It’s Not About Me

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

My mother had her own version of that particular passage: Stop tooting your own horn. And her favorite: The less said about one’s self the better. The immortal maxims of my late mother still ring in my ears today, making me smile. The problem is Mom was a stay-at-home housewife, not a published author. How does a Christian balance being humble with the necessity of self-promotion, essential in the world of publishing? Not only writers, but musicians, dancers, actors, salespeople, public speakers, sports figures and of course, politicians must do quite a bit of horn-tooting to stay in the game. Even doctors and lawyers appear on TV enticing us to file that lawsuit or get that tummy-tuck expressly from them. Often this type of marketing isn’t just expected but required in the fine print of contracts.
I have struggled with the dilemma of promotion vs. setting oneself above others. I don’t like having to say: “look at me and what I’ve accomplished” even though I’m expected to blog, Facebook and participate in author interviews. So I must walk a narrow path between not puffing myself up, and spreading the word that a book about God’s infinite grace, mercy and love has just been released.  I focus on one undeniable truth: God gave me whatever humble abilities I possess. As long as He continues to put words into my head, I will continue to turn them into gentle stories meant to inspire. I hope I never forget: It’s not about me. It’s all by His hand and for His glory.
Have a lovely Thanksgiving, readers!!   Mary Ellis
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Welcome Kathleen Fuller ~ Win a copy of her latest book Never Broken

Kathy FullerHello Kathleen Fuller and welcome to Home Thoughts.
First, however, I’d pick to name Mary Ellen Ashenfelder as last week’s winner of Jill Kemerer’s book, Unexpected Family.
Kathleen, tell us something about your latest book, Never Broken, set in 1840’s Ireland. Rory O’Leary, orphaned then raised by wealthy relatives, is summoned home for a family wedding. While there, he has a chance meeting with Shannon Cahill, a young peasant woman. Although their stations in life couldn’t be more different, they are immediately drawn to each other. After a brief meeting in a rose garden they can neither forget, they go their separate ways. When Rory’s uncle passes away, his cousin William, who inherits the estate, cuts off all funds to Rory and his brother and has them removed from the only home they know. Rory feels his best option is to leave Ireland. Meanwhile, Shannon and her family have fallen on hard times due to a potato famine. Her ailing parents scrape together funds and insist that Shannon and her sister immigrate to America. Shannon fears she’ll never again see the man who stole her heart in the rose garden. As both Rory and Shannon set about to start new lives away from their beloved Ireland, God intervenes and weaves together a cord that can never be broken.
 
NeverBrokenFront (1)What inspired you to write Never Broken?  My family history inspired me to write Never Broken, Book 1 in the Everlasting Faith series. My great-grandfather’s family emigrated from Ireland to Glasgow, Scotland during the Great Famine. I wanted to write about how people survived during that time period, and how they kept their faith in the direst of circumstances. 
ReluctantBride2a2b (1)What are you working on now? I’m working on my new series, the Amish of Birch Creek. The first book, A Reluctant Bride, released September 8. A Reluctant Bride is about a woman who is forced into a marriage of convenience in her small Amish community, and how she finds love where she least expects it. 
Where can readers find you? 
I’m on Facebook and my website is: www.kathleenfuller.com and on Pinterest:
Please say hello to Kathleen Fuller and leave her a comment to win Never Broken. Drawing in one week!
Enjoy these waning days of summer, readers!
~ 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: www.maryellis.net 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:

http://www.christianbook.com/a-plain-man-mary-ellis/9780736949804/pd/949804?event=Fiction

http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Man-Mary-Ellis-ebook/dp/B00I2YDBVQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1395331248&sr=1-1&keywords=a+plain+man

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

 

Are Amish novels romances? Win the 3-book Miller Family series.

Good Monday morning, readers.

Lately, I’ve been asked this question several times…and it got me thinking. For regular romance readers, whether contemporary or historical, do you find Amish stories romantic when you read them? Romance readers often have certain expectations regarding the level of “heat,” so to speak. But almost universally, Amish stories are Christian inspirationals, thus the heat level would be zero. Yes, this culture usually produces plenty of babies, but how they come to be remains tastefully behind closed doors. Also, Amish fiction often has either a cozy mystery or a family drama feel to them.

So when someone asked me whether Living in Harmony would be classified as a romance I had to ponder for a moment. I told her “yes,” despite my young couple enduring plenty of problems before their walk down the aisle.

I want to hear your opinion. Many of you read many Amish fiction authors, beside other genres. Do you think Amish stories are romances? I will give away the 3-book Miller Family series (A Widow’s Hope, Never Far from Home and The Way to a Man’s Heart) to one lucky commenter. I’ll give away two sets if there are plenty of comments. So please give me your two-cents. And happy reading everyone!  Mary

Welcome Amy Lillard, win a free copy of her book Saving Gideon

Good Monday morning, readers,

I hope your weekend was lovely. It hit sixty degrees yesterday in Ohio, which is absolutely fine with me. Today I’m welcoming Amy Lillard, a fellow author of Amish fiction. Amy’s latest release is Saving Gideon from B&H Books . Here is a blurb about the story.

Gideon Fisher wants only one thing out of life— to be left alone.  This is not the Amish way, but he’s devastated after the death of his wife.  He has lost his faith.  He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community.  But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does he have but to let her in? Dallas socialite, Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere life style.    Poor little rich girl, Avery has just gone through—–yet another—–bad breakup.  Every man she meets only wants her for her father’s money.  All she has ever wanted is to be loved for herself.  Avery soon discovers that the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart. But she finds a peace in those back roads that she’s never felt before.  Now her life has purpose and meaning as she connects with God and those around her.  But it has even more as she begins to care for this man who needs both love and forgiveness. Gideon never wanted to live again much less fall in love, but Avery finds her way into his heart, showing him the beauty of life and God’s greatness.  But as the feelings between Avery and Gideon grow, can they overcome their dissimilar lifestyles or will their sheer differences pull them apart?
And here is a little something about the talented author:
Amy Lillard is an award-winning writer who loves reading romance novels from contemporary to Amish. These two genres met in her first book, Saving Gideon. Born and bred in Mississippi, she now lives with her husband and son in Oklahoma. The second book in the Clover Ridge series, Katie’s Choice, is scheduled to release May, 1, 2013. She is currently working on the third in the series. Find Amy on the web at http://www.amywritesromance.com
To win a free copy of Saving Gideon, please post a comment here to this question:
Have you ever wanted to run away from your life and hide away where no one could find you?
Have a great week, readers. And stay safe.  Mary

Copy of An Amish Family Reunion giveaway

Good morning, folks. Happy Wednesday. Don’t ask me what happened to my regular posting day of Monday. Mondays have a way of slipping through the cracks. But today I offer three separate chances of winning a signed copy of An Amish Family Reunion. You can simply post a comment here on my blog to be entered in the drawing for one of five free books. The drawing will be held on February 15th to honor my brand new website. Please drop by www.maryellis.net if you haven’t already checked it out. Sign up for my (future) newsletter for another chance to win.

And please drop by my friend and fellow author, Vannetta Chapman’s blog, for a third chance to win An Amish Family Reunion. Vannetta is halfway through reading my book and so far, so good.

here’s the link to drop by and post a comment. http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/an-amish-family-reunion/

All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. She will draw a lucky winner in about a week.

that’s it–have a great week. Ohio just dodged a bullet in the big snowstorm that just arrived in the East.

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:http://www.margaretdaley.com/2011/11/this-week-vickie-mcdonough-mary-ellis-and-janelle-mowery/

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