This morning the sun in the East illuminated the view in the West. I ran outside to try to experience the brilliant light. But when I tried to capture it, I found the result disappointing. Here’s the best example of a pool of November light below the mountains.

Shenandoah Valley Autumn Morning Light

November light flits and turns, bright, low and fleeting.

November books can be the same.

These days, wherever I go, I get this question, “How’s the book doing?”

My answer? I’ve been amazed and overwhelmed. After the first week, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World went into a second printing. The reviews (37 of them so far) on both Amazon and Goodreads average five stars. The launch tour took me to five states, speaking to more than 1,000 people and signing 400 books.

This week Melanie Springer Mock, professor of English at George Fox University, and blogger on a great blog called Ain’t I a Woman? wrote a gorgeous, thoughtful review of Blush for Christianity Today’s her.meneutics blog.

The best part of all this? Connecting with old friends from all the layers of my life and making new friends who are interested in memoir, in Mennonites, and in the combination of both. Then, after people have read the book, I get mail! Email, voice mail, FB messages, and even mail mail. ๐Ÿ™‚

letters about blush

What the mailman brought.

If you are one of the people who has written to me, thank you! I want to write back, but it may take some time. I’ve got a little granddaughter celebrating her first birthday tomorrow and that means another long weekend with family, grading papers from my class as we travel.

All this flourishing of attention has been heady for a little girl who dreamed big. But like other New Beginnings that fulfilled dreams, it has also engendered humility. I stand in awe of the richness of other life stories, and of other storytellers, like Mary Karr, who are so much more gifted than I, and of the Creator who, day after day, pours forth speech, spilling stories of hope and redemption into a troubled world.

After the first blush, what comes next? I’m still waiting for the answer to that question, and I’m quite willing to listen to your guidance, gentle reader.

Like November light, every book gets a few moments of glory at the beginning. After that, the magic only continues as long as readers enjoy, ask for the book at their local and church libraries and bookstores, review it online or in person (one reader tells another), select it for book clubs and church groups, and invite the author to speak.

Next week I begin the first of four local book group visits. And I hope to map out more speaking engagements for 2014 in the next few weeks.

Do you have suggestions or requests for me to consider? Have book, will travel. Or Skype. Or walk your dog. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Shirley Showalter


  1. Richard Gilbert on November 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Congratulations on the first flush of attention for Blush! So deserved. My only advice is to enjoy it. And then help the second wave spread through your writing and appearances. It’s so neat to know that, in any case, your book exists, effectively for all time, and will make its mark in ways you cannot cause or predict.

  2. Rosanna Landis Weaver on November 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Hoping that at some point you will do a reading/book signing in the DC area. Maybe Hyattsville Mennonite? Eager to read your book.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Rosanna, that sounds like fun! Let’s talk offline about that sometime. Do you have my email? shirley.showalter (at)

  3. Saloma Furlong on November 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Shirley, congratulations in launching this wonderful book. Your reviews are a great testament to your eloquence in articulating Anabaptist life from your perspective.

    I hope you keep going out and doing more talks, and I also hope you will write more books.

    Melanie Springer Mock’s review was so insightful and eloquent! This is exactly the kind of understanding review an author likes to receive. It is well-deserved!


    • Melanie on November 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Saloma, I just received an email saying I get to review your new book for Mennonite World Review. Can’t wait to read it!

      And Shirley, I am thrilled to watch as you get adulation for a terrific memoir. We Mennonites don’t much like attention, I’ve found–or we’ve been told not to like it–but I hope you’ll bask in it.

      My dog is probably too spunky for you to walk, but I do hope you’ll consider writing the rest of your story. As a woman teaching at a Christian college, I’m interested in how you negotiated all the difficulties that can come with that role. But maybe that’s not what will be in your next book, and you’ll have to tell me about it when we meet for coffee some day.

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks, Saloma. I think it would be fun to see what a joint memoir reading would look like. I look forward to continuing our conversations.

      And I agree with you about Melanie’s review. She schooled me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Kathleen Pooler on November 6, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Oh Shirley, this is wonderful news to hear of your ongoing success with BLUSH. The key,as always, is writing a good book as you did. It appears to be selling itself, striking all sorts of chords across the nation. All well-deserved. You are the energizer bunny of inspiration for all of us. So happy for you.:-)

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Thanks, Kathy. I am more like a long-lasting tortoise than the energizer bunny, but I still like the comparison. It’s great to be part of a group of other writers who help and inspire each other. Thanks for being the energizer bunny of encouragement!

  5. shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Thanks, Richard. It’s fun to imagine a book as a living thing, isn’t it. I know yours will be. It will be filed under gardening. ๐Ÿ™‚

    It’s good to remember to relax, also. I plan to do that as soon as I grade those papers. . . .

  6. Laurie Buchanan on November 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    “Amazed and overwhelmed” sound like the perfect ingredients for where you’re currently at on this journey. I’m excited for you!

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Laurie, thanks for sharing your excitement here. I want to stay in closer touch with you. So enjoyed your last post!

  7. shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Melanie, thanks for not matching me up with a dog that carries me away. I’ll remember your questions about the later part of my life when I consider, a year from now, whether to continue the story. Maybe I’ll find a way to do a great NW tour. I’d love to sit and talk.

  8. Joan on November 6, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Absolutely fantastic news. All I can say is get to work on the next one!

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks, Joan. We’ll see where the spirit leads. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Carol Bodensteiner on November 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Congratulations on your very successful launch, Shirley. You are an inspiration, accepting your success with the grace it was given. Keep the ball rolling with continual marketing. News releases and interviews with every appearance. Keep reaching out to indie bookstores for readings and signings. Offer yourself as a speaker to groups like the Federation of Women’s Clubs, Masonic Lodge auxiliary groups, bank loyalty groups, libraries, and the annual meetings of library friends groups. The more you’re out there, the more word gets around. I could go on!

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Carol, I really appreciate this list, and I’ll bet that others on this list do also. You have persistently kept your book in front of audiences over a three-year period. I’d love to see a blog post on momentum after the first bloom is off the rose. You have an amazing number of reviews averaging five stars and apparently keep selling steadily. Congratulations.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on November 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

      Good idea for a blog post, Shirley. Actually, my memoir has been in the market for five years. Wow does time fly! My first year marketing goal was to do something new to market my book every day. Sort of like your 100 day challenge. Didn’t have to be big, but I had to do something.

    • shirleyhs on November 7, 2013 at 6:04 pm

      Five years of one action per day really accumulates, Carol. Did you find that the best way to keep the momentum going was to plan readings and signings?

  10. Louise on November 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    The population isn’t as dense in the Northwest, but you would receive a wonderful reception. Landing a book reading at Powell’s in Portland would be a real accomplishment. I bet Melanie would be happy to have her memoir students at George Fox meet you and I would give you a personal invitation to my Salem Mennonite women’s book club. We are discussing your book in April!

    • shirleyhs on November 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Louise, welcome to this space. Good to see you here. I’m quite tempted to put an Oregon/Washington trip on the planning board and see what happens. If I can figure out how to cover expenses, I’m willing to go. Maybe a combination of churches, libraries, bookstores, and a friend willing to help me connect in different locations. I love the area!

  11. April Yamasaki on November 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Congratulations on your success, Shirley! I’m so excited for your new book and looking forward to reading it for myself. Enjoy!

    • shirleyhs on November 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks, April. I love connecting with you and other Herald Press authors. I highly recommend your book Sacred Pauses. Anyone who likes Blush should also like your book.

  12. shirleyhs on November 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Today I was interviewed on Suzanne Woods Fisher’s website. The questions were wonderful. This post goes into more detail and background for those who want an insider’s view of an ongoing book launch and what kind of work it takes.

  13. Sharon Lippincott on November 7, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    More congratulations! A second printing is such a tangible landmark, and a flag lacking for Print-on-Demand publishers. Exciting. Your stamina and unflagging dedication to this project are as impressive as the book itself and resulting sales. You inspire me.

    • shirleyhs on November 8, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks, Sharon. I appreciate your unflagging encouragement. Hope to plan something special for Pittsburgh in 2014.

  14. Marilyn Slagel on November 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Shirly, I can hardly wait to receive my book! I promise to talk it up and review it and anything else I can do to promote you. I agree — BASK in the love and the light…

  15. shirleyhs on November 12, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Marilyn, thank you so much for the spirit of love and support that shines in and through you. I’m blessed and humbled.

  16. Elfrieda Schroeder on November 13, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Shirley, I love that you call your book a “November” book, and I’m glad it’s doing so well. I show it to everyone I meet, so it’s getting some press here in Canada! I’m happily reading it for the second time while I work on the review.
    November happens to be my father’s birthday month and though he has been gone for eight years, I think of him with love, especially at this time of year. He was the one who encouraged my bookish side because he identified with it.

    • shirleyhs on November 13, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      Elfrieda, I send you my condolences as you remember your father. Even years after they leave this earth, our parents continue to influence us, and we continue to learn how much we owe them.

      I have a picture of you standing on the street corner waving Blush :-). So sweet of you. I know you will have very insightful things to say. thank you.

  17. […] An amazing launch tour described in this post: After the First Blush: So, Howโ€™s the Book Doing? […]

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