Posts with the category ‘Author’s Desk’


A Silver Medal for Searching for Nora

The hardest thing about writing a book is marketing it, particularly in this day and age. Compared to the quiet and intense focus of the writing process, marketing takes chutzpah, salesmanship and an entrepreneurial spirit. It’s about cold-calling prospective groups, arranging appearances, and handing out chocolates (and smiles) at Barnes and Noble in hopes that a few people might stop for a look. Not easy in the best of circumstances. But marketing a book during a pandemic? Please. Some people say the shut-down has given them more time to read, yet others report feeling too distracted to relax with a… 


Writing Historical Fiction: Challenges and Surprises

Last Sunday I was supposed to be giving a talk at the Kensington, Maryland, Day of the Book Festival. As a featured author, I planned to talk about the challenges and surprises of writing historical fiction. Then came the coronavirus, and it was all cancelled. But if I can’t stand on a stage, I can still share my ideas about researching and crafting a story set in a different time. For me, the greatest joy of writing historical fiction is that it lets you avoid writing, for days and weeks at a time. Any excuse to research another question –… 


Why There Are No Dogs in Searching for Nora

That’s my dearly departed dog, Rex: a sweet, loyal collie mix who always knew when to cheer me up. Nearly everyone loves dogs, and many people enjoy reading about them and their deep-felt relationships with their owners. Given that, why didn’t I put a dog in my novel Searching for Nora?  It would have been a surefire way of warming up the narrative. A dog could have humanized the humans, led to interesting plot opportunities, and provided Nora with a friend when she desperately needed one. Ah, and therein lies the rub. I had a photography teacher once who banned… 


Harvest Time on the Prairie

It’s not clear how many of the nineteenth-century settlers on the American prairie celebrated the official Thanksgiving holiday, which was not established until 1863. Many families must have had harvest feasts when they were finished gathering in what the land had produced, and as most settlers were religious in their orientation, they probably gave thanks to God. But the truth is, prairie harvests were often not that bountiful. Most settlers planted a cash crop – usually wheat – and many planted some corn and alfalfa to feed their livestock, as well as garden vegetables that would keep through the winter,… 


In the Land of Lutefisk

While researching my novel Searching for Nora, I was often asked “are you Norwegian?” The book is set in Norway and Minnesota, and so I traveled to both places to interview scholars, historians and Norwegian American descendants. The Norwegians, in particular, were curious about my heritage and sometimes spoke Norwegian to test my understanding. But I could only offer a faint smile, because I wasn’t Norwegian American any more than I was Italian American. I didn’t grow up attending lutefisk dinners in a knitted sweater and singing Norwegian table graces. Along the way, however, I came to wish I had…. 


Top