Happy Spring – wherever you live I hope you are seeing signs of it: flowers budding and blooming, heaps of snow receding, the call of spring birds, and the lengthening of light. Spring is my absolute favorite season of the year and what better way than to encourage you to buy this wonderful new book by Debra Thomas, arriving on April 14th!
Debra is a critique partner so I’ve witnessed the development of this book for two years and couldn’t be more proud of her great effort nor more infatuated with her story. It's a brother and sister tale; a family in disarray story; a story of redemption and resilience; a book of re-finding connection in the midst of pain. AND, just saying, a tantalizing nod to her third book, now in process. Congratulations Deb – you’re an inspiration, a great friend, and a beautiful writing soul.
Coming in Two Months!
With the countdown to publication day I’m awash in publicity and marketing tasks, new Zooms and events being scheduled almost daily, and a lot of content to be provided to a lot of sites. It’s actually a fun time in a writer’s life when we start to hear from future readers and influencers.
The big news on that front is that I’ll be in Austin, Minnesota for a great event on Wednesday June 22nd at Mower County Historical Society for a lunch event at 12:00 Noon. This is the prefect place for my Minnesota launch because my research commenced twenty years ago with the assistance of a volunteer for the historical society named Ella Marie Lausen who became a fast friend and incredibly helpful assistant as I began to research the background on my grandfather and the Hormel company. Twenty years old than me, after I spent a full day with her at the historical society offices, Ella Marie and I corresponded by mail through many years (she wouldn’t consider email!) as I asked questions such as “are the mosquitoes in Minnesota as big as my father described them in his journal”? (They are!) and “do cicadas sing on the banks of the Cedar River in Austin?” (They do).
More importantly than those things, though, was that she would send me packages of newspaper clippings of the era I was researching along with current events in Austin (c. 2000). I had a deep fondness for her and promised her I’d finish the book. Sadly, she passed away some years ago. I do wish she could have read it in final form. Since then I've made more friends in and around Austin and I can't wait to see them!
This launch will be special for me as my Eberhart sister-cousins Eloise and Lil are joining me from Philly and Toronto. We’ll make a toast to our grandparents Alpha LaRue and Lena as well as put flowers on their graves. It will be a quick but fun trip.
Questions from Fans
On the list of questions I’ve gotten from people who've heard me talk about this book is, how would you have spent your “fortune” if you’d inherited it? Without too many spoilers, as you’ll read about this in The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy (preorder from Sweet Reads or Amazon) my grandfather’s net worth in 1921 had he been able to hold onto it would today be worth about $200Million. It would have changed our family considerably, even counting for spreading it across his three children and down to the 8 grandchildren he never met. Certainly a game changer! When you start thinking about it, it’s not an easy question to answer. There is the obvious—ensure my family and those I love are situated well enough to choose how they want to spend their time on this earth. After taxes, etc., I believe I would have given it away to end gun violence, make some difference in climate change, contributed to affordable housing and the conservation of wild places.
For comparison, George Hormel's grandsons contributed a lot of money to good causes through their lives, especially to HIV/AIDS, the arts, and environmental causes. I was impressed with all the places the Hormel grandsons put their money, ones I would agree with, I think.
All that said, I’m happy where I am, feel good about having worked for my living, while giving as generously as we're able to organizations working on social, racial, and climate justice in our time.
June 8 at 7 pm: Norwich Bookstore, Norwich VT. In conversation with Penny McConnel
June 19 at 6 pm: Longfellow Books, Portland, Maine.
June 22 at 12 noon: Lunchbox History Series at the Mower County Historical Society, 1303 Sixth Avenue SW, Austin, Minnesota.
June 25 at 9:30 am: Bookstock, Woodstock, Vermont. In conversation with Sarah Stewart Taylor.
June 26 at 7 pm: Meriden Library, Meriden, New Hampshire.
July 6 at 7 pm: Blue Hill Public Library with Blue Hill Books, Blue Hill, Maine.
July 13 at 6 pm: Brooksville Free Public Library, Brooksville, Maine.
November 2 at 7 pm: National Association of Memoir Writers. In conversation with Linda Joy Myers.
JUST PICKED UP
Chloé Cooper Jones
I love getting recommendations from newsletter subscribers and this is one from Bethany D. in Boston. I’ve only read two chapters but I’m completely smitten. In this memoir, Chloé contends with considerable physical disabilities as she makes her way through her world. I'll say more next month!
Gail Walsh Chop & Margaret Corbett Wiley
Friend Peggy Wiley and her best high school friend Gail Walsh Chop have written a wonderfully topical and evocative book about the terrible serial killer who, in real time, terrified the city of Manchester, NH where they grew up. While parents told kids "not to worry" the protagonist Nora worried all the time. We follow her through the sixties as she comes into her own inside a loving, but very Catholic family. The details, dialog and scenes are wonderful evoking what most of us experienced in that era. A fun (except for the crime part) book and great spring/summer read!