Saturday, December 28, 2013

Out in the Cold.

Today is one of those days I am inspired.

Weather is coming in, so I was inspired to leap out of bed and start the oven early, and mix up something, ANYTHING, to warm up my kitchen. While pineapple cookies were baking (tropical AND my first grade teacher's recipe), I whipped up some Greek Quinoa hotdish. Yummo.

Now that I'm thinking about the islands, my main character's island stay isn't so hard to imagine. Even if the wind is howling and the snow is swirling outside my windows.

She needs to be inspiring. Even if she has to hold onto a tree in a hurricane.


Friday, December 20, 2013

To branch a family tree.

From a long-distant friend tonight, I received the most evoking feedback on Something About Sophia:

"I really travelled back in time. It was as if I could smell the prairie and the bread baking in the old stove. A hard life, but a simpler life. Wow. Maybe you could write a book on the life and adventures of Gustav..."

Who knows what may happen. I do know that Gustav had quite a life. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The C Mark.

I hit 100,000 miles once. It was so cold outside, and we were on the interstate. Someone very important was beside me, and I found that to be symbolic.

"Look," I told him. "I just hit a hundred thousand."

His response was some gutteral sound, that told me he wasn't as impressed as I was. I had picked up green tea for both of us, before getting him from his parents' place. He didn't drink coffee.

We were headed to gather my remaining belongings from my old apartment and relocate them to my new apartment.

The short, sweet moral is this: when you hit milestones, make sure you've got someone next to you who likes coffee.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another old dream for you to consider.

For the amount of time it took me to write and finish Something About Sophia, this feels like it is flying by. Right now, Sophia is, for all intents and purposes, standing on her own, and I am free to finish Gertie's story. 

Gertie entreats us to ponder our place in the world, where we want to go, what we would like to accomplish when we get there, and whom we will allow by our side as we do those things to serve the world. I began this project the year after Something About Sophia, and honestly, have spent a lot of time on it. I find flapper-era and Depression-era stories very romantic, in a way. Gertie highly benefitted from my curiosity. I wondered if I just set her free, where the story would go. I found out. I think you will like this one.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


For the last few years, I have been pondering, cooking, and discussing 1800-era Dakota Territory. Something About Sophia is launched. I am proud of that endeavor, our family history, but now I am fast-forwarding a few decades.

The reception of this little story has put me into nothing short of a whirlwind. I never in a million years thought people would so warmly welcome my project like this. My grandma is so proud of her history, and has been sharing it with me all of my life. I am touched and honestly overwhelmed by the response, when I gave this book to the world.

Let's see if the world wants another one.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Knee-deep in the hoopla!

Amidst things we do every day, wake up, convince ourselves to rocket out of bed, reheat yesterday's coffee, and dodge squirrels in traffic, beautiful glimpses of why we are really on this earth are given to us.

Today is Veterans' Day. I attended an annual informal gathering at a memorial, and had a wonderful chat with a friend. Today was clear, cold, green and gold-- the kind of perfect autumnal day that reminds us to store up the pantry, because next weekend may be freezy and blustery. 

Tonight, my plan is to wrap Shoebox Christmas boxes, and program my coffeemaker. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013


A box of books slides, side to side, in the back of my car as I roam the town, from hither and yon and yon to der. My neighbor was good enough to carry down another box of books for me the other day.

When I began writing this story down, and giving Sophia a tale, I thought I would have one book printed. I thought my Grandma would be so pleased if she could hold in her hands a book based on her own grandmother. This project, this labor of love, has taken on a life of its own. My inner editor was hanging in the garage (it's my way of not writing in too "newsy" a manner), and I ended up with nine storyboards. So now, I must keep going. That brave girl, who came all the way to Dakota Territory from the big city, can rest easy.

Speaking of easy. It is easier to write about someone you already know. Therefore, my grandma's book will be a little more... vivid.

But with the BUSYness of launching a book (and believe me, I'm not complaining), I find myself with little time to write a book. I'm going to have to start scheduling myself. I already don't watch television. I will soon cut out dinner.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Working Artiste.

Today, a businessman from the community has arranged to come to my office early to be the first one to buy a signed copy of Something About Sophia. That makes me a professional author. I have sold out on Amazon, and they are printing more. The people in my life have responded so kindly to my little story, I am blown away.

Tomorrow is my first signing, at Barnes & Noble. Under a winter weather warning, my feelings won't hurt too badly if no one shows up.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I have a book!

Four years ago, I sipped coffee in Tammy's living room and pondered the writing of a novel.

Three years ago, I moved across the country to spend time at the location where said novel would have taken place.

Six months ago, I mailed the manuscript to the publisher.

Since then, it has been a fairly constant existence on my fingertips, as I awaited the package that came to me this week.

It's my proof copy. Hundreds more will come soon, but a friend called me the other night to tell me he'd bought it off amazon. I told him that wasn't possible. Then I pulled up the site, and there it was, in front of God and everybody. It was out of stock in a day. My copies may not be here in time for the signing. I am dizzy and shocked by all of this love around me. I feel entirely blessed and in the palm of God's hand.

My program director from New Jersey called me before sunrise to do a story on the sellout. Of their own free will, I have friends doing PR in ND, NJ, NY, TX, UT and CA. I can't even put into words what Sophia has become. I just hope they like the story. Meanwhile, I am finishing up the next book.

I think I will take a train ride. I am going to figure out what this all means.

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Write what you know."

"Write what you know," they say. I begin to think about that, and it turns out, I have more thoughts than you'd think. Before you know it, I've got piles of notes, scribbles on scraps of paper and nibbles of nubs on napkins, all begging for a storyline of their own.

Write what you think about. Then let it go in whichever direction it leads you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dodging bullets.

I sent a construction laborer to a hiring employer today. In setting this up with the client company, I learned that the jobsite was my old apartment building. There was a GUNSHOT THROUGH THE EXTERIOR WALL.

No one was harmed in the posting of this blog.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friends in the Right Places

"There," Dustin said. "Now you are ten thousand copies ahead of where you thought you'd be."

I'd better get that book published and get the amazon link on, thought I. TEN Gs???? I am hoping for five hundred. If I hit five hundred books sold, I can roll the profit into Book Two. Book Two is really pretty darned good. You don't want to miss Book Two.

Oh, and Book Three. Ah. I started Book Three the other night. I kept writing Chapter Two until I cried. You'll like that one. I'm fighting the urge to type smilies and heart emoticons here. Book Three is full of joy and pain.

Book Four is... well, you'll have to wait and see. It's special and a long time coming. Book Five is for the kiddos. Book Six is on the Dark Side. Oh, yeeeaaah.

The other night, I was talking to a friend, and the idea for Book Ten hit me. I need to get moved into my condo, with the quiet office, so I have somewhere to hang my storyboards.

At any rate, thanks to the Great Plains Examiner and their treatment of my profile, I'm now way ahead of where I thought I'd be, in terms of publicity.  KFYR is giving me all kinds of love in the promotion department. I'm so blessed to have Media Gypsy in my blood.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


This morning on The TODAY Show, there was a Fourth of July feature on the Jersey Shore. That made me super-nostalgic. As it is, I don't spend a lot of time in the sun, and I refuse to get sunburned right before family pictures tomorrow, so I am camped out in my living room with iced coffee until the sun's rays aren't so dangerous. 

One great mid-summer movie classic would be Beaches. It opens in Atlantic City, and I am already considering which of Aunt Dora's recipes I can put together for dinner tonight. 

We get to the part of the movie where Cecilia muses to her mother, "we have the same hands." 

Several years ago, I took a picture with my mom's and grandma's hands, because of this movie. In church on Sunday, my mom was watching my folded hands, and determined I have her mother's thumbs. I told her, I may have Gram K's thumbs, but I have her own pointer fingers, and I have Gram T's pinky fingers. My middle and ring fingers, as yet, are unclaimed.

We are all a conglomeration of what has come before us.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What it Looks Like.

My publisher emailed me sample pages.

There it was. Something About Sophia in black and white, but not in a way I had seen it before. It was my story, but it was coming from somewhere else. My name was in the top corner, and it looked like it was torn out of... a BOOK.

I talked to the manager of the local Barnes&Noble tonight. Ya know what? They put local authors on the shelf. Can you imagine? Can you already feel it? Within reach of the cafe` and North Dakota History, will be my labor of love for my grandma's legends.

It's all becoming so real now. Tomorrow I hope to receive the cover art...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

No place like home.

My first job in college was transcription. I became so adept at typing, I would transcribe my own conversations, lightly, with my hands, while they were taking place. Thankfully, I walked into the newspaper office one day and put that new skill to use. 

One of my "grown-up" jobs was medical sales by phone, during which I would transcribe a medical interview, then question the patient about their needs in their home environment. I have become so familiar with the details of thousands of homes across this nation, that I feel like I have lived in them all.  I am about to make my twenty-fifth move, thanks to college, radio, and dissatisfactory apartments, but this will be a very good living arrangement. These home details, I am very comfortable recommending as safe and sleep-worthy. 

My new place has a writing office, in which I promise myself I will flesh out the rest of my story boards. In a recent visit to my great-great grandfather's house at the historical society, it took my breath away to note that my desk is not dissimilar to his. I stepped into his library and perused his volumes. To think-- one hundred years ago, he was sitting at that desk, reading David Copperfield and making plans with the NDAC for the Extension Service. Perhaps in one hundred years from now, someone will be sitting at their desk, and will come across one of my amusing little novels. They will ponder a Dakota Territory from centuries past, which their imagination may not be able to touch, if we, who have heard the stories, do not write it down.

I have no children. If I don't tell Sophia's story, it dies with me.

#somethingaboutsophia #northdakotahistory #historicalfiction #johnchristiansen #salemsue

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I'm gathering testimonials for my four-year project. My darling friend, the Lieutenant Governor's wife, an expert in history and family, read my story the other evening.

Kathleen Wrigley:

I read "Something About Sophia" in nearly one sitting; Sophia's voice
envelopes your heart. Immigrant women lived the adage: "Strength is honor."
With a culmination of grit and determination, faith and hope, strength and
sacrifice they helped to build a better life--and risked everything-- for
the love of their families and future generations, whom they'd never even
meet. This is a beautiful, compelling story of courage and love.

#somethingaboutsophia #northdakota #northdakotahistory #historicalfiction

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bringing my history home.

Grandma told me its stories since before I could speak. When I was eleven, I learned to play the very piano handled by generations of women in my family, and now, it will advance to its new home.

#somethingaboutsophia #northdakotahistory #pioneerwoman

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why a Book Blog?

Because my publisher said so.

I've been blogging, Tweeting, FBing and MySpacing for years, but she told me to focus on my book's messages. While I'm getting this book born, I need to look down the road and consider its future.

Therefore, let's talk about Grandma. I spent some time with her today. I love to get her 98-year-old point of view on things, and learn tidbits of family history. After all, she has seen everything. She is an absolute treasure, not only in terms of history, but in familial history. She remembers her own grandparents, who pioneered this area, and has shared those stories with me since I was old enough to listen. She always impressed upon me the importance of personal background. Remember whom you are.

#family #history #pioneer #northdakotahistory

Thursday, May 2, 2013


"Where do you get all the ideas from?" he asked me. It's like yoga.

When I started writing again, I couldn't sit still for fifteen minutes and stretch my word count out to two hundred.

"...and, or, and..."

Now, if I'm not careful, I'm picking up another thousand words every twenty minutes or so, and my characters are developing family members and hobbies they had always wanted to explore, but never quite found the time, due to their demanding careers and responsibilities as civil leaders.

Creativity is like yoga. The more you stretch, the further you can.

#novel, #writing, #creativity

Sunday, April 28, 2013


"His mother named him William, for his grandfather, who had fought in the English army. His papa's name was Ray. Everyone called him Billy. Gertie called him Billy Ray when he was in trouble, which, as far as she was concerned, was most of the time."

#nowhereandeverywhere, #northdakota, #historicalfiction

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Never Again

There is an energy right now that I may never experience again, according to Erica, Darling Publisher Extraordinaire. For now, as the first manuscript has been sent, the contract is being written, the designer has not been triggered, everything waits with bated breath.

Today, on a perfect spring day, I am dogsitting, tweaking Book Two. Book Two is close to my heart. Much of it takes place in Europe, and my parents are in Europe right now. I'm not exactly jealous, because I hope to go there again someday soon, but I hope they bring me some good chocolate and coffee for taking care of their dog and house!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Putting Sauce on It.

My final book class is tonight. I have been writing this thing for somewhere in the neighborhood of three-and-one-half years, and after tonight, I must decide what to do with it. I have written enough words, come up with a beginning and an ending, separated it into chapters (though I'm not really sure how many, as I sit here right now), and have actually slapped timestamps on them, to help orient you to the scenes.

I went in and revised Chapter Two last night and this morning. It's a little different and makes a little more sense now. Maybe I need this book out of my hands. It could very well be that I'm looking at it too much. I am thinking way too much about historical Dakota, but I hunger for it. I wonder what my great-great grandmother would say? I wish I could send it to her for a testimonial.

#historicalfiction, #northdakota, #somethingaboutsophia, #piano

Monday, April 8, 2013


Tonight in my fledgling author class, we were told that when the book is about three-quarters finished is the time to start farming for testimonials, or statements lauding our work. After all, people like books that other people like.

I began to make a list of folks who may just write a coveted testimonial for me, all the while reminding myself that three-quarters of a book is not a book I would necessarily hand over to someone with comfort. I can release a few paragraphs now, perhaps a couple of pages, but give me a week or so, and then you may have the whole book. I followed class with a phone call to my editor, a PR exec at a Midwestern college, who assured me this would all be fine, and the novel will be ready, and I can climb down from the roof now.

Meanwhile, her mother is going through brain cancer and has chemo brain on TOP of cancer brain. We needed that venting phone call, to take care of business and status updates.

Pam has always been good at that. When she bossed around the sports section of the college paper while I was the news goddess, we did a pretty great job of tempering each other's crises, whether the Bison won or lost, or there was a flood coming, or maybe Chub's bought a full-page ad, so we were going 24 pages at the last minute and had to stay until midnight to write more stories. 

Surround yourself with people who believe in, and can put up with, your dreams.

#littlehouseontheprairie, #northdakotahistory, #historicalfiction

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spaghetti and Gingerbread tea.

I've heard it said that men's minds are like waffles: their thoughts are organized into neat little squares, and the syrup never spills over into another square.

 We women? Our minds are cooked spaghetti, and our thoughts wind about, beginning and ending with one other. Add sauce to that.

Yesterday, I had a pretty clear vision of four books on which I was working. I would then see how far this would go, and plan on evergreen marketing all of them.

So much for that.

The teapot went off today, its siren alerting me to add three projects to my list, so I hurriedly grabbed a notepad and made some lists. Seven is a lucky number, is it not?

Saturday, March 23, 2013


As I explained, I've been a communicator and a storyteller all my life. I come by it naturally, because my family tells fairly famous family legends, over and over. What's a girl to do, but pick that up?

In high school, I was a speaker. In college, I was a speaker, and morphed into an editor when the newspaper needed bodies. Lo and behold, we were getting somewhere on this trek down the highway to fame. I hit the road for radio and BOY! That was fun for awhile. I was in sales, I've worked in a bank and a call center.

I transcribed immigrant interviews at one job, medical interviews at another. A coworker once informed me she couldn't quite "get" me because I "use too many words." Sheesh. It's my Mother Tongue. That kind of hurt. I had avoided the English major in college due to the attitude of the freshman teaching assistant.

I wrote grocery lists, To Do lists, lists of things I wanted to do to my house when I was debt-free, lists of vacations I wanted to take, and lists of cards I should send. I wrote blogs and scrapped them. I wrote poetry and songs. I wrote commercials. I wrote Public Service Announcements and newscasts for seven states and three Canadian provinces.

I started the novel four years ago. I have never considered myself a WRITER until my own mother read six pages of my novel and begged for more.

#somethingaboutsophia #historicalfiction #northdakota

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Beginning

In 2009, my life was going through some rapid change. It didn't feel like anything I couldn't handle, because I was at peace with all of the movement. Over our frequent "soul coffee chat" one afternoon, my friend Tammy uttered five words that changed almost everything:  "You should write a novel."

About what? How do I write a novel? I'm not that interesting-- which is a total lie, because I AM that interesting. Each of us has a story to tell, and usually five or six if we stop long enough, and get quiet, before we begin to tell them.

A novel? Who's going to read my novel? Why would I want them to? Granted, I had written and edited the college newspaper, and blogged for years, but lately most of the writing I'd done was relegated to Facebook statuses, or "statii." Being Greek, I feel justified in making up appropriate language.

Well, then. A novel, I mused. Let me doodle about that a while.

Monday, March 11, 2013


I've been writing stories since I was a child, creating alternate worlds for myself, with a different bedroom, a life in which I had a twin sister instead of a mean brother, and a dog.

I wrote on a green typewriter older than my mother, and the more I typed, the prouder I became of my clickety-clacking speed and rhythm. I typed pen pal letters. I typed homework assignments. Then Dad got a computer and I typed *sigh* love letters.

Oh, they were good, too. Dot matrix and full of daily activities and devotion. His were handwritten. Maybe I missed out.

Now, all these years later, I am typing four big projects on two computers and an iphone. I never leave home without a flash drive.  I promise myself not to miss a thing. After all, I have a type.