Today, Cyndi Lord is providing a guest post on how her Amish book came about. Before devoting full-time to writing, Cyndi had a career as an investigator and research paralegal. Cyndi lives in northeast Texas on a ranch with her husband. They have nine adult children, eighteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Here is her story.
Since spending four days and three nights at the Zook’s Bed and Breakfast in Lancaster County several years ago, it became inevitable to write a book. We were given a spare room in their sprawling, two story farm house which stood at the front of a hundred acre dairy. Nine well behaved children worked with both parents to run the house, milking operation, and farm. We opted for the choice of following their lifestyle during our stay.
To learn how Amish lived, beyond the fictional books I’d read, I eagerly grabbed the opportunity. My literal, rude awaking transpired at 4:00 the first morning. The evening before, sent to bed at 7:30, I wrote in my journal about our afternoon, and evening with the family. Spoiled by a keyboard, a sore spot rapidly turning into a blister from the pen, forced me to blow out the lantern an hour or so before midnight. The early morning tap on the door startled me from a deep sleep.
“Time to get breakfast. Are you up and about?” Mrs. Zook pushed the door open and the flame of her lantern flicked into our bedroom.
“No. I’ll be right down.”
In the kitchen, three teen-aged girls, and an eight year old worked together. Soon, five boys ranging in age from four to eighteen scurried about gathering up boots and hats. My husband grumbled something and went out the door behind Mr. Zook.
After a large breakfast, Mrs. Miller and her seven girls came over to pick strawberries and can jam. My husband came in from the barn for lunch smelling of cow dung and straw. I wrinkled my nose and we smiled at each other. Our lives with the Amish began.
Later, exhausted and thrilled, we lay in bed exchanging our stories. I wrote about community team work, and the adorable, kindhearted Mrs. Miller. Her twelve children, husband, and an injury to her youngest son’s leg, told to me while we picked strawberries, made their way into my book, A Plain Wish.
Our time with them ended far too soon to feel anything except sadness. My binder held a wealth of information. I’d made endearing friendships that last today with the Zooks and Millers. I cherish the letters received.
A deep understanding of the plain people and their separation from the modern world came from my visit. I grew to love and respect them in a deeper sense than ever imagined. A quandary internalized, for I longed to protect them and the privacy they strictly adhere. The journal and memories were held close to my heart for years. When outrageous television shows began airing, it angered me. People I loved were portrayed falsely, in my opinion, for monetary gain. The desire to show a real Amish family became overwhelming.
I located my journal, well protected letters, and prayed God would guide my words to never allow beloved friends to be betrayed. I chose to reach out to young adults. My protagonist, Kristi, is not Amish, but a modern, troubled, girl with an Amish pen pal. A Plain Wish opens at her father’s house, and chapter two takes you to the Miller’s Amish home. It continues this way and lets my readers see what it happening in both worlds. Kristi’s ‘plain wish’ is to find the family she lost. When she runs away to Lancaster, two worlds collide in a fabulous, heartfelt, humorous way.
Through calculated promotions and a prayerful desire for lost teens to learn about Jesus along with Kristi, I was blessed and humbled when A Plain Wish held number one in Amazon’s Hottest New Releases, Religion and Inspirational, for twenty-eight of the allotted thirty days. For ten weeks, it remained in the top ten. Ex-Amish who have read the book left reviews impressed with my accuracy in the Amish lifestyle and family dynamics. I praise God for answered prayer, and thank an ex-Amish man for his help with the complicated Pennsylvania Dutch. The Plain Series will have the second book released this fall.
JIM: To learn more about Cyndi, visit http://cyndilord.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/cyndi-lord-author/