top of page

March 2023 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

It’s truly hard to believe that in about ten weeks, my new book will be out in the world. What seems to take forever when you’re writing a book and imagining its launch, suddenly speeds up like a freight train rolling through our Midwestern prairies! Whatever I should have done over the last six months is too late. But I’ve been having fun with the behind-the-scenes publicity and marketing plans for this book. Why would that be?

  • First, it’s just an easier book for me to have fun with. Not that the story doesn't have its winners and losers and family trauma to sort through and even true crime to figure out, but it takes place a long time ago—one hundred years ago—and only indirectly is about me. Unlike my intensely personal memoir, Poetic License, for which every engagement with an interviewer was a moment of vulnerability, this book has given me a breather.

  • Second, I’ve loved this story for so long I just hope you will too! It does have everything—history, drama, power, crime, small town America — plus ham, bacon, and sausage — and I’ve worked hard to put my own spin on what I think really happened.

  • Third, I’m superbly lucky so far in early reactions from those who’ve read the book and endorsed it, including a state agriculture commissioner, a longtime food company executive, the #1 executive coach in the world, a Harvard Business School expert on white collar crime, and about twenty others who have all loved it.

I’m beyond appreciative that Hormel Foods granted me permission to use three of its images (two shown below). I saw copies of these photographs first at Mower County Historical Society in Austin, Minnesota, but it was Hormel that generously made them available for this book. I’m deeply grateful. #hormel #hormelfoods #Spam

George Hormel's first provision market

George Hormel, the butcher

I don’t go easy on any of the three characters in the book, but I believe George Hormel was an amazing early entrepreneur who came from nothing, wanted to prove he could build a first-rate meatpacking company, and was a consummate innovator. He was also a good corporate citizen, spending many hours helping develop the small city of Austin, Minnesota. And he managed to save his company after the embezzlement.

So one question people ask me is: Do you eat Hormel meats? The answer is, I have and I likely will again. My mom fed us Dinty Moore Beef Stew as kids (the first ever canned stew) as well as Spam sandwiches (the iconic Hormel product created after my grandfather left the company) because both were Hormel products.

Now I’m more inclined to support small farmers nearby and am lucky to have so many choices in Maine. With many vegetarian and vegan friends, I aspire to a plant diet but can’t quite make it happen in my marriage :-) I seem to function best with plenty of easily available protein. All that said, you’ll read about two meals I had in Austin in which I truly loved eating Hormel meats!

Stay tuned for more stories from The Butcher, the Embezzler, and the Fall Guy:

  • April—What would the Enneagram say about George Hormel, my grandfather Alpha LaRue Eberhart and the embezzler Ransome Josiah Thomson? PLUS What might I have done if I’d inherited even my share of my grandfather’s $200 Million and what did George Hormel’s grandsons do with their inheritances?

  • May—What was it like to be in Austin, Minnesota in 1995, 1997, 2000 PLUS How do embezzlers get away with it?



  • See my Kirkus review here.

  • See my essay in Huff Post here.

  • Listen to my conversation with Bobbi Jean and Jim Bell on LA Talk Radio/Rendezvous with a Writer here. Scan down to February 2023 episodes. Such fun speaking with these two avid readers about Poetic License and learning that Bobbi Jean’s theatre teacher at Bates College (many years ago) lives right next door to us in Portland!

  • My essay “No Known Cause. No Known Cure” was picked up by the Covey Club. Will be out soon. This is my take on living with Meniere’s Disease.

  • Meanwhile The Millions asked me to review the new memoir Losing Music by John Cotter (April, 2023) about his experience living with Meniere's Disease. It’s a great memoir!



  • April 6 at 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.

  • April 8: WPKN Radio. Details to come.

  • June 6: PUB DAY!!

  • June 8 at 7 pm: Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vermont, in conversation with Penny McConnel.

  • June 9-11: Portland, Maine --Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance weekend: Maine Crime Wave, campus of Southern Maine University, Portland, Maine.

  • June 21 at 7 pm: Longfellow’s Bookstore, Portland, Maine.

  • June 23-25: Signing and selling books with She Writes Press authors at Bookstock, Woodstock, Vermont.

  • June 25 at 9:30 am: Bookstock, in conversation with Sarah Stewart Taylor.

  • July 6 at 7 pm: Blue Hill Library and Blue Hill Books, in conversation with Kayleigh Thomas.

  • July 12 at 6 pm: Brooksville Library, Brooksville, Maine, in conversation with Brook Minner.



Mary E. Plouffe, PhD

I Know It in My Heart — Walking Through Grief with a Child

This is a terrific memoir for anyone who is in contact with a child going through grief. Mary is a fellow She Writes Press author and longtime Maine resident. Her story chronicles the tragedy of her sister’s cancer and her family's subsequent support in raising her young niece. Mary is a skilled psychologist but didn’t imagine herself in this role, yet she and her family made beautiful space for their niece and cousin and the resulting story is both full of wisdom while steeped in professional wisdom. Monica Wood called it, “A searing, beautifully written story of unfathomable grief and unbreakable family bonds. If you are a human being, read this.” I agree.

Gail Walsh Chop and Margaret Corbett Wiley

Flashbulb Memories

A beautiful debut novel by my friend Peggy Wiley who grew up, with Gail, in Manchester, New Hampshire during the period when a serial killer was running lose and killing young girls in the city. Entirely evocative of Manchester in the 1960s and 1970s it’s a fictionalized version in the voice of young Nora Donovan, told endlessly by her mother and cop father that she needn't “worry” as the police would find the killer, but she does all the time. Woven into the story is an enthralling description of life growing in a Catholic family and neighborhood of the time, questioning her own religious faith, witnessing the War in Vietnam's ravages, the uprising of women's consciousness, the race riots of the 1960s and so much more. I loved every page of this book and absolutely adored Nora Donovan. Gail and Peggy bring the primary family and a significant cast of fabulous characters to life with pitch perfect dialog, great humor, along with all the hypocrisy of nuns and priests. and their loss of innocence in the face of real work crime. Certainly for anyone from New Hampshire, but not just NH, for anyone who lived through this period of our history.

Adam White

The Midcoast

This was a disappointment for me, though highly popular and generously aided by literary big hitters like one of my favorite writers, Richard Ford, and the co-creator of Game of Thrones, David Benioff. It’s a good story—about a lobstering family in Midcoast Maine through three generations who have to resort to non-fishing ways to make a living and a young, educated, family returning to Maine after living in Boston and San Francisco. Ostensibly a “thriller” I found it neither thrilling nor compelling in terms of its characters. If anything, it resorted to stereotype about the locals, the characters both flat and about whom I really didn't care much. With all its hype I was curious, and while I thought White did a good job with scenic detail and dialog, it missed the mark for me.

Just picked up:

Paul Harding

This Other Eden

Paul Harding is the author of The Tinkers (one of my swooned over books of yesteryear) and Enon. This fictional account of the Malaga Island story off the coast of Maine is sure to be riveting and fabulously written. In the 1600s Malaga Island, just up the coast from Portland, became a thriving bi-racial community of freed black slaves and locals. About 40 people made their homes there through multiple generations, living off the sea and land on this small island. They kept to themselves, interacted with locals when on the mainland, were solid citizens. But eventually the State of Maine, for no good reason than that the fishing industry had taken a downturn and the state needed new revenue sources, determined that Malaga Island was too beautiful and tourist-worthy to be held by these families. Racism certainly played a part. The families were moved to a school for the “feeble-minded” (its grounds are now our favorite nearby x-country ski center) and they all died there. It’s a harrowing, embarrassing, and sad story for which the state has apologized but one that still haunts Mainers today. Needless to say Paul Harding will treat this story well and I can’t wait to dive into it.


bottom of page