Thursday, 26 March 2015

Hutterite Diaries Snippet #2

Today's snippet is from the introductory chapter, A Day in the Life of the Author. It's one part of the book I was reluctant to write. It seemed to me that it would be about as interesting as reading a phone book, and told my editor as much. After she stopped laughing, she explained that this chapter would give readers a glimpse of what my day looks like. 

So, I settled down to write it, trying to make it as interesting and varied as I could. I actually ended up enjoying this challenge of ensuring that I steered clear of the 'phone book' type read. I sincerely hope readers find this an engaging opening chapter.

While I eat, I’m reminded of a cute conversation I was privy to earlier: All five of my kindergartners, three girls and two boys were playing house, when an argument ensued. They couldn’t decide who would be married to whom – two of the girls had their heart set on the same boy. Just as I was going to intervene and in some way help settle this dispute, when one girl, with hands on her hips, adamantly stated, “If you want to be a woman in this house, you can be grandma.” Her tone of voice and no-nonsense manner had me turning my back to keep from laughing out loud. Amazingly, this announcement instantly restores peace. And why not, who wouldn’t want to be grandma, who knits the best slippers in the world and has a stash of candies tucked away especially for the Eniklen, her dear grandchildren.

And because I have a number of beautiful endorsements I'd like to share with you, I'll include one of them as well today:

“Linda Maendel’s  clear vision and her loving heart wrapped me in a fine quilt of story as I read. Of all of the books on Hutterites that I have seen, this is the one that I cherish.”  
Joe McLellan, author, the Nanabosho series

(Yes, I changed the background to match this endorsement. What a warm and beautiful metaphor!)

In case you missed what these snippets are about click here.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World - Shirley Hershey Showalter

About the Book:

I promise: you will be transported, says Bill Moyers of this memoir. Part Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, part Growing Up Amish, and part Little House on the Prairie, this book evokes a lost time, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when a sheltered little girl named after Shirley Temple entered a family and church caught up in the midst of the cultural changes of the 1950's and `60's. With gentle humor and clear-eyed affection the author, who grew up to become a college president, tells the story of her first encounters with the glittering world and her desire for fancy forbidden things she could see but not touch.

The reader enters a plain Mennonite Church building, walks through the meadow, makes sweet and sour feasts in the kitchen and watches the little girl grow up. Along the way, five other children enter the family, one baby sister dies, the family moves to the home place. The major decisions, whether to join the church, and whether to leave home and become the first person in her family to attend college, will have the reader rooting for the girl to break a new path. In the tradition of Jill Ker Conway's The Road to Coorain, this book details the formation of a future leader who does not yet know she's being prepared to stand up to power and to find her own voice.

My Review:

Ms. Showalter takes readers on a winding road of her growing up years in the 1950's and 1960's. Sometimes that meant coasting other times climbing. Throughout the journey she had this constant yearning for more than her life on the farm offered; like a glittering world was beckoning her, calling her to a different life. Ms. Showalter tells her story with passion, honesty and a deep love and respect for her Mennonite heritage. Like every good storyteller, she draws you into the story, transporting you to a slower paced era and into the life of one young, sometimes shy, sometimes daring, Mennonite girl.

 What I was most touched by in this book, was towards to end, a section titled, Why I Am (Still) a Mennonite. While Shirley loved her family and life on the farm, she felt this constant urge to explore life beyond that. Today however, though most likely shaped by her decisions along the way, she's still a Mennonite. She sums it up best in the final pages of her beautiful her memoir:

"The prayer of Jesus for his disciples in John 17 has kept me in the church, believing in the unifying power of love, even when particular people or decisions disappoint me... I'm Mennonite because I choose to be... To be rooted in the faith of my fathers and mothers and to link arms with the rest of God's children moves me as much as the old time religion that's still good enough for me."


My sincere thanks to the author and Herald Press for the complimentary copy of this book.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Hutterite Diaries Snippet #1

I'm starting a new series here on my blog. No not a series of books, for I first want to see my current one set free on May the 18th of this year. Every few days or so, I will post an enticing tidbit from my upcoming book, Hutterite Diaries  - well, at least I hope they'll be enticing. I also hope you'll enjoy them enough to share them with others, and/or are inspired to leave your thoughts in the comment section. I'd love to hear from you!

My book has been endorsed by some wonderful people; some I know personally, some I've never met face-to-face, but had heard about. I'm very grateful for their kind words and their willingness to write an endorsement and am truly humbled and touched each time I read them. 

So today, the first snippet will be one of these heart-warming endorsements. It's from John Friesen, who I've known for many years. He's professor emeritus, Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I'm honoured to say, I've taken some of his church history courses. Mr. Friesen also kindly agreed to edit one of the chapters pertaining to our history.  

“What an amazing book! Informative, interesting, entertaining, and very well written. Through skillfully told stories, Linda Maendel, an insider, guides the reader on a journey exploring the world of a Hutterite community. Her book provides an important addition to the literature now available about Hutterite life.” — John J. Friesen, Professor Emeritus, Canadian Mennonite University

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Magical Memoir Moment from Shirley Showalter

While I'm excitedly waiting for the May release date of my book, Hutterite Diaries (Yes, in some ways it's also a little nerve-wracking. ) it's being promoted in various ways. Author and speaker, Shirley Showalter generously agreed to write an endorsement. She also sends out Magical Memoir Moments writing prompts to people who sign up for them. I love receiving them and can see how they will inspire some writing pieces for me.

Recently she offered to write a Hutterite flavoured MMM, and thus promote my book. I love what she did with the cute picture I sent her for this post and wanted to share it with you. Click on the MMM link above to see it.

Shirley has also published her own memoir, Blush with Herald Press. I've read and enjoyed this book and will post a review right here in the near future.

Thank you, Shirley, for endorsing my book and for helping to promote it!
Your latest Magical Memoir Moment is beautiful! Keep up the good work!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Hope and Miracles - Amy Newmark and Natasha Stoynoff

About the Book:

These 101 miraculous stories of hope, faith, divine intervention and answered prayers will amaze you! As John Edward says in his foreword to the book: The personal stories you’ll read here about hope, faith, answered prayers and divine intervention are to me all about one thing – our connection to a higher power or divine source.

Good things do happen to good people! You will be encouraged and uplifted as you read these stories about powerful hope, miraculous healing, divine intervention, messages from heaven, answered prayers and beating the odds.

My Review:

In a world where tragic stories fill news media almost daily, this book in contrast is one of hope and healing. Many of the stories are beautiful examples that prayer is powerful, for people who believe in taking there worries to God have proven that it's life changing and miraculous things happen through it. the stories really are uplifting and moving!


In exchange for an honest review, Simon and Schuster and Shelton Interactive provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. 

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Shapshot Muse #28 - He Whispers Sweet Peace to Me

Hutterites engage in a wide variety of activities in their free time, such as woodworking, knitting, crocheting and sewing. My sister, Sonia paints, among many of the other crafts she spends time with. Many of the walls in our house are adorned with her gorgeous paintings. These often become the topic of discussions when guests arrive and marvel over her talent. With each piece she produces, I'm more amazed what her able hands create on canvas with a little paint and few brushes.

About a year ago she worked on a scene I instantly fell in love with. It is her depiction of a place near our colony where a narrow dirt road leads across the La Salle River, and has greenish blue water flowing through the culvert. The trees along the river are so realistic and the golden field and azure sky with white puffy clouds provide a grand backdrop. For me this scene whispers 'serenity'.

Last August I went into my room one day and there stood the completed painting, framed and all. Sonia had given it to me for my birthday. I have it hanging on my wall, as a constant remind of her talent, generosity and the peacefulness and beauty of nature. It brings to mind a song by the Freedom Singers, one of my favorite groups - He Whispers Sweet Peace to Me.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Books by Hutterite Authors

Some years ago the Hutterian Brethren Book Centre in Manitoba ventured into publishing children's books written and illustrated by Hutterites. It was an exciting time for us, as it meant our children would finally have books where they can relate to the stories and characters. In some cases they even know the authors and illustrators personally. Most of the books were English, one was German and some Hutterisch.

My book Lindas glücklicher Tag (Linda's Happy Day) was one of these books. My sister Sonia Maendel illustrated it. I recently read it to our kindergarten to grade two students and was reminded again how valuable these books are for Hutterite children. In this book, I wrote all dialogue in Hutterisch. Each time I read it to students, the excitement of hearing Hutterisch, seeing Hutterite characters and being able to relate to the colony setting, a place near and dear to them, is obvious. Seeing this reaction, coupled with the fact that I love to write, left me dreaming about writing more books. Not only for Hutterite children, but for anyone else interested in our way of life.

About a year ago Herald Press gave me the opportunity to realize this dream. They were working on a Plain Spoken series where Amish, Mennonite and Hutterite writers can share their stories. When their query letter reached me, via a friend in Alberta, they were looking for a Hutterite interested in writing a book with them.

I was intrigued and responded to the letter, introduced myself and asked if a collection of stories would be an option for a potential book. A week later an excited editor emailed me and asked to see some pieces I'd written. I sent her some and also told her about my blog. After a few days she called and told me, "Linda, with what you have on your blog, you already have a good start for a book. You have some excellent pieces there that readers would enjoy and learn from."

This sent me on an enjoyable and enriching experience; from deciding which stories I'll use in the book, to planning in what order they'll go, to writing, rewriting and editing. We decided on twenty two chapters or stories on a wide variety of topics; work, celebrations, family, heritage, history... all woven together by faith and community, giving readers a glimpse into our communal life. I'm hoping this book will help dispel some myths and assumptions people still have about Hutterites, and that it will inspire other Hutterites to pen and publish their stories. It's high time!

I learned a lot about the publishing process as well. For my first book I wasn't involved so much in that aspect. Working with a professional editor gave me the opportunity to grow as a writer - Valerie Weaver-Zercher, Herald Press editor was a joy to work with and an excellent teacher.

Although I thought I'd be intimidated with working towards a deadline, I really wasn't bothered by it at all – didn’t even think about it much. Choosing a picture for the front cover including some for some of the chapters was fun as well. Even the lengthy discussions on coming up with a title we could all agree, would be a good fit for the book, was a learning experience. I had no idea so much time, thought and effort go into putting the front cover together. Working on this project has really changed how I look at books - I have a whole new appreciation for all the work that goes on before a book goes to print.

I'm delighted to say Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community will be released this coming May. It is now available on Amazon for a special pre-order price. It can also be purchased directly from Herald Press.

Here are some other books written and illustrated by Hutterites, available at HB Book Centre or Amazon:

  • Marty’s Adventure – Elma Maendel and Cynthia Stahl
  • Marty’s Colour Adventure – Elma Maendel and Cynthia Stahl
  • Playing Like Timothy – Johannes Waldner and Victor Kleinsasser
  • Jewell Adventure – Gilbert Hofer and Victor Kleinsasser
  • Es Lauft e Meisl – Karis Hofer
  • Flowing Through the Seasons – Herman and Cynthia Stahl
  • Hutterischa Bibl Tschichtlen – Linda Maendel
  • My Hutterite Life – Lisa Marie Stahl
  • Sarah’s Journey: the Story of a Hutterite Woman – Debbie P. Stahl