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.