What is your book’s genre or category and what draws you to the genre?
This is a Christian Amish romance.
Can you describe the story in one or two sentences for our readers?
Can an Amish widow and widower move through the pain of their past and losses in order to find love with each other?
Tell us the story behind the story. What influenced you to write it and how long did it take you?
I’ve often thought of survivor guilt. What would it be like to survive a tragedy that takes your entire family? How can you find the faith to live on in spite of that without forsaking God? I’ve been extremely blessed to not have been tested in this way, though as I get older, it becomes more imminent that one of us, my husband Harold or I, is going to outlive the other. I think the germ of this book was born from these thoughts. How do we reconcile a loving God with the tragedy of loss? And how can we love again? This is a theme which runs through my writing and definitely through this book.
In spite of having lost her husband and child, Katie Fisher finds the strength to give of herself to another family and love again. It’s so much harder having the courage to give of yourself wholly when you have already done so and suffered for it, I think.
Is there a part of you in any of the characters?
There’s a part of me that is in all of my characters, even (especially?) the despicable ones.
Have you ever faced criticism living a life a faith and how have you dealt with it?
Yes, I have. Sometimes people will assume that because I believe fervently in God that it makes me uneducated or naïve. I can only show those people who I am and know that by opening myself up to them sincerely, that I am living the Gospel, to love my neighbor as I love my God and myself.
What is the message in your books that you want your readers to grasp?
Hmmm… probably our love of God is shown through our love for each other. Loving is difficult, especially when you’ve been hurt. But that’s also when it’s the most powerful expression of yourself.
If you assigned an actor/actress to the characters in your novel, who would they be?
I know a lot of writers do this, but I don’t. I tend to see my characters from the inside, and I’m also terrible with actor names. So I’m going to reserve answering this question, but if anyone has a suggestion, I’m open to it.
What is the best thing about your writer’s life?
I get to share the stories that have always been in my head.
Do you have a favorite book or art that inspires you?
Aside from the Bible…probably Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont. I love what she has to say about writing, and when I’m having book trouble, flipping through this book usually helps me get mentally back on track.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. It was only after I retired and ePublishing became feasible that I was able to be an author though.
How do you find the time to write?
I am fortunate enough to be retired. Mostly I write in the afternoons. My husband uses that time for fishing and spending time in his woodshop.
What advice would you give to encourage readers in their own spiritual journey?
A person’s faith isn’t perfect all of the time. Sometimes we doubt or question, and that’s normal. Give yourself permission to forgive yourself for failing and get back up again. And read your Bible, of course.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the next book in my Goats Gone Wild series, starring Annie Miller, a really spunky Amish young lady who ends up in a goat-load of trouble when she accidentally “wins” five Nubian goats in an auction. Annie is also a tomboy who is has to come to terms with her emerging femininity (and interested young men) as the series continues. I have had so much fun writing these books and characters. And this series is also set in the same community as Lancaster County Second Chances, so you’ll get to revisit your favorite characters in the new books as well.
How can readers find you online?
I’m on http://familychristianbookstore.net (Just click on Ruth Price)
Twitter @ruthpriceauthor. I haven’t made it onto Instagram or other social media sites yet. I’m a bit old fashioned, I guess.
Excerpt of Lancaster County Second Chances
Katie Olsen looked out the kitchen window. The sun was just coming up, and everyone but her mamm and younger sister were already out in the fields. It was spring, and the rising sun spread its beams over soft brown earth, ready for planting. The landscape was the same as she remembered. The gentle hills of her Lancaster County home seemed to be forever rolling away to the horizon. It had always been a comforting view.
She picked at the white cotton tablecloth with her fingers. It was the same familiar table cloth she had used as a child – the hand sewn border, the faint stain from the strawberry accident, the little uneven nubs that she had loved to rub with her fingers.
This plain white farmhouse still looked just the same as it had when she was six years old. The massive gray barn had seemed endless then, and it still looked huge. The freshly-tilled earth would soon be filled with movement and color and sound.
This farm had been her home. She had felt so comfortable in it, as if she herself had been a young plant springing up from her daed’s fields. She had grown from this soil, like the oak trees overshadowing the house. Like her mamm’s roses. Like the wheat that swayed and whispered secrets to the lavender twilight. Once, her world had been as safe and predictable as bud and bloom and harvest. It had seemed to her that nothing would ever change.
But everything had changed. She was 26 now. The familiar white farmhouse wasn’t her home any longer. It was her parents’ home.
The tablecloth, the house, the barn, the oak trees, and even the rolling hills, all of them belonged to the child she had been, not the young woman she had become.
For the past three months, she had been an increasingly uncomfortable guest in her parents’ home.
Maybe even a burden.
Of course, her mamm and daed would never put it that way. And she did her best to help them around the house and with her little sister and brother.
Katie’s fingertip raised the corner of a paper lying underneath her breakfast plate. Her mamm had “forgotten” it there this morning.
It was an Amish advertising circular. The headline read: Young Widowed Men Interested in Remarriage.
A cheerful voice interrupted Katie’s thoughts.
“Why such a sad face, Katze?”
Katie pulled her lips into a smile and turned to face her 10-year-old sister, Bett.
“No sad face for you, Bett.” She pulled her blonde giggle box of a sister into her arms and smiled. “Come, I will help you with your chores.”
They walked out to the chicken coop and roused the hens. Katie had always liked gathering eggs – the sleepy, blinking hens, the feel of their soft feathers, the warm, smooth eggs.
Bett was skipping in her joy. “I’m glad you’re back, Katze,” she was saying, calling Katie by the nickname everyone in her family used. Bett’s blue eyes were full of affection.
Katie stopped gathering eggs momentarily. She bit her lip. She wished she could say, I am glad to be back, but that would have been a lie, and she already had too many sins on her soul.
“I’m glad you are pleased,” was what she said.
“Everyone is pleased,” Bett nattered on. “Last Sunday I heard Mr. Hershberger say that you have a pleasing countenance and that you are a diligent worker. And Mr. Beiler said that he’s glad you’re back, and that it’s a good thing.”
Bett dug a toe into the dirt and smiled shyly up at Katie.
“I think they like you,” she added, in a conspiratorial tone.
Katie stifled an impatient exclamation. Mr. Hershberger was 20 years her elder. He was bald and fat and had an ungovernable temper. And Mr. Beiler was 70 if he was a day and as shriveled as a stick. The last thing in the world she wanted was to attract the attention of men like Mr. Hershberger and Mr. Beiler.
Or, really, the attention of any man.
She closed her eyes and counted slowly to ten before saying, “I think that’s all for now, Bett. Let’s take these back.”
Bett giggled and skipped along beside her. “I can’t wait until I’m your age, Katze,” she confided, “and all the men are asking after me.”
Katie said nothing in reply, but she was wishing with all her soul that she could somehow revert to her sister’s age and once again be a freckled, laughing child.
At dinner that night, the table was laden with baked bread and butter, beans and bacon, ham, baked potatoes, apple pie topped with cheese. It was good, solid farmhouse cooking, some of which Katie had made herself, but she had no appetite.
Katie’s mamm shot her husband a glance. He straightened in his chair and cleared his throat.
“Are you feeling ill, Katze?” he rumbled.
“No, Daed,” she replied.
She dutifully picked up a forkful of potatoes and put it into her mouth.
Katie retreated to bed immediately after dinner, pleading a throbbing head. Her parents had put her in her old bedroom. It still looked much the same as it had – the bare wooden floor, the plain single bed next to the big window overlooking the fields, the same starburst quilt that her grandmother had made for her when she born, with its red, blue, and green.
Even her old toys were still there – the old cotton doll and the stuffed bear that she had worn to shreds, all still lying at the bottom of the quilt chest at the foot of her bed.
There was the prayer book she had used as a child, still with her childish scrawls inside.
The old bedroom should have been a reassuring haven, but for Katie, it was oddly jarring – a reminder of what she wasn’t anymore, and could never be again.
Just as she had always done, she knelt down beside the bed for her evening prayers. As a child, it had been easy and natural for her to pray to God. She had felt His presence everywhere. But tonight, she found no words to say. Now, she didn’t feel His presence at all.
She had not felt His presence for months. Sometimes, in her darkest moments, she even feared that God had…
The sound of a soft knock at Katie’s bedroom door ended her devotions. Katie rose and opened the door to find her mamm standing outside. The candlelight touched her braided brown hair with gold.
“May I come in?”
“Of course.” Katie sat down on the bed and patted the space beside her. Katie’s mamm sat down quickly and put an arm around her. Her eyes looked worried.
“I shouldn’t have left that advertisement on the table. I think I’ve upset you,” she said softly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“You have a right,” Katie replied, looking down.
“It’s not about our rights,” her mamm corrected quickly. “Your daed and I, we just want to see you smile again. To come back again, just a little bit.” She smoothed a tendril of Katie’s soft brown hair back from her face. “It was too soon, maybe.”
“You’re not the only ones,” Katie told her, with an unhappy grimace. “Bett told me today that Mr. Hershberger and Mr. Beiler were asking after me,” Katie added, wrinkling her nose.
Her mamm burst out laughing and hugged her close. “Then I don’t blame you for picking at your food tonight.” She smiled. “It would trouble me, too.”
Katie smiled in spite of herself, and her mamm laughed again. “There,” she said tenderly, lifting Katie’s chin. “That’s what I was looking for. My Katze.”
Suddenly everything that had happened, everything that she had lost, welled up in Katie’s heart. “Oh, Mamm!” she cried, and sobbed as her mamm made soothing noises and rocked her back and forth like a child.