I finally get it… sort of

Writing Amish Fiction Meme

 

FAIR WARNING – the following blog is a long, drawn out, complicated story… but if you skim, you’ll miss things.

you have been warned.

 

Nearly two years ago, it was suggested to me that I give a try to writing Amish fiction…

Since I had read nearly a hundred Amish fiction novels at that point, visited our local Amish community and had a deep love for the Plain communities, it seemed like a good idea.

So I started writing. I wrote and I edited and then I put the manuscript away (as is suggested). Then I pulled it back out and edited again. Then I sent it to a friend who does NOT write Amish fiction (thinking that she would be able to look at the story and the writing better that way). She was a tremendous help to me, giving me wonderful tips to make the writing better and when I sent it back to her, her comment was – “Is this the same author?? LOL. Great job!” – so I thought I was doing pretty well.

The next obvious task was to finish editing and then query… but I had been burned pretty badly with my speculative (written under my pen name) fiction so I was very hesitant about that part.

Ironically enough, an agent actually sent me a message via my Facebook author page asking if I had anything ready for submission. I did and I hastily rushed out to buy a printer because she preferred printed submissions and all the books & articles say to do as the agent prefers!

About eight weeks later she sent me an e-mail saying that I needed to tackle several things in the three chapters I had sent her before resubmitting.

Since it was only a few weeks before the ACFW conference, I edited and took the chapters with me… just in case I got the chance to meet with the agent. Amazingly enough, I did get a meeting with her, where she informed me that I would need to knock the first eight chapter off my story and rewrite yet again.

Certain that she knew exactly what she was talking about, I headed home and got to work.

When I was almost ready to submit, a friend informed me that her agent was looking to acquire more authors who wrote Amish fiction. Well… since she had told me on multiple occasions that her agent was the best in the business, I was thrilled.

And she was happy with e-mail submissions so I sent it right over.

Less than a month later, I had a reply and an appointment for a phone call.

However… after a ninety minute phone call, I was more confused than ever. I kept feeling that she was not interested but everyone assured me that no agent is going to talk to you for 90 minutes unless they’re VERY interested so I waited… and waited… and waited… and waited.

My friend suggested I send the agent an e-mail gently reminding her that she had said she would get back to me in 3 weeks (8 weeks later), so I did.

The response I got was less than desirable but, being the timid, sweet mercy that I am, I apologized and retracted everything I had said… was then told that she would have time to talk to me in another week.

Six weeks later I received an e-mail that confirmed my earlier fears. She was not interested and she essentially suggested that I go back to the drawing board.

 

OK…

Deep breath…

Calm the panic attack that still makes me want to curl up into a ball of misery…

I told you that story to tell you this one.

They say you write what you know…

Well, you also write what you love…

I started my experience with Amish fiction by reading Vannetta Chapman’s A Simple Amish Christmas. Of course, I was hooked after that! I read every book of Vannetta’s I could get my hands on! From there I moved to Cindy Woodsmall, Beverly Lewis, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Shelley Shepard Gray, Ruth Reid, Rosalind Lauer, Tricia Goyer, Amy Lillard and Serena B Miller and then my mother suggested I read Amy Clipston and Jennifer Beckstrand.

WOW! Just WOW! …not just the amount of heavy hitters in that list but the amazing, wonderful, powerful, heart-warming, heart-wrenching stories!

Is it any wonder when I decided to begin writing Amish fiction, that I molded my stories after the styles I loved so much?

 

I started out with a heart-wrenching scene (like Vannetta, Shelley and Cindy).

I had lots of introspection (like Beverly, Suzanne and Ruth)

I tried to keep the story close to home, giving my reader a chance to feel like they were being immersed in the characters’ lives (like Amy, Rosalind, Serena)

Anyone seeing a pattern here?

Perhaps the problem is that I have combined too many styles…

Perhaps the problem is that those authors’ agents “get” their writing, and I don’t have one of those…

Perhaps the problem is that I am an unknown… Of course, all of the writers mentioned above were, at one point, unknowns too.

Or perhaps it is simply that it has not been God’s time yet…

Yes, I’m going to go with that one…

And now I’m going to go back to my speculative, because someone is actually interested in that one. Maybe one day I can find the time to come back and continue working on the Amish fiction…

Or maybe it will only ever interest my mother…

 

© Rachel L Miller 2015

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