**Kelly De Lance, you are the winner of our giveaway. Enjoy your book! Thank you to everyone who participated!***
Hi Rachel, thank you so much for joining me for coffee this morning. I have my coffee ready and am looking forward to getting to know you better!
What drew you to Amish fiction?
I grew up near Lancaster, PA, and had relatives who lived there, so I’ve always been interested in the Amish and fascinated by their lifestyle. When my agent, the wonderful Mary Sue Seymour (who recently passed away), read an inspirational novel I was writing, she asked if I’d ever considered writing about the Amish. I told her about my lifelong interest in the Amish and soon set to work on my first Amish novel, Change of Heart.
As I wrote, I learned so much about Amish ways, so I have several more books in the Sisters & Friends series coming out. Right now I’m editing Buried Secrets, about Emma, the second Esh sister, and writing Gift from Above, about Sarah, the youngest Esh sister. I didn’t want to stop after only three books, so I have several stories planned about their friends and relatives. I try to spend time in the areas where I set the books so I get my setting and details right. I’m also grateful to have an Amish beta reader who checks my facts.
Your coloring book is so inspirational. What inspired you to create it?
Originally, I wanted to create something to use for giveaways when my Amish novel came out, so I looked at what readers of Amish novels enjoyed doing. Cooking and crafts seemed to be high on the list of their favorite activities, and many loved the beauty of Amish quilts. I thought about designing some quilting patterns, because I enjoy needlework and quilts. But as I was studying the patterns, one of my friends gave me an adult coloring book. It sparked the idea of doing a quilt coloring book because even people who don’t quilt could color the patterns.
Once I had that idea, I decided that rather than having blank backs on each coloring page (in case markers bleed through), I’d like to add something uplifting for people to think about while they color. Amish proverbs seemed the perfect choice to go with the quilts. I had a lot of fun selecting the proverbs. I wanted to be sure they made people smile, but also improve their lives. One of my favorites is “Keep your words soft and sweet in case you need to eat them.”
One thing that made me happy is that people have told me that coloring relaxes them and even sometimes eases pain. Best of all, some readers are using their coloring time to pray for others. What a wonderful way to not only help yourself feel better, but to make the world a better place.
For readers who prefer less intricate designs, there’ll soon be a new version of Amish Quilts Coloring Book with larger designs. Those will be easier to use for quilt patterns too. And an Amish Quilts Coloring Book 2 is in the works. I found so many wonderful designs when I was doing my book tour in Lancaster, PA, I started sketching out the next book.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I recently heard someone use the term “plontser,” as a combination of plotting and pantsing. I think that’s the best description of my writing style. Before I start, I have to know my beginning and my ending, along with some key scenes along the way. Once I have those in place, I like to write to see how my characters will reach those milestones. They usually surprise me, which is always fun. And many times, random details I jot down in early chapters turn out to be significant later. I didn’t plan that; it often just happens. I suspect if I outlined all the story twists and turns, I’d miss out on that serendipity.
In your book Change of Heart, Lydia seems to be put in difficult situations in order to protect her wild sister. What inspired this story? Did you have a sibling that you protected growing up?
Lydia is the oldest of three sisters, and so was I. As the firstborn, I was expected to be responsible and set a good example for my siblings. I know how heavily that duty can weigh on older children, so I gave Lydia a rebellious younger sister to protect. I do want to make it clear that my sisters didn’t act out the way Emma does, but I wanted to explore what would happen to a family if one daughter went wild during Rumschpringe, the Amish running-around time.
Do you enjoy cooking? Do you make Amish recipes, and do you have a favorite?
I like to cook, although with my book deadlines, my husband often does the cooking now. My favorite part of cooking has always been baking – making bread, bagels, English muffins, pretzels, sticky buns – anything using yeast. There’s something soothing about kneading dough, and patience in waiting for it to rise. And the aroma of it baking… so warm and welcoming and homey. It fills the house with peace. When I bake, I feel a kinship with the Amish, who traditionally baked everything from scratch.
I love many Amish recipes. If you’d like to see some of my favorites, check out my Amish recipe collection on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/racheljgood1/). Recently, I had a wonderful launch party for Change of Heart at Cupboard Makers Books, and my caterer friend Maria Lebo, whose mother came from an Amish background, made the food—cracker pudding, lebanon bologna rollups, apple butter and church spread sandwiches, red beet eggs, chow-chow, and mini whoopie pies washed down with lavender-scented lemonade. All the food was tasty, and everyone exclaimed that they’d never had such delicious whoopie pies or better chow-chow. There’s an art to making chow-chow, and Maria has perfected it. Recipes for both of those and June’s Famous Cracker Pudding can be found in the back of Change of Heart, but I’ll share the Whoopie Pie recipe here, in case you haven’t ordered your copy yet.
2 c flour
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c water
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 egg yolk
1/2 c vegetable shortening
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare cookies in medium bowl, stirring together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk, water, and shortening. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Turn up to medium speed, and beat for 2 more minutes. Add the whole egg, and yolk, and beat on medium for 2 additional minutes.
Drop by rounded teaspoons on an ungreased cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven for 6 minutes or until the top springs back lightly when touched in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
To make the filling, combine shortening, flour, granulated sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add 1 1/4 c of powdered sugar and beat well. Add the milk. Gradually add the remaining powdered sugar. Beat well, until light and fluffy.
To assemble, spoon about 2 teaspoons of the filling onto half the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies and sandwich together.
WARNING: These whoopie pies are addictive. I guarantee they’ll be the best ones you’ve ever tasted!
Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heartfelt novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her Amish novels. A former teacher and librarian, she began writing while raising her five children. In addition to having articles and books in print under several pen names, she also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. For information about her books, newsletter, and appearances, visit her website at http://www.racheljgood.com, and she’d love to connect with you online:
About Change of Heart
Lydia Esh’s younger sister Emma is running wild during Rumschpringe, causing the family
major heartaches. Although it means risking her reputation, her job as a schoolteacher, and her courtship with Jakob Zook, Lydia attends parties to watch over Emma and protect her sister’s virtue.
When Emma begins a relationship with Kyle, an Englischer, Lydia teams up with Kyle’s older brother, Caleb, to keep the couple apart. As Lydia and Caleb spend time together keeping an eye on their siblings, Lydia falls for this forbidden love. Will she stay true to her faith even if it means giving up the man she loves?
Would you like to meet Rachel along with Amy Clipston? Check out the flyer below!
To celebrate Rachel having coffee with me this morning, she is giving away one copy of Change of Heart. Enter by answering the following question in the comments below, “Do you like to cook? Do you have a favorite recipe to share?”
This giveaway ends on Monday, June 13 at 11:59 PST.
Thank you for joining us today!