Available NOW!!!

Available NOW!!! Brinda Miracle (not her real name) steals out of Redding, Connecticut in the spring of 1911 in charge of an orphan train. Though an accredited nurse and teacher, Brinda is fleeing trumped-up allegations stemming from the crib death of a baby in her care as a nanny.

An orphan herself, Brinda arrives at an orphaned orphanage in St. Paul, Minnesota with three children still in her care: Nicholas, twelve, a crime solver with special needs and special talents—most notably those of a pickpocket; Maxine, eight, with seemingly no need for anyone and no discernible talent; and Zane, six, whose amber eyes instill fear in those who fail to look deeper.

The Miracles (Americana #7) is an historical crime satire set in a gangster haven which welcomed criminals into St. Paul as long as they didn't commit crimes in St. Paul. The novel follows the four orphans as they are welcomed into a neighborhood which features Nina Clifford's fashionable whorehouse on one side and the Bucket of Blood Saloon down the block. Brinda and the children grow into their own niches to survive amid Prohibition Era corruption while dabbling in a little bootlegging of their own through the early years of the Great Depression.

About Me

My photo
Will Tinkham has published seven novels: THE MIRACLES, THE CARY GRANT SANATORIUM AND PLAYHOUSE, THE GREAT AMERICAN SCRAPBOOK, THE ADVENTURES OF HANK FENN, BONUS MAN, NO HAPPIER STATE, and ALICE AND HER GRAND BELL. He lives and writes in Minneapolis, MN. His short fiction has been published on three continents and he long ago attended Bread Loaf on a scholarship. An actor of little renown, his credits do include the Guthrie Theater and Theatre in the Round. @WillTinkhamfictionist on Facebook, @willtink on Twitter

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

This is Worse: COVID-19 vs C-Diff

Last night I got to thinking about a bout with C-Diff (Clostridioides difficile) I endured after contracting the bacterium during back surgery shortly after Thanksgiving of 2012. I tried to compare my singular month-long isolation in the hospital—followed by thirty more days in a rehab center—to our current stay-at-home, social-distancing dilemma. Despite sleepless nights on some sort of ventilator when the C-Diff attacked my lungs or the trip to ICU when it went after my heart, I've concluded that this is worse.

I was alone with my malady back then, happy to have a hospital staff frantically trying to keep me alive. At times, when it got to be too much, I would've been happy to die. (9% fatality rate, I read somewhere when I finally got the strength to read.) I was alone but everyone was fighting with me. Now we're all alone—armed only with soap and sanitizer, and our uneasiness and our fears.

I'm healthy and my job, somehow, deemed essential. I still take my walk to and from it, but I see no one. At work I wear lime-green gloves while checking in people's packages. Later I'll try to direct them to their latest Amazon order on the table outside the round window of my office. (“No, your other left!” I'll yell.)

People pause in the lobby twenty feet from my office door where they'd normally walk right in. They half-smile or shrug, maybe both. I yell something they don't quite hear and there's nervous laughter.

The grocery store is even scarier. People seem afraid to look at one another, as if a smile could either give off or attract the virus. The check-out people are saints and I hope they don't notice frivolities like my KitKats and carmel-corn as they risk their lives ringing up my necessities.

No, this is worse. We're all alone, wandering aimlessly yet dependent on one another not to wander too close. I got it or they do. I'm sure you're a nice person, but back off! And it's not ending any time soon.

I remember my first day back at work in late January of 2013. Too weak yet to walk to work, I stood at the bus stop. I recall the temp was 4 degrees and I felt so damn good to have walked that block—the first thing I'd done on my own in two months. Now, whether it be hugging a friend or simply picking up a package with my bare hands, I hope to feel a similar exhilaration when this is finally over.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

On Nancy Cary

(photo lifted from her FB page. Sorry)

Sunday evening I got word that my old friend Nancy Cary had passed away from complications during a surgical procedure. I met Nancy in San Jose, I guess in 1983. She was dating my roommate and high school buddy Don Cary. You guessed it, they eventually married.
We all attended DeAnza College. Don studied film, Nancy a poet. We had a great time, then Don went and got accepted to the San Diego State film program, and they left town.
I sent Don a text today offering my condolences and all that. He wrote back about the San Jose Bees minor league baseball games we used to go to. [See Jan. 27, 2011 post concerning Kirby Puckett.] Don and I and Bodie from Tennessee and Tex from Mississippi. Beers you could barely lift for a buck and much heckling of players on both sides. Nancy fit right in. I had forgotten how much so.
I stayed more in touch with Nancy, through facebook, over the years. Her posts showed a deep joy and involvement in the area's writing scene and an organization called So Say We All in San Diego. And now, surely, there is a whole community as stunned and shocked as I am at her passing.
You are already missed, Nancy.

Monday, November 4, 2019


2019 Saint Paul Almanac reading at Eat My Words Bookstore.

Click above link to see my whole head and listen to the entire reading. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

On page 6

Last night I attended a gala for the release of the 2019 Saint Paul Almanac. (You'll find me on page 6, “More Champagne?”, an excerpt from The Miracles.) I checked in, received my free copy and a check. Book in hand (and a cool $50 in pocket), I checked out the view of CHS Field as the party was held in a fancy room above the first-base line. Nice ballpark.

Finding no one I knew (and thus, a little uncomfortable), I noticed a group of couches in a U-shape—a three-seater with two two-seaters facing each other. A couple occupied one of the two-seaters and I sat on the one across from them. Soon two women sat on the three-seater and the one closest to me—a poet—asked me if I was in the book. “Page 6,” I said. She gave me the page number of her poem. It was wonderful, all about the river, atrocities committed on its banks and Native people's disbelief over how intruders could treat it so poorly.

I mentioned how much I liked it and noticed how much trouble she was having reading my piece. “It's too long to read here,” I said, and she went on to explain some contraption she had at home that helped her read. I pictured an “overhead projector” like they used back in high school. She mentioned wanting to write a novel, but they were too long and it would be difficult. I mentioned wishing I could write poetry but it was too short, which made it difficult. I paraphrased Mark Twain apologizing in a letter to a friend about its length: “I would've kept it shorter but I didn't have the time.” She laughed. It was noisy and difficult to have a conversation.

About then a woman asked if the seat next to me was open. It was, and she and her grown daughter—I assume—squeezed in. Three, now, in my two-seater. A third woman joined mother and daughter, sat on the large coffee table that filled all the space in front of the couches and precluded any possible escape on my part.

I was uncomfortable. And once the program began I found those speaking were behind me and I couldn't even turn around to watch. During a lull, the woman crammed next to me asked if I was in the book. “Page 6,” I said. “You?”

Her excitement made me comfortable. She searched for one of four pieces of art she had in the book, finally finding a brightly colored painting of a woman with a green crown. Before she could find the others, her woman with the crown showed up on the big screen. I tapped her shoulder and she went wild.

Yet another woman found her way onto the big couch. I caught her name but she wasn't in the book. She made a hasty exit as the publisher came up to speak. The new speaker mentioned all involved in the publication, then singled out one person who had made a particularly large donation. It was the woman who had run away.

Maybe this is what the Almanac is all about—a poet who listens to her river being abused, an artist who fills her work with color, emotion and love, and a generous benefactor who wanted none of the spotlight. Not quite sure where I fit in, but it's getting more comfortable all the time.

Then the readings began and three women cried as they read their poems—one speaking of her son, Philando, being killed by a cop.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

On Botany and DNA

Several years ago, a plant sat dying in the lobby of the posh condo building I work at. Myrna, the resident who volunteers to provide and keep alive the lobby plants and flowers, gave me the plant to set atop a cabinet in the office where such things go to die. I placed it in its plant purgatory with little fanfare. None, as a matter of fact.

I took to dumping the remains of my water bottle into the vase—the backwash I was too lazy to take all the way back to the sink to pour out. Day after day, I deposited the tepid water from the previous night into the pot. Several times during each shift, I'd pour the KitKat-laced spittle from the bottom of my bottle over the pathetic plant.

One day Myrna noticed the plant atop the cabinet. “That thing still alive?”

“It's my DNA,” I offered.

Myrna decided it deserved a better pot. As she made the transfer, it was hard to imagine the water that poured out of that thing. She commented that no plant could survive such over-watering.

It became the emergency plant—when Myrna couldn't get to the florist after something else had really died—and periodically enjoyed its former place the lobby. I continued to dump my waste water on the thing until one day a pink bud appeared. It had never flowered before.

With Myrna temporarily slowed by a walker, the plant has again become the centerpiece of the lobby. And I've continued to generally abuse it. It sprouted a second bud.

Was it my DNA in the backwash? Had my ancestors hung the Hanging Gardens? Was I a Venus flytrap in a former life? Or perhaps eaten by one?

Questions such as these have mystified botanists since the dawn of time (or perhaps not), but one thing is for sure: This was an obvious fluke, never ever let me near your plants!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

On Re-meeting Carolyn Forché

I began this blog eight years ago because I was told a writer needed a blog. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with a blog and still don't. I thought I'd begin by recording some stories of famous writers I'd met. I started with John Gardner and Raymond Carver, and—to show my versatility—filtered in Kirby Puckett (okay, it was just a tip of the helmet) and a First Avenue encounter with Michael Stipe.

With these four luminaries headlining the blog, my followers still stalled out at six. (It may say seven on the blog but two are really just one person.) Then a few friends died and my blog turn into an obituary column. My number of followers remained at six. I scrapped the name-dropping idea, even with the likes of Carolyn Forché and Tim O'Brien still left to capitalize on. After all, if getting hit on by Michael Stipe doesn't get peoples' attention, what will?

(And, yes, eight years later I still have the same six followers. I'm hoping the “follow” button in broken.)

Image result for carolyn forcheAnyhow, word recently came out that Carolyn Forché was coming to town to read at the Plymouth Congregational Church. Couldn't miss that. The last time I was aware of her being in town was maybe thirty years ago at the Walker, shortly after I had had the pleasure of working with her on something called the Iron Range Documentation Project up in Duluth. The project teamed up writers and photographers to stay with families on the Range and included a reading on Duluth Public Radio. Very few writers signed on, which was fine with me for it left me with plenty of Carolyn's time and plenty of radio airtime. After the Walker reading we had talked at length, and she even invited me to drop by where she and her husband were staying the next night so she could look at some of my stories. This never happened as she got into a car accident the next day.

After thirty years I didn't expect much if I got a chance to speak with her again. Though certainly she'd remember the car wreck.

I arrived early and purchased her new book, What You Have Heard Is True. Her reading was terrific, her commentary on El Salvador riveting, as expected. While in line to have her sign my book, I rehearsed what I'd say to her in those precious few seconds to try to rekindle a memory.

As I reached the signing table, I spotted a tiny woman squeezing between it and the buying table. She had a large man in tow and proceeded to introduce Carolyn to him.

You're muscling in on my time, lady, I thought as I pushed the book toward Carolyn.

I served you food at Bread Loaf back in '82,” I said to Carolyn, referring to our first encounter while she was on the Bread Loaf staff, and I was there on a “working scholarship”. “And later I was in on that Iron Range Project where—”

Carolyn interrupted by saying the tiny woman was the organizer of the Iron Range deal.

What's your name?” the tiny woman asked.

Will Tinkham,” I told Carolyn.

I don't recall that that name,” the tiny woman said as my time ticked away. “No, I'm sorry, but I don't remember that name at all...”

Carolyn handed the now-signed book back to me. “I waited tables at Bread Loaf myself back in '71,” she said, then referred to my sling: “Hope your arm heals okay.”

I guess I should've mentioned the car wreck. I hope she got out of town okay.

This is an example of how I network.

Friday, February 22, 2019

On April 10, 7pm

Will Tinkham reads
from his new novel,
The Miracles.

April 10, 7pm
@Magers & Quinn
3038 Hennepin
   Ave S., Uptown