Two on my historical romances available dirt cheap in e-books

Happy Monday, readers,

Quaker and the Rebel, TheAnybody 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.Lady and the Officer, The

 

 

 

You prefer Amish fiction to American history? Remember, Love Comes to Paradise is still $1.99 at Amazon. Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Comes-Paradise-Beginnings-Book-ebook/dp/B00B03M54U/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1441035324&sr=8-1&keywords=love+comes+to+paradiseOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoy these waning summer days. Fall will be here in 3 short weeks, and I am so not ready!!

Best regards, Mary

Ever wonder what happens in the mind of a heroine?

The Last HeiressLast week I completed a reader’s interview from a hero’s perspective, using my dashing hero from The Last Heiress. I had so much fun with this, I decided to answer questions from my heroine’s (Amanda Dunn’s) perspective. I hope you enjoy!

Has anything significant happened in your life in the past two weeks?

I recently landed in North Carolina during the American Civil War. I’m supposed to restore shipments of cotton to my family’s textile mills and repair the riff with my sister. Abigail happens to be married to a slave-owner, a practice I refuse to tolerate. I find myself at odds with my host and hostess at every turn. Everything seems to have become significant lately. 

Your most embarrassing moment?

Thus far my protected and insulated life in England has produced few embarrassments. Since arriving in Wilmington, I’ve had plenty. Look no further than the next question…. 

What is your first reaction when you meet a handsome gentleman?

Usually I blush, and this time was no exception. After all this is the nineteenth century. Then I engage the gentleman in witty or intelligent conversation. However, since I’m a fish out-of-water here, especially with a war going on, I can’t find any common ground. So I don’t think I’ve impressed this young man in the least. 

What happened the last time you spoke to a large group of people?

I had to address the Wilmington business leaders to request a lift of trade restrictions to Great Britain. The session did not go well, needless to say. Southern gentlemen do not take kindly to women conducting business. 

What are your hobbies?

Well-born ladies during the Victorian Era had few acceptable hobbies. I read, do needlepoint, and take long walks in the garden in fair weather. I’m enjoying my stay in North Carolina where conventions have been relaxed due to the Civil War. 

Siblings? How many? Do you get along?

I had a brother who unfortunately was killed at our textile mill, making me next in line to inherit my father’s company. I also have a twin sister. We used to get along just fine until she eloped with an American.

Any current romantic interests?

I have fallen in love with Nathaniel Cooper who charmed me the moment I entered his store. He’s not what my family would consider acceptable for a mate, yet I can’t imagine my life without him. 

Where were you born? What other significant happenings surrounded this event?

I was born in Manchester, England. My identical twin, Abigail, was born minutes after me. Physically, we look exactly the same. However, philosophically we become complete opposites.

What is your worst fear?

My worst fear is that I will fail at the enormous task I’ve been given due to my father’s illness. Women of my class didn’t dabble in business during the 1860’s. I do wish to make my father—and myself—proud.

When’s the last time you had a really good meal? Courtesy of whom?

The last good meal I had since landing on the shores of America was cooked by my new beau! Nathaniel might be a shopkeeper of humble means, but he has won my heart based on his skills in the kitchen alone!

Are there any hardheaded people in your life right now? What’s the issue?

I am living in my sister’s home. Abigail is married to an American cotton broker and slave-owner. I am vehemently opposed to slavery, an institution that England abolished during the last century. Jackson Henthorne and I barely speak to each other which places my twin sister smack-dab in the middle.

Here we are, readers, Friday already! I wish you a lovely weekend with plenty of good reading.

And for my readers in Texas…I’m praying that the rains stop soon.

best regards, Mary

Finding inspiration from another writer’s journal

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a weekend retreat with eight other fiction writers. Although the cabin could have been warmer and the weather less rainy, I loved sharing stories, good food, and laughter with like-minded women. One of the participant’s keeps a journal. Sandra Merville Hart read us her entry that morning. I was impressed with her graceful, evocative prose. Come share the joys of a vacation cabin in early spring in Hocking Hills, Ohio.

Early Morning Thoughts at a Writers Retreat by Sandra Merville Hart 

I’m at a writers retreat this morning. It’s 7:10 am and I’m showered and dressed. It’s been raining since before Becky and I arrived yesterday afternoon.

Mary isn’t feeling well. The damp chill is having a harsh effect on her RA. I think she slept some but not nearly enough. I believe she’s upstairs resting in the recliner now.

It felt like a refrigerator in this cabin basement last night. I’m glad I brought an extra blanket.

Carole just popped her head in. She was freezing last night, too — so chilled, in fact, that she now has a headache because of it. This rustic and homey cabin is beating us up a little. I have a headache and the start of a cold. Mine might be from taking a not-too-warm shower. I rushed for fear that the water would get completely cold.

I hear voices now — Carole and Tamera, I think. Michelle just turned on the light in the futon room.

The authors are waking up. Beware, world. Who knows what will happen in our morning’s writing session?

Killers revealed? Innocent people murdered in a crime of greed?

A man and woman in a promising dating relationship quarrel over some insignificant event and it spirals out of control. Or maybe they fight over something vitally important and seemingly part ways forever. Seemingly. We authors excel at painting a picture of how bad it gets when people don’t communicate.

Perhaps a couple will receive news of a pregnancy. She’s thrilled; he pushes for an abortion.

How about a story of a little girl who befriends the lonely old woman next door — the one who doesn’t want any children walking through her yard so the child stays on her side of the bushes and talks louder?

Knowing Michelle, some sci-fi adventure will take place in a scope and dimension that my brain can only marvel at.

Or perhaps we will step back in time to Victorian America with settings in a small town, a prairie, or a progressive college.

Just look out world. The authors will be hard at work today. And we hope you are the better for it. We will be.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Sandy’s debut novel, A Stranger on My Land, and found it delightful.A Stranger On My Land

Sandy HartHere’s her bio: Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com and contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and ChristianDevotions.us. Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-My-Land-Sandra-Hart/dp/1941103278/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405606746&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Stranger+on+my+land.

Have a good week readers. Stay warm…stay dry…spring is almost here!  ~ Mary

Blockade running during the American Civil War

 

In my latest historical novel, one of my characters stakes his entire financial future on two blockade runners to travel between North Carolina and England. Blockade runners during the Civil War were the fastest ships available and came armed and armored, enabling them to outrun Union ships on blockade patrol. blockade runner 1Their operations were risky since the Union Navy wouldn’t hesitate to fire on them. However, the potential profits (economically or militarily) from a successful crossing were tremendous. The Union government sought to cut off all trade with the Confederacy and patrolled 12 major ports and 3,500 miles of southern coastline. Great Britain played a major role on the blockade running business, since they had huge investments in the South, and were the recipients of their cash crops, especially tobacco and cotton. Great BritainthQEOI8L5N also controlled the neutral ports of the Caribbean, such as the Bahamas and Bermuda. Among the more notable of these premier vessels was the CSS Advance which completed more than 20 successful runs through the Union Naval blockade before being captured. By the end of the Civil War the Union Navy had captured more than 1,100 blockade runners and had destroyed or run aground another 355 vessels. blocade running 2

The Last Heiress is a stand-alone historical romance, also set during the American Civil War. My heroine, Amanda Dunn is heir to the largest textile mill in Manchester, England. When the blockade of southern ports curtails the supply of cotton, her father sends her to Wilmington to restore trade. Her estranged twin sister, Abigail, eloped at 17 with an American cotton factor, and also lives in Wilmington. When Amanda falls for a local shopkeeper, class distinction, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance. The risky business of outmaneuvering the Union Navy became one of my favorite research assignments in The Last Heiress, available now in bookstores and online. The Last Heiress

A Look at Wilmington, NC, of the 1860’s

Traveling to the location where my book takes place is an important part of research. And it’s also the most enjoyable. After all who doesn’t love to be on vacation while learning wonderful tidbits of history? To write my latest historical romance, The Last Heiress, I visited Wilmington on four different occasions. Sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a week, but each time I took plenty of photographs. However time does not stand still, not even in nationally registered, historically protected sections of a city. The Wilmington of today still contains the flavor of the mid-nineteenth century, including many buildings intact. But my visit to the Cape Fear Historical Society at 814 Market Street showed me the neighborhood has changed during the last 150 years.cape fear 2

Janet Davidson, Museum Historian, was kind enough to furnish me with images taken during the 1850’s and 1860’s. I hope you’ll enjoy this walk down memory lane in a town whose beauty has withstood the ravages of time. This museum is a must-see during your visit to New Hanover County. I don’t think you’ll have much trouble telling my photographs from those sent to me by Janet. Enjoy, readers….Mary

 cape fear 1 cape fear 3 cape fear 4 cape fear 5

 

Release day of The Last Heiress is almost here!

Happy Tuesday, readers. I do hope you’re keeping warm wherever you are. It’s all of 11 degrees here in Ohio, but at least it has stopped snowing.

The Last HeiressI’m thrilled to announce my new book is about to release, The Last Heiress, which I researched both in England and Wilmington, North Carolina. My 2008-05-22 07.41.18British pal, Carolyne Way, inspired my story during my last visit to the U.K. Carolyne told me about her great grandfather who owned a coal mine near Manchester. This mine supplied the lucrative garment industry along the western coastline. She also relayed the true story about a mine collapse which killed both miners and textile workers alike which figures into my story. My book is about twins who become estranged when one sister, Abigail, elopes with an Southern cotton broker from North Carolina. My heiress twin, Amanda, sets off for America to restore shipments to her textile mills curtailed by our Civil War.

When Amanda meets Nathaniel Cooper, a Wilmington shopkeeper, her desire to conduct business and return home changes. Amanda’s family deems the hardworking merchant harbor 2unsuitable for an accomplished heiress. And when Nate loyalties regarding the war begin to shift, Amanda has her own battle on her hands. As the Union noose around Southern ports tightens, Nate contemplates joining the Glorious Cause—not in support of slavery but to watch his brother’s back. Class distinctions, political loyalties, and family obligations guarantee a turbulent romance for Amanda and Nate.

The Last Heiress is available for pre-book from CBD and will ship the same day books arrive in their warehouse. It will be available in electronic formats on February 1st. Here’s the link for a hot-off-the-presses print copy at 25% off retail:

http://www.christianbook.com/the-last-heiress-mary-ellis/9780736950527/pd/950527?product_redirect=1&Ntt=950527&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

I hope you’ll look for The Last Heiress at your favorite library or bookstore. Happy reading! ~ Mary

Real Life Lady Spies of the Civil War

Happy Last Day of Summer, Readers!!

Lady and the Officer, TheIn my historical romance, The Lady and the Officer, Madeline Howard had never intended to become a spy. But when military intelligence practically falls into her lap, how could she not serve her country behind enemy lines? While researching this novel, I discovered plenty of real-life spies whose lives of intrigue provided plenty of inspiration. Here are brief bios of 5 of them:

Harriet Tubman was a former slave known who led 300 people—including her elderly parents—to freedom as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. She was also a Union spy. Tubman volunteered for the Union as a cook and a nurse before recruited by Union officers to establish a network of spies made up of former slaves. Tubman became the first woman in the country’s history to lead a military expedition. In June, 1863, Col. James Montgomery and Tubman led several hundred black soldiers up the Combahee River in gunboats, avoiding remotely-detonated water mines. When they reached the shore, they destroyed a Confederate supply depot and freed more than 750 slaves from rice plantations. After the war, Tubman tried to collect $1,800 for her service but was unsuccessful. Due to the service of her late husband, she did receive a widow’s pension of $8 per month beginning in June 1890 until the government authorized a payment of $25 a month beginning in January 1899. Following her death in 1913, she was buried with military honors at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York. Born in New Orleans, Pauline Cushman was a struggling 30-year-old actress in 1863. While she was performing in Louisville, Kentucky, Confederate officers dared her to interrupt a show to toast Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. Cushman approached the Union Army with a plan to ingratiate herself to the Confederates and become a federal intelligence courier. The Union immediately sent Cushman to federally occupied Nashville, where she gathered information about enemy operations. She was arrested by the Confederates after identifying several Confederate spies and sentenced to hang. Saved by the arrival of Union forces at Shelbyville, Cushman was forced to stop spying due to her notoriety. After the war, Cushman tried acting again and gave monologues on the war, wearing her uniform with pride. Probably the most famous Confederate spies, Belle Boyd, had been born to a prominent slaveholding family near Martinsburg, Virginia. At age 17, Belle was arrested for shooting a Union soldier who had broken into the family’s home and insulted her mother. Though Union officers cleared her of all charges, they watched her closely. Young and attractive, Boyd used her charms to gain information, which she passed along to the Confederacy. After repeated warnings to stop covert activities, Union officials sent Boyd to live with family in Front Royal, Virginia. Soon after her arrival, she began working as a courier between Confederate generals “Stonewall” Jackson and P.G.T. Beauregard. Jackson credited the intelligence Belle provided with helping him win victories in the Shenandoah Valley. In July 1862, Boyd was arrested and sent to Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. She was released a month later and deported to Richmond, but she was soon caught behind federal lines and imprisoned for three more months. In 1864 she was arrested while trying to smuggle Confederate papers to England. She fled the country and a few months later married Samuel W. Hardinge, one of the Union naval officers who had detained her. Hardinge returned briefly to the United States and was imprisoned as a suspected Southern spy. He died soon after his release. Boyd, now a widow, wrote a book and embarked on an acting career, often telling of her clandestine experiences during the war.

Rose O’Neal Greenhow was a Washington socialite when she began spying for the Confederacy. Greenhow obtained information about Union military activity and passed coded messages to the Confederates. One of her most important messages, hidden in her hair, helped Gen. Beauregard win the First Battle of Bull Run. Suspicious of Greenhow’s activities, Allan Pinkerton, head of the federal’s new Secret Service, gathered enough evidence to place her under house arrest. But Greenhow continued her espionage. In January 1862, she and her daughter were transferred to Old Capitol Prison. Several months later she was deported to Baltimore where Confederates welcomed her as a hero. President Davis sent her to Britain and France to gain support for the Confederacy. In September1864, Greenhow was returning to the South on a British blockade-runner with $2,000 in gold. With a Union gunboat in pursuit, the ship ran aground on a sandbar near the North Carolina shore, and it ran aground on a sandbar. Against the captain’s advice, Greenhow tried to escape in a rowboat with two other passengers. The boat capsized and she drowned, presumably weighed down by the gold she carried. Her body washed ashore the next day and was buried in Wilmington with full (Confederate) military honors. Born to a wealthy Virginia family, Antonia Ford was 23 when she provided military intelligence to Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart. Ford gathered information from Union soldiers occupying her hometown, which was halfway between Washington, D.C. and Manassas, Virginia. In October 1861, Stuart gave Ford an honorary written commission as aide-de-camp and ordered that she “be obeyed, respected and admired.” In March 1863, that document was used to accuse her of spying for John Singleton Mosby. Mosby’s partisan rangers had captured Union general Edwin H. Stoughton in his headquarters—one of the most famous cavalry raids of the war. The Secret Service suspected Ford was involved in planning the attack because Stoughton and Ford had spent time together. When the Secret Service sent a female operative, pretending to be a Confederate sympathizer, to meet Ford, Ford showed her Stuart’s commission. Ford was soon arrested with smuggled papers hidden in her clothing. After months at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, Ford was released thanks to the efforts of Union major Joseph C. Willard—one of her captors. Willard resigned from the Union Army, and he and Ford married in March 1864, after she took an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Thanks to the Smithsonian Magazine for providing biographical information. Have a lovely fall, readers. My-oh-my, where did the summer go?? ~ Mary