Please join me in welcoming Sarah Price to Ladies in Defiance today! I so appreciate the openness of Sarah in sharing from her life story. You will be challenged and blessed by her words.
All of my heroines are ladies in defiance, at least to some degree. However, I believe that Amanda Beiler (Diaz) is one of the strongest examples of a woman who openly resists what is expected of her. As a young Amish woman, she is governed by rules, both from within her family as well as through her church community. From the very first chapter of the book, readers will quickly learn that Amanda, while respectful of her upbringing, culture, and religion, is an independent young woman who follows her heart. When she meets Alejandro (aka “Viper”), an international rock star, her curiosity about his life and then, later, him as a person creates a lot of tension for her family and the community, all because she believes in her own decision making and will not conform to the Amish expectations of her.
The result is a five-book series that follows Amanda’s journey of spiritual growth as well as personal development in the world of Alejandro. There are times she has to stand up to her father, church leaders, the public, and even Alejandro as she transforms from one world to another. Yet, Amanda is defiant in a quiet way and one that involves a lot of self-reflection substantiated by her faith in God. She knows that He has a plan for her and she does not question it, even in the worst of situations.
What real-life “Lady in Defiance” has impacted your life or writing?
As far as real-life “Lady in Defiance” role models, I gave a lot of thought to this and, frankly, no. No one comes to mind.
All of my life, I was told that I should behave a certain why, that I couldn’t do certain things, or that I simply did not conform to societal expectations. There were times when I had to make choices that went against the grain of friends, family, and co-workers. But rather than take the easier, more traveled road, I always took the road that I believed to be the right road.
When I was younger, people around me laughed about my desire to write. In those days (that makes me sound old but, in reality, I’m perpetually 23…!), it wasn’t easy to become published. I cannot fault people for laughing at my dream. However, I never gave up. Instead, I persevered. There was a period of time in my life when I didn’t write. No…I couldn’t write. I was mocked, put down, made fun of, and all of my manuscripts were thrown out. Years of hard work just discarded without me knowing about it!
After I divorced that problem, suddenly my words came back to me. And I realized that when something or someone silences your passion, you need to remove that toxicity from your life. It was a great lesson to learn and, as always, God’s plan included my twelve years of literary silence that, in my opinion, has shaped me into a more prolific and successful author.
In 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rather than get upset about the diagnosis or ask “Why me?”, I turned it around to be “Why not me?” I kept an upbeat attitude during the entire treatment which was almost two years of surgeries, chemotherapy, hospitalizations for life threatening infections, more surgeries, etc. I encountered a lot of problems during those two years, but I never felt sorry for myself or cried about it. Instead, I found a lot of positives in the life changing event called “cancer” and refused to accept any of the negatives.
When I am told that something simply cannot be done, I usually find a way to do it. I am not someone who quits when things get hard or obstacles are tossed in my path. Sometimes I have to make hard decisions that are not always popular with the people around me. But I have a great support system in my husband, children, and parents as well as my good sister-friends. And I am teaching my children that they have to believe in themselves before others will believe in them. Hopefully, I am a “Lady in Defiance” role model to them.
Being that you come from a Mennonite background are they any traditions or customs that you still carry forth today?
Growing up, we followed a lot of the Mennonite traditions for all major holidays. Traditions for the Mennonites are not too different than other Christian religions with the exception that we did not decorate for the holidays and there was less emphasis on gift giving at Christmas. Instead, the focus of Christmas was on God, Jesus, and fellowship.
Church, however, was very different. The church that my family attended was very plain. There were no adornments or statues, no crosses or candles. It was a simple, peaceful place to worship God. Today, I find it hard to find churches that are not overly ornate and I’m very uncomfortable in those churches. There are no Mennonite churches where I live. I’ve gravitated to a small Lutheran church, but I long for the Mennonite community.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse or passage that has carried you through some difficult times?
Jeremiah 29:11. As I mentioned above, in 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being young (perpetually 23 in my mind, 44 on the books), I was surprised by this. Cancer did not run in my family. Instead of being afraid or distressed, I chose to accept God’s plan.
Even when my initial surgery was botched and I was faced with several life-threatening infections that required weeks in isolation at the hospital, I never once doubted or questioned God’s plan. Instead, I just accepted it and persevered. Our time on earth is brief in duration. We have to make the most of that time before we pass from this earth into God’s kingdom.
During our short lives, we cannot expect everything to be storybook perfect. We have to take the good with the bad. God will not desert us. He will carry us through even the hardest of situations. And, if we have to move onto heaven, that’s just the way He wants it. It’s His plan, not ours. So there is no use crying or lamenting the bad times. After all, with faith in God and Jesus, our future in heaven is much brighter than even the best of times in our earthly life.
Do you have a God-moment to share? An instance where you knew you were in the right place, doing the right thing, for His greater purpose?
I’ve always been a writer. From the moment I learned how to put pencil to paper, I was always writing. There were times when people laughed at my passion for writing, times when people would humor me with looks of amusement. But I always knew that I was a writer. It was my passion.
There was a dark period in my life when writing was stolen from me. I was told that it was silly, unrealistic, and ridiculous. During those twelve years, I couldn’t write. During that time, I realized that silence can be quite loud. When I married my second husband, he encouraged me to follow my dreams and publish my works. However, it wasn’t until I published An Empty Cup (Realms, 2015) that I felt that God-moment. There were so many people who responded to that book. The theme was an Amish woman facing depression due to her propensity for giving to others and not taking care of herself. I found it a very hard book to write because it was the story of my life (or part of it anyway). I poured my heart and soul into that book. The response from the readers was amazing. So many people wrote to me, claiming that they were Rosanna Troyer, the main character in the book. I believe that was the moment I knew that I was doing the right thing and serving God in the exact way He wanted.
Later that year, I began my daily live stream “coffee chats” on Facebook. This was another God-moment. I started the live streams while on vacation with my daughter and her friend. The response from my readers floored me. Every day, I share pieces of my life with my readers/viewers. Some days I share funny stories, other days I talk about Scripture. But I share my life with people: the good, the bad and the ugly. The response to these videos has been surprising. Over 1000 people from all continents start (or end) their day by watching my videos. They comment and send me emails thanking me for my messages, for sharing my thoughts, and letting them into my life. Each morning, I wake up with no idea what I will talk about. Instead, I let God tell me what to discuss. It’s the highlight of my day to speak to my Facebook family…for that’s what I consider them: family.
Can you give us a sneak peak of what you are working on next?
I am working on The Faded Photo, a story about a woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer but doesn’t tell her family. She is convinced that she can handle it all, just as she handles juggling work and family. But she soon realizes that she has made a mistake and that it’s all right to lean on others, just as she leans on God. Unfortunately, the journey she travels is not a straight path. There is a lot of self-discovery and reflection required of Frances Snyder, and when she finally gets to the end of her journey, she isn’t certain who will be there to greet her.
It’s an emotional story about the inner turmoil that people go through when it comes to dealing with life-changing situations. It’s also about how decisions we have made in the past can come back to haunt us. The story also explores how characters evolve and grow, even when they don’t always want to. Sometimes people evolve in a positive way while other times it might not be change for the better. But we cannot stop ourselves or others from embarking on their own journey which we call life.
I believe many readers will see pieces of themselves in the main characters, responding just as they did to An Empty Cup.
While traveling through Manhattan on the way back to her Amish community, young Amanda Beiler is struck by a limousine. The limo’s passenger, Cuban-born superstar Alejandro Diaz, takes responsibility for her injuries and vows to oversee her recovery. Leaving the fame circuit behind, Alejandro returns Amanda to her family in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
Desperate for a break from the stress of the spotlight, the famous singer offers to stay on the family farm for a week to help—an offer guardedly accepted by the deeply religious kin who surround and protect Amanda. As different as they are, she and Alejandro find that a genuine friendship begins to blossom, along with the realization that it might be something more. But if the paparazzi get wind of the superstar’s whereabouts, will they threaten the peace of the faithful community for a sensational story? And in the glare of an unwelcome spotlight, and with the unexpected feelings between them, can this couple build a lasting bridge between their vastly different worlds?
Thank you so much Sarah, and as a bonus, she has offered to give away three copies of Plain Fame to three lucky winners. The winners must be from the USA, Canada, or the UK and each winner will receive an e-copy. Enter through the Rafflecopter below:
The giveaway will run through May 5, 2016 and the winner will be announced on May 6.