A Birthday Wish

I have a birthday wish. Traditionally we are taught to make a wish quietly, but I am going to be different and write mine because I believe words are powerful. My wish is that a year from today David and I will have our story placed with a publisher and perhaps even have it in print. I know that it is often through personal connections that book deals are made, so I am going to ask for your help. Do you know someone who is a literary agent or someone who works for a publisher? If so, will you introduce me to this person via email? My email address is salomafurlong[at]gmail[dot]com. I will be so grateful for any connections and I’d be happy to thank you in the acknowledgements page of the book and give complimentary copies, should your connection lead me to the right publisher.

As many of you know, I am writing the sequel to Why I Left the Amish, which will chronicle my transition from the Amish culture that I grew up in, to the outside world — specifically Burlington, Vermont. Many readers of my first book have expressed a great deal of interest in what it was like to make that transition. To give you a taste, here is the opening paragraph for my new book:

No one in my family or Amish community knew where I was or that I had changed my name to Linda. I waited for the remorse and guilt feelings to set in, because I knew that is what I was supposed to feel. At twenty years old, I had shed my Amish head covering and my long dark hair had been shorn for the first time. Looking out over Lake Champlain from the porch of the YWCA in Burlington, I breathed in the air of freedom. Lake Champlain was more beautiful than I had even imagined — sparkling blue under the November sun, framed by the Adirondacks on the opposite shore with fluffy clouds in a blue sky above land and water. It was as if the lake represented my future — both exhilarating and terrifyingly open. 

I am making good progress on my second book, even though the writing of it is in competition for my time and efforts with the marketing of Why I Left the Amish. I suppose this is the kind of “problem” writers or authors long for.Originally David and I were going to co-write our story, weaving our voices together in one book, but we have gotten advice from publishing experts who are saying it is too jarring to go back and forth between the two voices.Have you read books you liked that were written from two different points of view? Do you know of any memoirs that were written in this manner? Can you describe what you liked or didn’t like about them?Without knowing any more about the story, which of these three titles would compel you to read the book?

The Prodigal Daughter

Wearing Amish

The Amish Daughter and the Yankee Peddler

Thank you for answering these questions, dear readers.

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23 thoughts on “A Birthday Wish”

  1. Saloma,
    I enjoyed your book that my wife gave me for Christmas last year. Being a big tough guy it was hard to read and it made my cry. Looking forward to your next book and I like the title “The Amish Daughter and the Yankee Peddler”. Good luck to you

  2. I have read several articles with “two voices” and it’s not my personal favorite form, with television or movies it seems to work better. I wish I had an agent for you, you are a talented writer and I KNOW that you will find one. I like “The Amish Daughter and the Yankee Peddler”. Much luck to you with your search. Vicki

  3. Tom, thank you for your compliments about my book and for the vote on the title.

    Thanks, Elizabeth, for your preference of title.

    Vicki, thanks for your birthday wishes and for your confidence in me. I am determined enough that I will self-publish if necessary. Thanks for your vote on the title as well.

    Amy, thank you for your good wishes and for your vote on the title[s].

  4. I read quite a few memoir, and most – if not all – are by solo-authors.

    Hands down, The Amish Daughter (Girl?) and the Yankee Peddler. In my opinion, “prodigal daughter”, son, etc. is overused. Wearing Amish doesn’t define what this book’s really about… I guess for me it’s too broad of a topic. “The Amish Daughter…” teeters on expecting it to be written by the Amish daughter’s father or the Yankee Peddler himself. Whatever title you put on it, the editor/publisher will most assuredly change it…. But I love the Amish and Yankee Peddler twist.

    If you’re ever looking for some of those first readers, or a fellow writer to read for flow, etc. who is most times brutally honest, let me know. :) Do you still have my email?

  5. Theresa here. I really like The Prodigal Daughter. What about the publisher of your first book? I think one voice is better. I don’t know any publishers, but I am still sending emails to Terry Gross asking her to interview you. Have you contacted her?

  6. Lomie,

    Happy belated birthday! I am looking forward to “Prodical Daughter” as I felt your first book ended ubruptly. (Perhaps you planned it that way.) Good luck with your pursuits!

  7. This title would definitely get my attention…. The Amish Daughter and the Yankee Peddler

    I really enjoyed the book, The Duggars 20 & Counting co~written by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. I personally like stories written with more than one perspective.

  8. I just started reading your blog, I love it. I grew up Old-Order Amish in northeast Ohio, and I’m starting a blog of my own. My site will be focused on growing up gay and Amish. Thank you for sharing your life openly and honestly, I know it’s not easy for us former Amish. The truth will set you free! Check me out on twitter, @lgbtiamish
    Btw, I vote for Wearing Amish, it’s the most evocative and asks the most questions.

  9. I quite often enjoy writing that is a bit out of the ordinary, so I have enjoyed some books written by 2 people with different perspectives, but some written that way don’t flow so well. It really depends on the writers. I think it also depends to large degree on what YOUR aim is: are you wanting to tell of your next phase of life and of making the transition away from the Amish and uniting with David as seen through your eyes OR as seen through 2 different sets of eyes? I could see either version working well.

    Title? I’d choose The Amish Daughter and the Yankee Peddler
    Just an idea – Leaping the Divide: Amish to English (Or perhaps this is not accurate??)

    I cannot help with the publisher, but I just know you’ll find one.

    Have a great weekend!

  10. Happy birthday and good wishes for the writing of your next book. So far, I haven’t been able to purchase and read your first one. I’m wondering if the publisher of Growing Up Amish might not be interested in this next one. Wearing Amish is the title that instantly grabbed my attention. The other two titles sound as if they should be novels. Wearing Amish provokes the image of Amish on the inside as well as the outside. I, also, have seen the two voices work. If you and David were both sharing the same scene through two sets of eyes, the back and forth could work.

  11. Theresa, thank you for your comments and your vote for the title. My present publisher and I have agreed that the next book needs a trade publisher, not a university press. It has been a challenge for them to handle the volume, even though the numbers are not big for trade publishers.

    I would LOVE to be interviewed by Terry Gross… thank you so much for sending her emails to that effect. Yes, my publicist has been in touch with her. So far, no dice. But thank you very much for keeping the faith.

    David,you are not the first to think that the first book ended abruptly. I was thinking that was the logical place to end it, is all. if I could do it over, I would include the next five chapters of my story in the first book. That would have made it easier for David and me to tell our story from two POV. As it is, it creates a very asymmetrical story for the second book… the “integration” story of my first weeks in Burlington competes with our love story. I wish the first book would go to the point when David and I met. But that is water under the bridge.

    Thank you, Amy, for the recommendation for the Duggars book. I will read it. I am reading “Traveling with Pomagranates” with Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann. It’s a shared memoir. I am really enjoying it, but I am thinking I’m not famous enough a writer to pull it off.

    Thanks, Richard, for your vote on the title.

    Anon, good for you for starting your blog on such an important subject. I get asked about what it’s like to grow up Amish and gay, and I honestly never knew of anyone Amish who was gay, so I cannot talk to the issue. I know one thing for sure… it could not have been easy.

    Ladybug, thank you for your confidence in my ability to get a publisher. I have been known to be tenacious, so either I will find a publisher or publish it myself. See my lament about where I ended the first book, above. I wish now that the book could be about how David and I met and started a courtship (the Yankee way), how that ended abruptly when I returned to the community, which separated us for nearly three years, and then how we got back together again. I really want our combined voices to tell the story… David adds such a different perspective. Perhaps we can figure it out yet. Your title would have fit the first book, but not the second.

    Nancy, thanks for sharing your vote and your reasoning for the title. The publishing world is a funny place. I don’t think I would get Tyndale to publish my book BECAUSE they published Ira’s. Normally publishers don’t like to cause a conflict of interest by publishing titles that could be seen as being in competition. I agree, sharing our different perspectives in important parts of the story could really add dimension. I’m not giving up on the idea completely, but I am also open to separate books.

    Thank you, all for this wonderful discussion and for your support. It can be so rewarding to write a blog!

    Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


  12. I think the last suggested title would grab my attention. Would the publisher of the first book not be interested in this one? Good luck. I know I would want to read it. I applaud your decision. I watch Mose Gingerich weekly on TV as he struggles with his decision, and tries to guide the young people who have made the same decision you have. I think God means for us to be the best that we can be, with what He has given us, and if that means other than where we started out our lives, I believe we have an obligation to follow that inspiration. It could very well be God-directed.

  13. I enjoyed reading “Why I Left The Amish”. It was hard reading at times (because of the pain), but good.

    I read tons of memoirs while working on my Masters and I think I read at least one- perhaps two that go back and forth between two voices. It’s challenging to do, but if done right it’s beautiful. I’m trying to remember titles and authors, but am currently drawing a blank. If it comes to me, I’ll let you know.

    As far as titles go. I think with time the right one will come.

    God bless you both.

  14. Saloma, there is a book called “Two Lucky People: Memoirs” by Milton & Rose Friedman. It is the only book I’m aware of that is written by two people in the style of alternating voices. Hope that helps! Also, my choice for a title is Wearing Amish, but I think the Yankee Peddler title would intrigue the Amish romance crowd, and wouldn’t it be something for those folks to read a true love story? They would love it!~Monica

  15. Hi, Saloma,

    Best wishes on your journey to publication. I’m walking the same one right now, so I don’t have much to offer you other than empathy and a prayer that God will guide your steps.

    Smiling and waving,


  16. Hi Saloma! Happy Birthday to both of us! I celebrated quietly working away at our little mini golf business by the lake. Bill did take me out to breakfast, though :-)

    I like the title, “Wearing Amish” because that pretty much describes you as you finished your growing up years but in the transition you left it all behind and your love story goes so much farther! You could probably write a whole book just about the few years between leaving the first time and leaving the last time and Wearing Amish would be a very good title for that! I’m not very good at titles, though and struggle with my poetry when it comes to that. Publishers are a complete mystery to me, as well. But I know a good book when I see one and though I can’t see into the future, I’m very excited to know that you are making good progress on it!

    Looks like you have some time to breathe this summer… good girl! We all need to do that once in a while. I breathed 2 weeks ago in Maine and I get to breathe again, in September!

  17. Hi, Saloma,

    I also like Wearing Amish as a title. Have you tried Thomas Nelson publishers? They gave a six-figure advance to the author of I Am Hutterite. Do you follow @MichaelHyatt (CEO) on Twitter? He seems very open to creating relationships and answering questions and has a great blog.

    I have to tell you that I think you should continue the story in your own voice. I don’t think the alternating voices will appeal to a publisher nor to many readers.

    75 percent of memoir readers are women. They read men, of course, but they also get attached to an author and want to continue to hear from her. Just one take. Get as many as possible.

    All best. Your persistence is admirable, and it will pay off!

  18. Well, I am new here but I’ll add my voice anyways. first, I like the last title best. second, I have read book written with two voices and while it can be jarring, it can also flow if done well. I read a memoir that was written from 2 points of view, a mother and daughter, titled, “Travelling With Pomegranates” by Sue Monk Kidd. You might find that helpful. I thought it was interesting. I have not read your book since this is the first I have heard of it, but I have read other books about people leaving an Amish life. You are very brave and it must have been very hard to go and to discover your new self. I wish you all the best.

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