Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

Welcome to Books and Brews!  Over the last five months, I’ve been hosting Books and Brews with Laura Vosika on AM 950 here in the Twin Cities.  Each month, I’m joined by co-host Michael Agnew and a local author.  To read about more of our programs–and listen to them–CLICK HERE.


LISTEN to Books and Brews with Guest Lorrie Holmgren.

Some post-show thoughts:

From Lorrie:

I am delighted to be a guest on the Books and Brews radio program that broadcast on Sunday, May 28 on 950 AM. At a quick-moving taping session earlier this week, I talked with Laura Vosika, author of the popular Blue Bells Chronicles, and with Michael Agnew, craft beer expert about Murder on Madeline Island, an Emily Swift Travel Mystery.
One of the many topics we discussed was the theme of loyalty.  When Laura asked me how that idea was developed in Murder on Madeline Island, I said that the idea of conflicting loyalties is interesting to me.  People may be loyal to their immediate family, their team, their employer, or the larger community and their sense of right and wrong.
But what if these loyalties come in conflict?   How do they decide?  Where do they draw the line?  In Murder on Madeline Island, Emily realizes how loyal Chet is to his family. But she wonders if it would lead him to cover up a murder or hide the truth from himself?
Michael came up with a fascinating way to link four delicious beers to the history of Madeline Island.   You can buy Murder on Madeline Island on Amazon as a book or Kindle or at Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis.
Visit me on Facebook at
Or my website at

From Laura:


What a fun show!  And what fun to meet Lorrie and talk about Madeline Island–a rather unique place set in Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands, and home of La Pointe, Wisconsin, one of the earliest European settlements in the area, having started as a trading post in 1693.
I was excited to talk to Lorrie about it because I’ve actually been there–driving across the ‘ice bridge’ which becomes the road to the island in the winter.  Unfortunately, it was late, and we did little more than drive through a dusky La Pointe and return to Bayfield.
We did discuss briefly how travel and spending part of a childhood overseas impacts writing, as Lorrie spent a year living in Milan when she was 8 and 9, and I lived in Germany until I was almost 6.
There was, of course, not enough time to really dig into everything.  The idea of loyalties and split loyalties is one that no doubt most, if not all, of us face at some point in our lives.  What happens when our loyalty to family requires us to sacrifice loyalty to our ideals?  Or loyalty to one person requires us to break faith with someone else to whom we had also given our loyalty?
Why does one person choose one path, and someone else chooses the opposite?  What is it in their lives or character that drives that choice?  Some choose based on fun or what’s easiest, on which choice will cause the least upheaval in their lives.  That would be the Shawn we met in the opening pages of Blue Bells of Scotland.
Others choose based on morality, justice, kindness, courage, and other noble qualities.  That sounds more like the man Shawn became during his two years in medieval Scotland.  The jury remains out (and let’s not even ask which century they’re in!) on whether he will backslide in his modern life and ultimately choose for his own good, or whether he’ll remain a man who makes his choices based on the good of others, regardless of what those choices cost him.
These are the questions we ask as writers, and the questions we should ask as human beings.  Just as we should ask questions like: how does one match beer to a murder mystery?
I was dying to see how Michael did it!  And I was quite impressed!  He researched Madeline Island and matched his four beers to the four periods of occupation of the Island: the Native Americans who once lived there, the French, the English, and finally the colonists.  We drank our way chronologically through Madeline Island’s history.  Fortunately, the samples were on the small side!
Given that there was no fermented beverage during the Native American period, he relayed an old tale and chose a beer based on wild rice.  We finished up with a hard apple cider that evoked Johnny Appleseeed–and learned that in fact he was planting apples for cider, not for pie!
To hear Michael’s expertise, tune in to Sunday’s Books and Brews with Laura Vosikaand Michael Agnew and Lorrie Holmgren.


  • Sunday, June 18, 10 am: Books and Brews with Scott, owner of Eat My Words Bookstore
  • June 24, 2017, 3 to 5 pm: Reading at Eat My Words Books with Michael Agnew
  • October 2017: Author Talk and luncheon at Lawrence University
  • October 16, 2017: speaker at Fox Cities Book Festival in Appleton, Wisconsin
  • January 9, 2018: Talk with the Osseo Book Club
~ ~ ~
To learn more about my books, click on the images below
If you would like to follow this blog, sign up HERE
If you like an author’s posts, please click like and share
It helps us continue to do what we do
If you liked this post you might also like:
The Effects of Being a Military Brat on Writing
Russian Literature and Russian Beers
Literature and Life: Painting the Darkness
or other posts under the

Dear Readers,


Today I bring you something a little different from my normal posts on medieval history, Scotland, music, and time travel.  Today, I would like to introduce my friend of more than twenty years, and fellow author at Gabriel’s Horn, Kathy Opie.  I met Kathy when our oldest children–her daughter and my son–were in pre-school together when they were only three.  At the time, she was pregnant with her second child, Patrick.  It has been a long and enduring friendship through raising our children and a great many life changes, a friendship that has lasted the eleven years since I moved quite far away.


Kathy, along with my friend Micki, stands as one of my role models and inspirations in life, as someone who takes the straw that life hands to each and every one of us at times, and spins it into gold, always being there to think of others and help others, living with grace and dignity when some people might use those same difficulties as excuses.


She recently released her first book, Little Red Wagon Full of Hope, a book for caregivers, that stems from one of the very severe crises she has faced: her son’s battle with cancer.


The book started as a memoir of her son Conner’s experience with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, diagnosed when he was just thirteen.  It evolved into a caregiver’s book, designed to help others in long term care situations, or those helping such people.


Today I bring you a short interview with Kathy.


Tell us about learning Conner’s diagnosis.

Well I speak about my reaction or rather our reaction in the first chapter of my book, but essentially we were in shock. Nobody ever imagines a cancer diagnosis, especially in a child. I spent the first several weeks waking up in the morning just thinking it was all a very bad dream and then reality would hit. There were lots of tears and asking myself “why my child?” Thankfully we had an amazing support system.

You have always been a giver, helping others. I remember my grandmother talking about how hard it was, in her last illness, to be the one to finally have to accept help from others. Can you talk a little about that adjustment, to having to accept help?


I remember one of my neighbors thanking me for allowing her to help me. Initially, I thought that was strange, but upon reflection it was very difficult for me to relinquish control and admit we needed help. When a life threatening illness takes over your family you are rendered nearly powerless in its wake. Past coping mechanisms of hard work, tenacity, and just getting it done won’t work in this situation, and it can be almost shaming to admit you can’t just do it yourself. Yet, finally reaching that point is extremely liberating. I think it allows you to become more understanding and compassionate of yourself and others. Looking back it helped me to understand that when I give to someone that that person isn’t merely in need or that I’m doing them a favor or being magnanimous but that they are accepting and relinquishing a part of themselves to you- it is a dear and tender relationship.


How did your faith help you through the year of chemotherapy?


I don’t know how we could’ve gotten through that year or the years following without it. There were times when I knew I couldn’t do it alone and thankfully I didn’t have to. I remember when Conner was first diagnosed, the lyrics to a popular Christian song by 10th Avenue North,  By Your Side, would play in my head:


‘Cause I’ll be by your side wherever you fall

In the dead of night whenever you call

And please don’t fight these hands that are holding you

My hands are holding you



I remember just weeping and feeling God’s presence, knowing that we were never alone. It was an incredible faith experience. The hospital had a chapel that I would go and visit during our chemo weeks, either to sit, pray or attend services. Those times were invaluable to me.


One of the things I learned from your book is that remission is seen as the happy ending…but in some ways, it’s really the beginning of rebuilding life. Can you talk a little about that? 


We call this in cancerland “a new normal” because you can never go back to your old way of life. There are things you can never unsee or unexperience. Plus, the cancer is in remission. It is now referred to as no evidence of disease or NED rather than “cancer free” because the cancer can always come back. You chose to move forward and live a life without fear and with that reality. It’s a way of coping because too many of our friends have lost their lives after the cancer has returned. That being said, there is hope and a beautiful fresh life of gratitude, new friends and renewed and stronger former relationships. You don’t take things for granted and each day is a blessing with the choice to make a difference, alleviate some pain and add joy whenever you can.


To learn more about Kathy, visit her websitetwitter, and facebook, and listen to her interview with Psychology in Seattle.