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07 November 2011

Let's Take a Trip to Amish Country

Today's host: Jennifer Slattery


We're having a great birthday bash, COTT style, full of close competitions, great reads, and prizes galore! If you've been around COTT much, you know our competitors are more than great authors. They become our family. And what a family celebration we'll have when the the ultimate tournament champion is crowned.

What better way to start November than to transition to the simple things of faith, family, and friends. I don't know much about the Amish, but that's what comes to mind when I think of them--their strong faith-centered community. What about you? This week you get to read some fun Amish fiction, then choose your favorite.

And now, let the Amish Clash begin as once again you, our reader, determine the next literary champion. Read the excerpts below then vote on your favorite. (Remember, every vote counts and gets you entered into a drawing to win one of these fab-tabulous novels!)

Excerpt A:

Jorie waited for the tall dark man to speak again. The stranger seemed at ease with silence. His gaze followed Ephraim until he disappeared into the barn, and then the man’s eyes swept across the countryside in front of them. “I think that might just be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.”

Jorie looked over to take in the sight of the farm: the two-story white frame house nestled against a hill. A gray-topped buggy leaning on its traces by the large barn. About halfway up the drive, a ribbon of a creek wove parallel to the house. On the banks of the creek sat an enormous willow tree that provided shelter to a handful of sheep. And surrounding the house were acres and acres of fields, straight and even rows of corn and wheat. The only sound punctuating the stillness was a distant neighbor calling for his cows. “That’s Beacon Hollow. It belongs to my neighbors, the Zooks.”

“Clear to see they’re good farmers,” he said as his eyes scanned the farm.

They stood silently, waiting for Ephraim, listening to the husky whisper of the dry August corn in the fields. “The Zooks have always been farmers,” she finally said, breaking the quiet. “They were some of the first settlers around here. Now the land is farmed by four brothers.” She looked up the drive to see Ephraim on his way down the hill, lugging a red can of gasoline with two hands.

“Ephraim is one of the brothers.”

“Don’t tell me they’re all as young as him, managing a big farm like that!”

Jorie smiled. “No. He’s the youngest. The oldest brother is Caleb. He and his wife Mary Ann are really running the farm. Matthew—he’s eighteen—he does quite a bit of work.”

“Where’s the third brother?” Jorie hesitated. “That would be Ben. He’s in Vietnam.” The man looked at her curiously. “Pardon me for asking, ma’am, but I thought the Amish didn’t fight in wars.”

Jorie’s chin lifted a notch. “He’s not fighting. He’s a conscientious objector.”

Ephraim crossed the road with the full gas can and gave a shy nod to the stranger. The man poured the gasoline into his tank and tightened the cap, then handed the can back to Ephraim. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a wallet, opened it, and took out a few dollars to hand to Ephraim. “Let me pay you for the gasoline.”

Ephraim shook his head. “No n-need.”

The man offered the money to Jorie, but she waved it away. “I’m beholden to you. And I like to pay my debts.” He peered into his wallet. “Say, do you like wild animals?” When Ephraim’s eyebrows shot up with interest, the man smiled and held out two tickets.

Excerpt B:

Shanna tucked Matthew’s hat between her and the door, and drove up to the light. It was green, but she waited for two cars and a semi to go through, then she turned left onto the road leading past McDonald’s. She maneuvered the vehicle into the parking lot. Winking at Matthew, she plopped his straw hat on her head, remembering too late the old saying that a woman who wore a man’s hat meant she wanted him to kiss her.

She licked her lips. Would he? Maybe on the cheek?

His eyes widened, and he shifted his gaze away from her, focusing on something out the front window. His mouth gaped a little. “Shan—”

A thud silenced him, and Shanna slammed on her brakes. Had she hit another car that was backing out? She looked ahead. Even worse. She’d rammed the left side of a buggy that’d been waiting in the drive-through lane. Her stomach roiled. What if the driver recognized her and told Daed?

She jammed the gearshift into park and hopped out of the car, noticing how the buggy listed to the side. Ugh. She’d broken a wheel. At least she hadn’t permanently destroyed the buggy or killed the horse.

The driver, a man, got out of the buggy on the far side and came around the back to meet her.

“Are you all right?” She didn’t recognize him, but she’d been out of the community for a while. People changed.

“Jah, fine. And the buggy will be, too, ain’t so? I’ll need to find a ride.” He stroked his beard as he surveyed the damage.

“We’ll take you where you need to go, Amos.” Matthew came up beside Shanna and wordlessly slid something into her hand.

She looked down. Swallowed. It was a Pennsylvania driver’s license. Valid, too, according to the date. He must have gotten it during his rumschpringe. She grimaced and handed it back to him, watching as he slid it back into his pocket.

A middle-aged woman approached them. “I called the police. They’re on their way.”

Shanna sucked in a breath. She couldn’t afford a ticket. Why hadn’t she kept her eyes on the road instead of teasing Matthew with his hat? Flirting with him, like a silly schoolgirl?

The police arrived before Shanna had mentally prepared herself. Thankfully, they came without lights and sirens. She’d attracted more than enough attention as it was. She may have left the community, but she still disliked being in the spotlight. It made her feel extremely vulnerable. And she hated that.

And now it's your turn. Vote for your favorite and leave an encouraging word for our competing authors for a chance to win one of these great novels. There's four ways to toss your name into our drawing: 1) Vote 2) Leave a comment on today's post 3) FB share this link, inviting your friends to join the fun 4) Join our blog alliance (Current blog alliance partners are automatically entered in each drawing.) Then come back Wednesday as we talk about Amish fiction in greater detail.

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Item Reviewed: Let's Take a Trip to Amish Country Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Jennifer Slattery