Amish Book Celebration, Signings, & Sales

Yes! After years of helping Amish runaways with a safe home, unconditional love and necessary needs, or mentoring in faith and friendship, I put my stories to paper.

Intimate conversations, details, and facts about the ultra conservative Amish orders are found in my new book Beyond Buggies and BonnetsAnd it's cited in The Washington Post.

One reader exclaimed, "I loved reading this book! I would highly recommend it to anyone that wants the 'TRUE' accounts of former Amish individuals...I found myself smiling, laughing, crying and in shock at some of the things that happened to these Amish people and to Brenda!"

"Not only will you gain insight into the ways of the Swartzentruber sect, but you will also be reminded of the freedom of worship we of the 'English world' often take for granted," says one review.
"But wait..." you say. "Amish are religious and free to worship."

Read the book! Then you tell me.

"I have learned so much of the daily lives, rules and rituals," reviewed another.

Even if you love Amish fiction (I've fiction author friends) or want to know everything Amish, Beyond Buggies and Bonnets gives a new dimension to this complex culture and explains why some leave. 

A former librarian raved on LibraryThing
"'Beyond Buggies and Bonnets' is a must-read for those who love Amish fiction but don't really have an understanding of the culture as it exists for so many in the most conservative orders."

To celebrate, we threw a book release and signing party with family and close friends! What a crazy, busy time with people standing in line to get their personalized copy. 

Next day, I went to the post office to mail out pre-orders. The clerk looked up and said, "I want to buy a copy of your book."

I went into my bank. As I approached the window, the teller pointed at me, "I want a copy of your book. My daughter's reading the kindle edition but wants an autographed copy."

Two Ohio library systems each ordered 5 copies to place in their branches. I'm tickled and gratified that people are committed to education along with entertainment. Hey if YOU want a FREE copy of my book - ask your library to order it! They will and you can check it out.

Last weekend as my husband and I strolled through our downtown area, a lady stopped me on the sidewalk. "You're a fantastic writer! I just love your new book, it's so good!"
Want a signed copy? Send $17* to me:
Available on Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing 

PO Box 1302, Mt Vernon, OH 43050    *U.S. orders only

Or deposit
$17 into PayPal Account: parentpwr1@juno.com 

Thanks faithful readers of my blog and now my book. YOU are the learners and wiser for it.

As always, I welcome questions. What do you want to ask about my new book?


  1. I have not read your book but I'm wondering if you say anything at all nice about the Amish. The Amish friends of ours are welcoming, lovable, generous and hard workers. I respect them for who they are and for their faithfulness to their culture. I worry that you are exploiting them.

    1. We are friends with about a dozen families.

    2. Thanks for reading my blog Susan. I'd encourage you to read the book and judge for yourself. Not to give too much away but, my book focuses on the uber strict Swartzentruber and a couple conservative Old Order - not the entire culture. As I'm sure you've learned there's great diversity among this culture and those you know (I'm glad for you) do not represent all the Amish.

      As to worrying that I'm "exploiting them" - thank you. I don't want people using "my" kids that I've given a home & help to. Have you given a home, food, dentist & doctor care, transportation, your heart, GED assistance, clothing, encouragement, driving lessons, prayers and more - without judgement - to those after they've decided to leave? That's what my book is about.

    3. To all whom it may concern, I personally helped Brenda with some of the"Ordnung" of the Swartzentruber Amish religion and know that there are people out there that think that the Amish life is all warm and fuzzy but let me tell you that it isn't what it looks like from the outside as I grew up in the Swartzentruber Amish culture and lived it for 30 years! Their way of life is awesome but it's the enforcement of their strict rules which don't make sense at all for most of them!! Hope this helps some people to better understand the culture! Just because they look happy when you're visiting with them or doing business doesn't mean they're happy!

    4. Awww, Susan, you are fortunate to live near and be friends with so many good Amish. I have lived near them, my father did business with them when I was a child, and I live near several families now. On the surface they look so humble, hard working and look to be good neighbors. So I really hate to burst you bubble, but we have found them to be defiant to many of our English rules/laws, etc. For example: the Amish in our neighborhood do not believe in having cars or vans, etc., however they think nothing of using their tractors to drive all over the country and town and use them like a "licensed" vehicle. What happens is - tractors are not licensed so they get away with using a tractor to drive to the grocery store, drug store or doctor. I consider that cheating the system. Another example: the Amish put up a sign, on a state route (near my home) that did not meet township regulations. When our Township trustees (one of which was my husband) politely requested that they take it down, as it block the intersection and cars could not see to get out, they complied. However, the very next day the sign was back up. So the trustees when to see them again and this is what they were told: The Bishop told them to put it back up as he wanted to "wear-down" the English to see things his (the Bishop) way. So, tell me again how you think your Amish neighbors are welcoming, lovable, generous and hard workers?

  2. I am reading this book and find it interesting and educational. I was born and raised Amish but from a different group.

    1. Thanks Katie! Yes there are many different groups (about 40 I think) and I'm glad you picked up on that as you read about my experiences with Swartzies and conservative OOA.

  3. Susan, I think if you read the book you will see that Brenda clearly states many times that her experience a) is only based on the strictest orders b) is her own and by no means represents all experiences with the Amish c) is very accurate with these two particular orders of Amish d) is based on respect for and desire to learn more about these cultures e) is a telling of particular people and circumstances and is their true account f) isn't judgmental, but rather an account with detail g) explains the relationship she has with ex-Amish and her own trials to help minister and bring reconciliation and redemption to them and help them assimilate into English culture.

    Not only did I read it, enjoy it, laugh/cry/think through it, but I learned a great deal. I can also attest to the truthfulness and the integrity of Brenda and her book. She is a dear friend. Her son in law Harvey and her daughter Lynsey are two of our closest friends. I also know 4 others in the book...Mosie, Josh, Sarah, and Monroe. Also, in talking with ex-Amish (like my husband's best friend's wife) who are from less strict orders, they all will tell you Swartzentruber Amish are extremely strict. That is a well-known fact. Also, I would ask yourself if you think Brenda, by not sugar coating or romanticizing Amish life is the exploitive one, or if all those novels and tv shows are. She has invested her life into these people...time, finances, emotions, redemptive spiritual guidance, etc. I respect and commend her. I don't know if I could do that. She literally opens her entire world, heart, and home to the ones who are leaving and searching, and scared.

    Blessings, Brenda! You're amazing!!

  4. I purchased this book and am awed and inspired by the sacrifices that Brenda and her family have made in order to assist young people who, by their choice to leave their strict Amish orders, are left without family support and are woefully unprepared to survive in the "English" world. Through many experiences, some positive and others not, she shares the heart-wrenching journey of several of "her" kids as they come of age in an unfamiliar environment. In a society where so many people are just out for themselves, it is refreshing that there are those like the Nixon family who genuinely care about others and take them in even when their only gain is knowing that they have done the right thing. Kuddos and may God continue to richly bless you all.

  5. Gosh I didn't mean to ruffle so many feathers! I only told my opinion and I stick by it. I'm not denouncing Brenda's or any others opinions....I only stated mine and ask a question, which Brenda answered. As to the comments:
    "Just because they look happy when you're visiting with them or doing business doesn't mean they're happy!" That made me laugh right out loud. I bet you've put on a happy face more than once yourself---I hope that's your observation of people in general, don't limit it just to the Amish.
    "So, tell me again how you think your Amish neighbors are welcoming, lovable, generous and hard workers?" I stand by that. There are issues and problems in every culture, family etc and for me to think that there isn't, is absurd. They are welcoming, lovable, generous and hard working. Just like some English people are. To put them all in a 'box' and think the worst of them, only makes me stick up for them even more.
    " they think nothing of using their tractors to drive all over the country " I don't know what 'order' the Amish are here in central Michigan, but they don't drive/own tractors. I find it fascinating that your bunch drive all over the 'country'. Maybe I'll see them around one day. (I just had to have some fun with that one.)
    The Amish have a lifestyle that makes people curious and that is why there are so many authors that write about them. $$$$$ talks. It's not their fault that they are put in a glass box for all to see. I certainly wouldn't want to be in the spotlight everytime I stepped out of my house. For that, I respect them.

  6. From a distance the Amish look so good and it makes many people want to be a part of them. And there is that good side that the public sees. Some of them are friendly and open and will visit with you, but as Lisa Tharp pointed out above, they in many ways consider themselves above the law.

    They do have religious freedom in this country and are allowed to worship as they please; however, once you are a member that freedom disappears. You will do as the bishop and the ministers say or you will find yourself disciplined and eventually excommunicated. The Bishops word is the law to the Amish.

    My wife and I were members in good standing for years in the church; but when we started asking questions about why we do things as we did them; there was instant rejection. "You do not question our traditions." A bishop told us, "I don't care what the Bible says, our tradition is more important."

    That kitty may look nice and cuddly but when you walk up to it and start to pet it, the kitty (cougar) is not as friendly as you had thought it might be!

    Thanks Brenda for writing on this side of the Amish story to balance out the misinformation that is being published today. They may be nice to look at but try being one of them. For most of you it would be impossible; or very hard at best. Very few have accomplished it and have become totally disillusioned along the way.

    Look at it this way. Do you want to join a cult where they control your every move and thought? That, my friends, is what we have here.