New Beginnings Series, Volumes 1 & 2New Beginnings Series, Volumes 1 & 2
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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.

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 Our Interview with Mary Ellis


 

How did you come up with the concept for the New Beginnings Series?

A couple years ago, I was given a non-fiction book by one of the editors at Harvest House, After the Fire: The Destruction of the Lancaster County Amish by Randy-Michael Testa. The book details the flight of Old Order Amish from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in particular, but also applies to Holmes and Wayne County, Ohio—the area where I live and set my romances.

Skyrocketing land prices, rising taxes, and the influx of city water, sidewalks, and strict zoning codes have forced many families to look elsewhere to buy land. Although the fire in Mr. Testa’s dissertation is metaphorical, it sparked a storyline for me.

My series follows three sisters as they seek love and fresh starts in districts very different from the one they left behind. In Living in Harmony, first in the series, we meet Amy King—young, engaged, and Amish. Amy faces life-altering challenges when she loses both parents in a house fire. Her fiancé, John Detweiler, persuades her to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives. 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 had been shunned. Amy wants to reconnect with her, but John worries the woman’s tarnished reputation will reflect badly on his beloved bride-to-be.


Is any part of New Beginnings Series true?


I based it on a real live Old Order Amish settlement in Unity, Maine. I made up the story, but the lifestyle details of the Maine Amish are as true as I could make them. For the second in the series, Love Comes to Paradise, I traveled to Columbia Missouri and studied the Amish of Hancock and Randolph Counties. Again, the story is pure fiction, but the district details, weather peculiarities, and agricultural info were gleaned from interviewing local residents. For the third in the series, A Little Bit of Charm, I traveled to the Glasgow, KY area and also to Casey County, KY. My fictional Charm is a blend of these two lovely areas.

Did you include any of your life experiences in the New Beginnings Series?


Of course, as a writer I’m helpless not to interject myself into the story. Many of the things my characters experience moving to new areas, I experienced while a visitor in “foreign” lands. We all get so set in our ways. I loved leaving Ohio and my personal comfort zone, to experience “other worlds” in Maine, Missouri and Kentucky.

Do you have a favorite character in the New Beginnings Series? Why?

I love Amy in Living in Harmony because she thinks and acts like I would have at that age. But my favorite character is Nora King. She has the subplot of Living in Harmony, but becomes the focus of book two, Love Comes to Paradise. She is brave and adventurous and independent—I suppose all the traits I would like to be. She even gets a couple mentions in the third of the series, A Little Bit of Paradise.


How much research did the New Beginnings Series take?

Plenty. I visited the three areas where I set my stories. I interviewed residents, both Amish and English. I thought I was ready to write each when I returned home, but soon found out I still had more to do through non-fiction books, internet information, and calling contacts on the phone.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing New Beginnings Series?

That if you study these fascinating people long enough, every “rule” you thought applied to all Amish districts gets broken.

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

Trying to juggle multiple balls in the air at once. Once you’re multi-published, you’re trying to research the next book, edit one you’ve turned in, write the current work, and publicize books that have released. And then there’s the real world that creeps up and demands an author’s attention…

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

Since I live in the North, I love being able to “go to work” without leaving the house. Non-writers view this as freedom to goof off. The truth is I’m usually at my desk for far more hours than any previous “away from home” job.

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?)

I suppose it would be “somewhere in between.” I definitely outline my story to start, but the
book often takes on a life of its own and diverges from the original plan.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?  


I plan to revisit the characters of Sarah’s Christmas Miracle after this series concludes. I’d especially love to discover how Caleb adjusts to the Amish lifestyle after four years of being English. That book is tentatively titled A Plain Man.

What message would you like your readers to take from New Beginnings Series?


It’s never too late in life to make a new beginning. If God is sending you in a new direction, or to a new place, go with grace and courage. It could be the best thing for you in the long run.

What do you do to get away from it all?

As your readers probably have figured out, I love to travel. My husband and I try to get away anywhere near water. We’re especially fond of the barrier islands of the east coast, especially the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

 


 

 Don't Miss!

Love Comes to Paradise, New Beginnings Series #2
Love Comes to Paradise, New Beginnings Series #2
Mary Ellis
CBD Price: $8.99

Living in Harmony, New Beginnings Series #1
Living in Harmony, New Beginnings Series #1
Mary Ellis
CBD Price: $10.49


 
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