Shannon here: Amish romance author, Kelly Irvin shares the romantic setting for her latest release, a recipe for romance, plus a chance to win a copy of A Heart Made New. Comment on any post dated Oct 15 – 19 to get your name in the drawing. Deadline: Oct 27th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Kelly:
A Recipe for Lasting Love by Kelly Irvin
When I first saw the cover of A Heart Made New I was so thrilled because the graphic artists caught the essence of the story in their creation of Plank’s Pastry and Pie Shop. It looked exactly as I had imagined it while writing the story. The bakery accounts for a good part of the setting of this novel, but it’s much more than the place where the action occurs. From the beginning scene when Annie Shirack faces a would-be robber, to the scenes where Annie and the man she loves face each other over spilled milk (literally), it’s the place where Annie figures out how to live and to love.
Annie Shirack spends her days baking in the shop, which is owned by Sadie Plank. It’s also where Sadie’s son David works because he’s too sick for farming. Annie loves to bake—a vocation she sees as providing nourishment as a service to others—and she loves David, so this is where her world resides. When I first started writing the novel, I didn’t realize how important the bakery would be. Now when I turn the pages, I can smell the cinnamon rolls and the gingersnaps and the bread baking. I recognize that this is the place where Annie and David learn some of most important life lessons.
I recall times in my marriage when I baked for my loved ones and I realized how as writers we use the small details of our own lives to paint pictures for our readers. It would be hard for someone who has never baked bread to understand when Englischer Charisma Chaisson teaches Annie about therapy by punching down the risen bread dough and then settling it back in the bowl to rise again. I have to say kneading bread is good therapy too.
It would be hard to know about the pleasure a baker gets from making cookies and seeing loved ones enjoy eating them unless you’ve pulled the cookbook from the rack and had it fall open to the page for the snicker doodles because you’ve made them so many times for your own family. Back when I was a stay-at-home mom with two small children, I used to bake cookies at the beginning of each week so my husband could take them in his lunch to work everyday. I made gingersnaps and snicker doodles, both cookies that make cameos in A Heart Made New. I loved the way the house smelled when the gingersnaps were baking. I loved it when my husband came home and told me how jealous his coworkers were that he brought homemade cookies everyday.
I realize now that these aromas actually go back to when I was a child and came home from school to find the house smelling of homemade bread and cinnamon rolls in the winter time. Whenever my mom made chili, she made cinnamon rolls. They smelled heavenly. They smelled like love. That’s the very first aroma readers encounter in A Heart Made New, in the first chapter. Of course, the cinnamon rolls burn when Logan appears and hogs the scene. But that’s what makes a novel good reading—the conflict and the unexpected and characters who rise to the challenge. Like Annie, who simply goes back to work and bakes more.
The bakery, a warm, welcoming place, is where Annie’s life becomes intertwined with the Englischers in the community. She forges relationships with the police officer who comes into feed his sweet tooth and the prickly mayor who needs an anniversary cake. It’s also where she teaches a young homeless woman how to be a better person. She begins to teach a three-year-old girl how to bake, a skill Annie believes all wives and mothers should have because that’s how she loves and she nurtures.
Thinking about this made me go to the pantry and get out those old cookbooks, now tattered and yellowed. The spine is broken on one, but it still opens to the snicker doodle recipe. On the other page is an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe where I’d written little notes on how to double the recipe. They still have spots on the pages—vanilla or molasses, I’m not sure which. I bought these cookbooks when Tim and I first married because I wanted to be a good wife and I equated those two things. Now, twenty-five years later, I work full-time and have a writing career. Tim does most of the cooking and enjoys it. Funny, how things change. Our love has grown, not diminished. These seasons in our lives and how flexible we are in dealing with those changes—that’s the recipe for a lasting romance. These are the lessons Annie and David must learn in A Heart Made New.
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup shortening
¼ cup molasses
2 -1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix brown sugar, shortening, molasses and egg. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip tops in granulated sugar. Place balls, sugared sides up, about 3 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake cookies just until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. About 4 dozen cookies.
About Kelly: Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series, which includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, which is slated to release in October 2012, and Love’s Journey Home, which will debut in January 2013. She recently signed with Harvest House Publishing for a three-book spin-off series entitled the New Hope Amish.
Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine, published by Five Star Gale in 2010 and 2011.
The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. For more than eighteen years, she has worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-four years, and they have two young adult children. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.
About the book – A Heart Made New: In the second novel of Kelly Irvin’s Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will be delighted to return to a town and a family they’ve already come to love.
Annie Shirack is trying to fight her feelings for David Plank, a young Amish man who’s struggling with an aggressive case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. David loves Annie too much to let her into his life, only, he fears, to leave her.
When a homeless young woman named Charisma and her two-year-old daughter, Gracie, show up in Bliss Creek, Annie welcomes them into the Shirack household and tries to help them establish a new life. But all the good deeds in the world can’t change the ache in Annie’s heart…or help her forget the man she loves. (#2 in the Bliss Creek Amish series by Kelly Irvin – Harvest House Publishing -Release Date: Oct 1, 2012)
Come back Oct 17th for Kelly’s real life romance!