Buy A Plain Malice, Feed a Community! Chance to win A Plain Disappearance!

To celebrate the release of Appleseed Creek #4, A Plain Malice, I am giving away five paperback copies of Appleseed Creek #3 A Plain Disappearance. ( Giveaway copies have very slight water damage. Photo of actual copies is below.)

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Enter here!

More about A Plain Malice
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- / 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.

Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest


MURDER, SIMPLY STITCHED Release Day & Giveaway!

Happy Murder, Simply Stitched Release Day!

I’m so happy share this novel with you and introduce you to Petunia the Goat!


Order Now!

Amazon | B&N | Books-A-Million | CBD

About the novel:

When Angela Braddock enters her quilts in an Amish auction, she never expects one of her neighbors to end up going, going, gone….

Angie is finding her niche as the new owner of her late aunt’s Amish quilt shop, Running Stitch. But as the summer is winding down, so is business. To bolster support for the shop, Angie decides to sell her quilts in the Rolling Brook Amish Auction, including some of her aunt’s most prized works.

The quilts promise to be a hit—but the gavel comes down on the lively event when Angie stumbles upon the body of township trustee Wanda Hunt behind a canning shed. The cause of death: a poisoned blueberry fry pie from Rachel Miller’s bakery table. Now Angie’s closest friend is a murder suspect. With Angie taking the lead, she and the other women of her aunt’s quilting circle set out to patch together the clues and stop a killer set on shredding the simple peace of Rolling Brook.

Includes Quilting Tips!

I’m celebrating the novel’s release by giving away two Amish charm bracelets. There will be two winners!

Enter here:


Happy Reading!


goatmeme 3 copy

Ask an Amish author about books and such…

Yes, it’s time once again for “Everything you wanted to know about Amish authors but were afraid to ask.” Of course, maybe you aren’t afraid to ask but just haven’t known whom to ask. Well, wonder no further. Jennifer Beckstrand has gathered eight Amish authors together to ask them the burning questions. If you have a question for our authors, please send leave it in the comment and I will forward it to Jennifer.

jw_smith_pix_bookcoverWe all have childhood memories of special books. What are some of the books that inspired you as a child?

Mary Ellis: I adored Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I got the impetus to become a writer “when I grew up” from Jo March. I received my first copy around 8 (a highly abridged illustrated edition.) I now own several editions, my favorite being a 1904 copy published by Little, Brown, and Company of Boston. On my bucket list is to find a first edition released by the University Press in Cambridge, Mass. I have been to her childhood home, Orchard House, where she penned her lovely tale in Concord, Mass. Okay, now you know I’m a Louisa groupie!

Vannetta Chapman: My grandmother was a writer, and I can remember sitting with her books in my lap. They were home economics books that had been translated into many different languages. I couldn’t actually read them, but I’d hold them and flip through the pictures. It was very special knowing my grandmother had written them.

Kelly Irvin: All the Little House on the Prairie books, A Wrinkle in Time, Little Women, The Changling, Harriet the Spy, The Oregon Trail. Nancy Drew mysteries. LOL. I read everything I could get my hands on as a kid. I lived at the public library, going to story hour every week and working as a volunteer shelving books when I was old enough. I think I read every book at the Robert Louis Stevens children’s section of the Abilene Public Library!

Shelley Shepard Gray: I mainly remember reading all of the Nancy Drew books, followed by all of the Agatha Christie novels. I don’t really write mysteries, but those books definitely inspired me to want to create characters that people want to get to know. Those books also spurred an interest in collecting books. At one time I had all the Agatha Christie books lined up in chronological order. That’s kind of a big deal for me, since I don’t even put soup on the same shelf in our pantry.

Amanda Flower: Charlotte’s Web, The Baby-sitters Club, Anything by Beverly Cleary, James and Giant Peach

Amy Clipston: My favorite book when I was a little girl was Elizabeth by Liesel Moak Skorpen. It’s out of print now, but I have a copy that I cherish. I also knew Good Night Moon by heart. My mother would turn the page, and I would recite it. When I was in junior high I read The Outsiders until the book fell apart. I also knew the movie by heart. I recently bought a set of S.E. Hinton books for my older son. He hasn’t opened one yet, but I’m not giving up hope yet!

Jennifer Beckstrand: Where the Red Fern Grows was one of those life-changing books for me. I remember sitting on the rug in Mrs. Hershey’s fourth grade class enthralled as she read to us. I think I have read that book to every one of my children. One of my favorite memories is sitting on the bed with my boys reading the last pages of the story, all three of us crying like babies when the dogs died.

Charlotte’s Web and The Outsiders are other tear-jerkers that really had an impact on me.

Amy Lillard: I think I had a lot of different reading material than most. I loved the Hardy Boys Mysteries (Not Nancy Drew but the Hardy Boys). I also loved the Miss Pickerell series, about a little old lady who manages to get into all sorts of trouble. But my favorite of all was a book called Shadow Castle.

What are your 4 or 5 favorite classic novels?

Mary Ellis: Gone With the Wind, Cold Mountain, Killer Angels, Great Expectations, The Stand

Vannetta Chapman: Jane Eyre, Little Women, Anna Karenina, Grapes of Wrath

Kelly Irvin: That is so hard! To Kill a Mocking Bird. Gone with the Wind. Anna Karenina, Doctor Zhivago, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gaudy Night

Shelley Shepard Gray: Gone with the Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, Little Women, Murder on the Orient Express, Cannery Row

Amanda Flower: Charlotte’s Web, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Stuart Little

Amy Clipston: The Outsiders, Farewell to Arms, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, and Falling Up

Jennifer Beckstrand: Pride and Prejudice–my all-time favorite book, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Help, My Name is Asher Lev, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Ender’s Game, Ella Enchanted

Sorry, I can’t choose just 5!

Amy Lillard: I love To Kill A Mockingbird. That’s my all time favorite. I read it every year or so. I also love 1984, Of Mice and Men, and Lord of the Flies. All very different from what I write.

I love seeing what we all have in common as well as our differing tastes. To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women show up quite a bit.

Have you ever used a personal experience in one of your books? Would you like to tell us about it? 

Mary Ellis: I use personal experiences in just about all my books. The trick for the reader is to figure out what’s fact and what’s fiction in my stories.

Vannetta Chapman: Oh, golly yes! Whenever my mind draws a blank — I just put in something from life! In my new release, Murder Simply Brewed, the romance is very similar to the story of me and my husband. :)

Kelly Irvin: Yes. My March release, Love Redeemed, draws on a personal experience. Without revealing too much of the story, I can share that I lost a brother who drowned in a boating accident in 1991. It’s taken that many years, but I was able to drawn on those emotions and the experience of what my parents went through to help my characters as they struggle through a similar loss. I do think, however, that we draw on all our experiences when we write, even if it’s not readily apparent. Who we are and what we’ve done throughout our lives colors everything we write, even if it’s subconsciously. My writing voice is mine because of everything that has happened to me in my life.

Shelley Shepard Gray: I’ve added all kinds of little ‘Shelley’ things to my books. I’ve had badly behaved dogs (our beagle once pulled a ham from a table two minutes before a dinner party), kitchen mishaps, characters enjoying pie and donuts. (I really love donuts) I’ve also had most of my characters be voracious readers because I am.

Amanda Flower: Well, my first protagonist India Hayes is an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college near Cleveland, and I’m an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college near Cleveland. Strange, right? And in the Appleseed Creek Mysteries, Chloe Humphrey is twenty-four and moves with her cat to Amish Country. Oddly, I moved to Amish Country with my cat when I was twenty-four. How weird are those coincidences?

Amy Clipston: Since my husband has had two kidney transplants, I featured a liver transplant in my book A Place of Peace. My memoir, A Gift of Love, which details my husband’s kidney transplants and my kidney donation, will be available in March. Also, my father had a massive stroke, and I feature a character who is a stroke victim in my novella A Spoonful of Love.

Jennifer Beckstrand: They say that art imitates life, which in my case means: I’ve never been shy about putting my most embarrassing moments on paper.

Anna Helmuth, the feisty eighty-two-year-old Amish grandmother in Huckleberry Hill, loves to knit and cook. Even after sixty years of cooking for her family, Anna likes to pull out her new recipe book and experiment with a recipe she’s never tried before. Anna has many talents, but cooking is not one of them. In fact, she has a well-earned reputation for being the worst cook in Bonduel, Wisconsin. I’m not saying that I am as bad a cook as Anna, but my life definitely provided some inspiration for the character.

Several months ago, my husband and I hosted some friends for dinner, and I broke the first rule of entertaining: Never try out a new recipe on dinner guests. I wanted to make something new and exciting to serve my guests, and the reviews for “Sweet and Sour Meatballs” sounded positively delicious. Trouble came with the cryptic ingredient called “chili sauce.” I bought a quart of the most likely chili sauce I could find and dumped it into the crockpot with my meatballs. As dinnertime approached, I tested my bright orange meatballs and realized that my concoction was going to be a tad spicy. Okay, mouth-on-fire spicy. Inedibly spicy. In desperation, I poured a pint of whipping cream into the crockpot because dairy is supposed to cool spicy food. It didn’t even make a dent and added about a thousand calories to my shame. I was forced to serve the meatballs-from-heck to my friends, who didn’t complain but didn’t eat much either. I take comfort in the fact that those meatballs certainly looked lovely served over noodles. A version of this story appears in Huckleberry Hill. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Amy Lillard: My latest release, Gabriel’s Bride, has several personal experiences in it, though I borrowed them from other people. What does that make them…? Second hand personal experiences? J Though I have to admit Rachel Yoder is more like me than I care to examine.

You can learn more about these great authors on their websites. We would all love it if you would like our Facebook pages too!

Vannetta Chapman:

Amanda Flower:

Amy Clipston:

Mary Ellis:!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Shelley Shepard Gray:

Kelly Irvin:

Jennifer Beckstrand:

Amy Lillard:

Amish Spotlight: Who are the Englisch?

IMG_5807As an Ohio girl, I’ve always been aware of the Amish. Every year during my childhood, my family would make an annual trip to Holmes County around Easter. We went to enjoy the scenery, eat, and shop. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories. I can see my dad now loading his plate at the Amish salad bar at the Der Dutchman. He especially liked the pickled and mustard eggs.

I love England and have been there many times. It’s one of the few places I’ve visited that I’m always eager to see again. However as a child, I couldn’t wrap my head around why the Amish called us English. I told my parents, “I’m not English. I’m American.” Around the age of seven or eight I knew all about the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington. My grandpa signed me up for an American history children’s book of the month club. Each month, I eagerly awaited the next book and read it cover to cover when it arrived. It confused me me when the Amish said we were “Englischers.”

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned the real reason why. There’s actually a very simple answer. The Amish call us English because we speak English. Pennsylvania Dutch is the Amish’s first language. They start learning English when they start school around age five or six.

Now the Amish use “Englischer” for anyone who is not Amish or Mennonite whether or not they speak English as their first language. Right now in Holmes County, Japanese tourists may overhear the Amish calling them “Englischer” and wonder why…

A Plain Scandal, forthcoming Feb. 15, 2013–Now Available for preorder ???????????????????????????????

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Amish Spotlight: Amish Christmas Facts & Amish Gift Giveaway

Happy Advent! Christmas is almost here, and if you’re like me, you’re excited. I have a three-year-old niece and a one-year-old nephew, and it’s so much fun to experience Christmas through the eyes of a child again. My niece especially is looking forward to opening her Christmas presents and has already tricked me into telling her what one of them is.

My cat Reepicheep under the Christmas tree

My cat Reepicheep under the Christmas tree

Christmas isn’t just for us English folks, and you may be wondering how the Amish celebrate Christmas.

Here are some quick facts about an Amish Christmas:

  • The Amish don’t have Christmas trees, but they do decorate their homes with pine and greens from the garden.
  • The Amish do exchange small gifts at Christmas. Many of these are handmade, but store bought gifts are becoming popular too.
  • A favorite Amish Christmas treat is flavored popcorn.
  • The day after Christmas, December 26th, is a holiday for Amish and is called “Second Christmas.”
  • The one-room school house’s will traditionally have a Christmas program for the children’s parents.
  • There is no Santa Claus in the Amish world. The focus of Christmas is on the birth of Christ.

May you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends! And now my gift to you…

To celebrate hitting 700 fans on my Facebook Page, I’m giving away an Amish Gift.

What you will win:


How to Enter:

1) If you aren’t one already, become a Facebook Fan of my Author Page  and leave a comment here that you did.

Extra entries!

With this contest you will have two more chances to enter, giving you THREE chances to win! You have the opportunity to enter two more times by doing the following. Be sure to leave a comment letting me know you did one or both of these.

1) Like my pen name Isabella Alan on Facebook

2) Like A Plain Scandal, the next book in the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series releasing 2/15/13,  on  Amazon

The winner will be randomly selected from those who entered. Contest ends Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 at 5pm (EDT). Winners will be announced here on my blog on Wednesday, December 19th, 2012.
Thank you again for following me on Facebook ! Good luck!

Amish Spotlight: Author Amy Lillard

For my Amish Spotlight this month, I’m introducing you to a debut Amish Romance author, Amy Lillard.  I met Amy at the ACFW Conference in September, and she has an infectious personality. Amy and I both write Amish fiction for B&H, so it’s extra special to have her drop by my blog.  Her first Amish romance, Saving Gideon, was released on October 1st and received 4 stars from Romantic Times.  Please welcome Amy! Enjoy!

About Saving Gideon:

Gideon Fisher wants only one thing out of life— to be left alone.  This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife.  He has lost his faith.  He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community.  But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does he have but to let her in?

Dallas socialite, Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere life style.    Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through—–yet another—–bad breakup.  Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money.  All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself.  Avery soon discovers that the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart.

But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before.  Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her.  But it has even more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness.

Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness.  But as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles or will their sheer differences pull them apart?

Amanda: Why did you set your story in Oklahoma?

Amy: I live in Oklahoma and I thought it would be intriguing to set the story outside of traditional Amish communities like Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Amanda: While researching the novel, what was the most surprising thing you learned about the Amish?

Amy: I find it very interesting that the bishop makes the decisions for the district. One district may allow bicycles while the next district over is not allowed them. Depending on where you live and how the districts are aligned, it is possible to be allowed to have roller skates while your neighbor is not.

Amanda: Who’s your favorite character in the book?

Amy: Mary Elizabeth Fisher, Gideon’s niece, is my favorite character. She embodies the struggle between Amish and English, which life to choose. She’s young and is soon to be faced with the decision of staying with the Amish or joining the English for the education she dearly wants. Yet, she loves the Amish ways. As a female she will have less opportunities than her male counterparts. Her internal struggles and fresh attitudes make me smile.

Amanda: What’s next? Will there be more Clover Ridge Novels?

Amy: There are at least two more Clover Ridge novels. Katie’s Choice will be available in May 2013 is the story of Gideon’s sister, Katie Rose. Their brother, Gabriel, will get his story told in 2014.

Learn more about Amy:

Amy on Facebook

Where to buy Saving Gideon

Barnes and Noble


Christian Book Distributors 

Thank you Amy for stopping by my blog! I wish you success and blessings on your writing journey!- Amanda

Amish Spotlight: Beards

One of the easiest ways to pick out an Amish man is his facial hair. Married Amish men have distinctive uncut beards without mustaches.

The length of the beard is determined by each Amish man’s district. Some districts require a specific beard length, and some are more lenient. However none allow mustaches.

The Amish form of Anabaptism began in the late seventeenth century in Switzerland. Jacob Ammann was an elder in the Alsatian branch of the Swiss Anabaptists. Ammann was a proponent of shunning of excommunicated members. This severe form of discipline led to a schism in the Swiss Anabaptist church and to the creation of the Amish doctrine. The name “Amish” was created from Ammann’s name.

Another rule for which Ammann strongly advocated was beards for married men sans mustaches. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe, soldiers and military officers typically wore mustaches as it was the fashion of the time. Consequently, this facial hair was forbidden because it was a way to display the Amish separateness from the world and signify the Amish practice of pacifism.

In many districts, Amish men begin growing their beards right after their weddings. In this respect the beard is also a way of telling the world the man is married as the Amish do not wear wedding rings.

Have a question you’d like me answer about the Amish in my next Amish Spotlight? Leave it here in a comment, and you might see my response in a future post.

Further Reading

McLary, Kathleen. Amish Style: Clothing, Home Furnishing, Toys, Dolls, and Quilts. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993. Print.

Niemeyer, Lucian, and Donald B. Kraybill. Old Order Amish: Their Enduring Way of Life. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. Print.