Tag Archives: Mennonites Don’t Dance

A-R International: Darcie Friesen Hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack
Authors-Readers International


Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers where she studied under Giller Finalist Sandra Birdsell.

Darcie has been a food columnist for the Kelowna Daily Courier and Kamloops This Week as well as The Prairie Post, thepeartree.ca, Calgary Beacon and Surrey Beacon. Darcie’s first book of short fictions, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was published by Thistledown Press in September 2010. As the book was being completed, Susan Musgrave was Darcie’s editor, helping to weed out the flowers (the dandelions stayed). Mennonites Don’t Dance was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Prize and was a runner-up for the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award.

Individual stories published before the book include “Ashes,” which appeared in Half in the Sun: anthology of Mennonite writing (Ronsdale Press), edited by Mennonite poet Elsie K. Neufeld. “Loft” was printed by Rhubarb magazine in January ’08; “Little Lamb” in Prairie Journal, November ’08. “Little Lamb” was also nominated for the McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. “Dandelion Wine” and “Ashes” placed 3rd and 2nd, respectively, in the Okanagan Short Fiction Contest (University of British Columbia-Okanagan).

Born Darcie Coralee Sayler (1974) in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Darcie lived with her mother until she was thirteen, visiting her grandparents on their farm in Schoenfeld, SK, most weekends. She lived with her father in Calgary, then Kelowna, through high school, before marrying her high school sweetheart, Dean Hossack, when she was nineteen. Friesen, her mother’s maiden name, was chosen as a pen name to honour her Mennonite grandparents. She has a sister, Daphne, who’s responsible for a few of the best lines in Mennonites Don’t Dance (though neither sister can remember now which ones they are). The sisters also have a younger brother.

Though Darcie converted to the Seventh Day Adventist religion of her father’s family for several years, she returned to the Mennonite Brethren faith some time after beginning work on the stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance. Being Mennonite, with its accompanying experiences of farm and food, shaped much of the author’s deep faith and love of land (even though she’s never successfully grown anything in dirt). Growing up in cities, Darcie has never had to kill a chicken, though she’s plucked more than a few, and once brought a pig’s snout to school for show and tell.

Mennonites Don’t Dance has been both celebrated and censured in the diverse Mennonite community since its release. For the most part, though, it has been graciously received. When asked whether the stories are, in fact, thinly-veiled memoir, Darcie often replies, cryptically, that, “Sometimes the stories that are most true are also the most fictional.”

~

I met Dacie Hossack when we were both online students in the Humber School for Writers Programme … but we bonded on the student chat board! Those early exchanges involved discussions about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago.  We didn’t have the opportunity to meet in person until a number of years later, when Darcie published Mennonites Don’t Dance and came to Calgary for promotion. I wrote about that encounter here on my blog in the post, I met my best friend for the first time (which still stands today as the second-most popular post on my blog, after one I wrote on making pizza in a pizza oven …) I also posted a photo essay of that day with writing pals because we met with other authors and did some fun foodie things, like visit a chocolate shop where Darcie posed with the sacks of cocoa beans piled up behind the front counter.


And about that food connection … Darcie and her Chef-Husband were always interested in my food escapades and experiments whenever I was back on Bequia, and I helped when she received a request from a reader for an extra-sour sourdough recipe – then wrote about it on her own food blog, Nice Fat Gurdie!
~

Mennonites Don’t Dance

This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children—both young and adult — and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sins, penance and redemption.

Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change — one story sees a daughter-in-law’s urban ideals push and pull against a mother’s simple, rural ways, in another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life. Children learn the rules of farm life, and parents learn that their decisions, in spite of all good intentions, can carry dire consequences.

Hossack’s talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates. The voices in the stories speak about how we measure ourselves in the absence of family, and how the most interesting families are always flawed in some way.

Here’s a link to the review written by Jim Bartley that appeared in The Globe and Mail in Feb. 2011.

What Darcie Hossack is working on now:  Darcie’s first (in progress) novel, What Looks In, visits both Mennonite and Seventh Day Adventist faiths, as they clash and intertwine, before and after the loss of a family member. As in Mennonites Don’t Dance, the pages are not without their fill of food.

For information on where to purchase Darcie Hossack’s book, please click on the Thistledown Press website.

 

Popular posts … Who knew?

For the longest time now, since about 5 or 6 years ago, the two most popular phrases used on search engines that have brought people to my blog are “baking bread in a pizza oven” followed closely by “meeting my best friend for the first time”. Here are the two posts that those searchers click on: Baking Bread in the Pizza Oven and I met my best friend for the first time.

The first search always made sense to me, because home pizza ovens are becoming popular among foodies, Dennis had built one here on Bequia, and I had written a number of blog posts featuring our experiments in using it, both for making pizza and baking bread.

The second search I always took as being very flattering. There seemed to be a lot of people out there on the internet who were nostalgic for that first meeting with a best friend in their own lives and wanted to read about and enjoy my personal experience.

At least, that’s what I thought … until recently, when those same search words came up with “writing an essay about …” attached to them. Then I saw a site link attached to those searches, and noticed that some of my hits and views were being directed from – a writing instruction site!! So, instead of being flattered, I became worried those students could be plagiarizing my essay and turning it in as their own work. I considered taking down the post altogether.

But then I realized that my experience was uniquely my own, and perhaps these students were being sent to my sight to read an example of how to write about meeting your best friend for the first time. (Oh, how we can delude ourselves at times …)

So I decided to leave things as they were and write this post about my findings instead. Perhaps … just perhaps, one or two of those students have come to my blog, read that post and more, have liked what they read and became subscribers. That’s a big “perhaps”, I know, but we can always hope the intentions that bring readers to read our work are ultimately good.

And maybe there’s an online writing instructor out there who actually did find my blog post to be a compelling example of how to write an essay about meeting your best friend for the first time, so much so they are recommending that all their students check out my blog!

And here’s the subject of that original blog – Darcie Friesen Hossack!

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Five years since … I met my best friend for the first time – Feb. 9, 2010

This is a post I wrote in Feb. 2010. I’m reposting it now, because I’ve noticed that, after “pizza ovens,” “meeting my best friend for the first time” is still the second-most popular phrase entered as a subject into search engines that brings readers to my blog. Curious, I thought. Then I checked the stats and this post has garnered 1982 views since it was first published on Feb. 9, 2010. There must be a lot of other people out there who are meeting their best friends for the first time!

Monday was a very good day – an historic day, I should add. In the same way as the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley, Lennon and McCartney, Lewis and Clark – okay, maybe I’m stretching this a bit here, but bear with me… For me, this was definitely a significant turning point in my life, to finally meet, in person, the person I’ve long considered my best email writing friend, but had never had the opportunity to actually meet.

Darcie Hossack and I “met” online for the first time on the Humber student discussion board. Those early exchanges involved talking about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly, Firefly – oh, yes, and writing, too. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. During the past four years (now seven!!), we’ve offered each other advice, editing, encouragement, connections, and confidence that what we write, and the way we’re writing it, is not only good, but will eventually be published. I’m so proud that Darcie is first this fall with a collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance, to be published by Thistledown. **Update – Here’s Darcie’s book on a playdate with mine, which I have since published, as well!

474074_258063984304123_998638262_o

And read this terrific review by Jim Bartley Of MDD that appeared in The Globe & Mail.

But we’ve also been collaborating all this time on another idea. I don’t think it’s stretching things too much to say that we complement each other. And that’s what best friends should do, right?

So meeting Darcie, finally, yesterday was just a matter of putting a physical presence to someone I felt I have really known all along. And now I have the added bonus of being able to hear her voice when I read emails she writes to me. She’s no longer my imaginary friend. But she is still my best writing friend!

Thanks, Darcie!

(And here’s the addition of a photo essay I posted not long after that day.)

From the archives – I met my best friend for the first time … – Feb. 9, 2010

This is a repost from 2010. I’m posting it now, because I’ve noticed that, after “pizza ovens,” “meeting my best friend for the first time” is the second-most popular phrase entered as a subject into search engines that brings readers to my blog. Curious, I thought. Then I checked the stats and this post has garnered 816 views since it was first published on Feb. 9, 2010. There must be a lot of other people out there who are meeting their best friends for the first time!

Monday was a very good day – an historic day, I should add. In the same way as the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley, Lennon and McCartney, Lewis and Clark – okay, maybe I’m stretching this a bit here, but bear with me… For me, this was definitely a significant turning point in my life, to finally meet, in person, the person I’ve long considered my best email writing friend, but had never had the opportunity to actually meet.

Darcie Hossack and I “met” online for the first time on the Humber student discussion board. Those early exchanges involved talking about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly, Firefly – oh, yes, and writing, too. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. During the past four years (now seven!!), we’ve offered each other advice, editing, encouragement, connections, and confidence that what we write, and the way we’re writing it, is not only good, but will eventually be published. I’m so proud that Darcie is first this fall with a collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance, to be published by Thistledown. **Update – Here’s Darcie’s book on a playdate with mine, which I have since published, as well!

474074_258063984304123_998638262_o

And read this terrific review by Jim Bartley Of MDD that appeared in The Globe & Mail.

But we’ve also been collaborating all this time on another idea. I don’t think it’s stretching things too much to say that we complement each other. And that’s what best friends should do, right?

So meeting Darcie, finally, yesterday, was just a matter of putting a physical presence to someone I felt I have really known all along. And now I have the added bonus of being able to hear her voice when I read emails she writes to me. She’s no longer my imaginary friend. But she is still my best writing friend!

Thanks, Darcie!

Blogs, articles, reviews, videos, inspiration, and a boot in the seat of the pants!

From Islam Abudaoud

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From The Atlantic Wire
What Kind of Book Reader Are you?

From Off the Shelf Book Promotions
How to Build a Great Relationship With Your Local Bookstore

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog
Self-Editing 101 – 13 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Opening Chapter

From Masters in English
100 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers

From HuffPost Books
Omission, Insanity, and Half-Truths: Unreliable Narrators in Literature

From Kill Zone
What My Cat Has Taught Me About Writing

A review of Lisa McGonigle’s Snowdrift (and a recipe!) by Darcie Friesen Hossack, author of Mennonites Don’t Dance From Ski Bum to PhD

From Good eReader
The Digital Book Club – Long Neglected by Major eBook Companies

From Seth Godin
Hooked on Hacking Life

From Open Book Toronto
At the Desk: Ann Ireland

Some humour from GalleyCat
Performance Enhancing Drugs of the Literary World

From MetaFilter
The 100 best mystery novels of all time

From Glenn Dixon, a book trailer promoting his soon-to-be-released
Tripping the World Fantastic: a journey through the music of our planet

WHO in the World is Reading Island in the Clouds??? – Novel Blurbers and My Writing Possee!

From one of the novel’s blurbers and a member of my online writing possee through Humber, here’s Keri Michaud of Mississauga… This is me reading and enjoying, ISLAND IN THE CLOUDS at a cottage at Pickerel Lake, up north near Huntsville in Ontario.

This is from Jenny Ryan, Ottawa, owner of Copper Canary Publishing Services and my book’s most wonderful designer! And also a member of my Ryerson possee. Before and After. Oh Susan, it’s soooo nice and it has new book smell! Before being as an InDesign file on Jenny’s computer and After as the finished product. Thanks for the collaboration, Jenny!

Then, from Carin Makuz, Whitby, ON, the mail she received one day last week. Carin is among my Humber possee. Hey, Susan M Toy… this is what came in the mail today.

And Lori Hahnel, a writing pal from Calgary, as well as an Alberta Books Canada author, receiving delivery of her copy of Islands at a coffee shop.

Hey, Lori! Look how nicely your two kids are playing with mine!!

And finally, a novel blurber, a member of my Humber possee, and someone I can’t thank enough for all her support over the years – Darcie Friesen Hossack! (Take a bow, Darcemeister!) Darcie sent a picture of my novel as soon as it arrived in the mail. Unfortunately for Darcie, T’Abigail had her paws on it first to read!

Here’s a copy of Islands getting to know Darcie’s collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance.

Darcie has been running a contest in her food column and over at her blogsite, Nice Fat Gurdie and there’s still another day to enter! You’ll win a copy of my book! Go to Darcie’s blogsite – NOW!!

Island in the Clouds – in a car!

But, NO! It’s not what you think! No distracted-driving laws were broken while taking this picture!

I know Lori-Anne Poirier through our mutual friend, and very great author, Darcie Friesen Hossack. Lori-Anne has created the Okanagan-based, online blogzine, The Pear Tree, and is herself a fine writer. She also has a couple of small children who keep her very busy, whenever they’re awake. Here’s what Lori-Anne had to say about reading my novel, Island in the Clouds, on her iPad…

My 2-1/2 year-old daughter has ceased napping in the afternoons. Or at
least she thinks she has, and as long as we’re at home or doing something
interesting she’s quite firm in her resolution. But on occasion, when we
go out in the car, the movement, the hum of the motor and the warm sun
streaming in her window is just too much to resist, and she falls asleep.
And I’m stuck in the car with nothing to do. Fortunately, I’ve learned to
bring an iPad along with me so I can indulge in a little bit of reading
time. So I give you
Islands in the Clouds, from the comfort of my driver’s
seat overlooking Ben Lee Park in Kelowna.

And great book (so far), btw!!

Thank you, Lori-Anne, for taking part in my Where in the World Are You Reading “Island in the Clouds” promotion!!

Island in the Clouds – in Kelowna!

This is a friendship that began with an exchange of recipes on the student website during the Humber Creative Writing Program in 2006. Then it moved on to lots of talk about writing, and a sharing of dreams that we would one day see our work published. “I will promote you,” I said to Darcie Friesen Hossack, oh so long ago. And I did too, and was extremely proud that she was the first of our group to land a publishing contract for her beautiful book, Mennonites Don’t Dance.

“Do this,” I would say, sending out lists of orders as to how she should be promoting her new book. Yes, I was a taskmaster, and Darcie was a trooper, getting out of bed before the crack of 11 a.m. to drive all over Alberta for promotions I’d organized for her. But we both enjoyed the results of seeing Darcie’s book gain the recognition it deserved, being nominated for prizes – still being nominated for prizes. Darcie has even become a public speaker, at my insistence. This is not an easy feat for someone who prefers the company of her kidcats and computer to anything human, other than her resident chef-husband. She has done so well with this first publication and I am as proud as a mother hen, let me tell you!

Darcie has also been extremely supportive of me in all my efforts to get Alberta Books Canada off the ground and then to write Island in the Clouds (she was one of my early readers) and publish it. She’s listened to my concerns, worries, excited exclamations – all through email – and shared in the overuse of exclamation marks and capital Es many times over the years. And it all culminates in this – the publication of my new eBook – EEEEEE!!!!!!! (See what I mean? I can’t help it!)

So here is Darcie’s entry for the Where in the World??? promotion. Thank you Darcie Friesen Hossack – for everything!

Susan! I’ve been hearing about Bequia for so long, I loved finally getting to go there via Kobo and “Island in the Clouds.” I’ve been craving chicken roti ever since, and coveting a “copper” of my own. Here in Kelowna, everything outside is brown (still February), so I didn’t take “Island in the Clouds” outside. Instead, this is your book at the antique shabby-chic desk where I work. ~ Darcie

Darcie Friesen Hossack – fabulous review!

I’m all goose-pimply and excited by the review of Mennonites Don’t Dance written by Jim Bartley that appeared in today’s Globe and Mail. Read it here!

Congratulations, Darcie! I am so proud of you.

Mennonites Don’t Dance – successful Alberta tour!

We made it through an entire week together, the Early Bird and the Nighthawk, and managed to accomplish exactly what we set out to do – raise awareness of Darcie Friesen Hossack, and of her newly published book,Mennonites Don’t Dance, and we even sold a good number of books along the way.

Now, book sales are how everyone else in this business gauges success of a promotional campaign; I’m trying to convince the traditionals that getting the name of the author out there, encouraging readers to discover a new author’s work, and making sure the author meets all of the most important people who will then talk up her book, will lead to book sales – but none of this can happen overnight. If you don’t tell readers about a new book and its author, how will they know to buy, borrow and read it, and then recommend it to their friends? What I’m trying to do as Writer Wrangler (my sister’s new title for this job I’ve created – manager just never seemed exact) is raise the profile of authors, and all their work, not just their most recent publication – but I am not trying to duplicate what publishers are already contracted to do for these authors, by way of promotion and publicity. I’m also helping authors develop other areas where they might be active, or creative – as journalists, speakers, teachers – trying to find them paid gigs, and introducing them to specific groups of readers, especially those who never set foot in a bookstore or a library, and who may not otherwise have been aware of these authors or bought/borrowed their books.

Darcie has been a food columnist for her local Kelowna and area print newspapers for six years. Her column now also appears in The Calgary Beacon, online. These past few months, Darcie has appeared online in an informal blog tour, which is soon to be ramped up towards December. Mennonites Don’t Dance is now listed on Book Club Buddy, and book clubs across North America can read an interview with Darcie, reviews of the book, and consider adopting it for discussion. (Thanks, Pearl Luke!) We’ve planted the seeds for a much more comprehensive tour of the Prairies during Spring 2011, and hope to promote several other Mennonite authors at the same time. People may have come for the cream cookies served at several readings in Calgary and Lethbridge last week, but they also enjoyed what they heard, and bought many copies of Darcie’s book.

Finally, I introduced Darcie to as many booksellers, librarians, friends and readers as I could during the week. This is word-of-mouth promotion, folks, and it still works better than any other kind there is. I have no doubt that readers will now “discover” this new writer over the coming weeks, months, and that Mennonites Don’t Dance will sell through, steadily, into the spring when we will be organized to do this all over again, and further afield, spreading the word about this great author and her book.

Please note, as Writer Wrangler I will not take on any author for promotion unless I truly believe in them, and their work – and in their ability to help themselves by working hard to promote, in a positive, unagressive way. As a reader, I endorse the writing of all the Alberta Books Canada authors: Betty Jane Hegerat, Bob Stallworthy, Deborah Miller, Barb Howard and Susan Calder, and of my former Humber classmate, Darcie Friesen Hossack, who has done exactly as we all expected… was the first in our class to be published, and has written a book that I am now very proud to help her to promote.

So, I’m very pleased to be able to say, “I’m with the author!” After all, if it weren’t for great authors like these, we wouldn’t have books to sell, buy, borrow, read, and enjoy.

Here’s Darcie’s take on the week of Oct. 17th – 22nd:
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day one
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day two
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day three
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day four
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day 5
mennonites don’t dance on the road – day 6

And then, we get to taste the fresh fruits of our labours! Makes it all worth while…