Category: Harvest House Publishers

Why the Sky is Still Blue

Me, ten years ago in the summer of 2004, when the first copies of Why the Sky is Blue arrived on my doorstep.

Me, ten years ago in the summer of 2004, when the first copies of Why the Sky is Blue arrived on my doorstep.

Ten years ago, in the summer of 2004, something big happened that changed the course of my life career-wise. My first novel, Why the Sky is Blue, was released by Harvest House Publishers. Up to that point I’d been a newspaper editor, even though I was in my forties and had dreamed of writing a novel since high school.

The euphoria of those early days of my life as a novelist (finally!)  are still fresh on my mind a decade later. I remember getting the email from an editorial assistant at Harvest House that one of the fiction editors had seen my proposal and wanted to see the full manuscript. I remember Nick Harrison emailing me around Labor Day of 2003, introducing himself to me and telling me he was going to be reading the manuscript for Why the Sky is Blue that weekend.  I remember the day he told me he was taking the book to the publishing committee and the day he told me that pubco said yes, and that I would be offered a two-book contract. I remember the heady moment when I did an Amazon search and found my name listed as an author before the book ever came out. And I remember this moment pictured above, when the street copies arrived on my doorstep and I opened the boxes and held the book in my hands for the first time.

I had never taken a writing class beyond high school, I hadn’t majored in writing in college, and I didn’t have an agent. Not then anyway. So much has changed since that day ten years ago. I do have an agent now, and I’ve not only taken some writing workshops, I have taught many. I’ve 16 books to my name and can’t see stopping. It’s been a wonderful, scary, thrilling, frustrating, humbling, affirming career-change. There’s nothing else I’d rather do with my work-day.

WTSIB_edited-1

WHY THE SKY IS BLUE was the book that started it all ten years ago…

Why the Sky is Blue was printed before the advent of ebooks and sadly went out of print before the advent of ebooks. There are a few print copies floating around but the book by and large is out of circulation and has been for quite awhile. I am happy to say that I’ve had the rights reverted to me and I am in the process of shaping up the very old Word doc that is this book and preparing it for a re-release later this year. A beautiful new e “cover” has been designed for it and I’m going through the sentences line by line, tightening up the prose here and there to make it the best I can without messing with the integrity of the original paragraphs. I will keep you informed of the progress and I hope to announce a soon-to-be-released date for the electronic version of Why the Sky is Blue very soon. In the meantime, raise a glass, grab some cake or a cookie or a carrot stick, and let’s toast to the ten-year-anniversary of a little novel that started something big.

And thanks for being alongside me on this journey. I wouldn’t have wanted to travel it without you…

Never in my wildest dreams

Amish GroomThere was a time when I would look at the plethora (I don’t use that word very often and it’s always exciting when I do) of Amish fiction out there and I’d shake my head and wonder how in the world does SO much of it sell in the Christian marketplace. There are hundreds of Amish titles out there. Hundreds. Many of my good friends in the inspirational fiction market write Amish fiction and — hooray for them — have outsold me exponentially.

There is high demand for stories with Amish characters living out  life — with all its joys and sorrows, triumphs and trials —  in an Amish setting.  I never thought I would pen one, so when my agent, Chip MacGregor, came to me with an idea to collaborate with my good friend and fellow writer, Mindy Starns Clark (who is also agented by Chip)  on a series called Men of Lancaster County, my first response was, “Who? Me?” My genre is a blend of historical and contemporary. And at the time, I didn’t know anything about Amish culture beyond the movie, Witness.

But as I was in between contracts and hoping to make the move into the general marketplace with my solo work, I decided to see what Mindy (and Harvest House Publishers, who gave me my start by publishing my first book in 2004) had in mind. The more I heard about the vision for Men of Lancaster County, the more I thought to myself, “I think I might enjoy this. I might even do okay at it.” Mindy’s a great writer, she and her husband John and come up with a great idea, and when it comes right down to it, I love Story. Story is about People in a Place working out a Problem. If I can write about a diarist during the Salem Witch trials or a Civil War spy in 1862 or a young dressmaker to a future queen of England, I can write about Amish men finding their way in a tiny cosmos called Lancaster County.

So there you have it! Behold, the first in the series is out this week. The Amish Groom is the story of a young man who was born of an Amish mother and a non-Amish father. He is a man with a choice to make, a life-defining choice. I absolutely love the trailer that Harvest House put together for it.

Sounds pretty good, right? You know what? I am really happy with the end result. It’s the perfect blend of my and Mindy’s storytelling skills. If you already love Amish fiction, I’ve no doubt you will be deeply satisfied. If you’ve never read it and have been wondering if you might want to try it, well, I suggest you try this one.

You can comment below (just say hi or tell us what you love about Amish fiction or what you wonder about Amish culture or…) and maybe win one (I am giving away five copies by random drawing this time next week) or hop over to your favorite book retailer and pick one up. If you happen to win one of these signed copies, you can give away the one you bought, and since it always feels good to give books to people, it’s a win-win. I need to hear from you by noon Pacific April 11. Comment away!