Kate Zook’s Diary

Two Weeks Before An Amish Buggy Ride

Yesterday, I found David in the hayloft. He was sleeping instead of doing afternoon chores. I tried to wake him, but it was near impossible. He pushed me away and said something that wasn’t very kind. I left him there, a horse blanket covering him so he wouldn’t catch a cold, and finished his chores.

Daed saw me. I’m ever so grateful that he didn’t ask me where David was and why I was doing the barn chores. I don’t know what I would have said. It would break Daed’s heart if he knew that David was drinking alcohol so much.

At supper, Becca asked why David wasn’t there and Miriam commented about Ruth. I reckon everyone knows that secret, that they are courting. Only I knew that he was not visiting with Ruth and that he slept under a dirty horse blanket on a pile of hay. I felt terribly awful, knowing something and not telling Maem or Daed. I just don’t want them hurt. They seem preoccupied enough lately.

I’ll try to talk to David tomorrow when he’s feeling better.

sarah price

Wednesday’s Wanderer: Author Marta Perry


When I was working on the concept for my new series of Amish books from Berkley, I happened across some letters written by a young Amish man in the early years of World War II. I was fascinated, but also convinced that the idea wouldn’t fit into my stories. I write about contemporary Amish. I’ve never written historical fiction. It was impossible.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the idea wouldn’t go away, and as my imagination began to play with the concept, I realized that it wouldn’t leave me alone until I’d written about it! This was the seed that turned into my Keepers of the Promise series, with Book One, THE FORGIVEN, out now. In it,  a contemporary story entwines with a story from the main character’s family that happened during the 1940s.


One of the problems I saw about writing something set in the past was that a few generations ago in rural America, the Amish weren’t that different from everyone else. To my surprise, that turned out to be an advantage. I’m old enough (Shh, don’t tell anyone!) to remember the ‘40s. One of my happiest adventures when I was a small child was visiting my aunt and uncle on the family farm. The farm was seven miles from the nearest village out a winding gravel road. No electricity, no running water, no inside toilets. My mother probably missed her modern appliances on those visits, but to a child, it was a fascinating time.

Uncle Harley took me to explore the cold cellar—a cave-like structure built into the side of a hill to keep perishable foods cold. Aunt Evelyn let me work the hand pump to draw water for cooking. And a bath meant heating up water on the wood stove and hoping I could get clean before the water got cold! At night, snuggled into a feather bed under  a handmade quilt, I watched shadows dancing on the walls from the flickering oil lamp until I drifted into dreams.

So when I began writing the 1940s sections of THE FORGIVEN, all I had to do was let my memories of those visits swim to the surface, until I could plainly see the farm where Anna lived—the clapboard house, barn, scattering of outbuildings, and the quiet peace that surrounded it.

But Anna didn’t live in peaceful times. For the Amish, the advent of the Second World War brought one of their most powerful religious beliefs into question. How does a pacifist live as a patriotic citizen in a time when the world is at war? For Anna, her family, and her beloved, the question was very real and very agonizing. And for Rebecca, looking back at her ancestor from today, the answers gave her the courage and faith to become another Keeper of the Promise.


publicity photoA lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania, where she still lives, and her own Pennsylvania Dutch roots led Marta Perry to write about the Plain People and their rich heritage in her current fiction series for Berkley Books and HQN Books. Marta is the author of over fifty books, with another eight books scheduled to be released over the next two years. The three-time Rita finalist has over six million copies of her books in print.

Marta is a member of RWA, Faith, Hope and Love, and Pennwriters. When she’s not writing, she and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening, and spending time with their six beautiful grandchildren.


Kate Zook’s Diary

Three Weeks Before An Amish Buggy Ride

Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was such a nice visit with Daed’s bruders, even if David didn’t ride along. I don’t think he came home on Wednesday night. When the driver showed up, Becca asked where he was but no one answered. I know what that silence means for Maem always says that if something good cannot be said, nothing should be said at all.

I spent most of my visit in the kitchen with my cousins, Linda and Sylvia. I hadn’t known that Linda is a teacher now. She had wunderbarr stories about her students; I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. I do wish we lived closer for she’s planning a Christmas Pageant with her students. I’ll have to attend Becca’s pageant anyway, but it would be fun to see how Linda’s turns out.


When we came home, I found David sleeping in his bed. He still wore his boots. I removed them and covered him with his quilt. He mumbled in his sleep and I smelled the alcohol on his breath. I won’t be telling Maem and Daed about that. It’s better that they think he’s sick. That’s what I told them. It’s not really a lie because if he’s drunk from alcohol, that is a sickness. God will forgive me, I’m sure.

Maybe I best pray about it anyway.


Wednesday’s Wanderer: Lori B. Rassas


As an employment attorney and a career coach, I continue to be amazed and humbled by the fact that so many of my clients tell me that they apply the career advice I provide to a number of different aspects of their lives, including how they build and nurture their personal relationships. Perhaps this should not surprise me; although most of us need to work to earn money to survive (to acquire food, shelter, and other necessities), at the same time, most of us see our jobs as much more than that. Some people place a high value on the prestige associated with a position, and other people view their jobs as a measurement of self-worth or their ability to make a valuable contribution to society.

Consider this scenario I often discuss with my clients, related to the importance of continue to build relationships when looking for a job (even when faced with frustration about the fact that nothing seems to be producing results):

You’re sitting around the dinner table and someone asks you to pass the jar of pickles. You pick it up, try to open it, and can’t get the lid to budge. Your daughter taps the top of the jar with her fork a few times, but can’t open it, either. Finally, your husband tries hitting the lid with the flat edge of his knife—but before he can try to open it, your son grabs the jar and opens it with little effort.

So, who was responsible for opening the jar… your son? Well, he was the final link in the chain. More likely, though, it was the collective effort of everyone along the way that contributed to the end result.

Each person may have helped loosen the jar’s grip, despite seeing little or no progress. Even though most everyone’s efforts were deemed unsuccessful, it is not clear the desired result would have been achieved without the collective effort. The effort continued because someone likely felt that the lid was loosening, which would have provided everyone at the table with motivation to continue to try to open the jar despite no visible change in the looseness of the lid. Each time someone handled the jar and attempted to open it, they were weakening the lid’s seal, which they were unable to see. So, even though it may not have appeared that you were making progress—and as long as the jar was closed it was difficult to measure that progress—as the jar was passed around the table, you were indeed getting closer to the end goal.

Finding a great job takes a lot of work, and you may spend years getting to know people and offering to do favors for people, all without seeing very much in return. But, in the employment context, one small conversation, one interaction, or even one minute can change everything: Someone may resign or retire, or ta company may acquire money to expand its headcount. All of a sudden, your efforts will have paid off.

The same rationale that I use to assist others to achieve success in the workplace applies to how we should view our personal relationships. Sometimes we may put significant effort into trying to make a positive influence in someone’s life, but then stop trying to bring about that change due to an overwhelming sense of helplessness, because our work is not producing any visible results. The fact is, you just never know when your act of kindness will elicit a change, or when the person on the receiving end of your generosity will pay it forward to someone else—making a significant difference in that person’s life. That subsequent difference would not have been made without you starting the chain reaction.

The point is that just because you do not see an immediate return on your investment of goodwill doesn’t mean you aren’t making a meaningful and significant contribution toward the end result. We should all strive to be kind and generous to others. Take solace in the fact that even if you do not see an outright or immediate result, perhaps a warm smile, a call to a long-lost friend in need, or an unsolicited invitation to provide assistance might be just what is needed for someone to finally pop the lid off of their jar of dreams.

Lori B. Rassas is an SPHR-certified employment attorney with more than a decade of experience representing both employers and employees in all aspects of their employment. The second edition of her textbook, Employment Law: A Guide to Hiring, Managing, and Firing for Employers and Employees (Wolters Kluwer, 2nd ed. 2014) was published in December 2013, and she is working on a second book that will provide guidance to individuals about how to effectively navigate the modern job-search process. In 2013, Lori left her position at Columbia University and now has her own consulting business to handle employment matters. She is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Cornell University’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, Fordham University’s School of Law, and Berkeley College. Lori is also a recognized expert on employment law and career issues, and was most recently quoted in a New York Times article about job references.

You can follow Lori on Twitter (@lorirassas) or contact her via LinkedIn.

Kate Zook’s Diary

Four Weeks Before An Amish Buggy Ride

Last night, there was a commotion downstairs. David must have been out with his friends and came home very late. Daed was not happy and I heard him talking to David. Something was awful wrong because David yelled at him! I’ve never heard anyone yell in our haus. The ruckus woke up Becca and I quickly let her into my room so that she could snuggle under the covers with me.

I tried to distract her by talking about the family gathering next week for Thanksgiving. We have two family dinners to attend and Maem is hosting her own on Friday. Becca seems excited to visit with her cousins. I’m excited for the smaller gathering here at home. But it will be nice to see Daed’s family on Thursday and Maem’s on Saturday, even if we do have to hire a driver to get there.

David seemed quiet at the breakfast table this morning and left the haus right afterward. Daed and Maem weren’t talkative, either. I wonder what happened last night and pray that David is all right.


An Amish Buggy Ride