Great news! I sent a manuscript off to a small publisher about a month ago, figuring I might as well get started with my 5 years of rejection letters and…THEY WANT TO PUBLISH IT! On one hand, of course I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t be sending out a manuscript if I thought it sucked. On the other hand, I really DID expect a discouraging pile of rejection letters first. Of course, as I’ve had the manuscript sitting in my computer for the last 8 years, maybe I gave myself the pile of rejection letters without ever having sent it anywhere.
The books is a very early childhood memoir called “When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder.” What’s a Pyonder? That’s what I wondered. And I guess you’ll have to read it to find out.
I was raised in a fairly conservative Mennonite family in Lancaster County, PA. It’s a microculture, really. For so many years after moving away, I wanted to write about it, but it’s so delicate that I’felt every time I tried to touch it I ruined it a little. Like a butterfly. Nothing sensational or shocking happened to me as a child – no skeletons in the closet – I just wanted to tell the story of what it’s like to be THAT innocent.
The earliest memory I have of working on this story was in 2001 sitting in a hammock on the front porch of the hotel where I was working in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I’d already been off to college where I obtained a degree in theatre, moved to Costa Rica, been married and was recently divorced from my first husband and was in the process of becoming an avid surfer. Maybe that’s how far away I had to go in order to turn around and have a look at the farm in Manheim; to see it some sort of perspective to the rest of the world.
The book is like a photo album with pictures taken in words, not with a camera and the photos are taken by the child. The stories are all told in the voice and from the perspective of the child that I was. I grow and learn to ask questions and analyze things in my own childish way.
I personally find most of the book hilariously funny and so do my sisters and my nieces and nephews. I am bursting with curiosity at how the rest of the world will receive it. Apart from spanking there’s no violence and apart from a kiss behind the couch, there’s no sex so I hope it holds the attention of readers. ELectio Publishing seems to think it will. And honestly, so do I.
(from When The Roll Is Called A Pyonder, release date: August 19, 2014 by eLectio Publsihing.)
Mommy washes our hair on Saturdays so it will be clean for church. Me and Wanda have long hair and Mommy has to wash it because we can’t.
I don’t like it when Mommy washes my hair. Sometimes I cry. She washes me with pink soap in the bathtub and then I have to turn around so the water is coming out behind me. The water is coming out and she pushes me over backwards until my hair is under the spigot and my hair gets heavy and my head feels like it’s going to fall off. Then I can sit up and Mommy puts shampoo on my head. She scratches it all around with her fingers. She does it hard and it hurts. I ask Mommy does she have to do it with her fingernails? She says Oh Honey I’m Not Using My Fingernails, I Just Use My Fingers. Then she doesn’t scratch quite as hard anymore until next time.
When it’s time to rinse the shampoo out she makes me put my head back under the water again. I get to put a washcloth over my eyes so shampoo doesn’t get in them. Water is splashing all over my face and my nose tickles and I can’t see and I can’t breathe. Mommy rubs out the shampoo and I have to hold my head up and I can’t hold it up anymore. But if I sit up I get in trouble and if I put my head back the whole way all the water goes in my nose and mouth. I wish we could have short hair like boys but the Bible says we can’t. It’s not fair but we have to obey it.
After bath, Daddy combs us. Daddy always says our hair is pretty and it smells good like shampoo. He says I Smell ‘Poo for shampoo and we laugh because we aren’t allowed to say that word. Daddy can say it though when he means shampoo. If Mommy hears him say it she says Lamar and looks at him out of the top of her eyes.
In the summer Daddy takes the blue comb and sits on the porch and combs out the tangles. I wear my Noah’s Ark jammies. We listen to the peepers and Daddy tells me about animals like peepers that are really little frogs and about fish that live in the pond and bumblebees that live in nests and worms that live in the dirt. He tells me stories about when he was a little boy. In the winter we can’t sit outside, we have to sit inside and me and Daddy watch Hee Haw on tv while he combs me. People on that program talk funny and they walk around in the cornfield and Miss Minnie forgot to take the tag off her hat. Mommy doesn’t like Hee Haw and she doesn’t like Daddy to watch it, or us. She says it’s too dumb and she tries to wash our hair during it so we can’t watch.