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From the basement to the barn: 'Lutheran' authors release 'Growing Up Rural: You Smell Barn'

Pictured (from left) are scriptwriter/actress Greta Grosch, Dennis Curley (featured on the iPad), producer/director Curt Wollan, Suzann Nelson and Janet Letnes Martin. Submitted photo

One local author is bringing back the phrase "you smell barn" with the release of her new book. Hastings resident Janet Letnes Martin and her co-author Suzann Nelson recently released a new book called "Growing Up Rural: You Smell Barn."

"It's a humorous book of what it was like from the clothes that we wore to the peddlers that came to the farm," Martin said.

The book gives readers a look into what it was like growing up in a Lutheran Norwegian community, Martin said. The book encompasses humor and reminiscing about life of a kid growing up in a small town in the 1940s and 1950s.

Martin and Nelson have written 10 Scandinavian-American books together. Their 1997 book "Growing Up Lutheran: What Does This Mean?" inspired six Church Basement Ladies musicals that have been seen by more than three million people nationwide.

The latest book by Martin and Nelson will be made into the seventh installment of the Church Basement musicals. They plan to open the musical in September 2018. Martin said it will be lighthearted and fun.

People don't have to be Lutheran to relate to the musical. Martin said it transposes to other religions as well because the characters are so relatable.

The book is available locally at BreakAway Cafe or Eye Candy. It is also available online through

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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