Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amish Book Cover

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover... but, an interesting cover does stir a reader's appetite.
 There are several key ingredients to producing an eye catching cover for an Amish novel.

          First of all, you need a lovely actress and a fantastic photographer. It's helpful if you happen to have one of each as daughters. My oldest of four daughters, Robyn, has a photography business, and my youngest daughter, Natalie, agreed to stand in as my actress.

         It is also a good idea to include a horse or two if possible. That wasn't a problem, my own Percheron Draft horses also make lovely cover models. Karm and Coke were raised on an Amish farm and provided inspiration for the Amish Horses Book Series in the first place.

 When Natalie was a little girl she used to sit in my horse barn and read to me as I groomed horses. She graduated from the University of Iowa as a history major and is now a high school teacher.

Robyn, our photographer daughter, was born with artistic flair. She had already read Catbird Singing before the day of this photo shoot. I believe that knowledge of the story and characters helped her understand what we were looking for.

My daughters both grew up around draft horses and were raised in a community saturated with Amish culture.
Karm and Coke seem to enjoy being the center of attention.
  We discussed a few ideas for our cover photo and let my daughters and horses go to work. All of the ingredients came together in a perfect moment, capturing a scene from Catbird Singing, almost as though the characters had come to life. (horses are some of the main characters in the Amish Horses Series)

There were so many good pictures, but one of them stood out as the most special and it became the cover you see below.

In Catbird Singing, a certain Amish girl talks affectionately to horses and uses that as a way to communicate to main character, Lenny.

Check out my daughter's photography website

Did the cover photo stir your appetite to read an Amish novel?
Click on this link to order your own copy: Amish Horses Book Series 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Old Tire Swing

A rope and an old tire can entertain children for hours
         My little granddaughters came over for a photo shoot the other evening. We took pictures of them sitting on my team of draft horses for the cover of my upcoming Amish novella. These two girls love my horses and it's obviously mutual, Karm and Coke love it when they visit. They know that the little girls feed them hay, carrots, and apples, as well as giving them many a gentle pat on the nose.

         It wasn't a big stretch to get these little girls to be willing to sit on my horses, they beg to sit on them every time they come to my house. Karm and Coke know the drill!

         After the photo shoot, my wife and daughters went into the house to get supper on the table, and I followed the little girls as they romped around the yard. It didn't take long before they had gravitated toward the tire swing. They climbed up there by themselves and I just took a few pics with my cell phone.

         I think they are absolutely adorable, but grandpa's are very bias. They are really cute though, aren't they?
They did really good about taking turns, as long as I told them to switch places often. As you can see below, the little one was sad when it was her older sister's turn. Big sister didn't mind as much when it was sissy's turn because she is old enough to push, which is also fun.
Patience is a virtue, but we all struggle with it at times.

Make sure and click "Follow" on the side menu... you will want to see the cover on this new book.
I will post it on here and on Amish Horses Facebook Page

There is nothing cuter than little girls sitting on a team of draft horses!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Walking the Pony

        Yes, that is a pony. I saw these little Amish girls walking this little pony-foal like a puppy dog.

        Both mornings, of the Horse Progress Days, I noticed there were a lot of Amish children driving pony carts toward the event. I wasn't too surprised because it is a rather common thing in Amish communities ... but it did seem like more pony carts than I would expect to see.

 When the event began I soon realized why all the pony carts. Both mornings started with local Amish children driving their ponies out into a field while us adults stood in a circle and watched. In the photo below, you can see them lining up with their little carts waiting for their turn. Some of the drivers were really young, (under five) but they usually had an older sibling along to help, (the older sibling may have been seven.)
         When the arena (us adults were the fence) had about 30 pony carts, the children drivers lined up in a big semi-circle. The announcer warned over his microphone, "Children, make sure you have a good hold on your ponies, we are going to have a little surprise!"
         An Amish boy came riding in on a mama pony with a pony-foal at her heals. The foal had a miniature rider on board, a doll dressed like a little Amish boy.  (It may have been the pony-foal in the top photo.) That little foal ran in circles around its mama with its miniature rider and all of us laughed until our bellies ached. An adult Amishman ran in circles after the pony-foal to try and catch it and we laughed even harder!
 The amazing part was that all of the young drivers kept their tiny steeds under control. They seemed to be expert handlers and no doubt they have a lot of experience.
        During this two-day event, hundreds of Amish families passed by my "book selling table" most of the children noticed my large toy horse. Many of those children wanted to look at it closer and some wanted to pet its mane and tail. One very pleasant family came by, and the daddy held a little boy about 16 months old. He pointed and said something in Dutch, Mama interpreted for me, "He said,'There's another horse!'" They were such friendly people I took the liberty to say, "I'm surprised at how much Amish children love horses. I thought everyday use would cause them to loose interest." The daddy told me, "Every time we hitch up a horse to go somewhere, he (the toddler) has to pet the horse before we go!"
        At first I worried that my toy horse may cause troubles for parents, if children began to throw a fit because they wanted the toy. Guess what ... that never happened. The Amish children stood right next to my table looking at the toy horse and the books. They all had their hands down at their sides unless they asked for permission to touch the horse. Many tiny little Amish girls stood looking at the toy with big eyes, until I asked, "Do you want to pet the horse?" They wouldn't speak, but nodded their heads politely. I set the horse closer so they could reach it.

        Many young Amish boys stopped by and looked at the covers of my books for a long time. I asked them if they wanted a bookmark but they usually didn't take one, until someone taught me how to ask in Pennsylvania Dutch, then almost every one smiled, took a bookmark and said, "Thank you" in English.

        It seemed fitting, that as I was leaving the event I saw these little girls walking their pony.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hay-field Volleyball

        Some people really know how to live and enjoy life's simple pleasures! I drove by an Amish farm the other day and there was a hay-field volleyball game going on. I'm pretty sure it was actually an Amish wedding being held on this farm, which is an all day event. Amish weddings start out early with a full "church-type" service, followed by a meal, continuing in the evening with another meal and a special Singing. Volleyball nets are set up nearby so young people have something fun to do between the wedding and later events.

        Buggy horses are usually tied on a long rope stretched tightly between two tractors. Hundreds of horses and buggies are at an event like this and there needs to be a good parking plan. I took these pictures in the late afternoon, by that time of day many of the older folks have left. Sorry I couldn't give you a better picture of how many buggies would have been there at an earlier time of day.

        I like this photo above. A young man is jumping up to spike the ball and a guy on the other side is prepared to return it, if it doesn't get blocked by those near the net. Volleyball is a very common recreational activity for Amish teens. I had a chance to play volleyball with my Amish friends (when I was a teen.) I found that they were actually pretty good at it, yet kept the game fun for everyone. You have to be smart enough to keep the girls involved, that's an Amish guy's chance to mingle with females.
The white objects behind these horses are plastic-wrapped hay bales.

        Under the Heavens and Catbird Singing both have volleyball games described within their pages. If you really want to know what it is like to spend time on an Amish farm, you need to read these books. I took my own experiences and made every effort to share the details that make you feel like you are right there. I like to tell people, "I made the story much more interesting than my own life, or nobody would want to read it." LOL  However, most of the stories are from my own experiences, or those my friends have shared with me. Book III is on the way, but I haven't released the title yet. Check out my Amazon, Thomas Nye author page.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Carjacked by an Amishman

        Imagine, you're a young mother, on your way home from work. As you drive down the quiet streets of a small town in Iowa, you are looking forward to a peaceful evening with your four children. There seems to be some kind of commotion on the street ahead. Cars are pulling over as an Amish buggy swerves out of control. You pull your mini-van over to the side of the road until things calm down.

        An Amishman pulls open your passenger door and jumps in. "Quick, go after that buggy!"

        My wife works in Iowa City. One of her co-workers lives in Kalona, a small town in Iowa with a large Amish population living nearby.

        Her co-worker told her this story of how she was carjacked by an Amishman. After he jumped into her car, he ordered her, "Go after that buggy!" She started after it without knowing what was happening. He encouraged her, "Go, Go, Go ... that's my horse, that's my buggy and nobody is in it!"

        My wife's co-worker asked, "What are we going to do?"
        "Pull your van around in front of my horse and he will stop!" She said that she argued with him. "Maybe your horse will crash into my van and not stop." There wasn't enough time to debate the subject. He insisted, "Pull over right now!" She complied with his demands and pulled in front of his runaway buggy-horse, and in fact, the horse did come to a stop, just as he had expected. He jumped out and quickly grabbed his horse. She headed on home to her family and the quite evening she had planned.

(I may have a few of the details wrong in this story... but it was pretty close.)

        If you have read my novels, you know that my writing is about the clashing of two worlds. Have you ever eaten a candy bar and intermittently sipped from a glass of sour lemonade? Well, I enjoy that contrast. Sour lemonade makes chocolate taste sweeter.

        I have had many experiences where two worlds clash; modern life contrasting the old-fashioned Amish world. I work in a college town (Iowa City, Iowa) I drive through those busy streets filled with scantily dressed students, every hand holds a cell-phone, earbuds pouring private music selections into each ear. One moment I'm at a busy intersection. (always one person with road-rage nearby) Fifteen minutes later, I'm driving down a quiet country road. Two little Amish boys wave at me as they pull a wagon with a container of milk they are delivering to a neighbor family. Teenage girls hoe between rows of garden produce singing hymns together. Sometimes I would rather just enjoy the chocolate and skip the lemonade. However, after a sip of lemonade, chocolate sure does taste sweet!

Life is interesting... you never know when you will get carjacked by an Amishman!