As a young girl, I had quite the collection of journals and frequently sat at the desk in my room, writing about my days, feelings, joys and struggles. I even wrote a children's series at one point, about a young girl named Emily Smith, and the first few chapters of a mystery novel.
As time went on, I continued journaling, but my entries became less frequent after I got married. I rekindled my love for writing in 2013, and can't fathom how I survived all the years between without it. Writing is my passion. It brings me clarity, joy, and makes my soul feel alive.
In November of 2015, I started writing my first book, The Girl from No. 6 - a historical fiction novel about the life and times of my beloved grandmother. I am currently writing my second book.
wife & mother
My husband and I have been married for over 12 years, and we have two blonde-as-can-be daughters, ages 10 and 7.
Our eldest daughter is our spirited one and can almost always be found drawing or writing her own stories. She's a dreamer, like her Mama, and she pushes me to reach for the stars, and then some.
Our youngest is the quiet, gentle, soft-spoken one. She loves playing on her own, and always finds time to snuggle. She loves the Gerald and Piggie books. And she has a quick wit like her father.
At least every other year my husband and I like to travel to Europe, just the two of us. We've come to cherish these trips, and love dreaming of which city to visit next!
I have many dreams. Some of them linger for years, some I accomplish, others stay hidden in my heart, a constant, quiet reminder that life is filled with possibility.
One of my dreams is to live in the French countryside with my family for a summer. Another dream is to have a library in my home with shelves stacked to the brim with old cloth-bound books. I also want to get a floppy-eared bunny - they're just too cute.
I'd also like to visit many, many more cities in Europe.
I desire to live a life filled with relationships, experiences and things that are life-giving and bring meaning to my life.
Some of the things that make me feel alive are travelling, the scent of my favourite candle, beautiful piano music, a creamy cup of coffee, antiques, notebooks, mugs, old photographs, cable-knit blankets, any heirloom pieces passed down from family, and of course writing.
I also love drinking red wine, or a glass of prosecco. I love laughing so hard my belly hurts, and binge-watching Netflix on occasion. I crave quiet and carve out lots of time to myself, but I also love connecting with friends over a cup of coffee.
I'm also very intentional about the products I bring into my home, striving to live as sustainable a life as I can, within our boundaries and values.
The Girl from No. 6
In the late 1920s, Stalin was determined to turn Russia into a “Soviet Paradise”. For thousands of Russian Mennonites that meant exorbitant taxes, arrest, forced labour, losing their farms and businesses, and even losing their lives. With their faith in God and little else, Nikolai and Kaethe Penner fled for their lives with their toddler Maria, praying to find a way to leave Russia alive. Later joined by Kaethe’s parents and her brother, the two families set off on a journey that ultimately took them half way around the world. Their faith in God and their love for each other sustained them through the difficult years as they built a community, and a life, from nothing.
Years later, young Maria falls in love with Jacob, a persistent young Mennonite boy, despite his lack of faith in God. Together they raise their four children before deciding to immigrate to Canada where a whole new life awaits them.
Based on true events as told by the author’s grandmother, The Girl from No. 6 shows us the resilience of families that have lost everything and must start over. It also speaks to the support of an unwavering faith that everything happens for a reason, even when it seems the world is crumbling away around you.
This is Vanessa's debut creative non-fiction novel.
Available in stores at Mennonite Heritage Museum, House of James Bookstore, Watermelon Tree Boutique, and Pilgrim Book and Bible.
E-Books and Hard Cover copies available online.
Purchase a Paperback copy by clicking link below:
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