Archives for posts with tag: Vannetta Chapman

We are in the dog days of summer here in Texas. The temp regularly hovers near or above the 100 mark. It just so happens our a/c went out yesterday. 🙂 But no worries! The repairman is on the way.

During summer days I always wonder why I haven’t scheduled a research trip up north somewhere. The truth is that our yard and all the plants would die if we left, so we’re sort of anchored down for the duration. I suppose I’ll have to “visit” virtually until fall arrives. Today I thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos with you from time spent in cooler locations.


Horse and biggie–Shipshewana, IN

This was taken during my first visit to Shipshewana!



J. Favres–Shipshewana, IN

I was signing books at J. Favres and some of my Facebook friends showed up!


ACFW Conference

Here I am with some lovely ladies. You’ve probably read their books!

I hope that you’re having a wonderful summer!




Phoebe, V's dog

Phoebe, V’s dog

Writing Amish Fiction

Sometimes readers ask me, “Was this story true? Did it actually happen?” You would think that would be a pretty easy question to answer, but not always. Parts of my stories are true. For example, in my Shipshewana Series, the quilt shop that Callie inherits is very much patterned after Lolly’s Fabrics. Have you been there? Once I stepped inside, I knew that it was the perfect setting for a story!

Other things, like the mystery which takes place, are completely fictional. For me, it’s a balance of rooting my stories in our actual lives, but then allowing my characters to have unusual and challenging things happen to them. Of course, the most important part of each of my stories is the focus on God’s grace–something available to each of us.

Leo, Vannetta's cat

Leo, Vannetta’s cat

For my newest mystery, Murder Simply Brewed, I borrowed a lot from my life. Amber drives a little red car (yes, I do), meets someone older than her who becomes a romantic interest (that’s my husband), and she has a hello cat named Leo (I happened to be cleaning out that cabinet and he jumped inside).

What surprises me is when something I’ve written about turns into FACT in my life. When I started writing Falling to Pieces, I knew that I had to give Callie a dog–she was so lost, without friends, and lonely. She needed the unconditional love of a pet, but of course she had no idea how to take care of one! Through the entire Shipshewana series, we see Callie mature in her faith, her relationships, and even her role as a pet-owner. At the end of writing those books, I was sad to say goodbye to everyone. Imagine my surprise when two years later, we received a call from a friend saying the animal shelter had a dog that we needed to go and take a look at. My husband and I had never owned a dog, though we both grew up with them. Our reasoning was that we travelled too much, and it wouldn’t be fair to a dog. One look at Phoebe, and there was no turning back though. We’ve learned to manage our travel and our dog (and cats) at the same time. And in my mind, she is exactly like Callie’s dog. I even put bandanas on her the way Callie did.

I am thankful each day, when I sit down at my computer, that God has allowed me to write the stories of my heart–incorporating facts, fiction, and God’s grace. And I want to thank each of you for taking the time to read them.





shipshe 1-3, rev and webAmish, Quilt and Retreats

There are many things to admire about the Amish way of life. One of the things that I am fascinated by is their quilting skill. Amish ladies seem to raise this to an art level. And to think they do it by hand or with a treadle machine is pretty amazing. I know women have been quilting by hand for many, many years – but in our day and age it’s become a rare thing. I admire the humble way Amish women will show you their quilts, how they pass this skill down to the next generation, and how quilts are used to raise money for benefit auctions.

My Shipshewana Series is set in a quilt shop called Lolly’s in Shipshewana. It only took one trip to Lolly’s and I was hooked. I bought a few kits, thinking that I could borrow my mom’s machine–which I did. But soon I was wanting my own sewing machine. Quilting is like that. It becomes something that you enjoy doing and want to do more of. I found a simple little Brothers Machine at my local Walmart for under $100. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a great machine for a beginner like myself.

photo-17     photo-18   photo-19

This past week I attended my first quilting retreat. What fun! It reminded me of the Amish sew-ins, where women gather to work on a quilt. In this case, we were all working on different projects, but it was a lot of fun to sew in a room with 20 other women. Everyone was a lot of help too. If you had a question or needed a certain color fabric, people pitched right in. The first quilt I made had rather large blocks. Remember, I’m a beginner. I love the bright colors though. The second quilt I made was a rag quilt. I liked this idea because it was very easy to “quilt” each block on my little machine. The  third quilt I made was the hardest, but I like the way it came together. I especially like that there was someone there to teach me how to get those little blocks to line up correctly.

Not everyone enjoys sewing, but whether you do or you don’t there are still many things about the Amish life that we can respect and emulate in our own lives–their focus on family, the way they live their faith out day-to-day, and the strong community bond between families. My prayer is that as you read Amish fiction, you will be blessed and find ways to incorporate these things into your life.



The Amish and CPS

Garden webLike most authors, I look for story ideas in a variety of places. Sometimes the catalyst for a story is a news report I’ve read, sometimes it’s someone I’ve met, and occasionally it’s a bit of research I come across.

When I began writing Where Healing Blooms, I knew that Emma’s mother-in-law, Mary Ann, would be a major part of the story. I didn’t know all of Mary Ann’s history though. I didn’t know exactly what she’d been through to make her into the strong woman she would become. Then I came across some research about the Amish and the Civilian Public Service.

CPS began in 1941. Between the dates of 1941 and 1947, nearly 12,000 draftees served their country through CPS rather than performing duty in the military. Here’s a few interesting facts I found:

  • There were 153 CPS camps throughout the US and Puerto Rico.
  • Draftees worked in soil conservation, forestry, fire fighting, and agriculture
  • CPS men worked without support from the federal government (no wages).
  • CPS draftees were not released until well after the end of the war
  • Conscientious objectors came from many denominations including Baptist, Church of Christ, Congregational Church, Jehova’s Witness, Amish, Mennonite, Methodist, Catholic and Presbyterian
  • The CPS camps were financed primarily by churches. Men received between $2.50 and $5.00 per month for their personal needs.
  • The men performed $6 million of unpaid labor.

whbYou can see how this would make for a fascinating story! While the Amish strive to remain separate, they do in fact live in the same world as you and I. Sometimes that can mean hardship, as it did during World War II.

Mary Ann became one of my very favorite characters in Where Healing Blooms. The story of her early marriage, and her husband’s service in a CPS camp, shaped her. God used those experiences for good, and by the end of my novella you will see how service in one of the camps was eventually able to bless many people in the future.

You can read this story now, in the collection An Amish Garden (available everywhere books are sold) . The individual novella will be released in ebook format on June 17 for $1.99. You can pre-order it from Amazon , B&N and CBD .





Window display, Lolly's Fabrics

Window display, Lolly’s Fabrics

I write a lot about the Amish communities found in northern Indiana. Goshen, Middlebury, Elkhart, Nappanee, and Shipshewana are all towns that have a large Amish presence. So far I’ve written 3 books set in Shipshewana (The Shipshewana Mystery Series) and 2 novellas sets there (An Amish Garden which just released and An Amish Cradle which will be out next year). If you’ve been to Shipshe, you’ve probably been to Lolly’s Fabrics which is inside the Davis Mercantile. When I walked into Lolly’s the first time, I wanted to find a chair and just stay. I knew that I could write several books that were set around this beautiful, comforting place. Plus the Bluegate is across the street, so my characters would never go hungry.

Essenhaus, Middlebury

Essenhaus, Middlebury

My new series (An Amish Village Mystery) is set in Middlebury. On the outskirts of Middlebury you will find the Essenhaus. Now THAT was a fun place to visit, learn the history, and imagine a story.

These small towns are very warm and welcoming. The folks are friendly (both Amish and Englisch), the pie is plentiful, and the countryside is just gorgeous. I like writing books that are set in real places. I’m able to dig through the old newspaper archives and find interesting stories that I can bring up in my books. And the local librarians are chock-full of information about the towns. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m making stuff up, as much as I’m re-telling what has already happened (like the tornadoes that I describe in A Perfect Square).

If you haven’t visited this area, and you have a chance — you should! I know you will enjoy your time there.




msb webI’m so pleased to share with you my newest release, Murder Simply Brewed.

This new series, an Amish Village Mystery, takes place in Middlebury, IN. Some of you are familiar with the area because you’ve read about it, or maybe you’ve visited Shipshewana which is just up the road. Some of you may have read my earlier series, which begins with Falling to Pieces and is set in Shipshe. For Murder Simply Brewed I travelled west 7 miles. Like Shipshe, Middlebury is a town where the Amish and the Englisch work, live, and worship side by side.

This is a book about a young woman, Hannah, as her journey into adulthood is beginning. It’s also the story of Amber, who is middle-aged and still not quite sure what God has in store for her. And lastly it’s the story of Tate, a man of faith who has perhaps lost the certainty that God still has plans for him.

And in the midst of all of that we have a murder mystery. WHY, some people ask, do I write murder mysteries? I have found that cozy mysteries are a wonderful way to highlight the workings of a small town, how people interact with one another, and how their faith is present in every circumstance. As with all my books, my desire is to show you that God’s grace is always sufficient and that you can trust Him.

This book will be available on March 25th, everywhere books are sold. You can access vendor links from here. It will be available in print, ebook and audio. I hope that it is a story that blessed your heart.




central Texas

central Texas

Gardens Among the Amish

I think that most of us are ready for spring. My friends to the north have had enough snow to last them several winters. Here in Texas, the temperatures have bee extraordinarily cold, then warm, then cold again — pretty standard. The one thing we’re missing is RAIN. Other states are experiencing drought as well–California, for instance. Please pray for us, that God will send us rain to fill the streams, replenish the lakes, and water our gardens.

As I watch for signs of spring, I start thinking about my garden. When is it time to plant? Can I be sure it won’t frost again? What new things do I want to try this year? We have a problem with deer in our area as you can see from the top picture. Generally they find a way to eat anything I plant. But this year, my husband has built a fence around the patio, and we also have a homemade “greenhouse” that we hope to grow some things in. I love fresh vegetables and herbs!

Growing up, we always had a garden, but as I got older and had a family of my own–I became too busy. Or I thought I was too busy. Then I started writing Amish stories and visiting Amish homes. If you’ve been to Amish country, you know that their gardens are a site to behold. There are flowers alongside vegetables. Sunflowers for birdseed, and even objects to add art and whimsy, like the propane tank in the picture above.

shipshewana, INSo what did I learn from my visits to Amish and their gardens?

  1. Growing a garden is hard work, but it’s also quite satisfying.
  2. All the family can help–we saw everyone from the young children to grandma and grandpa helping.
  3. Gardening has a spiritual aspect. When we’re in “the garden” it’s easier to focus on our Lord.
  4. Gardening is healthy. It produces healthy food. It gives us exercise and time in the sun, and it’s a balm for our spirit.
  5. Homegrown produce tastes better. That’s not a scientific fact, but it sure seems to be true. Perhaps it’s the hours you’ve put in caring for your garden. Maybe it’s the way you’ve watched the tomatoes ripen, waiting for the moment you can pick one. I can’t explain this, but it seems that homegrown does taste better.

Garden webWhen I was asked to write a novella for the collection, An Amish Garden, the first thing I did was go back through my pictures of my time visiting the Amish in Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Oklahoma. These places are all different, with different types of communities, buggies, dress, and even styles of farming. but one thing they had in common was the family garden.

I plan to expand my garden this year. And hopefully, this time, the deer won’t reap the rewards of my labor.