Wow! You Must Do a Lot of Research

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This is the second thing most people ask me when I tell them I write about the Amish. The first is usually “Are you Amish?”

Well, no.

The first time I can remember hearing about the Amish I thought the person telling me about them was lying. Most probably it was my brother who liked to tease me beyond belief. I couldn’t be sure anything he said was actually the truth.

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The next time I was watching Witness. I don’t know how old I was (at least seventeen, though). But I remember in the movie, the bad guys are looking for the Lapps. They call the local law enforcement in Lancaster who says, “Do you know how many Lapps are in Lancaster County?”

At the time I had no idea.

After that I didn’t think about the Amish much. I went to college, got married, and moved to the Caribbean. In fact, I probably didn’t think about the Amish again until my agent suggested I write a book about them.

Wait…what?

“Yes,” she said. “Write an Amish romance.” I really thought she was joking and when she didn’t call me back and tell me that she was pulling my leg, I went to Mardells and started my research.

For those of you who don’t live in the area, Mardells is a Christian bookstore owned by Hobby Lobby. I went to get fiction books about the Amish to read to get an idea what they were like. I mean, I knew all the elements of a secular romance. How different was an Amish one?

Turns out, they are incredibly different and not so different all at the same time.

amish-listBut reading fiction books with Amish characters is a lot different than non-fiction books, and I found myself reading and watching everything I could. From Donald Kraybill to Amish Mafia. Yes, I meant it when I said everything.

These days it’s still the same. I absorb whatever I can about the Amish, but my favorite way to do research is to visit the communities themselves. Even ones that I don’t plan to write about.

Why? Because the Amish are fascinating people. I find it simply amazing how the communities differ and the ways that they are the same. When we were in Pontotoc, we were warned by the locals that they were stand-offish and didn’t readily talk to outsiders. We took that knowledge, shoved it in our back pockets, then headed toward the Amish houses. By the middle of the afternoon, we had met Elizabeth Hostetler. She and her husband had moved down from Ohio to be able to farm—land was getting scarce up north. She was canning chicken and couldn’t talk to us long, but managed to share a few nuggets of information including Thanksgiving traditions, when the Mississippi Amish leave school (yes, it is different from Lancaster), and the truth about their rumspringa. I was told on my first visit to Ethridge, Tennessee (the parent community to the one in Mississippi), that they didn’t have a rumspringa or run around time at all. What we learned from our new friend is that they have one, but it is very controlled and very conservative. Those wild and crazy stories they report about Amish teens running amuck are not coming from Mississippi.

So how does a person go from not knowing much to writing books about the Amish? Yes, it takes a lot of research and nothing beats going to a community and visiting with the people there.

I’ve been privileged enough to spend an entire week with my Old Order Amish friend in Pennsylvania. Nothing compares to living the life every day. After a while I forgot that I was among Amish and I was just among friends. I didn’t notice the differences until we (Stacey, Sadie, and I) ventured into town on a Saturday. And I knew I would never view the Amish the same again.

This year Stacey and I hope to return to Pontotoc, Big Valley, and of course, Lancaster County. But even more, we want to take a Missouri trip and check out all the interesting Amish settlements in the Show Me State.

You can bet, I’ll come back and show you everything I learned.

What about you? Where is the closest Amish community to your home and have you ever been?

I’m giving away a signed copy of Just Plain Sadie to one lucky winner this week. Just leave me a comment below.

And as always, thanks for reading!!

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127 thoughts on “Wow! You Must Do a Lot of Research

  1. I love reading about the Amish. My grandma and grandpa were Mennonites and migrated here from the Ukraine. Thus my mother even though she married an englisher carried on many of the traditions that are so similar to the Amish.

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  2. Being that I live about an hour from Lancaster County Amish Country, I visit there often. I have made Amish friends there.
    I lived in Illinois for about 2 years once. I was an hour and a half from Arthur and Arcola, Illinois. I visited there a few times.
    Someday, I would like to visit Sugarcreek, Ohio.
    Thank you, Amy, for sharing information on Amish with us.
    I am so glad that you changed your writing direction! I love your books!!

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  3. Hi Amy! It’s Lori and we met at the Coleman Chapel BBQ and auction last summer. You know I am married to an ex amish guy (Aaron ) You are welcome anytime to come and hang out with us and pick his brain til you are content!! LOL. Also, maybe we could take you along to one of our Amish gatherings at the holidays. We have a big July 4th celebration here at our house with food and fireworks and Aaron’s whole family comes to it every year. Keep it in mind………..

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    1. Hi, Lori! Uh…don’t make promises you can’t keep! LOL I may just end up on your doorstep! But seriously, I would love to talk to him! And Stacey and I usually come in July. That would be awesome fun! (Oh, and of course I remember you! meeting you and the other ladies at the church was one of the highlights of that trip!)

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  4. I think the closest is Lancaster, PA. We visit from time to time and have done so since I was little. Thanks for the chance to win!

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  5. I live new the Amish in Big Valley and I am only commenting because I already have a signed copy of this book and just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it along with the Christmas Sleigh that I won just before Christmas.

    Thanks again,
    Anna

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amy, I loved this blog! There is very few Amish in WV because not much farming land. I do have a Amish friend about 1/2 hour away

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    1. WOW! I didn’t know there was one in Huntingdon! Just Adamville and Ethridge! Do you know much about them? Are they Swartzentruber (very conservative)? I guess I’ll have to add this to my list!!! 🙂 Thanks!!!

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  7. Thanks for the chance Amy. Live close to a few Amish communities in Ohio Sugarcreek, Charm, Berlin, Walnut Creek and Geauga County to the east. It’s my get away from the rat race place to visit and eat wonderful food. Spend some time in The Gospel Bookstore and just relax😊

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    1. First hand research is one of the best parts of the job! LOL I get to visit Amish communities, meet new people, see new places, and experience a different culture! *And* I get to call it work! 🙂 Thanks for reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Amy,
    I’m not sure where the closest Amish would be to me since I live in Louisiana.
    I do plan one day to travel to where the Amish live.

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    1. Depending on where you live in LA, Bee County, TX, or Pontotoc, MS. But, the more I learn the more I know I don’t know. I learn about different Amish settlements all the time. Maybe there’s one in there that we haven’t heard about yet. The Amish America website can be very helpful in locating the Amish closest to your state! Thanks for reading!

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  9. I don’t know a lot about blogs but I do love reading about the Amish! Maybe I can visit an Amish town or community sometime, I would love that! Hope I put this I’m he right place!

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  10. I love reading about the Amish and also Amish books.I haven’t never visited an Amish community,but I would love too.Maybe one day.Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Amy, I’ve only been reading Amish fiction for a couple of years and that’s entirely to winning a book. There is an Amish community not far from me, maybe 15 miles, in Crofton, Ky. I think they are a newer order because some drive tractors. Very friendly, but I usually buy vegetables and cooked good such as bread or jams. They also host a dinner 4 times a year that fills up quickly. The more I read the more curious I am. I do love their simple lifestyle. Congratulations on your new release.

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    1. Thanks, Katrina! The whole tractor issue can be a bit tricky. The Amish here in OK (and in my Wells Landing Series) drive tractors, but they are more conservative than my Lancaster County friends. The use of tractors in OK has to do with the soil and difficulty in farming. They drive their tractors during the week and their horses and buggies on Sunday! And I agree–the more I read the more curious I am too!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The closest to my hometown would be Adamsville, TN, yes I’ve been to Adamsville, but haven’t visited the Amish. I used to work with a lady and her parents lived near the Amish in Lancaster, PA. I used to love when she would visit, I sent a “shopping list!” I love their canned goods and shew fly pie. LOL I’ve been craving the canned goods and don’t know where to get them anymore, if you know of a way I can order please let me know! Would love to WIN!

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    1. Thanks, Sandy!!! Adamsville would be the closest. I haven’t gotten to visit there. But if you head down toward Tupelo, the Amish in Pontotoc have a lot of canned goods for sale. The best way to go is just drive through the country and stop at all the houses. Almost everyone has a ‘shop’ out front where they sell all sorts of things! If you want to do this let me know and I’ll tell you the road names to search for while you’re there. 🙂

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  13. The closest Amish to me are in Pinecraft, FL and yes I’ve visited once. It was an off season so didn’t see many if any. Their usually are here during the winter months. It’s a nice drive (someone drives me) over the Skyway Bridge to Sarasota. I have friends who live there and are Mennonites. Love reading your Blog and would love the chance to win one of your books too.

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    1. Thanks, Denise! I would have to have someone drive me over that bridge as well! 🙂 I would love to visit Pinecraft! So many Amish, so little time!

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  14. I love reading Amish books and had an Amish lady that I picked blackberries with in WI when I lived there. I don’t live to far from Berlin or Lancaster, as I’m in WV. I would love to visit.

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  15. Loved reading your blog. I can’t remember when I wasn’t fascinated and interested in the Amish. Visited Lancaster, PA, nine years ago and haven’t stopped reading Amish fiction since. No Amish in Louisiana, but there are Mennonites not far from where I live. I am going to look up the Mississippi town you mentioned and see how far away it is. Would love to win your book. Thanks for the opportunity.

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  16. Love reading your books! What a wonderful giveaway. Love to read your blog. I have been to many amish settlements. Travel for weddings and family often. God bless!

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    1. I think MO is going to be our next trip, but I want to visit a bunch of the settlements! LOL Just depends on how long my hubs will let us stay gone! Thanks for reading Juanita!

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  17. Back in the 60’s, the Amish moved in our area , Muddy Pond Tn…But most turned Mennonite some years later.. The ones who stayed Amish moved to other Amish settlements… I would love to win your signed book.. thanks….

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    1. Muddy Pond is on my wish list!!! I saw a woman from there yodel and I was completely amazed!!! But I didn’t know that they started off Amish. Thanks for the info!!! And thanks for reading!

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  18. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I live about two hours from Ohio Amish.. love your stories. I can’t put them down.You are an awesome author

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  19. Thanks for letting us know how you got started writing about he Amish. ( by the way, Witness is one of my favorite movies. ) Living near Lancaster County ( over in the bridge in Southern York Co) i see the Amish in our little town of Delta and interact with them each summer at the local Farmer’s market. They are such friendly people. Your books are awesome and Thanks for the chance to win a signed copy of Plain Sadie

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    1. I live in Lancaster County and just outside of Lititz and we have lots of Amish around here. There are several that are neighbors and so glad that they are neighbors and so friendly.

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    2. I visited Lititz last year but wasn’t able to visit an Amish. Oh, well, I guess that means I’ll just have to go back! LOL Thanks for reading!

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  20. Oh, how I would love to visit Sugarcreek, Oh. I was thinking about planning a trip there, but now all I have to do is convince my hubby to take some time off of work so that we can take an extended weekend and visit there.

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  21. I love reading about the Amish. I’ve seen them all my life, live about a hour away from Berlin Ohio. We go down quite a bit. Great food and shopping. Amy, you would love it.

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  22. Hi Amy, love the amish reads, because you do much research, and growing up in the amish area in Lancaster County, I am still learning from you. Blessings

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  23. Hello Amy! Just love your Bucket list… But you need to add Gladwin & Clare Counties in Michigan to your list. I live here and it is fantastic! I love reading Amish Fiction.. it really helps me to understand my Amish Neighbors. Keep on writing the books.

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  24. Amy, I envy you getting to research all the Amish communities that would be so awesome! That’s something I want to do visit a Amish town. My closest I think is Seymour Mo. Someday I’m hoping to go. Your new book looks really good. Enjoyed reading your blog!

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  25. I have loved Amish fiction for years! I have Amish friends and always picture them in the story. When I read your bucket list I had to smile, there is a VERY small Amish settlement in Adamsville, Ohio also. I love going to Berlin and Sugarcreek for a getaway.

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  26. I would love to visit Sugarcreek…I have been to Lancaster…but just passed through…I lived in Falls Creek, Pa…which is near Punxsutawney, Pa…that is also near Panic and Desire…but there were many Amish in that area…I got to know many…from shopping in their small shops…buying their fresh baked goods too…I really love their sense of faith…community and family too!!! I really love Amy’s books…she researches them so well…by visiting lots of the places…they are all excellent…and I can’t wait to read the next one!!! They are all really great…they make you feel a part of the town…and family…in the book…which makes you never want to put the book down…to the very end!!! So…of I can win one of her books..I consider myself very priveleged and blessed!!! Thanks so very much for the opportunity!!! Good Luck and God Bless Everyone!!!

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    1. Thank you so much!!! The more I write the more I want to transport the reader to that community! Especially Pontotoc. No many readers will ever have the chance to visit there! Thanks for reading!!

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  27. I have always been fascinated with the Amish and love reading about them. I would love to win a copy of Just Plain Sadie! Thank you Amy 😊

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  28. Amy…. I live following your adventures. I live your “Bucket List”
    I have been to Arthur, Illinois. Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I lived about an hour and a half from Arthur, Illinois. It is there that I first really started to follow the Amish. So when I moved back to Pennsylvania, I visited Lancaster County Amish Country often….making friends with a couple of Amish families.
    And…as they say, the rest is history!

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  29. I live near quite a few Amish people in Michigan (within 10 minutes of me, probably) but I don’t know any. My aunt lives next door to an Amish farm and is friends with several.

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