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Mary EllisMary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish Community, Geauga County, where her parents often took her to farmers’ markets and woodworking fairs. She and her husband now live in Medina County, close to the largest population of Amish in the country. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, meet Amish families, and enjoy a simple way of life.

Favorite Verse: Colossians 3:13 (NLT) :  Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Visit Mary Ellis in our Writers' Corner

Abigail's New Hope Discussion Questions


 Our Interview with Mary Ellis


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I live a dull, boring life in Ohio, because I can’t seem to get away from my computer. Seriously, I’m a former middle-school teacher, former sales rep for Hershey Chocolate (yummy!) and a former legal secretary. I love writing full-time. I’m a bad gardener (my husband refers to my plants as annual perennials) and an avid reader. I love bike riding, snorkeling, swimming and going to the zoo. I’m a pretty good cook but I can’t bake. I’ve ruined brownies from a box! I have Amish friends who bake those pie recipes that appear in my books; then invite me to sample their creations. (yummy, again!)

How did you come up with the concept for Abigail's New Hope?

My main plot (the midwife story) is loosely based on a real-life case that went through the Holmes County Courthouse a number of years ago. I fictionalized many details as not to cause discomfort to anyone still living in the area who were part of the real event.

Do you know how to sign? Please tell us a bit about the story behind the story.

Not anymore, I don’t. I’ve forgotten most of what I’d learned. My husband had a close friend who is deaf. He could talk, but since he’d never heard the spoken word, his speech was difficult to understand. I was amazed how my husband was able to understand every word, due to their close association at work. I also became adept communicating with him and his wife using a combination of speech, signing, and pen and paper to write out ideas that were difficult to communicate. It wasn’t always pretty, but we managed just fine!

Do you have a favorite character in Abigail's New Hope? Why?

My favorite character is my heroine, Abigail.  Her faith remains strong even when faced with separation from her family and possible shunning from the community.


How much research did Abigail's New Hope take?

I did quite a bit of research in newspaper archives for stories remotely connected to midwives. Then I researched and interviewed at the Holmes County Courthouse and Justice Center.  (I believe one handsome lieutenant now hides whenever he sees me coming); and also at the New Bedford Care Center, a non-profit Amish-and-Mennonite-owned birthing center.

What is the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing Abigail's New Hope?

At the (midwife) birthing center, moms-to-be can choose a “water” delivery if they like which uses a special birthing tub. I was so impressed with this facility!

How many books will be in this series?

There are two books in the Wayne County Series: Abigail’s New Hope will be followed up by the story of the youngest Yost sister, Meghan. A Marriage for Meghan will be released on October 1st from Harvest House Publishers.

 What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

I love writing Amish fiction, but find it’s growing difficult to discover new story lines. Since this wonderful Christian culture defines itself by a simpler lifestyle, a writer is limited to a small pool of possible vocations, meeting places, or activities for single adults, etc.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I’ve only been a full-time writer for less than a year. I’m still getting used to not juggling two careers at the same time.  I love that when it’s snowing or freezing rain (plenty of that lately in Ohio) I can just walk to my office and go to work. This is much easier than driving a sales route on slippery roads.

Downside? I have only a dog and my cat to talk to. I tend to bottle up all these things to say; then unleash them on poor hubby when he comes home from work.


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

I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the Ohio ACFW chapter, Romance Writer’s of America, along with their inspirational chapter—Faith, Hope and Love.

What new projects are on the horizon? 

I’m hard at work on An Amish Family Reunion, which will be the fourth installment of the Miller Family Series. I’m having fun meeting with Hannah from A Widow’s Hope, Emma from Never Far from Home, and Leah and Matthew from The Way to a Man’s Heart. My central character will be Phoebe, Seth’s “silent” daughter from A Widow’s Hope—all grown up and ready for romance!

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Abigail's New Hope?

Like my Abigail, when Christians are facing difficult times, they must turn to prayer and Scripture to see them through. All answers can be found within the Good Book.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Animal stories—My Friend Flicka, Bambi, National Velvet, Charlotte’s Web, Lassie, and of course, the romantic fairy tales like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White. I always saw myself as poor Cinderella, even though I don’t have any sisters, step-or-otherwise. I am amazed how that archetypical story continues to resurface in romantic fiction to this day.

What is your greatest achievement?

Becoming baptized (full-emersion) in this murky pond, complete with cattails and a swampy shore. I was terrified, even though I can swim almost as well as the toe-biting fish in that pond. My anxiety, no doubt, stemmed from taking this step as a Christian. Although I have always attended church, this step of dedicating and surrendering my life to Christ was pivotal in my life.

What do you do to get away from it all?

When I need a stress break, I must go by water. Maybe it’s just a long walk around the local lake with my old dog. Or maybe I’ll drive north to gaze over beautiful Lake Erie and eat my lunch. But if hubby and I can take a vacation we almost always go somewhere along the Atlantic coast, especially the Outer Banks. However, I can’t seem to ever “get away” from my writing. I take yellow tablets along with me so I can write a few scenes or jot down ideas for my next book. I cannot stop myself….

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I would like to thank all my faithful readers, because without them, I would have no reason to sit down in front of my computer.


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