Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Old Order Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley

As I work in the garden I often see horse and buggies clipping by on their way to some get together in the Old Order Mennonite community. Many of our neighbors are Old Order Mennonites, gentle, hard-working people, and good friends to us. The sight of a horse and buggy passing our farm, or meeting one, or a stream of buggies, on the back roads (especially thick on Sunday mornings) is a frequent occurrence here. From inside my house, the sound of horses hooves coming and going is as familiar to me as the trill of meadowlarks or mooing cows. We live on a dairy farm, in my husband's family since the 1940's.

I'm especially fond of the children. Little girls and small boys in the hats the men wear peering out from the back window of a buggy is always a delight, as is seeing women and children collected on a wagon on their way to a gathering…or riding old-fashioned bikes, at work on their farms, and sometimes even at play. Long lines of wash flapping in the breeze with pants and dresses in graded sizes from large to tiny is a picturesque addition to the community. Across the meadow and up the hill from our farm is a small Old Order school. Last fall I spotted a line of children holding hands out for a walk along the country road with their teacher(s). Darling. At the end of recess and lunch time, I hear the bell ring to summon the students back indoors. Reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her ‘Little House‘ books.

The Old Order neighbors on the farm up the road from us have a produce stand with fresh vegetables from their garden for sale. They use the honor system for customers to leave money in the box; the prices are listed on a handmade sign and the produce ready and waiting. If you have a question, likely you can find someone about on the farm or wielding a hoe. Normally I grow my own veges, but if I run low or have a crop failure I know where to go. Their garden is always perfect. They have many children and a great deal more help than I. Sigh.

I much admire The Old Order Mennonite’s unique way of life and very much hope they are able to continue as they are. The economic hardships facing many family farms, including ours, and the growing demands made by a burgeoning federal government with all its rules and regulation imposes yet more stress on a people already struggling to survive. Imagine trying to live like it’s the 1800′s in 2011.

For example, they have no health insurance, but band together and support each other in times of illness and injury. Doctors and hospitals make some concessions in regards to billing Old Orders, but the cost of medical care is still staggering. These people do not, however, want to be forced into a government health plan as this goes against their religion. They have as little as possible to do with government and the secular world in general. I believe their unique way of life must be respected and protected or the day may come when buggies no longer pass our house.~

*Old Order Mennonites are one of the aspects of rural life in the Shenandoah Valley I touched on in my nonfiction book entitled Shenandoah Watercolors.

*Pics of Old Order Mennonites and their farms by my husband and mother. Old Orders do not like to have their pictures taken if their faces are visible so we are careful not to reveal them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If You Like Native American Historical Romance

(Updated version of this post with new releases at:

I have three published novels in my colonial frontier trilogy. The third, Kira Daughter of the Moon, came out Nov. 2nd 2012. The main characters in these stories are a mix of Native Americans, of course, and English/Scots-Irish with a smidgen of French--my ancestral roots. All three novels are in print and ebook.

Red Bird's Song is doing well at Amazon for Native American Romance, but Through the Fire is lagging behind and I'm not sure why. It's equally an NA story and setting. I've tried to remedy this with appropriate tags at Amazon. Feel free to click on them and 'like' the novel. But I digress. Frequently.

When I wrote Through the Fire I felt as though I'd been through the flames. My hero and heroine certainly had. This adventure romance with a strong The Last of the Mohicans flavor and a mystical weave was born in the fertile ground of my imagination, fed by years of research, and a powerful draw to my English/Scots-Irish roots. My fascination with stirring tales of the colonial frontier and Eastern Woodland Indians is an early and abiding one. My ancestors had family members killed and captured by Native Americans. Some individuals returned with intriguing accounts of their captivity while others disappeared without a trace.

Much of the history and events in Red Bird's Song and Through the Fire were inspired by accounts I uncovered while researching my early American ancestors. My fascination with Colonial America, particularly stirring tales of the frontier and the Shawnee Indians, is an early and abiding one. My forebears had interactions with this tribe, including family members taken captive. I have family ties to Wicomechee, an outstanding Shawnee warrior who really lived and whose story greatly impacted Red Bird's Song. I've included more on Wicomechee at the end of the novel as a bonus for my readers.

Blurb for Red Bird's Song:
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn't how Charity Edmonson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather's vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl. George III's English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts. As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.~

Blurb for Through the Fire:
At the height of the French and Indian War, a young English widow ventures into the colonial frontier in search of a fresh start. She never expects to find it in the arms of the half-Shawnee, half-French warrior who makes her his prisoner in the raging battle to possess a continent--or to be aided by a mysterious white wolf and a holy man.~
A few comments from Reviewers For Through the Fire:

Ms. Trissel has captured the time period wonderfully.... I felt I was there through her descriptions and settings. An excellent story where there is so much happening.
--Two Lips Review by Shelia (She gave it five lips :)

Through the Fire is full of interesting characters, beautifully described scenery, and vivid action sequences. It is a must read for any fan of historical romance. --Long and Short Reviews by Poinsettia (It won book of the week at LASR)

Among it's awards, Through the Fire came in fourth in the top ten BHB Reader’s Choice Best Books of 2009 and finaled in the 2008 Golden Heart Contest for historical romance.

A Few Reviewer Comments for Red Bird's Song:

I loved the descriptions...I felt I was there...Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events...The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself. 
--Seriously Reviewed

This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense...This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating. --Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J  (A Night Owl top Pick) For the full review click here~

As for the third novel: Kira, Daughter of the Moon, the sequel to Through the Fire, is set among the clannish Scots-Irish in the Alleghenies on the fringe of a colonial frontier that's rapidly expanding west. The Native Americans in this mystical, adventurous romance are highly essential secondary characters.  Not sure when the story gets listed if that counts as NA or if it will get lost in the vast world of undefined historical romance.

Blurb for Kira, Daughter of the Moon:

Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family.

Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay––and anyone else from getting too close.  Now that he's back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft.  And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.

***Available in print and various ebook formats from The Wild Rose Press,  Amazon, Barnes & Noble in NookbookAll Romance eBooks, and other online booksellers.