Tuesday, October 27, 2015

WHEN SECRETS STRIKE on sale today!

It's release day for my new book, WHEN SECRETS STRIKE! Look for it in stores and online starting today.

Here's the opening:

WHEN SECRETS STRIKE
by
Marta Perry
Chapter One

     Be careful out there. Sarah Beiler smiled, thinking of her mother’s familiar goodbye as Sarah had climbed into her buggy this morning. Mammi always said the same thing when any of her family left her sight. She’d really rather they stay safely on the farm, even Sarah, who was nearing thirty and had long since been accepted as a maidal, an old maid, by their Pennsylvania Amish community.
     What was there to be careful of on this peaceful back road that wound between Amish and Englisch farms on its way to the town of Laurel Ridge? The route took a bit longer to reach her quilt shop than if Sarah had gone by the main road, but worth it to keep her mother from worrying.
     “Mamm is being a little silly, ain’t so, Molly?” She could talk to her buggy horse out here without fear of being overheard. “There’s not even a storm cloud in the sky today.”
     Molly flickered her ears in response to Sarah’s voice and then broke stride. The mare tossed her head, snorting.
“What are you—“ Sarah stopped, seeing a few seconds later what Molly had sensed immediately. Smoke, snaking its way up between the trees ahead of her.
     “Someone burning trash, that’s all.” But doubt threaded her words. There was too much smoke for that, surely. Hard on the thought she saw the sparks, shooting upward, landing among the trees. Her heart thudded in her chest.
     Fire. The one thing that farmers feared most, especially in such a dry summer. She slapped the lines, sending the mare surging ahead. She’d have to see for herself what was burning.
     Around the next curve in the winding road, the source was visible. Flames licked the back wall of a barn, and smoke billowed upward, fanned by the summer breeze. An unused barn, thank the gut Lord, part of the property belonging to an elderly widow who lived in town. No animals were in danger, at least, but if the fire spread—
     Sarah froze for an instant, undecided. Race to the nearest phone to call for help? Or check first in case someone needed help? A glimpse of the small cottage near the barn decided her. The cottage wasn’t empty—Mrs. Everly let Gus Hill live there in exchange for keeping an eye on the property. Sarah had to be sure he wasn’t in danger.
     Turning an unwilling Molly onto the lane, Sarah touched her with the buggy whip, and they bucketed up to the cottage. Sarah jumped down and raced to the door, her breath coming quickly. If Gus was there, surely he’d have smelled the fire by now, unless he’d somehow provided himself with a bottle, in which case he could well be passed out and unaware of the danger.
     “Gus! Gus Hill! Are you in there?” Sarah pounded on the door, glancing toward the flames that licked at the barn roof. “Gus!” She twisted the knob, and the door swung open.
     A quick glance around the two littered rooms told her that wherever Gus was, he wasn’t here. But the barn—
     She ran back outside. The fire ate greedily at one corner of the roof, sending a shower of sparks toward the trees. He couldn’t be in there. He couldn’t be. She should hurry to the nearest phone. But she couldn’t, not without being sure.
     Her breath catching, Sarah raced to the barn. The heat radiating from it terrified her, but she had to look—had to be sure. She grabbed the hem of her apron and held it over her mouth and nose. Eyes watering, she peered through the open doorway. Empty—not even any old hay bales to feed the fire. And no crumpled body lying unconscious, either.
     A timber crashed, flaming, to the barn floor, sending a trail of fire heading toward her. Sarah spun, fleeing to the buggy, not needing to use the whip to persuade Molly into a gallop. They jolted back down the lane, back around the bend. The Stoltzfus farm, that would be closest, and they had a phone shanty near their barn.
     Molly raced up the Stoltzfus’s lane, heading straight for their barn as if it were her own. Sarah halted the mare at the phone shanty, stumbled down, and grabbed the receiver, hitting 911. By the time she’d gasped out the information to the emergency dispatcher, Ben Stoltzfus was running toward her from the barn, followed by three of his sons, while his wife, Miriam, hurried from the house, wiping her hands on a dish towel.
     “Was ist letz, Sarah? What’s wrong?” Ben grasped her arm.
     A fit of coughing seized her, and she could only point.
     “Ach, how did we not smell it? Fire—the old Everly barn, ja?”
     Sarah nodded, catching her breath. “I spotted it when I was passing. The sparks—“ She didn’t need to explain the danger to Ben. He was already turning to his sons.
     “Buckets and shovels into the wagon, quick. We must keep it from spreading until the fire truck gets here.”
     Wide-eyed, the boys ran to obey. Ben raced for the paddock and his buggy horse.
     Miriam had reached Sarah by then and wrapped her arm around her. “You’re all right? Komm, let me see. You didn’t burn yourself?”
     “No, no, I’m fine.” A cough interrupted the words. “Just need a drink of water, I think.”
     “For sure. Into the house, now.” Miriam glanced to the oldest of her daughters. “Emma, go and call the neighbors. Tell them the Everly barn is burning. Quick!”
     Ten-year-old Emma paled, but she bolted to the phone shanty.
     Suddenly weak in the knees, Sarah was grateful for Miriam’s arm around her as they headed for the farmhouse. Miriam, like any Amish mammi, clucked and comforted and scolded all at once as she gently shoved Sarah onto a kitchen chair and then set a glass of water in front of her.
     “You rest a minute. I’ll start coffee. Lucky I have a couple of jugs of lemonade I can take over, too. The firefighters will need a drink.”
     Sarah nodded, accepting Miriam’s automatic assumption that they would provide what was needed. It was what neighbors did. “Maybe take drinking water, as well. I don’t know how the water source is over there.”
     “Ja, that’s true.” Miriam bustled around, putting one daughter in charge of the baby and enlisting the other two in carrying jugs and cups to Sarah’s buggy.
     “I looked for Gus Hill.” Sarah cleared her throat and took another gulp of water. “No sign of him.”
     “He’s never one to hang around if there’s trouble,” Miriam said darkly. “I don’t know what Julia Everly pays him for looking after things, but he’s not worth it, that’s certain sure.”
     Reluctant as she was to speak ill of anyone, Sarah had to admit that Miriam was most likely right. Gus was a fixture in the township, well known for his talent for getting by on the least possible effort.
     By the time the buggy was loaded, Sarah could hear the wail of the siren. The fire truck roared by, followed by the usual cars and trucks carrying extra volunteers. Most of the able-bodied men in the area belonged to the volunteer fire company, both Amish and Englisch. Like Aaron King.
     Sarah shoved the name to the back of her mind as she and Miriam drove in the wake of the volunteers. She had no right to be more concerned for Aaron than for any other of her Amish brethren. Now if she could only convince herself of that fact…
     By the time they reached the Everly property, the barn was fully engulfed. Figures in yellow protective gear swarmed around it, but Sarah could see they were more intent on keeping the fire from spreading than on trying to save the structure. It was too late for that.
     Mollie whinnied, shaking her head nervously, so Sarah led her a short distance away, tethering her to a tree. Miriam had shoved a folding table into the buggy behind the seat. They pulled it out and began setting thermoses and jugs on it.
     Scanning the firefighters, all so alike in their gear, Sarah knew she was searching for Aaron. She caught a glimpse of chestnut-colored beard, and her breath went out in an involuntary sigh of relief. He was there, of course, and he was safe. That slighter figure next to him was probably his teenage brother, Jonah. He’d be keeping a close eye on the boy.
     The barn roof collapsed with a roar and a shower of sparks, and for a few minutes the scene reminded Sarah of an angry beehive as the volunteers fought to extinguish the flying sparks.
     Miriam caught her hand, and Sarah realized she was watching her husband. Ben leaned on his shovel, coughing, but in a moment he’d straightened and was back at work.
Finally the barn was nothing more than a sullen black heap, still sending smoke and fumes into the air. In twos and threes the firefighters began drifting over to the table, and Sarah and Miriam were suddenly busy pouring out drinks.
“Sarah?” The sound of her name had her turning.
Mac Whiting, Laurel Ridge’s police chief, stood behind her, pulling a notebook from his pocket. He looked very official in his blue uniform with a weapon at his hip, and only the fact that she’d known him since childhood kept her from retreating into the usual Amish reticence when confronted with Englisch officials.
“Some coffee, Mac?”
He shook his head. “Save it for the guys who did all the work.” He snapped his pen. “I understand you called in the fire.”
“I was on my way to town. To the shop,” she added, although Mac would know that well enough. “I saw the smoke before I came around the bend, and then I saw the flames. In the back, the fire was, then,” she said, pointing.
“So you went over to Ben and Miriam’s to call?” He jotted the information down, though what good it would do anyone, she didn’t know.
“Ja. But I checked, first, to see if Gus was here. I pounded on the cottage door. No answer, but I was afraid he was asleep, maybe.”
Mac grinned. “That’s a diplomatic way of putting it. I take it you didn’t see him.”
“The door wasn’t locked, so I checked inside, but the cottage was empty. Then I was afraid he might be in the barn.” She seemed to feel the heat on her face again. “I looked, but—“
“You never went near a burning building!” Aaron King was suddenly at her side, looking as if he’d like to shake her. “Ach, Sarah, whatever were you thinking?”
His obvious concern warmed Sarah’s heart despite the fact that he was looking at her as if she were an erring child.
“I was thinking same as you would have,” she said, her voice tart. “If someone was lying there in danger, I couldn’t just go away. And don’t go telling me I shouldn’t have, because I had to.”
Aaron’s hand closed around her wrist for an instant, and her breath caught. Then he let go, shaking his head, his brown eyes crinkling a bit at the corners. “You always were a stubborn one, Sarah Beiler. Quiet, but stubborn.”
Too quiet, she couldn’t help thinking. If she’d given him even a hint of what she felt, all those years ago, would it have made a difference?
“It’s just as well she looked, or we might have thought there was a body in there.” Mac sounded practical. “Might have known Gus wouldn’t be anywhere around when there was trouble.”
“Julia Everly is going to be so upset.” Sarah pictured the tart-tongued elderly woman. “She never would let go of this property, because her husband used to love coming out here. And now that she’s laid up herself with a broken leg, she’ll really be fretting.”
“You mean she’ll be calling me every five minutes to find out what progress I’m making,” Mac said.
Sarah looked at him blankly. “Calling you? Why?”
“I’m the local fire marshal, remember? I’m supposed to have answers.”
“Ja, but what could you do?” she asked. “The firefighters did their best. At least they kept blaze from spreading. As dry as it’s been, it’s lucky the woods didn’t catch.”
“Not that.” Mac frowned. “Look around you. There’s not a cloud in the sky. No lightning to set it off. Nothing combustible stored in the barn. No electricity even. So how did the barn catch fire to begin with?”
Arson. She felt Aaron stiffen next to her. The word didn’t have to be said aloud to chill the blood.


Monday, October 26, 2015


My friend Nancy Mehl has a great new romantic suspense coming out on November 3rd. It's called RISING DARKNESS. If you enjoy my Amish romantic suspense novels, I think you'll like this one. Look for it now on Amazon.com!

RISING DARKNESS by Nancy Mehl:

Sophie Wittenbauer left her strict Mennonite hometown under a cloud of shame and regret. Certain she's left her past far behind her, she's now focused on her job at a newspaper and is shocked when she stumbles upon the name of someone she knew in her old life. But when she learns the man--a prisoner--claims a suspect from a decades-old unsolved crime is hiding out in the small town of Sanctuary, Missouri, she can't resist following the lead in hopes of furthering her career.

Almost immediately upon her arrival, Sophie's confronted with a face from her past and fears her intention of using a false identity to investigate is doomed. But with the help of Sanctuary's charismatic young pastor, Sophie knows she's getting close. Will she be able to conceal the truth of her own past long enough to find the suspect before someone puts a stop--fatal or otherwise--to her investigation? 





Tuesday, October 20, 2015

WHEN SECRETS STRIKE

Don't forget--WHEN SECRETS STRIKE goes on sale Oct. 27th. Pre-order your copy now!




In Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, a community once united must suspect one of their own 

Amish quilter Sarah Bitler's dreams no longer feature a husband and family. Instead, she searches for success in the quilt shop within Blackburn House, a place once tarnished with deadly secrets. She refuses to let the past influence her future…until an ominous fire forces them to collide. 

Firefighter Aaron King was the first to touch Sarah's heart—and the first to break it. Now a widower and father of two small girls, his return to Sarah's life brings her buried feelings to the surface. As a string of horrific incidents tears apart their community, an arsonist's wrath threatens to destroy them all. With Aaron as the only suspect, Sarah must follow her instincts to find the truth. But to protect an innocent man, she might risk her heart to Aaron again…and risk her life to an unknown killer.

Friday, October 16, 2015

BOOK WINNERS!

Congratulations! Here are the winners of a signed copy of WHEN SECRETS STRIKE: Susan Pritchett, Rose Hunter, Jackie Tessnair, Joyce Hoezee, Cheryl Callan, Donna Sneed, Susan Stone, Tammy Layton, Martha Bales, and Chuck Bracken. I have just e-mailed you. Please respond with your mailing address to receive your book. Thanks for playing, everyone!


Monday, October 12, 2015

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Let's do a giveaway! I'll give away ten copies of my new book, WHEN SECRETS STRIKE. Just sign up with your e-mail here, message me, or e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com. Winners will be picked Friday at noon.

WHEN SECRETS STRIKE is Book Two in my Secrets romantic suspense series from HQN Books. It's not necessary to have read the first book, WHERE SECRETS SLEEP, to enjoy this one, but if you did, you might want to know that Sarah, the Amish quilt-shop owner, is the protagonist of this story. Here's a bit about it:

In Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, a community once united must suspect one of their own 

Amish quilter Sarah Bitler's dreams no longer feature a husband and family. Instead, she searches for success in the quilt shop within Blackburn House, a place once tarnished with deadly secrets. She refuses to let the past influence her future…until an ominous fire forces them to collide. 

Firefighter Aaron King was the first to touch Sarah's heart—and the first to break it. Now a widower and father of two small girls, his return to Sarah's life brings her buried feelings to the surface. As a string of horrific incidents tears apart their community, an arsonist's wrath threatens to destroy them all. With Aaron as the only suspect, Sarah must follow her instincts to find the truth. But to protect an innocent man, she might risk her heart to Aaron again…and risk her life to an unknown killer.




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the three-in-one volume of Pleasant Valley Books, At Home in Pleasant Valley! They are: Judy Fritz, Barbara Meeks, Lerryn Meza, Marilyn Jones, and Barbara Wenner. Winners, please e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com with your mailing address so that I can send you your book.

And if you didn't win, look for my book next week in your nearest Walmart or other store or order online.

Thanks for playing, everyone!


Friday, September 25, 2015

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

I'm so excited to receive the first copies of AT HOME IN PLEASANT VALLEY, a volume containing the first three Pleasant Valley books! Would you like to win a copy? Enter to win one of five signed copies by leaving a comment or message with your e-mail address here or on my Facebook page at Marta Perry Books or e-mailing me at marta@martaperry.com. I'll pick the winners on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at noon.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Winner!

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Dawn Nicol, winner of the three-book set of suspense books! Dawn, I'm e-mailing you to ask for your mailing address. Please respond, and I'll get the books out to you right away! Thanks, everyone!

Monday, August 17, 2015

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Book Giveaway!

Let's give away some books for your end-of-summer reading pleasure. Today I have a complete set of the "Watcher in the Dark" suspense books: Home by Dark, Search the Dark, and Abandon the Dark. Comment with your e-mail address, message me, or email me at marta@martaperry.com .Please be sure you include your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you are the winner.

I'll pick a winner on Friday at noon and announce it here and on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/MartaPerryBooks.

Good luck!




Monday, July 6, 2015

QUAKER ROMANCE: LYN COTE'S BLESSING

I love having the opportunity to introduce you to my dear friend Lyn Cote, whose recent series of books about the Quakers has me absolutely enthralled.
Lyn and I have been friends since very early in our writing careers, and for years we've been corresponding virtually every day. I loved the first book in this new series so much that I asked Lyn to stop by and visit when the second book came out. BLESSING, Book 2 in her Quaker Brides series, is out now. I know you'll love it as much as I do! So here is Lyn to tell you about her new book:


Do you know that the Amish are just one of the several sects of “Plain People” in the US? The others are the Mennonites (Amish are a branch of this faith), Shakers, Amana, Hutterites, and Quakers. I am fascinated by this last sect which is just as old as the Amish. If you’re unacquainted with the Quakers, rent the old Gary Cooper film, “Friendly Persuasion,” which portray the Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends who are most remembered for their use of “Thee” and “Thy.” They are also pacifists and were at the forefront of social reform in the 18th and 19th centuries.
My latest book, BLESSING, is the second in my “Quaker Brides” series and portrays one Quaker woman, Blessing Brightman, and what she does about the wrongs happening all around her.  Here’s the blurb:
An impetuous love swept Blessing Brightman away from the Quaker community, into the highest ranks of Cincinnati society. But behind the glitter of ballroom and parlor, her spirit slowly eroded in an increasingly dangerous marriage. Widowed young, determined never to lose her independence again, Blessing reclaimed her faith and vowed to use her influence to fight for women’s rights and abolition.
Gerard Ramsay, scion of a wealthy Boston family, arrives in Cincinnati hoping to escape his father’s clutches with a strategy that will gain him independence. His plan is soon complicated, however, by the enchanting widow. Never before has a woman spoken as if she’s his equal—or challenged him to consider the lives of others.
In a city nearly ablaze with racial tensions quickly dividing the country, can two people worlds apart possibly find common ground?

Excerpt of the first meeting of Blessing Brightman and Gerard Ramsay in Seneca Falls, NY July 1848:
“The Quaker lady paused, letting Stoddard (Gerard’s cousin) and the blonde (Blessing’s friend) precede them. Then the Quakeress gazed up at Gerard with a look that he might have used when trying to decide whether a glass of milk had soured without tasting it. It unnerved him. He tried to step back but bumped against a stranger. He swallowed an unkind word.
She cocked her head, still studying him.
He’d had enough. He offered her his arm. "May I escort you, ma'am?" he said as if issuing a challenge.
"Yes, but I do not need to cling to thy arm. I am quite capable of walking unaided."
More startled than insulted, Gerard held back a sharp reply. As audacious as she might be, a gentleman did not contradict a lady. Peering ahead, he observed the possessive way the tall blonde clung to Stoddard's arm. He wanted to snatch up his cousin and run.
"I did not mean to be rude or uncivil," the Quakeress continued, walking beside him. "I'm sure thee offered thy arm simply from courtesy. But after this morning's meeting, I am afraid I see more clearly the proscribed manners between gentlemen and women as a form of bondage."
The equation of courtesy with bondage sent prickly disbelief rippling through him. "I beg your pardon." And with the press of the crowd though feeling bowled over, he was forced to walk faster to keep up with the other two. What would this woman say next?
She looked up at him. A mischievous smile lightened her face and he saw now that it was not just a pretty face but a beautiful face--big blue eyes, a pert nose, generous pink lips and thick chestnut hair peeping out around her close bonnet.
Her smile did something to him, something unexpected yet welcome. The heaviness he always carried lightened and he could draw breath freely. What was going on here?
"What is thy stand on abolition?" she asked, completely ignoring what should be the proscribed polite conversation between a man and woman upon first meeting. They should be discussing the weather and then move on to discreetly find out about each other’s family connections.
He stared at her. Ahead, Stoddard was chuckling at something his lady had said. The sound wrapped Gerard's nerves tighter.
The Quakeress shook her head at him, still grinning. "Very well. I don't mean to be impolite. I will follow propriety." She cleared her throat. "Gerard Ramsay, what brings thee to Seneca Falls this day?"
He swallowed and tried to come up with a palatable conventional reply. He failed. "I'm against slavery," he said instead.
"I am happy to hear that, but I asked, what thy stand on abolition is."
He was not accustomed to women who put forth opinions and her tone though cheerful, was almost cavalier as if she were making fun of him. Usually with him, people did that to their own peril. But this Quakeress had pushed him off balance. "You are in favor of abolition?" he ventured, trying to find his feet in this discussion.
She laughed softly, the sound reminding him of the children playing. "Yes, I am in favor of abolition. Has thee ever met Frederick Douglass?"
"No," he said, trying to keep up with her unexpected questions and her brisk pace without bumping into anyone. "Would thee like to meet Frederick Douglass?" she asked.
"Who is Frederick Douglass?" He looked down at her again, her face attracting him in spite of himself.
"Thee hasn't read his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave? It was published three years ago and has sold over five thousand copies."
Distracted, he wished he could overhear what the other lady was saying to his cousin. "I've not had the pleasure."
"Indeed thee hasn't read it then. It is not a pleasant book to read. It is as harsh as the slavery that bound him."
Gerard felt as if he were back on the wagon, only riding over an even bumpier road. Primarily concerned with Stoddard’s flirtation, he scrambled to keep up with the Quakeress’s odd conversation. "He's a fugitive slave then?"
"He is a free man of color who left the state and master that enslaved him."
Gerard gaped at her. Ladies didn’t discuss slavery. No woman had ever spoken so frankly to him in his life. All his usual sangfroid evaporated.
"I see my direct manner has disconcerted thee. I apologize." She smiled and said in a sweetly conversational tone, "When does thee think this hot weather will ebb?"
His mind whirled but he wouldn't bow in defeat. "Is this Frederick Douglass attending your...convention?"
"Gerard Ramsay, thee must make up thy mind whether thee wishes me to be conventional or not. I own fault. I started by speaking frankly as I always do with people with whom I'm acquainted, not strangers like thee. But this morning's discussion of the ‘Declaration of Sentiments for Women’ has made me overbold with thee--one who is not at all acquainted with me."
She tilted her head like an inquisitive robin. "I apologize. Should we try to follow convention or continue with frankness?" She looked at him expectantly as she continued walking. "Please choose. I do not wish to be rude."
He inhaled the hot humid air. Her candor irritated him and he would be cursed if he let this woman best him. "Mrs. Brightman," he drawled, ”I must confess your conversational style is completely unparalleled in my experience.”
She laughed again, again sounding almost musical.
Was this woman being artless or artful?”

Well, I always enjoy a good story with a bright articulate heroine and an equally sharp hero. Do you?
For more online about Lyn’s books:

http://www.Lyn Cote.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Cover!

I can now post the cover of THE REBEL, Book 3 in my Keeper of the Promise series from Berkley Books. The book will be out in the spring, but I'm so happy that the cover art is ready. What do you think?


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

AT HOME IN PLEASANT VALLEY

So excited I couldn't wait to share the news with you: Berkley Books will bring out a bound collection of the first three Pleasant Valley Books in one volume this fall. In early October you'll be able to buy AT HOME IN PLEASANT VALLEY at Walmart, other stores near you, and online bookstores. With a beautiful new cover, it includes the complete versions of LEAH'S CHOICE, RACHEL'S GARDEN, and ANNA'S RETURN. Have a look:


And here's the full cover, including the back description:


I just love the cover and hope readers will think it suits this collection of stories. If you missed any of these books, here's a great chance to add them to your library.

Best Always,
Marta

Friday, June 5, 2015

Where Ideas Come From

Where do your ideas come from? Writers are asked that question so often that I've posted about it numerous times. Still, no matter what I say, I'm not sure I've answered the question.The easy answer is--Everywhere! But usually people want something more specific, since they can't imagine coming up with ideas for over 50 books.

Two great sources of ideas for me are personal experience and research. No, I haven't experienced all the things that happen to the characters in my novels, I'm thankful to say. But even if I've never run from a deranged killer in the dark, I have experienced that initial chill of being alone in the house and hearing a door open. Thank goodness, there's always been an innocent explanation, but I can imagine what it might feel like to be in that situation and find a stranger with a knife in the kitchen!

In my new book, THE RESCUED, releasing today from Berkley Books, the personal experience aspect of the story comes from the stories I tell my grandchildren. The stories they like most are those about their parents when they were small. Perennial favorites are "When Daddy went Fishing for Chickens" and "The Day Mommy Unrolled a Whole Package of Dental Floss." (You probably don't want to know the why for either of those activities!) So in my Keepers of the Promise series of three books, a grandmother is sharing the stories of their family with three granddaughters. Each woman finds strength for her own future in those precious stories of the past.


Another source of ideas is research. Most people might say they're looking for facts when they do research, not ideas. But every new little tidbit I learn may well lead to a whole new story idea. I discovered the premise for the past story in THE RESCUED while researching something else entirely. I happened to run across a wonderfully evocative black-and-white news photograph of Amish schoolchildren running into a cornfield to escape being forced to attend an English school. From there it was a few clicks to the astonishing story of over a hundred Amish parents being arrested and sent to jail for refusing to send their children to a consolidated school. And this didn't happen in the 1800s--it occurred in 1953 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It was a short leap to the back story in my book of a woman who faces just that dilemma in her own life.

To read an excerpt from THE RESCUED, go to http://www.martaperry.com/book_rescued.html.
Blessings,
Marta

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

THE RESCUED Excerpt

I thought you might enjoy reading an excerpt from the beginning of THE RESCUED, Book Two in the Keepers of the Promise series, which releases on June 2nd. First, a bit about the story:



As an Amish wife and mother struggles to hold her family together, a story from the past teaches her how to face her daily challenges with strength and love . . .

In modern day central Pennsylvania, Judith Wegler tries to heal the growing rift between her husband, Isaac, and his teenage brother Joseph—whom Judith and Isaac have raised as their own ever since both brothers lost their parents and siblings in a horrific fire. Meanwhile, Isaac’s hurtful silence about this tragic past has robbed Judith of any certainty of her husband’s love.

But when Judith’s grandmother gifts her with an antique study table, she discovers a hidden packet of letters that changes her life . . .

In 1953, widow Mattie Lapp fights against the county’s attempts to force Amish children to attend a consolidated public school, even if it means arrest and imprisonment. Mattie knows she can’t face this challenge alone, and turns to her late husband’s cousin Adam for help, but she’s terrified at the prospect of relying on someone else.

Now, as the two women’s stories converge, both must learn to stand up for their beliefs and to love again, even when it means risking their hearts . . .



Chapter One
                Judith Wegler suspected that once again, she’d be acting as a buffer between her husband and his young brother. From the back porch of the farmhouse, where she was polishing the oak study table that was her gift from Grossmammi Lapp, she could hear Isaac calling Joseph’s name. Since there was no answer, almost-fourteen-year-old Joseph must have slipped away again.
                Isaac appeared around the corner of the corn crib, and Judith rose when he strode toward her. At thirty, Isaac was as sturdy and strong as he’d been when she’d tumbled into love with him so many years ago. His corn-silk hair had darkened to a deep honey color and the beard he’d grown when they married made him look mature, but his eyes were as bright a blue as ever under the brim of his summer straw hat.
                She ought to enjoy the sight of him, instead of feeling the familiar tightening of the stomach she always experienced at the prospect of intervening on behalf of the boy she’d raised as her own since she and Isaac married when his little brother was only five. The sixteen years between the two brothers sometimes seemed an insurmountable barrier.
Not that it was unusual for an Amish family to be spread out over that many years. It was unusual, though, for only the youngest and oldest to have survived. The siblings who’d come in between them had perished with Isaac’s parents in the tragic fire Isaac never mentioned.
                “Have you seen Joseph?” Isaac’s voice was tart with the irritation that was too often there lately when he spoke of his brother.
                “Not since after lunch. He went out to the barn to fix that broken board in Rosie’s stall.” The buggy horse had a talent for finding a loose rail and leaning against it until it broke. “Did you check there?”
                “It wouldn’t take him this long to fix a board.”
Frowning, Isaac stepped up to the porch, using it as a vantage point to survey the pastures and cornfields of the dairy farm, still lush and green in the August sunshine thanks to a recent rain. The fields stretched along the valley, and the ground rose gently to encompass the orchard and beyond it the wooded ridge.
“Ach, the boy’s becoming less responsible the older he gets. What’s the matter with him these days?”
                Isaac clearly didn’t expect an answer, but she gave him one anyway. “Joseph is growing up. My brothers all went through a ferhoodled spell when they were his age.” She didn’t bother to compare Joseph to Isaac, since everyone knew Isaac seemed to have been born responsible.
                “It’ll be time for milking before long. If he’s not back by then—“
                “He’ll show up soon.” She spoke quickly and prayed she was right. When Isaac and Joseph butted heads, as they did too often lately, everyone in the family became upset. “See how nice this study table is looking. You were right. All it needed was a good cleaning and a few coats of furniture wax.”
                That distracted him, as she’d hoped it might. Isaac ran his hand around the smooth edges of the rectangular table, large enough for four or even six young scholars to sit and do homework on a winter’s evening.
                “It’s a good, sturdy oak piece, that’s certain sure. Did your grossmammi say who it came from?”
                “She didn’t seem to remember, but she said she’d look it up for me. It was thoughtful of her to give it to us.”
Thoughtful and a bit more, Judith thought. She and two of her cousins had helped to clear out their grandmother’s house this spring when she’d moved in with her son. Long recognized as the historian of the Lapp family, Grossmammi had been eager to pass on the family stories to them, and part of that passing on had included choosing a piece of furniture for them to cherish.
Grossmammi believed that the piece of family heritage each one received had something to give them in return. That had certainly been true for Judith’s cousin Rebecca. The dower chest given to Rebecca had contained a diary from a young Amish girl who’d lived during the Second World War, and Rebecca often said how much she’d learned from that story. It had given her the strength and courage she’d needed for a new future, and that had been a wonderful fine gift.
                “The person who crafted this piece made it to last.” Isaac pulled on the shallow drawers under the table top. Two of them slid out easily, but the third wouldn’t open.
                “I wanted to ask you about that drawer,” Judith said. “I can’t tell if it’s locked or stuck.”
A glance over Isaac’s shoulder told her that the cows had started toward the gate, crossing the field in a long, straggly line, their udders full and swaying. They knew when it was time to be milked, even if Joseph had forgotten. There was still no sign of him.
Isaac stooped to look underneath the table, giving it the same careful attention he granted to everything he did. “Locked, I’d say. Better ask your grossmammi about a key. I wouldn’t want to damage it by forcing it open.” He rose as he spoke, and she could almost feel his attention shifting back to the job at hand.
But at last she spied Joseph, flying down the lane on the scooter he used the way she’d seen Englisch boys use their skateboards, with what seemed a reckless disregard for anything that might send them head over heels. Sometimes she wished their community allowed bicycles, the way some Amish out in Ohio did. But probably, boys being boys, Joseph would still find a way to court danger on it.
“Here comes Joseph,” she said quickly. “And your onkel is walking over. I’ll call Levi and Paul—“
“No need,” Isaac said, nodding toward the orchard, the apple trees bending with fruit that would be ready to pick soon. “Here they come now. Levi would never miss a milking time, that’s certain sure.”
If there was a tiny bit of pride in Isaac’s voice, she couldn’t blame him. At eight, their Levi seemed a natural-born farmer, having followed his daadi around since he could toddle. Paul, six, just wanted to do whatever his brother did. Even now, she spotted him running, trying to keep up with Levi’s longer legs as they raced down the slope from the orchard.
Isaac took the porch steps in one long stride, glancing without speaking toward his brother as Joseph jumped from the scooter and let it topple over into the grass. Please, don’t scold him, Judith said silently. He’s here, isn’t he?
And if Isaac took Joseph to task, the rest of them would be subjected to their glares at each other over the supper table.
“You’re here. Let’s get the cows in.” There was an edge to Isaac’s voice, and she prayed Joseph wouldn’t flare up in response.
Thankfully, Joseph just nodded and sprinted off toward the pasture gate. She could see Levi put on a burst of speed at the sight of him and smiled. Paul might want to be like Levi, but in turn, Levi tended to copy Joseph. A good thing, as long as he didn’t copy everything Joseph did.
Thinking of Joseph, she remembered something she had to ask her husband. “Is Saturday all right for Joseph’s fourteenth birthday celebration? I want to be sure your cousins and onkel know.”
Isaac seemed to freeze for an instant. And then he was moving. “Do what you want about it.” He slung the words over his shoulder and strode off without looking back.
Judith tried not to let the hurt take over at his response. How could Isaac act as if Joseph’s birthday was no concern of his? Naturally they would have a family party for the boy, as they did every year, for everyone’s birthday. The relatives would find it wonderful strange if they didn’t.
From the house behind her, Judith heard the thud of small feet on the stairs. At three, their Noah still needed a nap some days, and this had been one of them. She’d found him nearly asleep in his wagon and had carried him off to his bed, cherishing those moments when he’d clung to her like a little monkey. Sometimes she wished she could turn back the clock to a simpler time in their lives, when Noah was still a baby and Joseph was Isaac’s good right hand, looking up to him as the big brother he adored.
Things had begun to change over the past year or two, so slowly at first that she had hardly noticed it happening, until she woke up to see that Isaac and Joseph were at odds most of the time, and more and more often she was the buffer between them, hurt by this estrangement separating those she loved.
If only Isaac would talk to her about it--but he didn’t. He tightened his lips, put on a stoic face, and closed her off entirely from his inner feelings.
When she’d dreamed of their married life, this isolation hadn’t been part of it. Surely married couples were supposed to share their feelings, their hurts, and their joys. Wasn’t that what two being made one meant?
Isaac was a good man. They had a fine life on the family dairy farm and they’d been blessed with Joseph and three healthy kinder of their own. Maybe that should be enough for her. Maybe she shouldn’t be longing for a closeness Isaac wasn’t willing to give.
Noah came running, bursting through the screen door, already chattering away, as always. She lifted him in a quick hug, knowing he’d wiggle to be down and busy in an instant.
She was blessed, she repeated to herself, hugging the warm, wriggly little body. But at times like this she began to wonder if the gossip had been right—the things folks said when Isaac married her so abruptly before she had even turned twenty.
They’d said Isaac had needed to find a sensible, mature wife in a hurry when the aunt who’d taken care of Joseph had died. That he’d done what was expected of him and found a suitable girl to marry. That, as she’d heard his uncle say, he had settled down with Judith instead of chasing after romance and moonshine.
Perhaps she was as guilty as Isaac was of keeping her inner life hidden, because that was the one thing she could never, never tell him.
She stroked the surface of the study table again. Maybe the story of the woman who’d once owned it would have something to teach her. Could the stories of the past really reach out and touch her life today, or was that merely superstition on Grossmammi’s part? If it was true, she longed for the lesson that would assure her of Isaac’s love, but she couldn’t imagine how that might come.


Don't forget to look for your copy June 2nd at your favorite store, or pre-order it at any online bookstore.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

BOOK GIVEAWAY

Don't forget to enter before noon, May 23rd for your chance to win a free copy of THE RESCUED, Book Two in the Keepers of the Promise series. Leave a response or e-mail me at marta@martaperry.com and be sure to include your e-mail address.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

THE RESCUED book giveaway!

THE RESCUED, Book 2 in the Keepers of the Promise series, goes on sale June 2nd! So it's time to do a giveaway. Thanks to my publisher, I have five copies to give to five winners. To enter, just comment below and include your email address so I can contact you. The contest begins immediately and ends at noon on May 23. Good luck!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Headed for Dallas!

All you DALLAS READERS! Fourteen of my writing buddies and I are coming your way this weekend! We'll be at a massive book signing on Saturday, May 16th at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and we'd love to see you there. I'll be speaking on a panel about writing the bestselling inspirational novel and helping to host a game with loads of book giveaways for those who have registered for the event. 

You don't have to be registered to attend the giant booksigning on Saturday from 11 to 2 pm at the Dallas Hyatt Regency Hotel. I'll hope to see you there!




Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Great New Book from a Friend

I just wanted to let you know about a terrific new book from my friend, Linda Goodnight. Linda and I got to know each other because we both write for Love Inspired, and although our writing and lives only allow us to see each other once a year or so, I never want to miss a chance to remind others of her wonderful books.

Linda has broken through into a new level of her beautiful, emotional story telling with her current book, "The Memory House." Here's a bit about her story:





New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight welcomes you to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, and a house that's rich with secrets and brimming with sweet possibilities 

Memories of motherhood and marriage are fresh for Julia Presley—though tragedy took away both years ago. Finding comfort in the routine of running the Peach Orchard Inn, she lets the historic, mysterious place fill the voids of love and family. No more pleasure of a man's gentle kiss. No more joy in hearing a child call her Mommy. Life is calm, unchanging…until a stranger with a young boy and soul-deep secrets shows up in her Tennessee town and disrupts the loneliness of her world. 

Julia suspects there's more to Eli Donovan's past than his motherless son, Alex. There's a reason he's chasing redemption and bent on earning it with a new beginning in Honey Ridge. Offering the guarded man work renovating the inn, she glimpses someone who—like her—has a heart in need of restoration. But with the chance discovery of a dusty stack of love letters buried within the lining of an old trunk, the long-dead ghosts of a Civil War romance envelop Julia and Eli, connecting them to the inn's violent history and challenging them both to risk facing yesterday's darkness for a future bright with hope and healing.

Grab your copy of "The Memory House" today online or at your favorite bookstore!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Covers

Can you really tell a book by its cover? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I've made the mistake a time or two of buying a book because the cover drew me in, only to discover that the story didn't live up to the artwork! And sometimes books in a series have such similar covers that I'm not sure whether I've read them or not. But usually, a book cover that speaks to me will at least make me read the cover copy and perhaps the first page or two.

Get any group of writers together, and they'll be happy to exchange cover stories--usually about the ones that were so far from the story they wrote that they'll think the covers got on by mistake! I've had a few covers in the last 58 books that had what I thought were glaring errors, but also a number that were exactly right, and a few that took my breath away because they were so perfect.

In the misfits, there was the cover that gave my blond, blue-eyed hero black hair and dark eyes. And the one in which my husband pointed out that the windmill was in the wrong place on the farm scene. And one in which my mother of three looked about fourteen, and another where a clothesline seemed suspended in space!

But then there were the great ones, like the cover Berkley has given to my upcoming June book, THE RESCUED, Book two in the Keepers of the Promise series. The initial art, without the printing and folding, is so lovely that I want to hang it on the wall.
Isn't that lovely?

And here's how it looks once it was transformed into the actual book cover.


So what do you think? Does the cover lure you into buying the book? I hope so!