Here’s a Story of a Story of a Mennonite Girl, and Have I got a Deal for You.

I have a warm place in my heart for the Here’s the story thing. I was a fan of the Brady Bunch way back when. That annoying little prelude, then the jingle and the tic-tac-toe portraits of the Brady’s popping onto the screen sent thrills pulsating through my veins. For me it was all about Marcia. Yes Jan, I know. It must have been very painful. I spent several years of my life wishing I could look like Marcia and dress like her and live in a house with a maid.

But that is really an aside. My story of a story will be brief. Okay maybe not, depending on your definition, but I’ll try. And it’s not about Marcia. FYI, the following could be deemed an infomercial, but oh well.

I wrote a story a few years ago. A writer (a real one, at a course I was taking), suggested it could be expanded, like into a book. So I started to write the book. Then I moved across the country, finished the book, and entered it into a contest, not expecting anything other than a critical analysis of the work, which was promised for the $35.00 entrance fee. A minor hitch was my submission was creative non-fiction, and the contest I entered, for some reason, was no longer accepting submissions in that category. It had, when I first found out about the competition. But I wanted the feedback, so in the box on the form I wrote: Novel, Adult fiction.

A few months later, as promised, I did get feedback. All of three judges stated that what I had submitted was clearly not fiction and it wasn’t a novel. But I got third prize. One of the judges approached me at the awards ceremony and expressed that it should be published.

That was lovely to hear, but easier said than done. It requires submission letter writing and I’m horrible at that. Not that I’ve actually tried, since it scares me. So I went with an emerging, ‘assisted self-publishing’ company. Some books were printed, some sold, but sadly the company went bankrupt—too much work for too few staff.  The experience was disappointing for that reason, and because there were a fair number of editing mistakes, punctuation missing, etc. And I ‘d wanted the book available on eBook, which hadn’t happened. The leftover books havebeen sitting in my basement for two years.

But here’s the thing.

My book, which was called Mennonite Girl, is cleaned up and available on eBook and print-on-demand at http://www.friesenpress.com.  This new and improved version is called Mennonite Girl at the Welcome Inn.

So that is the story of my story. Maybe you already read Mennonite Girl. If you did and you liked it, please tell your friends. It is available now on eBook for less than 5 bucks.

See the link, just here to the right. I suppose this is kind of an infomercial. But as my traveling light blog friend Colleen says, “Order what you want. Take what you get.” I like that fine as long as I don’t get served raisin pie.

Oh yes, I offered a deal. If you want an original print copy of Mennonite Girl (slightly flawed but highly readable), please write to me at saltwaterangels@eastlink.ca, and I’ll arrange to have one sent to you, right from my basement. All for the amazingly low cost of $12.00. Canadian funds. (That includes shipping if you live in North America). Please write ‘Mennonite girl’ in the subject line so I don’t delete you. If you want more than one, each additional copy is $8.00.  So two books is twenty bucks. Three books is $28.00 Delivered. OR get the eBook. Even less. Oh how I love good value.

And who knows? If we’re both really lucky, that book may become a collectors item. Because that is what I want.

But then again, I must remember,  “Order what you want…

 


Here and There

It has been a long while since I put words to blog post. Actually did write something New Year’s Day but didn’t quite finish. On that day I was inspired by a speaker I heard on CBC radio named Rob Nash. His topic was ‘inner strength’. In a nutshell, his talk was on that power of the strength inside us we seldom recognize or access.

And now it is March. I sit on a couch in Kimberley BC. Just spent a few moments searching for an image from the web to insert to show the beauty of this place but it seems I haven’t mastered that skill. Yes I could take a picture myself, but this teeny weeny computer I am working on has no outlet for inserting photo card or flash drive.

My husband and I are here for an extended stay, actually arrived in January and have been skiing, pretty much every day, until a few days ago when there was a major melt, followed by a freeze. Now the mountain is enshrouded in ice.  I did talk the big talk of wanting to learn to ski in all conditions, but the icy thing is unsettling in that I do not welcome bruises, or pains or potential jarring or tearing of tissue. So I sat out the last three days, venturaing out at intervals and quizzing people at the chairlift on the conditions. Most of them said, ‘It’s awful’.

Today is Tuesday. Robert has just left to ski a run and shall phone with a report. The chairlift is 200 steps from where I sit. Depending on his rating, I will get dressed and join him. Yesterday he gave the hill a 2/10. I need at least a 4. Until last Friday the conditions were glorious, the skies blue. We were on the hill first thing most days and my face was getting sore from the permanent grin. I was rather quiet with communication and emails partly because I was so doggone happy. Sometimes I have a hard time saying that. Not sure if it is the ingrained Mennonite thing. ‘Don’t be proud, or showoffy…

But there it is. Life is good. Not an original thought I realize.

But here we are in Kimberley and this is significant for us anyway, because we plan to live here part time some day. Perhaps in two or three years. This will be a winter home, while continuing to live in Nova Scotia in the spring and winter.

What else? I don’t know.

But hello anyway. Just that.

My mind is/was searching for something significant or relevant or important to say. And voila. ‘Saved by the bell’ or in my case ‘ring’. The phone just rang. The hill gets a 6. So I am off to ski.


Saltwaterangels.com

I’ll explain the title in a minute.

I had a birthday recently which is always nice since people call, send emails, greet on Facebook … in a surge.  And I realized I do that.

Surge.

As though I have a corral of ponies that I ride, one at a time almost exclusively before taking it back to the corral to rest and saddle up another.  Little ponies with names like ‘Fix up Helen’s House’ or “Do Some Maintenance on This One” or “Paperwork” or “Write Another Book” or “Tend the Garden”. This current pony is my little business, “Saltwater Angels” that seems to be  galloping with no sign of slowing down. So I have been either making angels or being outside enjoying the stupendous summer we’ve been having.

Why talk of this?

Partly to explain my blog absence and also to put the name Saltwater Angels on the web. I had the web domain name for two years, but didn’t actually make a webpage and it seems to have expired, and is in some kind of holding tank. Seems like a lot of fuss to deal with trying to re-aquire it so I am marking a claim, so to speak. Just to put the name somewhere in cyberspace.

Until recently I’ve subjected myself to emotional dilemma with the whole ‘craft’ thing, since that is what Saltwater Angels is. Meaning I had issues justifying spending time collecting glass and making angels from the pieces I collected, due to a nagging voice that haunts me regarding making valuable use of my time and/or being a useful citizen. But somehow as loud as that voice is, there is an even louder voice saying, ‘gather glass, wrap some wire, add a bead, add a halo, glue some wings’. And the phone keeps ringing with voices that say, “Can you send more angels. We are almost out.”

So what was once a hobby is now a job. And that is good, because I used to have a pony called, “Classroom Teacher” but I traded it in for “Substitute Teacher” and that pony was getting awfully hungry what with the shrinking number of students around here, the growing number of teachers graduating, and the number of retired teachers that miss the classroom so much they too get onto the sub list.

And there be Saltwater Angels. Someday I’ll make a page for that, right here. No need for another website. So I shall be frequenting beaches this fall with my little bucket…


My Blood is Beginning to Boil

I say that kind of in jest, but not really.

I meet regularly with a group of wonderful women who read discuss/try to incorporate spirituality/nowness and presence into our dailyness. And am trying not to ‘mind’ what happens…

But Lord almighty, when will good common sense prevail? I was at  our community hall last night to watch the a documentary film called Salmon Wars. Good in a sadly disturbing way, and very relevant as many of our community members were in the movie.

I am here to beg, plead, beg and plead, beg and plead some more for all you folks to take an hour and watch this film. I know you are busy and there are so many causes to support with time and money. And you might ask, why should I care.  I’m not crazy about that word should, but this is relevant if you eat anything from the sea, especially salmon. See  http://www.salmonwars.com/

Here are two photos. And I apologize about this NIMBY potential. but this is the type of thing that is happening around here. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (yes they are the same department) plans to plant aquaculture sites in every bay in Nova Scotia.  See this beautiful and PROTECTED beach? The second pictures speaks for itself, taken near fish farm site after 15 months of fallowing. We had pens in our bay. They took them out to fallow. Now they are back again. Long story. Please watch the movie, and please don’t buy farmed salmon. It’s full of pesticide and dye. Maybe if people stop buying the farmed salmon …

Maybe.

I feel like I have so much more to say, but I won’t at the moment.  Thanks for listening.

This is what is happening


Authors at the Astor


Today

I was just outside drinking coffee, listening to birds, watching lobster boats puttering around in the bay and old fellas driving along our road at neck breaking speeds of 25 kph. They do that here, many of them twice a day, coming to a full stop if they see an unfamiliar car in the neighborhood before heading to the wharf for a yarn with their salty pals.

I sat contemplating the idea of blogging. Today as well as last week  I woke up with a familiar feeling of, not so much dread, but some nagging anxiety around having an assignment due and not having any idea how to do the thing.  I think I might have blogging-phobia.

I have learned a few things about myself. One of which is that I love structure. I love projects with a beginning and an end and a little elbow grease. I have also learned that I do not like routine. A little is okay, like cleaning on Mondays, but other than that, not so much.

Another thing I know is that when I try to be funny or entertaining, I am generally not. I succeed only at being annoying. Bringing me back to the blogging thing on Sundays… I don’t feel like it is working. Not to say that I don’t like writing. I love it. But I love it when I sit down and write with no deadlines or expectations. Like when I was in school, yes I know that was eons ago, let it go, but the idea of some skirted woman standing in front and ordering me to write something almost gives me chills. Like I stated I would retell a story about a Geranium, and then didn’t do it. Why? Not sure.

Okay, maybe because I have a guest here. This is day five of the Liverpool International Theatre Festival, and last night we attended plays number 9 and 10. Today at 1:00 we go see Egypt perform. The festival is non short of amazing,  but also the kind of thing I cannot begin to describe adequately. Last night we saw a play from Poland; four women preforming around the theme of journey and femininity … I can’t begin to do it justice, but one part had one woman grating a head of cabbage and flinging it everywhere while two others dressed in aprons and kerchiefs danced around with wooden spoons and mixing bowls slinging flour all around the stage. And that was one small scene of a mix of Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the Grapes of Wrath, all in Polish. Following that, a company from the USA did a rendition of Charlie Brown with all manner adolescent issues including bullying, homosexuality and suicide. First Snoopy was put down because he got rabies and killed Woodstock. Charlie Brown visited Lucy in jail, who was serving time for lighting the red headed girl’s hair on fire, Charlie Brown kissed Beethoven,  Pig Pen broke Beethoven’s hands and Beethoven committed suicide.  Friday we saw Noah and his wife build and ark onstage and bring forth a multitude of animals, all in German. After that  four women ate real chicken with cuttlerly from plates suspended by wires from a wooden frame, the plates suspended not in the way they would sit on a table, but in the way they would hang on a clothesline…while they gesticulated wildly, discussing issues around four generations of abandonment, single parenthood and alcoholism… in Romanian.

And that is just a tiny tiny tip of the iceberg, pardon the cliche. I could go on and on…

It all makes me re-realize the mind-boggling creativity which exists. There is so much talent out there and it seems so many people are exploring and contributing in one way or another. Through acting, singing, writing….

So much to see, to hear, to learn.

And so many bloggers.

If I want to profess to be a writer, I have to admit I write sporadically, and I do believe I am not so much a writer as a storyteller, if that makes any sense. And I would rather write another book during my inspiring moments of wanting to be at one with the keyboard.

So maybe blogging isn’t for me. I’m still not sure. Having said that I don’t really feel comfortable with a ‘weekly’ thing, it may be that I do. Or maybe not.

We’ll see. That too I know. That we will see. And perform, preform? I really should have listened more in high school. I fear if I took grade 10 English right now I would fail. And I didn’t even proof read this, not that that would change anything, but the sun is shining.

Maybe I shall jabber on next week, or maybe next Thursday. Or the Tuesday after next. We’ll see. In the meantime, there are millions of blogs out there…

Have a great week. And celebrate all the talent out there.

It’s nothing short of amazing.


And the winner is…

Seems I’m a little behind. I saw that inside a birthday card once. On the front was a rear-view drawing of a tiny naked boy, with peachy buttocks. The caption on the front said, ‘Sorry I forgot your birthday.’

First, thanks so much to all of you who did a review for Mennonite Girl on Goodreads.com. I was waiting for my husband to return from Newfoundland early Sunday evening  so he could help me do the draw. He was late due to a malfunction and them needing to get another plane to fly. When he did get home, we did what we always do. We sit with a beer and he gives the play-by-play of his time on ‘the rock’.  I ask him to start with his arrival at the Halifax airport. He started talking. 45 minutes later he was still talking about the guy he was sitting next to on the plane. Which was great because he was a really interesting fellow. Two hours later he was through with the 4 day synopsis. I love every minute of it and this is all to say why I didn’t announce the name yesterday. Just got sidetracked.

The other thing I was going to do yesterday, in honor of Mother’s Day, was to tell a story that my mother told in church one Sunday many years ago. This was during ‘children’s time’, when all the children all called forward during the church service.

Don’t worry. It isn’t actually a church story because there are no Biblical characters in the story. It’s  about a little old widow who lived alone. The widow doesn’t even attend church. She’s a recluse.

The story is called, The Geranium. But right now, I am needed elsewhere. I will finish and post the story sometime soon. This week. But I shall now do the name draw and at least get that done. But due come back later in the week for the story. And next week, I shall try to post on time.

And the winner is Janet Schmidt. Congratulations Janet!!!

Thanks again to all of you who did post ratings and comments.