Crossroads by Barbara Cameron – out now
What do you know about the Amish?
My family often vacationed at my uncle’s farm in Indiana so I saw the Amish from a nearby community often when we were there. I was fascinated by these people who dressed so differently from us and drove buggies. Even though there were Amish in Ohio, where we lived, I never saw them there.
Fast forward a number of years and I began visiting a friend in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. My fascination with these peaceful, family-loving people continued and I found myself writing my first novel about them.
What I have found out is that just like with any other religion or culture or group of people, the Amish are NOT all alike. Some Amish communities are very separate from the Englisch—what they call us—and discourage contact with us while you will see both groups working and doing other things together in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, things are similar from one Amish community to the next, but we can’t generalize about all Amish based upon one community. A reader recently wrote that he had trouble believing that the Amish used cell phones. Well, not every community will allow their use for business or personal use but I write about the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, area where they are allowed. A few hours visiting that community would convince that dubious reader.
The language differs from one community to another as well. German is predominant in religious services everywhere but there are differences in the colloquial language called Pennsylvania Dutch: in Pennsylvania Dutch and what the Amish use in Ohio, Indiana, and other states. So in Lancaster County, it’s danki for thank you and denki in Ohio.
Clothing differs from community to community as well. Dresses are modest and conform to a basic shape of high-necked bodice called a cape – but that isn’t like what we know as a cape – and a comfortable full skirt. But sleeves and colors will vary. Visitors are often surprised to see the Amish wearing colors and not the severe black they expect. Prayer coverings called kapps will vary from the delicate looking organdy with a heart-shaped back in Pennsylvania to the stiff pleated ones worn in Indiana.
While many communities allow young people from their teens to their early twenties to experience rumschpringe—sometimes spelled as rumschpringe—a time to experience what life is like outside the Amish community, not all do. I love writing about people going through the challenges of change. Small, very rural Amish communities don’t always encourage this time but in Lancaster County the Amish and Englisch—what they call us—these two groups find their lives intermingling because tourism and business are increasing as land becomes more expensive. I wrote a three part series called Amish Roads about these Lancaster County Amish. The first book was A Road Unknown. Crossroads, Book Two, is out now. One True Path wraps up the series in February, 2015.
If you’re a reader of Amish fiction or a visitor to an Amish community, you probably know a lot of the above and can share things you have witnessed. Getting to know the Amish has been an amazing experience. I love how the Amish can teach us so much about putting family first and working hard and not being obsessed with material things.
I hope you’ll try one of my Amish novels if you haven’t already. I’ll be giving one autographed copy of A Road Unknown and Crossroads to readers of this blog. Make a comment below about what you know about the Amish.
Thanks so much for the post and giveaway! Be sure to enter everyone because this is a fabulous giveaway 🙂 One winner will be picked to win both books!
*Giveaway starts today Wednesday, November 19th and ends on Wednesday, November 26th.*
Barbara Cameron has sold more than three dozen books (fiction and non-fiction) as well as three movies to HBO/Cinemax. Awards include being a finalist for two Carol Awards (American Christian Fiction Writers Association), second and third place winner in the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for two novellas (One Child in bestselling An Amish Christmas and When Winter Comes in An Amish Gathering), and first time winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. She has been on the CBA, CBD, and ECPA bestseller lists and is a former newspaper reporter and part-time college instructor.