Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Interview with Mary Ellis / Giveaway of Living in Harmony / and review

Answer Mary's question and leave contact information to be entered into the giveaway! Extra points if you follow my blog, like Mary on Facebook, or tweet about this contest. Let me know what you do!

Thank you for being with us today, Mary! What kind of research did you do for Living in Harmony?

During the summer of 2011 I traveled to central Maine with my best friend from college. It turned out to be the hottest summer on record in that area. I interviewed several Old Order Amish families, along with lifelong English farmers in that region. There’s been a surge of organic growers in that area, and a few Amish have joined in, despite the requirement of tons of government paperwork for certification.

How did you come up with the plot for Living in Harmony?

I read a non-fiction book about the flight of Amish from Lancaster County due to soaring real estate prices. I became fascinated on where they would go, and what regional differences they would find in their new home states.

Oh, me too. I had a lot of fun researching that. Share a brief blurb about the book.

Amy King—young, engaged, and Amish—faces life-altering challenges when she suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. Her fiancĂ©, John Detweiler, persuades her to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who can help them.

John’s brother Thomas and sister-in-law, Sally, readily open their home to the newcomers. Wise beyond his years, Thomas, a minister in the district, refuses to marry Amy and John upon their arrival, suggesting instead a period of adjustment. While trying to assimilate in the ultraconservative district, Amy discovers an aunt who was shunned. Amy wants to reconnect with her, but John worries that the woman’s tarnished reputation will reflect badly on his beloved bride-to-be. Can John and Amy find a way to overcome problems in their relationship and live happily in Harmony before making a lifetime commitment to each other?

Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?

I don’t try to use my own personal life as a source, but unfortunately my heroines end up having some of my personality traits, especially the negative ones.

What are your own favorite authors? Genres?

I love to read historical fiction and Amish fiction. I love Ann Gabhart’s historicals about the Shakers, and ALL the Amish authors…especially YOU.

How sweet, Mary! I love your books too! How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?

Unfortunately, I don’t read anywhere near as much as I’d like to due to my writing commitments. I wish I could do one or the other faster.

Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?

I write full-time and must fit the rest of my life around it. Since it’s just my husband and me, he’s gotten used to dinners thrown together at the last minute. A cooking-show devotee I am not.

What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?

I sit on my deck and write looking out into the woods. During the winter I’ve been known to hang out at the library or my local coffee shop. I can write just about anywhere that’s fairly quiet or has “white noise.”

How have social networking sites, even including email, etc. impacted your writing? Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?

I don’t social network nearly enough since I don’t allow myself until my word count is done. I find the internet helpful as a starting point for research, but I don’t trust everything you find there. There’s nothing quite as helpful as hands-on research in the place you’re writing about.

Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?

Oh, I’m definitely old school. I like to talk to folks in person to study human behavior.

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.!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Ask a question for the readers to answer to be entered into the giveaway

my question for the giveaway: Did you ever move away to start over after a difficult time in your life?


Author: Mary Ellis
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
August 2012
ISBN: 978-0736938662
Genre: Inspirational/Amish

Amy King has planned to marry John Detweiler in November when tragedy strikes. Amy loses her parents, and the family farm. Her two younger sisters decide to stay with family in Lancaster County, but Amy and her sister Nora accompany John to a remote Amish community in Maine. There they plan to marry right away and buy a farm.

But Harmony, Maine, is much different than Lancaster County. The rules are harsher, restricting the colors to dark drab colors. The bonnets are so wide, they act as blinders for the women. No rumspringe is allowed, and neither is courting, unless the parents accompany the couple. And worse—the bishop and ministers in Harmony won’t let John and Amy marry.

Will John and Amy survive the demands placed on them in Harmony, Maine?

LIVING IN HARMONY is the first book in Ms. Ellis’ The New Beginnings series. Amy and Nora are sweet, as is John’s sister-in-law, Sally, though she struggles with most household tasks. Thomas is strict, as demanded by their Ordnung, and John often has to correct Amy and Nora for accidentally breaking the rules.

I enjoyed reading LIVING IN HARMONY, written by an Amish author I consider a friend. I love her writing and her storylines are always fresh and realistic. I enjoyed visiting a new Amish community in rural Maine. Discussion questions and some recipes are included at the end of the book as well as a sneak preview of the second book in the series, Love Comes to Paradise. $13.99. 324 pages.


Amy Campbell said...

When I was younger and in a difficult marriage, I lived 1000 miles away from family. When that marriage finally ended, I moved to be with my family. Best choice I ever made.
I'm a email follower.
Have liked Mary's fb page.
Campbellamyd at gmail dot com

Sandi Coughlin said...

I've started over many times in my life. This last time was a move to TX and not knowing anyone. Life is always an adventure.

Ladette Kerr said...

Kind of, yes. :) My husband is pastor and there have been a couple of moves (from church and thereby towns) to new places that have been after a difficult time (in churches).

Ladette Kerr said...

I have liked Mary's FB page and I'm tweeting about the giveaway:


Mary Ellen Ashenfelder said...

I have started over a few times in my life -- never moved away -- have lived in the same town all of my life.

Mary Ellen Ashenfelder said...

I like Mary Ellis on Facebook and I follow this blog. Thank you.

Mary Ellis said...

thanks so much for inviting me to your lovely blog, Laura. You're the best!

LadyDi said...

I have started over when I divorced, but just moved to a different place in the area.

LadyDi said...

I moved to a new home when I divorced - that was the only time I moved due to difficult circumstances.

LadyDi said...

I will share this contest and blog on

Sharma said...

Yes 5 1/2 years ago after 25 years of marriage I got a divorce and moved to my current location. I moved from the country to city and have now found the love of my life. The 30th of this month we will be married 4 years. I left the area where I grew up to a place I didn't know anyone. But I would do it all over again.

loretta said...

I have FELT like leaving! At this point I am content to stay near my family. I'm here to stay!

Nancee said...

I've never had a reason to move away. I'm fortunate to have had a very loving family and a good marriage. My children are now grown and live in close proximity. I'm one of the lucky ones!

I'm a follower of this blog and receive emails. Thanks for offering this giveaway!

Nancee said...

I forgot to leave my email address:

pilotcardriver said...

Yes I pickup and moved fr PA to OR in 1978 been here now over 34 yrs loved it when we got here but now its time to go back and face our demon,lol,thank for your contest (

Jackie Tessnair said...

No...But I have thought about it and still thinking about it.If I just had the money,I think it would be good for

Jackie Tessnair said...

I follow your blog and I also like Mary on

karenk said...

no, i have not moved begin again.

thanks for the chance to read this fabulous story

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Little Red Book House said...

Ive never moved away and started life over again...always lived here in the same community.
And I am an email follower but its weird, I dont get your email posts. Ive resigned several times but still dont get your updates. Not sure why? Maybe something on your end?

Janice said...

I have not really started over in any sense except by changing church denominations within my local community. I live in an urban area so even though the church I use to attend is five minutes from home in one direction, and my newer church is five minutes from home in another direction, it felt like being in a completely new locale.

I would love to win your book. The interview was enlightening concerning the dedication it takes to get the writing done without distractions.

Beautiful website background of dots and plaid. Blessings, Janice

Janice said...

I am a follower of this blog by e-mail. Blessings, Janice

Megan Parsons said...

We have started all over a few times. Sometimes you just need a fresh start! makeighleekyleigh at yahoo dot com

Anne Rightler said...

We moved at a fairly difficult time in our lives but we moved near our family and it all turned out well, as it often does as we put God first in our lives.
Thank you for sharing your talents and here's hoping to be one of your winners.
Anne Rightler.
I have "like"d Mary on FB and have signed up to follow your blog

Jnut1 said...

I have been lucky not to have to move after a difficult time in my life.

lollipops said...

Congratulations to Janice Smith for winning this book!