• Books

    Courting an Amish Bishop Releases Monday!

    No fooling: Mindy Steele’s new book from Barbour’s “Heart of the Amish” series comes out on Monday, April 1!

    I just ordered my copy, and am eagerly waiting for it to arrive in the mail. This is another wonderful story from popular author Mindy Steele; her second in the Heart of the Amish series.

    Brief synopsis: Meet Stella Schmucker who faithfully uses her herbal knowledge to help her Amish community while neglecting her own desire for romance—until she meets the bishop.

    The cover is so sweet! I can’t wait to read my copy, and then I’ll go review it, because good book reviews help authors, and I know from Mindy’s previous stories that the review will be good! Mindy doesn’t disappoint.

    The other books in this series include: The Flower Quilter, by Mindy Steele (September, 2023); Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise, by Anne Blackburne (December, 2023); The Quilt Room Secret, by Lisa Jones Baker (February, 2024); and coming June 1 by Anne Blackburne, Mary’s Calico Hope! And September 1, Serenity’s Secret, by Lisa Jones Baker.

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Could You Let Your Dog Eat This Cutie?

    Millie

    Short story long…

    I have a rescue poodle named Millie. She’s a big (around 65 pounds), happy girl who started life making puppies for a living, and is now spending all her time hanging out with me (I take her to the newspaper every day, where she shares the job of official greeter with our cat, Arthur), figuring out ways to get treats, and playing with a ridiculous variety of toys.

    I subscribe to one of those monthly boxes of doggie toys and treats – don’t judge me; my kids are raised and I don’t spend my extra money on vices for myself. Well, not all of it! Does chocolate count? I don’t think chocolate counts.

    Anyway, each month when the box arrives, it’s hard to tell who is more excited, me or Millie. Well, last month, one of the toys that arrived was just way too cute to become a chew toy. Plus, it really seemed to fit in with my Amish romance writing vibe.

    So I liberated it. Now it’s going to be an inspiration for my writing. I mean, look at it! A cinnamon roll, with a happy, smiling face! How could I let Millie, much as I love her, chew the little cutie up?

    So now that I’ve rescued the bun from the rescue dog, it needs a name. I decided to come to you guys to help me choose one!

    Let’s have a little contest. Give me your ideas, and at the end of March I’ll hold a random drawing to choose the new name for my tasty-looking little friend. Please go to my Facebook page, and suggest a name or two.

    The person who submits the winning name will get their own first name in my next book!
    Your name will become a minor character name in my next “Heart of the Amish” story, “Lizzie’s Little Mouse”, which will release from Barbour next winter. You can tell everybody that character is named after you!

    So start brainstorming those names! You can submit more than one, but don’t inundate me, please. 😉Obviously, keep them family friendly. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  • Reviews

    Publisher’s Weekly Lauds “Mary’s Calico Hope”

    When my first book, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise”, was released, it received a very favorable review from the industry’s leading reviewer of new releases, Publishers Weekly. I was over the moon!

    With my second book releasing on June 1, again from Barbour, and in the same “Heart of the Amish” series as my first book, I asked my publisher whether I was likely to get another review from the industry giant, whose opinion is sought and valued by all sorts of industry pros, including booksellers looking for likely titles to sell.

    She warned me that it was possible, but unlikely that I’d be reviewed twice in row.

    Well, bless me, they reviewed “Mary’s Calico Hope“, and they loved it! I’m beyond thrilled.


    Here is the review from Publishers Weekly:

    Mary’s Calico Hope

    Anne Blackburne. Barbour, $14.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-63609-855-5

    Mary's Calico Hope

    “Blackburne’s latest Heart of the Amish romance (after Ruth’s Gingersnap Surprise) unspools a tender love story between an injured Amish woman and the Mennonite doctor who wants to help her heal. Since a buggy accident more than 25 years ago killed her father and left her badly hurt, Mary Yoder has spent her days in near-constant pain, though she keeps busy breeding chickens, weaving and selling baskets, and caring for her younger brothers. When Reuben King, the handsome new doctor for the nearby Willow Creek community, takes an informal interest in Mary’s case and suggests she undergo a surgical procedure (performed by another doctor) that might improve her mobility, Mary’s resistant. Eventually, she warms to the idea as she spends more time with Reuben, sparking an attraction that’s forbidden by her community. Mary turns to prayer to sort out her thoughts about her health and love life, but when advice arrives from an unlikely source, she’ll have to trust herself to follow it, and to take a few risks along the way. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, and it’s easy to root for the spunky, independent, and dauntless Mary as she fights to carve out a life of her own choosing. Blackburne’s fans and series newcomers alike will delight in this sweet and energetic tale. (June)DETAILSshare”


    Isn’t that wonderful? I wish I could personally tell the reviewer how much I appreciate his or her take on my book! Publishers Weekly reviewers are anonymous, though, to encourage honesty, so that’s not possible. But if he or she happens to read this . . . thank you thank you thank you! You made my day!

    Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise (which was just named a best seller for March by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) in new releases for March) also received an excellent Publishers Weekly review. It’s available for purchase wherever fine books are sold online and in book stores nationwide. If your book store doesn’t have it, please request it. They shouldn’t have any trouble ordering it for you!

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Area Writers to be Featured at Author Event

    The 2023 authors who will be at Writers at the Crossroads March 23 : Alex Erickson, Jacob Paul Patchen, Megan Slayer, J. Paulette Forshey, Beverly Kerr, Bev Justice, back, Jane B. Night, Mike Ghere, J.L. Enger, Susan Gee Heino, Clayton Etter, Saralee Etter and Anne Blackburne

    Writers at the Crossroads has become the place for authors to read and display their latest creations. This year’s event takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 23, at Crossroads Library, 63500 Byesville Rd., Cambridge.

    Fifteen years ago, Crossroads Library was searching for a way to bring more adults to the library. That first year, local authors were given five minutes to read either a section from a book they had written or a short story. It drew a small crowd and was the beginning of a lasting friendship between the library and local readers.

    Cambridge Writers has been instrumental in organizing this event along with the cooperation of the library. This writing group, led by J. Paulette Forshey and Cindy Stonebrook, welcomes all writers to their meetings every Wednesday at noon in Crossroads Library. They provide information on ways to improve your writing skills, and give encouragement.

    Over the years, Writers at the Crossroads has grown and now features well-known authors from not only Ohio, but Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. Every author has a table to set up their display of books, which are for sale.

    The event will end with a raffle of items donated by many of the authors and area businesses. All proceeds from the raffle are given to the library to use in their children’s program. So far, the group has donated more than $3,000.

    This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: Showcase of authors planned at Crossroads Library on March 23

  • Book Signings

    Book Signing for Mary’s Calico Hope June 8!

    Mary's Calico Hope

    It’s early days yet, but I’ve scheduled a book signing for my next-to-release story in The Heart of the Amish series, “Mary’s Calico Hope“.

    This story of a young woman’s determination not to allow a disability to dictate how she lives her life releases from Barbour Publishing in e-edition on May 15, and in print on June 1.

    If you read my first book, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise“, you’ll remember Mary Yoder. Here is her story!

    The wonderful Jennifer at Bookology in Cambridge, Ohio, has agreed to host a book signing for my new book on Saturday, June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    The book releases June 1, but my little brother is getting married that day, so, priorities!

    I’ll look forward to seeing as many of you as can make it to Cambridge, which is located at the intersection of I70 and I77 in SE Ohio, about 2 hours south of Cleveland and an hour or so east of Columbus.

    Bookology is a small, hybrid bookstore, family owned and operated, located at 646 Wheeling Ave, next door to Theo’s Restaurant, where you can get really good Coney dogs and some of the best pie around!

    So make a day of it! Support local small businesses, eat pie, buy new books. Sounds like a winner of a Saturday in June to me!

    And if you’re going to be in the area that evening, there’s a play in the community theater right next door, The Cambridge Performing Arts Center, that night at 7 p.m. ! It is a non-musical version of The Wizard of Oz, featuring a cast of community actors. Learn more at cambridgetheater.org.

  • Reviews by Anne Blackburne

    Book Review “An Amish Second Christmas”

    With stories by Shelley Shepard Gray, Patricia Johns and Virginia Wise

    Time for a report on the book I read on my recent cruise! My friend, Linda, found “An Amish Second Christmas” at a store in SE Ohio in February, and after she read it, I grabbed it because it has three stories from three of my favorite authors of Amish romance!

    The authors are Shelley Shepard Gray, Patricia Johns, Author, and Virginia Wise.

    All three stories were, as expected, wonderful. Are you surprised by this??

    Shelley’s story, “Their Second Chance”, focused on Amish nanny Hannah Eicher, her sweet pup, Daisy, and a handsome, English fireman named Rob Prince. Hannah and Rob have to work hard to make their relationship work – and to convince her family that he’s the man for her. I loved this story and it’s unexpected, but satisfying, ending.

    Patricia’s story, “His Amish Angel”, is all about Maggie Lapp, a fierce young Amish woman who has decided she is unmarriageable! Why? Because she’s too outspoken. (I can relate to this, I’m afraid!) So she finds satisfaction and a place of belonging by secretly writing a weekly newspaper advice column called ‘Miss Amish’. Enter Maggie’s former fiancé, the very traditional-minded Atley, who accidentally ruins everything by revealing her secret . . . and the sparks fly! But a second chance at love is also taking flight.

    Finally, Virginia’s story, “An Heirloom Christmas”, focuses on Rachel Miller, another independent young Amish woman who is recovering from a bout with cancer, and is determined to prove she can make it on her own by selling heirloom plants she cultivates in her greenhouse. Enter Joseph Webber, who needs a job to pay for a new buggy after irresponsibly wrecking the one his father gave him. Rachel remembers Joseph as a cheeky lad from her school days. She longed for his attention then – and is NOT interested in it now. Or . . . is she?

    Thank you all for your wonderful stories! I laughed and cried as I read them under a palm tree on a Caribbean island; and in my cabin any chance I had during my week-long adventure.

    The book itself may be a bit the worse from wear (sorry, Linda!) after my sister accidentally sat on it in a wet bathing suit. Ha ha! But it’s still readable!

    I recommend this book, and basically anything from these three wonderful women. And if you’re looking for something new, I’d be honored if you’d read my debut novel, “Ruth’s Ginger Snap Surprise”, available on Amazon.com. My second book, (with characters you’ll remember from Ruth’s story), is “Mary’s Calico Hope”, and it is releasing very soon – in e-book on May 15, and in print on June 1.

    If you’d like to keep in touch with me, I’d love it if you subscribed to my newsletter! My web manager assures me there’s a place to do so here on my website. If you can’t find it, you can message me your email in my Facebook messenger at Anne Blackburne on Facebook. I’ll post about once a month, except when I have a book coming out. Then it may be a bit more often!

  • Life Outside the Pages

    I’ve Got a Newsletter!

    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.

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Winner of a Ginger Snap Original Painting!

    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!

  • Reviews by Anne Blackburne

    Time for some Amish Book Reviews!

    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.

  • Life Outside the Pages

    Happy Ground Hog Day!

    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!