Friday, May 28, 2010


I'm so excited that the third book in the Pleasant Valley Amish series, ANNA'S RETURN, is out this coming week from Berkley Books. I really learned to love Anna when she was a rebellious teenager in LEAH'S CHOICE, and I couldn't wait to write her story. It was fascinating for me to develop how Anna had been changed by living three years in the Englisch world and to consider the difficulties involved in re-adjusting to life in the Amish community after all that time.

The characters you met in the first two books reappear here, so you have a chance to see what's happening with them. And we've added something new to the end of the book: a few favorite Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. I hope you'll let me know how you like the story.

Here's a bit about it:

June, 2010, Berkley Books

After spending three years in the English world, Anna Beiler has come home. She brings with her a baby girl, which will surely cause a stir since Anna is unmarried. She is also hiding secrets: The baby is not hers by birth, nor does Anna intend to stay. Rather, she desperately needs sanctuary from the child’s violent father. Anna’s childhood friend Samuel, whose slow, thoughtful manner used to frustrate her, seems the only one who truly understands her.

But Anna hasn’t fully faced the consequences of her past, and her mere presence may endanger the ones she loves. Only a true change of heart will allow her to make a new beginning and find her way home.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the Road Again

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On the Road from Marta Perry
I've been on the road far too much in the past week, but it was all in a good cause. Over the weekend, I taught at the Pennwriters Conference in Lancaster, PA. What a great event that was! Three days of non-stop talk about writing in all genres is exhausting, but so much fun. The keynote speaker was James Rollins, a NY Times author of science fiction and thrillers. He was very down-to-earth and had us all in stitches with his stories of the elaborate plots he undertook to scare his younger brother--clearly he was a writer in the making even at age eight or so!

I taught workshops in Writing Romance and Creating Dialogue, both of which went well; served on a panel for a Read and Critique Romance group; visited with old friends and made new ones. But when all was said and done, I was relieved to be home again to the peace and quiet.

Last night was another busy one, with a library talk in a small town about forty miles from here. I have to confess that I dragged myself out the door--I have so much to do at home and was still tired from the weekend. But I was more than rewarded for my efforts. That small library is bursting at the seams with activity and enthusiasm, once more assuring me that people do still read and enjoy books despite all the other claims on their attention. The group was so interested and so happy that I had come that I felt ashamed of myself for ever doubting that the trip would be worth it. They talked intelligently about books, telling me what they did and didn't like in inspirational fiction, and in some cases they seemed to know more about my books than I did!

As writers, most of us tend to be introverts. I find it far easier to retire to my office and not speak to a soul for hours on end, but my experiences of the past few days have reminded me that I need that jolt of inspiration sometimes that comes from fellow writers but also from enthusiastic readers.

So, thanks to all the writers and readers who might read this post. You should know that you're appreciated!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Horses, Real and Imagined

ANNA'S RETURN, the third book in the Pleasant Valley series, will be out in less than a month. I just love the cover--I think it's the best yet. The figure in the background is Samuel, Anna's hero. In addition to working in the machine shop owned by Anna's brother, Samuel is known far and wide for his talent with horses. Like the character in THE HORSE WHISPERER, Samuel even seems to know what the creatures are thinking.

We had horses for a number of years while our kids were growing up, and while I learned to love them, I can't say I always understood them. How is it that a creature the size of a horse can become suddenly terrified of a piece of blowing paper? And stubborn! My son had a small dun pony, Ginger, who was the stubbornest animal ever born, I think. Fortunately my son was equally stubborn!

Some might say that the horse is the quintessential symbol of what it means to be Amish in twenty-first century America. By choosing to travel by horse and buggy, to work their fields with horse-drawn equipment, the Amish are making a sacrifice and a decision which impacts their lives every day. A sacrifice, because it takes time and trouble and effort to travel by horse and buggy, which makes each trip a matter for consideration. Is it really necessary? Sometimes I think our lives, and our planet, would be better off if all of us asked ourselves that question.

By choosing to use the horse instead of the car, the Amish are automatically putting restrictions on themselves--restrictions as to how far they will travel, how fast they will go, how quickly the work will be done. Horses symbolize the slower pace of Amish life. In fact, they contribute to that. If you can't jump into the car and drive off to the mall to shop or see a movie, you're more likely to be doing things at home or in the community.

My car may need nothing more than fuel and regular maintenance, but a horse requires much, much more. It must be taken care of every single day: fed, watered, turned in and turned out, its stall cleaned. One can't just park it and walk away, and that constant care for another living creature is a responsibility that must be taken seriously.

I saw a young Amish man one day training a young horse to the buggy, a task that takes endless patience. He had been driving it along the narrow country road, and when it balked at traffic he drew off into a graveled lot and started all over again--working with the animal, getting it used to traffic, patiently repeating the lesson he'd been teaching it.

That endless patience can be one of the gifts of Amish life. It's one I've tried to highlight in ANNA'S RETURN. Writing about it has already been a gift for me, bringing back memory after memory of the 'horse years.' They weren't necessarily all happy memories, but with every incident, there was something of value to be learned, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.