Romance is in the air during the fall wedding season in the Amish community of Cedar Creek. But while one loving couple prepares to tie the knot, Amanda and Wyman Brubaker’s large family faces a threat from outside their happy circle…and must learn to pull together.
Recently wed Amanda and Wyman Brubaker are thrilled that their children from previous marriages have blended together to form a strong family. But when the construction of Wyman’s new grain elevator is delayed, making the project more expensive than anticipated, Amanda’s determination to rally the kids into taking on work to improve the family’s finances comes into conflict with Wyman’s sense of responsibility as head of the household….
Meanwhile, as James Graber and Abby Lambright prepare for their long-awaited nuptials, folks gather from far and wide. Amanda’s nephew Jerome has long been smitten with James’s sister Emma and wants to seize this chance to woo her. But Emma’s been burned once and is twice shy of trusting the fun-loving, never-serious Jerome. As Emma and Jerome struggle to understand each other, and find the courage to make a leap of faith, the Brubakers face a bigger challenge than they first anticipated and begin to discover just what it means to fight…the Amish way.
Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
When you consider how many hours of most days I spend in my imagination, and how many story worlds I’ve created over the thirty years I’ve been a published writer, I’ve had hundreds of imaginary friends! Why, just in EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST, I’ve created twelve in the Brubaker bunch, four in Emma Graber’s family, eight in Abby Lambright’s family—not to mention the Yutzy clan, the Ropps, the Nissleys, the Masts, and other neighbors who have figured into this series over its four books.
And for each of the series (or stand-alone books) I’ve written, I’ve created a collage of pictures from magazines so I can keep better track of all these people and what they look like, sort of. Each time I begin a new book, or switch from writing a story in one Amish series to writing for the other one, I put the appropriate collage on the wall above my computer. Those imaginary friends keep me focused on whose story I’m telling, and remind me which world I’m living in as I write.
My mind’s a very busy, populated, exciting place! It sure beats dealing with reality full-time.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, but don’t tell Ramona she’s a dog! Does her nickname, “Ramona, Ruler of the Universe” clue you in to her place in the family . . . and to my place?
I have always had dogs (or rather, they have had me). When I was 9, I got a collie puppy in my Christmas stocking and Fluff lived until the week before I took my first teaching job, when I was 21! Shortly after Neal and I married, we had an Irish setter: beautiful dog, but Heidi was usually headed in the opposite direction at a full run whenever you called her.
Then we adopted a pound puppy, a border collie-mix we called Kelly. Wonderful dog—quite the Frisbee whiz—and she was way smarter than I was. Ramona also came from a shelter, and I found her on . Soon as I saw that little black face with the white blaze, I knew I had to drive the two hours to the adoption event to claim her. Now she’s my office manager—herds me down to my office each day to supervise me while I write.
Where do you get your best ideas?
Ideas come at me from a lot of places—research, visiting towns/homes like the ones I’m writing about, newspaper pieces sometimes. For these Amish stories, I often get nuggets from The Budget, the newspaper for/about Amish and Mennonite settlements all over the country. Mostly, ideas come at me from the ether, out of nowhere, and it’s my job to filter out the ones that won’t flesh out into book material, or just won’t sell to an editor.
The better question is when do I get my ideas, because quite often whole chunks of dialog and sections of a story will fall into place when I’m in that semi-awake state that happens when you wake up at 3 in the morning and can’t doze off again. A lot of times, characters in my series generate backstory and help me concoct other people in their families to write about. Family “secrets” are also a great source for story lines!
“What do I need to know to work in the store, Abby?” Emma grabbed the handle of the pull cart, which was loaded with dirty tablecloths, and the two of them started across the Lambrights’ yard. “I hate to waste Sam’s time if I’m not qualified. And everyone knows it’ll take three people to accomplish what you do in the store.”
Abby waved her off, considering her answer as they went around to the back of the tall, white house. “Can you figure change and count it back?” she asked. “We’ll teach you how to run the cash register, of course, but sometimes I find it just as easy to total the small orders on paper—especially if the line’s getting backed up,” she replied. “There are times we really could use a second cash register, but Sam won’t hear of that.”
Emma considered her reply. “My math’s pretty solid. I’ve been keeping our home checkbook—and James’s business account—for a long time. If we practice making change, I think I’ll be all right with that part.”
“Jah, I think so, too.”
They entered the mudroom then, where Abby ran water into the ringer washer while Emma checked the tablecloths for stains. She was grateful for this time to discuss these details while it was just she and Abby, because she trusted her best friend to tell her the truth about the job. While Emma was flattered that Sam thought she was capable and competent, there was no denying that working in the mercantile would be a big responsibility. “So . . . what’s the worst part about running the store? What do you think I’ll have trouble with?” she asked.
Abby’s eyebrows rose as she thought about her answer. “It’s really important to greet people when they come in. You’ll want to ask how you can help them, of course,” she continued as the washer began agitating. “But you have to look them in the eye—especially the folks you don’t know—so they realize you’re aware of their presence. It cuts down on shoplifting.”
Emma’s hand flew to her mouth. “You mean people steal from the store? What should I do if I see that happening?”
“Do not go up to them and accuse them of anything,” Abby warned her quickly. “The best thing is to let Sam know that you suspect something, and he’ll handle it. During the Christmas shopping season, a lot of little items get stuck into purses and coat pockets. It’s best to keep circulating, to keep talking so everyone knows you’re around.
“It’s mostly English,” Abby continued above the noise of the agitating washer. “They tend to think that we Plain folks aren’t bright enough to figure out what they’re doing, or that because we don’t keep our inventory on a computer, we won’t miss the merchandise they take.”
As Abby tucked the ends of the first tablecloth into the wringer and began to crank, squeezing out the excess water, her expression became more serious. “Your trusting nature might give you some problems, Emma. It’s like the Scripture from First Corinthians, which Vernon preached on during the wedding,” she went on in a thoughtful tone. “You’re patient and kind. You bear all things and believe all things—and when you work with the public, you need to question more and accept less. You’ll have to stand firm when folks dish up their attitude, too—and when they try to return things without a receipt. I suspect that part won’t come easy for you.”
Emma sighed. Abby made it sound like she’d need to cultivate a whole new personality. But at least she was being honest. “Mamm and Dat have told me a time or two not to be such a doormat,” she admitted. “I’ll have to work on that.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Drawing upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi, longtime Missourian Naomi King writes of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series. Like her series heroine, Abby Lambright, Naomi considers it her personal mission to be a listener—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls—and to share her hearth and home. Faith and family, farming and frugality are hallmarks of her lifestyle: like Abby, she made her wedding dress and the one her mom wore, too! She’s a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and when she’s not writing, Naomi loves to travel, try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Naomi, whose real name is Charlotte Hubbard, now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie, Ramona.
One Big Happy Family, Book 2
NAL Trade (November 4, 2014)
ISBN-13: 9780451417886 •• ISBN-10: 0451417887
The Book Depository •• http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/book/9780451417886
IndieBound •• http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451417886
Powell’s •• http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9780451417886
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