People Here Love Local Authors

Signing books at Barnes & Noble

It was a chance encounter. We’d stopped by Barnes & Noble to see if my book, Secrets of the Dark Closet, was in stock. (It sold out, new copies were on order.) A clerk suggested that I talk to the new manager. I planned to call him the next day, but there he was as I made my way out of the store.

We began a conversation. When I said I was a local author, his eyes lit up. He took me to a computer and typed in the name of the book. A page came up showing every sale, by day, since it was published a few months ago. (Computers can be wonderful…and a little scary.)

He then made a comment—one sentence—that revealed so much about our community. He said, “People here love local authors.” I think that is a lovely insight from a newcomer to Bismarck.

It explains why the store has long rows of books by authors from our community, state, and neighboring states. Independent authors used to be the stepchildren of the publishing world. That is changing as more people take control of their work through hybrid publishing or smaller publishing houses.

Book display at the Gifted Bean Coffee House

The Rainbow Shop Parable Christian store has also supported me from day one, by stocking both Secrets and By the Banks of Cottonwood Creek. They also hosted a book signing in December. Other shops in Bismarck, Jamestown and Medora are also friendly places for local authors.

Our city and state are flourishing. Driving around the city, I am struck by all of the new local businesses. They’re popping up everywhere. In addition, the Women Entrepreneurs Bismarck is a thriving organization.

Isn’t it wonderful that local authors can also flourish here? And we are. Bismarck has a lot of writers. When the Friends of the Library hosted a local authors event a few years ago, over 20 writers showed up with their books.

I only know a fraction of the local published writers, but I want to list a few women who have published novels and memoirs this century that I’ve enjoyed. They all live in the state and their books are available in local stores, on the Internet or through the authors’ websites.

Paulette and I both signed books at a craft fair last fall.

  • Jessie Veeder, Coming Home. Stories and photos take the reader into life on a ranch in western North Dakota. A singer and songwriter, her authentic voice shines through.
  • Melanie Carvell, Running with the Antelope. A popular motivational speaker and athlete, relates how growing up in a large family in the southwestern North Dakota affected her career choices.
  • Paulette Bullinger, Nothing Hidden. As a historical fiction, this book is the most closely aligned with Secrets of the Dark Closet, based on facts from over a century ago, set in Fort Rice, N.D.
  • Roxanne Henke, Coming Home to Brewster Series. Published by major publishing houses, these books are so good, I practically ate them. My favorite: Becoming Olivia.
  • Dr. Mary Ellen Erickson, Geezettes and an assortment of children’s books. She gets the award for producing the most books and for her desire to encourage children’s reading.
  • Shannon McNear, Pioneer Christmas Collection series. Shannon’s novellas are included in this series. She lives in Jamestown and can be found at
  • Dr. Lorraine Dopson, Hard Road Home. This novel takes you into the Bakken Oil Field during the recent oil boom and what life was like in a noteworthy period of the state’s history.
  • Margaret Barnhart, Home for Supper. Filled with folksy info and old-time recipes. Published by a small press and set in western North Dakota in the 1960s.

All of these women set their stories in North Dakota. They capture the landscape and the unique culture found here. These don’t even include the dozens of nonfiction, devotionals or other genres, or books published by men.

I also want to mention two out-of-state authors who are on the writing and publishing journey with me. Linda Lewis, Golden Memories. Linda’s memoir is set in rural Michigan in the 1920s. It offers a charming look at life in that era through the writing of her mother. Barbara Brabec, Marcella’s Secret Dream. Barbara lives in Chicago and her memoir takes the reader on a journey into her mother’s life in rural Illinois.

If you have always wanted to write, 2018 is a great time to step out and let your voice join those of other writers across the region. If you are already writing, take heart, local and regional work is coming of age.

Readers: Do you have a favorite author that writes of the culture where you live? I’d love to hear from you. Just post a comment in the box at the bottom of this blog post.