by Naomi King~~~~~~~~~~~~~BLURB: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.
“Shall we get some lunch?” Jerome asked when they were seated in the rig. “There’s a vintage-style diner just down the road—”
“Or we could go back to Cedar Creek,” Emma remarked in a hopeful tone. “Between what Mamm and I fixed and what Amanda brought, there’s plenty enough for us to join them.”
Jerome smiled. “But you’ve spent your morning with me and saved me from making a lot of mistakes,” he said gently. “I’d like to treat you to a meal you didn’t have to cook yourself. Will that be all right?”
Emma smiled as the color rose in her cheeks. “Well, since you put it that way . . .”
He was thankful that once they were seated in a red leatherette booth with a chrome-edged table between them and a miniature jukebox on the wall, Emma took off her black coat and bonnet. In her honey-gold cape dress and a cream-colored apron that fastened behind her neck, she looked much more attractive and . . . inviting.
Jerome was pleased when she ordered a patty melt with fries and a side of tomato soup. At least she wasn’t going to be finicky about her food, like some girls were. After he ordered the blue-plate special, which was meat loaf, he tapped on the wall-mounted juke box. “Pick a song, Emma. We can listen while we wait for our lunch.”
As she flipped through the selections, Jerome fished out a quarter and put it in the slot. “F six,” she murmured.
In a few moments, “See You Later, Alligator,” filled the small diner. As Emma tapped her fingers on the tabletop, keeping time to the old rock-and-roll song, she looked as happy as Jerome had ever seen her. At last, he’d found something they both enjoyed, even if the church didn’t allow them to play such music at home.
“Dat took James and Abby and me to a horse auction once, when we were around ten or eleven,” she recounted. “We ate lunch at a place similar to this one, and Dat played this record on the jukebox—and it’s stuck with us ever since. Even on days when he can’t recall what he ate for breakfast, he knows every word to this song.”
“It’s a snappy tune,” Jerome agreed, tapping his toes. Just for fun, he wanted to catch Emma’s feet between his and give them a quick squeeze, but he thought better of it. “It’s nice to have that memory from when your dat was younger and stronger. My mamm and dat died when our house burned to the ground, when I was just ten.”
Emma’s eyes widened. “And how was it that you didn’t—I mean—”
The concern on her face coaxed Jerome to grasp her hand. “I was staying overnight at a cousin’s house,” he replied. “The firemen said the old furnace exploded, and because the house was built of very dry wood they’d saved from a barn they’d torn down, my folks were gone before they knew what hit them. That’s when Aunt Amanda and Uncle Atlee took me in—and probably why I get such a kick out of your dat.”
“You didn’t lose any brothers or sisters, I hope?” Emma murmured. “If something happened to James, I’m not sure I could bear it.”
Jerome felt comforted by her concern, even if the accident happened more than half his lifetime ago. “No, it seems they broke the mold when they made me,” he said with a chuckle.
For a moment, Emma’s gaze lingered on his. Such an unusual shade of brown her eyes were, similar to a mixture of honey and cinnamon. Too soon, she eased her hand away. “I’m sorry,” she murmured. “That was a horrible thing to endure when you were so young.”
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 2NAL Trade (November 4, 2014)ISBN-13: 9780451417886 •• ISBN-10: 0451417887Buy Links:
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Do you ever read your stories out loud?
Yes, in more ways than you might imagine. When I’m editing what I’ve written, I sometimes read sections aloud to catch repetitive words or commas that fall wrong, or sentences that feel out of cadence.
When I lived in Missouri, I also read my stories aloud in a sound booth, recording them at the Wolfner Library so that blind/disabled patrons could check them out and listen to them. I spent a couple of hours every Tuesday afternoon for a couple of years doing this volunteer work, and I recorded my entire Angels of Mercy series there, as well as a couple of my earlier Western romances. Now that we’ve moved to St. Paul, I haven’t had the time to seek out such recording opportunities. It’s really gratifying to get the occasional email from a library patron who has listened to my stories, and I really enjoyed that project.
What is your favorite television show?
Murder, She Wrote . . . which tells you how long it’s been since I watched TV. I don’t watch the news anymore because it’s mostly the same depressing disaster stories being replayed all day, and reality shows strike me as totally contrived and, well—unreal. There’s just not a lot of programming that interests me. I’d probably enjoy some of the cooking and home make-over shows, but those are on during the day and would cut into my writing time.
I’m probably one of the rare birds who could have a home without a TV. There are just too many other ways I’d rather spend my spare time!
What kind of music do you like?
I’m all over the board with music. I started singing in the Angel Choir at church when I was 8, and have been a church singer ever since. I began piano lessons at 10. Since then I’ve played the guitar, organ, banjo, accordion, along with being in handbell and choir chime groups at the various churches I’ve belonged to. We’ve formed a percussion choir in our St. Paul church, so I’ve also played various drums, shakers, and marimba for that.
Those instruments and choral groups have seen me through a lot of classical music, some improvisational jazz, hymns, gospel, bluegrass, show tunes, and whatever the various choir directors have put in front of me. When I listen to music, I tend to stick with those various genres, along with returning to the rock/soft rock of the Sixties and Seventies I was immersed in during high school and college.
Do you like to collect anything?
You know, I’ve reached the point where I’m of a mind to get rid of stuff rather than accumulating more of it. In our move from Missouri to Minnesota a few years ago, I culled out some knickknacks that no longer had much pull on me.
I do still have my flamingoes, however! Some are antiques, in the form of candle holders and a pitcher and matching cups, and two are Beanie Babies that I designed little outfits for (a guy and a girl, Chiquita and Ramon, to cheer up my mom when she was in a lot of pain with her cancer). I also confess to having had three pairs of the plastic yard flamingoes, one set in pink, one in white (those were gifts from cousins who knew Neal despises flamingoes) and a set of coral ones. But they didn’t make the move to Minnesota. I’m also tickled to have a quilt made from flamingo-print fabric, which my niece Anna made for me when she was only 10!
I also collect Santas, and display them at Christmas—but I’ve stopped seeking out new ones. Some are ornaments, like Coca Cola Santa pieces, and some are prints by artist Tom Browning.
Otherwise, I enjoy finding vintage clip earrings in antique stores—and wearing them. I’m pleased to have several sets of those that belonged to Neal’s grandma. To me, this seems like a lot more fun than wearing pierced earrings because . . . I hate needles. Not into the piercing thing at all.
What inspired you to start writing?
While I was still a high school librarian, I was also the yearbook sponsor and I totally enjoyed the juniors and seniors who worked on the yearbook. One willowy, bubbly blonde named Carolyn was a real joy—and when she was in her first semester of college, she suffocated during an asthma attack and died.
This was a small town and the outpouring of emotion was something I’d never witnessed—the line to get into the funeral home for the visitation wound clear around the block. Carolyn was only 18, just coming into bloom, and she’d always joked that she wanted to write trashy novels when she grew up. Her death really hit me hard, and it jogged something inside me to try my hand at writing.
Not sure why, but I’d picked up a few confessions magazines (True Confessions, True Story, etc.) and that seemed like a good place to send my revised, fictionalized version of a teacher whose favorite student had died. In the story, it was a male student, and various other details were changed (note: true confession stories are not true...but they have to be plausible and within the realm of possibility).
I sent the story in, months—and months—went by while my story languished in the slush pile, but then out of the blue, I got a contract! I was jazzed and began to write them full time a couple years later when I’d gotten out of teaching. Over the years, even after I’d had a few books published, I sold more than 70 of those stories. You don’t get a byline on those stories, but the checks meant I was a professional—a published author.
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