Hello, readers! Although usually I write mysteries and romantic suspense set in the South, recently I wrote a story set in an Amish community. My characters use their faith and trust in God to solve their problems. My hope as an author is that my fictional stories will encourage readers during their own times of tribulation. Shortly after I began my writing career, and experienced a modicum of success, I made a sign to hang over my desk of a favorite Scripture: “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 NLT
When I think back to Christmas as a child, I remember gathering at the home of one of my aunts on Christmas Eve. We would enjoy a potluck dinner and catch up on family news—coming babies, recent graduations and other milestones. Before the families separated to attend church services, the children anxiously awaited the arrival of one special guest—Santa Claus. My uncle would dress up in full costume and arrive with great fanfare down the staircase. He carried a velvet sack filled with gifts for good girls and boys from infants through college-aged. Since I was the youngest of my generation, I was the last child who still believed in Santa Claus. When I finally discovered the truth about the man-in-red, I played along with the subterfuge for years. I didn’t want to spoil the fun for my mother and aunts. Finally when I was in the sixth grade and Santa passed out his gifts, I said, “Hi, Uncle Louie. Thanks for the gift.” My mother and aunts looked broken-hearted, but all good things must come to an end.
Looking back, I’m grateful for the joy they preserved for me because of their love. And because of God’s unending love and the gift of His son…once again I have something to believe in. Merry Christmas! May God’s blessings rain down on your family during this special season.
1 cup butter, softened (do not use margarine)
2 cups sugar
¼ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 ¾ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking powder
Cream together the butter and sugar. To this mixture add the eggs, milk, and vanilla, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together the flour and baking powder; then add the creamed mixture. Roll dough into little balls and then roll in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Need a Christmas novella to get you in the Christmas spirit? Sarah’s Christmas Miracle is available in all electronic formats for $2.99.
And don’t forget to enter the Suspense Sisters fabulous Christmas giveaway! One winner will walk away with a gorgeous quilt, plus books, candy, Christmas items and gift cards. Winner will be drawn on Dec. 22nd. Scroll down to Dec. 1st to enter. Enter the contest by clicking this link an scrolling down at: SUSPENSE SISTERS
Happy 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
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?
Author 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.
See you next week, Mary
Happy Monday, readers,
Anybody who prefers reading books on their electronic devices can find two of my historical romances on sale. The Quaker and the Rebel will be $.99 for the entire month of September for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, and Google Play formats. And book two of the Civil War Heroines series, The Lady and the Officer, will be $1.99 from September 1-30 as well. Now’s the time to give historical romance a try if you haven’t already done so.
You prefer Amish fiction to American history? Remember, Love Comes to Paradise is still $1.99 at Amazon. Here’s the link:
Enjoy these waning summer days. Fall will be here in 3 short weeks, and I am so not ready!!
Best regards, Mary
Happy Monday, readers,
Congrats to Lorraine A. ~ You’re the lucky winner of Laura Hilton’s book, The Postcard. I have contacted Lorraine privately for a mailing address, but thanks to everyone who dropped Laura a comment last week. I was tickled to see so people still love Amish fiction. Speaking of which, one of my favorite books, A Marriage for Meghan, is still priced at $1.99 at CBD in print. Such a bargain if you happened to have missed that one. Here’s the link:
Have a great week, readers. ~ Mary
Today Home Thoughts welcomes Laura Hilton, who has a lovely new book out, The Postcard. If you leave a comment for Laura, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a signed copy of The Postcard. Drawing in one week.
First, here’s a summary of the new book, The Postcard: David Lapp survived a “code blue” when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident in Seymour, Missouri. Now after extensive therapy he has lingering mobility problems and is still struggling to find his place in the world. Lured away from Webster County by thoughts of closed buggies and a postcard friendship he’s developed with an Amish girl in Jamesport, he moves north, hoping for a fresh start. He finds work in the area tying flies and basket weaving, selling his products in the Amish markets in the Jamesport area.
Rachel Miller dreams of travel, but feels tied to her Amish life. She is being courted by Obadiah Graber, but wonders if there’s more to life. When she sees David’s name mentioned in The Budget, she strikes up a pen pal friendship with David while he’s in the hospital and in therapy, consoling him when he and his girlfriend part ways. She never dreams that David will come north and move into her community. David is still fearful in the buggy, especially in high traffic areas. Feeling he’s called by God to preach, David spends hours in the Bible, but the Amish discourage him, believing their ministers should be drawn by lot. Will David follow his call, even if it takes him out of the Amish church? Will Rachel realize her dream to travel?
Here’s a bit of background: Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as the Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Birdhouse in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press’ Quilts of Love series. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.
What are you working on now, Laura Hilton? I am working on the first book of a new series with a working title of The Amish Firefighter. It hopefully will be available in April 2016. My next book is The Birdhouse and it releases in September 2015. I am also working on a contemporary Christmas story with a working title of Christmas Mittens. No release date.
Here’s how to reach Laura:
Here’s where to purchase The Postcard:
Happy 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.
Kathleen 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
Happy Thursday, readers,
I got together with my Amish fiction writer friends (idea from the awesome Jennifer Beckstrand) to talk about our latest books and the movies. Each author picked real life people to play the roles of their central characters AND also picked an actress (living or passed on) to play them in a movie about their lives. What fun we had with this question! Here are the answers:
Kelly Irvin: The actors for A Plain Love Song?
Clare Bowen (Scarlett from the TV show “Nashville”) would play Adah, my heroine. She’s perfect because she’s both an actress and a gifted singer and musician—everything Adah dreams of being. If Brad Paisley, the country music singer who does some acting, were younger, I’d have him play Jackson Hart, my would-be country star who woos Adah and teaches her to play the guitar. Zach Gilford (Matt Sorenson, “Friday Night Lights”) would be perfect for Matthew, the Plain man who loves Adah but can’t understand her desire to sing, play the guitar, and write songs. Again if he were younger.
I love this exercise because it plays right into my fantasy of A Plain Love Song becoming a Hallmark TV movie. A person can dream, right?
&amp;lt;img class=”wp-image-3974 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Kelly-2×3-Color.jpg” alt=”Kelly-2×3-Color” width=”96″ height=”145″ /&amp;gt;&amp;lt;img class=”wp-image-3973 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/katharine-hepburn-9-234×300.jpg” alt=”HEPBURN” width=”111″ height=”143″ /&amp;gt;As for an actress to play me? Yikes. Totally wishful thinking on my part, but since reality doesn’t enter into this equation in any way, I would love for it to be my all time favorite actress, Katherine Hepburn. I love her movies and the way she aged with such grace and dignity, still playing great parts throughout her long life.
Amy Clipston: I love this question because I always have a celebrity in mind when I create my characters. Here are the celebrities I imagine for my upcoming Amish book, A Dream of Home.
Here’s a blurb for the book:
Moving to Pennsylvania wasn’t in Madeleine’s original plans. She should still be in California and should have married her pilot fiance a year ago-but death has a way of changing everything. Now the former Air Force flight nurse is living alone in Paradise, Pennsylvania, and working as a maid at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. She isn’t exactly a widow . . . but she sure feels like one.
Saul Beiler isn’t exactly a widower . . . but his wife is long gone. His eleven-year-old daughter, Emma, doesn’t know that her mother fled the Amish community-and married another man-but she does know that her dat is lonely, and that a pretty young maedel just moved in next door. Madeline’s numb heart begins to thaw as she spends more time with the innocent and ever optimistic Emma. The stronger her friendship grows with the young girl, the more intrigued Madeline grows about the humble, strong, man raising her on his own.
But even as a strange attraction pulls Saul and Madeleine across a stark cultural divide, they-and everybody else-have to wonder: What could they possibly have in common besides heartache? Will love allow Madeleine to finally find the home she’s been dreaming of all along?
And the characters:
Madeleine Miller – Mila Kunis
Saul Beiler – Andrew Garfield
Carolyn Lapp—Julia Stiles
Joshua Glick – Matt Damon&amp;lt;img class=” wp-image-3972 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Julia1-239×300.jpg” alt=”Julia1″ width=”100″ height=”126″ /&amp;gt; &amp;lt;img class=” wp-image-3967 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Amy-Clipston-Portrait-230×300.jpg” alt=”Amy Clipston Portrait” width=”96″ height=”126″ /&amp;gt;
I would love to see Julia Stiles play me, even though she’s a lot younger than I am. I just adore her!
Mary Ellis: For my latest Amish book, A Plain Man, I would love Josh Duhamel to play Caleb Beachy and Carly Rae Jepson to play his sweetheart, Josie Yoder. I would love Johnny Sequoyah (from the TV show Believe) to play Sarah Beachy and Johnny Galecky to play Adam Troyer.
&amp;lt;img class=” wp-image-3975 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/photo-3-255×300.jpg” alt=”photo 3″ width=”97″ height=”114″ /&amp;gt; &amp;lt;img class=” wp-image-3965 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/220px-Valerie_Bertinelli-218×300.jpg” alt=”220px-Valerie_Bertinelli” width=”82″ height=”113″ /&amp;gt;I would love the actress Valerie Bertinelli to play me, in a movie of my life. (What a sleeper that would be!!) I believe her sense of humor matches mine, and when I was much younger, everyone said that we looked alike. I don’t see any resemblance, but since she’s very pretty, I’ll happily take the compliment.
Amanda Flower: From my Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series
Angie Braddock, English owner of Running Stitch, an Amish quilt shop in Holmes County, OH– Kate Hudson
Sheriff James Mitchell, English Holmes County Sheriff– Patrick Dempsey
Rachel Miller, Angie’s best friend and Amish wife of Amish baker–Alexis Bledel (from Gilmore Girls)
Jonah Graber, Angie’s best childhood friend and Amish farmer–Dan Stevens (from Downton Abbey)
&amp;lt;img class=”wp-image-3968 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/anne-hathaway-short-hairstyles-59977635-216×300.jpg” alt=”anne-hathaway-short-hairstyles-59977635″ width=”98″ height=”136″ /&amp;gt; &amp;lt;img class=”wp-image-3966 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Amanda-Flower-photo-225×300.jpg” alt=”Amanda Flower photo” width=”101″ height=”134″ /&amp;gt;If they made a movie of my life, I would like Anne Hathaway to play me. I think she could capture my quirkiness, and she seems to trip a lot in movies. I would need someone who could fall down well. I’m a klutz and stumble over my own two feet a lot.
Jennifer Beckstrand: My next book, Huckleberry Christmas, comes out on October 7. In Huckleberry Summer, Lily Eicher breaks Tyler Yoder’s heart. He is such a nice guy that I thought he deserved his own happily ever after. Enter Beth Hostetler, who doesn’t want anything to do with Tyler, or any man, for that matter.
&amp;lt;img class=”alignleft wp-image-3976″ src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Baby-1-199×300.jpg” alt=”Baby 1″ width=”93″ height=”140″ /&amp;gt;Tyler Yoder would be played by a younger Jason Priestley. Beth Hostetler would be played by Sarah Michelle Geller (the brunette version), and Beth’s son Toby would be played by my grandson Calvin, who was my inspiration for the character. (I know you’re just dying to see a picture of my grandson.)
&amp;lt;img class=”wp-image-3970 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Jamie-Lee-Curtis_3-1024×816-300×239.jpg” alt=”Jamie Lee Curtis_3-1024×816″ width=”134″ height=”106″ /&amp;gt; &amp;lt;img class=”wp-image-3971 alignright” src=”http://www.jenniferbeckstrand.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Jennifer-Beckstrand-1-283×300.jpg” alt=”Jennifer Beckstrand 1″ width=”98″ height=”105″ /&amp;gt;I have been told that I look like Jamie Lee Curtis. We can both be kind of goofy. She’s very cute. I am flattered by the comparison.
Now, readers, who would play you in a movie?
Have a great week and weekend!! ~ Mary
Happy Monday, readers! Today we welcome author Kelly Irvin to Home Thoughts. Stay tuned to win a free copy of Kelly’s latest release, A Plain Love Song. First, here’s a little about the story: Adah Knepp wants nothing more than to make music. It’s all she’s ever desired—to sing and play the guitar and write her own songs. That’s a dream that will never come true in the confines of her strict Amish community. But then she meets Jackson Hart, and suddenly she sees the chance for a different kind of life…a real stage, a real guitar, and a real opportunity to sing her songs to a real audience! But pursuing her dreams means turning her back on her faith, her family, and her community—and saying goodbye to Matthew, the gentle Amish farmer she can’t get out of her mind. Is it worth giving up the only home she’s ever known to pursue her dreams?
Kelly Irvin is a Kansas native and has been writing professionally for 30 years. She and her husband, Tim, make their home in Texas. They have two children, three cats, and a tankful of fish. A public relations professional, Kelly is also the author of two romantic suspense novels and writes short stories in her spare time.
I’ve just turned in The Bishop’s Son to my publisher, Zondervan. It’s the second book in a new series, The Amish of Bee County, set in Bee County, Texas, where a tiny Amish District is located, the only one in the state. The galleys for the first book, The Beekeeper’s Son, arrived at the house today so I’ll be taking one last look at that book, which releases in January 2015. That leaves writing the third book in the series. I’m still doing a lot of thinking and only a little writing on that one!
Where can readers find A Plain Love Song? http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Love-Song-Hope-Amish/dp/0736954988/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399148095&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Plain+Love+Song+by+Kelly+Irvin
To be entered in a drawing for a free signed copy, please leave your answer to this question: Why do you think most Amish districts prohibit musical instruments?
Here’s where you can find Kelly:
Drawing in one week, readers. Hope you’re having a great August! ~ Mary
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, readers, I hope you’ll join me in thanking all the men and women in the US. military for their service to their country!
Recently, I was invited to participate in a blog tour by my good friend, Amy Clipston. Amy writes awesome romantic fiction set in the Amish community for Zondervan and Harper Collins and has won numerous awards. Amy’s latest book is A Mother’s Secret. She asked me to share my answers to four questions that authors from all over have been answering in this Writing Process Blog Tour. Here are my answers:
What am I working on at the moment? Right now, I’m putting the last touches on book two of the Civil War Heroines Series, called The Lady and the Officer for Harvest House Publishers. While serving as a nurse in Gettysburg, Madeline Howard saves the life of a colonel in the Confederate Home Guard. Even though Maddy’s heart belongs to Union General James Downing, Colonel Haywood never forgets the beautiful nurse. When their paths cross in Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, he’s determined to win her heart. Maddy has been busy eavesdropping on army officers and war department officials in her aunt’s palatial home. When she hears plans for Confederate attacks in northern Virginia, she passes the information along to Union officers, betraying the trust of her family and friends. Two men are in love with her. Will Maddy’s choices bring devastation on those she loves?
How does my work differ from others of its genre? Most fictional stories set during periods of political unrest assume a particular posture. Although my lead heroine will share my anti-slavery convictions, I attempt to portray the complexity of social issues. Usually there are no truly “good guys” by the time a war is over, no matter how well-intended people’s original motivations.
Why do I write what I do? I love to create stories about cultures I admire (I’ve written a dozen books set in Amish communities throughout the United States.) and romances set during turbulent periods of America’s past. I’ve always loved history and the way it has shaped laws governing us today. And love does have a way of surviving even during wartime, no matter how dire the circumstances.
How does my writing process work? I travel to the area where I plan to set a story to get details only available in person. In the case of historical novels, I research several times because there is always so much to learn. But in the end, I still end up making a few mistakes because so much information is ambiguous or incorrect. I’ve even seen two different accounts as to who won a particular battle at Civil War interpretive centers.
The Lady and the Officer is available for pre-book at Christianbook.com.
I hope you’ll drop by next week’s blog tour participants: Kathleen Fuller and Carole Brown.
Kathleen Fuller writes lovely Amish romances and historical romance for Harper Collins. http://www.kathleenfuller.com/
Carole Brown writes for Lighthouse of the Carolinas. Her book, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman was nominated for a Selah Award. http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Drop by an see what these great authors have to say! Have a great Memorial Day weekend, readers. ~ Mary