Book Excerpt from Amish Redemption

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 28
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 28, 2015 at 10:56 am

This week, I’m excited to bring you another excerpt from my upcoming eBook, Amish Redemption. It’s the final book of the Amish Friendships series, and full of challenges for our young friends Miriam and Abram.

Missed the first excerpt? Check it out here on the blog. And, as always, I’d love to hear what you think of the book so far. :)

Beautiful autumn in Amish country. Photo courtesy of branhamphoto.com

Beautiful autumn in Amish country. Photo courtesy of branhamphoto.com

Chapter Two: Abram

 After I settle the horses in the barn for the night, I brace myself to head back outside into the cold. Even on drafty evenings like these, the barn always seems to carry a warmth of its own, from the animals and the soft hay lining the floors and walls.

I cringe when I step back outside and a blast of frigid air hits me. I usually love that chill that tells me winter is on the way, but I suppose that lately I’ve felt so frozen out by the people in our community that I just want to feel warm all the time.

I frown as I unload the groceries from the English market and carry them toward the haus. Everything cost nearly twice as much as it does at Samuel’s General Store. But I’ve had to stop shopping at the Amish stores ever since my fraa and I were placed in the Bann.

I still think that our punishment was unfair. When the scraggly runaway teen showed up at our haus one day, we took him in and let him earn his keep by working for us. He hid who he really was, telling us that his name was Lee, but it wasn’t long until I figured out that he was actually Levi, Minister Eichler’s long-lost son.

Levi asked Miriam and me to keep his secret until he was ready to talk to his parents, and we did. The only problem was that the Eichlers found out that he was here before he’d had a chance to talk to them. Instead of being angry with their son, they blamed everything on us for lying and keeping his secret, and we ended up Meidung.

Now it’s up to us to pick up the pieces. We talked to the bishop, and he told us there’s much to do before we can come back to the fold.

It’s just not right that Miriam and I were shunned, while Levi was allowed back into his parents’ haus and barely punished. As an unbaptized youth, he was given a bit more leeway. I hope that he returns to Ohio soon to see Sadie, the girl he was courting before he ran away. He compromised Sadie, and now she’s expecting a bobbel.

I think of my own bobblin, one born and one on the way, and shake my head. I try to tell myself that I should forgive Levi entirely, but I just can’t. I don’t think he’s a man of character. If I were in his place, I would be back in Ohio faster than a shot, waiting for the miracle of my bobbel’s birth.

But who am I to judge other people? Only Herr Gott can do that. Sighing, I heave the grocery bags upwards and drag myself inside to see my fraa.

I’m greeted by the smell of roast beef and buttery mashed potatoes, two of my favorite things. As Miriam rushes downstairs to help me unload the groceries, and then prepares plates for me, Henry, and herself—last as usual—I look at the rounded swell of her belly, and realize that the bobbel is not far away.

“How was your day, liebchen?” I ask, kissing her.

Gut,” she says in a falsely-bright voice. She plops down in her seat and begins feeding Henry mashed potatoes. “I redd up the haus, and played with Henry. We made cookies and pies, and went for a short walk outside.”

I can hear the strain in her voice; I know that she’s missing the time spent with friends, family, and neighbors, just as I am. Although Miriam doesn’t have many close friends, she’s always been actively involved in the community, taking Henry to play with other children and attending quilting circles. Now she can’t do any of that.

“That sounds nice,” I say without any enthusiasm, taking a mouthful of roast beef. “My day was gut, too. I gave one tour, and then shopped with the Englischers.”

A strangled sob escapes from Miriam’s throat, and Henry and I both stare at her. I’m horrified to see that her eyes are bright with tears.

“Let’s not lie to ourselves anymore,” she says. “My day was baremlich, and yours was, too. All the days will be like that until we’re back in the fold.”

I hop out of my seat and throw my arms around my fraa. “Everything will be all right,” I whisper into her hair, and I feel her relax into my arms.

I can only hope that I’m right, and not lying, both to Miriam and to myself.

Back-to-School Reflections

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 16
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm

The back-to-school season always brings a big smile to my face–and not only because our neighborhood pool is blissfully empty for quiet daytime swims with my baby girl. ;)

I adore seeing cute little kids with freshly-pressed clothes and large, earnest eyes, clutching brand-new backpacks and notebooks as they head off for a day full of learning. I also get a kick out of the middle- and high-schoolers, many of whom are trying out new looks and identities. To many of them, the beginning of the school year is a blank slate, one in which they can be anything they want to be–and to me, that’s both endearing and inspiring.

This post might seem a bit late, considering that the kids have been back for a few weeks now, but the school year is still fresh and new. Throughout September, I often find myself reminiscing about first days of school past, and I also feel more inclined to learn new things and teach others as well. And just today, I had a weird craving for an apple, just like one you’d find on the stereotypical teacher’s desk! I guess there are worse foods to crave. ;)

I guess these are enough books to last me through my September learning renaissance. ;)

I guess these are enough books to last me through my September learning renaissance. ;)

This September, I’ve been visiting the library frequently, not only to expose Xaviana to new books and fun activities like Baby Rhyme Time, but also to quest for new reading material of my own. In the process, I discovered two authors that I loooove. Suzanne Woods Fisher writes Amish fiction that combines everything I look for in a good book: excitement, adventure, romance, and faith. I also fell in love with The Lost Girls of Rome by Italian author Donato Carrisi, because I’m a huge fan of suspenseful crime dramas.

I’ve also been playing teacher for Xaviana, who is almost 11 months old and has entered this amazing phase in which she seems to learn something new every day. When we’re not playing, exercising, and climbing on everything, we do a lot of reading. I read all her books in our at home “library” every day–about 15 board books throughout the day and 3 bedtime stories at night. We also have the Bright Baby board book with colors, numbers, ABC’s, shapes, and opposites, and we go through it daily. She’s an eager little pupil, and can now tell me what cows, cats, and sheep say, show me “up” and “down” with her arms, differentiate between her “small” and “big” toy balls, and fit the elusive shapes in the correct holes of her puzzle. She loves reading time, and smiles at her favorite books, especially I Love You Through and Through, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and If Animals Kissed Good Night. Playing school has never been so much fun!

Readers out there, do you find yourself going through your own personal renaissance during the back-to-school season, even if you’re not heading back to the classroom? I’d love to hear your thoughts and reflections!

Amish Blessings Release + Giveaway

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 30
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 30, 2015 at 8:58 am

I’m psyched to announce that Amish Blessings has launched on Kindle… Check it out here. In this book, we catch a glimpse of the lives of Miriam and Abram, young business owners who, up until this book, have been minor characters. In past books, Abram and Miriam mostly cropped up in party scenes (Abram in the Amish Hearts series) or moments of annoyance for Mercy and Hannah (Miriam). However, I think readers will find love and compassion in their hearts for this surprisingly sweet couple as they take in a runaway boy…and face an unexpected shunning.

Interested in reviewing Amish Blessings? The first 5 people to comment here will receive free review copies!

Thanks to everyone who provided me with valuable feedback on the cover designs yesterday. Many readers commented on the Facebook post, and it helped so much! Here’s the finished version of the cover. What do you think?

 

You voted, we listened... Here's the Amish Blessings cover reveal.

You voted, we listened… Here’s the Amish Blessings cover reveal.

And, as always, I’m happy to share a free excerpt with you. Here’s Chapter 2. (If you missed Chapter 1, you can read it here.)

Chapter Two: Abram

 The brisk fall wind whips across my face, nearly blowing my straw hat off my head. I shiver, tugging my jacket closer around myself as I harness the horses to the buggy for the first tour of the day.

My Amish tour business is a relatively new one. Miriam and I started it, and the bed and breakfast, after my vadder passed away and left me, along with my bruders and schweschders, a bit of money. My dear maemm had died of cancer a few years before, and Vadder hadn’t taken it well. He’d simply stopped taking care of himself, despite the constant concern of the family.

The heavy gray clouds above make it the perfect day for gloomy thoughts, but I force the sadness out of my head and focus on the tasks at hand. Vadder and Maemm are with Herr Gott and each other in heaven, where they belong. At least, I hope they are. We Amish try our best to live purely and simply, and my parents were gut people. But even so, you can never be sure that you’re going to heaven.

I’m glad when the Quigleys, who will be staying at the bed and breakfast for the weekend, head out the front door. They’re scheduled for a morning tour, and it will be nice to be distracted from the turn my thoughts have taken. But I’m surprised to see that they’re not coming outside empty-handed; they have their bags, and the twin girls are pouting and whining.

I hurry over, wondering what could have possibly gone wrong. The tours are fairly popular, and I even hired two of my friends, Jeremiah and Aaron, to help out. They’ll both be coming in a little later today, when the tour schedule is full.

However, very few people have stayed in the bed and breakfast. So far, only a few families have visited, and all of them have either cut short their stays or canceled when they’ve found out that there’s no indoor plumbing.

Honestly, what do these Englischers think? We’re Amish!

I look down at the Quigleys’ overstuffed bags and ask Mr. Quigley, “Something wrong, sir?”

His cheeks flush pink under his light stubble. “We decided that we won’t be staying at your facilities,” he says, the timid tone of his voice making him sound rather embarrassed. With a little chuckle, he adds, “My wife can’t do without running water and indoor toilets.”

“Like you could, either,” Mrs. Quigley snaps. “We decided to skip breakfast, too, but we’d still like a tour around the neighborhood, if you’d be so kind.”

I raise an eyebrow. I’m surprised that they’d willingly miss out on Miriam’s breakfast casserole; it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever tasted.

However, they’re paying customers, and they did reserve a tour. So I force a smile onto my face and say, “Of course. Why don’t you let me take your bags to the car, and we’ll be on our way.”

After I’ve helped the family to repack their huge SUV to Mrs. Quigley’s satisfaction, I load everyone into the buggy and start the drive around town. The route stretches from New Wilmington to Volant, and I usually stop to showcase the shops and Amish homes if the Englischers are interested. Often, we’ll run across other buggies on the way, and the English tourists generally try to snap pictures with their cell phones. This has led to some pretty funny episodes, since we Amish don’t believe in having our photos taken. Just last week, a man tried to take a picture of Minister Eichler as he passed by, and the minister placed a hand over his face and nearly steered his buggy into a ditch.

As I begin the tour, trying unsuccessfully to block out the whines of the little girls and Mrs. Quigley’s constant griping, my stomach gives a slow, long roil, and not just because I’m getting hungry from thinking of my fraa’s breakfast casserole.

We have to get this bed and breakfast off the ground, or the business may not be able to stay afloat.

Sneak-Peek of Amish Blessings!

by Kristina Ludwig
Jun 19
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: June 19, 2015 at 10:23 am

After a month of hard-core writing, I finally finished Book 3 of the Amish Friendships series. I’ve submitted it to my editor, and am targeting the launch date for the last week of June!

Amish Blessings centers around two new characters, Abram and Miriam. Up until now, they were minor characters who showed up every once in a while, mostly to annoy Mercy or Hannah. Miriam and Mercy have a rather unpleasant history–in Amish Valentine, Miriam and Mercy competed ferociously for the same boy, Samuel. However, Miriam is all grown up now and married to Abram, and the two have just started a bed and breakfast and buggy tour business. They receive an unexpected guest, a runaway boy who is different than what he seems. His identity–and the favor he asks of them–jeopardize their position in the community.

Before the book comes out, I’m excited to share an excerpt with you. Check out Chapter One of Amish Blessings. I’d love to hear what you think!

Amish Blessings takes place in the fall. Here's a beautiful picture of Amish country in the autumn to get you in the mood. :)

Amish Blessings takes place in the fall. Here’s a beautiful picture of Amish country in the autumn to get you in the mood. :)

Chapter One: Miriam

 Autumn in Amish country brings many blessings: freshly picked apples and warm cider, piping-hot pies smelling of cinnamon and sugar, crisp breezes through colorful leaves, and tourists who want to enjoy these things.

My mann Abram and I figured out a way to take advantage of this; we’ve just started a bed and breakfast and a tour business, charging for relaxing buggy rides through the country. When we’d visited family in Lancaster last year, I’d noticed the long lines of Englischers waiting for the Amish tours, and had suggested that we start something similar. However, we didn’t have the money to do so until recently, when Abram’s poor vadder died and left us an inheritance.

Setting up the business was the easy part; actually running it is another story. Sure, Abram is doing well with the tours, but the bed and breakfast seems as though it will take a great deal of work and patience to get off the ground.

I’ve always had an easy time keeping haus, first at home with my parents, bruders, and schweschders, and then later on with Abram and our growing family. However, English tourists are more demanding than I’d ever imagined.

This morning, I’ve just fed Henry, my one-year-old bobbel, and am starting to prepare a breakfast casserole and some coffee soup for the Quigleys, English guests who will be arriving soon.

The telltale crackle of thick tires on the gravel driveway tells me that they’re here. I tug aside the front curtains and peer out. A huge, truck-like vehicle, which I’ve heard Englischers call an SUV, has rolled in. Seconds later, a family emerges: a maemm, a daed, and twin girls who look about five years old. I have no idea why such a small family needs such a large car; I’d grown up packed into a buggy with my parents and eight bruders and schweschders, and I hadn’t minded at all.

No matter, though. Who am I to judge the Englischers’ worldly excess? Holding Henry in one hand and placing the other under my belly, I rush to the front door to greet the guests.

I fling open the door and smile brightly. “Hello. You must be the Quigleys. I’m Miriam, and I will be taking care of you.”

“Hi, Miriam,” the Quigleys chorus. The little girls hop up and down, peppering their parents with questions as they follow me into the living room. Abram hurries downstairs and carries in the family’s bags, dragging them up the stairs to the guest room. After we exchange pleasantries, Abram vanishes outside to prepare the buggy for today’s tour schedule.

As I lead the Quigleys back downstairs and motion for them to have a seat on the large couch in the living room, Mrs. Quigley gives Henry and me a quick once-over with narrowed eyes. I feel instantly self-conscious. Does she doubt my ability to run a bed and breakfast with a small bobbel and another on the way? I’ll just have to prove her wrong.

So, I paste on a broad grin. “Would you care for some coffee soup?” I ask. “And I have fresh apple cider for the little ones.”

“Is the cider organic?” Mrs. Quigley asks. “Mia and Sophie only drink organic.”

Thankfully, I know a bit about this because my neighbor Samuel is heavily into organic farming. So, I answer with confidence, “Jah.”

“All right then,” she says. “Two of those, please, and what is coffee soup?”

She screws up her face as I explain that it’s coffee made with plenty of cream and sugar, and either toasted bread or crumbled-up soda crackers floating inside. I prefer it with bread, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Everyone says my coffee soup is the best.

But Mrs. Quigley seems unimpressed. “Holy carbs,” she says. “Let’s skip that. Black coffee for me.”

“I’m having the coffee soup,” Mr. Quigley says. When his fraa raises her eyebrows, he throws up his hands and says, “What? I’m on vacation.”

“All right then,” I interrupt smoothly. “Two juices, a black coffee, and a coffee soup, coming right up. And perhaps after you’ve enjoyed your refreshments, you’d like to follow me into the dining room for breakfast.”

Before I’m even out of earshot, Mrs. Quigley says, “I don’t know about this place, hon. Let’s check it out before we commit to staying here. There’s a Holiday Inn not far away.”

When I return with the tray of drinks, I’m not surprised that Mrs. Quigley demands a full tour of the haus. So, I place a bleary-eyed Henry in his crib for his morning nap, and oblige.

Drinks in hand, Mrs. Quigley, her mann, and the girls follow me through the haus, commenting on each room. Unfortunately, they don’t have much gut to say.

“Where are the TVs?” one of the girls lisps when I show her the guest bedroom. I bite my tongue when I notice that she’s dribbling little drops of cider all over my grandmother’s hand-hooked rug.

“They’re Amish, Sophie,” Mrs. Quigley says. “They don’t watch TV.”

“Where are the potties?” Mia asks.

“Now that’s a good question,” her maemm says.

I point out the window. “When nature calls, we use that outhouse out back.”

“Then I’m afraid to ask about showers,” Mr. Quigley says with a laugh.

I gesture to our best claw-footed tub in the corner. “I can boil you some water if you’d like to wash up. And I made the soap myself.”

Mr. Quigley nods, but his fraa looks at him and says, “Jack, I just can’t do this. I mean, I knew we’d be roughing it, but this is crazy.”

The girls instantly begin to moan, and Mr. Quigley says, “Angela, can’t we talk about this?”

I slip out of the room and call from the doorway, “I’ll give you some privacy.”

I stop by Henry’s crib to check on him. The bobbel has rolled from his back to his stomach, and is sleeping soundly, snoring and making occasional happy coos. By the time I’ve tugged the quilt back around him, the Quigleys have appeared in the doorway.

“We won’t be staying after all,” Mr. Quigley says, clearing his throat and looking down at the ground as though he’s embarrassed.

I force my lips into a grin, hoping that I’m hiding my disappointment. “Won’t you at least stay for breakfast? I made authentic Amish casserole, with bacon and eggs—”

“No thank you,” Mrs. Quigley interrupts with a pinch-lipped smile. “We’re watching our diet. We’ll just get continental breakfast at the hotel.”

“But we still want the buggy tour,” Mr. Quigley says in an apologetic voice.

“Very well,” I say, leading them downstairs. “Abram will be happy to take you out.”

As the Quigleys tromp out the door, I head into the kitchen and cut myself a hefty slice of breakfast casserole, enjoying the first meaty, cheesy, salty bite. My portion fills an entire plate, but I’m stuck with the whole thing now, and besides, I am eating for two—three if you count Henry, who is still breastfeeding a few times a day.

However, when the pleasure of that first mouthful wears off, I drop my head into my hands. We need to figure out some way to make the bed and breakfast more attractive to the Englischers, but how?

Amish Shopkeeper Release and Giveaway!

by Kristina Ludwig
May 26
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 26, 2015 at 9:20 am

I’m super excited to announce that Amish Shopkeeper is out! Download it here.

The cover of my brand-new book, Amish Shopkeeper!

The cover of my brand-new book, Amish Shopkeeper!

Interested in reviewing the book? The first 5 fans who comment below with their Amazon IDs will receive the book for free!

Want to check out the book before you buy it? Here’s an excerpt. Happy reading!

Chapter Two: Jakob 

That morning, there’s another slight snag that I need to work out before I talk to Aaron: whether or not Amos is actually selling, and when. Although he’s constantly hinting around about it, he’s been pretty vague about the specifics.

Amos had been prepared to sell right away when the new minister had told us that our rubber buggy wheels were too worldly and would need to be changed immediately. Unfortunately, the wheels were non-returnable, and we’d just ordered in a huge shipment. The shop stood to lose a lot of money, and Amos told me it was time for him to think about retiring early.

However, after I convinced Minister Eichler that the rubber wheels weren’t too Hochmut and were actually a whole lot more durable than the steel-rimmed ones he favored, Amos didn’t seem so eager to sell anymore. Since then, everything has been business as usual.

Now I finish up a repair on an old clock while Amos sips coffee at his desk in the corner, balancing the figures. I pause, trying to think of the best way to bring up the subject of selling, but I realize that I’ll just have to be blunt. I don’t have my fraa’s skills when it comes to talking to people.

“So,” I begin, clearing my throat as I shift my weight from foot to foot. “Given any more thought to selling?”

Amos shuffles a few papers around and peers at me over top of his glasses. “Things are looking pretty gut here, Jakob, so I don’t really need to sell. But that’s not to say that I wouldn’t be open to it for the right price.” Amos sets his papers down and leans forward. “Why, are you thinking of buying?”

I nod. “I would like to, and I’m hoping that I can offer you the right price. My bruder will be coming in at lunchtime today. I’m trying to talk him into going into business with me.”

Amos smiles. “Well, that would work out nicely. I must admit, I am looking forward to retirement, but I love the shop as well. I’ve worked hard to build it up over the years, and when I do sell, I’d much rather have you buy it than some stranger. I might as well retire soon; I’m no use sitting behind this desk all day. Don’t get old, Jakob, whatever you do.”

I laugh, wondering why old people always say that. “You’re not that old, Amos,” I protest.

He rubs his rheumatic knee. “Well, thank you, son, but right now it sure feels like I am.” Taking a deep breath, he adds,  “Bring your bruder in here, by all means. I’ll show him how things work, and hopefully, we can sweet-talk him together.”

I smile at Amos, praying that Aaron will realize how wunderlich it would be to work here. I don’t have much time to linger on the thought because we’re busy all morning. There’s a new shipment of parts to organize and display, one buggy repair, and a few random odds and ends to fix for a friend of old Mrs. Yoder.

Aaron arrives a little after noon, and Amos says, “Well, hello there. It’s gut to have you in my shop.” With a wink in my direction, he adds, “Your bruder here is a wunderlich worker. You could do worse than going into business with him.”

Aaron smiles. “Jah, I reckon you’re right, Amos. But there are other options for me, so I’ll have to choose wisely.”

I raise an eyebrow, wondering what Aaron means by “other options.” Is he referring to his job at the factory, or perhaps to taking a new job and moving out of town with Elizabeth after the wedding?

Shaking the thoughts aside, I focus on the present, demonstrating how to fix a buggy’s suspension, and telling Aaron about the other things we repair. Amos takes some time to go over the books with Aaron, and even lets him wait on a customer, a man from Volant who is looking for new buggy wheels.

Although Aaron isn’t used to working with customers, he does a pretty gut job waiting on the man, explaining the types of wheels we sell, and looking to Amos and me when he’s unsure of the prices.

“Thanks much,” the man from Volant says with a smile as he leaves with four new buggy wheels. “You helped me a great deal.”

Once the man has left, Amos pats Aaron on the shoulder. “Well, there you go, your first sale. I can tell you have a knack, son. I really hope that you and your bruder decide to buy the place. I’m in no hurry to sell, but I know the day is coming sooner than I think. I’d much rather sell to gut Amish boys than to English outsiders.”

Aaron gives Amos a tight smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “Well, thanks for the opportunity, sir. I’ll certainly think about it.”

I fight the urge to groan. I’d thought that coming in and seeing how smoothly the shop runs would make Aaron more eager to buy it, but he still doesn’t seem convinced. Then again, Aaron always was a stubborn one.

I sigh. It looks like my work isn’t done yet.

 

Excerpt of Amish Shopkeeper

by Kristina Ludwig
May 5
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: May 5, 2015 at 12:43 pm

I’m excited to announce that my new eBook, Amish Shopkeeper, will be coming out early next week! Jakob wants to buy the buggy repair shop where he works, but how can he afford it? All he needs is time, and his boss, Amos, is willing to give him that. After all, he’s not planning to retire right away.

However, all that changes when Amos finds out that he needs an expensive knee surgery. Suddenly, he’s forced into selling. The problem: Jakob can’t afford to buy it yet.

With the help of Samuel and the church elders, Jakob and Hannah plan a fundraiser for Amos. But can they raise enough money to pay for Amos’s operation, or will he be forced to sell anyway?

I’ll keep you posted here and on Facebook and Twitter with release dates. Until then, here’s an excerpt of the book!

A real Amish buggy shop in Pennsylvania. Image from amishbuggypa.com

A real Amish buggy shop in Pennsylvania. Image from amishbuggypa.com

Chapter One: Jakob

I gaze across the fields by my haus, holding up one hand to shield my eyes from the bright sunrise. My bruder, Aaron, will be married this November, and every morning, I’ve been tending the celery I’ve planted for him.  Celery is a staple in Amish weddings; it’s used in the recipes, as well as the decorations.

The tall, green stalks are sprouting up faster than my younger brothers during puberty. There’s been plenty of rain this year, unlike the baremlich drought two summers ago, when I’d been preparing for my own wedding.

I stifle a yawn; this extra chore means that I have to rise half an hour earlier. However, I feel as though it’s worth it. After all, Aaron and my other bruders helped to grow the celery, meager as it was, for my wedding.

Besides, I’m hoping that the extra favor will make Aaron more likely to do one for me. I’ve been trying to talk him into going into business with me for the last month or so, and he’s still not sure about it. My boss Amos might sell his old buggy repair shop, and I really want to buy it. The only problem is that I don’t have enough money to do it by myself—I need a business partner.

Aaron is meeting me at the shop for lunch today. He’s planning to look around, and then he’ll stay for a while to see how the place runs. I really hope he likes it. He makes gut money at the table and chair factory where he works. Plus, he’s thinking of moving to the next town over with his fraa-to-be. I’ll have a lot of work to do to convince him.

Turning toward the haus, I push the wheelbarrow of mulch back into the barn and begin my next chore: milking the cows. As I complete all my other usual morning tasks, I think about the way I’d run the repair shop if it were mine.

I’ve worked there ever since I graduated eighth grade, and throughout the years, I’ve become the guy who can fix just about anything. Not only do I perform all the buggy repairs since Amos’s rheumatism has started to act up, I also suggested that we expand our business to include random household items. Now, we fix anything people bring in—and since Amos has problems seeing close-up, I do most of those repairs as well.

I gather a basketful of eggs and head into the haus. There, Hannah has already begun cooking breakfast. I can smell the coffee brewing, and she’s frying up some bacon. Waffles sizzle on the griddle, while our five-month-old bobbel, Grace, sits at her high chair, eagerly waiting for her feeding. She’s a gut eater, although she usually gets more food on herself than in her mouth.

Gute mariye, liebchen.” I give Hannah a quick kiss on her soft lips, and then plant a loud, sloppy one on Grace’s round cheek, causing her to burst into giggles.

Gute mariye, Jakob,” Hannah says with a smile. She places two fragrant golden waffles and four crispy slices of bacon on a plate in front of me, and pours me a tall cup of coffee. “I made you extra food, and coffee, too. You have a big day today, what with meeting your bruder. Do you think he’ll finally agree to go into business with you?”

I shrug, chewing on a piece of bacon. “I can’t be sure, but all I can do is pray.”

“Well, in that case, I’ll be praying, too. Herr Gott is sure to listen if we both pester Him.”

I laugh along with Hannah, hoping she’s right.

New Vlog: Excerpt from Amish Gossip

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 6
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter weekend!

My family and I celebrated Easter with a beautiful sunrise mass at the beach. I am not a morning person, and wasn’t sure how I felt about getting up before the sun like many of my Amish characters do. However, once I was up, ready, and sitting on the beach among the sand and surf, I was glad that I’d decided to go!

The other perk of getting up early was that I felt like I had so much more time than usual. We brunched and napped, and I prepared a banana trifle bowl for dinner with friends that evening. Plus, we shot this video!

So, here I am on Easter, reading an excerpt from my latest eBook, Amish Gossip. Click on the image to watch the YouTube video. My favorite part is when I’m interrupted by a cute surprise guest!

Screenshot 2015-04-06 10.01.19

The book also has a redesigned cover… In honor of the new cover, the book will be free today and tomorrow (April 6th and 7th), so be sure to check it out here: http://goo.gl/9q5LEL

The redesigned cover of Amish Gossip, courtesy of Antonio... What do you think?

The redesigned cover of Amish Gossip, courtesy of Antonio… What do you think?

It’s Here at Last–Amish Gossip Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 13
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 13, 2015 at 12:03 pm

My apologies… I promised that my new Kindle eBook, Amish Gossipwould be available on Friday, March 6th, but it took a bit longer than that. :(

This was not actually my fault; I hit the “publish” button on the evening of March 5th, but the book itself did not become available in the Kindle store until today because of a weird glitch. This is the 22nd Kindle eBook I’ve self-published, and I must say, I’ve never seen it take so long for a book to go live. But more about that in a later blog post. For now, let’s bask in the glory of the new release!

Amish Gossip - Final Cover

In honor of the launch, I will be offering free copies of the book to the first ten fans who are interested in giving me an honest review. If you like to make your opinions known on Amazon and Goodreads, comment below!

Have a great weekend!

Book Excerpt from The Mermaid’s Voyage

by Kristina Ludwig
Jan 9
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: January 9, 2015 at 11:17 am

Today, I’m excited to share an excerpt from my upcoming eBook, The Mermaid’s Voyage. This book follows Oceania’s niece, Doria, as she ventures to 1920s San Francisco and stays with Oceania and Xavier, who are now well-known jazz musicians. Doria discovers the wild life of the Prohibition era, visiting her first speakeasy and meeting a handsome but nosy reporter named Stanley. Meanwhile, her merman boyfriend Dylan is worried about her and follows her to land–undercover. Will Dylan blow his cover? Will Stanley discover that she’s a mermaid? Find out when the book is launched at the end of the month!

In the meantime, here’s an excerpt from Chapter Two. Chapter One can be found at the end of California Mermaids Book 2, The Mermaid’s WeddingLook for more excerpts coming soon to the blog!

mermaid-wishes-leslie-allen

Chapter Two: Dylan

I can’t help but notice the way Doria stiffens and averts her gaze when I tell her not to spend too much time with land boys. I’d attempted a flippant tone, but I probably didn’t quite succeed.

There’s no way to hide it—sometimes I feel as though I love her more than I love myself, although I’m unsure whether she reciprocates that sentiment. We’ve never exchanged any declarations of love, mostly because I’m reticent to tell her how I feel. She’s always seemed to regard the ocean as something temporary, until she can travel to the surface to see her aunt, and I’ve always been afraid that she thinks of me as temporary, too.

Everyone in the village of Mar is well aware of the curse in her family, and the fact that her aunt chose to live on land. I’ve always supported Doria when she talks incessantly about visiting her Aunt Oceania, but I’m secretly terrified that she’ll follow in her aunt’s footsteps. I would be devastated if she chose land. True, I could still visit her, but I know I could never build a life there.

“When will you be back, Doria?” I ask. I gaze into her eyes, which glow a shade of blue as dark and mysterious as the deepest waters of the ocean. The filtered light of the moon glints off her burnished-gold hair, and I run my fingers through it, aching for answers.

But Doria just shrugs. “I’ll be staying for at least a few days, with Aunt Oceania and Uncle Xavier. Father told me that they were touring, but now they’re back in San Francisco, so they can host me.”

Doria’s aunt and uncle played in the symphony for years, but now her uncle is a composer and they tour independently to perform his works all over the world.

“I’ll miss you,” I say. I don’t want to sound desperate, but there’s no way to avoid it.

“I’ll miss you too, Dylan. But I haven’t seen my aunt in thirteen years. Do you know how many full moons it’s been, how much I’ve missed the sound of her voice? She was always so wild and free, and spirited—much different than my mother. I feel like there’s a lot of her in me, you know?”

I nod. Unfortunately, I do know. “You’re right, Doria. But please come back.”

“Of course I’ll be back,” Doria says with a slight edge to her voice. I stare at her, taken aback by her choppy tone.

She’s silent for a moment as she studies my face, then glances down at the abalone D that I spent hours carving for her. Finally, she says softly, “I hurt you. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have snapped like that. But I feel as though I’m under so much pressure right now and you’re adding to it.”

“I never meant to do that.” My voice cracks, and I clear my throat in disgust. I want her to think I’m strong and capable, and mermanly, but I’m failing horribly so far.

“I’m sure you didn’t. But just remember that the decision of land or sea is one that I have to make for myself, and that means I need some time alone, all right?”

“All right.” It breaks my heart that Doria wants time away from me, while I know that she’s the only one for me. Suddenly, I realize that I have to tell her I love her. I can’t wait any longer. She needs to know the truth. If she knows how much I love her, it will temper her decision.

So, I gently cup her chin, turning it upward toward my face. “Doria, I respect the fact that you need time to make your decision, but there’s something you need to take into account while you’re making it.” I pause for a moment, swallowing hard. “I love you.”

It’s Here: The Mermaid’s Wedding Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Dec 16
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: December 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

I’m excited to announce that The Mermaid’s Wedding (California Mermaids Book 2) has launched, and is now available for Amazon Kindle here. To pump you up for the book, I will be including a free excerpt with today’s blog post!

The Mermaid's Wedding Launch

Also, I am celebrating the new release by offering a special 2 for 1 deal today and tomorrow. Book 1 of the California Mermaids series, The Mermaid’s Curse, will be free December 16th and 17th, so you can read the entire series for only 99 cents. I’ve got the hookup, dear readers. ;)

So, without further adieu, here is Chapter Two of The Mermaid’s Wedding. Chapter One can be found in this earlier blog post. Happy reading!

Chapter Two: Xavier – 1912

My heart breaks for Oceania as we stroll down the shore. She smiles tightly, keeping a running commentary of the birds, the beach, and the passers-by, but I can tell that she’s only putting on a brave face for my benefit.

When she’d first announced her decision to choose land, I believe that she’d been in a state of shock—and, of course, the pain had been dulled by our love. However, now that she’s had time to digest the full implications, she seems weighed down, as if an invisible anchor is dragging her spirits to the ocean floor.

As we head up the elaborate, flower-trimmed walkway of my family’s lavish summer home, I stop and turn to her.

“My love,” I say, gently tucking a stray lock of her silver-blond hair into the wide-brimmed hat Amelie has lent her. “You don’t have to force yourself to be cheerful just for me. I know how much you’re hurting right now, and I only wish I could heal your wounds. I wish I could be the part-merman who could break the curse, so you’d never have to say goodbye to anyone you love.”

Oceania’s eyes fill with shimmering aquamarine tears that fluoresce as they roll down her cheeks. I fumble for my handkerchief, and begin mopping her face with it.

“It’s sweet of you to say that,” she says in a tremulous voice. “But you shouldn’t wish for that. If you weren’t exactly who you are, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with you.”

She’s right. I must admit that I have thought—more than once—about how much easier life would be if I hadn’t fallen in love with a cursed mermaid. But if she wasn’t exactly who she is, I wouldn’t love her so desperately, either.

“Oceania, my dear, you’re as wise as you are beautiful.” I dry the last of her tears, planting a kiss on the tip of her delicate nose before we head into the house.

The summer house feels significantly lighter and airier without Father’s dark and lumbering presence; he has returned to San Francisco to resume work, and Mother, Amelie, and I are in the process of packing up and preparing the house for the end of the season.

Naturally, Father’s colleagues have left Monterey as well, and I breathe a bit easier knowing that not only is Mr. Simonsen gone, but so is his daughter, Victoria. Our fathers had been forcing us into a lukewarm courtship, and she didn’t take well to Oceania’s appearance in our lives. The past few weeks have been filled with uncomfortable encounters with her; the town of Monterey is much too small to avoid her entirely.

Oceania and I head toward the parlor, our shoes clacking on the glossy floors of the marble foyer. Mother and Amelie are perched on Mother’s long, red velvet fainting couch, poring over a bridal magazine. Their heads snap up in unison when they spot Oceania and me in the doorway.

Mother springs up and surrounds first me, then Oceania in a warm hug. “Darlings,” she says, kissing Oceania on both cheeks as she learned to do during a recent trip to Europe. “Amelie and I were having the best time planning out details for your wedding. Of course, we may have been getting a bit ahead of ourselves—you haven’t even set the date, after all. But I have the most fabulous idea. I hope you don’t mind my intruding.”

I glance over at Oceania, wondering what kind of reaction she will have to my mother’s exuberance, and am relieved to see that her smile seems genuine. Mother tends to have that effect on people.

“We don’t mind at all, Mrs. Rose,” Oceania says. “In fact, I’d love to hear your idea.”

“Fantastic,” Mother says, taking Oceania’s hand and pulling her down on the couch next to Amelie. After another round of hellos with my younger sister, I sink into Father’s hulking leather armchair, feeling small and out of place in it.

“So here’s my thought,” Mother continues. “What if you had your wedding ceremony on the beach and the reception here?”

“You could say your vows on Point Joe,” Amelie pipes up. “I read a book in which two lovers marry on a beach, but I’ve never known anyone who has actually done it.”

“What do you think?” Mother asks, leaning toward Oceania. “I know it’s not a common thing to do, but that’s what makes it so special. It will be as unconventional and unique as both of you are, a union of land and sea.”

Oceania and I look at each other, and her bright smile tells me everything I need to know. “That sounds absolutely perfect,” she says. “I can’t think of a better place to say our vows than on top of our special rock.”

I nod in agreement, but can’t help but ask Mother, “Do you think Father will approve? I’m sure he’ll want a traditional church wedding.”

Mother and Amelie exchange an uncomfortable glance. “I’m unsure whether your father will be attending, Xavier,” Mother says in a subdued voice, drawing her delicate brows together. “When I spoke to him on the telephone last night, he was still violently opposed to your future marriage. Then we lost our connection, and I couldn’t get him back on the line. The service out here really is dismal. That’s one thing I certainly will not miss.” She pauses, taking a deep breath. “I’ll do my best to convince him though, dear. After all, you are his only son.”

“Right,” I say, studying the intricate, swirling patterns on the red and gold Persian rug. Even though I should have expected this, I’m immensely disappointed.  I know that Father will probably never approve of Oceania, but some small part of me still wants him to. “I suppose we’ll just have to see what he decides.”

Oceania pushes herself up from the couch and crosses the room to my side. “It’s okay, Xav. My family won’t be there, either. They can’t be there.” She lowers herself into Father’s chair next to me, and I take her hand, squeezing it tightly.

Amelie fidgets in the corner, chewing her lip and looking as though she’d like to vanish down Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole. She probably has no idea what to say to comfort Oceania—or me, for that matter.

Mother’s face has taken on such a look of compassion and sadness that she seems ready to weep. Finally, she says, “I’m sorry that this is so difficult for both of you. But rest assured that we’ll do everything we can to ensure that your celebration will be as joyous as possible.”

“You can depend on us,” Amelie adds. “Mother is the best at throwing parties, and I’ve already checked some wedding planning books out of the library.”

This doesn’t surprise me. Amelie is a voracious reader, with a book—or twenty—for every occasion.

I paste a smile on my face, and Oceania does the same. “Thank you,” we chorus, both of our voices sounding just a little too bright.

“Fabulous!” Mother exclaims, clapping her hands. She picks up the bridal magazine and resumes flipping through it. “Let’s get busy. After all, we only have a fortnight to plan.”

The fake smile falls off Oceania’s face, and her eyes grow round with panic. “A fortnight? What do you mean? Isn’t that a bit soon?”

Mother gives a dainty shrug. “Perhaps it sounds that way, my dear. But if you want an outdoor ceremony, the beginning of September truly is the most temperate time of year in Monterey. And besides, we’ll only be here for two more weeks before we must return to San Francisco. We can’t very well plan the wedding from there, can we?”