Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Finding Friends Across the Pond

Going through some photos the other day, I realized that I never posted about this cute little Christian bookstore my family and I visited during our 2017 summer vacation to Europe.  We spotted it on our first day in Edinburg, Scotland, when we were walking from our hotel to Edinburg Castle. 

It’s always such a fun treat for me when I run across a Christian bookstore, whether in or outside the United States, because it gives me the opportunity to introduce myself, say hello, and thank the staff for helping to get my books into the hands of readers. When we saw the small sign for the Free Church of Scotland Christian Book Shop, we made an instant detour.

Alas, the place was closed. Disappointed, I asked my hubby to snap a picture of me in front of the beautiful old building, which was built in 1860, and then we continued on our way.

On To the Castle

At least the castle was open–and really cool, as you can see from these pics.

If At First You Don’t Succeed
The next day, we happened to be headed in the same general direction and decided to try again with the bookstore. This time, we were in luck. Though small, the place held a nice selection of inspirational nonfiction and children’s books, and the lovely lady in charge was quite friendly and helpful.

Their fiction section was tiny, just one short shelf, down low, but I posed in front of it anyway.J As I stood there next to books by authors like Francine Rivers and Stormie O’Martian, it struck me how fun it was to be all the way across the Atlantic yet still be flanked by the same great Christian authors that can be found in our own bookstores here at home. The world is big—but it’s moments like these that make it feel just a little bit smaller.

Mindy with Francine Rivers, in 2007

Mindy with Stormie O'Martian, in 2005

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out these two as well, about some fun literary discoveries my family and I made during this same trip.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

5 Random (But Fascinating) Facts I Learned While Researching The Amish Quilter

Back when I was a student, I hated doing research, but years later, once I became a novelist, I found that researching was one of my favorite parts of the job. In fact, sometimes I get so immersed in it that I have to force myself to stop researching and start writing instead!

Much of what I learn along the way never makes it into my books, of course, but it’s all helpful in one way or another.  And I especially enjoy it when I run across some fascinating fact that I never knew before. I try to keep a running list of such things as I go, and it struck me the other day that it might be fun to share one such list with you.

Thus, here are five random facts I picked up while researching The Amish Quilter

1. Women who eat dairy and animal products are about five times more likely to have twins than those who don't.  (Google it if you don't believe me, and you'll see the research!)

2. If lightening strikes a barn, the bolt can travel down the rod and spread out from the footer, striking a horse through its shoes. (Side note: I shared this fact with a friend, who replied that he actually lost a horse this way. So sad!)

3. In the 1980’s, Hmong refugees who’d settled in the Lancaster County area began working with Amish women to make quilts, and they were so good and so fast at needlework that eventually they did most of the appliquéing while the Amish women handled just the quilting. Thus, quilts bought in the Lancaster County area in the 1980s that were assumed to be “Amish made” were very likely made jointly by Amish and Hmong women. 

4. Baumkuchen is a really cool European dessert that’s made from cake batter poured, one layer at a time, onto a spit rotating near an open flame. Once a layer has browned, another layer is added, over and over again, until the cake has something like 20 layers. It takes hours to make, but it sure looks good! 

5. In the nineteen century, Russian Mennonites tended to use the same first names over and over, so much so that in an 1860-1875 list of 1,328 Russian Mennonites, there were only 54 different first names!

That’s it for me. Did you know any of these facts already? I sure didn’t!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Free Downloadable Bookmarks

Judging by all the feedback I get here and on my Facebook page, chances are you're a real bookmark lover! Paper, metal, fabric—whatever works, you use it to mark your place in a book. That's why today is all about bookmarks, including some free ones for you to print and use.

Pennsylvania Dutch Design
First is this page of lovely PA Dutch-art inspired designs, in honor of my Amish fiction and nonfiction.

To make your own, simply print this image on your home printer then cut into strips. (Depending on your computer, printing an image may be as simple as right clicking on it and selecting "print." Or, once you have clicked on the image, you should be able to find a "print" option by on your Internet browser's navigation. If neither of those methods work, you may need to download the image first and then open and print it.)

For more durable bookmarks, consider printing on heavier cardstock.

Color Your Own
The same printing method should work for these color-your-own bookmarks as well. One tip: Color in the design before cutting into strips. Most markers, crayons, or colored pencils should be fine—though don’t use pastels or any other coloring medium that might rub off onto the pages of your book.

Check These Out

You may recall a post I did a while back featuring 15 Fun Bookmarks for Book Lovers. Well, here are a few more cute ones I've run across since then.

Dandelion Bookmark
I love this one because I never even knew dandelions were weeds until I was in my forties—and even then I didn’t believe it! J

Artisan Magnetic Bookmarks

Knock Knock Bookmark Pad

This Is a Book Bookmark Pad

Does This Book Make Me Look Smart Bookmark Pad Bookmark
Look how cute, you can even give someone an amazon gift card—that comes as a bookmark!

Order Pre-printed bookmarks for Free

Finally, don’t forget, you can always submit a request for free bookmarks and other goodies through my website!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Christian Fiction Releases — September 2018

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
A Baby for the Minister by Laurel Blount -- Jilted at the altar, Natalie Davis has no one she can turn to—until Jacob Stone steps in. The single minister’s drawn to the beautiful mommy-to-be and wants to help…even if it goes against his congregation’s wishes and could cost him his job. But when she refuses to accept charity, can he convince her she’s more than a ministry project? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Her Secret Heart by Mary Davis -- Deborah Miller lives a double life as an Amish woman—and a fashion model! All photography is forbidden in her Plain community, so she must keep her job a secret. But when Amos Burkholder starts helping at her family’s farm, hiding the truth from him is impossible. And soon she must choose between the Englischer world of modeling and the Amish man she’s come to love. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The 12 Gifts of Christmas by Lena Nelson Dooley -- Can Malcolm MacGregor, a contemporary descendant of Scottish lairds, capture the heart of Brazilian-Italian beauty, Alanza Cantalamessa, in 12 days? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

All Made Up by Kara Isaac -- Katriona McLeod has never gotten over Caleb Murphy, the one guy she's ever loved. When she accepts a job as a make up artist on the latest looking-for-love reality TV show, Falling for the Farmer, she discovers to her horror that Caleb is the leading man and she's cast as one of his harem. But she hides a secret that means that even if she wanted a second chance with the guy who broke her heart she could never have it. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Amish Holiday Wedding by Carrie Lighte -- On the brink of losing her bakery, the last thing Faith Yoder’s interested in is courting—until Hunter Schwartz returns to Willow Creek. After hiring him to deliver her treats to a Christmas festival, Faith’s determined their relationship will stay strictly professional. But despite a secret that’s kept her single, Faith can’t help but wish she and Hunter could become husband and wife. (Contemporary Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

Deadly Holiday by Marissa Shrock -- The Christmas season greets Georgia Winston with a new boyfriend (maybe), a Christmas program to run, and a man dying at her feet. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction

From the Lake to the River by JPC Allen, Bettie Boswell, Carole Brown, Sandra Merville Hart, Tamera Lynn Kraft, Sharyn Kopf, Michelle Levigne, Cindy Thomson, and Rebecca Waters -- Set in Ohio, in the past and present, these nine short stories and novellas by Ohio authors cover a wide range of genres, topics and locations. From Troy in the west to the North Coast and south-central Ohio. From Lake Erie to the Ohio River. From romance to YA adventure, with touches of mystery and humor. Dealing with historical events and situations, such as floods and the lasting effects of the Civil War. With characters involved in square dancing, theater, and music. Dealing with loss and danger, a second chance at love and taking a chance on love for the first time. Chances are good, no matter what you have a taste for reading, you'll find something to like. Welcome to a taste of the Buckeye State! (General Contemporary from Mt Zion Ridge Press)

Place Called Home by Brenda S. Anderson -- While building his graphic design company, Nate Brooks is focused on the future he's dreamed of: traveling around the country from the comfort of his renovated school bus. But when he picks up a wounded, mysterious hitchhiker, those well-laid plans take a backseat to protecting her. Hobbled by her injury, and unable to keep running from her controlling ex, Tessa fears she'll never find freedom. Or has she found it with the family who graciously opens their home to her? And will Nate's protection put his family--and his heart--at risk? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Swimming in the Deep End by Christina Suzann Nelson -- Jillian Connors has big expectations for her teenage daughter, Gabby, an Olympic hopeful---until Gabby becomes pregnant with her boyfriend Travis's child. Meanwhile, Margaret Owens is furious that Gabby's condition jeopardizes her son's baseball scholarship. In the midst of the family drama lies the fate of the unborn baby. What does the future hold for him? (General Contemporary from Kregel Publications)


Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson -- A gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted the evils of the Hitler regime in their own extraordinary way. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick -- A Victorian woman who traveled 15,000 miles by stage between 1870-98 decides to tell the story behind her memoir believing her husband will never see it. (Historical from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Enya's Son by Cindy Thomson -- This retelling of the early life of St. Columcille and his mother will usher readers on a fateful journey through ancient Ireland’s monastic centers, her wild coastline islands, and the land Columcille believed was filled with holy angels, a place where he felt safe … yet was destined to abandon. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Victorian Christmas Brides by C.J. Chase, Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Vanessa Riley, Lorna Seilstads, and Erica Vetsch -- Faced with the daily extremes of gluttony and want in the Victorian Era, nine women seek to create the perfect Christmas celebrations. But will expectations and pride cause them to overlook imperfect men who offer true love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Esther's Temptation by Lena Nelson Dooley -- Saddle weary, former deputy US Marshal Jac Andrews rides into Denton, Texas hunting a swindler-and-daughter criminal team and finally feels he’s caught up to them. Unfortunately, he becomes distracted by the lovely redhead, Esther Brians. Esther, feeling like an old maid surrounded by all her close friends who are happy married couples, is drawn to the intense gaze, blue as the Texas sky, of an unknown cowboy. But several things cause her to become wary of his intentions—and his spiritual well-being. Has this unsaved lawman captured Esther’s heart or will the Lord deliver her from the temptation of Jac’s presence? What will it take for Jac to win this lovely lady and become Esther’s husband? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler -- Katie Stuckey and Jonas Weaver are both romantics. Seventeen-year-old Katie is starry-eyed, in love with the idea of being in love, and does not want to wait to marry Jonas until she is eighteen, despite her parents' insistence. So much can happen in a year. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother's name comes up in the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother's place. But can the commitment Katie and Jonas have made to each other survive the separation? (Historical Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Romantic Suspense:

Loving the Texas Negotiator by Mary Connealy -- Beth Garrison is the top hostage negotiator in Rocky Ridge Texas. She's called in to a task force to investigate a killing that is a copy cat of her first bust as a rookie cop. The Valentine Killer. Tate McCade, with the best arrest record on the force and a reputation for steamrolling anyone who gets in his way, heads the task force. He's had a run-in with Beth and her oversized ego. He's got a bruise on his face to prove it. Rather than have the pleasure of busting her back to walking a beat, he has to work with her. And the clock is ticking because there's a woman and child missing and nothing about the crime adds up. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Guardian of Ajalon by Joan Campbell -- The poison tree path is Shara’s road home. . .if she and her companions can survive the journey. In the danger and darkness of the forest, her only respite is in the story unlocked in the Old Tongue book. In this vivid world, Shara finally discovers what she has longed for all her life: the key to the secrets of her past. Yet time is running out for Shara—and all of Tirragyl—as Lord Lucian, King Alexor, and the royal army attack the Guardian Grotto to claim the powerful Guardian Rock. Unwilling to sit idly by as her kingdom is destroyed, Queen Nyla leaves her hiding place to recruit a most unlikely army—the Charab. But how can she win over the infamous assassins who have been oppressed by her family for generations? (Speculative Allegory from Enclave Publishing)