The Heart Of The Amish Series #1
Raised in Kentucky timber country, Mindy Steele writes Amish Romance peppered in humor, using her rural surroundings as her muse. She is a best-selling author and the winner of the 2022 FHLCW Reader’s Choice Award for sweet romance. Steele creates realistic characters for her readers and believes in engaging all the senses to make you laugh, cry, hold your breath, and root for the happy ever after ending. Readers can find themselves, somewhere within her pages.
In this interview, Mindy talks with us about, The Flower Quilter, the first book in her new The Heart Of The Amish Series.
FF: What inspired the story in your book, The Flower Quilter?
It was by a happy accident. While attending my first author/reader event, I had the pleasure of being introduced by dear friend, Barb, to her favorite place. The Krider’s World Fair Gardens in Middlebury, Indiana. I was instantly enchanted and could see my heroine discovering the gardens for her first time too. I walked over every inch and stored the beautiful details to heart. I even called my mother. I quickly learned the quilt gardens were signature to Indiana, and I had to see them all. I’m an avid gardener and quilter. My two favorite things were joined together into a perfect marriage and I felt called to share them with everyone.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
Barbara is a woman who has yet to find her calling. Her mother thinks she knows what that is, but it isn’t until Barbara travels to Indiana to help her grandparents that she discovers God has a different plan for her. Among a very different and fast-paced community, she stumbles into helping out another. Melvin Bontrager is a broody bachelor and an Amish landscaper who cares for his widowed sister and niece. He is also intrigued with Barbara and despite wishing he could be more than her employer, Melvin settles with helping Barbara discover her true self.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
That would be Melvin’s sister, Sarah. I love side characters who have a story of their own, especially siblings. No one knows Melvin better than his sister, and without Sarah’s love and encouragement, her example of taking a second chance in life, we wouldn’t have the ending we do. I am always amazed how God works through others.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Storytelling is truth telling, even in fiction. You can shine a light on issues or experiences not typically considered. You can also help someone connected to a circumstance, a character, or even a scent that may help them explore a different view or outcome.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
Stella Schmucker survived many hardships growing up and finds helping others by means of healing is her calling. She doesn’t believe in love, and isn’t sure she even knows what love really means—until she meets the bishop.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
I’ve been blessed with many Amish friends who helped me along the way and how to better understand the scant differences between communities. I visit the quilt gardens yearly and had already become acquainted with landscaping and greenhouses from writing Hallmark Publishing’s first Amish Romance. Visiting the gardens was key, but I refused to research them early on. I didn’t want to take away from the version of them already in my head. I’m also the daughter of an avid quilter and know what dangers are involved.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
That we all have a calling, a duty to make the world a better and more beautiful place. I strive to instill a message that our burdens can be handed to God. He has some mighty warriors to help us pack a heavy load.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
Finding enough quiet to remain focused on my current work-in-progress. We’ve been blessed with five grown children, and almost a dozen grands. Being a grandmother isn’t for the faint of heart.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
All of them! It takes great courage to put all your heartfelt words down on a page and then share them with the world. I’ve learned to stay true to my settings and style by authors like Laura Frantz, Tracy Peterson, Wanda Brunstetter, and Ann Gabhart.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
Early on I signed two contracts with publishers who did not embrace my beliefs as I had hoped. Instead of declining, I accepted the challenge. That decision allowed me to reach readers who never read Christian Fiction, or Amish Romance. The limitations pressed upon my stories actually taught me to plan accordingly where to incorporate God’s word. Life is full of lessons, and this one did what God wanted it to do. I like to write about realistic characters, with everyday problems, and how faith is a light that leads us to a better truth. If you can relate to even a side character in one of my stories, then I have done my job. The communities I create, exist all over our world. I just like to remind folks that the same grace I write about is available to everyone.
That’s why so many of my characters are ones lost looking to be found and ones broken looking to be made whole, because that’s all of us at some point. The grace they find is the grace available to us all.
The Flower Quilter
The Heart Of The Amish Series #1
Genres: Romance, Amish Romance
Release Date: September 1, 2023
Step into the heart of Amish country through a new series of romances. 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 where she is able to help landscaper Melvin Bontrager with a special project that leads to a romantic friendship. Could gardening also lead to an expression of artistry Barbara never knew she possessed?
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