Meet Richard Gilbert, professor, writer, soon-to-be memoir author. Here he is on the “about” page of his blog called Draft No. 4.

Richard has become a friend of my life journey by commenting frequently on this blog and by offering tasty memoir morsels on his own blog. He has also been my teacher. His MFA in creative nonfiction, and his years of teaching memoir in the classroom, have given him resources to share that I devour whenever possible.

Yesterday he posted a review of Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World. The picture of the review below will get you started, but what I really want you to do is visit Richard’s blog. Not just to finish reading this review, but to explore an encyclopedia of memoir wisdom. If you love language, the memoir genre, farming, and spiritual insight, you will want to subscribe to get his new posts every week. I’ve been challenged and stretched for three years by doing the same.

Finish reading the review here.

Dewitt Henry, a very fine writer himself, says of Richard’s work, “This blog, its urgency, steady fervor and insight into the art has earned you readers.”

Urgency, steady fervor, and insight. Those are rare gifts in a noisy age. When Richard’s own book Shepherd: A Memoir comes out on May 1, I will be among the first in line for it. Not just because I have come to care about Richard as a friend but because I know this book will feed me and make me a better writer and a better person. Next week Richard’s blog will feature his questions to me about Blush. You won’t be surprised to know that they are unusual, deep, questions. Where do you go for urgency, steady fervor, and insight?

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Shirley Showalter


  1. Richard Gilbert on October 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Aww, Shirley. Now I’m blushing! But I sure do welcome your readers and their comments.

    • shirleyhs on October 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      I’m hoping that they will show up on your page or on this one or both, Richard. What I enjoyed most about your review is that you USED all the resources: the glossary, epilogue, footnotes, photos, and text. Then you integrated them into your own (re?)-reading of the text. Every writer should have such a patient, empathetic reader. I feel blessed.

  2. Richard Gilbert on October 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Well, it was a pleasure. And you are good to know for another reason, Shirley—I had no idea my press already had uploaded an Amazon page for my book! What a neat surprise. It’s starting to feel real . . .

  3. Ray Evans on October 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Shirley,

    Just want to say that I bought your book at the Kindle Store and I really find it enjoyable. I’m about half way through the book now. Our lives are and were so much different and yet also, so much the same! The trials one must go through to get to be an adult seem to be universal!

    I wonder, if like me, the greatest rewards of all when writing your memoire, may be that it brings up memories set aside and temporarily forgotten? One memory thus salvaged, always leads to another!

    On my blog page, I try very hard to convince folks just how rewarding writing a memoire can be!

    Thanks for your writings.

  4. shirleyhs on October 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Ray,

    Good to see you here again. And I’m so glad you are reading the book and enjoying it. I haven’t had much feedback on the reading experience in Kindle. Are you liking how it is laid out? Do the pictures come through well on your device? I downloaded to my Kindle but haven’t really had time to check it out.

    Yes, the experience of writing did bring out forgotten memories.

    You are a great champion of the value of recording memories. Good for you. I’m sure you are inspiring many.

    • Ray Evans on October 21, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Hi again Shirley,

      Read the whole book and I thought it was great. The pictures and all the rest came through as good as it ever gets on my Kindle!

      Your asking how it came through made me laugh. I had the same worries with my book. My wife saw me reading my book on my Kindle, (she didn’t know I was reading my own book) “is that book any good” she asked? “Sure, one of the best”, I replied! When she found out I was reading my own book, she said that I was just bragging!

      Take Care, TOG (the Old Geezer from Geezerville)

  5. Kathleen Friesen on October 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Hi Shirley,

    I wanted to let you know that I have the paper copy and the Kindle for iPad version. The paper copy is currently loaned to a friend. The Kindle version came first, of course; the photographs were clear, and the layout was well executed.

    While I appreciated and connected with many of the stories, I carry the epilogue with me, as it stirs thoughts, ideas, and memories. It makes me hope that you might write further stories and reflections about how your journey of faith, family, and education continues to evolve.

    The end notes were a bonus present. Thank you for taking such care with them.

    I hope the launch continues to accelerate as more people discover “Blush!” Richard’s well considered review is an excellent addition to the “booster rockets.”


    • shirleyhs on October 21, 2013 at 10:25 am

      Wow, Kathleen, every author should have a reader like you! Thank you so much for this support and for offering what you most savor about the book. I’ll go back, now, to the epilogue and read it again, hoping to learn more about Kathleen.

      That’s what I love about reading and writing communities. We stitch together identities out of the fragments of our lives. And then, when others connect to particular fragments, we learn more about but them and ourselves. It’s a never-ending process!

  6. Virginia Lloyd on October 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Dear Shirley,
    I must admit I’ve only today discovered that your memoir is not only finished but published! My sincere congratulations to you. It looks wonderful. From what I know of your writing journey and from reading Richard Gilbert’s review, I am very keen to read BLUSH. My best wishes to you and your book.

    • shirleyhs on October 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Welcome back, Virginia. I enjoyed your latest post.

      I was excited to be reminded of your Australia/New Zealand connection. If you see any possibilities for Blush in a place with very few Mennonites, and more sheep than cows, let me know. 🙂

      Jill Ker Conway’s Road to Coorain was an early inspiration for me.

  7. shirleyhs on October 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Those of you who read and comment on this post may want to see Richard’s new post, an interview with me in which he asks questions no one else has asked so far.

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