The highest ‘Reward’ is for Elise’s descendants, who have lived over a 100 years with their shameful secret, to meet their amazing ancestor. Many others are deeply moved by Elise’s story which reflects their own ancestral past. They say, “Thank you.”

For Elise was published July, 2012, then a second thousand printed, Feb. 2013. By October 2014, Friesens printed a third time and to date 2850 books have found homes. Many books go from friend to friend, and Winnipeg Public Library original copies were out over 30 times each and have been replaced with 3 new third edition copies. Already these have been checked out 8, 28 and 44 times. Other libraries, Brandon, Killarney etc. have books in circulation. It’s impossible therefore, to know how many have come to know my great-grandmother. Publishers estimate four readers for every book sold so if my math is correct that would be over 11, 400. Could that be possible in 6 years? My German relatives would exclaim, ‘Wunderbar!’; my English family, ‘How extraordinary!’

Historical Award—
The Manitoba Historical Society awarded For Elise, the Margaret McWilliams Award in local history, 2012.
I accepted the honour on behalf of the Vane family and the many friends who supported me and made it possible to publish this ‘secret breaking’ account of Elise Harrer’s sacrificial life.


Whistler Independent Book Awards 2016 Finalist

I chose to self-published my book and did so with a great deal of advice and support. As the publisher it’s my responsibility to distribute the book. Last March, 2016, the Manitoba Writer’s Guild newsletter announced an Inaugural Whistler Independent Book Award. An unexpected result was that as a finalist I attended the festival in October. It was a most rewarding experience and I thank Vivalogue Publishing Canada Ltd. for recognizing the talent of independent writers and their need for recognition.

Members of the Vancouver Chapter of the Canadian Authors’ Association selected the finalists according to four criteria: Ideas/Organization/Content, Style/Voice, Word Choice/Sentence Fluency and Conventions/Production Values.

For Elise, received 93 out of 100 points.

The group’s summary of the book follows:

This compelling story is at times almost too painful to be read. But it uncovers women’s history that, as Veldhuis describes, “disappears like meals placed before hungry men.”  The content is rich in many ways: family ties, Canadian history, class structures perpetuated by settlers, etc. This is a story that cannot easily be forgotten. Its rich detail and personal style create the power for it to become a classic in print, and perhaps as a stage or screen play. The narrative and primary sources are seamlessly woven into a story that keeps the reader on the edge with Elise and her family. The design and format of the book will appeal to readers of history and women’s studies.

Thank you everyone for your support of ‘For Elise’. Reaching the finals is a huge reward that has brought a whole bundle of new experiences. I am blessed indeed.