Back Roads: the Best of the Best

John Weiss

the former Rochester Post Bulletin columnist’s best ever

$18.95 – Buy a print copy online.

John Weiss was the best-known name and face of the Post Bulletin outside the city limits of Rochester. Need to know someone in Plainview? If John didn’t know the person, he’d know the person who’d know the person you needed. Need to know which roads were in danger of flooding that spring? John knew—and could tell you which roads had flooded last and who lived on them.

John was also a one-man band: he could report a hard news story, do a feature, file away a possible story angle for weeks or months later, AND take pictures to go with all of it. And you’d get all of this with his statement “I’m heading to the river” as he walked to the exit. Whenever John left the building, it was always “to the river.” Which river, you could never be sure. And how close to a river he actually got was up for debate.

I was reluctant to assign John to Back Roads at first. Who in the world is interested in the run-of-the-mill junked-up shop? What makes that woman so special? Finally, I started to see things John’s way. That junked-up shop is a treasure trove of stories. That woman’s story is unique, all the while being so typical.

All right, I finally said. Let’s give it a try. BUT, no going out of the way. It has to be something you find on your way to a legit story assignment.

Soon enough, Back Roads columns and pictures started to fill our files. Stories with hopes and dreams, and joys and sorrows. John put the folks and places that we see every day but somehow overlook into focus. John broadened our definition of neighbor and friend. —Randi Kallas, former City Editor and Newspaper in Education Coordinator, Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Amazon Reviews—
Dave in Minnesota says: Wonderful Writings. John Weiss is one of those local reporters who truly loved his job and became one with the places he visited; it shows through in is writings. John travelled the back roads of southeast Minnesota and came to know the roads, the rivers, the hills and bluffs, and the people. He wrote about, and photographed, all that he encountered with an eye toward nature, history and the stories of the folks who made their lives there. Even if you know nothing about the southeast part of Minnesota and have never travelled through it John’s explorations into the region will draw you in and let you feel a part of his corner of the world.

Janet M.: Great local stories. Being from Wabasha, this is great read for me. Very well done.

Shamu, Splash & Solemn – Carole Stoa Senn

Emilio DeGrazia – Anne Gerber – Carole Stoa Senn

A riveting look of the creative writing and writing life of  Carole Stoa Senn



“Perhaps I have a need for much rougher prose or poetry than I had been anticipating. I’ve been wanting to write something jewel-like, but maybe what I want isn’t exactly the point.”  Carole Stoa Senn

“Carole’s story,” says Emilio DeGrazia in his introduction to this fascinating story, “is a necessarily fragmented account of how a talented and lovely young life was ravaged twice by violent attacks against which she had no way to defend herself.”

Amazon Reviews

Julia Schmitt writes: A story you need to read. Carole’s story is touching and inspirational. The structure of the book offers a multifaceted perspective on the incredible events of her life. An outstanding read.

Return to Backyard Canyon

Peg Bauernfeind

$16.95 – Buy a print copy online

“I love to ride into Whitewater Park from Olmsted County Road 9. I love to feel the rush of oxygen into my lungs, and I love to sing a song like You are My Sunshine. In spring and summer, the green trees and brush climb up both sides of State Highway 74 to make canyon walls. As you descend the bluff, you catch glimpses of the bedrock, millions of years old. In the fall and winter, after the leaves disappear, the color changes to black. Only the bedrock is yellow.

“No matter the weather, I roll the car windows down and breathe deep before taking off. I give myself permission to speed a little. Fifty years ago I did it. Twenty years ago I did it. And I still do it. I hurry to return to Whitewater year after year because it’s my Backyard Canyon.

“As you level out on Route 74 into the Whitewater State Park, there’s a mile marker and an open field. Once this field was a golf course. Long ago it was a powwow site.

“Don, my ninety-five-year-old friend, recalled an Indian powwow.

“‘The Indians came dressed in war paint and feathers. Scared the hell out of me,’ he’d chuckled. ‘They came for days and danced, sang what I heard as war hoops, and howled while they pounded their drums. They were probably Sioux, Sioux the Snakes the French called them. There were plenty of snakes in Whitewater.’

“Today the Timber Snakes in the Whitewater Park are in trouble. Endangered.” —Peg Bauernfeind 2017

Publication of Return to Backyard Canyon was made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeast­ern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legisla­tive appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Longing to Belong by Judi Bergen

Longing to Belong

Judi Bergen

“A must read!” debut novel

Longing to Belong by Judi Bergen is beautifully written in a style reminiscent of Faith Sullivan’s Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse. Turtle Creek, Iowa comes to life through the eyes of Amanda MacGregor, a young woman struggling to fit in with others in town. Her life is haunted by a family tragedy and secrets held by her father’s maiden sister who runs their household. Bergen’s characters drive the story within the milieu of small town life. A must read!  Sue Grove, English & French emeritus faculty, Riverland Community College in Austin, Minnesota.
Longing to Belong, Judi Bergen’s debut novel, is an authentic, compelling story that draws the reader into the hidden layers of a family’s tragedy shrouded in secrecy.  Recommended read for those who want to know the characters inner lives and how they affect the trajectory of their actions. —Kathleen Vellenga, author of Strangers in Our Midst and In the Midst of Bounty.

Amazon Reviews—

From Mary Ragland: Author Judi Bergen beautifully tells this story. It’s a book you can’t put down. I hope there is another one on the horizon!

Green Blade 2016 Edition

The annual literary magazine of the Rural America Writers Center, Plainview, Minnesota, published through a special partnership with Shipwreckt Books.


Green Blade 2016 Contributors:
Peter Allen
Jill Krase
Justin Watkins
Jennifer Jesseph
Tom Driscoll
CJ Jacobson
Nancy Hengeveld
Steven Vogel
Craig Falkum
Elliott Foster
Carolyn Bizien
Susan McMillan
Nicole Borg
Nicholas Ozment
Marcia Savela
Kit Rohrbach
Kim Zabel
Dan Butterfass
Scott Lowery
Tim J Brennan
Betty Benner
Larry Gavin
Ken McCullough
Elizabeth Oness
Cecilia Dingledy
Melissa McNallan
Emilio DeGrazia
Donna Halvorson
Benj Mahle
Peg Bauernfeind
Gloria Smit