AVAILABLE NOW!!! The Cary Grant Sanatorium and Playhouse - A disgraced Hollywood starlet, Donna Darling, and two-time German Army deserter, Séamus von Funck, meet in 1942 at an idyllic Ohio home for unwed mothers—or a Nazi abortion slaughterhouse, depending on whom you talk to. Their love endures despite the efforts of a power-hungry congressman, an overzealous religious tabloid, and Donna's Hollywood past. (Psst, it includes Cary Grant.) They prevail despite Séamus being a suspected Nazi spy and America's first prisoner of the second World War—and also the first to escape.

Available now!!

Available now!!
Click to order!

About Me

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Will Tinkham has published six novels: 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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On 2015

I believe I've posted about everything I've actually done over the past year—which is a sad commentary on my social life. I probably neglected a couple of Twins games and there was a ten-day stretch recently where I hit First Avenue three times: Lucinda Williams, Nick Lowe, and the Curtiss A Lennon Tribute. All worth getting out of the apartment for. I work till midnight tonight, so that'll be the end to my 2014.

2015 will bring the self-publication of three completed novels and at least one more now in the works. Alice and Her Grand Bell may be out as early as next week. My sister Susan Tinkham is at work on the cover. The plan is to pub No Happier State in March and Bonus Man likely in May.

I don't mind saying I've worked really hard on all three books and it scares the hell out of me to put them out there on a hope and a prayer.

When did I start praying?

* * *

Totally unrelated Twins prediction: Since I seem to be the only one who thinks it takes more than a few months to recover from a season-ending concussion (see Justin Morneau's recent 3-year recovery), I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict that Joe Mauer will shake off that last lingering cobweb and contend for another AL batting title this year.

Happy New Year!

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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Meet Bob from Bemidgi

May have found a character in this fellow, Bob Bergh (B-E-R-G-H, he said, as in iceberg). Bob came up to me at Diamond Point Park on Lake Bemidji. Told me how they used to have a diving board here when he was a kid. Some kind of wheel too--which I didn't understand. He spat tobacco into the grass and asked me if I'd ever been to Venice Beach in California. I said I had. He told me about all the things he'd seen down there when he took an Amtrack. "Was on Price is Right," he said. Before I could congratulate him, he added: "Didn't get on stage though." As I shrugged, he said: "Saw that Door #1, Door #2, Door #3..."

"Let's Make a Deal," I said.

He spat again. "Yea, Monty Hall, 'cept now they got a colored guy doin' it."

"Did you get to play?" I asked.

"Nope." And he spat again. "Used to be a ventriloquist," he said. "Got a dummy and I can make his eyes wink." He showed his technique with an arthritic looking hand. "Used to write poetry," he said and launched into a reading--by memory--of one of his poems. I thought it sounded like it should be on a sampler and said so. "Yea, maybe I oughta get it published," he said and ripped off another one.

Feeling we had a connection here, I told him I was in town for a writers' conference. "Really?" he said. "What kind of riding? Cars? Motorcycles?"

"Writing," I stressed. "Northwoods Writers' Conference."

"Is that right?" he said and started in on his bad back. We traded hospital stories for awhile till he rattled off having fallen off a roof, getting hit by a pick-up and--just to put me in my place--his heart attack. With that he said he had to go. We shook hands. "Enjoy your thing here," he said and moved on (above).

Thanks Bob!

Friday, June 20, 2014

On Traveling Greyhound

As I prepare to take a Greyhound up to Bemidji tomorrow, I reflect back on my one and only previous bus excursion—San Francisco to L.A.—which was made unbearable by a woman with a black eye and a handful of pictures showing her and a guy named Al in various stages of undress. Al had confronted me at the bus station and asked if I'd look after his friend Peaches. When I said, 'No way,' this solidified Peaches and I as fast friends—in her mind at least.
Thing is: Peaches has appeared in my first two novels and is now taking over a third work-in-progress. Hopefully I'll find another undeniable character on this trip. If one's gonna be miserable for six hours, one should be rewarded.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

On to Bemidji

My trip to Bemidji is still on for later this month. I've been worried about how much of an accomplishment it was to get into this fiction workshop—after all they accepted me the same day I sent in my application and writing sample. When I saw a notice extending the deadline for application because “some of the workshops” had yet to fill up, I began to wonder if they were taking anyone who would cough up the required money.
The other day I received in the mail a bound copy of all the attendees writing samples—required pre-workshop reading—and indeed there are thirteen fiction writers attending. This makes me feel that they may have at least turned some people away.
Bought a cell phone for the trip. (I know, welcome to the 20th century.) If I figure the thing out I should have plenty of pictures to share here or on facebook. Thought about starting an Instagram (is that it?) page. Another thing to figure out...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Lake Bemidji

Aerial121 Looks like I'm heading to the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference up on shores of beautiful Lake Bemidji in late June. They take 13 people for their fiction workshop and I'm one of 'em. (Hoping they had more than 13 applicants.) Sheri Joseph (Georgia State Univiversity and fiction editor at Five Points) conducts the workshop--I must read her books and get acquainted. A guy from Milkweed Editions will also be there. It'll be nice to get out and go somewhere, even if it does involve a round-trip bus ride and nine days in a dorm room.

Monday, March 17, 2014

On being in Saint Paul Almanac

EDIT (7/1/14): Got confirmation that my story will indeed be in the 2015 Almanac. They sent me the proof and they've inserted a couple cool old photographs. Looks very nice.
Found out yesterday that an excerpt from Bonus Man will be included in 2015 Saint Paul Almanac. Very happy about that (I think they even pay!). This ends a streak of seven straight stories published by magazines/editors outside the U.S.—two in Australia, three in UK/France, one in Canada and one selected by an Irish guest editor at a Wisconsin mag. Nice to know my particular form of Americana finally works in America.