· How did you begin writing?
I was always book obsessed and loved writing little stories. I started writing my first novel around age eleven. Around that same time I learned that my great aunt had written my great grandmother’s life story—His Protecting Hand by Molly Zook. I was determined that someday I would write my own grandmother’s story. Little did I know that by the time I was ready to indie publish Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl, the Amish genre was thriving. My grandmother’s memoir ushered in my desire to write Amish Historical Fiction. The Promise of Sunrise series was born!
· Take us through a day in the life of you, the author (because some us picture you rise from bed, calmly pour your coffee, sit in a sunny little alcove, and write for eight hours before getting ready for a luxurious dinner out with your special someone) ;)
Oh boy, a day in the life of this author looks nothing like most, I suspect anyway. When I wake up, after hitting snooze on my iPhone alarm a few times, I’m first wondering if anyone has taken out our new puppy to go potty. A little over the first half of my day is our homeschool time. I have a daughter in 3rd grader and a daughter in K4. Between lessons I try to get snacks, clean up, laundry, and randomly answer emails. The afternoon usually could be anything from a few school lessons that may not be finished, a craft, appointments, housework, play date, or messing around way too long on social media. We have dinner as a family around the table every night, unless my husband is working late, and then after the girls are in bed—my office hours begin. Then I work until I fall asleep in my chair then I go to bed and start it all over the next day. I don’t work every night. I give myself some time off and then I add in some Saturday day times depending on deadlines.
· Tell us where you got the idea for your latest book and why you developed a passion to write it?
I’m passionate about history and about my heritage. Being born in an Amish family gives me a different perspective in writing. Pennsylvania Dutch is my first language and I don’t remember life away from my Amish family. My life has always been braided together with the Amish church…but still so vastly different. As a military wife I am very devoted to our military service members—but I come from a long line of conscientious objectors. This was my first inspiration for The Promise of Sunrise series. Promise to Keep is the third in the series. As with the first two the story itself is inspired from my own family. My cousin had a daughter, Jenna, that was healthy and sweet but showed some developmental delays. My mom, a deaf interpreter, noticed it and encouraged her parents to have her hearing tested. Sure enough, Jenna was hearing impaired. It was a very interesting journey to observe the Amish church embrace Jenna’s additional needs: therapies, learning sign language, and, eventually, Cochlear Implants. My mom’s name is Esther and this was the initial inspiration for Promise to Keep
· Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
This is really hard! I really love Joe and Esther so much but the story would never have happened without Daisy! But Joe and Esther truly make this story. Joe struggles with PTSD and has many regrets but he wants to be the man and father that we would all be proud of. Esther has never had anyone fight for her. She’s always taking care of everyone else. After several offers of marriage, she’s chosen to remain single. She is just not the average Amish woman but is realistic and authentic at the same time. Bringing these two characters onto the same page was exciting and brought about a new kind of tension to the series.
· What is the most important takeaway from your book that you hope your readers see?
· If you were to be offered the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or to back pack deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps, which would you do and why?
I’d say the Swiss Alps. I’m not sure I’d ever be physically prepared for such an adventure but I would love to believe that I could do it…and it would be so beautiful!
· And while you’re on this grand adventure, would it be necessary for you to have coffee or tea? (‘cause we’re split evenly in preference here at the CCC blog)
Coffee! I really am becoming quite a tea drinker also…collecting a variety of loose teas and coming up with interesting combinations. BUT, even with all that, I’d still choose coffee. I’m admittedly a coffee-snob since we have been roasting green coffee beans from around the world for over ten years!
· If you had to write your novel long-hand, would you use a fine point Sharpie, a roller ball pen, a fountain pen, or a pencil?
I think I’d start out using a super sharp pencil but I’m always disappointed with the smearing and then would end up using a ballpoint pen. It would have to be a Uni-ball Jetstream or a Pigma Micron (similar to an extra fine Sharpie only a million times better).
· Your favorite flavor of pie … because we’re heading into pie season!
Seriously, this is an unfair question. With all my Amish roots, pie is one of the food groups! Since I have to answer, I’d say if it’s my mom’s pie—cherry or pumpkin. If it’s my Aunt Lucy’s pie—pecan. If it’s my Aunt Emma’s pie—Lemon-sour cream. Now my mouth is watering…….
· What are you currently working on in the book world?
Honestly, a lot of publicity for Promise to Keep. I love this story and really want to share it with the world. I am working on several other things but I’m not able to share just yet. Boo-hoo!
· Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?
I went through sections of Promise to Keep for a bit before I decided on this short passage. I really can’t set it up for you too much because it would give away too much…but I hope you like it anyway.
He is speaking to Esther in this short scene.
Joe looked away and stared into the sunset until his eyes burned.
“I can’t stay.” Joe’s heart shrunk into itself and beat only half beats at a time now. Pain. But he had made too many mistakes with her already and with his night terrors—he couldn’t bring her home. “I’m not good for her. I’m not good for you.”
Elizabeth Byler Younts is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She was Amish as a child and after her parents left the church she still grew up among her Amish family and continues to speak Pennsylvania Dutch. She lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.
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Jaime Jo Wright
author of spirited turn-of-the-century romance, stained with suspense
March 2016, "The Cowgirl's Lasso", The Cowboy Bride's Novella Collection, from Barbour Publishing
August, 2016,"Gold Haven Heiress", The California Gold Rush Brides Collection, from Barbour Publishing
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