Help me welcome author Murray Pura to Home Thoughts

Good afternoon, readers….

I’m posting a tad later today due to the Frankenstorm. You would think Ohio would be far enough inland to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Sandy, but we just had a huge tree fall in front of our home, totally blocking the highway. The police and Highway Patrol have their hands full. The winds are howling, and it hasn’t stopped raining in 3 days. But today Home Thoughts welcomes Canadian author, Murray Pura. I just finished his book, The Face of Heaven, and I absolutely adored it! Murray combined my three personal favorites in one lovely book that I could not put down: the Amish, American History (namely, the Civil War) and a yummy romance. Here’s a blurb about the book:

Following on the heels of The Wings of Morning, the first book in Murray Pura’s Snapshots in History series, comes this compelling saga of the Civil War. In April 1861, Lyndel Keim discovers two runaway slaves in her family’s barn. When the men are captured and returned to their plantation, Lyndel and her young Amish beau, Nathaniel King, find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish colony. Nathaniel enlists in what will become the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army. Lyndel enters the fray as a Brigade nurse on the battlefield, sticking close to Nathaniel as they both witness the horrors of war–including the battles at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. Despite the pair’s heroic sacrifices, the Amish only see that Lyndel and Nathaniel have become part of the war effort, and both are banished.And a severe battle wound at Gettysburg threatens Nathaniel’s life. Lyndel must call upon her faith in God to endure the savage conflict and to face its painful aftermath, not knowing if Nathaniel is alive or dead. Will the momentous battle change her life forever, just as it will change the course of the war and the history of her country.

If you love a good story, one set in a turbulent time in America’s past, I recommend you get a copy of The Face of Heaven. This book has something to appeal to everyone! Murray has graciously agreed to give away a copy of his latest to one of my readers. Please post an answer to this question: How would you deal with the possibility of killing someone during wartime?

I will draw a random winner of The Face of Heaven in one week. Stay warm, stay dry, and stay away from down powerlines, my dear readers!   Mary

ps. If you have a little time, please click on this link to check out a new free magazine for booklovers. If you click on my book cover, Living in Harmony, I might win some free advertising. thanks bunches!

What’s writers do when they get a spare moment….

Good Tuesday afternoon, readers. I hope you’re all curled up with a good book and not working too hard. I’m still getting caught up after being gone this past weekend at the Books by the Banks book fair in the Queen City–Cincinnati, Ohio. What a well run, well attended book-lovers event that was. Thanks to any reader out there who might have stopped by. I got a chance to sit next to author Ann Gabhart who writes great books about the Shakers. Ann is from Kentucky, close to where the largest (former) settlement of Shakers lived called Pleasant Hill. She is a super-nice person besides a great storyteller.

Well, Ann snapped this photo of me when I wasn’t looking…It was a slow few minutes during the late morning and I took advantage of the quiet time to dash off a page or two of my book-in-progress, A Little Bit of Charm. Which by the way, is set in Kentucky! Wow, she’s obsessed, a few of you might be thinking and you would be right. When one has a deadline to meet, a writer lets no opportunity to put keys to keyboard (or in this case, pen to legal tablet) go by. I hope the finished product will be worth all my hard work but hey…as they say, it’s a labor of love. Here’s also a photo of Ann and me. I hope you have a great week. Hubby just finished blowing the leaves off our driveway with the leaf blower–an endless task until mid-November.

best regards, Mary

Sweetest Day is almost here

Good Monday, readers. According to my calendar, this Saturday is Sweetest Day. And to honor the occassion here is an essay I wrote on romance. (And you thought I knew nothing about the stuff!) But before I dish up my essay, here are the two winners of Healing Love by Laura Hilton, from my contest last week. Yes, I drew two since so many folks entered: Chris Granville and Angelica–please email me with your mailing addresses. Your our two lucky winners this week! Now, here’s my essay:

Gourmets and cooking-show fanatics will cluck their tongues and shake their heads at this post, but I must share the story of the first dinner I cooked for my boyfriend (now my husband of 38 years). We were sophomores in college and had only been dating for several months. Yet, somehow we both knew this was the one. Keep in mind, any time my mom had tried to teach me to cook I would run in the other direction. Even chemistry homework appealed more than anything in the kitchen. So when Ken asked me to fix him dinner at his home over Christmas vacation, what did I say? Sure, why not? After all, how hard could it be? I packed all the ingredients and purchases from grocery store into my Corvair and drove to his house. The rest of his family would be out for most of the evening. Did I take a cookbook? Of course not, since my mother didn’t own one. She’d learned everything from Grandma Ellis who didn’t speak a word of English. Ken chose fried chicken and potato salad as his favorite meal. I added iceburg lettuce with bottled dressing and green beans straight from the can—no butter or seasoning whatsoever—to round out our culinary fare. I breaded and fried the chicken, then kept turning the pieces over in the skillet until I set off the smoke alarms. After all, I had no idea when they might be done. But the extra crispy chicken turned out far superior to my potato salad. Since I had no idea when peeled and diced potatoes might be cooked, the finished salad resembled mashed spuds studded with tiny pieces of celery, onion and hard-boiled eggs. Ken loved my dinner. He not only cleaned his plate but raved about everything. Not surprisingly, you say? Probably not…after all I was a cute-as-a-bug nineteen-year-old, and he was enchanted with me. But here’s the best part: When his parents returned from the movies and his older sister from her date, they all grabbed plates and began to eat up the leftovers. They raved about my cooking, too. In fact, my late mother-in-law’s exact words were: Oh, my, Ken. “You’d better not let this one get away. A girl who cooks like this is a keeper.”

I went home that night loving his family and thinking I was a good cook. It would be some time before I found out I stunk in the kitchen. But Ken proposed that Christmas and we marred six days after our college graduation. I still miss my mom and my mother-in-law. They both taught me unconditional love is far more important than anything that goes into your stomach. Before she passed away, my mom did teach me to cook during our first years of marriage. But every now and then I still set off smoke alarms…just for old times’ sake.

Have a super duper week, readers.

~with love from Mary Ellis


Win a free copy of Laura Hilton’s Healing Love

Good Monday morning, readers. Without further ado, here are the 2 winners of Vannetta Chapman’s A Promise for Miriam. Yes, two, since there were so many comments, I will send off my copy too. Mrs. Red 50 and Anna Hamilton please contact me at Your’re our lucky winners!

Today I’m honored to welcome fellow Amish fiction author, Laura Hilton. Laura’s last series, The Amish of Seymour, were all CBD bestsellers. Her latest, Healing Love, is first in the Amish of Webster Couny series. I have read it and it’s lovely!

Here’s the blurb: Life gets a lot harder for Amish midwife Kristi Lapp when a buggy wreck lands her in the hospital and leaves her with a pronounced limp. Among her biggest concerns is the well-being of her dog, Chinook, as she is no longer able to keep up with the high-energy Siberian husky. Adding insult to injury, she fears she’ll never marry for love, for what man would willingly wed a woman who needs help with even the most basic of household tasks? Shane Zimmerman moved to Seymour for a fresh start. The veterinarian is still reeling from the loss of his young wife, who died in childbirth—an aneurysm, the autopsy determined, but he still blames the midwife and the herbal remedies she administered. He meets his next-door neighbor, Kristi, when he discovers her wrecked buggy and takes her to the hospital. Eager to deepen the friendship that forms between them, he offers to take care of exercising her dog. But the harsh words of Kristi’s father discourage him from pursuing a relationship further—for the time being. Shane isn’t Amish, although his grandparents were, and Ira Lapp would rather his daughter marry an aging Amish widower than a young Englischer. Despite all the forces that would keep them apart, Kristi and Shane can’t deny the strong attraction between them.

So, their on-again, off-again relationship persists, as Kristi submits to physical therapy for her leg and Shane reevaluates his reasons for being Englisch. But will they find a way to stay together? Or are their differences too divisive to resolve?
 Healing Love by  Laura V. Hilton
Laura is a home-schooling mom and a super writer. She and her family make their home in Arkansas, close to Missouri’s Amish communities. I had the chance to visit Missouri’s Old Order Amish last summer to research Love Comes to Paradise.
Here’s a chance to win a copy of Laura’s Healing Love.  Just post a comment about your personal favorite state to visit!
Post right here on this blog. Thanks, readers, and enjoy these opening weeks of autumn. Leaves are changing like mad here in Ohio.

Welcome Suzanne Woods Fisher and Life with Lily

Please enjoy this guest post from Suzanne Woods Fisher and enter to win a copy of Life with Lily! We have three to give away.
“Put the swing where the children want it. The grass will grow back.”Amish proverb
I’ve often heard that there is no better childhood than an Amish one. Mary Ann Kinsinger had such a childhood. She was raised in a happy Old Order Amish home in western Pennsylvania. A born storyteller, Mary Ann started a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a way to capture the joy of her childhood.
A Joyful Chaos quickly gained a following among those who want to know more about the Amish. Here was a blog of a woman who had recently left the Amish church, but without bitterness or rancor. Just the opposite. Mary Ann’s blog captures what readers are looking for in Amish fiction books: charming family memories, a caring community, a collection of fun, quirky characters, all cast in a rural setting. And yet it’s real! All true.
One day, I e-mailed to ask if she was thinking of writing a book. “No,” she wrote back, “but I might be interested in collaborating.”
Fast forward a year or two. My friendship with Mary Ann continued to grow. So did her blog’s presence: A Joyful Chaos was receiving over 30,000 hits a month. It caught a mention in The New York Times. Mary Ann started a Facebook page. Remember, this was a woman who had stopped her formal schooling at eighth grade! But her education never stopped.
The time seemed right. We submitted a fiction series proposal for children, ages 8-12, to my publisher, Revell Books, inspired by Mary Ann’s childhood. Revell said “Yes!”
The Lily books are more than just another good children’s series—they’re a little slice of America, a peek into the world of a happy Amish family, fun and foibles. I have a hunch that children of all ages, 5-95, will quickly grow attached to Lily. But do you know what has surprised me the most about writing these books? Lily’s parents, Rachel and Daniel Lapp. Based on Mary Ann’s own parents, this young couple is the quintessence of wisdom and maturity. In Book 1, you’ll read a nail biting story when a difficult neighbor insists the property lines are incorrect and aims a shotgun at Lily’s father. Papa responds by…oh…I won’t spoil it. I’ll let you find out for yourself.
Life with Lily, book 1 in ‘The Adventures of Lily Lapp’ series, releases on October 1st and will be available wherever books are sold. Lily has a website,, that will be interactive for children: coloring pages can be downloaded, ask Lily a question, get recipes from her family, information about Lily’s parents and brothers and friends.
Mary Ann Kinsinger can be found at her blog: She lives in the country in western Pennsylvania, not far from where she grew up. And she loves to hear from readers!
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a writer of bestselling fiction and non-fiction. She is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program on, and writes a bi-monthly column for Christian Post, called “Plain Talk about the Amish.” Suzanne enjoys connecting with readers and can be found on-line at
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