Random Inspirations

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Brand-New Unpublished Excerpt from “Amish Baby”

on July 21, 2014

I’m gearing up to release my next Amish fiction novella, based on the characters of the Amish Hearts and Amish in College series. This book will be called “Amish Baby: Hannah and Jakob’s Book,” and will be Book 1 of my newest spin-off series, “Amish Couples.” These long novellas will be told from dual viewpoints, and I am planning at least two more books in the series, one from Mercy and Samuel’s point of view and one from Rebekah and Braeden’s perspective.

I’ll be reading the unreleased Chapter 1 of “Amish Baby” at the Hera Hub Authors’ Salon event tomorrow evening, but for those of you who can’t make it, I’ve also decided to post Chapter 1 here. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the launch date for “Amish Baby,” but for now, happy reading!

Here's the comp photo that I'm thinking of using on the cover of "Amish Baby." What do you think?

Here’s the comp photo that I’m thinking of using on the cover of “Amish Baby.” What do you think?

Chapter One: Hannah

The new girl at Stoltzfus Bakery is no Mercy, that’s for sure.

Esther is Mercy’s “replacement,” if you can call her that, and I’m responsible for training her. Why, I’m not sure. After all, she is Mrs. Stoltzfus’s niece.

She’s fourteen years old, and has just graduated eighth grade, the end of our formal Amish education. However, she seems much younger, with her squeaky voice and bony, gangly limbs. She buzzes around like a little black fly, humming through her days with almost manic energy. She seems eager to please; the only problem is that she messes everything up.

“Oh, you need some flour?” Esther says as we stand side-by-side, rolling out pie crusts. “Here, let me.” She rises on her tiptoes to grab a fresh bag of flour from the top shelf, but she’s only able to reach it with her fingertips.

“Esther, wait,” I protest, but it’s too late. She has been inching the flour toward the edge of the shelf without any real grip, and a split second later, the entire bag tumbles down. The bag pops open as it hurtles through the air, and suddenly, the counter, Esther, and I all turn as white as snow on Christmas morning.

Esther fumbles for the now-empty bag, brushing flour out of her eyes. When she finally stands up, her face is flaming red under its thin dusting of white.

“Sorry, Hannah,” she says, looking downward at the mess. “I can’t believe I was so doplich.”

I can. But this is no time to talk; Esther and I have both been arriving at work early during her training period, and the bakery is not yet open. Mrs. Stoltzfus is busy in her back office, and will be out soon to open the doors. We need to clean this place up, and fast.

I take a deep breath, willing myself to be patient. Even though I want to yell at Esther, I know I can’t. Not only would it be unkind, I know she’d tell her aunt. “Come here, Esther. Let me dust you off.”

We brush the flour off each other’s clothes, hair, and faces. She reaches the front of my dress, and I tense slightly as she bats at my abdomen. I’m only three months pregnant, and I’m not showing yet. But the thought of Esther’s hand anywhere near something so precious makes me nervous somehow.

“Okay, Esther. Gut enough.” I hand her a wet rag to wipe down the floury counter. I figure this is safer than giving her the broom—the bakery is full of things to knock down, or perhaps to trip over.

Instead, I sweep the area myself, yawning. My pregnancy has been easy so far, but I do feel more tired than usual—and the earlier mornings of Esther’s training period aren’t helping out at all.

I’m just emptying the dustpan into the garbage and feeling pretty proud of myself, when the door of the back room opens and out lumbers Mrs. Stoltzfus.

Although it’s the first we’ve seen of her all morning, there is no, “Gute mariye,” at least not from her end. Both Esther and I say it, but Mrs. Stoltzfus simply frowns at us, her gaze fixed on the unfinished pies on the counter.

“I thought I told you two to come in early so Esther could learn to make pies—before the bakery opens.” She looks straight at me. “So if that’s what was supposed to be happening, why are there a bunch of half-made pies on the counter when I want to open the doors right now?”

Ugh. Ever since Mercy left, I’ve become Mrs. Stoltzfus’s favorite person to yell at. Sometimes, I wish Mercy would come back just so someone else could take a tongue lashing some of the time.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Stoltzfus,” I say, bowing my head. “The pies should’ve been in the oven by this time. But there was an accident.”

I glance over at Esther, waiting for her to confess to her doplichkeit, but she keeps her eyes focused on the freshly swept floor.

“An accident?” Mrs. Stoltzfus repeats. “I don’t even want to know. For now, you two have some pies to finish. Hannah, show Esther how to make lattice crusts, please. They’re quicker than the traditional ones, and the customers like them just as well.”

There is no room for further discussion. Mrs. Stoltzfus turns on her heel and flings open the front doors of the bakery.

Predictably, Esther shows no skill for creating a neat lattice crust on top of the pies. I make all the pie crusts in the time it takes her to do one. And her lattice turns out crooked, with bumps in the little overlapping lines. When she asks me how it looks, I struggle for a kind answer.

“It’s, um, a gut start. But do you see the way the lattice is much neater on these ones?” I gesture to the crusts I’ve made, then pull the sloppy lattice off her pie, roll it out, and slice it into strips once again. “Here, let me show you again.”

I’ve just begun demonstrating lattice-making techniques for the second time that day when Mrs. Stoltzfus’s voice booms from the front counter, “Hannah! Some help, please.”

“Keep trying, Esther,” I say, patting her on the shoulder. “I’ll be back to check how you’re doing soon.”

Esther nods, grunting in concentration as she bends over her pie crust, while I scramble out to the front of the bakery. The before-work coffee and pastry crowd has arrived, and a huge line snakes from the counter to the door. I paste a smile on my face and attack the line of customers, knowing that, as usual, it’s going to be a long day.


2 responses to “Brand-New Unpublished Excerpt from “Amish Baby”

  1. Cute baby picture. I like it but would also be intrigued by a picture of a young, preggo Amish girl (hope that doesn’t sound too rude).

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