The story behind Her Secret
One of my favorite things to do is develop a new series. I love collaborating with my editor, spending time on research, and doing a lot of dreaming about plots, themes, and characters. Since I’m often asked how a series gets developed, I thought I’d share a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes before I ever type Chapter 1.
- Usually, my editor sends me an email asking what I have in mind for a new series. This is often when I’m almost done writing the next to last book in the previous one. So, I started working on the Hart County ideas right as I was finishing A Sister’s Wish.
- After getting permission to set a book outside of Ohio, I came up with three settings, Michigan, Missouri, or Kentucky. I decided on these after talking to readers, doing some Internet searches, and reading an issue of The Budget. I also came up with a sentence about the general ‘feel’ for the series. The Michigan and Missouri books were going to be centered around a large Amish family, the Kentucky series was more suspenseful.
- My editor discussed my ideas with the team who works on my books at my publisher. They narrowed the choices to either Michigan or Kentucky, though they had a preference for Kentucky.
- That’s when I got back to work! I spent a good day researching Amish communities around both states and tried to pinpoint a specific community. As many of you know, each Amish community is very different! When I discovered Hart County and realized that there were caves all around the area, including in the town of Horse Cave, I got really excited. I wrote another email to my editor with notes about the area, statistics on the Amish in KY, and some title and theme suggestions.
- My editor made some suggestions on her end, too, and even talked to the marketing and sales folks to see what they thought. Then we had a phone call to discuss what the first book, Her Secret, was going to be about.
- Soon after, I scheduled a research trip with my two assistants. Lynne reads the first draft of all my books, so having her along really helped when we were making sure I included a lot of details. Laurie helps me with all my publicity and on-line work. She also designs my Pinterest board. So she took lots of pictures and made additional notes.
- Then, finally, I wrote six short synopsis for the series with suggested titles. After these were approved, the Amish of Hart County series was born!
All of this happened over a couple of months. While doing this, I finished A Sister’s Wish and wrote An Amish Family Christmas. So, it’s a hectic time, but one that I really enjoy because the possibilities are so open and I get to work on everything with other people.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the writing process. I love making up things in my basement and writing my book. But it’s a very solitary job. Developing a new series with so many other people reminds me that while I am the one who actually writes the book, there are many, many people at work who work hard to make each series a success. When the first book of a new series is published, we all celebrate! It’s a great day for everyone involved.
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Purchase Her Secret, the first book in Shelley Shepard Gray’s the Amish of Hart County series, here.
A suspenseful tale of a young Amish woman who is forced to move to a new town to escape a threatening stalker
After a stalker went too far, Hannah Hilty and her family had no choice but to leave the bustling Amish community where she grew up. Now she’s getting a fresh start in Hart County, Kentucky…if only she wasn’t too scared to take it. Hannah has become afraid to trust anyone—even Isaac, the friendly Amish man who lives next door. She wonders if she’ll ever return to the trusting, easy-going woman she once was.
For Isaac Troyer, the beautiful girl he teasingly called “The Recluse” confuses him like no other. When he learns of her past, he knows he’s misjudged her. However, he also understands the importance of being grateful for God’s gifts, and wonders if they will ever have anything in common. But as Hannah and Isaac slowly grow closer, they realize that there’s always more to someone than meets the eye.
Just as Hannah is finally settling into her new life, and perhaps finding a new love, more secrets are revealed and tragedy strikes. Now Hannah must decide if she should run again or dare to fight for the future she has found in Hart County.
Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Seasons of Sugarcreek series, the Sisters of the Heart series, and the Families of Honor series. She lives with her family in southern Ohio, where she writes full time. Before her work in the inspirational market, Gray wrote several novels as Shelley Galloway. During this time her books appeared on the Waldenbooks bestseller list, and she won RT Book Reviews prestigious Reviewers’ Choice Award.