Posted tagged ‘UPPAA’

“U.P. Reader” Brings Upper Michigan Literature to the World

June 8, 2017

In case you haven’t heard yet, there’s a new literary magazine in the U.P. It’s called U.P. Reader and it’s been published by Modern History Press with the cooperation of the Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association. In fact, partial proceeds of the sales are returned to UPPAA to help with funding its programming and other author-reader-centered activities. In addition, for every twenty copies sold, one copy will be donated to a UP Library. Already twelve copies have been donated.

The UP Reader contains 28 works of prose and poetry, all by U.P. authors.

The magazine is the brain child of U.P. author Mikel Classen. It will be an annual publication and features the works of UPPAA members, all of whom are U.P.-based authors. This first issue contains the works of:

Mikel Classen, Larry Buege, Deborah Frontiera, James M. Jackson, Janeen Pergrin Rastall, Sharon M. Kennedy, Jan Kellis, Amy Klco, Becky Ross Michael, Elizabeth Fust, Terry Sanders, Tyler Tichelaar, Lee Arten, Roslyn Elena McGrath, Ann Dallman, Christine Saari, Aimée Bisonette, Frank Farwell, Ar Schneller, Rebecca Tavernini, Edzordzi Agbozo, Sarah Maurer, and Sharon Marie Brunner.

Several authors and local publications are already raving about U.P. Reader. Here are some of their remarks:

U.P. Reader offers a wonderful mix of storytelling, poetry, and Yooper culture. Here’s to many future volumes!”
— Sonny Longtine, author of Murder in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

“Share in the bounty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with those who love it most. The U.P. Reader has something for everyone. Congratulations to my writer and poet peers for a job well done.”
— Gretchen Preston, Vice President, Upper Peninsula Publishers and Authors Association

“As readers embark upon this storied landscape, they learn that the people of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula offer a unique voice, a tribute to a timeless place too long silent.”
— Sue Harrison, international bestselling author of Mother Earth Father Sky

“I was amazed by the variety of voices in this volume. U.P. Reader offers a little of everything, from short stories to
nature poetry, fantasy to reality, Yooper lore to humor. I look forward to the next issue.”
— Jackie Stark, editor, Marquette Monthly

“Like the best of U.P. blizzards, U.P. Reader covers all of Upper Michigan in the variety of its offerings. A fine mix of
nature, engaging characters, the supernatural, poetry, and much more.”
— Karl Bohnak, TV 6 meteorologist and author of So Cold a Sky: Upper Michigan Weather Stories

You can purchase U.P. Reader at Amazon or in the U.P. at several different stores throughout the U.P. including in Sault Sainte Marie, Marquette, and Copper Harbor. A list of several of the local retailers selling the book can be found at its website: www.upreader.org.

You can also learn more about the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association at www.uppaa.org.

 

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

September 24, 2014

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.

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.

IMG_2102

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)

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!

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“Paradise North” – a Great U.P. Book!

May 25, 2012

Lon and Lynn Emerick receive the 2012 Outstanding Writer Award at the Marquette County Arts Awards, May 18, 2012.

Last week Lynn and Lon Emerick were honored as the Outstanding Writer at the Marquette County Arts Awards. They are the authors of numerous books and have been very active in promoting writing and publishing in the Upper Peninsula, including through the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association.

So I thought it a good time to repost a book review I wrote for Lon’s book Paradise North, which originally appeared in the Marquette Monthly and is reprinted here with permission.

Congratulations again, Lynn and Lon!

Paradise North: Seasons in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
by Lon L. Emerick

In his latest book, Lon Emerick, longtime contributor to MM and author of many favorite books, including The Superior Peninsula and You Wouldn’t Like It Here, has written the Walden for Upper Michigan. Emerick aptly names this book Paradise North, but while the book explores the magic of the U.P. through its diverse and beautiful seasons as well as the best activities and places to celebrate them, it also reflects environmental and nature preservation needs.

Nature obviously is important to Emerick, and so is experiencing it in the proper way, on its own terms, the only way we can truly come to appreciate and fully enjoy it.

Quite the twenty-first century Thoreau, Emerick frequently goes to the woods to find peace and reconnect with nature. He escapes to camp after long academic weeks. He avoids noise and gadgets, and he serves as a guide to others on nature adventures. He asks us to leave behind the modern world when we enter nature, quoting Thoreau as saying, “What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?”

As for modern gadgets, leave them at home when you venture forth. Emerick admits to becoming a bit “unglued” during one experience when a woman on a hike tried to tell him, pointing at a GPS, “We are right here!” Emerick exclaimed, “We are not ‘right there’ on the GPS, we are right here.” And then he informed his group to, “Look, listen, smell….See the mist rising near Ewing Point; smell the woods coming to life; listen to that thrush sing his wondrous melody. Be here, in this real place—not on the map.”

Paradise North by Lon Emerick

Readers will find themselves present with Emerick in each season. Each section covers a season and consists of eight essays, some of which appeared previously in MM. In addition, a letter to prospective U.P. immigrants lays out the “Code of the North.” Numerous illustrations and color photographs capture the northern beauty that even Emerick’s words cannot always describe fully. Emerick also reprints Mark Mitchell’s “Discovering” song, which many readers will agree is, as Emerick dubs it, the “U.P. Anthem.”

As I read, I left my armchair to venture with Emerick into the woods, or walk down a country road, or have pie at the Berry Patch Café in Paradise (Michigan)—while trying to ignore the opinionated troll at the next table—although Emerick finds he cannot ignore such ignorance. Minus the troll, the reading experience was enough to make me feel and see the shadows of the trees across the snow, to smell the crunching autumn leaves, to marvel over the million intricate details of nature as it renews itself each spring. Emerick is a worthy travel companion through nature.

Beyond capturing our U.P. paradise, Emerick reminds us that this paradise must be respected and preserved. He advocates fair hunting, he and wife Lynn have planted “Save the U.P.” flags on each of the U.P.’s corners to remind people to preserve the land for future generations, and he defends our rights to fresh water against mining companies that would threaten it for short-term profit.

Join Lon Emerick in Paradise and learn from the white pine, relax at camp, watch the chickadees, catch falling leaves for luck and experience the comfort of being bonded to a landscape. Emerick provides some wise-yet-humorous maxims to conclude the journey, including “Keep separate what you do for a living from who you are as a person” and “Don’t wear your raincoat in the shower.” In Paradise North, the sage of the U.P.’s woods and waters has spoken.

To learn more about Lon and Lynn Emerick’s works, visit www.northcountrypublishing.com.

 

A Visit with Valley Cats Author Gretchen Preston

May 17, 2012

Today, I am pleased to interview my good friend Gretchen Preston, a fellow U.P. author, who has written the Valley Cats series.

Gretchen is a native of Portland, Oregon. She grew up in a two-parent family with three brothers and one sister. After graduating from the University of Oregon, she went on to graduate school at Arizona State University where she earned a Master’s in Social Work. She worked in Denver, Colorado as a medical social worker on an organ transplant team for many years. Gretchen met her husband Tim, a local Marquette businessman, in April of 2000, when he was visiting a mutual friend in Denver. They married in 2001 and Gretchen relocated to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After retiring from social work, her goal was to become a published author.

Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats series

Gretchen Preston, author of the Valley Cats series

Tyler: Welcome, Gretchen. Let’s get started by your telling us a little about the Valley Cats series, beginning with the two main characters. What can you tell us about Boonie and River?

Gretchen: Boonie and River are two housecat adventurers. The stories are set in our U.P. backyard. Boonie is the older and wiser cat. He is an experienced outdoorsman. After all, Boonie was named after the human, frontiersman, Daniel Boone. River is more timid. His over-protective mistress doesn’t allow him to wander. The cats meet at the Valley pet parade one summer afternoon. After joining forces, the new friends proclaim themselves the “Valley Cats.” The short stories wind their way through the U.P. seasons. The cat-pals go on many adventures including; taking a walk in the winter woods, exploring a shoreline cave and stowing away on a fishing boat. The stories are spun with humor and a gentle style making the text entertaining to kids of all ages. Boonie and River learn about friendship, experience the death of a friend, and trip over life’s hazards.

Currently, there are two completed books in the Valley Cat series. “Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River is 103 pages. It is the first book in the series. The sequel, “More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends” is 143 pages. The hardcover books have 14 fun-filled chapters. Each short story is accompanied by a Karin Neumann full color illustration. The books do not need to be read in order. The second book picks up where the first book left off. The characters and setting are re-introduced for new readers.

Tyler: Rather than writing a full-length book, you’ve written several stories in one volume. What is the benefit of that in your opinion?

Gretchen: Full-length books are intimidating to new readers. Short stories are more accessible. Chapter books are more reader-friendly. We all remember when we advanced from reading primers to chapter books. The chapters stand alone and do not need to be read in order. The colorful illustrations rouse interest in the accompanying story. Children can browse through the books and choose a story which attracts them. The Valley Cat books are written at a fifth grade reading level. Although, accomplished second graders are enjoying the books. Written and punctuated to be read aloud, my books are perfect for lap-time with your favorite child as well as bedtime reading.

Tyler: How is the second book More Valley Cats different from the first one?

More Valley Cats

More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends

Gretchen: “More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends” is forty pages longer. The inside cover is decorated with a map of the Valley enabling readers to follow along with the action. Like the first book, it has a glossary in the back pages making it easy for young readers to look up unfamiliar terms. New characters join the Valley Cat fun when Buddy Boy is adopted from the animal shelter by Big Tim to rid his boat shop of mice. River struggles with accepting a new cat-sister into his family. A batch of orphaned kittens is found in the woods when the Valley Cats are searching for a lost softball. The introduction of these new cat characters expands the Valley Cat antics. The older cats teach the kittens about life in the Valley, the kittens explore their world and relationships become more complex. The cats learn about jealousy, and how to share. Boonie, River and Buddy learn the consequences of knowingly breaking the rules when they venture into the forbidden boat shop. New settings are introduced when Boonie and River tag along on a hike over the ridge where they have never gone before. Little did they realize their adventure would take place in a leaky boat! New friends come to the Valley. Two new human characters are introduced. When a blind professor moves into the vacant house, Boonie learns about blindness. Danny the prankster comes to visit and the cats learn about jokes from the teenage boys.

Tyler: I’m a big fan especially of how you’ve introduced U.P. natural history, places, and culture into your children’s books. Will you give us some examples of what you consider educational moments in your books?

Gretchen: I purposely weave “learning moments” into the text. For example, in the story “Out All Night,” the cats stay out all night during the Perseid meteor showers. Readers learn about shooting stars, the constellations in the August U.P. night sky and how a firefly makes its light. Local plants, animals and the terrain are described in detail in every story. Native birds and their calls ring through the pages. The Valley Cats spend a lot of time observing their world. The cats mistakenly identify the sound of spring peepers for baby birds in trouble, in “Baby Bird Lullaby.” The history of pasties, a local delicacy, is described in “High Meadow Hike.”

Tyler: How did you first get started writing the Valley Cats series?

Gretchen: I made up the first few stories when my five year old friend asked me to tell her a story. Boonie is her cat and River is a neighbor’s cat. I just started spinning a tale about two cats who were adventurers. I used activities that my young friend and I had done when we played in our Valley through the passing seasons. These became the first Boonie and River adventures. I use my life in the Valley as storylines. My characters are my real neighbors and animal friends. The stories write themselves, through me.

Tyler: So the Valley is a real place? Where is it? And how do your neighbors and friends feel about being included in your books?

Gretchen: The Valley lies in the hills which rise gently above the south shore of Lake Superior. Valley Road is a half mile dirt road with only a few family homes. It empties into the deep woods where several of the Valley Cat adventures take place. The actual location is in Chocolay Township, but my setting can be anywhere in the Upper Midwest…wherever your imagination takes you!

Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River

Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River

The Valley Cat series chronicles our life as neighbors. The Valley children do not age as fast in my books as they have done in real life. The stories stop time in a sense. The children of the Valley will always be kids amongst the pages. They are all looking forward to reading “their stories” to their own children someday in the future. It chronicles their childhood, a hardbound diary of our time together. The Valley neighbors are very much a part of my story creation. When I get a storyline idea, I consult all of the human characters. I meet with them and we chat about my idea for the story of which they are a part. I always use real life storylines. I am really not that creative; I just live in a cartoon and write about it! I ask questions to fill in my story ideas. Then, get their verbal permission to create the story. I balance the stories between the characters in hopes that each real life character has his or her “Moment” to be a main character. Of course, for the minor children, I discuss it with both the child and the parents.

Before the books go to print, all the human characters are given a final draft of the story for approval, and have the opportunity to view the accompanying illustration in which they are characterized. After they have read and approved the story, I have them each sign a legal release form giving me permission to use their name and character likeness. I am totally respectful of my characters’ privacy. There are two characters who did not feel comfortable with me using their true-life likeness, so, Karin used another person’s image for that character’s illustration. In only one case a character did not feel comfortable with me using his/her real name. We compromised on using that person’s middle name for the character’s handle. My neighbors think that it is fun to be in the books. It gives them a sense of local stardom. My readership is always thrilled to meet the “real” characters and have their book signed by them. I have some really funny stories about my Valley Cat characters being recognized in public. Honestly, I have more problems of not adding new characters. Everyone wants to be in the books. I am leery to add too many new characters. I think too many characters gets confusing. It is my intent to concentrate on developing the existing characters and limit new ones.

Tyler: Tell us about the illustrations. How do you and illustrator Karin Neumann work together?

Gretchen: I send Karin my story rough drafts as I complete each story. We discuss what would be the most appropriate illustration for each short story. Sometimes we have to compromise to accommodate printing requirements. Each story has one full color illustration. Black and white illustrations are placed on pages to fill empty space. We design the horizon covers together. It takes good communication between author and illustrator to be successful. Illustrators cannot read the author’s mind, so I must be very clear when I am describing my vision for her drawings. Karin and I are partners. We have great respect for each other and have developed a warm working relationship.

Tyler: Gretchen, I know you are visually impaired. Will you tell us about your low vision and how it affects your writing process?

Gretchen: I have a juvenile onset form of macular degeneration. I had normal vision until the fifth grade. I still have some useable sight, but I do not see well enough to have a driver’s license, read street signs or access printed materials. I do my writing on my laptop computer which is equipped with a low vision software product called, “JAWS.” This stands for “job access with speech.” It talks to me while I type. With special keystroke commands I can read my documents by letter, word or line. I have found these features very helpful when pacing my story. It is easy for me to hear when a sentence needs to be edited. Hearing the words helps my flow and makes my stories easy to read aloud.

I had the opportunity recently to be interviewed for a podcast regarding my low vision and how it affects my world. For those who are interested, visit http://www.freedomscientific.com/FSCast/episodes/fscast065-april2012.asp. It is podcast #65, April 2012 with Jonathan Mosen.

Tyler: You often visit schools and give presentations to children. What do you find fulfilling about those events?

Gretchen: I have hosted Young Authors programs in Marquette County the last two years. I have been a presenter at school career days and was awarded a “Home Town Hero” award at one local school. The students are thrilled to meet a “real” writer. It’s really fun to hear their reviews of my work. They make me feel like a super star. The Valley Cats are developing a fan base. Kids are already clambering for the next book. I donate a fair amount of books to school and public libraries. It is not always about selling books. My books are timeless and my fan base is being refreshed on an ongoing basis. I want kids to identify with my characters and the situations they encounter. Some of my stories are just for fun and others have life lessons or educational components. Too much learning and not enough just plain fun will not keep a young reader’s attention. So, I mix it up! The most fulfilling part of writing children’s books is the feedback I get from the kids, their parents and teachers. I had a mom buy a book for her disabled son at a book signing. She told me that her son had checked the first Valley Cats book out of the public library three times and was always reluctant to return it. She grinned when she told me how thrilled her son would be finally to get his very own copy. It is these moments that make me forget the endless hours of editing, production headaches and my financial outlay.

Tyler: Do the children give you many ideas for your books?

Gretchen: I have a “child editor.” Each story is proofread in early rough draft form. I get feedback from a kid’s perspective. My child editor has given me great ideas and feedback. I always ask young readers what is their favorite story and why. I am pleased that so far, each story has its fans. This leads me to think that my stories have something for everyone to enjoy. People often tell me stories about their own cats. Occasionally they will ask me to write them a story about their pet. I have a collection of “Cat Tales” which will be published in the future. I get my ideas for the Valley Cats stories from actual events that have occurred in our Valley. I do stretch the truth a tad.

Tyler: Gretchen, I know you’re busy working on the third book in the series. Can you give us a little preview of what it will be about?

Gretchen: “Valley of the Cats: Earth, Wind and Sky” is filled with Earth science. Old friends return to the Valley and the whole gang goes boat camping on Grand Island. Chapter One is “Snowflakes in the Mirror.” It is a story about the concept of infinity. In another story, “Hippie Hollow” the cats happen upon a music festival in the woods. Illustrations include the Northern Lights, cumulous clouds and the Lake Superior shoreline.

Tyler: Gretchen, will you tell us about your website and where else we can find copies of the Valley Cats books?

Gretchen: My publishing company is Preston Hill Press. Books and illustration prints can be purchased directly from my website, www.prestonhillpress.com. Book sellers are listed on my “Where to Buy” page. I prefer to have my books placed at independent bookstores and gift shops. I have placed books for sale at places where kids frequent, The U.P. Children’s Museum, the Marquette Maritime Museum and ice cream stores. I have also placed my books at non-traditional book selling locations, including veterinarian offices and pet stores. I have books offered as “thank you gifts” for our local National Public Radio station fundraising events. Valley Cats books are available throughout the U.P. and northern Michigan.

Gretchen Preston speaking at the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association Conference April 2012

Gretchen Preston speaking at the U.P. Publishers and Authors Association Conference April 2012, and wearing her cat jacket.

Tyler: What if people want to meet you in person? Do you have any events you’ll be attending this summer or Christmas season?

Gretchen: Both Karin Neumann and I will be at the Outback Festival in Marquette the last weekend in July. I am currently negotiating appearance dates in June at the Moosewood Nature Center on Presque Isle. There may be opportunities for UPPAA members to sell books in Michigamme at their summer farmer’s and artists markets. No dates for their markets have been announced, but I will let everyone know the upcoming dates and times. I will be in Curtis selling books with you, Tyler, at their Art Fair on September 1st. Karin and I both plan to be in attendance at the WLUC TV6 Holiday Crafts show the first weekend in December in the Superior Dome in Marquette. Consult our “Coming Events” page on the website where appearances are posted. The list is updated as appearances are confirmed. I am always willing to talk about or sell books. I donate to silent auctions and community fundraising events. I can be contacted via email at prestonhillpress@gmail.com or by telephone at 906.360.7608.

My summer goals include producing the Valley Cat series as a CD. It will be locally audio recorded. Additionally, the books will be produced in Braille for blind children. We are also discussing converting them into an e-book.

Tyler: Thank you, Gretchen, for the interview. It’s been a real pleasure. I’ll be looking forward to reading that third book.

Early Upper Michigan Literature – a Brief and Incomplete History

July 18, 2011

The U.P. Author Book Tour is in its last week, but several events are still happening. You can find the list of the remaining events at: http://rariekki.webs.com/apps/blog/. The book tour has generated a lot of discussion about Michigan, and specifically Upper Michigan authors, both present and past, so I wanted to post a little about the legacy of Upper Michigan literature. I am sure there is much more than what I will post here so I invite others to let me know of any early U.P. literature I forget. Finally, thank you once again to Ron Riekki, author of U.P. for all his work organizing the biggest literary event in Upper Michigan history with more than 60 authors over the course of a month!

The Beginnings

the song of hiawatha

The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Upper Michigan literature really begins with the Native Americans since they were here first. They practiced oral traditions and talked about their myths and the supernatural creatures and beautiful Great Lakes area. Much of this wonderful oral tradition has probably been lost, but some parts of it were preserved. As far as printed books go, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft and his half-Ojibwa wife, Jane Schoolcraft, lived at the Sault and wrote down several Ojibwa legends that were collected into book form. Various versions of these works exist today. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used these stories to compose his famous The Song of Hiawatha in 1855. Longfellow never set foot in Upper Michigan, but we can claim him as one of our own for first making Upper Michigan significant in literature on a nationwide level. The poem remains well-known today and the U.P. continues to commemorate the Hiawatha legend in the Hiawatha National Forest that composes a large part of central Upper Michigan as well as the Hiawatha Music Festival held in Marquette every July (coming this weekend July 22-24–visit www.hiawathamusic.org). And any true Yooper knows Lake Superior’s true name is Gitchee Gumee, as Longfellow states:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

ojibwa narratives charles kawbawgam

Ojibwa Narratives

Once you read the poem, the rhythm never gets out of your head. An interesting sidenote is that Longfellow borrowed the meter for the poem from the famous Finnish epic, the Kalevala–a work also well-known in Upper Michigan because of the large number of Finnish immigrants who have come to this area, although a generation after Longfellow’s poem was written.

Another wonderful collection of Ojibwa narratives are those that Chief Charles Kawbawgam of Marquette and his brother-in-law Jacques LePique told to Homer Kidder in the 1890s (a depiction of this event is included in my novel Iron Pioneers). The manuscript was not published until 1994 by Wayne State University as Ojibwa Narratives, but it is another example of early Upper Michigan literature.

The First Novels

Snail-Shell Harbor Langille

Snail-Shell Harbor by J.H. Langille

I am uncertain what the first Upper Michigan novel was, but for now, my best guess is Snail-Shell Harbor (1870) by J.H. Langille. This novel is set in the bustling early village of Fayette, Michigan, once an iron-smelting town in the Garden Peninsula. Today it is a famous Michigan ghost-town. The novel describes the everyday life in the village of the ironworkers, fishing in the harbor, and the life and death struggles that those early pioneers faced. A reprint of the book is available at Great Lakes Romances. Fayette is today a historic park open to visitors. For more information, visit Historic Fayette State Park.

Anne by constance fenimore Woolson

Anne by Constance Fenimore Woolson

Another early novel is Constance Fenimore Woolson’s Anne (1882) set on Mackinac Island. Woolson was the great-niece of James Fenimore Cooper. she lived in Ohio but dearly loved to visit Mackinac Island. She was the aunt to Samuel and Henry Mather, owners of the Cleveland Mining Company. Henry Mather’s home still stands in Marquette, Michigan today, although no record exists that Woolson visited any of Upper Michigan other than Mackinac Island. When Woolson died, her nephew Samuel erected Anne’s Tablet on Mackinac Island in her memory. On the tablet is a passage from the novel. The novel itself has beautiful descriptions of Mackinac Island in winter, and frankly the Mackinac Island scenes are the most worth reading. It is a rather conventional romance novel of its time in that the heroine leaves the island and goes to the East Coast where she falls in love with a man in society but is ultimately jilted and returns home to Mackinac Island. It is not a great novel, but it is well worth reading for the descriptions of Mackinac Island alone.

Children’s Books

Much of Upper Michigan’s early nineteenth century literature is in the form of children’s books.

In 1904, Marquette author Carroll Watson Rankin published Dandelion Cottage, which is still considered a minor classic by many children’s literature enthusiasts. She reputedly wrote it because her daughter complained that she had read every book ever written for little girls. The story is about four little girls growing up in Lakeville in Upper Michigan who want a playhouse. The church allows them to use a small rental property it has in exchange for picking the dandelions off the lawn. The novel is based on a real house which still stands in Marquette today. See my previous post on Dandelion Cottage. Rankin went on to write several more books, including three sequels to Dandelion Cottage.

James Cloyd Bowman lived across the street from Rankin on Ridge Street in Marquette. He was the head of the English department at Northern State Teacher’s College (now NMU). He became famous for his children’s book story collections, especially Pecos Bill for which he won the Newberry Medal, but he also published a book about Upper Michigan’s own Paul Bunyan, and Tales from a Finnish Tupa (doubtless because of the Finnish population in the U.P.) and he wrote a little known novel Mystery Mountain, set in a fictional version of Marquette and featuring the Hotel Superior. I imagine he and Carroll Watson Rankin knew each other, living across the street from one another. If only their conversations had been recorded.

Two other children’s authors from Marquette were Dorothy Maywood Bird and Holly Wilson. Bird’s best known book, Granite Harbor (1944) is also set in a fictional Marquette and tells of a girl from Texas who comes to stay in Upper Michigan. Although resistant to her new home at first, she soon discovers how much fun a girl can have in the U.P., especially in winter with skiing and other activities. Bird wrote a couple of other novels as well.

Holly Wilson grew up in Marquette on Arch Street. She wrote several children’s books set in Upper Michigan, and others just set in the Great Lakes region. Among her best books are Clara the Unconquered, which depicts a fictionalized version of Marquette in its early years, Deborah Todd, the story of a girl’s antics based on Wilson’s childhood, and The Hundred Steps, about the hundred steps in Marquette that led from Ridge Street down to the harbor; Wilson uses the steps to depict the class divisions in the town.

U.P. Literature Becomes Famous

Anatomy of a murder by Robert TraverDr. James Cloyd Bowman taught creative writing at Northern, and one of his students was John Voelker, who would publish the bestselling Anatomy of a Murder (1956) under the pen name Robert Traver. Voelker used to bring his writing to where Bowman was residing and go over his stories with him. Wouldn’t we love to have those conversations recorded as well? Of all the novels to come out of Upper Michigan, Anatomy of a Murder remains the best known. It is based on a real murder that took place in Big Bay. Voelker was the defense attorney in the court case, and consequently, he was well-qualified to write a fictionalized version of it. In 1959, it was made into the film of the same name, starring Jimmy Stewart, Eve Arden, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara, and Arthur O’Connell.

Upper Michigan Literature Today

Novels set in the Upper Peninsula remained relatively few throughout the rest of the twentieth century, but in the last decade the number has grown tremendously as more and more locals come to appreciate how special Upper Michigan is as well as changes in the publishing industry allow people to self-publish their books.

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton

Well-known authors like Jim Harrison have depicted Upper Michigan in books like Returning to Earth. Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat series (The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare etc.) are set in a fictionalized U.P. town. Mystery novelist Steve Hamilton has set several books in the U.P. including Misery Bay . (You can catch Steve Hamilton as part of the U.P. Author Book Tour. He makes his last appearance on Beaver Island on Thursday afternoon, July 21st at the museum).  These authors have all achieved nationwide attention.

The list of UP authors today is far too numerous to list them all. I encourage anyone interested in who is writing about the U.P. today to visit the UP Publishers and Authors Association for a list of all the member authors’ books. Another, far from complete list of U.P. authors can be found at my website www.MarquetteFiction.com.

I began writing novels set in Upper Michigan back in 1987, although I did not publish any until 2006. I felt strongly that Upper Michigan is full of stories, wonderful characters, dramatic episodes, significant history, and beautiful settings. The perfect place to write about. At the beginning of my first published novel Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One, I inserted the following quote from Ralph Williams’ biography of Marquette pioneer Peter White. I think those words, more than a century old, remain true today about why Upper Michigan literature is and will continue to be significant:

Iron Pioneers The marquette trilogy book one tyler r. tichelaar

Iron Pioneers: The Marquette Trilogy, Book One

“The beginnings, therefore, of this great iron industry are historically important and are of interest to every citizen in the United States, for there is not a man or woman today living who has not been, directly or indirectly, benefited by the great mineral wealth of the Lake Superior country and the labor of winning it and working it into the arts . . . . Has it not the elements in it out of which to weave the fabric of the great American novel so long expected and so long delayed? For the story is distinctly American. Indeed there is nothing more distinctly American.”

—Ralph Williams, The Honorable Peter White: A Biographical Sketch of the Lake Superior Iron Country (1905)