MENOMINEE — Who says you can’t find success in a small town? Ann Dallman of Menominee launched her first published book on Amazon at the beginning of the month after working on it for about eight years.

Her book, “Cady and the Bear Necklace,” was picked up by HenchelHAUS Publishing Inc., a publishing company based in Milwaukee. “I worked extensively with Christine DeSmet from UW-Madison, and she was my guiding force and editor. She gives great critiques; she’s very constructive,” Dallman said. Dallman said DeSmet had referred her to HenchelHAUS, and within a day or two they had decided to publish the book. This, of course, came after she had sent out at least 70 queries to other publishing companies.

“That’s the norm; 75 queries is about average, and each query has to be adjusted to their specifications,” she said. 

Dallman was previously a reporter for both the Menominee Herald-Leader and the Marinette Eagle-Star, and has also freelanced for the Green Bay Press Gazette, United Press International wire services, and as she said, “a host of magazines, both trade and general interest.” She also spent 15 years teaching high school English on the Hannahville Indian Reservation in Wilson.

“At first, (the process) is quite devastating,” she said describing the differences between writing news and novels, “I’m used to the inverted pyramid and the Associated Press style manual, but let me tell you; you go to a narrative story arc and you have to have one main problem and two sub-problems, each chapter has to end on a cliffhanger or have some puzzle to keep the reader interested, and not everyone is familiar with the AP style so if someone’s a bear for their style you get ripped apart.”

Her inspiration came from the students she had while teaching in Hannahville. She said, “I had challenged my students to write a story, and years ago one of my classes wrote a play in Potawatomi. We put it on for the elders and they were moved to tears. So I challenged them to be the next great writer, and they kind of said, ‘We’ll do it if you do it.’ So I did.”

She said that, since the school she taught at was very small, she taught seventh through 12th grade, and would have many of the same students all the way through. She said many of the characters in “Cady and the Bear Necklace” are composites of her students. “I hope this inspires them,” she said, “because I had some amazing students. I hope this gives them a push.”

“Cady and the Bear Necklace” follows the story of Cady, a 13-year-old Native American girl who has just moved from Minnesota to the Upper Peninsula, where she is attending a reservation school for the first time. In addition to this major change, which Dallman said is a source of struggle for many kids Cady’s age, Cady’s father also married a much-younger woman the year before, and she now has a new baby brother in addition to a new stepmother.

One day at school, Cady finds an eagle feather on the floor of the hallway and brings it to the principal, who tells her “a mystery might soon appear in her life.” Not long after, she finds an antique beaded necklace hidden under the floor of her new bedroom’s closet. She brings the necklace to the elders, and they tell her that it’s her job to find out why she’s the one to find these things. Throughout the process, her home life begins to settle and she “draws closer to the teachings and traditions of her culture.” Through the story she’s assisted by friends named Irish and John Ray Chicaug, as well as “a crazy talking blue jay.”

The necklace which the story revolves around is based on a real necklace that Dallman has. She said its previous owner was the mother of Sam English, a Native American artist from Albuquerque, N.M. His daughter, Haley Greenfeather English, is the cover artist for the novel. Dallman said the publisher would like to make the story into a trilogy. “I’m about 40 pages in on a second one, but we’ll see. Who knows how the next one will go?” she said.

Dallman will be having a book signing at Spies Public Library June 22 from 10 a.m. to noon, and copies of her book will be available for purchase. “Cookies themed to the book will also be served,” she said.