When I began to write Emma Blooms at Last, the fourth book in my Home At Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series, a lot of story pieces were already in play. I had already created the world of Cedar Creek, Missouri, with its mercantile, a carriage shop, a couple of eateries, and several homes. I had also introduced Abby Lambright and James Graber and had kept readers wondering if they would ever marry! In book three, Amanda Weds a Good Man, I also introduced the extended Brubaker family with eight kids, four adults, a dog, and all the stuff that arises from combining two families.
And yet one element of the writing process was different: I knew going in that Emma Blooms at Last would be the final book in this series. Not only did I need to tell a compelling story about Emma, I also had to wrap up the major story arcs my readers have been following. I had to say goodbye, so I could move on and say yes to other things—and that’s exactly what Emma Graber must do in this book, as well!
Poor Emma, however, must deal with a goodbye that’s much tougher than mine, because early in the book her mother dies. Eunice Graber, the glue that has held her family together, simply doesn’t wake up one morning—and if you’ve lost your mom, you understand that Emma is enveloped by a sense of loss that will never totally go away. Already a homebody, Emma will use her mother’s passing as a strong excuse for not going out when flashy, confident Jerome Lambright invites her to have some fun.
An unexpected job offer from Sam Lambright turns the tide, however: as a preacher, Sam insists that Abby will no longer work in the mercantile now that she’s a married woman. Everyone in Cedar Creek knows Sam will have a lot of trouble replacing Abby, and some of them—including Abby and Emma—have their doubts about Emma’s ability to work in the busy store as the Christmas season begins.
Yet an inner voice prompts Emma to give it a shot. For years she’s kept the books for her brother James’s carriage shop, so her record keeping skills are sound. She’s quite surprised when Jerome compliments her for taking on the job in the store, and she eagerly tackles Sam’s ledger and sending in the orders to restock the store—tasks she can perform in the workroom, because she’s in mourning and isn’t permitted to work out among the customers.
It takes an emotional melt-down to show Emma and those around her that she hasn’t allowed herself time to grieve her mother’s passing. Everyone is shocked about the seemingly minor issue that tips Emma over the edge. Yet as time passes, Emma’s dat Merle also warns his daughter that she needs to get a life—doing something besides hovering over him. As the story progresses and Jerome finds ways to spend time with the Graber family, Emma comes to appreciate Jerome’s enthusiastic nature (she even confronts the ex-fiancee who shows up with her mother, trying to win Jerome back. Now that’s a funny chapter!).
And in the end, Emma Blooms at Last. For me, saying goodbye to this series I’ve written as Naomi King has provided a chance to write two new Amish series as Charlotte Hubbard (my real name) for my Seasons of the Heart series. So I get a happy ending from making a change, just as Emma does.
Charlotte Hubbard draws upon her experiences in Jamesport, the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi to write of simpler times and a faith-based lifestyle in her new Seasons of the Heart series. Faith and family, farming and food preservation are hallmarks of her lifestyle, and the foundation of her earlier Angels of Mercy series. When she’s not writing, she loves to try new recipes, crochet, and sew. Charlotte now lives in Minnesota with her husband and their border collie.
Purchase Charlotte’s books here.