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Happy Monday, readers,

I hope spring has sprung where you are. It has certainly come to Ohio. I have plenty of wildflowers2014-04-29 13.38.30 blooming in my woods along with my magnolia trees.

Congrats to Lorraine A. ~ You’re the lucky winner of Laura Hilton’s book, The Postcard. I have contacted Lorraine privately for a mailing address, but thanks to everyone who dropped Laura a comment last week.  I was tickled to see so people still love Amish fiction. Speaking of which, one of my favorite books, A Marriage for Meghan, is still priced at $1.99 at CBD in print. Such a bargain if you happened to have missed that one. A Marriage for MeghanHere’s the link:

http://www.christianbook.com/a-marriage-for-meghan-wayne-county/mary-ellis/9780736930109/pd/930109?event=EBRN

Have a great week, readers. ~  Mary

 

Today Home Thoughts welcomes Laura Hilton, who has a lovely new book out, The Postcard. If you leave a comment for Laura, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of The Postcard. Drawing in one week.

PostCardFirst, here’s a summary of the new book, The Postcard: David Lapp survived a “code blue” when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he’s developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds work in the area tying flies and basket weaving, selling his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.

Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Obadiah Graber, but wonders if there’s more to life. When she sees David’s name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he’s in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he’s called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?

Laura HiltonHere’s a bit of background: Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as the Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Birdhouse in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

What are you working on now, Laura Hilton? I am working on the first book of a new series with a working title of The Amish Firefighter.   It hopefully will be available in April 2016.   My next book is The Birdhouse and it releases in September 2015.   I am also working on a contemporary Christmas story with a working title of Christmas Mittens.  No release date.

Here’s how to reach Laura:

visit my blogs: http://lighthouse-academy.blogspot.com/  & http://lauravhilton.blogspot.com/ 

Here’s where to purchase The Postcard:

http://www.amazon.com/Laura-V.-Hilton/e/B004IRSM5Q

Answer this question to be entered in a drawing for The Postcard: Have you ever had a penpal and did you meet?
Drawing in one week! Have a lovely Spring week, readers! My daffodils and forget-me-nots are up so life is good!! ~ Mary Ellis

 

 

The Last Heiress

Today I wanted to share photos of the best part of being an author….research. I was fortunate enough to travel to England several years ago for background for my latest book, The Last Heiress.  The story which starts in Manchester and continues in Wilmington, NC features a pair of identical twins. During the American Civil the English textile industry nearly ground to a halt due to the blockade of southern ports. No export of cotton….no raw materials to for the mills. My British twin, Amanda Dunn, is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. After the blockade of southern ports threatens to destroy the family business, Amanda’s father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton broker, lives in Wilmington. Blockade runners, such as those owned by Abigail’s husband, would leave the southern coast of the United States bound for the ports of Liverpool or Swansea, and then the mills of Manchester.GE

Amanda plans a long overdue reunion with her twin, conduct business for her dad, and hurry back to England. Fate has other plans for our heiress. Amanda butts heads at every turn with her brother-in-law, a slave-owner, in a town not used to dealing with businesswomen. When she falls in love with a local shopkeeper, a man who refuses to fight for the Confederacy, class distinctions, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance.

In Portsmouth harbour

In Portsmouth harbour

My trip to England allowed me to reconnect with an old friend, Caroylne Way,

Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District

Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District

who lives in Gosport (near Portsmouth in southern Hampshire.) Carolyne’s great grandfather owned a mine which supplied coal for the garment mills during the nineteenth century. I was able to use real events which took place at his mine in my story. Of course as you can see from my pictures,  I had plenty of time to see merry ole England too.

Research also took me not less than a half-dozen times to the beautiful city of Wilmington, NC on the Cape Fear River. Lucky for me, the riverfront area, some of downtown, along with Fort Fisher on the peninsula looks like it did 150 years ago.

Wilmington waterfront

Wilmington waterfront

Fort Fisher was the final definitive battle of the Civil War, fought on both land and sea.

Ahhh, research. For some authors, the topic draws beads of sweat to the brow. But if a writer is able to pack a bag, book a flight and travel, then history…and the story can truly come alive.

Hope you enjoy these pics from England

and Scotland.  And I hope you’ll look for The Last Heiress, a book from Harvest House Publishers which was a pleasure to write!! Have a great week, readers….Mary

London Eye, on the Thames River

London Eye, on the Thames River

restored English village

restored English village

2008-05-18 12.35.18

On the Solent near their house

 

 

Old Towne York

Old Towne York

 

Stonehenge, about an hour away

Stonehenge, about an hour away

Big Ben, London

Big Ben, London

A Faith of Her Own 9.29.14Happy 3rd day of Spring, readers. Today Home Thoughts welcomes Kathleen Fuller who has a brand new book just released: A Faith of Her Own. Can Anna Mae heed God’s call on her life, even if it means leaving behind everything she knows . . .  and everyone she loves? Ever since Anna Mae’s childhood friend Jeremiah left their Amish community, she’s questioned her own place in the Amish world.  The Amish life feels as if it’s closing in on her, and with her mother trying to set her up with potential suitors, Anna Mae feels trapped in a life she’s not sure she wants anymore. But she’s never told anyone that she longs for a tiny taste of freedom—freedom that could be very costly. When Jeremiah suddenly reappears in Middlefield to help his mentor, Yankee veterinarian Dr. Miller, new questions surface for Anna Mae, along with feelings she’d never fully acknowledged before. As Anna Mae and Jeremiah rekindle their friendship, old feelings take on new meaning. Yet the question still lingers: What is God’s plan for her life? Should she stay, keeping loyal to her Amish family, or does God have a bigger plan—one that provides more freedom than she could imagine? The answers do not come easily, and the answer to God’s call may lie in different directions . . . for both of them.

Kathy FullerKathleen Fuller, one of my favorite authors, is the author of over twenty-five books, including the best-selling Hearts of Middlefield series. A former special education teacher, she and her husband James split their time between Ohio and Arkansas. They are the parents of three awesome kids,  three amazing dogs, and one sweet but overwhelmed cat. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathleen-Fuller/625583260853477?ref=hl Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kathyfuller/ Twitter: @TheKatJam

Kathy, what are you working on now? Currently I’m finishing up the second book in the Amish of Birch Creek series, An Unbroken Heart. This is a brand new series that launches in September, 2015. The first book is titled A Reluctant Bride and is available for pre-order on amazon.com.

Please leave a comment for Kathy, for a chance to win a signed copy of A Faith of Her Own. Drawing on Monday, March 30th. Happy Spring everyone!  ~ Mary

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a weekend retreat with eight other fiction writers. Although the cabin could have been warmer and the weather less rainy, I loved sharing stories, good food, and laughter with like-minded women. One of the participant’s keeps a journal. Sandra Merville Hart read us her entry that morning. I was impressed with her graceful, evocative prose. Come share the joys of a vacation cabin in early spring in Hocking Hills, Ohio.

Early Morning Thoughts at a Writers Retreat by Sandra Merville Hart 

I’m at a writers retreat this morning. It’s 7:10 am and I’m showered and dressed. It’s been raining since before Becky and I arrived yesterday afternoon.

Mary isn’t feeling well. The damp chill is having a harsh effect on her RA. I think she slept some but not nearly enough. I believe she’s upstairs resting in the recliner now.

It felt like a refrigerator in this cabin basement last night. I’m glad I brought an extra blanket.

Carole just popped her head in. She was freezing last night, too — so chilled, in fact, that she now has a headache because of it. This rustic and homey cabin is beating us up a little. I have a headache and the start of a cold. Mine might be from taking a not-too-warm shower. I rushed for fear that the water would get completely cold.

I hear voices now — Carole and Tamera, I think. Michelle just turned on the light in the futon room.

The authors are waking up. Beware, world. Who knows what will happen in our morning’s writing session?

Killers revealed? Innocent people murdered in a crime of greed?

A man and woman in a promising dating relationship quarrel over some insignificant event and it spirals out of control. Or maybe they fight over something vitally important and seemingly part ways forever. Seemingly. We authors excel at painting a picture of how bad it gets when people don’t communicate.

Perhaps a couple will receive news of a pregnancy. She’s thrilled; he pushes for an abortion.

How about a story of a little girl who befriends the lonely old woman next door — the one who doesn’t want any children walking through her yard so the child stays on her side of the bushes and talks louder?

Knowing Michelle, some sci-fi adventure will take place in a scope and dimension that my brain can only marvel at.

Or perhaps we will step back in time to Victorian America with settings in a small town, a prairie, or a progressive college.

Just look out world. The authors will be hard at work today. And we hope you are the better for it. We will be.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Sandy’s debut novel, A Stranger on My Land, and found it delightful.A Stranger On My Land

Sandy HartHere’s her bio: Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com and contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and ChristianDevotions.us. Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-My-Land-Sandra-Hart/dp/1941103278/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405606746&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Stranger+on+my+land.

Have a good week readers. Stay warm…stay dry…spring is almost here!  ~ Mary

 

In my latest historical novel, one of my characters stakes his entire financial future on two blockade runners to travel between North Carolina and England. Blockade runners during the Civil War were the fastest ships available and came armed and armored, enabling them to outrun Union ships on blockade patrol. blockade runner 1Their operations were risky since the Union Navy wouldn’t hesitate to fire on them. However, the potential profits (economically or militarily) from a successful crossing were tremendous. The Union government sought to cut off all trade with the Confederacy and patrolled 12 major ports and 3,500 miles of southern coastline. Great Britain played a major role on the blockade running business, since they had huge investments in the South, and were the recipients of their cash crops, especially tobacco and cotton. Great BritainthQEOI8L5N also controlled the neutral ports of the Caribbean, such as the Bahamas and Bermuda. Among the more notable of these premier vessels was the CSS Advance which completed more than 20 successful runs through the Union Naval blockade before being captured. By the end of the Civil War the Union Navy had captured more than 1,100 blockade runners and had destroyed or run aground another 355 vessels. blocade running 2

The Last Heiress is a stand-alone historical romance, also set during the American Civil War. My heroine, Amanda Dunn is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. When the blockade of southern ports curtails the supply of cotton, her father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton factor, and also lives in Wilmington. When Amanda falls for a local shopkeeper, class distinction, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance. The risky business of outmaneuvering the Union Navy became one of my favorite research assignments in The Last Heiress, available now in bookstores and online. The Last Heiress

Traveling to the location where my book takes place is an important part of research. And it’s also the most enjoyable. After all who doesn’t love to be on vacation while learning wonderful tidbits of history? To write my latest historical romance, The Last Heiress, I visited Wilmington on four different occasions. Sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a week, but each time I took plenty of photographs. However time does not stand still, not even in nationally registered, historically protected sections of a city. The Wilmington of today still contains the flavor of the mid-nineteenth century, including many buildings intact. But my visit to the Cape Fear Historical Society at 814 Market Street showed me the neighborhood has changed during the last 150 years.cape fear 2

Janet Davidson, Museum Historian, was kind enough to furnish me with images taken during the 1850’s and 1860’s. I hope you’ll enjoy this walk down memory lane in a town whose beauty has withstood the ravages of time. This museum is a must-see during your visit to New Hanover County. I don’t think you’ll have much trouble telling my photographs from those sent to me by Janet. Enjoy, readers….Mary

 cape fear 1 cape fear 3 cape fear 4 cape fear 5

 

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