Barbara Breaks from Amish Tradition to Express Her Artistry
Full of faith, hope, and romance, this new series takes you into the Heart of Amish country.
Barbara Schwartz was born into a family of quilters, but she would rather eat dirt than partake in another quilting frolic or sew on another binding. When her parents send her to Indiana to help her grandmother in her quilting shop, she finds herself amongst a very different community. It’s only one summer and then she will be back in Kentucky where she belongs.
Melvin Bontrager’s world stopped six years ago when his parents died. Now when his only means of providing for his widowed sister and niece is threatened, Melvin finds his landscaping business disappearing too. When spring delivers a newcomer who is immune to his salty moods, Melvin does something he has never done before, accepts help.
What blooms is the last thing Barbara ever expected, and everything Melvin could ever want.
Mindy Steele is the award-winning author and bestselling author of over a dozen novels and novellas in Christian fiction. Raised in Kentucky timber country, Steele has been writing since she could hold a crayon on the wall and lives in northeastern Kentucky—where many of her stories are set.
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The Story Behind the Story
I’ve connected with many wonderful readers since my debut in 2021 and while attending my first multi-author and reader event in Shipshewana, Indiana, I was blessed to finally meet many of them in person. I connected with my amazing assistant, my Mississippi fishing buddy, and the golden girls who have been with me from the beginning. God handpicked each of these women and I am so thankful he did.
I knew before leaving home I would not be writing about Shipshewana or the touristy areas considering I love our small rural communities, but you know what they say about thinking you know everything. . .
I was charmed at a little Bed and Breakfast and further charmed by Bridgett the owner. After touring the Amish Market and a few other memorable sites, my husband and I spent an afternoon with our dear friends Barb and Mel. Barb insisted I see her favorite place, the Krider Fair Gardens. Being a lover of flowers and gardening myself, I was entranced. I walked over every inch and stored its details in my heart. I even called my mother.
I quickly learned the quilt gardens were signature in Indiana, sprawling along the Pumkinvine Trail and covering multiple counties. From May to September, thousands come to photograph the designs that change each year. There is even an app for that now.
I had learned so much about Amish gardens and greenhouses from my neighbors who had family-owned greenhouses which I wrote about in An Amish Flower Farm.
It was also a no brainer that I would include quilting into the story. I love to quilt, much more than my dear sweet heroine needless to say.
I was especially happy to include the quilt shop, just a block down from The Blue Gate and the owner was thrilled her shop was the inspiration to Anna Beechy’s quilt shop.
Writing about two different Amish communities was a fun challenge made easy thanks to dear friends from both. Especially Anna Mae, the best garden tea maker north of Ohio who never let my questions bother her.
What was most memorable about writing this book over all others?
I had no desk!!!
I love writing about new things not explored yet, and well…my writer heart was ready to start before we even got home. Often, I let an idea percolate a few days, but this story unfolded like a favorite re-run and I knew all the words. It was time to get writing, but suddenly we had covid and hours turned to days and weeks. It was a scary time as my husband struggled with it terribly, but we got through and then Hurricane Ida struck the south and my husband was called up. I decided to travel with my husband and son to deliver Fema Relief.
My family needed me, and I needed to write this book!!! So, in pure Mindy fashion, I packed up my notepads, extra fine tip pens, and did both.
The draft of The Flower Quilter was written in the back of an old semi that leaked like a strainer as we delivered trailers and supplies from Kentucky to the hardest hit areas of Mississippi and Louisiana nonstop for nine days.
I hope to never try that again, but no matter what we encountered, those gardens of Indiana, keep popping up and adding a little sunshine to the chaos around me. God sure knows how to keep beauty in focus when everything gets turned upside down. He also knows how to take our worst traits and turn them into something remarkable.
I hope you love this story and my take on the gardens as much as I did. Thank you for being part of the tour!!! And may God bless and keep you!
The Flower Quilter is written by Mindy Steele. This is book one in the The Heart of the Amish series. Barbara Schwartz was born into a family of quilters. She however did not inherit that gift. She really struggles to sew stitches and spends more time stabbing her fingers and ripping out stitches then anything. Her parents send her to Indiana from Kentucky to work with her grandmother's quilt shop. However, her grandparents realize that she is not cut out for the quilting business and encourage her to work with Melvin Bontrager.
Melvin and Barbara did not get off to a good start. He almost ran her down with his buggy and spunky horse Fred. However, he has a landscaping business and Barbara really enjoys arranging flowers and plants. She suggests to Melvin to arrange the flowers into quilt patterns - and that idea takes off. They become friends and enjoy each other's company. However, Barbara has to go back to Kentucky.
This book is beautifully written. The author has created a story that has characters that are not cookie cutter Amish characters. The storyline draws you in within the first few pages.
Thank you to the author and Publisher for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own
Two sisters alone on the Kentucky frontier…love is the last thing they expect to find.
After the death of their parents during the Hard Winter, Margaret and her sister have struggled to survive. Between her mother’s dying wish that Margaret protect her sister, and the nagging sensation that they are not alone, guilt and worry are her constant companions. And if someone is following them, is their watcher friend or foe?
Iain Donegal can’t afford roots, not with the pain and guilt of the life he’s left behind, or the memory of the drink that once threatened to consume him. But his solitary life as a long hunter in the wilds of Kentucky finds a new path when he happens upon a young woman digging a grave for her own mother. Unable to pull himself away when he realizes that she and her sister are on their own, he begins to provide anonymous aid. But when the women truly need him, can he risk leaving his solitary life behind to step in and fill the void?
Andrea Byrd is a Christian wife and mom located in rural Kentucky, who loves to spend time with her family in the great outdoors, one with nature. Often described as having been born outside her time, she has a deep affinity for an old-fashioned, natural lifestyle.
With a degree in Equine Health & Rehabilitation gathering dust and a full-time job tethering her to a desk eight hours a day, Andrea decided it was time to show both herself and her children that it is truly possible to make your dreams come true. Now with over 1,000 contemporary Christian romance novellas sold, Andrea is pursuing her passion of writing faith-filled romance woven with a thread of true history.
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One of my favorite aspects of being a historical fiction author is learning new tidbits of information with each novel I pen.
Not only have I always loved learning, but I also harbor a deep passion for novels that incorporate real places and events. In Redemption in the Wilderness, I was blessed with the opportunity to research the beginnings of Harrodsburg, KY. This town was founded in 1774 as Harrodstown by James Harrod. What began mainly as a civilian fort with the building of Fort Harrod has endured more than 200 years of Kentucky’s rich history. Tourists and locals alike can still visit a replica of Fort Harrod today. And, you, yourself, can visit the original fort in Redemption in the Wilderness.
Beyond historical places and events, I also always find myself on a search engine with the strangest little inquisitions. Such as… What plants are native to Kentucky? When do said plants bloom? And which can be used as a natural remedy for this particular ailment? With this novel, I found that feverfew, a native Kentucky wildflower, was so aptly named because early settlers used this native plant to reduce fever. I cannot wait for you to see what role it played for the characters in Redemption in the Wilderness.
Redemption in the Wilderness is written by Andrea Byrd. This is book two in the Frontier Hearts series. I have read book one - and the series has been so engaging and a fun read. One of the things that I really like about this author, is her attention to historic detail and how well her characters are written.
Margaret and her sister have been struggling since the death of their mother. Margaret has gotten her mom’s dying wish to look out for her sister weighing heavily on her. She has tried so many times unsuccessfully to bring home much needed meat.
Iain is a skilled hunter - and wants to keep his solitude lifestyle. He sees Margaret digging the grave of her mother -and realizes that the two females are alone. So he anonymously helps. He steps up when there is danger - and the idea of a marriage of convenience is introduced.
Reading how Iain and Margaret have to navigate their new situation was realistic. There is a lot that they had to learn about each other. They were victims of miscommunication and misunderstanding. I loved seeing their characters develop throughout the story.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own.
Book: Preacher on the Run: The Truth Will Hold Its Own
Author: Jayna Baas
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Release Date: April 12, 2020
STANDING FOR TRUTH COULD COST HIM HIS FREEDOM. FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM COULD COST HIM HIS LIFE.
It’s 1771, and North Carolina is at war. On one side stands the power of the Crown. On the other side stands a dangerous freedom of conscience.
Former circuit rider Robert Boothe has spent the last four years leading the tyrant-hating Regulators against North Carolina’s corrupt British government. All he wants is a safe place for his little Baptist church to worship God.
But when Colonel Charles Drake arrives in town, Robert becomes a target. The Church of England wants him to shut up. The governor wants him dead.
Now Robert’s church and family are caught in the crossfire. And that safe place is farther and farther away.
Jayna Baas, pronounced as in “baa, baa, black sheep,” is the author of Preacher on the Run and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. She lives in northern Michigan with a great family of real people and the family of pretend people who live in her head. (Yes, she does know her characters are not real. No, she does not want you to tell them she said so.) Although she enjoys multiple genres, her favorite story is this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Learn more and sign up for a free short story at www.booksbyjayna.com.
More from Jayna
Freedom is risky. If people are free to make up their own minds, they might discover they’ve been lied to. They might discover the truth and then act on it, and they just might turn the world upside down.
That’s a story that’s been happening ever since Christ freed his first followers from the law of sin and death. They shared that freedom all over their world, and the hierarchy didn’t like it, from the Pharisees on up to Nero. It’s a story that happens over and over again. And it happened in eighteenth-century North Carolina.
Almost all of the Thirteen Colonies had an official state-sanctioned church that could banish, imprison, or even execute those who did not conform. The most common “state church” in the southern colonies was the Church of England, and that’s what we find in North Carolina at the time of Preacher on the Run.
Imagine you’re a dissenter preacher in this time and place. Up the street is the local vestry, which you’re taxed to support, while you’ve been threatened with jail for preaching without a license. One of your church members is about to be dispossessed for not paying taxes—taxes he can’t afford and has probably already paid once. No one dares go to court; everyone knows the courts are nests of extortion, and you could be charged with felony if you stay at a meeting after an official deems it seditious.
Now the governor’s new agent comes to town—a man who is hungry for power, a man who knows you’re a leader not only in your congregation but also in the grassroots resistance that is rising against the government’s corruption. To him, your belief that people can go to God directly through faith in Christ without the state church is blasphemous. And your belief that all men are on equal footing before God and the law is unthinkably dangerous.
What would you do?
This is a scenario that set my story-loving imagination on fire. This is the story of Preacher on the Run. It’s the story of a spark that ignited and spread throughout the colonies until it was a blaze of revolution—not the rejection of authority but the restoration of rightful authority. It’s the story of countless men and women who faced persecution on American soil for the sake of truth and freedom. Truth never needs to be forced on others, because it can never truly be defeated. And only where there is freedom can truth flourish and spread and turn the world upside down. Because, as Robert Boothe says in Preacher on the Run, the truth will hold its own.
This is his story, and ours.
Preacher on the Run (A Novel of the Regulator Uprising) is written by Jayna Baas. This is the first book that I have read by this author. This is a historical Fiction book book that is set in 1771. This is not a time period that I get to read about a lot - so it was exciting to do so. The author has done some great research to make this book feel as real as possible. I did not know about the Great Awakening before the American Revolution. I did not know how the Baptist Churches sprung up during this time.
In this book we meet Robert Boothe. He has been leading the Regulators against the corrupt British government. Robert just wants to worship God in his Baptist Church. However, this could cost him everything. Robert is very brave to fight back so hard against the British government. I can't even imagine what they would have went through. Robert and his wife Magdelen were my favorite characters. The dangers that they faced to worship could cost everything. Robert is not liked by the governor. The governor wants them silenced.
One of the best things about these characters is that they are real feeling character. They are not picture perfect Christians, they have their own flaws. They know they need to share their faith, but do not want violence. My heart was pounding as the governors was clearly abusing his power.
I really liked this book. I like the way that the way that the author writes. Her writing flows. Her research helps bring the story alive. The characters are well written. I hope to read the next book in the series.
I received a copy of this book through the author, all thoughts are my own.
Book: Christmas Bells and Wedding Vows – A Marriage of Convenience Anthology
Authors: Jody Hedlund, Lacy Williams, and Misty M. Beller
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Release Date: September 26, 2023
From bestselling and award winning authors, experience Christmas on the rugged western frontier with three novellas filled with unforgettable adventures, enduring romance, and the timeless message of hope found in the Savior’s birth.
Claiming the Cowgirl by Jody Hedlund
Serena Taylor is hiding in Colorado’s high country to keep her son safe, and she knows the best way to protect him is by marrying again and giving him a father. Weston Oakley needs a wife by Christmas to placate his meddling family, but after being spurned one too many times in love, he’s reluctant to give his heart away again. When they agree on a marriage of convenience, both of them get much more than they bargained for.
Doctor’s Snowflake Bride by Lacy Williams Minnie steps off the train ready to become a mail-order bride, but she finds the well-dressed man waiting for her isn’t her intended husband. The protective oath Jed took when he became a doctor doesn’t cover stranded women, but he can’t leave the beautiful stranger alone in a building blizzard two days before Christmas. When circumstances force them into close proximity, Jed and Minnie find that their growing feelings aren’t convenient at all.
Marrying the Mountain Man’s Best Friendby Misty M. Beller
Two Stones, a Salish warrior accustomed to navigating between tribes and miners, unexpectedly finds himself summoned to the side of a dying friend in Virginia City. Sworn to honor the miner’s last wish, Two Stones agrees to marry his daughter, Heidi, but plans to take her to live with his parents. He’ll provide all her needs, make sure she’s safe, and visit her on occasion when his path leads him that direction. As they set out on the journey, their path is fraught with challenges that defy Two Stones’ plans and reveal a surprising depth to Heidi’s character. As they near the end of their trail and join the Christmas festivities at the Coulter Ranch, Two Stones begins to realize this inconvenient marriage might really be a Christmas gift he’ll always treasure.
Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over forty books and is the winner of numerous awards. She writes sweet historical romances with plenty of sizzle.
USA Today bestselling author Lacy Williams is devoted to bringing her readers heartwarming love stories about cowboys and the women that tame them.
Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.
More from Misty
When Friends Join Forces…Magic Happens!
For me, joining with my good friends Jody Hedlund and Lacy Williams resulted in Christmas magic!
Ever since I was young, Christmas stories have held a special place in my heart. The charm and warmth they exude, coupled with the enchantment of the holiday season, are a captivating combination I find irresistible. Can you relate?
I’ve also long been a HUGE fan of Jody Hedlund and Lacy Williams. I’ve read so many of their books over and over!
Joining them for this Christmas novella collection has been a dream come true for so many reasons. And not only are these three marriage of convenience stories set on the Rocky Mountain frontier (my favorite place!), each of these novellas is an exciting extension of the current series we’re each writing.
Jody’s novella is the finale to her Colorado Cowgirls series. We meet both the hero and heroine of this Christmas story back in book 4. You don’t have to have read Jody’s series to fall in love with them here though!
Lacy’s novella tells the story of a character from a new mail order bride series she has coming soon. This prelude is a fantastic taste that will have you swooning as you eagerly await the rest of the books!
My own contribution features Two Stones, the Coulter family’s best friend from the Brothers of Sapphire Mountain Ranch series. I love having the chance to tell his story, even though he’s not ‘officially’ one of the brothers.
If you’ve read any of these series—or if you just love Christmas books like I do!—you’ll definitely want to read the novellas in Christmas Bells and Wedding Vows. It’s our collective holiday gift to you, the readers—intertwining familiar settings and characters with the joy and love that the festive season brings. We hope these tales bring you the same warmth and joy we’ve felt while penning them.
Christmas Bells and Wedding Vows – A Marriage of Convenience Anthology is written by some of my favorite historical fiction authors; Jody Hedlund, Lacy Williams, and Misty M. Beller.
Each story is a story of marriage for convenience. They are all centered around Christmas time. The stories take place in three different places. Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Each author does a great job in describing the scenes so that you feel like you are there watching the story unfold.
Each story has a different profession featured. We’ve got a cowgirl, doctor and mountain man. Each other brings their expertise and flair to their story. I didn’t want them to end.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.