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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.   



Jill Weatherholt said...

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. :)

Sandra Stiles said...

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.

Diana montgomery said...

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.

Michelle Morgan said...

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

Janice C Johnson said...

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

micountrygal said...

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

Sarah said...

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

kathy milburn said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Mitzi said...

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

Lynne said...

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

Lynne Young

Sharma said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Barbara Michels said...

Would love a chance to win this book.
Barbara Michels

Anonymous said...

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


Jackie Tessnair said...

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

Anonymous said...

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!

Unknown said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Karen Schulz
aregeetee5162 at yahoo dot com

Lannette said...

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

Cindi A said...

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


Jasmine A. said...

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

Tammy Courts said...

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

Donna Taylor said...

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

Ruth Kyser said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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


Carolyn said...

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

Juanita Cook said...

Would love to win this book. Beautiful cover.

Ruth Owen said...

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!

Jane Reeves said...

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

Sandra Kaczanowcke said...

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.

Johnette Ferguson said...

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

Barbara Cameron said...

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.


Nancee said...

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

Author Sandra D. Bricker said...

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

Wendy Newcomb said...

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


Megan Parsons said...

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

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Diana montgomery said...

Who are the 3 winners?

Carolyn said...

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


lollipops said...

would love a chance to read this book


Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

Was suppose to be
Sorry...Theresa Doss