Rebecca Fjelland Davis https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com Official Author Site Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:08:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/cropped-Rebecca-Fjelland-Davis-32x32.jpg Rebecca Fjelland Davis https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com 32 32 132898455 Serenity prayer on the Bike and in Books https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/serenity-prayer-on-the-bike-and-in-books/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/serenity-prayer-on-the-bike-and-in-books/#respond Fri, 26 Jan 2018 17:08:16 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=4088

Slider's SonSo much is out of our control, and so much in life can drive us crazy if we let it. I’m recently reminded when Slider’s Son was passed over–or completely ignored–in a nomination (which shall remain anonymous) for a book list, where I thought it would at least get a nod. At first, I felt so frustrated: “Did they even read it? Some of the recommended books that I’ve read aren’t as good as Slider’s Son!”  I have just enough experience and savvy now to be able to say that without false pride–or false humility. There’s just so much we can’t control, and people’s reactions to our creations or to us certainly fall in that category.

I was doubly reminded this week when I read a scathing review of a book I absolutely adored (more on that soon), and was reminded that we can never, ever control other people’s reactions to us. I am writing a rebuttal to that review, but in the meantime, I have some other things to say. 

We all know the traditional serenity prayer, I think:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

courage to change the things I can,

and wisdom to know the difference. 

That’s a mouthful of life, that is. FIghting hard for what we can do and letting go of what we can’t control? If we can do that, we live in peace. I feel as if I have only just started to understand how to live this way. Why did it take me sixty frickin’ years!? 

So here’s how that is playing out for me: after the slighting of Slider’s Son where I was pretty sure it deserved at least a nod, I was disppointed, on the verge of being upset for several hours. Then I decided I had to do more than just focus on my next writing project, because God knows I won’t be able to control the powers-that-be’s reactions to that one, either. I decided to embrace a challenge where I have more control over the results (we never have control, but some endeavors give us more control).

I registered for the National 24-Hour Challenge on the bike once again. I did it back in 2001 and 2002 (and actually won the women’s division both years). I won, not because I’m talented or fast or gifted or anything. I won beause I have so darn much determination and perseverance that I just kept going and going and going and I rode 391 miles one year and 385 miles the next. Perseverance is something I can control. Pain, crashes, injuries and such, nope, I can’t control, but overall, this is an event that I can dig into and at least dictate some of the outcome. So I registered again. And started training that day. And ordered this sweatshirt for myself, for my own inspiration:

I’m 17 years older. I survived a ruptured brain aneurysm. I’m a grandma now. I’m also happily married now, by the way, and I’ve published three novels in that span of years. So, the point is I am not thinking I can better my mileage, but maybe I can come close. In my  wildest dreams, I would like to ride 400 miles, but I’m not sure that’s realistic. My goal is to at least win my age division, and to ride enough miles to earn the 1000-mile jersey that is awarded to cumulative mileage over the course of the years. I only have to ride 224 miles to earn that!  But most important, it’s something I can enjoy controlling.

The Minnesota Book Award Finalists are going to be announced tomorrow. I anticipate a big disappointment since I’m quite sure Slider’s Son won’t make the cut. Not because it’s not a good enough book–I know it is, and actually, I believe it’s a better story with better characters than some of the books I’ve read that it’s up against, but that doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. It’s up to the judges, not me.  I can’t control what people think, and I have been trying not to think about that, but I’ve failed in the not-thinking-about-it category, so now I’m concentrating on what I can do. Right here, right now. I can ride my bike. Miles and miles. So I’m going back to grading papers like a son-of-a-gun, get a stack done, and then…I’m getting out there on my bike!

The strength and courage to change the things I can!

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Let it snow. https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/let-it-snow/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/let-it-snow/#respond Mon, 22 Jan 2018 20:20:35 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=4050

Today, the entire Mankato community has a snow day. All schools and colleges and many work places are closed. Teachers and students alike rejoice as soon as the closing announcement hits our news source.

My husband has to plow snow for MnDOT, so that’s the one downside of a snow day. He’s out in the worst of it, but he tells me I don’t have to feel guilty enjoying it just because he has to risk life and limb in a snowplow truck.

I have lots of schoolwork to do, so I’m sitting in the cozy house, grading and prepping for classes this week, with a couple candles burning.

I am hoping to maybe venture out a little later on my fat bike, though, just to do it, before dark. The wind is howling, so it’s not a venture I intend to do for an extended period of time. It’s just that I love being out in the snow on that bike so much; I don’t want to miss a daytime chance to get out. I have set a limit on myself of how much work has to be done before I can go out, though, so I’m still working.  Yesterday, I rode with friends Chris and Lisa on gravel roads, through some mud, some ice, and snow-packed surfaces. We ventured a short ways into the Kasota Prairie, but had to turn around due to the the combo of mud, ice, and uneven terrain. We were mud-splattered and happy when we finished. I ended up getting 33 miles in, which is the longest ride I’ve done on a fat bike (I’ve had it less than a month). I would say 33 miles on a fat bike feels like maybe 50 on a road bike That’s a very rough and unprofessional estimate. But a happy one.

What I want to say is this: having a fat bike changes my attitude about winter. I look forward to being out, pedaling through challenging weather and conditions. I used to feel like that about XC skiing until my knee started complaining every time I skied. Now, I have renewed love for winter. 

Let it snow.

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Remembering Jack Brooks https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/remembering-jack-brooks/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/remembering-jack-brooks/#respond Sun, 03 Dec 2017 16:53:28 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=4037

My brother-in-law Jack died this past Monday. I woke up one of the mornings this past week, needing to write about him. So here’s what spilled out on the page early that morning.

Jack Brooks was taken from us far too early. It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that Kevin and Jason won’t have their dad and his level-headed wisdom beside them as they move farther into their own adulthood. It isn’t fair that Nancy won’t have Jack by her side while walking into their golden year (many years in the future, of course). It isn’t fair.

But we all had Jack in our lives. And I guess that’s not fair to the rest of the world. Everybody should get to have a Jack.

Every one of us is a richer human for having had Jack Brooks in our lives.

Jack’s laugh was always at the ready, and as Jack’s mom says, the only way we can see his face in our memory is with that big brilliant smile he shared with everyone he knew. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that to know Jack Brooks was to love him.

A couple weeks ago, Jack was climbing around the roof of his nephew Ben’s house, (My husband’s son) shingling alongside brothers and nephews and friends.

Jack knew how to work hard and how to play hard, like the rest of the Brooks family– That crazy wonderful, fiercely loyal and loving Brooks family that Pete and Harv nurtured.

Pete and Harv, thank you for raising the kind of son who becomes a man like Jack.

And this week, incomprehensibly, we are putting him to rest.  

Nancy, Kevin, Jason, your lives and all of ours are going to have a giant empty hole that Jack leaves behind, but we all have Jack in our hearts—his laughter, love, gentleness, friendship, gentle ability to listen so you knew he was really hearing you, and his wise and level-headed responses.  And nothing, nobody, not even stupid death can take that Jack away from us.

We all know life is short, but this really is ridiculous.  I’m the same age as Jack. My knees are going bad, I wear trifocals, my memory is frayed around the edges… and my body’s not going to improve from here on out—But Jack is never going to have to get old and fall apart. Son of a gun.

Jack –for all of us– will truly be forever young.

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The Mankato Premiere of Chasing AllieCat the short film! https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/the-mankato-premiere-of-chasing-alliecat-the-short-film/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/the-mankato-premiere-of-chasing-alliecat-the-short-film/#respond Sun, 19 Nov 2017 17:34:52 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=4023

Chasing AllieCat, the short movie, opened in Mankato at Nicollet Bike Shop Saturday evening, Nov. 18.  The reception the movie received overwhelmed us.

Plus, it was a lot of fun to show the movie in the bike shop and talk about it with two audiences, at 4 and at 5 p.m.

I can’t relax while the story unfolds on the screen, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. It was gratifying to see other people’s faces as they watched…(My husband got these pictures; I was too busy watching the screen, even though I’ve seen it several times now!)

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We made the paper! https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/we-made-the-paper/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/we-made-the-paper/#respond Sat, 18 Nov 2017 14:59:43 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=4017

The MOVIE!  We made the paper:

http://www.mankatofreepress.com/news/local_news/scc-college-instructor-s-novel-made-into-short-film/article_12639482-cbeb-11e7-9b25-1b10572fc109.html

Today! After all this time, and all this work, Chasing AllieCat the movie will show this afternoon and Monday in Mankato.

Here’s Steph, doing her thing: directing, as she does so well. In this shot, she and I are consulting about a scene in the mountain bike race. (I am an extra in the bike race; hence the “costume”!)

Here’s Steph and me, ecstatic that the whole thing is working.

And here is make-up artist Clara Selena C getting Father Malcolm ready for the shoot.

And here are our young stars, Ana Chan (Sadie), Zach Huels (Joe) , and Emily Sukolics (Allie), relaxing before a morning shoot.

 

This afternoon, Nicollet Bike Shop is hosting two screenings: at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Can’t wait.

Monday, South Central College, Conference Center C, at 12, 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.

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Chasing AllieCat the MOVIE https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/4004-2/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/4004-2/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:40:13 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=4004

It’s HERE! It’s REAL!  Chasing AllieCat premiered at the Citizen Jane Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. This weekend it’s premiering in Mankato. You can see it at any of five different screenings. Remember, this is a film short, so it’s only 14 minutes long. Steph Borklund, the filmmaker, will be in Mankato, so she and I will lead a discussion after each screening to talk about making the movie. The public is welcome at any of these events:

Nicollet Bike Shop, 607 N. Riverfront Drive, Mankato, Saturday, Nov. 18, shows at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

South Central College, 1900 Lee Blvd., North Mankato, Conference Center C                                                 Monday, Nov. 20,  Noon, 1 p.m., and 5 p.m.

Plan on 45-50 minutes for the whole program.

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Ballard https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/van-meter-and-ballard/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/van-meter-and-ballard/#respond Thu, 16 Nov 2017 05:09:31 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=3980

Here I am in the middle of the Ballard Middle School 6th and 7th Graders. What a treat to be in my own hometown, talking about Slider’s Son and about writing in the very building where I went to high school. The last time I spoke to a group in that building was at my own high school graduation! And this crew of students was amazing. They were superb listeners (in fact, the auditorium had that pin-drop quiet aspect while I was reading), they asked stellar questions, and their enthusiasm was palpable in the auditorium. I was nervous about coming to Ballard. “A prophet is not without honor except in his own hometown.” –Jesus

I’m no prophet (ha!), but there’s that stigma that it’s hard to be appreciated where everybody knew you as a kid. Maybe I’m old enough that that’s not an issue anymore. Also, if you bomb in your hometown, you really bomb. I mean, no one will forget that you made a fool of yourself (least of all you!), and it’s unlikely you’d ever be asked back for a repeat performance. At any rate, the morning in Huxley, first with the middle-schoolers, and then at the public library, was wonderful. I felt recharged and excited to get back to work on my next book by the time I left.

Here I am with the delightful librarian in Huxley (both public library and school library housed in the same space), Cathy Van Maanen. And here I am with Marilyn Greene, a retired teacher who was my neighbor for most of my growing up years. I babysat her son, who is now a middle-aged man himself!

Some other friends I have known since I was in grade school showed up at the library, too. What a treat to be in Huxley. 

This has been a busy few weeks, but the whirlwind has been fun. I feel as if I’ve been neglecting my own students, so I hope I can make it up to them by the end of the semester. I better get at some grading. Now.

 

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Book Events… https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/book-events/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/book-events/#respond Sun, 22 Oct 2017 21:56:22 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=3962

I have to say thank you to so many friends, readers, family members, cousins, and buddies who have been so supportive with Slider’s Son being out in the world.

The Cambridge, Iowa Library yesterday was an absolute blast. So many members of my family — my brother and sister-in-law, niece and her husband, great-nephews and great-niece, and SO MANY of my cousins came! It was much fun to have you there and get to read to you. Janet Thorson, sister of my sister-in-law Cathy, is the librarian in Cambridge. She did a beautiful job setting it up and publicizing a lovely event.  Cambridge is a very small town–population under 1000–but a cozy, welcoming, cute town with a great sense of identity (plus it’s part of Ballard School District, my alma mater). I am quite simply, grateful. What a good event.

The Arts Center of Saint Peter on Thursday was fun, too. We had a small crowd. I feel that I’ve sort of exhausted any following in the Mankato area, so it wasn’t a big shock, but those friends and readers who were there were fully engaged, and we sipped wine and had a good discussion (I read, too). I got to talk writing with a couple friends I hadn’t seen in ages, too, and I met a few new people, too.

This past Tuesday, I was at the Muir Library in Winnebago–also a small town with a small library, but a VERY active library with all sorts of terrific programming. Heidi Schutt does a wonderful job getting people involved and READING!  We also had a great time. Picture below is of me reading in Winnebago. 

This reminds me that I do love doing book events. That’s good, because let me say that by the time my novel has been out in the world for five and a half weeks, I am sick of trying to be my own promoter. The other morning, I woke up overwhelmed, and wondered if it’s all worth it. I was downright tired, and had nearly a hundred papers to grade for school, and needed to do paperwork for book events. I was wondering if it’s all worth it. Writing a book is not enough. It’s only about one-third of the work of having a book out. You HAVE to be your own promoter in this world and market. Nobody else is going to do it. If all I had to do was write, edit, write, edit, and read aloud what I write, and talk about stories, it would be a cinch. Well, almost. It would still be a lot of work. But the promotion–that’s what I hate.

And I am so sick of myself  posting yet another book event on Facebook, hoping people will show up and listen, and maybe buy a book. But yesterday, one of my cousins said that I shouldn’t think of it as promoting myself–but rather as promoting my book. True. Okay, I guess I can keep doing that.

Truth be told, I really do think most everybody would enjoy Slider’s Son. I think middle-aged people may like it the most. But the few kids I know of who have read it have seriously liked it. They don’t have to like baseball to like it, either. It’s adventure, mystery, and growing-up stuff.  I  think it’s a good story, and after all this work (ten years since I started writing it), it better be at least a decent read. I’m shutting up now. I do have to go grade papers.

But thank you, readers and listeners, for coming. And thank you for reading.

 

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It’s been an entire month… https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/its-been-an-entire-month/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/its-been-an-entire-month/#respond Fri, 13 Oct 2017 15:19:45 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=3954

It’s been a month since Slider’s Son came out in the world. What a crazy whirlwind. I’m happy with the reception it’s getting. I haven’t heard from a single person who hasn’t liked the book.  The problem is just getting it in more people’s hands–and getting people who matter to read it! If you are reading this, and can encourage that, please do! 🙂 If you have read it, and post a quick review on  AMAZON.com, on GoodReads, or on Barnes and Noble.com.

Please and thanks!

Monday, I took my Children’s Lit students to Betsy’s and Tacy’s houses–of Betsy-Tacy Maud Hart Lovelace fame, right here in Mankato. It was a fun little tour.

Today, my Humanities students and I are headed to the Twin Cities for Minneapolis Institute of Arts, dinner at the Ol’ Spaghetti Factory, and to see Romeo and Juliet at the Guthrie!  What an exciting day! (And week)!

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Slider’s Son Video Book Trailer https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/sliders-son-video-book-trailer/ https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/sliders-son-video-book-trailer/#comments Sun, 10 Sep 2017 20:01:27 +0000 https://rebeccafjellanddavis.com/?p=3908

It’s here. It’s in bookstores. What a ride it’s been to get to this point.

Fifteen years ago, I listened to stories from a man who grew up in the 1930s in North Dakota. After a few nearly unbelievable anecdotes, I asked him if I could take notes while he talked. I filled a notebook with his stories.

Ten years ago, I wrote the first chapter of this book. Now that’s become chapter four of Slider’s Son. I used the stories my friend told me, and I added the fiction writer’s perpetual question: “What if?” I gave Grant O’Grady his own personality, which is quite different from the original storyteller’s. I added elements to tie everything together, and most of all, I made Grant a baseball pitcher who wants to be the next Bob Feller.  Grant’s dad, Slider, is almost entirely based on my storyteller’s real dad, who was indeed a sheriff in North Dakota. He was recruited to play ball on the local town team, but he needed a job. To get him to come, the townsfolk made him sheriff. 

This is fiction, and Grant O’Grady has a life of his own, but there are lots of roots in real history and events (including the murder) that really happened.

 

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