Buy A Plain Malice And Give Back To Those In Need

Finally, it’s here! The book you’ve been waiting for! After months of ups and downs, A Plain Malice, the fourth and final novel in the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series is set to release. It’s been quite a journey to see this book in print, and I would have given up if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of you, the readers.
sleigh- www.discoverlancasterpa.com / Terry Ross

Since I’ve always considered this novel a gift to my readers, I have decided to donate all of my royalties for the novel that I earn through Thanksgiving Day to charity.

Preorder or purchase any edition of A Plain Malice between now and Thursday, November 27, 2014, and 100% of my royalties will go to a local food pantry, The Landing, located in Akron, Ohio. My brother and sister-in-law, Andrew and Nicole Flower, manage the Landing in the basement of Akron Christian Reformed Church with a group of dedicated volunteers. The food pantry feeds over sixty families in the church’s neighborhood on $200 per week. You can learn more about the Landing in this article and video recently published in the Akronist.
The Kindle and Nook edition released on September 16th. September 16th is a special day for me because it’s my mother’s birthday, and I can’t think of a better way to honor her memory than to release A Plain Malice on her birthday. She read it before she passed away and said it was her favorite of all of my books.

Order Kindle edition HERE!

Order Nook edition HERE!

Order Paperback edition HERE!

Buy a mystery and help feed a community! And as always thank you for reading! I hope A Plain Malice brings a smile to your face.

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My mother’s sermons

I’ve never had a home office. My home is small, and I’ve shared it for many years with my mother, who was not well. When she died at the end of last year, the house suddenly felt cavernous. Slowly, I’ve become accustom to the quiet and the idea of having a home office. Of all the places I could put it, her room was the obvious choice.

It’s been easier than I expected to claim the space as my own because I know how happy it would make her to know I am writing in her room, which my niece and nephew still call “Grandma’s room.” I pray they never stop calling it that.

However, there have been moments the task of going through my mother’s things overwhelmed me, flattened me to the ground, and left me feeling like grief had me by my throat. Last night was one of those moments. My mother was a Presbyterian minister, and I found her sermons, over thirty years’ worth crumbled and jammed into plastic crates. They were handwritten or printed on everything from yellowed mimeograph to crisp copier paper. She’d scribbled last minute notes in the margins. More than her clothes, more than her possessions, her words made me crumble. Whether written or spoken, a person’s words are the closest someone can ever be to another person’s thoughts and who he or she really is at the core. It’s too hard for me yet to be reminded of my mother’s thoughts. She was closer to God and more deeply thoughtful than I could ever hope to be.

This has made me think of my own mortality. Maybe too I am preoccupied with it because the last few months my life has been filled with probate, wills, life insurance, and beneficiaries. Being surrounded with those things, I can’t help but worry what will happen when I die. Someday, I will have to leave my niece and nephew with the task I now bear for my mother. I pray it is a long time from now because I want the honor of watching them grow up into the man and woman God wants them to be. But when I do pass away, what will break them?

I pray nothing brings them sorrow, but if something does, may it be my words. I’m an author. When I die, I will leave millions of words behind. When my dear ones are ready, I hope they will read my books again and laugh at what a quirky imagination I had.

Last night, I only read one paragraph, one paragraph of one sermon, and I had to stop. But someday, I will retype all of her sermons and put them in a book if only for myself and my family. Just not yet.P1030463

Five Lessons My Mother Taught Me

There’s no New Year’s Resolutions from me this year. Typically, I make a list of them because I love making lists, and it consists of eat right, write more, travel farther, etc. This year, I’m not going to focus on accomplishments or tasks, which is new for me because I am a very driven person. Instead, I’m going to focus on five lessons of being that my mother taught me. She had a wonderful ability to live in the moment and find contentment where she was even in the most horrible of circumstances. I credit this to her strong will but more so to her deep faith in God, a faith I hadn’t realized was exceptional until it was gone from my everyday life.

My Mother’s Lessons…

1) When choosing between justice and mercy. Err on the side of MERCY.

2) FORGIVE and ask to be forgiven.

3) Doubt in belief is not wrong. FAITHFULNESS amidst doubt leads to hope and ends in salvation.

4) LOVE, but don’t love anyone or anything more than God.

5) Focus on HOPE, hope in Christ and hope in a final reunion.

I hope and pray you have a blessed and happy New Year filled with peace, love, faith, and hope. God Bless.

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How 2013 Changed Me

I think every family has those years that changed everything for good or bad. For my family, 1987 and 2009 are infamous, and 2013 has just been added to the list. A list where you say “1987,” and everyone sighs and says, “yes, that was a bad year.”

In my writing, 2013 was an unimaginable year. I had five books release: four Amish mysteries, two written under my own name and two written under the name Isabella Alan, and my first children’s mystery Andi Unexpected. In a year, I went from an author of three books to eight. I know how unusual that is and how blessed I am.

At the same time, one of my bigger writing contracts fell apart, which was an unexpected disappointment.

Above all the writing ups and downs I had this year, the loss of my mother was the most earth-shattering event.

She was a Presbyterian minister: the first woman to graduate from her theological seminary with a master of divinity, the first woman to be ordained her in presbytery. She was my best friend and the person I was closest to in the entire world. She was the person in my life who had the closest relationship to God. He chose her to bring people to Christ, and she did with a gentle hand of love and compassion and little fanfare.

She was the one at my side when doubt ruled my thoughts. Doubt in my ability, in others, in my writing, and in God. She promised it would be all right, like every loving mother promises her child. Now, I have to believe on my own because the reassurance I always counted on is gone. Because of that, I am different, fundamentally changed, broken but with a stronger faith in God than I have ever known.

A loss so great puts life’s little disappointments in perspective, even that broken contract. There will be other book contracts. There will be other stories to tell. There will other challenges to navigate. There will be pain, joy, and a great reunion when I can tell both her and my father, who passed away before her, how my story ended and how I chose to believe because they believed for me until I was able to carry the burden on my own.

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Seymour Agency “THE CALL” Blog Hop- The Call

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In January 2011, I had a new book to submit to agents, and I contacted my friend Vannetta Chapman and told her I was ready for that referral. This was almost two years after her original offer. She told me it was no problem and that Mary Sue Seymour had just added a new agent, Nicole Resciniti, to the agency. Vannetta thought Nicole might be a better fit for what I wrote. I researched what Nicole wanted and found she sold to inspirational and mainstream houses. I cannot tell you what a rare combination that is. Trust me, I have looked. My big dream was to be a crossover writer. Most agents I spoke to said I had to pick one or the other. They insisted I couldn’t do both.

Even knowing Nicole was the perfect fit, I sent queries to a small number of other agents too just to be safe. Nicole’s response time was laser fast, and she requested a partial of my manuscript right away. Not quite as fast, another agent requested a partial too.

That February, I received my second literary miracle. My debut mystery novel, Maid of Murder, was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The Agathas are awards given at the Malice Domestic Convention in Washington DC every year for the best novels in traditional mysteries.

Then in March, I was supposed to go on a cruise somewhere in the Caribbean, but my mom had fallen seriously ill. I decided I needed to stay in the country. I changed my plans just a few days before flying out. The boat was scheduled to leave from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and I wasn’t able to refund my plane tickets—note to self, buy travel insurance—so I decided to go to Florida for the week. It would be easy to return home if need be. The night before I left two things happened. The first was I got a rejection from that other agent, and it was a doozy. The agent told me that there was no way I would be crossover writer, Christian mysteries would never sell, and I might want to rethink my career path. Now, I will say this person said this nicely. It wasn’t mean or malicious; it was a simple statement of what this person believed. But I knew the agent was wrong, and for the first time during my entire journey, I was mad, not just mad, furious. The second thing that happened that night was I realized Nicole was in Florida at the same time I would be there. Now, I had a dilemma. Should I email her and ask her if she’d meet me while I was in Florida?

I did email Nicole, and she emailed me back within the hour saying that she would be happy to meet up with me while I visited the Sunshine State. I am not a spur of the moment person, and I would never have sent that email if I hadn’t gotten that rejection first. I owe that other agent a big thank you.

Nicole and I met for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen at a mall in Boca Raton, and I have no idea what I ordered because I was way too nervous to eat. I told her I wanted to write mysteries for both inspirational and mainstream publishers. She was unfazed by this and didn’t seem to think it was a bad idea like so many others had. We chatted for a bit more, and she said, “You know I’m going to sign you.”

I believe my heart actually stopped when she said that. I think I lost my hearing too because sounds echoed for the next hour or so. After I more or less regained my composure, we discussed series ideas, and I mentioned that I used to live in Ohio’s Amish Country. That got her attention, and she told me I needed to write a mystery about that. She could sell that. I said I would try.

It was my third literary miracle.

Read the First Installment HERE. Read the Final Installment Friday, January 11th! Each day has a new book to win!

Leave a comment on today’s post to enter a drawing to win a signed copy of Murder in a Basket, Amanda’s second novel. The winner will be randomly selected from those who entered. Contest ends Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 at 5pm (EST). Winners will be announced here on my blog on Wednesday, January 16th, 2013.

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Amanda’s Newest Book: A Plain Scandal, forthcoming Feb. 2013–Now Available for preorder

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Find out who else is participating in the blog hop on Tonya Kuper Blog (The Seymour Agency’s Promotions Manager).

Forty-eight States in Thirty Years

My sister-in-law once said the first thing she noticed and liked about my brother was he was quirky.  Well, she certainly picked the right family to marry into because we have our share of quirks, myself included.  One of my many quirks is setting seemingly obscure goals.  One such example was my goal to visit all the Lower 48 US States before my 30th birthday.  I turn thirty on Saturday, January 23rd (I will happily accept birthday wishes!) and am pleased to report I reached that goal.  Actually, I achieved it way back in July 2009 when I visited Oklahoma, the last hold out.

Now, why would I set such a goal?  Because I love travel and because I love to mark maps, checking off the places I have been.  My love of travel comes from my mother.  In 1974, she worked on an archeological dig and traveled around Israel for two and half months and then spent another month backpacking through Europe with a friend.  I grew up with the stories of her adventures and misadventures to the point they’ve become part of the family folklore.

I enjoy traveling overseas and have visited over a dozen countries.  However, I still have a love for US travel.  As a kid, my parents loaded my brother and me into the minivan for family vacations.  On these trips, I sat up front with my dad while my brother and mom sat in the back because 1) I get motion sick (Dramamine is heaven’s nectar in my book) and 2) if my brother and I sat beside each other for any amount of time, it led to pinches, smacks, yells, and tears.  As a family, we went everywhere from Arkansas to California to Maine.  Before the age of eighteen I’d been to at least thirty-five states, which made reaching my goal a whole lot easier.

Nevertheless, there’s still seems to be a general confusion as to why I would go to South Dakota or Delaware or Alabama for no apparent reason, and I find myself having the same conversation over and over again because of it.

This is how the conversation usually goes:

Acquaintance: Where are you going now?

Me: Mississippi.

Acquaintance: Do you have family there?

Me: Nope.

Acquaintance: Do you know anyone there?

Me: Nope.

Acquaintance: Why are you going?

Me: I haven’t been there before.

Acquaintance walks away shaking head.

Not everyone is a traveler, and for a non-traveler, it’s hard to understand to travel for the sake of travel, to go for the sake of going.  In almost thirty years, I’ve accepted non-travelers will always think I’m a little quirky.  I don’t mind; it’s an adjective I’ve grown into.

I’m off to plot my next adventure.  Alaska and Hawaii are high on the to do list.  Also I hear the entire continent of Africa calling my name.

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Maid of Murder news…

Maid of Murder will be released five months from today.  If you would like to receive a postcard announcing the release email your snail mail address to amanda@amandaflower.com to be added to my mailing list. Your address will not be shared.