Book World Hosts Opportunity to Meet Local Authors

Posted December 11, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Tyler's Novels, Upper Michigan Books and Authors

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On Saturday, December 20, from 1-4 p.m., four local authors will be signing books and greeting the public at Book World in Downtown Marquette. All four authors live in the Marquette-Harvey area, but write about a wide variety of topics.

Author Larry Buege

Author Larry Buege

If you’ve seen the guy in the amorous spotted slug costume promoting the cause for state slug in Downtown Marquette, then you’ve seen Larry Buege. Now you have the opportunity to talk to him about his campaign and get personalized copies of his book Cold Turkey, a futuristic U.P. novel about U.P. statehood and a strange prophecy initiated by the said slug. In addition, Larry will be signing copies of his popular young adult Native American fiction series beginning with Chogan and the Gray Wolf and his many other novels. Check out his website www.LarryBuege.com.

Sonny Longtine, a retired teacher, has spent his retirement researching and writing about the history of the U.P. His first book, Marquette, Then & Now, appeared in time for Marquette’s Sesquicentennial in 1999. He followed it with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula: Life Legends and Landmarks and Courage Burning. Since then, he has found himself wading in blood—figuratively. His latest book, Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, tells the true stories of several U.P. murders, spanning from the 1800s to the present century.

Author Sonny Longtine

Author Sonny Longtine

Gretchen Preston was raised in Portland, Oregon, and worked as a medical social worker, but when she met her future husband, he asked her to marry him and come live in the U.P. at the end of the road and write books. Fortunately for Upper Michigan’s children, Gretchen said, “Yes.” She began telling stories to a neighbor girl she babysat, and those stories then became Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River, about two cats who are adventurers in the U.P. The book has been followed by two sequels, all beautifully illustrated by Karin Neumann. Gretchen’s purpose is to teach children about U.P. history, geography, and nature, while also entertaining them. Visit Gretchen at www.prestonhillpress.com

UP Authors Gretchen Preston and Tyler Tichelaar

UP Authors Gretchen Preston and Tyler Tichelaar

Tyler R. Tichelaar is a seventh-generation Marquette resident. Although he earned a Ph.D. at WMU and taught for several years, his true love was always fiction and the U.P. so he returned home to write about his roots. The result has been his popular The Marquette Trilogy, My Marquette, the recent play Willpower, the novel The Best Place, about two women who grew up in the Marquette orphanage, and The Children of Arthur historical fantasy series about King Arthur and his descendants—yes, he thinks he’s one of those descendants. Visit Tyler at www.MarquetteFiction.com and www.ChildrenofArthur.com

Lee Laforge, manager of Book World, encourages the public to come visit with the local authors on December 20th. “Local books are a big part of our business here at Book World,” Laforge said. “Both locals and visitors love to learn more about the Upper Peninsula and bring home a piece of the U.P. Books make great gifts for that reason, and also for people from the area who now live elsewhere. Come get a book signed for yourself or someone else and enjoy the holidays.”

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U.P. Authors Encourage Holiday Book Giving and Donating through Many Events

Posted November 25, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Tyler's Novels, Upper Michigan Books and Authors

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With the holidays upon us, local authors are actively attending craft shows, holding book signings, and helping to get us all in the holiday spirit. Upper Michigan is home to nearly one hundred local authors as well as being the subject or setting of many other books. Thanks to efforts by libraries, bookstores, and organizations like the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association, more and more people are reading local books and supporting the creation of a U.P. literature.

This year many events are being held in Marquette County where authors will be in attendance to sign or talk about their books. For other author events in Upper Michigan, check with your local library and bookstores.

Visit Larry Buege at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show and find out more about his campaign for the Amorous Spotted Slug for state slug.

Visit Larry Buege at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show and find out more about his campaign for the Amorous Spotted Slug for state slug.

The Holiday Outback Art and Craft Show (the winter version of the popular summer Outback at Picnic Rocks) will be held this year at the Marquette Armory at 1820 Lincoln Ave. on Friday, November 28 from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday, November 29 from 10-6 p.m. Sonny Longtine, author of several U.P. books, will be there selling his newest book Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which explores true crimes that turned quiet U.P. communities into fear-ridden crime scenes.

Tyler Tichelaar will be in booth 251 this year at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show

Tyler Tichelaar will be in booth 251 this year at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show

The TV6 Christmas Craft Show is probably the biggest holiday shopping event in Upper Michigan. This year many authors will be among those in attendance, including Diana Oman, author of the new ABC book for the kid in all of us, My Heart Smiles, which is also illustrated by Colleen O’Hara who will be there with her own book, The Butterfly Woman; Charlie Smith, author of the new novel, 1914, about World War I; Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats children’s book series; Larry Buege, author of Cold Turkey, a series of Native American novels beginning with Chogan and the Gray Wolf, and many other titles; and Tyler R. Tichelaar, author of My Marquette, several U.P. novels, and a historical fantasy series about King Arthur. The TV6 Christmas Craft Show will be held this year on Friday, December 5 from 5-9 p.m., Saturday, December 6 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, December 7, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in the Superior Dome in Marquette.

On December 6 at 2:o0pm, Loraine Koski will be giving a presentation at Bethany Lutheran Church in South Republic about PFC Elden Gjers, Republic athletic standout and World War II casualty, and my more than 10 years of research that led to publication her book Eden’s True Army Tales.

Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats series

Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats series will be at the TV6 Christmas Craft Show

Diana Oman will be signing copies of My Heart Smiles at Younkers throughout the holiday season.

Diana Oman will be signing copies of My Heart Smiles at Younkers throughout the holiday season.

Snowbound Books at 118 N. Third Street in Marquette will be hosting its annual Local Authors Day on Saturday, December 13 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Authors in attendance will be Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Preparing the Ghost and Barolo; Loraine Koski, who will be signing her newly released book Elden’s True Army Tales about a local man who fought in World War II; David Lee Nelson, author of River of Iron; Carrie Pearson, author of the children’s books A Warm

Children's author Carrie Pearson will be at Snowbound Books on December 13th.

Children’s author Carrie Pearson will be at Snowbound Books on December 13th.

Winter Tail and A Cool Summer Tail, and Charlie Smith, author of the World War I novel, 1914.

Diana Oman and Colleen O’Hara will also be signing copies of My Heart Smiles at Younkers in the Westwood Mall on December 10 from 11 a.m.-2p.m, December 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., December 20 from 11 a.m. to 3p.m. and December 21 from 1-4 p.m.

In addition, many members of the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association are supporting The Gift of Reading Project, organized by the Marquette-Alger Reading Council. The public is asked to donate new books to be given to needy families and adults at Christmas time and throughout the year. New books are also distributed to youth service agencies, public health and dental centers, nursing homes, including the Veteran’s Center, the Women’s Center and Harbor House, Beacon House and other locations. Drop off locations include Peter White Public Library and Snowbound Books. The last day for donations is December 5. Contributions also can be sent to MARC at P.O. Box 1084, Marquette. For more information, call 226-7030.

This year, give the Gift of Reading to your loved ones and those in need by supporting local authors and making sure everyone has a book under the Christmas Tree. For more information about the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association and local author events, visit www.uppaa.org.

Sonny Longtine will be at the Outback Holiday Fair on November 28 and 29

Sonny Longtine will be at the Outback Holiday Fair on November 28 and 29

Join Us in Celebrating the 2nd Annual U.P. Authors Day at Marquette’s Westwood Mall

Posted September 24, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Upper Michigan Books and Authors

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UP AUTHORS_2014 POSTERUpper Michigan authors from all ends of the peninsula will gather on October 4, 2014 for the second annual U.P. Authors Day Book Fair at the Westwood Mall. All authors who live in or write about the U.P. are welcome to attend.

Marquette, MI, August 25, 2014—Upper Michigan authors will gather to meet their current and future readers at the first annual U.P. Authors Day event and book fair at the Westwood Mall in Marquette on October 4, 2014.

U.P. Authors Day is an event intended to raise awareness of the rich tradition of writing about Upper Michigan and introduce readers to local authors. The event is the brainchild of Lon Emerick, award-winning author of such favorites as “The Superior Peninsula” and “Paradise, North.” The event is being organized by members of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA) in coordination with the Westwood Mall.

President of UPPAA and author of “My Marquette,” Tyler R. Tichelaar, said that last year’s event resulted in twenty-three authors attending, which was the single largest gathering of U.P. authors in one place ever held. These authors came from all over the U.P., including Marquette, Ishpeming, Quinnesec, Iron Mountain, Houghton, and Garden. One even came from Texas to attend, and they all either live in or write about the U.P. Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats children’s book series who is helping to coordinate the event, stated, “This event is a real opportunity for readers to meet authors who live in and write about the U.P., some of whom are well-known and others of whom may be new to local readers. The diversity of topics is impressive, ranging from historical fiction and history books to children’s books, fantasy novels, memoirs, romances, and inspirational titles.” Ellen Sargent, manager of the Westwood Mall, adds, “The Westwood Mall is delighted to host this event for the second time. We know both our local customers and area visitors will really enjoy getting to meet the authors, and I think they’ll be impressed by how many talented writers we have right here in our backyard!”

Over fifteen authors will be scheduled to attend the event. Book sale hours will be from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, October 4th.

Experience the Power of “Willpower” – Coming Soon to the Kaufman Stage by Moire Embley

Posted September 8, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Marquette History, Marquette's Historical Homes, Upper Michigan Books and Authors, Upper Michigan History

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The following article is by Moire Embley, Director of Willpower, an original play I’ve written that will be presented at Kaufman Auditorium in Marquette on Thursday and Friday September 18 and 19.
A sunny mid-August day in Marquette, Michigan, an operatic aria fills the air from a west side apartment. The melody is from an original composition, “You Will Not Love Me” for the upcoming Marquette Regional History Center’s new production Willpower by Tyler Tichelaar. The beautiful soprano voice of Sara Parks floats effortlessly along with piano accompanist and composer, Jeff Bruning. As Sara soulfully sings the repeated lyric “You will not love me; you won’t say why,” her character, Miss Norma Ross, comes to life.

"Willpower" director Moire Embley

“Willpower” director Moire Embley

I have assisted and directed several plays in Marquette over the last fourteen years. Willpower is one of the first original plays I have had the opportunity to be a part of. Last September, the Marquette Regional History Center’s Director, Kaye Hiebel, was scouting for a director and I was lucky to recommended by a good friend and mentor of mine. I came into the first meeting feeling slightly shy and a bit overwhelmed to be offered such a break as a director.

I sat quietly in the large conference room surrounded by high-powered ladies, taking in the conversations, stories and ideas, which saturated the room. The focus was on a young man from Marquette in the late 1800s by the name of Will Adams. Will, I came to understand, was not your typical boy. Adopted as a young child by former Marquette Mayor Sidney and wife Harriet Adams in the early 1880s. Growing up at 200 East Ridge, the beautiful sandstone house, which is now known as the “Terrace Apartments.” As a youngster, Will sang in a boy’s choir at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and was a noted athlete, artist and literary mastermind by the community. After suffering a severe baseball injury to his knee, an ossifying disease began to develop in his legs. As he grew, so did the disease, until it consumed his body, slowly turning his soft tissues to stone before he passed away at thirty-one.

Will’s story is not a sad one, but one of love, ambition, community and courage. After leaving the meeting, I found myself eager and driven. This was a drama I needed to help tell on the historical stage of Kaufman Auditorium. Tyler Tichelaar a well-known local novelist, was hired as the playwright. After Tyler released the first draft of Willpower, I spent an entire road trip reading the play and then reading it again. Tyler’s use of public domain music was thoughtful and clever. His character delineations were accurate, concise and well researched. I could not put the script down. I became fascinated by his depiction of Will.

Will was not the only character in Willpower to stand out. His caring childhood friend Norma Ross also captured my imagination. Norma and Will met as young children, and a friendship was nurtured by their shared love for music, theatre and literature. As Will’s disease became more debilitating, Norma would visit almost daily. They would pass the time singing to one another. When Will began to lose the use of his arms, unable to hold a book, Norma became his eyes and hands, reading aloud to him.

After graduating from college with a degree in music from Northwestern University, Norma returned home to Marquette. Will, now in his late twenties, became fascinated with writing an operetta in which he enlisted the musical talents of his good friend. Norma and Will spent nearly three months preparing the lyrics and music. Will hummed the melodies as Norma played the piano, putting the music down on paper. Miss D.Q. Pons opened at the Marquette Opera House in the summer of 1905. The operetta’s success spread quickly, eventually touring to Ishpeming, Sault Ste. Marie, Hancock and Calumet.

As I read the first draft of Willpower, I couldn’t help feeling that there was more between Will and Norma. I met with Tyler and Jessica “Red” Bays in mid January to discuss the first draft. I hadn’t met Tyler before and I was very nervous to discuss some edits I thought could be made. My approach was only to assist in using my theatre background to help guide the script to the stage. Some minimal character enhancements were made along with some plotline adaptations. Red and I left the meeting with Tyler more excited than ever. I felt he graciously considered my notes, however standing his ground on some changes. Between Red, myself and Tyler ideas bounced back and forth as we found our creative balance.

Poster for Willpower, an original play by Tyler Tichelaar. Poster art by Cory Sustarich.

Poster for Willpower, an original play by Tyler Tichelaar. Poster art by Cory Sustarich.

Tyler quickly came back with the second draft. Every note we had discussed was in the script. Tyler’s attention to detail and respect for my creative vision as director was admirable. I frequently would tell him my job is to bring his story to the stage, but in a way I feel that this play is a collaborative effort between Red, Tyler and I. With only minimal edits to be made Tyler quickly moved on to the third draft.

After the script became finalized, I searched for the best artistic staff I could find. Suzanne Shahbazi, well known for her work with the Lake Superior Youth Theatre, agreed to do costumes. Jalina Olgren joined the production; she is one on the most talented stage managers we have in the Marquette community. Lastly, Jeff Bruning, a brilliant pianist, voice teacher and music virtuoso signed on. To round out the creative production team, Jessica “Red” Bays became my right hand, my support and promotional guru.

Casting is always a wonderful process, offering a director a first-time glimpse into seeing the characters come alive. Within the two-day auditions and one day of callback auditions, I was blessed with an overwhelming amount of talent. I feel fortunate as a director to work in a community with high talent, quality vocals and acting ability. The final casting after auditions can be sometimes difficult. It is important undoubtedly to see a specific character within an actor. A director must also see that the character, small at times, be in the actor’s potential.

Although Willpower is a straight play, public domain music and old ragtime songs are used. This piano style popular from the nineteenth century through the early twentieth century gives the play a musical feel and also illustrates how music was an integral part of Will and Norma’s relationship. There was one piece composed for the play, “You Will Not Love Me,” by Jeff Bruning and lyrics by Tyler Tichelaar. Jeff wrote the piece, which captured the feel of the romantic ballads at that time. Tyler’s lyrics possess a witty touch, as if Will wrote them himself.

The set design I will keep secret. I will only allude to my extensive research done at the J.M. Longyear Research Library. Using the expertise of research librarians Rosemary Michelin and Beth Gruber, the three of us spent hours hunting for Will and Norma’s past in genealogy files, photos, books, newspapers, magazines and plat books. I have great respect and gratitude for all the hard work Rosemary and Beth did for me. This play would not be what it is without their assistance.

Directing Willpower has been an amazing experience thus far. I look forward to every rehearsal, researching each character and also learning more about the community in which I live. Willpower is a production that everyone can relate to, whether you are a history buff or a theatre and music enthusiast. It is a play that will warm hearts and tickle the mind.

Please join us at Kaufman Auditorium on September 18th and 19th at 7:00p.m. For more information, call the Marquette Regional History Center at (906) 226-3571. Tickets are on sale at the NMU EZ Ticket Outlet or by visiting www.nmu.edu/tickets. This production is made possible by the Marquette Regional History Center and generous grants from the Michigan Humanities Council in addition to a matching grant from the Marquette Community Foundation and the Upper Peninsula Heath Plan.

Posted August 5, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Marquette History, Marquette's Historical Homes, Upper Michigan History

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The following article about my new play Willpower was first published in the August 2014 issue of the Marquette Monthly and online at: http://www.mmnow.com/z_current_a/b/c/arts.html#wilbri

‘Willpower’ Brings Marquette’s Ossified Man to Stage

by Tyler Tichelaar

When Kaye Hiebel and Jessica Red Bays asked me to write a play as a fundraiser for the Marquette Regional History Center, I was hesitant, considering myself a novelist, not a playwright. But when they shared with me their vision of bringing Will Adams’ story to the stage, I instantly saw its dramatic possibilities and how it would speak to modern audiences as a true tale of overcoming adversity.

Poster for Willpower, an original play by Tyler Tichelaar. Poster art by Cory Sustarich.

Poster for Willpower, an original play by Tyler Tichelaar. Poster art by Cory Sustarich.

I already knew the basics of Will Adams’ story. He was born in 1878 and adopted as a young child by prominent Marquette businessman Sidney Adams and his wife Harriet. Will was a talented singer in the boys choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, played baseball, and by the time he was a teenager, was considered a literary expert by Marquette residents.

But in his late boyhood, Will developed a life-changing disability. The tissues in his legs began to harden until they became immoveable—a disease the Victorians termed ossification. Numerous doctors were consulted, but none could explain the disease’s cause.

For most active boys, the diagnosis would have been earth-shattering. But Will took it as a challenge to accomplish all he could before the ossification took over his entire body. For as long as possible, he employed his hands, drawing countless cartoons of notable locals such as Nathan Kaufman and Peter White. He wrote poetry and essays and began the magazine CHIPS, illustrating it himself. Unable to sell magazine ads in person, he did it over the telephone, eventually having an attendant hold the receiver for him.

One of Will’s frequent visitors was his good friend Norma Ross, a music teacher in the Marquette Public Schools. In 1905, Will and Norma wrote an operetta titled Miss D.Q. Pons. Will composed the music in his head and hummed the tunes for Norma, who wrote down the notes. Later, Norma starred in the production, which toured the Upper Peninsula. Will attended the performances, traveling by railroad in a portable bed.

Will’s positive attitude and creative abilities made him not only popular with locals, but he won the respect of famous people such as actress Lillian Russell, who visited him when she came to perform at the Marquette Opera House. Russell was impressed by Will’s cheerfulness, despite his being blind by then, and he sang one of his songs for her. Not long before his death in 1909, Will told a Detroit Free Press reporter who interviewed him, “Don’t call me a cripple when you write your story, and don’t say I am bedridden. I don’t like those expressions. They put a fellow off, you know…. Had it been otherwise, I might have become the subject of a trust investigation committee or a bank president. And I’d rather be literary than sordid any day.”

And then there was Norma Ross. With the help of MRHC research librarians Rosemary Michelin and Beth Gruber, I learned Norma’s father had owned one of the first theatres in Marquette, Mather Hall, so at an early age, Norma was exposed to music and the theatre, and she developed her musical gift by singing in the First Baptist Church’s choir. Frank B. Spear, Sr. of Marquette offered to finance sending her to New York to be in the theatre there, but her father opposed his daughter having a “life upon the wicked stage.” Instead, she went to Northwestern University to become a music teacher. She returned to Marquette to teach in the public schools and also be very active in community theatre and music productions for decades.

In Willpower, I wanted to bring Will and Norma and their family members and friends to life. Artistic license was taken to fill in some gaps in their stories, but I tried my best to represent them truthfully. I worked in as many of Will’s actual words and expressions into the play as possible. Music was so important to Will and Norma that I knew it had to be an integral part of the production. While no copy of Miss D.Q. Pons could be found, the playbill, advertisements, and reviews all helped me to recreate a scene from the operetta to give the audience a taste of what it might have been like.

Beyond entertaining audiences, I wanted the play to offer an educational step back in time. For that reason, period music was used. An article written by Norma’s sister Grace recalled musical events at their father’s theatre, including performances of the well-known 1890s hit song, “After the Ball,” so I incorporated it into the play. Another period song, “Turn Off Your Light, Mr. Moon Man,” filled in for a similarly themed but lost song in Miss D.Q. Pons. An original song, “You Will Not Love Me,” was composed for the play by Jeff Bruning. My own tongue-in-cheek lyrics for the song are hopefully in keeping with Will’s sense of humor. Director Moiré Embley’s vision for the play also focuses on the time travel historic experience for audiences with historical costumes and furniture, and I believe audiences will be impressed with the historic-themed sets.

Writing a play is one thing. Bringing it to the stage is another. Various drafts of Willpower were shared with Embley, Marquette Regional History Center staff, and a few close friends, all of whom offered feedback and suggestions. In the process, I learned not only to consider plot and character development, but how to work in set and costume changes between scenes, and what was possible within our budget limitations. Fortunately, our budget, initially provided by the Marquette Regional History Center, was enhanced through a generous grant from the Michigan Humanities Council and matching grants from the Marquette Community Foundation and Upper Peninsula Health Plan.

Will Adams with his parents, sister Bertha, and close friend Norma Ross (seated), with whom he wrote an operetta.

Will Adams with his parents, sister Bertha, and close friend Norma Ross (seated), with whom he wrote an operetta.

Writing Willpower has been a wonderful experience for me, and I hope audiences will find it nostalgic, entertaining, and inspiring. Please join me at Kaufman Auditorium on September 18 and 19 at 7:00 p.m. for a trip back to Old Marquette at the turn of the last century. The superb cast is led by Andy Vanwelsenaers, playing the adult Will Adams, and Jessica Red Bays, playing the mature Norma Ross. Even Fred Rydholm will make a cameo appearance.

Tickets are $15 and on sale through www.nmu.edu/tickets. For more information, visit http://www.marquettefiction.com/Willpower.html and www.marquettehistory.org.

U.P. Authors Participate in First Annual Authors & Artists Day in Caspian, Michigan

Posted July 14, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Upper Michigan Books and Authors, Upper Michigan Sites to Visit

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July 10, 2014—Members of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association will be appearing at the Iron County Historical Museum’s Authors and Artists Day Event in Caspian on Saturday, July 19th. The historical museum’s first ever Authors and Artists Day Event will feature a wide variety of locally written books and other artisan crafts for sale, and artwork highlighting the LeBlanc & Giovanelli Galleries.

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UP Authors, Deborah Frontiera (left), Gretchen Preston (right) and Karin Neumann, illustrator of the Valley Cats book series (center) at the Outback Art Fair, summer 2012.

U.P. native Tyler Tichelaar of Marquette will have available his many local history books including The Marquette Trilogy and My Marquette as well as his new historical fantasy novel, Arthur’s Legacy: The Children of Arthur, Book One.

Children’s author, Gretchen Preston, of Harvey, will showcase her Valley Cats series of beautifully illustrated local chapter books and their accompanying artwork. She will also have audio CDs to purchase of her first book.

Donna Winters, of Garden, and author of the Great Lakes Romances series, will autograph copies of her historical romances set in various locations around the U.P. and Lower Michigan. Donna will also be available to autograph her non-fiction titles: Adventures With Vinnie, the story of the U.P. shelter dog who taught her to expect the unexpected, and Picturing Fayette, a photo book of stunning views taken at the Fayette Historic Town site on the Garden Peninsula.

Bessemer’s Allen Wright will be on hand to sign copies of his new book, titled The Book, which explores the writing of the Old Testament, offering commentary, as well as pondering the reasons why the Bible was really written.

The Copper Country is represented by Deborah K. Frontiera. Deborah will bring a variety of books including: a children’s picture book set on Isle Royale; historical fiction for middle grade readers (and up) set in the Copper Country; a collection of historical photos by J. W. Nara; and a little “outside the box” young adult fantasy trilogy.

Join these U.P. authors in Caspian, Michigan at the Iron County Historical Museum from 1-4 p.m. Central time on July 19th. They will be happy to autograph and personalize purchased books for you. A portion of their proceeds will be donated back to the Iron County Historical Museum for its programming and other expenses.

Come find the next book on your summer reading list, the perfect holiday gift for a loved one, or your new favorite book! Rain or shine, you will find the authors and their books inside the museum waiting for you!

For more information about Authors and Artists Day, contact the Iron County Historical Museum at www.ironcountyhistoricalmuseum.org or (906) 265-2617. For more information about the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association, visit http://www.uppaa.org

July 15 2012 B

UP Authors Gretchen Preston (left), Donna Winters (center), and Tyler Tichelaar (right)

Lyla and Bel’s 4th of July

Posted July 1, 2014 by tylerrtichelaar
Categories: Tyler's Novels, Upper Michigan Books and Authors

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For this Independence Day holiday, I thought I would post one of the scenes from my novel The Best Place in which the main character Lyla Hopewell and her eccentric best friend, Bel, celebrate the holiday.

 

So on the Fourth of July, Bel comes over for breakfast, and I have to admit she tries really hard. I tell her when she gets there that I’m making scrambled eggs, but she says, “No, that ain’t festive enough for the Fourth of July.” Then she sticks in a video of this silly musical called 1776 that has that bad film look like most of those movies made in the ’60s and ’70s. And it seems like it’s all about Thomas Jefferson’s sex life from what little bit of it I actually pay attention to—and she tells me just to sit there and have my coffee and enjoy myself while she makes pancakes. So I says, “Okay,” to make her happy, and I drink two cups of coffee and pretend to watch half the movie, and I’m just about ready to keel over from hunger when she finally tells me she’s done.

So I drag myself out of the chair and go over to the table and I think, “What the hell did she bake a cake for?” Only, it’s not a cake. It’s a stack of pancakes, and she’s covered the top one in strawberry and blueberry jam and whipping cream so it looks all red, white, and blue, and then she’s got a little American flag on a toothpick attached to it. “I wanted to put in a sparkler,” she says, “but I was afraid it would set off the fire alarm, and I didn’t think we’d use a whole box of them—they don’t sell them separately,” she says.

The Best Place - the story of two women who grew up in Marquette's Holy Family Orphanage and their lifelong friendship.

The Best Place – the story of two women who grew up in Marquette’s Holy Family Orphanage and their lifelong friendship.

“It’s pretty, Bel,” I says, “but I don’t like whipping cream, you know.”

“That’s okay. I’ll eat the top one—oh, I forgot the candle I bought to replace the sparkler.”

And then she grabs two giant birthday candles off the cupboard of the numbers “7” and “6.” They’re the same ones she used for my birthday cake last year.

“What’s that for?” I asks.

“It’s America’s birthday today,” she says. “It’s the Spirit of ’76. Don’t you remember that from history class?”

I remember birthday cakes have candles to represent a person’s age, not the year they were born, but I s’pose she couldn’t do the math to figure it out—two hundred and…and…twenty-nine it would be—2005 minus 1776.

“Let’s eat,” I says, but first I have to use the bathroom from drinking all that coffee while I waited.

I go in the bathroom and sit down, and can’t help laughing to myself about the pancakes covered in jam with “76” sticking out of them. That’d be one to take a picture of if my Kodak disc camera hadn’t broken. I haven’t bought a new one—those new digital things are just too expensive as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t have a computer to read them on.

Well, we have a nice breakfast. I eat far more pancakes than I normally would, but Bel says we need to eat extra to keep up our strength for walking to the parade. It’s on Washington Street, just two blocks from Snowberry, but whatever.

After breakfast, I wash up the dishes while she watches the rest of 1776. For the rest of the day, I’ll hear her humming that song about Jefferson playing the violin.

“We can watch Yankee Doodle Dandy tonight, Lyla,” she says.

“Great,” I think, but I just says, “Okay.” Maybe I’ll be lucky and fall asleep by then.

“While we wait for the fireworks,” she says.

I’d forgotten about the fireworks, but I can see them great where they shoot them off over the old ore dock right from my window. It’s one of the few advantages of living high up in a skyscraper—well, at least the closest thing to a skyscraper that Marquette’s got.

When it’s time for the parade, we put on suntan lotion at Bel’s insistence, and we get out our old lady straw hats, and then we take the elevator down to the lobby. We go out into the parking lot to Bel’s car where she’s got a couple fold-up lawn chairs in her trunk. Then we start up the hill to Washington Street, a bit before the crowd, so we can get a spot in the shade, usually in front of the buildings on the south side of the street between Fourth and Fifth.

We find a good shady spot, right next to a little tree and where we can see up Washington Street where the parade will come down. There aren’t any kids nearby to run in the street and grab candy and get on my nerves, so that’s a good sign, though it’s a good half hour before the parade will start down by Shopko, and probably another half hour after that before it’ll get to where we are downtown.

At least we’re in the shade so I don’t have to listen to Bel complaining about the heat, though it’s turning out to be a hot summer, which I can do without. No true Yooper likes hot weather—anything over seventy degrees and I start sweating, and when you spend your life walking back and forth to work and working on your feet all day, it doesn’t take much to get you sweating. I’m sweating just from the walk up the hill to here.

I guess a lot of other people must not like hot weather either considering all the guys walking around with their shirts off and the girls in their skimpy shorts and those tank top things that show off their cleavage—well, I’d like to think it was because they don’t like to sweat, but I know better. Bunch of tramps is what we would have called these girls in my day. And the guys, they look like babies mostly, they’re so young. I admit some of them might be good-looking, but they spoil their looks with all those God-awful tattoos. I can see maybe having one on your arm, but not on your back, chest, and especially on your neck. Just makes me want to puke. And then there are the young teenage boys riding around on their bikes, trying to attract the “chicks,” but mostly just making asses out of themselves—only the tramps they’ll attract are too stupid to know they’re asses. “Male sluts—that’s what they are,” I mutter to myself as a trio of them go by, trying to do wheelies for whatever girls might be in the crowd.

“What?” Bel asks.

“Oh, nothing. I just don’t understand the younger generation,” I says.

“Oh, Lyla, how could you? You never were young yourself.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asks.

“Here, have your Diet Coke before it gets too warm,” she says, pulling two drinks out of her gigantic purse.

I take the pop and crack the cap just enough to let the fizz out so it doesn’t explode. I’m not going to ask her again what she means by my never having been young. I was young until I was about ten, but I was never the age of those teenage boys on their bicycles. I never had the freedom to be young like that. I was milking cows at the orphanage and then taking care of two old ladies, and then taking care of a store, an old man, and a woman with a baby and a drunken husband all my teen years. By the time I turned eighteen, I was on my own again, and had my own apartment, but I was busy working constantly so I’d have enough to pay the rent. I had plenty of guys around my age who would try to hit on me when I walked around town, but I just ignored them, and I never went to the bars or anything—I saw what marriage did to people—my father abandoned my mother, or at least that’s what we all thought, and I’m sure her heartbreak over that contributed to her death, and then Bel married an alcoholic who beat her, not to mention she lost her child. Why would I want to go through that pain? And then there were the rich ladies I cleaned house for, always fussing over their rich husbands who brought home the bacon, and most of them were scared of their husbands too. What the hell did I want with that kind of a life?

Finally, we see the cop cars starting to come down the street—a sign that the parade is about to start.

———————————————————————

Find out what happens next in The Best Place, available at www.MarquetteFiction.com


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