For seven years, I worked as an assistant to Shelley Shepard Gray. In 2016, I started writing a story in an effort to help our daughters through their grief after losing two grandparents. Inspiration for the story originated from an image of a “Love Letters” or “Love Notes” quilt I saw on Facebook. The main character was a seventh-grade girl who needed to rely on her faith to get through a tough time. When I pitched the idea to the woman who eventually offered to be my agent, she instead strongly suggested I consider telling the story from the point of view of a young Amish woman during her Rumspringa and then encouraged me to brainstorm ideas for a possible series.
While I may not have started out with the intentions of writing Amish fiction, I have had plenty of opportunities to observe their ways of life. My family and I live in Cincinnati, about 45 minutes from the Amish in Adams County. We plan our road trips on sunny days when we can enjoy a deli lunch on the picnic tables near Miller’s Bakery. Through my travels with Shelley, I have visited Amish communities in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Florida. Most recently, my daughter and I attended Horse Progress Days with our friend from Sugarcreek. This annual showcase event demonstrates how draft animal power is possible, practical, and profitable. Various homesteading and homemaking seminars and workshops are scheduled during this two-day event that is attended by over 30,000 people each year. Horse Progress Days 2022 is scheduled to take place at Dinky’s Auction Center in Montgomery, Indiana, on July 1 and 2. Daviess County is a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, and only two hours from Louisville and Indianapolis.
In Pockets of Purpose, Book #2 in The Pocket Quilt Series, Gideon joins the community for a barn raising in preparation for Horse Progress Days, and Dixie’s friend Nora sews quilted goods to sell at a booth during the event. The stories in this series take place in both Holmes County and Pinecraft. When I sit down to write, I pull from those travel experiences and try to incorporate the details I’ve observed into the setting descriptions.
My tagline is Inspiring Service Through Story. In every manuscript I write, I try to weave in a way the characters can serve others or make the world a better place. In Pockets of Promise, Mariah learns more about sea turtle conservation through a friend. In Pockets of Purpose, Dixie helps a family in need.
Pockets of Peace is the third book in the series. An unexpected pregnancy forces an unmarried Amish woman to decide between her baby, her faith, and her family. This book will be released in May or June 2022.
Thank you for this opportunity to share more about my journey toward publication, my travels to Amish Country, and The Pocket Quilt Series.
While writing Amish fiction and contemporary romance, Laurie Stroup Smith strives to inspire readers to serve others. She was named a Finalist in the 2017 ACFW First Impressions Contest and a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 and 2019 ACFW Genesis Contests. She has been interviewed by Loveland Magazine and has been a guest on the Buggy Talk and Fierce Calling podcasts.
Before writing, Laurie earned a bachelor’s degree in both athletic training and exercise science and later obtained her master’s degree in health promotion and education. She now writes full time and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Cincinnati. Connect with Laurie on her website (lauriestroupsmith.com), Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.