How I loved watermelon on the 4th of July!

Every memoir includes some things and leaves some things out. The picture above didn’t make it into Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World, so I’m sharing it now.

My family will be gathering tonight with my sister Doris on top of the hill of what used to be called The Home Place to see the fireworks display at Lititz Springs Park, one of the most spectacular in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, region. I’ll miss being there, since I’m now in Phoenix, but I imagine I will see other displays from the window of the 18th floor of the hotel where we are staying.

Happy Independence Day to you!

When I was a child, all I saw was the pageantry of this holiday. Today, I feel both pride and gratitude and conflict. Bill Moyers’ essay on the flaws embedded in our beloved nation’s very beginnings describes my mixture of thoughts well.

In other news, I have some reporting to do from last night and a check-in on a goal posted earlier. Ready?

Reporting on the first reading from Blush

We had a lovely party last night at the MennoMedia booth. Ervin Stuzman, who both leads the Mennonite Church-USA as executive director and writes books, spoke about the historical novel he is writing now about Jacob Hostetler, the Amish man whose wife and daughter were killed by Indians in 1757. I read two short excerpts from Blush. We both answered questions from Ben Penner, director of marketing and sales at Herald Press.

Answering a question at the MC-USA convention in Phoenix.

It was fun to read in front of a live audience for the first time. I had the galleys on my computer and read the first three paragraphs and a short scene about painting my used bicycle. People laughed in the places where I laughed when writing the story. How gratifying! And when I asked how many of them had used bicycles, more than half the crowd raised their hands.

Memoirists hope their stories touch other lives and evoke new stories!

In the audience were cousins Steve and Rosemary, and friends Janet, Gloria, and Jim, among many others. I just have to say how touched I was that my friend Gloria pre-ordered ten books. Wow. Now we will have fun planning an event to go along with her group of readers in State College, Pennsylvania. I can’t wait!

You can continue this first pre-order event by clicking on the Herald Press link above or by this (orange) Amazon link for Blush. I’d love it if you would also share your purchase on Facebook or Twitter to let others know that pre-orders are helpful and available now.


After ten days of eating less and eating well.

Some of you remember that this is the day I said I didn’t want to see any 4’s when I stepped on the scales.

Guess what?

The fitness room in this hotel has no scales. So how do I report in? I guess I’ll just have to show you my waistband — like those before and after pictures in the Weightwatchers ads!

I heard back today from my New Beginning weight-loss buddy that she made her goal. I’m celebrating for her and hope to celebrate with her soon when I can confirm my own weight. After all, it’s not about crash dieting but about eating healthy and exercising every day! A good discipline.

70 Days Until Blush Launches!

My New Beginning today? To celebrate the birth of my country by getting to know as many Native American Mennonites as I can. Phoenix is just the place to do it. Maybe we will begin to know each other well enough to have a conversation about land and forgiveness. How do we truly learn about healing and hope from each other? That’s a memoir conversation that goes to the very root of what life, liberty, and the pursuit of freedom mean.

What is your New Beginning today? Log it here. I am reading some amazing stories from you. Like I said above, my story is connected to yours, and I can only know you are growing and learning too when you tell me about it. The prizes are the icing. The stories are the cake.


Shirley Showalter


  1. Kathy McLellan on July 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    I really enjoyed your reading last night, and listening during the Q&A time. Being in Phoenix was such a wonderful opportunity. I came away feeling a richness in my heart as I witnessed and became a part of such a wonderful community of believers. The youth were inspiring!
    It was such a pleasure to meet you. I’m looking forward to curling up in a quiet place with a good cup of coffee and Blush.

    • shirleyhs on July 5, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Thank you, Kathy. I was deeply honored that you took time to listen to a little of my story. I look forward to exploring the beautiful photos, recipes, and stories in your second in the series of Mennonite Girls Can Cook books. Wonderful to be making new friends in Abbotsford, BC, Canada.

  2. Tina Barbour on July 5, 2013 at 1:33 am

    How wonderful that your first reading was so successful and comfortable for you! I cannot wait to read the book. I just know I’m going to enjoy it so much.

    • shirleyhs on July 5, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      Dear, Tina, thank you so much. I hope the book will bless you on your own journey.

  3. Kathleen Pooler on July 5, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Shirley, Congratulations! How wonderful your first reading was so successful. You are setting the bar for all of us and leading the way. The picture says it all 🙂

    • shirleyhs on July 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you, Kathy. Let’s all jump over the bar together. Finding an audience, especially a first one, is thrilling. I know you will also, and I’m there with you.

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