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London Eye, on the Thames River

London Eye, on the Thames River

Good evening, readers. First without further ado, we have a winner of Kathleen Fuller’s A Faith of Her Own.  P.J. Kappe, you’re our lucky winner. P.J. I will contact you privately for your mailing address. Thanks to everyone who left a comment for Kathleen, who writes lovely Amish romances!

Today I also wanted to share some photos of my trip to England several years ago. The trip was for research for The Last Heiress, which features a British pair of twins in a story which starts in Manchester and continues in Wilmington, North Carolina during the Civil War. The trip was also pure pleasure to visit old friends who live in Gosport (near Portsmouth in southern Hampshire.) Carolyne’s great grandfather owned a coal mine which supplied coal for the garment mills during the

Tower of London (prison)

Tower of London (prison)

nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Hope you enjoy these pics from England

Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District

Rowing on Lake Windemere in the Lake District

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

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

Portsmouth, close to my friend's home

Portsmouth, close to my friend’s home

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

 

The Last HeiressI’m often asked where I get the settings for my stories. From real life is my usual answer. Today I’ll take you to visit the Latimer House on 126 S. 3rd St. in Wilmington, NC, home of GEmy fictional Jackson and Abigail Henthorne of The Last Heiress. Having a real life mansion as a model makes setting the stage easier and far more accurate. The gardens, both side and back, the entrance to the subterranean level, the slave quarters, the interior rooms, and the porches all feature into my story. Of course, I embellished or changed a few details, because that’s what fiction writers do. But if you visit to the real life Latimer House, now home to the Wilmington Historical Society, I think you’ll agree I got the grand opulence of the mansion right-on-the-money!GE

GEThe Latimer House, built in 1852 by local merchant Zebulon Latimer, is open to the public as an historic house exemplary of upper-class life in Wilmington during the Victorian period. With 14 furnished rooms the Latimer House lets you step back in time to a more elegant era. The house, built in the popular Italianate style, was designed with a central hallway on each floor with identical layouts on either side. The first floor contains the formal sitting and dining areas on the north side, used for entertaining and special occasions, and the less formal sitting rooms to the south.

GEIf you are looking for a charming place for your meeting, luncheon, or party, then GEsearch no further than the Latimer House! The Victorian inspired garden is perfect for your special photography session, while the tearoom can accommodate guests in a historic atmosphere. Available seven days a week, but reservations are required. Call 910-762-0492 for more information or e-mail us at info@latimerhouse.org.

Unfortunately, the house is not handicapped accessible. Next week, readers, we’ll be visiting downtown Wilmington, NC, where my handsome hero, Nathaniel Cooper had his delightful store. Stay tuned, and stay warm….. Mary

Happy President’s Day, readers,

Hopefully plenty of you will have the day off, either for the holiday or due to the frigid temps in the North and East. Without further ado, I have plenty of winners to announce:

Deadly Echoes final coverLori Barnard, you’re the lucky winner of Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl. I have contacted you separately for your mailing addresses. I just know you’ll love this book. Congratulations.

And here are the 10 winners of The Last Heiress from my newsletter contest. If you’re a newsletter subscriber, whether recently or from the past, you were entered. I have contacted all 10 email addresses but if they don’t respond within a few days, I will pick alternate names.

1) Jinny Baldridge              The Last Heiress

2) Vykki Bedell

3) Carol Bromley

4) Rebecca

5) LeAnn Abernathy

6) C.E. Hart

7) Kate & Edgar

8) L. Grier

9) “cat nippin”

10) Angela Chestnut

Congratulations. I truly hope you enjoy my book.  Please “like” my facebook page for more chances to win free books. Stay warm, readers.  ~ Mary  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

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