Definition of spotlight: something that illuminates brilliantly.
Meet Mindy Steele!
Bestselling and award-winning author Mindy Steele is a welcomed addition to the Amish genre. Not only are her novels uplifting, they touch all the senses. Her storyteller heart shines within her pages. Research, for her, is just a fence jump away, and her research aims to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her ability to understand boundaries and customs, giving her readers an inside view of the Plain life, is attributed to her relationship with the Amish.
Mindy and her husband, Mike, have been blessed with five children, ten grandchildren, and many great neighbors.
Let’s chat with Mindy. I know you’re going to love her!
When did you realize you wanted to write a book?
I have always been writing, even before I could spell many words. It’s been a dream of mine since I was very young to be a journalist or novelist. But life happened and I happily focused on my family until the ripe age of 45. God knew I wasn’t ready until I had a lot more to bring to the table. It was then that I read my first Amish novel. Having Amish friends, I know a little about their customs and beliefs, so I wrote Watering Dandelions. The manuscript earned me attention from a few agents and so my career was born. I always say, every book has a purpose, and that goes for even poorly written ones. If I never read the wrong book first, who knows where I would be right now!!!
Why did you decide on Amish fiction?
God’s plan…not mine. I wanted to write Historical Fiction, but apparently I’m no good at it. My first manuscript was written from an English and Amish point of view, and when my agent read it, she said it was my niche. “Write what you know.” Readers know when an author adds too much research, or is just stumbling through pages. The romance side of writing is a bonus. What greater subject to write about than love?
Do you have Amish friends or contacts who make sure that your facts are accurate?
I have been blessed with a few good friends who live the Plain life. A deacon helps me answer simply questions and checks my glossary and a bishop’s wife and daughter helped me with a book cover after buying my books. I smile every time I think of that. The Amish reads my books and so far, no negative responses. Then again, they are wonderfully kind and probably wouldn’t say otherwise.
I’ve met a few interesting women along the way in Ohio, Indiana, and Lancaster, who approached me during events and we connected instantly. I share letters with a basket weaver and love hearing her thoughts and getting new recipes from her. My friend Anna is like family, a sister in so many ways. She’s been very supportive and helpful since my first author event. I have spent many years with a few Amish locals, along with a few men and their families I knew from years previous while working for my father. I recently met a driver, who was once a college English professor. He gifted me a book he felt I would use properly and helped me understand a few things about different communities. Driver Dan will probably appear in my next series.
Without giving anything away, tell us what you like about Cicada Season, your newest in the Miller’s Creek series.
Not the noisey cicadas, that’s for sure. I love so much about this book, but it’s the community as a whole that I love most. Each character gets to be part of the story and many lessons come from them as well as the main characters. I really like Hannah, the strong and brave heroine who had a few hidden vulnerabilities and fears. The strongest folks usually do, and Leon knew the moment he had Hannah knee deep in her biggest fear that he had to help her face her own shortcomings. I admired his willingness to strive to be better, even when challenged. He made quite the hero and watching this young fella grow into a man worthy of admiration touched my motherly heart.
I adore each of the Milford brothers and look forward to many more stories with them. They are each so different, yet, the same!!! Hazel Miller is probably my favorite character to ever write. Plus who doesn’t like the harvest season? Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about this book.
You have a new book coming out, Bones on the Mountain and it’s definitely not Amish. Why the switch in genres?
I have written historical and contemporary romance too, but as soon as I signed my first contract, my career exploded. Soon you will get to learn more about my other books. I’m a writer, first and foremost, and inspiration comes to me in different ways. The Mountain Protector series was prompted by my husband’s over indulgence in game warden shows, and a hike on the mountain that proved very mysterious. I have no plans to stop writing Amish fiction, nor do I plan to stick to one genre, as there are just too many stories to tell not to write them.
Tell us what you enjoyed most about writing Bones on the Mountain.
Writing a romance with a bit of mystery and suspense was the perfect challenge for my writer brain. I would say the research was the highlight as I got to delve into places I hadn’t considered before. It helped a lot that I know a little about hunting season and all the preparations beforehand. I reached out to a seasoned dispatcher for help. Connie was so full of knowledge, and you will get to meet part of her personality in the book. Learning about being an emergency responder through her eyes, matched with a love for my own mountain, made creating Samantha Quinn one of my most loved characters. I can’t wait until you all get to meet Henry. This book was written for such a hero as him.
Okay, serious question. What’s your favorite dessert? Do you have a recipe you can share with us?
Oh I don’t have a favorite, I love nearly anything set in front of me, but considering my newest release had a setting in an apple orchard, I’ll share an Apple Pie recipe like no other. This recipe first appeared in Christmas Grace, but Hannah Troyer uses it, so it must be good.
And last but not least, what’s ahead for Mindy Steele, Author?
Hopefully, much. 2023 will begin with a re-release of my 3 times best-selling Love Inspired book, His Amish Wife’s Hidden Past. I’m postponing events until fall to catch up and enjoy some family time, but plans for a book tour are already underway. Book Four in the Miller’s Creek series as well as my debut with Barbour Books, will be here, and in between two more Mountain Protector novels will be out into the world. I might have a surprise or two up my sleeve, but you will have to wait for those. All in all, I’ll be very busy writing, and hopefully you’ll be busy reading.
About the Book
Book: Jophiel’s Secret
Author: Johanna Frank
Genre: Fiction Fantasy
Release date: December 1, 2022
When the powerful angelic escort, Jophiel, falls to earth and becomes a cherished son, Joppha, but then goes missing, a cosmic battle ensues over the young lad’s mortality. Kingdom Authoritarians conspire to outsmart the Rebel’s vengeful plan to destroy little Joppha and sabotage his eternity. While in small town Havensight, law enforcement clash with Joppha’s family as they scramble to find someone to blame.
Many wills are at play. But all Joppha wants is to go home.
A standalone read, Jophiel’s Secret is part of A Lifeline Fantasy Series by Johanna Frank, where an adopted line of descendants must survive perpetual rebel attacks on their character. The series begins with The Gatekeeper’s Descendants where this new world is introduced and carries on into Jophiel’s Secret with Pipiera, Matthew, Megalos and Kasartha among others coming with.
If you like stories that take place in a world beyond with everlasting connections, you will definitely enjoy Jophiel’s Secret!
Soulful, whimsical, and venturous.
Click here to get your copy!
Thank you for joining me as we get to know Johanna Frank! After the interview, please continue reading and get to know her even better.
Why did you decide to write fiction?
I think for an author, writing fiction can be like sending an invitation to oneself, then providing
permission to go ahead. Whether it’s exploring a perspective, speculating a unique someplace
else, packaging up a message, wanting to entertain, or whatever and wherever the invitation
tempts, it’s a wonderful enabler of innovation. Then there’s sharing that imagination with others.
Simply put, it’s another beautiful form of creativity. My hope is that what I create might speak to
each reader in a way that is especially personal to them.
How do you come up with your plots?
For this series, A Lifeline Fantasy Series, the setting along with various plots have rummaged
about in my mind for nearly thirty years and it’s near impossible to say how it actually got there
to begin with. In fact, I named the characters in the late 1990s. I have always considered myself a
planner, having large whiteboards in my spare room where I map everything out, particularly
next chapter happenings. But then, as I sit inside each character’s head and write, those plans
often go straight out the window. Thank heavens for dry erase markers. Plans can be easily
wiped away and refreshed with better ideas! I may have started with an overall plot, but the
characters take me through the climatic journey toward the ending. They seem to have their own
Do you ever name characters after people you know?
Nope, never! At least not till this point, anyway. Each character is their own person, has their
own attributes, character flaws, needs, and offerings. They become alive in my mind and live on.
I would really love to meet them in person one day.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
For years, my husband and I enjoyed a little island in Central America, San Pedro, Ambergris
Caye. I’m thinking this is the “La Isla Bonita” Madonna sings about! The first time I stepped onto the island in the early 2000s, I fell in love. It was like a village out of a storybook, a secret
only known by a few. So much color and cuteness, aside from walking, bicycling, mopeds and
golf carts were the only way to get around. The beach was wonderfully long, naturally rugged in
some spots though mostly sandy, the people incredibly friendly, and so many restaurants! We
returned many times; all visits were wonderful getaways. Nothing stays the same as we all know,
and we have not visited for over fifteen years. Still, I have amazing memories, particularly one
year when we brought along our five children, then, all teenagers.
What’s your favorite kind of ice-cream?
When that Dickie-Dee peddler came around ringing his bells and carrying that giant awkward
freezer on the front of his tricycle, as a kid, there’d be no doubt about it. I knew for sure what I
needed straight away, providing, of course, the coins came along with mother’s approval: Tiger
Tail. But now? When standing in front of a gelato stand (a daily ritual when vacationing in
Rome) it may take some time to decide because this is truly something you want to get right.
Typically, though, if I can’t decide, Pistachio wins out.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Johanna. I know my readers enjoyed getting to know you!
About the Author
Author of The Gatekeeper’s Descendants and Jophiel’s Secret, Johanna writes fiction fantasy with deeper meanings—creating adventures in the world beyond, where everlasting connections exist alongside good old-fashioned battles of good versus evil.
She and hubby enjoy a life filled with the satisfaction coming from hard work and the love and grace captured from treasured family. The fresh greens and sky blues of Ontario summer months, the just out-of-the-oven aromas at European piazzas, and the tender grips of a grandchild’s hug are at the tip-top of Johanna’s most-loved list.
Her commitment to her readers—stories that are soulful, whimsical, and venturous. Because Johanna feels that even a little bit of heavenly imagination can loosen the chains of life.
More from Johanna
I invite you into a world beyond our understanding—one, I hazard to guess, we inevitably wonder about at least once in our lifetime. What exactly do those who have gone before us face after living out their days on earth? What could their watching over us really look like? Did they actually go through a gate? And ah, which one, we might joke.
I dare not suggest I can answer such questions. But take some theological renderings, a good dose of the whole heaven’s gate scene, bits of philosophical ideology about evil, and add in some lovable supernatural characters—the good versus nasty kind, and then? Well, suddenly there’s plenty of havoc to play out on the lives of unsuspecting earthlings, like us, simply trying to get through life as it comes.
A Lifeline Fantasy Series begins with The Gatekeeper’s Descendants where this new world is introduced and carries on into Jophiel’s Secret with all the main characters coming with, though, I must admit, they’ve matured somewhat between the two novels.
Jophiel’s Secret is written such that it can be read as a stand-alone novel. If you like page turning fantasy, celestial imagination, and a few good tugs at your heartstrings, I encourage you to check it out! And I’d love to hear your views.
Vicky Sluiter, October 4 (Author Interview)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 4
Texas Book-aholic, October 5
deb’s Book Review, October 6
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 7
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 8
Locks, Hooks and Books, October 9
Inklings and notions, October 11
Blossoms and Blessings, October 12 (Author Interview)
Lily’s Book Reviews, October 12
Through the Fire Blogs, October 13 (Author Interview)
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 14
Rebecca Tews, October 15
Blogging With Carol, October 16
For Him and My Family, October 17
To celebrate her tour, Johanna is giving away the grand prize package of a$50 Amazon Gift and a copy of The Gatekeeper’s Descendants and Jophiel’s Secret!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
The Secrets of Emberwild by Stephenia McGee
About the book
A gifted trainer in a time women are not allowed to race, Nora Fenton prefers horses to men. They’re easier to handle, they’re more reliable, and they never tell her what to do. After her father’s passing, Nora is determined to save her struggling horse farm, starting with entering her prize colt into the harness races at the 1905 Mississippi Fair. If she wins, she may have a chance at independence. But when a stranger arrives and starts asking disconcerting questions, she suspects he may have other motives than unseating her in the training job that is rightfully hers.
Silas Cavallero will do whatever it takes to solve the mystery of his father’s death–even if it means training an unwieldy colt for Nora, who wants nothing more than to see him gone. But when mysterious accidents threaten their safety and circumstances shrouded in secrets begin unlocking clues to his past, Silas will have to decide if the truth is worth risking ruining everything for the feisty woman he’s come to admire.
About the author
Stephenia H. McGee is a multi-published author of stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. She lives in Mississippi, where she is a mom of two rambunctious boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Her novel The Cedar Key was a 2021 Faith, Hope, and Love Readers’ Choice award winner. A member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), she loves all things books and history. Stephenia also loves connecting with readers and can often be found having fun with her Faithful Readers Team on Facebook. For more on books and upcoming events and to connect with Stephenia, visit her at www.StepheniaMcGee.com.
Where to purchase The Secrets of Emberwild
Baker Book House (40% off paperbacks and free shipping)