Category Archives: Published Books

All Things That Matter Press Offers a New Contract

Ethel and I were at my daughter Sonja’s house. She, Ethel, and Joey, our non-verbal autistic grandson, were sitting in the living room talking about the difficulty Sonja was having dealing with Joey’s new high school. Then, looking wistful, Sonja said something to the effect that she had been looking for books that Joey could relate to where the hero was like him. She’d only been able to find one book that sort of was like that, she told Ethel and I. Looking at him, with him paying attention to what she was saying, she said that you’re smart enough to learn, aren’t you Joey.


Afterward I got to thinking about what Sonja was saying. A little after that I sat down to start a novel about a non-verbal autistic boy who is a hero. The writing did not go well at first. The first chapter, reviewed for me by Sonja and Emma MacKenzie, a writer friend, was pretty bad. But, as usual, I kept at it. Ethel kept encouraging me. The result was a novel, Apples for the Wild Stallion. Ethel gave me the title name.


Yesterday All Things That Matter Press sent me a publishing contract for Apples for the Wild Stallion. It always takes awhile between signing the contract and actual publication, but I’ll be especially happy to see this particular novel in print.


The truth is that human beings all have different abilities and gifts. Humans are so good at discrimination, as the events in Minneapolis right now so painfully illustrate, but the truth is that Joey is a marvelous human being. When he smiles Ethel and I feel like the sun is coming out after days of rain. He is worth paying attention to and loving. He is a hero, like so many of the people who face terrible discrimination in their lives. He deserves praise, not the looks he and his family get when they go to a restaurant, and his arm goes up or his head shakes in a way that makes some of those eating in that place uncomfortable.


So, this novel is for Joey, and, in a sense, for all of those like Joey who have lives that are important in spite of the small ideas in other people’s heads.

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Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award Goes to In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams!

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In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams has just been awarded the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award for 2019.  The award has been around since 1944 and is awarded by the Wisconsin Council of Writers.  There have been a handful of years where the Council did not believe an award was warranted.

My publisher, All Things That Matter Press, suggested that I ask my friends and followers to repost this news.  I am certainly excited about having this kind of validation for my writing and particularly for this novel.  Bennison Books published The Weirding Storm, my epic poem about dragons, kickstarting a writing career that I had largely put aside due to my work with the tribal colleges and universities.  I feel a great debt of gratitude to both Bennison Books and All Things That Matter Press for publishing my books.  At this point in time I have four novels, one non-fiction book, and two epic poems in print.

In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams is about a black fisher community that settled in the remote wilderness off the coast of the Door Peninsula on Washington Island in the 1850s.  Primarily about Joshua Simpson, who is fourteen years old at the start of the novel, it tells the story of an escape from slavery on a Missouri plantation and then the founding of a community on the shores of Death’s Door, a passage between the body of Lake Michigan and the tip of the Door Peninsula.

Under the leadership of the charismatic black Preacher, Tom Bennett, and the help of the Underground Railroad, Joshua, his family, and the other escaped slaves find their dream of New Jerusalem on the island, and then find that discovering paradise is only the first part of their journey.

This, for me, is a great, great day, and I certainly want to thank the Wisconsin Council of Writers.  They have made my year!

 

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A Letter on the Horizon’s Poem Released Today – Ethel Davis’s New Book

In my opinion this is the best book Ethel Mortenson Davis has published yet.  It contains poems written during her teenage years through all the subsequent time until now.  Poem after poem is a masterpiece.

Kathy Isaacson in her review of the book said:  “Having long wondered who the Rumi of my generation could be, Ethel Mortenson Davis’s poetry similarly soothes and inspires me.  This collection helps us contemplate our relationships with the earth while exploring other companions such as cancer, pain, war, loss of life, and starving horses.  We experience healing with the smell of wild snow, sound of moss clinging to trees, sight of the moon dancing and fireflies whispering.  Ethel’s poetry has accompanied me to a volcano in the New Mexican desert where it was read to the “laughing stars.”  It has been recited to my classroom of wide-eyed students and currently blesses my bedside table.”

I found the book on amazon.com this morning, but not on Barnes and Noble yet.  It was under Ethel Davis, not Ethel Mortenson Davis.  The publisher is Kelsay Books.

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Peninsula Pulse’s Review of In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams

A great review of “In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams”  has been published in “The Peninsula Pulse,” a publication that distributes about 9,000 copies in the winter. The summer circulation is more like 16,000. It is by far the best local coverage publication I know about, and I appreciate this review by Alissa Ehmke.

My daughters, Sonja Bingen and Mary Wood, posted this on their Facebook pages, alerting me to this.

 

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Book Launch at Faire Isle Bookstore for In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams

Screen Shot 2019-09-14 at 9.10.24 PMThe book launch with Deb Wayman at Faire Isle Bookstore for In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams was spectacular.  The novel is about a community of slaves escaping from the boot heel of Missouri near Mingo Swamp to West Harbor on Washington Island off the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin before the Civil War.  Faire Isle is a small store, so it was so crowded that my daughter Mary and son in law Rick stood outside to listen to the reading I gave.  The engagement of the audience, many of whom had families that had lived on the island for generations, was exciting.  There were people who had already read the novel at the launch and they, like the reviewers so far, were highly complimentary, and even excited about the novel.  The launch was a wonderful experience.  I pretty sold out of all the books I had originally ordered and will have to order more today.

 

 

 

 

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In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams Released!

My new novel, In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams, has just been put on the market by All Things That Matter Press.  It’s available at Independent Bookstores as well as on amazon, https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732723788/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=In+the+Unsettled+Homeland+of+Dreams&qid=1566256736&s=books&sr=1-1.

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Cover for In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams

All Things That Matter Press (ATTMP) has just sent me the cover for In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams, my new novel about the black fisherman community that settled on Washington Island off Door County before passage of the Fugitive Slave Act. ATTMP is shooting for an early August release. After better than sixteen drafts, I’m ready!
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Ethel Mortenson Davis Book Named Among Outstanding Poetry Collections for 2018

The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) gives out yearly awards for outstanding books published each year. This year Ethel Mortenson Davis’s book, Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy has just been recognized as one of seven outstanding books of poetry by Wisconsin poets.

The announcement by the WLA is below:

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Companion Poems by Standing Feather and Ethel Mortenson Davis

Standing Feather, who, along with John Looker over in Great Britain, is one of the greatest of contemporary poets, sent a special email to Ethel Mortenson Davis the other day. He sent a poem, “Mariposa,” which is, in effect, a companion poem to Ethel’s poem, “Circles,” which was published in her book, White Ermine Across Her Shoulders” in 2011. They are both magnificent works of art. Standing Feather’s new poem is presented first, followed by Ethel’s older work:

Mariposa

New Mexico is full of dirt roads
that snake around sandstone mesas
and then straighten into vast expanses
before reaching any stop signs or pavement.
From the mesa tops you can see old trucks
rambling along the valley floor,
making dust that blows sideways
across stretching generations of rocks and people.

There is nothing like riding passenger
in an old truck, and as a child
I set the pace of my life
by Uncle Pink’s ‘66 Ford.
I knew the inner workings of the beast
from my years jockeying on the cracked leather seat.
The power of the vibrations climbed my spine
and rolled from my crown in great waves.

Youth’s wine-filled days are gone.
Today I stopped along a dirt road
to accept an invitation from the mariposa lilies.
Their power to stay rooted while waving in the spring wind
is like old trucks. Both offer rugged simplicity
to compliment the density of the rocks above.
I must be moving on. Remembering Aunt Ethel,
I crank my windows down to listen for the song of the meadowlarks.

Standing Feather 4-19

Circles

When I drive
through the desert,
I keep the windows rolled down
and usually hear a few notes
from the meadow lark.
New Mexico is full of bird life.

This morning, after last night’s shower,
I heard the clicks
of the Rufus hummingbird
through my car’s open window-
a metallic pinging sound-
like electric highline wires make
when you stand under them.

The hummingbird kisses
the delicate circuits
of the eco-systems.

In the north
the snowmobiles run
the gray wolf to exhaustion.
Once the gray wolf
was chased with dog sleds
or snow-shoes
and had a chance
to escape.

The wolf bites at his body
where the bullet enters,
shattering his flesh and bone,
shattering the delicate circles of life.

Ethel Mortenson Davis 2011

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Anishinabe Warrior

Ethel Mortenson Davis’s drawing is the perfect artwork for the cover of the epic:

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