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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2014 ACFW pre-conference mix and mingle!

It’s that time again!

This is my first year to attend an ACFW conference and the pre-conference mix and mingle sounds great so I decided to participate. I hope it will help me learn new faces and get to know people for my first year at conference :)

If you would like to participate, click the link above and join in! There’s even a link-up at the bottom of the informational post with links to the different people who are participating.

Here’s what to do:

– Copy/paste and fill out your own answers (you don’t have to answer all of them!) in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that post (not your home page) using the handy link-up tool.

– Click through the links below to get to know other conference attendees before St. Louis!

Here are the questions and my answers!

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Name: Rachel L. Miller

Location: Nashville, TN

What you write: Amish fiction

Your tagline: “Inspirational Fiction Straight From Heaven”

Place in the book world: Pre-published (I love this phrase!) author not yet represented. Editing book 1 and writing book 2 of my Windy Gap series.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: LOVE hugs!

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Books! Starbucks! My kiddos!

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: I’ll still be missing them but they’re coming with!

Conference goals we can pray for? That I follow God’s path during conference and for general calm. I’ve been to two other small conferences but nothing on this scale.

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? Yes! You can like my author page on Facebook, follow me on twitter and of course I always love having new followers on my blog as well!

 

GOD BLESS and hope to see you all soon!

Have a GREAT Day!

©Rachel L Miller 2014

Word Counts, Coffee and Counting down to Conference

Good Morning. 

As you know, I am currently prepping for the 2014 ACFW Conference and let me tell you, it is a mad dash of insanity.

Not only do I have to edit my first novel, I am working hard to get as much of my second novel done at the same time.

Coffee consumption is a large part of how I am accomplishing all of this. I am extremely grateful that Pumpkin Spice creamer has made it’s debut for the season and that Sam’s Club has such a wonderful deal on it because I have already begun to dwindle the supply I stocked the fridge with last week.

Time for another trip to Sam’s I guess…

The most difficult thing for me is that I tend to be easily distracted by details when preparing for an important event.

I have been bogged down by the Business of preparing – ordering business cards, designing one-sheets, accumulating author photos and acquiring social media interest.

All of these things have distracted me for long periods of time from my writing. We all know how that goes. Writers can constantly be found lamenting the fact that they are easily distracted by social media and other small things that can take up a great deal of your day if you let it.

It is extremely easy to get caught up in the plethora of available designs on Vistaprint’s website and spend hours perusing the BONUS items that can be personalized to your original design.

It is exceedingly easy to get caught up in the many stock photo websites where you can find images to manipulate for your book cover image.

It is nearly impossible to walk away from your one-sheet design because every time you look over it again, you will find one more thing to edit.

And do I really need to go into all of the ways in which you can get lost in social media? No, I don’t because you know exactly what I’m talking about – you know how ridiculously easy it is to get lost in Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest. Even WordPress can take up a tremendous amount of time.

All of these things work together to distract from what really needs to be done to prepare for a Writer’s Conference.

…Writing.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to get back to it. I have at least 2,000 words to write today!

 

Have a GREAT weekend!

God Bless!

©Rachel L Miller 2014

Conferences, Conferences, Everywhere…

GOD IS SO GOOD!

The ACFW Annual Writer’s Conference is in Beautiful St. Louis this year and I am beyond excited!

The only reason I am going to conference this year is because GOD PROVIDES!

 

Only a few weeks ago, I was certain we could never afford to go and I was heartbroken but trying very hard to buck up and let it go.

I wasn’t terribly successful but my wonderful family didn’t let on too much… that I was annoying them to death.

Then mum sprung the surprise on me! We were going! God provided the money we needed to make it happen and it was just in time too! Another few days and we would have been saying no again – because the registration would go up by $100!

GOD IS SO GOOD!

So, instead of being heartbroken, I am now in a mad dash to get my manuscript (MS) as perfect as I possibly can before conference so it’s ready to be shown to agents and editors and anyone else who might happen to want to see it!

And a HUGE Thank You to VistaPrint for having such AMAZING deals on Business cards! If not for their deals, I wouldn’t have business cards to pass out to the aforementioned agents and editors and fellow authors!

 

So now I will go back to my MS and keep polishing! I might even find time to work on book 2 of the series!

 

Good night and God Bless!

 

©Rachel L Miller 2014

On Conference and NOT finishing Camp NaNo…

Irony that this article is coming out so soon after my quippy post about ADD and writers.

No – I did not finish Camp NaNoWriMo. No – I did not get to the word count on my story that I set for myself as my goal for the end of July. No – I still have not finished filling in holes on that particular story.

Yes – I went to a conference at the end of July. No – that is NOT the whole reason I did not finish Camp NaNo.

I did not finish editing and I did not reach my word count goal mostly because I spent those two weeks deleting more out of the story than I put back in.

And trust me when I tell you that what was deleted, NEEDED TO GO! Remember that I wrote “A Mother For Leah during NaNoWriMo last November. It was a struggle to even get to 50,000 words in that month… but I did. And I had more than a few unnecessary words in that document.

Fast forward to March of this year – I started editing, polishing, refining – and it took a LOT of work to get to where it was by April, when I put it aside to prepare for my first conference.I was confident that it was good enough to give the first three chapters to someone but it was far from done.

Fast forward again to May, when I had to put it aside again in order to pack and then move to Nashville.

June was spent mostly unpacking, settling in and trying to figure out how to find the most basic places near us – places like Starbucks, Lifeway and Barnes & Noble!

Then came July and, though I was late to the party, I joined Camp NaNoWriMo and got serious about my editing again!

And then I deleted… and deleted… and deleted some more. And I have taken out easily twice what I’ve put back in.

Yes – it is a tiny bit disheartening. Yes it is frustrating. Yes I am ready to scream at times.

BUT…

I AM NOT DONE! I am not quitting! And I am not going to let anything stop me from finishing this book! And then going on to the next!

So, I return once again to editing and I am going to make a conscious effort to stop complaining about how much I delete because – like I said – it NEEDED TO GO!

 

Good Day and God Bless!

©Rachel L. Miller 2014