Archive for October, 2011

High Plains BookFest

Monday, October 17th, 2011

The three-day High Plains BookFest wrapped up in Billings, Montana, this past Sunday, and it was a privilege to to participate as a finalist for a High Plains Award for Best Woman Writer. Of course, I would have liked to have won the award, but I was simply honored to be included in this group of fine writers, and grateful to be in the company of so many serious readers. Special thanks go to Corby Skinner and Susan Lubbers for their dedication and hard work (and enthusiasm and good cheer), which made for such a rewarding literary celebration. And here’s a personal shout-out to new friends and supporters, Connie and Brian Dillon and Mike Fried. Thanks for all of your good words.

And now, after a month-long book tour, I am home. It was a privilege to talk about Dakota, Or What’s a Heaven For at each event, but it’s a relief to be home.

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

So here was the plan: with a handful of free days between the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood and the High Plains BookFest in Billings, Montana, I would sequester myself in some quiet spot where I would write, write, write. I chose Spearfish Canyon.

Then the sun came out and the temps went up, so I thought I’d better take advantage of the mid-October weather and go for a hike.

Okay, two hikes.

And if it’s this nice again tomorrow, I’m heading out for hike number three. This place is just too beautiful to look at through the window. Writing happens in lots of different ways.

Post-SD Festival of Books and Pre-High Plains BookFest

Monday, October 10th, 2011

The 2011 South Dakota Festival of Books ended yesterday, and I’m happy to say that the rainy, chilly weather didn’t keep book lovers from making their way to the almost-100 events (readings, talks, panels, workshops).

A highlight of the festival was meeting and talking with Joseph Marshall III, author of The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History, which was the 2011 One Book South Dakota selection. Oral history is the basis of this biography of Crazy Horse (Tasunke Witko, or His Crazy Horse). Joseph Marshall, who was raised on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation and is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe, explains that the Lakota people view Crazy Horse differently than do non-American Indians: “We don’t focus on the warrior persona that seems to appeal to other cultures….There are other aspects of him that we perceive to be just as important.”

I had great audiences for my reading and for my panel on “Reimagining the Dakota Past” with Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, a novel about an African-American woman and her family who homestead in the South Dakota Badlands in the early 20th century. I recommend it.

Next stop: Billings, Montana, for the High Plains BookFest in Billings, MT.

Black Hills of South Dakota

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

The South Dakota Festival of Books is officially underway in Deadwood, South Dakota. I met several of the other authors at a wine and hors d’oeuvres event on Thursday night. The full day of panels and readings happens tomorrow, so today my sister, Myra (who is with me at the Festival) , and I set out to revisit some sites that we remember well from a childhood family trip to the Black Hills lots and lots of years ago. That is to say, I remember these sites well, and Myra remembers them well, but our memories aren’t always the same. So this was a lot of fun. We started out at the mountain-sculpture-in-progress of Crazy Horse, which you can see in the background here:

When this is done (which will be a long, long time yet) it will be huge. The head of Crazy Horse is about the size of the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore. Here’s Myra standing by a small model of the sculpture:

The most fun, however, was just driving along remembered roads and imagining three fashion-challenged girls scrambling on rocks and oohing and aahing over tunnels and hairpin turns.

But the most beautiful scenery this week came from the drive here, through the South Dakota plains:

Tomorrow I am on a panel with Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal Life of Rachel DuPree, and then I read from Dakota, Or What’s a Heaven For at another session.