Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Today I gave a talk to a group of seniors at OASIS, the senior-learning organization that's located, of all places, on the second floor of Macy's, just past the obscene lingerie displays.

I was asked to talk about my column in the paper and how that came about, so as always I emphasized that it was a God Thing from start to finish, and I could never have made it happen on my own. (Eugene is one of the most left-wing cities in the U.S. and the most improbable columnist for the Eugene paper would have to be a conservative Christian mom of six from the middle of the grass fields by Harrisburg.)

Actually, my entire writing journey has been a story of a) simply walking through doors that opened in front of me and b) doing everything wrong. All the books and internet advice and writers groups say, "Promote yourself, make noise, advertise, call, get what's yours, put yourself in the spotlight." Well. Whenever I try that it flops; whenever I keep my mouth shut things happen.

Example: I have never written fiction and really have no idea how, but a while back I got the idea that it would be fun to write a story/book based on a Mennonite wedding and all the different tangled tales coming together there: the young servers who "like" each other, the ex-Mennonite aunt coming from out of state, the preacher's wife who doesn't enjoy doing premarital counselling because it reminds her of all the flaws in her marriage (ahem), and so on.

This is all whimsy and "maybe someday" at this point, but I did start a file of ideas.

Well. Yesterday I got an email from a fiction editor at Harvest House Publishers here in Eugene. He wrote, "I don't know if you've ever considered trying to write a novel, but I edit a lot of our fiction and I'd love to see some Mennonite fiction." He also said, "If you do have something you'd like us to look at for possible publication, please feel free to send it along."

I am still flabbergasted. Most authors would give their eyeteeth to have a publisher contact them and ask for a manuscript. And here this falls into my lap completely unsought.

It really isn't fair, and as always the unfairness is weighted heavily in my favor. I don't understand it and don't suppose I ever will, but as always it's a God Thing.

Just FYI, I am not planning to write that novel any time soon, but if you have plot and character ideas, let me know.

Quote of the Day:
Ben: Did I tell you what happened to my camera? I fell into a creek and. . .
Emily: It wasn't a creek, it was a river!
Ben: All right! I fell into a body of water!
Me: (Thinks) Only in this household. . .


  1. WOO HOO! Proud of you! I'm not a fiction writer either but in my biggest dreams I wonder how it would be to write a wowzer of a Menn. novel. You know we Mennonites need good literature. Go for it!

  2. That Mennonite novel cracks me up so bad! Please?!?! :-)

    -Anonymous Coward

  3. please write it - i would love to read it!

  4. Here's a "nudge" to pursue it--if you can find the time! Just don't do it at the expense of your blog and column!


  5. Your idea for a novel sounds great! Send it to the publisher! Sounds like you already have great ideas!

  6. I believe you could beat Beverly Lewis any day in the writing dept! You go she needs some competition. You know if the Wedding were to happen in the middle of a hurricane rain it might add drama=)

  7. I think that's a wonderful compliment! It would be fun to read and I'm not at all knowledgable about the Mennonites one little bit! (Ask me about growing up Catholic and feeling guilty and I could write a thesis paper!) It could be very eye-opening and help debunk any stereotypes or misinformation out there! When God's timing is right, you will know it!

  8. How wonderful, Dorcas! IMO, much like getting hired--beyond a few common sense factors--getting published is pretty much out of our control. How lucky for us readers that once in a while the mantle falls upon capable writers like you.

    I've discovered that writing fiction fits me like a three-fingered glove, but your plot sounds like a winner. And Beverly Lewis? We won't even remember her name once your titles hit the shelves!

  9. Wow, GO FOR IT! I will be the first in line for your autograph!! ;-)

  10. Dorcas,

    Here is an opening line for you, just to encourage you to get started:

    It was a dark and stormy night, but Pastor Menno Yoder's heart was sinking faster than the barometer. He knew the moment Deacon Phares Beachy walked in the back door of the church, that he should not have allowed that sanguine Smucker girl talk him into allowing her to place one long stem red rose on the communion table at the front of the sanctuary for her wedding.

  11. just from reading you "Quotes of the day"...i'd say you have all the drama,plot and character ideas to start a novel,right at your fingertips...go for it!

  12. Yea go for it Dorcas!!

  13. For me--I think it would be easier to base my story on some actual characters and fictionalize it from there. Kind of like historical fiction. I love to read Eugenia Price's historicial novels based in the South. Just a thought. Everyone has their own style. I will buy your books!! Go for it!

  14. I would definitely read a novel by you. You have a wonderful gift for story-telling. Maybe that idea about the Mennonite wedding story was from the Lord. We need more good and Godly fiction. I'll be praying that the Lord gives you wisdom and understanding about this offer.

  15. Dorcus, you could do a series of books! Several series probably. If you start thinking about it, (I'm sure your mind is going 100 miles an hour) you can pull tons of ideas from many of true life happenings. The good, the bad, the ugly, and then the good again. Let the world know that Mennonites are not on some pedestal, but are real people with the same temptations as anyone else. You know what it's REALLY like to be a Mennonite.. Beverly Lewis doesn't. GO FOR IT!!

  16. WOW - We, the Christian Mennonite community, need that fiction book.
    I may have read one Beverley Lewis book but as with most current Christian fiction, well I could almost write it myself, only I can't! This is an order for a copy. How you are going to stretch yourself like that......wife, mother of 6, pastor's wife...only God can figure that out. Maybe he has already. Mary Horst PS - Edith's opening line is great!

  17. Ok, I'll stick my neck out as the lone dissenter here. I don't like this new fad of menn. and Amish novels. I think it brings it all down to a level of commercialism and exploiting.It feeds a curiosity that somehow people of organized churches are not humans. So therfore the authors seem bent on trying to overthrow that thinking and therefore end up portraying the life as some kind of christian soap opera. I don't know it's hard to explain my feelings. Just wanted to put in my two cents that if you do it be very, very careful.

  18. Wow, thanks to all of you, from "meredith"'s priceless first paragraph to the go-for-its to the lone dissenter.
    I will continue to drop notes in my file as I get ideas, and when the time is right to write, I'll know.
    And if I do write a "Mennonite" novel it will be first of all a good story and will not have an agenda and will not be limited or defined by a publishing PR person.
    (She said firmly, not having a clue what writing novels is like.)

  19. I would love to read a well-written novel about Mennonite characters. It seems often the quality is sadly inferior in that type of book.

    I have another plot idea I'd love to write, but know I don't have the skill to write non-fiction. We are often faced with life-altering decisions life. I've often wondered what my life would be like if I would have chosen the other option. If I would not have decided to teach school in TX, then met, fallen in love with, and married Steve...then what? If I wouldn't have tried the shortcut on the way to town...? If I would have pushed the snooze button...? If we would have agreed to move to NY...? I think it would be neat to have a character face some decision. From there the book would switch back and forth from her life resulting from either decision. Even a minutes deliberation could be the difference between an accident or meeting an important person.

  20. Christy--I think you need to write that book!

  21. I have some fragments of almost an idea...take a youngster, say a 9 year old girl, as a main character.

    Have her watching the flurry of activity leading up to a pending wedding, and all but her and an elderly relation (granny?) are busy busy busy and busier.

    Now a girl of that age would surely have many questions...and a woman of that age would surely have many memories and interesting observations of life to share, if anyone would ask her.

    So a story developes back and forth between the current preparations and the harried participants / and the stories from the past being gently handed down from the "too old" to the "too young" to help.

    So young Jenny? hears all about how old uncle Clyde courted aunt Eliza; how cousin Tom swore he'd never marry until Anna came to help his mother with the littles when they all came down with chicken pox...well, you get the idea.

    Through the Granny and the girl, we hear ALL kinds of family history and get a real and beautiful peek into Christian lives and loves and tragedies and hope.

    Through the current wedding, we meet all the people from the stories and see them together for a celebration of all of their lives and marriages as well as the one taking place.

    OK. Sorry...I had just a little glimpse of an idea and I got carried away. But I would like to read a book something like that.

    Pretty Please?

    Mrs. Not Getting My Laundry Done