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July 25, 2017

New Faces, New Friends

July 25, 2017

How to Be a Mennonite Author (First Clue: I Don’t Know)

July 25, 2017

My good friend/adopted little sister and I set out for Nashville, Tennessee, last week to pick up books.

Lots of books.

988, to be exact, because Lucinda J. Miller, who always overdoes everything, got the brilliant idea not only to be an author but to sell her own books.

Lots of them.

Ask her in about a year from now how that’s going for her. Right now, she doesn’t know.

In Nashville, Lavina and I met Andrew Jackson.

Historically speaking, that is, at his hermitage just off Old Hickory Street.

Politically speaking, he bears striking likenesses to our current President.

And aesthetically, some mighty fine grounds.

After Nashville, Lavina and I headed to Ohio for a book signing at the Gospel Book Store in Berlin.

My signing partner and fellow author, Chris J. Miller, whom I had never met before, shared a family connection in several of my ancestral lines: the Millers and the Christners.

That is the beauty of being Mennonite.

While I signed books, Lavina fit right in at the local “Do Nothing Club.”

And just an observation in the study human nature: It makes sense to me that the local “members” of this club are older people, but isn’t it interesting that they are all men? Why would you never expect to see a group of old women doing this?

I was honored to meet one of my blog readers, Naomi Gingerich, and her children.

Isn’t this a lovely trio? (I hope you don’t mind me sharing it, Naomi.) Not pictured are the boys.

I was also able to connect briefly with some of my dad’s family whom I haven’t seen in years.

My great aunt Melva and cousin Sue

It was so GOOD to see them and to notice all those Miller likenesses. Like the big brown eyes, and the tendency to be a homebody, and the stacks and stacks of books in the living room at home. My first and a half cousin, Naomi, (not pictured), put her arm around me and prayed for me.

I am blessed.

Just before heading out, Lavina and I met her brother Marvin and had a meal at a local Amish/Mennonite restaurant.

We are not used to seeing our denomination featured as a tourist industry. Nor are we used to eating in a big fancy restaurant the types of food we eat all the time during Sunday dinners and fellowship meals at home.

Someone asked me once what types of food Mennonites are known for, and I thought privately it was a sort of ignorant, insensitive question, like asking a Native if they sleep in a wigwam or a tepee.

“We eat just like everyone else,” I said.

On second thought, though, the food at that restaurant was distinctly familiar.

So I take back whatever “I’m just a typical American who happens to be a Mennonite” thoughts I once had and replace them with, “I’m just a typical American who happens to be a Mennonite with some distinct cultural practices that someone somewhere apparently finds interesting because there is an entire tourist industry built around them.”

I wrote a book and had it published it on the coattails of that industry, so it would be hiding my head in the sand to deny it.

Still, it is an odd sensation to live all your life and think you are perfectly normal, or trying to be, and then be expected to step back and talk about yourself in a way that illuminates your culture to other people.

How do you even DO that?

But I have 988 books to sell, so I guess I’m already in the middle of doing that. And if I don’t know how, I’d better learn.

Wish me well.

27 comments

  1. One thing I know for sure, all my published friends have had to promote their own books. You are right in putting feet (and hands) to your prayers. I predict you come back empty-handed.

    Thursday I expect to enjoy your book from start to finish on the plane ride from Jacksonville, FL to Vancouver, BC. . . ! 🙂

  2. Speaking of what meals are specific to Mennonites: would Hay-Stacks Recipe be something most Mennonites know how to make? I don’t think I knew or heard about Haystacks until I started to hang around the Mennonite Community – and I think I gained 10 pounds as a result, lol

  3. Lucinda — I wish you beyond well with the sale of your books. As a person who has read it, loved it, and gave it a five-star review, you can’t go wrong!

    (Psssst, make sure to ask everyone who buys a copy to post a brief review on Goodreads and Amazon. You might even want to tuck a handwritten note to that effect inside each book).

  4. Oh my! Melva’s husband was a good friend of mine! He passed away while I was in Bangladesh! 🙁 I had good intentions of coming to Berlin on Saturday morning! Maybe some day we will meet!

  5. Okay, I am dying to know who this Chris J. Miller is, where he is from, and what book he has written. I have a great uncle with that name who is about that age, but I don’t know him well enough to identify him by that picture

    1. Chris J. Miller is from Goshen, Indiana, and has a book called a Journey to the Future, a history of his ancestors. That’s all I know! He identifies his wife as Vera and two nieces as Velma Peck and Emma Hochstetler.

  6. This makes me just so happy and proud. May you sell your 988 books and thousands more.
    Also: I 100% relate to your impressions of a large Menno community, the tourist industry, all of that.

  7. Hi
    I found your blog because a local Shenandoah Valley Mennonite posted it on HIS blog! read a few posts (and wondered how a Mennonite could NOT know that “Mennonite food etc was a tourist industry !!) before I read where you were from Sheldon ! Small world. I spent my “babyhood” in Boyd before we moved to Ohio. Reading your blog I kept thinking “so thats what my life would have been like if we had stayed !” You mentioned that you are “self selling it ” do we have to buy through you OR will Christian Light (Harrisonburg) be selling it to ?

    1. I am self selling some at shows, etc, but the easiest way for you to order is through Amazon or Herald Press OR get an autographed copy at my book signing at Barnes & Noble in Harrisonburg August 5. 🙂

  8. Hopefully I can be there ! Do I get a discount for advertizing ??? grin If H’burg people didnt know about you before they do now ! Looking forward to reading it .

    1. I am looking forward to meeting you. You will actually be buying your book from Barnes & Noble, not me–though I will be on hand to autograph and to chat–so sadly, I can’t offer discounts. 🙂

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