New Year’s Newsletter

First, a welcome if you’ve recently found your way to this newsletter via my website, or a Voracious Readers Only giveaway, or the ArtWorks parking-lot fair back in September. Very happy to have you here!

This past year has gone by kind of fast, and yet when I think back to January it seems like a long time ago. A side effect of a pandemic year that was weird and strange for everyone? Our goldendoodle (Grif, age 3 1/2) agrees that time is a fluid concept — each spring he seems to completely forget all about snow once it melts away and is freshly surprised (and a little outraged) by its appearance when winter rolls around once again. Above is a picture of him frolicking during our first big snowfall of the year (17 inches!). It took him a couple of days to accept the change in his backyard. He checked the neighborhood streets, too — the white stuff was everywhere on his walks — and then he went back to doing what he does best, enjoying himself. He’s a carpe diem kind of dog.

Moving on, a writing update! I’ve been working on Book 1 of a new speculative mystery series. The current word count is just about 59,000 (out of an estimated 75,000 words) which makes it seem as if I’ll soon be nearing THE END, but really that’s just the messy first draft. Next comes the shaping stage. Shifting, adding, taking scenes out, rewriting chunks, fiddling with the setting and the characters, polishing dialogue, pulling tight the strings of the story. I’ve set myself the challenge of a one-word title for this one. (I picture my cover designers pulling at their hair… She has a looong name AND she wants a long title?? Regarding Ducks and Universes…. All the Whys of Delilah’s Demise… Argh!) I’m sure I’ll change my mind a few more times about the naming of the book, but the working title at this point in time is (ta-da!) Dogwood.

Finally, I have a question for you. What three books that you read in 2021 were your most enjoyable/memorable (or just happen to be on your mind as you read this)? It’s fine if the books didn’t actually come out in 2021, the publication date doesn’t matter, there are no rules here really, other than that I suppose they should be in the one of the categories that have brought us all here: speculative fiction and mystery… Could be a sci-fi mystery. Could be just mystery. Or just sci-fi. It’s all good. 

To start us off, here are three books that I read this past year that I quite enjoyed:

  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. In some ways an old-fashioned sci-fi tale. If you liked The Martian, you’ll enjoy this one.
  • The Nils Shapiro series by Matt Goldman. Mysteries set in Minneapolis. There are four of them so far and I’ve read the first three. Page-turners with snappy dialogue and local color.

There you have it. You can reply to this email with your 3 books (or comment below if you’re reading this on my website) and I’ll include a list of everyone’s recommendations in the next newsletter. 

Happy holidays! Wishing everyone a safe and happy 2022!



Twin Cities Book Festival, Writing Update, and a New Puppy

Twin Cities Book Festival

If you’re looking for something to do this upcoming Saturday, come to this year’s Twin Cities Book Festival. The day, according to my weather app, is slated to be gray, cold and overcast – perfect for writerly events and book browsing! The festival is being held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is free. 

Here’s some festival info from the organizer’s website:

Rain Taxi’s TWIN CITIES BOOK FESTIVAL is not only the largest, most adventurous literary event in the Upper Midwest; it is THE annual get together for devoted book lovers from the Twin Cities and beyond!

The single-day TCBF will feature hundreds of exhibitors, dozens of presenting authors from near and far, special children’s programming and endless curiosities for all ages, all in a massive celebration of our vibrant Minnesota literary culture. 

FREE parking • FREE Metro Transit rides to the Fairgrounds

You can find me at the Book Fair portion of the festival, which is being held in the Progress Center of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, located at 1265 Snelling Ave., Saint Paul, MN (directions here). I’ll have a table somewhere in the hall, though I’m not sure yet where (edit: I’ll be at table 409 in the middle of the hall). Stop by to get a book signed or just to say hi! This is my first year attending and it promises to be interesting.

Book Update

In other news, the novel I’ve been working on for quite a while has come back from my editor Kristen Weber and… it needs more work. I’ve enjoyed writing this one but it’s turned out to be somewhat of a beast to wrestle into a coherent story. No one is as impatient as I am to get this book on the road as soon as possible. This is one of those instances of It’s better to do it well than to do it fast. I am very much looking forward to holding the finished book one of these days.

On the plus side, we finally have a title. Ta, da, here we go: THE PEOPLE LIST, a standalone near-future novel! 

Stay tuned for the cover reveal and back-page description.

Grif the Dog

On the personal side of things, and what might be putting a slight damper on my available editing time this fall, is the newcomer to the household, Grif the mini goldendoodle. He’s a fast-growing bundle of energy. 

The picture was taken a couple of weeks after he came to live with us. What an adorable face!