Thursday, June 5, 2014

I will start out this post with a confession: I never imagined I’d write an Amish fiction series. Never.

I wasn’t one of those naysayers who grit their teeth as they walk past the bookstore shelves and see all the models wearing head coverings on the books. You might have heard or seen the naysayers. They mumble something about sticking a bonnet on the heroine of their next book, and seeing what happens. Before writing the Seasons in Pinecraft series, I’d read a handful of titles from authors like Beverly Lewis and Amy Clipston. I enjoyed them very much.

But here I am, holding this ‘newborn’ book in my hands. The cover not only has the colors of the circus big top, but a beach, and an Amish man with two small children. And a very modern heroine.

One of the things I’ve always prayed for concerning my writing is that doors would open and doors would close, and I would discern between the two. If you’ve been a writer for a while, you might have learned as I have that sometimes “no” doesn’t mean a door is shut. Not permanently, anyway.

I first encountered Pinecraft four years ago, when my then-editor at Heartsong asked if I’d think about writing an Amish book series set in Texas. Folks, when an acquisitions editor asks you to see what you can come up with for a proposal, it just might be worth checking out. So, I did.

I learned the Texas climate has not been kind to the few Amish who’ve tried to settle in Texas. Any 20th and early 21st settlements are very small, a handful of families. I didn’t feel that “spark” alerting me there might be a story somewhere in those meager facts.

Then, it happened. I was cruising through a very informative website called Amish America. One of its features is a directory of settlements throughout the country. And then, I saw the picture. I’m a visual person, so this picture made me sit up and take notice.

A woman in a head covering and cape dress was sitting on an adult-size tricycle outside a small building with a postal sign across the top of the wall. The photo was of the Pinecraft post office in Sarasota. And then, I felt that “spark” as I read.

There’s a story here, I told myself. Maybe. After that, I started to read up on the city of Sarasota, and what distinguishes it from other cities. Sarasota has a rich circus history, and the Ringling family has left a large legacy to the city, which has an art museum as well as a circus museum. There’s also a circus school for children where they can   
learn how to perform juggling, tumbling, trapeze, aerial acts and tightrope.

When I saw the glitz and sparkle of the circus world and the Plain world of the Amish beside each other in the same city, I knew my hero and heroine would both come from these different worlds. And that’s when I began to chase the story of Jacob Miller and Natalie Bennett, an Amish widower and an aerial artist turned circus instructor.

If you are a writer, you’ll understand the twists and turns of pre-publication world. Thanks to my agent, Sandra Bishop, and her tenacity and belief in this series, the stories of Pinecraft found a home at
Abingdon Press.

Fast forward to January 2012, when I boarded a plane for Tampa and then headed to Sarasota, to stay in Pinecraft and become better acquainted with this intriguing Plain community. I walked its streets, ate the delicious food, and soaked in the atmosphere. When Pinecraft resident Katie Troyer asked me to go to a singing, I jumped at the opportunity, and we rode our bicycles over to the Mullets’ house in the Birky Square area, and listened to the music and drank hot chocolate one chilly night. Sherry Gore and I braved the crowds at   
the annual Haiti Auction, and we tried not to stuff ourselves too full of lunch plates, pretzels, and other deliciousness. I was blessed to visit Pinecraft again in February 2013, and I hope to return to the village sometime in the winter of 2014-2015.

I might have never expected to write an Amish book series, but one thing I always aim to do as an author is take my readers on a trip. As these books release, I hope to hear from readers that they feel as if they’ve visited the sunny village of Pinecraft right along with me.
Lynette Sowell is the award-winning novelist of more than fifteen titles. When she’s not writing fiction, Lynette works covering local news for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press, where she also writes a weekly column called My Front Porch. She enjoys reading, cooking, watching movies and is always up for a Texas road trip. Lynette was born in Massachusetts, raised on the eastern shore of Maryland, but makes her home in Copperas Cove, Texas, with her husband, along with a spoiled Texas heeler and a pair of cats who have them all well-trained.

Keep up with Lynette Sowell via her blog (, Facebook page (Lynette Sowell, Author) or Twitter (@LynetteSowell).

Don't forget to stop by The Borrowed Book tomorrow, when you can enter to win a FREE copy of Lynette's new release, A Season of Change!

1 comment :

  1. Hi Lynette, just wanted to let you know I stopped by for a read :-) Thanks for sharing. Isn't it interesting that you've so many experiences & relationships with the more progressive - higher - Amish orders? There are so many varieties of Plain People. Hope you'll call me when you're researching for a book in Ohio :-)


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