Category Archives: Lost on the Prairie

It’s Not Vanity- But Our Books Mean The World To Us

A fellow Manitoba writer posted a statement on her social media not long ago that struck a chord with me. It said………

The publishing world, aside from the major houses, lacks the money to heavily promote books. Authors have no choice but to do it themselves if they want their work to succeed. So when you see an author constantly mention their book, that’s why. It’s not vanity.

Some of you may wonder why I talk about my novel Lost on the Prairie so often on this blog and on my social media, but the quote above explains it.

Every professional writing organization I belong to regularly has workshops and presentations about how to promote your book. It is something that is just expected of published authors these days and the pandemic has made it even more vital. Lately many of the publishing houses where I have submitted my work have asked that I include a marketing plan with my manuscript. They want to know how I plan to help sell a book before they decide whether or not to publish it.

Some authors bemoan this state of affairs. They want to spend their time writing not Twittering and Facebooking and Instagramming. But there is really no way around it. Unless you are a famous author signed with a big publishing house you need to work at widening your circle of contacts, ideally have a website and possibly a newsletter, and establish an interesting social media presence. Of course, writing a good book is still of prime importance but people have to hear about it and that may be largely up to you.

I have resigned myself to the fact that I need to spend a great deal of time this summer promoting my book and that will continue into the fall if the pandemic lifts and I can start accepting many of the invitations I have been receiving to go and talk to different groups about Lost on the Prairie. I do have two other novels on the go and would love to be working on them, but right now there isn’t much time for that.

None of this is to say that the marketing manager at my publisher Heritage House Monica Miller isn’t doing a fantastic job! She arranged for my launch with McNally Robinson Booksellers and she convinced CTV to interview me on their morning show. Her persistence resulted in Free Press writer John Longhurst writing a story about my book. Monica is constantly doing posts on social media about Lost on the Prairie and is promoting my book in all sorts of other ways. But she and my publisher Heritage House are counting on me to do my part too.

I just hope as I work hard to give my novel exposure people aren’t thinking I’m too vain or pushy as my fellow Manitoba writer alluded to in the quote that opens this post.

Kevin Sylvester is a well-known Canadian children’s author with more than 30 books to his credit. In a recent tweet, Kevin was asking people to buy his latest book, and he said…

“It can sometimes seem weird to see an author plug their own work, but gosh darn it, this business is hard. And our books mean the world to us.”

Other posts……..

Parents Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Writers

Relentless Persistence

Launching My Book

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On Writing A Mennonite Novel

My novel Lost on the Prairie is published by Heritage House

I don’t mention the word Mennonite in my new novel Lost on the Prairie at all. But the story was inspired by an event that happened during the 1907 immigration journey of my Mennonite grandfather’s family. My grandfather was part of a rather substantial Mennonite migration from the American midwest to the Canadian prairies at the turn of the century.

My use of the German language in my novel, my choice of family names, and many other references will easily identify the main family in the book as Mennonite especially to Mennonite readers.

I was raised in a Mennonite family, am a member of a Mennonite church, attended a Mennonite university, and have written extensively for a host of Mennonite periodicals. I’ve authored more than a dozen curriculums for use with children in Mennonite churches.

I am unabashedly using my Mennonite connections to sell my book. News about my book has already been highlighted in Mennonite magazines, on Mennonite blogs, and it is for sale at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach.

Only a very few books about Mennonite children have been written for young people and most of them are several decades old.

But interestingly another novel about a Mennonite child was published at almost the same time as mine. It is called The Great Cookie War and is based on a true event in 1985 when Proctor and Gamble and Nabisco were fighting over the right to use a cookie recipe from a Mennonite cookbook compiled by a non-Mennonite woman Edna Staebler. The hero of the Great Cookie War is a Mennonite girl named Beth. Her grandmother’s cookie recipe is at the heart of the book’s conflict.

Caroline Stellings, the author of The Great Cookie War, is not of Mennonite background and writes about a conservative Old Order Mennonite family, a group that makes up less than 4% of Mennonites but caters to the stereotypical image many people have of Mennonites.

I am a Mennonite and have written a book about Mennonites in which I never use the word Mennonite. Caroline Stellings is not a Mennonite but has written a book about Mennonites in which she uses the word Mennonite liberally.

Have we both written a Mennonite novel or have neither of us written a Mennonite novel or did only one of us write a Mennonite novel or is there even such a thing as a Mennonite novel or does it matter? Those are questions I’d like to think more about and I welcome your input.

You can find out more about Lost on the Prairie here.

Other posts…………

What Does A Mennonite Look Like?

Mennonite Floor Art

Going Mennonite in Neubergthal

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Cool Stuff Happening with Lost on the Prairie

When my friend Erin sent me this photo of her morning coffee spot where she was reading Lost on the Prairie she said this- “Even though I was familiar with the fantastic cover design of your book, I was still surprised when I finally held it in my hands for the first time. It is such a pleasure to hold. I love its size. It is small but satisfyingly thick- not too thick-but happily substantial. I’m enjoying Peter’s voice, point of view and adventures.”

I loved that because I have to admit when I first got the book I thought it was perhaps too small- smaller than I had imagined it would be, but now Erin has made me think its size is just perfect!

My Dad and I often read Lost on the Prairie on a park bench in the beautiful garden at his personal care home.

Another thing that has been really special for me is that I am reading the book out loud to my Dad and despite his advancing dementia he is listening and not being distracted like he often can be. I think the story has enough action that it keeps him engaged and because it takes place in the past and that’s where his mind often is these days he can identify with the setting and time period.

One of the care aides at Dad’s personal care home heard me reading to Dad and she said the book sounded so interesting she was going to buy one and send it to her granddaughter in Toronto. She brought in her copy for me to autograph it before she sent it off. How cool is that?

Photo of Colleen Nelson from Dundurn Press

I was also thrilled when Colleen Nelson a Winnipeg author with fourteen books to her credit gave Lost on the Prairie a five-star review on Good Reads. Colleen is the author of Harvey Comes Home which was named the Manitoba Book of the Year for Young People in 2021. Harvey Comes Home was also a Governor General’s Award nominee. Here is what Colleen had to say about my novel.

What an adventure! It starts off with a bang and the action doesn’t let up. I know lots of students in my grade 8 class who will enjoy this book. The back matter is equally fun to read because I got to learn about the author’s connection to the story and which parts were based on fact. The main character grows and changes through his adventures. Honestly, I read this book in a day because it was such fun and so hard to put down. It will be a welcome addition in any grade 4-8 classroom.

All the copies of my book at the Saskatoon library are checked out and yesterday there were 20 holds on the copies in the Winnipeg Public Library.

Did you know I was on the CTV morning news on June 28th? My marvelous marketing manager at Heritage House Monica Miller had arranged for the interview. It was a good experience. We had prepared talking points but Michael the interviewer changed things up a bit so I had to think on my feet, but it went pretty well. I was so grateful for the opportunity to let more people know about my book.

People have continued to send me all these cool photos of my book.

Here is my friend Pearl receiving her copy. Is she excited or what?

This photo is from my friend Mitch. He said he had to stain his deck and read all the other books beneath mine before he would get to read Lost on the Prairie. But when I went to visit him on Thursday he’d already read it and told me I’d done a beautiful job.

My friend Kelly photographed my novel among her collection of books about Asia because she and I got to know each other when we worked at the same school in Hong Kong.

Kristine Scarrow, the President of the Saskatchewan chapter of CANSCAIP (The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) included Lost on the Prairie in this photo of her pile of summer reads. That really is exciting for me. I attended a workshop Kristine did on writing as a healing art at a conference a few years ago and it was excellent.

Vic Loewen, a college classmate of mine sent me a photo of him buying my book in Tergerson’s Store in Gimli.

There is lots more news to share, but I’ll save some for my next blog post about the book. I’ll just end with the fact that for the eighth week in a row I am on the McNally Robinson bestseller list.

You can read more about my book on my website maryloudriedger.com

With each post about my book, I am linking to posts I’ve done about books by other Manitoba authors. Here are some more.

All That Belongs by Dora Dueck

Blackwater by David Robertson

The Life and Deaths of Frankie D by Colleen Nelson

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Launching A Book

My niece Amanda sent me the perfect prairie photo of my book Lost on the Prairie

Last night was the book launch for my novel Lost on the Prairie. When I first realized the pandemic was going to mean that I wouldn’t be able to have a launch at McNally Robinson Booksellers the way I’d always dreamed, I was disappointed, but last night I understood the silver lining was having so many people at my launch who never could have attended otherwise.

My friends Kelly and Aaron who were watching the launch in Chicago sent this photo

There were friends and family and former students and colleagues of mine from Victoria and Saskatoon and Toronto and Chicago and so many other places. There was even someone from Cornerbrook Newfoundland who signed in for the launch. I belong to a professional organization called CANSCAIP (The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers) and was so pleased with how many members from across the country had joined the launch. Thank you to CANSCAIP for all the publicity you did for my launch.

I am so grateful to John Toews and McNally Robinson Booksellers for all they have done to promote my book and organize my launch

John Toews from McNally Robinson Booksellers began the evening with a treaty acknowledgement and told everyone about all the different ways they could order or buy Lost on the Prairie from their store. John along with my marketing manager from Heritage House Monica Miller organized the whole evening and I was so appreciative of the way they handled all the technical and logistic aspects so I didn’t have to worry about them at all. John introduced Harriet Zaidman who was hosting my launch.

A big thank you to Harriet Zaidman for hosting my launch

Harriet did such a great job of introducing me, interviewing me, and fielding questions from viewers. Harriet had supplied me with her great questions ahead of time. I loved the way they made me think about my book in new ways.

I read a short section from the book where Peter almost drowns and then I showed a few photos of me with my grandfather Peter Schmidt whose immigration journey to Canada provided inspiration for my book, some photos of my grandparents together and then a photo of my Great Aunt Alma whose note in her memoir about my grandfather’s lost train car set me off writing this book in the first place.

After I’d answered some interesting questions from viewers we did a round of thank- yous and the launch was over.

My sister Kaaren brought over a bottle of champagne and a beautiful orchid in honour of my launch

My sister had dropped off a bottle of champagne earlier so Dave popped the cork while I tried to respond to all the texts and e-mails and social media messages from people who had tuned in for the launch. It was so great to hear from everyone and at one point when I had read a particularly moving message from Tara, one of my former students, followed by another one from my niece Hannah, I just started to cry because I realized how incredibly blessed I was to have such a ‘village’ of people who cared about me and my book.

Doesn’t it look great!

I found it hard to concentrate all day leading up to the launch, so I cleaned my stove which I hadn’t done for months and months and that was a big hard job that required lots of elbow grease and left little room for anxious thoughts.

This morning at 8:30 I have a dental appointment to start working on a crown I need, and then I will go and visit my Dad in his personal care home, and in the evening my writers’ group meets online. So life will be back to normal.

My friends Erin and Andrew who were at the launch last night picked up my book along with their supper at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach. The museum has already asked if I can come to do a reading there in the fall. I am excited about that.

I am really looking forward to the next phase of spreading the word about my book. I have already received expressions of interest from seniors homes, schools, libraries, museums and book clubs to come and have conversations and do presentations about the book. I will thoroughly enjoy that and just hope that pandemic restrictions will lift enough so I can do those kinds of visits in person.

My Driedger family in Ontario sent these beautiful flowers for my launch

One thing that I am hearing from people who were at the launch that makes me very happy is how Lost on the Prairie is becoming an intergenerational book and not just one for kids. Two people responding to my launch told me they were reading the book aloud to their parents who are in nursing homes. Many grandparents told me how they were reading the book to their grandchildren and parents told me how they were enjoying the book just as much as their children. I absolutely LOVE that.

Other posts………..

You can read all about my book on my website maryloudriedger.com

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At the Top of the List

My terrific publisher Heritage House created this fitting image for Lost on the Prairie

Dave and I were enjoying some ice cream at Sargent Sundae last night when my phone dinged. John Toews the events coordinator for McNally Robinson Booksellers had sent an e-mail with the bestseller list that would appear on Saturday in the Winnipeg Free Press.

My novel Lost on the Prairie has been in the number two or three spot on the list for the last month and the fact that he was sending me a notice meant my book was still on the list. I was happy about that but………..I could not believe it when I opened the attachment John had sent. For the first time Lost on the Prairie was number one on the bestseller list of books for kids.

Lost on the Prairie was a project I worked on for six years and to see its story resonating now with so many people is incredibly rewarding. I received an e-mail this week from a grandmother who had read the book and then bought copies for all of her grandchildren. So many grandparents have contacted me to say they have either bought the book for their grandchildren or are reading the book together with them. Grandparents were certainly not my target market for the novel, but I think their enthusiasm for Lost on the Prairie is what’s motivating many children to read it and enjoy it.

Two grandparents who are well-established Canadian authors have written endorsements for the book and I am so grateful.

Larry Verstraete at the launch of one of his books

Lost on the Prairie had my attention from the first line to the last. I loved the plot, the characters, the quick pace, the details incorporated that made the time period come alive, the rich language and clever phrases that often made me chuckle… In short, I loved everything about the book. Kids and teachers are going to love it, too. and I hope the book has a long and happy life on the bestseller list where it surely belongs.

Larry Verstraete’s seventeen books for children have garnered many awards. His latest novel Coop the Great was a 2020 honour book for the Young People’s Choice Award in Manitoba and will soon be available in Germany with Merlin Verlag Publishers.  

Beryl Young is a British Columbia children’s author who has been an inspiration to me

Lost on the Prairie is a terrific read and full of great adventures. The author really lets you get inside the hero Peter’s head.  I was holding my breath in so many places in the book including when Peter almost missed the train in Winnipeg.  I really admired the research that was done to make the story authentic. I loved that Mark Twain is in the book as a real person. I also liked the combination of fiction and real-life and the family photos that were included.  I look forward to the author’s next book. 

Beryl Young is the award-winning author of novels, picture books and biographies for children.  Her latest book Show Us Where You Live Humpback was just released in May 2021 by Greystone Kids. 

I am loving the fact that so many people are sending me photos of the book in different places and spaces. Randy read my book on a canoe trip.

Pam used battery-powered LED lights to finish reading the book when the power went off in Steinbach last weekend.

Perry read the book in his garden in Halifax.

My brother’s secret book elf putting my book in a Little Free Library at Strathmillan School in Winnipeg

I mentioned in my last post that my brother Ken was buying copies of Lost on the Prairie in Victoria and putting them into Little Free Libraries there. Now he has hired a book elf in Winnipeg to do the same thing.

My book on the shelf at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach.

My friend Debbie sent a photo of the book on the shelves at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach. I am so happy that copies of the novel are now for sale in my hometown.

Erin Unger was kind enough to do one of her famous author interview sessions with me on her blog mennotoba.

Nicolien Klassen- Wiebe did a lovely piece on Lost on the Prairie in The Canadian Mennonite.

John Longhurst from the Winnipeg Free Press interviewed me and his article about my book should be in the paper before my upcoming launch.

On Wednesday I was excited to share news about my book with nearly a hundred other children’s artists and illustrators at the June meeting of CANSCAIP a professional organization for Canadian children’s authors which I have belonged to for many years. I was thrilled when Kathy Stinson a well-known children’s author put a comment in the chat that my book sounded like a good one.

Of course, with pandemic restrictions in effect, I can’t take a photo of my book on the shelves at the Winnipeg Public Library but I did note their copies of the book have 13 holds on them so that’s encouraging.

This afternoon I will be doing a dress rehearsal for the official launch of my book online with McNally Robinson Booksellers which will be happening on Wednesday June 16th at 7 pm. I hope to see you there. You can join the event through the link on the McNally Robinson website.

I will do another post about my book in about ten days. If you want to keep up with my latest book news till then you can check out my author website maryloudriedger.com.

You can read all my posts about Lost on the Prairie here.

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Too Exciting Not To Talk About

I am trying hard not to write too often about the publication of my new book Lost on the Prairie in these blog posts. I know people read my blogs because I write about many different things so I don’t want to focus too much on just one topic.

But……….. so much cool stuff has been happening since my novel was published that I just had to write about it even though it hasn’t been that long since I last posted news about my book.

The very best thing that has happened as far as I’m concerned is that yesterday afternoon when he got home from school my nine-year grandson who lives in Saskatoon called to talk about the book with me. His Dad has been reading Lost on the Prairie to him and his younger brother before they go to bed every night, but my older grandson was anxious to see what was going to happen next in the story so he took the book to school yesterday and read ahead.

He told me he loved the book and he had all kinds of questions to ask me about the plot. He said his teacher was surprised when he told her his Grandma had written the book he was reading. In one chapter I used a reference to an experience my grandson had with his Grandpa and he recognized it right away. No review I may get for my book will mean more than my grandson’s interest and approval.

I am completely astonished and grateful that Lost on the Prairie has made the bestseller list at McNally Robinson Booksellers for the last three weeks. On Saturday it was even the featured book pictured in the Winnipeg Free Press. There was about a 24- hour period when the book was actually sold out at McNally’s and I was getting messages from people about that, but McNallys are very good at what they do, and they had already ordered more copies and had Lost on the Prairie back out on the shelves the very next day.

I have lots of family support and I am so appreciative of that. My sons have both been on social media promoting Lost on the Prairie and it is because of them I have received my first reports about children who are reading the book and enjoying it.

My younger son put a promo for my book on his Facebook page. A follower of his on the American west coast bought the book and sent my son a message that he was reading it aloud to his six-year-old and they were both really enjoying the story.

My son took this photo of my book on the shelf at the McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon

My older son is a vice-principal and middle-grade language arts teacher in a rural Saskatchewan community. He gave my book a plug on his Twitter page and then went to the McNallys in Saskatoon to buy Lost on the Prairie for his classroom. He sent me a photo of one of his students reading the book and said she was really liking it.

My husband’s support as usual is being shown in interesting ways. You probably remember the giant canvas he had made of my book cover. Now as his way of showing support he is creating an imaginary lineup of actors to play the various characters in the novel since he predicts it will eventually be turned into a movie.

I have received e-mails and phone calls from my aunties who are reading the book and cousins who have bought the book. My family in Ontario all have copies in the mail since Amazon just released the book on Friday. In fact, Amazon says they only have four copies left but more are on the way.

My brother Ken and his partner Harvey who live in Victoria have been buying copies at various bookstores there and putting them in Little Free Libraries around the city so people can enjoy them. I love that!

My church community has been supportive too. I got a phone call from my pastor saying he had read the book and he and his wife were buying copies for their grandchildren. One of the women in the seniors’ apartment affiliated with our church, said my book is very popular there. I know lots of folks from my church have been buying the book and I am very grateful.

My friends have been buying the novel too and letting me know they have purchased it. My friend Debbie even put together a marvellous little eight page book that tells the story of my journey as a writer beginning with my early love of reading and ending with a toast to my book’s success.

The members of my writers’ group, former colleagues, my blog readers and former students have all bought copies. Thanks to all of you.

Photo by Carillon photographer Jordan Ross

I wrote a previous post about the article in The Carillon. I have given three more interviews since then and I will let you know when those stories appear in the media.

I was pleased to have my book mentioned in a recent edition of Prairie Books Now and in the newsletter of the Manitoba Writers Guild. I was also able to read an excerpt from my book at the Prairie Horizons conference for children’s writers.

I have already received indications of interest from schools, book clubs and senior’s homes to come and talk about my book once the pandemic is over. I am really looking forward to those kinds of opportunities and my brain is whirring with the different kinds of presentations I might do.

Finally, my online book launch is on June 16th at 7 pm. I will be interviewed by Winnipeg educator, book reviewer and author Harriet Zaidman. You can register here to join us. There will be a time for participants to ask questions about the book.

People are starting to write to me to let me know what they think of the book and you can read some of their responses on the review page of my website. If you have read the book I’d love to know what you thought.

As I’ve mentioned before I want to promote the work of other Manitoba writers with each of the posts I do about my book. Here are some books I have written about in the past on my blog.

The Constructed Mennonite by Hans Werner

Sons and Mothers by Mary Ann Loewen

The Truth About the Barn by David Elias

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My First Interview

I was so pleased when Jordan Ross from The Carillon called, asking to interview me about my novel Lost on the Prairie. Jordan and I met in a park near my home where he took photos and asked some really interesting questions. I love the article he wrote. You can read it by clicking on this link.

For every post I do about my book I want to provide links to posts I’ve written about the work of other Manitoba authors as a way to acknowledge that my book would never have been published without the supportive writing community we have here in our province.

Once Removed by Andrew Unger

Here the Dark by David Bergen

Knuckleball by Roger Groening

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More Excitement About My Book

My novel Lost on the Prairie is on a display upstairs in the children’s section at McNally Robinson Booksellers. You can see it in the bottom right hand corner of the display table.

A week ago I wrote about how my book had made a surprise early debut at McNally Robinson Booksellers and that created a bit of a whirlwind of a week for me. The excitement has continued.

This last week the book hit the shelves at the McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon. Before the pandemic I was a frequent visitor to Saskatoon since my children, grandchildren and many other relatives from my extended family live there. So I was happy the book would be available for them to buy.

I debuted my website. My kind and capable friend Rudy Nikkel who is a tech wizard helped me set up a website with the latest information about Lost on the Prairie. It includes an about the author section and links to my monthly newsletters and regular blog posts about the book. There is an online study guide with lots of resources so teachers, parents and children can further explore each chapter of the book.

I will keep track of events connected to my book on the website and post comments people make about the book. If you have already read my novel and could send me a sentence or two about what you thought of it, or a question you have after reading it, or a suggestion you could make for how I might have written the book differently I’d love to hear it and will include it on the review page of my website.

Another exciting thing that happened this past week is that Lost on the Prairie made the best seller list for McNally Robinson Booksellers. I was surprised and thrilled!

You can see Lost on the Prairie on the right hand side on the best seller table near the payment counter at the McNally’s Grant Park Store

I am so incredibly grateful to all the people who have already bought my book and have made it possible for me to be on the bestseller list. I can’t thank you enough!

With my book on the best seller table at McNallys

Details for my book launch were also finalized this week. It will take place on June 16th at 7 pm. John Toews who is organizing it on behalf of McNally Robinson Booksellers and Monica Miller the marketing manager at my publisher Heritage House have done a beautiful job of setting up a page on the McNally’s site advertising my launch. You need to sign up to attend and there is a registration link on the page where you can do that. At the launch you will have a chance to ask questions in the chat feature and there just may be a prize or two on offer as well.

Harriet Zaidman reading my book

I am thrilled that Winnipeg author, educator and book reviewer Harriet Zaidman has agreed to be my guest for the launch. Harriet also writes historical fiction for young people and following the success of her first novel City on Strike about the Winnipeg General Strike she has signed a contract for a second novel called Second Chances about the polio epidemic. Harriet also authors a very successful cooking blog called North End Nosh.

My friend Jodi’s Instagram post about Lost on the Prairie

Thanks so much for following along on my writing and publishing journey. I’ll do another post about a week from now to bring you up to date on the latest Lost on the Prairie news.

Note: It doesn’t seem like Amazon Canada has released the book for shipping yet, although people who have ordered it from Amazon in other countries have received their copies. I am sure the Amazon Canada copies should start arriving after May 28th which was the original publication date of the book.

In each post about my book I want to highlight books by other Manitoba authors I’ve written about on my blog. Manitoba has a very supportive writing community and is one important reason my book was published. I want to be sure to do my part to support other Manitoba writers.

Coop the Great by Larry Verstraete

Sadia by Colleen Nelson

Treasures of Winnipeg’s Historic Exchange by George Mitchell

Treed by Ariel Gordon

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It’s Been A Whirlwind of a Week

On Sunday I started getting texts from friends congratulating me and saying they had just received word from McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg that my novel Lost on the Prairie which they had pre-ordered was ready to be picked up.

What? I was so surprised. My book was due to be released on May 28th. Apparently it was hitting at least some bookstore shelves about three weeks earlier than anticipated. I quickly checked the McNally Robinson Booksellers site and there it was listed as in stock at their Grant Park Store.

I contacted the patient and experienced Heritage House marketing manager Monica Miller who is doing such a great job of helping me promote my book and asked all kinds of questions about the early release. She assured me it was a positive thing.

My sister Kaaren took this photo of my book on the shelves at the McNally’s Grant Park location.

Monday was a busy day for me and I didn’t have a vehicle but my wonderfully supportive sister Kaaren headed on down to McNally’s to take photos of my book on the shelf so I could post them on social media. I think she also may have been the first person to purchase a copy of my book.

I was in tears the next few days as some two hundred people offered their approval and congratulations on my Facebook post about the book going on sale including family members, friends, members of my writers’ group, former work colleagues, fellow church members, former students, former editors I’ve worked for, Stephen Borys the director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and even Winnipeg author Colleen Nelson who had just been nominated for the Governor General’s award for her middle grade novel Harvey Holds His Own.

Then Monday evening…….. that moment all authors wait for ……my author copies of the book arrived in the mail. My husband Dave even took a video of me opening the box.

Signing copies of my book at McNallys with the special pen my friend Esther gave me expressly for that purpose for my birthday last October

On Tuesday the efficient and organized John Toews who is coordinating my online book launch on June 16th took this photo of me signing the copies of my novel for sale at the McNally Robinson Booksellers Grant Park store. I headed over on my bike and John set me up at a table in the area where I would have had my in -store book launch had the pandemic not happened. Later my brother Ken who lives in Victoria texted the news that my novel was for sale at two independent bookstores there, Munroe Books and Bolen Books.

Wednesday I received a message from the Manitoba Writers Guild they would like to feature me in an upcoming newsletter and I got an e-mail from reporter Jordan Ross that he would like to interview me for a feature in The Carillon newspaper. I dropped off a copy of Lost on the Prairie at my children’s home here in Winnipeg and sent another one off in the mail to my children in Saskatoon.

Thursday I was able to share my exciting news with the members of the Anitas my children’s writers group when we had our regular online meeting. Without all their helpful criticism and endless encouragement Lost on the Prairie would never have been published. I should also mention that prior to the pandemic McNally Robinson Booksellers generously provided space for our writers group to meet in their store, so every chapter of my novel was read aloud there.

Friday I biked down to the Forks with Dave so he could take a photo of me with my book on the shelves of the McNally Robinson Bookseller location there and then I met Carillon reporter Jordan Ross in Steve Juba Park near my home for an interview.

Drinking a toast to a lovely day and my book sales beginning

Friday night Dave and I went out to celebrate my book being for sale with supper on the sunny patio of the Nonsuch Brewery just down the street from our home. We love the food there and have often ordered from their take out menu during the pandemic.

Harriet Zaidman, a book reviewer and former librarian who is the author of City on Strike and the upcoming historical novel Second Chances reads Lost on the Prairie

After we got home Harriet Zaidman who will be my guest at the online McNally Robinson Booksellers Lost On the Prairie launch on June 16th sent me a photo that shows her reading my book. A copy had just arrived at her home from Heritage House.

Yes it’s been a whirlwind week, and an unexpected one at that. I thought I’d be welcoming my novel to the world at the end of May and here I am doing that at the beginning of the month.

Now I am waiting in nervous anticipation to see what people will think of my book after they’ve read it.

At this point Lost on the Prairie is available for pre-order on Amazon and Indigo and my publisher is trying to make arrangements so hopefully it will be available for purchase in Steinbach shortly. I will post updates when I know more. But for now it is for sale at both McNally Robinson Bookseller locations in Winnipeg.

Other posts about my novel Lost on the Prairie can be read here.

From now on with every post I do about my book I want to provide links to posts I’ve written about the work of other Manitoba authors. I realize one of the main reasons my book is in print is because of the wonderfully supportive writing community in our province.

Family of Spies by Jodi Carmichael

Lessons From a Nude Man by Donna Besel

The Tree of Life by Sarah Klassen

Talk About Being In Good Company

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A Dedication For My Book

One of the things I had to decide just before my novel Lost on the Prairie went to the printer was whose name would be on the dedication page of the book. There are so many people whose help, affirmation, advice and support made it possible for me to have my novel published. But there was one person I knew deserved the most thanks and that was my mother.

Dedication on my first page of my book

Mom always believed in me as a writer. When I was ten and had my very first story published in the local newspaper she framed it. When I got a job as a columnist for a regional newspaper in 1985 she cut my article out of the paper every single week. She saved all my columns in albums for decades. She was always ready to pitch in with childcare and meal preparation when I needed a little extra time to finish a writing project.

She read everything I wrote and during the many years she and I went for regular early morning walks in Steinbach she encouraged me as I described new writing assignments for magazines, journals, curriculum developers and anthologies.

When I went to visit her in the hospital the last couple of years of her life she would tell the nursing staff, “My daughter is a writer.”

In the acknowledgements at the end of my book I am able to thank the many people who helped me along the way- the members of my writers’ group who were such helpful critics, my husband Dave who organized an amazing research trip for the book, members of my family and friends who supported me, my cultural advisors from the Sisseton Wahpeton First Nation, Deborah Froese who was my first editor and the wonderful staff at Heritage House my publisher.

I am so grateful to all of them but it was my Mom who was my number one cheerleader in every area of my life. I fully realize that without her confidence and faith in me I wouldn’t have done a lot of things including getting my novel published.

My Mom died in 2013 and I regret she won’t be here to see my book for sale in bookstores or read it. But I know exactly what words she’d say if she was here, because I heard them so many times in my life- “I just knew you could do it MaryLou!”

My book is now ready for pre-order at McNally Robinson Bookstores in Winnipeg and Saskatoon. I’d love it if you gave them a call and reserved a copy so they will be sure to have enough on hand when the book comes out on May 28th.

You can also pre-order the book on Amazon and Indigo and it would be great if you did that too. It will help create some important ‘buzz’ for the book.

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