Emma Blooms at Last
by Naomi King
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.”
Do you listen to music while you’re writing?
Oh, yes, I have several play lists on my computer and iPad. Background music helps my mind relax while I’m working, and if I’m stalling—doing every little thing except writing—the music tells my mind it’s time to get to work! I only listen to instrumentals, because I can’t have other people’s words playing when I’m working with words of my own.
I have a playlist that’s mostly hymns and gospel tunes, and that’s what I played while I was writing EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST and many of my Amish stories. When I revise and edit, I often play a classical or a New Age playlist. And I have a Christmas playlist, too, which I play when I’m working on holiday stories—especially if I’m writing them during the summer!
I often find new artists and songs when I’m listening to Pandora radio in the kitchen, or when I crochet. Then it’s easy to find albums by those artists on iTunes, to add fresh music to my writing playlists.
What do you think you’re really good at?
I know my way around a kitchen, and I’m also pretty good at making up recipes as I go along. People who come to our totally renovated home tell me I did a really good job of seeing beyond the outdated features that were there when we bought it, to work with our contractor and come up with a beautiful place to live.
Language stuff has always come easily to me, and I’ve also played a lot of musical instruments over the years—many times teaching myself how to play them. I would like to think I can put together a compelling story, well enough that I’ve had more than 40 books published—and I’ve kept my Seasons of the Heart series (by Charlotte Hubbard) going through 6 books (plus 2 Christmas anthologies), not to mention getting a contract for a spin-off series called Simple Gifts, which follows the Seasons series.
What are you not so good at?
You don’t want me driving your stick-shift car. You probably shouldn’t choose me to care for your newborn kids or grandkids, because I’d most likely put the diaper on the wrong end. You also don’t want me to try to fix what’s wrong with your computer, or anything else mechanical—and let’s don’t even talk about higher math and science.
What is the sweetest thing someone has done for you?
Hands down, this award goes to my husband Neal. Here’s a guy who, back when we moved to St. Louis and I didn’t want to teach anymore (which means my regular paycheck disappeared) decided we could downsize to buy a house we could afford on his pay alone. We sold our second car, which meant that some days he rode the bus to work if I needed the car for some reason.
This was in 1984, and while I was selling a few confession stories, it was 1990 before I sold my first book—still not a regular, dependable check. Then after I sold 6 books, my publisher decided I wasn’t making them enough money (they don’t tell you that, but publishing is always a bottom-line business, even if authors and readers believe it’s all about writing a good story!) I went about 7 years before I sold another book and got a new agent.
And still the money didn’t cover much more than my writing expenses, conferences, etc. Most people believe that novelists surely must be raking in the big bucks, but most of us couldn’t possibly live on what we earn. Nevertheless, Neal never once suggested that I get a real job! He believed I was a success, and he encouraged me along the way, year in and year out.
We live in a nice house now—with 2 cars again!—but it’s still not my writing money that’s gotten us to this point. I’m fully contracted through January of 2017 writing these Amish stories, but there’s still no predicting what sort of money I’ll make in royalties and contracts. I’m just really, really blessed to have a husband who takes care of business so I can afford to be a writer!
Best movie ever made?
Chocolat. I’ve watched that many, many times (on DVD, but never on the big screen). A lot of it has to do with Johnny Depp playing the gypsy vagabond who breezes through town and catches the eye of its newest resident, Vianne, who starts up a chocolate shop and turns the narrow-minded mayor on his ear. Love the Rachel Portman soundtrack. Love the quirky characters. Love the sizzle when Depp finally hooks up with Vianne. Gee, just thinking about it makes me want to watch it again right now!
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
Prizes for the tour are as follows:
• One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/BN.com gift card.
• One randomly chosen host will receive a $25 Amazon/BN.com gift card.