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Indie Saturday – Author Elizabeth Byler Younts on “Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl”

April 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Today, we have author Elizabeth Byler Younts featured on the blog’s ‘Indie Saturday‘ for the inspiring Amish memoir “Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl” (Available on Amazon). Elizabeth tells the heart-wrenching but ultimately triumphant story of her own Amish grandmother Lydia Lee.


Author Elizabeth Byler Younts writes about ‘Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl’:

“I was learning all about sacrifice as my hungry little brother wanted more than his share of food. I fed him what I had, knowing there would be nothing more for me.”

Over twenty years ago I began dreaming up this book: Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl. Wow, that makes me sound old… but I’m a young thirty-four year old. Seasons is about my sweet Amish grandma and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved my grandma’s stories. I started memorizing them and learning everything I could about her young life. Sitting at the foot of her hickory rocker or across the table with hot chocolate and homemade sugar cookies with a raisin in the middle became a comfortable place for the budding authoress that I believed myself to be… and I was only eleven.

When I was an ambitious single in my twenties, I didn’t really give this story more than a healthy “nod” at family events. While I really loved the idea of writing it and wanted to write it… I, quite honestly, had zero confidence that I could actually write it and write it well. It suddenly started to sound like a bunch of disjointed stories that didn’t have any real “story” tying it together.

“The worn and dented tin cans we used for cups, however, were like a constant ache, reminding me that we were poor. I wasn’t ashamed; I was sad.”

The book doesn’t begin to formulate until I’m nearly thirty-two when a young Liddy’s voice suddenly speaks to me (I promise, I’m not kooky, authors understand this phenomenon). I end up writing the first chapter longhand sitting up in bed that night. The words string together like Christmas lights…and finally all the lights were working!

Over the next eighteen months or so, I worked with critique partners, editors, and beta readers to polish up the manuscript. Finally, I felt it was ready for publication. I’d always anticipated self-pubbing this book because my grandma was nearly eighty-five and in the midst of another case of pneumonia. There was no way I was going to wait any longer to get this in her hands. She and my patient family deserved this book. My critique group loved the story so much that they encouraged me to still market the book to the general audience despite my need to self-publish. I wasn’t sure where it would lead, but I took their advice and it has been a great experience. In the third month it was already a three-time Amazon best-seller. Topping out at #1 in my category on my 34th birthday, about six months into publication. What a gift!

“I am not sure when the rumbling of hooves became quieter, but as I reached the schoolhouse steps I looked back and didn’t see the bulls behind me anymore. I had outrun them. I exhaled and cried.”

I cannot explain the amazement I have with all of this. I am truly humbled that I have been privileged to be the mouthpiece, the writer, of this story.

I hope my personal story to publication has inspired you to read Seasons.

“I think I was most embarrassed of the holes in my stockings. I even took a black marker to my legs and colored my skin in hopes they would go unnoticed.”

Here is a short description of Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl:

As the oldest child in an impoverished Amish family, Lydia Lee knows little more of life beyond hard work, sacrifice and extreme hunger. Yet, even as a young girl she strives to be content with all God has provided.

Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Lydia’s childhood unfolds as her family struggles to survive, finding strength from their Amish faith. But, when tragedy strikes, that very faith is tested beyond what any child should have to endure. When all hope seems lost, Lydia is reminded that all things have seasons.

The spring of her life has been spent planting prayers in the soil of sadness and heartache. Will she see a summer of true love? Will there be a harvest of happiness?

Here is the link to my book trailer: http://www.elizabethbyleryounts.com/p/book.html

These photographs are all original images of my elderly grandma and my ten-year-old niece (the young Liddy stand in that is also on the cover). While Amish often do not pose for photos, my grandma allowed me to take these shots and they are some of my greatest keepsakes.

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“I might write you,” he teased.

He must have seen the expression of worry run across my face and he smiled sweetly.

“I promise I’ll write.” He kissed me. “I should be able to get a letter out about every other day.”

“I’ll write you back.” I said, wishing he could stay forever.

You can learn more about me and the Amish at my website: Elizabethbyleryounts.com.

Thank you for stopping by & happy reading!

Cheers,

Elizabeth


Elizabeth Byler Younts is the author of an Amish memoir titled SEASONS: A REAL STORY OF AN AMISH GIRL. Seasons is the story of her grandmother Lydia Lee Coblentz who grew up in an impoverished Amish family through the Great Depression. Seasons was released in August 2010 and quickly became an Amazon bestseller in 3 categories. Elizabeth is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She is an Air Force Officer’s wife with two young daughters and makes her home wherever her family is stationed.


Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl by Elizabeth Byler Younts is available at Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.

To learn more about Elizabeth Byler Younts, go to her website/blog elizabethbyleryounts.com or follow Elizabeth on Twitter: @EBYounts or Facebook: AuthorElizabethBylerYounts or Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/ebyounts/. Drop by and say hi!

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Do you want to be a featured ‘Indie Saturday’ author too? Go here for more info!

Read an embedded sample of “Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl” after the jump!

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Book Review – A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

July 25, 2011 3 comments

Book Description:

In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story — in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

The pine cone is a symbol that represents the seed of a new beginning for me. To help facilitate new beginnings, with the support of animal-assisted therapy, the J A Y C Foundation provides support and services for the timely treatment of families recovering from abduction and the aftermath of traumatic experiences—families like my own who need to learn how to heal. In addition, the J A Y C Foundation hopes to facilitate awareness in schools about the important need to care for one another.

Our motto is “Just Ask Yourself to . . . Care!” A portion of my proceeds from this memoir will be donated to The J A Y C Foundation Inc.

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Jaycee Dugard writes this about her memoir “A Stolen Life is my story — in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.” And judging by how the memoir reads – Simon & Schuster definitely didn’t employ any ghostwriters for Jaycee Dugard. And best as I can tell, the editor seemed to just make sure that there were no spelling errors and left her writing as is. If you’re going to pick this memoir up, expect a very simple unpolished writing style (which can get boring/frustrating at times as she does take awhile to get to the point). But the memoir is undoubtedly told in HER voice (in a child-like voice) – and that adds emotional power to her account. Jaycee said she wrote the memoir as a way to exorcise Philip Garrido’s psychological hold on her, and to show that she’s not ashamed of what happened to her – if anyone should feel shame, it should be the abuser and not the victim (but most times, it’s the other way around).

This is not an easy book to read. Jaycee Dugard gives an honest and unflinching account of what happened to her at the hands of a pedophile, and she goes into more graphic detail than I actually expected (or wanted). The book can be sort of divided into three parts: an extremely detailed account of her abduction at age 11 and the initial sexual abuse by Phillip Garrido, followed by an extended account of her subsequent 18 year imprisonment and constant sexual/emotional abuse and degradation (her only happiness is with her pets and two daughters) and lastly, when Jaycee finally gets reunited with her mother. In between, Jaycee adds some commentary further explaining what happened or how her present self thinks about the events in her past. There are personal family photos (including an avalanche of cat photos!) plus excerpts from a secret journal that Jaycee kept while imprisoned. I found the journal excerpts particularly poignant – especially one entry where she writes that her mother is just a few clicks away (Jaycee had access to internet) but she couldn’t bring herself to reach out.

It’s a question that Jaycee herself can’t explain – why she never tried to escape in all those 18 years in captivity (especially since she relatively had more freedom in the last ten years or so – shopping trips outside, access to the phone/internet). For her, it was mainly a question of just trying to survive and later on, trying to protect her daughters – and who am I to judge her. Unless you’ve been through the exact same thing she did, I don’t think anyone can say she should’ve done this or that. Jaycee was taken as a child, abused and made totally dependent on her abuser and her subsequent unnatural life revolved around fear. I’m just amazed that she actually survived and apparently is coping rather well at the present – even able to forgive the couple who kidnapped her.

Like I said, this is not an easy account to read. But Jaycee herself ends her memoir with hope and positiveness. She’s working through her own therapy and trying to be a good mother to her daughters, while reconnecting with her own family. I really wish her the best and thank her for sharing her story.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition ($11.99), Hardcover edition ($13.74) and Audible Audio Edition ($17.95). The eBook is also available at B&N, Sony eBookstore, Kobo books and Apple iBookstore.

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