Sunday, February 11, 2018

Amish Characters

Sony: Character in Whispering to Horses.
 I've met a few Amish characters in my life. Here are a few drawings of characters in my novels.

When I write Amish fiction, I create characters that remind me of real people that I've had the pleasure of knowing. As my story progresses, I add personality traits borrowed from other acquaintances. Suddenly, a character begins to emerge with a personality completely unique and separate from anybody I've ever known.

Many authors experience this strange sensation, of having created characters seem to take on a life of their own.
I guess it makes sense? We spend so much time trying to make characters seem real that we end up believing it ourselves.
Afterall, if we don't, why would our readers?
Eli and his horses.
 As far as names are concerned, I try to use common Amish/ Mennonite names. In fact, the names I use are so typical that anyone with an Amish/Mennonite background will, quite likely,  have friends with the same names.

Please be assured, my novels are from my imagination and none of these characters, or names, are people you know. Yet, they all have characteristics of someone you might know.

One evening, I received a phone call from an older Mennonite fellow. He had read Under the Heavens and wanted to me tell him who the real-life people were. I struggled to convince him that they didn't exist in our community, or anywhere else.

Lenny and Leah, Amish Horses Series.

Lenny and Noey talk horses.
Yes, there are some interesting Amish characters out there in the real world. Mostly, they have shown themselves to have incredible integrity.

Sometimes, Amish folks word things in such a way that sound odd to English people. This might make people chuckle. Keep in mind, what you say may seem odd to them.

A sweet moment: (I'm not telling what story this is from.) I drew this while looking at a photograph of a real-life Amish couple, the moment he proposed. They are friends of mine.

Fanny Ella and her beloved pony.
One common aspect of my writing, I always have characters in a variety of ages. Amish families are usually quite large. Communities are tight-knit and old folks interact with young children. Teens hold babies and care for toddlers. Everyone seems valued. This drawing below doesn't appear in Amish Park, however, this scene does. I drew this after visiting an Amish church service and witnessing a little girl seated near the minister and listening intently to him preach.
Jonas speaks, and a little Amish girl listens intently. Amish Park.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Amish Built

My wife's dream came true! Shari has been longing for a table big enough that our whole family can gather around it. We recently hired an Amish woodworker to build this Maple table. Shady View Woodworks. That is our son, Dallas, you see in the picture. 

It's as smooth as silk, and as you can see, it extends out quite a long way. 20 feet to be exact. Our family ate Christmas dinner around it a few weeks back and still had 5 table leaves left out. We have 5 children, 4 sons-in-law, and only 2 couples have given us grandchildren. So, we are thinking we may need the other 5 table leaves at some point. LOL

We also had these Maple church benches made at the same time. The legs fold up so they can be stored if necessary.

Amish church benches are usually made of pine which is much lighter to lift and move. And, folding legs make them easier to be loaded in a church-bench wagon and moved from house to house for meetings.

The craftsman happens to be the son of my Amish friend who sold Karma and Karla to me. I'm sure he has driven my horses on a manure spreader many times.

When we moved the table to our house, the carpenter's four young sons came along to help. They seemed quite excited about the trip... even though we are only a few miles from their house.
Their names are, Junior, James, Jacob, and Joseph, ranging in age from about 12 to 6 years, I would guess.

All four were super polite and hard workers. (What I've come to expect from Amish children, and I've yet to be disappointed.)
They really seemed to enjoy looking at my wife's Christmas village and our Christmas tree. Those are things Amish families wouldn't usually have in their homes.

When we finished setting up the table, the boys wanted to go out to my barn and check on their grandpa's old horses, Karma and Karla.
Whenever I drive past Shady View Woodworks, Junior, James, Jacob, Joseph, and their other 6 siblings wave at me. (They are usually riding ponies!)

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Amish Vacation?

       Morning light faintly glimmered on window shades. A 5:30 a.m. knock on the door woke Pete from a deep sleep. "Time to rise and shine," a voice called from beyond the door.
       "Lisa, they are trying to wake us," Pete said.
       She pulled the sheet up over her head.
           Pete spoke louder, "Lisa, wake up."
           She moaned and sat up on the edge of the bed. "I hope they don't plan on waking us up this early every day."

       Pete and Lisa headed out into the kitchen and were greeted by the wonderful aroma of breakfast food sizzling on the stove.

       Carrie snuck close to her dad and whispered, "My phone is almost out of power."
       "Plug it in," Pete answered with what seemed a simple and obvious solution.
       "They don't seem to have electricity anywhere in this house."
       "Oh, that's a problem." Pete looked at his phone and realized it would be dead soon, also. He asked out loud, "Is there a place we can plug in our phones? They are about ready to die."   
       "We have a phone booth less than a mile away if it turns out you need to make a call," Cephas said.
        Pete tried to think of how he could explain that he used his phone for a lot more than calling people.
        Lisa smiled at her husband and commented, "That will be enough phone calls for our family this week."       
       Carrie pulled her dad aside, whispering angry words into his ear. "They shut off their lanterns at 9:00 last night. I couldn't get to sleep for three hours, but at least I had my phone."

       You have been reading a snippet from Amish Park. What would it be like if your family spent a week on an Amish farm? 
       Pete and Lisa's teenage daughter, Carrie, is a cell-phone zombie, like most American girls her age. An Amish lantern sheds a strange light on a whole new world, once her phone dies.
       This trip to an Amish theme park is ten-year-old Natalie's idea. She loves horses and thinks that a visit to an Amish farm might save her parents marriage and keep their family together.

Is God still in the miracle business?
Open the pages of Amish Park and join the Heller family's Amish vacation.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Join Our Thanksgiving Frolic

This Thanksgiving you can spend a little time with three Amish families... through the pages of Love's Thankful Heart, a collection of three Thanksgiving Amish stories.
Here's a sampling:

 On Thanksgiving Day, Monroe could only think of Rosemary. He listened to the sounds of his mom and sisters toiling in the kitchen as they prepared a Thanksgiving feast of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, scalloped corn, and multiple side dishestoo many to count. 

The house was warm and moist because of all the simmering pots on the stove. So much so, the windows fogged over and dripped condensation. The aroma of baking turkey seeped into every room, tantalizing the entire family.

Finally, Esther called everyone to the table for the late afternoon meal. The whole family chatted and laughed as they gathered around, squeezing together closely in an effort to fit every member in. When they were finally seated, the talking hushed until the room became filled with silence. Even the smallest children sensed that it was time for prayer. Instead of saying let’s pray, as he usually did, Joe cleared his voice and began to speak...

 Monroe loaded his plate with everything his mother and sisters had fixed. He poured gravy over a mound of turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing, letting the steam rise under his nose. Esthers table fell silent except for the tinkling of spoons and forks as everyone fellowshipped in the abundance of Gods provision. Everything in the world seemed perfect, except for one thing.
Just as the meal came to an end, a knock sounded on the door. Monroe stood up before anyone else could move.
Ill see whos here, he announced. He didnt know if the others suspected what was on his mind. He didnt care. His heart swelled with hope, expecting to see Rosemarys sweet face. He pulled open the door and there stood...

You have just read a section of The Thanksgiving Frolic
One of three Amish Thanksgiving stories in,

Sunday, October 22, 2017


 When a horse and handler connect, they thrive together.

Horses have an amazing ability to form bonds with humans, much like that between a dog and a person. Dogs, horses, and people flourish when we feel loved and cared for.

One subject I dwell on in my novel Under the Heavens is the way horses reflect their human counterpart. If a rider is calm and confident, their mount will be relaxed and bold. When the one holding the lines is skittish or tense, the horse will show it.

Angel, this young horse, was born a few years ago on Annie's home farm. Since then, the two of them have become best friends. These photos were taken at Angels very first horse show. They entered eleven classes and won eight ribbons!

This young horse and rider can do it all. They showed in bareback, English, open driving, and much more. Angel enjoys a trail ride as much as pulling a cart down the road. No doubt, this is one special young mare. However, Annie's horse skills and good nature are clearly reflected by the way Angel is thriving.

In the photo below, Annie's husband and sisters give her help and support. Her sister, tagged 298, also entered a "pairs" class with Annie and they won ribbons in that event.

Note: All Amish districts have their own unique set of rules. Some will and some won't allow pictures or horse shows.
 At the end of the day...
We all flourish if we feel valued.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


 When I starting writing books about the Amish and horses, my brand became "Amish Horses."

Little did I know that I was diving into a controversy.

My Amish neighbors are experts with horses and take great care of their steeds. Apparently, other people have had the misfortune of witnessing something to the contrary.

It is not wise to lump an entire race or ethnic group into a pot and label them. That is called profiling.

Each person in every people group should have the right to be seen and known for who they are as an individual, not pre-judged.

Beautifully fit workhorses on an Amish farm.

I would love to mediate between those who have never met an Amish person and my Amish neighbors.

First of all, let me acknowledge the truth in some of these accusations. Yes, unfortunately, there are some individuals in every people group that are cruel to animals or other humans. But, let's not accuse all NFL players of using dogs wrongly because we heard about a few who did.

The first thing you should know about the Amish and why their horses look so thin: Amish use a breed of horse that is naturally thin. The best breeds for pulling a buggy are trotters and pacers, horses that have been bred for hundreds of years for use on racetracks. This would be much akin to the dog breed, Grayhound. What if you owned a Grayhound and your neighbors didn't understand that these dogs are born looking hungry.

Some of the kindest people I have ever met are Amish. I have personally known elderly Amish men that love their horses like family members, caring for them tenderly, weeping when they pass away at a ripe old age. I've also known sweet little Amish children that love their ponies as much or more than city kids love their dogs.

I promise that you will find many a fat pony and overweight draft horse on Amish farms all over America. There is a good explanation for this: draft horse and pony breeds are naturally "easy keepers" unlike trotting horses. Workhorses would be more like Bulldogs and ponies like Pugs.

I have traveled all over the U.S.A. visiting Amish communities and I have found that most Amish horses are dearly loved by their owners. I will admit that have witnessed a minority that are less than enthused about their horses, and even a few that are harsh.

If you know of an individual that mistreats an animal, you should be bold enough to speak to them about it. Please, don't hide behind your computer and toss accusations against an entire people group.

Instead, take time to look for the good in people. You will be pleasantly surprised when you personally get acquainted with Amish people.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Amish Park (revealed)

 Once you've clicked on the picture all you need to do is scroll down to see the full cover revealed

Be sure to continue scrolling to read more about Amish Park, a novel.

-What a difference one week can make- 
         Pete and Lisa Heller have already decided to end their marriage long fight with a divorce. However, their 10-year-old daughter has another plan. Natalie believes that Amish Park, a theme resort offering guests a realistic experience on an Amish farm, may be the answer to all her family’s problems. Her 16-year-old sister, Carrie, is uninterested and absorbed with her phone until the power fades and an Amish lantern sheds new light. The Heller family gets a little more than they bargained for when their aging tour guide uses a team of draft horses to soften Pete’s heart. Slip on your work boots and join the Heller family’s Amish vacation; an unexpected journey to a better place.

        (Amish Park is a fictitious theme park. It would be fun if there was a real place like it!)

Amish Park, a novel, will be released this October, through Dove Christian Publishers
Keep up to date by following this blog or Thomas Nye on Facebook.