SD Book Festival

Last week we posted about the South Dakota Library Association conference, but that’s not the only travel we have planned this week. Starting Thursday evening, and running through Sunday morning, it’s also the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

The Book Festival is a major event for the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. As the largest publisher or books in the state, this is our most important chance of the year to put ourselves in front of our readers. The Book Festival is always a really well run show with many thousands of attendees, tons of well-known authors and illustrators, as well as excellent sessions and presentations throughout the 4 days.

This year we’re proud to say that we have eight SDSHS Press authors and illustrators attending the festival and presenting talks about their work. Suzanne Julin, Marilyn Kratz, Donald F. Montileaux, Merlyn Magner, Susan Turnbull, David Wolff, Mary Kopco, and Marc Rasmussen are the talented people in question. We also have a major announcement to make, but we can’t give any more details on that just yet. Show up to the opening event on Thursday evening at the Roundhouse Restaurant in Lead to find out the exciting news.

Additionally, we’ll have prize draws and special offers at our display booth throughout the weekend, as well as the chance to hang out with our authors and illustrators, get their books signed, and savor the ever-growing list of books we publish.

We’re looking forward to a great show and we hope we get a chance to say hello to you at some point during the weekend.


This is not a post about the Mayan calendar or the potential for the world to end in 2012!

No, I just thought I’d update you on what the South Dakota State Historical Society Press plans to publish in 2012. For our fifteenth year of publishing books (we’ve been publishing journals and magazines for a lot longer), we have a varied, intriguing list.

Award-winning artist S. D. Nelson has written and illustrated a stunningly beautiful children’s book called Greet the Dawn. Nelson’s book looks at dawn from a Lakota perspective (he is a registered member of the Standing Rock Sioux). Renowned historian Paul Hedren will bring us Captain Jack Crawford’s correspondence and dispatches from his trips to the Black Hills in the 1870s. Crawford wrote for the Omaha Bee newspaper and his editorial columns offer an amazing view of the Black Hills from that era. It looks as though we’ll also have a new entry to the South Dakota Biography Series, although, right now, I won’t let on which famous South Dakotan that will be. Another children’s “mystery” will appear from former politicos Mark Meierhenry and David Volk. This time they look ponder the Chinese Ringneck pheasant and its place in South Dakota history.

We’ve got a couple of other titles up our sleeves at this time, but it is perhaps a shade too early to reveal much more on them. Additionally, we’ll be expanding out ebook selection considerably. The first of those new ebooks will be Merlyn Magner’s Come into the Water: A Survivor’s Story, and it should be available later in September. Look for ebook versions of the first three books in the South Dakota Biography Series, as well.

Finally, we’re also delving into ebook shorts. Over the last forty-one years, South Dakota History, our quartlery, scholarly journal, has published a number of award-winning articles. We’ll be bringing those to you in ebook format for just ninety-nine cents! The first one, Carlton L. Bonilla’s essay on the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and Races, should be live this month as well.

We’re looking forward to working on these projects and we hope you enjoy reading them.

When a Picture Makes You Think…

My project this summer is to go through and organize some stacks of pictures and drawings that I found in my basement. So many of them I look at and remember what was going on then, or the mood of the people who are in the pictures. When I am in the picture, sometimes I can even can remember—or tell from my look—what I was thinking at the time.

Part of the time I spend here at the SDSHS Press is in our warehouse. I package books and then send them out to you. Today I was looking at and considering some of the pictures on the front covers. I wonder what those men on the cover of Cowboy Life were thinking at the time. It looks like they were about to snatch the pie before they were supposed to—made me wonder what the next frame might look like. The picture on the front of Sitting Bull, Prisoner of War evokes strong emotion in me. It is sometimes difficult for me when reading a book like that to imagine his facial expressions in real life verses the severity of that picture. I wonder about the almost haunting picture on the front of Come into the Water. What was Merlyn thinking about at that moment? And, when I try to imagine the conversation going on between the two children on the front of The Jumping-off Place, I can envision the girl asking, “when is it my turn to ride?”

Of course, we choose cover images with all these things in mind; they are meant to make us think (and, hopefully, pick up the book).


Merlyn Magner’s Book Tour

From Wednesday 8 to Monday 13 June, South Dakota State Historical Society Press author Merlyn Magner has been touring South Dakota for her new book, Come into the Water: A Survivor’s Story.

During that time, she has given three presentations, signed books in four locations, and been interviewed by television, radio, and print media a combined twelve times. In other words, Merlyn’s been quite busy! She started the tour soon after arriving in Rapid City, SD, from her home in the Ozarks last Wednesday. By that time, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and the Rapid City Journal had already interviewed her, but South Dakota Public Television had not yet had the chance. She unpacked her bags at the hotel and drove out to where her house stood before the flood washed it away to meet Charles Michael Ray of SDPB TV. The interview went well, and the footage will be used in an SDPB special for the 40th anniversary of the flood in 2012.

June 9th dawned and, with it, so did the anniversary of the 1972 Rapid City Flood. A jam-packed day awaited Merlyn, which started bright and early with a radio interview conducted by Don Grant for KOTA-Radio out of Rapid City. From there, she whisked over to SDPB’s radio studio to chat with Dakota Midday host Paul Guggenheimer, and from there, she hurried straight over to KOTA-TV studios in order to appear on the noon news show with Cindy Davis. Don, Paul, and Cindy asked some great questions, gave Merlyn the chance to answer in depth, and conducted flawless interviews.

Not content with a few minutes on the live show, Cindy asked Merlyn to partake in a longer feature piece for the evening news. So, we all headed over to Merlyn’s former home, where Cindy filmed and questioned Merlyn further. At the end of the filming, we finally had a moment to catch our breath before the next appointment: an oral-history interview at the Journey Museum for their comprehensive exhibit on the flood. An hour or so flew by quickly, which left enough time for dinner before returning to the Journey for a presentation, book signing, and reception that evening. Having hoped for seventy-five or attendees, it became apparent by about 6:30pm that we had underestimated rather considerably. The official count ended up at 296 audience members, 3 TV news crews (including Tessa Thomas from Black Hills Fox, as well as a reporter from KNBN in RC), 2 presenters, and a number of pleased-as-punch Journey Museum staff and this SDSHS Press marketing director! Merlyn and Don Barnett (the other presenter) engaged the audience during their presentations, while answering questions, and as they signed books, and when we finally left at almost 10pm, it is safe to say that although rather tired, we were all pleased with the outcome.

Friday, we headed back to Pierre. Merlyn had interviews with the Capital Journal and with KSOO radio to carry out prior to a presentation and signing at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, and, once again, both interviews went well. The presentation and signing attracted more than thirty attendees, including some who had their own recollections of the events of 1972. Saturday, we all jumped back in the car and took off for Sioux Falls.

Again, media responsibilities drew us, as did a signing at Zandbroz Bookstore. Both KDLT and KELO TV (two of South Dakota’s biggest news outlets) welcomed Merlyn into their studios for in-depth interviews. With a slightly different target audience, Maren Larson or KDLT and Angela Kennecke of KELO had some slightly different questions to those Merlyn had answered in Rapid City, and as such drew out some new thoughts from our author. The signing at Zandbroz was also well-attended, and as usual, Jeff, Jamie, and their crew at Zandbroz made us all feel right at home.

A long trip back to Rapid City awaited Merlyn, along with a date at the Adams Museum in Deadwood and an interview with the Mitchell Daily Republic today, by which time, I’m fairly certain our most-obliging author will be just about ready for a nap!