Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Lady Writers Meet

It was my friend Mary Hake's idea.  Two of her writer friends were in the Valley for harvest, another was coming for a teachers' institute, and some of us already live here.  So let's get together.

Laura, my sister-in-law, author of Strands of Gold and another, almost-published, book, offered to host everyone for a potluck dinner on a Monday evening.

Tuesday was the deadline for my Letter from Harrisburg column, so I decided I'd spend the day writing on Monday--since I always wait until the last minute--and reward myself with an evening with fellow writers.

Monday morning I found out Laura was sick with the unspeakable stomach flu that hit her whole family, one by one.

I knew I should offer to host.  So I did.

Monday morning I started working on the column.

By noon I was feeling like I might be getting Laura's flu, so I went to bed and slept for a couple of hours and got up feeling mercifully better.

Too many fresh blackberries, maybe.

I swept floors and set up tables on the porch and moved sprinklers and cleaned the bathroom.  Amy made chickenetti and a blackberry coffee cake.

I knew that about seven writer ladies had been invited, but I had no idea how many husbands and children would come.

Vacation Bible School started that evening.  Paul, Amy, and Emily, who were all teaching, and Jenny, who was a student, rushed out the door just as the first guests arrived.

Carol (author of Because They Cared) and her husband Amos from Wisconsin arrived, along with a granddaughter.  Sharilyn (The Night the Angel Came; The Hand That Rocks the Cradle) and her husband James and their five children plus a niece.  Yvonne (Budget scribe and Sunday school papers) and Henry from Harrisburg.

They all brought food.

I put Sharilyn's daughters to work setting more plates on the table and putting ice in the glasses.

Jon (Bible study on Joseph) and Jane (children's book and Sunday school papers) and their three children came.  Luci (young adult novel in progress) from Wisconsin.  Ted and Mary (devotionals, Brownsville Times articles, science textbook).  Aunt Orpha (CLE curriculum in Spanish) from down the road.

Some 25 people in all.  We all missed Laura and her family.

Jon brought out lawn chairs and folding chairs and turned off the sprinklers I'd forgotten.  With loaded plates we jostled around each other on the crowded porch.  We displayed our books on a table off to the side.

And we talked.  Authors are intense talkers, I've found.  We talked about publishers and conferences, about high numbers and low numbers, about editors and authors.  About works in progress and self publishing, about Good Books and CLP and Carlisle Press and CAM's publishing arm, whatever it's called.  About e-books and a Baptist printer in Canada who did Jane's wonderful children's book under the single condition that the Bible verses be in KJV.


Luci wondered about submitting her novel to "XYZ."  So of course I had to tell about two authors I know who were reduced to tears by XYZ's editors who completely destroyed their voices.  But have things changed in the last ten years?  Carol and Sharilyn said yes.  Their editors at XYZ were wonderful; their stories retained their own flavor.  I was very happy to hear that.


We bought and signed each other's books, and Mary handed out postcards about the Oregon Christian Writers conference next week.

And we talked about the Writers Workshops by Mail that were started by Verda Glick, and which groups we were in, and who was in them with us.  Verda has been a Beachy-Amish missionary in El Salvador for many years, and nobody has done as much to inspire Amish and conservative Mennonite writers as Verda Glick.  Years ago she started a "workshop-by-mail," a group of half a dozen writers who sent their work in a big envelope from one member to the next, adding their critiques to the others' work and including a new piece of their own with each round.

That group grew too large and another was begun, and another and  another.  I don't know how many groups have been formed or how many people have been part of them, but it's a lot, and Verda added her gentle but insightful voice to each of them.  I was part of two groups about 15 years ago and dropped out, regretfully, when I began writing for the newspaper, because one deadline was all I could handle.

I believe all but one of our group is, or has been, in one of Verda's Writers Workshops.  God bless her.

We took a group picture and kept talking and finally people left before we felt finished.  Let's do this next year.  Yes.  Let's.
Me, Sharilyn Martin, Orpha Smucker, Carol Kauffman, Melodi Martin, Mary Hake, Yvonne Bender, Luci Miller, Jane Kropf

And then I went back to my computer and worked on my column for another hour, pulling word after reluctant word out of my brain, down through my arms, and into the keyboard.  This morning I finished and sent it off, barely making the deadline, like always.


  1. Bless your heart for hosting. That's what I call Southern Hospitality!

  2. We hosted a WWM reunion in Kansas in (the late 90's??) for all the groups. Not everyone was able to make it but we had a great time: topics for writers, informal fellow-ship, etc. As I recall, Friday evening was just for us. But we invited interested community folks to join us for Saturday and Sunday. Sharilyn and I were in the same group, and it was a blessing to meet her and her family. And I was glad to learn to know Yvonne too. Bless you for hosting this event on short notice.--LRM

  3. Great post!--LRM

  4. Sounds delightful! I know Luci Miller!

  5. I'm going to miss seeing Mary at the OCW conference next week!

  6. What's chickenetti?

  7. Oh, how fun! Last winter I hosted a group of lady writers at my house. I only knew a couple of the ladies personally but I found out that we could all gab quite well on the very first meeting!

  8. I suppose it must be the same as with quilt makers...we just find the most friendly people at the shows and in the shops. Loved putting faces to some familiar names.

  9. Anonymous: chickenetti is a yummy mixture of chopped cooked chicken, spaghetti, cheese, and green peppers all in a gooey sauce and baked for a while.

  10. Julia, funny you mention Southern Hospitality. I was making iced tea and we were discussing "Southern" vs. "my" iced tea. Do I recall that Southern iced tea has two cups of sugar per gallon of tea?? I prefer more like 2/3 cup. But y'all can make sweet tea any way you please, bless your hearts!

  11. I've had some communication with Luci Miller but never met her. Nice to "meet" her this way. I like her style of writing. She has great potential.

  12. So, Carol is my great aunt, and Luci is also a relative. Interesting to see them here. :) -Lisl

  13. Enjoyed this post, as always, but in a special way, since you mentioned my good friend Orpha! I am glad you didn't have the nasty flu.

  14. What's the name of Jane's children's book? I'd love to see it.