One of my favorite recipes

Do you know the best aspect of being a fiction writer? The ability to give your characters traits you have (or wish you had!) and let them enjoy your favorite things in life. In my latest Amish book, A Plain Man, my character Josie has a Secret Recipe 4-bean Salad that everyone in town simply adores! I created my  own special salad recipe and allowed it to become famous! The uniqueness of this recipe stems from its flexibility. In other words, feel free to change it to accommodate whatever you have or is plentiful in the garden. Unlike Josie, I never make this recipe the same twice. Hope you enjoy! Have a great week, readers.

Jessie’s Secret Recipe Four Bean SaladA Plain Man

Combine in large bowl:

1 can green beans

(note: all beans can be either home-canned or store-bought)

1 can yellow beans (wax beans)

1 can kidney beans (light red or dark)

1 can garbanzo beans

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped peppers-sweet (green, red or yellow or combination)

½ cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped black olives (optional)

Add only enough dressing (recipe below) to lightly coat salad, then chill in refrigerator several hours or overnight. Before serving, if desired, drain off any runny dressing and add fresh. (1 or 2 tablespoons, or to taste)


2 cups oil (I prefer olive)

1 1/3 cups cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

2 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning

2 tsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. Hungarian paprika

1 tsp. parsley (fresh or dried)

Heat oil and vinegar together, stirring in sugar and seasonings. Heat only until sugar is completely dissolved and seasonings are blended. Do not boil. Let cool and stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator to use as needed. Shake well before using. This can be used on coleslaw and lettuce or spinach salad too.

Author’s note: I never make this recipe the same way twice, so play around with the quantities (celery etc.) or types of peppers, etc. to suit your taste.  Mary

Here’s our twelve winners & I’ll be on BlogTalk Radio tonight!!

Happy Tuesday, readers,
What an exciting week this is turning out to be! My newsletter was delayed a few days since Mail Chimp no longer accepts Yahoo mailing addresses. So I picked an extra 2 winners due to the delay. Without further ado, here are the 12 winners of a signed copy of A Plain Man. Carolyn Ford, Barbara Myus, Nancy Pack, Debra Ford, Cindy Hamilton, Laura Bassett, Anna Layton, Sandy Rutkowski, Anna Mills, Linda Ware, Rosemary Trezza, and Becky McCoy. Books are being mailed today.

Next, here is my lucky winner of Pam, by Sharon Srock, from last week’s interview on Home Thoughts. Sandra Stiles–Come on down!! You’re our next lucky winner of a great book by Sharon Srock!

And finally, tonight I’m a guest on Romance in on the Air, with host, Jennifer Fusco! I’m so excited. We’ll be talking romance, and books, and what I do for a living, and a little bit about everything. Tune in if you can. The show, Romance in on the Air, is on from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Eastern time. Here’s the link to make it simple. Just clink on it and you’re set to go!!

Have a great week, readers. Spring is in the air in Ohio, and I’m one happy camper!! ~Mary


Nothing quite as exciting for an author as a new book

A Plain ManHappy Thursday, readers,
There is nothing more exciting in an author’s humble life than when a new book releases. Day after day, writers sit cloistered in our offices pounding away at keyboards. Lunch in another room of the house becomes the highlight of our days. But today I’m tickled to announce my newest Amish romance is here. A Plain Man is the story of a prodigal son who comes home. Although Caleb Beachy tried the Englisch world for several years, he is a Plain man at heart. When he returns to the Amish lifestyle, he discovers there’s more to embracing his faith and reconnecting with the community than driving a horse and buggy and giving up his Levis. He struggles with his domineering father, the oppressive rules of his district and with the paralyzing guilt from past mistakes. Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left, but she’s all grown up now and still has a soft spot for Caleb. But Caleb carries enough shame and self-loathing to derail even a well-established relationship. Josie might be the love of his life, but will past sins end up destroying their fledgling romance?

I hope you’ll enjoy the story of a wounded heart finding joy, health, and healing in God’s infinite grace. Sign up for my newsletter from my website: for a chance to win one of 10 signed copies of A Plain Man on April 15th. If you’re already signed up, you’re in the drawing! For an additional chance to win, please leave me comment here on my blog!  A Plain Man is already available at CBD now and will release April 1st at Amazon and in stores. Here’s the links:

Have a great week, readers, and happy spring!! Mary


I’ve been gone, but now I’m back!

Happy Sunday evening, readers,

Does anyone enjoy coming home from vacation? So much mail to go through, so many emails, so much laundry, pick up the dog, restock the fridge, pay the bills, catch up on yard work…the list goes on and on! But what a lovely vacation I had! First we visited family in Texas and enjoyed a wonderful Easter in San Antonio. I loved the RiverWalk and the historic missions. I truly would have enjoyed attending Mass at the Mission of San Juan, even though I’m not Catholic. What a breathtakingly beautiful church/mission.

Next we visited Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana–two of my favorite cities on earth. Although the French Quarter has plenty of things that I don’t appreciate, I still love the architecture, the music and of course, the food. Now plenty of writing and editing awaits, but I had to share some photos of a priceless vacation. I hope everyone has a lovely week as I return to the edits of A Little Bit of Charm, edits of Always in my Heart (novella), writing A Plain Man, and writing A Heart Divided (historical romance set during the Civil War)

Whew, I’ll need another vacation once all these projects are done! Have a super week of spring, readers!   Mary



Maple Sugar Time in Ohio

Good Monday morning, readers,

Without further ado, Cassy Glass, you’re the winner of Cheri Swalwell’s book, A 40-day Habit Between Friends–Because They Need You. This is a great book of devotions for mothers. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment last week.

Last Sunday, I watched them tap trees, gather sap the old fashioned way in oxen pulled wagons, and then make maple syrup at Hale Farm and Village. This is a historical interpretive village near our home that demonstrates the early way to do everything. Since my current book A Plain Man contains a scene in which an Amish man makes maple syrup, the two methods are quite similar, because both use wood-fired evaporators. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup? No wonder the price for the real-deal is so expensive. These days your usual pancake syrup is made from sugar cane or sugar beets or something other than maple syrup. But if you want the real deal for your family it’s still available. I bought some made in Geauga County, famous for maple syrup in this area. It’s superb! Ohio is the 3rd leading maple syrup producer in the United States. Vermont is number one. I’ve been to Vermont several times–yes, maple trees are everywhere! (I don’t remember #2, sorry, I took notes as fast as I could…) Hope you enjoy the photos of a very sweet morning. Have a great week, readers. And Happy Easter to you all!


We have a winner of Miriam’s Quilt

Good Monday morning, readers,

The sun is shining in Ohio and it’s not snowing! So all is well. Without further ado, Elaine Panfill, come on down!! You’re the winner of Miriam’s Quilt by Jennifer Beckstand from last week’s contest. Elaine, you’re in for a great read! And it you haven’t done so, drop by Jennifer’s website for more chances to win Amish fiction. And don’t forget about my contest…I’m giving away 10 copies of Love Comes to Paradise to my newsletter subscribers on March 15th. That will be here before we know it.

This week I’m hard at work on A Plain Man, which picks up the story where Sarah’s Christmas Miracle leaves off. On Sunday I’m attending a maple sugar hands-on demonstration to make sure my story research is correct. The Internet only provides so much, then a writer needs to jump in her car to see the real thing. Besides, a pancake breakfast, swimming in maple syrup, is part of the demonstration. And you sure can’t get that from a computer!

Before I forget, if we have any new or want-to-be writers out there…I posted on a fellow writer’s blog about how I got published. Drop by Tamera Kraft’s blog for the full story:

Have a lovely week, readers. Stay warm.

Monday mornings and a fresh slate

Good morning, readers. Here in Ohio as well as in most places within my blog reach it’s Monday!

I used to hate Mondays when I was a schoolteacher (and various other jobs) but not so anymore. I love them. Why? Because I have a fresh new opportunity to get things done. 5 days, tons of hours, thousands of minutes to cross off items on my to-do list! Writers never have one book that they’re working on. There is the one they’re actually writing, plus the one they’re researching, plus one being edited and of course, the one recently released that you’re supossed to publicize. Is it hard to keep all of them straight in your head? You bet it is. It’s like juggling six balls in the air, and unless you’re a trained circus clown that’s a challenge. But on Mondays everything seems possible. So I’ll settle into my favorite chair and start chapter two of A Plain Man. (the book  I’m writing) A Little Bit of Charm has been turned into my publisher and I’m waiting on suggested changes. I researched my summer project this past weekend. And the one that’s arriving in stores?? I’m in the process of sending out free copies to contest winners. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, do so from my website:  I’m giving away 10 free copies of Love Comes to Paradise on March 15th.  And in the meantime, drop by this writer’s blog for a short interview. If you leave a comment there, Casey will draw a lucky winner in about a week. here’s the link:

In the meantime, enjoy YOUR Monday. Look how many days you have to get your dreams accomplished.   Mary