The Last Ones to Let You Down
The strangest question I’ve been asked at a book event

The strangest question I’ve been asked at a book event

SDFestival

The South Dakota Festival of Books is rapidly approaching: Sept. 26-28 in Sioux Falls. I’m excited to be presenting a writing workshop there along with doing a reading. Too bad my reading is at the same time as Tony Earley (Jim the Boy). Fortunately he’s also giving a writing process talk, so I look forward to that. And Kate DiCamillo is the keynote speaker. It’s always nice to hear her speak!

I…

View On WordPress

"Lay Some Flowers On My Grave"

“Lay Some Flowers On My Grave”

rachaelhanel:

A post about cemetery flowers from two years ago. I like the old photos I included here; I haven’t seen anything like this in the modern era.

Originally posted on We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down:

Emma Manske grave, Pilgrim’s Rest Cemetery, Mankato, Minnesota

This photo was among many collected by a great-aunt of my husband’s. My interest in cemeteries had led me to see many…

View On WordPress

Why writers need literary heroes

Why writers need literary heroes

In 2002, I saw Susan Orlean speak at a St. Paul library. I was working as a newspaper journalist at the time, and Orlean was a writer I had admired since I was introduced to her work in college. By 2002 I had read The Orchid Thief probably at least a couple of times, so I was excited to meet her.

One thing you should know about me: I’m that annoying person who has to meet everyone. It’s not…

View On WordPress

5 ways to get the creative flow going

5 ways to get the creative flow going

Photo Credit: charliebarker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: charliebarker via Compfight cc

School has started, which means less time for my own creative projects. I’m a little scared, but oddly enough have always worked better when I have many things on my plate.

For the past year or two, I have felt my creativity wane. Perhaps it was because I had finished my memoir and was focused on marketing, the book release, and the events that were…

View On WordPress

You won’t believe how popular this author photo is

You won’t believe how popular this author photo is

My author photo by Steven Pottenger. I love this photo so much, and am so grateful to my friend Steven for taking it. We went to a small cemetery outside of Eagle Lake, Minnesota, in late fall.

My author photo by Steven Pottenger. I love this photo so much, and am so grateful to my friend Steven for taking it. We went to a small cemetery outside of Eagle Lake, Minnesota, in late fall.

My memoir takes place in a cemetery, so naturally I wanted an author photo that had a cemetery background.

I was curious to see if I could find other author photos taken in a cemetery. It’s not as uncommon…

View On WordPress

From the archives: The ethics of writing about those who have died

From the archives: The ethics of writing about those who have died

Dad in late 1988/early 1989.

Dad in late 1988/early 1989.

NOTE: This was originally published on July 8, 2012.

I have no doubt that my dad would approve of my memoir. He was the type of guy who enjoyed meeting people. I like to think he had such a big personality that he’s not going to let death stop him from meeting new people, which he can continue to do through my book. I think he’d be thrilled to know his name will be in…

View On WordPress

What happens when we forget?

What happens when we forget?

Photo Credit: fiddleoak via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: fiddleoak via Compfight cc

How long does a story stick with you?

At a book club earlier this summer, a woman who grew up about 45 minutes from Waseca told me she remembered clearly the Zimmerman family story of 1959 that I share in my book. She said she and her family followed news of that story for at least a couple of years after, even though they had no ties to the family or to…

View On WordPress

You might like What Dreams May Come if…

You might like What Dreams May Come if…

LR-1WDMC-robin-dog

I watched the Robin Williams film What Dreams May Come last night, the first time since my initial viewing of it in 1998.

I wrote in my post yesterday that I know I didn’t like the film much the first time, but I could not remember why. I still remain lukewarm about the movie, but it’s hard to put my finger on why. The sentimentality factor is pretty high.

What-Dreams-May-Come-4

But if you like the following, you…

View On WordPress

One Robin Williams movie many are forgetting

One Robin Williams movie many are forgetting

What dreams may come

In all the “favorite movie” lists that have come out since Robin Williams died, I haven’t heard anyone pick What Dreams May Come.

I actually forgot about this movie until my husband mentioned it. We only saw it once, back in 1998 when it came out, but it stuck with him.

Me, not so much. At the time I was doing movie reviews at The Free Presswith Joe Tougas. I remember not liking it, but in the…

View On WordPress

45 years ago today

August 9, 1969: the Manson family entered the Tate house, beginning their two-day murder spree.

20140809-104846-38926270.jpg

Above: The page in my book where I mention “Helter Skelter.”

I became intrigued by this story when I first read “Helter Skelter” when I was 11. I think there were ties between my dad’s job as a gravedigger and my fascination with gruesome, true crime stories.

Do you remember the Manson murders? Or if…

View On WordPress