Showing posts from June, 2014

Writers Unite!

I'm back from the Ninth Annual (my third) AllWriters' Retreatheld near Glenview, Illinois. I've written about it before, but every year brings something new. I always return from this retreat exhausted, but grateful and inspired. This year is no different.

One of the bigger highlights of this particular retreat was the sheer amount of writing I got done. I figure I finished 24 pages, which by most writer's standpoint is probably pretty underwhelming. For me though, it was actually better than I anticipated. Furthermore, I was really satisfied with the quality of what I was writing. I've always said, I know when my writing (in this case, humor) is strong because I actually laugh out loud at times. I had complete pages that were like that, that I felt strongly about - that didn't feel forced. When the writing comes viscerally like that, it is really cool, and I can barely get it down fast enough.

I know it's a weird, geeky, writer thing, but it's fun. It…

Off The Grid In Illinois

Well, I am off to Techny Towers in Northern Illinois for the 9th Annual AllWriters' Retreat. It is a full four day retreat where we write during the day and critique in the evenings. As a result, this won't be a full blog post. The book release has me running at red-line most days, so this will be a good chance to slow down, focus on the next book and polish up some of my poetry for the coming collection.

Lots of news about the book at the moment:

I hit as high as #66 on the Amazon bestselling list for Teen/YA>eBook>Biographies. I'm not sure what this means, but it does mean I'm not 101. I also hit as high as #74 in Outdoors and Ecology for eBooks as well. This number changes hourly and likely means nothing, but hey, I can dream can't I?I've sent a book in for review for a qualifying new writers award. It doesn't get judged announced until Fall/Winter, but kind of fun. Fingers are crossed.My author interview with WUWM Radio is next Tuesday, July 1st. I…

Coffee With Friends

I was joking about how yesterday was my Dirty Shirt Travelling Road Show. I had two book events in a single day and likened it to being in a band and touring around the country. A few of the comparisons were:
Like Kiss without the face makeup and pyrotechnics. On the road without Kerouac. That's me.Like Springsteen without Clarence, Little Stevie and triple encores.On tour like The Who, without groupies and guitar smashing.Like Woodstock, without the mud, VW buses and Joe Cocker.Like the Grateful dead, without beach balls, Jerry Garcia solos and the stoned naked guy running around.It was like all of that and way more. It was a GREAT day. Perhaps I should clarify and say it was a GREAT afternoon. Because the morning was so incredibly underwhelming I can hardly describe it.
The morning event at Threshold Inc. was an "Author Showcase". Twenty authors were there signing books to no one but themselves, apparently. I managed to sell four books, three of them to friends who showe…


Well, it's happened. Dirty Shirt released on Tuesday and I am a for-real, legit (some would argue this :-) true-blue Author with a capital 'A'. Everything before the book was just done by an author with a small 'a'. (This is just my opinion, so take it for what it is.)

 The book release at Purple Door Ice Cream went very well, due in large part to all of the preparation that went into it. The owners, Steve and Lauren were gracious enough to offer the use of the space in the hopes that the audience would try some of their ice cream. I think pretty much everyone that came bought at least a dish of ice cream and many partook of the Boundary Waters S'more Sundae. I didn't get to try the sundae until after the signing, but let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Heavenly. Thank you Purple Door!

Attendance was pretty good for the event, especially given that it was on a Tuesday night. Because of the setup and the fact that the store was open to the public, there w…

Dirty Shirt Character Peek: Issue 12 - Hunter

This is it. The final installment of the Dirty Shirt character peeks. The book releases in just two days and I cannot wait. I had my first signing test-run with family today, signing books for Mom, sister and sister in-law and nieces. It was a good dry run for Tuesday, working out the signing kinks.

The final character I'd like to give a peek into is my nephew, Hunter. He is Tom's eldest and took part on two of the trips mentioned in the book. He has been there probably a dozen times however, so might be considered a Boundary Waters sage, at least for the young age of 16.

Like Alison and Sarah before him, Hunter grew up with a fishing rod in his hands. He has a journal that keeps track of the biggest fish he's caught of each species. He's a fishing fanatic. His father raised him and his sister by carting them along on fishing, hunting and camping trips his whole life. Like your typical fisherman, he is quick to tell you the story of his big fish often as soon as you ge…

Closing A Chapter

Today was the last day of school. Even bigger than that, it was Sarah's last day of High School. She graduates on Saturday. Preparations have been in the works for months and now we're down to the final few details. (pant, pant, pant). It's been a whirlwind around here getting ready, but in two days we celebrate Sarah.

At the risk of blathering on like a proud daddy, I can't say enough about the young woman she's become. When she was younger I thought to myself, we are going to have our hands full when she gets to high school. This was mostly because of her independent "I do it" attitude. I thought she'd buck us all the way, pushing windows on curfew, sassing, slamming doors, all the things you hear stories about.

Boy was I wrong.

Her presence in our house provides a sense of love, it puts us all at ease a bit more than when she's gone. (Well, maybe not ease in Ben's case). She has a wonderful sense of humor and "gets" Donna's an…

Dirty Shirt Character Peek: Issue 11 - Alison

There are eight days until Dirty Shirt hits the streets, so I'm winding down my character peeks. This week's peek is my beautiful niece Alison. She is my brother Rob's eldest daughter and is very close to all of her cousins, but especially close to Sarah, my daughter who's a year older. The two of them grew up together and are now both in their final years of high school.

Like Sarah, Alison was raised by her dad with a fishing rod in her hand. She loves to fish. One of the cutest fishing pictures around was taken when her and Sarah were taking part in a kids fishing contest in Hackensack, Minnesota when they were about 4 and 5 years old. It was a zany event that put too many kids and parents onto a large fishing pier and at the signal given by the organizers the kids were to start fishing. Prizes were given to all contestants, but those with the greatest number of fish got better prizes. To prove that you caught the fish though, the parents had to take the fish over to…


With the book release just 12 days away, I am starting to feel the need to recognize those who have helped me get to this point in my writing career. (Some of these thanks appear in the Acknowledgements of the book). Part of what spurred this need was getting to see my Dirty Shirt Book Trailer in its final form for the first time. I think it turned out amazing. Better than I even hoped. If you haven't had the chance to see it, I've posted it here and recommend giving it a look...or two...or three.

When it was sent to me I thought about all the work that went into it, and not just me, but three good friends of mine. This project was hatched in the basement of one of them and from the ashes it rose into it's final form. The making of it - everything from the writing of it, to the narration, music, video and closed captioning - was a lot of fun for all of us. Each of the guys has said that they had a good time collaborating with each other on it. And while it's not the big…

Dirty Shirt Book Giveaway Contest!!!

In anticipation of the release of Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir, my publisher and I are holding a book giveaway! All that you need to do to enter is tweet a picture of your dirty shirt with the hashtag

When the contest ends we will pick a random winner and they will receive a free signed copy of my book.

The only requirement is a Twitter account to tweet the picture from. When the winner is picked they will be contacted and the book will be shipped to them.

Contest ends on the release date: 6/17/2014. Thanks to eLectio Publishing for providing the prize!

Good luck, and if you haven't checked out the Dirty Shirt book trailer, click the link below. It's epic.

Dirty Shirt Character Peek: Issue 10 - Tom

The Dirty Shirt book release is a little more than two weeks away, and the character peeks continue. This week we take a look at my oldest brother Tom. I don't want to give away too much about the book, but I can say that Tom once made a statement to me that became the inspiration for the title, Dirty Shirt. Look for it early on in the book. It's funny because, when I read the statement in writing class, one of my colleagues said "That's it! That's the title of your book, right there!" I eventually pared the whole statement down to just the two words, but Tom was the source.

Tom is the eldest of us seven kids. For most of our lives, he served as the male role model for all of us. We had a huge house, and the upkeep was fairly constant. As a result, Tom was charged with fixing things around the house when mom needed it. Because he had no one to turn to for guidance on this, he was left to figure it out on his own. He did pretty well with a Skil drill and a ta…