Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A Tribute to My Co-Authors

Since tomorrow is #NationalAuthorsDay, I thought I'd use today's post to celebrate the various co-authors I've worked with over the years. I love them all dearly, and I treasure the time we've spent working together.

Co-writing a book is such a unique and amazing process. There are brainstorming sessions and a-ha moments, there are scenes that fall together seamlessly and scenes that take all of our effort and energy—but there is nothing quite like sharing this journey with someone else. The book launch, the events, the interactions with truly is a blessing to experience all of that with a writing partner.

So in no particular order, here are all of my wonderful co-authors and the projects we've worked on together.


Mindy and Leslie take a break from brainstorming in 2014

Media together: Author interview.


Mindy and Susan on a research trip in Lancaster County

Media together: Interview.


John and Mindy: Riding–and writing–partners for life!

Book written together: 
Echoes of Titanic

Media together: Articles about collaboration here and here
Audio interview.


Kim and Mindy at a radio interview in Orlando, FL

Book written together: 
Beauty to Die For

Media together: Interview.


Mother and daughter at Emily's wedding in August

Book written together: 
Amish Christmas at North Star

Other authors that appeared in this collection were Cindy Woodsmall, Amanda Flower, and Katie Ganshert.

Visit Emily's web page.

Blessed with the Best

Co-writing isn’t for every author, but it sure has worked for me—mostly because I’ve been blessed with such an extraordinary group of partners. I know that these books are better and I'm a better writer (and person!) because of each of my co-authors and the things I've learned from them along the way. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

5 Great Book Deals You Don’t Want to Miss

Fun news! I’ve decided to jump into my annual book sale one month early, just in case you’re the kind of person who likes to start their Christmas shopping sooner rather than later.  That’s so not me—I’m more of an eleventh hour kind of gal—but if this is you, then I truly admire your ability to get things done in a timely fashion.

Thus, I’m happy to announce this year’s HALF PRICE CHRISTMAS SALE is up and rolling NOW. To make things even more exciting, I’ll be adding one of these star Christmas ornaments to all qualifying orders—for FREE—while supplies last.

Here’s all the info you’ll need to get these great deals, plus a repeat of last year’s Gift Giving Guide in case you find it helpful.  Happy shopping!

DEAL #1:
All autographed books ordered from this page of my website are 50% off! IMPORTANT: Note that the sale price won’t show up until the items are in your shopping cart. (Go ahead and add items to your cart by clicking on the Autographed by Mindy button, then you’ll be able to see the actual discount prices in the cart before you finalize your purchase.)

The first 20 buyers who purchase up to two books from the above sale will also get this FREE shiny star ornament.  No action required; simply buy one or two books—at half price, no less—and your free star will be included with your order!

The first 6 buyers who purchase three or more books from the above sale will get one of these rustic metal star ornaments FREE. No action required, simply buy at least 3 books—again, at 50% off—and your free star will be included with your order.  (Please allow us to choose the color for you.) 

Get the audio version of Whispers of the Bayou for FREE when you sign up for at this link

The first 2 buyers who purchase the book Amish Christmas at North Star from the above sale will get one of these red and white star ornaments FREE. No action required, simply buy Amish Christmas at North Star—again, at 50% off—from my website and your free star will be included with your order.    

NOTE: Only one free star ornament per order, with priority given to the star ornament earned in Deal #5, above.  (In other words, for example, if you order one book, you qualify for the smaller clear star ornament, but if that one book happens to be Amish Christmas at North Star and you’re one of the first two to order it, then you will earn the red & white star instead.)

Need help choosing what books to give to whom? Here’s a handy Gift Giving Guide to help you narrow things down!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Two Yummy Gumbo Recipes in Honor of National Gumbo Day

Last Friday was #NationalGumboDay, a food that’s featured prominently in my book Under the Cajun Moon. To celebrate, I decided to share a bit about that book and pass along two great recipes for gumbo—one that’s easy and quick and one that’s more complicated but well worth the trouble.

Food in Fiction

One of my favorite reviews I’ve ever gotten was this one from Publisher’s Weekly for Under the Cajun Moon:

“…a delicious recipe of intrigue, romance and intelligent character development…Clark's story line is full of spice and lingers with an unexpected bite familiar to Cajun cuisine lovers. This text is sumptuous.

The review was cleverly worded, because much of the novel is set amid the New Orleans restaurant world and deals with Louisiana cuisine, especially gumbo. In fact, in the story, concealed in what seems like an ordinary gumbo recipe are clues to the whereabouts of a hidden treasure! 

Gumbo as Character Development

In the novel, Gumbo also serves as a symbol of the troubled relationship between the main character, Chloe, and her demanding and distant father, as shown in this excerpt:

“Don’t you know how to make gumbo?” Travis asked.
I shrugged, not explaining about my one disastrous experience at gumbo when I was sixteen years old. My father had taken a rare day off from work and we were both at home, so in yet another desperate attempt to get his attention, I had had the brilliant idea of asking him to teach me how to cook.
Much to my delight, he was pleased with my request at first, eagerly gathering the ingredients from the kitchen cabinets and describing for me the origins of gumbo and the infinite number of variations that people had managed to create over the years. His version started with a roux and ended with filé, he said, though many folks believed you didn’t need filé if you had a roux.
He prattled on and on, and though I didn’t care much about the specifics, I remember beaming in the glow of my father’s undivided attention. With him watching over my shoulder, I stood at the stove and stirred the flour into the oil exactly as he directed.
“The trick is to keep stirring and stirring and watching and watching as it changes colors,” he said.
Sure enough, the longer I stood there and stirred, the mixture began to change from a light brown he called “béchamel sauce” to a darker one he deemed “sauce piquant.” As it slowly grew even darker, I thought the mixture might burn, but he assured me that as long as I kept stirring we could push it to the very limits, to that precise dark brown moment that waited between “not quite enough” and “disaster.”
Unfortunately, the phone rang as we were coming into the home stretch. He answered it, motioning for me to keep stirring. My arm was getting tired, though, so when he ducked around the corner to talk, I took a moment to shake out my arm and switch the spoon to my other hand. That one didn’t work as well for stirring, though, so I switched back, accidentally dropping the spoon in the process.
Mortified, I wiped up the globby mess from the front of the stove and the floor as quickly as I could, knowing that that sort of clutziness in his restaurant could get a person fired. Hiding the dirty paper towels in the trash and the spoon in the sink, I ran to get a new, clean spoon from the drawer. I made it back to the stove, spoon in hand, just before my father hung up the phone and returned to the room.
I thought I had gotten away with it, but the moment he came around the corner, he screamed. Apparently, in the few seconds it had taken me to clean up my mess, my lack of stirring had caused the roux to burn.
My father went into a rage so extreme that one would have thought I had burned the house down. He took over then, pushing me away from the smoking pan as he banged and clanged and continued to yell. By the time his tirade had run his course, I was still there in a corner of the kitchen, determined to make things right.
“Can we still make gumbo, Daddy?” I asked softly, trying not to cry.
At that, he turned to me and gave me his most withering glare. “You burned the roux, Chloe. There’s no going any further when you burn a roux.”
All these years later, I could still feel the sting of that moment, of standing there alone after he stormed out, our happy time together having gone up in smoke.

If the above scene makes you sad, not to worry: In the final chapter of the book, Chloe takes another crack at learning how to make gumbo, this time with a far kinder teacher, and she ends up with much happier—not to mention far more romantic—results. (Sorry, I can’t include that excerpt here or it’ll give away the ending of the story!)

Shortcut Gumbo

Here’s my own quick recipe for the gumbo I usually make, which is a bit of a cheat since it mostly comes from a box, but it really isn’t half bad…

Louisiana Gumbo

If you’re a more ambitious cook than I, you might try this recipe instead, which is the one my brother David usually uses. Considering that he’s the single best cook I’ve ever known, it’s an understatement to say that this gumbo is beyond delicious.

Tough Job, But Somebody’s Gotta Do It

One last note, when I was researching Under the Cajun Moon, my husband, John, and I got to take a culinary tour of New Orleans. This included a lesson in making a roux as well as a yummy sample of the end product. Look closely at the photo below, which always makes me laugh: As you can see, John is far more focused on the gumbo sample than he is on the cooking lesson!

I hope you enjoyed this week’s post, and if you end up trying either recipe, I’d love to hear how it turns out in the comments below or on my Facebook page.

Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

October 2018 Christian Fiction Book Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

A Christmas to Remember by Julie Arduini, Valerie Comer, Janet W. Ferguson, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Deb Kastner, Elizabeth Maddrey, Lindi Peterson, and Ginger Solomon -- Eight authors from the popular blog Inspy Romance each share a Christmas-themed novella to put you in the mood for the season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Legacy by Lorraine Beatty -- Annie’s inheritance will provide a home for her twins and all she had to do is keep a man paying for his mistake forever. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Return by Marianne Evans -- A prodigal who never wanted to return home must repair his family farm and rush back to the big city before an old love convinces him to stay. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Harvest of Blessings by June Foster -- When Nadia accidentally sits on a stranger's lap in the graveyard where her late husband is buried, she's horrified to learn the good-looking guy with salt and pepper hair is her new boss. Jared is intrigued by this beautiful woman who puts God first in her life, but his daughter isn’t ready for him to move on after his wife’s death. As Nadia and Jared try to cultivate a relationship, will they reap a Harvest of Blessings, or a season of drought? (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romance [Winged Publication])

A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson -- Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan's great-grandmother was a guest at banker Howard Dawkins' palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie's great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage--and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate's private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . . (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Reason to Breathe by Deborah Raney -- At twenty-nine, Phylicia Chandler put her life on hold to care for her dying mother with her sisters, Joanna and Britt. Now Mom is gone and their father has run off with a woman young enough to be their sister. Phylicia feels stuck--until her father's protégé, Quinn Mitchell, presents her and her two sisters with an intriguing business opportunity to purchase a trio of cottages just outside of Langhorne, Missouri. But Phylicia is skeptical. Quinn soon finds himself falling hard for Phylicia. But how can he pursue this beautiful, talented woman twelve years his junior when she's still reeling over her father's hasty engagement to a younger woman? Quinn is determined to give Phylicia her happily-ever-after. But first, he must help her come to terms with her discovery of long-held family secrets and persuade her that true love can transcend their differences. (Contemporary Romance from Gilead Publishing)

General/Women’s Fiction

An Amish Homecoming by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller , Shelley Shepard Gray, and Beth Wiseman -- A collection of four new Amish stories of coming home. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Miles from Where We Started by Cynthia Ruchti -- These no-longer-newlyweds want out of this road trip--and their marriage. Too bad they can't find the off-ramp. (General Contemporary from Gilead Publishing)


When the Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma -- In 1943 Poland, the Nazis have forced Natia and Teodor from their peaceful farm to the harsh confines of a labor camp. When the couple is separated, Natia risks everything to send him messages through song as she passes Teodor’s dormitory. The stakes get higher when Natia finds a Jewish orphan on the doorstep where she works. She is determined to protect the boy and raise him as the child she and her husband were unable to bear—but if her German captors discover how much she’s hiding, both she and Teodor may pay the ultimate price. (Historical from Gilead Publishing)

Historical Romance:

This Courageous Journey by Misty M. Beller -- When Noelle Grant sets off to visit her brother in the Canadian Rockies, the prospect of making a name for herself as a news correspondent finally seems within reach. But when the dangers become more than she bargained for, she finds herself—and the mountain man she’s come to love—in a situation more hazardous than any story her imagination could conjure. (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Reluctant Warrior by Mary Connealy -- Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He’s come to Lake Tahoe to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Enchanting Nicholette by Dawn Crandall -- As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette Everstone meets someone she can't help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of "what if" at bay? (Historical Romance from Whitaker House)

The Christmas Heirloom by Kristi Ann Hunter, Sarah Loudin Thomas, Becky Wade, and Karen Witemeyer -- A family heirloom brings true love to its bearers through the generations as it is handed down from mother to daughter. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

A Heart for Freedom by Janet Grunst -- Life was better than she dreamed, now the conflict between the British and the colonists threatened the loss of everything dear, even her husband. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears -- Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another. Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face? (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear -- Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mist O'er the Voyageur by Naomi Musch -- Desperate to flee a cruel suitor, Metis woman Brigitte Marchal flees into the wilderness to find her long-lost, fur-trader father, but who will save her from the dangers of being a woman among a voyageurs’ brigade? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Romantic Suspense:

Five Years in Yemen by Luana Ehrlich -- When the President issues a memorandum to bring home a military scientist who went missing in Iraq, CIA operative Titus Ray has been given the assignment. However, when the mission takes an unexpected turn after his contact is murdered in Riyadh, Titus is forced to make changes in the mission’s protocols, changes that endanger his operational team and have lasting consequences for his future. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon -- A woman who owns a fair trade shop and a police detective find themselves plunged into international intrigue—and danger—when people connected with her shop begin dying. (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills -- A hostage negotiator is thrust into danger and betrayal when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Supernatural Thriller:

Surrounded by Darkness by Rachel Dylan -- When attorney Olivia Murray opens a legal clinic for victims of domestic violence in Windy Ridge, she knows she will face legal and spiritual opposition. The New Age presence has grown stronger as alliances form between groups hoping to spread their destructive way of life and gain a stronghold in the community. While the forces of evil target Olivia’s new clinic, her legal partner Grant Baxter, and her relationships, she refuses to let them stop her quest for justice. Will Olivia’s and Grant’s faith be strong enough—in God and each other—to prevail in the battle that threatens to bring darkness to the entire town? (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])


A Dance of Shadows by Erica Marie Hogan -- Ten days have passed since Sundragon blood was shed for a sacrifice by Raphaela Kael. Ten days since Lathan and Maxx Jandry fled the city in search of Princess Damari Kael and their niece, Noelle. Brecken Jandry, Brae’s loyal husband, remains a tortured prisoner in the Kael dungeons and no one in Sunkai is safe from Roderick and Raphaela’s wrath. Damari Kael flees Sunkai with little Noelle Jandry, determined to deliver the child to the safety of the Shadow Lands, even as her own power emerges within her. The Eventide Sisters embark on a mission to join the Winter Queen. Across the land, Clea Jandry arrives in her birthplace of Molderëin where she is met with a savagery she thought long dead. Afra Malaki seeks the Creator’s will and the Queen of the Woodlands prepares for battle. In the peaceful city of Quintaria, the Winter Queen grieves. But the shadows are coming for her. They carry a message for Adlae Sundragon, and they will not rest until all is revealed. (Fantasy from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Body by Blood by Dr. Patrick Johnston -- In the not-too-distant future, where cloned bodies are marketable commodities among the super-rich, leaving graveyards of trampled dehumanized classes in science's wake, the richest man in the world who pioneered the breakthrough technologies learns the meaning of true love from a disabled granddaughter. (Speculative Action Adventure from Ambassador International)

Mercury Rising by Tim and Gail Sattler -- Four ordinary people are thrown into an extraordinary situation when they are thrown into a diabolical plot hidden under the guise of global warming. (Contemporary Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Awakened by Richard Spillman -- If Lazarus didn't die a second time what would he be up to today? (Speculative from Mountain Brook Ink)