Patricia Davids here. Happy Spring.
If you want to be a writer, or you are a writer, you have to be prepared to do some research. I always knew that. Happily for me, I love research. Hours and hours in the library, pouring through old books. Finding out wonderful facts. That is fun.
As it turns out, sitting in the library will only get you so far when it comes to writing realistically about something you aren't familiar with. Take the Amish. There is still a lot I don't know about the Amish even after 12 books in my Brides of Amish Country series. Their culture is so diverse that what works for an Amish romance set in Ohio won't necessarily work for a story set in Pennsylvania.
Because I didn't want a dozen books about farmers and quilters, I had to investigate business run by Amish families. There are many. I've been to visit an alpaca farm, ridden in a buggy, sat behind a draft horse in a wagon, took a tour of a printing press company and museum. I've visited a fabric shop and quilt store in an Amish community, visited with Old Order Mennonite women at a family run café, spent hours talking to my nephew's wife about being nurse-midwife, and I even interviewed the cutest small town sheriff ever. (If I get arrested, it will be in Council Grove.) I have watched a buggy wheel being made in a blacksmith shop and seen a huge sewing machine for making leather harnesses. In all, less than one tenth of what I've learned goes into any given book. But they don't call me the trivia queen for nothing. Just ask me. I'm sure I'll have an answer and if I don't, I will make one up. I write fiction, you know.
For my latest book, THE SHEPHERD'S BRIDE, I have the privilege of visiting a sheep farm during lambing season. Talk about hard work, awesome dogs and cute, cuddly baby lambs. I will admit that alpacas have won my heart, but a baby lamb comes in a close second.
So I'm going to open it up to questions here. What would you like to know about the Amish, sheep or even alpacas?
Did you know sheep can be buried under the snow for nearly a week and survive? The heat from their bodies will melt breathing holes. They'll dig down to grass or eat each other's wool for food and they can get enough water by eating snow? Boggles the mind.