Amanda Flower

Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career when she wrote a story and read it to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She writes the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series for B&H and the India Hayes Mystery Series for Five Star. She also writes mysteries as Isabella Alan for NAL. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a college near Cleveland.

For Writers Only

When the Time Is Just Right

Recently, I attended the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California, to sign copies of my new release, A Plain Death, in the B&H Publishing booth. A Plain Death is the first novel in the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series. It’s about how an unlikely friendship between a high-tech woman and a runaway Amish girl leads to the death of an Amish bishop. It was an honor and joy for me to sign copies of A Plain Death at ALA because I am both a full-time author and a full-time librarian. Yes, I call both of these occupations full-time jobs because that’s what they are. I spend five days a week working as a library department head and seven days a week working as a mystery author.

While signing books at ALA, I chatted with librarians about juggling my two careers. One asked, “When do you sleep?”

I joked. “I don’t sleep.” Or at least I half-joked. I should have said, “I don’t sleep as much as I used to.”

For me any night I get more than five hours of sleep is a historic event and worth celebrating because typically five hours is how much rest I can grab on a light day. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t give up my book contracts even if I were guaranteed eight hours of nightly blissful oblivion for the rest of my life. I love both of my jobs.

Because I work at a small college library, my job is varied and rarely do my days go as planned. One day, I might be sitting at the reference desk answering students’ questions. The next, I might be crawling on the floor, trying to fix a staff member’s computer. The next, I might be writing a report to help the college’s accreditation efforts, and the next I might be giving a student a lecture why eating a full Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner complete with biscuits and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy in the library may disturb other students studying (been there, done that—will never look at KFC the same way again). That’s what I like about my job. I would not be happy if every day was the same, and as long as the library server, my arch nemesis, is working, it’s a good day.

To my surprise and relief, I learned that being an author was just as varied as my day job. It’s not just writing the stories, which is my first love, but it is tweeting, writing blog posts, connecting with libraries, having book signings, talking on radio gigs, and so much more. Just as I don’t know how my day may turn out at my library job, it is the same for my job as an author.

Two full-time careers with so much variance may seem like a lot, but it’s something that I’ve prayed for over and over again since I was in high school. Even at a young age—thanks to my father who was a realistic electrical engineer—I knew that I would have to have a another occupation, preferably with a pension and dental plan, to support my dream of being an author.

However, all those teenaged and twenty-something prayers seemed to bounce off a glass door as God said, “Wait,” a word I

particularly dislike but every author has heard it before and will hear again. Every time I heard “wait” in the form of a rejection letter, rejection email, or the black hole, meaning no response at all, I didn’t understand that “wait” was there for a reason: timing.

When I was younger, I was unable to fully dedicate myself to dual careers. In college and graduate school, I heard “wait” because I was full-time student obsessed with straight As. In my early twenties, I heard “wait” because I was living on my own for the first time and learning the hard way that there is no grocery store fairy who delivered milk, bread, or toilet paper to my front door. In my late twenties, I heard “wait” because I was nursing my father through cancer and hospice until the Lord called him home. Those were the reasons God very gently said, “Wait.” During those periods in my life, I didn’t understand, but now, knowing how much work being an author-librarian is, I do and am grateful that God put a red traffic light in my path.

My father passed away when I was twenty-nine, my first novel was published when I was thirty, and at thirty-two, I have had three novels published and am contracted to write five more. When the waiting had passed and the traffic light turned green, instead of whispering “Now” in my ear, the Lord shouted it and nearly burst my eardrum. I never expected this kind of success. After years of hearing “wait,” all I expected was a bruise on my forehead from beating it against that glass door. So as long as God keeps shouting “Now,” I will gladly go without sleep to live a dream He granted when the time was just right.


A Plain Death