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Happy Friday, Readers! Today Home Thoughts welcomes fellow Ohio author, Cindy Thomson. Cindy has a brand new book out from the Ellis Island Series. If you leave a comment for Cindy, or answer her question at the end of the blog, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a copy of this book. Drawing next Friday, 7-18. First, tell us something about Annie’s Stories: AnniesStoriesCover

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House. But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret. Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true. 1) Tell us how you got the inspiration for Annie’s Stories.I knew I wanted to write a story about immigrants set at the turn of the twentieth century. When I looked to see what was new at that time, I discovered L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900. Knowing what an impact that tale made and is still making, I knew I wanted to include it. I imagined that immigrants to New York City at the time, especially ones like Annie who came from rural Ireland, would have related to Dorothy Gale who was transported from Kansas to the odd and strange land of Oz. So I decided my character would read the book throughout the course of the story, and that she would love stories as the Irish do.

Cindy thomsonTell us about yourself:  Cindy Thomson is a writer and an avid genealogy enthusiast. Her love of history and her Scots-Irish heritage have inspired much of her writing, including her new Ellis Island series. Cindy is also the author of Brigid of Ireland and Celtic Wisdom: Treasures from Ireland. She combined her love of history and baseball to co-author the biography Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s Larry Ritter Book Award. In addition to books, Cindy has written on a regular basis for numerous online and print publications and is a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Cindy and her husband have three grown sons and live in central Ohio. Visit her online at www.cindyswriting.com.

What are you working on now and when can we expect it? It’s difficult to promise something to readers at this point. But I am working on a third story set at Hawkins House. In addition I’m working on an idea for a novel that would alternate between the present and the past. The past is set in 1947 at Wrigley Field, and while it involves the Cubs, the main characters are not baseball players. In the present a young woman is learning about her grandfather’s past and the mysterious woman who for one summer made a huge impact on her grandfather and she’s trying to learn why. I know that’s vague, but I’m still working on it.  What I can promise readers are the short stories that are mentioned in the novel Annie’s Stories, but don’t appear there. Those will be available to subscribers to my newsletter. You can sign up on my web site: www.cindyswriting.com
To be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Annie’s Stories, please answer this question:  How do you define home?

Have a great week, readers!!  Mary

 

So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. For everything belong to you—whether Paul or Apollos or Peter, or the world, or life and death, or the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. First Corinthians 3: 21-23

Offhand, I don’t recall ever reading the above passage in Scripture, but the pastor used it recently during a sermon. It’s not a passage that would stick with a person since we humans love to join different groups and affiliations. As America approaches another election year, it’s normal for people to side with the political group which best matches their personal and ethical convictions. I’m often at odds with fellow Christians because I agree with some, but not all, of a particular party’s platform. Yet this passage tells not to boast about following any particular human leader. That certainly goes against the tide, doesn’t it? We all want to strengthen the church’s influence on our beloved country, since America was founded on Christian principles. The more we remove God from the judicial and legislative branches governing our nation, the worse off our country becomes. In my opinion, God shone His grace on America when America worshiped and respected Him openly. Yet, something about politics today seems better designed to further political agendas and not God’s.

In my recent book, The Quaker and the Rebel, my underlying theme is that both sides of the horrific Civil War worshiped the same God and felt that He was on their “side.” Both my hero and heroine grew up Quaker and retained some, but not all, their doctrinal beliefs. When the war broke out, which side you were on was determined by where you were born, whether you were rich or poor and of course, black or white. Considering the atrocities committed by both armies, God wouldn’t have been pleased with either. Of course slavery needed to end, and unfortunately it took a horrific war to abolish it. So shouldn’t we follow today’s leaders who best exemplify Christian principles? After all, we still have many injustices that need to be addressed in our society. Perhaps each Christian must decide how “political” they wish to be. For myself, I’m confused and easily led astray. I need to turn to Scripture and bend my head in prayer for my answers.

Happy Thursday, Readers,

Today I’m sharing a blog with my fellow authors of Amish fiction. We all answered the same question: What was your most embarrassing moment? Enjoy the replies from my fellow storytellers about the Amish community:

empireJennifer Beckstrand: When I was seventeen, my neighbor set me up on a blind date with her nephew. He was really cute and really tall. He took me to see the premiere of “The Empire Strikes Back.” It was a hot summer day and we had to stand in an impossibly long line for the movie. He turned to me and said, “Would you like an ice cream or something?” I said no. I turned away from him and felt his hand on my shoulder. I turned back and watched as he fainted flat on the ground. He must have overheated. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there and watched as a complete stranger helped him off the ground and to a seat. I must admit, I considered pretending I didn’t know him. The good news is that the theater management let us go into the empty theater to sit and cool off. We got the best seats and free soda.

Shelley Shepard Gray: Unfortunately, I have a lot of embarrassing moments! I’ve fallen down more flights of stairs than I care to recall! But one that particularly stands out happened at a writers conference about ten years ago.

It was soon after I had sold my first book to Harlequin and I was going to my first ever Harlequin party. All the authors had directions on how to get to the party, which was basically to go out the front door of the hotel lobby and look for the correct shuttle, car, or van. So, there I was, all dressed up with my girlfriend Ann, going to our first publisher-sponsored party. Together we sail through the lobby, spy all the shuttles and such waiting out front, and see a very nice vehicle with a discreet sign on one of the windows saying ‘Harlequin’. Our ride!

Feeling like princesses for the night, Ann and I walk up to the fancy van, open up the door, hop in, and sit down. And then notice that we recognize every face. This wasn’t the newbie van. This was the VIP van, filled with very well known, award-winning, best-selling authors. We were in the wrong car. The really wrong car! They were all staring at us like we were crazy stalkers.

I froze. So did Ann! Then one of the authors’ handlers whispered something like, “Honey, you need to get out. Like, right now.”

Without a word, Ann and I scooted out of the van, got in the line for our correct bus, and then laughed until we cried.

I have to admit I still blush every time I see one of those authors!

Mary Ellis: What an easy question! After 30 + years, one afternoon stands out.sailboat

My husband and I were invited to spend the day with a work acquaintance & her husband on their sailboat. I am not a mariner by any stretch of the imagination. When we were pulling up to a dock for lunch, her husband asked me to tie the rope around the cleat. I stepped onto the dock with one foot while remaining on the boat with the other. With my weight balanced between land and boat, I attempted to tie a knot to his specifications. You guessed it….the boat drifted away from the dock and I fell into the water. I was wearing a swimsuit and can swim, but everyone eating lunch witnessed my foolishness. But truly, the other couple was more embarrassed than I was. They never invited us back for anymore outings.

Kelly Irvin: Embarrassing moments? It seems there is a plethora from which to choose! Most of them are work-related. There’s the time I was working as a reporter for a newspaper in Laredo, Texas, where the summers swelter with heat and humidity. So I wore a sundress to cover a City Council meeting. The zipper broke and left the dress rather backless and hanging off my front. I rushed out, raced home, changed, and raced back. Fortunately, the council members were so long winded I didn’t miss much. Unfortunately, the county treasurer was sitting behind me and witnessed the entire debacle.

Fast forward twenty-five years and there’s the time I did a face plant by tripping over a parking lot barrier in front of a Park Police officer and recreation center staff members while discussing an upcoming ribbon-cutting. Or the time I locked my keys in the car twice in one week, once with the car running.

The ultimate blooper, however, occurred very recently. I had coordinated a ribbon-cutting ceremony and I walked back to the parking lot, camera around my neck, purse slung over my shoulder, my hands full with a box of six full-sized gold-painted shears. I clicked my key remote in back of “my” SUV, set the box on the asphalt, and then opened the hatch. The woman sitting in the driver’s seat glanced in the rear view mirror and said, very calmly, “This one’s mine.” Only then did it hit me that the car engine was running. I stammered an apology, closed the hatch, picked up my box, and moved on.

Those are a few highlights from the Kelly Irvin blooper reel. I can think of several more.

Vannetta Chapman: Most embarrassing moment? There are too many to count, so I’ll go with a recent one.

Hubby and I went out to run errands and we even stopped for lunch. Ours is a little town, so you know everyone you see. Only when I got back home, did I notice that my shirt was on in-side out. I would like to say this is rare, but sadly it happens all too often. :)

Amanda Flower: My most embarrassing moment… it’s hard to pick. I’m pretty klutzy and had been known to walk into walls and trip down and up stairs. When I bought my first car, which was a long time ago, I was so nervous while writing the down payment check. It was a lot of money to me at the time. While writing the check, I dropped my pen. When I bent over to pick it up,  I cracked my forehead on the salesman’s desk. Ouch! It hurt! The salesman didn’t say a word about it, and I pretended nothing happened too.

school-busAmy Clipston: My most embarrassing moment took place in high school when I fell off the school bus. Since my stop was the first, the whole bus got to witness my clumsiness. Thankfully, my best friend since Kindergarten, Christine, was with me. We laughed the whole way up the street to our house. My knee was throbbing in pain, but all I could do was laugh!

Amy Lillard: I guess I don’t embarrass easily, but…You know when you are trying to appear professional and all-together? Early on in my relationship with her, I was emailing back and forth with my agent, Mary Sue Seymour. I start my email with “Dear Ms. Seymour, dada, dada, dada.” At the end of her response she wrote “Call me Mary Sue”. Good girl that I am, I picked up the phone and called, but got no answer. I emailed back and said that I tried to call but no one picked up. She responded with something to the effect of “we are busy and don’t always answer the phone. Email is a much better tool of communication for us.” Huh? Then why did she tell me to call her? I let the matter drop and stewed on it a couple of days. Then it hit me–she wasn’t telling me to  call her on the phone but to address her as Mary Sue. Still shaking my head over that one. LOL

We invite any and all sharing of most embarrassing moments in the comments.

You can learn more about these great authors on their websites. And be sure to like our Facebook pages too!

Vannetta Chapman: http://vannettachapman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks

Amanda Flower: http://www.amandaflower.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authoramandaflower 
https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaAlanAuthor

Amy Clipston: http://www.amyclipston.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AmyClipstonBooks

Mary Ellis: http://www.maryellis.net/

https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Shelley Shepard Gray: http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyShepardGray

Kelly Irvin: http://www.kellyirvin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Kelly.Irvin.Author

Jennifer Beckstrand: JenniferBeckstrand.com

https://www.facebook.com/jenniferbeckstrandfans

Amy Lillard: http://amywritesromance.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Lillard-Author/177732292332322

 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, readers,  I hope you’ll join me in thanking all the men and women in the US. military for their service to their country!

clipstonpublicityRecently, I was invited to participate in a blog tour by my good friend, Amy Clipston. Amy writes awesome romantic fiction set in the Amish community for Zondervan and Harper Collins and has won numerous awards. Amy’s latest book is A Mother’s Secret. She asked me to share my answers to four questions that authors from all over have been answering in this Writing Process Blog Tour.  Here are my answers:

What am I working on at the moment? Right now, I’m putting the last touches on book two of the Civil War Heroines Series, called The Lady and the Officer for Harvest House Publishers. While serving as a nurse in Gettysburg, Madeline Howard saves the life of a colonel in the Confederate Home Guard. Even though Maddy’s heart belongs to Union General James Downing, Colonel Haywood never forgets the beautiful nurse. When their paths cross in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, he’s determined to win her heart. Maddy has been busy eavesdropping on army officers and war department officials in her aunt’s palatial home. When she hears plans for Confederate attacks in northern Virginia, she passes the information along to Union officers, betraying the trust of her family and friends. Two men are in love with her. Will Maddy’s choices bring devastation on those she loves?Lady and the Officer, The

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Most fictional stories set during periods of political unrest assume a particular posture. Although my lead heroine will share my anti-slavery convictions, I attempt to portray the complexity of social issues. Usually there are no truly “good guys” by the time a war is over, no matter how well-intended people’s original motivations.

Why do I write what I do? I love to create stories about cultures I admire (I’ve written a dozen books set in Amish communities throughout the United States.) and romances set during turbulent periods of America’s past. I’ve always loved history and the way it has shaped laws governing us today. And love does have a way of surviving even during wartime, no matter how dire the circumstances.

How does my writing process work? I travel to the area where I plan to set a story to get details only available in person. In the case of historical novels, I research several times because there is always so much to learn. But in the end, I still end up making a few mistakes because so much information is ambiguous or incorrect. I’ve even seen two different accounts as to who won a particular battle at Civil War interpretive centers.

The Lady and the Officer is available for pre-book at Christianbook.com.

http://www.christianbook.com/lady-the-officer-civil-war-heroines/mary-ellis/9780736950541/pd/950541

I hope you’ll drop by next week’s blog tour participants: Kathleen Fuller and Carole Brown.

Kathleen Fuller writes lovely Amish romances and historical romance for Harper Collins. http://www.kathleenfuller.com/

Carole Brown writes for Lighthouse of the Carolinas. Her book, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman was nominated for a Selah Award. http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Drop by an see what these great authors have to say! Have a great Memorial Day weekend, readers. ~ Mary

 

 

Do you know the best aspect of being a fiction writer? The ability to give your characters traits you have (or wish you had!) and let them enjoy your favorite things in life. In my latest Amish book, A Plain Man, my character Josie has a Secret Recipe 4-bean Salad that everyone in town simply adores! I created my  own special salad recipe and allowed it to become famous! The uniqueness of this recipe stems from its flexibility. In other words, feel free to change it to accommodate whatever you have or is plentiful in the garden. Unlike Josie, I never make this recipe the same twice. Hope you enjoy! Have a great week, readers.

Jessie’s Secret Recipe Four Bean SaladA Plain Man

Combine in large bowl:

1 can green beans

(note: all beans can be either home-canned or store-bought)

1 can yellow beans (wax beans)

1 can kidney beans (light red or dark)

1 can garbanzo beans

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped peppers-sweet (green, red or yellow or combination)

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped black olives (optional)

Add only enough dressing (recipe below) to lightly coat salad, then chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight. Before serving, if desired, drain off any runny dressing and add fresh. (1 or 2 tablespoons, or to taste)

Dressing:

2 cups oil (I prefer olive)

1 1/3 cups cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

2 tsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. Hungarian paprika

1 tsp. parsley (fresh or dried)

Heat oil and vinegar together, stirring in sugar and seasonings. Heat only until sugar is completely dissolved and seasonings are blended. Do not boil. Let cool and stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator to use as needed. Shake well before using. This can be used on coleslaw and lettuce or spinach salad too.

Author’s note: I never make this recipe the same way twice, so play around with the quantities (celery etc.) or types of peppers, etc. to suit your taste.  Mary

Happy Friday, Readers!

Today I’d like a acquaint you with Brenda Novak’s 10th annual on-line auction to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes. Brenda Novak is a New York Time’s best-selling author whose son has been afflicted with this disease. All proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit the Diabetes Research Institute which has been doing phenomenal work. So far, Brenda has raised over $2 million and hopes to add another $500,000 to that total in 2014.

I have donated six of my romances which I ship out, signed, to the highest bidder. To bid on my books, just click on this link:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&Auction_uid1=3292415

If you already have those books, check out other fund-raising donations here:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/Home.taf?_start=61

Also, please be aware that MOST items close on May 31st, but that doesn’t mean ALL items do. Remember to check the closing time of whatever you’re interested in winning. The One Day Auction Category is a special category where items go up for auction and close the same day. To participate, you must keep an eye on the schedule. Don’t miss out on the fun of these quick and exciting auctions.

If you’d like to help Brenda with her auction, please spread the word through your social media outlets. So many people’s lives are affected by this terrible disease–it’s one of our deadliest. So let’s join Brenda and see it become a thing of the past–for her son and millions of others.

Thanks, readers, and have a lovely SPRING weekend!! ~Mary

 

Happy Tuesday, readers,
What an exciting week this is turning out to be! My newsletter was delayed a few days since Mail Chimp no longer accepts Yahoo mailing addresses. So I picked an extra 2 winners due to the delay. Without further ado, here are the 12 winners of a signed copy of A Plain Man. Carolyn Ford, Barbara Myus, Nancy Pack, Debra Ford, Cindy Hamilton, Laura Bassett, Anna Layton, Sandy Rutkowski, Anna Mills, Linda Ware, Rosemary Trezza, and Becky McCoy. Books are being mailed today.

Next, here is my lucky winner of Pam, by Sharon Srock, from last week’s interview on Home Thoughts. Sandra Stiles–Come on down!! You’re our next lucky winner of a great book by Sharon Srock!

And finally, tonight I’m a guest on Romance in on the Air, with host, Jennifer Fusco! I’m so excited. We’ll be talking romance, and books, and what I do for a living, and a little bit about everything. Tune in if you can. The show, Romance in on the Air, is on from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Eastern time. Here’s the link to make it simple. Just clink on it and you’re set to go!!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/authorsontheairbookstoo/2014/04/23/romance-is-on-the-air-with-jennifer-fusco-interviews-mary-ellis

Have a great week, readers. Spring is in the air in Ohio, and I’m one happy camper!! ~Mary

 

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