Area authors offer great reads for the holiday seasonThe Cloquet Public Library is inviting local authors to bring their books and take part in a public book signing/author meet-and-greet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7. Interested authors are asked to RSVP to Mark King, adult services librarian, at 879-1531 or via email at email@example.com.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Area authors have a wide variety of interesting stories to tell, and many of them have new releases on the market just in time for holiday giving or reading.
“Sugar’s Dance” by Katie Mettner
“Sugar’s Dance” is the first novel for new author Katie Mettner, who hails from northern Wisconsin and has strong ties to the Cloquet area, where her husband was born and raised.
“I first met Dwayne 12 years ago just shortly before we found out that Eddy [Mettner, her father-in-law] was sick. I spent many hours traveling back and forth to Cloquet from Rice Lake over the next 10 months,” said Mettner. “Each time we drove down 53 and crested the hill as the lake spread out before us, and each time I crossed the bridge on one side or the other, little parts of Sugar’s Dance would begin to form in my mind – the high bridge and my huge fear of dying on a bridge, the lake and the way it spreads to shores beyond anything my eyes can see, and the dance of the birds as they swoop amongst and against each other was mixed with my sadness over my inability to take a walk on the beach or climb the stairs of the lighthouse pier.”
Mettner said “kids, life and illness” kept the thoughts of writing a book at bay. However, this past spring, after having her leg amputated from a decades-old injury, she was able to walk on the beach at Canal Park and climb those stairs to the lighthouse pier once again, and the first chapter of Sugar’s journey was captured on paper.
She spent a lot of time in Duluth and Cloquet writing, taking pictures and she said the story came easily.
“When it came time to write the big scene, the scene where Sugar remembers why she lives, I knew it had to be in Cloquet,” related Mettner. “It had to be in the place that really opened up my world, someplace where the heart of my family is.”
Mettner refers to “Sugar’s Dance” as a journey – a “dance of loss and grief that becomes a journey of family and love,” she said.
“I always tell people that I took everything that’s important to me, everything that I love, and put it in a jar and shook it up,” she continued. “When I took the lid off, ‘Sugar’s Dance’ is what spilled out.
“Sugar’s Dance” tells the story of Tula DuBois – “Sugar” to everyone who loves her – who is an accomplished ballroom dance instructor living in the Twin Ports. From the outside, Tula appears to have it all, a successful business and a wonderful family, but behind closed doors Sugar’s emotional walls are crumbling as the events of one snowy November night 10 years ago fill her nights with terror. Sugar is pulled into a high-stakes promenade with a psychopath determined to destroy her family and her town. Sugar must summon her strength and give the performance of a lifetime, as she becomes an unwilling partner in a treacherous dance of drugs, kidnapping and family betrayal.
“Where ‘Sugar’s Dance’ has led me in the past month has been humbling,” said Mettner recently. “Something in Sugar’s character seems to be resonating with people…Needless to say the response has been something that I didn’t expect, but I am touched that so many people are relating to Sugar and her struggles.”
COST: $12 for paperback; $2.99 for e-book
AVAILABLE: Fitger’s Bookstore in Duluth, www.katiemettnerbooks.com and www.amazon.com.
“Tales of Lake Superior – A Grandmother’s Stories of the North,” by Juliet Beatrice Lind
Storytelling is an increasingly lost art, as generations take with them a wealth of untold memories as they go without ever committing them to pen and paper or even the human ear. Lake Superior author Juliet Beatrice Lind was one of the lucky ones, however. Not only did her grandmother, Ruby “Rockhound” Swenson Niemi, share her love of the big lake with her family, but she also shared many experiences and tales about it with her 20 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren.
Lind, in turn, shares the priceless legacy that her grandmother passed along to them in the form of the fascinating and very readable “Tales of Lake Superior,” released just this fall.
In a series of brief vignettes – part fables, part legends, part nature tales – Lind recaptures the art of storytelling in the truest sense of the word. One of them, “Winter’s Story,” is dedicated to her sister (and Cloquet School District employee) Lorna Mangan, along with Mangan’s husband, Stephen, and the rest of their family. It starts with a grandmother who is trying to explain to her young grandson why he shouldn’t hate winter, and it goes on to spin the tale of four sisters – each of them named after one of the seasons with temperaments to match. When the girl named Winter grew pale and solemn in the brightness and sunshine of spring, summer and fall, she told her concerned mother that the only thing that would make her happy would be “a little quiet once in a while.” Her mother decided it was good for everything to have a rest, and so she set about preparing the animals, birds, insects and plants for a long rest. And so, in that very charming fashion, Lind (through the tales of her grandmother) tells of how the seasons came to be – and why.
Other chapters of the book tell stories of loons, agates, fire and smelting through captivating prose and charming sketches by Joan Henrik. Most any child – or anyone with the essence of childhood yet within them – will savor these fascinating tales.
PUBLISHER: Joan Henrik Design
COST: $12.95 in paperback
AVAILABLE: Art Dock at the DeWitt-Seitz Building, Duluth
“The Spirit of Nora” by Lyle Scott Lee
Lyle Scott Lee, a former Cloquet resident and graduate of Cloquet High School, also gained inspiration from the life of a family member for his newly released book, “The Spirit of Nora.” The story is based loosely on the life of his great-aunt Nora Anderson, who was a school teacher in Minnesota for many years and who served as an American army nurse in France during World War I.
“The story I tell is one of redemption and spirituality,” related Lee, “and the settings include New York, France and Russia during the early 1900s. My great aunt passed away in Mars-sur-Allier, France, two months after Armistice Day, as a result of complications from the Spanish flu. My novel paints a ‘What if?’ scenario based on her surviving and overcoming numerous obstacles while trying to make her way back to her homeland of
Lee is no newcomer to the written word, having penned many short stories over the past 25 years. This is his first full-length novel, however.
Lee has lived in Shakopee for the past 17 years, where he and his wife, Tory, share a home with their Havanese, Harley, and their two cats, Apollo and Samson.
A book signing for Lee’s “The Spirit of Nora” is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 31, at Bergquist Imports, Cloquet. Copies will be available for sale at that time.
PUBLISHER: Tate Publishing
AVAILABLE: Tate Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble
“Twelve Owls” by Laura Erickson
Anyone who has spent time in Minnesota’s north woods, whether they’re a dyed-in-the-wool birder or not, seems to hold a fascination with owls. Well-known area author, public radio personality and bird researcher Laura Erickson captures the essence of that fascination in her new book, “Twelve Owls.” Named after the 12 species of owls that are found in Minnesota, the book takes readers on a journey through the life of each of them. Its mercurial prose creates not only an intriguing narrative but sets the scene for observing each breed in its native habitat as well.
Along this journey, Erickson describes what to look for, where to look and how each owl species may have come to inhabit the fields and woodlands of Minnesota. She relates skillfully how the great gray, the biggest of the state’s owls, “hurls itself into the snow and fetches up a fat meadow vole, leaving behind a beautiful snow angel,” and how the barred owl’s cry, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?” sounds like “maniacal laughter” when two of them strike up a nocturnal conversation.
Coupled with the lyrical woodcut prints of esteemed Grand Marais artist Betsy Bowen, Erickson manages to take even casual bird watchers deep into the far reaches of the spirit of the owls.
PUBLISHER: University of Minnesota Press
COST: $19.95 in hardcover
AVAILABLE: University of Minnesota Press, Amazon, and area bookstores
Editor’s note: Look for more book reviews in next week’s Pine Journal, including an interview with Cromwell’s Matt Anderson, who recently published his first book, “Leave Well Enough Alone.”