(Litchfield, MN) – Are you working in your dream profession? A lot of people remember wanting to be such things as astronauts, doctors, lawyers or actors when they were kids.

M. Marie Lewis, who makes her home in Central Minnesota, remembers considering either being a pilot or lawyer. While neither of those careers ended up being practical for her, one of her passions has panned out.

In Sept. 2019, she was able to quit her job in the financial services industry to concentrate full time on writing fiction, and she is now a published author. Lewis’ debut novel, Cottonwood Flowing, is the coming of age story of Eva Kelly, who at the tender age of 17 watched with anguish as her brothers were sent to fight in World War II.

Meantime, back home in New Ulm, Minn., Eva found herself living not far from the camp where some 200 enemy prisoners of war were being held, and one of them had been sent to work on her family farm.

Some 60 years later, Eva’s granddaughter, Claire Beaumont, learns about a secret love affair through a series of letters found in an old trunk. At the same time, Claire finds herself caught up in a dangerous affair of her own.

In addition to having a great mix of mystery and romance, there is also a lot of history in Cottonwood Flowing. “To make the story as authentic as I could, I spent a great deal of time reading books written by people who had lived through World War II. I also watched a lot of documentaries to get a feel for what life was like back then,” said Lewis, who started work on the story about a decade ago, with most of the work done on the manuscript in 2017 and 2018.

Once finished, she started sending out query letters to agents without success. “It was just excruciating trying to find an agent,” she said. “So, I decided to publish the book myself.”

Lewis turned to Lulu.com, which according to an Oct. 2019 article in Publisher’s Weekly, published the second most print self-published titles in 2018 (37,456), and is poised to release just as many if not more in 2019.

Now that Cottonwood Flowing has been released, Lewis is hard at work on her next book, which will tell the stories of two families living in war-torn Bosnia and will continue where Cottonwood Flowing left off. “I have always had an interest in military history,” said Lewis. “It’s probably because many members of my family have served since World War I, and I am fortunate enough to have access to a trunk of letters, which is part of the inspiration for Eva’s story in Cottonwood Flowing.”

Cottonwood Flowing is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

About the Author

Inspired by an 8th grade English teacher to make writing her career, M. Marie Lewis began her journey with a love of history and literature. While doing humanitarian work in the Philippines, she made her way across Manila Bay to Corregidor, a life-changing trek that would inspire her to research World War II, and its effect not only on those overseas, but also on the Homefront. The opportunity to experience the serenity and grace of the Filipino people she met was a privilege she will never forget.

M. Marie Lewis currently lives in Central Minnesota with her son and a variety of pets. Cottonwood Flowing is her first novel.