I'm honored to introduce Susan Downs, editor for Guideposts, and my editor for the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series. Susan was my very first editor so working with her now is such a blessing. Today I'm asking Susan about this exciting new Guideposts series!
How did the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series come about?
A team of fiction editors at Guideposts are responsible for routinely developing a list of potential series ideas, which we then put through an intensive survey process to see what ideas rise to the surface in terms of reader interest and purchase intent. Since I lived near Sugarcreek for many years, the setting was one that had a natural appeal to me. Combined with the popularity of Amish-genre fiction and cozy mysteries, it came as no surprise when the survey results came back indicating highly favorable interest in a mystery series set in the Amish community of Sugarcreek. As the originator of the series idea, I was delighted to be named the supervising editor of Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries.
You use several authors to write the series. Why?
A typical Guideposts fiction series runs twenty-four books with new stories releasing every four-to-six weeks. We develop a team of seven or eight authors and contract with each of them to write an average of three books in the series. That way, each author is submitting a new manuscript every seven months or so, which seems to be a doable pace for most authors. Since each series features a continuing cast of main characters, we face a big challenge in using a team of authors this size as we attempt to maintain consistency. Because of this, we create a secret Facebook page for our authors and editors to interact with one another. We also develop a series guide that provides the authors and editors all the nitty-gritty details of characters and settings. While we do these things to maintain consistency in the series, our interactions also create a great spirit of camaraderie among our team!
Tell us about the relationship between Cheryl and Naomi.
Cheryl Cooper is a 30-year-old single gal who left the big city of Columbus and a banking career to take over the management of her aunt Mitzi’s gift shop, The Swiss Miss, located in Sugarcreek, when her aunt accepts a missionary assignment to Papua New Guinea. Naomi Miller, ten years Cheryl’s senior, is an Amish farmer’s wife who provides the Swiss Miss with such homemade items as jellies, candies, baked goods, and candles, to name a few. These two may appear to be as different as night and day on the surface, but as they are confronted with the various mysteries that arise in Sugarcreek, they find they not only make a good investigative team, their deepening friendship brings out the best in each other. I love to see the insights their unfolding relationship brings.
Why do you think readers will enjoy this series?
BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE
If you’d told thirty-year-old Cheryl six months ago that she’d give up her secure banking job in Columbus, Ohio, to become a shopkeeper in a charming small town hailed as “The Little Switzerland of Ohio,” she certainly wouldn’t have believed you. However, with everything that has happened since, Cheryl decides to take her biggest leap of faith yet.
Together with her Siamese cat, Beau, Cheryl moves into Aunt Mitzi’s cozy little cottage in Sugarcreek and quickly settles into the routine of running the Swiss Miss gift shop, where all kinds of homemade gifts and food fill the shelves, and the aroma of candles, candy, and pungent cheeses fill the air.
As an “Englisher,” Cheryl finds it challenging to fit in among the Amish. And when mysteries unfold at every turn, she questions whether or not she’s cut out for the so-called “simple life.” Fortunately, she finds a good Amish friend and mentor in Naomi Miller, and together they put their trust in God as they join forces to unravel the clues.
You can order Blessings in Disguise from Guideposts!
You can also enter our contest to win one of three copies we're giving away! Enter here!
Susan Downs has served as a fiction editor for several different Christian publishers. She has been a member of the Guideposts Publications team for five years. She has also authored nearly two dozen fiction titles. She lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her husband of 43 years and a six-year-old grandson.