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Why did I write this book?

In 2005, I began writing essays for Cabin Life magazine’s column titled “Lights Out.” It was an opportunity to share fun personal essays about my family’s life at the cabin. Due to the popularity of the pieces, my editor offered me my own column, which debuted in February 2013. As soon as I began brainstorming topics to cover, I realized I had plenty of material to create a book of essays. I began typing, the stories just started flowing, and boom—just like making a baby–nine months later, a book was born.

What is something that I want people to know about me that relates to my book?

This is a passion project. I knew from the start that I was writing a book for a niche audience, and as such, the appeal would not be as broad as it might be for a different topic. But that didn’t matter to me. I loved sharing cabin stories—especially ones that I knew other cabin owners would relate to. My desire was for my essays to prompt readers to laugh, smile, and itch to get back to their own getaways!

What did I learn about myself or my family while writing the book?

I had just finished writing the book and was in talks with publishers when my mom died unexpectedly. Her death left me stunned, shattered, and beyond sad. Suddenly my book, which I had poured my heart and soul into for so long, seemed unimportant because the person I most wanted to sign a copy for was gone. I knew I was in no shape to promote the book, so I shelved the manuscript. As time passed, however, I circled back around to it. And when I got word that I had won the grand prize in the nonfiction category for the 2013 Greyden Press Book Competition, I couldn’t help but think of my childhood and how my mom used to sing the song “Que Sera, Sera.” “Okay,” I thought. “So this is how it is meant to be.” Enough time had passed to enable me to see the value of sharing these poignant memories, and by doing so, I would be honoring my mom, who has always been my biggest supporter, closest friend, and greatest blessing of my life.

Who do I want to read my book?

Well, obviously “cabin folks” are the ones who I imagine will most identify with the material in this book. However, anyone who likes light-hearted humorous personal essays will enjoy this collection of stories. I made a point to cover a multitude of subjects that will appeal to both men and women. For example, I have included pieces about unfettered boating addiction and free-spirited fishing expeditions, as well as tales of lakeside marriage proposals and romantic vow renewals 60 years in the making. In addition, the stories are appropriate for all demographics. For instance, children will get a kick out of reading about my dirty climb up a muddy hillside and the time my brother’s head became a relief station for a seagull. Teenagers will enjoy my stories of finding love and forging new friendships at the lake, as well as the time I nearly become cabin neighbors with Kid Rock. Older generations will especially appreciate the nostalgic pieces, like how my dad’s purchase of the family cabin was made possible thanks to the persuasive power of childhood memories.

Whether you’re a seasoned cabin owner, are new to the cabin community, or simply enjoy reminiscing fondly about a more laid-back lifestyle, you’ll enjoy the timeless essays in Cabin Glory.

What impact does my upbringing/background have on my story?

I was born and raised in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana. Dad was an accounting professor at Indiana University (where I ultimately attended college). My older brother, Dan, grew up to become an accounting professor, too. I was the total opposite of the men in my family. For me, math was like kryptonite. Numbers, equations and story problems made me weak and irritable. Writing, on the other hand, made me happy and free. I spent most of my time writing short stories, comic books, letters, magazine articles, and even a few novels. I’m not saying that all of my creations were stellar, but with each new piece, I was perfecting my craft. I took breaks sometimes to play Barbies and Chinese jump rope, but mostly, I wrote. I remember how excited I was when Dad came home with a brand new CPT Word Processing system. I was constantly begging him to use it. It didn’t matter if he had exams to create or text books to write; I had a story bursting to come out of me! Dad was very kind and shared both his equipment and his typing paper. I adored writing right up until I got to college. It was there that I hit a snafu when most of my English professors mercilessly red-inked my term papers so badly that I questioned whether I could ever make it as a professional writer. Over time, however, I learned to appreciate constructive criticism. I gained confidence, began querying magazine editors, got rejected a ton, cried a bit, gave myself regular pep talks, grew tougher skin, found a writing mentor, asked questions, researched the field, and persisted in the one and only craft for which I have ever felt intense passion. Other writers know what I mean when I say that writing is painful, but it is also pure pleasure. Perhaps that’s what John Mellencamp was singing about in his song, “Hurts So Good,” though I doubt it.

What was my inspiration for the story?

I am inspired each and every time I step foot on cabin soil. I’m subconsciously taking mental notes during every trip, filing away thoughts of, “Hey, that would make a great story!” What makes this book especially meaningful is that it spans the generations. I enjoyed interviewing my dad and including memories from his adolescence. I also pull from my own childhood recollections and my children’s time at the cabin, too. Weaving multiple generations into the book adds flavored dimensions to the manuscript. Cabin neighbors also make it into my stories because cabin life is enhanced by a strong and loving cabin community.

Do I plan on writing another book?

Yes. I am currently working on a Young Adult novel. The setting is at a summer cabin!