Category Archives: Introducing Our Authors

Introducing Mindy Steele

As we previously mentioned, we’ve contracted with Mindy Steele for a three-book Amish series set in the fictional town of Miller’s Creek, Kentucky. The first book in the series is “To Catch a Hummingbird,” which will release next year. Now, we’d like to introduce you to Mindy!

Raised in Kentucky timber country, Mindy Steele and has been writing since she could hold a crayon against the wall. Inspired by her rural surroundings Steele writes Amish Romance peppered with just the right amount of humor, as well as engaging Suspense. She strives to create realistic characters for her readers and believes in charming all the senses to make you laugh, cry, hold your breath, and root for the happy ever after ending.

She is a mother of four and grandmother to a half dozen blessings. When not at her writing desk, Steele enjoys family, coffee indulgences, and weekend road trips. Steele is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, Christmas Grace, releases September 2020. She is also the author of A Cranberry Christmas, which releases at a later date.

​Visit her website for more information on her upcoming releases. 

Introducing Our Newest Author—Laurie Stroup Smith

We’re excited to welcome Laurie Stroup Smith to our growing list of authors! Laurie has signed a three-book contract with us for an Amish series tentatively titled “Pocket Quilt” that invites readers into the life of a teenager during her Rumspringa journey.


Laurie Stroup Smith after signing her contract with Vinspire Publishing!

To learn more about Laurie and her journey to publication, visit her creative website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram!

Get to Know Our Authors On H. Schussman’s Blog

ElTiburon 500x750Author H. Schussman, who penned El Tiburon, invites our authors to her blog so she can ask some of the best questions! In case you haven’t stopped by for a visit, here are April and May’s recent posts with intriguing questions and responses from our authors!

Karina Bartow, author of Forgetting My Way Back to You

K.S. Mitchell, author of Pen & Quin, International Agents of Intrigue


A Shout Out To Our Authors

Vinspire Header 2We’ve been in business for over fourteen years now, and we’ve been fortunate to work with some amazingly talented authors. We helped launch careers, have watched as authors have moved on to astounding success, and the awards have been plentiful.

Our books have been approved by the Catholic Writers Guild, have been finalists in major contests like the American Christian Fiction Writers and Romantic Times, have won awards from Readers Favorite, RWA chapters, Moonbeam Children’s Awards, Literary Classics, and more, and have been reviewed by School Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, Midwest Book Reviews, and more.

We have authors impacting today’s youth by speaking at schools and teaching at camps, authors that have now sold over 1,000,000 copies and 500,000 copies of their combined books ( not all of them were published by Vinspire), and authors who continue to amaze us with their perseverance, their drive to succeed, and their graciousness.

So, today, we celebrate our authors! We’re so thankful for each and every one of them and applaud each achievement!

Interview with Highlander romance author, Terry Spear

1.     We’d like to hear a little about you as a person, outside your writing career. Who is Terry Spear, the gal down the street?

When I’m not working as a librarian or writing, I love creating teddy bears, reading, and taking pictures. I’d love to learn how to do professional photography. I think it’s because my dad did a lot of that kind of work and he loved to make up oral stories, too. I guess I’m following in his footsteps!

2.       Your website defines your genre as “urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense.” Brief definition of the definition, please?

Urban fantasy encompasses fantastical worlds in a contemporary time period. I write vampires and werewolves although not in the same world. My medieval romantic suspense are pretty much straight medieval romances, although the heroine in Winning the Highlander’s Heart had a hint of psychic talent.

3.       Vampires and werewolves seem to have the hook on the market right now. Did that influence your choice of genre?

I loved seeing Dracula in a college stage play, and from that moment on, the way he was so suave and mesmerizing as a romantic character, I had fallen in love with the paranormal. I also loved ghost stories. My werewolves were influenced by Jack London’s wolf tales and by the East of the Sun and West of the Moon, my first romantic shapeshifter tale. So it wasn’t really the market, but a love of all things paranormal since I was young.

4.       You are of Scottish and Irish ancestry. Have you visited either of those countries? If so, which would you live in if given a choice?

I traveled to Scotland and loved every inch of it, the cloudy weather, the sunny days, the day shrouded in fog, the seven castles we visited, the fall colors, and flowers in bloom. I loved it. I would love to go to Ireland also. And Wales, too, where my grandfather’s ancestors were probably from before they ended up in Ireland. Since I haven’t been to either of the other regions, I couldn’t say which I’d prefer. Although from the pictures I’ve seen, I’d love them both as well.

5.       What’s your latest release about? Share a blurb if you’d like.

The Accidental Highland Hero.

Lady Eilis Dunbarton’s life undergoes a drastic change with the death of her cousin, Agnes. Now she’s faced with the disagreeable prospect of marrying the man who was to be her cousin’s husband. Not by a change of contract, though. Instead, by deceit—pretending to be her cousin. But if her husband-to-be discovers she’s not really Agnes, her life is forfeit. So what choice does Eilis have but to flee? When Laird James MacNeill’s clan rescues a half-drowned lass from the sea, there is speculation she is of the enemy clan, especially since she doesn’t remember her own name. James is immediately enticed with the lady, but his focus must remain on finding the proper bride. For if he does not wed soon, he must give up his holdings to one of his younger brothers. Focus slips away with each day Eilis is close, and James finds himself contemplating the thought of taking her to wife without knowing her true identity. But how dangerous would the end result be? And what will happen if Eilis’s husband-to-be comes looking for her only to find her in the arms of another man?

6.       How long does it take you to write a book, from the germ of an idea to the final word?

Three months, if I’m lucky. Sometimes I’ve got deadlines on edits for other books and so it takes longer to finish the book.

7.       What can we expect from you next?

A Ghost of a Chance at Love, a time-travel story set in 1870 in Salado, Texas where real ghosts live and the Stagecoach Inn is a real place that was named Shady Villa Inn, just like in the story. I love the area and visit it often when I have a chance. But I also LOVE time travels so just had to write this story. It’ll be coming out in 2011. And then I’ll be writing Dougald MacNeill’s story in a sequel to Winning the Highlander’s Heart and The Accidental Highland Hero.

8.       What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I rappelled off tall buildings in a single bound…and climbed mountains, traversed water obstacles for water survival training and leadership reaction courses and confidence courses, gas mask training, qualifying with weapons training, orienteering—while I was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps.

9.       You have an interesting sideline hobby/business. Tell us about Wilde and Woolly Bears.

My parents made doll carriages for doll collectors and they were buying dolls to display on them. I was making cloth dolls at the time, and they asked if I could make an old-fashioned teddy bear. I designed some, won awards at shows, even Best-in-Show for one, and Most Unique Teddy Bear for another, Best Dressed twice for others. They appeared in The International Teddy Bear film, and the magazines–Teddy Bear Review, Texas Monthly, Texas Co-op Monthly, and the MacNeill Galley, plus newspapers all over. They found homes as far away as South Africa and Australia! The favorites are baby birth bears and Celtic Clan Bears.

10.     What’s your strangest writing idiosyncrasies?

I don’t think I do anything strangely when it comes to writing. But some readers were surprised to hear I’ll often sit down and write by hand if I get stuck while working on the computer! And I’ve had, on occasion, my daughter or son or mother jot down a scene for me while I was driving! And once, my dad and I were brainstorming ideas at a restaurant and I was furiously writing down notes on a paper napkin. Hmm, maybe I do have some strange writing idiosyncrasies!

Interview questions provided by Delia Latham


Interview with YA Author, Nolan Carlson

1.     We’d like to know a little bit about the man behind the books. Who is Nolan Carlson, the fellow next door?

I’m a guy who lives in a small Kansas town close to a university (Kansas State University). I attended the university collecting several degrees over the years. I finally received a Ph.D. in 1997. I taught special education for 14 years and was a school counselor for ten years in the same school district. I owned a restaurant in Manhattan, Kansas (the university town) for 16 years. I also worked for Catholic Charities for 14 years. My title was St. Marys Regional Counselor. I counseled people from 10 parishes.

I am now retired from the school system but volunteer a lot of my time at my wife’s place (Community Health Ministry) counseling, helping with commodities, winterizing elderly folks’ homes, and doing odd jobs when it is requested.

My wife is a retired algebra teacher. She taught 32 years and I taught 24 years. I spent two years in the army. I was lucky enough to grow up in the beautiful Flint Hills of Kansas in a small town. Growing up there inspired the Summer & Shiner series. It was much like growing up like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. It was wonderful!

My wife and I have four grown children and five grandchildren. I’ve always loved to read and write and took it up seriously many years ago. I was lucky enough, as a starting writer, to get a New York agent. I sold two books Berkeley Publishing and E.P. Dutton in New York. Then I decided to write for middle school boys, particularly reluctant readers. I entered a state-wide authors’ contest and won, and the first Summer & Shiner book was published. So far I’ve written 27 novels and sold 15. My books have won awards and are in the National Accelerated Reading Program (five of them). I am now with Vinspire Publishing. I love being with them because everyone is so supportive, talented, and helpful. My wish is for my books to be a big success not just for my benefit but for the editor-in-chief who has faith in my books.

2.    Your childhood in Kansas sounds fascinating (and completely wonderful!) How much of the Summer and Shiner stories is based on actual events?

When I go to schools and talk (I’ve been to over 200 in the past 19 years in four states) I tell them that 75% of the Summer & Shiner series is fact and 25% is fiction. And that is a fact.

3.   What was the book you loved most as a youth?

My favorite book as a kid was Wilson Rawls’ “Where the Redfern Grows”.

4.   Having been an educator, you must have experienced many little situations with young people that sparked ideas for books. Can you give us an example of such an experience?

Miss Botch, the principal and my 8th grade teacher was quite a character. She was rigid and unyielding, but we learned from her you can bet. And she didn’t spare the rod. In Shiner’s Return, she comes alive (under an assumed name, of course) and gives Carley and Troop quite a hard time, but perhaps they deserved most of it. We (they) were full of mischief.

5.        You’ve been writing for many years. Share with us a little about your journey into the world of young adult literature. How difficult was it to get that first book in print?

After I got an agent it only took eleven months before I got a contract. At the time I thought that was quite long, but since then I realized I was very lucky. When my first teen book came out, my wife and I traveled to New York and met my agent and editor in person. They were great, and we all had a wonderful time.

6.   Aside from your involvement in the educational field, you have children and grandchildren. Does being a father and grandfather give you a different perspective on writing for young adults?  If so, in what way?

I used my experiences as a father when I wrote for teenagers at the very first. For my books now, I have learned that you keep the story moving and keep it interesting and intriguing. Every chapter is a “small book” in itself. I have been gratified to hear from parents, teachers, and principals who tell me that many of their boys, who never enjoyed reading before, got “into” my books and became avid readers. That makes me smile.

7.   What new projects do you have percolating right now?

I have a proposal out right now for a “scary” series for young adults. I know kids love that sort of thing. These would be in good taste and have an upbeat ending. I think there is a real market out there for this kind of young adult literature.

8.        What inspires you to write for this particular age group?

When I was a teacher/counselor in the middle schools I noticed a real scarcity of good literature for that age group, particularly boys. So I wanted to help fill that void.

9.     What’s your strangest writing quirk?

To write “my head off” and finish a book and then take a few months off before I start another. I have several manuscripts backlogged which I think have real possibilities. Also, to hear, see, read, or imagine something that would make a good story. This has inspired four of my books. I had an article written up about me in a newspaper awhile back that called me the town storyteller, and I think that’s a good title for me.

10. Do you have a “preferred” writing environment?

Not particularly, but it has to be quiet (not even mellow music playing), or I have trouble concentrating. But once I get into something, I can’t think of anything else until I finish it.

Questions provided by Delia Latham



Interview with Children’s Author, Olivia Jordan

1.       Introduce yourselves to us, please. Who is Olivia Jordan, the gal next door?

I am the mother of one grown daughter. I have spent over twenty years working in the early childhood education field. During my career I worked in the capacity of child educator, family community partner, and also as an administrator.

I have always had a great love for children and learning. When you can put both together and do something you love that affects so many people, it’s truly  blessing.

2.       Having been involved in child care and education, you must see lots of little things that spark ideas for stories. Can you give us an example of such an experience?

Absolutely. If you have ever been around small children you’ve no doubt noticed that they’re fascinated by everything. Even the smallest thing that we as adults take no notice of will spark their interest. When you work with children long enough, this amazement soon becomes second nature to you, and you find yourself seeing ordinary objects through new eyes.

An example could be something as simple watching an ant hill during the summer. How many times have we stepped over or even on the ant hill as we’re hurrying off to a meeting or to work? But when you stop long enough, you can watch all the tiny ants moving along, busy with their own individual tasks. If you’re really lucky, you can break things down even more and watch that one tiny ant carrying something much bigger than he is on his back along the trail leading to the ant hill. From there your imagination can break things down further still, and before you know it, you can have a whole kingdom of tiny ants and the adventures they have.

The key is seeing the ordinary and creating something extraordinary.

3.       In what other ways does being a child care specialist enhance your writing career?

Young children generally have a short attention span. You have to capture their attention and hold it tight from beginning to end. As an author, you have to do the same thing.

I always try to keep my audience in mind when I’m writing. I want to tell the story and make it animated enough that the children want to see what happens. I’ve read hundreds of books over the years. Many times early in my career I would find a wonderful book I just knew the children would love, only to find out I was mistaken. I quickly learned that while as an adult I thought the book was awesome and had a message I wanted the children to hear, the book just wasn’t in tune with the way young children learn.

If you don’t engage your reader, your story goes unheard.

4.       Rainy Day Friends is based around such a unique idea…the raindrop friend is quite original. What inspired this story?

Necessity is always the mother of invention. I’ve always been a huge fan of using thematic units when teaching. A thematic unit takes a central theme and then adds reinforcements by using games, stories, puzzles, etc to teach basic cognitive, physical, emotional, and social skills.

The unit I was trying to teach at the time was about rain and rainy weather. After searching through my very extensive library of children’s books, I realized I didn’t have much to build on so I came up with a little story to work as a flannelboard story. And I always wanted to cram in as many learning opportunities as possible.

So Stella was born as a way to discuss rain and weather. She needed a friend to play with so along came Ricky the raccoon, and all my children that year loved playing Hide and Seek. The story worked for my weather unit, it worked as a social activity, and it could be used for color recognition, or with slight adjustments, any type of guessing game I needed it to be.

Like most educators know, budgets are usually tight and getting the most bang for your buck really goes a long way.

5.       Are you working on a new project? Can you share a bit about it?

My newest project is set up to be a series of books geared for children aged three to eight years old. At present I have three nearly complete. All books focus on a behavior that is common for children of this age and how they can learn a better way to control their situations.

The series centers around a precocious little girl and the ditzy, yet loveable fairy that’s been sent to watch over her while she learns that life doesn’t always let us have our way.

6.     Share with us a bit about your journey into the world of children’s literature. How difficult was it to get that first book in print?

I’ve been writing and telling my own stories for years. I’m a very animated storyteller and have been blessed with the gift of gab. But it’s quite a bit different rattling something off to a room of three to five year olds that think you’re super duper amazing to begin with and attempting to get everything typed and set up for submission and possible publication. Especially when over the years parts of the stories were subject to change along with the storyteller’s memory. lol

I had so many doubts that my little stories were anything that would be publishable. Luckily I had lots of friends who encouraged me and urged me down that path.

7.       Many people are under the mistaken impression that writing for children is easier than writing for adults. What do you find most difficult about writing in this genre? Most rewarding?

Writing for children is just as hard, if not harder, than writing for adults. There are many similarities between the two genres. Children are hands down in my opinion the toughest audience. Not only does the writing have to be good, it has to be engaging. You have to captivate them.

I would say the most rewarding is when you see that little face light up with joy when the story has not only entertained them, but they remember parts of it. They’ve learned something from it, and they love you for reading it to them.

8.       What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I think my readers would be most surprised to know I am a massive pack rat. Left over habits from my years as a preschool educator. That empty oatmeal box can be turned into so many really cool things. LOL

9.       Do you have a “preferred” writing environment?

I’m one of those ‘odd ducks’. I need quiet when I write. I’m too easily distracted by television noise or music. I tend to drift off to other places in my mind. I also prefer the crazy madness that is my desk. To the untrained eye it looks like a paper explosion along with random bottles of nail polish, paper clips, scissors, sticky notes, etc. But it works for me, and that’s what counts.

10.     What one piece of writing advice has been most beneficial to you?

The most beneficial piece of advice I’ve ever received is in order to be a writer, you have to write. That’s key. To get anywhere as an author, you have to write and write and write. Even bad writing is better than a blank page.


Interview Questions Provided by Delia Latham






Interivew with Historical Romance Author, Diane Wylie

1.       We’d like to hear a little about you as a person, outside your writing career. Who is Diane Wylie, the lady down the street?

Let’s see, I am a graduate of Rutgers University with a BS in science. I wanted to be a marine biologist or a veterinarian, but neither one worked out. I did, however, study animal science and once had to put my hand into a cow’s butt to see if she was pregnant. I bet that surprises people…and yes, I wore a long plastic glove. Hey, the cow didn’t like it anymore than I did!

These days I am the wife of a former racecar driver/graphic designer and the mother of two terrific grown kids. My day job is as a technical writer for a group of chemists. In addition to writing romances, I like to putter in my garden and enjoy watching NASCAR and football on TV. In my younger days I even got behind the wheel once to drive my dad’s racecar, an open-wheeled sprint car. He wouldn’t let me race it, though. Now I am content to watch other people race.

2.       You have a penchant for writing Civil War romance and adventure. What inspired your interest in this era?

When I was in grade school, we had to pick a president to write a report about. I picked Abraham Lincoln and was immediately fascinated by the man and the time period. Later I saw “Gone with the Wind”, and that did it…I was hooked. I’ve been to Gettysburg and Antietam National Battlefields for reenactments, along with Fort Delaware for a ghost tour. So interesting and fodder for stories!

3.       Share with us a bit about your publishing journey. How difficult was it to get that first contract?

I suffered through my fair share of rejections on the way to my first contract, but it was all worth it when I found Vinspire Publishing. Rejections are part of the game. If a writer can’t take rejections and learn from them, she’ll never make it in the tough, tough publishing world.

4.       What’s your latest release about? Share a blurb if you’d like.

My latest Vinspire release is the multiple award-winning LILA’S VOW. It is the story of a husband and wife who find each other while caught up in the uncontrollable events of the Civil War.


Schoolteacher Lila Sutton finds her one true love when cavalryman Captain Jack Montgomery rides into Gettysburg. But receiving word of his death leads her to seek her own type of revenge.

Imprisoned for a year, Jack returns to an uncertain future filled with turmoil and danger, when all he wants is Lila.

5.       Have you always written? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew that’s what you wanted to do?

I’ve done scientific writing for many years but didn’t start writing fiction until late in life, sort of a mid-life crisis thing. My kids had become independent in high school, and I no longer had to run them everywhere. So I found myself with free time. I began to read and read and read, especially romance novels. I love a happy ending. Then I came across a few badly written novels. I thought, “I can write at least as well as this!” So I tried it, and here I am.

6.       How long does it take you to write a book, from the germ of an idea to that triumphant last page?

It takes me at least a year, sometimes as much as two years from start to finish.

7.       Has becoming a published author changed your life in any way? If so, how?

Oh, yes. I have found friends that I would never have met before and a whole new world of possibilities. My writing is for me, my own creation that has nothing to do with my job or my family. It gives me a lot of pleasure.

8.       What one piece of advice has made the most difference in your career as a writer?

“Never give up” is my motto. Someone, somewhere will like your story.

9.       What one thing would you like to change about writing/publishing?

I wish that it were easier to reach potential readers. Getting exposure for your work is very hard and/or expensive.

10.     If you had to choose one place to spend the rest of your life, where would it be?

Right where I am, living with my family in Havre de Grace, Maryland. I am a contented lady…except I would love a maid to clean my house! Any volunteers?

Interview questions provided by Delia Latham



Interview with inspirational author, Debora M. Coty

1.     Please tell us a little about yourself. Who is Deb Coty, the gal next door?

I’m a career orthopedic occupational therapist (31 years), piano teacher (20 years), mother of 2 grown children, wife of 1 crazy fellow who will never grow up, internationally published writer of over 100 articles in magazines, newspaper and trade journals, events speaker, writing instructor, and lifelong tennis addict. I’ve lived and loved in central Florida for 35 years.

2.      Your list of published books is impressive! Fiction, advice, humor, devotions…quite a range of genre. What inspires you to come up with such diverse topics?

ADD. Actually, I don’t know if you can call that inspiration, but I do have a short attention span and simply must climb a mountain because it’s there.

3.       Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. (How long have you been writing? How difficult was it to get that first book in print?)

I started writing in 2002 when my youngest chick was leaving the nest and I heard Papa God’s still, small voice whisper, “Okay Debbie, it’s finally time.” I found a wonderful mentor and met with her monthly for lattes as she coached me in my target genre – inspirational magazine articles. I was blessed to have 10 accepted for publication that first year and went on from there to a monthly newspaper column, two historical novels, two women’s humorous self-help books, one how-to for writers, two children’s non-fiction books, and four devotionals, all inspirational.

In 2005, I got my start in books with VRP (now Vinspire) with my two YA novels, The Distant Shore, and Billowing Sails, and the how-to for writers I co-authored, Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers. The Vinspire editor in chief, Dawn Carrington, was an answer to prayer, and it was a delight getting to know her as she shared her publishing experience and expertise with me. Because of the fruit of her labor, I was able to land a top notch agent (Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary Agency) with those three quality books under my belt.

4.       What can we expect from you next?

The publisher of my last four books, Barbour Books, has steered me more into women’s inspirational humor. I’m currently working on a Barbour self-help series, the first book of which will release 8/2011, Too Blessed to Stay Stressed: Inspiration for Climbing Out of Life’s Stress-Pools, and the second will release spring of 2012, More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre. I also have a gift book coming out fall of 2011: 365 Chick-isms: Witty Musings on Life, Love, and Laughter.

5.       Who has been the greatest influence on your life, and why?

A number of people, including my parents, husband, and children.

6.       You’re obviously a dedicated Christian. Do you have a favorite verse of scripture?

During the last five years, it’s become Eph 3:20: To Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to HIM be the glory … forever and ever. Amen.

7.       What author do you read most? Any book that you’ve read over and over again?

I’m enamored with inspirational humor (guess that’s why I like to write it so much!) by authors Martha Bolton, Liz Curtis Higgs, Karen Scalf Linamen, Rhonda Rhea, Patsy Clairmont, and the late, great Barbara Johnson. I’ve been extremely blessed to have several of these, my literary heroes, endorse my own books.

8.       What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I lost 40 pounds during the 18 months between signing the contract for my book, Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood, and its release. It was incredible going from a tight 14 to a size 2, although it did cast a bit of doubt on the title during my promotional Choc-Out Parties.

9.       What one piece of writing advice has been the most beneficial to you on your writing journey?

I don’t think this was actually advice – I made it up – but it’s helped me immensely to view rejection simply as an occupational hazard, the way jockeys view horse poo. It’s part of the gig. Expect piles of it and then just step over the piles, wipe the nasty off your boots, and keep moving forward.

The other was to find something you can become an expert in that other people want to hear about and hit the speaking circuit. I’ve been signed by a national speaker’s bureau and have sold more books via my speaking events than in bookstores.

10.     Has being published changed your life? If so, in what way?

Hey, hey! I’m going to Europe next summer for three weeks thanks to my book proceeds. Been waiting 30 years for that trip so I’m planning to enjoy every single second. And you can bet I’ll be collecting fodder for my next book!

Interview questions provided by Delia Latham



Interview with Suzanne Woods Fisher

1.     Please tell us a little about yourself. Who is Suzanne Woods Fisher?

Hmmm…wife and mom, brand new grandmother (bliss!), gardener, amateur chef, and…a writer. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind when I’m not at the computer. And I’m at the computer a LOT.

2.     Your career started with World War II romances, but your recent work centers around the Amish. What brought about this turnaround?

Let’s go back even further. While my children were growing up, I was a free lance magazine writer. My husband is a corporate guy and we were transferred all over the U.S. Even to Hong Kong for four years! I just kept writing—mostly articles about parenting. My first few books were published with Vinspire (still so grateful!) and received some nice awards. I signed with a literary agent, Joyce Hart of The Hartline Literary Agency, and she was the one who remembered a conversation we’d had about my relatives. My grandfather had been raised Plain—a member of the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church. Joyce connected me to an editor at Revell, who was looking for a writer who could write credibly about the Old Order Amish. Since then…I have five published books with Revell and five under contract!

3.       How do you research your Amish material? Have you spent time in an Amish community?

I travel back to Ohio and Pennsylvania a couple of times a year, stay in Old Order Amish homes, visit people (both friends I’ve made and also cold-calling), I’ve read every scholarly book I can find about the Old Order Amish, interviewed many scholars, read “The Budget” each week (an Amish-Mennonite newspaper), and host a weekly internet radio show called “Amish Wisdom.” I work very hard to write fiction and non-fiction books that truly reflect the Amish people and culture.

3.     Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. (How long have you been writing? How difficult was it to get that first book in print?)

Even with my magazine background, it was hard work to get in the door to a publishing house. I’ll never forget receiving that contract from Vinspire (formerly Vintage Romance Publishing)—a door had opened!

I strongly recommend that aspiring writers to not overlook the benefits of   small press publishers. The learning curve is very steep in this industry. You can’t get enough book experience—the writing side, plus the business side of publishing.

5.       In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently in developing your career?

Self-confidence. I wish I had tried to foray into books a little sooner—but I kept limiting myself with a lack of confidence! I encourage other writers to keep at it, to keep trying. There are many wonderful books still to be written!

6.       What can we expect from you next?

I have a number of contracts with Revell still to fulfill—and conversations in progress for more! For now, I will continue to write for the Amish sub-genre. I love it—I love the message such books provides about finding what’s truly important in life and focusing on that.

7.       What authors most influenced your own writing style?

It’s difficult to single out any one author—often, I’ll love one book by an author but not his next one. I read and read and read—yet I read as a writer, not as a reader. I take notes as I read (spend a fortune on Post-it note page markers!) I soak up vocabulary, descriptions of weather, chapter introductions, on and on. I can’t read enough.

8.       Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you conquer it?

Lately it seems as if I get to a point where I think a novel I’m working on is a mess—a complete disaster. But I keep at it. Then comes a moment when the manuscript shifts into focus, like a camera lens. So it seems as if pushing through a frustrating or discouraging stretch is critical. Don’t give up! Often, it seems worse right before a break through. Can’t explain it, but that’s been my experience.

9.       Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?

Usually, there’s a dog or two curled around my computer chair so I can’t move! But I try to keep the phone in the other room so I force myself to get up and go get it. Sitting a lot can’t be good for you! So I walk my dogs each day and play tennis a couple of times a week—even if my mind is still writing a book, at least my body is moving!

10.     What one piece of writing advice has been the most beneficial to you on your writing journey?

My niece, Hilary, gave me a book called “If You Want to Write.” It was written by Brenda Ueland and published in 1938. There’s a quote inside: “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” I loved that! What great words for aspiring writers to live by.

Writing for Vinspire Publishing, Suzanne Woods Fisher is the author of Copper Star, Copper Fire, For the Love of Dogs, and a co-author of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Authors.

Interview questions provided by Delia Latham