Monday, November 28, 2011


Back before The Orchard sold, my agent and I had a talk about names. I did not want to publish it under my real name.  I didn't even want to use Frasier.  Names I came up with were Terry Ahlberg (grandmother's last name) and Anne Ahlberg.

 Why use a pseudonym for a memoir?   I didn't want anybody to easily figure out the innocent and not-so-innocent players in the story.  I explained to my agent why I didn't want to use my real name, and her response was: "How will anybody back there even know about the book?"  And that kind of says everything, because I was thinking just the opposite: How will they NOT know?  If you aren't from a small town, you don't understand these things.  So we put the name issue aside, agreeing to worry about it later, when and IF (highly unlikely) the book sold.  Once it did sell, I brought up the name issue again. I told my editor that I'd rather not publish the book under Weir. I think there was some discussion about it behind the walls of the publishing house, and later I was told that since it was memoir it really needed to be published under my real name. 


 I doubt I will ever be comfortable with that decision.  But on the other hand, I completely understand why it was made.  I know it's weird that I would want to protect certain people from exposure, but that's the way I am. And I think the whole Frey thing has made publishers paranoid about putting anything out there that might seem suspect. The result is that that they work extra hard to make sure everything is transparent.  I suppose it was  horribly naive of me to think I could use a different name. But I still like Ahlberg. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dear Alfred


What would Alfred do?

Dear Alfred Hitchcock,
I've reached the point in my suspense where I have to make a decision. Do I let the reader in on the secret? Do I show the reader the bad stuff? The secret stuff? Or do I forge ahead, keeping the reader and the protagonist in the dark?

As you well know (because of our many conversations),  I'm a deep POV person, so I lean toward not telling. I lean toward letting the reader find out along with the main character.  Because I want the reader to BE the main character.  But I know it depends upon the situation. I know it depends upon the story.

 How do I get the most emotional bang for my buck? Because it's all about emotion, isn't it?  When we really strip it down? No matter what we're writing. Fiction. Nonfiction. Science Fiction. Romance. Mystery. Thriller.  Suspense.

Dear Uncle Alfred, can you tell me? Should I let the reader in on the person hiding in the closet?  What would you do?

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Things have slowed down a bit, but I still have a few readings and signings on the calendar. 

Wednesday, November 16, I'll be reading at Common Good Books in St. Paul.  The event starts at 7:30.  I'm not sure of the format... Maybe read a half hour, then sign?  Or do a puppet show?  

I like the idea of a puppet show. I'll have to work on that.  

Below is a photo I took of Common Good Books several years ago.  The store located in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, an area that is just as beautiful as it sounds. 

December events: Magers and Quinn, Minneapolis, December 10, 1:00
Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, Minnesota, December 18, 2:00

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Have you met my kids?

Free download of the new Chambermaids single.
Love this song!