he’s gone through. It’s such an applicable story.

My favorite book is To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I first read it in college and have read it several times since. I love the domestic yet enchanting setting and the stream of consciousness writing. She was brilliant.

Anything else that you want to tell us? I’m very excited for the release of The Amish Midwife! Writing with Mindy has been a wonderful, collaborative experience. The characters are unforgettable and I love the way the plot twists and turns. I can’t wait for people to read it!