Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meet Amish Romance Novelist Shelley Shepard Gray

I first heard about Shelley Shepard Gray from Christian Fiction Blog Alliance promoting The Caregiver.  She sounded like someone I would like to know so was thrilled to see she was coming to our library for a "Meet The Author" night.
Shelley shared how her imagination developed as a child because her father was an alcoholic and her mother had problems so often she would be by herself and just daydream about how life could be better.  As a 6th grade teacher, on breaks she would write little romances and then go back to teaching again.  When she took a year off from teaching, she found house cleaning was not her thing and began writing. 
She wanted to write western romance novels but couldn’t find a publisher.  Her first book was a 400 pg. western romance that got rejected.  She was told there were too many western romances around and she should  write Amish romances instead because there were less books in that genre.  Shelley liked visiting the Amish stores but really did not want to write about them at first.   
Not wanting to disappoint her wonderful agent, she gave it a try thinking she would submit something off the wall, it wouldn’t be any good and that would be it for that.  It turned out that they liked Hidden even though the main character was not Amish.  When researching her book, three things that impressed her about the Amish were:
1.  Their faith is real, it’s who they are.  They live out their faith every day, not just attend services once a week. 
2.  Family and community is all-encompassing.  Parents teach their children the same skills they learned from their parents such as canning, sewing, quilting, cooking.  They actually know their neighbors and speak face-to-face with them.  Families spend time doing things together.  She also discovered they are not all farmers.
3.  The Amish enjoy the moment and live in the present.  Each season has specific things to do and enjoy.  Instead of complaining about the bad weather, they look for things to do inside and enjoy the inside time.  when the weather is nice, they actually take time to sit outside and watch the birds.
Shelley never thought she’d be a writer and still can’t believe people actually pay to read the stories she loves to write.  Getting published as a writer was definitely a “God thing.”  Since her first failure, she has had 30 books published--some romance under her maiden name of Galloway with Harlequin and 11 Amish romance novels with Harper Collins.
Shelly was very humble and amusing as she shared about some of her characters in her books and her time with her Amish friends, questioning them while hoping she wouldn’t offend them.  She shared that she always begins a book thinking of her characters first and then the plot.  She discusses her characters with her husband as she writes. 

I’ve only read two of her books so far:  Hidden and Wanted but look forward to reading some more, especially finishing the Sisters of the Heart series.  I am currently reading Spring's Renewal, the second book of her Seasons of Sugarcreek series.  The other two in the series are Winter's Awakening and Autumn's Promise.  She wanted to do a summer one since there are four seasons and she wanted to write some more with these characters; however,  her publisher told her that series of just three work best. 

I plan on attending more of these Library “Meet The Author” programs!  Have you read any of her books?  What did you think of them?  Have you met any authors?  Does your library have programs like this too?  What author would you like to meet?
Visit her website at

Have you read this one? What did you think of it? You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.


  1. "The Caregiver" is a beautiful story that deals with marital abuse, cancer, widowhood, love and trust. I'm thinking that Shelley knows someone that has gone through cancer because her descriptions as she deals with Lucy helping her cousin Mattie go through her chemotherapy I was near tears. It was moving and touching as Mattie deals with depression and Lucy struggles to keep her from losing hope.

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