Thursday, December 13, 2012


Hopping the crazy brain.
Sleep writing.
Dream writing.

Whatever you want to call it. I usually say tapping into that dream state, but I'm sure there's a scientific term for it.

But anyhoo, this might be my most important writing tool. Dream writing. I use it ALL THE TIME. At events, whenever the question of writing method comes up, I speak with great enthusiasm about tapping into the dream state to solve plot problems. Some people look puzzled, but most nod in agreement. But I'm never sure if they realize the extent I go to in order to use this tool. I never get out of bed. For three months straight.


I can say this: It does not work if I'm not actually working on the book. What I mean is that I need to be actively producing material and pages for the sleeping-prophet thing to work.

Right now I'm working on a sequel to Play Dead, and I'm excited because I've never had dream-state writing work so well. Ever.

I normally wake up in the morning, and, before getting out of bed, I think about whatever plot issue I'm dealing with at the moment. Often in that half-awake state I can solve it.  But I wanted to share what happened with this current book, something I've never experienced before. I got up in the middle of the night. Bathroom break, then went back to bed. My brain started thinking about the book, and, before I knew it, I had ten pages of plot written.  And the next morning, it didn't suck.  I always think of little snatches of things in the middle of the night, usually dialog and description, but never what amounted to almost an entire plot. So I got to wondering… what would happen if you set the alarm for 3:00 a.m. and wrote for a half hour or whatever.  I'm too lazy to do this, so please report back if you try it.  

But anyway… This morning I woke up and was doing my lying in bed thing, this time not even thinking of my book AT ALL. Thinking about Christmas, and an application, and weather, and would roads be bad on Saturday. Sometimes drifting back into a weird dream I'd had where I broke into someone's house because I thought I was Mary Poppins, and suddenly the coolest major plot point for the Play Dead sequel came into my head, something that would never, ever, ever have follow-the-dots evolved from my current plot. It just came out of nowhere. Nowhere. And now I can't wait to write it.  It's unique. I don't think it's been done before, but it's not so far-fetched that it would turn off readers.  And it meshes perfectly with the existing plot.

 I don't know where it came from. Yes, writers are always saying that, but this was like a bolt of lightning.  "Where do you get your ideas?"  Not a clue.  It seems like magic.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


 Dread of writing The Orchard was a cloud that hung over my head for fifteen years.  I knew I had to write it, but I kept putting it off. I didn't want to go through it, revisit it, but I felt a certain duty to tell the story since I'd lived it and I was a writer. I felt an obligation to document farming culture in an anthropological way. But I didn't want to write it. I suppose I could say it was on my bucket list if the bucket list contained things I didn't really want to do.  But now that all of my appearances and talks and events are over (except for two in April of next year), I've been rewarded with something unexpected.


I was never after closure. I never considered closure, and I've never heard memoir writers mention it. Some people have asked if writing The Orchard was cathartic, and I have to say not in the least. Quite the opposite. It was horrible and it was torture and it was awful in every way. And once it was published, I had to go around and talk about it. More torture.  I can now admit that while making public appearances I often regretted writing the book because I had to keep reliving it at each event.  I was like a cutter who traveled place to place and cut myself in front of an audience. Oh, that's so melodramatic.

But now... NOW, it's like a door has slammed on that old world. It's over over over for me. I did my job. I no longer have to remember and hold it in my head because I've written it down. I no longer have it looming before me, this book I have to write, this life I have to revisit.  This duty. I never expected to get anything out of writing it, nothing for myself, so the closure has been such a surprise.  Right now I'm wondering if closure ever uncloses. I suppose it does, and I still have those two gigs next year, but I don't know... I feel that it's truly behind me.


Saturday, December 1, 2012


I'm always so grateful for reviews, whether they're left by readers on Amazon and Goodreads, or posted on blogs and review sites.  Reviews are hard to write. I don't think I've ever written a decent review in my life, because it's so hard for me to capture the story along with my response to that story. So when someone goes to the trouble to write a thoughtful and often powerful review, I'm kind of blown away. For one thing, I could never write that well. And here they are, WRITING about my WRITING.  It hurts my head to think about it very much.  :) 

Reviews are gifts. That's how I think of them. And this week I received two wonderful gifts, one for The Girl with the Cat Tattoo, and one for Made of Stars, both 5-star reviews, and both wonderful and wonderfully written. Both stories are very dear to my heart, so I think when you get this kind of response to them...well, it's extra special. 

The first review is from Short Fiction Spotlight, a site that reviews short stories. Like me, a lot of writers love to write short stories. Unfortunately, the short story format isn't embraced by readers. I hope that changes at some point, and I still keep thinking that short stories would be great for reading on phones while people are waiting in line, or waiting in the dentist office. Some sharp little phone app that you can open and read a sharp little short story.  I think price is one of the issues with short stories. We have to charge .99. Can't charge less, And .99 might sound like a lot for a short story, but the writer gets .35.

The review for The Girl with the Cat Tattoo is from Romance Around the Corner

This is the book that horrified the two agents I sent it to. One agent said it was the weirdest thing she'd ever read. I still scratch my head about that response, but I think when any idea slams into such resistance, it's always especially nice to get such positive feedback once the book is finally made available. Because how can a writer not be full of doubt when a story gets slammed by the gatekeepers?  But as soon as someone tells me I can't do something... that just makes me all the more determined to do it. I suppose it's childish, but I basically want to prove them wrong and prove myself right. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I wanted to let writers know that my friend Pat Dennis has taken a position as acquisitions editor for Adventure Publications. They will be publishing four wilderness/outdoor mysteries per year, and they are now officially open for submissions.

 Here's a bit from Pat and Adventure Publications:
"My new job is the fiction acquisition editor for Adventure Publications! Please feel free to share the following. “Adventure Publications, an award-winning publisher of outdoor guides  is accepting fiction manuscripts for its new series of outdoor/wilderness mysteries. We are looking for mystery fiction that will appeal to both the mystery reader and the outdoor enthusiast. The books will be produced in both print and e-book format. Example of authors we love are: Nevada Barr, Victoria Houston, C.J. Box, William Kent Krueger and Beth Groundwater. Currently, we are seeking novels set in the Midwest, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast and Rocky Mountains. Email your submission to: Email queries sent to any other address will not be read. We do not open email attachments, unless we request them. Your entire submission must appear in the body of the email and not as an attachment. The subject line should be “QUERY” along with the title of your manuscript. Please email the first chapter and a synopsis along with a cover letter. Also, in your email, please include the number of words in your completed manuscript, as well as a bio, and pertinent writing and/or outdoor wilderness experience. If you prefer, you may snail-mail your query, along with your first chapter and bio to Fiction, Adventure Publications, 820 Cleveland St S, Cambridge, MN 55008.”


Personal note:

I must confess that I flaked out on Nanowrimo due to some unforeseen circumstances, but I'm back working on the sequel to Play Dead and am about 1/3 of the way done with the first draft. ( 
You can see by my little tracking thingy up on the right that I'm just over 20,000. Will probably hit 25,000 by the end of the Nano. Half of my goal.) I should have the whole first draft completed by the end of February.  I'm enjoying the process so much that I've decided to write a sequel to Hush once Play Dead is finished. Hush is still my bestselling title, and I keep getting requests for a sequel, so it only makes sense since there's a demand. Plus I do love writing sequels because the characters are already developed. There is no question about what a character would say or do or think.  Both books will feature the same characters and settings. 

Wait, that's not all!

A new indie press called Forty Press is going to be reissuing Before I Wake.  The trade paperback will come out this March. More on Forty Press and the reissue later.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


This Wednesday will be my last public appearance until April of 2013. 
If you are in the south Minneapolis suburbs, please join me for a presentation where I will talk about writing The Orchard.  I will have trade paperbacks on hand if anyone wants a signed copy. I will also have trade paperbacks of The Man Who Left. These sold out in a matter of minutes at my last event, so I plan to bring more this time!  

Where and when: 

 Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m., Elko New Market Library, 50

Church St., New Market, MN

My grandmother, Doris Ahlberg Mitchell
Love this photo. And really, could a person look any cooler?  Those boots? That hat? That attitude? When I was eight, she and I took a trip to Ohio to visit my aunt.  On that trip, my grandmother (mother's side) died... Unknown causes.  She was fine...and then she wasn't. I like to think of her like this. I actually wanted to publish The Orchard under her name. I think that would have been so cool.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I'm retiring.

Because I was a writer who'd lived through this uniquely American experience, I felt an obligation to write The Orchard. My goal in writing the book was to document and capture a farming era in an anthropological yet personal way. At the same time, I didn't want the book to be about me, or about one family. I wanted it to feel like every farm, and every family. I wanted it to be a parable. Which is why I used my name but once in the book. I didn’t want to intrude upon a story that I didn’t feel was my story, but was rather everybody’s story. Maybe America's story.

The Orchard is a book about one farm, but it’s also a book about every farm. It’s a story about our children and our children’s children.  It’s a story about a young girl who falls in love, marries an apple farmer, and never sees the world in the same way again.  And it’s a story about one of the deepest and most profound loves of all: the love of a parent for a child.

My hope is that people will still be reading The Orchard in fifty years, or even a hundred years. That it will become a doorway to the past. That people a hundred years from now will pick up the book, or more likely download the book, and say, "This is what life was like on a farm in the 1980s.  And this explains why the world is the way it is today."

But right now I can't talk about it anymore. I wrote it. I didn't want to write it, but I forced myself to do it because I thought it was important.  And I'm grateful to all of the independent booksellers who embraced and hand-sold the book. I'm grateful to the people at Grand Central Publishing who embraced the book, who felt it was important. I'm grateful to my agent, who felt the same way. I'm grateful to the reviewers and the book bloggers and  and the people I will never know who passed the book to a friend or relative.  But now that the release of the paperback has come and gone, I have to move on.

Every time I talk about the story…it's like opening a wound that's just begun to heal. It's not too bad when the events are one on top of the other, but once there is a gap of a few weeks… that's when it's tough. That's when I have to go back there all over again after starting to feel like myself again.

 I really thought I would get used to talking about The Orchard.  But it doesn't get any easier. I think the reopening of the wound over and over and over…that's not healthy.  

So for now, I'm retiring. I've committed to some events in April of next year, but at this time I'm not accepting any new speaking invitations.  I feel bad about that, because it's  such an honor to be invited to speak, but I'm retiring from public speaking, at least public speaking about The Orchard. Of course, like so many people who retire…  Well, we know how that goes. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I still have a couple of book events left before I can knuckle down and begin writing my next Frasier suspense novel (as yet untitled), but I spent the day working out some plot issues.  And I am so excited to be writing another Frasier book. I think the hardest part of writing The Orchard was having to put the Frasier name aside. That KILLED me.  I'd left my real name behind long ago, along with an old life, and had worked hard to create the Frasier brand. So to go back to Weir in such a public way, and to abandon Anne Frasier… So hard. I've been pretty vocal about how badly I wanted the memoir to be released under Frasier. I still feel strongly about that, but I also realize the name change might have been for the best.   But now I can get back to what I love  – writing suspense.  Not that I haven't been dabbling.  I wrote my cat book that was a joy to write, and I've written a lot of short stories, but not a full-length suspense for so long. Too long. I'm so ready.  And for anybody who wonders, I've put the second cat book aside for the time being.  I'm pretty sure I'll eventually finish it, but I don't know when.

 The magical Forevertron!
This new book has three mystery threads, and I knew that at least two of them needed to merge at some point.  And today I finally solved that issue. Yay. And what is really cool about writing a sequel is that I KNOW these people. So well. So one thing I've been doing is actually charting an emotional journey for the two main characters (David and Elise). Because I KNOW them.  Normally I GET TO KNOW my characters as I write a book, but this is so nice and so familiar. I know their fears and their loves and their desires.  And the mystery is the framework on which to hang their emotional journey.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I'm doing it!  First time ever, but this November I'm joining the writing frenzy known as National Novel Writing Month. That time in November when crazy writers try to write 50,000 words in a single month. I'm starting off at a disadvantage because I have book events through November 7. So I'm not sure what I'll accomplish, but I think it will still be a good catalyst for my Play Dead sequel, which is due to the publisher on September 1, 2013.  Which means it won't hit shelves until 2014. Just in case anybody is keeping track. 

If you are doing nanowrimo and want to look me up, my URL is:

I'm not sure what friends do there. Roast marshmallows over a virtual fire? Get drunk? Swap war stories?  Give shoulder pats?  

I've done some one-day group writing events with other writers, and I've learned that the group thing works. It's fun. Not sure about the VIRTUAL group thing, but I'm going to give it a go. The old NaNo try.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Free Books!

Happy Halloween!

Three of my ebooks will be free Monday and Tuesday, October 22 and 23.

If you're in  the mood for something a bit spooky, you might enjoy Pale Immortal (a crossover of crime fiction/horror/paranormal)
(Clicking the title with take you to Amazon page.)

(click title)

In the mood for something lighter? Some readers have described this quirky story as part mystery, part romance. And many have said it's kind of a melding of Anne Frasier and Theresa Weir. The Girl with the Cat Tattoo was a Dear Author Recommended Read, and was also certified Wonktastical!

(click title)

Or how about a short fantasy? 
I know a lot of readers don't care for short stories, but give this whimsical fantasy a try! How can you resist this cute cover?  It's a story about an author who wrote his first novel before he was born.

(click title)

People ask why writers make their books free.  A lot of reasons, but one is that we hope readers will leave reviews. The more reviews a book has, the more visible the book becomes due to algorithms. And because visibility is based on algorithms, the review doesn't have to be long or involved. It just needs to BE. So please consider leaving a review on Amazon. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I've been doing a fair amount of guest speaking lately. Since it's mostly for The Orchard, the art of memoir writing comes up again and again.  I meet people who are working on their memoirs, and one thing I like to share is how surprised I was to find that through writing about my own life I came to a much deeper understanding of things I thought I understood through and through. I think the biggest surprise was finding out how much my father's abandonment impacted me, my mother, and my older brother.  At the time, we all put on a brave face.  We weren't crybabies.  We didn't feel sorry for ourselves. Good riddance, you jerk.  Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. You are dead to us. You aren't worthy of us.

 But until I wrote the memoir, I didn't understand how my father's actions turned all of us into different people. Forever.

I can now see how that single action rerouted the course of our lives in a damaging way. We'd been strong rivers, moving in a solid direction toward the ocean. Now we were trickling streams, trying to find our way across a desert that led nowhere.  His leaving forever changed us. Changed who we were. Changed our core and changed our hearts, making us bitter, jaded children. And once he left, the very act of his bold and crazy move made him bigger than life to me; made him some strange folk hero.

With his leaving, the focus of our lives shifted. Before, it had been about school, home, family. Now it was about absence, rejection, abandonment, and the daily struggles of extreme poverty.

His absence sculpted us. My mother, my older brother, and me. Cutting away clay to create these new people who looked at the world with bitter, wounded eyes.  This is what I didn't realize until I wrote my second memoir.

When I was working on The Man Who Left, I sent the typical proposal to my agent. Three chapters and a synopsis. She liked the material, but she thought it needed a stronger story arc.  We were in agreement about that, and I'd been struggling to find a solid theme. She saw two possible choices that would help make the book feel bigger. One was for me to move to Florida to care for my father, and the other choice was to work in an Alzheimer's care facility.  I understood where she was coming from, but I had no interest in doing either. I finished the book, but she never read it and it wasn't submitted anywhere. Instead, I published it under Belfry Press.  I've been surprised by the positive reader response even though the story still feels a bit incomplete to me.  And many people have asked me to write a third memoir, but I don't know about that.  Maybe someday, but right now I'm anxious to get back into fiction.
And just because I love this photo...

Monday, October 1, 2012


I've been busy with what I think of as a mini-book tour for the paperback release of The Orchard. Things have slowed down a bit for a few days, so I decided to pull out my cat project. I haven't worked on this for a few weeks, and I didn't remember it with fondness, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn't awful. It's about 1/4 done. Not sure when I'll have the time to finish it because my main project (when all of this other stuff slows down) will be my Frasier, Play Dead sequel. But the cat stuff is fun. Just plain fun.  

I'm going to post the opening page here. This is the second book in the Cool Cat trilogy, and I think this might be the most fun of the three plots.  Working title: The Geek with the Cat Tattoo.  (Thanks to L.K. Rigel for that suggestion!)

This book stars the brother of Max from The Girl with the Cat Tattoo, and this cat is the most talented (magical?) of the three siblings. 

The Geek with the Cat Tattoo

I'm on my fourth owner and he's giving me a look I've become familiar with over the years. That look of suspicion. That look that says he knows. Or at least he thinks he knows.

He's going to ditch me. He's already contemplating the how and where. Take me to a shelter? Been there, done that, have the T-shirt. Or pack me in a box, drive fifty miles from Minneapolis, and dump me on some country road? Neither of those choices scare me, I try to tell myself. Living in the country. That might be nice, right? A lot of field mice to eat. A big sky.

Oh, my God. What am I saying? I'm a city cat through and through. I couldn't survive out there. I'm already imagining myself falling in with a bunch of feral cats who have rotten teeth and mange. Egads!

"What the hell are you?" asks my fourth owner. He's standing in the kitchen looking down at me, and the terror in his eyes has turned into something that scares me more than the possibility of life in the country with a pack of inbreds. 

 "Are you the devil?" Fourth Owner nods his head, as if coming to a conclusion. I remember when he picked me up from the shelter. He didn't know anything about cats. I wasn't even sure he liked cats, but lucky for me he wasn't around much. He works somewhere in downtown Minneapolis, and always talks about the cubicle where he goes with his slicked-back hair and body spray I can smell from a mile away. But like all of my previous owners, he's finally figured me out. He's figured out that I can put thoughts in his head.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012


Indie booksellers design beautiful displays for books they believe in. They suggest books they love.  They help build a sense of community. Every month, indie booksellers pick their favorite books and vote on them, creating the Indie Next list. (The Orchard was number two on their list last September.) I can't imagine a world without independent bookstores.

 I came here planning to post information on an upcoming book event, but then my brain took off in the direction of indie love.

Indie booksellers have been a powerful force behind the success of The Orchard.  I know of independent booksellers who've hand sold hundreds of copies. They've LOANED the book to customers who said it sounded boring.  They've tied customers up and made them sit in chairs while reading the book to them. Wait. I think that last one was just a dream. But you know...

But anyway, back to my post.

I will be in Winona, Minnesota, September 25 to help celebrate the ten-year anniversary of The Book Shelf.  They have a lovely dinner planned.  Here is a bit from

The Book Shelf website:

09/25/2012 6:30 pm
In celebration of our ten year anniversary, we are having an author dinner with Theresa Weir on Tuesday, September 25 at 6:30pm. The Blue Heron Coffeehouse will be providing a multi-course fine dining experience, where Theresa Weir will be reading from her book, The Orchard. Dinner is $35.00, $50.00 with wine.

You can find more information about it on their Facebook page

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Most writers don't have savings or 401ks. Many can't afford heath care.  I've been thinking about this more lately because…well, I'm not getting any younger. Heck, I'm so old that when I was a kid I had to walk three miles through a foot of snow for a hit of acid. 

 Not really. I just wanted to say that, but I also wanted to give you a time frame on which to hang me.  I'm a child of the 60s.

 I've never been one to think much about the future, but I've been thinking about it more as the road in front of me becomes shorter than the road behind me. 

So as an artist with no savings and no 401k or anything like that… What is the future? What is retirement?  Not that I will ever deliberately quit writing, but you know what I mean. 

Lately I've been thinking that my books are my retirement fund. My 401k. And the thing is…once the rights to a book are signed away, that book is no longer part of your retirement package. It's gone. Goodbye.

Back when I started writing, the rights reversion clause was usually 7 years. And I watched that stuff. As soon as a book hit that 7-year mark, I began working to get the rights back. I now have the rights to 19 old titles. One I resold, and it will revert back next year. So The Orchard will be the only book I won't own unless I go with a new contract on a new book.  And since The Orchard was a later contract, I doubt I'll ever see the rights revert to me. But that's okay. I could never have gotten that book to so many readers. I may never make another dime on it, but that's okay too. I didn't write it to make money. I wrote it in order to document 70s and 80s farm culture. Anthropology.  Anthropology.

Some people don't understand why I'm not submitting some of my new books to publishers.  Retirement. I don't want to sign away the rights. 

Years ago, in a publishing world far, far away, the pie was very big. And the writer got 5 – 8 % of that pie. And the agent got 15% of that 5-8%.  It wasn't a bad gig. Now the pie is very small.  And the agent get's 15% of that tiny slice.  And the writer might get an advance, might sign away rights for the rest of her life, and will most likely never see another dime for the book if she got an advance.  (With no advance, the writer might see a few payments trickle in over a couple of years, then nothing.) In most cases, the book comes out, it's available for a few weeks, and then it's pretty much over.  Most sales occur within the first two – four weeks of release. If you're lucky, you might get a bit of this:

 And then it's over.
Move on.

So more and more I'm thinking it makes sense to retain rights to a large portion of my titles. Right now. if I count my short-story collections… I have 30 books available and published under my own imprint. Those books support me. Now I know that's partially because I've had success in the past and some people recognize my name. And it's also because of the number of books I have out there.  If you have a lot of titles available, then one single book doesn't really need to make that much.  And you don't give up your rights forever and forever.  And when I die, my kids will hopefully continue to benefit from the income generated by my books.  So I guess for somebody who never really looked that far ahead, I'm suddenly seeing my writing in a new light. My retirement fund. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012


A friend recently pointed out that September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. 
Not sure how this will impact my event at the Jon Hassler Theater in Plainview, Minnesota, where I will be reading short stories, along with an excerpt or two from The Orchard.

Rural America Writers' Center

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taking the day off

Last time I sat at this picnic table in this park, I was waiting to hear back from an agent I worked with for a very short time four years ago. He wanted me to add a murder to The Orchard so he could sell it as suspense. And I couldn't make him see how ridiculous that idea was. To take my life and add a murder to it.I understandably ended our association, but that was the darkest period of my writing career, my short association with him. Today I'm thinking about how writers have so many more choices than we had four years ago. I feel so much more in control of my future, my career, and my own writing than I did then. Back then I felt at the mercy of one person. Sending this from phone so we'll see if it posts!

Monday, September 10, 2012


I solemnly swear to never write another newsletter.
My newsletter went out this past week.
I don't like newsletters.
I don't like writing them.
I don't like sending them.
Newsletters feel too much like spam, and the writing itself isn't fun or creative.
So that's it. No more. I suspect most go unread or end up in the spam folder anyway.  So here is my newsletter. Dry, broad, and impersonal. Possibly containing some important information, but probably not. If we'd had no contact in ten years, then maybe this would have seemed...well...okay.


Hello to everybody who signed up for my newsletter. It's possible you signed up for this years ago, or maybe you signed up recently after seeing the link on my website. The sad truth is that I've sent out maybe one newsletter in the past ten years. Ha!  So anyway, I'm trying something different. This is called TinyLetter. 

 The past year has been kind of crazy with the release of The Orchard.  Combine that with the instability of traditional publishing… A strange year. A lot of writers are reluctant to sign away their book rights to companies that are on shaky ground, which is why I've been doing some experimenting with my own micro-publishing venture called Belfry Press. In the past year I've published another memoir (The Man Who Left) and a novella (The Girl with the Cat Tattoo), along with a lot of short stories. Right now all but The Man Who Left are exclusive to Amazon, but that will probably change at some point. If you're in the mood for Halloween tales, you might want to check out Deadly Treats. This is a fun anthology that was released last year through Nodin Press. It's available in both paperback and ebook. 

The Orchard is now available in trade paperback, and is the Target Book Club September pick.  I love the new cover. 

For people who wonder about my Anne Frasier titles… I'm really excited to say that I will be writing the sequel to Play Dead this coming year. I'm actually waiting for an offer on the proposal as I type this. Regardless of the outcome of that offer, I plan to write the book. It will feature all of the same characters from Play Dead, and of course it will be set in Savannah. Six months will have passed since we last saw the characters, so we won't have a large gap of time. There will be a bit more romance in this story, with David trying his luck at a love spell in hopes of making Elise fall for him. I'm SO looking forward to writing another Frasier crime-fiction book. Been way too long.

I have one or two events/appearances per week scheduled through November, most in Minnesota. The most up-to-date public appearance information can be found on The Orchard Facebook page even though all appearances aren't necessarily for The Orchard. I'm also visiting private book groups where I will shoot apples off readers' heads. Wait. That can't be right about the apples and the shooting.

I'm still blogging.

I use Twitter, but my personal Facebook page is the place I hang out the most. Too much.

 Have a lovely fall!

Theresa Weir/Anne Frasier

SEE??  BO-RING!!!  SPAM!!!!!!

So how about a picture of Lee Goldberg and the naked bookseller?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


About a year ago I was invited to contribute a verbal essay to a Wisconsin Public Radio program about writing spaces. I had zero desire to do it but hated to say no, so I wrote the essay. Polished it. Sent it off. That was followed by some back-and-forth with the director. The material had to be exactly three minutes on the dot. Then we had to record it. That took quite a bit of coordinating because Wisconsin Public Radio is in Madison, and I'm far from there. So it was arranged for me to go to Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul to record the piece.  But it was actually recorded in Madison, and MPR somehow patched me in.  There was a computer glitch that took about an hour to resolve, and then I was given the green light to read my essay.

  I'm feeling pretty damn cool with my mic and headphones.  The real deal. A star, baby! You're a star!

funny gifs

Fifteen seconds in, the director stops me.  There's a long, long pause. Then, through the headphones, I hear both her and the engineer laughing. I imagine them in a similar studio, staring at each other, mouths hanging open, hugging their stomachs as tears stream.

funny gifs

  Then the director finally says something about my poor delivery. I can't remember her exact words.

"That's how I talk," I say.
She says: "Try it again, and this time think WONDER. Put WONDER in your voice."

 I didn't want to do this in the first place, but now I'm thinking it's funny as hell. I'm in the middle of an SNL/public radio skit.  And the other thing that's just hit me is the realization that they make people talk like that.  Overly expressive. I always wondered how that happened.

I knew someone who decided to change her voice. One day she just started talking in a completely different voice.  Kind of high and from her mouth; a girly, breathless whisper. I laughed, thinking she was kidding. But she wasn't. And she kept doing it and never stopped. Today she still talks in what I think of as her new voice even though it's been thirty years.

 I've always been self-conscious of my accent, but I've never tried to change it. Nope. Not gonna do it.

Nobody asked what I sounded like when inviting me to write the essay. Nobody  said: "Hey, do you sound like a hillbilly? Because we don't like that."

People always want to know where I'm from because my accent is such a weird mix of different kinds of hillbilly. I grew up in southeast Iowa, almost Missouri, and I lived in southern New Mexico for those very spongy high-school years. I absorbed the twang and the drawl and the weird, slow/fast cadence. Combine that with my almost Missouri accent, and well…  It ain't purty, let me tell you.  But still, when I was asked to CHANGE HOW I TALK, I though, No. This is who I am.  I'm going to be myself. But I also understood that she and I had already put a lot of time into this project.  She asked for a cup of wonder, and I think I gave her a couple of spoonfuls because I could already hear myself sounding like some bad high-school play.  This time she didn't stop me, and I made it through the entire essay thinking I'd done an okay job.  She didn't ask for a second take. I imagined her mouthing OH, MY GOD to the engineer.  I left knowing the recording would never air. I felt like a silent-movie actress forced to do a talkie.  The audience howled with laughter. And it was a dramatic role.

 A year later, I'm still struck by the pomposity of the whole event. I was invited to do the essay because of my…well, I guess writing credentials, but because I didn't have a radio voice, I was hooked off the stage.  It was a creepy and disturbing experience, y'all.

I'm reminded of this again because I have a lot of speaking engagements taking place over the next three months, some in pretty prestigious places.  My friend, Bonnie, tells me I should sing instead of talk. Remember Gomer Pyle? Where he's as hillbilly as a guy can get, then he starts singing and the hillbilly falls away? I'm just like that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


My editor just sent this phone photo.  The Orchard display at Target! 


The fall gigs are starting, and I have several events on my schedule through mid-November. 

On September 19 I'll be speaking at the Rural America Writers Center in Plainview, Minnesota. The main focus is writing, so I'll be able to talk about everything and anything. I plan to talk about my short stories, my thrillers, and my nonfiction.
 I will most likely read some short fiction, and maybe a few pages of The Orchard. 

Rural America Arts Partnership

On the business/writing front, I'm waiting on an offer for the Play Dead sequel. I really hope this works out, because I'm excited about writing this book. Regardless of whether or not I accept the offer, I will be writing the sequel this winter. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Target Promo Code for The Orchard

The trade paperback of The Orchard hits shelves tomorrow, September 4, and it's a September Target Book Club pick. :)  So cool!!  Anyway, Target is running a special promo for $2 off, which is supposed to be good through September. 


Save $2 on The Orchard: A Memoir by Theresa Weir with Promo Code TG98AZC9 Expires On 09/29/2012


And speaking of Target...

I have such a hard time resisting the clearance section. This crazy clock... The bird chirps twelve times every hour. This does not bode well for one of us. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Romance readers are a tough crowd

The title says it all, but this isn't anything new.  When I wrote romance back in the eighties and nineties, I didn't have a big readership. I had readers who were very vocal about my books, but those numbers weren't huge. So when I wrote The Girl with the Cat Tattoo, I knew I would be facing some of the same critics because I haven't changed that much.  And I'm not sure I'm such a good romance writer. Not sure I ever was. My strengths are suspense and crime fiction.  So the cat book was an experiment. It was a blast to write, and I really needed to delve into something light, but I knew it probably wouldn't have broad appeal. I was really surprise and thrilled when it was listed as a Recommended Read by Dear Author. And readers have been asking for the second book. 

I'm on the fence about that. The first book has done okay, but nothing great. It hasn't done as well as some of my backlist romances, but sales are steady. Reviews are either meh or love—similar to what I received years ago when I wrote romance. The big difference now is that I don't really care that much about writing sex. Heh!  And most romance has sex. 

I wasn't going to write the second book in the series, but I have a little block of time before several book events and appearances for The Orchard, so I started book two. It has many strikes against it, and I'm debating on whether I should just write the book I want to write and further limit my audience, or write a book that will have broader appeal. I've decided to just write the book I want to write. Maybe. I might not even finish this, because I really, really, really need to write the sequel to Play Dead.  It might surprise people to know that my Frasier books generate most of my income, but I need to carve out a large block of time to write one. Unlike the cat books or short fiction.

So here are some of the strikes against me for second cat book:

novella rather than novel
main characters aren't successful or wealthy, and in fact are kind of slackers
shy, rather frail dude
music, rock
no sex

Description: After a long spell of unrequited love, a young guitar-shop owner named Ben meets a mysterious cat and suddenly Ben is the coolest guy in Minneapolis. Girls notice him and want him, but Ben only has eyes for Lola (Melody's sister from Girl with the Cat Tattoo). But when the cat's old owner shows up to claim the mysterious cat, all of Ben's cool vanishes. Can Lola love a man without a Muse? Will the cat and Ben reunite? 

possible titles:

Cat in a Black Tuxedo
A Cat Named Sam
The Man with the Cat Tattoo
The Hipster with the Cat Tattoo
Like Cyrano de Bergerac

If I stuck with the tattoo titles, the third book would be something like:
The Psychic with the Cat Tattoo

My favorite title is The Hipster with the Cat Tattoo, but I'm pretty sure having hipster in the title will severely limit readership. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I had to take a screen shot of this before it's corrected.

Love it.

I think I should legally change my name to There's A. Weird.