Friday, September 16, 2011

Please welcome our guest Mary Ellis

Please welcome Mary Ellis to Seekerville. Mary Ellis and I (Mary Connealy) once spent about two hours in a...what was it, Mary E? A gigantic jar of Smucker's Jelly? Something sticky like that.
It was great fun and I loved getting to know her better. And now we welcome her to Seekerville.

Five Steps to a Simpler Writer’s Life
by Mary Ellis
#1 Schedule your time carefully. Make a weekly calendar so you don’t miss a doctor’s appointment, dance recital, or the neighborhood cookout. Keep certain times “off limits”. Don’t sign up for meetings, exercise classes, or volunteer work if it interferes with the family dinner hour, Sunday morning church services, or other events you hold sacred. Make sure each day includes personal time, whether it’s a solitary walk, devotional reading, or rocking in the porch swing. Figure out how to manage housework, yard work, bill paying, laundry, grocery shopping, etc. (a little every day, or one day for each task, etc.) Don’t allow Internet surfing, answering e-mail, chatting on the phone or texting to steal too much time. Set limits on “time-robbers” so your sense of serenity doesn’t suffer.

#2 Prioritize your tasks. If you work outside the home, discover ways to take care of errands during your workday, such as shopping for gifts on your lunch hour or chatting with mom during the commute. Shop for groceries and stop at post office or dry cleaner on your way home to present needless trips on your day off. If you work at home, treat it like a job—schedule working hours and stick to them. Otherwise you won’t get any truly “free time.” Regarding your social life…pick and choose carefully. Don’t feel you must accept every invitation, volunteer project or committee meeting. Learn to say “no” unless you truly wish to devote the time and energy.

#3 Multi-task, but only if it’s productive. The only time I dust is during phone calls. I check voicemail while walking the dog. I group errands into one trip to free up uninterrupted time for writing. But don’t make the mistake of balancing your checkbook during your son’s ballgame if he’s expecting you to watch him play. You will fail at both tasks. Be sure to allow “down time” every now and then to watch a sappy movie, read a book, or play a game of checkers with a child. If you’re feeling stressed, recharge your batteries.

#4 Lower your standards. I can live with weedy flowerbeds as long as my bathrooms are clean. I don’t like clutter but dust doesn’t bother me. I take store-bought brownies (dusted with powdered sugar) to parties so I can have time to write stories about women who love to cook. You can’t do it all. Repeat that as a mantra every morning. Give up the notion you can do it all and compete with the Food Channel gurus. But if cooking happens to be your pleasure, find another area to be mediocre in and don’t apologize.

#5 Release the outcome. Put your future in God’s hands instead of looking too far into the future. If you dwell on what you need to accomplish by the end of the week, month or year you’ll become discouraged. Like every monumental project we tackle, whether building our own house or hiking the Appalachian Trail, if we fully understood how arduous the task we would never begin. Create a schedule for yourself that accomplishes your goals in small increments and stick to it. Never compare yourself to others. Pray for guidance and then listen to your intuition. This is God talking to you. Invite Him to take the helm of your life. If your goals are part of God’s plan then you cannot fail…whether it’s climbing Mount Everest, learning to speak Japanese, or writing your first book.
Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of A Marriage for Meghan

A Marriage for Meghan

Fans of superb Amish fiction will welcome the rich and moving stories of The Wayne County series by Mary Ellis, the bestselling author of Abigail’s New Hope, Never Far from Home, and The Way to a Man’s Heart.

Meghan Yost is 19, bright, and eager to prove to her father, the bishop, that she’s mature enough to teach in the Old Order district. But just when Meghan gains confidence and assurance, a troubled student challenges her authority and a male suitor challenges her patience.

Life and love tensions escalate when a string of crimes threaten the Amish community, and handsome FBI agent Thomas Mast arrives to investigate.

Is there truth behind Meghan’s fear that she’s the cause for disruptions in the serene county? And is there true love behind her mixed feelings for Thomas, the outsider?

This is a timeless story of personal quests for hope, love, and enduring faith.
Buy A Marriage for Meghan HERE

Find Mary online at:
Find her on Facebook:!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236


KC Frantzen said...

Release the outcome. Such wise words! Thanks for an informative post!

may at maythek9spy dot com

Cathy Shouse said...

Okay, you'll need to explain why anyone would spend two hours in Smuckers jelly? :)

Thanks for a no-nonsense approach to time management, Mary! So many good tips bundled into this post. It's interesting that you know that clutter bothers you but dust, not so much. I'll have to analyze some of this to apply to my situation.

Would you mind letting us know a little about your journey to publication?

Would love to win the book.


Ausjenny said...

I may now be a writer but this advice is good for many things. Not so sure about talking to mum on the commute to work unless you are not driving. here talking on the cell phone when driving is an offense.
I loved Abigail's Hope so would love to read this new book. it looks really good.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

What a lovely post about thinking ahead and prioritizing! Great job, Mary, and welcome to Seekerville! So nice to have you here!

Hey, coffee's all set, and I brought along the Keurig with Jamaiican Me Crazy and Gloria Jean's Butter Toffee...

Help yourself. Caramel and sweet cream creamers to your left. And I brought some great offerings from Jackson's Bakery here in Rochester... Danish... puffs... kuchens... Enjoy! Mary ordered me NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING because of my cold.

She's so fussy. Mary ConNEEEEly, that is. This Mary is nice. See the nice stuff she writes??? Sweet? Genteel?

Not like that scary Nealy woman that was here yesterday. For heaven's sake.

Judy said...

I am a huge fan of Mary's and have read all her books.

That was great advice on this post even though I'm not a writer.

I'm wondering about the Smuckers jelly!!

I would love to win a copy of, A Marriage For Meghan.

God Bless!

Mary Connealy said...

I like the dusting while on the phone idea. That could work.

And, Mary E met me at the Smucker's Jelly Store (or something) in Ohio once. I believe it was either shaped like a giant jelly jar, or it had one hanging over the door, or maybe we had to drive through a Giant Jelly Jar at the front gate. Not sure, but it was a very jelly-centric place.

Rose said...


Wonderful reminders and suggestions to be "nice" to ourselves about trying to do it all! I am so on board with all your suggestions.

Melanie Dickerson said...

Good advice, Mary! I've got the part about being mediocre in certain areas, but not apologizing about it is still hard. :-)

Does it make me a bad mother that I sometimes read and make notes during my girls' volleyball games? That is today's question, since my daughter accusingly mentioned that I was reading during her last game. I'm still trying to decide if I should repent of that. Anybody have an opinion?

Kav said...

LOL -- I'm so far behind that even if I think ahead I'll still be behind. I need to reassess all of those five steps and see how I can improve!

I ADORE Amish fiction and I'm going to the bookstore tomorrow to indulge myself in some good reads. I'll definitely keep my eye out for A Marriage for Meghan.

Erica Vetsch said...

Well, phooey, Mary C's explanation of the giant Smucker's jar wasn't nearly as hilarious as the story I'd concocted upon reading her introduction. :D

Thank you, Mary Ellis, for some sage advice, and thanks for posting on Seekerville!

Patsy said...

I know Mary's book is gonna be great! I love reading anything Amish!

Ruth, I'm headed for the coffee!


Julie Lessman said...

MARY!!! Welcome to Seekerville, and any friend of Mary Connealy is an instant friend of mine!!

EXCELLENT blog, Mary, truly, and I need to embed #5 "Release the outcome" on my forehead, I'm afraid. God usually has to pry my stiff, cold fingers off before I can let go, but boy, oh boy, that IS the only way to go, isn't it??

God bless you with your book -- Marriage for Meghan looks WONDERFUL!!


Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Great advice, Mary. I need to start implementing many today. I take consolation in knowing that if my goals are part of God's plan then I cannot fail. So each day I place my writing goals with Him. Thanks for the reminder, Mary. Congrats on A Marriage for Meghan.

karenk said...

a wonderful posting, mary...and thanks for the chance to read you latest novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

Welcome Mary to Seekerville. I LOVE your list. It is so important to hold that writing time sacred. Others perceive you as having free time and don't think of you as working because you are home. It is too easy to get sucked into other activities.

Thanks for sharing and reminding us of the fact our writing is a JOB.

Have fun today here in Seekerville and waving at Mary N. oh I mean Mary C.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Mary, and thank you, Mary, for bringing Mary to Seekerville today!

Wonderfully wise post. If only following through were so easy! I'm totally with you on setting work hours at home, and I do my best.

However . . . dusting while on the phone?

Okay, that would be . . .

Adding on my fingers here . . .

About twenty minutes a year.

Did I mention I have this huge aversion to the telephone? Except when my agent calls, and then I wouldn't be caught dead dusting! I'm hanging on every word! Jotting notes as fast as I can!

So that's why I have to schedule in time for actual dusting and vacuuming. Because otherwise it wouldn't get done.

Mary Ellis said...

Hi Everyone, I am sooo glad to be here on Seekerville. First of all, Mary and I met in the retail shop of Smucker's Jelly in Orrville, Ohio. this is smack in the heart of Amish Country. I was dying to meet Mary Connealy so I picked a place easy for her to find. It looks like a giant barn with silos and everything. Being that she's a country gal like me, I knew she'd know what silos look like. As I recall I ate all my lunch and part of hers. Beware if anyone out there wants to meet me for lunch. blessings....

Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Mary.
Didn't we both have a lovely lunch of crackers and jelly, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and jelly donuts?

Or was that someone else?


Jeanne T said...

Hi Mary, so enjoyed this post. It's practical and direct--just what I need. With young children, I'm working this school year to put writing into my daily calendar. Saying no is becoming easier, but fitting in the housework with life and writing...well, that's something I've never been good at. :)
I too appreciated your words about leaving the outcome, and the timing (for completing my wip, hopefully being published one day), in God's hands. There is much peace in that. Actually,everything your #5 says resonates with me. Thanks!

Lorna Faith said...

Great post on prioritizing...just what I needed to hear. Thanks Mary:) I love Amish stories...yours sounds so interesting.
Please enter me for a chance to win:)


lornafaith at gmail dot com

Natalie Monk said...

Lovely Post, Mary! These practical tips for efficiency are just what I needed today. And the whole dust vs. clutter issue? I'm the same way. LOL.

I love that you mixed criminal investigation with Amish in A Marriage for Meghan. Looks like a wonderful read!

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Everyone seems so strapped for time that these were welcome suggestions :) Thanks Mary and Mary!

And the book sounds very interesting!

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Mary (and Mary)...and Mary Nealy? Does she get a "hi" too? I'm not's so confusing around here this week!

So, I'll start over.

Hi Mary Ellis!

You've given some great time management hints!

Working at home can be chaos, and #1, "Schedule your time carefully", hit the nail on the head. This is one place where everyone needs to be a plotter - if you don't plan your time, you won't have any.

And Mary, you have some great links for fans of Amish fiction. I followed the link from your blog to - I hadn't seen that site before, and it's a great resource.

I'd love to read your book - I read all the Amish fiction I can get my hands on.

Faye said...

Time management is so important and I constantly need to be reminded of it :) Thanks for reminding me to get back on trck with that :)

crazi.swans at gmail dot com

Mary Ellis said...

Mary Connealy--you might need a jelly intervention! I know we were at Smuckers but we didn't actually eat any jelly. We both ordered soup and I ordered a sandwich too. then I think I ate both of our crackers! (And I wonder why I can't lose an ounce) You were nervous about boarding the plane back to the Great Plains. If you come back to Ohio, I promise you a huge jar of jelly and a spoon.

Cathy Shouse said...


I'm also a reader at kids' games. I try to tuck the book into my purse and then kind of hunch over when I read it. :) If my child is in play, I try to watch at all times. Lol

I think it's good not to be an over-involved sports parent. There are way too many of those!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


Virginia said...

Such a great post! I'm coming back to this again later and re-reading... I could really use a lot of these points.

Jamie Adams said...

Mary, thank you for sharing those tips with us. I know I needed them. Now if I'll just follow them.

CatMom said...

Welcome Mary! I so needed this post today, so thank you for sharing with us. Definitely another "Keeper Post" to add to my file (and I'm sure I'll reread this often!). Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Missy Tippens said...

Mary E, great post! Thanks so much for joining us today!

Now, I need to go prepare. Eight girls coming for my daughter's overnight b-day party! Wish me luck :)

Pam K. said...

I'm not a big fan of Amish fiction; however I read "Abigail's Hope" and enjoyed it very much. Mary handled the difficulties of being Amish in an "English" world in a very sensitive manner. I would expect "A Marriage for Meghan" to be of the same high quality. It would be fun to win a copy.
Mary's steps to a simpler writer's life are valuable tips for anyone who wants to simplify, not just writers. Thanks for sharing them with us today, Mary.

Whitney said...

Welcome, Mary! I love this advice. Who doesn’t this apply to anymore? I’m from Ohio, have lived in Louisiana almost 6 years, and my mom and I are now moving back to Ohio next week. Talk about budgeting time!
Isn’t Ohio charming, especially the areas where you can see Amish buggies on a daily basis? I have missed it!
Your book looks great! Please enter me in the drawing.

Cara Lynn James said...

Thanks for all your helpful tips! I'm in need of some more organization and prioritizing things. If I used my calendar better I'd avoid being so overwhelmed, I think!

Pam Hillman said...

Meeting in a jelly jar sounds like a lot of fun. We could just eat our way out!

I've learned to embrace clutter.

And dust.

Debby Giusti said...

Stopping in late. Glad I didn't miss your blog today, Mary. Great tips to stay on task. Love the line: You can't do it all. So true, yet often I forget!

Also like your tips on cutting corners, such as store-bought brownies. And dust!

Dust and I are becoming good friends! :)

See you at ACFW? Hope so!

CaraG said...

Read this twice the first day and came back this morning to read again. Thank you for a great posting.

Your new book is on my "have" to read list.


Mary Ellis said...

thanks so everyone who dropped by and posted a comment. Goodness, what a lovely group of readers you have on Seekerville. I have found a new spot to drop in and enjoy coffee and camraderie! And for those writers who will be at conference next week (!!!) I hope to meet you in person. Blessings on you all.

Patches of Life said...

I love these Amish stories. Thanks for the do-able post.Bev Schwind

Cindy W. said...

#5 really spoke to me. Thank you so very much!.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Jess said...

Hi Mary,

This is a great post! It is great reading about how we can manage our time. My 15 month old daughter takes up a lot of my time, not that I mind! I'm struggling to find the time to write. This post has encouraged me to keep at it and organize my time.

All the best,

Eva Marie Everson said...

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one who dusts (makes beds, wipes down toilets, etc.) while on the phone. If only I could figure out how to vac and talk ... noise factor, don't you know. :)


Carey_Corp said...

Wise comments. I'm one of those work outside the house people so I write at 5:00 am. My writing time is sacred, so most mornings I don't get on the internet or check email - I save that for after work when I'm brain dead. ;)

Anonymous said...

HI Mrs. Ellis, Lovely Post, I love your books!!!! I would love a chance to win A MARRIAGE FOR MEGHAN.