Fenton’s Open Book to Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day April 27

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Fenton, MI — April 7, 2019

Food, contests, prizes, author book signings, and special sales are among the activities guests can take part in at Fenton’s Open Book on Independent Bookstore Day April 27.
“I’m excited about the book signing at Fenton’s Open Book because Fenton is not that far from where a lot of my book takes place,” said Erin Bartels, who will be one of the authors at the book signing from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Local Themed Novel

“Some of my novel “We Hope for Better Things” takes place in Detroit and part of it takes place in Lapeer, which is not that far,” Bartels added. “I’m from the east side of the state. I grew up in the Bay City area. I have friends in Fenton. I’m excited that people that are nearby enough to me for me to go see them are reading the book.”

Bartels has always read a lot. She studied a lot of other people’s work as an English major in college. After reading so much, she decided she would really like to write something herself for others to enjoy. Although she had learned in school how to critique a novel, she was not taught how to write one. She worked in publishing for 17 years. The more she worked on other people’s novels, the more her desire to write her own grew. Eventually, the desire became a commitment.

But, Bartel’s idea for her first novel, which came out in January, took some unexpected turns. “Initially, the beginning part was similar; that somebody would be presented with this box of photographs, not know who the photographer was and not understand the significance of them,” Bartels said. “They were going to connect with an older relative, and their story would come out. I don’t really remember when it came to be about race and inter-racial relationships. Once it did, I started thinking about how little has changed and how much has changed over the past 150 years. That’s when the idea of having it told in three different timelines was born.”

Composing the Novel

Bartels had the idea for her book in 2012, and she spent all of 2013 just researching the topics in order to create characters that seem real. It then took 65 days to draft the story, which Bartels marked on her calendar. With all the novels revisions it took seven years to create, according to Bartels, who was working full time and writing other pieces at the same time.

Bartels had a modest goal of selling all the books printed at the outset of the novel’s publishing. Many authors don’t accomplish such success. Bartels met her goal within the first couple months of the book’s release.

“Most books don’t succeed in making money,” she said. “With about 70 percent of books that are traditionally published, the publisher doesn’t make back the money they put into it.”

Author Recognition

Author Erin Bartels / Photo Credit: Octopus Photography

Bartels is happy the book is getting exposure on lots of lists and in publications, as well as getting plenty of reviews from readers so far. She is receiving opportunities to speak at libraries and writing conferences. Fenton’s Open Book has a book club which read “We Hope for Better Things” as well.

Like Bartels first book, her upcoming work, “The Words between Us,” has a romantic element. However, Bartels said neither book is a romance novel. “With a book in the romance genre, you typically know at the end the people involved are going to get together and things are going to be fine,” she said. “In my books, there are people who have relationships that are developing, but you don’t know for sure if it’s going to work out. Some do, some don’t.”

“The Words between Us” focuses on two people, whereas “We Hope for Better Things” focused on a lot of people. The manuscript for “The Words Between Us” was a finalist for the 2015 Rising Star Award by the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. The book is expected to be released in September 2019.

Writer Inspiration

“In November 2014, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and that’s when I started the book that would become ‘The Words Between Us,” Bartels said. “I’m excited about the second novel’s release because it’s a book about books. As an English major who worked in publishing, I love books.

The main character in my new novel owns a used book store. The plot centers on how she and this man from her past used to exchange classic novels, how their relationship grew from that and ultimately fell apart. It gave me a chance to talk about some of the books I love. A lot of people are passionate about books. So, it will be a fun book to talk about with readers, book clubs and libraries.”

Bartels Talks About Her Other Work

“This Elegant Ruin and Other Stories” is about people crossing each other’s paths and having life experiences that seem like more than a coincidence. The short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist for the Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Contest for 2014. The story takes place when Detroit was going through a bankruptcy and there was talk about selling items from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“It’s a story about a conductor in a Detroit symphony who is an older man,” Bartels said. “There are lots of things going on, and the symphony had to take a break. He sees all these things in his life ending, and he’s aging. But, the biggest disappointment is he’s not going to see a particular violinist that he’s kind of got a crush on. She’s really young. She has lots of other things she can do. When the symphony is not playing, she’s in a band where she plays bass. It’s not anything he would listen to because he’s a lot older. It’s just this bittersweet story about things ending.”

In addition to being a novelist and short story writer, Bartels writes sales copy for the back of the books for a publisher, as well as catalog and Amazon copy pieces. As a former features editor of WSWA Right On! magazine, she continues to do freelance editing for other authors. She is a book coach that works with authors on a monthly basis. She paints landscapes and natural settings. Bartels has made over 30 quilts and for a few years made all her own clothes. Her poems have been published in The Lyric and The East Lansing Poetry Attack. She likes photographing flowers, insects, birds, and mountains. Bartels is married to Zachary Bartels; a pastor and fellow writer, they have one son, Calvin Bartels.

Also Appearing at Fenton’s Open Book, Brenda Hasse

Author Brenda Hasse / Photo Credit: Dan Chisholm

Brenda Hasse, who will be signing books from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., targets preteen and young adult readers in most of her books. She has worked at Fenton High School as a substitute teacher for over 20 years.

“Wilkinshire,” a preteen historical mystery, was the 2010 gold medal winner in the Midwest Book Awards for the young adult fiction category and the 2011 silver medal winner in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for the preteen fantasy category.

The book is about a dragon that cries diamond tears. It is written at a fifth-grade reading level. “When I wrote ‘Wilkinshire’ I wrote it for kids who are like I was; those who are bored with reading and don’t like it,” Hasse said. “This book moves at a very rapid pace. So, it keeps their brains engaged. There is something constantly happening and less detail. It’s a good read, and it’s got a moral dilemma: Do you use the diamonds to rebuild the castle and risk the life of the dragon you have now befriended, or do you keep it quiet so the dragon can stay safe?”’

Other Work by Hasse

Hasse’s Book “The Freelancer” was the 2015 bronze medal winner in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for Young Adult Fiction in the historical/cultural category. A freelancer was a mercenary in the medieval time period: a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.

“A Lady’s Destiny” was birthed when Hasse participated in National Novel Writing Month. Starting November 1, the challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Hasse said five of her books have been created through this challenge, some have not yet been edited and published. She said the challenge is a good way to push someone to get a novel done.
Hasse is very fond of the medieval period, as evident in “A Lady’s Destiny”, “Wilkinshire” and “The Freelancer.” She said she believes this is because she had a past life during the era that was extremely good.

Adult Fiction

Hasse’s book “On the Third Day,” however, is geared more for adults. It is a metaphysical/visionary book, which was a 2018 Midwest Book Awards finalist for religion/ philosophy/spirituality books. It was also a 2018 International Book Awards finalist.

Hasse said she has unusual visions and dreams, and she can walk into an antique shop and hear voices and smell odd smells. She took some of the dreams and visions she had and compiled them into a book. “What happens is a woman dies and she doesn’t get to say good-bye to her family,” Hasse said. “I think it’s an interesting thing to write the inverse of what many of us know. Sometimes we lose somebody and feel we didn’t get to say good-bye. Well, she feels the same way…except she was the one that died. When she meets her guardian angel, he tells her he can instill dreams in her loved ones. She is instilling a vision I’ve actually had.”

The second book of its type by Hasse “From Beyond the Grave” will be released this year.
“It’s about how a mother leaves symbols behind even though she’s dead,” Hasse said. “She will leave a white feather behind, for example.”

Books by Brenda Hasse

Children’s Fiction

Hasse started publishing children’s picture books when Ed Kane, who made rocking horses, asked if she would create them so that when he sold his rocking horses he would have a complimentary book to go with the toy.

For the third picture book, Hasse submitted the idea to turn the rocking horses into unicorns. She created the book “A Unicorn for My Birthday.” However, Kane died shortly after the idea for the unicorn rocking horses was submitted. According to Hasse, Fenton’s Open Book is constantly having to restock “A Unicorn for My Birthday,” which has been sold with plush toys.

Hasse’s children’s books “A Unicorn for My Birthday” and “Yes, I Am Loved” are part of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library; a book gifting program for children from families of any income level.

Her books like “My Horsey and Me, What Can We Be” spark the imagination, according to Hasse. The book is about a little girl who plays dress up on a rainy day. She imagines being a veterinarian and a cowboy, along with other things. Hasse said it normally takes her a year to write a book and have it published. This year she hopes to publish two books for the first time.

About Brenda Hasse

Hasse has written for Renaissance Magazine and Synchronized Skating Magazine. She volunteers for the Fenton Ghost Walk and has written for the Fenton Historical Cemetery Walk. She has penned scripts the Fenton Village Players perform. She lives with her husband, Charles Hasse, and her two rescue cats; Petey and Max.

As a writer, Hasse said she often works by herself. So, she considers the book signings to be fun. “I think you reflect on your life as an author and put your experiences in the books,” she said. “I think that every author puts a piece of themselves in their work. It’s important to support independent bookstores. They are always there for you.”

Fenton’s Open Book

A “Full-Service Independent Book Store” is how Fenton’s Open Book describes themselves. They feature local authors and Michigan products, host book clubs and learning events. Located at 105 W. Shiawassee Ave. in Fenton, they are your hometown source for books and more. Telephone: (810) 629-8000 and email to fentonsopenbook@yahoo.com

Photo Courtesy of Fenton’s Open Book