Lyn Interviews Mystery Author Linda Hall & Giveaway!

Linda Hall

My guest today is author Linda Hall, a longtime online friend. She’s an interesting person who writes great mysteries. BTW, Linda is offering a free coupon for STRANGE FACES, her short story collection via her newsletter. To sign up for her newsletter: http://writerhall.com/newsletter/
Here’s Linda:

1-Share one fun or interesting fact about your life or books.
I love the water and I love swimming. So, it’s a good thing that my husband and I spend our summers aboard our sailboat, Mystery. It’s our summer cottage.

2-Why do you write?
Simple answer – I write because it’s what I do. It’s about the only thing I can do sort-of well. Every so often I think about “retiring.” I usually entertain that thought for around five minutes before I’m wildly plotting away again. Actually, I can’t think of another thing I would rather be spending my days on. I grew up reading the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, so it would be natural that when I grew up, writing mysteries would be what I would do pretty much full time.
I didn’t begin by writing novels. In my early adulthood I was a journalist and wrote feature and news for several newspapers, but in my entire life, all of my jobs have had something to do with writing.

3-In what ways does your heroine show strength? And where does she draw this strength?
Oh my! My heroine Em Ridge has so much strength and strength of character. Night Watch opens eighteen months after her husband’s tragic death, and Em feels vulnerable and sad. She feels she can’t do anything right. She is wrong, though. First of all, she is physically strong. She has spent most of her life in and around boats, mostly sailboats, teaching sailing, and  working around them. She can out race almost any sailor around.

Since her husband’s death she has earned her boat delivery Captain’s License which allows her to deliver boats—usually luxury yachts—from Point A to Point B. It takes a certain amount of inner strength to captain a boat and manage a crew. You must have a certain amount of authority and command, and as Em says, “Democracy may work well on land but at sea the captain is The Captain.”

Yet, she doesn’t always feel particularly strong. What strength she has comes from a deep reservoir inside of herself. She has left the God of her childhood and the beliefs she grew up with. In that aspect she is searching. She is still searching. It will take several books in the Em Ridge Mystery Series before she gets that part of her life sorted through.”–Linda

Night Watch

To purchase, click here. Night Watch: An Em Ridge Mystery

NIGHT WATCH
Desolate Maine shores… Murder… And peace slipping away on the outgoing tide…

For yacht delivery captain, Em Ridge, having a billionaire’s daughter go overboard on her first captaining job is not a good beginning. The sailboat is new, state of the art, her crew on this trip include two close sailing friends. But an unknown fourth, who can’t even tie a bowline, and the unruly owner’s daughter turn the idyllic trip into an adventure not wanted.

Two years ago Em buried her husband, her soulmate, her sailing buddy, and with him buried a secret. As hours on the open seas slide by, secrets are resurrected that tie Em’s past to a present, awash with murder and deception.

Will Em’s career go overboard? Will the investigating detective help her or hurt her? And why does the best boat delivery captain on the east coast pull at her heart strings?

The oft foggy coast of Maine holds secrets it does not want to give up, and a lot of bodies can be hidden in The Pine Tree State’s largest city.

Thanks, Linda. QUESTION: Do any of you sail or have ever been on a sailboat? I’ve only been once and that was on a small lake in Iowa, a loooooong time ago. Don’t forget Linda’s offer of the digital short story collection!–Lyn

 

For more about Linda online:
www.writerhall.com
www.facebook.com/writerhall
Twitter @writerhall

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Lyn Reviews Marta Perry’s The Forgiven & THE WINNERS of the Scavenger Hunt

The Forgiven: Keepers of the Promise: Book OneThe Forgiven: Keepers of the Promise: Book One by Marta Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Forgiven is not the first novel I’ve read by award-winning author Marta Perry so I wasn’t surprised at how well written and thought-provoking the story was.

Marta Perry knows what she’s doing in creating characters that spring to life within the pages of her novel. One doesn’t need to be Amish to face the problems that young widow Rebecca Fisher and Matthew, the prodigal nephew, do.

Juxtaposititioned to the present is the old family story of Anna Esch and her sweetheart Jacob facing the challenges of being Amish during WWII.

As Rebecca reads of Anna’s struggles to keep faith in a tumultuous time, she finds the strength to face the challenges of single parenthood and making her own way.

I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this novel from the author who is a friend. HOWEVER, my review is honest. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading Amish or inspirational fiction

Do you enjoy reading Amish novels?–Lyn

View all my reviews

WINNERS OF THE SCAVENGER HUNT!

KINDLE FIRE HDX

Erin Connor

33 BOOKS ONE BY THE AUTHORS

Heather Hart

Lynne Tidei

And the winner of my $5 amazon gift card is Carla. Here’s her thank you:

Hi, Lyn!
Wow!  I can’t believe it!  I don’t usually win anything!
Thanks so much for letting me know!  I did receive another email with the gift card information.  Thanks so much!  I really enjoyed the scavenger hunt and learned about so many authors that I had not heard of.  There are quite a few books on my wish list, including several of yours.  I will use the gift card to purchase one of the books!
Thanks again!

Congratulations to these ladies. And thanks for your participation. Look forward to the Spring Scavenger Hunt!

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SCAVENGER HUNT STOP #6

Welcome to the Autumn 2014 Scavenger Hunt. You have arrived at Stop #6. The hunt begins at noon (Mountain Time Zone) on October 17, 2014. You may have arrived here before the start which could mean all of the sites aren’t ready quite yet. Once the official start has begun, you should go to Stop #1 http://www.robinleehatcher.com/scavenger-hunt-stop-1-autumn-2014 and then work your way through the sites, gathering clues and entering bonus giveaways, until you reach the final stop which will also be on the site of Robin Lee Hatcher.
The hunt ends on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at one minute before midnight (Mountain). That means you have all of the weekend to finish it, so take your time. Enjoy reading the exclusive content the authors have prepared for you. You will collect a CLUE IN RED at each stop. Write them down as you go. At the end of the hunt, you will enter the clues into a Rafflecopter form. (The answer will make sense, even if you aren’t familiar with the quote.)

The hunt is open to international entries. The grand prize is a Kindle Fire HDX. Two runners-up will receive a new release from each of the participating authors.

IN CASE YOU FIND A BROKEN LINK…
Robin Lee Hatcher has prepared a “cheat sheet” with direct links to each author’s post in case a site goes down or a link gets broken. We hope there will be no such issues, but just in case, please make note of the URL for the Participating Authors & Stops page so you can check back and be able to complete the hunt.

IMPORTANT NOTE: IF YOU ENTER YOUR NAME ABOVE TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY ENEWSLETTER, YOU WILL RECEIVE THE OLD FAMILY RECIPES BOOKLET ***AND***BE ENTERED INTO A DRAWING FOR A $5 AMAZON GIFT CARD!!!

NOW FOR MY GUEST TODAY-JODY HEDLUND!

Jody Hedlund

 Lighthouses, Lakes, and Love . . . Oh My!

By Jody Hedlund

Over the past year I’ve become obsessed with lighthouses.

It all started when I began to do research for a lighthouse series my editor asked me to write regarding women light keepers who worked in Michigan lighthouses.

Michigan is a peninsula surrounded on three sides by Great Lakes. As a result, Michigan has gained notoriety for being the state with the most lighthouses. It has over 120 compared to 500 total nationwide.
Since I live in the middle of Michigan, I’m within a couple of hours driving distance to many lighthouses. So of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do hands-on research.
Accompanied by my two teen daughters and my mom, we drove up the coast of Lake Huron. We stopped first at Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and climbed all the way to the top of the tower. The view over the rocky isthmus and lake was stunning.
Sturgeon Bay

Our second stop of the day was at the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse.

Old Presque Isle
This 40 foot tower and unattached keeper’s house provide the setting for my novella, Out of the Storm, and first lighthouse book, Love Unexpected. The remote wilderness setting drew me to this tiny lighthouse along with the stories behind some of the women keepers who lived there.
Finally, we made our way to the New Presque Isle Lighthouse which was built further north to replace the old crumbling one. Thankfully both the old and new structures have survived the passing of time and the harsh weather and now remain testaments to their once important role in saving lives.
New Presque Isle
After my research trip, I began to understand the appeal lighthouses have. Not only are they beautiful and picturesque, but they bring back a sense of nostalgia, poignancy, and romance that few other historical markers do.

The Attraction to Lighthouses

 They’re rich in historical details and stories. They’re wrought with danger and death. And they’re just plain fun to explore. Climbing the winding staircase, reaching the top, and peering out the tower windows (or in some cases going out onto the gallery) is breathtaking.
The men and women who lived in the lighthouses faced deprivation, isolation, and often great losses. Every time I visit a lighthouse, I gain a deeper appreciation for the people who devoted their lives to serve their country through manning the lights.
This past year, the Christian band, Rend Collective, wrote a song titled, “My Lighthouse” in which they compare God to a lighthouse.
If you have a minute, watch the video on YouTube here. The song has such an awesome message!
Here’s the chorus:
My Lighthouse, my lighthouse?Shining in the darkness, I will follow You?My Lighthouse, my Lighthouse?I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore
The truth is that amidst all the darkness that life brings, God is there. He radiates a sliver of hope, a shining beam that cuts through the darkness and keeps us afloat. Is God your Lighthouse?

As a gift to you

Outo f the Storm

(and to get you excited about lighthouses), I’m offering a FREE copy of my recently released lighthouse e-novella, Out of the Storm. Go to one of these sites to download the FREE e-novella today: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com

Question for YOU: Do you like lighthouses? Have you ever visited one? If so, where and what was it like?

CLUE: We cannot enter

Here is the link to Jody’s site, Stop #7

 
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Author Miralee Ferrell & Her Daughter’s True Story & Book Giveaway

Miralee and horse

My guest today is author Miralee Ferrell and she has her daughter’s true story to share. BTW, SHE’S OFFERING A COPY OF DREAMING OF DAISIES SO LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER THE DRAWING! Here’s Miralee:

“Marnee Ferrell, my nineteen-year-old daughter, had been hired to do a man’s job on a 75,000 acre cattle ranch in dry, rocky, central Oregon. She sat on Ricky, her Morgan gelding, and surveyed the herd of about twenty-five head she must move from the pasture to the ranch house, eight miles away. Very little fazed this horse; not deer, snakes on the road, steep hillsides or cars zipping by. He’d never been around cattle before this job, but Marnee hadn’t hesitated to try him on a new adventure.

Marnee Ferrell

Marnee

She urged the mixed group of cows and calves toward the wide gate. They were moving nicely when a spotted cow with twisted horns defected from the herd and bolted the opposite direction. Ricky didn’t hesitate. He leaped after the cow as though it were a game.
Marnee pushed Ricky to turn back the cow—the rest of the animals were infected by the same desire to escape. Cows have very little sense, and they plowed through and over the tight, razor-sharp fence. By the time the last one reached the remains of the fence, it had been torn down, with the cattle running up the shale-covered sides of the canyon.

Ricky Bigger2

Ricky

Ricky was incredibly quick and Marnee was depending on his agility as she bent low over his neck. She needed to get far enough ahead to turn the leaders—the rest would fall in behind. She ran Ricky up and down the  steep canyon walls, jumping brush and sliding on the treacherous loose shale. While coming down one hillside she prayed Ricky wouldn’t misstep. The ground was so steep her stirrups dragged in the dirt, and she held them up to clear the rocks. She hit the bottom of the gully and gained the lead, heading off the offending cow, and the rest followed.

The next mile or two the cattle calmed as they returned through the broken fence and up the road towards home. They followed an old road, fenced on both sides, but someone hadn’t closed a gate. The cow with twisted horns ran at high speed through the opening with the rest on her heels.

Again Marnee and Ricky charged after the herd. They spent another frustrating hour pounding over treacherous ground, avoiding holes and jumping brush, as they brought the cattle back onto the trail. Pushing cattle with no one riding point is tricky, but the ranch was short-handed with only one other experienced rider in another location, so Marnee had no choice.

With growing frustration she pushed her sweat-soaked horse. The cow that caused the trouble was decidedly unhappy. Three times she’d been deterred from returning to her pasture. As Ricky and Marnee took a breather, the fast moving, bawling cow spun, ran, and rammed into Ricky’s chest, knocking him backward. Shaken from the attack, Marnee kept her seat, then dismounted to ascertain Ricky hadn’t been gored. Thankfully, the cow’s horns were turned inward and didn’t do any damage. Ricky calmly moved forward and bent to his task as Marnee again collected the herd.

Both horse and rider were covered in dust, sweat and scratches from the rugged terrain they’d covered that five-hour day, but satisfaction poured through Marnee as she and Ricky arrived at their destination.

Marnee is like Leah Carlson, my heroine in Dreaming on Daisies—a young woman who is running a ranch almost single-handedly—with a tenacious strength and determination to win out over very high odds. She’s forced to succeed or lose the ranch, due to her father’s heavy drinking—but she’s constantly slammed with numerous trials that send her emotions reeling. But like Marnee, Leah never gives up—she’s a strong woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to work for it. “–Miralee

DreamingDaisies_Revised

To purchase, click here. Dreaming on Daisies: A Novel (Love Blossoms in Oregon Series Book 3)

Dreaming on Daisies—Just Released—Part of the Love Blossoms in Oregon Series
When her father’s debts, brought on my heavy drinking, threaten Leah Carlson’s family ranch, she fights to save it. When handsome banker Steven Harding must decline her loan request, he determines to do what he can to help. Just as he arrives to serve as a much-needed ranch hand, Leah’s family secrets—and the pain of her past—come to a head. They could destroy everything she’s fought for. And they could keep her from ever opening her heart again.

This is historical romance that offers hope and healing to the deepest wounds in a woman’s past.

Bio
Miralee Ferrell is a multi-published, award-winning author of 11 books. She lives in the Pacific NW with her husband of 42 years, where they enjoy working in their yard and garden, riding horses and playing with their dogs. Two of Miralee’s books in the Love Blossoms in Oregon series are currently on sale—with Forget Me Not (Love Blossoms in Oregon Series)
offered 99 cents on all ebook formats until Oct. 14.

So what did you think of that true story??? Miralee must be very proud of her daughter.

QUESTION: Has your daughter or other family member ever done something you were proud of?–Lyn

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Lyn Reviews Author Sharon Dunn’s Guard Duty

Guard Duty (Texas K-9 Unit, #3)Guard Duty by Sharon Dunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read other mysteries by Sharon Dunn, such as Cow Crimes and the Mustang Menace
Cow Crimes and the Mustang Menace (Ruby Taylor Mystery #3) by Sharon Dunn

and Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear
Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear (Bargain Hunters Mysteries, #2) by Sharon Dunn
.

I loved her wit and zany humor. Now she’s writing for Love Inspired Suspense and her tone is different in Guard Duty. This book is more serious and emotional.

I liked the heroine Valerie Salgado and the hero Trevor Lewis. I think this book is part of a Love Inspired continuity series, so don’t be surprised when a major plot thread is introduced toward the end but not tied up. Harlequin likes to do these 6 book series where each book is written by a different author and are connected by place and a theme. In this case, the series is TEXAS K-9 UNIT.

Valerie has taken custody of her toddler niece and a killer is after Valerie, thinking she can identify her for a killing. FBI agent Trevor is there trying to find another killer who is from the same Texas town.

The suspense aspect was believable and the story moved well. However, I miss Sharon Dunn’s light touch of humor. However, I realize it wouldn’t fit this type of story.

So I must accept Sharon’s new kind of mystery!

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PS: THE WINNER OF MARTA PERRY’S THE FORGIVEN IS Marsha Graham!

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Author Denise Devine & “Both My Grandmas”

Author Denise Devine

Last year I joine a Group of Authors. We call ourselves the SWEET ROMANCE READS group (NOTE: the graphic on the left.) Author Denise Devine is a member and she’s here to share about her latest release and both her grandmas. Here’s Denise:

“I grew up learning about life from both of my grandmothers.

They were strong women who not only survived the depression and the dust bowl years, but they flourished when most people were struggling. No matter how difficult things became, they never quit working toward a better life and never lost their zeal.

Grandma Esther

My grandma Esther

quit school at fifteen, got a job in a bedding factory sewing mattresses in Minneapolis and worked her way up to a foreman position. She made $16 a week and that was big money at the time! I used to listen to her stories about living through the depression, World War II and the Armistice Day Blizzard (11/11/1940). During my childhood, she taught me to sew clothes on her Singer treadle machine. I watched her can vegetables and make jam. Her favorite pastime was going to the movies and collecting recipes from newspapers and magazines. I still have those recipes. My sister has the sewing machine.

My Grandma Gladys

became a widow in her late forties and supported her two youngest daughters by working in a bakery. Despite being a single mother, she still managed to save money. She had a commercial safe in her closet where she stored silver dollars. (It was a heavy metal box on wheels.) She had enough coins for a down payment to build an office building on her land in the 1960s and start her own fashion shop on the main floor. She stayed open for business until she was 93.

The strength and resilience of these women made a deep impression upon me. They were self-educated and tough. Grandma Esther instilled me with self-sufficiency and compassion while Grandma Gladys taught me to be shrewd with money.

So, it’s no surprise that the heroines in my books exhibit the traits of Esther and Gladys.

Merry Christmas Darling_Cover_Kindle

I couldn’t portray them any other way. In my current release, “Merry Christmas, Darling,” the heroine is a nurse practitioner. Some of the residents in her condominium building are elderly and need minor assistance to stay independent. Kim likes helping them. It comes easy for her. But when the handsome bachelor in the penthouse unit, Rock Henderson, bargains with her to take care of him for a week, she lets him know that there will be no hanky-panky! She’s simply his neighbor in 601E, nothing more, nothing less. She doesn’t count on finding love under the mistletoe.

Sweet Christmas

To purchase, click here.Sweet Christmas Kisses: Fourteen Sweet Christmas Romances

Merry Christmas, Darling is a light romantic comedy in the newly released boxed set “Sweet Christmas Kisses,” a bundle of PG-rated romance novels and novellas from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. For a limited time, it’s available for 99 cents on Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo and GooglePlay.

BIO:
Denise Devine has had a passion for books since the second grade when she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since.??She lives on six wooded acres in East Bethel, Minnesota with her husband, Steve and her three problem (feline) children, Mocha, Lambchop and Tigger. She’s presently a cat person, but she loves all animals and they often find their way into her books. Besides reading and writing, Denise also loves to study and travel. You can visit her at www.deniseannettedevine.com , http://deniseannette.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/deniseannettedevine, Twitter: @denisedevine1

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Plain People Discussion Finale-Author Marta Perry & The Amish

Marta Perry
This week we come to the end of our PLAIN PEOPLE disucssion with Amish author Marta Perry. She is offering a copy of hew new book THE FORGIVEN to a commenter. Here’s Marta:

 

When and where did the Amish originate?

The Amish trace their roots back to the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century in Europe. Reformers began to question the Catholic Church, and such leaders as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and John Calvin eventually split with the church, beginning the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. On a trip to Europe a few years ago, I stood in a park in Geneva, Switzerland, looking at statues of those men and wondering at their courage in taking on the strongest force in their world.
But of course the questioning didn’t stop with those first leaders. Others challenged them, believing that true followers of Christ should live apart from the world’s standards. They rejected the idea of infant baptism, believing instead in baptism as a sign of adult commitment. Thus they came to be known as Anabaptists, or “re-baptizers.” As a result, they were soon condemned by both the Catholics and the mainstream Protestants!

Amish painting
In the ensuing years, persecution erupted, with hundreds martyred for their faith, a fact which is still prominent today in the firm commitment to non-violence of the Anabaptist churches.

The Anabaptists were eventually called “Mennonites” due to the teaching of Menno Simons. One of his followers, Jakob Ammann, became troubled by the lives of some Anabaptists, feeling they lived too comfortably with the surrounding society. Ammann’s stricter teachings eventually led to the formation of a new group, the Amish.

Because of continuing persecution, the Amish began immigrating to America in the early 1700s, along with a number of other German-speakers, including my own Swiss and German ancestors, the Ungers and the Taubenbergers. Arriving at the port of Philadelphia, they settled in nearby counties, eventually spreading west and forming new communities. By the 1930s, there were no Amish left in Europe.

What sets your group apart from other Christians?

The basic issue of adult baptism, common to all Anabaptists, is an obvious hallmark. An Amish young person is baptized when mature enough to make the choice to join the church, knowing that he or she is committing to living Amish for the rest of life.

Other aspects of being Amish that set them apart include yieldedness, nonviolence, humility, and obedience. The Amish way is that of being yielded to God’s will, no matter what happens. It is espousing the belief in turning the other cheek, as exemplified in the stories of the martyrs. Humility is not a popular virtue in a contemporary culture which puts emphasis on competition, individualism, and personal fulfillment. The Amish believe that humility, as shown in speech, dress, attitude, and a hundred other details of daily life, is the Christian way. Obedience runs through all of Amish life: obedience of children to parents, younger to older, members to the church. From these basic beliefs flow all the things we identify as Amish: plain dress, horse and buggy transport, close family life, and interdependence on the group.

Amish buggy

Is your group still alive today?

The Amish don’t merely survive, they thrive! When you consider that a very small number of people become converts, their growth seems even more astonishing. But not only do the Amish have large families, their retention rate of young adults is over 80%. Amish groups have spread to a number of states and Canada. In 2012, there were over 2,000 church districts, with a total population of over 270,000 people.

Why did you choose to write about this group?

I grew up in a small, rural community in southwestern Pennsylvania where there was a number of Plain people, many of whom went to school with me. Since then, I’ve lived in another rural community in central Pennsylvania, so the Amish and other Plain groups have always been part of my environment. I’m also of Pennsylvania Dutch descent, so the customs, traditions, and food we share creates a bond for me.

I first introduced Amish characters into a book I was writing in an existing series for Love Inspired. My editor said, “Do more of that!” So I did, and it’s led me to a very satisfying experience in writing about a group I know and admire.”–Marta

Amish home

Marta’s social media links:
http://www.facebook.com/martaperrybooks
http://www.martaperry.com
http://www.blogspot.com/booksbymartaperry

Thanks, Marta. I’ve studied some on the Amish but I didn’t realize that there were so many in the US. I don’t think I’d be interested in living Amish but I understand the attraction of a more simple life vs. the hectic life most of us live. And I love your Amish stories!  Be sure to LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED INTOT HE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF THE FORGIVEN. So here’s the

QUESTION: Do you read Amish stories? Why or why not?–Lyn

THE FORGIVVEN

To purchase, click here. The Forgiven: Keepers of the Promise: Book One

PS: The winner of Ann H Gabhart’s book is Maxie!

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Plain People Discussion Continues–Author Ann H Gabhart & The Shakers

Ann Gabhart

Well, our discussion of the different sects of PLAIN PEOPLE continues with Author Ann H Gabhart, also known as the Kentucky Storyteller. Ann will be giving away a copy of CHRISTMAS AT HARMONY HILL to a commenter so be sure to leave one Ann has been my guest before and I’m happy to host her again. Here’s Ann:

1-When and where did your sect of Plain People begin? Please elaborate as you wish.

Ann Lee was the principal leader of the religious group that came to be known as the Shakers. She led a small band of eight followers to America in 1774. Here she gained more followers who believed she was the “second embodiment of the Christ Spirit.” She and her followers established the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, but due to their style of worship in which they often shook when overcome by the spirit, people derisively called them Shakers. In time, the Believers embraced the name and called themselves Shakers. To escape the evil influences of the “world,” they established villages where they shut away worldly influences and all worked for the common good without individual gain. Any possessions or property they owned when they joined the Shakers were surrendered to the Society. Members of the sect gave up whatever the leadership deemed worldly and attempted to live perfect lives in villages they endeavored to make into little heavens on earth.

Shaker originator

At the turn of the nineteenth century, religious fervor swept the Western frontier, and thousands of people came to camp meetings such as the 1801 Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky to hear the gospel and embrace new ways to worship. The Shakers, whose communities were flourishing in New England, sent missionaries to the west to take advantage of this wave of revival. Two Shaker villages were established in Kentucky, Pleasant Hill and South Union, from the converts they were able to convince to follow the Shaker way.

2-What sets your group apart from other Christians?

Many things set Shakers apart from other Christian followers. They had very different beliefs than other church denominations. The Shakers believed in celibate living, community property and confession of sins. Mother Ann, as their founding leader was called, taught that individual family groups and marriage unions caused strife and led to sinful living. Shakers lived as brothers and sisters with the sexes strictly separated. Houses had two doors and two staircases so that even incidental contact could be avoided. Also, the Shakers believed in equality of the sexes and races at a time when that was very uncommon in general society. Shaker women had places of leadership along with the men and blacks were welcomed into Shaker villages on equal footing long before slavery was abolished and the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920.

The Shakers believed in unity in all things and that work was a way of worshiping. They “labored” their songs and “exercised” their dances in their meetings. They were staid, hard workers but exuberant and often frenzied in their worship. The Shakers sometimes opened their worship services in hopes of gaining converts, but most who attended from the “world” did so merely to view a curiosity and as a kind of odd entertainment. The church people who lived near the villages considered the Shaker worship wrong and even blasphemous. However, they did admire the Shakers’ charitable spirit and their fine workmanship of their buildings and their products. Shaker was perhaps the first widely known trade name that people all across the country recognized and trusted. If it was Shaker made, it would be as advertised and a good product.

Shaker house

3-Is your sect still active today? If so, why do you think that this sect has survived? If not, why do you think your sect didn’t last?

One Shaker village remains in Sabbathday Lake, Maine with two or three Shakers. All the other Shaker villages were abandoned by the middle of the 20th Century. Many think the Shakers died out because of their belief in celibate living which certainly didn’t lead to children growing up in the religion. The Shakers did take in orphans in hopes of raising them in the Shaker way, but nearly all of these children left when they came of age. Difficult economic times brought many converts into the village prior to the Civil War. At the Shaker villages, members were expected to work, but they were also guaranteed food and shelter and the young people received schooling. After the war, the villages began to lose many of their young and middle-aged men to the opportunities opened up by an era of industrialization. They were able to find jobs to support themselves and their families without having to abide by the Shakers’ strict rules. Those in leadership positions in the villages aged and without young leaders to take over for them, they stayed in control too long, often with abilities diminished by age that sometimes caused them to make bad financial decisions. As time went by, there was a gradual decrease in worship emphasis and an increase in social activities and amusements.

The Shaker population reached its peak in the 1820s with estimates of 4,000 members at all the villages in the country from Maine to Indiana. The villages began to close one by one as membership declined. In Kentucky, the twelve Shakers living at Pleasant Hill sold off much of their property to settle debts in 1910 and then deeded the rest of their property, 1,800 acres, to a neighboring farmer in exchange for his agreement to care for the remaining Shakers until their death. Mary Settles was the last to die in 1923. South Union, the other Kentucky Shaker village, closed in 1922 when the property was sold at auction. The two men and seven women remaining were offered the choice of relocating to an eastern village or receiving $10,000.

Both Kentucky villages are now open to the public. South Union is a museum (www.shakermuseum.com) and the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill was restored in the 1960’s as a living history museum where visitors can walk the same paths as the early Shakers and perhaps get a glimpse back in time at the Shaker life. www.shakervillageky.org

4-Why did you choose to write about this sect?

When I began writing novels many years ago–my first historical novel was published in 1978–I concentrated on Kentucky history since that’s where I live. I wrote about the pioneer days and the Civil War years. Then I wrote a book about the Shakers in Kentucky. Unfortunately, that story didn’t meet market needs at the time and stayed unpublished until years later I was blessed to have a book published in the Christian market, thus opening up new opportunities for my Shaker story. I worked it over and The Outsider was eventually published in 2008, almost thirty years after I’d first written that Shaker story. Then my publishers surprised me by asking me to write more Shaker books, not something I had planned to do. But I did go back into the Shaker world, did more research, found more fascinating Shaker history and came up with new Shaker characters. Each of the books I’ve written about the Shakers are stand alone stories set in my fictional Shaker village of Harmony Hill, but the physical setting is based on the Shaker village of Pleasant Hill near where I live here in Kentucky. So I suppose I wrote that initial Shaker story because I was captivated by the history of the Kentucky Shakers and then I wrote more Shaker stories because readers seemed as interested as I was in seeing my characters experience the Shaker way while dealing with the challenges and problems in their lives.

Here’s Ann’s most recent Shaker book.

To purchase, click here.Christmas at Harmony Hill: A Shaker Story

 

Christmas-Ann Gabhart

Christmas at Harmony Hill blurb

It is 1864 and the nation is still torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child. She has been working as a laundress with her husband’s army unit, but when the army gets orders to march south to Tennessee, Gideon insists Heather go home to have their child under safer conditions. Heather agrees, but returns home to another kind of devastation–deaths in the family and a father who refuses to forgive her for marrying a Yankee. With nowhere else to turn, Heather seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill, where her great aunt Sophrena lives. There, after many peaceful years at Harmony Hill, Sophrena is having doubts about her Shaker path. Both women are in need of love and forgiveness–whether given or received. With Christmas coming, can the miracle of new life fill their hearts with unexpected joy?

To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or join her on Facebook. www.facebook.com/anngabhart

Twitter https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart

Now Ann’s turn to ask  A QUESTION. Do you think you could have lived the Shaker way? Why or why not?–Ann

That’s a good Question, Ann. I don’t think I could. I like being married AND DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE INCLUDED IN THE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF CHRISTMAS AT HARMONY HILL.–Lyn

PS: Last week’s winner of Judith Miller’s A SHINING LIGHT is Emma!

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“Plain People” Discussion Continues–Author Judith Miller & the Amana

Judith Miller Amana Author

The second week of our PLAIN PEOPLE discussion features author Judith Miller who writes about the Amana. Many of you might never have heard of this sect. But since I lived in Iowa for almost twenty years, I am well acquainted with them. I recently ate at the Ronnenberg Restaurant in the Amana Colonies. And everyone has heard of Amana appliances, right?  Judith is offering a copy of her latest book in the HOME TO AMANA series, A Shining Light. BE SURE TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO ENTER THIS BOOK DRAWING.

So let’s see what Judith has to tell us about this interesting and unique group of Plain People, THE AMANA!

1-When and where did your sect of Plain People begin?

The Inspirationists eventually settled in Amana, Iowa originated in Germany, during the early 1700’s where a religious awakening had begun. They soon were persecuted due to their refusal to send their children to public schools, because they believed in freedom of speech and worship, because they were pacifists.

They took refuge in Hessen, Germany where they were given protection, but due to excessive rents and taxes, continued persecution and a killing drought, their leaders decided the Lord was leading them to a new place. They scouted land in America and first settled near Buffalo, New York, in 1842. They called their settlement, Ebenezer, and they adopted a constitution and established a communal system.

In 1855, when more farmland was needed for the expanding community that now numbered around 1,200 members, leaders looked to the west for farmland and finally agreed upon land in Iowa where the first village, Amana, was constructed. Five more villages, Middle Amana, High Amana, West Amana, South Amana and East Amana, were built. In 1861, Homestead was purchased. These seven villages and the 26,000 acres of land they came to own, are known as the Amana Colonies.

2-What sets your group apart from other Christians?

Eberhard L. Gruber, a Lutheran clergyman, and Johann F. Rock, a harness maker, became acquainted. They believed a prayerful relationship with the Lord would lead to a Godly life. They advocated humility through simple worship and believed that God may communicate to his followers through an inspired individual as He did in the days of the Biblical prophets. This individual, called a Werkzeug (instrument) is regarded as a tool of God’s will through which God speaks to his people. This was (and is) a foundation of the Amana Church. The last Werkzeuk was Barbara Heinemann Landmann who died in 1883. There has been no other Werkzeug since that time, although this belief remains  a foundation of the Amana Church.

Their communal lifestyle also set them apart from other religious sects. The community which now owned about 26,000 acres continued their communal lifestyle until 1932 when the members voted to abandon the communal way of life, but maintain their community. The old system was set aside and a new profit-sharing, joint stock corporation, the Amana Society was formed.

3-Is your sect still active today? If so, why do you think that this sect has survived? If not, why do you think your sect didn’t last?

Yes, they are still active. Although they believed that remaining single was preferable (so that there would be no distraction from individual relationship with the Lord), marriage was permitted. Unlike the Shakers who lived communally, but prohibited marriage and were housed in dormitory style housing, the residents of Amana lived in houses with their families. Many of the houses were quite large so there would be apartments for single or small families. Each set of living quarters had a parlor and bedrooms although there were no kitchens since all of the cooking and meals were shared in communal kitchen houses. There were more than 50 kitchen houses in the seven villages feeding the 1,500 residents three meals a day plus two coffee breaks.

Visitors may attend church services in South Amana, the early service is still conducted in German while the later service is in English.

4-Why did you choose to write about this sect?

I am drawn to unique settings, so after a visit to the Amana Colonies many years ago, I knew I wanted to write about these people and their history in this country. They have maintained fabulous historical documentation which, for any writer of historical books is a wonderful gift. After spending time in their museum, touring the villages, and perusing some of their archives, I was captivated and knew I wanted to share stories set in the Colonies. The Inspirationists have a rich history in this country. Although there are a number of non-fiction books and a multitude of articles and theses setting forth the history of the group, there are not many works of fiction set in the Colonies. After writing six books set in the Colonies, I have developed many friendships among the residents and have enjoyed the relationships I’ve developed over the past years.

I look forward to hearing any questions or comments you might have regarding the Amana Colonies.

Blessings,
Judy

Online:

www.judithmccoymiller.com

https://www.facebook.com/authorjudithmiller

or on Twitter at @JudithMiller18

A Shining Light

To purchase, click here.A Shining Light (Home to Amana)

Back cover copy:

The kind people of Amana have been her guiding light, but her greatest trial is yet to come. . . West Amana, Iowa, 1890  After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.??Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans–especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas’s future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?

Short Bio:

Although born and reared in a small suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Judy moved to Kansas at the age of seventeen and has considered the sunflower state ‘home’ ever since. She currently lives in Topeka, and in her spare time enjoys reading, traveling, scrapbooking, researching history, and Bible study.

Writing Christian fiction is Judy’s second career. For many years she worked as a legal assistant in law firms and later worked in government law offices. She has retired from legal work in order to write fulltime —a vocation she considers both a ministry and a blessing from the Lord.

Judy has authored or co-authored more than twenty-five books since she began writing in 1996. Her love of history and her desire to point readers to the love and grace of Jesus are reflected in all of her books.

Upcoming authors:

Ann H Gabhart-who often writes about Shakers, guests on September 22

and Marta Perry-who writes about the Amish, winds this up on September 29

QUESTION: Had you ever heard of the Amana before? Do you see any similarities between the Amana and the Quakers? Leave a reply to be entered in the book drawing!

PS: Last week’s winner of HONOR is Linda Kubick!

 

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“Plain People”–Amish, Amana, Shakers and Quakers–A Discussion

As many of you are aware, I often (but not always) write about Quakers or the Society of Friends. At the release of HONOR, the first in my “Quaker Brides” series, I decided to hold a discussion about these Christian sects which are often called “Plain.”

According to Wikipeida, “Plain people are Christian groups characterized by separation from the world and simple living, including plain dress.”

I will of course be presenting the Quakers. The other participating authors are:

Judith Miller-who writes about Amana, and will guest next Monday September 15,

Ann H Gabhart-who often writes about Shakers, guests on September 22

and Marta Perry-who writes about the Amish, winds this up on September 29

Each author will answer four questions on their day, but will also drop by and comment each week. I hope you’ll join our discussion! (AND LEAVE A COMMENT THIS WEEK TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF HONOR!)

Here are the questions and my answers FOR THE QUAKERS:

1-When and where did your sect of Plain People begin? Please elaborate as you wish.

The Quakers or Society of Friends began in England with the vision of George Fox around 1650 in England. He preached throughout England and Netherland and Barbados. He was soon brought up on charges of blasphemy by the established Church of England before a magistrate Bennet. This was when they earned the name Quakers. According to George Fox’s autobiography, Bennet “was the first person that called us Quakers, because I bade them tremble at the word of the Lord”.

And we all learned about William Penn, a prominent Quaker who settled Pennsylvania in the 1680’s (I think this photo must be of a very young Wm Penn–before he became a Quaker. No frills or armor for Quakers!)

Wm Penn

2-What sets your group apart from other Christians?

Friends have like other groups separated into different types, but the basic principles of the Friends are

  1. that every Christian can know God personally without the intervention of church hierarchy
  2. all Christians–male and female or of whatever race–are equal before God
  3. to live a plain simple life
  4. in peace.

Their main belief was #1–they called it “The Inner LIght” or “Christ’s Light.” They believed in following this Light.

In the 18th and 19th century, a small percent of Quakers were active in abolition, women’s rights and temperance. They succeeded in all three, finally with Prohibition in 1920. The last one was found to be flawed because merely taking away intoxicants does not change the causes of substance abuse. But as the popular song says: 2 out of 3 aint’ bad. ;-)
3-Is your sect still active today? If so, why do you think that this sect has survived? If not, why do you think your sect didn’t last?

The Society of Friends are still alive and well in the world. But since the early 20th century when they dropped the use of the distinctive “thee” and “thy” and began dressing like their contemporaries, they aren’t as noticeable. However, they remain active in social justice and remain pacifists.

4-Why did you choose to write about this sect?

I am very interested that such a numerically small and distinctive group could affect our Western Civilization so radically. The Quakers were definitely salt and light in their dark world.

If you’d like to view a video about the Quakers, click here.

QUESTION: Have you read any PLAIN PEOPLE books? Which? What did you think? Remember to leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of my HONOR.–Lyn

PS: Last Week’s WINNERS:

Gail Hollingsworth and Patsy Glans

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