I’m so pleased to chat with Elsie, the heroine of Beth Shriver’s latest Amish romance, Grace Given. From what I’ve noticed about Elsie, I’d say she’s got personality traits of a NURTURER and a WAIF. Now the WAIF part might might just come from the behavior and character of the Amish in general, but some of what she shares makes me think she is in need of a hero as WAIFs are prone to be. See what you think:
Marji: Tell me about your family life.
Beth: The Amish put family second only to our faith. We do everything together, from daily chores, meals and church. We follow traditional roles for the men milking, harvesting, planting, and everything along those lines. The women clean, cook, sew among other daily chores. So as you can imagine most all of our time is together.
Marji: You must love your family a lot, but when you need a break, what do you do?
Beth: When all the chores are done I like to read, but it can be hard to find something I like that is acceptable to the deacons. Sometimes I make crafts, greetings cards, or ornaments around Christmas time. I enjoy making modeling clay with sparkles added in, too. The children have it up to their elbows, squishing the colored clay in their hands. Good family time together.
Marji: Sounds like your kitchen is a hub for your home. What does is usually look like?
Beth: Well, you have an idea after explaining the clay. Just imagine that a few times more when we cook and bake with my siblings and a couple of neighbors. It’s common for a group of women to get together at one of our homes and cook a meal for all of our families. I always make Shoofly pie because it’s my favorite, and my grandmother makes the best whoopee pies.
Marji: Speaking of food, would you rather eat tacos, pizza, fried chicken, or a salad?
Beth: Well, I love food, making and eating it but am not much for a salad. I tend to like more of a hardy kind of food like the fried chicken. I have to say I do make a good batch of it myself. But I will eat a taco and pizza every now and then, when we go into town.
Marji: So you love to cook. Is there a secret hobby or talent that you have?
Beth: I’ve never told anyone as it’s not acceptable in our community to play musical instruments, but I would be so tickled if I could learn how to play the guitar. A secular boy was playing one in town one time when we went to the Mud Sales. I couldn’t help but stare as he plucked the strings. My mother caught me watching but didn’t say anything, I could see it in her eyes though, and I knew the answer was no.
Marji: How difficult is your author to work for?
Beth: She is very demanding which was hard on me at first. She writes most every day, hardly giving me a break. I realized why she was pushing me so much to one young man instead of the one I thought was best for me. After that I started trusting her a little more because the right man really stood on my side and helped me through a very scary and stressful time in my life.
Marji: What did your author give you that you didn’t like?
Beth: I’m a quiet person, one who doesn’t stand up for myself, so I can tell you right off I didn’t appreciate those Englishers harassing me in most every chapter. I could hardly take a breath before another one of them would find me. It did help a little when another family member got involved and knew what I was going through. If it wasn’t for Gideon keeping me safe I don’t know would have come of me.
Marji: What are your thoughts or expectations of marriage?
Beth: I have been to many weddings and hope to be married soon to the right man. Amish weddings are in the fall after harvest. There are so many, people have to decide which to go to. Weddings are announced at singings just three or four weeks ahead of time. Most everyone is invited to the family barn of usually around 300 people. The traditional jar with celery is on each table. I so look forward to that special day.
Marji: This sounds like a special story of forgiveness and grace offered in the face of harassment:
Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.
Elsie Yoder can’t forgive her sister, Katie, for leaving the community. Unable to let go of her sadness, she withdraws from her friends and family, nursing her feelings of betrayal.
Gideon Lapp has held a special place in his heart for Elsie and longs to help her get through her troubles. Together they find comfort in their study of the Martyr’s Mirror, a centuries-old book that describes their ancestors’ sacrifices for their faith through years of persecution.
As Elsie opens up and begins to put her trust in Gideon, she tells him about the harassment she and her sister received at the hands of some local men. When the men return and threaten the community, Elsie and Gideon must stand together to do what is right. But can Elsie learn to give grace and to humble herself to accept grace as well?
Here’s a little more about Beth:
In 2003 Beth began writing her first book. A couple of years later it was published and she has been writing ever since. Beth received a degree in social work from theUniversity of Nebraska and was a case worker before starting a family. Beth followed her passion and has written in a variety of genres in both fiction and non-fiction. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency.Childhood memories of her grandfather’s ranch came alive as Beth wrote her first Amish story. Her parents grew up in the country, so she understands pastoral life and respects those who make a living off the land. She frequents a nearby Amish community just south of Fort-Worth for an occasional church service or brunch with the bishop and hiswife. And on the way home she stops at the community store to get some plum jam!
Your Turn: What is a book genre that you’ve read that you never thought you would? I’ll start! I read a fantasy allegory. LOVED IT! In fact, it made my top 10 of all time list!