A genuinely 'Sheepish' authorAward-winning writer Catherine Friend, whose stories about her life on a sheep farm in rural Zumbrota have captivated countless readers since she was “Hit by a Farm” in 2006, is offering a one-day workshop in Red Wing on April 14.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
Award-winning writer Catherine Friend, whose stories about her life on a sheep farm in rural Zumbrota have captivated countless readers since she was “Hit by a Farm” in 2006, is offering a one-day workshop in Red Wing on April 14.
When that date was chosen, she didn’t know it would be an especially busy day. That evening, Friend will be in St. Paul at the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards, where her latest memoir — “Sheepish” — is a finalist.
A city girl, Friend wrote a half-dozen children’s books and three novels before moving with her life partner to the sheep farm — “a strange, undiscovered country,” according to a vignette in “Sheepish” in which she describes her introduction to their new life.
Her first book about raising sheep was a memoir, “Hit by a Farm: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barn.” Last summer she narrated it as an audio-book, which can be obtained online at http://www.dogearaudio.com/hitbyafarm.htm.
Garrison Keillor called it “A sweet and funny book in the classic Hardy Girls Go Farming genre, elegantly told,” and the Minneapolis Star Tribune declared it one of the best books of the year.
Friend’s next venture, “The Compassionate Carnivore,” took top honors in 2009 in the Minnesota Book Awards general nonfiction category.
That was followed by a children’s picture book about the farm, “The Perfect Nest,” which was nominated for numerous state reading awards.
“Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep and Enough Wool to Save the Planet,” which is nominated in the memoir and creative nonfiction category, continues the “Hit by a Farm” story. DeCapo Press published both memoirs.
After 15 years, sheep farming has hit a rough patch, but Friend deals with it with her characteristic humor and a surprising passion for woollies and small farms, including how she learned to take the wool off her sheep’s backs and knit cool socks.
The memoir style of writing will be the focus of her April 14 workshop at the Anderson Center at Tower View.
“A memoir is a slice of life,” Friend said. Memoirists take one thing — something interesting or painful or humorous that they have lived through or struggled with — and turns it into a story people can learn from, she explained.
“You must find the universal theme in your story that will resonate with readers.”
The workshop is for anyone, Friend said — someone older who wants to record a life story for family members, or a writer of any age who has a compelling story to tell but isn’t quite sure how to go about it.
Friend will present 15 common errors to avoid when turning an experience into a creative story that will inspire and encourage others.
Because the session runs all day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., she expects people to leave “with a pretty solid plan for what to do next.” Enrollment is limited to 15 adults; fee is $60.
It will be Friend’s second workshop at the Anderson Center. A few years ago she taught a children’s writing session and introduced “The Perfect Nest” at the annual fall children’s book fair.
In addition to “Sheepish,” Friend also has a new publication aimed at yet another group of readers. “Barn Boot Blues” is a novel for middle-graders (ages 8 to 12) about a 12-year-old city girl who moves with her parents to a farm.
“I like to try new things,” Friend said, adding that her current work-in-progress is a young adult novel (ages 12 and up), plus she’s “playing around with another nonfiction idea.”
More about all of her books can be found on her website, www.catherinefriend.com, where people also can link to her blog and Facebook page. She encouraged anyone with questions or comments to e-mail her at email@example.com.
To sign up for the “Turning Your Life into Memoir” workshop, call the Anderson Center at 651-388-2009; for information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three area authors nominated
Catherine Friend of Zumbrota is one of three area authors whose books are nominated for 2012 Minnesota Book Award honors. In addition, a local fine press printed one of the nominated books in poetry.
Jacqueline West of Red Wing and Pete Hautman, a summer resident of Stockholm, Wis., both are nominated in the Young People’s Literature category.
West is nominated for “Spellbound,” the second volume in her “The Books of Elsewhere” series. Last year the first book in the series, “The Shadows,” was a book award finalist. On July 5 she will release the third book in the series, “The Second Spy.”
Hautman is nominated in the young people’s category for “The Big Crunch,” a story of teen love. He won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2004 for his book “Godless.”
Red Dragonfly Press, a fine art print studio at the Anderson Center at Tower View, printed “Bodies of Light” by Athena Kildegaard, one of the nominees in poetry.
The 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards ceremony will be April 14 in St. Paul. The awards program is coordinated by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.