BREAKING NEWS

I've decided to self-pub my three novels. ALICE & HER GRAND BELL will be first, early 2015.

It tells concurrent stories of two families—unwittingly related—and two eras. It goes like this: At the brink of the first Gulf War, 18-year-old Brock dreads his sister's deployment in the Gulf while he seeks answers for twin brothers lost to Vietnam. Instead, he discovers his father's secret about dodging World War II and a legendary family Civil War hero is exposed as no more than a deserter. The parallel story deals with Grace—born of the rape of her mother by that same Yankee deserter—and her family's journey through the South's Reconstruction. Grace grows from teenage baseball writer to venerable whistle-blower—fighting for Woman's Suffrage and the Cincinnati Reds, and against the Indiana KKK and most everything else.


What people are saying about ALICE & HER GRAND BELL:


Hello, I'm Grace. Mr. Tinkham wrote this book, in part, about me. I am long dead. There's a lot of death in my story (but a lot of laughs, too). My sister's father died during the Civil War (at Fort Pillow before the massacre). My father, a Yankee deserter, raped my mother and died soon after, having left behind his guns for my mother to shoot him dead with. I became a journalist of some note and was murdered shortly after finding out who assassinated my step-father. Confused? Don't feel bad, why even this Tinkham fellow seems unsure of just how I died.


Brock McCoy here. Half the book concerns me chasing demons and secrets from my family's past. I'd like to thank Mr. Tinkham for sending me up to Toronto and putting me in love with an incredible woman more than twice my age. Of course, once she came to her senses and dumped me...well, nothing quite worked out with girls my own age. Thankfully Mr. Tinkham provides enough confusion in my life to keep my mind off such things.


I'm Peaches. As a Greyhound-traveling-pill-freak, I terrorized Brock early in the book but, by the end, his sister touts me as her savior. How 'bout that? I'd actually like to thank Mr. Tinkham for allowing me to clean up my act and become a worthwhile member of ALICE & HER GRAND BELL.

write under their noses

This website is an attempt to explain my novels and myself. The photos below are characters from my other two (unpublished) novels, NO HAPPIER STATE and BONUS MAN.

*Susan Tinkham, my talented sister, gets credit for adroitly slipping my mug in where Teddy's ought to be. All photos are used without permission and will likely disappear quickly (lest I find myself in legal trouble). She is currently at work on the cover for Alice...

*Susan Tinkham, my talented sister, gets credit for adroitly slipping my mug in where Teddy's ought to be. All photos are used without permission and will likely disappear quickly (lest I find myself in legal trouble). She is now working on the cover for Alice...

Monday, November 24, 2014

On Amsterdam Reading

So the Almanac reading at the Amsterdam was a wonderful event. A wide array of readers, a nice crowd, no fights erupted at the bar. Personally, after an early glitch, it went off nicely, though I'd have to see the video to be sure.

First thing I noticed when I arrived was that there was no podium on stage. Every reading I've ever taken part in had a podium. No big deal, you might think, but if you have Essential Tremors—like me—it's kind of a big deal. It's not a nervous thing; the tremors just happen—home alone, my hands shook as I practiced reading from the book. I sought out the man in charge, David Stein, and explained my situation. He scrounged a music stand from somewhere and announced that it was there for any of the readers to use. Of course, I was the only one in need.

When he introduced me about halfway into the show, I jumped onstage, dragged the stand to the mic, struggled mightily to get it to the proper height—all the while wondering what the crowd must be thinking of this guy who required a stand while others had read from their books or their phones. (If you're curious about the photo that accompanies this post: It was staged, after the fact, by my friend John Lutter. Looking at it you'd think I was as steady as the next guy, wouldn't you?)

Like I said, my part seemed to go smoothly after that. If the video affirms that I'll post it here, if not you're on your own finding it...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Under Construction

Reconfiguring the site here in anticipation of self-pub'g my novels (see above). Life's too short... My sister Susan Tinkham is at work on the first cover, which should liven the page up. Bought a book on formatting an eBook; I'm sure I'll figure it out anyway...

As I mentioned in my last post (long ago), I'll be reading on November 22 at the Amsterdam in St. Paul. I get nine minutes and they say it'll be on YouTube.

Also heading to St. Paul Saturday night to take a class, something about protecting your characters. I'm actually taking it in the hope of protecting myself. Some of my characters are real historical figures and I'd like to be able to cover myself in case some relative doesn't care how I portrayed their granddaddy. I had hoped to find a literary agency with a team of lawyers but, again, life's too short.

That's it; don't say I never post...

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Amsterdam

I'll be reading at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, downtown Saint Paul, on Saturday, November 22 @ 1pm, as part of the Saint Paul Almanac Literary Festival. (Or so they told me; I haven't seen anything official yet.) I scouted the place out by attending the Lady Parts Justice event hosted by old friend Lizz Winstead the other night. Lizz was wonderful, as always. This is the least blurry picture I took all night. (I think I need an iTripod for my phone.) I have really blurry shots of the Prairie Fire Choir and Rude Girl, an all-girl Clash cover band. It was an amazing event, even if I didn't win any prizes.
The Amsterdam is huge; I'll be curious to see how they set it up for a reading. The rest of the series seems to be held at coffee houses all over town. Info here. Stop by come November if you can. (I'll do more serious pleading later...)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fraud on the 21

Last night I rode the 21A for an hour and 15 minutes to attend the book launch for the 2015 Saint Paul Almanac. Despite being a stranger in a strange town, I found the Black Dog Cafe and ventured inside, eventually finding my free copy, a $50 check and getting a rose pinned to my lapel—all for having a story in their wonderful book. They had speakers and readers, all singing the praises of their home city of Saint Paul. There were childhood memories, reflections on buildings and attractions long since gone; a five-year-old even danced to the spirits of indigenous peoples who inhabited the area thousands of years ago. I felt guilty for crashing their party.

I stole out of town the same way I came in, on the 21. Now I had the Almanac to read. I read about old chocolate factories, Red Owl groceries, kids playing hide-and-seek amid coffins. I read true stories of generations growing up and growing old in Saint Paul. Why was I in this book? I'd spent most of my adult life in Minneapolis. I'd written a fictional tale of a fictional doctor taking a fictional bullet out of John Dillinger's shoulder. Had I taken their money and space in their book on false pretenses? I opened the Almanac to my bio: sure enough, I hadn't even bothered to fess up to being from Minneapolis. Fraud!

Was I any better than Dillinger himself? He took advantage of the hospitality Saint Paul had to offer, then blew town with his ill-gotten gains. As the 21 pulled into the Uptown Station, I checked my coat pocket for that check—my own filthy lucre—and vowed...nothing. Who was I kidding? I'd never change. I slunk back to my Minneapolis apartment. I'm not proud of the path my life has taken. Once a writer always a writer. So shoot me...



(Look, I even lifted that picture of the dancing kid from the Almanac FB page! Have I no shame?)

Friday, August 29, 2014

On the calendar...

So they're having a gala for the release of the 2015 Saint Paul Almanac. I'm in the book but not involved in the festivities. 

September 11 at 7pm. Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar, 308 Prince Street, St. Paul.

There's more information but it took me a damn hour just to get this one image to appear. Nothing else works. Try saintpaulalmanac.org.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Thoughts on Northwoods, Bread Loaf, John Gardner

On the bus back from the Northwoods Writers' Conference in Bemidji I opened a volume of short stories to one by John Gardner called “Redemption.” At the conference on Friday, Judson Mitcham talked extensively about Gardner, mentioning the accident that killed him in 1982. The accident involved him and his motorcycle going off a cliff. He also mentioned an event in Gardner's childhood in which Gardner accidentally killed his brother with a piece of farm machinery, which of course tormented him for the rest of his life. I'm not sure if I'd heard that story or read “Redemption” before but they both seemed vaguely familiar.
“Redemption,” begins with a boy, Jack Hawthorne, accidentally killing his brother David with a tractor towing a cultipacker. Their father, Dale Hawthorne, is destroyed by this, as one could imagine. He blames himself, as a father would. Then comes this passage:
“Or he would ride away on his huge, darkly thundering Harley-Davidson 80, trying to forget, morbidly dwelling on what he'd meant to put behind him—how David had once laughed, cake in his fists; how he'd once patched a chair with precocious skill—or Dale Hawthorne would think, for the hundredth time, about suicide, hunting in mixed fear and anger for some reason not to miss the next turn, fly off to the right of the next iron bridge onto the moonlit gray rocks and black water below...”
I was at Bread Loaf in 1982 (see Jan. 21, 2011 post), two weeks before Gardner died. As Judson Mitcham talked on Friday about his days with Gardner, I recalled a talk given back in '82 on Moral Fiction. Gardner strode into a packed house at Bread Loaf, the crowd hushed as he reached the podium and said: “If you're not writing politically, you're not writing shit.” With that he left the room. I recounted this story later to Judson, adding that I had a one-on-one with Gardner several days after his “speech” and asked him about it. Gardner asked me what everyone had been talking about all week. He said that he could've spent 45 minutes on the subject but it wouldn't have had nearly the impact as hundreds of people talking non-stop about it for days. Judson said that he was at Bread Loaf two years later and people were still talking about it. And here we were, thirty years after that, talking about it still.
Anyway, if you're at a writers' conference and have a John Gardner story, you're bound to get people's attention (see Feb.2, 2011 post).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

On the ocean

The Northwoods Writers' Conference has come to a close. A wonderful experience! When applying earlier this year, it seemed like a good idea to stay through Sunday since the Saturday morning events ran right up to the departure time for my bus. That decision has left me all alone here with 23+ hours to kill before my bus tomorrow. On-line weather says 80% chance of rain all day.

With my time I've written a new query letter, per Sheri Joseph's--the conference fiction guru--suggestions. Took a couple hours and it's much better. The sun peeked out and I took a last walk around Diamond Point Park. I sat at the very point and looked out over Lake Bemidji. A binocular-like contraption on a stand stood right in front of me. I thought to look out through it but decided against it--I liked the vastness of the lake and didn't want to diminish it. A kid--maybe eight--ran by me and right up to the binocular set-up. He looked out, then turned to what I assume was his sister and yelled, "Look! Can see the ocean bigger!" His sister ran up and took the quickest possible look before running after her brother.

With the wind blowing in, the waves actually crashed against the shore. I got up to come back here and write about the boy. Walking along the lake I watched a bunch of older kids swimming out past signs that read: DANGER! DROP-OFF. NO SWIMMING! They were plenty old enough to read, so they obviously took this as an invitation. Gimme a kid who doesn't know a lake from an ocean any day...

It's pouring rain right now and they're probably still swimming.