What a delight to have the talented Vannetta Chapman with us today!
Vannetta is a popular, award-winning author who discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. She published a novel with Abingdon Press called A Simple Amish Christmas in 2010 and has been delighting readers ever since.
Today we're featuring An Amish Garden, a collection of four novellas that Vannetta co-wrote with Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Tricia Goyer (giveaway details are at the bottom of this post). I found these stories very enjoyable and inspiring; follow this link to see my review. More information about this wonderful book can also be found at vannettachapman.com.
Now grab a cup of coffee and visit with Vannetta . . .
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, Vannetta - family, jobs and ministries in which you've been involved, etc.
Let’s see. My husband and I will celebrate our 15th anniversary this summer. Between us we have 4 children, all grown. And we live with 3 cats and a new shelter dog (plus a herd of deer in the yard). As far as ministry, I play the keyboard in our church’s praise band, and I fill in as a teacher for classes as needed. I also speak to local groups.
Q: Have you always wanted to write, and what inspired you to write Amish fiction in particular?
Not really. I’ve always been a huge READER, and eventually that spurred my desire to write. But I didn’t submit my first manuscript until I was 40. Before that I did a little writing for magazines and I also taught for 15 years. My agent asked me to try my hand at Amish fiction, and I’m certainly glad she did!
Q: What are 3 things that most people don't know about you?
I don’t eat white foods (and I don’t know why).
I love to hike and garden and crochet and quilt.
I struggle with my weight! (I suppose many people could say that last one.)
Q: Tell us about An Amish Garden, the book we're featuring today.
It’s a collection of Amish novellas written by myself, Tricia Goyer, Kathleen Fuller, and Beth Wiseman. My story is “Where Healing Blooms” which is an appropriate title since Emma’s garden provides healing for quite a few people in her story. One fun aspect of this story is that I was able to research the Amish participation in World War 2 through the Civilian Public Service.
Q: What was it like to join with three other authors in putting this collection together? Is this something you'd like to do again?
Actually we are doing it again! An Amish Cradle will release this time next year. I’ve enjoyed the collaboration as we all bring different strengths, experiences, and writing styles to our stories.
Q: You wrote on the dedication page, "For Uncle Joe, who still keeps a garden." Tell us about your Uncle Joe to whom "When Healing Blooms" is dedicated.
Uncle Joe is my husband’s uncle. He has been legally blind for the last several years. As I mention in my dedication, he still keeps a garden—a rather large impressive garden. He’s a lovely man, and I’m humbled and encouraged by him at the same time.
Q: You mention a gardening hint in your story - putting old coffee grounds on roses. What is the purpose of this, and are there any more helpful tips you'd like to share?
I always heard that coffee ground provide nutrients to your plants—especially blooming ones. Another idea is to put something rusty beside your plants (for instance we have part of an old windmill in our garden). The rust is good for your plants!
Q: In a world where many relationships are strained, I loved the closeness between Emma and her mother-in-law, and that Emma considered Mary Ann to be her "parent in the faith." Is the mother-daughter relationship something that inspires you?
Yes! I have a very close relationship with my mother and my mother-in-law. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that those we love can be taken from us suddenly. While there’s celebration in that (I wouldn’t want to pull my loved ones away from heaven’s gates), there’s also pain and longing. It’s so important to appreciate and spend time with our family while we can.
Q: Is there a particular message that you hope will speak to readers?
In every book I write, my main goal is to share God’s grace. His favor and love and mercy are things that are available to each of us—and yes, they are life changing.
Q: Have you found gardens to be a place of comfort and healing, Vannetta?
I have! Many times when I’m stressed I’ll go outside and putter around. Soon I am APPRECIATING the day rather than struggling against it. Even as a child, we had a large garden in the back yard. Of course then I thought it was the worst chore ever to have to go out and weed between those rows. More than once I snuck a book out with me.
Q: What's on the book horizon for you?
Murder Simply Brewed releases this month. It’s a fun cozy that once again highlights God’s grace. Murder Tightly Knit will release in December.
Q: How can we, as readers, support and encourage you, both personally and as an author, Vannetta?
If you enjoy my books, tell someone. That’s the best thing you can do for any writer. And I appreciate your prayers!
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
We can’t all “be” Amish, but we can learn from them. If there’s someone you admire, learn from their life! With the Amish I think there are many lessons to learn and one of them is to slow down and appreciate what God has given us.
Thanks for having me! I’d be happy to give away a copy of An Amish Garden to one of your commenters with a U.S. address. Anyone else enjoy gardening?
Vannetta has graciously offered a copy of An Amish Garden to one of you, so please enter by answering Vannetta's question (also mention any bonus entries and leave e-mail in a safe format).
-- Bonus #1 - Follow or subscribe to my blog (new or current followers)
-- Bonus #2 - "Like" my Facebook page, The Power of Words Reviews (new or already liked)
Contest ends at midnight on Sunday, March 30. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced on Monday, March 31. Due to postage costs, US addresses only.
UPDATE: Congratulations to our winner, Beverly Lytle! Thank you to all who left comments and to Vannetta for this enjoyable interview and willingness to share a copy of An Amish Garden with one of you.