1. Lumberjack Music, Village Books signing, Grand Rapids, MN

    April 30, 2017

    In celebration of Independent Bookstore Day, Will Hollnagel plays his squeeze box and sings lumberjack songs for my Dead Man’s Rapids book signing at Village Books in Grand Rapids, MN.

    A story teller and a musician, Will interpreted lumberjack characters at the Forest History Center for many years.
    Will Hollnagel 2

  2. Dead Man’s Rapids

    March 21, 2017

    Dead Man’s Rapids will be out on April 11th!

    Dead Man's Rapids Cover web res

    When 13-year-old Ben Ward left school to work with his Pa in a logging camp, a winter of peeling potatoes and setting tables wasn’t the adventure he had in mind. Still, come spring, he signs up for the log drive with his friend Nevers, wishing the head cook on the wanigan (the floating cook shack) could be someone other than his crabby Pa. Fate, with a wink, complies, and Pa quits—only to be replaced by someone far worse: Pete Sardman, aka Old Sard, a cantankerous character complete with a greasy apron, an eye patch, one deaf ear, and plenty to say.

    Luckily, there’s also the rest of the crew—a colorful, sometimes outrageous company of men. Together Ben and Nevers endure freezing weather, dangerous rapids, logjams, storms and floods, and a number of gripping tall tales, along the way learning about logging on the river and a whole lot more about life.

    Taking up where Blackwater Ben left off, Dead Man’s Rapids returns to the north woods of Minnesota in the late nineteenth century, and with warmth, humor, and attention to historical detail engages readers both young and old.

  3. The Second Life of a Book

    July 8, 2012

    When I published my first novel, The Broken Blade, in 1996 I had no idea what a small chance I had that my book would go through 25 printings and remain available as it still is today. Back then I naively assumed that once Random House released a book, most of the book stores, libraries, and schools in the country would automatically snap it up. Then after the hardcover run it would be released as a paperback, and the title would be available from then on.

    The truth is, most books with major publishers go out of print very quickly, and for a book to stay in print, a number factors come into play, including the amount of publicity the publisher invests in the book (and publishers, ironically, only set aside big publicity budgets for titles that they know will sell well), how well the book is reviewed,  the awards it receives; and of course, the main factor–how many copies it sells. If none of the above turn out to be favorable, the book goes through a printing or two as a hardcover. Then the title is remaindered, and it simply fades away.

    Fortunately for me, The Broken Blade was reviewed well, won the Great Lakes Book Award  and the Minnesota Book Award, and was adopted by many schools as a part of their English and social studies curricula. However, not all of my books have fared so well. Two of my titles that got good reviews but didn’t sustain the necessary sales were The Darkest Evening and Song of Sampo Lake. Luckily, the University of Minnesota Press recently decided that both those titles had the literary and historical merit to deserve a second chance. They were both re-released as a part of the Fesler-Lampert Series and are now in the company of classic works by Sigurd Olson, Wanda Gag, and Helen Hoover. It will be fun for me to see how the these titles do during their second life with the U of MN Press.

  4. Musings from Lake Vermilion

    July 9, 2011


    Welcome to my new website. Thanks to my son Reid’s redesign, my site has a new look along with a journal/blog, which he claims is a necessity for a writer in the current publishing world. So though I’m more of a traditionalist, who’s spent more writing hours in front of a typewriter than a laptop, here goes…

The Broken Blade Wintering The Journal of Sean Sullivan The Journal of Otto Peltonen The Journal of C.J. Jackson Song of Sampo Lake Blackwater Ben The Darkest Evening El Lector The Winter War