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JANUARY Newsletter

Volume 22

greetings friends:

Arriving June 6, 2023!!

Available for pre-order now wherever books are sold!

Back Cover Copy:

In 1922, George A. Hormel–founder of Geo. A Hormel & Company, now known as the multibillion dollar food conglomerate Hormel Foods–demanded the resignation of Gretchen Cherington’s grandfather, Alpha LaRue Eberhart, after a decade-long embezzlement scandal that nearly brought the company to its knees. But was Eberhart, as rumors suggested, complicit?

In scale both intimate and grand, Cherington deftly weaves the histories of Hormel, Eberhart, and embezzler Ransome J. Thomson, the company’s star comptroller, within the sweeping landscape of our country’s early industries, along with keen observations about business leaders gleaned from her thirty-five-year career advising top company executives. The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy also chronicles Cherington’s journey from blind faith in family lore to a nuanced consideration of the three men’s great strengths and flaws–and offers a multilayered, thoughtful exploration of the ways we all must contend with our reverence for heroes, the mythology of powerful men, and the legacy of a complicated past.

Here’s what two endorsers have said about it:

The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy is a compelling book of family history, an urgent look inside the machinations of wealth and power, and a wonderfully well-written journey into a fully realized past. Cherington, the daughter of a poet and the granddaughter of an astute businessman, wields the many elements of her inheritance with grace.”

—Beth Kephart, National Book Award finalist and author of three-dozen books, including Wife | Daughter | Self: A Memoir in Essays and We Are the Words: The Master Memoir Class

“The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy comes to life with its deeply personal exploration of the darkest chapter in the 130-year history of Geo. A. Hormel & Company. This marvelous and meticulously researched book by Gretchen Cherington is packed with arresting detail and personal insights. In her search for answers, Cherington weaves a robust account of the scandal that nearly brought the company to its knees.”

–Ben Welter, author of Minnesota Mayhem: A History of Calamitous Events, Horrific Accidents, Dastardly Crime & Dreadful Behavior in the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes

Thank you Beth Kephart and Ben Welter! ❤️

news and events

To add to my publishing riches in 2023, I'm also featured in the just released Juncture Book, A Weave, A Basket, and A Vessel--Outtakes from a Memoir Master Class. This is a new craft book that includes my work alongside that of eight other wonderful women authors who made up The Fab Nine, our nine-month intensive

workshop in 2022. Beth Kephart and

Bill Sulnit have designed and published this beautiful book. It's like none I’ve seen before – with our work alongside Beth's immensely learnable lessons and Bill's art works. I’ve learned so much from Beth and these eight fantastic authors--Priscilla Slocum, Julie Lambert, Lisa Wicz, Carolyn Barnabo, Clorissa Philips, Patricia Deveneaux, Allison Taylor, and Judy Bolton-Fasman, Please pick it up wherever you buy your books and learn alongside us. In addition, you’ll find a long essay I wrote during this workshop at the end of the book.

Coming Events:

  • January 30: Unspoken: Conversation with Candance Sanchez--please join me for this wonderful podcast. Further details on social.

  • April 6 - 1-2 PM EST - Launchpad with Grace Sammons -- a conversation with my writing group--the RBGs (Radical Badass Girls, Who Write) Ashley Sweeney, Deb Thomas, Shelley Blanton-Stroud, and me about the FOUR new books we helped each other create during 18 months of Covid. This will be fun! More info on social.

  • Summer Date TBD - My first confirmation of an in-person book reading for the new book at Brooksville Public Library, Brooksville, Maine.

behind the scenes

While I hope you've been reading whatever you want and doing whatever you want (some of the time, at least!), three fabulous proof readers and I have been correcting the Advanced Reader Copy of The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy. You will be as grateful as I am for what they've found. I'm stunned at how many times I can read something and still miss the obvious! Each of them deserves a box load of Hormel SPAM, LOL, along with hugs, kisses, and boat loads of love. Thank you Sarah Martel (reading on a hill town in Vermont), Ellen Schecter (reading on a snowy plateau at 6000 ft above sea level in New Mexico), and Deborah Shepherd (reading in an old house with old dogs in coastal Maine). You answered my ask and honored me with your clear-eyed vision. Truly, fellow writers and readers, final proofers are worth their salt (as much as there is in this can of Spam!!).

While I’m doing the final production details and ramping up publicity and marketing for The Butcher, there are still great things happening for Poetic License. A wonderful new review (slightly edited below) from Carli in Minnesota appears on Facebook and Instagram and will be posted on Amazon.

“I was ill-prepared for this book. I thought it sounded intriguing, but I really wasn't prepared for Cherington's writing. Beautiful, honest, and deeply thought-provoking.
I'm more of a straightforward reader and writer, following the sequence of events as they happen, but that wasn't Cherington's approach. She moved through different dates, going to the past, the present, in between, and back again. It's a bit chaotic, but it all works. The way she laid her book out works, I felt as if I was right there with her, experiencing her life.
Cherington is also a stunning writer. I loved her metaphors, her tone of voice, and the way she could clearly describe in vivid detail an entire scene with just a few sentences. There was one line in particular that stuck out to me. Cherington said, "My father had the words to describe Mom's disease and never wrote a single poem about it." I didn't understand why that line stuck out to me so much. I mulled it over for a long time before realizing that it essentially sums up Cherington's father. Here was this person who had words that they seemed to be brimming and spilling out over the top, yet he elected not to use those words to describe his wife's disease that affected his entire family. And that had me wondering, did he ever use those words to write poems describing his feelings about his mother's death? Or to talk about his betrayal to his daughter? And if not, as I suspect he didn't, why? Was he repressing those moments in his life? Cherington said that she spent years scouring her father's archives for answers and I see why. In a single line, she captured the complexity of her father's entire character. Incredible.
Unlike her father, Cherington chose to use her writing an outlet and a way to heal. Reading about her life, about her experiences, and seeing how she persevered was inspiring. It always amazes me how much people can endure. How strong they can be. And Cherington is one strong individual. I commend her for sharing her story with the world and for being brave enough to share the truth. I hope she continues to write in the future, because I am eager to read more.”



Swooned Over:

Lessons in Chemistry – I mean wouldn’t each of us want to write such an inventive, funny, great story with wonderful characters and plot. If you haven't read it, please do! I’m late to the Lessons in Chemistry party, but I’m sure glad it wasn’t over when I got there. Kudos to Bonnie Garmus for this wonderful read that kept me on the edge of my chair and thank you for the nudge by Ellen Schecter! Garmus has created a fabulous cast of characters including Elizabeth Zott, the chemist, Mad, her young daughter; and Six Thirty, their dog who learns hundreds of English words and is a key part of the action.

Also enjoyed more than I thought I might:

State of Terror by Hilary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny, free from a bed and breakfast we stayed in months ago. The last week of holiday season and the new year were a perfect time to take this on–and it’s better than I thought it might be! With classic murder mystery style from Penny and great behind the scenes State Department plotting from Clinton, it’s a fun, breezy thriller. And, proof-reading fact--I found a paragraph repeated even in this highly paid for book!

And am entirely immersed in:

Beth Kephart’s latest Wife, Daughter, Self. Riveted by the language, Beth's choice of words and sentences, her evocation of smells and touch, as well as the way she carefully, discretely, with humanity, explores her own vulnerabilities and the outlines of her marriage to artist, Bill Sulnit. I purchased this book nearly a year ago, but there’s always that perfect, precious moment to pick the one up you know you need right now. I needed this now. Thank you Beth and Bill for your beautiful productions and the fabulous art you each create.

Until next month - love and good wishes to you each and all,


Buy Poetic License Here:


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