The leaves are falling and there’s a chill in the air in Willow Ridge, Missouri, the quaint, quiet Amish town where love, loyalty, and faith in the Old Ways are about to be put to the test…
I’m pleased to announce the outing of my book, AUTUMN WINDS, the second story in my Seasons of the Heart Amish series. It arrived in stores on Tuesday, September 4th, and I have to say that even after publishing nearly thirty books, these arrivals still make me smile.
And while I’m the first to say that Facebook groups can be such a time suck, I have to admit it’s been fun to have several fans post that they were going to the bookstore on Tuesday to get my book so they could read it right then. Back in the day when my first books were coming out, I wasn’t even sure what the exact pub date was and I certainly had no such messages about people fetching them that day. The internet has made us a lot less isolated even while we’re holed up writing.
I’m also pleased to say that my editor for Seasons of the Heart, Alicia Condon, has just offered me a new three-book contract! Not only will this extend my series to six books, it tells me that Alicia has faith in the salability of my writing as well as in the continuation of this wave of Amish fiction popularity. The last of these books won’t see daylight until the holiday season of 2015! It’s wonderful to be writing for both Kensington and NAL for the next couple of years, because we writers all know how fleeting our employment opportunities can be.
Because I’m supposed to be working on my WIP, AN AMISH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS right now, and because I also owe my NAL editor an updated synopsis for my next Home at Cedar Creek novel, I’ll keep this short. Feel free to read an excerpt for AUTUMN WINDS—and check out the new recipes for this book!—while you’re here visiting my site. I hope you enjoy reading Miriam’s tale of hooking a younger man with a “dubious” past as much as I enjoyed writing it!
What would I do without my readers? Recently, I’ve heard from a couple of cooks trying out my SUMMER OF SECRETS recipe for Mamma’s Best Cinnamon Rolls…with NOT the best results. When I went back to my original recipe, instead of just looking at what was printed in the book, I discovered eggs and oil that made the goopy mess these readers described. HERE is the accurate recipe, below, with my apologies to those of you who tried this recipe from the back of my book.
Better news: my Kensington editor has given me a new 3-book contract, which will extend my Seasons of the Heart series into six books! This keeps me scribbling away through the fall of 2014 (because I also have 2 more books to write for my Home at Cedar Creek series). Thank you so much for supporting me by buying my books, giving my editors the faith to continue publishing these Amish stories!
Mamma’s Best Cinnamon Rolls
2 T. or 2 packages yeast
2 ½ C. warm water
1 box yellow cake mix
5-6 C. flour
¼ C. butter, melted
½ C. brown sugar
1 T. cinnamon
Dissolve yeast in the water for about 3 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, add yeast mixture to the cake mix, and one cup of the flour. Mix until bubbles appear, then slowly add the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, then place in a greased bowl, greasing the top of the dough. Cover the bowl and let dough rise until double (about an hour with regular yeast; 30 minutes with quick-rise).
Punch down, divide in two, then roll into 12×9” rectangles. Spread with melted margarine, then sprinkle all over with sugar and cinnamon. Roll the short sides like a jelly roll, pinch edges to seal, and cut each roll into 12 rounds. Place rolls in two sprayed 9×13” pans and let rise until double. Bake at 350º for 20-25 minutes.
Frosting: 2 C. powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, 3T. melted margarine, 3T. milk or orange juice–enough to make it drizzly. Spread on the rolls while they’re hot.
I just wrote my hottest Amish scene ever!
And as I write this, I’m chuckling. The thought that this scene between two Amish teenagers, fully clothed, is HOT tickles my funny bone.
At the same time, however, this scene took me back to when I was eighteen with raging hormones (well, OK, I was 19 and in college before I ever got to the “raging” part) and eagerly exploring the trail that passionate kisses blazed. It took me back to my days of first dates, especially with guys I knew next to nothing about on campus…or better yet with guys who were only visiting campus. “I will never see this guy again” can lead you in a lot of different directions.
Writing this brief scene reminded me of my favorite Stephen King quote: “a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” Because red-headed, playful Mary has been talked out of the winter’s cold and into a warm hay-filled barn by adventurous Bram, whom she met only this morning, she does indeed receive kisses in the dark from this stranger. And that part suits her fine: she’s Amish, yes, but she’s a young girl looking for a man to court and marry. It’s Bram’s premature talk of jumping the fence to start his own business—with her—rather than joining the Old Amish church that strikes the fear in her.
As well it should. And even though they only kiss and they remain fully clothed, and even though the description and action cover only a few long paragraphs, big trouble comes to light—and this brings on the real HEAT. We’re talking hellfire here, if these kids don’t follow the Old Ways. Preacher Abe, Bram’s uncle, walks in on them with his lantern. Abe has overheard his nephew’s talk of leaving the faith he’s been raised in, and both kids could be in for enough discipline to ruin their carefree days of Christmas —if Abe tells their parents. As well he should. But will he?
Do you remember being that scared, getting caught when you were making out? Being that innocent and feeling like the world’s about to come crashing down around you because of some hot kisses and careless whispers? Boy, I sure do! That sort of heat—fear of parental reprisal or worse—often overrode my adventurous streak with guys, at least until I figured out it was best if I simply didn’t tell my parents everything I was doing at college. These two Amish teenagers will have to reach that “point of no return,” as well, when they decide to commit to each other and their faith (Amish kids must join the church before they can marry) or to break their families’ hearts and leave instead.
Maybe that’s one of my favorite things about writing. Not only do we transport our readers to other places and times and mindsets in our stories, we take ourselves there, as well. Today I took myself into a dark barn with a good-looking, hot-blooded young man who told me I was everything he ever wanted as he kissed me until the world started spinning.
You know, I could use more days like this.
And I want YOU to ride along with me, later in this post! There might be a book in it for you.
You might be sweltering in the early summer heat, wondering what sort of meds I’m on if I’m rhapsodizing about a one-horse open sleigh. But the news here is good! My Kensington editor has invited both of me to write an Amish Christmas anthology. And because I couldn’t have a sleigh on the cover of my current WIP, WINTER OF WISHES, we’ve agreed this romantic vehicle will be featured in these two novellas and on the cover of AN AMISH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, due out for the 2013 holiday season.
Sometimes the writing biz can be fun, you know it? Sometimes it’s pretty exciting to be me! I especially love it when an editor invites me to write an anthology we’re both excited about from the get-go. One novella will be written by Charlotte Hubbard and feature characters from my Seasons of the Heart series, and the other novella will be by Naomi King (the other me) with characters from her Home at Cedar Creek series. And these folks from Willow Ridge and Cedar Creek get to mingle at Christmas time, my favorite season to write about.
While it was wonderful to have my Kensington editor excited about this uniquely Me project, the better news is: when we asked my NAL editor, as a courtesy, if she was okay with me writing this book, she agreed—AND she offered me a new two-book contract for more Cedar Creek series books! It was a big week. Not only does this turn of events show my editors’ faith in my writing, but they’re willing to roll the dice that this long-running, lucrative wave of Amish fiction will hold out through 2014, when the second NAL book is due in.
So now, while I’m doing the final editing on WINTER OF WISHES (10/13) and meanwhile proofreading the galleys for ROSEMARY OPENS HER HEART (11/12), I’m also cogitating plots for these two Christmas novellas. My mind has been a very busy place since 2010 when I began writing two Amish series simultaneously, and this condition shows no sign of letting up. I’m good with that!
Just for a lark, what are your favorite winter/romance scenarios? One of my novellas, Kissing the Bishop, will feature two older couples getting snowed in together as their romances blossom. My other story will involve playful Amish twin sisters, 17, and a set of brothers who are immediately drawn to them and can’t tell one from the other.
I would love to hear your plot/character suggestions as I prepare to write these synopses!
Email me at CharlotteHubbard10@gmail.com, and I’ll award one copy of SUMMER OF SECRETS and one copy of ABBY FINDS HER CALLING for the two suggestions I like the best.
OK—back to your summer day, and I’ll get back to my editing.
Along with the pleasure of seeing my first Naomi King book, ABBY FINDS HER CALLING, on the shelves in bookstores this week, I received a fine, fun email from Jim, the fellow in Jamesport, Missouri, who assists me with the details of these Amish romances. He wrote, “Joe Burkholder’s wife read your two books, and they want to carry them in their store. You passed the Amish test!”
Now, while it’s nothing new to Beverly Lewis, Cindy Woodsmall, or other well-established authors of Amish novels to have their books stocked in Amish shops, this is a first for me. It’s important not just because Jamesport is the model for the Amish towns in my two series, or because it’s nice to have my books in the Burkholders’ store alongside those big-name authors I mentioned, but because I now have another layer of credibility. The Amish folks I’ve recently started writing about consider me authentic.
And considering how the Amish don’t much care to be exploited in print—considering how Jim, my private tour guide and resource guy, told me not to mention that I was a writer while he was taking me around Jamesport—this is a major accomplishment! It means that Joe Burkholder and his wife will now be chatting up all their Plain friends and the tourists in their store about these two novels that mention Jamesport. My books will become a unique memento for them to sell and a way for me to attract new readers. [Jim, by the way, runs Step Back In Time Tours in Jamesport, and if you would like to visit there, or bring your tour buses there, check him out at StepBackInTimeTours.net]
A fun twist: during my initial tour of Jamesport, Jim told me about how the Burkholders’ home had burned to the ground when their chimney caught fire a few years ago. In the freezing cold December weather, the local men worked long shifts, eating meals their wives took turns bringing to the site, dealing with the ice around the foundation from the firemens’ hoses. They used big lights provided by their Mennonite friends so they could work after dark. They rebuilt that home by the New Year!
I got goose bumps hearing that story—my editor got goose bumps from that story—so ABBY FINDS HER CALLING features a subplot where the Ropp family’s home catches fire and is rebuilt that same way. Because Rudy Ropp had stopped trusting the bank, all their life savings had been stashed in that house . . . one of their sons had caused a major scandal in Cedar Creek, getting a girl pregnant, and he and his brother had jumped the fence (left the faith rather than joining the Amish church), but by the book’s end those family ties are restored. Healing and forgiveness come about because the fire brings the Ropp boys home again and forces their dad, Rudy, to reevaluate some of his beliefs and behavior.
It’s particularly rewarding that the real-life family who inspired a major part of my book is now going to sell that book in their store. Isn’t that the neatest piece of synchronicity?
It’s also a plus that I can pass this news on to my editor, who has been scribbling all over the margins of the manuscript for my upcoming book, “is this Amish?” or “do Amish really do this?” She’s been using her eagle-eye, asking me to validate my details and research (and she’s more accustomed to the ways of the Amish in the eastern U.S. Plain folks in Missouri do some things differently) so I hope she, too, will feel good about this on-site Amish response to ABBY FINDS HER CALLING.
After writing this book on a tabletop office, while we were selling, buying, and remodeling homes as we moved from Missouri to Minnesota, it’s gratifying indeed to hear that my work has “passed the Amish test.”
I sometimes get the most AMAZING, heart-stopping pix in emails from friends! I don’t have the credits for this one, except I believe it was taken by a 15-y-o photographer, fortunate enough—and skilled enough—to see a rare albino hummingbird and capture it on film. If only we would all see such beauty within ourselves–for it is there! And if only we would envision the same uniqueness we see in this exquisite shot as we look in the mirror.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Love your neighbor as yourself . . . but love yourself every bit as much as you love others, too.
To celebrate this week’s debut of my first Amish novel, SUMMER OF SECRETS, I’m going to give you some trivia about the Amish in Missouri, where my new Seasons of the Heart series is set. Researching these books and meeting these fascinating people has been a learning experience in many ways.
Did you know . . . that many Amish buggies and carriages are pulled by retired race horses? When I remarked about the beautiful horses I saw, I learned that the Amish in Missouri buy race horses which have been retired from the track–still young, but not good for racing anymore. Amishmen are excellent horse trainers and soon convert these thoroughbreds to pull their family vehicles. While Plain folks are to avoid pride, it’s no sin to save a fine, beautiful animal for a useful purpose!
Did you know . . . that Plain folks were into social networking long before computers and the Internet? Their weekly newspaper, The Budget, features articles from scribes who live in every Amish and Mennonite settlement in the U.S. and even in colonies in Ukraine, Belize, Israel, and other international locales! Scribes chronicle the daily goings-on of local families, including births, deaths, trips, and whose home will host church services next week! You’ll also see a recipe column, an information exchange column, and a “shower” column, where card showers for birthdays and money showers for folks with large medical expenses generate a LOT of cheer and donations. The Amish don’t believe in insurance, so it’s not uncommon for a money shower to bring in more than $75k.
Did you know . . . that the biggest “threat” to the Amish way of life is the lunch bucket!? Amish folks work close enough to home that—except for kids in school—they can gather around their own table for meals. This sort of togetherness, along with often having elderly parents, married couples, and children all under the same roof is the bedrock of the Amish culture. Faith and family are their highest priorities.
Did you know . . . that the largest Old Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River is in Jamesport, Missouri? Nearly 50 Amish and Mennonite settlements are scattered throughout rural Missouri, because farmland is less expensive and nearby towns provide a place to sell Amish products and services.
Did you know . . . that you can tell where an Amish woman lives by the cut of her prayer kapp? Plain women in Missouri wear the pleated style that comes partway over their ears, whereas the Amish in Lancaster County, PA are known for their heart-shaped head coverings. Other details in clothing differ from place to place, too. And while Old Order Amish women only make their dresses from solid colors, Mennonite ladies use the same dress patterns but often wear wild, colorful prints!
Did you know . . . that the average Amish family in Missouri supports itself on 30-85 acres of land? Bigger is not better, where Plain folks are concerned, because larger farms mean more debt—and they require more hired help and machinery to keep them productive. If an Amish family runs a business, like a dry goods store, harness-making shop, furniture factory, pie shop, etc. their business is on their own property rather than “in town”. You need a local map so you don’t miss any turns as you drive through the countryside to find these places! Unlike the main roads through Bird-in-Hand in Lancaster County, the rural routes through Missouri settlements are usually free of traffic jams—and not always paved!
So much for Amish trivia! Please heck out my new books here on my site, read excerpts, try out recipes, and sign up for my newsletter. You can LIKE me on my Naomi C. King Facebook page, too!
What a wonderful thing, to look up yesterday afternoon and see an eagle soaring above our town home! We live just across the state highway from the Mississippi River, where eagles nest along the wooded shoreline areas, so every now and again—if you watch at the right moment—you can see one of these majestic birds floating effortlessly on the air currents with his wings outspread. This one looked luminous, with the rays of afternoon sunshine glowing on his underside.
Now, just as a contrast, we also have a wild jake (young male) turkey in our town home complex! We had a pair of turkeys last spring while we were remodeling, before we moved in, but now we seem to have this one young fellow darting from patio to patio to eat the birdseed that drops from the feeders hanging from many decks above. My husband thinks he got banished from the flock for doing some adolescent male thing the other turkeys didn’t like. My sister has named him Sidney, and he occasionally waddles up, poking the air with his beak as he walks, and gazes in through the sliding glass doors at us. Sue leaves her cigarettes and ashtray out there on the patio table, and I keep waiting to see Sidney go off with a lit cig in his beak.
So it makes me ask myself, as I contemplate these two so-different bird personalities: am I acting like an eagle today, regal and soaring and fully aware of how magnificent I am? Or am I being a turkey, lurking under decks and then sprinting, ungainly and dorky, from one feeder to the next? While each bird was created to fulfill his place and purpose—just as we all are—maybe it would be a good thing to emulate the more glorious bird every chance we get!
It’s been awhile since I checked in here, because my current book, ROSEMARY OPENS HER HEART, kept me very busy while I meanwhile encountered a LOT of unforeseen events and distractions. I am SO pleased to announce that I have finished this book in time to fully enjoy Christmas weekend! I’ll be singing with my choir at Central Presbyterian in St. Paul at our Christmas Eve candlelight service, then joining all there for the carol-singing on Christmas morning. Having a spiral-sliced ham, twice-baked potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry-orange relish, and pumpkin pie–and some much-needed time off before I jump into my next book for the Seasons of the Heart series, WINTER OF WISHES.
This means I can keep playing my new Christmas playlist on my computer long past the holidays, as I get to write about Christmas in this new book! Works for me!
Wishing you all a wonderful, blessed Christmas! Thanks for stopping by!
Today I learned that SUMMER OF SECRETS, my February ’12 book, will be published in large print and will be featured by six book clubs that month! This means a hardcover/library edition will be printed–and I believe a lot of you readers will enjoy the story more in this format! While a lot of writers I know have routinely been published this way, this is my first time for so many different editions and I’m really tickled!
Thanks for sharing my good news!
And of course, my Amish stories will be available in digital formats via Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well.