Monday, August 13, 2012

A Warm Welcome to Amish Author Mary Ellis!

Mary Ellis grew up near the Amish and fell in love with them. She has now written nine bestselling novels set in their communities. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, bicycling, and swimming. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Her debut Christian book, A Widow's Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carols. She has since written eight best-selling novels.

Is there a story behind Living in Harmony? 
Yes, my publisher, Harvest House, sent me a great research book, called After the Fire: The Destruction of the Lancaster County Amish by Randy Tesla. It was a real eye-opener. The fire Mr. Tesla described was metaphorical, but it triggered my New Beginnings series. In the first, Living in Harmony, a house fire destroys the happy home of three sisters, forcing them to start over.

Do you type or write by hand? 
Both, I usually write out scene longhand; then type them up, editing and improving as I go along. That makes for a cleaner final copy, only in need of a final edit (which takes around two weeks) Then I give the manuscript to a proofreader before submitting to my editor.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? 
Yes, I’m in the process of rewriting a historical romance that was the first book I ever wrote.

What are your five favorite words? 
What a fun question! dubious, onerous, ennui, tranquility, and tangled. Now that I think about it…they could all relate to my hair.

 What character that you’ve written most resembles you?
Meghan in A Marriage for Meghan. I loved creating a first year teacher with a roomful of onerous little boys, since I’m a former schoolteacher. They destroyed her tranquility with their mischief and created quite a tangled plot.

Do you ever write based on your dreams? 
I once wrote an entire book based on a dream. It was the second book I sold in the ABA. But usually I write about ideas gleaned from research trips.

Where do you most like to write?
 I can write absolutely anywhere…in the car while my husband drives, in a noisy coffee shop, even in the doctor office waiting room. But my favorite spot is on my deck in the screened gazebo: no bugs, lit candle, and wildlife wandering through the yard. God’s handiwork surrounds and inspires me.

 Does music help you write? 
Absolutely! I love movie soundtracks. I wore out The Last of the Mohicans, The Hours, and Gladiator. Now I’m wearing out The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, True Grit, and The Hatfields and the McCoys.

How do you find the time to write? 
I force myself to sit down in my office chair every day by seven AM, no excuses. If the power is out, I write longhand until it comes back on. Since I write full-time with tight deadlines, I must discipline myself. Everything else—yard work, cleaning, errands—gets squeezed in when I need a break. Often I start supper when I hear my husband’s car pull up the drive.

 When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 
Book two of the New Beginnings series, Love Comes to Paradise, will release in January 2013. We pick up Nora’s story as she takes off on a whim for the rural countryside of Missouri. She follows her heart, but soon discovers the young man isn’t worthy of her love. Everything, including the weather, seems determined to wreak havoc on her life.

To order Mary's books:

Mary is giving away a copy of Living in Harmony. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.

Happy Reading! Caroline Brown


Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

cjajsmommy said...

So, as a former sales rep for Hershey, I assume you must live in my neck of the woods, or close by. Surely you worked chocolate into the storyline of this book, right? Please enter my name to win a copy. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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