Students entering senior year in high school usually have a lot on their minds. Which college will they choose? How are they going to finance it? And what will be their major?
I wasn’t one of those students worrying about college. My dad was pushing me to go to the local community college and become a nurse.
That was the last thing I wanted. I was the oldest child and was tired of taking care of my younger siblings. When I saw a notice on the school announcement board about a cooperative education class at the local newspaper I decided to apply. After all, I was a voracious reader and I’d enjoyed the extra credit assignments in creative writing my English teacher gave me.
That decision led me to being chosen to attend a weekly class at the newspaper. I loved it there. Sometimes I thought I was in DisneyWorld. The newspaper was such an incredible place filled with people who loved to write, who loved to inform and educate their readers. Each week we high school students learned about writing and interviewing and turning our work in on a deadline.
After I graduated I got a job as a copy kid – a “gofer” – there while I took classes at the community college. Gradually I worked my way up to reporter and television magazine writer.
And that experience led me to an important discovery: writing for the newspaper taught me to look for what readers want to read and how to enjoy writing for them.
Too often new writers sit down and write what they want to and I’m not saying they shouldn’t. But if you want to break into publishing you should look at what people are reading and think about what you have to offer in that area.
Writers should study the offerings at bookstores – both brick and mortar stores and online stores. Let’s face it – this is not a hardship for us readers. Then I recommend studying bestseller lists. I’m not suggesting that you copy any writers in content or style but simply see what readers are interested in and buying and see if you have something to offer in that area.
I discovered that Amish fiction had become a popular genre in Christian fiction. I saw this trend when I browsed bookstores and bestseller lists. Around that time I attended a writer’s conference near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I’d seen Amish families traveling in buggies past my uncle’s Indiana farm as a child and been fascinated by them. So I explored Paradise, Pennsylvania, and the more that I met members of the Amish, the more I grew to admire them for their simple way of life and their daily walk with their faith. When I got home I began to think about writing a story set there.
I love stories where someone ventures into unfamiliar territory and thought, what would someone do if they went to live in an Amish community? I was glancing through the newspaper later that week and saw a story about a woman who had to calm soldiers returning to civilian life. My Englisch heroine was born: a news reporter (write what you know) who is injured and goes to heal at her Amish grandmother’s house. There she is reunited with the Amish boy next door and falls in love. But their worlds are so different it poses a real challenge to their renewed relationship . . . That story was A Time to Love, the first book in the Quilts of Lancaster County series (Abingdon Press). I sent it to my agent who submitted it to publishers and it didn’t sell to the first place it was submitted. But the editor there bought two Amish novellas from me that were included in collections called An Amish Christmas and An Amish Gathering with Beth Wiseman and Kathleen Fuller.
Since then I’ve sold five Amish series as well as a number of single Amish titles.
Home to Paradise is the latest, the third book of the Coming Home series (Abingdon Press).
Barbara is offering a chance to win a copy of her latest book, Home to Paradise. Follow the link. https://promosimple.com/ps/b394
Find out more about Barbara at http://barbaracameron.com.