Friday, November 22, 2013

Guest Blogger: Paul Stutzman, Author of The Wanderers


Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.

His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.

Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives.

Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.

But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.

Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

I’ll Shut Up and Listen by Paul Stutzman

Amish novels have become quite popular with the reading public. Most writers of those novels are women. Why would a man even attempt to enter this crowded field? Either he doesn’t know his limits or he chooses to believe there are no limits. Perhaps in this instance ignorance really is bliss.

The impetus for my sticking a toe in the water....or, rather, my foot … okay, I actually jumped into the literary pool with fear and trembling because I believed I had something to offer from my male perspective.

My perspective has been shaped by being born into an Amish home and raised in a strict Conservative environment where the man is in charge. As an adult, I spent 25 years working in food service with a workforce that was 90% female. Throughout the years, I observed and interacted with these workers and reached my own conclusions on the feminine world. I now believe women really are in charge and are just letting us men think we are in charge to protect our fragile egos.

Early in my career I was a fixer—that’s what we men do. If something is broken, we fix it. Initially, that was my approach to any issue or problem an employee encountered. I still believe that’s a god approach (within reason), but it can quickly get one—a man—in trouble. Many women just want to be heard. Is that so hard? After many frustrating encounters I finally realized the magic of not only hearing but also listening. And the really good part was that I didn't have to fix anything. Just listen. I could hardly believe it was really that easy.

Over the years, I came to respect and admire the many talented ladies I hired, and I saw them as equals in the workforce. In the Amish community, women, although deeply respected by their counterparts, are relegated to the back seat during most decision-making. In my book The Wanderers, I chose to give the ladies equal or perhaps top billing. I took many life lessons learned during my restaurant career and incorporated them into my stories.

I also wanted to write a book that wove together enough adventure to entice male readers and enough emotion to keep ladies involved. The jury is still out on whether I succeeded. I promise to be quiet and listen while you give me the verdict.

Purchase at Amazon!


Paul Stutzman was born in Holmes County, Ohio in an Amish family. His family left the Amish lifestyle soon after Paul was born. They joined a strict Conservative Mennonite Church where Paul was raised to fear God and obey all the rules the church demanded. Paul continued to live among and mingle with his Amish friends and relatives his entire life. Paul married a Mennonite girl and remained in the Amish community working and raising a family. After Paul lost his wife to cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart- the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream. With a mixture of dread and determination, Paul left his job, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the 2,176 mile Appalachian Trail. What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life-and can change yours too. After completing his trek Stutzman wrote Hiking Through—a book about this life changing journey.

In the summer of 2010 Stutzman again heeded the call for adventure and pedaled his bicycle 5,000 miles across America. He began his ride at the Northwest corner of Washington State and pedaled to Key West, Florida. On his journey across America he encounters people in all circumstances, from homelessness to rich abundance. The people he meets touch his life profoundly. Stutzman writes about these encounters in his book Biking Across America.

Recently Stutzman released his first novel entitled The Wanderers. The Wanderers is a story about Johnny, a young Amish boy growing up in a culture he is not sure he wants to embrace. A young Amish girl named Annie wins his heart and life is great for a time. Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

In addition to writing, he speaks to groups about his hiking and biking experiences and the lessons learned during these adventures. Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio and can be contacted through his website at www.hikingthrough.com or www.paulstutzman.com.




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