I've always asked the people who buy my books to get back to me if they have time to let me know what they think of my books. Usually I receive a review, but this time I received a well dissected critique of my latest Nurse Hal Among The Amish book titled Amish Country Arson. I was thrilled and decided to turn the list into a comment and answer session for my blog post. C. The back cover is hard to read because of the red letters. A. I agree, and I do design my book covers myself so I only have me to blame. My choice of red letters was to go along with the fire theme. Now that I hold the book in my hands I see I should have picked an easier to read color against the barn raising background. C.The recipe for Shoo Fly Pie has molasses listed in the directions, but not how much; not listed in the ingredients. A. Don't you just hate trying out a new recipe and find it is missing an ingredient. Worse yet molasses happened to be the main ingredient in Shoo Fly Pie. I am really so sorry about that. C.I hate losing Tom Turkey!! A. I am sorry about that. Tom Turkey was a particular favorite of this reader, and Tom created much excitement in other stories. He did go out in a blaze of glory so to speak while protecting Nurse Hal from an arsonist that set fire to the Lapp barn. C. Needed a little more of Stella. A. Stella Strutt is a thorn in Nurse Hal's side in every book. In my next book, Second Hand Goods, Stella will be front and center with her Old Order Amish opinions and her repetition of almost everything she says. C.But I absolutely loved Amish Country Arson and think it was one of the best books in the series yet! A. It's always so good to hear that my books have been entertaining. Now I've got to strive to make the next one better than this one. C. And I like the sentences you use. For example - Darkness was good for what was about to happen. And the one about how Hal calls herself a nurse and describes her as the woman with a man's name. A. The first sentence was leading up to what was about to happen - an arson fire, and the second sentence was the arsonist's description of Nurse Hal. C.I liked how you got inside the mind of the arsonist and told thoughts and made readers understand what was going on in that person's head. A. I'm glad my attempt to tell the arsonist's story by getting inside the person's head worked. Doing that puts the readers on the spot at the beginning of each fire and seeing the scene through a mentally sick person's thinking. C. Homey touch to have Biscuit pee on the back wheel of the buggy or whatever it was. A. Nurse Hal and the Lapp family live on a farm. I have always lived in the country and had farm animals and pets. I can easily relate to Biscuit, the Lapp dog, marking his territory on buggy wheels just like an English farm dog would pee on a car or pickup tires. C.I was glad to have Aunt Tootie still be visiting in the story. A. Aunt Tootie has been described as sort of a plumb off center, but she adds some comical relief to the stories. Up until now Tootie and Hal's parents have come for visits, but that will change in the next book. You have to read Second Hand Goods to find out about the change. C.I am glad to have Tom Turkey still do some antics before his death. And I'm glad he died saving Hal rather than having the family decide they needed him for a meal. C. A. From my personal experiences while living on a working farm, I was brought up to realize that any animal that was edible could be named but when push came to shove that animal would either wind up on the table or sold because farming is a business. My choice to give Tom a pet's funeral in the Lapp walnut grove, which John Lapp might not have approved if Tom had been found sooner, was made because I knew the readers had grown fond of ornery Tom and would miss him just as much as the Lapp family did. Tom Turkey fans have my sympathy. C.Interesting mystery to wonder what dug the marigolds. A..The most natural stories to write are those taken from real life. Since I spent most of this spring and summer wondering what animal was digging in my flower bed in order to sleep under the porch writing about it came easy. C.Redbird surely was a tiny little girl to like drinking coffee! I wonder what little kids would think of coffee if they tasted it! A. I had this discussion with my aunts several years ago. My mother wouldn't let her three children drink coffee. We had to drink milk. That worked until she left my younger brother and me with her mother while she shopped. Grandma loved to spoil her grandchildren. She had large sugar cookies waiting for us and as soon as we were seated at the table, Grandma poured us a cup of coffee which was half full of half and half cream. Tempted though I was, I said, “Mom won't let us drink coffee.” Grandma said, “What she doesn't know won't hurt her.” I gleefully accepted the coffee and liked it. Now I must admit it was years later before I really found out what coffee tasted like. C.I laughed at Hal's first impression of Wanda - that she would get along well with Stella for a neighbor. A. Haven't at one time or other all of us make assumptions about someone from our first impressions. Stella befriending her neighbor Wanda was just enough to make Hal assume that Wanda would be against her, too. Hal was relieved to find out that she was wrong. Wanda made up her own mind about Nurse Hal. C.And I laughed at the thought of the bishop coming to see for himself if Gladys was able to come to church. It's a good thing preachers don't do that to their congregations - but maybe they should. Perhaps then folks would think twice about missing services. A. I'm always doing research on Amish customs. Ministers might not check on their congregation members, but bishops do. One worship service might be missed with an illness, but services are two weeks apart. A member should be feeling better by then. Bishops are quick to find out why a member is missing and admonish that person or family as the case may be. I'm thinking there might be some Amish Bishops more lax than others. C. I'm pleased you remembered to add the skunk to this story. And not just have it dig things and stink, but have Hal think she killed it. You made it an exciting adventure and not just a skunk incident. A. Hal makes a good nurse because she is so caring and has a tender heart. She loves all animals as well as people. She was mad at the skunk and that anger pushed her to get rid of the animal that tore up her flower beds after she was teased by her stepsons that they wouldn't kill the skunk for her. She found she just didn't have the stomach for killing a living thing once she had the skunk captured but she had to go through with it. C.The order at the sale when they sold everything before they got to the rooster Hal wanted - that reminds me of me. Seems things I'm interested in are always saved for a good while. A. I agree. We enjoy going to an auction at Kalona, Iowa much like the one I described at Wickenburg. What we want to buy always seem to take a long time to get to. C.That was funny how Tom Turkey treated the rooster. And it served Tootie right the way the rooster treated her. A. Tom was territorial. He had become head of the chicken flock, and he wanted to keep it that way. The new rooster Hal bought didn't stand a chance if the boys hadn't locked Tom in the barn. As it turned out, the rooster might have stood a fighting chance against the turkey since he had a mean streak. Just Aunt Tootie's luck when she offered to gather the eggs one afternoon, the rooster showed her his true nature. C.That was so clever of you to have John ask the bishop to preach a sermon against modern conveniences in order to convence the young people. A. Amish elders are committed to keeping their young in the Amish faith even though they have to give the youth rumspringa to let them decided on their own to join the Amish church or become English. C.And Edna Mast - that it was best not to ask her how she was doing unless you wanted to hear a vast list of ailments. We had a lady here years ago who was that very same way. My mom had the general store, and the men would sit on the benches around the pot belly stove. Mrs. Powell would come in, and they'd ask her how she was doing. She'd start in on her ailments, and those men would exit the store - leaving my mom to have to listen to all those physical complaints! A. I thought Edna Mast would get along with Aunt Tootie. This character was just like my father's mother. Ask Grandma how she was, and she started with the headache and went to ailments in her feet before she stopped. C.The barn raising, sorghum making, benefit sale - you really made those come to life. You didn't just pass over them in generalizations, but you described them down to the smallest details. Made me feel I was attending them. A. These are the type of events that make up the life of Amish people. What is part of their lives should be included in stories about them. I want the every day life of the Amish to stand out in their story. C. I had forgotten about Eli Yutzy. So when I got to the mention of him, I thought perhaps he was the arsonist. A. Exactly why I mentioned Eli Yutzy and pointed suspicion at others. I wanted the arsonist to be a surprise and keep the readers guessing until the end. C.And I wondered how the arsonist ever managed to keep setting those fires after being badly hurt. A. There was just a few days between the fires. Finally, determination wasn't enough. The arsonist's injuries worsened to the point getting on a horse wasn't going to happen again. C. I'm glad you have Hal going to have another baby, because I was going to write you that she needed to have more children since Amish usually have the large families. A. Yes, Hal is going to have a baby and so is her stepdaughter Emma. But remember that Hal is in her thirties. Her child bearing years are going by fast so she can't have too many babies. She has finished raising three step children and now a daughter and an adopted daughter so she is mother to five already. Her much needed services in the community makes it hard to balance her nursing and homemaking which is a struggle for her. C. The one thing I may disagree with is having Noah miss two of the singings as a punishment/discipline for having the radio. Our preacher at the Baptist church we previously attended said withholding church activities from a child/should never be used as discipline or punishment. I guess one reason being those are things they need to be doing. A. Amish people may agree with that. It was my feeling that the singings the teenagers attend are more to find someone to date and marry than they are to worship. It just happens that the only songs the teenagers sing are hymns, and Sundays are not a work day so the teenage gatherings are held then. Amish Country Arson can be found in paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Smashwords or through me if you want a signed copy. Ebooks are in Nook, Kindle and at Smashwords.
A woman that has worn many hats in my life time. Join me here and find out about those hats.