It’s hard to believe that seven years have zipped by since I visited Lancaster County for the first time. My first book in the Daughters of the Promise series, Plain Perfect, was releasing, and the thrill of being a published author still necessitated a need to pinch myself daily. I’d been fortunate enough to befriend a woman knowledgeable about the Plain people. Barbie Beiler had grown up Beachy Amish. Her parents had spent part of their lives practicing the Old Order ways prior to converting to the less conservative Beachy Amish, or as they’re sometimes called, the “New Amish.” Barbie spent a large chunk of her time educating me about the Plain people so that my book would be authentic, which was something particularly important to her and the other Amish folks I met on this amazing journey.
I can still remember driving from the airport with a friend and the excitement we experienced when we spotted our first buggy. A born-and-raised Texan, I’d never laid eyes on Amish folks, and the further we drove into Lancaster County, the more apparent it became that horses and buggies were as normal there as cars and trucks on the highways of Texas.
I’m not much of a gardener, and I’ve never quilted, but my faith grew just by knowing this wonderful group of people. One thing is for sure…I love to eat! The food is wonderful in Lancaster County, PA. Ialso remember being surprised by their sharp sense of humor.
Barbie and I had spent hours chatting on the phone and via email, and I’ll always be grateful to her for sharing her wisdom, stories, family, and friends with me. Through her I met a network of Amish folks who shared the same hopes as Barbie—that my Amish stories would portray the Plain people as they truly are: normal folks with a strong faith who sin just like the rest of us. They also enjoy good Christian books, jokes, laughter, cooking, gardening, quilting, fellowship, and a strong faith.
They’re really in awe that authors and readers are flocking to them in droves, with such an interest in their lives. At the time of my first visit, there were only three or four other authors writing Amish stories, and the genre was just gaining popularity. Amish stories weren’t even really considered a ‘genre’ yet, more of a sub-genre. My, how times have changed. I believe that at last count, there was somewhere around sixty-five authors writing Amish stories. As a genre all its own now, Amish books can be found broken down into several sub-genres—romance, mystery, relationship-driven, historical, and even supernatural. I believe that authors, agents, publishers, and the Amish are surprised by the continued popularity.
For me, that first trip to Lancaster County, my first Amish story, and my early connections with the Plain People will always hold a special place in my heart.
Beth Wiseman is the best-selling author of over 1.3 million books, and she was the recipient of the prestigious Carol Award in 2011 and 2013. She is also a three-time winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and in 2013 she took home the coveted Holt Medallion. Her latest release is a collection of novellas called, An Amish Cradle, which releases February 10th. You can pre-order it here.
As a former newspaper reporter, Beth was honored by her peers with eleven journalism awards, including first place news writing for The Texas Press Association. She left her job as a journalist in 2008 to write novels full time.
Purchase Beth’s books here.