Wednesday Writers welcomes Laura Hilton, author of The Postcard. Laura, writes contemporary Amish romance. By the way, I love the old timey script on this cover. I also peeked ahead and read the excerpt. This one really caught my interest! Laura, please tell the readers about The Postcard.
The Postcard (from Promised to Another)
David Lapp survived a “code blue” when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he’s developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds temporary work in the area teaching school, and also makes fishing flies and weaves baskets. He sells his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.
Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Mark Graber, but wonders if there’s more to life. When she sees David’s name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he’s in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he’s called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?
How did you come up with the concept for this book?
A reader wrote Whitaker House and asked them for a story about David and they passed it on to me.
Wow! That’s a great way to get a book contract. What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I am working on a new proposal for Whitaker House. The Post Card releases April 2015, The Birdhouse releases September 2015, and a new one might release in April 2016.
Tell the readers how you got started writing.
I have always wanted to write. Always. So I have been writing as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I wrote.
Some writers like quiet when they write, others want music. Which one are you?
I am very much an I-like-quiet-when-I -write person. Music distracts me. However, I do have my family around, I have five children, I homeschool, so quiet is unlikely. I’ve learned to tune out most noises when I’m creating.
Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
I am a computer writer. I write, reread what I wrote, revise, and write more and when I finish, the story is finished.
Do you revise on paper or on the computer?
I revise on the computer. Always.
How have your reading (and writing) tastes evolved over the years? Do you still read the same genre of books you did as a teenager?
LOL as a teenager I smuggled Harlequins into the house and devoured them. Smuggled, because my dad wanted to read them and then embarrass me by discussing them with me and why they were wrong… He got around that by talking to my English teacher who had a conversation with me at school about my bad reading habits and she started assigning all the classics to me to read and write reports on…. Which pretty much is what started me on reviewing books…
How often do you read non-fiction?
I love to read devotionals. I do read some nonfiction, but usually it’s slow and I read a bit and then put it down and pick it up several days later.
What’s the first book, in the genre you write in, that you remember reading?
Well, I write contemporary romance with the sub-category of Amish. The first Amish book I read was The Shunning by Beverly Lewis.
Most writers love books—our walls are lined with them. Name 3 favorite writing craft books on your shelves, 3 fiction books (and the genre), and if you have them, 3 different magazines you read regularly.
Writing books – From the Inside Out and The Book Buddy (Susan May Warren) and The Flip Dictionary. Magazines – Keepers at Home (I only read one) Books — too many to name. Three favorites are Susan May Warren, Denise Hunter, and Suzanne Woods Fisher
Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
Homeschool mom, pastor’s wife, writer
Do you know the meaning of your name? If so, does it fit you?
Crown of Laurel. I don’t know. But my husband’s name means “crowned one” so he jokes that I crowned him.
Even if you don’t write with music, what’s in your CD player right now?
The David Project CD. My son was listening to it. It’s worship – very good.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (a quote, a Bible verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)
If God gives you a passion for it, He’s given you permission for it. I love this. When I struggled to learn the craft and everyone acted as if I wasted my time writing, I had this hanging up by my computer. God gave me a passion to write. I’m so thankful He gave me permission to minister to others through this outlet.
Excerpt from The Postcard
By Laura Hilton
Rachel Miller read the words near the end of the book with a sigh. If only some man would look at her with awareness. Of course, she wasn’t sure what that looked like, but she didn’t think Obadiah ever had. Not even when he proposed. But he was much too practical for that.
So was she for that matter.
Might as well just enjoy the rest of the story. No point engaging in silly daydreams. She turned the page. Heavy steps clomped down the wooden floor outside the employee break room. She bolted to her feet, slid the bookmark in, and quickly exchanged the romance for her notebook from her black bag, then tossed her coat over the bag to hide it. The steps passed by.
She was on her fifteen-minute break, but the manager – a rather strict Amish man – would be unhappy catching her reading an Englisch novel. It was historical—set in the dream-inspiring country of northern Michigan. The descriptions of the landscape were so well-done she could almost see the blowing snow, the drifts, the ice-covered lake, the… handsome hero.
The draw was too great. She started to reach for her bag again, but the footsteps returned, pausing outside the door. Instead, she snagged her pen. Pink. Joel Beachy might frown at a pink pen, but he couldn’t fault her for writing a letter. Round-Robin letters were encouraged. And she could be writing one.
Except… she wasn’t.
She glanced toward the door as he came into the break room. She sat at the table, and opened the notebook to a blank page. He set the windup alarm clock on the table for fourteen minutes. So she’d know when her break was over. He allowed her one minute for putting her things away. Joel was strict about not-a-minute-over breaks. And she tended to lose track of time.
Should she mention that she came on break a bit early—long enough to read a chapter in her book?
Was Joel this big of a control freak with his frau and kinner?
She smiled. He was so predictable with the alarm clock. He quirked an eyebrow at her and left the room, carrying something. She hadn’t seen what he picked up. But that didn’t matter. Her book was safe.
The Englisch owner of the discounted grocery and bulk food store didn’t care. She even taught Rachel how to use the computer in the small office at the back of the store. Encouraged her to use it. So she could order books online, any time she wanted. If only she had an unlimited income. She’d buy boxfuls of the paper entertainment. Enough to last a month or two…
Rachel shook her head. She wasted her break with silly thoughts. Joel avoided the office – and he would frown on her sneaking in there. He left the computer work for Billie Jo. A funny name for a woman.
Rachel uncapped her pink pen, and stuck the lid on the backside.
Everything is changing—except my life. Sometimes I wonder if it’ll always be the same old same old for me even though I’m marrying Obadiah next fall. But even then, little will change. He wants me to continue working. Sometimes I wish something would happen to shake my life up. But… that is just wishful thinking.
My cousin Esther eloped with Viktor Petersheim this summer. Did I tell you? I never dreamed that would happen. He whisked her off to Florida for a belated honeymoon. Can you imagine? She’s going wading in the ocean—Viktor said, “Swimming” with a chuckle and a rakish grin—but here the autumn chill is in the air. I begged her to take me. I always wanted to go to Florida. Well, anyplace, actually. But it doesn’t matter. She’s in Florida. I’m not. At least she promised to bring back some postcards.
Have you ever lived anywhere other than the outskirts of Seymour, Missouri? Do you ever think of seeing something new? I think I asked you this before—or maybe I just meant to—but I don’t remember if you answered.
She couldn’t keep from smiling as she wrote. Funny how a man she never met stirred her heart in such a manner. If only she and Obadiah could communicate like this. She’d miss writing David when either one of them married. And since they both were promised to someone else, it’d happen sooner or later.
The alarm rang. She jumped, her pen leaving a pink squiggly line on the page.
Rachel replaced the cap on her pen, closed the lined notebook, and returned it to the tote bag. The book snagged her attention again and she started to reach for it and read about the kiss, but then forced herself to put it back. Break was over. She could read tonight after she finished chores. She needed to get back to work so her cousin Greta could have her break.
She left the small room marked “Employees only” and went into the main area of the store. She waved at Greta to let her know she was back. Joel wasn’t anywhere in sight. No customers waited at the lone open cash register, so she started “fronting” aisles, making sure everything was neat and easily reached by customers—Amish and Englisch alike. She crouched down to rearrange peanut butter on the bottom shelf, sorting peanut butters by size and brand.
The chimes on the door rang as it opened. She looked over her shoulder. An Amish man entered. No beard, so he wasn’t married. But she’d never seen him before. Odd, considering everyone made it to the Amish Country Store sooner or later. Not to mention, the unmarried ones usually attended Singings and frolics. Especially the ones where they could meet others from different districts. It expanded the dating pool considerably. That was how she’d met Obadiah two years ago, since he lived in a different district than she.
The stranger pulled off his straw hat, revealing light brown hair and dark brown eyes. He glanced at her and a slight smile formed as his gaze skimmed over her. Something inside her jumped to life. Her stomach fluttered.
Wait, she shouldn’t be so excited about a stranger. She was taken. But there was nothing wrong with appreciating a handsome man. Tall and handsome. Nice body. Strong looking. Except for his eyes, there was nothing dark about him.
His smile widened, and he slowed to a stop. It was then she noticed the wooden cane he carried, but didn’t use.
A cane. What happened to make him need one of those? An accident of some sort?
Rachel stared at it, then blinked. She was being rude. She looked away and resumed straightening the bottom shelf. But his presence loomed behind her, making her more aware than she wanted to be of him. She really shouldn’t fill her mind with romance if this was how it would affect her. Her imagination worked overtime.
The floor creaked behind her. “I’m looking for Rachel Miller. I was told she works here.” The stranger’s voice broke the silence.
Rachel’s heart stuttered. He knew her? Well, obviously not, or he would’ve recognized her and not asked. But he knew her name? And the way he said it, mmmm. Like fresh butter melting on a hot biscuit right out of the oven. She smiled, enjoying the warm, huskiness of her name sliding off his tongue. She glanced over her shoulder.
“Do you know her? Is she here today?” He moved toward her again, and this time she noticed his limp. Who did she know who limped? No one came to mind. Ugh, she hated when someone knew her and she couldn’t think who they might be. It made conversation so awkward. Except, he obviously didn’t know her…
Rachel rose to her feet and wiped her sweaty palms on her apron. “I’m Rachel Miller.”
Something in the man’s face lit up. His brown—no, this close, they appeared to be a greenish, golden brown—eyes twinkled with his smile. Something undefined flashed between them, making her heart thud. Awareness flickered in his eyes… just like in her novel. Or maybe that was her imagination at work again.
“You’re even more beautiful than I imagined.” His smile faded as red crept up his neck and colored his checks. “I didn’t mean to say that. I’m sorry.”
She stared at him, ignoring her increasing heartbeat and the flutter in her stomach.
And you’re more handsome than I imagined even though I don’t know who you are.
No one had ever called her beautiful before. Nor had a man ever acted so flustered around her.
“I’m David Lapp.”
He said it as if it meant something. It didn’t.
The only David Lapp she knew lived in southern Missouri. The other side of the state.
The one she’d started writing another letter to during her break. Never mind she’d just written him yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that… Well, almost daily for the past two months. And he wrote her as often, usually including postcards. Feeding her desires for a change of scenery.
He was her special pen pal. But she’d imagined him as being plain and ordinary, maybe even looking like a monster due to all his injuries from the accident. No one attractive, by any means…
This man definitely wasn’t the David Lapp from Seymour.
“From Seymour.” A concerned look crossed his face as if he began to wonder about her sanity. Or maybe as if there might be two Rachel Miller’s who worked there.
Her eyes widened and she barely controlled a gasp, her hands moving to tangle in her apron. She twisted it tightly in her fists. “What?” The room swayed. She released the apron and grabbed at the shelving. “It’s you?”
Her dream man just walked into the store and he was everything Obadiah wasn’t. Not only that, but he was two years too late.
He moved nearer. “I came to meet you. I fell in… Uh. I mean… Well, closed buggies appealed to me. And…”
Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.
Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.
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