Hands down, meeting readers on tour has been the highlight of the entire memoir publishing and launching business.

But first, the launch party in Jacksonville, Florida! Hosted by my trusty Southern Friends, Judy Davis and Carolyn Stoner at Deerwood Country Club, the party kicked off the celebration.

I told my family, “You can’t go to Bali or have a bellyache on September 14!” A host of friends came, including my colleagues at FSCJ, church friends, Pilates mates from the gym, relatives and neighbors.

Click below for the 30-second video

2019_0914_BookLaunchJax_Joels video_P3327_480dpi



Then the bookmobile, loaded with books and display paraphernalia, headed for Lancaster County, the setting at the heart of my girlhood story.


Susan Weidener, founder of the Women’s Writing Circle, invited me to speak to writers near Exton, Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia.


Then, the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, hosted my second event at Landis Homes near Lititz, PA. The lively group represented a cross-section of my youth, along with residents at the Home.

During the Q & A, Miriam Book, one former student from my teaching days at Lancaster Mennonite School (now a pastor herself) piped up to say, “I remember you as very posh!” Of course I was fooling myself back then when I thought my tiny touches of fancy on my plain, caped dresses would go undetected.

First in line to buy my book was Barbara Hershey Becker, author Shirley Showalter’s mother!


My cousin Erma Metzler surprised me at the signing table!

Catching up with Ava Lee Longenecker Martin and Reba Longenecker Crill


Fred Garber, a former student at Lancaster Mennonite School, recently retired from pastoring Bossler Mennonite Church, buys my book from Jonel Herr Ness, retail sales manager at LMHS.


Then came Kiki Davis, my niece from Elizabethtown, PA:

Three former high school classmates also appeared at the signing: Charlie Ricedorf, Linda Joy Eshleman, and Jean Miller Shelly.


The next stop was Aaron’s bookstore in Lititz, PA.

There I met more high school friends, Lois Herr and Carol Hall Reighter, the ones I envied for wearing cashmere twinsets, charm bracelets, and saddle shoes, as my memoir suggests!

I was tickled to meet again LaVon Nolt Kolb, whom I’ve known since first grade. My memoir notes that when we printed our names on the blackboard, I mimicked the capital letter in the middle of her name, writing my own as MaRian.

With Todd Robinson, Aaron’s book store owner


Hosted by Ruth Ann Heisey, my cousins gathered to enjoy lunch and another book signing.


The Book Launch and Tour were a learning experience! So, what have I learned?

  • Books build a bridge for renewal: old friendship rekindled, new ones begin forming
  • The shift from writer to speaker occurs too. Years ago I had done training for the college, so I was not new to speaking, but I had to polish my “presenting” skills.

My tongue is the pen of a ready writer,” says Psalm 45:1, KJV


  • Reading my writing sparks conversation:

“I wonder how much your story mirrors my own.”

“I grew up in farm country too!”

“You know, I have an almost identical bike story!”


Paul and Betty Mumma near Landisville, hosted our stay in Lancaster County: “Chef” Paul (whose family owned Clearview Diner) and Betty, a soloist. Both taught languages, he German at Manheim Central High School, and she Spanish at Kraybill Mennonite School. Most importantly, they figure prominently in my memoir Chapter 39, “Flying the Coop.”


After an intense week, we drove south to Blue Ridge, GA to relax for a few days. On the train, I met a new friend, sparky 80-something Nancy Ackerley, who bought my book on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad train.


After nearly two weeks, we logged over 2300 miles, almost the distance between Jacksonville, FL and Los Angeles, CA, chauffeur Cliff, driving Miss Marian most of those miles. Navigating traffic around Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia was especially challenging.



*** Announcing the winner of last week’s giveaway: Sarah Buller Fenton. Congratulations!

Thank you to all who commented.