Cathy Voorhees said she had given copies of Woodsmall's books to her mother and aunt. "It's very intriguing," Voorhees said. "They are a very, very forgiving people. A very giving people. ... They just drop everything and come together as a community and help one another and you don't see that among us most of the time. We have too many things to do to bother."
Woodsmall agreed that part of the books' appeal lies in the communal spirit they portray.
"They are rooted in faith, family and community," she said. "And people want that. They want to see it and feel it and understand it, especially in the downturn on the economy."
Modesty is hugely important to the Amish. Men wear suspenders because a belt buckle would be considered too garish. They grow beards to signify that they are married instead of wearing a wedding ring, which would be ostentatious. Women make their long, buttoned dresses themselves. Only solid colors, with a black apron, are acceptable.
Such modesty means there's not a whole lot of sex in the books.
"We keep it very clean," Woodsmall said. "A 10-year-old could come by casually and pick it up and read."
Woodsmall's books do not portray a typical boy-meets-girl romance. The Amish, she said, have rules about how romance is written. "And I set the rules up beside my computer and try each day to break them," she said with a laugh.
The books draw much of their dramatic tension from the clash of an old-fashioned way of life and modern temptations and distractions. They are reminiscent of Victorian novels in that just a brief moment of holding hands can mean ecstasy, or unleash a flood of inner turmoil.
"There is just an innocence there," Woodsmall said. "Yes, there is the reality of how they feel, because they have the same feelings that anyone else would have, but they are going to hold it unto their faith."
It's a lifestyle that Woodsmall has been drawn to since childhood and now explores through her writing.
"There are parts of how they live that I would totally enjoy, but I would have to change my goals," she said.
For one thing, she would have to give up her laptop. Fortunately, for her enthusiastic readers (and her pleased publisher), that is not a sacrifice she is willing to make.