Olivia Newport: What Happens When Values Collide?

I would like to welcome, Olivia Newport to the blog today! Everyone give her a big welcome! I had the privilege to read her newest novel, Accidentally Amish. Whether you are an avid reader of the Amish genre or not, I think you would enjoy this book. I know I did! 

Thank you so much for coming by today, Olivia, and sharing about values colliding! Take it away!

If we
were sitting in a quiet room together telling the truth, we would admit we have
come up against situations that challenged us to consider our values.
instance, a child’s temperament throws a parenting curve you never saw coming.
Someone you trusted makes an unkind remark about a decision you wrestled over.
Illness holds you back from attractive, even noble, opportunities. Two values
you hold deeply seem mutually exclusive. A calling on your life seems contrary
to anything you ever imagined.

What do
we do?

we struggle through the immediate circumstance and heave relief when it’s
over—without deciding what we actually believe is right. We do whatever
everyone else is doing, or what they tell us to do. We do whatever seems easiest, even if our guts tell us it’s
not best.
How many
examples in our culture can we point to where people of conviction nevertheless
look just like everyone else? Are they different? Are we, as people of faith, different?
The book
of Romans has long been one of my favorite parts of the Bible. Around chapter
12, Paul gets down and dirty practical. Theology is all fine and good, but what
does it have to do with how we live? Perhaps you know the opening verses about
not being conformed to the world, but transformed by God’s work in you. Here’s
how Eugene Peterson puts it in The
(emphasis mine).

“So here’s what I want you
to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping,
eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an
offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your
culture that you fit into it without even thinking
. Instead, fix your
attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what
he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you,
always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of
you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it
without even thinking.
This is a constant challenge for Christians
engaging the culture around us, isn’t it? And it’s exactly the challenge that
Annie Friesen, a main character in my book Accidentally
, faces. The title is playful and catches people’s attention. As they
read, though, they feel the collision of worlds in Annie’s life when she
realizes she has become so well-adjusted to her culture that she fits into it without thinking.
Though the Amish are no more perfect than the rest of us,
they do present us with some questions worth pondering.
• What truly are the values that drive our decisions?
• Are our behaviors consistent with what we say we believe?
• Is our faith strong enough to help us buck the culture
when we ought to?
I love the promise at the end of Romans 12:2: “God brings the best out of you, develops
well-formed maturity in you.”
How have you collided with your
culture and seen God 
bring the best out of you? 
Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning (2012), Accidentally Amish (2012), and the forthcoming The Dilemma
of Charlotte Farrow (January 2013). She
lives in Colorado with her husband and two twenty-something children. Learn
more at www.olivianewport.com.

Anywhere books are sold! 
Here’s a sneak peek at Accidentally Amish:
Escape the
helter-skelter of the modern culture and join software creator Annie Friesen,
hiding at the home of an Amishman. With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie
runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San
Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and
the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie
finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures
colliding within her. But is her love for Rufus strong enough for her to give
up the only life she’s ever known?

* photo credit: freedigtialphotos

Welcome Amy Clipston!

I’m baaaack!! Did you miss me? I missed all of you! Seriously, I did. Okay, before I introduce our lovely guest, Amy Clipston, I want to let you all know the winner for the Wildflowers from Winter drawing is TERRY STRICKLAND!!!! Yay, Terry! Katie Ganshert will be getting you a copy soon! Enjoy!

I met the loveliest author on twitter! If you tweet, come find me and let’s follow and hang out! @jessicarpatch or just Join the Conversation at the side bar! Amy is precious and we hit it right off! You definitely need to hang out with her too! @AmyClipston and her facebook page where she’s always giving something away! Woo hoo!

 Amy  is the best-selling author of the Kauffman Amish
Bakery series with Zondervan. She has been writing for as long as she can
remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school
when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She is a graduate
of Virginia Wesleyan College and a member of the Authors Guild, American
Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. Amy lives in North
Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.

 You had me until the cats! Just kidding…sorta.
😉 What one thing other than writing are you passionate about?

readers may not know that I’m passionate about organ donation because my
husband recently underwent a second kidney transplant. On June 14, 2011, I
donated a kidney to a stranger and, in exchange, my recipient’s husband gave a
kidney to my husband. This program is called paired kidney donation. Everyone
involved in the transplant is doing really well. I’m thankful my husband has a
new life without dialysis and that I was able to help another family through
the program.

That’s amazing, Amy! So glad everyone is doing well! You have a new book,
called Reckless Heart, coming out
this month, tell us one favorite line and why?
AC: I don’t want to give away too
much of the story, so I’d like to share a scene where Lydia and her mother
visit Lydia’s baby sister Ruthie in the hospital. Ruthie is very ill due to
leukemia. I like this scene because it shows the tenderness between the
sisters, and you’ll see how Lydia is struggling to be mature and strong.
Trying in vain to stop her tears,
Lydia lowered herself into a chair beside the bed and took Ruthie’s hand in
hers. Ruthie stirred but didn’t wake up.
Mamm sat in a chair on the other side
of the bed. “The doctor said that she is very tired from the illness and the
excitement of the ambulance ride.”
Lydia felt as if her world was
coming apart as she studied her baby sister, who looked so tiny and weak. She
stroked Ruthie’s little hand.
“I think she wants to hear your
voice,”  Mamm said. “She needs to know that you’re
here with her.”
“Ruthie,” she began. “It’s Lydia.
Mamm said that you wanted to see me.
I hope you’re feeling better. You gave us a real scare, but the doctor said
you’re going to be just fine. There are a lot of people in the waiting room
here at the hospital, and they all came for you. All of our aunts, uncles,
cousins, and most of our freinden
from church are already here. Joshua told me that more people are on their way.
You have to get better so you can visit with them when you feel up to it. You
know that they’ll want to come by the haus
and see you when you come home.”
Ruthie turned her head toward
Lydia and opened her eyes.
“Hi, there,” Lydia said as a tear
trickled down her cheek. “You need to get better, ya?”
Nodding her head, Ruthie squeezed
Lydia’s hand.
Lydia sucked in a breath and
smiled at her sister. They sat in silence for several minutes. The only sounds
were the buzz and hiss of the machine and the occasional deep, barky cough from
Ruthie’s little mouth.
Lydia began to babble about
everything that she wanted to do with Ruthie when she was better, such as
teaching her how to sew and how to write her name. She then told Ruthie about
the storybook she’d read to Irma in the waiting area. She prattled on and on
until she was out of words.
Finally, Mamm leaned over. “Ruthie, I think you need to get more sleep. Why
don’t you close your eyes, mei liewe?”
Ruthie closed her eyes. Soon, her
breathing changed, and she let go of Lydia’s hands.
“Let’s allow her to sleep in
peace,” Mamm whispered. “I think it
helped her to see you and hear your voice. Maybe that will give her some
strength to tell her body to get better.” She gestured toward the door. “Let’s
head back out to the waiting area.”
A beautiful scene! What inspired you to write this book?
AC: My friends at Zonderkids asked
me to write an Amish young adult novel and gave the choice of writing a
Kauffman book or creating new characters. I pitched the idea of writing about
Lydia Bontrager, a Kauffman granddaughter, and my editor liked it. I’m excited
I could use a Kauffman character in a new story that isn’t connected to the
That’s awesome! I’ve never been to Lancaster county. Name one place you’d like
to go that you’ve never been and why?
AC: It’s my dream to go to Hawaii!  My hubby is a Navy brat, and he was born in
Hawaii while his father was stationed there. I’d love to go see where he was
born and also sit on the sand and gaze at that crystal blue water. Someday
you’ll find me there sitting under an umbrella with a book in my hand and a
grin on my face.
JP: Find you? I might go with you! You
could always write an Amish book set there and go for “research”! When you’re
curling up with a good book at night, do you choose the same genre you write or
something else?
AC: I try not to read other Amish
writers. When I do, I worry my books aren’t as good or that I might
accidentally emulate their style when I work on my next novel. I enjoy
contemporary romance and young adult. I read both Christian and secular
authors. I have a pile books I want to read when I find the time.
That might be every writers fear! But man, I love the books in my genre (even
when I worry mine stink. What would your characters say about you if they had
the chance?
AC: I hope my characters would say
I’m a good person who strives to be the best writer, mother, and Christian
woman she can be. Sometimes I fall short, but I try to do my best.

And really, that’s all we can do! Give us a
peek at Reckless Heart!

Here’s a teaser for you:

Lydia Bontrager’s youngest sister is frighteningly ill, and as a
good Amish daughter, it falls to Lydia to care for her siblings and keep the
household running, in addition to working as a teacher’s assistant and helping
part time at her grandmother’s bakery. Succumbing to stress, Lydia gives in to
one wild night and returns home drunk.

The secret of that mistake leaves Lydia feeling even more restless and
confused, especially when Joshua, the only boy she’s ever loved, becomes
increasingly distant. When a non-Amish boy moves in nearby, Lydia finds someone
who understands her, but the community is convinced Lydia is becoming too
reckless. With the pressures at home and her sister’s worsening condition, a
splintering relationship with Joshua, and her own growing questions over what
is right, Lydia could lose everything that she’s ever held close.

Thanks for hanging out with me today, Amy! It was awesome!

Amy is giving a copy of Reckless Heart away today! Leave her a comment and your email address! If you’re reading from facebook, you can comment here or there! Tweet and get a double shot of winning!

Amy says: I would
love to ask readers what they would like to see in my next novel. What would
they like me to write about?

Faith Readers Group Review: Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

I’m not sure if it was the fresh baked chocolate cobbler or heart-shaped pumpkin, chocolate chip muffins, or the chocolate cake with drizzled chocolate icing that threw me off or the heavenly aroma of coffee, but I forgot to get a picture of our Faith Readers book club group–and we had a brand new member!

For the month of February, we read the romantic comedy, Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

It was pretty funny as we sat around eating dessert and sipping coffee because no one had tons to say. Why? We were all in agreement! For once! 

Here’s some of the things that were said:

“I didn’t want to read this book. I’m not a fan of romance, but a few pages in, I was like, ‘hey, this book is really good’.” 

“I thought the comedy and the romance was a perfect blend.”

“My favorite part of the whole book? She was a size ten!”

We talked about who  we pictured playing the part in a movie, because this book could most definitely be right up there with some of the best romantic comedies

No one thought the girl on the cover fit their profile of Lucy, the main character, but after a long discussion and a second…or third piece of cake, it was agreed if Kate Hudson put on about 30 pounds she could play Lucy. 

Some more thoughts:

“I loved the scene when she was took off down the sidewalk in her pajamas and he drove along beside her.”

“I loved the prayer with the new quirky Christians, “like a gold card, Lord, like a gold card!

Serious Thoughts: 
“I loved when the Youth Pastor had the teenagers nail lies the enemy had been telling them to the cross. I think that’s a great idea. Lucy had been believing lies so long too.”

“I don’t know how I’d feel if I found out a lie about my family.”

We talked about forgiveness, lies the enemy tells us about who we are and what we can’t do. 

It wasn’t a simple, light-hearted read. The theme was deep, at times a tear-jerker, but the mix of relevant humor and fun gave us breathing room and things to laugh out loud about. Literally laugh out loud. 

Out of 5 stars, we rated it a 4! 
Here’s a peek:

Jenny B. Jones

“You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year with the most unlikely bride and groom. Save the date…and say your prayers. When funding for Lucy’s non-profit job is pulled, she is determined to find out why. Enter Alex Sinclair Enterprises–the primary donor to Lucy’s non-profit organizaiton. Both Lucy and Alex have something the other desperately wants. Alex has it all…except for the votes he needs to win his bid for Congress. Despite their mutual dislike, Alex makes Lucy a proposition: pose as his fiancee in return for the money she desperately needs. Bound to a man who isn’t quite what he seems, Lucy finds her heart–and her future–on the line. Save the Date is a spunky romance that will have readers laughing out loud as this dubious pair try to save their careers, their dreams…and maybe even a date. “
If your life were a movie, what kind would it be? Drama, action-adventure, romantic comedy, B movie? LOL Can’t wait to hear these answers!

Faith Readers Group Review: A Stranger’s Wish by Gayle Roper

A rain and snowy mix falling steadily, temperatures dropping in the low 30s and wind stinging like a horse’s tail against your face.

That’s the weather these ladies fought to get to book club, but homemade bread pudding, coffee cake and piping hot coffee with hazelnut creamer, good friends, and laughter  made it worth the trek to the Cornerstone cafe to discuss faith and fiction. We missed those who couldn’t come and always make book club night special! 

What’d we read? This month was Amish fiction. Many, including myself, had never read an Amish story. Oh, we’ve bought their bread and cheese and wondered. We may have watched an episode of Law and Order when one got killed on Rumspringa, but never read a story.

 So this was an experience. Especially for many who enjoy a fast-paced thriller with romance that makes us want to fan ourselves but not so edgy we have to take a trip to the altar on Sunday. But seriously, are we responsible for our subconscious dreams? Another blog. Another day.

We chose A Stranger’s Wish. It sounded mysterious. A key given to a Englishwoman. Not from Britain, as I thought at first. But what Amish people call, you know… us.

Here were some of our thoughts:

“I liked how the Amish parents didn’t give up on their son, even when he chose not to become a devout member.”

“I liked the main character’s quirkiness and her creativity.”

“I wanted more meat, but this book was mostly light-hearted and quick.”

“I thought there was going to be a bigger twist, but then it wasn’t and I was disappointed.”

“I couldn’t relate to the characters. Any of them.”

I asked, “Did you discover anything interesting about the Amish?”

“I didn’t realize the Amish were so works-based and not faith-based.”

“I think they should live by faith and drive a car. Seems easier.” 

I admit, we giggled at that. 

Overall, I have to say, this wasn’t the groups’ favorite read, but we didn’t hate it. And we all said we’d read more Amish fiction! After taking a poll, the rating for this book came in at 2 stars out of 5. 

We chose (out of 14 Christmas novel choices) to read A Christmas Note by Donna VanLiere for December, who we have never heard of. Have you? 

Do you read Amish fiction? Or write it? What fascinates you about these books or doesn’t? Here’s a peek at A Stranger’s Wish:

Englischer Kristie Matthews’ move to an Amish family farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, starts on a bad note as the young schoolteacher is bitten by a dog. A trip to the local ER leads to an encounter with an old man who hands her a key and swears her to silence.
But when Kristie’s life is endangered, she suspects there’s a connection to the mysterious key. While solving the mystery (and staying alive), Kristie must decide whether her lawyer boyfriend, Todd Reasoner, is really right for her….or if Jon Clarke Griffin, the new local man she’s met, is all he seems to be.