Author Spotlight: Mary Ellis

Today we welcome Bestselling Author:

last-mint-gift-BANNER Mary Ellis

 She has come to share with us – a little of her own writing journey
and some of that much-needed encouragement.

Thank You Mary!

God Bless You!

 

 

– Many authors say their first novel will never see the light of day but I remember reading that you recently pulled out the first novel you wrote and gave it a “face-lift”. Would you mind sharing a bit about why you put it away to begin with and what prompted you to bring it back out?

That’s an easy one. I put it away because neither I nor my agent were able to sell this novel. I was told, “no one’s buying historical fiction, especially not the Civil War.” So I waited a dozen years for it’s “day” to come. Historical fiction has enjoyed a resurgence and the 150th anniversary has triggered some interest in the Civil War. However, I soon discovered my “baby” needed a full rewrite since I’d learned much since my early days as a novelist.

 

– Aside from regular posting on Facebook, are there any special marketing techniques you suggest or recommend – especially to unpublished authors?

Goodness, you’re asking the wrong person. Facebook is the only social media I do–not Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram or Linked-in or anything else. Not because I see no value in those, but because I don’t have enough hours in the day. I try to have a “real” life too, in addition to spending 9 hours a day at my computer. I personally know many fine authors who can juggle more “balls in the air” than me and still have normal lives. But we all have to make choices. In my humble opinion, a new writer should spend the majority of his/her time learning the basics of fiction writing and polishing their work.

 

– Would you mind sharing with us how many rounds of querying you went through before getting that first “YES!”? And how much (if any) of your second book did you have completed before you signed a contract for the first one?

I queried every agent and publisher in the book who published or represented my genre for several years, before landing my current agent. She sold not the first full manuscript I completed, or even the second. I believe it was the fifth book that finally garnered some publisher interest. When I finally burned my early rejection letters, I did so outdoors, not in the fireplace!

 

– How difficult has it been for you to go from one genre to another? Do you write simultaneously in both or do you have to close one out and take a break before diving into the other?

For me, it would have been difficult to remain in my chosen genre (Amish). After a dozen published books, I had run out of steam…and plot twists! I need to change directions or I would be trotting out the same tired themes. I was writing two genres at the same time for a while, but I had no trouble keeping stories separate. Time management….it all comes down to finding enough time for everything you want to do.

 

– Do you have any special tips or hints you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?

The world of publishing is changing at lightning speed. Keep up with what’s going on in the marketplace. And don’t be too quick to self-publish your book before its been sufficiently edited. Whether your seeking a traditional publisher or not, a manuscript needs to be letter-perfect or your career will suffer.

Good luck to you all!  Mary Ellis

 

Please join me in Thanking Mary for taking time
out of a very busy schedule to answer these questions for us.

 

I truly hope all of you have found this as inspiring as I have!

 

And now for some other info about Mary and her wonderful books

From Mary’s website:

Mary EllisMary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish, where her parents took her to farmer’s markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful lifestyle, respect for the land, and strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation. They now live 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 her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life. She was re-baptized by emersion four years ago and committed her life to Christ.

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

All three of her Miller Family series, A Widow’s Hope, Never Far from Home, and The Way to a Man’s Heart made the Christian bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for 2010 in the long contemporary category, and a runner-up in the 2010 Holt Medallion Awards. An Amish Family Reunion released in Feb. 2012 and made the CBA & EPCA bestseller lists. She is currently working on the New Beginning series. The first, Living in Harmony, will be available in August.

 

 

And now for a look at her books:

 

Have you read the first book (the one I referenced above) in Mary Civil War Heroines series:
“The Quaker and The Rebel”? 

The Quaker and the Rebel
What Happens When an Underground Railroad Conductor
Falls in Love with a Man Loyal to the Confederacy?

 

Emily Harrison’s life has turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempts to continue her parents’ work in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm is sold in foreclosure. Now alone and without a home, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Though it’s dangerous, she decides to continue her rescue efforts from there.

Alexander Hunt, the doctor’s handsome nephew, does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee. But he cannot take time to pursue Emily, for Alexander isn’t what he seems—rich, spoiled, and indolent. He has a secret identity. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a fearless man who fights the war from the shadows, stealing Union supplies and diverting them to the Southern cause.

The path before Alexander and Emily is complicated. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they trust God with the challenges they face to provide them with a bright future?

 

 

And her most recent Amish fiction: “A Plain Man”
A Plain Man

 

Though Caleb Beachy lived in theEnglisch world for some years, he is a Plain man at heart. When he decides to return to the Amish lifestyle, he moves back home and goes to work for his father. Soon these two strong-willed men find themselves at odds. Caleb discovers there’s more to embracing his faith and reconnecting with the community than merely driving a horse and buggy and giving up Levis.

Josie Yoder was just a girl when he left. All grown up now, she gives Caleb hope for the future. She soothes his frayed temper and is determined to remind him that while his faith may have wavered, God never left his side. Caleb is tempted to return Josie’s feelings, but the choices he made while away are a heavy burden on his conscience. Will past mistakes end up destroying their fledgling romance? Or will she be able to break through the wall around his heart?

A Plain Man is more than just a sweet romance centered in Amish beliefs. It’s the ever-fresh story of a wounded heart finding joy, health, and healing in God’s infinite grace.

 

 

Mary Ellis is a tremendous inspiration to me.

Not only has she written eleven successful Amish fiction novels and at least one novella but she has pulled me into a new genre that I never thought I would enjoy reading about.

This is just one more reason we have created this community of friends. As much as we need to support each other and reach out to each other and remind each other that God has a plan for every one of us! We also need to have the constant reminder that each one of us has a very different journey ahead of us.

 

God Bless You and Have a GREAT week!

 

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It’s lonely on the pedestal.

 

Recently I had a very eye-opening conversation with a very well-known author (I’ll never tell). Somehow she is under the impression that she is not nearly as skilled, talented or loved as other well-known authors of her genre (Not telling that either – might give too much away).

Where am I going with this…

 

I think our society has made such a fuss over “celebrities” that we forget they are real people too!

 

Even famous authors (and she is famous because everyone I know who read that genre… and even a few who don’t… know her work) need to know that their work is appreciated. They need to know we like what they’re doing and they need to know that we see them as people too!

 

So how do we do this?

Well one way is social media. We live in a world that thrives on social media and it makes it so much easier to go to Facebook and “friend” all your favorite authors, “like” their page and then share their posts!

 

Another way we can do this is to review their books – on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, ChristianBooks, Library Thing, and on your blog – if you have one. Reviews are very important to a lot of people. It is one way a lot of readers decide whether or not a book is worth their time.

 

Another way you can go about it is to write notes to them. Send them a message on Facebook, Write comments on their blog posts. Find a P.O. Box and send them a personal card.

 

Authors are not just famous – they’re people too!

 

And think about it this way… when you’re published, would you rather people put you up on a pedestal and never talk to you or would you rather they treat you like a treasured friend?

 

Just my two cents on the subject…

God Bless!

And good night.

 

Tell us what YOU want to know.

 

Everyone has questions… 

 

Tell us some of yours.

 

There is a world of published authors out there and they hold the keys to the kingdom – so to speak. Every journey may be slightly different but they still know the answers to questions we have.

 

I plan to make this segment a regular event. Comment below with questions you have for authors and I will go hunt down the answers for you.

 

I will also be adding the questions to our NEW Ask An Author Page!

Click the linked words above or Look for it under the menu that says MORE on top of the page.

 

An example: Recently Sarah Loudin Thomas posted an FAQ post on her blog HERE and I asked the question:

I wonder about two things and I’m sure it’s different for every author depending on their publisher.

How many author copies do they send you? Some of the pictures I’ve seen look like a big box – very full and a few authors actually talk like they got two boxes.

And when you do book signings/ appearances/ conferences – are you responsible for providing those copies or do the people putting it together do that? If you are responsible for getting them there, do you have to buy the copies or does the publisher provide them?

And THANK YOU for the questions above. GREAT questions AND answers!
God Bless!

 

And Sarah was kind enough to reply.

Great questions!

Author copies vary by contract–I think 25-50 is pretty standard. It’s not by the box and how many are in a box varies according to how thick the novel is. My books are 40 to a box, but some fellow authors with longer books would only have 32 or 34.

You’re typically responsible for making sure your books get to events unless it’s one of those rare book signings in which case you’re probably at a bookstore that carries your books. Depending on the setting, you can supply books through a bookseller who will handle all the sales leaving you to get the percentage you negotiated through the contract with your publisher, or you can buy the books from your publisher (at a set discount) and pocket the profit (if there is any!).

 

That was exactly what I wanted to know. It really is true – all you have to do is ask.

And it’s also true that you will never know until you ask.

So ask away!

 

What do YOU really want to know?

 

~Blessings~

Author Spotlight: Jolina Petersheim

Today we welcome Bestselling Author:

 She has come to share with us, a little of her own writing journey
and even some of that much-needed encouragement.

Thank You Jolina!

God Bless You!

 

 

– Many authors say their first novel will never see the light of day.
Was “The Outcast” your first completed novel?

Oh my! I have two manuscripts in the desk drawer that will most definitely never see the light of day. My first, though fiction, highlighted my experience growing up on a Christian camp. My second novel was Southern fiction and dealt with racism and the destructive power of secrets throughout the tobacco-farming Ashinhurst family (I found the last name in an old graveyard). I dearly love both of these stories because they taught me writing discipline and gave me the confidence to know that I can actually create a novel; sometimes it’s really just a matter of sitting in a chair for a specified amount of time and putting thoughts in the word processor. Also, though I never imagine publishing these works, I have gleaned from them while working on my other manuscripts. The art of writing is never a waste of time!

 

– You have had an amazing rise to popularity.
Any special marketing techniques you feel may have been contributing factors?

Thank you! So kind of you to say. The only marketing tip I have that might be a little different from the norm is that I think we authors have to take social media breaks from time to time or else we risk suffering burnout. Because of this (and because I am just terribly irresponsible with technology), I don’t have a smart phone. I simply upload tweets to Hootsuite through my laptop and schedule posts to my Facebook author page. This gives me freedom to “unplug” and work on my story without being distracted. Then it’s a fun reward—rather than a drudgery—to check back in after my word count is completed and visit with my readers, who are also my friends.

 

– Would you mind sharing with us how many rounds of querying you went through before getting that “YES!”?

​As strange as it sounds, I actually never queried my agent. We discovered each other at an author reading because of our Pennsylvania Dutch last names and struck up a conversation. I had no idea he was an agent until he asked to see the portion of the manuscript I was working on: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter set in an Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee, which would become my debut, The Outcast. I, of course, Googled him whenever I got home (I had to wait because I don’t have a smart phone) and about passed out. He was a very legitimate and respected agent! So I polished my manuscript for a month, sent it to him, and heard back within a few days. He wanted to read more. Therefore, I started writing up to eight hours a day, five days a week, and had the completed manuscript to him four months later. It was a wonderful, whirlwind experience—truly one of the highlights of my life!

 

– How much (if any) of your second book did you have completed before you signed a contract for the first?

A few months before my conference call with my publisher, Tyndale, my husband and I sat side by side at a frozen yogurt lounge with our newborn in a car seat between us and hashed out the plot for my sophomore novel, The Midwife: the story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers. But, beyond that, the story itself was just a figment of my imagination. Once I signed that two-book contract, however, I knew it was time to get to work. My daughter was twelve weeks old when I started the first draft, and during the process of defining motherhood, I found I was discovering what it meant to be the kind of mother who would sacrifice to give her child life. It was a beautiful, challenging time, and I am grateful for it.

 

– Do you have any special tips or hints you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?

Yes, never, ever give up! That afternoon I met my agent, I was 12 weeks pregnant with our firstborn daughter and had reconciled in my heart that it was time to set my writing dream aside. Here, little did I know that God was just waiting for my complete surrender to His plan for my life to resurrect my lifelong dream of becoming an author! I love being able to work from home and be with our daughter (and with her sister who is due in September!) through every simple, exquisite moment. I know I am blessed.

 

Please join me in Thanking Jolina for taking time
out of a very busy schedule to answer these questions for us.

 

I truly hope all of you have found this as inspiring as I have!

 

And now for some other info about Jolina and her wonderful books

From Jolina’s website:

image

 

 

 

I was born on a hot August day in the heart of Amish country. While my family moved to Tennessee when I was only three years old, my childhood was filled with stories of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors hiding TVs from bishops and concealing permed hair beneath kapps. But this unique heritage did not interest me.

Instead, I pouted as my mother divided my waist-length hair into plaits and then forced me to change from purple overalls into a jean skirt and sneakers in preparation to visit our Plain friends—knowing, even at the tender age of six, that this combination was a fashion faux pas. Playing Hide ‘n’ Seek or Kick the Can with my Old Order Mennonite peers, however, I soon became grateful for that skirt, which helped me transition from Southern Englischer to intimate friend.

Years passed. I knew my Mennonite playmates had traded braided pigtails for kapped buns, yet on a visit to the community, I rebelled against my mother’s instructions and arrived with unbound hair. During supper, which was eaten beneath a popping kerosene bulb, the hostess came and stood behind my portion of the bench. She slid out my blue satin ribbon and plaited my hair as I stared into my bowl of grummbeer supp accented with homemade brot.

The winter of my seventeenth year, I returned to the community to visit my once-raucous playmate whose ill health had transformed her into a soft-spoken friend. The whites of her deep brown eyes had yellowed from liver complications. Her family and my own gathered around her bed, which was heaped with spinning-star quilts, and sang hymns whose Pennsylvania Dutch words I did not know, but whose meaning struck my heart with such clarity, tears slid down my cheeks.

One week later, I stood beside her grave, wearing a thick black headband to hide my newly pierced ears with the fake diamond studs that stabbed the tender skin of my neck and gave me a migraine further magnified by jaw-clenching grief. I remember how the somber community huddled around her family as if their physical presence could shield them, not only from the slashing wind and sleet, but from the reality that their dochder and schweschder’s body was about to be placed into the cold, hard ground.

I left for college that summer, almost eighteen years to the day I had been born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was the first person in my immediate family to attempt a higher education. As I unpacked my flared Lucky jeans and beaded sweaters into wobbling dorm drawers, I thought I was leaving my Mennonite heritage along with a certain broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed man whose father had attended my father’s Mennonite high school.

Three years, one death, and two lifetimes’ worth of tribulations later, I realized that I had not lost the precious attributes surrounding my Plain heritage, so much as I had needed to go away in order to find myself.

In the cool autumn of 2008, I married my broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed Dutchman; thus making my last name as difficult to spell as my first. I kept wearing my Lucky jeans and layering my wrists with jewelry, but I was also drawn to a simple life, reminiscent of the one I had once tried to flee. My husband and I purchased a forty-acre valley nestled at the base of softly rolling Tennessee mountains.

Upon moving into the haus my husband built with determination and his own two hands, I began to write a fictionalized version of a story that had once been told to me. A story regarding the power of desire and the reverberating cost if that desire is left unchecked; a story that, shockingly enough, took place in an idyllic Old Order Mennonite community.

In Nashville, I was introduced to a genial, white-haired man who was as excited to hear my Dutchy last name as I had been to hear his. He had attended the same Mennonite high school as my father (and my husband’s father) and, as a literary agent, he was interested to read the portion of the story that I had completed.

He read the first twenty-five thousand words while flying home from a book festival in Brazil and wanted to read more. I continued to write as my expectant belly continued to grow. Two months after the birth of our daughter, Tyndale House accepted the manuscript, as they were as excited to promote my modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter as I had been to write it.

And so, wearing Lucky jeans (the same pair, actually), chandelier earrings, and with unkapped hair, I continue writing stories about the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage that once brought me acute embarrassment, but has now become a creative outlet with no closing doors.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. . . .

 

And now for a look at her books:

Have you read Jolina’s latest book: “The Midwife”?

 

image

The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .

The Past — Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy — and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers deep in a Tennessee Mennonite community.

The Present — As head midwife of Hopen Haus, Rhoda Mummau delivers babies with a confident though stoic ease. Except in rare moments, not even those who work alongside her would guess that each newborn cry, each starry-eyed glance from mother to child, nearly renders a fault through Rhoda’s heart, reminding her of a past she has carefully concealed. Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives in the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her regrets and those she left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.

 

And her premiere novel: “The Outcast-A Modern Retelling of  THE SCARLET LETTER”?

image

 

 

Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life.

Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop. But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul.

When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

 

 

 

Jolina Petersheim is a prime example of God moving us along on the path he has set for us.

While it is difficult for us to submit ourselves completely to God’s will, we must remember that He knows what is best for us and His will for us is so much better than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves.

This is one reason we have come together and created this community of friends. We need to support each other and reach out to each other and remind each other that God has a plan for every one of us! We only need to allow that plan to unfold in front of us and take the steps of faith that are so important.

 

God Bless You and Have a GREAT week!

 

Do you want to be featured on our blog?

I have just added a new LINKS menu with links to our Author’s sites.

Do you want yours to be added? Want a little free publicity? Tell us a little about yourself and what you write and we will link your blog.

 

 

GOD BLESS!

NaNoWriMo, Writing and a Very Personal Ministry.

For years I have worried that I would never find the right ministry.

image

 

I thought it might be writing but I am beginning to see that my writing might only be a small part of God’s plan for my life and my ministry.

My mother and I felt a calling to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year, despite our experience last November.

And I felt called to start this group.

I applied to be an official ML with NaNoWriMo but I kept feeling like I wasn’t done yet so I prayed a bit and I waited and I listened.

When I saw the Facebook page for the current Nashville regional group, I felt compelled to start one for our group. Then it was a blog and finally a twitter profile. And once I had all of these things in place, I realized I still wasn’t done yet.

Then I finally began to see what God had been trying to tell me. It wasn’t enough to reach out ONLY to writers who do NaNoWriMo… I have to reach out to ALL authors – and when I say all, I mean all. Not just writers of inspirational fiction (although that is still our group’s main focus) but ALL writers of any genre.

Jesus went out and talked to the people – ALL of the people. That was one of the biggest reasons the Pharisees had so many issues with him… because he associated with the “wrong sort”. 

Yes, we need more support for writers of Inspirational fiction and non-fiction.

But we also need to reach out to those around us who do not. The saved don’t need to be saved again. They just need fellowship.

It’s the lost who really need us. And if that can be done by reaching out through a writer’s group, then that is how I will do it!

God has called and I WILL ANSWER!

 

Blessings!

Have a Blessed Evening!

~ Rachel

It’s NOT too late!

We started this blog/group with the intention of encouraging writers of Inspirational fiction within the confines of NaNoWriMo but now that we have had a day to think about it and discuss – we think it is better to use this group/blog to encourage Inspirational Authors everywhere ALL THE TIME!

There is simply not enough support for Authors of Inspirational fiction! And there should be – there are a lot of us out there! PRAISE GOD!

So watch our FACEBOOK and TWITTER pages for news of events coming SOON! And watch the BLOG for encouragement and for tips and hints for your writing journey!

 

Now…

 

That being said, if you want to participate in NaNoWriMo, there is something called Camp NaNoWriMo that is going on RIGHT NOW! And…BONUS… you can pick your OWN Word Count GOAL! So, if you decide to participate – starting NOW, you can STILL WIN! All you have to do is ask yourself how much you WANT to write in the remaining days of July!

You also have the option of revising a novel – which is what I am doing. And I want to add at least 10,000 words to my novel so that is my goal. If you would like to connect with me there, click HERE.

 

So, watch for news and encouragements COMING SOON!

And head on over to Camp NaNoWriMo and join in! You can sign up anytime! I did! You can have fun while you’re writing! And you get to pick your own word count. You can’t lose!

 

Plus you get all these Great Banners and Buttons and Avatars!

Participant 2014 - Facebook Cover

2014 Participant - Vertical Banner         2014 Participant - Facebook Profile         2014 Participant - Square Button

Participant 2014 - Twitter Header 2
2014 Participant - Twitter Header 1 

 

Happy Writing and GOD BLESS!