Sunday, 12 August 2018

Light-Hearted Night Writers

As I may have mentioned before, I'm part of a writers group, known as the Night Writers. Here we celebrate each other's successes, offer encouragement and share pertinent writing related news such as contests or helpful articles and books. We meet once a month to share the prose or poems we're working on at the time. After the piece is read by the author, all the other members offer helpful critiques. Of course, it's up to the author, whether she wants to accept the critiques. This group is helping me grow as a writer, and has helped improve and enhance all the stories I've written in the past - many of which were published in Hutterite Diaries, Spirit of Canada, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various newspapers and magazines.
Sometimes we write pieces for the sheer fun of stringing together words, and to share with our friends at Night Writers. The following is one such story, written by Nadine Dobbin, with a keen sense of humour.

Thank you, Nadine for finding inspiration to write a story, playing with the title of my book and for allowing me to post it on my blog. Your story certainly added a touch of hilarity to our evening ths month, so much so, that I opted to post it so my readers can have a laugh out loud moment as well.

Hutterite Dairies
 “Elma!  Come here quick!” Linda called from the front of the house. As she came around the corner, Elma saw the back of a semi leaving the yard. 

 "They’re here!” Linda squealed, “They are truly, actually finally here!!”
 “Where are you? “ Elma asked searching among the rows of boxes to find her sister. 

 “I wanted you to be here when I opened the first box” Linda explained, “As you have helped me so much!”
 She pointed the scissors at a box.  Her hand was shaking as she asked. “Ready?”  Slicing through the tape she opened the box and pulled out the first book, “Ah, there’s nothing like the scent of a new book!  Especially when it’s your own!!”  Linda giggled. 
Elma added, “And when you have waited so long to see your diaries in print!”  
Linda ran a hand down the front cover, “It's a dream come true!  Hutterite Diaries...wait!  OH NO!  Elma, it says DAIRIES!!” 

“What?  IT Can NOT be, it simply cannot!”
Frantically Elma and Linda ripped open several more boxes, but each book was the same, printed in bold black letters on the front was HUTTERITE DAIRIES.
Linda grew pale, “Elma, what am I going to do?  I have a thousand books with the wrong title!”
Elma slowly shook her head, “Well tonight is our Night Writer’s meeting, we will take a box and ask our friends for advice!”

As soon as they were sitting around the table, Dora looked at Linda D. and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Oh Linda, I can’t believe it! They spelled the name of my book wrong—on all THOUSAND copies!” Tears of frustration gathered in her eyes.

Linda D. said, “Oh my, what did they say when you contacted them?  They should fix this.”
 “They said it was their mistake and they would reprint and send the new books, but I still have all these books—they said they were mine to keep and do with what I wanted, too expensive to come and get them.”
 “Could you donate them somewhere?” a member asked
 “I can’t just give them away– then no one will buy my book!  The inside is fine!”
 “How about down the road we have a sale, sell them for cheaper?  After your thousand are sold?” Asked Nadine, “We can advertise it as, “Have you HERD– it’s an  Udderly Moovelous book sale!   We can serve milk and cookies “
 “Oh Nadine! “ Dora laughed. “Oreo cookies– because they are black and white like a Holstein, Oh! And we can wear black and white ….and put pictures of Holsteins and Oreo cows around the room and...”
 “It doesn’t seem right that I profit from their mistake though,” said Linda.
 “Then partner with a good cause, a charity or something” Nadine responded.   “We do need to let the public know that it isn’t about cows and dairy barns though– can’t mislead the public!” Nadine winked at Linda M.
 “Well, maybe, I’ll have to think on it.”
 “You mooost certainly do,” Nadine responded, “Ok, I’m sorry, just trying to be helpful. 
 “Stop already! This is no laughing matter!”
 “Yes, stop milking it for all it’s worth!”
 “Wait! Isn’t that a cliché?”
 “What about if we table this for now, and we can all think on it for the next month and bring some ideas to the next meeting?”  Dora said
 “What an udderly moovelous idea!” Nadine replied.
 “No, no, no!” Linda M said, “No more moo, no moo, no moo..!”
 “Linda, Linda, wake up! What do you mean, no moo?”  Elma shook Linda’s shoulder. 

 Linda sat up in bed and stared at Elma.  “Oh, thank goodness, it was just a dream!”

Friday, 10 August 2018

Cherries, Berries and Blooms

Nanking Cherries
Summer is getting away from me and I haven't blogged as much as I would have liked. I was hoping to have more time to dedicate to my blog, but it hasn't worked out that way. Summers are busy around here, and blogging has to wait.

The start of my summer holidays were a berry, cherry delight. We have our own raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, saskatoons, black currants, Evans and Nanking cherries. I'm sure you get the picture: there's a whole lot of picking to do. But it's wonderful to have so much fresh home-grown fruit to enjoy. We had plenty to eat fresh, freeze, make jam, juice and desserts with. So much to be thankful for!

Right now we're feasting on apples from our own orchard. We've put some in the freezer for pie and also to put through a press for juice later. Yesterday we made apple pie. These must be the perfect variety for pie - it's so delicious, especially with a touch of cinnamon, and served with vanilla ice-cream. This reminds me of a little rhyme: The doctor said, "Diet." And I really truly try. I always drink my coffee black, when there's ice-cream on my pie. 
I'm glad that wasn't my doctor; I never drink my coffee black. If I'd have to, that would be the day I give up coffee as well. 

Every spring, I look forward to feeling the soil on my hands while planting flowers Of course I also enjoy tending them all summer. I'm always rewarded with an abundance of showy flowers and sweet scents. One of my favourite flowers are dahlias and this year I planted a few different kinds, including a brand new variety (middle picture in bottom row). Its sort of burgundy coloured leaves serve as a nice contrast for the bright yellow flowers. I don't know the names of any of my dahlias off the top of my head, and I don't feel like researching to find out at the moment. I do have lovely pictures, though. Those I will gladly share. They're all putting on a splendid summer show, and have for weeks now. Some dahlia blooms like to hide in the foliage, so it's a bit tricky to get nice pictures.


I usually dig out the tubers after the first frost, so I can replant them next spring. Last  year though, I didn't have any luck with that. I think the place I stored them wasn't cool enough, or else I didn't let them dry off enough. They were rotten before the first snow arrived. If you have any advice for me about that, I'd love to hear from you.

I also had the opportunity to travel to Banff, Alberta this summer... But more on that trip in another post later on.

Any traveling, gardening or berry picking in your summer? Or perhaps it's something entirely different. Someone once said, Every summer has its own story. I (and maybe also my readers) would love to hear a tidbit about yours.

Monday, 9 July 2018

A Gift of Story

I can't believe this! This was supposed to be posted in May! Was looking for something else on my computer, when I stumbled upon it. Here I pride myself on doing a half decent job of promoting my book. I guess life gets too busy at times and things get forgotten. Or else I was too excited about my trip to Pennsylvania. Oh well. here it is now, better late than never:

May is special, as it happens to be the month when my book, Hutterite Diaries got its wings. In the past three years, it’s found a home in many homes and schools in Canada, the United States and Europe. I know many Hutterites and non-Hutterites are enjoying it, but there are many more who still haven’t seen it. What I’ve noticed since its release, is that many Hutterite moms and grandmas love reading it. So much so, that they want their own copy. On that note, I decided to do a Hutterite Diaries newsletter-post, just in time for Mother’s Day. (And here's it's July and the thing was still stuck in a file on my computer, until I rescued it today.)

I always chuckle when I hear authors mentioning their boxes of books sitting in a closet. Now I’m one of them. No, I don’t really have boxes full sitting around, for I don’t order that many at the time. I do have some, though, and there are more at Herald Press. I’d be delighted to put them into the hands of readers – for example, your mom or grandma, if she doesn’t have one yet. 

I got a heartwarming phone call from a sweet Hutterite grandma in Alberta, Canada, shortly after my book was released. She was reading my book and wanted me to know how much she enjoyed it. I’ve never met this Oma, which made her call extra sweet:  "Linda, you’re such a good storyteller! I just finished your book and loved every story. I just had to call you.” After I swallowed the lump in my throat, I thanked her for taking time to call. “Where did you get my book?” I asked
 "I was at our school and saw one of our teachers with it," she replied. "I told him right away that I would love to read it and he kindly lent it to me." I got the feeling, while talking with her, that she was also fascinated with the idea of a Hutterite publishing a book.

Like this teacher, there have been many people who’ve shared Hutterite Diaries with others. One Manitoba School Division bought a copy for all its schools, plus the people working in the Division Office. This happened after one of their Hutterite teachers shared my book at one of their meetings, and read a chapter to the attendees. I have so many heartwarming stories in connection with Hutterite Diaries, I could probably start another book. 

One day I received a sweet email from another teacher in that same School Division. He wrote, “I love the rich Hutterian culture just oozing out of every single sentence. I think my students immediately recognized and connected with the 'Hutterite-ism' as soon as I started reading it to them. I was planning on initially using it just to introduce a writing composition called "A day in the Life of ..." Now they insist I keep reading the diaries to them because they are so rich in culture, dialogue, and just plain old colony life that all Hutterites can relate to. Even though this book is about Elm River, there is a character just like "that" in every community, that instantly comes to mind when reading. Well done, very well done!” 

So wonderful to see that he chose to use my book to introduce an ELA lesson! And yes, my hat’s off to his students for insisting he read the entire book! 

Amelia Earhart once said, 'A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." Last spring, I visited a cherry orchard, which was in full bloom - a magnificent sight! When I think of all the people who have kindly helped spread the word about Hutterite Diaries over the past three years, I envision this orchard in all its splendor. Indeed, they've helped 'make new trees', and I’m so grateful.
About a month after my book was released I did a book launch at the Portage Library. Public speaking is not my forte, thus, I never enjoy being in front of an audience. I’m much more comfortable penning stories in front of my computer. However, I do enjoy sharing my book with people, so from time to time I agree to speak about it publicly. 

One such day was a book launch at McNally Robinson in Winnipeg. While we were planning the event, the organizer asked me how many people I’m expecting.  To which, of course, I responded, “I have no idea.”  I knew McNally Robinson publicized the day, and I spread the word about it as well. However, I didn’t know how many would take the time to come. With more than seventy people in attendance, the organizer deemed it a “great turn out”. It was beyond anything I could have dreamed. Hutterite Diaries stayed on their bestseller list for three consecutive weeks after that event. That too, was unexpected, and to borrow a line from Chief Dan George, “my heart soared”.   
Besides Amazon, Hutterite Diaries is also available in Manitoba at:
·         HB Book Centre at Baker Colony
·         James Valley Book Shop
·         McNally Robinson in Winnipeg
·         Portage and District Art Center Gift Shop in Portage la Prairie
·         In Saskatchewan it’s available at the Book Shop at Hodgeville Colony. 

I have books available as well, if you happen to want a signed copy and are willing to add shipping to the price of the book. If you live in my area, or any Hutterite colony in Manitoba, I can arrange to have the book sent to you via Hutterite Express, which wouldn't cost you anything.  

Enjoy spring (and summer) – watch the earth bursting with colour and life and “make new trees”.

In case you're wondering what Hutterite Express is: We have this unique way of shipping parcels, because there's a lot of travel opportunities from colony to colony: either for visits or business. For example: A teacher from Marble Ridge Colony (about 2 hours from my colony) ordered a copy of my book last year. I told her I'd send it via Hutterite Express. As it worked out, a Marble Ridge truck happened to pick something up here a day later, and the teacher got her book in record time. Canada Post couldn't have done it faster.