Book Preview: The Amish Groom

The Amish GroomWe’re continuing our celebration of Amish wedding season with an excerpt from The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner! The hero of this story, Tyler Anderson, was born Englisch but raised Amish. At 23, he’s old enough to commit to the church, but he’s feeling torn between the two vastly different worlds.

This scene takes place at a wedding, where Tyler and his sweetheart are guests…

* * *


I swung my head back around to face Rachel.

“Are you going to tell me what’s bothering you?” Her kind face was sweetly marked with concern.

“I ate too much,” I said, not wanting to mess with the festive mood around us.

“Nice try. What’s up?”

I shrugged, but her compassionate gaze wouldn’t allow me to say nothing at all. “Just thinking.”


Fueled by excitement and chocolate, the noise level was beginning to rise. Soon the singing would start. It would be hard to have a deep conversation.

“Just…life in general.” I toyed with a candied walnut on the plate. But then out of nowhere I voiced what was somersaulting around in my head. “Sometimes it seems that something out there is calling to me. Like maybe I have missed doing something I am supposed to take care of. And then I come to an event like this, and that feeling grows so strong, it’s nearly overwhelming.”

I shut my mouth. I hadn’t wanted to say all of that aloud, especially not at that moment. Yet it had spilled out of me anyway.

Pained uncertainty flickered across Rachel’s eyes. “Something out where is calling to you?”

I shook my head. “We don’t need to talk about this now. I don’t know why I said anything.”

Rachel stared at me, unwilling to drop it. “What is calling to you?”

I squeezed her hand. “Forget I said anything.” Which was a dumb suggestion. She wasn’t going to forget.

Besides, she knew me better than anyone. Better than Jake. Maybe even better than Daadi and Mammi.

She also knew the timetable for when the next membership classes were to begin—and that I wasn’t sure yet if I was going to sign up for them. Membership preceded marriage. That’s how it had always been, which meant if I didn’t attend the next set of classes and take my vows of baptism and membership in the spring, I would not be able to marry her in the fall.

“Is this about God? About your faith?”

I shook my head. “No, of course not. I know what I believe. My faith is solid.”

She nodded, quiet for a moment. “But this is about joining the church.” Her voice sounded sad, and for good reason. We both knew that if my faith was solid and yet I was still reluctant to join the church, then my hesitation was about things other than theology. Things like living the Amish lifestyle. Things like being married to her.

“It’s about a lot of stuff,” I finally replied, though that wasn’t the whole truth. It was about the church. But it was also about me. And the world outside. And her, too, which I realized at that moment I didn’t want to add to the equation.

“Stuff,” she echoed. “You mean things? Like the watch your father gave you? Your driver’s license?”

My face grew warm. She was latching onto the few vestiges of the outside world I had yet to dispose of, but they had nothing to do with this. These days, except when I went out to visit my dad, the watch and the license remained tucked away in a drawer.

“No, it’s not about things. It’s about all of this,” I said, gesturing toward the people and activities that surrounded us on every side. “It’s about figuring out where I belong.”

Understanding seemed to bloom in her eyes. “Ty, this is where you belong,” she said emphatically. “With me. Everyone here loves you. I love you. This is your home.”

“I’m not like Tobias.” I looked at the happy new groom across the barn from us. He seemed a perfect fit in every way.

Rachel squeezed my hand. “Only Tobias is Tobias. You’re you. And whatever it is you think is out there calling to you, don’t you think you would have found it already? You’ve been outside, Tyler, more than most. You’ve seen the Englisch world every single time you’ve visited your dad.”

“I know, but—”

“And every time you have visited your dad, you’ve always been ready to come home after just a few days. Doesn’t that tell you anything?”

Her last comment took me by surprise. The world outside Lancaster County was a lot bigger than just California, where my father now lived. “This isn’t about him,” I muttered, releasing her hand.

Rachel’s gaze wouldn’t let me go. “How do you know it’s not?”

* * *

Excerpted from The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner

Want to keep reading? You can pick up a copy of the book through the publisher (40% off for the month of November!) or from your favorite book retailer.


The Amish Blacksmith is a Christy Award Winner! (Giveaway)

What an exciting way to jump back into the blog! We’re so pleased to announce that The Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner won a Christy Award in the Contemporary Series category! You can find a list of all the 2015 winners and learn more about the awards at

Curious what all the hullabaloo is about? Well, we’re giving away a copy of The Amish Blacksmith to one of you in celebration of this happy occasion! Just leave a comment with your email address letting us know you’d like to be entered in the drawing. You just might be a winner, too!

Fine print: Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, and participants must be 18 years old or older to enter. A winner will be randomly selected and emailed on Tuesday, July 7th. This giveaway is in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Facebook, WordPress, or Twitter.

The Amish BlacksmithThe Amish Blacksmith by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner (August 2014)

Book 2 in The Men of Lancaster County series

(Book 1: The Amish Groom; Book 3: The Amish Clockmaker)

About the Book:

Apprenticed blacksmith Jake Miller is skeptical of Priscilla Kinsinger’s innate ability to soothe troubled horses, especially when he has own ideas on how to calm them. Six years earlier, Priscilla’s mother died in an awful accident at home, and Priscilla’s grief over losing her mother was so intense that she was sent to live with relatives in Indiana. She has just returned to Lancaster County.

Not that her homecoming matters to Jake, who is interested in courting lighthearted Amanda Shetler. But Jake’s boss is Priscilla’s uncle, and when the man asks Jake to help his niece reconnect with community life, he has no choice but to do just that. Surprisingly, he finds himself slowly drawn to the beautiful but emotionally wounded Priscilla.

Jake then determines to prove to her that it’s not her fault her mother died, but what he discovers will challenge everything they both believe about the depth of love and the breadth of forgiveness.


New Releases—February 2015

We’ve made it to the second month of 2015! And with this new month comes some brand-new Amish/Mennonite books from Harvest House Publishers for your reading pleasure.

Which one(s) are you most excited to read?

February 2015 Fiction Releases

New Amish Fiction

The Amish Clockmaker (Book 3 in The Men of Lancaster County series)

Purchase your copy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


Miriam’s Secret (Book 1 in the Land of Promise series)

Purchase your copy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

February 2015 Mennonite Releases New Mennonite Children’s Books

When School Bells Call (Book 3 in the Farm Life series)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


Autumn Days (Book 4 in the Farm Life series)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

February 2015 Nonfiction Releases

New Amish Nonfiction

The Amish Book of Prayers for Women

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

(P.S. Don’t forget that you can enter to win a copy of The Amish Book of Prayers for Women by clicking HERE and leaving a comment on that post! Winner to be announced February 13th.)


Our Amish Values

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


Book Preview: The Amish Clockmaker

The Amish ClockmakerThe “Clockmaker Countdown” continues, with only 12 more days until the official release of The Amish Clockmaker, Book 3 in The Men of Lancaster County series by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner.

(But if you just can’t wait to get your hands on the book, it’s currently in stock at Amazon and!)

In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview to introduce you to the mystery. This is from Part 1 of the book, which takes place in present day and is told from the point of view of the current owner of the clock shop (now a tack and feed store). Enjoy!


“Since when do Amish refuse to help other Amish?” I asked as I banged the dust from the pan into the trash bin. “We are always there for one another.”

Amanda let me rant, perhaps sensing I needed to get the frustration and worry out of my system. When I was finished, she didn’t even try to say anything to cheer me up, for which I was grateful. She must have caught on to how dire our situation was growing and knew that mere words would not encourage me now.

After she finished closing out the register, we carried the money to the back room to put it in the safe.

“What’s that?” she asked, looking toward the area that had been partially dismantled when we’d broken down the old bathroom on Wednesday. Glancing over, I realized she was talking about an ancient coal hamper that our work had uncovered. Unused for I didn’t know how many decades, it had been built into the far wall of the original structure and later covered over with plaster.

“Do you know?” she prodded, stepping toward it to get a closer look.

Ya, that’s an old coal bin,” I explained as I finished locking away the cash. “Which means this building must have used coal heat at some point in the past.”

Located at about knee level, the bin’s metal door was flush to the wall and had been designed to work in tandem with a similar door on the exterior, where the coal would have been dumped into it from the outside. That door was long gone and bricked over, but this one had been made accessible again the other day when we’d broken away some of the wall’s plaster. Amanda leaned down to study it now, and then she gripped the handle and gave it a tug.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” I said in warning. “You might end up in a cloud of coal dust.”

But it was too late. She’d pulled it open and was already peering inside.

“No dust,” she said, her voiced echoing against the metal of the bin. “It’s perfectly clean, as a matter of fact. But come look, Matthew. There’s something else in here.”

Skeptical, I joined her and peered down into the hamper. Sure enough, there was something at the back, wrapped in what looked like blue cloth. I reached into the hamper and pulled the bundle gently from its tomb-like niche, hoping it wouldn’t disintegrate at my touch. But the space felt cool and dry, and I was able to easily lift the item from its hiding place. The cloth was soft to the touch, with hand-stitching around the edges, though whatever it encased seemed heavy and hard. I laid the package on a nearby table. Together, Amanda and I peeled back the corners of the blanket.

Inside was a clock, an intricately carved but very dusty mantel clock. For a moment, we just stared at it. It sat on an equally finely carved pedestal, and even though the cabinet was discolored and covered in dust and cobwebs, and the glass over the face of the clock was cloudy, I could see that it had been beautiful and quite fancy in its day.

It was definitely not an Amish clock, but I had a pretty good idea which Amish man had made it.

For a long moment, Amanda and I stood in silence, taking in this unexpected sight.

“Why in the world was a thing this beautiful shoved into a coal bin?” she asked.

My thoughts exactly. “I don’t know. Maybe Clayton or his father used the old bin for storage once the shop converted over to another source of heat.”

Amanda took the clock and studied it more closely, looked in the bin again, and said, “I don’t think it was put there for storage. I think someone was using the coal bin as a hiding place, someone who didn’t want this clock to be found.”


Excerpted from The Amish Clockmaker by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner

Intrigued? If you haven’t read the book yet, what would you guess is the reason why the clock was hidden in the coal bin?

The Amish Blacksmith: Author Interview with Susan Meissner

Today’s guest is the second author in the “Men of Lancaster County”-series duo, Susan Meissner! We’re chatting about the second book in the series, which just released this August – The Amish Blacksmith. Come take a virtual trip with us to Amish country…

Author Susan MeissnerSusan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker, and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008 and a Carol Award winner. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When she’s not writing, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church. Visit Susan at her website:, on Twitter at @SusanMeissner, or at

Wonderful to have you here, Susan! To begin, Mindy mentioned in your joint interview on the Harvest House blog in August that her husband came up with the initial plot idea for the first book in this series, The Amish Groom. What inspired the premise for this sequel, The Amish Blacksmith?

Susan: When Mindy and I spent a long weekend in Lancaster County at an Amish farmhouse, I had the opportunity to shadow an Amish blacksmith for a day. He was so very open to my being there and my peppering him with questions hour after hour. I could tell he loved his work, he loved horses, and he and his brother had a heart for troubled horses. The first scene in The Amish Blacksmith nearly played itself out in front of me on that day, although I changed all the little details. When we started plotting this book, we knew we wanted a story that borrowed from the idea that horses must be dealt with gently to deal with traumatic events from the past, just as we must also be.

08 22_2754Given the skills of the hero and heroine in this book, are either you or Mindy horsewomen or horse-lovers to some degree?

Susan: I am actually rather scared of horses, strangely enough! I have only ridden one once – with my best friend at the reins – and it took off on us after being spooked by who knows what. I hung on for dear life, escaped without injury, was sore for a month, and vowed thereafter to appreciate these majestic animals from the vantage point of terra firma. I live where people own horses, and I pass several on my walking route with my dog. I always stop to pat them and tell them how pretty they are. I do love them, but from the perspective of being enthralled by the depth of their emotional make-up. Horses are very sympathetic creatures. Just like us.

What did you most enjoy about the research for this novel? Anything especially interesting or surprising that you discovered?

Susan: I loved the day I spent with Elam Stoltzfus and his brother, Eli, watching them work, learning from them, laughing with them. When I left for a little while to go have lunch I asked when I should return and Elam said ice-cream thirty was a good time to come back. I laughed and asked when that was. He said, “whenever we want it to be.” We had frozen Snickers (and they were delish) at 2:15. I think I had this strange image in my head that Amish people are always serious. Not so. They know how to laugh and have fun and make jokes. And I love that I’ve a new appreciation for making time for simple joys like ice cream.

“Ice-cream thirty” – will have to remember that one! Love your discovery about the Amish.

08 22_2734The Amish Blacksmith is written from the hero’s point of view. Despite the fact that the majority of people who pick up this book are not likely to be Amish, male, or a blacksmith, how might they still relate to and learn from Jake’s story?

Susan: Just like any novel that isn’t about someone just like you, residing in your hometown and living a life just like yours, this book is about a person who wants something from life and they face a barrier. Every one of us, no matter our gender, occupation, or faith, has dreams and goals for our lives. We all face obstacles. We are all of us on a journey that God is marking out for us but that is sprinkled with ample opportunities to make choices. When we read someone’s fictional story, whether it’s about an Amish blacksmith named Jake or a teenage idealist named Dorothy Gale, or a pre-civil rights lawyer’s daughter named Scout, we look for ways to relate the story. A good story will make that easy. Hopefully, readers won’t have stretch too far to relate to Jake!

What’s one of the things you appreciate most about the Amish lifestyle?

Susan: I am of the opinion that most people who haven’t studied this lifestyle assume the Amish reject modern, technological advances because those advances are worldly, evil, and lead people to become faithless, heartless, and Godless. What I have learned instead and appreciate the most is that the Amish treat anything that threatens community as a bad idea. Phones aren’t frowned on because they are inherently evil. Phones make it easy to distance yourself from your neighbor, as do cars, airplane rides, and for some Amish communities, bicycles. The Amish look at how to effectively love their neighbor with better scrutiny than most of us Englischers. I may not wish to adopt the same stance on these modern conveniences, but I totally get the idea that whatever keeps me from seeing and interacting face to face with my neighbor can also keep me from loving them.

The Amish BlacksmithThank you for taking the time to visit with us, Susan! It was a pleasure having you and Mindy join us this week.

Amish Readers, tell us – are any of you horse-lovers/horsewomen? Do you enjoy reading stories that feature horses?

Photos from Amish country courtesy of Susan Meissner.