First Zoom Book Club Meeting

On November 10th twelve discerning readers from the Lawrence College class of 1963 met on Zoom to discuss my debut novel Bear Woman Rising. For two hours, they reviewed my story and explored my writing process. They wanted to know how I organized my story line, how I decided between dialogue and narrative, how I developed my characters, and how much of the story was biographical. This last question led to a broader discu...

Read More ›

DO Judge My Book by Its Cover

Most people disregard the old adage, you can’t judge a book by its cover, when they shop for books. A friend once told me, “When I browse for books, I pick each one up, peruse the cover, flip it over, and read the back before I decide whether or not to take it home.” After all, a cover is an author’s only chance to make that good first impression.

Knowing the importance of first impressions, my daughter Laurie and I began discussing cover ideas for Bear Woman Rising in the fall of 2019. Although I had helped design covers for government publications, my experience was limited. But Laurie, a published author in her own right,* had worked with a wide range of cover designers and artists, and I welcomed her input. Our first challenge was to choose a cover image for my book.&nb...

Read More ›

Be Careful! Or you will end up in my novel

Throughout the decade I spent writing and rewriting Bear Woman Rising, I was always taken aback when people asked, “Am I in your novel?” I hated seeing their disappointment when I told them, “No.” On the other hand, most of my close friends posed the question differently. They would corner me, lower their voices, and ask, “I’m not in your novel, am I?” So when my brother, who knew me better than most, realized my story would appear in print one day, he gave me a t-shirt with the above inscription, Be Careful! Or you will end up in my novel.   
Given that cautionary inscription, readers do well to ask whether my characters were inspired by real people. I confess, the characters you will meet in Read More ›

As Luck Would Have It

As I created Jesse Bookman’s journey across the United States and into her traumatized childhood, I was reminded of the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In Bear Woman Rising it takes an eclectic group of women to help Jesse overcome the cultural and psychological road blocks she encounters along the way. These women become Jesse’s “village”.  Ruth, a roadhouse cook, provides an understanding shoulder and a brief haven. Kara, a young mother and songstress, challenges Jesse to recall her what-do-you-want-to-be dreams. Mrs. Hanson, a one-time neighbor, paints a revealing picture of Jesse’s troubled mother. Marcie, Jesse’s apartment manager, tells her not to be afraid to ...

Read More ›

Saving Spoken Words, What Writers Do

A writing instructor in Rockville, Maryland, told me she kept a notebook handy to jot down conversations she overheard on buses or waiting rooms or restaurants. In this way, she captured the cadence, phrasing, and word choices of the people she overheard. Over time, she created a rich repository of speech patterns from which to draw when developing dialog for her own characters.

I came to appreciate the value of documenting speech patterns, especially those spoken by people for whom English is a second language. I grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin where I heard German spoken on the bus, in the butcher shop, and at the Five and Dime every day. In the 40’s and 50’s, “Vas ist Los?” and “Guten Tag,” were every day phrases. And whenever I overheard my German neighbors c...

Read More ›

Building Blocks of Stories, Part 2: The Characters

Someone once asked how much of myself was in the characters I’ve created. Most of my characters are truly composites of people I’ve met whose voices I recall and whose actions and reactions I see quite clearly. They pop out of my memory bank and onto the page with relative ease. However, Jesse Bookman, the female scientist in Bear Woman Rising, brought back painful times in my own journey that I would have preferred to forget, if not for her.

My journey into adulthood began with a jolt mere minutes after my college graduation ceremonies came to a close.  While parents and new graduates gathered in the June sunshine to congratulate one another and say goodbye before we left the campus one last time, my father took me aside and imparted these words of wisdom, “Whatever y...

Read More ›

In some stories, the setting becomes as important as the characters who act out their lives within its parameters. We begin to “see” the story unveil in the context of place. That place may determine what our characters think, and say and do.

In Bear Woman Rising, Jesse describes Whitey’s Road House as a “home to wayfaring strangers”. It is a safe haven for locals to gather and for strangers to feel welcome. As such it provides a backdrop for the proprietor’s wife, Ruth, to discuss her concerns for Kara’s mental stability with Jesse, whom she has just met. And later, we hear Kara tell Jesse, whom she has just met, that left alone in a cabin with blizzard force winds beating at the door, she hears an animal scratching t...

Read More ›

I began telling stories in elementary school, and yes sometimes they got me in trouble, particularly when they were well, let’s say, departures from the truth. But as my third grade teacher wrote on my report card, “The class enjoys listening to Dorothy’s original stories.” Spurred on by that young audience, I never stopped writing. My heart wrenching scribblings in my early diaries, the teenage poems I wrote inspired by the vastness of Lake Michigan, and later, as an adventurous young woman, the descriptions I wrote awed by the Chugach Mountains blushing alpine pink that ringed Anchorage, Alaska, all document my life’s journey. 

My journey is unique. Each person’s journey through life is unique to that person. But if we don’t share our journeys—our joy, our heart brea...

Read More ›

Contact Dorothy

This field must contain Alpha Numeric characters
This field must contain a valid email address
You have not reached the minimum amount of 50 characters required for this field
This field must have the correct answer.
Thank you! Your submission was successfully sent :-)×
Opps! Some went wrong... Your submission did not go through :-(×


Share the Love