For Hank, Sam never became Mark Twain. As a riverboat pilot, Sam saved young Hank from the crushing paddle wheels as the boy stowed away on the City of Memphis. Sam returned Hank to Minnesota when news reached downriver that Hank's mother was on trial for killing the father Hank had run away from. Years later, in a barber's chair prior to his mother's funeral, Hank reads a frog story that's awful close to a tall tale Sam once told. The magazine claims it's written by a fellow named Mark Twain.

THE ADVENTURES OF HANK FENN (Americana #4) sends Hank searching the West—and then the East—for Mr. Twain. All along he and Sam exchange letters and make plans that never seem to get them together—Twain always on the road or abroad. Hank does find hatred and brutality while railroading and mining throughout this new frontier. He finds Calamity Jane in a Wyoming mining camp and Custer breaking treaties. He finds the Emperor of these United States. Ultimately Hank finds love, boys to raise and gold to unearth on a Black Hills mountaintop.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

On November 7: A Book Launch

My latest novel, THE GREAT AMERICAN SCRAPBOOK (Americana #5), will launch on November 7 (7pm) at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Uptown Minneapolis. (Details will certainly follow.)

Beginning with George W. Bush's “Mission Accomplished” speech of May 1, 2003 and culminating on Election Night '04, The Great American Scrapbook follows more important things like Brock McCoy falling in love, the perils of three fictional Minneapolis rock 'n' roll bands, and two long-lost siblings' efforts to maintain the historical significance of a newspaper woman murdered in the 1920s.

Brock, 31, lives in his mother's basement near Lake Harriet. Newly returned from Toronto, he stumbles into a gig as bass player in an all-girl rock band. He falls in love with Jenna on lead guitar. Back home he does what he can to ease the burden on his sister Nancy and her Gulf War I-related PTSD, as well as comfort his mother and her back that just won't heal. On a table in the basement is an old scrapbook that Brock helps Peaches try to turn into something publishable.

Oh, did I mention they solve the mystery of D.B. Cooper?

Like my other books, we celebrate real-life characters in The Great American Scrapbook, most notably Brock's bandmates Kevin Foley, Steve Foley and Kevin Calhoun Hazlett, as well as celebrities still among us like Sherwin Linton, Johnny Rey, and Bill Murray in his role as part-owner of the Saint Paul Saints.

Please stop by on November 7 (before packing for Canada) and give a listen to the reading and whatever else transpires. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On Meeting Sherwin Linton

I had an ulterior motive for wanting to see Sherwin Linton last night at the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Sure he's a country legend throughout the Midwest but he's also a character in my novel-in-progress, The Great American Scrapbook. Another character, Peaches, runs away from her Mount Rushmore home at 15. And 16. And 17. I really had nowhere for her to go until I saw this photo—lifted from I googled the guitar player, found that he had a radio show out of Watertown, SD back in the 50s, traveled all over the state playing his rockabilly and, just like that, Peaches was running away to see Sherwin Linton shows.

I made it over to Lake Harriet with the hope of talking to Sherwin and getting his okay to use him in the book. I was early and noticed Sherwin walking up the aisle, shaking hands and chatting with everyone in attendance. Perfect. I slipped onto a bench about four rows up from where he was. Row by row he laughed and shook hands and I practiced my quick pitch: Would you mind be a character in a novel? Have you ever met Bob Dylan? [In my book he encounters Dylan before Bob became famous.]

Sherwin made it to the row ahead of mine, reached out to shake a man's hand, then turned—standing right smack in front of me—and said: “Sorry I can't meet ya all but I got a show to do.” And he headed to the stage.

The show itself was a good old time. Sherwin's gruff voice, loving banter between he and his wife/vocalist Pam, plenty of pedal-steel guitar—even a 13 year old sweetheart of a guest singer.

I bought a couple of Sherwin Linton for President bumper stickers and hung around for a second shot at speaking with the man. Finally he turned to me. I shook his hand and said, “This might sound strange but I'm using you as a character in a novel and I'm hoping you don't mind.” He smiled broadly and asked about the book and if I'd written others. I explained Peaches running away to see his shows and them meeting again later in life. He handed me his card—as I handed him mine—and said he was “flattered” and “tickled pink” at the idea.

You can even use my real name, if you'd like,” he said a couple of times—possibly under the misconception that my books are widely read.

Thank you, Sherwin! I hope I can do you justice in the book.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

On Stocking Shelves

There's nothing quite like getting to schlepp a new supply of books over to Magers & Quinn after my readers all but cleaned them out. Satisfaction! Even discussed a book launch for my next novel with Annie, the book buyer, after I mentioned that there's at least one scene that takes place in their very bookstoreand several more down the street at the old Uptown Bar. We also discussed a new distribution option that will require a hike in my prices, which she admitted were pretty low. Hear that? PRETTY LOW. So, if you've been planning to buy, buy now or pay a couple bucks more later.

Did a reading the other night that I've failed to mention. Another Cracked Walnut affair, this time at Golden's Lowertown. Went over quite well.

Oh, and that Amazon page length snafu I mentioned in my last post was finally cleared up after only three short weeks. Thanks for tuning in!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

On the phone with Amazon Customer Service

A week ago I noticed that the page count was off on my last book, THE ADVENTURES OF HANK FENN—listed as 235 pages, actually 268. No big deal. And correctable, according to the immediate reply I got from my email to Amazon's customer service. Today I noticed it had yet to be corrected and pressed the 'Call Me' button on their feedback page. I explained my situation to the associate who called me back. I was asked for my email and billing addresses.

So, what is the name of the device?” she says.

It's not a device, it's a book.” I say and am put on hold. A while later another associate gets on the line, asks for the same addresses and the the name of the book. I comply.

So, when did you purchase the book?” she says.

I didn't purchase the book, I wrote it,” I say and am put on hold.
 A while later an associate from Author Central gets on the line.

So, Will,” he says, “I understand one of your books is listed incorrectly at 200 and some dollars?”

It'll be 3 or 4 days before the situation can be corrected.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

On May 23

Come Monday, May 23, I'll be reading at Golden's Lowertown with Ethna McKiernan and other fine local writers as part of Cracked Walnut's Spring Literary Festival. “Detached” is the theme and I'll try to be that.

Never did blog about my Lowertown Pop experience. I managed to sell 23 books, doubling my yearly total to that point (not counting those read through Amazon's library set-up). A successful and interesting endeavor to be sure.

My work-in-progress, The Great American Scrapbook, is turning into pretty much of a regional novel, as it's set mainly in south Minneapolis and the Uptown Bar back in 2003-04, though trips to Mount Rushmore and back into the 50s connect it with the other four books in my Americana series. I'm about halfway through it and, I must admit, have no idea where it's really heading.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On Lowertown Pop

Preparing for the Lowertown Pop event Saturday in Saint Paul. I'll be there at the Union Depot trying to sell my books. I wish I was doing a reading, maybe from a high-wire, naked, over a flaming gorge—something less stressful. I believe I'm the only writer selling. The advertising makes no mention of booksellers. I'm an experiment.

I already asked the woman who gave me my tax ID # if I still had to file if I made no sales. Yes, I do. At least I got that covered.

Zero sales aren't my worry. At least then I wouldn't have to worry about the damn Square Reader stuck into my phone that seems to work with every fifth swipe of a credit card.

My sister, Susan Tinkham, has worked hard on a looping video with photos and blurbs about the novels. Even now she's scrambling to create a poster to bring the customers in. My boss, Carin Olson, volunteered to assist me in this venture. Here's hoping she doesn't spend six hours watching me hand out a bunch of business cards—the cards, again, my sister's work.

Okay, I'm making a big deal out of nothing. Got the card reader. Check. Stole easel and table from work. Check. Priced books at $9.29, $10 even with tax to limit change making. Check. Business cards. Check. Books. Check. Signed. Check.

I keep thinking, I'm a writer not a retailer! Guess it's time to lose that attitude.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tell your friends!

Got my MN tax ID and sent in all the forms, so it looks like I'm set to peddle my wares at LowertownPop in St. Paul on April 9. Here some info. It features: “local artisans and craftspeople, brewers, bakers, distillers, street performers, artists, and musicians,” which may leave me as the only writer there. We'll see how that works out.

Just finished up a 24-straight-day period where 3,000+ pages of all four of my books were read on Kindle Unlimited. I get paid something per page from a pool of some amount divided by a multiple of pages, readers and writers, minus the square root of Amazon's take and rounded down to the nearest penny. I know it sounds complicated but it is. My thanks to the fellow in Wisconsin who liked a sample of Hank Fenn he read, read the whole book and then the other three, and told his friends—who all seem to enjoy Unlimited's $10-a-month, all-you-can-read deal. Tell your friends!

Wanna flip rather than swipe? Shop paperbacks in store and online at Magers & Quinn, Uptown, Mpls.