Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas hills and valleys

Christmas can be the most joyous time of year.

It usually is for our family.

But for some reason it can also be a very difficult time. Within our family, our church family, and among our friends it just seems things happen this time of year. Many are having problems, illness, and we have even lost friends and family members right in the midst of the season. I lost my dad and my brother, my only sibling, the same year during the Christmas season. That was a difficult year.

Why do the valleys seem to be more prevalent this time of year? Or is it just the comparison? We are supposed to be so happy right now, is it just more noticeable when things happen to be a damper on that happiness? I don't know.

I do know some that are sick are trying to hang on to have one more Christmas with family and whether they make it or not that puts it in the midst of the season.

I'm not writing this to be a downer, but just to recognize the hills and valleys of Christmas. The Lord doesn't want us to be sad, and the celebration of His birth should be cause for great celebration. But it should also be a time for being sensitive to what other people are going through. It's ironic that the happier some people are, the more difficult it seems to make it for people that are not in such a good place with their life.

For writers there can be a lot of news coming down that is not so good as editors and yes, agents tend to use this time of year to clean out their in-boxes. Things that merit further examination is put off for the new year and the projects that will be passed on get contacted.

I hope you and yours enjoy a hilltop experience this Christmas, and I hope in your joy that you are also aware of those who need an extra touch right now. God did not promise that we would not have troubles, but he did promise to be with us and to help us through them. One of the main ways he gives this help is through his people. I don't know how those that are not believers get through adversity, but I know when I have needed it that my faith has gotten me through, and my Christian brothers and sisters have always been there for me.

As the season begins to unfold may you all have a joyous celebration of the birth of our Lord.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today is Thanksgiving.

Everyone knows it is about more than eating turkey, watching football and the Thanksgiving Day parade. It is even about more than family although that is a big part of it.

Thanksgiving is about counting our blessings and as the name implies giving thanks for them. As our pastor pointed out, most of us have more blessings than we can possibly count. Sometimes when difficult things are happening to us it is hard to see all these blessings because we focus on the difficulties, but the blessings far outnumber those difficulties.

We just went through such a difficult period and are working our way out of it. However, there was a time in my life where I pretty much hit rock bottom. Comparing other low spots to that one gives me perspective. Our life will be a series of mountaintops and valleys and I can see we are just going through a valley.

So one of the big things we are thankful for this year is starting to come out of the valley. We look at all the health problems family and friends have and realize we have been extremely blessed there. We don't have wealth, but the Lord is seeing that our needs are met and that's all we really want.

We are thankful for family and friends, not only our blood family but our family at church as well. They are all so important to us and a big part of how we get through difficult times. We will be gathering around the table later today with some of those who are always there for us.

We will be gathering in spirit with family who can not be with us. Our family has a tradition of gathering with one side of the family for Thanksgiving and the other side for Christmas so the kids will be off doing that. We'll be thinking of them, one of our biggest blessings. We'll also be thinking of those who are no longer around that table, those who have gone on. We are blessed that we know where all of those family members are and that we will be seeing them again.

I'm just scratching the surface, the major things that occur to me. I know that there are literally thousands of smaller blessings when I stop and think further and I know it is that way for all of us. Of course I know that the biggest blessing of them all is the gift of our salvation, God giving His only son to us to redeem us from our sins. What a huge blessing and the reason I know I will be seeing those loved ones again.

The wonderful smells are starting to waft in from the kitchen. The beautiful floats are winding their way down the street with the huge balloons floating high above them and there will probably be football in our future soon. But before we enjoy that bountiful meal we will take time to give thanks . . . for the things I have talked about . . . and so much more.

I hope if you take time for even a quick recount of your blessings that you will quickly find they are indeed . . . more than you can count.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Starting over

That's what it feels like.

We just had to make an unscheduled move. It took the biggest part of my time for an entire month. I took care of urgent things for my clients but the routine work had to go undone. The clients were caring, understanding and patient.

Now, even though I still have things associated with the move that need to be done, my work for my clients takes center stage again. But it is amazing how out of touch I feel. It is indeed as if I am starting over. Once again my clients are coming to my rescue.

I asked for an update as to what they are waiting on, what they feel I need to be doing for them and what they are working on. I'm comparing what they tell me to my notes so I can be a bit more confident that I have correctly identified the things that need to be done and the status of all clients.

They are giving these updates on the closed access client loop so each of them are also getting an update on what all the other clients are doing and what they have on their plate at the same time. They are very supportive of one another and like to see these updates.

I suppose it will take a bit to feel like I am back in the saddle again and feel like I'm on top of everything.

How does the old saying go? Lord, please grant me patience . . . and I need it right now!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Not my favorite thing to do, but Saundra and I are in the process of moving to a different location here in Amarillo. We've been at our present location for nearly 20 years. We are only moving a few miles, but the process and amount of things to move is very daunting. In addition I have to work a writers conference at East Texas Baptist University right in the middle of the process. That may prove to be a welcome break. I will still be trying to keep up with my work at Hartline during the process, but my time will be severely limited so if you are waiting on me for something please be patient.

Did I mention moving is not my favorite thing to do?

Monday, September 15, 2014

It takes me a full day to work up, format, study the market for the proper people that I can see evidence might be interested, and make submissions on a single client. It takes me a full day to do a full manuscript read. I can read them much quicker but I format and do light editing as I go as it causes me to do a closer read and if I find I am interested in it that work is already done. If it doesn't draw me in or I don't connect with it I quit reading and respond at that point. I have 60 clients so you can see how that schedules out.

I can work in quick things that require immediate attention, of course, and would never ignore correspondence from an editor or an urgent need from a client.

I block out half days to work incoming submissions which I evaluate and respond to, set it aside for a closer look, or if I have preliminary interest request a full manuscript. I do keep an eye on what is being discussed in the various groups I connect with just to know what they are talking about but seldom contribute nor invest significant time there. I put time in communicating with my clients on our private client group and I contribute to the Hartline and my personal blog once a week.

It is common for me to do outside chores, lawn and garden, in the first couple of hours of the day while it is cool before I start doing the above work. I seldom work at all on the Lord's day at all unless it is something really urgent. My Sundays are pretty much tied up at church and I don't even carry my phone with me when I go.

When you add in the honey-do's and knocking down my to-do list, time in the morning and evening with my wife, and the myriad of small ways that life demands attention the schedule can be pretty full. But I try to respond as quickly as possible to the constant stream of submissions and correspondence that comes in each day. I know some people only respond if interested, and I get that, but it isn't how my momma raised me. As I recently commented on our blog, I remove my hat when meeting or talking to a lady, I open doors, and I adhere to the Southern courtesy she taught me. That includes responding to everyone who writes me.

Occasionally I get notes addressed "to whom it may concern" or maybe "Dear Sir or Madam" and most of us read that as "Dear Occupant." Those aren't addressed to me. I know what you do with your occupant mail and I may do the same with mine in spite of the fact that momma always would think it rude not to someone who takes the time to write you.

You can see that it sometimes takes a little time for me to get something done. But I try to keep up.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Economical Writer's conference


If you are looking for an economical writers conference, I’ll be on the faculty for this short course at Rose State College in Midwest City OK (Outskirts of Oklahoma City). I’ve been there several times, and it is a small conference with great facilities packed with excellent presenters, is economical and full of content.

Last year’s Short Course was attended by more than two hundred people. This year the College will expand the program with more presenters, more agents, and more contest categories. Organized by New York Times-bestselling author William Bernhardt, this conference will bring some of the nation’s most successful writers and literary agents to Oklahoma.

More than thirty published writers, agents, editors, and others in the publishing industry will present at the Short Course, led by Guest-of-Honor Jacqueline Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean, the first book selected for Oprah’s Book Club, and John Wooley, Oklahoma author of more than thirty books of fiction and nonfiction. Authors will share their secrets, agents will provide one-on-one consultations with writers, and editors will talk with attendees interested in writing for their publications.

Whether you write fiction, poetry, memoir, or creative nonfiction, this workshop will have something to help you grow as a writer and publish your work. This Short Course will explore all aspects of why this is the best time to be a writer.

Information is available at

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back to work

I just spent labor day in the mountains not far from Ruidoso NM. It was great. I didn't even take my computer and the phone didn't work unless we went into town which we did a couple of times. When we did go into town, we would clean off our email but not work anything unless it was urgent. It was great, sitting around the campfire, playing games in the camper, doing a little writing. A real stress reliever.

But that didn't mean the work went away. Those who work for a big company there may be somebody else that covers your job while you are out. Mine doesn't work that way. Not only that but some people take advantage of a holiday weekend to work up some submissions and send them so that inbox starts stacking up. That happens when I go to a conference as well.

This morning was like a nice extension of the trip. It was refreshingly cool. A nice soak in the hot tub followed by coffee around the gas fire-pit. It was like we were still up there.

But now it is back to work. That's going to mean some negative responses as I mentioned over on Linda Glaz's entry to this blog. Like Linda I hate to have to do that. And it's going to mean trying to clean out this inbox as I talked about over on Andy Scheer's entry to this blog. My inbox applies deadlines for much of what I do. I have things sitting there I have to do for clients, hopefully some things from editors to respond to, maybe even a contract offer or two, various things I have to do and of course all those submissions.

It's dig down and weed out. I generally work it bottom up, oldest items first unless I see something of importance that must be dealt with immediately. My computer sits on an airdesk next to me so I see email every hour of the day that I am awake. It also shows up on my phone if I am away from the house. I watch what is coming in and things stay there until I deal with it. I either handle it or take some initial action and put it in another file for further action. It controls much of my activity.

Editors take precedence of course, followed by clients (who would rather me be responding to editors). I have to carve out some relative uninterrupted time to do full manuscript reads. A submission doesn't advance to the point of me offering representation without this happening and they deserve my full attention (unless something catches on fire and has to be put out).

Much of what is in my inbox can be tossed just from the subject line ( you know what kind of mail we constantly get). I do quickly scan the items in the junk file, usually three to four hundred a day, and sometimes find submissions there. I used to have them automatically delete until I found I was missing some. I still miss some as I fail to see them there, but not many. If you send me something and don't hear back in a couple of weeks it is a good idea to follow up. I don't mind.

If I expect to get to something fairly quickly I may not acknowledge receipt. If it will be a while I do try to send a receipt. It is unusual for me to not respond within a month but on occassion I have got stacked up to the point where it took longer.

But enough talk about all this. It's time to quit dawdling and go to work on that inbox.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Help for a prison ministry

I published a Christian Fiction novel several years ago with David C. Cook entitled “Mysterious Ways.” After the book released I started getting letters and emails from convicts who identified with the main character and said something along the lines of, “I thought I was too far gone for God to pay any attention to me and I know this is just a story, but I thought if this character in this book could turn his life around, maybe there is hope for me.”

Later I started hearing from people wanting the book because they heard “it could get someone talking about faith who wouldn’t listen to anyone about it before.” I tell them I have never made that claim but I’ve had a number of people tell me that. I’ve asked them to get back to me after the person read the book and have gotten some very heart-warming responses.

I was amazed at these reactions and realized immediately it was not something I had put in the book, I just wrote a little story, it had to be something God was doing with it. Not only that, but to this day I have no idea how the books even got into prisons. It was not something either I or the publisher had tried to do.

The story came to the attention of Life Sentence Publications, a publisher that specializes in getting books into prisons. They are interested in getting it into more prisons to see if it will continue its work. But it requires donations to accomplish this. It takes $50 to get a package of books into a prison. I will not benefit financially from the project at all.

If you would be willing to have a thumbprint on a ministry reaching out to people who are incarcerated, you can make a donation to help by going to  The donation site suggest a price for a full package but if you click on the donate button you can choose any amount you wish.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I’ve never tried to solicit help like this before but would very much like to see this effort succeed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Aunt Nell

I'm sorry to report on the passing of my Aunt Nell (Thomas). The picture shows her with her two remaining siblings at the time, my mother on the left who has already gone on, my Aunt Meta (Graves) and Aunt Nell on the right. In later years she started going by Dorothy, but she was always Aunt Nell to us.

She was like a second mother to me growing up and for much of my life would tend to be the relative living closest to me. I moved a lot when I was doing chamber of commerce work and with her husband, my Uncle Charley, working for an oil company they did too. We tended (and not on purpose) to end up in towns near to each other. Amazing how that happened. For all of my youth we all lived together in Pampa, Texas.

They had a large family, and there were ten kids, Edgar. Alma, Leola, Mom, Ray, Nell, Meta and Billie Bob. Two died as an infant. (One before and one after my mom) Holidays were always spent at Mamaw Tunnell's house, it was mandatory, and to this day that is some of my fondest memories.

I was the oldest of the "kids," and it is a shock for me to realize that I am the oldest male in the family, the second oldest period. I still think of myself as one of the kids.

She died at the age of 94 July 23rd in Nashville, Tennessee.She was born February 18, 1920 in Electra, Texas. She was an active member of First Baptist Church, Mount Juliet, Tennessee and formerly an active member of Central Baptist Church, Pampa, Texas. She was a tireless leader in the Women’s Missionary Union in Pampa. Dorothy was well known throughout her life for her parties, programs, and creative presentations in service to her church and community.

She was preceded in death by her husband Charley Thomas, all but one of her sisters and brothers, and one granddaughter Becky Porter.

She is survived by two daughters, Mikey Oldham of Mount Juliet, and Suzie Porter of Layton, UT. She is also survived by four granddaughters: Anna Oldham of Mount Juliet; Jenny Chandler of Carson City, NV; Debbie Porter (a missionary in the Middle East), and Mandy Porter (a missionary in the Far East); and two great-grandchildren: Emily Chandler and Stephen Chandler of Carson City, Nev. She is also survived by a sister: Meta Graves of Electra, Texas.

Visitation will be from 12:45 PM Saturday, July 26, 2014 until service time at Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Home in Pampa. Services will be at 2:00 PM Saturday, at Carmichael-Whatley Colonial Chapel in Pampa, with Rev. Rick Parnell, associate pastor of Central Baptist Church of Pampa, officiating. Burial will follow in Memory Gardens Cemetery in Pampa, under the direction of Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors. A memorial service will be at 2:00 PM Thursday, July 31, 2014, at Bond Memorial Chapel in Mount Juliet, Tennessee.

We will miss her very much but we rejoice in the homecoming that we know she is having with those family members who have gone on.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the International Mission Board’s Lottie Moon Offering or to the First Baptist Church of Mount Juliet Building Fund.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The 4th of July

Today is the 4th of July. Fireworks, hot dogs and cookouts in the park, family get-togethers will be spread across the nation.

However, with so many holidays these days we get so caught up in the celebration that we fail to remember the reason we are celebrating.

238 years ago a group of men risked (and many lost) their lives signing the document that brought this country into being. They were rebelling against taxation without representation and against what they considered the tyranny of a foreign king.

What we are celebrating is a birth of freedom, purchased at a high price, and repurchased over the years by the blood and service of our finest young men and women. When those men gathered to found this nation they knew what they were risking. They did not do so lightly. They spent as much time on their knees asking for divine guidance as they did debating the issues.

Today we find much of what those founding fathers fought and died for under attack, not from without but from within. Time honored principles that have made this nation great are being challenged. Patriotism is being replaced by partisan politics. People sent to government to represent the will of the people instead are taking it upon themselves to tell the people what is good for them and what is not. This can only happen if the people ALLOW it to happen.

Let us not just celebrate the holiday, let us celebrate what made this nation great, principles that are NOT outmoded. Let's celebrate the  4th by rededicating ourselves to a new birth of freedom, a new resurgence of patriotism. If those who came before us were willing to die in this cause shouldn't we at least be willing to stand up and make our voices heard?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What's a Christian Western?

There are traditional westerns, adult westerns with 'adult' themes, western romance which is shelved in romance rather than with western titles, contemporary westerns (set in modern times), and yes there are Christian westerns. A western is generally set west of the Mississippi river, and most traditional westerns are pre-civil war. My favorite definition is that a western is "a morality play set on horseback." They feature characters that are a "knight errant" traveling the West combating evil and the good guys and the bad guys are not usually hard to distinguish from one another.

The difference between a Christian western and a traditional western is not whether it is a good, clean read or not, most of these books are family friendly fare with the exception of a little coarse language in some. The difference is the fact that a Christian western contains some intentional faith content, a little or a lot of religious content. They aren't preachy and the content is seldom "in your face," but the faith of the author is always evident in these books.

My new book, "Hounded" from Lone Mesa Publishing is a Christian western and does have a light faith content. The storyline in a nutshell is: "When young Sam Duncan finds himself accused of a horrible crime, he must grow up fast to prove his innocence, bring his mother’s killer to justice and find the peace he needs to move on with his life."   A book trailer on the offering can be viewed here and it can be found in print or for Kindle at

There are only a handful of writers writing Christian westerns, one fewer with the passing of Stephen Bly who was perhaps the best known in the genre.  There are many more authors doing romance set in the west, particularly in Texas as this is a very popular setting in that genre.

It isn't surprising that I like to read and write westerns. I grew up spending Saturday mornings helping Roy and Gene clean up the west at the matinees. When I watched TV on one of our three channels it was filled with Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Bonanza and The Lone Ranger. My library contains a full hardback collection of Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey who even today, long after their death, still dominate western book racks.

I have a number of books in print on a variety of subjects but westerns remain a favorite for me. I've done a couple of young adult western offerings and my "Beyond the Smoke" from Journeyforth Press won the Will Rogers Medallion. "Trails of the Dime Novel"  is a collection of short stories for Young adults each  representing one of the delicious little dime novels so popular in their day.

The River Oak imprint of David C. Cook published a three book "Mysterious Ways Series." A fascinating cast of characters such as a con man hiding in the guise of a circuit riding preacher as he bilked people out of their money kept me entertained as they told me their story. I wrote the stories down in "Mysterious Ways," "Brothers Keeper" and "Shepherd's Son." I told the story of a man that everyone he met thought they knew him in "Don't I Know You?"

Then there was the one that featured the Texas Panhandle town of Clarendon, known back in the day as Saint's Roost because it was a town founded by a group of Methodist ministers right in the middle of the wild Texas cow country. The real life story of the town rivaled what the characters themselves were doing in the book appropriately titled "Saint's Roost."

Hopefully these books are as fun to read as they were to write. They can all be found on my author page at Amazon or in my online bookstore and you can find them in many of your local libraries. I'd love for you to give them a try.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Dianne Price's new release

Dianne Price was a client and had cancer. She lived long enough to know that her series was going to be in print. We found a small publisher, Ashberry Lane, who believed in the project and who rushed to make that happen while she was still alive to see it. I was so proud of the way my client group stood behind her in her battle and have continued to help get the word out as Ashberry Lane continues to keep their promise. If you knew Dianne or want to help get the word out on this new release it would be appreciated. Information can be found in this newsletter:

Have you ever experienced times of darkness that seem to overwhelm you or make you question when the adversity will ever end? Without hope, the world can be very bleak indeed. Which is where we take up the story of Rob and Maggie Savage!

Constant fear, piercing sirens, the darkness of war ... all that fades with The Promise of Dawn. World War II is over, but there's much rebuilding to be done on the wee Scottish isle of Innisbraw. Now a wife and mother, Maggie Savage longs for other lasses to return to their island home, but how can they when there is no way to provide for themselves and their families? Her husband, Rob, driven by his unrelenting dream to build a rescue boat for the local fishermen, continues to be plagued by nightmares of impending disaster.

Will their simple faith in God and love for each other help them find a new dawn for their beloved community?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Teaching Appointments

I just returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park Colorado. Great conference, I've gone to it for thirteen or fourteen years.

I had a couple of solid days of appointments there and saw some good projects. There were also some others that were not ready to submit and that's okay.

I've been to some conferences that do not allow the scheduling of appointments unless the conferee has a project finished and ready to submit because of the large number of people attending the conference. There are too many people there that really need the appointment to get a submission invited and to pave the way for it.

Other conferences have an attendee/faculty ratio that permits more latitude in the scheduling for conferees that might not be ready to submit yet. This is okay at these conferences and the conferee should be sure to find out what the rules are when they attend. We call these "teaching appointments."

When it is acceptable most agents and editors don't mind teaching appointments, many even enjoy them. I know I do as long as I know right from the beginning that is what it is instead of sitting there waiting for a pitch that isn't coming.

A teaching appointment is a great chance to get comfortable with the process of having a one on one about your project. It's a good chance to test the water on the viability of the project you have in progress which could affect the way you are going with it. With an agent appointment it's a chance to see if you need an agent or if you are ready for one. It's a chance to network and make connections that could be important to you down the road.

Editors and agents have committed time to the conference and we like to see good use made of it. So if you are at a conference that allows such appointments I encourage you to make the most of them if that is the point where you are in your writing.

It's a chance to see that editors and agents don't bite . . . and in fact, want the best for you and your writing and will help if they can.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Wearing our heart on our sleeve

I meet 'em at conferences or communicate with them by email. Authors timidly holding out their treasure to me, not so much submitting for publication as they are looking for affirmation of their self-worth. I recognize it, I've been there. Who am I kidding, I'm still there.

I still need affirmation that what I am doing has value, affirmation that means more to me than publishing or making money. We write in a vacuum, and we need feedback to tell us what we are doing is WORTH doing. Personally I have associations with people who give me that affirmation when I need it.

I try to pass it on. When I interface with writers I try to give them that encouragement even if what they offer is something that is not right for me and the odds say that most of them won't be a good fit for me. That says nothing about the project or the writing, but I get hundreds of good projects sent to me and I surely can't take them all. That means I am looking for ones that are better than good, ones that are exceptional.

All agents and publishers are the same way, we all know the numbers and the unfortunate part of our job is having to pass on projects simply because something else works better for us. That's where the heart on the sleeve comes in. Too many writers take it personal. It not only fails to be the affirmation they are seeking but it is rejection.

That's just not the way to look at it. There's nothing personal about it, unless they get back to you and say something tacky in which case you should consider the source. It's just business. We are all picking the best offering we can find for a limited number of slots and even some good projects just aren't going to fit. It takes time to match up just the right project at just the right place in front of just the right person at exactly the right time. At any given time a project may only fit at one place in the whole publishing industry and it can be hard to make that connection. Later it may only fit at one place but now that place is different. It takes patience and perseverance.

And that affirmation we need? We have to learn where we can get that . . . and should not be surprised if we don't get it from people who are just busy conducting business.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Children's books

I don't handle children's books, nothing younger than middle readers. I've thought about taking on some younger offerings, I even went to a conference that deals with this age fare to help me make up my mind. What did I come up with? I think they are all really cute and I've found I am no judge of why one is better than another one.

If I can't judge them then I can't select the ones that are best and that I should be representing. So I don't.

I'd read any of them to my grandkids and maybe that is the problem, I'm a grandpa. Not just a grandpa but in fact have ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They call me 'Po.' Decided on that name themselves. Others refer to me as 'grandpa Terry' and that's ok too.

So when it comes to children's books, I'm not an agent, I'm a fan. I'm a grandpa and I love to be that. It's more important to me than being an author or agent, much more important.

Speaking of grandchildren, the young lady sitting beside me in the above picture is a little older now. In fact Iwill be attending her graduation from Abilene Christian University in Abilene Texas this Saturday. We are very proud of her. We will be there cheering her on of course, that goes without saying.

The picture on the right  is the same girl, Mandy Lambright with my mother as she graduated from Carlsbad (NM) High School. I wish mom could be going with us to see this graduation too. And believe me I REALLY wish mom was going to be with us for Mothers Day tomorrow, but I know where she is, and I wouldn't wish her back even if I could.

Children's books? I'm content to just be a reader, someone else can do a better job of handling them.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Miting by Dee Yoder


Client Dee Yoder's book, The Miting, has released from Kregel Publications, the first in a three book series. She is currently editing her second Novel, The Powerful Odor of Mendacity and is working on the second of her Amish fiction novels, The Way Out. She writes short story fiction for the Faithwriters Writing Challenge and her work has been published in The Evangel, Good Tidings, and The Quill magazines. She is a voluntary writer for Dee's News: The Former Amish Newsletter with Mission to Amish People (MAP Ministry). She is happily married to Arlen, and they have a son, Joseph, who is in college. She is active on the Amish Forum and Discussion board which she helped to create with the founder of Mission to Amish People, Joe Keim.  She has a personal connection to the Amish through her husband’s family, who are from the Holmes County Ohio Amish community and has connections through many ex-Amish who are involved with Mission to Amish People in her hometown area.

Leah is seventeen and Amish. Like many her age, she has lots of questions, but the temporary flight of freedom known as rumspringen is not the answer for her. She does not desire Englisher fashion, all-night parties, movies, or lots of boyfriends. Leah is seeking to understand her relationship with God, to deepen and broaden her faith by joining a Bible study hosted by an ex-Amish couple. She wants to know why Amish life is the only lifestyle her family accepts, why the church has so many rules, and . . . most disturbing, how godly men can allow her best friend to be abused in her own home. In the pressure-cooker environment of church and family, Leah is not allowed to ask these questions. When finally she reaches the breaking point, she walks away from the Old Order Amish life that is all she has known. Though adapting amiably to the Englisher world, Leah is tormented with homesickness. Returning to the community, however, entails a journey of pain and sorrow Leah could never have imagined. The miting—shunning—that will now be Leah’s unendurable oppression every day is beyond her most devoted attempts to believe or understand. All the bishop and her family ask is that she abandon her practice of reading the Bible. Is that a price she is willing to pay?
 This is a powerful book, written out of first-hand work with the Mission to Amish People organization. The order link for the book is here.