A Plain and Simple Heart, Amish of Apple Grove Series #2A Plain and Simple Heart, Amish of Apple Grove Series #2
Lori Copeland, Virginia Smith
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Amish romance meets Wild West adventure! It's been four years since Rebecca Switzer saw Jesse Montgomery, her one true love. But now her rumspringa frees her to find him. When she's arrested, can she convince sheriff Colin Maddox that she's no trouble---she's Amish? And will he persuade her to marry him when they've just met?
     

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Virginia SmithVirginia Smith is the author of eight novels, including Stuck in the Middle. In 2008 she was named Writer of the Year at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. She and her husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean.

Lori copelandLori Copeland lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband and family. She has been writing for almost twenty five years.  Well over three million of her books are in print.  Lori strongly feels that Christian romance has a great ministry value and has published over sixty novels.

Favorite Verse: Hebrews 12:1-2 - "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."


 

 Our Interview with Virginia Smith and Lori Copeland


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Lori Copeland pens stories to make you laugh and cry. Doses of real life written in fictional form have kept her on the bestseller lists for 28 years. Virginia Smith is the author of twenty inspirational novels, an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with ecclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Together, we write stories that touch the hearts of readers and bring a smile to their faces.

How did you come up with the concept for the Amish of Apple Grove Series?

Neither of us had aspirations to write Amish fiction, even though in recent years there has been a huge demand for those stories. Our publisher, Harvest House, proposed the idea of an Amish-meets-the-Wild-West series, and we were intrigued. Typical Amish stories appeal to readers because they portray a non-technological society set amid the hustle-and-bustle of today’s society. But in the 1880’s, nobody had electricity. Nobody had television or telephones. Everybody wore long dresses. So what set the Amish apart back then? The more we thought about it, the more we realized our books would be different from typical Amish fiction, and we were excited about the challenge.

How did you decide to collaborate on this project?

We’d written together previously, and had a lot of fun. We feel like our writing skills complement each other’s, so we were eager to work on another book together. Lori has published dozens of historical novels so she already knew a lot about the 1880’s. Virginia’s brother-in-law was raised Amish, and still lives in Holmes County, Ohio, the largest Amish settlement in the world, so she had access to experts for any questions about the lifestyle, beliefs, and society that arose. Working together on this project seemed like a good fit for our individual skills and knowledge.

How did you decide who would write what? How did you communicate during the process of writing and editing?

We approached the three books in the Amish of Apple Grove series the same way we’ve worked together in the past. We got together and spent a few days planning each story. The process involves pacing, and brainstorming, and Internet research, and lots of laughter. Once we have a high-level idea what the story is about, Virginia does the actual writing. We stay in touch through many phone calls and Skype sessions. When Virginia completes the first draft she sends it to Lori, who puts her personal touch on it. Then the manuscript goes back to Virginia for one final read-through before we send it to our editor.

Is any part of Amish of Apple Grove Series true? 
 
Absolutely! That’s the fun part of writing stories with historical settings – we can mix fact with our fiction. The Heart’s Frontier, book one, is set on a cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail, and we used a lot of real details to give the story a sense of realism. A Plain and Simple Heart takes place four years later in Lawrence, Kansas at a time when the women’s temperance movement was gaining strength. The heroine, a seventeen-year-old Amish girl, gets swept into the fervor of the cause. We had a lot of fun having her interact with real historical people such as Annie LePort Diggs and even Carrie Nation. The third book, A Cowboy at Heart (to be released in spring 2013) has the Amish of Apple Grove caught up in another real historical event of the American West, land grabbing by ruthless cattle barons.

Did you include any of your life experiences in the Amish of Apple Grove Series?

 

Our characters’ internal struggles are often reflections of our own. That’s one way to create a character that really resonates with readers, by writing their conflicts believably. Our heroines are searching for true love, and since we’ve both met our own Prince Charmings, we felt we could portray their feelings realistically. In A Plain and Simple Heart, Rebecca is mistaken as a rebel and thrown in jail. No, neither of us have been to jail, but we’ve both been accused of things of which we were not guilty. We both know what it’s like to pray for something that we wanted very badly, as Rebecca does, only to have it seem forever out of reach.

In the third book, A Cowboy at Heart, one of the main characters must have surgery and undergo a long recovery. As Virginia was writing the book, she broke her ankle and had surgery. Many of her feelings and frustrations went straight into that book!

How long did each book in the series take you to complete?

That depends on how you look at it. If we calculate the time from concept to completed manuscript, each book takes several months. All that research about cattle drives and the temperance movement and land grabbing takes time. Plus we both have other projects going on.

If we count the actual number of writing days, each book takes less than a month. The Heart’s Frontier took 31 actual writing days, and A Plain and Simple Heart took 29. We just completed the third book in the series, A Cowboy at Heart, and we’re getting faster. That one only took 17 actual writing days!

Do you have a favorite character in the Amish of Apple Grove Series? Why?

We love them all, but we both especially adore Maummi Switzer, the grandmother, who is an absolutely unforgettable character. Judging by our readers’ letters and emails, they love her too. Her habit of spouting proverbs and sayings brings many a chuckle to the stories, and her acerbic tongue endears her to everyone. We also love Papa. He captured our hearts from the beginning with his surprisingly and often funny observation of the world and females.

How much research did the Amish of Apple Grove Series take?

Every historical book requires a ton of research if you want to stay true to the time period, and we do. We spend months reading history books, researching articles, visiting museums, talking with experts, and searching the Internet. Virginia can tell you anything you want to know about cattle drives (The Heart’s Frontier) or the temperance movement (A Plain and Simple Heart), and Lori is expert at making cowboys talk like cowboys instead of twenty-first century men.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Amish of Apple Grove Series?

Just one? We learned hundreds of fascinating facts! For instance, when we created Apple Grove and set it in Kansas before the first book was written, we didn’t realize that Kansas was actually the first state to outlaw the sale of alcoholic beverages. Of course, the law was largely ignored and saloons continued to prosper. That’s why the temperance movement was so active in Kansas. What a perfect setting for book number two.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

Trying to balance all the duties of a career in writing can be a huge challenge. Writing is actually only a small part of the job. There are promotion tasks to do, and research, and editing, and staying in touch with readers. We love doing them all, but sometimes it’s a balancing act to get them all done and done well.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

We love the process of writing. A fiction reader goes through a book in a few hours or a few days. The characters come alive in their minds, and the setting becomes real. But then they move on to another book, another set of characters. A writer, on the other hand, lives with a story for months. We spend hours and hours with the characters every single day. These people become real to us. When a book is finished we miss them, as if our best friends have moved away. That’s sad, but it’s also kind of magical.

 

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?) Do you both have the same writing style and how did you integrate your individual writing styles?

When we worked together on our first project, we discovered that we have very similar approaches. We begin by coming up with a high-level outline. It’s definitely not detailed, but we do plan the major points and even describe certain scenes. That outline provides a guide for the actual writing, though the story grows and develops as it unfolds.

What other new projects do each you have on the horizon?
  
We just turned in A Cowboy at Heart, book 3 in the Amish of Apple Grove Series. Our next project is another historical novel, but not Amish this time. We’re heading farther west to write a series of stories set in Seattle at the end of the gold rush era.
 
What message would you like your readers to take from Amish of Apple Grove Series?

We really don’t set out to write books with a message. Our goal is to create characters that resonate with readers, vivid settings, and entertaining stories. We don’t want to hit a reader over the head with a “message book.” The best books are those in which the lesson is not preached, but learned naturally by the characters. In The Heart’s Frontier, Emma Switzer learns God’s plans are always better than our own. In A Plain and Simple Heart, Emma’s sister Rebecca sets out to search for the man she loves, and prays for the Lord to let them get together. She learns that sometimes it’s a good thing God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Lori loves cruises—anywhere and any place though she admits she only gets to go on a few. She met a woman once who lived on cruise ships—just sailed continuously. That’s a little much, but it’s hard for her to envision too much sun, surf and placid seas.

Virginia escapes to the outdoors whenever possible. In the winter she enjoys skiing. In the summer she rides her motorcycles. And she loves scuba diving any time she can get to the warm waters of the Caribbean.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We hope you enjoy our stories! 

 

 

 


 

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