What were your favorite books as a child?
When I was really little, my most favorite book was Elizabeth by Liesel Moak Skropen, which is about a girl who gets a special doll for Christmas. As I got older, I became a big fan of Judy Blume and Francine Pascal. I remember sitting on the back porch reading Judy Blume during the summer and also curling up in my bed with Sweet Valley High books. During my teenage years, I became obsessed with S.E. Hinton. I read The Outsiders more than a dozen times and knew the movie by heart.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
My biggest challenge is balancing all of the demands I have on my time. I work full-time, and I also have two children and an ill husband who is on dialysis and awaiting a second kidney transplant. I normally stay up late at night to write, and I work on my books as much as I can on weekends. However, I’m blessed to have my mother living with us, and she helps manage the household. I couldn’t reach all of my goals without my family’s support and patience.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
My favorite part is having readers email me and tell me that my words touched them. When I receive one of those email messages, I’m flattered, honored, and humbled.
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I’m definitely a plotter. When I’m planning out a book, I first write a synopsis, highlighting all of the major twists and turns in the story. Once my editor approves the synopsis, I compose a detailed outline, chapter by chapter, and scene by scene, and I use this outline as a roadmap. If I get stuck, I review my outline so that I know where I’m doing. The outline may grow and change, but it helps me weave the story from start to finish. Since my deadlines are so close together and my time is so limited due to the demands in my life, I have to be as organized as possible.
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?
Absolutely! I often joke that I hear voices in my head, because I can hear the characters’ dialogue and see the scenes play out.
What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
More books are coming soon in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Book three, A Place of Peace, will debut in December, and two more books will be out next year. I also have a non-Amish young adult book in the works called Roadside Assistance releasing in May 2011.
What message would you like your readers to take from A Plain and Simple Christmas?
I hope readers find a message of reconciliation, renewal, and hope. The story is about a family’s journey toward mending fences, and I hope that inspires readers to strive for that in their own lives.
What is your greatest achievement?
I would say my greatest achievement is having two wonderful boys. They are my inspiration and my reason for pushing myself as hard as I do.