Random Inspirations

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

Amish Shopkeeper Release and Giveaway!

I’m super excited to announce that Amish Shopkeeper is out! Download it here.

The cover of my brand-new book, Amish Shopkeeper!

The cover of my brand-new book, Amish Shopkeeper!

Interested in reviewing the book? The first 5 fans who comment below with their Amazon IDs will receive the book for free!

Want to check out the book before you buy it? Here’s an excerpt. Happy reading!

Chapter Two: Jakob 

That morning, there’s another slight snag that I need to work out before I talk to Aaron: whether or not Amos is actually selling, and when. Although he’s constantly hinting around about it, he’s been pretty vague about the specifics.

Amos had been prepared to sell right away when the new minister had told us that our rubber buggy wheels were too worldly and would need to be changed immediately. Unfortunately, the wheels were non-returnable, and we’d just ordered in a huge shipment. The shop stood to lose a lot of money, and Amos told me it was time for him to think about retiring early.

However, after I convinced Minister Eichler that the rubber wheels weren’t too Hochmut and were actually a whole lot more durable than the steel-rimmed ones he favored, Amos didn’t seem so eager to sell anymore. Since then, everything has been business as usual.

Now I finish up a repair on an old clock while Amos sips coffee at his desk in the corner, balancing the figures. I pause, trying to think of the best way to bring up the subject of selling, but I realize that I’ll just have to be blunt. I don’t have my fraa’s skills when it comes to talking to people.

“So,” I begin, clearing my throat as I shift my weight from foot to foot. “Given any more thought to selling?”

Amos shuffles a few papers around and peers at me over top of his glasses. “Things are looking pretty gut here, Jakob, so I don’t really need to sell. But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t be open to it for the right price.” Amos sets his papers down and leans forward. “Why, are you thinking of buying?”

I nod. “I would like to, and I’m hoping that I can offer you the right price. My bruder will be coming in at lunchtime today. I’m trying to talk him into going into business with me.”

Amos smiles. “Well, that would work out nicely. I must admit, I am looking forward to retirement, but I love the shop as well. I’ve worked hard to build it up over the years, and when I do sell, I’d much rather have you buy it than some stranger. I might as well retire soon; I’m no use sitting behind this desk all day. Don’t get old, Jakob, whatever you do.”

I laugh, wondering why old people always say that. “You’re not that old, Amos,” I protest.

He rubs his rheumatic knee. “Well, thank you, son, but right now it sure feels like I am.” Taking a deep breath, he adds,  “Bring your bruder in here, by all means. I’ll show him how things work, and hopefully, we can sweet-talk him together.”

I smile at Amos, praying that Aaron will realize how wunderlich it would be to work here. I don’t have much time to linger on the thought because we’re busy all morning. There’s a new shipment of parts to organize and display, one buggy repair, and a few random odds and ends to fix for a friend of old Mrs. Yoder.

Aaron arrives a little after noon, and Amos says, “Well, hello there. It’s gut to have you in my shop.” With a wink in my direction, he adds, “Your bruder here is a wunderlich worker. You could do worse than going into business with him.”

Aaron smiles. “Jah, I reckon you’re right, Amos. But there are other options for me, so I’ll have to choose wisely.”

I raise an eyebrow, wondering what Aaron means by “other options.” Is he referring to his job at the factory, or perhaps to taking a new job and moving out of town with Elizabeth after the wedding?

Shaking the thoughts aside, I focus on the present, demonstrating how to fix a buggy’s suspension, and telling Aaron about the other things we repair. Amos takes some time to go over the books with Aaron, and even lets him wait on a customer, a man from Volant who is looking for new buggy wheels.

Although Aaron isn’t used to working with customers, he does a pretty gut job waiting on the man, explaining the types of wheels we sell, and looking to Amos and me when he’s unsure of the prices.

“Thanks much,” the man from Volant says with a smile as he leaves with four new buggy wheels. “You helped me a great deal.”

Once the man has left, Amos pats Aaron on the shoulder. “Well, there you go, your first sale. I can tell you have a knack, son. I really hope that you and your bruder decide to buy the place. I’m in no hurry to sell, but I know the day is coming sooner than I think. I’d much rather sell to gut Amish boys than to English outsiders.”

Aaron gives Amos a tight smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Well, thanks for the opportunity, sir. I’ll certainly think about it.”

I fight the urge to groan. I’d thought that coming in and seeing how smoothly the shop runs would make Aaron more eager to buy it, but he still doesn’t seem convinced. Then again, Aaron always was a stubborn one.

I sigh. It looks like my work isn’t done yet.

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5 Essential Tips to Turn Your Passion for Writing into a Career

From childhood, our parents and teachers encourage us to hold on tight to our dreams, just as the song says. However, some time between preschool and prom, many of us lose that amazing and innate child-like ability to believe we can do anything. In college, we might put aside our passions, like music, acting, or writing, to focus on some “marketable” major that will land us a “secure” (and likely immensely boring) job. After we graduate, we take said job and soon find ourselves stuck in an annoying day-to-day routine, one that leaves no time to realize our childhood dreams and passions.

In my first bestselling eBook on Amazon, Rumspringa Breakan Amish girl who wishes to become a veterinarian is told by her boyfriend, “Don’t just hold on tight to your dreams–actualize them.” This is the mantra by which I try to live my life. As a child, I had many dreams: to play Mozart for my dad on the piano, to play the flute in marching band, to become a cheerleader, to act and sing in a musical, and, most of all, to publish a book. By the time I was in high school, I’d accomplished all of these childhood fantasies except the last one. Self-publishing was not “a thing” yet, and I obviously wasn’t going to land a literary agent in high school, when my focus was split so many different ways. Besides, I was an amateur. I’d have a lot of work to do before I could become a published author.

So, I put aside that dream, instead earning my Doctor of Pharmacy degree and practicing pharmacy for 6 years. Although the field was lucrative and I enjoyed many aspects of it, I couldn’t let go of my dream of becoming a published author. I just had to do it. If I didn’t pursue my passion, I knew that I’d regret it for the rest of my life!

Here I am in my office, doing some writing!

Here I am in my office, doing some writing!

Going after your passion is hard work, and it takes guts. I’m a practical person, and I value financial stability, so I took my transition slowly. Here are five essential tips that I used when I decided to turn my passion for writing into my new career:

  1. Pursue your passion part-time first – I kept up my writing skills by journaling, and worked on my teen novel when I wasn’t at my “day job.” I also started a blog, attended writing conferences, and took advanced level writing classes to hone my skills. I worked toward my goal every day–while still keeping my full-time job for financial comfort. After a few glasses of wine, throwing your steady job away and rushing headlong after your passion might make sense, but it’s much less stressful to start pursuing your passion part-time first.
  2. Build an author platform – While I was working as a pharmacist, I began to dabble in indie publishing. I published my first teen novel on Amazon, but it barely sold any copies since I had no author platform. I realized that if I wanted to actually turn writing into a career, I would have to find my readers and sell some books! So, I became active on social media, began blogging twice a week, and hired professionals to create an author website for me. My next book, a teen short story, landed on the Amazon bestseller lists, mainly because I’d found a readership and learned to promote my work.
  3. Network, Network, Network – The indie author community is a friendly one. Since self-publishing is a relatively new field, we authors love trading tips. I attended several writers’ conferences and local meet-ups before my daughter was born. Now, I do most of my networking online. I’ve found many like-minded authors through blogs, Facebook groups, and Twitter. These contacts have been invaluable, providing me with moral support, as well as fresh ideas.
  4. Know where to look for work – If you want to make a full-time career of writing, chances are you’ll also have to do some freelancing in addition to indie publishing. TheLadders.com is a comprehensive career resource for professionals, and can assist professional writers in finding freshly-posted jobs. Also, local writers’ groups are an amazing place to meet other professionals and find out about interesting career opportunities.
  5. Evolve with the industry – Self-publishing is constantly changing, since it’s still a relatively young industry. If you want to keep doing your passion (i.e. writing and publishing books), you have to be willing to constantly change with the business. This means you must publish on multiple stores (I was exclusively on Amazon, but am now expanding to Kobo), and stay abreast of the latest trends in promotion.

So, there you have it: 5 essential tips for turning your passion for writing into a career. Writers out there, how did you pursue your passion? Aspiring writers, how are you planning to take the leap into the industry? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Excerpt of Amish Shopkeeper

I’m excited to announce that my new eBook, Amish Shopkeeper, will be coming out early next week! Jakob wants to buy the buggy repair shop where he works, but how can he afford it? All he needs is time, and his boss, Amos, is willing to give him that. After all, he’s not planning to retire right away.

However, all that changes when Amos finds out that he needs an expensive knee surgery. Suddenly, he’s forced into selling. The problem: Jakob can’t afford to buy it yet.

With the help of Samuel and the church elders, Jakob and Hannah plan a fundraiser for Amos. But can they raise enough money to pay for Amos’s operation, or will he be forced to sell anyway?

I’ll keep you posted here and on Facebook and Twitter with release dates. Until then, here’s an excerpt of the book!

A real Amish buggy shop in Pennsylvania. Image from amishbuggypa.com

A real Amish buggy shop in Pennsylvania. Image from amishbuggypa.com

Chapter One: Jakob

I gaze across the fields by my haus, holding up one hand to shield my eyes from the bright sunrise. My bruder, Aaron, will be married this November, and every morning, I’ve been tending the celery I’ve planted for him.  Celery is a staple in Amish weddings; it’s used in the recipes, as well as the decorations.

The tall, green stalks are sprouting up faster than my younger brothers during puberty. There’s been plenty of rain this year, unlike the baremlich drought two summers ago, when I’d been preparing for my own wedding.

I stifle a yawn; this extra chore means that I have to rise half an hour earlier. However, I feel as though it’s worth it. After all, Aaron and my other bruders helped to grow the celery, meager as it was, for my wedding.

Besides, I’m hoping that the extra favor will make Aaron more likely to do one for me. I’ve been trying to talk him into going into business with me for the last month or so, and he’s still not sure about it. My boss Amos might sell his old buggy repair shop, and I really want to buy it. The only problem is that I don’t have enough money to do it by myself—I need a business partner.

Aaron is meeting me at the shop for lunch today. He’s planning to look around, and then he’ll stay for a while to see how the place runs. I really hope he likes it. He makes gut money at the table and chair factory where he works. Plus, he’s thinking of moving to the next town over with his fraa-to-be. I’ll have a lot of work to do to convince him.

Turning toward the haus, I push the wheelbarrow of mulch back into the barn and begin my next chore: milking the cows. As I complete all my other usual morning tasks, I think about the way I’d run the repair shop if it were mine.

I’ve worked there ever since I graduated eighth grade, and throughout the years, I’ve become the guy who can fix just about anything. Not only do I perform all the buggy repairs since Amos’s rheumatism has started to act up, I also suggested that we expand our business to include random household items. Now, we fix anything people bring in—and since Amos has problems seeing close-up, I do most of those repairs as well.

I gather a basketful of eggs and head into the haus. There, Hannah has already begun cooking breakfast. I can smell the coffee brewing, and she’s frying up some bacon. Waffles sizzle on the griddle, while our five-month-old bobbel, Grace, sits at her high chair, eagerly waiting for her feeding. She’s a gut eater, although she usually gets more food on herself than in her mouth.

Gute mariye, liebchen.” I give Hannah a quick kiss on her soft lips, and then plant a loud, sloppy one on Grace’s round cheek, causing her to burst into giggles.

Gute mariye, Jakob,” Hannah says with a smile. She places two fragrant golden waffles and four crispy slices of bacon on a plate in front of me, and pours me a tall cup of coffee. “I made you extra food, and coffee, too. You have a big day today, what with meeting your bruder. Do you think he’ll finally agree to go into business with you?”

I shrug, chewing on a piece of bacon. “I can’t be sure, but all I can do is pray.”

“Well, in that case, I’ll be praying, too. Herr Gott is sure to listen if we both pester Him.”

I laugh along with Hannah, hoping she’s right.

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