Tag Archives: Amish

Author, Dianne Christner (Christian Fiction: Is It Effective?)

Dianne Christner, Christian Fiction Author of the Plain City Bridesmaids contemporary series and several historical novels.

Ralph Waldo Emerson – “Talent alone cannot make a writer. There must be a man behind the book.”

I’m at that glorious age where I use a magnifying mirror to put on my make up even though I’ve memorized every freckle on my face. At sixty, I finally know myself. Aging is liberating, and I highly recommend it. According to Emerson, the writer is crucial to the writing voice. Flip flop it, voice is an expression of self.

Voice makes Christian fiction and any type of fiction as diverse as its authors.

It only follows, since I don’t go knocking on my neighbors’ doors to evangelize—the very thought of it makes me shiver and turns my insides pea green—that evangelism isn’t the emphasis of my writing voice either. I express Christianity through my individual voice (my core – which is my body, soul, and spirit). Since as an introvert, the idea of evangelism churns pea soup, it isn’t the focus of my writing or even of my worldview.

Should the creature argue with the creator? Instead, I celebrate divine uniqueness. This makes writing voice special and memorable.

My voice is one of many. A mere dot in the universe, especially so in the publishing world. But small dots can make a big impression. Take the pink polka dot which reminds us of baby girls and birthday parties. As a Christian, I’m a reflective dot shedding the light of Jesus into the surrounding darkness. Surely we can agree there’s too much darkness in the world? That the most important thing for all dots is to light up the world?

My world is small, compared to some. I’m a homebody. Certainly not a foot—though I do go on book tours and vacations. I’m more of an arm that reaches close and hugs tight. I’m a hand-holder and a mentor. Amazingly, others gravitate to open arms, and since the path goes both ways, it all works out in the end. Through writing, my circle of influence is widening. Whether family, friend, or reader, I welcome and share of myself. I mentor and entertain. That’s all.

Well not all, it’s a burning desire—the writing. It’s a calling. Writing is an overflow and expression of my core. A living thing within me that I’m sure is part of my spiritual DNA. For me, it’s saying yes to God. It’s saying yes to my core and my calling. Whatever ministry happens, God does. My part is walking in sync with Him.

I was raised in the Mennonite faith, and although I don’t adhere to their beliefs, I use Mennonite characters in my novels because their beliefs formed the foundation of my worldview and became my springboard to faith. I write about life’s contrasts–futility and hope. When I reach a dramatic climax, I insert comic relief. I move my characters towards victory because I’m a mentor. Towards love because I’m a romantic. I celebrate happy endings because I have the hope of Christ living in me.

I write Christian fiction and call my writing voice: Dramatic Romantic Comedy.

Setting talent aside as Emerson did, if you hate my writing, you probably wouldn’t choose me for a friend either. In other words, the many genres of fiction have resulted from a diverse populace of authors and the distinctive tastes of readers.

I believe Christian fiction is a vital genre because it’s an expression of a group of people with a burning desire to write from their core.

What draws you to a novel?

Note From Nikki: Yesterday we featured atheist, David Rosman. Because I was unable to locate two more unbelievers to submit a post to balance out this series, I have instead posted upon the recomendation of C.S. Lakin a reprinted piece of literary criticism on Christian fiction to post tomorrow. To read more about this series, click here.

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Book Review: Something New

In Book One of Plain City Bridesmaids we fall in love with Katy and Jake in Something Old. In Book Two, Something New, Katy and Jake are on their honeymoon while Lillian has moved back home to the farm.

Lillian hates farm life. If all works well, Katy and Jake will move out of the Doddy House and Lillian and Meg will move in like they have talked about since they were all children, but things have become more difficult for Lillian. Her mother has fallen into a deep depression, and her father and brothers have antiquated ideas about a woman’s place. As the stress builds in the Landis household, Lillian meets Fletch.

Fletch is a new veternarian with a soft nature. His parents are brilliant missionaries and Fletch has hardly seen them these last few years. Fletch encounters trouble of a different sort in Plain City. One of his parent’s most loyal donors helped Fletch get an intern position with a good friend. The loyal donor, Marshall pressures Fletch to take videos of sick animals on the Amish farms in order to get footage to help bring revenue to the struggling, rescue animal shelter.

Fletch doesn’t want to hurt the trust a veternarian works hard to hold onto, but he feels pressured because Marshall has donated so much money towards his parent’s missionary efforts. So what if he did take some videos of some sick pigs? The farm wasn’t going to be named in the video, but it so happened that the farm in question belonged to the Landis family.

Dianne Christner takes Amish fiction to a new level by introducing more complex layers to a typical Amish romance. In the first novel, Something Old, Christner explores a very judgemental Katy. In Something New, there’s a lot of gray and Fletch is easily pursuaded to bend his ethics a little in order to not offend anyone. Lillian has dreams, but in a place where men make the decisions and women get married and have children, she fights family tradition in order to be with the man she loves and hold on to the dream of being a chef.

Something New is another wonderful work of fiction that explores everyday struggles in a strict society without the naive innocence so common in Amish romance.

*book was given by publisher to review.

Book Review: The Harvest of Grace

At first, the “Story So Far” page lost me. This is the first book I have read of Cindy Woodsmall’s Ada’s House Novels, and yet I enjoyed it. Sylvia Fisher’s story talks about love, betrayal, family, and feeling left out. It talks about so many issues that I and the readers of my blog can relate to personally. I especially found the secondary character, Cara, relatable.

Her father abandoned her and she went from foster home to foster home, but now he’s back in her life. Cara needs to be accepted into the Old Amish order so she and Ephraim can marry. The Order is telling her to forgive her father. I laughed at that because I know from experience forgiveness is a process. It took me half a lifetime to get over mine. Yet, as Cara gets to know her father and she discovers the answers in the half-truths in her life, she learns to forgive. Sylvia, too, is a character you can fall in love with. She’s strong, independent, and loves the old dairy farm run by the Blanks. She didn’t count on falling in love with their son, Aaron Blank. With two different agendas clashing over the future of the farm, could Aaron and Sylvia reconcile those differences to allow love to bloom?

The Harvest of Grace is abundant with stories of forgiveness, the continuing stories of past editions of The Ada House Novels, and filled with characters you’ll grow attached to through the length of the novel. I believe Christian novels can teach timeless lessons and The Harvest of Grace gently tugs on the issues of today in the background of Amish country.

Book given by Water brook-Multinomah for the purpose of review. This novel will be given away as a door prize at a party so that it may bless someone else.

An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County

Book Review

An Amish Christmas

December in Lancaster County

Four Amish Christmas Novellas

Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Barbara Cameron, and Kelly Long

December beckons me with its Christmas lights and cold nights to read a good Christmas story. I have my favorites, and An Amish Christmas has become one of them. A collection of Christmas novellas are typically unconnected stories by different authors of the same genre. In this case, these four novellas tell the story of one December in Lancaster County.

In A Miracle For Miriam by Kathleen Fuller, you learn about the deep hurt that causes Miriam to disappear into herself. Seth caused the hurt when they were both fourteen years old. Most of us remember our hurts and some of us have allowed those hurts to influence us as adults. It’s a beautiful love story in which other characters from the other three novellas are introduced.

A Choice to Forgive by Beth Wiseman opens with Lydia answering a knock at her door and discovering her first love, Daniel Smucker, standing confidently on her doorstep. He promised to marry her when they were young and mysteriously disappeared on Christmas. Lydia marries his brother, Elam, who happens to comfort her during her difficult heart break. She becomes a widow when he dies of a heart attack. Those feelings of love for Daniel rise again and she struggles to forgive him for running away. He tries to explain the difficult and complicated situation that sent him away, and the secret that he and his brother kept from her causes an enormous emotional struggle.

One Child by Barbara Cameron addresses Sarah and David’s struggle over their miscarriage. Sarah prays to Derr Herr for a child. It’s the only gift she wants on Christmas. Mysterious visitors bring unexpected joy during a particularly bad blizzard. It’s a story of healing, love, and friendship.

Christmas Cradles by Kelly Long tells the story of Anna Stolis and Asa Mast. Anna has never been married. She has become a midwife. Asa Mast also never married. A tragedy occurred during his rumschpringe years that brought him to this point. His father is very ill, refusing to go to the hospital on Christmas. Anna has three deliveries during the night. Normally, his father, Samuel, accompanies Anna’s Aunt Ruth (also a midwife), but with Aunt Ruth taking the evening off and Samuel sick, Asa joins Anna in her delivery runs. It is a love story of two insecure people who never thought they could fall in love.

My favorite books let me learn about the characters even after their stories have been told. It’s sad to say goodbye to characters you’ve come to cherish. In this book you read about a whole community. As I turned the last page of Christmas Cradles I realized I would not hear about Miriam, Seth, Lydia, or the other characters again. My book is a hard bound edition. Apparently, this is one book in a collection of books of a similar nature—An Amish Gathering, and coming in January, 2011, An Amish Love. I can’t wait to read those two books. Maybe I’ll learn more about these characters or fall in love with new ones.

Book Provided by the Publisher For Review

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