Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Result of Doing My Homework: a Best Seller! by Kate Lloyd

Kate Lloyd

I recall the plot for my first Amish novel unfolding. Its title, Leaving Lancaster, presented itself like a banner waving in the breeze. My characters came alive in a blissful flurry. I sold my proposal, a synopsis and three chapters, to David C. Cook, a distinguished publishing house. Hurray!
Then a wave of panic swept through my chest as I realized how little I knew about the Amish. I’d read Amish fiction, but I could hear my professorial-father’s words in my ear: “Do your homework.”
Questions and doubts inundated my mind. What if I characterized the Amish incorrectly? Could I honor them, yet remain true to my Christian beliefs?
I decided to give it my best and opened my laptop for a look-see on Google. The information I found about the Amish was sketchy. What became clear was: they are private and prefer to live along side us Englishers (anyone not Amish) but not engage in our hectic world. They tolerate us, but our modern conveniences are viewed as a bad influence to their tight family units. Old Order Amish follow the teachings of the Bible vigorously, and also an unwritten set of rules called the Ortnung that varies from church district to district.
I take pleasure in writing fiction and don’t balk at doing research, because a fiction writer has to have his or her facts correct or the reader will doubt the whole premise of the book. But how could I delve into a community that didn’t want me to know about it?
I purchased books and found, to my relief, I’d stumbled upon the world’s authority on the Amish. I contacted Donald B. Kraybill, Ph.D. and his research assistant, Steve Scott (see this link), who became a mentor and friend. Both scholars generously helped me, and I went to bed reading their books every night.
Amish farm
But how could I understand the Amish without coming to know them? I couldn’t call or email people who didn’t use the Internet or own phones in their homes. I’d have to go to Lancaster County, PA; my husband wanted to come too. I prayed I’d meet local Amish individuals who would read my manuscript searching for mistakes and inconsistencies. My husband and I cruised up and down many a country road, with care to stay clear of the horse and buggies. We were captivated with the expansive farms and bounteous fields ploughed by draft horses or mules. Through persistence, I met gracious people who agreed to read my manuscript. I now consider them friends. With each trip, I’ve forged new relationships I treasure and strengthened ties with family members living in the area. 
As I wrote and rewrote, I continued to do research on every facet of the Amish, including their unique language. I called the author of the most accurate Pennsylvania Dutch dictionary to verify the spelling and use of certain words. I’ve consulted with him several times since.

The result? Leaving Lancaster was a best seller in spring 2012! Its long awaited sequel, Pennsylvania Patchwork, released June 1, 2013. I’m working on the third book of The Legacy of Lancaster Trilogy for David C Cook. As long as I’m writing about the Amish I doubt my research will end, but the rewards are great!

Dora here.  How much homework do you do for your writing?
Does your research involve visiting your settings?

Purchase Link

The sequel to bestselling Leaving Lancaster is again set in the heart of Amish country. In Pennsylvania Patchwork, Holly Fisher tackles old grudges and secrets, struggles to make the right choice, and finds love.

Kate Lloyd is a novelist and a passionate observer of human relationships. She and her husband live in Seattle, the setting for Kate's first novel, A Portrait of Marguerite. She spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, PA, the inspiration for her Amish novels, Leaving Lancaster and newly released Pennsylvania Patchwork. She is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She has worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur. To find out more about Kate Lloyd please visit her Website:, her blog:, on Face Book: or on Twitter KateLloydAuthor.


  1. 'Sounds like your father knew what he was talking about, but it was up to you to persevere until you got the information you needed. Congratulations on your bestseller!

  2. Can't wait to read and review this book. I love the amish and have amish heritage in our family. We went to Lancaster 12 years ago and Visited Holmes Co Ohio each year on our way back and forth from TN. Their farms are very well kept and very pretty. I so love the country and simple , old fashioned things.
    Linda Finn

  3. Enjoyed your site today, you have quite a team of ladies here, like reading the author you have an hope to read her amish stories one day, thanks for sharing info about her books. Congrats Kate Lloyd on your research and making a good series of the Lancaster amish...
    Paula O(

  4. Hi, as promised back again to browse the latest installment. To answer your question I did research for my novel "Winds Of Change" predominantly on line from a variety of resources. The piece missing for me was the forming relationships and or retaining them. Actually that is a life-long struggle for myself and something that deserves prayer and effort on my part. I saw the research as means to establish some sense of cretibility and cited resources used. It actually helped enrich the story line some. Thanks for post and congratulations on your publishing efforts!

  5. Kate, I want to offer my congratulations as well on your publication efforts and wish you much blessing to your efforts. In writing my novel, "Winds Of Change" research helped enrich the story line, most of which was done on line pertinent to specific story scenes. Unlike you, relationship building has not been one of my stronger suits in life. I have never been a "groupy" but used to entertain small groups at a piano bar, played for church services, so have had more short-term relationships if you will. I guess replying to blog posts and such is means to practice relationship skills via social media. Google and I are very well-acquainted! Thanks.

  6. Thank you, everyone, for your encouraging words! I was honored to be invited here today. As for blogs and other forms of social media, I consider them wonderful opportunities to get connected with people across the globe.

  7. Oh, I'd love a field trip to visit the vast farms of the Amish!! Must put that on my list.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Kate, and congrats on your success!

  8. Great post, Kate, and love the photo of the farm. How wonderful that you were able to actually get some of the Amish to read your story for authenticity.

  9. You don't have to go to Pennsylvania to visit an Amish community - my home state of Indiana has both large Amish and Mennonite communities. When I was in fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. McKee took us on a field trip to visit the farm of her Amish housekeeper Maria. I'll never forget the taste of homemade peach "fruit leather."

  10. I am not a writer (yet) but this book sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading Kate's works. :)


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