|As Seen in the Wall Street Journal 6-19-12|
Since last week’s missive Windsor Hill Publishing and yours truly have been to Chicago, Traverse City, Michigan and back to Chicago. A whirl-a-wind trip that helped to reset and ground my roots in the “home” country, meet some wonderful book people, and even get the book Elk River in the best tourist shop in Elk Rapids, Michigan.
The Chicago leg, besides great food and drink, allowed me some time to do research for the new book I’m working on at the Chicago library (main branch on State Street).
Sidebar on Research
There is never enough time to follow the research leads that develop when you are writing an historical novel. Just one line of text from an obscure book or image leads to hours of trying to pursue the idea, but that’s why I love it!
After we left Chicago we drove Up North as marketing calls the Traverse City region of northern Michigan (you just have to love those marketing folks – a slogan for every pot). When I was a kid we called it, “Grandma's.” I think that that has a better ring! Traverse City sits directly on the Grand Traverse Bay arm of Lake Michigan which is split by the Mission Peninsula. The water is crystal clear and sweet. At night it can be glass. At the tip of the Mission Peninsula there is a monument to the 45th Parallel (I know this goes all around the world – but it seems more special here). You are exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole; seems closer in January.
The book reading and signing was at Horizon Books on Front Street. You can’t miss it. I believe that it has the longest frontage of any store on the town’s main street, in these days of failing national book chains and internet stores, that is a wonder: well done display windows, a coffee lounge and espresso bar that rivals any in America, good seating areas, great lighting, well defined literary neighborhoods and displayed books, and a very comfortable book reading area. This is what a book store should be. Someday these may be declared historical treasures.
I was born in this town when Truman was president and lived on a cherry farm until I was about two, then off to college (I was baggage then), spent summers here and winters in Chicago. The farm was just fifteen miles north of Traverse City near the village of Elk Rapids. We are all formed by our childhoods, mine was special.
|Elk Rapids, Michigan, time hasn't changed it much.|
Small towns change and grow, Elk Rapids even with its new sidewalks, street trees and modern marina; seems much the same as it was fifty years ago. Maybe it’s the architecture and the scale of the street. Maybe it’s the presence of Lake Michigan through the pines, or maybe it’s just the century old homes that are nestled along the road as you drive in. It did bring on a touch of melancholia.
The signing went well, it was good to see aunts and cousins and family friends. The trip was too short. And, by the way, Horizon Books also has stores in Petoskey and Cadillac, Michigan. And most especially they have sold almost fifty copies of my book Elk River. I will put a gold star over their name.