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Bemidji author’s first book finalist for award

“Pinch me so I know I’m not dreaming” is an often-heard expression, usually followed by a short laugh.

In the instance of Deborah K. Jensen, newly published Bemidji author, she was wise enough to avoid the pinch but continue to dream.

In fact, the plot and characters emerged from Jensen’s unconscious and she recognized early on that her reading group buddies were right. Some five years later, her novel “Beyond Escape” is a finalist in the Midwest Independent Publishers’ Association 2012 awards.

After completing the first draft of her novel, Jensen sent letters to many publishing houses hoping that at least one of them would have an editor interested in her work. Out of the blue, and almost when she had given up hope of hearing from someone, she did get that call from a small publishing house. They had an editor who enjoyed the book and wanted to work with the author on getting it published.  

“The women in my readers group always prompted me into writing my own manuscripts,” said Jensen. “I started reading my short essays and stories to them, it was fun. We’ve been together for almost 10 years now.”

Jensen went on to talk about a small group of women who love to get together and travel to the cities where their favorites books are framed. They traveled to Savannah, Ga., to see “Bird Girl,” the sculpture captured on the cover of  “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” a 1994 nonfiction book by John Bevendt. Savannah is also the site of the 1997 movie starring John Cusak and Kevin Spacey and dominated by crossdresser Lady Chablis.

“That trip was fun and we got to meet Lady Chablis in person,” said Jensen. “We don’t get to go to all the places we would like to see.”

Jensen’s “Beyond Escape” is the story of a youngish-looking, middle-age woman who has just divorced her husband of many years. Kim does not want to spend the holidays in soggy Raleigh, N.C., when she could find some measure of comfort from her retired parents in always sunny southern Texas, where she spent her growing up years. The company where Kim works closes for a month during the Christmas and New Year holidays, so it seems like a logical choice. The trip takes Kim back to some bittersweet moments in her adolescence, her indecision about the cougar aspects of her relationship with a local contractor and some emphasis on the fresh seafood readily available on the Gulf of Mexico.