Kissed by Literature: When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
Dee Yoder: I used to write “books” when I was in elementary school—drew funny little illustrations to go with them. I remember telling my mom when I was about 13 that I wanted to be a writer. But her hopes for me to be a nurse, with a good living, prompted her to reply “Well, that’s a good idea, too, but don’t forget that you can also be a nurse.” Somehow, that convinced me to be a nurse, though I changed my mind in college and earned a degree in Bio Science, instead. So writing didn’t come into play again until I hit my 50th birthday—I called it my “jubilee” year. Time to do some things I had put off doing! That’s when I rediscovered my love for writing. I searched for “Christian writing contests” online and found FaithWriters. What a wonderful way for me to jump back into the writing world. God certainly had my back on that one.
KBL: What steps did you follow before your story was accepted?
DY: I have to be honest and tell you that God, again, had my back on that one, too. I had a writing friend who discovered I had written a novel based on the experiences of the former Amish we both knew. It was a mess of a manuscript because I had written it over two years’ time in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) contests. She had an agent. She queried him for me, and lo and behold, he was interested. I have an editor friend who mentored me through FaithWriters. She helped me spiff up the manuscript, I constructed a book proposal, and then sent the manuscript to Terry Burns. He assigned me to one of his editors, we worked together on the manuscript, and I then resubmitted it to Terry. He signed me to the Hartline Literary Agency. He began to “shop” my manuscript to publishers and that’s how Kregel Publications came to offer me a three book contract. It was an amazing, and totally unexpected, journey.
KBL: Do you have any advice about query letter writing?
DY: As you have learned from my previous reply, it always helps to have someone who is already with an agent to advance your name for you! But since I didn’t have to go the query letter route, I can’t offer much advice, except this: Be succinct. Be clear. Pray. I do know my agent has said he has hundreds of queries and proposals to read through every week, but he tries hard to give each writer a fair read. I think that’s amazing. Oh, and one more little piece of advice: Put your name out there in the cyber world. Blog, be on social networks, and be an online “presence” because folks in the writing industry WILL Google your name once they receive your letter and show interest. That really does help in this day of Internet working and living.
KBL: Do you worry about what the Amish will think of your book?
DY: Yes, I do. Because I do not mean to offend anyone, I am concerned that the honesty presented in my story could upset some Amish communities. But I also know the Lord was with me when I wrote this book, and the former Amish who have read it have given me the thumbs up that the story really does present their voices and experiences. That gives me great comfort. I also pray for the readers, especially Amish, if they read the book. My desire is that the story will bring some readers to reflection concerning their own relationships with Jesus.
KBL: What is your favorite moment from a book signing?
DY: I’ve only had one book singing, so far, at The Amish Awareness Conference that Mission to Amish People presented. Since I also volunteer for MAP, it was a hectic two days. I hosted a book table and was also helping to cook food for the lunch and authentic Amish dinner we served. But it was a wonderful way to be introduced to the book signing world. I loved meeting my new readers and hearing how excited they were to read the book. I think one of the best moments was when a librarian told me there were several holds on The Miting at a big city public library, and the book wasn’t even there yet. It was astonishing to me! As authors, we often don’t know the reach of the books we write and it is always a delight to discover where the books land.
KBL: How hard was it to write your author bio?
DY: Oh, I’m laughing--it was hard! I think many writers experience the dreaded bio-syndrome and I was no exception. I have more than one bio saved on my laptop, that’s for sure. I’m still not totally satisfied, but I know things can be changed, and probably will be, in the future. It’s difficult to write about yourself in third person.
KBL: What has been your most rewarding moment as a published author?
DY: The most rewarding moments are when I read reviews and private emails from readers who have enjoyed The Miting. If you ask my husband, he will tell you that I shake my head in wonder that the story God helped me tell of my former Amish friends’ experiences has moved others, too. I love my former Amish friends. I admire their fortitude and determination to go forward in life, sometimes against all odds. I can’t tell you how many times I’m moved to tears over their struggles and their triumphs. I love celebrating their lives. I love how God has weaved their lives into mine. Though it’s sometimes difficult, these journeys, I’m blessed to know these wonderful people. Isn’t it amazing the adventures God leads us to when we simply hang onto His coattails and fly with Him?