Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good Things Happen When We Get Out of HIS Way

Welcome, Vannetta! A brand new star to many of us has come to visit us here.
Who is this lovely lady?

Vannetta Chapman, you might not yet know, has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and currently teaches in the Texas hill country.We'll be learning in the next few days a little more about her and her debut novel.

SKC: I’m so anxious to hear about your newest book and what inspired you with this one, Vannetta.

VC: Thanks, Shirley! My newest book, my FIRST inspirational (squeal) is about a young Amish woman who has an insatiable love of reading. Unable to "fit in" with any of the jobs in her community she goes to Philadelphia to stay with her Aunt. There her thirst for learning continues, until 3 years later, Annie finds herself an RN at Mercy Hospital. She never intended to leave her faith or her family though. So when she's called home to nurse her father after his accident, she's more than happy to go. But how can she reconcile her new growth, her new passion, with her old lifestyle?

That is Annie's story, and I enjoyed writing it very much. What inspired me to write it was the idea that the Amish people face many of the same problems we do, but they handle them differently.

SKC: We are learning how the Amish respond differently. How has your Christian background affected the style of writing you do?

VC: In many ways, it's taken the pressure off. So many times, people ask me if I'm ever stumped as to what happens next in a story, and the easy answer to that is no. God has a purpose for every story, and all I have to do is get out of the way. Now sometimes the "getting" is difficult. We can all be distracted by so many things. As far as my Christian background, I had a very simplistic faith since I was a child. I was blessed with parents who helped me keep my faith real, and I believe that has helped my writing as well as my writing career.

SKC: How important it is to get out His way! I know you stay extremely busy, but how disciplined are you each day with your writing schedule, and if you get off track how do you get back ON track?

VC: Ha ha ha. I teach full time plus I'm an adjunct professor at the local community college. Then there are those 4 books I contracted to be due in 18 months. I am ecstatic, and compulsively disciplined. I write every morning from 5 am to 7 am, and I write 1,000 words a day. During the summer I can do more, but not during the school year. Weekends I save for editing, resting, and promotional work (blogs, etc.). Honestly I don't allow myself to get OFF track, but then 1,000 words a day isn't very much. If I'm focused I can do that in an hour or 90 minutes. If I'm not focused, no TV or reading before bed.

SKC: Doing 1000 words a day is healthy. Sometimes I get so bogged down I can't even do that. Other times I do much more. We are strange creatures aren't we, Vannetta. How often do you visit other authors’ blogs, and what do you learn from going about the web? Do you ever get distracted by the web?

VC: I probably visit other authors more on FB than on their blogs, but I do pop in occasionally. I think of both as conversations that I want to take part in, and since I don't like being TOTALLY isolated, I enjoy doing so. I have always enjoyed different perspectives and that is what social networking is to me. That said, when my arm or shoulder starts hurting because I'm on the computer too much, the net is the first thing I cut back on. Writing about the Amish has certainly made me aware of how much time I spend on the computer. More often now, I find myself wanting to finish so I can go outside and work in the garden or go for a walk.

SKC: FB is an excellent place in which to promote yourself. I agree. It's certainly a way that others get to know more about what makes you tick. Okay, next question. Every writer goes through some particular trial when it comes to their craft. What is one that gets to you the most and how do you deal with it, Vannetta?

VC: I'm not sure this falls under craft, but the biggest trial for me lately has been knowing when to walk away from a particular activity, commitment or group that has stopped being positive or productive for me. There might not be anything especially wrong with the activity (say a committee I've been on that no longer really needs me, but I desperately need that time). Or perhaps I've signed up for a gym membership, paid my dues, but find I enjoy being outside much more. Instead of feeling bad about it and berating myself, I need to let it go and be positive and productive with my time. The same is true with on-line groups that are negative or non-communicative. I tend to stay a member long past when I should have moved on, because I want to be the cheerleader, but in truth they are zapping my energy and time - and that does affect my craft.

SKC: Excellent way to look at it all, Vannett. What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far in your years of living about life since becoming a published writer?

VC: I have to say, I just finished Josh Hamilton's book, Beyond Belief and it affected me in a very profound way. I think he was able to say in that book what I've been trying to live for some time, but though I'm an author I didn't put it as succinctly as he did. Josh says, "God first, then my family, then baseball." It's the same if you're a writer, whether you're published or not. "God first, then our family, then writing." If we can keep our priorities where they should be, everything else will follow.

SDC: Amen to that. Tell us that one scripture that keeps you going each day. And then, since you are so kind to offer a copy of your book to one of our viewers, what is one of the first questions you want to ask an established writer when you meet them for the first time. Or to gain better understanding of your readers what do you like to ask them when you meet them face to face?

VC : Definitely Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

What I'd like to ask my readers is "What story do you need to hear? What story hasn't been written yet that you wish would be written?"

SDC: Ah, now that's a great question.

It has been a pleasure having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Vannetta, and I'm glad I could fit you in here. It was important to me. Tell us which book you are planning to share, and then be sure to let us know where we can find you and your books on the web.

VC: A copy of A SIMPLE AMISH CHRISTMAS (and Vannetta can be found at)

SKC: Okay, viewers. See the question above in red? Please send in your answers and thoughts. We look forward to hearing from you and selecting a winner in the days ahead.

Congratulations to Wendy Shoults of West Branch, MI. You won a book! Be watching for it. We know you'll be blessed.


  1. Thanks for the post, Shirley. I enjoyed answering your questions.

    As far as MY question, I guess what I want to know is WHAT kind of stories do your readers enjoy most? You know, when they walk into a book store, or click around on Amazon . . . what are they looking for? I know as a reader, I usually have some vague idea of what I'd like to read, but sometimes it hasn't been written yet. Looking forward to the answers!

  2. I liked the interview. And I am game for the question. I like lots of romance in the books I read. It doesnt matter what it's about as long as it's realistic. but it is also important to see inspiration filtered in there. So you can see I like a little bit of everything.
    Linda Frindal.
    Windsor, CA

  3. Great Interview!
    To the question:
    I would like to hear a story about how the Amish or others dealt with having children with single or multiple disabilities.
    Thank you for the chance.

  4. Not sure if I was suppose to leave my email. Sorry.

  5. thanks for the interview. I love to come to these. I would like a story about a son or daughter who gets in trouble and how the parents deal with it in a Christian way I think.

    Brittainy Butterfield

  6. I love stories that have humorous pieces to it. Just thrown in once in awhile - kind of like how 2 characters interact with each other. I also love animals and I love to read how they are interwoven in stories. They don't need a big part, just a mention a time or two.

  7. I enjoy reading about the Amish, and their lifestyles, faith and family. I also would like more Amish mysteries, I've read a few and would enjoy more. Thank you!
    Please add my name to your giveaway...Vanetta's book looks like a really good read. I enjoyed the interview.



  8. Anon, I'm glad you like the combination of romance and inspiration. That's fun to write and I think you'll find that in A Simple Amish Christmas. : )

    Wendy, children with disabilities is a special subject to me since when I married my husband he had 3 children and one has disabilities. I've researched quite a bit of this with the Amish. One book that particularly touched my heart is "A Midwife's Story" by Penny Armstrong. It isn't about this topic solely, but it does touch on it.

  9. Bbutter, it's interesting that you bring this topic up. One of my goals in writing about the Amish is to show that they deal with the same problems we do - so I did write in a subplot about a teenage girl who becomes pregnant in A Simple Amish Christmas. Since I work in a high school, it's a topic that does come up occasionally, and I wanted to address it in this book. I'd love to know what you think after you read the book.

  10. Wendy(marple) - isn't humor a wonderful addition in a story? Often the Amish seemed to be portrayed as a rather somber lot, and that's not at all what I saw with the Amish people I visited! B/c of that I did put a bit of humor in both Annie's character and the characters of her younger siblings. Let me know what you think of Reba in particular. : ) She has an unusual love for animals and is always finding ways to sneak them into the house!

  11. Hi Sandee. I'm glad you enjoy Amish mysteries. I have a 3 book series coming out next year with Zondervan entitled Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series. I've finished book 1 and am working on book 2, and let me say I think the books are a hoot. Of course, I'll admit to being prejudiced. : )

  12. Sorry I'm a few days late. Great interview, Shirley and Vannetta!! I've really been looking forward to An Amish Christmas!

    Don't enter me. I plan to buy it soon. But I've gotta get in gear and do so asap. They keep having to go back to do more printings! (yay, Vannetta!)