Posted tagged ‘donna winters’

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

July 14, 2014

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.


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 or (906) 265-2617. For more information about the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association, visit

July 15 2012 B

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

First Annual U.P. Authors Day and Book Fair to Be Held

July 2, 2013

Twenty-One Upper Michigan authors from all ends of the peninsula will gather on July 6, 2013 for the first annual U.P. Authors Day Book Fair at the Westwood Mall in Marquette.

Marquette, MI, July 1, 2013—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 July 6, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

UP AUTHORS_2013 POSTER 2-01U.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” and is being organized by members of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association (UPPAA) in coordination with the Westwood Mall.

President of UPPAA, Tyler R. Tichelaar, author of The Marquette Trilogy, said that he believes the event is the largest single gathering of U.P. authors ever held. Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats children’s book series and one of the organizers of the event stated, “I continue to be amazed by how many authors are writing about Upper Michigan and Upper Michigan subjects, as well as non-U.P. related subjects who live here. We will have everything from U.P. history books to romance novels, mysteries, children’s books, poetry, and a host of nonfiction titles.” Ellen Sargent, manager of the Westwood Mall, adds, “The Westwood Mall is excited to be hosting this event. We know both our local customers and area visitors will really enjoy getting to meet the authors. I think people might be surprised by the wide variety of works available!”

Besides selling and signing books, several authors will be holding drawings for a chance to win one of their books. Authors in attendance will be: Milly Balzarini, Karl Bohnak, Robert Cook, James Dunn, Debbie Frontiera, Sydney Gionevico, Jerry Harju, Sherri Kauppi, Kevin Kluck, Kathy Kuczek, Corey LaBissioniere, Mel Laurila, Joe Massie, Ida Nord, Gretchen Preston, Richard Smith, Mary Soper, Tyler Tichelaar, M.C. Tillson, Lloyd Westcoat, and Donna Winters.

Come out and meet the authors who write about the place where you live!


Happy Valentine’s Day from Donna Winters of Great Lakes Romances

February 1, 2012

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’ve asked my friend and fellow author Donna Winters to be a guest on my blog. Donna is the author of the Great Lakes Romances® series, which includes many books set in Upper Michigan, including Mackinac Island, Fayette, and L’Anse. Her other books range throughout the Great Lakes, including Traverse City, Saginaw Bay, and currently she is working on a book set in New York’s Erie Canal region. I’ve asked Donna to tell us today a little about writing romance novels and what makes for good romance.

Donna Winters

Donna Winters, author of the Great Lakes Romances series

Tyler: Welcome, Donna. It’s a treat to have you here today. First, will you tell us a little bit about what made you decide to write romance novels, as opposed to other kinds of books such as mysteries or science fiction?

Donna: Back in the early 1980’s, TV newscasters reported that the romance industry was booming and that untrained writers were getting published. I suppose if I’d heard the same thing about the mystery or science fiction genres I might have tried writing those instead, especially if the news reports had claimed that women were having great success.

Tyler: How do you begin with writing a romance novel? Do you first create a female or a male character, or the location, or an incident?

Donna: Because of the regional theme of my series, Great Lakes Romances ®, I always begin with the setting. A standard assumption is that a story springs from the main character. I agree, but I first decide on the setting for the character and delve into the area’s history so I can develop an appropriate heroine and hero.

Tyler: Are there any basic elements that are a must for writing a romance novel?

Donna: Romance must be the focus of the story, and it must have a happily-ever-after ending.

Tyler: What about the Great Lakes area appeals to you as a location for romance, compared to say Paris or regency England or the California Gold Rush?

Donna: Familiarity. I’ve spent my entire life living in states that border on the Great Lakes. Additionally, my husband is a Michigan history fanatic who encouraged me to use Michigan settings.

Tyler: Besides being romance novels, your books are also historical fiction and Christian fiction. Will you tell us a little about how each of those categories shapes your books?

Donna: The times and customs of the historical period determine much about how characters relate to each other romantically. In the nineteenth century, during courtship, couples rarely touched skin on skin. The standards for Christian publishers required that unmarried couples not engage in premarital sex, and for married couples, sex scenes take place behind closed doors, so the reader is never confronted with blatant sensuality.

Tyler: So, can you have good romance without it necessarily being centered on sex? I remember once hearing the famous Dr. Ruth saying that the Victorians had good sex. Do you think that’s true?

Donna: I’m sure the Victorians had good sex, if Queen Victoria is any indication. According to the website, her marriage to Prince Albert resulted in nine children between 1840 and 1857. In my opinion, romance can be fabulous without focusing on sex. The Victorians were incurable romantics without being blatantly sexual. They even assigned romantic meanings to flowers so they could send a message of love in a bouquet without ever saying a word! For example, a red rose meant love, but a yellow rose meant friendship. If you were hoping for love and received a yellow rose, you’d have been disappointed back in the Victorian era!

Tyler: Of all of your novels, do you have a favorite in which you think the plot works really well?

Donna: I had a lot of fun writing Bridget of Cat’s Head Point, and I’ve been told by some readers that one of the plot twists took them by complete surprise.

Tyler: Have you ever experienced any stigma with writing romance novels—such as being told they aren’t serious literature—and how do you deal with that?

Donna: There’s plenty of elitism, arrogance, or whatever you want to call it, by readers of serious literature and bestseller fiction. I ignore it and write for one specific readership: those who want a good story that is free of offensive language, sex, gratuitous violence, and main characters with a world view that is not Christian.

Tyler: Besides your own novels, do you have any favorite romance novels or authors?

Donna: One of my favorite authors, in fact the “mother” of the inspirational romance genre for our times, is Janette Oke. I especially enjoyed her “Love Comes Softly” titles which were made into movies.

Tyler: Do you have any advice to give your readers about how to find romance in their own lives?

Donna: I’ve been married for forty years, having found my mate before the Internet, dating services, and other modern social options were the norm. One thing I would stress is that whatever your social venue, look for someone who shares your faith and moral values. Those are the core of a successful long-term relationship.

Tyler: Any big plans for Valentine’s Day?

Donna Winters novelsDonna: Not that I’m aware of. Maybe my husband should answer! We usually swap cards and kisses and tell each other how successful we’ve been with our romance. He’s the hero in every book!

Tyler: When can we look for your next book, Donna?

Donna: I plan to release a new title in June: Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, set in my hometown of Brockport, N.Y., and on the canal in 1830. Here’s a little about the story:

Dreams of floating down the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once the boat is purchased and her family begins their journey, unexpected tribulations and challenges arise. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Comforting thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, temper the rough times, and also give rise to an ever increasing desire to be with him.

Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short, progress stalls, and a renewed acquaintance with Lucina Willcox causes an undeniable longing to make her his bride. Can he somehow find a way to finish his boat and build a future with her?

Tyler: Donna, I’m struck by the difficulties of life in this period from your book’s description. Is romance then a comfort for people in times of turmoil? Do you think that’s why romance novels appeal to readers?

Donna: Readers of romance novels often say they prefer the genre because of the guaranteed happily-ever-after endings. They know the story will be uplifting and therefore fulfill their needs where “escape fiction” is concerned.

Tyler: What would you say is the reason you keep writing romance novels rather than try your hand at something else, or do you have a murder mystery or science fiction novel up your sleeve?

Donna: Actually, my novel about the Erie Canal is better classified as historical fiction with a strong romantic thread than straight “historical romance.” I say that because several chapters go by when the hero and heroine are far apart geographically, dealing with separate challenges while longing for the time when they will be together again. As for writing a murder mystery or science fiction, I have nothing up my sleeve at the moment, but I haven’t ruled anything out. I’d more likely attempt writing humorous fiction, fantasy, or fiction for mature women.

Tyler: Donna, will you tell us about your website and how to find out more about your novels?

Donna: Visit to learn about my books and enter the ongoing book giveaway. Each week, I give away a different book from my series to one of the readers who enters following the instructions on the home page. Connect with me also on twitter @bigwaterpub, and on Facebook at my book page, Great Lakes Romances books

Tyler: Thank you for letting me interview you today, Donna. Best of luck with your writing and may you and Fred have a very happy Valentine’s Day.

The Fayette Trilogy by Donna Winters

Blog readers, Donna has graciously offered to give away one autographed set of her Fayette trilogy titles, Fayette—A Time to Love, Fayette—A Time to Laugh, and Fayette—A Time to Leave, to one of the commenters on this post. To enter the drawing for the trilogy, leave a comment that includes your e-mail address, eg. Donna [at] webmail [dot] com.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 p.m. on February 14, 2012.

Thanks for stopping by!

Marquette’s Maritime Museum and Lighthouse

July 27, 2011

Thank you to Marquette’s Maritime Museum, especially Director Carrie Fries, for the opportunity to be part of the Tall Ships event this past weekend. My fellow authors (Gretchen Preston, Milly Balzarini, and Donna Winters) and I enjoyed talking to all the tourists, natives, and our readers.

Marquette Maritime Museum

Marquette Maritime Museum

As a thank you to the museum, and in honor of August as Maritime Month (can you believe August is only days away?), here is the section from My Marquette about the museum:

           The sudden lurch catapulted several passengers over the ship’s rail. Sophia, having momentarily released Gerald’s arm, found herself thrown overboard with several other ladies. Panic-stricken, she scrambled in the waves, fighting to keep her head above water while her skirts quickly soaked through, growing so heavy they threatened to pull her under. The lake was calm that evening, the waves nearly indistinguishable, yet Sophia was terrified. She had not swum in twenty years, and she sadly lacked for exercise. The sudden surprise and the biting cold water nearly sent her into shock. Gerald was almost as surprised as he stood clasping the rail and trying to spot his wife. After a few initial screams, the other women thrown overboard began to swim toward the ship. One man, Mr. Maynard, had also been pivoted overboard, and like Sophia, he struggled to stay afloat. Sophia’s terror increased when she saw Mr. Maynard’s head sink beneath the waves. She instantly feared he had drowned, and his failure to resurface made her splash and scream frantically until she began to swallow water. Hearing his wife’s screams, Gerald spotted her and dove to her rescue. — Iron Pioneers

The Marquette Maritime Museum was formed in 1980 and opened to the public in 1982. It is located in the old Marquette Waterworks building designed by D. Fred Charlton in 1890. In 1897, the Father Marquette statue was placed on the waterworks building’s property, although it was later moved to its present location. The construction of a new waterworks building resulted in the old one being converted into the Maritime Museum.

In 1999, when I first conceived the idea to write The Marquette Trilogy, I visited the Maritime Museum to see the exhibits as research for my books. During that visit, I learned about the sinking of the Jay Morse which I knew would make a great dramatic scene since most of Marquette’s wealthiest people were on the ship. The passage above resulted from my visit to the museum. Fittingly, my novels have since found a happy place in the Maritime Museum’s gift shop. The friendly employees have read them and frequently recommend them to their customers, something for which I am always grateful.

The museum includes numerous displays about the early schooners and ore boats on Lake Superior as well as dioramas, old rowboats, and a small theatre with ongoing films. In 2002, the museum also acquired the Marquette lighthouse as part of its property.

Marquette was built to be a port for shipping iron ore from the mines in nearby Negaunee and Ishpeming. Every harbor town requires a lighthouse, and Marquette constructed its lighthouse in 1853, just four years after the town’s founding. No building records exist for this first lighthouse, but it was reputedly thirty-four by twenty feet in size. The lantern room contained seven fourteen-inch Lewis lamps which were used until the introduction of the Fresnel lens in the later 1850s. Because the living quarters and tower were poorly constructed, they were replaced with the present lighthouse in 1866.

The 1866 lighthouse is today the oldest structure of any real historical significance in Marquette. The original structure was a one-and-a-half story brick building with an attached forty-foot square brick tower housing a fourth order Fresnel lens. An identical lens is on display today in the Marquette Maritime Museum. The original lens showed an arc of 180 degrees. In 1870, it was increased to 270 degrees.

The keeper and his family lived in the lighthouse. As long as the keeper’s job was only to maintain the light, a single man was able to do the work. However, when the light at the end of the breakwater was added and a two whistle signal system installed at the end of the point, the work was too much for one person so an assistant keeper was hired and a barn behind the lighthouse was converted into living space for him. In 1909, a second story was added instead for the assistant’s quarters. Additions were also made to the back of the lighthouse in the 1950s.

The Maritime Museum has available on CD the lightkeeper’s log books which reflect some of their interesting experiences. In 1859, Peter White complained about the lightkeeper because “He is a habitual drunkard, frequently thrashes his wife and throws her out of doors.” This lightkeeper also failed to light up until sometimes after midnight which caused great danger for ships.

Just west of the Marquette lighthouse, the U.S. Life-Saving Service established a station in 1891. Led by Captain Henry Cleary, the life-savers performed death-defying rescues on the lake. Their fame grew until they were invited in 1901 to escort President McKinley down the Niagara River during the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New York (the following day the president would be assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, who for some time had worked in various lumber camps in Michigan, including in Seney. In 2009, Marquette author, John Smolens, published The Anarchist, a novel about the McKinley assassination). Eventually the U.S. Life-Saving Station was absorbed into the Coast Guard, and it became the building in operation for the longest time that was owned by the Coast Guard until 2009 when a new Coast Guard station was built directly on the south side of the Maritime Museum and in front of the Lower Harbor’s breakwater.

The Marquette lighthouse remains one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks for its bright red walls, and it is probably photographed more than any other place in Marquette. When I worked at Superior Spectrum, a former local telephone company in Marquette, the lighthouse was used in numerous marketing pieces, some of which I helped to design. Today, the lighthouse is open for tours operated by the Maritime Museum, and it is being refurbished to reflect the lighthouse keepers’ living quarters in the early twentieth century.

Be sure to check out my several other posts last August 2010 that celebrated Maritime Month. And of course, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum and the lighthouse this summer!

Come to a Writer’s Retreat Weekend at Beautiful Camp Michigamme

May 22, 2011

Camp Michigamme Writing Retreat

Do you love to write? Take a weekend to hone your craft, connect with other writers, and get inspired at a beautiful location—Camp Michigamme, located about forty-five minutes west of Marquette, MI.  While it is primarily a summer camp for youth programs, Michigamme also provides camping experiences and weekend retreats for adults.

At the June 10 – 12 writing retreat, participants will have the opportunity to make connections and gain insight into different aspects of writing from speakers, activities, and other participants.  We will focus on how to share your faith and touch lives through your writing. Open to adult writers of all levels and genres. Cost to attend the weekend is $105.

Meals will be provided for us by the camp staff, and we will have the chance to relive those childhood camp experiences by bunking in cabins with other writers. We will delve into God’s word and how it relates to our own written words with devotions from the book Write His Answer by Marlene Bagnull. We will also hear from experts on various aspects of writing. Scheduled presenters include Donna Winters (author of the Great Lakes Romances® Series), who will be sharing her experiences with both traditional and self publishing  and Tyler Tichelaar (founder of Marquette Fiction and author of The Marquette Trilogy), a specialist in regional fiction writing.

 For more information or to register, please visit Camp Michigamme’s web site at If you have any questions, feel free to contact the camp dean, Jenifer Brady, at


Camp Michigamme Writer’s Retreat Tentative Schedule

Friday night

Dinner and registration 6:00

7:00 – Welcome, opening devotional: Called to Write and Look to Jesus

7:30 –  Introductions, show-and-tell; get to know the other participants and learn about everyone’s writing; bring a poem or article to share or your latest book to talk about, if you wish

9:00 – Campfire


8:30 Breakfast

9:00 Devotion and discussion: Reaching our Readers

9:30 – 10:30 Session/Presentation*

10:45 – 11:45 Session/Presentation*


1:00 – Get together with others in your genre; share ideas, make connections

2:00 – 3:00 Session/Presentation*

3:00 – 5:30 afternoon free time; some ideas to spend your afternoon include  working on your own writing; trying some fun prompts; walking around camp and finding inspiration in its beauty; continuing discussion with other writers who you have connected with; studying your Bible and Write His Answer devotions.

5:30 – Dinner

Evening Program (TBA)**

9:00 – Campfire

Sunday Morning

8:30 – Breakfast

9:00 Devotion and discussion: Put on the Armor

Church down the road begins at 11:00 and loves to have campers attend (it is Methodist). Feel free to attend this church or depart from camp when necessary to reach your home church.

*The session/presentations will be presented by Donna Winters, Tyler Tichelaar, and myself. Topics will center around self publishing versus traditional publishing, writing regional fiction, and creating an author web site.

**Evening program will depend on how many people attend and what types of writing and interests we have represented. I will be sending out a short questionnaire about your writing and interests to participants to be emailed back to me so that I can better cater this part of the weekend to the types of writers who will be attending.