Good Summer Reading

 

 

 

 

 

 

When someone mentions Amish fiction to you, how do you react? Do you yearn for a simpler lifestyle, where farm animals factor into your life, and a slower pace fills your days? Or does the word evoke something else in you, an overdone retelling of a life that most people would find difficult to live?

I don’t read a lot of Amish fiction, but one author who writes about the Plain community has captured my interest because she pits the simple life against the complicated culture in which the Amish have to exist. Her books bring the two different worlds face to face in a collision of values and the stories that result are fascinating.

Her name—Leslie Gould. The series—Neighbors of Lancaster County.

I finished reading the first story, Amish Promises, and found myself longing to know more about these characters.  The Lehmans, a dysfunctional Amish household, run a dairy farm and live next door to the Becks, an all-American military family. That alone is a pivotal factor for conflict, but the unmarried Lehman aunt  and a single male friend of the Becks, a soldier recently returned from Afghanistan, discover each other and sparks fly. Literally!

In the second novel, Amish Sweethearts, the Lehman children and the one son of the Becks play together and grow up as close friends. But the two worlds are a universe apart and when the children show interest in the lifestyle on the other side of the fence, trouble brews. The eldest Lehman daughter and Zane, the Beck’s son, deny their love for each other, but it is a struggle they cannot win, even when the girl begins seeing an Amish man her father arranged for her to court.

I have yet to read the third tale in the series, Amish Weddings, but have it on my to-be-read shelf waiting for its turn in the line-up. I promise you won’t be disappointed by any of the three in the series, but if you take a chance on all of them, you will have a wonderful summer of reading.

Mother’s Day Beginnings

Mother’s Day means many things to different people. Most of us view the date as a way to show honor to our mothers, often bestowing gifts and sentiments to them. But, originally, the day began for a very different reason.

The observance grew out of a movement known as the Mothers’ Day Work Clubs, designed to raise awareness of poor health conditions in communities toward the end of the Civil War. A social activist named Ann Reeves Jarvis, working alongside Julia Ward Howe, believed mothers would unite to help the less fortunate and hoped to unify them to work for world peace.

Her daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis, found her inspiration for Mother’s Day when she heard her mother say she wished one day someone might create a day just for mothers. Anna was motivated to carry on the social work her mother started. When the older woman died, Anna held a memorial ceremony on May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, to honor the matron’s life work. A shrine was erected at Andrews Memorial Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna contributed five hundred white carnations for all who attended the service. This is believed to be the first official Mother’s Day observance.

As commercialization moved in and gifts of cards, candy, and flowers came to be associated with the celebration, Anna Jarvis lost her enthusiasm for the day she’d helped establish. Embittered, she is quoted as saying the printed card was a poor substitute for a handwritten sentiment to a woman who did more for her children than any other person alive. Candy was a pretense for the gift giver to help himself. Only the white carnation, in her opinion, continued to represent the purity of a mother’s love.

Anna Jarvis never married. Her birthplace, Anna Jarvis House, in Webster Taylor County, West Virginia, has been listed as a national historic landmark.

How sad it is that Anna died unhappy with the work she started. Her quest had a biblical basis. The scriptures are filled with references to honoring one’s parents. In Exodus 20:12 we are told, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

However you remember your mother this week, know you are carrying out a command that the Lord established for each of us.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Acknowledgements: Wikipedia online encyclopedia, dltk children’s Bible lessons

Launching A Book–Part 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edits. Track Changes. Copy Edits. Proofreading copy. More edits. Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.

Launching a book is not the process I thought it would be when I first signed my contract. These past few weeks I put the finishing touches on the final proofread of book one before I send the manuscript back to my editor. Every comment from her or the proofreaders had to be addressed. Each word choice checked. Meticulous, tiring work, but satisfying as well.

One proofreader sent me a note through my publisher saying, “I hope to finish in the next few days. I had to stop for the evening because I’m having trouble reading through my tears. This is good stuff!”

Be still, my heart. My story made a proofreader— a man—cry? I had to stop and catch my breath. I didn’t see that coming.

Three proofreaders read the manuscript and made suggestions. In some places they disagreed about the need for changes. In others they concurred. The constantly shifting copy made my head swim, but the book moves forward, now barreling down the publishing timeline to its release date, September 1.

Once I submit the final read, I also have to send the copy for the second novel which will launch next year. I received the content edit back this week. The woman who read it made some great suggestions and found some (oops!) inconsistencies. All part of the process.

Often I feel as if I climbed aboard a treadmill from which I can’t step off. But rather than feeling tired, or overwhelmed, I’m buoyed by the fact that I will soon be a published novelist. A title I’ve worked hard to achieve. God, in His wisdom, knew when my turn could come.

I think of Esther (Esther 4:14) who was afraid when she was called to defend her people and Mordecai said to her, “who knows whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Like her, my time is here. Both exciting and frightening.

I’m sure there will be more tripping hazards ahead—like reviews, sale numbers, blog interviews, and book signings—but I’ve earned the right to participate and I am ready to take it on. For better or for worse.

More to come soon.