I’m so excited to share my web space with a special guest today. Brenda Nixon is here to tell us of her experiences with the Swartzentruber Amish. Hope you enjoy! I know I did!

Amish Teens Today
by Brenda Nixon

Often admired. Misunderstood. Mysterious. I’m learning volumes deep inside the Amish from the many formers I know. Most left the Swartzentruber Order – the strictest and most punitive. Predominantly guys but a few gals have come through our home.

One thing that isn’t too different from us is that the Amish creatively push the envelope on the rules. Many see what they can get away with before the line is crossed – a rule broken – and the Bishop or Preacher comes a calling.

Sometimes the stories are funny. Sometimes they are sad.

Our “son” from the Amish – Mosie – chuckled as he told me of homes where the no electricity rule didn’t apply to the barn. Out there some Amish enjoyed lights and power tools.

Our son-in-law Harvey – also from the Swartzentruber Order – explained that buggy windshields were verboten. He grinned in glee when related the time he invented a windshield by wrapping his black buggy with clear plastic wrap.

“It was winter and I was cold going to work and back,” Harvey reasoned. “So I made a windshield. I left early in the morning while it was still dark and came home at night, so my dad couldn’t see my buggy. Then a guy saw my windshield and told Dad.”

Harvey’s dad is a bishop. He made Harvey remove the invention.

Before he left the Amish, Harvey spotted an old, broken bicycle – verboten. In the Swartzentruber Order, bicycles or any item with broken-bicyclerubber wheels are against the rules.

“I was walking home one day and found a bike in a farmer’s trash pile.” Harvey claimed the worldly prize, walked it over two miles home, and while his parents were away, hid the thing in his father’s workshop. He explained how he tinkered with it. Made repairs. Then he took his new “worldly” device over a hill and down in a deep culvert to keep in seclusion. “I told some of my friends,” he said. So they could all share in the community “sin.” Harvey added, “But, we rode at night so we wouldn’t get caught.”

Now, I think Harvey is clever to repair something he’s never owned.  Like many Amish, he demonstrates a visual learning style. He looks at, watches, and pays attention to detail to educate himself.

I’ve met Swartzentruber Amish who’ve purchased homes from English – with indoor plumbing – but kept promising the Bishop they’d remove that “worldly” convenience. And those who promise to build a room addition without electric and plumbing. Somehow that room addition is never built.

Mosie likes to tease. I can imagine he was ornery growing up.

Others have boasted of their ingenuity in getting around the rigid rules. I recently saw a picture of . . . well, I can hardly describe it. Not a car. Truck. Motorcycle. Nor a four-wheeler. It was a mismatched combination of those parts. Therefore the Amish driver wasn’t breaking a rule or committing a “sin” by driving the combined contraction. He wasn’t driving a car, truck, motorcycle or a four-wheeler. I guess his settlement hadn’t made a rule against using a collective vehicle.

The teens hide radios and cell phones in the woods, inside the barn, or up in the attic. Some girls buy underwear at Victoria’s Secret because, after all, nobody will SEE their “worldly” undergarment. The Swartzentruber Ordnung – rule book – prohibits English underwear; rather, they are to make their own.

Not unlike teens of any culture, most Amish youth push the envelope. I know some who keep a “worldly” automobile tucked away in the woods. They ride their buggies into the protection of the trees where they tie up the horse, change into English clothes, hop in the car, and cruise around town. Without a driver’s license! In the wee early-morning hours, they sneak the vehicle back to the designated hide out, change into their strict, plain Amish clothing, climb into the buggy, and trot home before morning. Hoping to avoid detection.

Our second “son” from the Amish – Monroe – hid his cell phone in his loose Amish pants pocket. When he was at home, he would watch movies on his DVD player. Where’d he get that? He bought a DVD player at Walmart, and then hooked it up to a battery. Monroe and his sister, Sarah, would tiptoe up the steps of their home at night carrying the DVD player to their bedroom. There, they’d watch movies into the night. I can visualize a soft blue glow emanating from the upstairs of a darkened Amish home.

Monroe told me of his friends who’d take pictures with their cell phones – during prayer in church!

We read books and see TV programs about the Amish. But I’m learning of a very human dimension. Most have a God-given inquisitiveness. Apprentices in life. Unfortunately, it’s that freelancing curiosity and resourcefulness that can get their teens in trouble. And it’s often those with imagination, goals, and aspirations that don’t fit the conformity – the solidarity – of the Amish who leave for the “outside” life.

If you’d like to learn more about Swartzentruber Amish and Brenda’s “kids” from that culture, check out her blog:

Beyond Buggies and Bonnets

Follow Brenda on Twitter

Thank you for sharing your stories, Brenda! You’re welcome to comeback anytime.

Carol Award Finalists Announced

Yesterday an exciting day! Why, you ask? Because  the finalist for the 2013 Carol Awards were announced, and Saving Gideon is a finalist in the romance category! I am grinning from ear to ear! So very excited to be among such great names as my dear friend, Margaret Daley as well as Carolyn Zane, Bradilyn Collins, and Beth Wiseman, who are also finalist this year.

Whew! Now we have to wait until September when the winners are announced. Truly it’s an honor to be a finalist…I can wait…for a while. :) Until then, here’s the cover and blurb for Saving Gideon:


Gideon Fisher wants only one thing out of life— to be left alone.  This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife.  He has lost his faith.  He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community.  But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does he have but to let her in?

Dallas socialite, Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere life style.    Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through—–yet another—–bad breakup.  Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money.  All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself.  Avery soon discovers that the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart.

But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before.  Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her.  But it has even more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness.

Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness.  But as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles or will their sheer differences pull them apart?

B&H Publishing

Saving Gideon is the first novel in the Clover Ridge Series

Cover Reveal–Gabriel’s Bride

Katie’s Choice has launched and it’s time now to view the incredibly awesome cover for the third installment in the Clover Ridge Series. Here it is…Gabriel’s Bride

gabriel'sbridePersonally, I LOVE it! (But green is one of my favorite colors). Weigh in…what do you think?


Street Team

street team2All right, chickadees, I’m looking for a few good readers to help me spread the word about my books. Membership is easy and free *and* comes with perks. Some of which are so secret that even I don’t know about them. :)

Seriously though, if you’re interested in joining my Street Team, I’d be thrilled to have you. A Street Team’s job is simple–help promote the author’s work. This can be accomplished in many ways–Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, or whatever is your social media of choice.

I’m still pounding out the details and filing down a few rough edges and hope to have something in place very soon. In the meantime you can join using the STREET TEAM tab on this site.

Street Team membership is not without perks. I’ve got a few introductory gifts to dole out as well as an exclusive drawing each month for the members. That means a drawing for prizes for the members only! YAY!

Hope you’ll join me in spreading the word!

Ain’t That A Peach

With peaches in a wicker basket on the tablecloth, on a background of foliageSo yesterday I was struck with a thought of sheer brilliance. Since this doesn’t happen often (or as often as I’d like) I thought I would share it with you. Peaches!

Wait, of course that’s brilliant, when you add in the fact that I’m collecting peach recipes to add to the April newsletter. I’ve got one recipe to share as well as a couple to test out. Yes, it;s a tough job, but that’s how much you mean to me.

If you have a recipe starring peaches and you’d like to share it with the other readers, send me an email. You can use this site’s CONTACT ME or simply send it direct at Be it peach smoothie or gourmet peach souffle, we want to hear about it!

Thanks for reading and joining in! I appreciate you all!

“The Call” Blog Hop

Every published author has a story to tell about when they first got the call that they were signing with their agent or publishing house. I wish I could tell you this fabulous story about getting the call from Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency and it being so totally unexpected that it took my breath away. But that’s not how it happened.

TheCallBlogHopActually, it went a little something like this…

I had sent out 16 (yes, 1-6) query letters to agents.  I had decided that if I was going to get anywhere in the writing  business, I needed an agent on my side. And I was determined to find an agent. Thankfully I did, and  one of the the best. (Waves to Mary Sue).

But as with most transactions in the  writing world, there was a lot  of “hurry up and wait” that went on. I sent her my query. I got a letter back  saying she would like a partial. I sent her a partial. I got a letter back  saying she wanted to see the complete. Squeee…I sent it out. And I waited.

Now, I have to tell you that every time I’ve gotten back my manuscript over the years, it has never been good. Nev-ver. So when I got home and saw a big fat envelope-package waiting for me, my heart sank. I didn’t even have to read the  return address to know who it was from. I trudged up the stairs to the mail box and pulled it out, telling myself for the millionth time in my days of trying to publish that one more rejection wasn’t going to break me. I wasn’t all that disappointed. (I was crushed, but I wasn’t going to admit  it).

I didn’t even open it. I didn’t want to read what she said. If it was anything like my previous letters it would say how my writing was good, but it needed “more”. More what I hadn’t figured out and it was looking like I never would. I sat the package on the dinning room table and walked away.

My son, at the time young enough to covet any unclaimed mail, asked  me if I was going to open it. I shrugged. Did I really need to be told again that my characters were lovable and sympathetic but…

“Can I open it?” he asked.

“Sure,” I  said, with another half-hearted shrug.

Let me just say that I am so glad I  had a young reader! And to think that I had almost shoved it in the filing cabinet without even seeing what Mary Sue had to say.

Not a breath taking moment, but momentous all the same.

Want to read about how other authors received their “call.”? Check out our The Call Blog Hop. Details and a full list of participants are available here: Be sure to check  it out, there are several giveaways along the hop.

My giveaway? A copy of Saving Gideon and a Bag of Swag. To be entered all you have to do is answer this question: Have you ever thrown away an important piece of mail? Or maybe shoved it in a drawer, unopened and forgotten?

Be sure to check my Facebook fan page more ways to increase your chances to win. The winner will be contacted after Friday and so everyone knows, This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

Good luck!

Amish–What Intrigues You?

amish_boysWe here all love the Amish. At least I assume you do or else you wouldn’t be reading this. But each of us has something special they love most of all about these conservative and inspirational people.

I can remember the first time I heard about the Amish. I was young–still young enough to be living at home–though I can’t remember my exact age. I thought the person who was telling me about the Amish was not telling me the truth. How could these people live without electricity? Wear old-fashioned clothes and drive horse and buggies? In the 20th century even. How was this even possible? But I started reading up on the Amish and found out what I could, which wasn’t a lot. (Keep in mind here this is before the internet and the world was a much larger place.) But I found out one very important thing–the Amish were real.

I still have that same awe about them now–one that makes me nearly tongue-tied whenever I have the opportunity to talk with them. (I know, right? Me speechless!) But to me they are that special, frozen in time. And yet not. They see the world around them , but they (for the most part) choose not to live in that manner. Instead they carve out their life in an old fashion way that is both commendable and charming.

So I’ve asked myself why I find the Amish so intriguing and each day my answer is different. But the gist of it is always the same. Community. I love the fact that they live together, depend on themselves, each other and God for almost all that they need. How much better a place the entire world would be if we paid more attention to community instead of just ourselves.

What is it about the Amish that intrigues you?

What Inspires you?

I have to say that I am inspired by many things. Music, the sky, and pictures. I love pictures. Here’s a few pics off my inspiration board. Enjoy!

amish (4)

If you’ve ever been on my blog you’ve seen this image before, but it still one of my favorites.


Magical. It seems to me that this forest holds more than meets the eye.

cowboy[69]Do I really need to say anything about this picture? I didn’t think so. ;)

van gogh

Actually anything by Van Gogh inspires me.


Great friends!

(Left to right–Jennifer Beckstrand, Vannetta Chapman, Kelly Irvin, Mary Ellis, Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Moi, Shelley Shepard Gray, Kelly Long, and Amanda Flower)

What inspires you?