Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates – #Reviews – Janice Spina, Marian Beaman and Marcia Meara


Welcome to the first of the week’s updates for authors on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore with recent reviews.

Delighted to share one of the recent reviews for the new release by Janice Spina.  Abby & Holly series book 3 – Secrets of the Trunk

About the book

Join Abby and Holly in Book 3 as the cousins discover a new presence in their old Victorian while they are cleaning out the library of old books. They are not sure if this specter is benign or otherwise. This being leads them to the old trunk they discovered in Book 2 which holds many secrets and puzzles that they feel compelled to solve.

They enlist the help of their ghost friend, Felicity, who inhabits their home. She is a benevolent entity that once lived in their house from a century ago. She watches over the girls and vows never to leave them unless they request her to do so.

There will be surprises and ghostly visits that will keep readers enthralled as Abby and Holly work together to uncover the secrets of the trunk.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Michelle Clements James 5.0 out of 5 stars The story book instills life lessons September 6, 2019

This is a skillfully written story that logically follows Book 2 in the series. Abby and Holly are determined to solve the mystery of the old trunk and elicit the help of their ghost friends, Felicity and Minerva. When things get a bit out of hand and turn dangerous, the girls turn to their moms and to Abby’s dad for help.

Abby and Holly are typical young middle-grade girls who are adventurous, sweet, kindhearted, and thoughtful. Their ghost friends are helpful and caring. All the characters are well-drawn and believable, that is unless you don’t believe in ghosts.

As with all the author’s children’s books, this book instills life lessons, especially that everyone should treat all others with respect. The life lessons introduced in Secrets of the Trunk are how to handle the unexpected and how to overcome disappointments.

I loved this book, as I have all the other middle-grade books by Janice Spina. I recommend it as a book for your middle-grade child to read by themselves or as a book you’ll read together.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Abby-Holly-Book-Secrets-Trunk/dp/1732528829

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abby-Holly-Book-Secrets-Trunk/dp/1732528829

A very small selection of children’s books by Janice Spina

Also as J.E. Spina

Discover all of Janice Spina’s books, read the reviews and buy  https://www.amazon.com/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

Find more reviews and follow Janice on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7222888.Janice_Spina

Connect to Janice via her blog: http://Jemsbooks.blog

Now another excellent review for Marian Beaman.. a memoir – Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl released earlier in September.

About the book

What if the Mennonite life young Marian Longenecker chafed against offered the chance for a new beginning? What if her two Lancaster County homes with three generations of family were the perfect launch pad for a brighter future? Readers who long for a simpler life can smell the aroma of saffron-infused potpie in Grandma’s kitchen, hear the strains of four-part a capella music at church, and see the miracle of a divine healing.

Follow the author in pigtails as a child and later with a prayer cap, bucking a heavy-handed father and challenging church rules. Feel the terror of being locked behind a cellar door. Observe the horror of feeling defenseless before a conclave of bishops, an event propelling her into a different world.

Fans of coming-of-age stories will delight in one woman’s surprising path toward self-discovery, a self that lets her revel in shiny red shoes.

One of the recent reviews for the memoir

Mennonite Daughter is a beautifully written story about the growing up life and aspirations of one feisty and longing-to-be fancy girl who although practicing her faith obediently, longs to be free from some of the conforms of the Mennonite lifestyle.

Beaman, a girl, not unlike any other girlie girl, striving for her chance at a life free from head coverings and traditional clothing, as her desires since childhood grow to break free from tradition. We learn a lot about the Mennonite way of life, Beaman’s life, the close knit family and community life, and the antiquated punishments inflicted on her by her father, and about the mother who never interjected on those punishments, all because she spoke out for her convictions. The whippings and being locked in a dark, scary basement were the weapons of choice as punishments and discipline for her non-compliance in a world of which we’d now consider as child abuse. One heart trembling sentence that stood out to me, “I always watched for signs that Daddy was about to explode, so I wonder why I didn’t stop before I ignite the fire.” We’ll learn once again, as many writers like myself have lived and wrote about, if we search for the ‘why’ in someone’s behavior, we’ll almost always find the root cause.

Read the early reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XL5FPW6

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07XL5FPW6

Read more reviews and follow Marian on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19169570.Marian_Longenecker_Beaman

Connect to Marian via her blog: https://marianbeaman.com.

And the final author today is Marcia Meara with a recent review for That Darkest Place (Riverbend Book 3)

About the book

In Book 3 of her popular Riverbend series, Marcia Meara, author of Wake-Robin Ridge, A Boy Named Rabbit,and Harbinger, takes another look at the lives of the Painter brothers—Jackson, Forrest, and Hunter. While Hunter is home again and on the mend, the same isn’t true for his oldest brother. Jackson’s battle has just begun.

“There are dark places in every heart, in every head. Some you turn away from. Some you light a candle within. But there is one place so black, it consumes all light. It will pull you in and swallow you whole. You don’t leave your brother stranded in that darkest place.”
~Hunter Painter~

The new year is a chance for new beginnings—usually hopeful, positive ones. But when Jackson Painter plows his car into a tree shortly after midnight on January 1, his new beginnings are tragic. His brothers, Forrest and Hunter, take up a grim bedside vigil at the hospital, waiting for Jackson to regain consciousness and anxious over how he’ll take the news that he’s lost a leg and his fiancée is dead. After all, the accident was all his fault.

As the shocking truth emerges, one thing becomes obvious—Jackson will need unconditional love and support from both of his brothers if he is to survive.

Just as he begins the long road to recovery, danger, in the form of a sinister, unsigned note, plunges him back into bleak despair. Scrawled in blood red letters, the accusation—and the threat—is clear. “MURDERER!”

Will the long, harrowing ordeal that lies ahead draw the Painter brothers closer together, or drive them apart forever?

Suspenseful and often heartbreaking, this small-town tale is a testimonial to the redemptive power of love and paints a story filled with humor, romance, and fierce family loyalty.

One of the recent reviews of the book

The third book of the Riverbend series focuses primarily on Painter brothers, Jackson and Forrest, though youngest brother Hunter, is still a strong presence in his unique and quiet way. I fell in love with his character in book two.

At the end of Finding Hunter, Jackson was behaving horribly—lashing out at those around him, physically and verbally abusive. He ended up in a car accident believed to be the result of drunk driving. In That Darkest Place, the truth of what really took place and why is quickly revealed. Once brought to light, Jackson’s long road to recovery begins.

Once again, Meara tackles some weighty issues, but the most powerful theme is the unshakable bond of family, specifically brothers. Forrest and Hunter are not about to let Jackson muddle through on his own. Presenting a united front, they eventually have Jackson back to functioning almost normally again. Along the way there are physical and emotional hurdles to overcome, but there are also heartwarming and humorous moments to offset the weightier scenes.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072LCVP6M

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B072LCVP6
 

A selection of books by Marcia Meara

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Marcia-Meara/e/B00EUCXRU4

And Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marcia-Meara/e/B00EUCXRU4

Read more reviews and follow Marcia Meara on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7242441.Marcia_Meara

Connect to Marcia via her website: http://marciamearawrites.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books under your arm.. thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Easter Parade Blog Party – Part Two – Music, dancing, food, Behatted guests and time to drop you links.


Welcome to the Smorgasbord Easter Parade part two with more behatted guests, music, dancing, humour and food. And since you have dropped in today.. please don’t leave without leaving the link to your latest post…. or your Amazon link and a little bit about yourself.

It is a beautiful day here and whilst you are waiting for the parade to begin here is something spectacular for you to join in with…

The first guest in the parade today has been providing the funnies for the blog over the last few months, even when she was basking in the sun in Mexico…most of you will already be enjoying her monthly D.G. Kaye Travel Column Debby Gies has gone all out with not just her hat today but her entire outfit….Debby has jetted in overnight from Canada to be with us.

About D.G. Kaye – Debby Gies

Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.

When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.

Quotes:
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”

                 “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.

Books by D.G. Kaye

Read the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO – Read more reviews and follow Debby: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads
Follow Debby on her blog: http://www.dgkayewriter.com

Debby has also supplied the funnies for the parade…

The next guest in the parade has flown in from Texas to join the party. Thriller/Paranormal author John W. Howell delights the readers of his blog with short stories and also personal musings by his two dogs.. who seem to have him wrapped around their little paws!

About John Howell

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the tension. The final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016 concludes the thriller series. John’s fourth book Circumstances of Childhood, launched in October of 2017 tells a different thriller story of riches to rags, football, Wall Street, brotherly love, redemption, and inspiration with a touch of paranormal to keep you riveted. The fifth book is a collaboration with the ​award-winning author, Gwen Plano titled The Contract. Heavenly bodies become concerned about the stability of the Earth and send two of their own to risk eternal salvation in order to save the planet. The Contract achieved number one status in its genre. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

A selection of books by John W. Howell


Discover all the books and read the reviews: http://www.amazon.com/John-W.-Howell/e/B00HMRWO6C Read more reviews and follow John: John Howell Goodreads
Connect to John via his blog: https://johnwhowell.com/

Please help yourselves to coffee and macaroons...

My next guest has crossed the Irish Sea which was thankfully calm last night, to be part of the parade.. author Stevie Turner recently compiled and contributed to an amazing anthology with articles for 19 authors (including me) on significant aspects of life Proceeds to Cancer Research – you can find out more here Understanding – Significant Aspects of Life

As you can see Stevie loves a bit of rock ‘n’ roll….

About Stevie Turner

Stevie Turner works part time as a medical secretary in a busy NHS hospital and writes suspense, women’s fiction, and darkly humorous novels in her spare time. She won a New Apple Book Award in 2014 and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Award in 2015 for her book ‘A House Without Windows’, and one of her short stories, ‘Checking Out’, was published in the Creative Writing Institute’s 2016 anthology ‘Explain!’ Her psychological thriller ‘Repent at Leisure’ won third place in the 2016 Drunken Druid Book Award contest.

Stevie lives in the East of England, and is married with two sons and four grandchildren. She has also branched out into the world of audio books, screenplays, and translations. Most of her novels are now available as audio books, and one screenplay, ‘For the Sake of a Child’, won a silver award in the Spring 2017 Depth of Field International Film Festival. ‘A House Without Windows’ gained the attention of a New York media production company in December 2017. Some of Stevie’s books are currently being translated into German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

A very small selection of books by Stevie Turner

Discover all the books and read the reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Stevie-Turner/e/B00AV7YOTURead more reviews and follow Stevie on Goodreads: Stevie Turner
Connect to Stevie via her website:http://www.stevie-turner-author.co.uk/

Now time for a little more entertainment…the Easter parade is a place for all to gather, even those who have passed away and who hopefully are still dancing somewhere… including my parents. This is for all of them and our enjoyment.

My next guest is the lovely Robbie Cheadle who has sent representatives all the way from South Africa to the parade.. Her two sons Michael, who co-writes the Sir Chocolate series of stories and cookbooks.. and Gregory who keeps them both in order and provides much needed social media support.

This was taken when they were a little bit younger wearing stunning top hats.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle was born in London in the United Kingdom. Her father died when she was three months old and her mother immigrated to South Africa with her tiny baby girl. Robbie has lived in Johannesburg, George and Cape Town in South Africa and attended fourteen different schools. This gave her lots of opportunities to meet new people and learn lots of social skills as she was frequently “the new girl”.

Robbie is a qualified Chartered Accountant and specialises in corporate finance with a specific interest in listed entities and stock markets. Robbie has written a number of publications on listing equities and debt instruments in Africa and foreign direct investment into Africa.

Robbie is married to Terence Cheadle and they have two lovely boys, Gregory and Michael. Michael (aged 11) is the co-author of the Sir Chocolate series of books and attends school in Johannesburg. Gregory (aged 14) is an avid reader and assists Robbie and Michael with filming and editing their YouTube videos and editing their books.

A small selection of books by Robbie Cheadle

Discover all the books and read the reviews:https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ Find more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads: Robbie Cheadle Connect to Robbie via her blog: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/

Please help yourself to some sandwiches as you walk passed the stands..

My next guest, Sue Vincent, has also sent a representative as she is busy this weekend. I have a sneaky suspicion that her beloved small black dog Ani, is not quite sure about getting the ferry across on her own and being billeted in our house for the weekend… but I am sure a little Irish Cheddar will do the trick.. Ani is an author in her own right…with proceeds going towards a tennis ball launcher…About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer currently living in the south of England, largely due to an unfortunate incident with a map, a pin and a blindfold. Raised in a spiritually eclectic family she has always had an unorthodox view on life, particularly the inner life, which is often reflected in her writing, poetry and paintings.

Sue lived in France for several years, sharing a Bohemian lifestyle and writing songs before returning to England where the youngest of her two sons was born. She began writing and teaching online several years ago, and was invited to collaborate with Dr G Michael Vasey on their book, “The Mystical Hexagram: The Seven Inner Stars of Power” (Datura Press).

Since then she has published a number of books, beginning with “Sword of Destiny”, a magical tale set in the ancient landscape of Yorkshire. Her retelling of the Egyptian myths, “The Osiriad”, came shortly afterwards along with the Triad of Albion – “The Initiate”, “Heart of Albion” and “Giants Dance” in collaboration with Stuart France. These books tell a factual tale in a fictional manner, that is at once a journey into the landscape, myth and iconography of Albion and the story of a growing and rather oddball friendship.

Sue, along with Steve Tanham and Stuart France, is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, an international modern Mystery School that seeks to allow its students to find the inherent magic in living and being. http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk

A very small selection of books by Sue Vincent (and Ani)

Discover all of Sue Vincent’s books and read the reviews: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Vincent/e/B00F2L730W Read more reviews and follow Sue on Goodreads: Sue Vincent Connect to Sue via her blog: http://scvincent.com/

Time for a little more entertainment.and something I am sure Ani would be keen to join in with…courtesy of the amazing partnership – FCI Dog dance World Championship 2016 – Winner freestyle – Yvonne Belin and Alice (Switzerland):  Videos from Freestyle&HTM World Championship 2016 Mos

My next guest is crime fiction/children’s author Eloise de Sousa who has brought company along with he. Eloise says she sits at her computer some days, contemplating murder.. and passion and adventure.. when she is not in her bat cave she is mum to four children, four cats and a dog called Henry…

About Eloise de Sousa

Finding heroes and villains is easy – capturing their essence in a story is harder.
Eloise thrives on creating characters that make you want to reach into the book and shake them, hug them or arrest them. Her children’s books follow real life trends told through easy stories that face bullying or social issues which open children’s minds to the opportunity to question the world around them.

With the few books written thus far, Eloise plans to capture more villains and weave more tales to inspire or frighten her readers (whichever is appropriate!). She will be publishing a few more stories in the coming months.

A small selection of books by Eloise

Discover all the books and read the reviews: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eloise-De-Sousa/e/B00JKTFVXIFind more reviews and follow Eloise on Goodreads: Eloise De Sousa – Follow Eloise on her blog: http://eloisedesousa.wordpress.com

My next guest is poet Willow Willers who is sporting a dashing flat cap. Willow has been nominated for the best lifestyle blog in the Bloggers Bash Awards this year and you can find out more at this LINK

About Willow Willers

I am the mum of three boys all now grown and flown to live their own lives. Luckily they do keep in touch and visit often. I now have two beautiful grandsons.

When I started this blog I had not long come home from hospital after an accident in which I broke my back. I was in hospital for a month and had three operations.

It has taken me a long time to recover, I am still recovering but every day my body is getting stronger.It has taken a huge toll on me mentally I had to retire early on health grounds, I had to come to terms with finding out people I thought were friends were not. I had to make a new life for myself. Things I could do easily have become difficult.

Writing poetry and prose has helped me a great deal, in fact I think it has saved my life.

You can find one of Willow’s stories here: Vlad

and you can follow Willow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/willow.willers.7

Time for another Flash Mob on your feet.. this time Pharrell Williams with Happy from Italy. Marco Squeglia

We are nearly at the end of the parade with just three more guests, the first of which is Marian Beaman..who is looking very swish as she arrives from the USA. Since beginning her blog in 2013, she has uncovered nostalgic photos, letters, and artifacts from her two Longenecker homes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many of which are featured on blog on Wednesdays such as her latest: http://marianbeaman.com/2019/04/17/easter-2019-memories-mother/

About Marian Beaman

My love of books, along with a connection to students and colleagues, has made my years in education pure joy. I have spent more than 40 years teaching, finishing my career with 21 years at Florida State College in Jacksonville.

Writing dovetails with reading and teaching. My academic writing includes a multi-colored array of topics, ranging from “A Thousand Acres: Not King Lear in a Cornfield” for the American Popular Culture Association and “It’s Not Easy Being Green, Wal-Mart and Me,” recounting my neighborhood struggle to keep large oaks and tall pines from biting the dust.

Former Mennonite with a Writing Habit

A dream came true when I presented and published “God: Myth and Mystery from the Romantics through the Twentieth Century: Informing Global Religious Conflict” in magical Oxford, England. In 2011 Bedford St. Martin’s textbooks published “Facilitating Cooperative Learning,” the mantra of my most effective teaching techniques.

Now in my Third Act, I’ve embraced creative non-fiction with “Gutsy In Ukraine,” published in Sonia Marsh’s My Gutsy Story Anthology (2014), Volume 2. In September 2016, my story “Making Love Edible: Lessons from Fanny Martin Longenecker” was published in The Mennonite magazine. In the fall 2018 issue, The Arts & Antiques show magazine published my article in Patient Profiles.

My work in progress is tentatively titled A Mennonite Daughter: Thorns and Roses, a memoir that reveals family secrets.

You can discover more of Marian’s posts via her blog: http://marianbeaman.com/ You can also follow Marian on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marian.beaman

My next guest has taken the request for fancy headgear to heart and please welcome poet Miriam Hurdle who is looking very fetching in Easter Bunny Ears.. Miriam is one of the contributors to the Posts from Your Archives series including her latest inspiring story about her brother-in-law’s kidney transplant: Kidney Transplant: A Good Match

About Miriam Hurdle.

Miriam Hurdle is a multi-genre writer. She writes poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. Her poems are included in Letters to Gaia, Whispers and Echoes Issue 2, Whispers and Echoes Issue 3, and Outcast and More Words.

Music has rooted in her life. Being a soloist as a teenager led her to taking voice lessons and to have ongoing singing engagements. She continues to sing soprano in choral groups. Lyrics have a major influence in the natural flow of her melodic writing. She writes memoir in the form of poetry.

Along with her brother, she took photos when the films were black and white. Photography is still her enjoyable hobby. Drawing and painting were fun activities as a child. Her favorite was to draw a Japanese girl with big eyes, long hair, small lips and chin. She resumed drawing and watercolor painting several years ago. In her poetry collection, photos and paintings are included to illustrate the poems.

She earned a Doctorate of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California.

Read the reviews for Songs of the Heartstrings: https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Heartstrings-Poems-Gratitude-Beatitude-ebook/dp/B07K1S47W9 Read more reviews on Goodreads: Miriam Hurdle  Follow Miriam on her blog: https://theshowersofblessings.com/

As it is still very warm… please grab a glass of water on your way passed the stand….

My final guest is poet and fantasy author  M. J. Mallon (Marjorie) who joins us from the UK and looks like she is making the most of the wonderful weather on the crossing to Ireland….Not only an author but a prolific book reviewer with over 100 for you to read on her blog : : https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

About Marjorie Mallon

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, and middle grade fiction as well as micropoetry – haiku and tanka.

My alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. I love superheros! I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit,) second child and only daughter to my proud parents Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald. My parents dragged me away from my exotic childhood and my much loved dog Topsy to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh I mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters.

You can read the reviews for The Curse of Time : https://www.amazon.co.uk/M-J-Mallon/e/B074CGNK4L/There are more reviews and you can follow Marjorie on Goodreads: M. J. Mallon  Follow Marjorie on her website/blog: https://mjmallon.com/about/

And not just time to thank you for dropping in today and pleased don’t forget to add the links to your latest posts and to Amazon for your books… Thanks and Happy Easter… Sally.

I thought we would end with another ABBA track…one to get everyone on their feet to follow the parade. 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – A Dozen Daughters: My Mother’s Other Family by Marian Beaman.


Time for the second post in the archive series for Marian Beaman. In this post Marian shares her parents commitment to making a difference to others. David and I have an expression that we use frequently “Walking the Talk”. Very often you will hear or read about the religious beliefs of individuals whether they be Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim etc. What is important however, is how they put those beliefs into practice. Something that Marian’s parents have done amazingly.

A Dozen Daughters: My Mother’s Other Family by Marian Beaman

Longenecker family portrait circa 1961: Mark, Marian, Janice, Jean with parents

This is the family I grew up in: my parents Ray and Ruth with my two sisters and one brother. But after I left home and eventually married, my parents had more children. No, my mother was not a modern-day Sarah. She didn’t have babies in old age. But in their early sixties, Mother and Daddy “adopted” another set of children, about a dozen daughters in all, through an agency called New Life for Girls.

Because they entered my parents’ lives after I left home, I never felt jealous of them. They were simply unknown to me, mysterious. Oh, I did meet two of them, Gloria and Julie. They came to see my mother when she visited her first two grandsons born in Chicago in 2003. By then these girls both had grown children of their own.

Gloria’s Story

Gloria grew up in inner city Chicago with an alcoholic father who beat her mother and more than once tried to choke her with a dog chain. Her mother, single now with 8 children to feed, had to go to work. Alone in the world, Gloria turned to drugs and men, looking for love. She set her sights on rich men, men she hoped would take care of her. But the rich men were users, drug dealers or worse. Not surprisingly, Gloria became pregnant at age 14.

One day an evangelist named Brother Raymond, came into Gloria’s neighborhood. She responded to this kind man’s message of salvation and made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Though her heart had changed, Gloria’s life didn’t get any easier. Several times she slid back into her old ways and had more babies out of wed-lock. The hard times made her harder. She became tough as nails, always looking for a fight.

Finally, Brother Raymond suggested a way out. “There is an agency called New Life for Girls in Pennsylvania that might help you get your life on track. To enter their program though you would have to agree to their rules and stick by them. Also, your children would be staying in a separate facility.”

Gloria: “Oh no, I can’t be separated from my children!”

Brother Raymond: “Well, then we’ll try to find a host family for you, so that on weekends you can visit with them in a nice Christian home in the country.”

And that’s how my parents’ lives intersected with Gloria’s.

Weekends with the Longeneckers

Gloria was looking for an anchor and she found one in her weekend visits to the Longenecker family on Anchor Road near Elizabethtown. Pennsylvania. Most importantly, she could be with her children. Mother and Daddy would pick Gloria up at the train station with her four children who played with toys including the same marble-roller I played with as a child.

Gloria’s grand-children playing with the same marble-roller we had as children:
Demetri 12, Inani 13, and Samantha 10.

And she could enjoy Lancaster County abundance. “This is how life should be,” Gloria exclaims as she recalls some of her favorite things:

  • Going to Root’s Sale where fresh farm produce abounds.
  • Helping Mom make applesauce with her metal sieve and wooden mallet.
  • Turning the crank on the ice cream churn, always vanilla with Hershey’s chocolate syrup and peanut sprinkles.
  • Helping with quilting at Bossler’s Mennonite Church Sewing Circle.
  • Eating fresh corn on the cob – and fresh tomatoes out of the garden, both dripping juice.
  • Making tangy home-made root beer from Hires Root Beer Extract, the two-quart jars cooling on their sides in the cellar.
  • Having devotions with my parents on Sunday morning after which my dad would march over to the piano and bang out the melody to “Fill My Cup, Lord,” singing at the top of his lungs.
  • Following the Longenecker rules. And to the letter.

My brother Mark still lived at home when Gloria and her children visited, so she got some first-hand tips on getting children to obey. When Mark questioned Mother about why he had to get up and go to church Sunday morning, Mom would reply, “Because you’re in my house and that is the rule.”

But Gloria recalls Mother’s softer side when she tearfully called her at one point to break the news about yet another unplanned pregnancy: “She never criticized me; she stood by me, and said “’You just have to trust that God is still in control.’”

Gloria Araujo in kitchen with Mother (age 95) April 2014

Gloria Today

Over the years, Gloria has told her own children and grand-children this same bold statement when they question her authority: “Because you’re in my house and that is the rule.” And she teaches her clients how to use firm discipline with their children in her role as a social worker at The First Baptist Church of Wheaton, Illinois, where she has recently been appointed deaconess.

Now I work with many Cuban refugees, help them get into an apartment, find jobs and medical aid—set them on the right track. It feels so good to see lives changed,” she says.

In Retrospect

In a little green autograph book sitting on one of Mother’s living room end tables are listed all the names of the girls from New Life my parents have hosted. This April in her recent visit, Gloria noticed that her name was the first one to be signed in 1978, along with her sister Julie’s. After the signatures of 11-12 other girls, she signed the book again. “It’s only suitable that I sign the last page,” she says.

Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature:

the old things are passed away; behold, all things become new.

​​2 Corinthians 5:17

Huge thanks to Marian for sharing this story of her parents who definitely ‘walked the talk’ giving girls who had very little chance in life, a new narrative and way forward.

©Marian Beaman 2014

About Marian Beaman

At one point as a teacher at Lancaster Mennonite School, I was addressed as Sister Longenecker. Then I turned fancy and became Beaman after marrying a blue-eyed, blonde-haired German boy from Washington State. His original artwork often appears on my pages. I wrote about our unlikely meeting here.

My love of books, along with a connection to students and colleagues, has made my years in education pure joy. I have spent more than 40 years teaching, finishing my career with 21 years at Florida State College in Jacksonville.

Writing dovetails with reading and teaching. My academic writing includes a multi-colored array of topics, ranging from “A Thousand Acres: Not King Lear in a Cornfield” for the American Popular Culture Association and “It’s Not Easy Being Green, Wal-Mart and Me,” recounting my neighborhood struggle to keep large oaks and tall pines from biting the dust.

Former Mennonite with a Writing Habit

A dream came true when I presented and published “God: Myth and Mystery from the Romantics through the Twentieth Century: Informing Global Religious Conflict” in magical Oxford, England. In 2011 Bedford St. Martin’s textbooks published “Facilitating Cooperative Learning,” the mantra of my most effective teaching techniques.

Now in my Third Act, I’ve embraced creative non-fiction with “Gutsy In Ukraine,” published in Sonia Marsh’s My Gutsy Story Anthology (2014), Volume 2. In September 2016, my story “Making Love Edible: Lessons from Fanny Martin Longenecker” was published in The Mennonite magazine.

Since beginning my blog in 2013, I’ve uncovered nostalgic photos, letters, and artifacts from my two Longenecker homes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many of which are featured here on my blog.

I publish my blog Plain and Fancy Girl on Wednesdays. Whether you are a commenter or reader only, I appreciate your noticing. Scroll down and subscribe to my weekly blog.

My work in progress is tentatively titled Tomato Girl, a memoir that reveals family secrets. I don’t think the title quite fits my story. You can contact me to make a better suggestion or offer a comment.

Connect to Marian

Website/Blog: http://marianbeaman.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/martabeaman
Facebookhttps://facebook.com/marianbeaman   (All my weekly blogposts are published publicly on Facebook.)
Rifflebookshttps://www.rifflebooks.com/profiles/136032  (I have published 111 book reviews on this site.)

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Family Dinners: Keeping the Spark Alive by Marian Beaman


It is time to welcome another new contributor the series with the first post from her archives, here is Marian Beaman. In this post Marian shares some of her own family dinners across the generations and illustrates how important this bringing together of family members is so important.

Family Dinners: Keeping the Spark Alive by Marian Beaman

Are family dinners important? What about empty nesters? Families of one? Do family dinners protect against the effects of teen drug use and cyberbullying? Writer Melodie Miller Davis in her recent blog post “How do you keep family dinner?” got me thinking about recent research on the topic.

In her post, she refers to Columbia Casa Family Day, a national initiative to remind parents that they have the “power to help keep their kids substance free.” Cornell University researchers also have discovered that shared meals may help prevent eating disorders. An article in Time asserts that teens benefit from interaction with their families and find security in the shared, predictable ritual of family mealtime possibly preventing early drug use and the effects of cyber-bullying. However, there is also research that claims such effects are overstated or not verifiable.

Whatever the case may be, the faster the pace of our lives and the more insane world events become, the more I long for the sweet spaces of serenity that sharing family meals can provide.

The Longeneckers and the Metzlers, two strands of my family line were oblivious of any such research but carried on the ritual of family meal time together. Here is a post from the Metzler gatherings, often picnic style.

Family dinners can be very large as seen here in Grandma and Aunt Ruthie’s house with twenty, mostly Bossler Mennonite Church friends, gathered around their huge dining table.

Whether large or small, indoors or out, dinners require preparation. My sister Jean and her family provide some of the “raw material” from a shared meal at Mother’s house.

Years ago if we didn’t visit Pennsylvania, I shared holiday meal making with my sister Janice, who lives just 2 ½ miles from us.

 

And then the over-flow table with the kids . . .

Any excuse for a party! Besides birthdays, Fourth of July can be a cause for celebration too.

One of us, who loved everything about entertaining from meal preparation to talking and eating around the table, will be missing this holiday season and every meal in between, our Mother Ruth Longenecker, hostess extraordinaire.

How have family dinners marked your family history?

My thanks to Marian for sharing her family memories in these photos.. I have not included all of them and you can see more at her original post: http://marianbeaman.com/2014/10/04/family-dinners-keeping-the-spark-alive/

©Marian Beaman 2014

About Marian Beaman

At one point as a teacher at Lancaster Mennonite School, I was addressed as Sister Longenecker. Then I turned fancy and became Beaman after marrying a blue-eyed, blonde-haired German boy from Washington State. His original artwork often appears on my pages. I wrote about our unlikely meeting here.

My love of books, along with a connection to students and colleagues, has made my years in education pure joy. I have spent more than 40 years teaching, finishing my career with 21 years at Florida State College in Jacksonville.

Writing dovetails with reading and teaching. My academic writing includes a multi-colored array of topics, ranging from “A Thousand Acres: Not King Lear in a Cornfield” for the American Popular Culture Association and “It’s Not Easy Being Green, Wal-Mart and Me,” recounting my neighborhood struggle to keep large oaks and tall pines from biting the dust.

Former Mennonite with a Writing Habit

A dream came true when I presented and published “God: Myth and Mystery from the Romantics through the Twentieth Century: Informing Global Religious Conflict” in magical Oxford, England. In 2011 Bedford St. Martin’s textbooks published “Facilitating Cooperative Learning,” the mantra of my most effective teaching techniques.

Now in my Third Act, I’ve embraced creative non-fiction with “Gutsy In Ukraine,” published in Sonia Marsh’s My Gutsy Story Anthology (2014), Volume 2. In September 2016, my story “Making Love Edible: Lessons from Fanny Martin Longenecker” was published in The Mennonite magazine.

Since beginning my blog in 2013, I’ve uncovered nostalgic photos, letters, and artifacts from my two Longenecker homes in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many of which are featured here on my blog.

I publish my blog Plain and Fancy Girl on Wednesdays. Whether you are a commenter or reader only, I appreciate your noticing. Scroll down and subscribe to my weekly blog.

My work in progress is tentatively titled Tomato Girl, a memoir that reveals family secrets. I don’t think the title quite fits my story. You can contact me to make a better suggestion or offer a comment.

Connect to Marian

Website/Blog: http://marianbeaman.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/martabeaman
Facebookhttps://facebook.com/marianbeaman   (All my weekly blogposts are published publicly on Facebook.)
Rifflebookshttps://www.rifflebooks.com/profiles/136032  (I have published 111 book reviews on this site.)

I am now looking for archive posts for the festive season.. short stories fiction and non-fiction, food and recipes, humour, memorable Christmas’s etc.  Please send one or two posts to sally.cronin@moyhill.com.. I will be resuming the regular archive series in the New Year.  Thanks Sally.