A Girlfriends' Getaway in Amish Country with Shelley Shepard Gray & Vannetta Chapman

The inspirational fiction market is booming, and RT’s reviewer Leslie L. McKee recently went to a Girlfriends' Getaway in Amish country to celebrate it all. Here’s her report!

Fans of Amish fiction gathered in Holmes County, Ohio, in late May for the Girlfriends' Getaway, hosted by Shelley Shepard Gray and Vannetta Chapman. Holmes County is the home to the largest Amish population in the world and contains the town of Charm, the setting for Shepard’s latest series, The Charmed Amish Life.

Vanetta Chapman, Leslie McKee, Shelley Shepard Gray
Vannetta Chapman, Leslie L. McKee, Shelley Shepard Gray

The kickoff began Friday afternoon with Yoder’s Home Tour, where participants were given the opportunity to view an Amish home, barn and schoolhouse. We were also able to ride in a horse and buggy and sample sweets from the bakery. We spent the rest of the day at a welcome gathering, chatting with the authors and other readers.

There was rain on Saturday, but the weather did not dampen the day’s festivities one bit! Readers toured Keim Lumber and the Helping Hands Quilt Shop. Both tours were informative and showcased the incredible crafting talent of the local community.

Blue and gray amish quilt

Helping Hands Quilt Shop

The much-anticipated author luncheon was hosted by local restaurant Der Dutchman at The Carlisle Inn. Shelley and Vannetta were joined by fellow Amish fiction authors Kathleen Fuller, Amanda Flower and Mary Ellis. During the wonderful meal, authors chatted with the readers and then were on-hand for a book signing assisted by The Gospel Bookstore.

Mary, Amanda Flower, Vannetta Chapman, Shelley Shepard Gray, Kathleen Fuller
Mary Ellis, Amanda Flower, Vannetta Chapman, Shelley Shepard Gray, Kathleen Fuller

Next on schedule was a visit to the Behalt/Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center, which features a huge circular mural depicting the history of the Amish church. The cyclorama, which took the artist, Heinz Gauget, fourteen years to complete, is truly spectacular.

Saturday’s events ended with an author Q&A panel. Amanda Flower let us all know that she’s a librarian who writes best when wearing a hoodie and under the watchful eyes of her “editor” cats. Vannetta Chapman shared that she originally told her agent “no” to writing Amish fiction. Her next book will be a bit of a departure for her, a Christian dystopia, Deep Shadows.

Kathleen Fuller says she loves Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, while Shelley Shepard Gray lists Outlander by Diana Gabaldon as her favorite book.

Shelley was thrilled that this getaway afforded her the chance to remember why she writes: “It’s for the readers, not just for myself.” She strives to write books “readers will want to keep reading.” Shelley wanted the Girlfriend Getaway to be a chance to “not just meet authors, but to be with friends and make friends.” She certainly achieved her goal with this weekend’s getaway

Shelley is currently working on her next series, Amish of Hart County, which will be set in Horse Cave, Kentucky. Perhaps another getaway trip will be in the future!

Thanks for the report, Leslie! For more inspiring reads, be sure to check out our Everything Inspirational page.