Welcome Amy! I’m so glad you could be here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I worked as a nurse for over twenty years, but I retired from nursing to homeschool my two sons. The oldest will be in high school this fall, and the youngest is entering middle school. Of course, they are both actually in the same school with the same teacher and principle. 😉
Describe your story in 5 sentences or less:
Lydia Miller is an anomaly among her Amish people-a single woman in her thirties, running her own store, determined to forge a life on her own. But when Joel Yoder comes into town to sell his property, Lydia suddenly finds all of her hopes and dreams crumbling around her and a new opportunity placed in her lap.
Joel has his own problems. Recently jilted by his fiancée, Joel has seen his own dreams of moving to a newly established Amish community begin to falter. The new community welcomes married couples only. With his dreams quickly slipping from his fingers, Joel suddenly sees the only option he thinks he has—a marriage of convenience for both of them.
What is the inspiration behind your story?
Four years ago, I came across an article announcing the arrival of the first Amish couple to move to Prince Edward Island. The photo of the newlyweds in a horse and buggy traveling down an island road sparked every bookish charm in my writer’s heart. My stories and the New Hope Amish community in the series are complete fiction, but the real-life Amish who began to move from Ontario to PEI in 2016 were the inspiration.
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
Definitely. I knew I wanted a young, female foster-child in my story. But until I began writing her character, I hadn’t realized she would face the challenges of living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My youngest son has ASD, and somehow this little girl came from my heart with so much to show about life with autism. I don’t think the book addresses ASD head on, and certainly not in its fullness, but I hope with some understanding and encouragement for others who have the same disability.
Who was your favorite character to create?
I suppose that has to be our littlest heroine, whose name we will leave as a surprise. As a reader I know, I like to find some surprises as I go. 😊 She also appears through the series as she continues to grow up.I hope readers will enjoy following her along the way.
How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?
Lydia and Joel came straight from the Bible. Okay not literally, of course, but there are direct correlations between their names and their biblical counterparts. I haven’t continued that pattern in the next books, however. Picking names is really a fun part of the process for me. I think one of the naming patterns in The Christmas Visitor coming in July will be somewhat obvious, and I hope fun for readers too.
Are you part of a writing group?
Yes. As well as belonging to ACFW, I am a member of Word Weavers International. Our local Word Weavers chapter meets monthly. The members are a huge part of my support network.
What’s next for you as an author?
At the top of my list is finishing the Amish Dreams on Prince Edward Island series. The Christmas Visitor is a novella releasing for the 2020 season and will be available on Kindle and through Kindle Unlimited on July 21st, then releases in paperback and wide distribution during the holiday season. The second full-length novel, Runaway Home, will come out in 2021, hopefully followed by another Christmas novella. That’s enough to keep me busy for a while, but I still have more book ideas waiting for their turn. 😊
Here is Amy’s beautiful book cover and an excerpt:
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
A sensible Amish woman aspired to marry, as Lydia Miller was reminded daily.
She also knew any wise Amish woman ought to bypass schemes destined to failure. Yet here she stood, determined to avoid the first and ready to plunge headlong into the second.
Lydia sucked in a breath and slid into a seat on the second-to-last row of chairs under the auction tent. She may not win the bid for the farmhouse at today’s estate sale, but at least she’d know she tried everything to keep her business.
The air smelled of autumn—the cooling rest of the earth after yielding her summer labor. Under the heavy canvas of the tent, the two-mile stretch of Amish farmland known as Millers Creek was hidden from Lydia’s view.
A wet trickle of perspiration trailed from underneath her prayer kapp, then down the back of Lydia’s neck. She almost allowed Ben to bid for her; but her brother wasn’t familiar with her finances, nor was his future on the bidding block.
Nay, the task was up to her alone.
The wooden seat beside Lydia creaked under the heft of her neighbor, Miriam Stoltzfus, who emitted a groan of her own as she sat.
“Have you lost all of your good sense?”
Ever since Lydia’s mamm died, Miriam had taken the mother role upon herself. Lydia was used to the older woman’s more-often-than-not good intentions, which were more than Lydia needed at the moment.
“I still have all my wits about me.”
The click of Miriam’s tongue against her teeth issued her contradiction. Lydia’s vision settled onto the handle attached to her bidder card. The rounded edge of the re-purposed tongue depressor pressed into her palm. Lydia prayed a silent prayer of forgiveness for the unkind urge to use it on the other woman.
“Gott’s will couldn’t be plainer if Moses himself carved it on a stone tablet for you to read.” Miriam’s prayer kapp bobbed up and down with the surety of her conviction.
The Almighty’s will? Or Miriam’s? Lydia had to wonder.
Lydia shoved the tongue depressor between her knees for safe-keeping and pressed her lips tight to keep from disrespecting her elder, who continued in a not-so-quiet whisper. “The sale of this property—including your Amish Shoppe—is a clear sign the time has come for you to quit this spinster nonsense and settle down with a goot Amish husband.”
“And marry whom?” Not your cousin, Hiram Glick. Miriam knew full well Lydia couldn’t accept Hiram. “I could own a business, not just rent the building.”
Lydia turned to face her neighbor. “You know why this is important to me.”
She didn’t dare say the reason aloud. Miriam was one of the few who knew the reason for her determination to support herself.
“Ya, I know. Even so, I tell you, Lydia, this is a mistake. The Lord has a bigger plan for you. He is not bound by the past. Remember, with Gott all things are possible.”
“Well then, it’s still possible I might buy this house and save my shop today.”
Miriam sank with a deflated plop against the back of her seat.
Lydia had the last word, but satisfaction didn’t follow. Miriam’s words nagged at her conscience. Not the part about signs and plans. Lydia didn’t believe she deserved such consideration.
Rather, she was struck by the existence of a Power great enough to overcome the past. If only the past had not bound her.
But she was Lydia Miller, humble mortal.
Lydia shifted in her seat. She’d attended many auctions, but never bid for anything. She bit her lower lip. Did she know what she was doing with such a large sum and stakes so high? All the money she’d earned from five years of teaching in the Amish school had been poured into renovating the farmhouse into a shop. Now, she had only her business savings to try and outbid the fancy men here today.
Ouch. Lydia jumped from a sharp jab in the ribs.
“I wasn’t talking about Hiram, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Miriam aimed the offending finger toward an Amish man whom Lydia had never seen.
Tall with powerful strong shoulders, he stood alone on the far side of the tent, tapping his straw hat against his leg. The Amish stranger’s face was tanned and his hair the blackest she’d ever seen. His dark eyes, set deep under thick brows, met her own. Lydia ducked her head, but not before she noticed his square, unshaven chin. Unmarried.
“What in the world?” Lydia leaned into Miriam to keep her voice low. “Now you’d try to match me with a man we don’t even know?”
“He’s Canadian Amish. Beulah Yoder’s grandson.”
“Oh…so, you’d have me marry the man responsible for this…”
Lydia’s throat tightened. If she attempted to describe what this horrible day really meant to her, she’d be in tears. She couldn’t afford the distraction. As far as Lydia was concerned, the man should have stayed in Canada where he belonged. He hadn’t been around these parts even when his grandmother was alive. All was fine and dandy if he wanted to sell his inheritance, but a little more notice would have been appreciated.
“Maybe he’s a bit responsible, but…”
The auctioneer interrupted Miriam by calling for the first bid. Lydia jumped to join with the rest of the bidders. Was her eagerness too obvious? She wished her datt were still alive to give her advice.
The rumble of the first bids began like the intermittent thunder of a faraway storm. As the bidders increased, the fervor pitched faster. Lydia sat on the edge of her chair as though lightning might strike her. All of the sudden, the bidding slowed. Several bidders had thinned to a few, and Lydia was amazed to find herself still alive among them.
She had better free her mind of distractions—the smell of the straw beneath her feet, the flap of the canvas roof above her… Focus, focus. Wasn’t that what Datt used to say? Focus on the task at hand.
She concentrated on the auctioneer and an Englischer in the corner of her periphery. She’d met many non-Amish neighbors and businessmen since opening her shop, but she didn’t recognize this one. Unlike the Amish stranger who watched with his jaw squared in concern, this man was relaxed as he upped the price time and again. He was confident about something, for sure. Was the auction a game to him?
Her pulse buzzed in her ears. This was her life, not an amusing way to pass the time.
The auctioneer looked at her. The third-to-last bidder must have bailed. Lydia lifted her card to an amount that squeezed every penny from her account. She had no collateral or credit for a loan. The bid had to be her last.
The man countered and waited. So smug.
She had rented the large farmhouse, remodeled it with her savings from five years as a teacher in the Amish school, and then turned it into a profitable business. Yet this man waltzed into her community to buy it right out from under her.
Lydia raised her number.
His expression remained unchanged. He bid again.
She’d go until she saw him sweat. Her card sailed into the air over and over again.
The Amish men began to murmur. The handsome Amish stranger was staring at her. With concern or admiration? She couldn’t take time to wonder. She looked back at her opponent.
The Englisch bidder no longer slouched against the tent pole. He upped the price. And Lydia countered. The auctioneer’s cadence carried across a room full of people gone silent.
Miriam grabbed Lydia’s hand and squeezed hard enough to break every one of her fingers. If the man didn’t bid, Lydia was in worse trouble than she’d thought possible from this day.
One last bid. Lydia held her breath. The cotton fabric of her apron pressed into her palms as she dried them. What would she do if he didn’t go for it?
The man wiped perspiration from his forehead and raised his card.
The gavel dropped with a thud, and the echo of splintered dreams reverberated through Lydia’s heart.
A Canadian Amish farmer
A Lancaster Amish businesswoman
A Prince Edward Island foster child
Providence brings together a mismatched family, giving all three a second chance for love. Only love may never have had such a tough job.
Lydia Miller is an anomaly among her Amish people-a single woman in her 30s, running her own store, determined to forge a life on her own. But when Joel Yoder comes into town to sell his property, Lydia suddenly finds all of her hopes and dreams crumbling around her and a new opportunity placed in her lap.
Joel has his own problems. Recently jilted by his fiancée, Joel has seen his own dreams of moving to a newly established Amish community begin to falter. The new community welcomes married couples only. With his dreams quickly slipping from his fingers, Joel suddenly sees the only option he thinks he has-a marriage of convenience for both of them.
As the new couple begins life in a new settlement, they are even more surprised when a foster child in need of a home finds her way to them. Yet what will happen when the English world and the Amish world collide?
Amazon Author Page and sales link: https://www.amazon.com/author/amygrocho
Amy’s deep appreciation for the Amish faith and way of life stems from six years of living and working with a Beachy Amish family, as well as her own Anabaptist roots. Her debut novel, Forever Home, was a pre-published winner of Romance Writers of America’s Maggie Award and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest. She is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers Int’l. (for short bio end here)
Amy spent her childhood in Melbourne, Australia, where her parents worked as church planters. After returning to the States, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia became home. Her real-life romance began on a travel nursing assignment to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she met her husband, David.
After a nursing career of more than twenty years, Amy is now fulfilling her long-awaited dream career as an author of inspirational romance. She is also a full-time homeschool mom for her two boys, one of whom has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and lives with her family in the bustling foothills of North Carolina.
You can find Amy online here:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/amygrocho Book Page for Reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52116549-forever-home
ACFW Fiction Finder: https://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/1871
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Grochowski/e/B082L12W52
ChristianBook/Family Fiction Sales link: https://familyfiction.christianbook.com/1-forever-home-amy-grochowski/9781620207246/pd/207246?event=ESRCG