Looking back on some favorite memories from 2018…
January: The Vikings fell short—okay, far short—on their bid to be the first team to play at home in the Super Bowl. But life in Minnesota goes on. Here I am with my trusty Toro snow blower, clearing out the first ten inches dropped on us by winter storm Jaxon. This is Minnesota, and even if we can’t quite handle Eagles, we know how to deal with snow.
February: In Austin, Minnesota, to keynote the Minne-kota Honors Institute Conference, I stopped in to visit the Spam Museum. Oh, what a wonder! I learned a great deal about this much disparaged canned meat. Did you know that 100 million pounds of Spam was consumed by Allied troops during WWII? Or that Hormel (official pronunciation rhymes with “normal”) produces 44,000 cans per hour? Or that South Korea consumes more Spam than any country except the U.S.? Here I am at the museum with Heidi, Sue, and Suzette, three of the stalwarts from the Honors Institute, not only fun companions but dedicated educators as well.
March: I attended Left Coast Crime, a wonderful mystery conference in Reno, Nevada, where six hundred people came together to celebrate the genre for which we all share a great love. I spent time with old friends and made a slew of new ones. I was privileged to share the dais with some of the most intelligent, thoughtful, talented, and, very often, humorous writers imaginable. I played poker (and won!), drank a lot of wine, kvetched about this crazy publishing business we’re all a part of, and had the time of my life. The whole experience was beautifully capped when my book Sulfur Springs received the Lefty Award for Best Novel.
April: The earth has spirit. You can feel it everywhere. But in some places, the power of that spirit makes itself known in extraordinary ways. When I stand at the edge of Lake Superior and watch great waves roll in across that vast stretch of steel blue water and break against the rocky shoreline, the power of Kitchigami (as the Ojibwe call it) is so palpable. On a prairie hill where the wind out of the Dakotas bends the tall grass all around me, I can hear the spirit speak. And from the brilliant red rocks of Sedona, where this photo was taken, the spirit radiates from every cliff face, deep canyon, and high, solitary vista.
June: I visited Dubois, Wyoming, in the lovely Wind River country to present workshops and the keynote address at the Wyoming Writers Conference. Here, I’m standing on the bank of the wild Wind River itself, with my new friend Darrah Perez of Wyoming Public Radio. I was born in Wyoming, and over the years have made many pilgrimages to the state of my birth. Each time, I’m reminded of what a remarkable landscape this is, a country blessedly empty of large population but graced with enormous beauty and bounty. And oh, the fine writers I met at the conference, every bit as talented and engaged in their art as any writers I’ve met anywhere.
August: As always, we did the official launch for DESOLATION MOUNTAIN at Once Upon A Crime, a great mystery bookstore in Minneapolis. Lots of folks turned out and as you can see, I signed a couple of mountains of books.
September: I attended Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in St. Petersburg, FL. Here’s a photo (courtesy of Anne Cleeland) taken at a panel called “The Beat Goes On—Writing an Ongoing Series,” with Mark Billingham, Cara Black, me, Sara Paretsky, Tasha Alexander and moderator Alex Segura.
October: My wife and I went to Michigan for Van Buren Reads, Van Buren County’s One Book-One Author program. We stopped overnight in New Buffalo, along Lake Michigan’s gorgeous shoreline. Here we are enjoying the beach and the lake.
October: On our way to Carlisle to be a part of the Celebrate the Book Week, we stopped at Gettysburg, our first visit to this landmark in a terrible war. Here I am at the monument erected to the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment. You can read more about my visit here.
November: I went to Puerto Rico, where I spent a week helping to rebuild a home destroyed by Hurricane Maria. You can read all about my trip here.
December: This Christmas, my friend Santa and I both say, “May the light of love shine in all our hearts.”
Happy New Year, and happy reading to all in 2019!