Tag Archives: Amish

Amish Vampires, Oh My! Leanna Ellis & Her Scary Tale of Stepping out of her Market

Happy Sunday, Katy Lee here. Last October on this day, the Northeast was under 2 feet of snow with no electricity. This year we await a hurricane, hoping Halloween isn’t canceled AGAIN! Because of the loss of power last year, my special guest, Leanna Ellis missed out on all the Scribes’ readers. So she is here again this year to chat with you all.

Let’s hope the power stays on this time.

Now last year, her release, Plain Fear: Forsaken, an Amish vampire story hit the shelves. Now this year, Leanna has a second release in her Plain Fear series. Forbidden. As an Inspirational writer, there are pretty strict guidelines to follow when writing for this market. One of them being, absolutely no vampires. But Leanna had these stories to tell, so what was she to do?

Here she is to tell you about it. So please give Leanna a warm welcome!

Happy Halloween! Oops! Did I say something wrong? Did you know that little phrase can be fairly controversial? There are certain camps regarding Halloween.There are those who embrace the holiday with all the gore and such and drape their houses in cobwebs. Then you’ve got those who allow their kids to dress up and enjoy the candy but no gory or other-worldly costumes. Then there’s the group that shuns the holiday because of its roots in paganism. So I didn’t mean to offend anyone by saying ‘Happy Halloween,’ but I just meant it as a friendly greeting. Like Halloween, we each have to figure out what is right for us and what is right for our families. And this is true in writing too.

In light of all of that, it seems very appropriate to discuss my novel, Plain Fear: Forsaken, which is a bit like Halloween, somewhat controversial. Some people may love the idea. Others may withhold judgment until they’ve heard more about it or even read it. And others will shun it just because of the subject matter. Just last week, I received this great review where the reviewer said, “Plain Fear Forsaken is a book that screams to be opened. It offers a fresh portrayal of vampires and their complex world, while taking readers on a journey of love and heartbreaking loss. This haunting tale is wonderfully written, with such intensity that you will not put it down.” Obviously a really nice review. Within an hour, I received an email from a reader who called my book, “Evil.” Did they read the same book? Apparently. But like Halloween, it’s not for every reader and it was a risk to write it, much less publish it.

Amish and vampires? Really? Yes, really. I’m asked a lot how this book came into being. Forsaken actually began as a joke. I was at a book signing and another author and I made a joke about we should write an Amish/vampire story because those were the two genres that were selling incredibly well. It really was a joke. I didn’t rush home and start writing the book. But I suppose some seed was planted in my warped little brain and took root. Soon a character was speaking to me about her story and wanting me to write it. But I resisted. However, there was a very intriguing element that I couldn’t seem to ignore. To me, this was a Phantom of the Opera type story, with a love triangle, and a clear dividing line between good and evil. So just playing around with the story idea, I wrote the prologue and first chapter. Then I set it aside because I was busy meeting other deadlines. Besides what was I to do with an Amish/vampire story?

Really, where would an Amish/vampire story ever fit? I was writing in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) where Amish is very popular. Why couldn’t I write a traditional Amish book? Well, that’s just not how my brain works. I mentioned my story idea eventually to a couple of writer friends. They laughed but in a good way and encouraged me to write it. Well, I wasn’t so sure.

However, I was becoming obsessed with the story and very passionate when I spoke about it to anyone. I spent a lot of time in prayer over this book, because I didn’t want to write something that God didn’t want me to write. Also, I knew I’d have to leave the Christian market and sell it in the secular market. I wasn’t about to make that move without God’s clear direction. He began to show me in more ways than one that this was the book He wanted me to write.

More than a year passed, and I was at a writer’s conference minding my own business and not pursuing this story at all. An editor said the perfect submission would be…you guessed it! An Amish/vampire story. So I made an appointment to meet that editor and just talk about the idea. It almost felt like when an addict first admits she has a problem. I felt like I was teetering on the edge when I said, “I’m a writer and I’ve written an Amish/vampire story.” Well, she requested it.

Then I had to tell my agent about it. Thankfully, my agent loves the way my brain works. I caught her at the same conference and whispered to her that I’d had a request for a book I hadn’t even told her about. When I said, “Amish/vampire,” she laughed out loud in a joyful way. Gotta love an agent like that.

After she had read the prologue and first chapter, we had some serious discussions about ABA or CBA (secular or inspirational) and adult market or young adult. We both felt that in order to have a book about good versus evil, you have to be able to show evil and in the inspirational market I would be hindered in that way. I was once told that I couldn’t have a character say ‘pee.’ Really. Also, my agent and I decided that even though the heroine was young, the topics were adult. In YA novels, the characters are often in school and dealing with issues teenagers deal with. But in the Amish world, kids stop going to school at age 14. They’re making big decisions about their life much earlier than Englisch teenagers.

So began the submission process. Some editors got it, and some didn’t see how the two genres could ever be combined. Thankfully, Sourcebooks had a visionary editor, Peter Lynch who got it and gave Forsaken a chance. It’s honestly been great working with him, and I know God led me to this publisher.

What I love about this story is that it shows the battle of good and evil. Yep, I guess that reader did get part of the theme of the book. Evil doesn’t always appear with pitchfork and horns though. Quite often, evil is appealing and attractive and hooks us in before we realize what has happened. Such is the case with my heroine Hannah. She simply loved a boy. But she opens her heart and her mind too easily and the consequences could be devastating. Even though this story is published in the secular world, it has a powerful spiritual message, a message the world needs to hear.

In Plain Fear: Forsaken, Hannah Schmidt, a young Amish woman mourning the mysterious death of her beloved Jacob, must decide between two brothers, between good and evil. When she learns her first love is now the vampire Akiva, she must forsake him and cling to a new love, a lasting love, one that will save her soul.

To read an excerpt, click here. And now also available is the sequel:

Plain Fear: Forbidden Rachel Schmidt Nussbaum, a young Amishwidow, is now seven-and-a-half months pregnant with her first child. She blamesherself for her husband Josef’s death, and believes she is being punished byGod for her past sins.
So when a stranger arrives claimingto be an old friend from her wilder years, saying only she can fix things forhim, for Josef, and for herself, she makes an impulsive decision to follow him.It is a decision that will send Rachel on a dangerous journey—one that willlead her to the depths of ultimate danger, the potential for new love, and abattle that will decide both the fate of her soul and the life of her unbornchild.

Winner of the National Readers Choice Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction. Known for her quirky characters and wacky plots, don’t let the quirkiness fool you as Ellis probes deep in the heart and plucks at the heartstrings. She lives deep in the heart ofTexas with her husband and children and an assortment of dogs and cats, including her crazy labradoodle, aka Hilo Monster, and her new kitten, Sawyer.

To keep in touch with Leanna, you can find her at:

www.leannaellis.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leanna-Ellis/49487472434

Leanna, thank you so much for sharing how Plain Fear: Forsaken and Forbidden came to be. Stepping out of your market can really be a scary thing to do. It’s a risk we are glad you took.

Still Life in Shadows Author, Alice J. Wisler visits the Scribes!

Happy Sunday! Katy Lee here with Author, Alice J. Wisler. Last week I spoke on my thoughts of her latest release, Still Life in Shadows, and now today I am excited to have Alice here to share more about herself and her fascinating EX-Amish story.

Alice, as authors who have moments of doubt, we always like to ask other authors how they battle their doubt monster. How do you handle that monster?

Thanks for having me, Katy, and that’s a tough one.  Reading about how well other authors are doing while working on a new project can make me feel the doubt.  I try not to compare myself to others.  God made us each as unique vessels and I aim to do my part of being the only Alice like this Alice.  I read some verses on how I’m loved and made by God and then go on a walk (I like to walk 3 miles each day) and that’s when I’ll remind Him that He gave me this desire to write, so please, please, encourage me today.  Encouragement follows—a fan letter, a new idea to my plot, etc. 

Perfectly said. You write like Alice and no one else. But have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

My recent release, STILL LIFE IN SHADOWS, is a new venture for me—it’s my first published novel that is written in third person with two POVs. My other four novels with Bethany House have been written in first person from a single female POV.

Well, you did fabulous with this new venture into third person. I loved all the characters and what each brought to the story.

So now tell us, what is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Having Chip MacGregor (whom I have yet to meet) take me on as one of his clients.

He is a wonderful agent and person. I hear great things about him. Congratulations!

Now, what would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I think I’d want to be an actress in stage plays.  I love drama!

So how do you come up with your shtick?   By shtick I mean your voice. That thing that identifies the story as belonging to only you.  Perhaps an element to your stories like small towns or a thread of equestrian-life or medieval dialogue…something that says these are the type of stories that are your brand.

I like to think my shtick is quirky, fun, food-related, Southern, humorous and solemn—all mixed into one story.

 And I would have to agree.

What is your junk food of choice?

Let’s see, that would be trail mix, which isn’t too “junky” and chocolate. Oh, and butter pecan ice cream and oatmeal cookies.

Butter Pecan … my favorite.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Probably that would be sneaking out of the dorm in high school.  We’d climb out windows onto the dorm roof at our dormitory in Kobe, Japan. We were usually successful, but once I did get caught and that was no fun.

Kobe, Japan! Would love to hear more about why you lived there. But first, tell us about your book!

Fifteen years ago, Gideon Miller escaped the Amish lifestyle and now helps dissatisfied youth relocate from Old Order communities. Two unexpected people enter his auto repair shop in Twin Branches, NC—-Moriah, his younger brother with a drug habit, and Kiki, a thirteen-year-old autistic girl with a knack for fixing bicycles. Based on National Geographic’s Amish: Out of Order, Still Life in Shadows (River North/Moody) is a story of running from the past only to find it again, forgiveness, and the deep desire to belong.
 
 
 
Join her on Facebook at her author page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Alice-J-Wisler/333751835453
 
 
And of course, her website:  http://www.alicewisler.com
 
Readers: Feel free to leave questions and comments for Alice! Or even words of encouragement.

Author, Leanna Ellis, Shares about Taking the Scary Step Out of Her Market

Happy Sunday, Katy Lee here. I am very excited to have Leanna Ellis visiting with us today to share her story on how Plain Fear: Forsaken came to be. As an Inspirational writer, there are pretty strict guidelines to follow when writing for this market. One of them being, absolutely no vampires. But Leanna had a story to tell, so what was she to do?

Leanna Ellis is here to participate in the Scribes Spooky Theme Week to talk about a scary step she had to make. After all, taking the risk to blurr your market guidelines can be pretty scary. So please, give Leanna a warm welcome!

Happy Halloween! Oops! Did I say something wrong? Did you know that little phrase can be fairly controversial? There are certain camps regarding Halloween.There are those who embrace the holiday with all the gore and such and drape their houses in cobwebs. Then you’ve got those who allow their kids to dress up and enjoy the candy but no gory or other-worldly costumes. Then there’s the group that shuns the holiday because of its roots in paganism. So I didn’t mean to offend anyone by saying ‘Happy Halloween,’ but I just meant it as a friendly greeting. Like Halloween, we each have to figure out what is right for us and what is right for our families. And this is true in writing too.

In light of all of that, it seems very appropriate to discuss my current release, Plain Fear: Forsaken, which is a bit like Halloween, somewhat controversial. Some people may love the idea. Others may withhold judgment until they’ve heard more about it or even read it. And others will shun it just because of the subject matter. Just last week, I received this great review where the reviewer said, “Plain Fear Forsaken is a book that screams to be opened. It offers a fresh portrayal of vampires and their complex world, while taking readers on a journey of love and heartbreaking loss. This haunting tale is wonderfully written, with such intensity that you will not put it down.” Obviously a really nice review. Within an hour, I received an email from a reader who called my book, “Evil.” Did they read the same book? Apparently. But like Halloween, it’s not for every reader and it was a risk to write it, much less publish it.

Amish and vampires? Really? Yes, really. I’m asked a lot how this book came into being. Forsaken actually began as a joke. I was at a book signing and another author and I made a joke about we should write an Amish/vampire story because those were the two genres that were selling incredibly well. It really was a joke. I didn’t rush home and start writing the book. But I suppose some seed was planted in my warped little brain and took root. Soon a character was speaking to me about her story and wanting me to write it. But I resisted. However, there was a very intriguing element that I couldn’t seem to ignore. To me, this was a Phantom of the Opera type story, with a love triangle, and a clear dividing line between good and evil. So just playing around with the story idea, I wrote the prologue and first chapter. Then I set it aside because I was busy meeting other deadlines. Besides what was I to do with an Amish/vampire story?

Really, where would an Amish/vampire story ever fit? I was writing in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) where Amish is very popular. Why couldn’t I write a traditional Amish book? Well, that’s just not how my brain works. I mentioned my story idea eventually to a couple of writer friends. They laughed but in a good way and encouraged me to write it. Well, I wasn’t so sure.

However, I was becoming obsessed with the story and very passionate when I spoke about it to anyone. I spent a lot of time in prayer over this book, because I didn’t want to write something that God didn’t want me to write. Also, I knew I’d have to leave the Christian market and sell it in the secular market. I wasn’t about to make that move without God’s clear direction. He began to show me in more ways than one that this was the book He wanted me to write.

More than a year passed, and I was at a writer’s conference minding my own business and not pursuing this story at all. An editor said the perfect submission would be…you guessed it! An Amish/vampire story. So I made an appointment to meet that editor and just talk about the idea. It almost felt like when an addict first admits she has a problem. I felt like I was teetering on the edge when I said, “I’m a writer and I’ve written an Amish/vampire story.” Well, she requested it.

Then I had to tell my agent about it. Thankfully, my agent loves the way my brain works. I caught her at the same conference and whispered to her that I’d had a request for a book I hadn’t even told her about. When I said, “Amish/vampire,” she laughed out loud in a joyful way. Gotta love an agent like that.

After she had read the prologue and first chapter, we had some serious discussions about ABA or CBA (secular or inspirational) and adult market or young adult. We both felt that in order to have a book about good versus evil, you have to be able to show evil and in the inspirational market I would be hindered in that way. I was once told that I couldn’t have a character say ‘pee.’ Really. Also, my agent and I decided that even though the heroine was young, the topics were adult. In YA novels, the characters are often in school and dealing with issues teenagers deal with. But in the Amish world, kids stop going to school at age 14. They’re making big decisions about their life much earlier than Englisch teenagers.

So began the submission process. Some editors got it, and some didn’t see how the two genres could ever be combined. Thankfully, Sourcebooks had a visionary editor, Peter Lynch who got it and gave Forsaken a chance. It’s honestly been great working with him, and I know God led me to this publisher.

What I love about this story is that it shows the battle of good and evil. Yep, I guess that reader did get part of the theme of the book. Evil doesn’t always appear with pitchfork and horns though. Quite often, evil is appealing and attractive and hooks us in before we realize what has happened. Such is the case with my heroine Hannah. She simply loved a boy. But she opens her heart and her mind too easily and the consequences could be devastating. Even though this story is published in the secular world, it has a powerful spiritual message, a message the world needs to hear.

In Plain Fear: Forsaken, Hannah Schmidt, a young Amish woman mourning the mysterious death of her beloved Jacob, must decide between two brothers, between good and evil. When she learns her first love is now the vampire Akiva, she must forsake him and cling to a new love, a lasting love, one that will save her soul.

To read an excerpt, click here. Bonus Alert: Plain Fear: Forsaken is available for the Kindle and the Nook for only $2.99! I believe it’s only for another week. Don’t miss out!

Winner of the National Readers Choice Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction. Known for her quirky characters and wacky plots, don’t let the quirkiness fool you as Ellis probes deep in the heart and plucks at the heartstrings. She lives deep in the heart ofTexas with her husband and children and an assortment of dogs and cats, including her crazy labradoodle, aka Hilo Monster, and her new kitten, Sawyer.

To keep in touch with Leanna, you can find her at:

www.leannaellis.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leanna-Ellis/49487472434

Leanna, thank you so much for sharing how Plain Fear: Forsaken came to be. Stepping out of your market can really be a scary thing to do. It’s a risk we are glad you took.

Readers: Leanna is giving away a free copy of her book to one lucky commenter who posts before 10/30/11 -11:59PM (EST) Good Luck!