Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

A Sneak Peek at My Short Story Contest Entry

on September 13, 2012

My looooong hiatus from the blogosphere is over!

I promise I had my reasons, though…namely manic YA fiction writing. My latest project was a 4,000 word YA short story for the Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction contest. My entry, Rum-spring-a Break, is about a sixteen-year-old Amish girl who dreams of being a veterinarian. During her rumspringa, the rite of passage for Amish youth, she takes steps to actualize her dreams after attending her first non-Amish party, where she finds inspiration in unexpected places.

Writing Rum-spring-a Break was exciting for me because it is about a topic that not many people know about. Although I grew up in western Pennsylvania and am well acquainted with the Amish, I had no idea about rumspringa customs, and found my research fascinating. I was especially intrigued by the Amish viewpoint on education; the Amish finish theirs after the eighth grade level, and they do not embrace college education because too much “worldly wisdom” makes one proud.

However, since many Amish run businesses, some theorize that they will be more open to additional formal education in the future. This formed the basis of Rum-spring-a Break, in which the main character’s primary struggle is her desire to eventually be baptized Amish, yet to also receive a college education.

Following is an excerpt from Rum-spring-a Break. Look for installments of the whole story on my blog coming soon!

“Rebekah!” A familiar voice rings out over the verdant hillside, shattering my daydream. I love afternoons in the fields, after I finish my chores. I always kick off my clunky shoes and frolic in the babbling brook, then collapse in the crisp, cool grass at the water’s edge. My mother would scold me for wasting time if she knew, so the indulgence feels like an act of rebellion. We Amish teens don’t get enough of those, especially before rumspringa rolls around.

I open my eyes and push myself up on one elbow as my twin sister, Mercy, scurries toward me. Mercy never walks when she can run. “Only one day until rumspringa!” she calls, grabbing my hands and pulling me to my feet. “Look what worldly goods I have!”

Mercy holds out a bottle of shocking pink nail polish, and a strange, flat contraption with a long cord.

“What’s that?” I ask, wrinkling my nose.

“A flat iron,” Mercy says. Then, in response to my vacant expression, she adds, “To straighten your hair. Elizabeth Beiler used it during her rumspringa. She doesn’t need it anymore, so she gave it to us.”

Elizabeth, our neighbor, is nineteen years old. Like most Amish, she started rumspringa at age sixteen. Rumspringa literally means “to jump around,” but in our community, it’s the time when teens discover the world of the non-Amish, whom we call “English.” Just last week, Elizabeth was baptized, which means she has chosen to remain in the Amish community, and her parents are pleased.

Mercy and I have amassed a small collection of bootleg rumspringa artifacts from our friends and neighbors. We have colorful eye shadows and lip-glosses, even a decadent bottle of perfume called Dead Sexy. We have adult books that we’re not supposed to read. And Mercy has a neon green push-up bra, which she sometimes sneaks under her long, modest dress. I tried it one morning, but I couldn’t even wear it to the breakfast table; I felt like I was lying to the world.

“We should really stop accumulating these worldly goods,” I tell Mercy as I reluctantly pull on my heavy stockings and sturdy brown clogs. “You know we could be punished or even shunned for starting rumspringa early.”

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