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Happy Monday, Readers,

ARM CoverWithout further ado, here’s the winner of Sandy Ardoin’s latest book, A Reluctant Melody. Dali Castillo….come on down. You’re the lucky winner! I will contact you privately to obtain your copy.

While asking for blog idea among my author pals, one of them suggested that I interview my heroine in my latest book. Just like she was a real person instead of an figment of my imagination. So here goes…an interview with Nicolette (Nicki) Price of Midnight on the Mississippi.

Nicolette Price, tell me the most interesting thing about you. I used to be quite a tomboy. I could swim farther, run faster, and jump higher than any boy in the neighborhood. Now that I’m a grown woman living in a sophisticated city, being a “crack shot with a squirrel rifle” doesn’t give me much of an edge with the competition.

What do you do for fun? I haven’t had much fun since childhood. I’ve worked since I was 15 to help pay the bills, and then to put myself through college. Now that I’ve landed my first real job, I would like a Saturday of watching reruns of Colombo in my pajamas with nothing but popcorn and ice cream to eat.

Midnight on the MississippiWhat do you put off doing because you dread it? I have put off dealing with my father’s death because I was too young and ill-equipped to do much else. Now I’m neither, so it’s high time I find out if someone else had a hand in his death.

What are you afraid of most in life? Swamps! I was stranded on an island in the swamp as a prank—snakes, gators, and plenty of bugs. Luckily, my best friend got wind of the plan and paddled out to rescue me.

What do you want out of life? I suppose I want what every woman wants—love and acceptance. I’ve never felt like I measured up to expectations, so it would be nice to find one other person who thinks I’m special.

Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read? I love to read biographies about famous fearless women—Madame Curie, Clara Barton, Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt. If they can rise above humble upbringings or difficult circumstances and excel, why can’t I? I gain courage to do what I need to do when I read their stories.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I suppose it would be my hair. I like to wear it long, but it’s thick and curly and looks like a lion’s mane when the weather is humid. My complexion turns a tad green when I see women with silky, straight hair that stays where it’s supposed to all day long.

Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? No, I had a pet turtle but it died. Once I had a crow that used to follow me around the neighborhood, but it grew bored and flew away. My mother wouldn’t let me have a dog because our yard was too small. I hope to one day have an entire menagerie of pets.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? I would go back to my childhood when my father was still alive. I’d tell him that “nobody is perfect” and that I loved him. He died never knowing how much he meant to me.

What Happened on Beale StreetPlease watch for Book 2 of the Secrets of the South Mysteries, What Happened on Beale Street, coming in late March. Have a great week, readers!  ~ Mary

Welcome to Home Thoughts, Sandra Ardoin. I’m very excited to hear you have a new book out. I read The Yuletide Angel last year and enjoyed it very much. Please tell us something about A Reluctant Melody: 

Kit Barnes’ alcoholism ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. But the most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past. Friends of her late husband blame Joanna for his death. Although eager to flee from the rumors, she will let the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she allows Kit back into her life. When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Joanna’s long-held secret, will she risk losing everything she owns to Kit … including her heart?

For readers who might be new to Sandra’s books, here’s her short bio:

ARM Cover Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotSandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

What was your inspiration for this story? In 2014, as I wrote my Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel, I wanted to give my hero (Hugh Barnes) a personal problem to overcome, so I created a brother and a break in their relationship. Of course, I needed to know the reason for the break. For that, I chose to make the brother, Kit, a recovering alcoholic who had betrayed Hugh by seducing the woman he’d planned to marry. The more I wrote Kit into the story, the more curious I became about him, the woman in both men’s lives, and Kit’s future.

A Reluctant Melody is a story about second chances and God’s grace and mercy. From a spiritual standpoint, I wanted to get across the news that God’s forgiveness is available to anyone who seeks it through Christ.

What are you working on now and when can readers expect it? I’m working on the first book of a three-book series set in Texas in 1886/87. The series takes place in a rowdy, churchless town near a once popular cattle trail. As with most of my stories, they will have an element of mystery/suspense. As of now, I have no contract. Hopefully, that will change soon. I’m also considering a novella series about three women who each set out on an adventure and discover more about themselves than they expected. Those are still in the planning stage. Ah, so many projects, so little time!

Readers, please leave a comment for Sandra for a chance to win an electronic copy of A Reluctant Melody.

For those of you who don’t want to wait, here’s a link where you can purchase. Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Melody-Inspirational-Historical-Christian-ebook/dp/B01A67A2MM

Drawing in one week, readers, and it will be announced here. Until then, stay warm. Spring is just around the corner….trust me.   Mary

 

2015-09-07 17.06.32

The Peabody Hotel

Write what you know…is a quote usually attributed to Mark Twain. Twain might have been a great American novelist, but his advice better suits authors of the 19th century. What are authors supposed to do in the 21st century when expected to produce two or three novels a year? As books become shorter and faster-paced, some writers are releasing books faster than that. If as a full-time professional writer you only write about subjects you’re familiar or experienced with, won’t you run out of story fodder? On a personal level, how many stories about a schoolteacher, living on the edge of Amish country, who loves gardening, animals and American history will readers tolerate? Perhaps more practical advice for this day and age would be: Write about what fascinates you, or perhaps the person you hope to one day become.

I have reached the stage when retirement isn’t a distant pipedream. As much as I love Ohio, winters have grown intolerable. My husband and I are determined to live three or four months of the year in the warmer and sunnier South. Recently we’ve combined our quest for inexpensive spots to “snowbird” with my new mystery series. The setting for my first story was easy…New Orleans, a city we visited while family lived in the area and many times since. After several stays in Cajun country I was playing the washboard with spoons and cooking gumbo from a roux. My second mystery, What Happened on Beale Street, allowed me to indulge my love of the blues while researching Memphis and the Mississippi delta where rice and cotton fields stretch to the horizon. For my current work in progress, I prowled the streets of Natchez, a charming town overlooking the mighty Mississippi where the police captain turned out to be the nicest person I ever interviewed. As we check out new places to live, I’m discovering wonderful spots for fictional dead bodies to wash ashore or characters to go missing.

What Happened on Beale StreetIf you’re looking for new story ideas, why not consider places you’ve always wanted to visit? Start with research at your local library and on the internet. Then create the characters of your dreams. Maybe you can give them the talents you always longed to have. Your enthusiasm will turn your story into a page-turner readers can’t put down. And just think…when you visit the area to tweak the details, your trip becomes a tax deductible expense. Sounds like a win-win situation, no?

What Happened on Beale Street , book 2 of Secrets of the South Mysteries, releases in late March in print and April 1st in electronic versions in bookstores and online everywhere.  Book one, Midnight on the Mississippi from Harvest House Publishers is available now.

Amish Christmas MemoriesHappy Monday, Readers. I’m afraid I’ve been MIA of late due to putting the finishing touches on book 2 of the Secrets of the South mysteries, What Happened on Beale Street. But I’m happy to announce the release of an anthology of Christmas novellas with two friends of mine, Jerry Eicher and Murray Pura. Here’s what the back cover has to say:  Three delightful Christmas Amish novellas are now combined into one charming ebook! Amish Christmas Memories contains heartwarming holiday tales from three beloved authors.

From author Jerry Eicher comes the inspiring novella, Susanna’s Christmas

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Jerry Eicher

Wish. Susanna Byler wants to spend the holidays with the man of her dreams. But is that the plain Amishman she married for convenience, or her Englisha first love who recently reappeared in her life?

Sarah’s Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis will add joy to the Christmas season. As Christmas approaches, Sarah Beachy searches for her brother who left the Order years ago. Sarah’s mother has been missing her son for so long…will she also lose her daughter to the English? Or will this family receive an unexpected miracle?

Murray PuraAuthor Murray Pura brings a tender story of reconciliation in An Amish Family Christmas. Naomi Miller’s friend Rebecca tries to help her recover from tragedy. Then Rebecca’s brother–Naomi’s husband–returns from the military and is shunned. An unexpected turn of events sets things right, bringing this Amish family and their community a truly joyous celebration.

Join Susanna, Sarah, and the Millers in these warm and tender Amish Christmas memories. Available now in all electronic formats, including Sony Reader, Kobo, Nook and Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Amish-Christmas-Memories-Jerry-Eicher-ebook/dp/B012BBIIG8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1447694400&sr=1-1&keywords=amish+christmas+memories&pebp=1447694404706&perid=01QJDK4W5DP7CR7HQVAP

Sleighride in Ohio's Amish CountryPhoto taken in Ohio’s beautiful Amish country at Christmastime. Hope you put Amish Christmas Memories on your holiday reading list.

See you next week,  Mary

Happy Monday, readers!

The Peabody Hotel

The Peabody Hotel

Those who follow me on Facebook know I’ve been on a month long research trip and overdue family vacation. For those of you not on Facebook, I recently visited the settings I used in What Happened on Beale Street, namely Memphis and the Mississippi delta. Since blues music comes front and center in my March release, I especially enjoyed the Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by actor Morgan Freeman, in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

2015-09-22 14.50.42Then I researched in Natchez, Mississippi and Bay St. Louis, along the Gulf Coast. 2015-09-21 14.21.39Both settings are used in my current book in progress, Magnolia Moonlight, book 3 of Secrets of the South Mysteries from Harvest House Publishers. I fell in love with the Gulf of Mexico, especially Ship Island and Bay St. Louis, a small town hard hit by Hurricane Katrina, but almost fully restored. Next we visited the French Quarter of New Orleans, setting for Midnight on the Mississippi, just for fun. Finally we finished up with a week in the beautiful Smokey Mountains of North Carolina, including Balsam and Hendersonville.

Amish Christmas MemoriesWhile I was gone my publisher released a novella collection with Murray Pura and Jerry Eicher called Amish Christmas Memories. It’s available only in electronic versions at CBD, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

As much as I love researching and travel, it’s good to be back. They don’t call it home, sweet home for nothing. I hope you’re enjoying autumn wherever you live. And keep on reading! ~ Mary

NeverBrokenFront (1)Happy Autumn, folks! Without further ado, here’s the winner of Kathleen Fuller’s new book, Never Broken. Katy Emmert, come on down. I will send you an email and Kathy will send that right out. Thanks to everyone who left Kathy a comment.

 

Also, if you have a moment please drop by Clash of the Titles to vote for Midnight on the Mississippi as a book you would like to read. I have been selected to participate in a “clash” between titles based on the appeal of the book cover.  Thanks so much!!Midnight on the Mississippi

http://www.clashofthetitles.com/

 

12027751_1059082034136951_5804545334126511279_nThanks, readers, and have a lovely week from the Gulf of Mexico where I’m researching book 3 of Secrets of the South mysteries set in Natchez and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. This photo was taken on Ship Island in the Gulf Shores National Seashore. Not so autumn-y here….

Kathy FullerHello Kathleen Fuller and welcome to Home Thoughts.
First, however, I’d pick to name Mary Ellen Ashenfelder as last week’s winner of Jill Kemerer’s book, Unexpected Family.
Kathleen, tell us something about your latest book, Never Broken, set in 1840’s Ireland. Rory O’Leary, orphaned then raised by wealthy relatives, is summoned home for a family wedding. While there, he has a chance meeting with Shannon Cahill, a young peasant woman. Although their stations in life couldn’t be more different, they are immediately drawn to each other. After a brief meeting in a rose garden they can neither forget, they go their separate ways. When Rory’s uncle passes away, his cousin William, who inherits the estate, cuts off all funds to Rory and his brother and has them removed from the only home they know. Rory feels his best option is to leave Ireland. Meanwhile, Shannon and her family have fallen on hard times due to a potato famine. Her ailing parents scrape together funds and insist that Shannon and her sister immigrate to America. Shannon fears she’ll never again see the man who stole her heart in the rose garden. As both Rory and Shannon set about to start new lives away from their beloved Ireland, God intervenes and weaves together a cord that can never be broken.
 
NeverBrokenFront (1)What inspired you to write Never Broken?  My family history inspired me to write Never Broken, Book 1 in the Everlasting Faith series. My great-grandfather’s family emigrated from Ireland to Glasgow, Scotland during the Great Famine. I wanted to write about how people survived during that time period, and how they kept their faith in the direst of circumstances. 
ReluctantBride2a2b (1)What are you working on now? I’m working on my new series, the Amish of Birch Creek. The first book, A Reluctant Bride, released September 8. A Reluctant Bride is about a woman who is forced into a marriage of convenience in her small Amish community, and how she finds love where she least expects it. 
Where can readers find you? 
I’m on Facebook and my website is: www.kathleenfuller.com and on Pinterest:
Please say hello to Kathleen Fuller and leave her a comment to win Never Broken. Drawing in one week!
Enjoy these waning days of summer, readers!
~ Mary 

 

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