Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for May: (5/4) Linda Norlander, (5/11) Connie Berry, (5/18) Mary Keliikoa, (5/22) Annette Dashofy, and (5/25) Rosalie Spielman.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


As I mentioned in my blog several weeks ago, I’m including an Amish family in the book I’ve just started. They say write what you know, and although I don’t have any close friends who are Amish, I’ve lived not too far from Middlefield in Geauga county and Mesopotamia in the northern part of Trumbull County where I live so I’ve been very aware of the Amish community, and bought horse supplies from Eli Miller who lived in Mesopotamia.

 I shopped in the Store of the Commons in Mesopotamia which had Amish people working for them, and shopped at other Amish stores. I even took Eli Miller home from an auction my husband attended one night. As I mentioned in my blog, horses and buggies are now going down my road; sometimes many of them heading to church meetings held in different homes or in their barns every other Sunday.

The Amish have been moving to my township and also to the one I used to belong to because the price of land is cheaper here. The blacksmith I get to trim the hooves of my ponies and my son’s donkeys lives about a mile away so I go to his house to pick him up, and sometimes I go into his home to wait for him to get in from mowing his back lot. When I told his wife that I wrote mysteries, she was excited about that because she loves to read, so I gave her my first book. I also have hired an Amish crew to put a new roof on my sunroom when it started to leak.

But most of my knowledge comes from the Amish mysteries I’ve read by authors who are familiar with the Amish culture. The first Amish mysteries I started to read were by Karen Harper, a woman who lived in Columbus at the time not too far from Holmes County which has a large population of Amish. I met her at The Buckeye Book Sale held annually in Wooster, Ohio where Ohio authors attend.  I got hooked on her books and have five of them so far. She writes other books, too. From reading them, I realize she did her research well to learn about the Amish and their ways.

Then I went to a Hudson Library’s author signing because the librarian, Amanda Flower, a member of my NEOSinc chapter wanted a lot of people to attend The author was Linda Castillo, who also was from Columbus originally, and writes great books with the main character Kate Burkholder, the police chief of Painters Mill in Holmes County. A fictional town, but so much like those I’ve visited with my sisters and friends over the years. Kate Burkholder grew up Amish and during Rumspringa left the Amish religion. Castillo’s books aren’t cozies by any means, but they keep me awake nights because I don’t want to stop reading. So far, I have nine of her books and I’m in the process of rereading them because they’re so good, and although I remember earlier parts of the book, I’m never sure who the murderer is except in the current book I’m reading, but I still want to finish it.

The other mystery series about the Amish that I’m reading is Amanda Flower’s Appleseed Creek Mysteries. Amanda worked for a college in Holmes County after she graduated from college, and she writes an Amish series that is true to the Amish. I only have two in the series, but I plan on getting more because I like them, and feel she understands the Amish.

I just started a new Amish book I’m not sure where I picked it up. I think maybe at a book sale in California when I was there. It’s The Buggy Before the Horse by Tricia Goyer. I’m not very far into it, but I don’t get the feeling she knows much about the Ami

Some time back I bought a book at Malice by a Guppy author, who lived in California and wrote an Amish book that won an Agatha. I won’t mention the name because I was very disappointed with it. In the first place although it took place in Holmes County where the Amish are plentiful, the main character was helping her grandparents run their business, and hired a young Amish girl on Rumspringa, who loved watching TV, and a teenage boy who wasn’t Amish. And when an elderly man with a white beard brought his buggy into town and asked for his daughter, the teenage boy ran into the store saying loudly “There’s an old man with a beard who wants to talk to (whatever the girl’s name was) which was so stupid because everyone in Holmes County and many of the counties in Ohio knows who the Amish are and especially since this man came in a horse and buggy. Needless to say, I never bought another one of hers.

Even though I don’t have any Amish friends, I do feel I know enough about them from being in contact with them for many years in stores, shops and towns where they live, and from good Amish books I’ve read to make my Amish family seem real.

Note: The Amish don't want their pictures taken so I downloaded these from the images when I    Googled Amish in Ohio The family walking down the road reminded me of a family in
Mesopotamia I saw coming home from church one Sunday afternoon.

Have you read any Amish mysteries?

Have you been around any Amish people?

Have you ever read a book about anything that you felt the author was clueless about?


Jim Jackson said...

I have a good friend who grew up Mennonite, distant cousins to the Amish, which is as close as I have gotten to knowing anyone who is Amish.

I’ve read books that engage in subjects of which I have fairly deep knowledge (finance, birdwatching, soccer) and it’s easy to know whether the author knows the subject area or has knowledge that’s a mile-wide and an inch deep.

I worried some about writing about Michigan’s U.P. as I am what one of my characters calls a “transplant.” The only complaint I received was from someone (who did not grow up in the U.P. either) who objected to my use of the word “Yooper.” I checked with many of my locally-grown associates, and they’re happy to be referred to as Yoopers – some etake a perverse pride in the term.

~ Jim

Anonymous said...

Good morning Gloria, my favorite picture was the postcard that said "Amish Rush Hour." I have read a few Amish cozies and enjoyed them. I know what you mean though, when odd information in a book doesn't mesh with the Amish ways at all. I am currently reading more of Lousie Penny. Not Amish, but so enjoyable in that small town atmosphere. -- Laurie

Gloria Alden said...

Jim, I've been to the upper peninsula and I liked it. To me your books seem to portray is well. As for Mennonites, I've met them, too. I should have mentioned in my blog, but didn't
think of it at the time, but for the last several years an old order Amish woman, Lovina Eicher writes a weekly column that's in our Tribune. She writes about her life and what is
going on it. About her children, most grownup now, marriages, funerals, etc. In the latest
one she talks about getting a new hopper-fed coal stove which is kept in the basement. She
said they always use charcoal to get the coal started because it makes less smoke than wood.
It has an enclosed jacket around it so they can control whether they want all the heat to
come upstairs or heat the basement. The heat travels upstairs to the bedrooms through their
open staircase. She writes about other things, too, like it's been rainy so she has to hang
their laundry in the basement. Lovina also writes cookbooks that she has had published, and every week's column she includes a recipe. This week's recipe is for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

Laura, I haven't seen that postcard. You will love Louise Penny. I'm hoping you're reading the first one - STILL LIFE. I've read all her books.

KM Rockwood said...

As developers have pushed up land prices and farms have tended to change into housing developments and golf courses, most of the Amish have sold out and moved west. They have big families, and if every family is going to have a farm, they need lots of reasonably priced decent farmland.

Most of the time, I write about situations and people that I know fairly well. Even after doing research, I often don't think I have the proper "feelings" for a situation or character, so I don't write about it. I can't tell you why some characters seem like old friends I know very well, and others seem to keep their distance and tell me I don't know them well enough to write from their perspective.

Kait said...

Interesting blog, Gloria. The Amish are to be admired for having held to their ways so steadfastly over time. The tradition of Rumspringa is especially intriguing and brave. My knowledge of the Amish is rudimentary and comes from my childhood neighbor who grew up in Tonawanda, PA. She spoke of house Amish and church Amish - if I remember correctly, the house Amish meant Mennonites as they allowed some modern amenities.

My only personal contact with the Amish was traveling through Pennsylvania as a young teen. We stopped at a farmer's market, near Hershey I think, and stocked up on wonderful homemade goods and fresh produce.

Gloria Alden said...

KM, I've talked with Amish over the years, but the only house I went in was that of my blacksmith's and his wife and family. This family won't have a major role in my book. It
just seemed since there are so many Amish in N.E. Ohio where I live and my fictional book
is located that I have an Amish family.

Kait, she may have meant Mennonite for the church ones. They drive cars, have electric in their homes and landline phones. They pretty much dress the same, though. The Amish have church services in their home or their barn if they clean it out so I would assume that
they are called the house Amish. It's not unusual on a Sunday to drive by and Amish home
with lots of horses and buggies in the yard. After church services I think they have dinner
there, too. I see lots of buggies going by in the morning, but not returning until late

Grace Topping said...

Interesting post, Gloria. I've read a few mysteries featuring the Amish and found that they portrayed the Amish respectfully, if not accurately (who is to know what is accurate). I've toured the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area and seen the touristy areas and a home depicting how the Amish live. You have to admire people who stick with their beliefs, especially when it is so hard to do.

Shari Randall said...

The Amish fascinate me and I'm dying to go visit the Lancaster area. I'd heard a few complaints from people at conferences about authors who don't get the authentic details of the Amish life. I've read Linda Castillo's books, and somehow those "feel" authentic to me even though I don't know anything about the Amish. Maybe it's because her writing as a whole seems very deeply felt and researched.

Gloria Alden said...

Grace, I agree with you. I admire them, too, although not all people do, especially if they get stuck behind a slow moving buggy.

Shari, I love Linda Castillo's books, too. Just what I know about the Amish makes me feel
she really does understand the Amish and has gotten to know them well. It's hard to put her
books down once you start them, isn't it? They are not exactly cozies even though they take
place in a small town. Amanda Flower's are more in the cozy field even though there are
murders, they're not as graphic in details.

E. B. Davis said...

Okay--I'll be politically incorrect. I'm sick to death of hearing how wonderful the Amish are--I think they are hypocrites. I grew up with a lot of Mennonites and near a lot of Amish. I don't have a problem with Mennonites because they blend with everyone else. Sure the women wear their hair with a white mesh beanie, but they were everyday people. But the Amish! My father, a doctor, had the worst time with the Amish. They wouldn't have a phone, but they had no problem borrowing their neighbor's phone. Try asking the neighbor to get a message to them. Then they were dependent on a neighbor or non Amish friend to drive them to their appointments. It was more like they were more cheap than steadfast on not relying on modern conveniences. They use them as long as it isn't their dime paying for it. There's a reason why the "Pennsylvania Dutchmen" have a reputation for cheap! Try driving on the road with horse and buggies. Picturesque it may be--the reality is it's dangerous. Most of the time, the Amish and their horses get killed. But who wants to kill someone and have to live with that for the rest of their lives. PA isn't Florida. It's hilly. Even at low speeds--you come over a hill and are upon a buggy before you can blink. My message to the Amish--live in the 21st century and get with the program.

E. B. Davis said...

PS--I have a family member who grew up in an Amish family (in law). When she decided it wasn't for her--she was shunned, a very hurtful experience.