An Amish Family ReunionAn Amish Family Reunion
Mary Ellis
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When Phoebe Miller and Eli Riehl meet during rumschpringe, she's charmed by his storytelling, and he's impressed by her artistic illustrations. But their planned collaboration on a children's book---and their growing affection---is put on hold when Eli must return to his family's farm. Will they ever write their own "happily everafter" love story?
     

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 Our Interview with Mary Ellis


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.
 
I grew up close to an Amish community where I loved their peaceful lifestyle and strong sense of Christian community. I now live by the largest population of Amish in the country where I take weekend trips for research. I enjoy reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, I taught Middle School and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. All three in the Miller Family series made the Christian bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards and received the Award of Merit for the Holt Medallion. My current release is An Amish Family Reunion.

How did you come up with the concept for An Amish Family Reunion?

Many of my friends are suffering from the “empty nest” syndrome and are eager for their children and grandchildren to come home and spend time. I especially loved revisiting my characters from the Miller Family series to see how their lives changed over the years. Julia needs to feel useful in life—a common trait she shares with non-Amish women as well.

How much research did An Amish Family Reunion take?

I almost always visit the areas where I set part or all of a book. An Amish Family Reunion was no exception. The story allowed me to spend time in Niagara Falls, where my heroine travels on a rumschpringe trip. What fun to have her fall in love at my husband’s and my favorite vacation destination!

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing An Amish Family Reunion? Why?

While researching my romantic main plot, I met an Old Order Amish young man of nineteen who earns income as an artist in Holmes County, where my story is set. What fun to invent a story about an artist and a storyteller joining forces to write a children’s book, and then meet young Elmer in real life. One of his drawings is in the back of my book.

 Do you have a favorite character An Amish Family Reunion?  Why?

Of course, it would by my Phoebe Miller. Readers may remember her from A Widow’s Hope as the six-year-old daughter of Seth Miller. She had suffered paralyzing grief over the loss of her mother. Now she’s all grown up, has a wonderful relationship with her “new” mom, Hannah, and is ready for romance and a new career.

How involved are you in the Amish community?

As involved as I can be as an Englischer. I have made friends who regularly answer my questions, provide me with recipes and Deutsch translations, and also plant the “seeds” for future stories. I spend as much time as I can in Ohio’s Amish Country—the prettiest four-county area of our entire state.

 

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
I suppose coming up with fresh plot twists. These gentle Christians choose simpler lifestyles to keep themselves on the straight-and-narrow path to God, so “high drama” that keeps readers turning the pages is hard to find.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
 
Right now there is a blizzard outside my office window. I truly enjoy not venturing out on slippery roads to go to “work,” especially since I’m a terrible winter driver.

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I am involved with American Christian Fiction Writers and also my local ACFW-Ohio chapter. I can’t tell you how much I have benefited from my membership, and also from Romance Writers’ of America.

What new projects are on the horizon?

I’ve been researching the Amish who have left Lancaster County, PA, in search of reasonably priced farmland in other areas of the US. The first of my New Beginnings series, Living in Harmony, takes place in central Maine—home to a new settlement of Old Order Amish.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading An Amish Family Reunion?

I hope they’ll realize we’re not that different from the Amish. The idea of adult children leaving home or blundering your way into a new career that you’re ill-prepared for are themes most women can relate to.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I loved my illustrated book of Bible stories and also fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White. Those ancient times or fantasy settings created new worlds for my imagination—I could lose myself within those books for hours.

What is your greatest achievement?

I suppose it would be the day I accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized (full-emersion) in a farm pond complete with lily pads, cattails and a very murky bottom. I was so nervous but then laughed at myself later. Would God allow something bad to happen to me during so pivotal an occasion in my life?

What do you do to get away from it all?

If it’s just for a day or a long weekend, I head down to Ohio’s Amish Country. It refreshes my soul to be surrounded by such pristine farmland. If my husband and I can get away longer, it’s anywhere that has a beach. I love the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the barrier islands of Georgia and the Gulf Coast of Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. I hope I don’t sound like a commercial.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 I want to thank my dear readers who take the time to drop me a line after they’ve read one of my books. I hope they’ll visit my new website.


 
Living in Harmony, New Beginnings Series #1
Living in Harmony, New Beginnings Series #1
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Abigail's New Hope - eBook

Abigail's New Hope - eBook
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Wayne County Series, Volumes 1 & 2
Wayne County Series, Volumes 1 & 2
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