Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A CHRISTMAS SHORT STORY FOR YOU!

So many people have asked me when there would be a third book in the Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley that I'm sorry to say the answer is there won't be. The publishers felt that the series was complete at two books.

But I decided I should do something about it, since readers felt they wanted to know more about what happened to the sisters. So I have written a short story, A Sister's Christmas Gift, which is yours free to read and enjoy...a Christmas gift from me to you, with my thanks for being a faithful reader.

You'll find the new story on my website, http://www.martaperry.com. Just click on the link at the top right of the page to find out what happens when the three sisters, newly reunited as a family, share an eventful first Christmas together.

Wishing you a warm, loving, and meaningful Christmas this year, and the opportunity to be with those you love.

Blessings,
Marta

Monday, December 1, 2014

Available now! Twenty-two Love Inspired authors joined together to create A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE--a collection of recipes and original short stories donated by some of your favorite authors. My story involves a young Amish wife who finds a way to renew her bond with her husband over her chicken pot pie--my recipe for pot pie included!

A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE is available as both print and e-book, and all profits go to children's charities. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QEE7Z18/

I hope you'll support the wonderful work done by children's charities by purchasing A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE! It was a joy to contribute to such a worthwhile project.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Winners!

Congratulations! Here are the winners of the Christmas Classics duo: Sally Starr, Karen Clinton, Monica Wilkinson, Juliana Rowe, Rita Clements, Shelly Huerta, Katie O'Hara, Judy Seyfert, Lee Ann Camp, and Johnda Scott. Your books will go out this afternoon. Thanks for playing, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY

Just in time for your Christmas reading! I hope you enjoy reading and re-reading stories set at Christmas as much as I do. I especially loved writing the two Christmas romantic suspense novels that are included in my current Love Inspired Classics release: Season of Secrets and A Christmas to Die For.

Season of Secrets was one of those stories that writers love because it came together in just the way I pictured it in my imagination. Usually something is lost by the time the words get on the page! And A Christmas to Die For was such fun to write because I was able to include all the special Moravian Christmas traditions we love here in Pennsylvania.

So if you'd like a chance to win a copy, e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com by Tuesday, November 25th at Noon, Eastern time and be sure to include your name and mailing address in case you win one of the ten copies I'll be giving away.


I look forward to hearing from you!

Blessings,
Marta

Monday, November 3, 2014

AMISH CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS


AMISH CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS

Christmas is probably the most important celebration in the Amish year. In fact, it’s so important that it is actually observed by some Amish three times: Christmas Day, Second Christmas, and Old Christmas.

Christmas Day falls on December the 25th for the Amish as it does for other Christians, a day when the miracle of Christ’s birth is recognized with joy and awe. For such an important event, one day isn’t enough, so while time spent with the immediate family is the norm for Christmas Day, the day after Christmas, also called Second Christmas, is a day to celebrate with the extended family. Visiting and sharing a meal can be an extraordinary event when your extended family is as large as that of most Amish. There might be over fifty people there!

In many Amish groups, Old Christmas is still observed. Falling twelve days after December 25th, January 6th is the celebration of Epiphany, the arrival of the wise men to visit Jesus, and in the Middle Ages this was the culmination of the Christmas feast. When the Gregorian calendar replaced the older Julian calendar, the Pope set December 25th as the official Christmas Day, but many Protestants kept to the old calendar, celebrating on January 6th. The tradition has hung on among some Amish who celebrate on both days, with Old Christmas usually being a more solemn and religious day.

Whether they recognize Old Christmas or not, an Amish holiday is one that most people in contemporary society would consider very plain. Amish children don’t make lists for Santa Claus or pore through catalogs searching for the latest in electronic gear. Old Order Amish homes don’t have Christmas trees or elaborate light displays. The Amish Christmas celebration, like all of Amish life, is focused on faith, home, and family.

Holiday customs vary from one Amish community to another. More conservative communities have low key observances of the holidays. In Pennsylvania, the Amish are affected by the strong Pennsylvania German tradition, and they are more likely to have the customary Pennsylvania Dutch decorations.

Christmas decorations in a typical Pennsylvania Amish home may include lighting candles and placing them in the windows to symbolize the birth of Jesus. Many homes now use battery-powered candles that pose less threat of fire. Candles are sometimes also used with greens on the mantelpiece and tables. If you visit a home with young children, you’ll probably find doorways and windows draped with strings of paper stars, angels, and sometimes popcorn. If the family receives Christmas cards, they’ll probably be displayed so that they can be enjoyed time and again throughout the season.

Christmas cards are sent in some church districts and not others. With so many Amish working in jobs which bring them into daily contact with the Englisch, it has become more common for Amish families to send cards to Englisch friends, and the cards are almost always handmade.

The Putz is an important part of the Christmas decoration throughout the Pennsylvania German communities. The Putz, or manger scene, developed very early in the church’s history as a way of teaching children the story of Christ’s birth. If you visit Bethlehem or Lititz in Pennsylvania during the holiday season, you can see some beautiful, elaborate depictions, sometimes including other Biblical scenes in addition to the familiar manger depiction. The typical Amish putz is much simpler, using clay or wooden figures and possibly a stable. Some families embellish the scene with natural materials like straw and greenery. Using the Putz, the Christmas story is told over and over throughout the days leading up to Christmas.

The Moravian Star is a 26-point star, first used in Germany in the 1800s. The Moravian community that settled in Lititz has preserved the tradition of hanging the multi-pointed star, and many Amish homes also include the Moravian Star in their decorations as representing the Star of Bethlehem.

School celebrations are an important part of the Christmas season in most Amish areas. The children begin preparing their parts a month ahead, but their teachers have probably been busy since last year’s program in collecting materials to use! The program, presented before as many family and friends as can cram into the one-room schoolhouse, is usually composed of readings, poetry, skits, and the singing of Christmas carols. Every child participates, and parents hold their breath until their little scholar gets through his or her piece. Teachers sometimes exchange the skits and poems with each other, building up a collection so that they can provide something new to the audience, which has probably seen countless Christmas programs over the years. The theme of every poem and skit is that of gratitude for the gift of Christ and of the proper response of humility and love. This may be the only time that an Amish child “performs” in any way, but the audience is always uncritical and enthusiastic.

Gift-giving is part of the Amish Christmas celebration, but it has little resemblance to the avalanche of gifts common to a typical American household. The presents are often handmade and generally something that is useful. Younger children typically receive one toy from their parents, while other gifts might be handmade clothing, cloth dolls, or wooden toys. An older girl might welcome something for her future home, while tools are popular gifts for older boys. The Amish school often has a gift exchange among the children, and usually the children take great pleasure in making a gift for the teacher.

The Amish home will probably be perfumed with the aroma of cookie-baking and candy-making for weeks before the holiday. While you can usually find home-baked cookies on any day, the holidays call for something special, and Amish cooks preserve family recipes for the cookies and treats, passing them on from mother to daughter. Most Pennsylvania Dutch are known for the quality and variety of their Christmas cookies, and you’ll find some traditional ones from my family in the recipe section. Enjoy!

In addition to celebrating with immediate and extended families, most Amish adults have various groups which plan Christmas lunches and suppers. In fact, there are so many of these that they might still be going on in February! Groups of cousins, people who work together, girls who went through rumspringa at the same time—all of these and more may share a special Christmas treat together.

But the focus of the Amish Christmas celebration, as of all Amish life, is the family. Gathered around a groaning table spread with roast chicken, all the trimmings, and an endless array of breads, cakes, cookies, and homemade candy, the family celebrates Christmas together with humility and gratitude to God for His amazing gift.

Monday, October 27, 2014

HARVEST FESTIVAL TIME



It’s time for the Love Inspired Harvest Festival at the Harlequin community website! Be sure to stop by to chat with your favorite authors, enjoy their favorite recipes (and contribute some of your own) and celebrate the season!

Harvest Festival Events

Main Discussion (live all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2401-Love-Inspired-Harvest-Festival-2014

Janet Tronstad's Writing Challenge (live all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2429-Janet-Tronstad-s-Harvest-Barn-Writing-Challenge

Favorite Fall Recipes (live Monday but can continue all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2430-Favorite-Fall-Recipes

Authors who provided recipes:
Sandra Orchard
Renee Andrews
Angel Moore
Laura Abbot
Marta Perry

Fabulous Fall Decorations (live Tuesday but can continue all week)

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2431-Fabulous-Fall-Decorations

Authors who provided photos:    
Sherri Shackelford
Janet Lee Barton

A Fall Stroll (live Wednesday but can continue all week)

http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2432-A-Fall-Stroll

Authors who provided photos:
Christine Johnson

Fun Halloween Alternatives (live Thursday but can continue all week)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2433-Fun-Halloween-Alternatives

Authors who provided photos
Angel Moore

Live Chat! Thursday night 8pm Eastern

http://community.harlequin.com/123flashchat/client/

Fall Crafts (live Friday)
http://community.harlequin.com/showthread.php/2434-Fall-Crafts

Monday, October 20, 2014

BOOK CONTEST!

Here's a new giveaway for my upcoming book from Love Inspired--An Amish Family Christmas! I'll be giving away ten copies, so if you're interested, be sure to e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com and include your mailing address in case you're a winner. The giveaway ends on Friday, Oct. 24 at Noon, and winners will be posted here. Good luck!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Looking Ahead

While I'm still enjoying the release of THE FORGIVEN last week (Number 7 on Amazon Inspirational Best Sellers!), I'm also looking ahead to the next book that's coming out, AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS, which is a collection of two Amish Christmas novellas. It will be in stores in early November, so I hope you'll be watching for it. My friend and fellow author Pat McDonald and I cooperated in producing two special Christmas stories for you to enjoy.



My story, Heart of Christmas, revolves around a lost love, two troubled children, and the Christmas program at an Amish school. Be sure to check back next week, when I'll be doing a special book giveaway of AN AMISH FAMILY CHRISTMAS!

Monday, October 6, 2014

COVER REVEAL!

I've received the go-ahead to show off the cover of the second book in my Keepers of the Promise series from Berkley Books. THE RESCUED will be out in June, 2015, and a lot of effort has gone into producing what I think is an absolutely lovely cover for the story. I had suggested showing a pony cart--something very common on Amish farms as the children learn to drive that way--and had sent several photos to my editor. I was delighted to see the result!

And don't forget that Book One, THE FORGIVEN, will be available in stores and online this week.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Amish Legacy

THE FORGIVEN, Book One of the Keepers of the Promise series, will be available online and in stores on October 3rd, and I'm so excited to see the start of this new series. The idea for the Keepers of the Promise series comes from my fascination with the history of the Amish in America. Since I write contemporary stories, I didn't want to do a straight historical, but my agent and I came up with the idea of doing a contemporary story which would also contain a love story from the past.

Keepers of the Promise revolves around three Amish women, cousins who are the only females in their generation of the family. Their grandmother, Elizabeth Lapp, has long been the family's story-keeper, telling the stories of their Amish family to the younger generation. As Elizabeth gives up her independence to move into the grossdaadi house, she longs to encourage her granddaughters to take on the responsibility for their family stories. She gives each of the three an object from their family to cherish, and in doing so, she opens them to a family story which affects their lives today.

In THE FORGIVEN, young widow Rebecca Fisher is struggling to raise her two children alone and keep her home. Renting her stable to furniture-maker Matthew Byler offers a possible solution, but Matt has only recently returned to the Amish after several years spent in the English world. As Matt struggles to prove to himself and others that he can reject violence and live Amish, Rebecca realizes she, too, needs the courage to grow and change. Her answers come from an unexpected source when her grandmother gives her a small dower chest that had belonged to one of her ancestors.

The dower chest is a tradition in many cultures as a place for a young woman to collect the bedding and quilts she'll need when she marries. Fathers sometimes make small replicas of dower chests as gifts for little girls, and these small boxes become the place to keep their treasures. Original painted wooden Pennsylvania dower chests are highly prized by collectors today, especially those with the traditional folk art designs of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Civilian Public Service camp
Lancaster County, 1941. As war threatens, Anna Esch pours her experiences into the diary she keeps in her small dower chest. Her world seems to crumble as neighbors turn against the Amish and her love, Jacob, is sent far away to a Civilian Service camp for obeying his religious convictions and refusing to fight. She can't know, as she grows from a girl into a woman during a time of trouble and grief, that one day another Amish woman will gain strength and courage from the words she writes.

THE FORGIVEN reflects on some difficult questions that are part of being Amish in the world. How does one remain faithful to the belief in non-violence in a world at war? Is it possible to be a good citizen and refuse to fight? I can't offer any answers, but I pray I've reflected faithfully the views of the Amish, whose commitment to turn the other cheek has brought them through times of persecution and still sustains them today.




Monday, September 22, 2014

PREVIEW OF THE FORGIVEN

THE FORGIVEN will be in stores on October 3rd, but in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy reading the beginning of the story. I hope you'll like it!


THE FORGIVEN

Chapter One

     Rebecca Fisher hadn’t summoned her family to meals with the bell on the back porch since Paul died. Today wasn’t the day to start, she decided. Instead she stood at the railing and called.

“Katie! Joshua! Come to supper.”

She stayed on the porch until she saw her two kinder running toward the farmhouse. Katie came from the big barn, where she’d been “helping” Rebecca’s father and brother with the evening chores. Katie adored her grossdaadi and Onkel Simon, and Rebecca was grateful every day that Katie had them to turn to now that her own daadi was gone.

Joshua had clearly been up in the old apple tree by the stream that was his favorite perch. Paul had talked about building a tree house there for Joshua’s sixth birthday. That birthday would come soon, but Paul wasn’t here to see it. Rebecca’s throat tightened, and she forced the thought away.

“Mammi, Mammi.” Joshua flung himself at her, grabbing her apron with grubby hands. “Guess who I saw?”

“I don’t know, Josh. Who?” She hugged him with one arm and gathered Katie against her with the other. Katie let herself be hugged for a moment and then wiggled free.

“I helped put the horses in,” she reported. “Onkel Simon said I’m a gut helper.”

“Mammi, I’m talking.” Joshua glared at his sister. “Guess who I saw?”

“Hush, now.” Rebecca hated it when they quarreled, even though she remembered only too well how she and her brothers and sisters had plagued each other. She shooed them into the kitchen. “Katie, I’m wonderful glad you’re helping. Joshua, who did you see?”

It had probably been an owl or a chipmunk—at five, Joshua considered every creature he encountered as real as a person.

“Daadi!” Joshua grinned, unaware of the hole that had just opened up in his mother’s stomach.

“Joshua—“ She struggled to find the words.

“That’s stupid,” Katie declared from the superiority of her seven years. Her heart-shaped face, usually so lively and happy, tightened with anger, and her blue eyes sparkled with what might have been the tears she wouldn’t shed. “Daadi’s in heaven. He can’t come back, so you can’t see him, so don’t be stupid.”

“Katie, don’t call your brother stupid.” Rebecca managed the easier part of the correction first. She knelt in front of her son, feeling the worn linoleum under her knees as she prayed for the right words. “Joshua, you must understand that Daadi loves you always, but he can’t come back.”

“But I saw him, Mammi. I saw him right there in the new stable and—“

“No, Josh.” She had to stop this notion now, no matter how it pained both of them. “I don’t know what you saw, but it wasn’t Daadi.”

His small face clouded, his mouth drooping. “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” Her heart hurt as she spoke the words, but they had to be said. Paul was gone forever, and they must continue without him.

“Go and see, Mammi.” Josh pressed small hands on her cheeks, holding her face to ensure she paid attention. “Please go look in the stable.”

Obviously it was the only thing that would satisfy him. “All right. I’ll go and look. While I do that, you two wash up for supper.”

Josh nodded solemnly. Rebecca rose, giving her daughter a warning look.

“No more talking about this until I come back. You understand?”

Katie looked as if she’d like to argue, but she nodded as well.

Pausing to see them headed for the sink without further squabbling, Rebecca slipped out the back door.

A quick glance told her there was no further activity at the main barn now. Probably her daad and brother had finished and headed home for their own supper.

It wasn’t far across the field to the farmhouse where she’d grown up. That field would be planted with corn before too long. Daad had mentioned it only yesterday, and she’d thought how strange it seemed that Paul wasn’t here to make the decision.

Turning in the opposite direction, Rebecca skirted the vegetable garden. Her early onions were already up. In a few weeks the danger of frost would be over, and she could finish the planting.

Beyond the garden stood the posts from which the farm-stay welcome sign should hang. If she were going to open to visitors this summer, she’d have to put it up soon. If. She had to fight back panic at the thought of dealing with guests without Paul’s support.

The farm-stay had been Paul’s dream. He’d enjoyed every minute of their first season—chatting with the guests, showing them how to milk the cows or enlisting their help in cutting hay. It had seemed strange to Rebecca that Englischers would actually pay for the privilege of working on the farm, but it had been so.

She’d been content to stay in the background, cooking big breakfasts, keeping the bedrooms clean, doing all the things she’d be doing anyway if the strangers hadn’t been staying with them.  

Last summer she’d been too devastated by his death to think of opening, but now…well, now what was she to do? Would Paul expect her to go on with having guests? She didn’t know, because she’d never imagined life without him.

The stable loomed ahead of her, still seeming raw and new even though it had been up for over a year. They’d gone ahead with the building even after Paul’s diagnosis, as a sign that they had faith he would be well again.

But he hadn’t been. He’d grown weaker and weaker, and eventually she had learned to hate the sight of the stable that had been intended for the purebred draft horses Paul had wanted to breed. She never went near the structure if she could help it.

Now she had to steel herself to swing open one side of the extra-large double doors. She stepped inside, taking a cautious look around. Dust motes danced in a shaft of sunlight, but otherwise it was silent and empty. The interior seemed to echo of broken dreams.

Sucking in a breath, Rebecca forced herself to walk all the way to the back wall, her footsteps hollow on the solid wooden floorboards. No one was here. Joshua’s longing for his daadi had led him to imagine what he hoped for.

A board creaked behind her and Rebecca whirled, heart leaping into her throat.

A man stood in the doorway. Big, broad, silhouetted against the light so that she couldn’t make out his face. But Amish, judging by his clothes and straw hat, so not a stranger. The man took a step forward, and she could see him.

For a long moment they simply stared at each other. Her brain seemed to be moving sluggishly, taking note of him. Tall, broad-shouldered, with golden-brown hair and eyes. He didn’t have a beard, so she could see the cleft in his chin, and the sight stirred vague memories. She knew him, and yet she didn’t. It wasn’t—

“Matt? Matthew Byler?”

A flicker of a smile crossed his face. “Got it right. And you’re little Becky Lapp, ain’t so?”

“Rebecca Fisher,” she corrected quickly. So Matt Byler had returned home to Brook Hill at last. Nothing had been seen of him among the central Pennsylvania Amish since his family migrated out west when he was a teenager.

Matt came a step closer, making her aware of the height and breadth of him. He’d grown quite a lot from the gangling boy he’d been when he left. “You married Paul Fisher, then. You two were holding hands when you were eight or nine, the way I remember it.”

“And you were…” She let that trail off. Matt had been a couple of years older than they were, and he’d been the kind of boy Amish parents held up as a bad example—always in trouble, always pushing the boundaries of what it meant to be Amish.

Now Matt’s smile lit his eyes, and a vagrant shaft of sunlight made them look almost gold. “You remember me. The trouble-maker.”

“I…I wasn’t thinking that,” she said. But of course she had been. It was the first thing anyone thought in connection with Matt Byler. “Are you here for a visit?”

Matt didn’t have a beard, so obviously he hadn’t married. That was more than unusual for an Amish male of thirty.

Surely his unmarried state wasn’t for lack of chances. A prudent set of parents might look warily at Matt as a prospective son-in-law, but the girls had always been charmed by his teasing smile.

“My uncle needs some help with the carpentry business, and he asked me to give him a hand.”

Everyone knew that Silas Byler had been struggling to keep his business going since his oldest son had so unexpectedly left the community. How strange life was that Isaiah, who’d never caused his parents a moment’s worry, should be the one to leave the Amish while bad boy Matthew returned to take his place.

“I’m sorry about Isaiah. It was a heavy blow to your aunt and uncle, ain’t so?”

Matt nodded with a wry twist to his mouth. “Funny, isn’t it? Everyone was so sure I was the one headed over the fence.”

It was an echo of what she’d been thinking. “You did a pretty good job of making folks think so, the way I remember it,” she said.

“Ouch.” Matt’s teasing grin appeared. “You’ve developed a sharp tongue, I see.”

“I’ve just grown up. I have two kinder of my own now.” Rebecca hesitated, but she couldn’t help but resent what he’d made Josh imagine, however inadvertently. “My little boy, Joshua, must have seen you here at the stable. He thought it was his daadi.”

Matt’s face sobered in an instant. “I’m sorry, Rebecca. Truly sorry. My uncle told me about Paul. You have my sympathy.”

“Denke.” Too abrupt, but she couldn’t seem to help it. “Was there something you wanted here, Matt?”

He looked a little taken aback by the blunt question, but he answered readily enough. “I’m looking for a building I can use for my furniture business. Onkel Silas told me about the stable and how Paul was going to…” He let that trail off. “Anyway, he said you weren’t using the stable and might be willing to lease it to me.”

Everything in Rebecca recoiled at the thought of putting another person’s business in Paul’s stable. “No.” Her tone was sharper than she intended. “I’m sorry. It’s not available.”

Matt’s eyebrows lifted. “It’s standing empty. I can pay you five hundred a month for the space.”

“It’s not available,” she said again, annoyed at him for putting her in this position and unable to keep from thinking about what she could do with an extra five hundred dollars a month.

Matt studied her face, his eyes intent and questioning. “You don’t like the idea of turning Paul’s stable over to someone else. I can understand that. But you have two little ones to raise. Can you afford to have it sitting empty when it could be earning money for Paul’s kinder?”

The fact that Matt was probably right didn’t make Rebecca feel any more kindly toward him. “I don’t think that’s your concern.”

“Maybe not. But it is yours, Rebecca.” He held her gaze for a moment longer, and she felt as if he looked right into all her grief and uncertainty. Then he took a step back. “I wouldn’t do any harm to the place, Rebecca. Think about it.”

Matt turned and walked away. He was silhouetted in the doorway for a moment, and then he was gone, leaving Rebecca unsettled and upset.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NEW BOOK CONTEST

The Forgiven, the first book in my new Amish series, will be in stores on October 3rd, so I think it's time for a giveaway! I will pick five winners to receive a signed copy of The Forgiven, Book One, Keepers of the Promise. To enter, e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com and include your mailing address in case you are a winner. I'll pick five names on Friday, Sept. 19th at noon. Good luck!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of a copy of Abandon the Dark, my June Amish romantic suspense novel. They are: Patti Bond, Kim Sanford, Toni Walker, Donna Forker, Linda McFarland, Sandy Larivee, Susan Copeland, Meredith Briski, Elizabeth Dent, and Sharon McCloud.

Thanks for entering, everyone. If you didn't win this time, I hope you will the next!

Blessings,
Marta

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

My latest Amish romantic suspense novel, Abandon the Dark, will be available in stores and online on June 24th. For a chance to win a free copy, check out the contest page on Goodreads. For an additional chance to win, either comment here or e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com. Just be sure to include your e-mail address so I can reach you. Contest ends on June 24, so get your entry in soon! I'll be giving away ten copies on Goodreads and ten copies here, so that's lots of chances to win!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Winners!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Spring Scavenger Hunt! It was fun for all the authors, and we hope readers had a great time, too!

You have probably already seen that the grand prize winner is Jamie G. Congrats to Jamie. Enjoy your new Kindle. The two runners-up are Melanie S and Jean F. Your books will be arriving shortly.

The winner of the set of Amish suspense novels on my blog is Britney Adams. As soon as I receive Britney's address, her books will be on the way to her.

My apologies for the problem with my e-mail account, which went down in the midst of the hunt. Thanks to all of you who got in touch with me. No matter how you communicated, your name was entered in the drawing!

Best wishes again to the winners, and thanks to everyone. We hope you'll join us again the next time!

Blessings,
Marta

Thursday, April 3, 2014

SPRING SCAVENGER HUNT

Welcome to Stop 25 in the Spring Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you've happened upon this stop out of order, you may want to go back to Stop 1 at http://www.robinleehatcher.com/scavenger-hunt-stop-1 to begin. That's also where the hunt will end. If you get lost along the way, check in at http://www.robinleehatcher.com/scavenger-hunt-participating-authors-stops/


At each stop, you'll collect a clue, printed in red. Write them down as you go. The hunt ends on April 6th at Midnight, Mountain Time, so you have all weekend to finish. No need to race!

First prize is a Kindle Fire HDX plus $100 gift certificate. Two runners-up will receive all 31 of the books featured in the Scavenger Hunt. Individual authors will also be giving prizes at their stops, so don't forget to look for that at the bottom of each post.

It's my great pleasure to introduce Judy Miller to you. Judy and I first met at a Christian Writers Retreat many years ago, and we had great fun brainstorming together. I'm honored to have her guest on my site. Judith Miller is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than 30 historical romance novels. She is known for her unique settings and love of history. Learn more at www.judithmccoymiller.com.

You won't want to miss Judith's latest book. Here's a bit about it: A Shining Light is the third book in the Home to Amana historical series. A young widow returns home to Iowa after the devastating loss of her husband, but when she arrives, she finds the family farm destroyed. She finds refuge with the kind people of the Amana village, where she is drawn to tinsmith, Dirk Knefler. But is the simple, cloistered life what she wants for herself and her son?
 


You can purchase A Shining Light at  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shining-light-judith-miller/1115664287?ean=9781441263599&itm=1&usri=9781441263599&cm_mmc=AFFILIATES-_-Linkshare-_-GwEz7vxblVU-_-10:1&r=1,%201, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DWA6BD0/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1A46EWNSQ0SFWA3KABZX&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846
or at http://www.christianbook.com/a-shining-light-home-to-amana/judith-miller/9780764210020/pd/210025?product_redirect=1&Ntt=210025&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

Judy has sent me a mouth-watering exclusive post to share with you!
 
The Amana Wedding Cake by Judith Miller:

 In A Shining Light, I feature a tinsmith, a craftsman who made everything from buckets and kitchen utensils to rain gutters for the Amana homes. One of the very special items made by the tinsmith was what has become known as the Amana Wedding Cake Tin. Sternkutchen, a marble cake, was baked in the large star-shaped tin.

 

As you can see from the pictures, the cake is very large which would allow for thin, yet filling slices of cake. The cake recipe used for weddings was made in four different colors, yellow, pink, white, and chocolate, but today there is disagreement in the Colonies whether the Sternkutchen should be frosted. While some prefer no frosting, others dust it with powdered sugar and still others prefer to drizzle the cake with a simple sugar glaze. There are even a few who frost the Stern with a butter-cream frosting. The cake may be baked in a large bundt pan (half the recipe) if you don’t have a prized Amana star-shaped tin.

 

The recipe and directions follow:

 

Sternkuchen (Marbled Star Cake)

 

If using a bundt pan instead of star pan, cut recipe in half.

For white cake batter                                                            For pink cake batter

½ cup butter                                                                 1/2 white cake batter

2 cups sugar                                                                 2 to 4 drops red food coloring

3 cups flour

1 cup milk

2 tsp. baking powder

8 egg whites, beaten stiff

 

For yellow cake batter                                               For chocolate cake batter

½ cup butter                                                                 ½ yellow cake batter

1 ½ cups sugar                                                             ½ cup cocoa

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ cup milk

8 egg yolks

2 tsps. Vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 325ยบ.

For the white cake, cream first two ingredients of white cake recipe. Stir in flour alternately with milk. Add baking powder. Mix well then fold in stiff-beaten egg whites.

            For pink batter, take ½ of white cake batter and pour into a bowl. Add 2 to 4 drops red food coloring. Set aside white and pink batters.

            For yellow batter, cream butter and sugar for yellow cake batter. Stir in flour, baking powder, and milk. Add egg yolks, and beat well. Blend in vanilla.

            For chocolate batter, take ½ of yellow cake batter and pour into a bowl—beat in cocoa.

            If using the star-shaped cake tin, trace form on waxed or parchment paper, and line tin. Then grease and flour tin. Carefully pour yellow batter into pan, then add white batter, chocolate batter, and finally the pink batter. Do not fill pan to the top—leave one inch headroom. Excess batter may be poured into a greased and floured cake pan or cupcake pan.

            Bake 40-50 minutes. Remember, less time is required for a smaller pan. When cool, carefully remove the cake from pan and frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Note: I had to bake this an additional 15 minutes, so be sure to test before removing from the oven!!
 
 
THE SCAVENGER HUNT SKINNY
Thanks for stopping by my blog! Before you move onto Stop 26, http://judithmccoymiller.com/scavenger-hunt-stop-26/ , be sure to write down this Stop 25 clue: "but a bad".
 
BONUS PRIZE! Enter to win an additional prize--a complete set of three of my Amish Romantic Suspense novels. Just send your name and e-mail address to me at marta@martaperry.com.
 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

SPRING SCAVENGER HUNT


The Christian Fiction Spring Scavenger Hunt is coming soon! You won't want to miss this opportunity to visit many of your favorite authors, collect clues, and have a chance to win a terrific prize. Prizes include a Kindle Fire HDX plus $100 gift certificate. Two runners-up will receive all 31 of the books featured on the hunt.

So mark your calendars for April 4, Noon Mountain Time, and go to http://www.robinleehatcher.com to begin the hunt. Remember--the Hunt will not begin until Noon Mountain Time that day.

I hope to see you then!


Friday, January 17, 2014

SUSANNA'S DREAM out soon!


SUSANNA'S DREAM, the second book in the Lost Sisters of Pleasant Valley, will be in stores on February 4th. You can pre-order it now at most online booksellers.
 
Here is an excerpt to whet your appetite!


Susanna’s Dream 

Chapter One

 
    The shop was too quiet. Susanna Bitler straightened one of the paintings she had on consignment from an Englisch artist and moved on to the display of quilted placemats. Her partner in Plain Gifts, Dora Gaus, might return from her doctor’s appointment in time to close, but Susanna certain sure didn’t need help.

A rainy weekday in September always meant few customers in the shop. Still, it didn’t normally feel lonely, crowded as it was with baskets and candles, placemats and wall hangings, hooked rugs and table runners, all of them handmade by local craftspeople. The bright colors and myriad of textures would cheer anyone, wouldn’t they?

Unfortunately, being alone gave her too much time to think. Susanna smoothed the skirt of her black dress, a reminder of her mother’s death less than a month ago. She must stop feeling sorry for herself. Her mother would be the first one to tell her so. Mamm’s death had been God’s will, and she wouldn’t have wanted her mother to linger in pain. Still…

The sound of footsteps on the shop’s small porch ended the stream of thoughts that might well have her in tears if she wasn’t careful. Susanna turned toward the door, arranging a welcoming smile on her face.

The bell tinkled as the door opened, and the smile froze despite her efforts. It wasn’t a customer. Her visitor was Nathaniel Gaus, Dora’s son. A nice enough man, from all Susanna knew of him, except that he always seemed to regard his mother’s young partner with a vague disapproval that Susanna found unsettling.

“Nathaniel.” She moved toward him, more than usually aware under his observant eyes of the limp that was the remnant of a childhood accident. “Wilkom. I’m sorry, but your mother isn’t here this afternoon.”

Odd, that he wouldn’t have known. He must have forgotten, occupied as he was with his own business. Dora had lived with her son since the death of his wife several years earlier.

Nathaniel slapped his black hat against his leg to shake off the raindrops that clung to it. With his fair hair and beard, blue eyes, ruddy skin, and broad shoulders, Nathaniel probably looked like the popular Englisch image of an Amish man, but he wasn’t a typical farmer. He owned Gaus’s Bulk Foods, a thriving store in here in Oyersburg.

“Ja, I know.” Nate came closer, so that she had to tilt her head to see his face. “I don’t think I’ve talked to you since your mamm’s funeral, Susanna. I hope you are doing well.”

“Denke. It’s been…a difficult time.” She blinked, taken aback by the tears that seemed to come too readily when someone spoke of Mamm. “May I take a message for your mother?”

A slight frown wrinkled his forehead. “No, that’s not necessary. Actually, I came to speak to you.”

Susanna stiffened, thoughts jostling in her mind. “Was ist letz?” She couldn’t imagine Nate seeking her out unless something was wrong.

“Nothing’s wrong.” But his tone seemed to argue with the words.

He glanced around the shop, his gaze skimming the pottery, the hooked rugs, and all the other things that she’d just been thinking made Plain Gifts so cozy and welcoming. Nate’s look was assessing instead of admiring, she thought.

“The shop isn’t busy,” he observed.

Susanna tried to quell the defensive feeling that sprang up at what she felt was the criticism in his tone. “Now that school is in session, many of our shoppers come on Saturdays. And I’m certain sure business will pick up again as we get closer to Christmas.”

As a businessman, he should understand that, but probably Nate didn’t have such cycles in his bulk foods business. Folks always had to eat, but they weren’t always looking for gifts and crafts.

“I suppose.” The frown settled between his straight brows. “That’s why Mamm is always so tired around the holidays.”

Susanna wasn’t sure whether that was a complaint or not. What was he driving at?

“Ja, I suppose we both work extra hard then. We could always get a girl in to help out if needed.”

His frown seemed to deepen. “Mamm has family to keep her busy, especially at the holidays. It’s different for you.” He stopped, the color deepening in his ruddy cheeks as he seemed to hear what he’d just said. “I didn’t mean—“

“It’s true that I don’t have any kin here in Oyersburg now that my mother has passed. And that certainly gives me more time for the shop.” She kept her normal, quiet tone, but Nate’s attitude was beginning to bother her. Why didn’t he just come out and say whatever he wanted to say? “What is it you wanted to talk with me about?”

He blinked, as if startled that she would be so blunt. “Ja, well, the point is that my mamm isn’t getting any younger.”

She could imagine Dora’s reaction at hearing her son imply she was getting old. “None of us are doing that.”

A flash of exasperation crossed his face, but he reined it in quickly. Nate was a man who didn’t let his feelings show. He always had a pleasant smile for his customers, but his eyes seemed constantly on guard.

“True enough. I didn’t come here to argue with you, Susanna. I want to ask for your help.”

My help?” That was surprising. Nate didn’t seem to need anyone’s assistance, as far as she could tell. He’d built up his successful business on his own, and he controlled every aspect of it, no matter how small, according to his mother.

His face relaxed into a smile, his usually cautious blue eyes warming in an expression Susanna had never seen before…one that gave her a funny, prickling feeling along her skin. “Ja. I apologize. I shouldn’t beat around the bush, ain’t so?”

Most women would have trouble resisting the genuine smile that appeared so rarely on his face, and she didn’t seem to be an exception. “What do you need?”

He hesitated for a moment. “I would like your help with my mother.”

“With Dora?” Her breath caught. “Is something wrong with her?”

“No, no.” He touched her sleeve lightly in reassurance, and his warmth penetrated the fabric, startling her. “She is getting older, that’s all, and I fear she’s working too hard. She ought to be able to take it easy now that her kinder are grown.”

Susanna tried to imagine the ever-busy Dora sitting in a rocking chair with her knitting instead of being up and doing. She couldn’t. How best to convey that to Nate?

“Maybe your mamm doesn’t want to take it easy.”

“Sometimes people aren’t the best judge of what’s good for them,” he countered.

“True enough.” A frown wrinkled her forehead. “If you think Dora should take more time off, I am happy to work longer hours in the shop.” Probably everyone in Oyersburg’s Amish community knew she had little else in her life just now.

“Ach, we both know how she is.” His smile invited her to agree with him. “She’d be in here every day anyway just to make sure things were running fine.”

Susanna realized she was staring at him, studying the strong lines of his face for any clues as to what he was really saying. “You know I would do anything for Dora, but I’m not sure what you want from me.”

His gaze sharpened as if he’d finally reached the heart of the matter. “It’s simple, Susanna. I want you to persuade my mother to give up the shop.”

The words fell with such stunning swiftness that they shocked her into immobility. Nate went on talking, but his voice was only a background to the panic that swept in as she realized the impact of his proposal.

“…you might buy my mother out if you wanted to run the shop on your own, of course. Or I thought maybe since your mother is gone, you’d want to move back to Ohio, where you grew up. You’d have friends and kinfolk there. I’m sure the shop was a good solution when you had your mamm to take care of, but now you’re free to—“

“No.” The word came out with explosive force.

For a moment Nate didn’t speak. “No what?” His brows gathered like thunderclouds forming.

“No, I will not try to talk Dora into doing something I don’t think she wants to do.” A few other words crowded her lips, words about bossy men and people who thought they had all the answers, but she held them back. It was not in her nature to start a quarrel.

“I think I know what is best for my mother.” Nate’s voice had hardened.

She hesitated, but she had to say what she felt. “And I think your mother knows what’s best for her.”

Nate’s shoulders stiffened. “Then I guess we don’t have anything more to say to each other.” He settled his hat squarely on his head and stalked out, disapproval conveyed in every line of his body.

The door closed hard enough to make the bell nearly jangle off its hook. Susanna stood immobile until Nate had passed the shop window and disappeared. Then she clasped her hand over her lips.

She would not cry. She would not give in to despair.

But if Nate had his way…

The money she had left after her mother’s final illness was nowhere near enough to buy out Dora’s half of the business. What was she going to do? She couldn’t lose the shop. She didn’t have anything else.