Wednesday, February 6, 2019

An Amish Heart by Tattie Maggard and Jacqueline Hopper

An Amish Heart

I am so excited to share this new release with you. An Amish Heart is the first book my friend Jacqueline Hopper and I have written together and I know it won't be the last. We've already started on a new one this week. Like all of my Amish books, this is a Swan Creek story, and I have a feeling the characters we created in this book are going to pop up again and again.

Sometimes you have no choice but to go home again.

When Susie Yutzy hung up her kapp in pursuit of nursing scrubs, she believed she was done with Swan Creek forever. All it took was a lost little girl and a storm to haul her back into the arms of her ex-beau, putting her career and a certain handsome doctor's interest on hold.
But will Susie's revived Amish heart destroy her Englisher dreams?

You can purchase An Amish Heart for Amazon Kindle for only $0.99 for a limited time.
An Amish Heart link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

New Amish Release - Amish Neighbors Book 4

Just in time for the Christmas reading season comes Amish Neighbors Book 4!

2 Stories in 1
The Best Gift - Christmas is fast approaching. Can Asa convince Melvin Wickey to accept some much needed help for his family, or is the man too proud for charity?
A Note of Encouragement - Now that Jona's grandmother has passed, can he get rid of her annoying penpal, or will their old letters bring him a sense of peace he didn't know he was missing? 
Enjoy this mini-collection of clean and wholesome stories about Swiss Amish life and culture, each detailed and skillfully written by bestselling Amish romance author, Tattie Maggard, in a format to fit your busy lifestyle.

Only $0.99 for Amazon Kindle or read free in Kindle Unlimited.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

What do Amish Courting Couples Do Around Christmas?

"What do Amish courting couples do around Christmas?" I asked my Amish born friend once, and then contemplated the answer for a long time.
"They make taffy."
"They make taffy?" I repeated.
"For a couples' get together."

It took a lot of research for this to sink in to my thick skull, but what I found out was both charming and historical.

Years ago here in rural Missouri, a young gal would invite her beau over to help make taffy in the winter when there were less outdoor chores and the weather kept them inside most of the time. But it wasn't all socializing. Making taffy is hard work, as I found out.

First you cook it on the stove, then you let it cool until you can handle it. That's when the fun begins. The couple might sit by the fire in chairs facing each other, and with buttery fingers the young man would grab hold of the taffy in his gal's hands and pull it toward him, stretching it out to incorporate air into the sticky mass, then hand it back to her in a constant rocking motion. It took ten minutes or more before the taffy would begin to get stiffer and be ready to cut. Meanwhile they'd gaze into each others eyes and visit.

The old timers around here will tell you it was a popular practice in these hills years ago, and I think it's really special that the Amish still do it. I love it when the Amish culture of today intersects with my own rural Missouri heritage.

This week I published a mini-collection of three short stories that revolve around one such taffy pulling "frolic" in Swan Creek just before Christmas. Check out Amish Neighbors Book 3 on Amazon Kindle for only $0.99 and free on Kindle Unlimited.

See all of the Amish Neighbors series here.

Have you ever made taffy? Leave a comment and tell us about it. (Especially if it was with your beau.)  ;)

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Benefit Singing: A Sketch of Rural Missouri Life

We arrive fifteen minutes before the singing is scheduled to begin and park in the hay field behind the church at about dusk. My daughter and I make our way around to the front doors. We shake hands with the pastor and step inside, but there’s nowhere to sit. We stand dumbly in the aisle a moment and I play with my daughter’s hair, nervously scanning every bench. Many neighboring churches are represented here, and not all of them share the same denomination as the one on the sign out front, but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Here we’re all the same, I remind myself. Finally, a lady from our church catches my eye, says hello, and offers to scoot over to make a place for me and my daughter. We’re grateful to have a place on a hard-backed bench with little space between it and the next one.

I’m a people watcher. Maybe it has to do with being a writer, or maybe it’s my way of dealing with the nervousness crowds bring me, but I quickly notice a lot of peculiarities about the individuals in the room. One man has a bald spot on top except for a little bit of fuzz that seems to be almost rolled into a ball. His mustache is almost hidden at the edges by the creases of his big droopy cheeks, despite being rather thin. There’s only one person in the room who hasn’t aged a day in ten years. She sticks out like a sore thumb to me and then I notice for the first time that I’m seeing the next generation of all the people I once knew. I can place most of the children on looks alone, even though I’ve not seen them since they were babies. 

A prayer is said and the singing begins.
Men in flannel shirts beneath their faded overalls look like they were plucked straight from the field and had a guitar pushed into their hands. The round ring in their front overalls pocket indicates a years-long chewing tobacco habit. 

Some can sing, and some can’t carry a tune in a paper bag, but no one is turned away. In fact, it’s often those without a singing gift who are the most spiritual, like the autistic boy who always sang along to Amazing Grace. A young boy sings with his grandmother while she plays piano. A ninety-four-year-old man is rockin’ it on the steel guitar. Over a hundred people are packed into a sanctuary built to comfortably seat eighty and at least twenty more are watching through the windows of the dining hall. Everyone gets a turn to sing. Even those who don’t offer are in danger of being recruited by the crowd. A guitar is thrust into their hands and without words or notes on a page they perform. People who used to be able to belt it out don’t have the volume anymore. New ones take their place. As they finish and start to walk away, someone from the crowd yells out another song title for them to sing. 

There are at least twenty people crowded up front on foldable chairs with instruments, mostly guitars. In big gatherings like this one there might be one that’s electric, a banjo, steel guitar, and a few mandolins. Piano players change with the songs. Families do specials together, and testimonies are given randomly. Someone sings a song and an audience member may begin an unknown verse just as it ends. In the middle of a song someone may run up to the piano and start playing along by ear. The whole audience may sing along, or maybe just a voice or two. I know almost every word of every song. This makes it difficult to keep from singing along softly. 

Soon a couple baskets are passed down the rows and everyone offers what they can, some putting in get well cards. When the money is all counted, over $7,000 has been raised for a man with too many hospital bills who was always visiting others in the hospital when they were sick. 

The singing starts again. I’m relieved when they get to my husband and he doesn’t offer to sing. I can spot him easily in the crowd. The back of his head has a big gray patch on one side, the product of when he lost his hair from radiation about the time we began seeing each other. That was twenty-two years ago, when a benefit just like this one was held for him. It suddenly makes me very glad I came. Not because this is the closest thing I have to health insurance, but because it’s right to do so and part of my rural Missouri heritage. 

Next thing I know they’re calling for me to sing. I step around a man in a wheelchair sitting in the aisle. When I reach the front there’s very little room to even stand with all the musicians. My husband hands me a book and announces the number. I nervously turn to the page and hope it’s something I can sing. I hold the book open and notice it’s shaking. I look at the crowd and note how odd all the heads look since they’re not in neat rows but packed in tightly like sardines, with some people in the aisle and others standing in the back. The music starts and I sing. As loud as I can, because there’s no microphone, and because I just feel like it. To my amazement it sounds right. People start singing with me and it’s exhilarating to be leading. Even so, my book shakes even more as the song goes on and by the time it’s over I don’t think I could have made it another verse if I had to. I close my mouth tight and walk back to my seat quietly with my head down, suddenly embarrassed I let everyone see so much of myself. New people take my place up front and finally the shaking stops. 

After two hours, a prayer is said and a long line forms in the direction of the food tables in the next room but the singing doesn’t stop. We wait in line for ten minutes and finally see eight crock pots of chili and more desserts than you can possibly count.

I try to mingle, but I’m terrible at it. It shouldn’t be hard since I know most of the people there, but I’m not good with social situations. I will not talk about my books, I repeat to myself over and over. I don’t want to bore people and I’m certain I’ve talked some heads off in the past about whatever I was most interested in at the time. Everyone I talk to asks me how many books I have out now. I can’t remember the exact number and I’m not sure if that makes me sound like an airhead or just crazy productive. I’m hoping for the latter. One of them keeps asking me questions and soon we’re engaged in a fascinating conversation about the differences between Baptists and the Amish faith. Suddenly I remember my father-in-law rode with us and decide we’d better take him home. Not everyone is a social butterfly. 

My husband pulls a flashlight out of his pocket and leads us to the field where we parked. I’m glad we came, if for no other reason than it’s one of the things I truly want my daughter to experience first hand. 

Things change. People, places, even cultures change. But I hope there will always be hill people who wear pin-striped overalls and play banjos, and people who aren’t afraid to sing and who are willing to help out someone in need.