A little bit about Amy...
Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing "career" began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series with Zondervan, which is part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing. An advocate for organ and blood donation, Amy donated a kidney in 2011 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through her donation, her husband received a second kidney transplant. Amy and her husband matched another couple and swapped kidneys with them. Amy's memoir, A Gift of Love, will be available in early 2014. She hopes her story inspires others to become organ and blood donors. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and four spoiled rotten cats.
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Get to know Amy
You and Writing
How did you start writing?
I’ve always loved to write. It’s always been a stress reliever for me. I started creating stories in my head when I was in elementary school, and I carried around notebooks that I filled with silly stories. I’ve always felt like something is missing if I’m not working on a book.
The strange thing is I didn’t want to pursue a career in writing until after college when I accidentally found a local chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA). Until I joined RWA, writing was a hobby. When I attended a meeting, I realized I could possibly turn my hobby into something more. Through RWA, I met writers in all stages of their careers, and I learned how to polish a book and then find an agent.
What or who is the biggest influence in your writing?
I’ve written one non-fiction book, A Gift of Love, which is my memoir featuring my story of donating a kidney through a swap for my husband, and I’ve also written four young adult books. I’m most known, however, for my Amish fiction books.
I was always fascinated with the Amish when I was a child. I remember visiting Lancaster County when I was younger, and my father, who was a German immigrant, told me the Amish speak the same dialect of German as my relatives. I was drawn to their simplicity and faith. Due to my German heritage, I feel a loose connection to the culture. I was inspired by other Amish authors to try to write my own Amish stories.
Why do you write?
I’ve always loved to write. I feel like something is missing if I’m not working on a book. Writing is always challenging because I try to make my current book better than the last. I always strive to take the stories deeper emotionally, and I hope that my writing grows with each book.
The Beloved Hope Chest is the fourth and final book in my Amish Heirloom series, which is about the Fisher family. The Fishers live in Bird-in-Hand, PA, and they are Amish. The first three books in the series detail the lives of their three daughters. This book goes back in time to tell the parents’ story, and it also reveals the mysteries I have woven throughout the series.
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
Leroy Fisher is my favorite character because he is loyal and dedicated to Mattie throughout the challenges they face together.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
Both Mattie and Leroy, the main characters in this novel, go through tough times, and they learn to rely on God. I hope readers feel God’s love throughout the story.
What’s the theme? How did you come up with it?
The theme for my books is always hope and faith. I pray my books will give my readers a sense of peace and help them find hope and renewed faith in God.
What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
The Beloved Hope Chest is very close to my heart since it is the last in my Amish Heirloom series. I’ve grown to love the Fisher family, and writing Mattie and Leroy’s story was bittersweet since I didn’t want to let these characters go. I hope readers enjoy this book since it reveals all of the mysteries that have been woven throughout the series.
Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
I used the following scripture verse in The Beloved Hope Chest: 2 Corinthians 1:7: “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” This verse really spoke to me since it tells us that God is always with us—especially during the tough times. Since my husband has endured two kidney transplants, I have learned to rely on God, and verses like this one always speak to my heart.
What’s your favorite snack while writing?
Hot tea and Pringles Stix – honey butter flavored. Yum!!
What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”?
People often ask me what the secret is to getting published. I don’t believe there is a secret to getting published, but I do have a list of things that will help writers on their journey to publication.
1. Join a Writers’ Group
I accidentally found the website for a local writers’ group while in search for a professional group to join as part of my day job as a technical writer. That group is Chesapeake Romance Writers, which is based in Chesapeake, Virginia, and is a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When I attended one of the monthly meetings, I met writers in all stages of their careers – from brand new (like me) to multi-published. It was then that I realized that I wanted to become a published author. Through this group, I learned how to plot and polish my novels, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter that would pique an agent’s interest.
I strongly suggest you find a group near you and socialize with other writers. You’ll have fun and also learn a lot. If you’re not interested in attending local meetings, you always have the option of joining a virtual group. There are organizations that host discussion groups, and a few include America Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Join the group that best fits your interest and needs and get connected.
2. Attend a Conference
If you have the money and the time, attend a writers’ conference, where you can network and attend instructional sessions that cover many aspects of writing and the publishing business. Conferences are fun and informative.
During my journey to publication, I’ve made some wonderful friends, a few of whom have become my most trusted critique partners. They help me plot and polish my books before I submit them to my editor. Don’t write in a vacuum; share your books with trusted friends. Your buddies will not only find your typos, but they may give you story ideas that you hadn’t considered and will make your plot even better.
4. Find Time to Read
I know what it means to be busy. I balance a day job, two active sons, and my writing deadlines. I enjoy listening to audio books in my car during my commute to and from work. I listen to everything from Christian fiction to young adult to romance. While reading is fun, it’s also a way to improve your skills by seeing what techniques work (and sometimes don’t work) for other authors.
5. Keep Writing
It may sound silly, but writers need to write! Finish your novel and polish it as best you can before submitting it to an agent or editor. Your book represents your best work. Show a potential agent or editor that you’re a professional and also eager to write for them.
6. Don’t Give Up
No matter what, believe in yourself and believe in your dream of holding your book in your hand! If you’ve been rejected by an agent or editor, don’t give up. I received plenty of rejection letters and I wanted to give up many times. I’m thankful for my family and my friends who told me to stop whining and keep writing.
How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
I believe I received at least a dozen rejection letters from both agents and publishers. I wrote seven novels that my agent tried to sell before landing a contract for my first Amish book, A Gift of Grace, the first book in my Kauffman Amish Bakery series. The rejection letters were tough, but my agent and my family kept encouraging me and wouldn’t let me give up on my dream of seeing my name on the cover of a book.
Are you a Pantser or Plotter?
I’m definitely a plotter! I’m very organized and know how my story will start and end before I start writing.
What does your writing process look like?
I start off with a blurb and then turn that into a detailed outline. I outline my story chapter by chapter, scene by scene, and I use it as a roadmap for my story. The plot changes and grows, but my outline keeps me on track so that I’m don’t get stuck.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share?
I used to need complete quiet while I wrote, but now I like to listen to music. It becomes white noise for me and blocks out distractions. I’m a moody writer. Sometimes I like pop, such as Taylor Swift, but other times I need more hard rock, such as Daughtry, Staind, Nickelback, or Seether. Other times I listen to the Beatles. Lately I’ve been listening to Latin Pop, specifically, Enrique Iglesias, and I blame my love of Zumba for that influence.
How do you grow in your writing craft?
I grow by reading books and studying other authors. Since I work full-time and write many books per year, I listen to audio books. I listened to many different genres and I always learn something new by listening to a new author.
How do you balance your writing life with “real” life? Any tips or tricks to share?
My life is insane since I work full-time, write full-time, and have a family. I’m super organized. I keep a day planner with my schedule on hand so that deadlines don’t sneak up on me. I plot out my books and use a detailed outline to keep my stories on track. When I’m on deadline, I write every chance I can. I write late into the night and all weekend long to keep up with my deadlines. I celebrate when I turn in my books by doing something fun with my family. My mother lives with my family and me, and she is a tremendous help. She keeps the household running and on schedule while I work to finish my writing projects.
What is a favorite memory you have of your mother?
My mom lives with my family, and me, and she is my best friend. We enjoy watching movies together and sharing favorite books. She’s also my boys’ second mother, and she helps keep my family on schedule when I’m floundering on a deadline. She’s the best mom and nana our family could have!
If you had to choose one type of food, what kind would it be?
That’s a tough one! It would be a toss up between Asian and Mexican. Since I’m half German, however, I do enjoy German dishes too.
Amy has graciously offered a copy of The Beloved Hope Chest and a fun Amish goodie as a giveaway. Enter below!
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