Thanksgiving memories to last a lifetime

We just returned two days ago from our Thanksgiving holiday trip. And those of you who know me or have been following my blog for awhile know that for me, time spent on a farm is time spent in paradise. My dearest friend invited hubby & me (actually, I invited myself, but let’s not split hairs…) to share the holiday with her husband, lovely daughter & fiance, and her daughters. She lives on a rolling farm in the gorgeous mountains of southern KY. If God would have called me home during the four days I spent with these loving people, I would’ve died a happy woman. Besides the delicious meal on Turkey Day, we spent Friday floating around in a houseboat on Laurel Lake, fishing, (one Rainbow Trout was caught by fiance John, which Julie cooked over our bonfire, and at least 6 people shared the bounty!) and roasting S’Mores. We had the lake to ourselves. But the best part of the trip was walking the meadows and trails on Pete and Donna’s farm while dogs blazed the way and hawks circled overhead. I felt the presence of God in His handiwork.  Thank you, Taylor clan, from the bottom of my heart.

I hope everyone reading this enjoyed their Thanksgiving. Now, don’t get too caught up shopping and getting ready for Christmas. Remember to slow down, smell the cinnamon and pine (even if they’re only candles…) and reflect on how lucky we are to live here in the USA.

Happy Thanksgiving Week

Good Monday morning. I hope you all enjoyed the weekend and are gearing up for Thanksgiving in a few days. Actually, I absolutely love this holiday. It’s second only to Christmas in my favorites. Why, you ask? Because of the wonderful memories I have while growing up. My parents, although we lived a very modest/albeit poor lifestyle most of the year, went all out on this holiday. We, of course, had a huge stuffed bird, with all the trimmings, along with not one but two kinds of pie. Real whipped cream came out of an aerosol can that my brother and I squinted into our palms when no one was looking. My mom bought a bouquet of flowers at the grocery store for the table and even bought an inexpensive (and very sweet!) bottle of wine so everyone could have a small glass. We invited family, friends, and acquaintances. The guests were always different from year to year. My mom specialized in inviting folks who had nowhere else to go. I know now, as as adult, exactly what that feels like. I’m so glad my mom did that many years ago. My husband and I won’t be cooking a big bird just for two this year, but will be enjoying the holiday with great friends and their children and grandchildren. We are thankful for them! And we are thankful to our magnificent Lord who kept us alive and well for another year. If you have the time, please leave me a comment with your favorite Thanksgiving memory. And may you all be blessed this Thursday!!

Once a schoolteacher…always a schoolteacher

I often get asked where my story ideas come from and how I research my fictional novels. Considering I live a little over an hour from Ohio’s Amish Country, I relish a day or weekend trip down to attend livestock auctions, sample authentic cooking, tour farms and homes, and interview Old Amish friends and acquaintances. But the research for my latest release, A Marriage for Meghan,
was the easiest…and most enjoyable yet. Small one and two-room schoolhouses dot the beautiful countryside in Holmes and Wayne Counties. But I didn’t have to ask anyone what it was like to face a roomful of students as a first-year teacher, feeling wholly unprepared, since I had first-hand knowledge. An Amish teacher might have a gift for communication and patience with children, but her education stopped after the eighth grade. Opening day would be intimidating, considering she’s only a few years older than her students. Although I was twenty-two and had four years of college, I looked out over a sea of faces on my first day and went weak in the knees. Some pupils were sixteen and taller than me, and I’m not a small woman. But I survived my first day and persevered. I eventually became a very good teacher and mentor to beginning teachers throughout my ten-year career. The lesson I hope readers will take away from A Marriage for Meghan is that you must have faith in yourself, besides faith in God, in order to succeed. Set your sights on your dream, work hard, and never give up on yourself. Like my fictional Meghan Yost, you will be surprised by what you can accomplish.

Also, for one more chance to win a copy of A Marriage for Meghan, drop by Margaret Daley’s blog and leave a comment after my interview and book blurb. One winner will be drawn from those comments in one week. Here’s the link:

Everyone have a lovely, get-ready-for-Thanksgiving week! Blessings…Mary



Anybody in the market for a cookbook?

Happy Thursday,

If anyone’s in the market for a great cookbook, here’s one complied by Nicole O’Dell called Novel Morsels that’s available for just 2.99. It contain recipes from 65 Christian authors, recipes that appeared somewhere in their books. Yours truly is honored to be among the 65 contributors. click on this link for more info and ordering info:

Also, don’t forget to drop by the Vessel Project blog to read 5 things I’ll bet you didn’t know about me. this is a great blog by Keiki Hendrix who features a different author each week. Here’s the link:

And before I forget, get yourself down to Amish Country this Saturday if you’ll be in Ohio and drop by The Gospel Bookstore in  Berlin on Oak Street. Friends of mine Suzanne Woods Fisher, Jerry Eicher and many, many more (30!) will be signing books. Wish I could be with them, but I had a previous committment. Tell them I say “Hi”.

And don’t forget that Amy Clipson, Vannetta Chapman and Shelley Shepard Gray are on their “grand Amish Country Tour”. These 3 are great writers and lovely women so check out this link if you live in Ohio, Indiana or PA. You can buy a signed book which would make a great Christmas gift!

Blessings on you all! Mary


Looking for something to get you in the mood for Christmas?

Happy fall Monday! And it’s not raining in Ohio–Hooray! Are you looking for something to read that will get you in the mood for Christmas? I’ve got just the ticket….er, book. Fellow writer and friend, Rose McCauley has co-authored a new book called Christmas Belles of Georgia along with Jeanie Smith Cash, Debra Ullrick and Jeri Odell. I asked Rose to tell us how she researched this book:

How A Kentucky Gal Researched and Wrote a Story about a Georgia Belle…My friend, Jeanie Smith Cash, emailed me over 2 years ago with an anthology idea she had about four sisters, separated at birth, who are reunited on their 25th birthday. She asked me and two other authors, Debra Ullrick and Jeri Odell, to join her in each writing the story of one sister. The town she chose for our story to end in was Monticello, Georgia, and I decided to begin and end my story there, so started with the info about the town Jeanie had sent all of us and then researched some more—online and by telephone interviews. I fell in love with the town of Monticello as soon as I started reading about it. It had all the small-town charm I love to read and write about—small towns with huge hearts. I learned about a restaurant called Big Chics and could even find pictures of it on the Internet and talked to the owner of the restaurant who gave me other menu ideas to add to the authenticity of my character’s meals there—like fried okra! On the Internet, I found a lovely Southern home known as The Warren House Bed and Breakfast that I used as a place for my heroine, Carol, to stay whenever she came to Monticello. The owner, Rod Perry, was a wealth of information about the furnishings of the B & B, right down to the bed step Carol had to use to get down from the “four-poster bed of rice-carved mahogany”—all described in detail by Mr. Perry, as well as the many homes and businesses that dot the town which are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Now that my book, Christmas Belles of Georgia, is out, I am planning a trip to Georgia in November to do some booksignings, visit
with some of the people I interviewed, and enjoy the “Southern Belle” culture. I even plan to do more research in hopes of setting another book in the area. Now, on a sad note I have to mention something several of my fellow-authors have experienced which I am now experiencing. Since most research is done a year or more before the book is released, often businesses close or change hands in that lag time. I found out Big Chics in owned by someone else, and the owner is now living in the former B and B so we can’t stay there as planned, but I do still plan to visit Monticello, eat some of Big Chics fried chicken and take pictures of the real town of my imaginary characters!

Here’s the book blurb for Nick’s Christmas Carol in Christmas Belles of Georgia: Nick Powers worked hard to earn his college degree and his dream job. He doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out new owners will be taking over Bellingham Plantation soon. When Carol Wells comes to town, she and Nick get off to a rocky start, but soon combine forces to make Christmas a
happier time for others. Can they find their own Christmas happiness?

And here’s something about Rose: Rose has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. She is happy for this to be her first fiction anthology because Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for 43 years, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to three lovely, lively kids with one more on the way! You can reach her through her website or blogsite at

And before I forget, check out this great website/blog called the Vessel Project. Keiki Hendrix invited me to be a guest on her column “5 things you didn’t know” about your favorite writers. Drop by if you have the time, and I’ll bet you become a regular visitor. here’s the link:

Have a super week.