Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of Romance


“This is true love – you think this happens every day?” ~Wesley, The Princess Bride

The answer to that quote is ‘no, true love is often elusive.’  I recently read a unique and interesting take on relationships, mostly of a romantic nature, but also friendship, appropriately entitled: Fractured: essays on love, friendship, and the nightmares in between by K.J. Pierce.  I downloaded and read it in one sitting.

Author Keiti Pierce has led a colorful life with an eclectic succession of ‘man boys’ with whom she explored the possibility of obtaining that intangible ‘something more,’ that rare relationship in which she can fully express and share herself with someone equally capable of giving back.   The search continues, but she’s learned a great deal along the way and gleaned insights well worth sharing with fellow seekers, or anyone interested in how people relate—or don’t—and why that might be.   This quote taken from her book struck me as profound, “As easy as it is to blame someone else when hurt feelings come into play, it really was irrelevant who was at fault in the demise of my previous relationships, romantic or otherwise. The fact of the matter is that they all had one thing in common: me. I figure that has to mean something.”

I agree.  And so she begins with herself.  Wise indeed.  While deeply pensive and introspective, Fractured is also rich in the comic as Ms. Pierce is gifted with a wonderful sense of humor.  And that’s a good thing because she’s needed it.~

And now, my interview with Author Keiti Pierce:

To get us started, I have some questions for you to ponder, the sorts of things all of us, readers and writers alike, wonder about.  Normally I find myself interviewing authors of romantic fiction, but as Fractured is a deeply personal work of nonfiction, I won’t ask if you’ve killed off any of your characters (I, of course, have) or what attracted you to paranormal or historical romance…  In Fractured, you explored the real thing, or lack thereof, in your own life.  Are you a diehard romantic (like me) and is that what prompts your search for ‘true love?’   *Perhaps you have a different wording, such as meaningful and lasting relationship? 

Keiti: You’re right, I haven’t killed off any characters, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t *thought* about it on occasion.  🙂  I am absolutely a die-hard romantic, something which many of my friends have shared a laugh over.  I tend to have a bit of a tough exterior so it isn’t always apparent.  I’m sure the dreaminess of True Love is part of what prompts me; there’s something utterly compelling in the idea that there is one perfect person for me – that’s the romantic part.  The 40-year-old me, though, has a hard time reconciling the concept of true love with the reality of my life – in that I sometimes feel that, as an adult, I’m supposed to be beyond the girlhood fancies.  Regardless, I think for most people, myself included, there’s a draw towards wanting companionship – someone to share your life with, good, bad, and ugly.

Beth: Also along those lines, what draws you to search your soul and share those discoveries?  Do you hope to help fellow seekers along the way?

Keiti: Ultimately, it comes down to a general sense of dissatisfaction with where my life is at the moment.  It just so happened that when I sat down to write it tended to involve relationships, romantic or otherwise.  I was very lucky as a teenager and young adult in that I had a great group of friends who were supportive and who accepted me for who I was.  I chose to walk away from most of them when I was 24 due to growing up a bit and deciding that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life clubbing and absorbing all the emotional chaos that went along with it.  In doing so, though, I stuck myself in this weird middle ground.  I don’t feel wholly comfortable in what I call normal society, but I don’t feel like I belong in the freak scene any longer either – at least not to the same extent.  This affects every aspect of my life, but what it means in terms of dating is that “normal” men tend to think I’m too weird and “freak” men tend to think I’m too normal.

Basically, it all comes down to sorting out for myself where and with whom (if anyone) I belong.  For me, writing is far better (and less expensive) than therapy and taking meds; my original intention in writing these essays was wholly selfish, sort of a writing-induced exorcism.  (*I totally agree ) That being said, it’s ridiculously easy to fall into the trap of thinking I’m the only one who feels this way and certainly if my essays remind others that they’re not alone, either, that’s fantastic.  If I otherwise provide a laugh or two along the way, that’s a HUGE bonus.

*Indeed it is.

Beth: Back to the beginning, what was it that made you want to be an author?  Are you one of those writers like me whose been scribbling since childhood, or did the burning desire to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard strike later in life?

Keiti:  I’m not sure there’s one defining moment that made me want to be an author.  I can’t say I’ve been writing since I was 5 or anything like that.  The first story I can remember writing was co-authored with a friend of mine when I was in eighth grade and it was, oddly enough, a romance between us and our favorite members of Menudo (a Puerto Rican boy band back in the 80s for those who might not know.)  I actually still have the notebook packed away somewhere.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure it was more of a way to break the monotony of school than a burning desire to write. (*Beth again, school bored me senseless and I also wrote little pieces and poems) It wasn’t until I took a creative writing class in my early 20s that I realized I was relatively adept at something (and honestly I was beginning to despair.)  From there, I ended up studying English Literature / Creative Writing at Agnes Scott College where I fully indulged myself in actually learning the rules of writing.  Mostly so I could try to break them.

Beth: A follow up question, have you ever written in another genre besides nonfiction or considered it?  If so, might I suggest romantic comedy? 🙂

Keiti:  You’re not the first person to suggest I write romantic comedy.  I had this fantastic roommate when I lived in Los Angeles who swore I should write Chick-Lit.  My original intention out of college was to write scripts (film and play) but I find that I start scripts, get a great storyline going then they languish in a drawer because I get distracted by another idea.  I’m a great ideas person, but sometimes my follow through stinks.  I am considering trying my hand at fiction – I’ve had this idea for a YA series in my head for the better part of 20 years, but fiction not a format I’m wholly comfortable with. (*Get comfortable because you’d be terrific!)

Beth: Do you ever struggle with writer’s block?  What are some of your coping strategies?  Apart from bribing yourself with chocolate, as I do.

Keiti:  I constantly struggle with writer’s block, though that may be my tendency to jump from idea to idea more than anything else.  I’m also (if you’ll pardon the pun) a fractured writer.  I can’t concentrate on anything longer than about 10 minutes.  Generally, I’ll write for a bit, take a break to think about what I’m writing, distract my brain by playing online games then go back to writing.  This gets repeated quite frequently. (*I hear you.)

Beth: Clearly there are many individuals who helped inspire this work, whether for good or bad. Is there a particular someone who was the catalyst for your writing Fractured?

Keiti: Absolutely.  Name and identifying characteristics withheld, of course, but it’s someone I love dearly who quite unmaliciously broke my heart, though I think the unmalicious part made it so much worse – it’s easier to walk away from someone if I’m angry.  The emotional wreckage is what gave me the kick in the ass I needed to actually start compiling this collection.  I still struggle with how I feel and what to do about him – I tend to think the best of people even when many other people would have already walked away.  This is an unfortunate pattern for me – one that makes me feel like I’m the resident idiot of lost causes.

And that indecision is probably why I chose not to include an essay specifically about him – I started one, but ended up feeling like I was writing it to serve an agenda more than anything else.  I’m still too emotionally attached to sit back and look at it from an honest viewpoint.

I also discovered that revisiting old wounds and remembering the “good, old days” was extremely emotionally taxing.  It got to the point where I was sick to death of thinking and writing about relationships.  Perhaps one day I’ll do an updated version of Fractured with additional essays – there were some people I simply couldn’t write about quite yet – but for now I’m ready to move on to other topics. (*Understood, and a big hug)

Beth: Who are some of your favorite authors? Favorite books?

Keiti:  My hands-down favorite author is Oscar Wilde, book:  The Picture of Dorian Gray, which is ironic because it was Wilde’s way of sorting out two very conflicting sides of himself – the chaste Victorian side and the rebellious indulgent side.  I can only hope my own exploration doesn’t end in quite the drastic finish.  🙂  My next favorite is Anne Rice’s A Cry to Heaven, which has some of the most beautiful language I’ve ever read.  I’m also partial to Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series and the Harry Potter series – I’ve just finished re-reading that in prep for the last movie.  Right now I’m reading this great book called Desperate Romantics:  The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites by Franny Moyle.  It seems I can’t get away from relationships no matter how hard I might try!

Aside from that I’ll pretty much read anything you put in front of my face. (*I much admire Oscar Wilde too, and if Author Linda Nightingale is reading this, she’s got to be his biggest fan ever).

Beth: Any new projects you’re at work on, or new directions you’d like to tell us about?  Any further comments?

Keiti:  I haven’t started anything new, yet, but I plan to start work on another collection of essays about growing up as an Army Brat within the next couple of weeks.  I have an urban romance short story, Weeping Ash, available for sale on a number of different sites including Smashwords, BN.com, and iTunes.  (It apparently hasn’t yet shown up on Amazon, but kindle formats can be purchased at Smashwords.) I also have 3 scripts that need attention and a completed children’s play (Bethany and the Belfry Bat) that needs to be shopped around, though I am considering turning that into fiction, as well.  All-in-all, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy on the writing front for a while.

Beth:  Agreed.  I hope you will return to my blog when you have more to report.  And we’d all love to hear about your happily ever after which the die-hard romantics among us still believe will come.  🙂

Keiti has generously agreed to give away a download or two of her new release, Fractured, to one of the visitors who leaves her a comment.

Fractured is currently available at Smashwords and will move onto Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers.~

My Ancestral Ties to the Salem Witch Trials


(Reposted from an earlier post, mysteriously lost from my blog)

In 1760 a plot of land was laid out like this: “Beginning at a beech tree marked, it being the northeast corner, boundary of Samuel Gustin’s land; thence north 11 rods to a beech…” and thus it goes around the perimeter of the property from beech to spruce to the hemlock with stones by it.  Quaint.  And so it was while perusing old Mack family annals (Highland Scots who settled in New England) that we came upon something quite interesting but not nearly as charming–a direct link to the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

According to these records, the first Mack arrival in the New World, John, (born in 1653) emigrated from Inverness and married Sarah Bagley in Boston in 1681. She was the daughter of Orlando (note the name) and Sarah Bagley. Orlando Bagley was a man of considerable influence in the district, a constable, who apprehended his friend and neighbor, Susannah Martin, for a witch.  Good heavens, we have an ancestor at least partly responsible for the death of this unfortunate woman. (I have since learned, that Orlando’s son was also called Orlando, and it is likely he was the one responsible for arresting Susanna, as the older Bagley was deceased by this time.)

Back to the Macks; an early genealogist says the name wasn’t an abbreviation of some other such as MacDonald or McKenzie, but that they were a family of sufficient importance to have a Coat of Arms in Scotland with a Latin motto indicating they were hard workers and hopeful, of good estates and families, of liberal education, and of large experience, and they were strict Puritans. Seems it was a good enough family name to warrant admission into the upstanding Bagleys who were among the earliest Puritan settlers of Amesbury, Massachusetts.

I discovered more about Orlando Bagley and his ill-fated neighbor, Susanna Martin, at these sites:

http://famhist2.blogspot.com/2009/03/murder-in-salem.html

I watched (on Netflix) a History Channel documentary about the Salem Witch trials and combined that with the information I’ve gleaned elsewhere.  A most bizarre period of history.  Adolescent girls and young women insisted specters appeared to them in various forms, as animals or that of the accused themselves, and cruelly abused them.  Pinching and hitting them…the girls then continued these hysterics in court with lethal effect.

Panic spread far and wide with neighbor after neighbor falling under the malignant shadow until “From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft; dozens languished in jail for months (*some of them dying there) without trials until the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts subsided.”
The above quote is from:
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/salem.htm

Women in that rigidly defined community had no voice or authority, but these girls wielded an almighty power over everyone by simply pointing their fingers.  The power must have gone to their heads, along with the dizzying attention they gloried in.  However, I wonder, had they no conscience?  So many innocent people suffered and died as a result of this craze.  For a people obsessed with the fate of their immortal souls, would this not weigh heavily upon them?  Only one girl ever offered an apology.

Oddly, the individual who bore any real resemblance to a witch, the young slave woman, Tituba, who lit the initial powder keg with strange Voodoo practices from her South American background, was never hung.  She confessed (possibly after a beating) and then joined with the girls in naming suspected witches. Maybe it was payback for her slavery.  I don’t know, but she’s also responsible for taking a lot of people down.

I’ve also read about and seen a documentary suggesting there may have been an outbreak in Salem at that time of ergot poisoning (a mold similar to LSD) on the rye used for bread making.  Symptoms of such poisoning include hallucinations and physical pain which may account for some of the girls symptoms, but why only them?  Wouldn’t more people have been afflicted? Maybe more were and that’s why they tossed all reason to the wind.

As for allowing ‘spectral’ evidence as testimony, this was previously unheard of at witch trials and Salem is unique in that regard.  There were other time-honored methods for ferreting out a witch.  For example, the water test–if you sank you were innocent; if you floated, guilty, of course, and then you were put to death.  Or, strip the supposed witch, shave her entire body, then carefully examine every inch of her for a ‘devil’s’ mark.  I’ll bet a lot of men preferred this method. Woe unto you, if you had any funny shaped moles or birthmarks.

Spectral evidence based on gyrating girls shrieking that you came to them in a way that only they could see and caused excruciating torment while enticing them to make a pact with Satan was a no win scenario for the accused.  Any and all denials were met with increased screams and accusations.  Only if you confessed your sin,did they fall silent.  Then you were free to go; God alone being your judge, which makes no sense to me.  Crucify the innocent, or gain confessions from the so-called damned, thus freeing them.  But those truly concerned for the state of their souls refused to make such a blasphemous admission, preferring death.

To understand the mindset of these Salem Puritans is almost impossible, but I’ll try.  It seems they were terrified of the dark forest.  Though only six miles from the coast, Salem was on the edge of the wilderness.  The dreaded Indians dwelt in the woods, and the settlers feared Satan also brooded over the forest.  Disease and misfortune were attributed to evil entities.  Deeply insecure and preoccupied with horror of the dark forces, they sought its manifestation in everything and everyone.  And you tend to find what you look for.  Particularly when fear of the demonic is mixed in with an extremely judgmental community, resentment toward your neighbor, a means to get even, and young actresses happy to oblige you with a stellar performance.

There’s a vast deal more to be said on the subject and I may continue this post another time.  Meanwhile, if you know anything of my distant ancestor Orlando Bagley (sounds straight out of the Shire) and his part in the trial and execution of Susanna Martin, I’d be glad to know more.  And to her descendants, in behalf of our family, I offer my deepest apology.

*Two more interesting sites about the Salem Witch Trials:
http://www.salemfocus.com/index.htm

http://www.bloodlinesofsalem.org/HISTORY.HTM

Excerpt from My Nonfiction Book, Shenandoah Watercolors


“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This is one of those sweet June mornings when the world seems fresh and new, too soft for words, but I’ll try. I’m looking out the two windows in my bedroom as I write into the most beautiful gold light, the sort of light photographers love. Roses glow like jewels, their red, yellow, pink blossoms heavy with rain from the night. White daises sparkle, lacy pinks, red clover, lavender candy tuft, angel wing poppies, nodding columbine bells, spires of blue salvia, and crimson lupines…all the plants with a rich promise of more to come.

Hues of green spread through my yard and garden, out over the meadow, and up into the hills beyond the fields. The sky is washed in pale blue at the edges, deeper blue as it arches upward. And the air is alive with birdsong. Cows impatiently bawl for more hay, greedily snatching at the bales tossed down to them from the mow. Plump gray and white barnyard geese fuss, as is their way––I never quite catch the argument––while the goslings make this funny whistling sound.

“Waddle-butts,” I call the infants, “busy little waddle-butts,” plopping down to rest when they tire and then darting off again to catch up with the group.

If a gosling falls too far behind, its shrill peeping can be heard over hill and vale, by all, including the baddies out there that eat silly babies. Given the absentmindedness of mama and papa geese and auntie and uncles, it’s amazing that as many goslings survive as they do. Somehow, they manage, usually.

Wood duck mamas loudly cry ‘whoo-eek’ from the pond to round up the ducklings darting over its calm surface like little bumble bees. Mallard babies quietly follow their mothers in a dutiful row or all huddled together. Not so the wood ducklings. They are far more independent. But fast. Bad old snapping turtles are hard pressed to catch them. Snappers are the pond’s version of sharks, and not to be confused with the benign box turtles, but I shouldn’t end on that visual image.

Way up beyond the hills and the distant fields, the Allegheny Mountains rise above all. Why weren’t they called the Blue Ridge? They are equally blue, and can be every bit as hazy as the Smokies. What’s in a name? Much? Little? Some are steeped in meaning, others not. I don’t even know what Allegheny means, only that the mountains are glorious. They seem to roll on and on forever like the swells of a sea. I tell my daughter, Elise, that as long as the mountains stand and there are green meadows, we are well.~

*Pics by my mom and daughter Elise

SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Announcing The Winners of My Stop On the Blog Hop


Thanks to all of you who stopped by my blog and left me such lovely comments.  This blog hop was fun to do and I enjoyed meeting new people.  I hope you will come back and visit me again soon. 🙂

As to my winners:

Ellen Trieu won ebooks of both Colonial American romance novel Enemy of the King and Native American historical romance novel Through the Fire~

Katrina Whittaker won Enemy of the King~

Sydney Gen won Through the Fire~

Congrats.  I hope you enjoy the stories.

PARTY ‘TILL YOUR HEELS FLY OFF: MEGA AUTHOR BLOG HOP (STOP # 28)


Welcome to the mother of all blog tours.

TOUR RULES:
1) HAVE FUN!
2) INVITE ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND SPREAD THE WORD!
3) THIS TOUR STARTS: Monday, June 13, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, June 20, at Midnight (Arizona Time)
Winners will be drawn and posted June 21st! ***
4) MEET AND MINGLE WITH ALL THE AUTHORS! EXPERIENCE A NEW PARTY DESTINATION AT EVERY STOP. PARTICIPATE IN EVERY BLOG CONTEST AND BE ENTERED FOR CHANCES TO WIN MULTIPLE PRIZES! EVERY BLOG VISITED IS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIN~
5) PARTICIPATION AT ALL BLOGS IS RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT REQUIRED. REMEMBER, THE MORE BLOGS YOU HOP, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING PRIZES. EVERY AUTHOR IS WAITING TO MEET AND INTERACT WITH YOU, SO PLEASE BE SURE TO SHOW EVERY AUTHOR SOME LOVE 🙂

As a participating author, my theme is Summer in the Big House, Old Southern Plantation Recipes~

A gracious welcome to my stately plantation home. Please have a seat in the wicker chairs on the veranda and relax in the shade of the towering live oaks.    Listen to the warbler singing high overhead in the moss-draped boughs and savor the sweetness of jasmine while I serve refreshing mint juleps and peach upside-down cake prepared with old Southern recipes from Charleston Receipts.

This cookbook ‘was first published in 1950 and the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print. It contains 750 recipes, Gullah verses, and sketches by Charleston artists. Inducted into the McIlhenny Hall of Fame, an award given for book sales that exceed 100,000 copies.’

My copy is actually my mother’s book which she purchased in the early 1960’s while our family was on vacation in Charleston South Carolina.  I kind of borrowed it from her and still have it. 🙂

MINT JULEP:

For each cold goblet use:

Several mint leaves, sugar syrup (2-3 teaspoons), Crushed, dry ice, 2 ounces bourbon, 1 sprig mint

Crush leaves and let stand in syrup. Put this into a cold silver julep cup or glass and add ice which has been crushed and rolled in a towel to dry.  Pour in the whiskey.  Stir, not touching the glass, and add a sprig of mint. Serve immediately.~

Peach Upside-Down Cake:

1/3 cup shortening, 2/3 cup sugar, 2/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons baking powder,  1  and 2/3 cups flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon almond flavoring

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and beat well.  Pour over peach mixture. Serves six.

Peach Mixture: 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup light brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups sliced peaches

Place butter and sugar in a sheet cake pan and heat slowly, stirring constantly until well browned.  Add peaches.  Cover with cake batter, bake 3/4 hour at 350.  Turn out peach side up.   Serve hot or cold with whipped cream.  Other fruits may be substituted for peaches.  ~

For my blog hop prize, I’m giving away an ebook of my Revolutionary War romance novel, Enemy of the King, and Native American historical romance novel Through the Fire.

Blurb for ENEMY OF THE KING:

1780, South Carolina: While Loyalist Meriwether Steele recovers from illness in the stately home of her beloved guardian, Jeremiah Jordan, she senses the haunting presence of his late wife. When she learns that Jeremiah is a Patriot spy and shoots Captain Vaughan, the British officer sent to arrest him, she is caught up on a wild ride into Carolina back country, pursued both by the impassioned captain and the vindictive ghost. Will she remain loyal to her king and Tory twin brother or risk a traitor’s death fighting for Jeremiah? If Captain Vaughan snatches her away, he won’t give her a choice.~

Blurb for THROUGH THE FIRE:

At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent––or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~

Thanks for visiting me. Leave me a question or a comment here at my blog below. Please also leave your email address so I can notify you in case you are a winner!

THE NEXT STOP ON OUR FUN BLOG HOP IS AUTHOR RACHEL VAN DYKEN SO POP ON OVER TO : http://deliciousromancebyrachel.blogspot.com/2011/06/party-til-your-heels-fly-off-author.html

If You Like Kewl Scotsmen


Witty ones.  Pop into my character interview with Neil MacKenzie from light paranormal/time travel romance SOMEWHERE MY LASS.  And leave a comment for a chance to win the book at:

Old Order Mennonites in The Shenandoah Valley


Yesterday I worked in the garden as horse and buggies clipped by on their way to a wedding in the Old Order Mennonite Church.  Many of our neighbors are Old Order Mennonites, gentle, hard-working people, and good friends to us.  The sight of a horse and buggy passing our farm, or meeting one, or a stream of buggies, on the back roads is a frequent occurrence here.  Little girls and small boys in the hats the men wear peering out from the back window of a buggy is always a delight, as is seeing women and children collected on a wagon on their way to a gathering…or riding old-fashioned bikes, at work on their farms, and sometimes even at play.

Long lines of wash flapping in the breeze with pants and dresses in graded sizes from large to tiny is a picturesque addition to the community.  Across the meadow and up the hill from our farm is a small Old Order school.  Last fall I spotted a line of children holding hands out for a walk along the country road  with their teacher(s).   Darling.  At the end of recess and lunch time, I hear the bell ring to summon the students back indoors.  Reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her ‘Little House‘ books.

The Old Order neighbors on the farm up the road from us have a produce stand with fresh vegetables from their garden for sale.  They use the honor system for customers to leave money in the box; the prices are listed on a handmade sign and the produce ready and waiting.  If you have a question, likely you can find someone about on the farm or wielding a hoe.  Normally I grow my own veges, but if I run low or have a crop failure I know where to go.  Their garden is always perfect. They have many children and a great deal more help than I.  Sigh.

I admire The Old Order Mennonite’s unique way of life and very much hope they are able to continue as they are.  The economic hardships facing many family farms, including ours, and the growing demands made by a burgeoning federal government with all its rules and regulation imposes yet more stress on a people already struggling to survive.  Imagine trying to live like it’s the 1800’s in 2011.

For example, they have no health insurance, but band together and support each other in times of illness and injury.  Doctors and hospitals make some concessions in regards to billing Old Orders, but the cost of medical care is still staggering.  These people do not, however, want to be forced into a government health plan as this goes against their religion.  They have as little as possible to do with government and the secular world in general.   I believe their unique way of life must be respected and protected or the day may come when buggies no longer pass our house.~

*Old Order Mennonites are one of the aspects of rural life in the Shenandoah Valley I touched on in my nonfiction book entitled Shenandoah Watercolors

*Pics of Old Order Mennonites and their farms by my husband and mother.  Old Orders do not like to have their pictures taken if their faces are visible so we are careful not to reveal them.