Although born and reared in a small suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Judy moved to Kansas at the age of seventeen and has considered the sunflower state ‘home’ ever since. She currently lives in Topeka. She enjoys reading, traveling, researching history, and Bible study.
Writing Christian fiction is Judy’s second career. For many years she worked as a legal assistant in law firms and later worked in government law offices. She has retired from legal work in order to write full time —a vocation she considers both a ministry and a blessing.
Judy has authored or co-authored more than twenty-five books since she began writing in 1996. She is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, several of which have placed in the CBA and ECPA top ten lists. It is her deep desire to point readers to the love and grace of Jesus.
Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Judith! It’s wonderful to have you here!
Savanna: What was your favorite book as a child?
Judith: I suppose the answer to that question would depend largely upon the age, but I would say that the books that come to mind most quickly when asked that question would be the Nancy Drew mysteries. It doesn’t matter which book, I liked all of them. Nancy had a sense of independence and resolve that I admired, and I think I think readers find some of those same characteristics in the female protagonists in my own books.
Savanna: Congratulations on your newest release – A Shining Light. 😉 Love the cover, by the way! Can you share with your readers why you chose to set your series in the late 19th Century Amana Colonies in Iowa and what they could enjoy during a visit there today?
Judith: A Shining Light is the final book in the Home to Amana series and the sixth book I’ve written that is set in the Amana Colonies. I am particularly drawn to unique settings and areas of the country that haven’t received a great deal of attention. The first time I visited the Colonies, I knew I wanted to set at least one book there. So much of their history has been preserved that when you visit, you can be transported back to an earlier time.
For first time visitors, I recommend stopping at the Visitor Center located in Main Amana. You can speak with one of the staff members and also pick up brochures that will help you navigate your way through the villages. I do recommend a trip through all of them so that you get a feel for the “whole of the community.”
Most visitors spend the majority of their time in Main Amana since the Visitor Center, History Museum and General Store, as well as many other shops are located. I highly recommend a tour of the museum (be sure to watch the short video) and if walking tours are available when you’re there, I recommend those, as well. A stop at the General Store, bakery, furniture shop, and woolen mill are a must. There are far too many shops for me to mention all of them.
Nowadays, the celebrations that garner the most attention are Maifest held in early May, Oktoberfest held in early October, and Prelude to Christmas held in early December. Of course these celebrations reflect a very different lifestyle than that of the early colonists.
Do check the website at http://amanacolonies.com/ to make certain the places you want to visit are open since some of the shops are closed during the winter months.
Savanna: Oh that area sounds fascinating! I’m actually headed to Iowa this weekend… maybe my hubby will let us swing by Amana. 😉 I love to hear how authors bring to life pieces of unfamiliar history. Since you’re from the Midwest like me, what is one of your favorite things about living in Kansas?
Judith: I was born in Pennsylvania and moved to Kansas when I was 17 so I do consider Kansas my home. However, it’s those earlier years in Pennsylvania that made me appreciate the clear, blue skies and sunshine in the Sunflower state, as well as the friendliness of the people who live here. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh during the period before industrial companies were required to meet many of today’s environmental requirements. Consequently, I remember the sun being blocked by all of the waste products being emitted into the air. Of course, Pittsburgh is much sunnier today, but it still doesn’t compare to the bright, clear skies over Kansas.
Savanna: What is one of your most unforgettable moments from your writing career to date?
Judith: One of the highlights would be receiving my first contract back in 1996. I think the first contract is memorable for every author—at least for those who choose to contract with a publisher rather than self-publish. Back when I first started writing, self-publishing wasn’t common. With the arrival of Kindle and the ability to upload e-books, many writers choose to self-publish rather than contract with a publishing house.
Savanna: What project are you working on right now?
Judith: I’m working on a series that will take my readers to the area of West Virginia that my ancestors called home. This summer I spent a great deal of time in the area conducting research and discovered a lot of information that has helped me to formulate ideas for the books. The series is titled Refined by Love and although each book will stand on its own, there is a family connection that will continue through the books. I sent in the manuscript for the first book, The Brickmaker’s Bride, shortly before Christmas and I’m currently plotting the second book. It takes approximately a year from the time the original manuscript is sent in until a book finally hits the shelves, so I’m guessing it will be available for readers in November or early December next year.
Savanna: Ohh, that sounds good! We’ll definitely be watching for them. 😉 Thanks so much for being here today, Judith!
Judith has graciously offered one free copy of A SHINING LIGHT to one lucky winner! This title recently received a 4 1/2 star rating from Romantic Times in their February issue and is already getting great reviews! Whether you’ve read the others in this series or not, you’re going to love it!
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