Novel Rocket: Reading, Writing...and Reading Some More

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reading, Writing...and Reading Some More

Author Barbara Cameron  has sold more than three dozen books (fiction and non-fiction) as well as three movies to HBO/Cinemax. Awards  include being a finalist for two Carol Awards (American Christian Fiction Writers Association), second and third place winner in the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for two novellas (One Child in bestselling An Amish Christmas and When Winter Comes in An Amish Gathering), and first time winner of the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. She has been on the CBA, CBD, and ECPA bestseller lists and is a former newspaper reporter and part-time college instructor.

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Sometimes the best advice for writers is the simplest:  READ.

Yes, read! And I’m not talking about reading craft books. They are wonderful, but I’m talking about very basic, everyday reading.

Readers often comment on how real my books seem. They ask if my writing is born from real life or  imagination?


You see, I like to do a mixture. And what I’ve discovered is writing has helped me improve my work and has also inspired some of my best work.

Not long ago, I wanted to write an Amish novel and make it different, unique, not the same old same old. That’s what editors want—fresh and different.

Nothing came at first.

Then one Sunday afternoon I was reading the local newspaper and noticed an article about a woman who volunteers to drive returning military to their stateside homes. Quite a number of times, she said she’d braked at a stop sign or traffic light and the soldier would yell at her or even grab at her arm. You see, too often that stop in Afghanistan or Iraq resulted in a bombing…

I immediately had a vision of a female television reporter who is dozing in a car as her friend drives her home from overseas duty and wakes screaming at him when he brakes at a stop sign.

I did further research on this problem and found it’s a symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We don’t always think of that as being something from which a reporter could suffer, but anyone who suffers a traumatic event may develop the syndrome. This reporter had been injured while doing her job overseas and wakes in a stateside hospital with a quilt covering her. The note attached to the quilt is from her grandmother. It says simply: Come home.

So Englisch (that’s what the Amish call us) Jenny goes to recuperate at her Amish grandmother’s home and is reunited with the boy next door. Instant conflict ensues: they went in different directions years ago but now find themselves aware that the attraction has not died. But Jenny is not only Englisch—she’s too aware of her limp and scars and PTSD flares. And Matthew is Amish.

Their story would be the first in a series I wanted to write. More reading and research ensued. I find that the more I know, the more I want to know, and so I read every Amish book—non-fiction and fictionthat I could find. I had visited Paradise, Pennsylvania, years ago, but more visits to that Amish community and others ensued. I read up on quilting and barn raisings and—well, that old voracious love of reading was in full force.

Reading a quilting magazine gave me ideas for scenes and cookbooks ideas for food and settings and the recipes readers like at the rear of my books. Reading articles and books by Amish authors helped me make my stories more authentic.

I finished that series called Quilts of Lancaster County and wanted to do more; thank goodness, the editor wanted to buy more. Along came more reading and ideas and the Stitches in Time series was born. Heart in Hand is the third and latest in the series set in a special store in Amish country.

I just signed a contract for my fourth Amish series for Abingdon Press and am loving every minute of reading for ideas and research and so much more. I can’t help thinking how reading that Sunday paper started it all years ago.

My advice for writers? Read, read, read, and then read some more. Don't copy someone else’s story or style but generate ideas, do research, figure out what works and what doesn’t. And sometimes, just read for the pleasure of reading because if you love reading you’ll be learning the craft of writing at the same time.   



  1. I agree 100%. When I get stuck while writing, reading gets me going again. When I get frustrated, reading always puts my mind at rest. Thanks for easing the guilt I sometimes feel when I read. :)

  2. Oh how well I remember your Lancaster Quilt Series. I loved it. I agree you have to read. You have to listen to those around you. The idea for my book came from listening to my students talk about the 9/11 events. A visit to New York and reading books to my students helped me move my story along. It is often tough trying to balance the reading and writing, but reading has always been my go to place for everything.

  3. Looking very forward to your new series. Would love to win this one. Thanks for your giveaway. Reading is my get away. Life for me is stay at home care for my mother. So it is my outlet. You all take me to many different places I never get the chance to do. Thanks.

  4. Great artical, I would love the chance to win your new book.

  5. This is just the sort of inspiring pick-me-up I needed to start my week. Thank you!

  6. I have really enjoyed reading the previous Lancaster County stories and cannot wait to read what happens in the quilt store next! So glad you've continued the series!

    Janelle Will

  7. I would love to win,Enter me!!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!!
    Sarah Richmond

  8. I would love to win this contest
    Thank You for the chance.
    Kathy Milburn

  9. Anonymous3:37 PM

    I want to ein this book so thank you for this chance. Books are the best time of my waking hours so please give me this chance. thank you Karen

  10. Best advice-reading really does take us places--and the words of others inspire my own

  11. I can't wait to read this book! All of your books are wonderful and "real". Thank you for the opportunity!

    Lynne Young

  12. I don't write but I do love to read. Sharma Darby

  13. Anonymous4:06 PM

    Thank you so much for the chance to win! I'd love a copy of your book!
    Marie Ferland

  14. Barbara Michels4:06 PM

    Would love a chance to win this book.
    Barbara Michels

  15. Anonymous4:11 PM

    Thanks for the chance to win your book. I love your books.


  16. I love your books Barbara.The covers are always so beautiful and the stories are great.This was a great post.Thanks for

  17. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Barabara Cameron, you are one of my favorite authors..all I can say is every book that I have read of yours..I love them! Looking forward to reading many more!

  18. Love your books Barbara.
    Would love to win this one.
    Keep up the wonderful writing.

  19. Anonymous4:45 PM

    Your books are so entertaining!!! I would love to win this one....

    Karen Schulz
    aregeetee5162 at yahoo dot com

  20. What a wonderful article. Thanks for the opportunity to win a book!

  21. I would love to win a copy of your book, Heart in Your Hand.


  22. Wow, this is a book I'd really like to read! Thank you for sharing the story behind Heart In Hand :)
    Jasmine A.

  23. Tammy Courts5:51 PM

    Thanks for the chance to win one of your books! Know it will be great!

  24. Would love to win your book. Thanks for chance to win.
    God Bless.

  25. I agree, Barbara. I read even more than I write. By the way, love this series! :)

  26. Anonymous6:25 PM

    Every book of yours that I've read so far, I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed! Thank you!

  27. Anonymous6:32 PM

    I would love to win your book, thank you for the opportunity!!!


  28. Thanks for a chance to win book.
    Love reading your books, Barbara.

  29. Would love to win this book. Beautiful cover.

  30. Ruth Owen7:44 PM

    Great advice, Barbara. This is one of my favorite books of yours, and I didn't realize how you came to write it. Very interesting!

  31. Love your books and would love to win a copy of this book.
    Thanks for the opportunity!!!

  32. I've read most of Barbara's books and love them all. The reason is because they ARE not the same old same old. I like how her stories are so fresh and new.
    I'd love to win a copy. Thank you so much for this opportunity.

  33. Thanks so much for this chance. I have never read one of your books and would love to. My e-mail is
    Thank you and God bless

  34. Barbara Cameron9:01 PM

    Thank you everyone who left such wonderful comments. You are all so sweet! I'm working on a new series and can't wait to see what you think of it.


  35. I can't wait to read this book. It sounds wonderful!

  36. I've chosen the three winners at random, and you can expect an email from me to request your mailing address! You've won Barbara's book, Heart in Hand. --Sandie

  37. Thank you for the chance to win Barbara's book!


  38. I love to read and I LOVE LOVE LOVE to read Amish books. Thank you so much for the chance to win Barbara's book! makeighleekyleigh at

  39. thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  40. Heart in Hand is a book I've been waiting to read.
    Thanks for chance to win.


  41. would love a chance to read this book


  42. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Would love to read this book to! Good luck everyone! God bless! Theresa Doss

  43. Anonymous2:53 PM

    Was suppose to be
    Sorry...Theresa Doss