I officially launched my very first author newsletter this week, and I think it’s not half bad!
Looking around, I realized most my fellow authors have such a thing. I thought, meh, I’ll do that when I actually have a book published! Who wants a newsletter from someone who really has no news?
But now that “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” has been out for nearly three months (and on the Amazon bestseller list most of that time!) and “Mary’s Calico Hope” is set to release June 1, I figured I couldn’t dodge the newsletter responsibility any longer.
Plus, my fabulous tech genius bro-in-law, Phil, told me if we didn’t launch a newsletter pronto, I was going to lose my domain on Mail Chimp. Well, I couldn’t let that happen, right?
So, the thing is done. If you’re one of the 91 people who have asked to be included, you should have received the newsletter (which I’m planning on publishing monthly) this past weekend.
If not, please feel free to PM me on Facebook at Anne Blackburne. Give me your name and email, and I’ll see that you are added to the list to receive my next newsletter in March.
I’m having fun with this writing journey! I hope you’re having fun traveling along with me.
I am a major procrastinator. I apologize to all the people who came to my book signing for “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” at Bookology a few weeks ago, and signed up to win this painting I did of Ginger Snap. All the people whose names I collected will eventually receive my newsletter; I say eventually, because I still don’t have a newsletter! One thing at a time, right?
We had a marvelous turnout that day, despite frigid temperatures and fresh snow in the morning. So many friends, old and new, braved the weather to come to Bookology in Cambridge to say hello. Many of you purchased a copy of my book, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise”. It was a wonderful day. You all made me feel so very, very special and blessed!
So now, without further delay, I’ll announce the winner (chosen at random by my daughter using the old-fashioned pick-a-number-any-number method) of this painting! Drum roll please! And the winner is — well, ARE, in this case — Les and Betty Hoffmann! I’ll email you and you can give me your mailing address so I can send you your painting. Thank you so much for coming out to support me in the cold!
As you may be aware, the next book in the Heart of the Amish series, “The Quilt Room Secret”, by Lisa Jones Baker, is on shelves now. And on or around April 1, the fourth book in the Heart of the Amish series from Barbour Publishing, Mindy Steele’s “Courting an Amish Bishop”, will be out. (Mindy also had book one, “The Flower Quilter”, which I absolutely loved. I want to make my own flower quilt now!)
After that, it’s only a little while until my next book, “Mary’s Calico Hope”, book five in the Barbour series, will release on May 15 in e-books and on June 1 in print! Here is something else you may not know. The story takes place in the same story world as Ruth’s story! In fact, if you read my first book, you met Mary Yoder. She works for Ruth’s love, Jonas, in his basket shop, and uses crutches to help her walk due to a childhood accident.
And here is more exciting news! Around this time next year, I’ll have a third story in that story world, which I’m calling my Willow Creek Amish world, even though it is part of Barbour’s Heart of the Amish. Are you confused? I hope not! I signed a contract a couple weeks ago to write “Lizzie’s Little Mouse”, about Elizabeth Miller, whom you met in Ruth’s story (she got the little gray kitten from Lydia Coblentz), and who you’ll see again in Mary’s story. I’m pretty excited! I’ll tell you more about Lizzie another day. For now, it’s Mary’s turn.
Soon I’ll start telling you all about Mary Yoder, and her wishes and her fears. But today is for celebration! Congratulations again, Les and Betty Hoffman!
I’ve read a number of good Amish romances and sweet Amish mysteries lately, but I haven’t had time to review them for a few weeks. So here is a catch-up post!
Amish Snowbirds by Barbara Cameron
I recently read “Amish Snowbirds” by Barbara Cameron, a novella that takes place in the Sarasota, Florida area in the Amish town of Pinecraft. Lots of Amish folks head there every winter to get a break from the northern cold. I’ve now read two books set there; “Amish Snowbirds” and Wanda Brunstetter’s collection, written with three of her family members, “Sisters by the Sea”.
I enjoyed both books a lot! But I digress. “Amish Snowbirds” deals with a young Amish woman who is running away from an unpleasant situation back home, and a young man who lives year-round in Pinecrest with his grandfather. They meet, and love blooms. But Lizzie must find the courage to tell Eli what it is that haunts her back home. Will her trust issues end their promising relationship before it really begins? By the way, now that I’ve read these two books, I’ve added Pinecraft to my bucket list places to visit! I’m hoping to get there next winter. Maybe after that I’ll set a story of my own there!
Wife on His Doorstep, by Patricia Johns
I just finished reading Patricia Johns’ book, “Wife on His Doorstep,” from Love Inspired. In this story, Mirium Lapp and her estranged husband, Amos, must figure out whether it is a lack of love keeping them from living together happily, or simply a lack of understanding.
At the beginning of the story, Mirium, who was raised by her successful, businessman father to be able to run a business empire, arrives unannounced on her husband’s doorstep, in search of some documents which she needs to claim the one business left to her by her father. It seems that after spending years teaching Mirium to be a businesswoman, her father decided she shouldn’t be one after all, and left everything else to his son.
Determined to have something of her own, she goes home, where she finds her husband caring for his dying grandmother; a woman Mirium loves dearly. She agrees to stay and help care for the elderly lady, fully understanding that matchmaking is in the plan; a plan to reunite a husband and wife who have more in common than they both think. This is a very good book — no surprise from Patricia Johns. And the ending is really satisfying!
Agatha’s Amish B&B Series, Books One – Three, by Vanetta Chapman
One of my favorites recently was Vanetta Chapman’s cozy mystery series set in Texas, “Agatha’s Amish B&B” stories. First up was “Dead Wrong” in which we meet Agatha and her neighbor, ex-detective Tony Vargas. The two work together, along with Agatha’s housekeeper and friend, to solve the murder of a guest. The second book, The second and third books are “Dead Broke” and “Dead Set”. This is a really good series, and for fans of Chapman who have read her other Amish mysteries, you’ll get to reconnect with an old friend – a character from a previous series! I highly recommend this series. I hope she writes more books in it. Vannetta’s sweet Amish mysteries have given me ideas about writing sweet Amish mysteries of my own! Watch for more on that in the future!
The Courtship Basket, by Amy Clipston
Finally, I read “The Courtship Basket” by Amy Clipston. This book is part of a series, but can be read as a stand-alone. Rachel has been dumped by her boyfriend for her best friend! A double betrayal that is twice as hard to take. Meanwhile, Mike is struggling to raise his much younger brother as their father has become too infirm to do so. They meet when Rachel becomes the child’s teacher…and the attraction is instant. But they struggle against it! A family heirloom picnic basket brings them together. I loved this story, and plan to read the other books in the series.
In fact, Amy Clipston may just be a new favorite author for me! This is a happy thing, as we are included together with authors Mindy Steele and Amy Lillard in a collection of Christmas novellas coming out September 1 called “A Lancaster Amish Christmas“! What an honor for me! And isn’t the cover stunning? I’m nearly finished editing my story. Here’s a hint; it’s about Lucy, a young Amish woman raising her little sister, who has Down Syndrome. When she made the decision to do so, her “almost fiancée”, John Zook, dumped her like a hot brick and married someone else. That’s fine with Lucy; why would she want a man who thought she would give up her beloved sister just to get married? She’s perfectly happy on her own, thank you very much. Then along comes handsome, compassionate and accepting hardware store owner Amos Fisher. And Lucy might just be ready to consider taking another chance on love!
So if you’re looking for a new Amish romance or mystery author, look no further. These books are all good, and I think you’ll be happy with any of them.
It’s Ground Hog Day! My Favorite Holiday of the Year
If you follow such things, you’ll know that the fat, furry rodent didn’t see his shadow this morning, so we’re due for an early spring.
Intellectually I know it’s only February, and we can reasonably expect wintery weather for up to two more months.
But to me, Groundhog Day is the first day of spring, because it represents the hope of the end of winter. I’m not overly fond of winter, so Groundhog Day ranks right up there with my favorite holidays.
Even if old Buckeye Chuck had seen his shadow this morning up in Marion, Ohio, thus forecasting another six weeks of winter, it wouldn’t matter. It’ll be over soon enough, and we can get down to some serious complaining about the summer heat!
The legend of the groundhog predicting winter’s end comes from an old German belief that if a hibernating animal sees its shadow on February 2, winter will last six more weeks. We in the eastern part of this country have simply refined that to specify the groundhog – also called woodchucks and whistle pigs in other parts of the country. Guess groundhogs are easier to handle than bears.
And I hate to burst your bubble, but I recently read that Punxsutawney Phil’s whole routine is a set-up. That famous groundhog doesn’t even make the annual prediction attributed to him. A bunch of guys in tuxedos and top hats called the Inner Circle do it for him – ahead of time! And if they’re wrong, well, they get off the hook by claiming in Jimmy Buffet style that it’s six more weeks of winter somewhere!
But all of this is easily ignored in my blissful contemplation of the warm days ahead. I can even forgive my neighborhood groundhogs for eating my Zinnias and Sunflowers every summer. The Dahlias were hard to forgive, but I’m working on it!
Happy First Day of Spring!
From Barbour Publishing’s Heart of the Amish series, comes book #3 in the series, “A Quilt Room Secret“, by Lisa Jones Baker. This is the third book in the series in which my debut novel, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” is book #2. Book #1, in case you missed it, is “The Flower Quilter” by Mindy Steele.
This is a delightful book about two people who have been best friends . . . and maybe more? . . . all their lives. Except for that unfortunate period of time when one of them moved away.
“As they took turns pushing each other on the swing that hung from a large tree, the mature—for a five-year-old—Jacob Lantz asked Trini Sutter to marry him. The nine-year-old thoughtfully responded that she’d consider his proposal when they were older.
Nearly two decades later, the Amish farmer returns to the beautiful countryside of Arthur, Illinois, to take the independent owner of The Quilt Room up on her promise. Quiet, handsome Jacob is truly in love with the spirited list maker, and Trini finds herself falling in love with Jacob, but the youngest of eleven has big plans of her own.
Jacob’s long-held aspirations are put to the test when he learns that Trini has been holding a secret. He prays for a turnaround of events; however, when Trini moves away from her tight-knit community, he begins to realize that his dream of them being Mr. and Mrs. most likely won’t happen.
Will Trini forfeit her own well-laid plan for the man of her dreams?”
Don’t miss out on this wonderful story by a wonderful story-teller!
It’s an exciting time to be me! After 35 years of trying to achieve my goal of becoming a published author, anyone who reads this blog knows my dream became reality in December.
“Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” released on December 1. This is the second book in Barbour Publishing’s new Amish romance series, “The Heart of the Amish”, featuring three authors, of which I’m one!
What an honor to be included in a series that also includes well-known authors Mindy Steele and Lisa Jones Baker!
Mindy’s book, “The Flower Quilter” released first in September. And Lisa’s book releases officially February 1.
Mindy’s second book, “Courting an Amish Bishop“, releases in April.
And my wonderful literary agent, Tamela, just told me I’ll be getting a contract for a third book in the series this week! I’m on Cloud Nine! That book is tentatively titled “Lizzie’s Little Mouse”, and features another character introduced in my first book. Lizzie has a little gray kitten she named Little Mouse. Her dream is to own a bakery; but not just any bakery – ever since she visited New Orleans, she has dreamed of opening up a French bakery in the heart of Ohio’s Amish country! This will be her story. I’m not sure when it will be released. More on that as I find out more!
In September, my first novella (a story that is longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel) releases from Barbour in a collection called, “A Lancaster Amish Christmas“. This book features four authors of Amish romance, and I am definitely the rookie of the group!
The other three authors are Amy Clipston, Amy Lillard, and Mindy Steele. I’m thrilled to be included in the collection with these three beloved authors of Amish romance.
My story is about Lucy, who is raising her tiny little sister, Millie. Their mother died in childbirth, and Lucy is determined to give Millie the very best life she can, despite some disapproval from people who don’t think a single woman should be raising a child by herself. More on this story as we get closer to the release date!
So that’s what’s next for me. I’m done with the first draft of my novella, tentatively titled “Christmas Sunbeam”. I’m proofreading and cutting words right now. Do you know what they call it when an author is over her word count and has to cut a lot of words from her document?
They call it killing your darlings! And it’s truly hard. But I’ll say this; I learned in the newspaper business that pretty much any time you edit down your word count, your story ends up being tighter and overall better for it. This book is due to the publisher on Valentine’s Day. And it’s a work of love, so that is quite appropriate!
If you haven’t read Ruth’s story yet, it’s available on Amazon.com, and wherever fine books are sold! If you have read it and loved it, please leave me a review on Amazon.com, Goodreads, Barbour.com, Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, or anywhere else you like. It doesn’t need to be long or complex. A simple, “I read it and I loved it!” will do the trick.
Thanks so much for being here!
By Lisa McDonald Loos
(Note: This article recently appeared in the newspaper I work for in SE Ohio. It was fun seeing a story about my book in my town’s weekly paper!)
I knew I was going to love “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” based solely on the action in the first sentence of the book – an Amish woman is hanging laundry on a clothesline!
Amish clotheslines are a little obsession I have. I’ve taken a couple dozen photographs of them over the past decade on trips to Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I would rather take clothesline pictures than shop! I enjoy seeing the colored dresses in contrast to the black pants waving on long lines that stretch from large farmhouses to larger barns.
One of my Amish clothesline photographs appears on the Anne Blackburne website, and also her Facebook page.
Laundry on a clothesline sets the scene for this Amish romance by your newspaper editor who has chosen to professionally write under the pseudonym Anne Blackburne. Blackburne is Anne’s middle name and her maternal grandmother’s maiden name.
The protagonist in the novel is Ruth, a childless widow with an entrepreneurial spirit. She meets a middle-aged basket maker Jonas, who is a single father.
An unexpected marriage proposal, lots of prayer, an adversary, and a blizzard provide some twists and turns through the book along with lots of fellowship, saving a family farm and naming felines.
A surprise for this reader is realization that a couple of the characters in the book are real-life friends of the author.
There’s another surprise at the end – an assortment of yummy recipes!
“Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise” is Anne’s debut novel. It is Book Two in Barbour Publishing’s new series, Heart of the Amish.
Barbour contracted with three authors for two books each.
The other two authors are Mindy Steele and Lisa Jones Baker, who have had several previous books published.
“I think it has helped me to be associated with other, already popular authors,” Anne said.
Anne’s second book in the series, “Mary’s Calico Hope,” will be published on June 1, 2024.
“I’ve always been a writer, going back to my elementary school days,” said Anne. “It was in my mid-20s that it occurred to me that I might be able to become a published author.”
Anne started writing a children’s book series about three 12-year-old girls who formed a pet-sitting business. She queried literary agents and found one in New York who was encouraging about the series. “But it wasn’t long before she got back to me with the unfortunate news that someone else had the same idea, and beat me to the publishers.”
Over the years, Anne said she came up with other ideas and wrote other manuscripts ranging from middle readers to mysteries to romances. She penned a satirical book called “Lying Letters to Aunt Louise” based on Christmas letters people send bragging about the accomplishments of their relatives. Anne said she had a blast writing it but it did not sell.
“I read that the average first-time, traditionally-published author spends 10,000 hours practicing their craft before getting that first sale. That would be about right for me,” she said.
So how did she finally get published?
A while ago, Anne entered a contest through the Romance Writers of America and won. The prize was the opportunity to work with a mentor – a professional, published author who helped her polish her manuscript over about a year’s time.
She also learned the ins and outs of querying and submitting to agents and publishers. It wasn’t long after Anne queried her manuscript that one of those agents signed her.
“This is really unusual. It can take months to hear back from an agent, just to get a rejection,” said Anne. “I was over the moon.”
Then, within a few months, Anne’s agent sold the book to Barbour Publishing.
All of those rejection letters finally added up to an acceptance. It took her about 35 years while raising five children to get that sale.
Anne said she may be more of a “pantser” than a “plotter” when writing. She’s a fast writer with a good idea of where a story is going when writing. She said it took her about three months to write “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise.”
“I enjoy discovering what happens to the characters along the way, rather than having every little point plotted out ahead of time,” she said.
Anne is currently working on a novella to be published in an anthology with three other authors this fall. The book is titled “A Lancaster Amish Christmas” and her story in the book is called “Lucy’s Christmas Sunbeam.”
One of my sister authors in Barbour Publishing’s “Heart of the Amish” series, Lisa Jones Baker, is up next in the series with the February 1 release of “The Quilt Room Secret“.
Here’s a little taste of what to expect!
Trini Holds Secret Dreams for Her Future: As they took turns pushing each other on the swing that hung from a large tree, the mature–for a five-year-old–Jacob Lantz asked Trini Sutter to marry him. The nine-year-old thoughtfully responded that she’d consider his proposal when they were older. Nearly two decades later, the Amish farmer returns to the beautiful countryside of Arthur, Illinois, to take the independent owner of The Quilt Room up on her promise. Quiet, handsome Jacob is truly in love with the spirited list maker, and Trini finds herself falling in love with Jacob, but the youngest of eleven has big plans of her own. Jacob’s long-held aspirations are put to the test when he learns that Trini has been holding a secret. He prays for a turnaround of events; however, when Trini moves away from her tight-knit community, he begins to realize that his dream of them being Mr. and Mrs. most likely won’t happen. Will Trini forfeit her own well-laid plan for the man of her dreams?
Find out by reading this wonderful book by a seasoned writer of wonderful Amish romances!
Note: I loved this book, and think you will, too.
The Heart of the Amish Series Also Includes:
The Flower Quilter by Mindy Steele
Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise by Anne Blackburne
Courting the Amish Bishop by Mindy Steele
Mary’s Calico Hope by Anne Blackburne
Today we say so long, farewell! to the wonderful people at CelebrateLit, who have worked hard to promote my debut novel this month. There are two remaining blog posts for you to read, and be sure to click on the links below for your final chance to enter to win a print copy of the book and a $25 Amazon e-gift card!
Check back soon to see who won!
First today is Wendy from the blog, “Life on Chickadee Lane”.
My Review: by Wendy from Life on Chickadee Lane:
“This is such a sweet, enjoyable story. Of course, any story including a cat is my kind of story. (My daughter would agree!) I enjoyed reading how Ruth and Jonas prayed about any decision which needed to be made. I look forward to reading Anne’s next book!
If you enjoy sweet stories set in an Amish community, you will want to read this one.
I received a complimentary copy through Celebrate Lit and these opinions are my own.“
Thanks, Wendy! (By the way, Wendy has a cool list of all the birds she has spotted on her blog. I love this!)
Next is Renee from the blog, “Little Home School on the Prairie.”
Here’s what Renee had to say!
“Anne Blackburne is a new author who did an amazing job with her debut novel.
The main characters Ruth and Jonas have both lost their spouses. Jonas has a young daughter. Ruth isn’t able to have children.
It’s been only a year since Ruth lost her husband and she is trying her hardest to keep up with the farm by herself. The farm is dear to her as it has been in her family for generations. Life is about to get complicated for Ruth. Bishop Troyer visits her concerning her farm. He gives her two options. One is to sell the farm to one of the men in the community. Her farm has a lot of amenities that would be good for a family. The second option is to marry Bishop Troyer. The Bishop recognizes that he is much older than her and that it would be a marriage of convenience as they are both lonely. Ruth isn’t interested in selling or marrying for convenience. She wants to expand her business with her goat’s milk products.
Jonas has a four-year-old daughter. He starts helping Ruth with chores around her farm. He loves Ruth’s interaction with his daughter. Ruth is getting fond of both Jonas and his daughter.
The story is fun with the mischievous goats, a guard dog, and a kitten named Ginger Snap. The characters are well-developed and realistic. You can’t help to not find yourself immersed in their lives. The plot is well-developed and kept my attention to the last page. I look forward to more books from Anne Blackburne.
Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through Celebrate Lit Bloggers in exchange for my honest thoughts.“
Well, that’s it for this part of my writing journey. I sure appreciate all the help from the amazing folks at Celebrate Lit! Did you find a new blogger to follow? I know I did!
Merry Christmas, and thank you all for supporting my writing!
Today and tomorrow I’ll list a couple of blog posts each day so you can optimize your chance of winning the giveaway!
Remember to click the links for each blogger for your chances to enter!
Here is what Holly has to say:
My Review: By Holly.
Next up is Cheri, from her blog “Finding Jesus in the Everyday”
My Review of Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise
by Cheri of Finding Jesus in the Everyday
“This is a new author to me and I thoroughly enjoyed this story – beginning to end. What drew me to this book was the fact she raised goats. Reminded me of a great friend who loves stories about goats and it made reading the story that much more enjoyable. Great characters, I felt as though I was part of the community with Ruth. This story captured my attention and kept me reading. I didn’t have a chance to read the first book, but will be reading that one too. I hope there will be more in this series. I love this author’s style.
I received a complimentary copy of this book but was under no obligation to review it. All opinions are mine.”
Finally today, let’s see what the blogger from “Because I Said So – And Other Adventures in Parenting” has to say! (She has an orange kitten too, and the same kind of dog as my protagonist, Ruth!)
“Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise is written by Anne Blackburne. This is the first book that I have read by this author, and it will not be my last. This book is well written with an engaging storyline. This book is part of the Heart of the Amish Series, but can be read as a stand alone.
Ruth has worked hard to keep body and soul together since her husband, Levi’s, death. She tends her herd of goats, making her living from the milk and fiber she gets from them, all while running a farm and household by herself. She was never able to have kids – and when she meets fellow widower, Jonas Hershberger and his adorable daughter, her heart melts.
Can the two of them work together? What will happen when the bishop’s granddaughter sets her sights on Jonas?
Ruth is very relatable. She is determined and she had some similar things in her life that I have in mine. I love the orange kitten on the cover. I recently also have gotten an orange kitten, Grover. I loved the kitten throughout the story. She also has two Great Pyrenees that protect the goats, and I have one also.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book -all thoughts are my own.”
Thanks to you, Because I Said So!
Come back tomorrow for your last chance to enter the giveaway for a print copy of my book and a $25 Amazon e-gift card!