Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – Christmas Book Fair – #Memoirs – Marian Longenecker Beaman, Brigid P. Gallagher, D.G. Kaye


Welcome to the Christmas Book Fair where I will be featuring all the authors currently on the shelves of the Cafe and Bookstore.

Today I am featuring three memoirs that would make great gifts for those who enjoy real life stories and adventures.

The first author is Marian Longenecker Beaman with her memoir Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl.

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

Patty P. 5.0 out of 5 stars A Feast for the Senses!  Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2020

I have rarely picked up a non-fiction book that drew me in like Marian’s account of her life growing up as a Mennonite. Her sensory-rich writing style, lyrical and almost musical in quality, delighted me as her scenes unfolded. I did not recall the scent of linoleum until she described it and brought back my own memories of days gone by. Linoleum! Her words disappeared in the sheer experience of what she described. I wrote many of them down in order to savor them a little longer before reading on.

The strong will that caused so many problems with one member of her family, and her longing to be who she was within the confines of plain versus fancy, reminded me of my own journey into Christianity. I thrilled at her mother’s healing, identified with her desperate search to escape the basement, understood her stubborn fight against parental tyranny, and wanted to be invited to her family’s table for the meals she made me smell and taste with her wonderful descriptions.

Marian’s honest and beautiful memoir is one I’ll revisit, one that will stick with me as an unforgettable experience. If it were possible to rate as high as ten stars, this would be the book at the top. I loved it.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK

Marian Longenecker Beaman, Buy: Amazon US – And : Amazon UK – Follow Marian : Goodreads – blog: Marian Beaman – Facebook: Marian Beaman

The next memoir is by Brigid P. Gallagher that shares her experiences and also strategies to overcome chronic illness in Watching for the Daisies.

About the book

Millions of people around the world suffer from fibromyalgia; the majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

In this memoir, Brigid P. Gallagher shares her experiences on:

  • The busy life she followed before succumbing to this debilitating disease
  • Stopping and soul searching for answers to her vast array of symptoms
  • Entering a new life of SLOW

Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a Natural Medicines therapist, she seeks out therapies to aid her healing and integrates a variety of self help techniques and lifestyle changes. She also unearths a love of solo travel including Egypt, India, Rome, Lourdes, Carcassonne and Bali…

Brigid learns many insights about LIFE on her journey, the most valuable being: “First learn to love thyself.”

In 2006, she began a new career in Organic Horticulture eventually teaching part time in schools. Although she has now retired from teaching, she continues to pursue her lifelong passion for gardening and watching the daisies.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Sep 18, 2020 Ronald Mackay rated it Five Star it was amazing

Watching the Daisies is a very personal account of how the author, Brigid Gallagher, brings herself, her work and all the rest of her busy life under control to the point where she is able to more fully appreciate the day and the hour – the ‘now’ of her existence.

Her elegant, straight-forward prose carries the reader through a mostly happy existence from her early life in rural Scotland to her varied professional work in Edinburgh and eventually to her more restful and more centred life in the Ireland that her mother and father left seeking opportunities in Scotland.

Readers who are unfamiliar, as I was, with the less traditional (at least for the British Isles and Ireland) approaches to spiritual and physical well-being will find much to gain from Watching the Daisies. Brigid not only explores many of them but becomes a practising professional with a flair for leadership, innovation and success.

Although plagued by a chronic and sometimes debilitating illness, this is a happy book written by a happy person who at all times is able to take as much or more control of her life than many of us in order to come to a most satisfactory peace with herself.

As inspiring as the story Brigid Gallagher has to tell are the life lessons that she draws from each chapter of her life. Any reader will benefit greatly from reading this busy yet peaceful, analytic yet satisfyingly holistic memoir.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon UK –  and:  Amazon US

Brigid P. Gallagher, Buy: Amazon UK – andAmazon US – Follow Brigid on : Goodreads –  Blog: Watching the Daisies – Twitter: @watchingthedai1

And last but not least is a memoir from D.G. Kaye Words We Carry has just received a recent review.

About the book

“I have been a great critic of myself for most of my life, and I was darned good at it, deflating my own ego without the help of anyone else.”

What do our shopping habits, high-heeled shoes, and big hair have to do with how we perceive ourselves? Do the slights we endured when we were young affect how we choose our relationships now?
D.G. takes us on a journey, unlocking the hurts of the past by identifying situations that hindered her own self-esteem. Her anecdotes and confessions demonstrate how the hurtful events in our lives linger and set the tone for how we value our own self-worth.
Words We Carry is a raw, personal accounting of how the author overcame the demons of low self-esteem with the determination to learn to love herself.

A recent review for the book

Nov 06, 2020 D. Peach rated it Five Stars

D. G. Kaye shares the true story of her growth from a child with poor self-esteem into a confident woman who changed her thinking, took responsibility for her relationships, and discovered happiness. Though she shares her personal experiences, many of her observations are common to other women, and there are lessons to be gleaned from her advice.

The book is divided into two sections: Appearance and Relationships. The focus of the appearance section is on boosting self-esteem by paying attention to physical appearance. It isn’t about being beautiful, but about feeling beautiful and investing energy into clothes, shoes, hair, and makeup that enhance a woman’s strengths and make her feel attractive. Chronic lazy dressers like me may not relate to Kaye’s love of shoes and big hair, but there’s a lot of humor in this section that kept me smiling.

Section Two, Relationships, was the most meaningful to me as it opened a discussion of the deeper issues that contribute to low self-esteem, as well as the vicious cycles that can lead to isolation, depression, and abuse. The author maintains that healthy self-esteem is essential to healthy relationships of all kinds. She provides strategies for evaluating relationships honestly, changing patterns, and taking control of choices.

Words We Carry is part memoir/part self-help. Recommended for women who are struggling with feelings of low self-esteem and want to make a positive change in their relationships and live

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US – And: Amazon UK

Other books by D.G. Kaye

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon USAndAmazon UKBlogD.G. WritesGoodreads: D.G. Kaye on Goodreads –  Twitter:@pokercubster

 

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some gifts.. thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Sunday Author Interview – Marian Longenecker Beaman and an excerpt from Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl


My guest this week is Marian Longenecker Beaman and after we have got to know her a little better, she will be sharing an excerpt from Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, her recently released memoir.

About Marian Longenecker Beaman

Marian Longenecker Beaman is a former professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. Her memoir records the charms and challenges of growing up in the strict culture of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference in the 1950s. Marian shares her story to preserve these memories and to leave a legacy for future generations.

She lives with her husband Cliff in Florida, where her grown children and grandchildren also reside

Welcome Marian and congratulations on the publication of your memoir and it must have been an exciting and busy few weeks. And looking forward to finding out more about your publishing process.

What key elements motivated you to write your memoir?

I grew up in rural Pennsylvania in the Mennonite culture in the 1950s. Mennonites at that time looked different from other folk because of their unusual dress and head covering. I wanted to record an experience of a time gone by and also express the universal elements that all readers can relate to. Finally, I wanted to leave a legacy to my children.

How long have you been an author?

After retiring from decades in academia (teaching college English literature and composition), I wanted to try something new. Thus, I began blogging in 2013 and six years later am now publishing my first book, a memoir, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl this September 2019.

What did you find challenging as a memoir writer?

Much of my early life was happy. I had relatives who loved me, and a stable home life, never moving from my home on Anchor Road. Yet, my memoir, though set in rural Pennsylvania, was not a walk through a Mennonite meadow.

My father, my most complex character, required me to dig deep to examine motivations for his behavior and my reaction to his treatment. I had an adversarial relationship with my father. I was his foe. He beat me and locked me in the cellar as punishment for being mouthy. As memoirist, I knew I had to tell the truth for my story to be authentic.

Nevertheless, I went through phases as I struggled to describe my relationship with him: I moved from resisting the revelation of family secrets to full disclosure:

1. I’ll leave out the bad parts. Many readers like a “clean” read, no bad language, abuse, or torrid sex scenes.

2. “But your story won’t be authentic,” an inner voice chided.

3. I read other memoirs as I wrote my own; I noticed that other writers didn’t have to go on a rant to tell their stories, even the ugly parts.

4. As time progressed, I summoned the courage to reveal secrets. Fortunately, a fellow blogger and memoirist invited me to a retreat in her vacation home in Virginia. I wrote a draft of the most emotionally wrenching chapter in the presence of five other sympathetic writers who cheered me on.

5. Later, an editor observed, “You dad wasn’t all bad. Show some happy times with him.” To balance the harsh tone, I inserted some pleasant memories.

6. Thus, my story now illustrates a dawning awareness: What could have been a terrible rant about being physically abused turned into an acceptance of the past and recognition of my father’s limitations. Then came forgiveness, and appreciation for his gifts to me: a curious mind, love for music, and interest in politics and family history.

What are your favorite Books on how to Write Memoir?

https://www.rifflebooks.com/list/87320

1. Three by Annie Dillard
2, Handling the Truth, Beth Kephart
3. The Art of Slow Writing Louise deSalvo
4. Still Writing, Dani Shapiro
5. The Story Cure, Dinty W. Moore

What would be your advice to first-time authors?

Writing is a solitary activity, but even if you are an introvert, you should not try to publish a book alone. Make friends with other writers on social media, especially on blog sites. These connections will sustain you through the toil of writing, editing, and publishing. Join a writers group if possible.

As a newbie, my friends mentored me as I learned the craft of memoir, did beta readings of my book in embryonic form, and later wrote fine reviews before publication on  Goodreads

Here are the details about Mennonite Daughter and an excerpt to enjoy.

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.

An excerpt from Mennonite Daughter

Introduction: My Two Homes

Two Longenecker houses sat on Anchor Road: One was the green-shuttered white frame house, where I lived with my parents, sisters, and brother. The other, a Victorian house surrounded by woods, situated about a half-mile away, down over a steep hill, where my Grandma Longenecker lived with her daughter, my Aunt Ruthie. My sisters and I bounced between the two houses, back and forth, up the hill and down. And up and down in another way, too, exploring each home from cellar to attic.

I caught a glimpse of the fancy life at Grandma’s house. My Grandma Fannie Longenecker was fancy before she became plain. Evidence of her fancy days hung on hooks along her attic stairs — an otter hat and a fur-trimmed coat, Victorian-era fashion flair. In her bedroom, an oval-framed photograph showed Grandma as a young woman wearing a fashionable dress, brooch, and ornate buckle.

My own styles evolved in reverse order, plain to fancy. Plain in my childhood and teens meant lack of adornment: a prayer covering and simple dress patterns in subdued colors. No jewelry, no makeup, no cutting hair, and definitely no shiny shoes in red, my favorite color.

Each of my family homes provided me with two ways of living to choose from. This memoir tells of the push and pull of both Longenecker houses, the tensions and strife, countered by harmony and love in each. It reveals the lessons and blessings of each house and the strong characters within them that both shaped my personality and character and set a course for my life choices. It describes my father, who didn’t champion me because I was a daughter, not a son; the aunt and grandmother who served as my role models but who I knew I never wanted to be, although I loved them dearly; and my mother, a woman of the times who valued the home arts but lacked the courage to defend her daughter.

All of them have forged this story: their touch, their lives, and their voices echo forever in my mind and in my heart and soul. Now, as an adult in the autumn of life, I look back at the beauty and the promise of a fragile and fleeting way of life that was — and still is — being Mennonite.

My story begins, to a certain degree, at an ending: the realization brought on by men in authority that I needed to find another way. I faced a crisis in my first teaching job in a Mennonite school, an encounter with the Supervising Committee, men who judged my outward appearance, not my academic competency. This frightful event forced me to realize I had to find a new way of life, one that allowed me to express my personality freely while still holding true to the tenets of faith and love.

It’s true, what Emily Dickinson says: “Remembrance has a Rear and Front — ’Tis something like a House — ”

Come with me as I explore both houses with a key, a key to each front door and the halls of memory and enlightenment within.

One of the recent reviews for the memoir

One might say that Marian Longenecker Beaman’s memoir, Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl, serves as a template for woman finding voice through writing. Written half a century after the events depicted, the author was charged with the painstaking work of going back in time―a time fraught with memories requiring a careful analysis of her main characters and her reactions and responses to them as a young girl, growing up in the 1950s as a Mennonite in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County. She admits that her memories, especially as they pertain to her abusive father, are “more malleable with the passage of time and has left the door of hope wide open.”

This observation that memories become more malleable with time and lead to forgiveness is crucial to the memoir writer’s journey. Her story of growing up in a patriarchal culture where women mostly remained voiceless, is not a rant, rather a meditative reflection on how a religious culture impacts every aspect of life, especially that of a woman’s life. For Marian’s Aunt Ruthie, it meant never marrying and carving out a professional life as school principal; for her father, the culture forged an authoritarian mindset imbued with the toxicity of growing up in a household where he received no nurturing as a male child, handicapping him as father of a strong-willed daughter.

What the author has done here is create the quintessential family legacy of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. There are light moments…Great Grandpa Sam’s glass eyeball popping out of its socket and rolling across the “slick linoleum floor where it picked up speed.”

Her childhood memories are lyrical and literary: “In a small garden behind our house, Mother planted beans, sugar peas and cucumbers, the vegetables bordered by a row of peach-colored roses. Peony bushes, ruby red and ivory-hued, clustered on the other side of the double clothesline strung along the concrete pavement that separated her garden from lawn grass. Mother’s clothesline billowed with towels in summer and hung low with sheets frozen in winter. Her wooden fold-up stand dried small items inside on rainy days, summer or winter.”

Images like this fill the pages of Mennonite Daughter. Particularly powerful are the chapters where her mother’s life-threatening asthma is healed by what her mother believes is the divine power of God, a dramatic event which grips the reader and which the author attributes to her own lifelong devotion to God.

Another powerful chapter is the author’s confrontation with Mennonite Bishops when, as a young teacher, she dares to embellish her plain dress with “a collar and elaborate buttons” and finds herself as a woman alone confronting a tribunal of male privilege and misogyny.

The memory of the child hiding in terror under her bed from a raging father speaks for itself.

Mennonite Daughter is, in the end, the story of a young girl coming into her own, staking a claim to her voice and individuality in a unique place and time, albeit one where women were expected to conform and tow the line. For the author, reconciling herself to her past, parsing it, remembering it and reflecting on it, becomes her salvation and her triumph.

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

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Marian-Longenecker-Beaman/e/B07X7JK2S3
Blog: https://marianbeaman.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marian.beaman
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marian-beaman-6603a273/

Thank you for dropping in today and I know Marian would love to have your feedback and questions..Thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Memoir – Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl by Marian Longenecker Beaman


Delighted to showcase the debut book by Marian Beaman.. a memoir – Mennonite Daughter: The Story of a Plain Girl released last week in both print and Kindle.

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 early reviews for the memoir

What do you think when you see a woman wearing a Mennonite prayer covering? “Though light as air, the prayer covering carried the weight of tradition,” says author Marian Beaman, summarizing beautifully one of the most elusive symbols of female religious submission.

If you think you understand that symbol, you need to read this book. Author Marian Beaman complicates stereotypes, exposes double standards, and probes paradoxes of what it means to grow up Mennonite–especially if you are a whip-smart oldest daughter in lifelong conflict with a strict, fearful, and parsimonious father.

I have so much in common with the author that I can’t list all we share — Lancaster County Mennonite childhood in the 1950s, strict father, oldest child, public school, Eastern Mennonite College. I wrote my own memoir about many of the same struggles with pride and humility, plainness and worldliness, that Marian and I share with many Mennonites of that place and time. So, it seems, I understand this book from the inside out.

And yet, even with so many commonalities, all human stories are unique. Which is why we must read each other’s stories. Under the numerous conflicts with the patriarchal family and religion around her, the author shares the kind of spunk, joy, humor, and loving rebelliousness that many of literature’s most loved heroines display. Think of Jo March, Anne Shirley, and Pippi Longstocking rolled into one character wearing an organza veiling on her head and you will come close to young Marian.

The stories in this book will introduce you to a variety of other characters showing that Mennonite life contains as much variety as any other. Aunt Ruthie and Grandma Longenecker are my two favorites, both of them serving to widen the options and soften the conflicts between Marian and her father.

The illustrations in the book, provided by the author’s husband, Cliff Beaman, deserve special mention. Not only does Cliff play the role of hero in the story, he also enlivens all the stories with his sensitive, whimsical, yet profound, drawings, starting with the one he drew of his future wife still wearing a head covering in 1965.

Through the story of this Mennonite Daughter flows a deep affection for the faith that surrounded her in childhood. She had to leave it in order to claim it. She was not the first. Nor will she be the last. But she is the one and only Marian Longenecker Beaman.

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

About Marian Longenecker Beaman

Marian Longenecker Beaman is a former professor at Florida State College in Jacksonville, Florida. Her memoir records the charms and challenges of growing up in the strict culture of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference in the 1950s. Marian shares her story to preserve these memories and to leave a legacy for future generations.

She lives with her husband Cliff in Florida, where her grown children and grandchildren also reside

Connect to Marian

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Marian-Longenecker-Beaman/e/B07X7JK2S3
Blog: https://marianbeaman.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marian.beaman
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marian-beaman-6603a273/

Congratulations to Marian and it would be great if you could spread the news of her memoir .. thanks Sally.