Title: Buried Secrets (Sisters and Friends Series )
Synopsis: Overcome the past and any other obstacles that stand in the way of the future God has planned for you.
Three years after the accident that almost claimed her life, Emma Esh has recovered physically, but has no memory of the year before the accident. When she moves to a new community to help her sister Lydia and brother-in-law, Caleb, prepare for the birth of twins, she falls for their neighbor Samuel.
But the twins’ premature birth, a visit from the Englisher Emma once dated, and the sudden return of her memory threaten Emma’s romance. After the secrets of her past are revealed, will love be able to overcome all obstacles?
Rachel J. Good, Author
CH: Today’s Guest Author is Rachel J. Good. Rachel writes heartfelt tales of faith, hope and forgiveness. Welcome to my blog, Rachel.
CH: Can you sum up your Amish/Inspirational novel in 20 words or less?
RJG: Secrets from the past threaten to destroy Emma’s budding relationship with Sam and make her doubt God’s love and forgiveness.
CH: Was it hard creating believable situations and issues or did you take them from real life and elaborate?
RJG: I created this story from my imagination, but I take the feelings and reactions from real situations that are similar to those in the book. I chose three sisters for the first three books because I’m one of three girls, so that was a conscious choice, but the sisters don’t really resemble my family. But in the first novel of the series, Change of Heart, I discovered after I wrote it, that it had many parallels with my life and that of close family members. Interestingly enough, while I was writing it, I wasn’t thinking about those events. The other things I find is that the spiritual truths I’m exploring in each book are usually lessons I need to learn.
CH: What made you decide to write this series about sisters and friends?
RJG: Because I have Amish friends, I like being able to introduce readers to Amish lifestyles and beliefs, which I hope will make them more respectful of the Amish culture and lead to a greater understanding. So many people are curious about the Amish and admire their lifestyle, but I want to show that they have problems and challenges the same as the rest of the world, but I also want to reveal the depth of their faith and, in this book, the emphasis they place on forgiveness.
CH: Did you have to do any special research to write this book?
RJG: For this book, I spent time in the Northern Dauphin area, which is where Emma travels from her Lancaster home. I do a lot of research for all my books, spending time in the areas where they’re set, visiting all the places I mentioned, meeting the Amish in that area, reading about physical and mental healing (and going to Amish healers), checking with professionals about all the topics in the book. Once I’ve completed all the general research, I talk to Amish friends and have beta readers check all of my information. I try to select people who have been through some of the experiences in the book to be sure they ring true.
Sometimes, I stumble upon great ideas for other books while I’m researching, which is an extra bonus. One of my friends in the Northern Dauphin area gave the Amish school the right-of-way through their land, so I spent time observing the Amish children driving their pony carts to school. It was fascinating to see eight-year-olds driving down country roads to get to school. Those visits sparked one of my next books, The Amish Teacher’s Gift (April 2018). Of course, that meant I needed to visit Amish schools, which was fun. Next, I will be tagging along with a Lancaster County midwife for The Amish Midwife’s Secret.
CH: Who was your favorite character to write?
RJG: I love Emma, the main character of the book. She was the troubled younger sister in book 1, Change of Heart, who rebelled against God, her family and her community. I’ve always been partial to troublemakers. I think they often rail against lies and hypocrisy. Sometimes, they speak truths that others refuse to see. But they’re often hard on themselves.
After Emma’s wildness during Rumschpringa (the Amish teens’ running around time), she ends up in a lot of trouble. When Buried Secrets opens, Emma has amnesia because of an accident and doesn’t remember what she did in the past. Over the course of the book, her memory slowly returns. She must face some devastating secrets from her past, which make her doubt her worthiness to be loved or forgiven. I like that Emma is willing to be honest and courageous, when she chooses not to conceal the truth.
CH: Which character was hardest to write?
RJG: I had two characters I struggled with writing. The first was Emma’s oldest sister, Lydia, who interferes in Emma’s life. In the first draft, she came across as mean and bossy. My editor suggested writing some chapters from Lydia’s point of view. To do that, I had to really dig into Lydia’s personality to uncover her love for her sister and the caring that lay underneath her critical exterior.
The other character was Emma’s father. He reveals a shocking secret from the past, but I wanted readers to empathize with him rather than judge him. It was a delicate balance to keep him likeable despite what he’d done to hurt others.
CH: When you wrote the first book in the series, did you realize it would be a series then?
RJG: When I signed the contract, the publisher offered a three-book deal, so I had to come up with two more ideas for the series. I decided to tell one story about each of the three Esh sisters. Since then, I’ve come up with three more stories about the characters in this series, but some of them will be put out by different publishers.
Once I finished writing the first three books, I found myself wanting to explore the lives of some of the other characters in the books. So, Lights, Camera…Love tells the story of Rebecca, the head teacher and best friend to Sarah, the youngest Esh sister. Many readers wondered about Kyle, the headstrong Englisher (non-Amish) Emma dated, and his story will be in The Amish Midwife’s Secret. Ada, who appears in Gift From Above, is the schoolteacher in The Amish Teacher’s Gift. Several of my minor characters also show up in the anthologies Springs of Love and A Plain Hearth.
I think the reason for the continuation of the series is that the characters become so real to me, and I want to tell their stories. I also find that I subconsciously include details that don’t seem very important at the time, but later I realize that those details are important to another character’s story and they make a perfect set-up for a new story. I’m not sure exactly how the mind works that way. Perhaps the best explanation is that it’s God’s leading. He knows what I’m going to write next, even if I don’t, and He prepares the seeds for that story.
CH: So far, which book in the series was hardest to write?
RJG: I struggled the most with the third book, Gift From Above, which tells the story of the sweet youngest sister, Sarah. A lot of readers said she’s their favorite character. She’s near and dear to my heart too, because she always tries to do the right thing. That’s terrific in real life, but when you’re trying to write stories, you need tension and conflict. It’s hard to create conflicts when a character is so nice. I really struggled to come up with problems for Sarah, but I managed to put her in a moral dilemma, where she must decide about keeping someone’s secret, which she promised to do, and telling the truth when it appears that secret will endanger her best friend and others in the community.
CH: One of your reviewers said that this is a well-layered story of love, loss, growth, forgiveness, and redemption. What overall feedback have you received from readers?
RJG: I’ve been amazed at how many people were drawn to this story. On the website, ChristianBooks.com it has 4.9 stars and on Amazon it has 4.8 stars.
CH: Is there a message in this book that you want readers to grasp?
RJG: For me, one of the main messages is that we often underestimate God’s forgiveness. Sometimes, we harbor the feeling that God (or others) could never forgive us for something we’ve done. The truth often is that we can’t forgive ourselves. God’s mercy is unending.
In addition to God’s forgiveness, the characters in the book are faced with situations that must be forgiven—often for sins many of us consider unforgiveable. But healing comes when we open our hearts first to God’s forgiveness and then extend that forgiveness to others who have hurt us.
CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your Amish romance writing style?
RJG: I try to write faster-paced books with more action and drama than are usually found in typical Amish novels. In Buried Secrets, I touch on a taboo topic I haven’t seen before in any Amish stories I’ve read.
CH: Who are some of your Amish writing influences?
RJG: This is a hard question to answer. I admire so many authors, but I try to bring my own style to the stories I tell.
CH: What has been the most exciting thing to happen on your publishing journey?
RJG: For me, connecting with readers and fans of the Amish genre has been awesome. I find them so loving and supportive. It’s been such a joy to meet each and every one of them.
As for the actual publishing part, I’ve been thrilled to have an awesome agent, who does so much to help my career. I’ve been humbled that several major publishers have been interested in acquiring my work. It was especially exciting when one of the publishers I’ve always aspired to work for emailed me out of the blue with an offer because of her interest in Buried Secrets. I can’t say more about that yet because we haven’t finalized the contract, but I was thrilled to have a publisher seek me out.
CH: What can we expect from you next?
RJG: I have quite a few books under contract and/or coming out soon. Book 3 in the Sisters and Friends series, Gift From Above, will come out in Nov. That will be followed by Book 4, Lights, Camera…Love (2018).
This fall, I’ll have a story in an anthology, A Plain Thanksgiving, with authors Laura Hilton and Thomas Nye.
I’m also writing the Love & Promises series, which includes The Amish Teacher’s Gift (Apr. 2018), The Amish Midwife’s Secret (Oct. 2018), and The Amish Widow’s Rescue (Mar. 2019). I have 2 books coming out in the Hearts of Amish Country series (Jan/Apr. 2018)—Hearts Reunited and Secret Identity.
CH: Can you give my audience your website address?
RJG: I’d be happy to (below) and readers who love Amish novels, can sign up for my newsletter on my website.
CH: How to Find Rachel J. Good:
CH: For my audience, where is your book sold?
RJG: Online at Amazon and Christian Books; some Walmart stores (will be coming soon to many more), and many bookstores. If your local bookstore doesn’t carry it, you can ask them to order it in.
CH: Any closing remarks?
RJG: I’m so grateful to God for leading me down this path. I’ve always been a reader, but it’s been a joy to write books for others to read. I just want to encourage anyone who has a dream to follow their passion. God put that dream in your heart for a reason. Sometimes, it seems like there’s no way to reach that dream, but trust God to lead you. Start small and do something every day to move yourself in the direction you hope to go. Each step will bring you one step closer.
Thank you so much for having me, Cheryl. I appreciated your insightful questions.
CH: Thank you so much, Rachel J. Good, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers. It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience. And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book. I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience.
Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Rachel J. Good and Cheryl Holloway.
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