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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Creating Community: The Common Threads in Mindy Starns Clark’s Books (Plus a Giveaway!)

Some writers will pick a single genre and stick with it their entire careers, while others tend to produce a wider variety of works. Looking at my own oeuvre, it’s easy to see I fall into the latter category. Over the past 20 years, I have written plenty of Amish fiction and nonfiction, but I’ve also written mystery novels, dual-timeline novels, and even a how-to book on housekeeping!

That’s a lot of variety, something the creative side of me needs in order to flourish. I love to explore, creatively speaking. In fact, if I’d had to write the same types of stories in the same genre for every single book I’d ever done, I’d have gotten incredibly bored. Like I said, variety.

Or is it?

Upon closer inspection, despite having penned such a wide rage of works, I find that some common themes do tend to resurface across almost all of my fiction, such as:

  • characters who are somehow isolated but come to find connection and community through the course of the story
  • strong female protagonists who are smart in life but clueless in love
  • long-hidden family secrets, unusual settings, unique professions, and more

My Brother's CrownMost of these elements are included with intention, but the truth is that common threads can appear across an author’s entire body of work, creating connections that he or she never consciously intended. This is exactly what happened to me with regard to what’s known as “displaced people groups.”

The United Nations defines this as “the forced movement of people from their locality or environment and occupational activities. It is a form of social change caused by a number of factors, the most common being armed conflict. Natural disasters, famine, development and economic changes may also be a cause of displacement.”

Apparently, there is something about this phenomenon that stirs my creative interest enough to shape entire novels around it—yet it took my husband to point this out to me. It happened a few years ago, when I first told him of a new series that Leslie Gould and I wanted to write, about a family of Huguenots forced to flee from France under the threat of religious persecution.

“Great idea,” he said. “So it’ll be another one of your displaced people group stories.”

“My what?”

“Displaced people group stories.” When he saw the blank look I gave him, he added, “You write about them all the time. Did you not realize that?”

In that moment, it struck me how right he was.

My fascination with this phenomenon started back in 2008 with a standalone mystery I wrote called Whispers of the Bayou. Though that story takes place in the modern day, much of its mystery surrounds the history of the Acadians, who were forcibly removed from their homes in Nova Scotia back in the mid 1700s and scattered to the four winds. A large group of them eventually ended up in southern Louisiana, where they reestablished community and slowly became known as the “Cajuns.”

My Sister's PrayerThe Amish were also victims of displacement, forced to leave their beloved homelands in Europe and head to America in search of religious freedom. Many of my Amish books have dealt with this very topic, weaving their tragic history in and among their stories.

Then there were the Huguenots of France, who were protected for a time under a royal decree that allowed them to worship as Protestants rather than adhering to the state religion of Catholicism. But when that freedom was later revoked, the Huguenots were forced to convert to Catholicism or face punishment, imprisonment, or even death. As many as 400,000 Huguenots fled France, relocating to Protestant countries in Europe, South Africa, and North America.

Our first novel in this series, My Brother’s Crown, is set in 1685 and focuses on the Gillet and Talbot families of Lyon, France, who are part of this great diaspora and end up in England. The second book in the series, My Sister’s Prayer, picks up their story with the next generation, as they emigrate from England to the New World. In both books, the characters are forced to leave behind all that they know and start life anew elsewhere.

So why am I drawn to stories like these—tales involving people groups that have been forcibly displaced?

If I had to guess, I’d say it ties back into my most common recurring theme, that of isolation and longing for community. I can imagine no greater isolation than that of those who’ve been sent from their homes and towns and lives and everything they’ve ever known only to resettle somewhere foreign and strange and new.

I can also imagine the incredible sense of connection and community as small clusters of these people groups clung together to establish new homes, new towns, and start over again.

My Daughter's LegacyWe all have “people groups” to which we belong, from small (“I’m a member of a book club”) to large (“I’m an American”) to everywhere in between (“I’m a Shih Tzu lover,” “I’m a Southerner,” “I’m a Broadway aficionado,” and so on). You have them too. Even the fact that you’re here right now, reading this article, makes you part of a people group. You’re a lover of Amish fiction or, even more specifically, you’re a part of the family. Participating in this wonderful place, discussing your enjoyment of a specific genre with like-minded people, hearing from familiar authors who share your enthusiasm—these are things that create community.

And community is something that we all need, whether we have to find it anew after being forcibly removed from our homelands or we simply have to seek it out in the stable, safe environments in which we have always lived. Either way, God designed us to need others, and in seeking community we acknowledge that need. In finding community, we begin to fulfill it—and that’s the stuff that novels are made of.

Or at least my novels, apparently.

Considering the vast number of displaced people groups throughout history still left to explore, I’m sure this is a topic I’ll be revisiting again—though perhaps with a bit more intention next time.

©2016 Mindy Starns Clark

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Author Mindy Starns ClarkMindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million copies sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania. Visit her online at

***Want a chance to win one of three copies of My Sister’s Prayer? Enter the giveaway using the form below!

Fine print: This giveaway is open to US residents only. The form will close at midnight PT on October 19, 2016.


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Countdown to Christmas Giveaway with Mindy Starns Clark

Author Mindy Starns Clark has a brand-new blog, and that’s where you’ll find her exciting Countdown to Christmas giveaway! While the 25 days are over halfway through, there are still some fantastic book giveaways on the way, including Mindy’s coauthored Amish novels (The Women of Lancaster County series and The Men of Lancaster County series).

Here’s a quick look at the giveaway details…

  • Who: Giveaways are open to residents of the U.S. (but there are some great behind-the-scenes posts and extras everyone can enjoy!)
  • What: An epic giveaway of Mindy’s books!
  • When: December 1-25, 2015
  • Where: Mindy’s new blog
  • Why: To celebrate Christmas and Mindy’s new site
  • How: Fill out the form on this post → HERE (You’ll be entered in all the drawings)

We hope you’ll join the fun—and have a very merry Christmas season!

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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 Groom

The Amish GroomWe’re continuing our celebration of Amish wedding season with an excerpt from The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner! The hero of this story, Tyler Anderson, was born Englisch but raised Amish. At 23, he’s old enough to commit to the church, but he’s feeling torn between the two vastly different worlds.

This scene takes place at a wedding, where Tyler and his sweetheart are guests…

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I swung my head back around to face Rachel.

“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?” Her kind face was sweetly marked with concern.

“I ate too much,” I said, not wanting to mess with the festive mood around us.

“Nice try. What’s up?”

I shrugged, but her compassionate gaze wouldn’t allow me to say nothing at all. “Just thinking.”


Fueled by excitement and chocolate, the noise level was beginning to rise. Soon the singing would start. It would be hard to have a deep conversation.

“Just…life in general.” I toyed with a candied walnut on the plate. But then out of nowhere I voiced what was somersaulting around in my head. “Sometimes it seems that something out there is calling to me. Like maybe I have missed doing something I am supposed to take care of. And then I come to an event like this, and that feeling grows so strong, it’s nearly overwhelming.”

I shut my mouth. I hadn’t wanted to say all of that aloud, especially not at that moment. Yet it had spilled out of me anyway.

Pained uncertainty flickered across Rachel’s eyes. “Something out where is calling to you?”

I shook my head. “We don’t need to talk about this now. I don’t know why I said anything.”

Rachel stared at me, unwilling to drop it. “What is calling to you?”

I squeezed her hand. “Forget I said anything.” Which was a dumb suggestion. She wasn’t going to forget.

Besides, she knew me better than anyone. Better than Jake. Maybe even better than Daadi and Mammi.

She also knew the timetable for when the next membership classes were to begin—and that I wasn’t sure yet if I was going to sign up for them. Membership preceded marriage. That’s how it had always been, which meant if I didn’t attend the next set of classes and take my vows of baptism and membership in the spring, I would not be able to marry her in the fall.

“Is this about God? About your faith?”

I shook my head. “No, of course not. I know what I believe. My faith is solid.”

She nodded, quiet for a moment. “But this is about joining the church.” Her voice sounded sad, and for good reason. We both knew that if my faith was solid and yet I was still reluctant to join the church, then my hesitation was about things other than theology. Things like living the Amish lifestyle. Things like being married to her.

“It’s about a lot of stuff,” I finally replied, though that wasn’t the whole truth. It was about the church. But it was also about me. And the world outside. And her, too, which I realized at that moment I didn’t want to add to the equation.

“Stuff,” she echoed. “You mean things? Like the watch your father gave you? Your driver’s license?”

My face grew warm. She was latching onto the few vestiges of the outside world I had yet to dispose of, but they had nothing to do with this. These days, except when I went out to visit my dad, the watch and the license remained tucked away in a drawer.

“No, it’s not about things. It’s about all of this,” I said, gesturing toward the people and activities that surrounded us on every side. “It’s about figuring out where I belong.”

Understanding seemed to bloom in her eyes. “Ty, this is where you belong,” she said emphatically. “With me. Everyone here loves you. I love you. This is your home.”

“I’m not like Tobias.” I looked at the happy new groom across the barn from us. He seemed a perfect fit in every way.

Rachel squeezed my hand. “Only Tobias is Tobias. You’re you. And whatever it is you think is out there calling to you, don’t you think you would have found it already? You’ve been outside, Tyler, more than most. You’ve seen the Englisch world every single time you’ve visited your dad.”

“I know, but—”

“And every time you have visited your dad, you’ve always been ready to come home after just a few days. Doesn’t that tell you anything?”

Her last comment took me by surprise. The world outside Lancaster County was a lot bigger than just California, where my father now lived. “This isn’t about him,” I muttered, releasing her hand.

Rachel’s gaze wouldn’t let me go. “How do you know it’s not?”

* * *

Excerpted from The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner

Want to keep reading? You can pick up a copy of the book through the publisher (40% off for the month of November!) or from your favorite book retailer.


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…

* * *

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.

* * *

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!


The Amish Blacksmith is a Christy Award Winner! (Giveaway)

What an exciting way to jump back into the blog! We’re so pleased to announce that The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner won a Christy Award in the Contemporary Series category! You can find a list of all the 2015 winners and learn more about the awards at

Curious what all the hullabaloo is about? Well, we’re giving away a copy of The Amish Blacksmith to one of you in celebration of this happy occasion! Just leave a comment with your email address letting us know you’d like to be entered in the drawing. You just might be a winner, too!

Fine print: Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, and participants must be 18 years old or older to enter. A winner will be randomly selected and emailed on Tuesday, July 7th. This giveaway is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook, WordPress, or Twitter.

The Amish BlacksmithThe Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner (August 2014)

Book 2 in The Men of Lancaster County series

(Book 1: The Amish Groom; Book 3: The Amish Clockmaker)

About the Book:

Apprenticed blacksmith Jake Miller is skeptical of Priscilla Kinsinger’s innate ability to soothe troubled horses, especially when he has own ideas on how to calm them. Six years earlier, Priscilla’s mother died in an awful accident at home, and Priscilla’s grief over losing her mother was so intense that she was sent to live with relatives in Indiana. She has just returned to Lancaster County.

Not that her homecoming matters to Jake, who is interested in courting lighthearted Amanda Shetler. But Jake’s boss is Priscilla’s uncle, and when the man asks Jake to help his niece reconnect with community life, he has no choice but to do just that. Surprisingly, he finds himself slowly drawn to the beautiful but emotionally wounded Priscilla.

Jake then determines to prove to her that it’s not her fault her mother died, but what he discovers will challenge everything they both believe about the depth of love and the breadth of forgiveness.