Monday, December 13, 2010

meet Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community, Geauga County, where her parents often took her to farmer’s markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful, agrarian lifestyle, their respect for the land, and their strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation.

She, her husband, dog and cat now live in Medina County, close to the largest population of Amish in the country—a four-county area in central Ohio. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, research for her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life.

Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School in Sheffield Lake, Ohio and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate for twenty years—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits.

You can find Mary at her blog

Sarah's Christmas Miracle

“Joy to the World!” Sarah Beachy has much to be happy about as autumn gives way to winter. She loves her job at the English bed-and-breakfast where she cooks and refreshes rooms between guests. She has a serious beau, and everyone expects an engagement soon. Why, then, just before Christmas, would she jeopardize everything by deciding to take a trip to Cleveland to track down her brother, who left the Order years ago?

Her family’s faith in God is put to the test as the holiest night of the year approaches and Sarah remains far away. Sarah’s mother, Elizabeth, has been missing her son for such a long time…will she lose her daughter to the English world as well? Or will the Beachy family receive an unexpected Christmas miracle? A Plain and loving story of hope and redemption, one that will be a welcome addition to the joy of the Christmas season.

Here's an excerpt of Sarah's Christmas Miracle:

By Mary Ellis

One Day before Thanksgiving

Why couldn’t things remain the same forever?
As the sun rose over the eastern hills, the rolling, deep purple meadows glistened from a thousand sparkling prisms as sunlight refracted in the morning dew. Dawn was a magical time of day. Sarah shuffled her feet through the shredded cornstalks as though she had all the time in the world. Fiery red and gold leaves swirled along the lane that separated their land from the neighbor’s property. On her left stood the tidy, white house and outbuildings of home—farmland that had been in her family for seven generations. The fenced pastures and rolling croplands stretched for as far as the eye could see. On her right, white pickets enclosed the landscaped four acres of her employer, Country Pleasures—a charming bed-and-breakfast on the county road. Two different worlds, but both dear to her heart.

Englischers came from all over Ohio to sleep on goose down pillows, under handmade Amish quilts, in antique four-poster walnut beds. They ate hearty gourmet breakfasts in the luxurious dining room before setting out to visit Amish country. The community of Plain folk had drawn tourists for decades to the quilt shops, farmers’ markets and furniture galleries of Holmes, Wayne and Tuscarawas counties. Except for the danger from increased traffic, the Amish had adjusted to their newfound popularity while holding steadfast to their Christian faith and simple lifestyle.

Sarah Beachy enjoyed the best of both worlds. The farm where she lived with her parents and five siblings stood within walking distance of the inn where she prepared breakfast six days a week, washed linens, and tidied rooms in between guests. Englischers weren’t the only ones curious. Sarah loved hearing their strange accents, seeing their colorful combinations of clothes, and listening to breakfast chitchat about the “bargains” they’d found at the flea market. And since she usually finished work by eleven, the rest of her day stretched before her like a box of wrapped chocolate—each hour to be opened and savored at leisure.

“Sarah Beachy!” A voice broke through her trance. “Stop dawdling! I need you today!” Mrs. Pratt stood with both hands planted on her hips, yelling from the upstairs porch.

Although still too far away to judge facial expressions, Sarah knew the innkeeper wasn’t really angry. A kinder, gentler soul would be impossible to find. But she picked up her skirt regardless and ran the rest of the way—an occurrence since she’d reached the dignified age of nineteen.

“You’re not strolling woodland paths hand-in-hand with Adam. I need you to start the omelet while I fix fruit and oatmeal for my vegetarians and country fried steak for the men. I think the youngsters would enjoy Mickey Mouse cut-out pancakes.” Mrs. Pratt’s voice trailed off as she reentered the hallway, allowing the screen door to slam behind her.

Sarah smirked as she climbed the steps to the back door. Strolling with Adam…she might do a little of that tomorrow after the big turkey dinner. The entire Troyer family had been invited to share the meal with the Beachys. There were so many Troyers, they would need tables set up in the living room and enclosed porch, besides the ten-footer in the kitchen. But since her mamm planned to roast one turkey today and another tomorrow, there would be no shortage of food. Sarah hurried to wash up and put on her apron. When she entered the high-ceilinged kitchen, Mrs. Pratt held an upraised wooden spoon. “Are you going to smack me with that?” Sarah asked, trying not to grin.

“What?” Mrs. Pratt looked confused. “No, no. I’m trying to get down another saucepot from the hook. Why Roy thought I needed this silly ceiling rack for pots and pans is a mystery to me. And I have no idea where my step stool is.” At five-foot-nothing, Lee Ann Pratt needed her stool on a regular basis.

At five-foot-ten, Sarah almost never did. “Let me help.” She arched up on tiptoes and easily caught the handle of the sought-after pot.

“Thank you, dear girl. I’m so glad I hired someone tall.” Mrs. Pratt bustled to the counter where cinnamon rolls were cooling on a wire rack. “Ready for the glaze,” she announced, poking at one roll. “Please start an omelet for eight and get out some orange juice. We’ll have to make do with frozen, no time to squeeze. But I’ve already sliced fresh pears and a pineapple and for fruit cups.” Back and forth the woman buzzed around the room, like a hummingbird under the influence of fermented nectar. Sarah performed her duties with far less stress but no less efficiency. After all, keeping the inn filled to capacity with paying guests wasn’t her personal worry.

“Everybody’s in an all-fired-up hurry today,” Lee Ann said, dropping her voice to a whisper. The first of the overnight guests had appeared and were headed toward the coffee service on the credenza. “Folks want to pick up pumpkin pies and specialty gifts in town, or view the last of the autumn leaves before the holiday rush starts.”

“Rush to where?” Sarah asked, dicing peppers and tomato for the omelet.

Lee Ann looked at her strangely. “Everywhere…people are in a big hurry until Christmas, trying to finish their shopping, baking and house decorating. It never seems like there’ll be enough time, but somehow there always is.” Like a dervish, Mrs. Pratt grabbed her tray of fruit cups and marched into the dining room, as though the bed-n-breakfast guests teetered on the edge of collapse from hunger.

Sarah smiled as the door swung shut. She loved working in the warm comfortable inn especially since the frenetic innkeeper treated her like a daughter. From early spring through late fall when the B&B operated at full capacity, her younger sister worked here too. But as the holidays drew near and throughout winter, the two of them ran the place like a well-oiled clock.
Hopefully, the Englischers won’t be rushing around so much they miss the point of the season, she thought.

You can purchase Sarah's Christmas Miracle from Amazon:

Mary is giving away a copy of Sarah's Christmas Miracle. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like this would be a great read!

Love your new site!
Grace C

Nancye said...

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Hope said...

Sounds like a fun book! I'd love to read it :)

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like a wonderful story.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Mozi Esme said...

I'd love to read this!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Patsy said...

I love these kinds of books. Would love to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.

Jo said...

This definitely sounds like ka book that I would be interested in reading.


Nia for Jesus said...

Here I am again,please I'd to win..


Nia for Jesus said...

Here I am again,please I'd to win..


Anonymous said...

would enjoy reading this novel...thanks for the chance :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Terri said...

I love reading the Amish novels. Growing up in Lancaster County Pa. I know some of the customs and oddities of these people.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for offering this. I love winning books just so I can share them with others and then donate them to the local Christian library. This would be a great addition. djragno at hotmail dot com

Golden Goat said...

Pick me pick me
jpklmt @

apple blossom said...

Please include me.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

apple blossom said...

I'm a follower

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

apple blossom said...

email subscriber

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Judylynn said...

Looks like a great read. Please enter me.


Judylynn said...

I am a GFC follower.


Kathy said...

Would love to read this book!
Thanks for the opportunity to enter.
Wishing you a blessed new year, too!


Barbara Beers said...

What's not to love about Amish fiction, Christmas, and a miracle?!

Please include me in the contest.

Edna said...

I love Amish books, would love to win this one,

I follow


Edna said...

like you on face book


Edna said...

subscribe by email


Edna said...

have your button on my blog


Meredith said...

Please enter me! Thanks for the giveaway!

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Lisa Nelson said...

Please enter me in the drawing!
Also, I signed up to follow this blog.
Thank you,
Lisa Nelson
storyreader617 @

Christopher Morris said...

Looks like such a fabulous read. Thank you for you generosity.

wfnren said...

I SOOOOO want to read this book, thank you for the chance to win it.


Joy Hannabass said...

Would love to win this awesome book!

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