Monday, January 16, 2012

Blog Tour: The Keeper (Review & Interview)

With the release of her new series, Susanne Woods Fisher dives back into the Amish faith community, examining the lives of three sisters, Julia, Sadie and M.K., and how they interact in Stoney Ridge.

The drama deepens as Julia's plans for her life go haywire, when her plans for marriage dissolve and her father's health drastically deteriorates.

In all, Julia has to learn how to rely, not on her own plans, but instead on what God has in store for her life.

Once again, Suzanne has created a story that is warm, inviting and fun to read. While the book is set in am Amish community, it doesn't focus on "buggies, bonnets and beards" (as she puts it), but rather focuses on a family, living in a faith community.

On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, I give this s solid four. I'm looking forward to where this series goes - Sadie's and M.K.'s stories are future releases. If book one is any indication, this series is off to a great start!

A Q&A With Suzanne!
“The Keeper” is part of a new series, how do you describe this series? What made you delve into a new community of Amish?
“The Keeper” kicks off a new series, Stoney Ridge Seasons, about three sisters. Each sister will take a turn as the main character (Julia in “The Keeper,” Sadie in “The Haven,” M.K. in “The Lesson). The series is set in the same town of Stoney Ridge, with a few crossover characters.

Years ago, on my very first visit to Lancaster County, I came across an Amish farm with a red windmill. I stopped in, visited with the family, and a friendship developed. 

In the back of my mind, I wanted to create a story about an Amish family that doesn’t quite meet your image of the Amish—because that’s how I have felt about the Amish. They are always surprising me! Endlessly fascinating. This series introduces the Lapps--a quirky family that doesn’t quite fit, though they have huge hearts.

Interested? Meet them in “The Keeper!”

How do you describe “The Keeper” to potential readers? What is it about? 
The basic storyline is about Julia, the eldest sister, as she tries to convince her former fiancĂ© to “man up” and marry her. Along comes Roman Troyer, known as the Bee Man for his migratory beekeeping, to complicate matters for Julia. You’ll meet Julia’s family and discover added layers of the story through their lives.    

What drew you to write this story? Why a story about an Amish beekeeper?
I had read in “The Budget” (an Amish-Mennonite newspaper) about a fellow who traveled from place to place with a horse pulling a white wagon. That’s what gave me the idea and then I morphed it into a beekeeper—someone who needed to take his bees from community to community to pollinate the orchards/fields. 

I interviewed a commercial beekeeper over in the valley in California—he had lots of information about how a hobby beekeeper would manage (traveling at night, for example, when the bees are calm and quiet).  

Would someone who is Amish choose to live a nomad life like this? 
I've met a lot of young Amish people who are crazy about traveling. They head off on mission trips (rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina) or join disaster relief (fire fighting) using the Mennonite relief organizations. Or take bus trips out to the national parks. 

So in some ways, I could see an Amish person living such a life. Maybe not as detached from community as Roman Troyer…but then again (as you will read)…he had “issues.”

How did you decide to weave in the storyline of a heart transplant? Is this something that might have truly happened in the Amish community?
Organ transplants are acceptable for most Amish. Menno and Amos’ story might be stretching things a little, but I do know of organ transplant recipients among the Amish.

I chose the heart transplant because of a wonderful man in my church who shared his transplant with me. Some of Amos’ lines are directly taken directly from this faith-filled gentleman. 

 Here’s a brief example, as Amos is wheeled off for the transplant.
“Joy will come in the morning.” Either way, he meant.

Which character in the book was your favorite? Why?
Mary Kate (M.K.), the youngest sister, was so much fun to write—her character jumps off the page. I just turned in the manuscript for her story (book 3) and there were no revisions! Woohoo!

But I loved Sadie, too, and Rome—wow. What a guy. One reader wrote that she is praying for a fellow like Rome Troyer to head her way! I’m praying for her, too.
 
What do you hope readers take away from the book? 
God has a plan. His plans don’t always suit us, they don’t always make us happy, but His ways are always best. 

What has God taught you through writing this book?
This last year, there have been some extra pressures on my extended family that could have easily de-railed meeting deadlines…but God is so faithful. Word by word, book by book, He guided me toward completion. 

I’m not saying my books are the world’s best—but I know God is working with me to write a book that is better than the one before it. That’s my goal—to continually improve my craft. He is answering that prayer. 

Why write Amish fiction? What do you like about this genre?
For me, it’s not about the buggies and bonnets and beards. It’s really about faith-based communities. Next year, I’ll be starting an historical Quaker series for Revell, set in Nantucket during the whaling period. What draws me to faith-based communities is their desire to live a life pleasing to God. 

Anything else you’d like to share?
In the summer of 2012, I have a new project releasing: A children’s chapter book series called “The Adventures of Lily Lapp.” I’m co-writing the stories with Mary Ann Kinsinger, a popular blogger (www.ajoyfulchaos.com) who was raised Old Order Amish. 

Mary Ann’s childhood is the inspiration for the series. I am so excited about it! The books are similar to “Little House on the Prairie”—a peek into the windows of a happy, healthy family, living a different kind of life. And even though it’s aimed at children, there is something enjoyable for all ages. Fans of Amish fiction will love this series.  

I enjoy interacting with readers. You can find me at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SuzannewFisher

Thanks for hosting me today, Kaylea!

More About The Book
Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame. Perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, the Bee Man.

Roamin' Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul's cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant.

Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?

More About The Author
Suzanne's interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Online Resources
Suzanne can be found on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.
Buy The Keeper online
Follow the blog tour here!
Follow her on Facebook
Follow her tweets on Twitter



It's A Contest
It’s a “Honey of a Giveaway” from Suzanne Woods Fisher!

Suzanne is hosting a "honey of a giveaway"during the blog tour for The Keeper! During 1/3-1/17 you can enter to win an iPad2 from Suzanne and connect with her on January 17th at The Keeper Facebook Party!


During the giveaway one Grand Prize winner will receive a Prize Pack valued at $600:
  • A brand new 16 KB iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • A $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of The Keeper
But wait there's more! Just click one of the icons below to enter, then on 1/17 join Suzanne for The Keeper Facebook Party! During the party Suzanne will announce the winner of the "Honey" of an iPad Giveaway and host a fun book chat and give away some fun "honey" inspired prizes - It'll be 'sweet"!

RSVP early and tell your friends!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 17th!


Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group.. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

4 comments:

  1. What an exciting and interesting thing it must be to interview people as part of your research, Suzanne. I'm so thrilled to say that I won a copy of The Keeper on an earlier stop on the tour and it's on it's way to me. I can't wait to read it!

    Gena Robertson
    robertsongena@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Kaylea! Thanks again for hosting me on your blog and going that extra mile with the interview. Warmly, Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Suzanne. Always love to read your books!

      Delete

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