Blog Tour


Here is my study. When the magic happens, it happens here. Actually, it might happen in the flower garden just outside my window in the form of a thought or image which gets transferred from my head to my fingers at my desk. . . .

Every once in a while, fellow bloggers alert me to a writing challenge, many of which I pass over for lack of time or interest. This time, Traci Carver invited me to participate in a Blog Tour. I couldn’t turn her down. Why, just last week we had lunch together. Besides the “tour” is an intriguing way to play tag and learn about other writers’ habits and sources of inspiration while sharing my own. So, a big shout out goes to Traci, story-teller extraordinaire, who turns the cotton of her everyday experience as an English teacher into pure gold. A true Southern belle, Traci is a master of the anecdote. Her stories derive from the small Georgia town she grew up in, the fishing villages of Southeast Asia where she lived for 7-8 years, or from European travel. Now to the questions:

1. What am I working on now?

Three unrelated things at the moment: Preparing for a trip to Pennsylvania soon where I will mine more stories for this blog, purging clothes from the spare bedroom closet to make space for a long-term guest, and writing every single day. My blog has taken shape from 8-9 journal scribblings along with a set of paired stories written with my friend Professor Carolyn Phanstiel before we both retired from teaching.


There is a .doc on my computer desktop where my memoir is taking shape. Right now, it doesn’t have enough structure to “roll it through a printing press,” as Traci wisely observes.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

According to Jerry Waxler, a Memoir Revolution is in full swing. Each year thousands of new memoirs pour onto the shelves. Millions are writing memoir right now. Even in the Mennonite sub-culture, hundreds of memoirs have been published since Canadian Mennonite Katie Funk Wiebe’s publication of Good Times with Old Times, touted as “an egg with a double yolk” because it is part memoir, part how-to-write-your-own-story book.

So how is my writing different? Well, my world view has been tempered by time and place. No longer a Mennonite, I still identify with many aspects of an Anabaptist vision. Also, I was transplanted to Florida as a newly wed which would affect my perspective. Then too, I have a large set of artifacts and some living relatives that connect me firmly to my past. Like other memoirists, especially of the academic variety, I tend to weave the literary with the familiar. Sometimes readers say they can detect humor in my writing voice, which I hope makes my writing appealing, if not unique.

3. Why do I write what I do? 

What motivates me to write is my compulsion to leave a legacy for those who follow, particularly my family. Beyond that, I write what I know and to find out what I don’t know. Many stories are nostalgic, some reflect strong feelings of embarrassment, surprise, endearment (Search the “Moments of Extreme Emotion”); others are historical or hysterical.

4. How does my writing process work?

I was asked that question a few months ago, and the answer turned into a post on the blog of Kathy Pooler, whose memoir launches in this July. A legal-size pad, colored sticky notes, WORD docs, and photos are often part of the process.

Like Traci, I will tag two innocent bystanders, Merril Smith of Yesterday and Today: Merril’s Historical Musings, and Judy Berman of earthriderdotcom.

A published author of encyclopedic proportions (and I mean that literally) Merril’s blog posts frequently become meditations on the mundane, for example “Airing Out Some Thoughts on Laundry.”  Her About page describes her as writer, editor, independent scholar, focusing on the history of women, sexuality, and culture. She has published consistently since 1997 with a forthcoming book with the titillating title: Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast.

Judy invites you to travel down the corridors of her mind as she narrates stories she heard growing up, from her travels, her family, and experiences in various jobs as radio and newspaper reporter and English teacher. Judy has received numerous blog awards, including The Versatile Blogger Award and The Sunshine Blog Award. In a Father’s Day tribute, Judy included a photo of Dad and her stranded alongside the road trying to fix an over-heated motor.

Merril and Judy: You’re “it”!



26 thoughts on “Blog Tour

    1. I’m not going to lie – Before the snapshot, I did clear away some little piles of stuff on the ottoman, once a toy chest, now an extension of my L-shaped work space.

      I hope you enjoyed the judicious use of the word “titillating” as I described your upcoming publication–ha! Now I hand off the baton to you, Merril.


    1. Artists can’t be neat: apparently being overly organized interferes with creativity. I ought to know. I’m married to one. Actually, we are a good balance on the neat – messy scale.


    1. Oh, golly, Traci. Don’t you know thoughts have to marinate, incubate. Besides, I’ll have to cogitate some more. Your comments are always goads to press on. I take this as high praise coming from you. Thanks!

      Be on the lookout for Wednesday’s post. Hint: Cozy Tea is mentioned!


  1. I envy your work space, Marian. Mine is definitely – like my mind – very disorganized. 😉 Thank you for the honor in passing the baton to me. I see I have my work cut out for me. You’ve set such an excellent example.


  2. Marian — Oh how fun to see a photograph of your writing lair. It’s comfy and cozy and has a window for inspiration! What are the interesting items located on the file cabinet to the left of your desk? The photo is too small to tell, maybe interesting rocks you’ve collected from favorite adventures?

    Please know that I can definitely “hear” humor in your writing (“…historical or hysterical” – case in point). Your posts always make me smile.

    Thank you for introducing us to Merril Smith and Judy Berman. This afternoon I plan to follow the links you provided.


    1. Here goes, Laurie: At the top of the “triangle” of items is a clay and sand pot Cliff made using the Japanese method (Raku) in which the super-hot pot is taken from the kiln and thrust into cold water so that it cracks, making interesting fossil-y fissures. The white blob on the left is a sea creature probably from the Florida Keys. Lacking a zoological name, I’d say it looks like a puffy sand-dollar into which I have stuck bamboo sticks just because I think they look pretty. To the right of that is a little basket from a colleague who wove such things from pine needles when she was sick of grading papers. Another prof friend gave me a small stone sitting inside the wee basket with the word “faith” engraved.

      Serendipitous discovery your question inspired. True story! I looked at my desk “partners” closely for identity clues. Then I discovered the file cabinet was very dusty, which led me to dust the certificate frames on the wall, which then led me to the top right library shelf, where I discovered a title Unlocking the Secrets of Your Childhood Memories, a book I had not seen in more than 20 years. Moral of the story: Ask smart questions. Ha Ha!


      1. Marian – Well goodness, gracious — how COOL is that?! I especially like Cliff’s handcrafted Raku pot.

        Then you get an itch to clean — and in the bargain you hit the jackpot by finding a long-lost book. I’d say you’ve had a very productive day! 🙂


    1. Thank you for always coming back with your comments. I love having “tea-time” with my online friends, a habit I’m getting to enjoy more and more.

      Now about the word “squizzing” – so onomatopoetic. I don’t even have to look it up to guess what it means. (I am guessing that expression is veddy British!)


  3. First off, I looooove your writing space; the soft color of the walls, the window, the wall of bookshelves, and, is that a couch to lie on? Heaven!
    You have a wonderful, subtle sense of humor. And what an interesting life you’ve led. I look forward to your memoir, Marian. 🙂


  4. You really do have. Nice place to write. I’m usually just slouched on the sofa with my iPad or my Mac Book on my lap. If I didn’t do it that way, snatching at spare moments, I don’t think I’d ever get anything written. 🙂


    1. In my other life as a teacher, I needed space for lesson planning and paper grading, so this study existed before I embarked on this writing life. I appreciate the compliment nonetheless.

      Slouching on the sofa, snatching a spare moment . . . I say, whatever works. By the way, I have a MacBook too. Thanks for stopping by, Marie. Now I know how to picture you writing.


  5. I love your writing space. I have to flop on my end of the couch… in front of the TV…all other writing surfaces are covered and if uncovered, quickly become covered again. There are no side rooms to set up and if I disappear into my bedroom, my men aren’t far behind! 🙂 Best wishes in all your writing endeavours. You are always a delight!


    1. Ah, Jenn, you’re so sweet. About my writing space: Before you get too envious remember I had a teaching life and needed space for lesson planning and (gasp!) grading papers. Come to think of it, I was not often behind my desk but like you at the kitchen or dining room table or even flopped over my bed. These days going to my writing space helps get the pump primed. And as you know, it’s not always easy to “get into the zone.”

      Thanks for dropping by. You are a great story-teller. Your followers will agree with me!


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