Nearly 100 people recently showed up to see Beverly Lewis, a New York Times best-selling author of Amish fiction, at Central Christian Church in Seymour.
Lewis was in the area to promote her latest novel, “The Road Home.”
Among those in attendance were Dwight and Virginia Nelson, a couple from Lima, Ohio, whose daughter had signed them up for the event.
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“Our daughter, Shelly Burnside, lives in Vallonia and teaches at Bedford North Lawrence High School,” Dwight said. “She signed us up for this, and she might have mentioned it was for my wife’s birthday. That was just on April 5.”
Virginia said she and her husband were on their way home from Florida and had stopped to visit Burnside, who wanted to make sure her parents would be in Seymour the day of Lewis’ program.
“I’ve read a lot of Beverly’s books but have never seen her in person,” Virginia said. “I don’t really have a favorite. I just like them all, and right now, I’m reading ‘The Road Home.’”
Betty Gray of Seymour also had been in Florida when she learned Lewis would be coming to town on a book tour.
“Kathi Linz emailed me while I was down south to let me know,” Gray said. “I told her, ‘Oh, I’ll be home. Sign me up.’”
Gray said her sister lives in Washington County and was in the process of moving but said she would be there for the program, too.
“My sister and I read books, then we exchange them with each other,” Gray said. “I told her I’d buy a book today, then we could trade, but she said, ‘No.’ She wanted her own autographed book with her name in it.”
Also in the audience was another Seymour resident, Judy Bray, who was attending the event with her sisters, Vickie Scott, Linda Scott, Pam Scott and Nora Scott, all of Seymour.
“I just love her books, and when I start reading, I can’t put them down,” Bray said. “They’re about families being together, the way it should be and families living simpler lives.”
Nora said Lewis is one of her favorite authors, and she is just as nice in person as she imagined she would be.
“It is refreshing to meet someone as popular as she is that is still so gracious,” Nora said. “We had a great time.”
Linda Dye of Seymour held several copies of “The Road Home” as she stood at the end of a long line of fans waiting to meet Lewis.
“I knew that Beverly was going to be at a book signing in Marion this month on the same day as my birthday, and I was sorry to see she wouldn’t be closer,” Dye said. “But when I saw the sign at the Seymour Library announcing that she would be in Seymour, I was so happy.”
Dye enjoys reading Lewis’ books and said it means a lot to her that the author’s novels contain good Christian stories that portray wholesome values and those types of stories are hard to come by today.
“I’m getting six copies of her latest novel today,” Dye said. “I’m going to get them signed for my five kids and one for me.”
Linz, who works for the Jackson County Public Library, said just a few months ago, a representative from Lewis’ publisher got in contact with the library.
“The representative said they were going to be in our area and asked if we would like to have Beverly come to our library,” Linz said. “We said, ‘Of course.’ We were going to set up the meeting room for 75 people, but it just outgrew it too fast.”
The venue was changed to Central Christian Church in order to accommodate more people. Linz said it was one of the biggest groups they’ve had for a library program.
In her novels, Lewis focuses on Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but many of her books mention friends or family members living in Amish communities in Indiana.
Amy Green, fiction publicist with Bethany House Publishers, said it’s believed that “The Bridesmaid” is the only novel that has several scenes in Indiana, which take place in Shipshewana.
During the presentation, Lewis spoke of her writing career and about her latest novel. Then at the end of her program, she gave some advice to aspiring writers.
“I was a shy writer and hid my writings in a dresser drawer for many years,” Lewis said. “My advice would be to go to writer’s conferences, talk to editors, make friends with other authors and agents, as well.”
Lewis said she used to go to conferences and sit in the back and absorb everything and take notes. Then she slowly began to make friends with other writers, but she never thought she would have a book published.
“It’s important to read your manuscript out loud so you can hear the beats and the rhythm and it’s like music in the paragraphs,” she said.
Lewis also stressed the importance of new writers finding a good agent, not just someone who will go out and try to get the most money for their stories but one who knows the writer’s heart, the writer’s mission and what’s important to that particular writer.
Lewis’ next book, an Amish romance titled “The First Love,” will be coming out in September. The story is based on a historical event that happened in the summers of 1951 and 1952.
Lewis’ appearance was sponsored by the Friends of the Jackson County Public Library.
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For information about Beverly Lewis, visit beverlylewis.com.
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Beverly Marie Jones Lewis was born in the heart of Amish country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At the age of 9, she began writing short stories and poetry. Not until her own children were in middle school did she seek to publish her work, first in children’s magazines. Her first book followed in 1993, “Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans,” presently retitled “Big Bad Beans.”
Lews’s first venture into adult fiction was the best-selling trilogy, “The Heritage of Lancaster County.” Several of her novels have been made into Hallmark movies.
Lewis has written more than 100 books for children, youth and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking and spending time with their family.