Volume One Contributors

writers, photographers, artists

BJ Hollars


B.J. Hollars is the author of several books, most recently Flock Together: A Love Affair with Extinct Birds and From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being Human. He serves as the reviews editor for Pleiades, a mentor for Creative Nonfiction, and a ...

Content By This Contributor:

Lessons From Ye Olde Past

learning about chivalry, tolerance, and turkey legs at the renaissance faire

BJ Hollars

My plan was simple: invent a time machine, make a brief trip to the 16th century, disparage a hot-headed knight, get challenged to a joust by the aforementioned hot-headed knight, win said joust, and finally ...

Wisconsin's *Other* Historic Pandemic

BJ Hollars

In this quick Volume One video, Chippewa Valley author BJ Hollars shares the story of Wisconsin's incredible and historic response to the 1918 "Spanish Flu" pandemic, which is oddly reminiscent of what we're experiencing today, with thousands of lives saved ...

Wrong Turn at the Rite of Passage

an indelible camp memory that begins with a disposable product

BJ Hollars

We set the alarm, but there’s no need for it. All eight of us are so amped up on adrenaline that we can hardly confine ourselves to our bunks. We’d been turning in our sleeping bags since ...

Living Strangely

BJ Hollars

Of the many items that have found their way into my basement’s cabinet of curiosities, perhaps my most beloved is a Bigfoot sketch drawn for me by a friend. There he is tromping through the underbrush ...


BJ Hollars

My neighbors did the logical thing: rolled out the chicken wire, planted the stakes, and transformed their garden into a fortress. Sun and rain still had access, though no longer the rabbits, or the raccoons ...

I Can (Mostly) Do It by Myself

giving your kid a bit of independence is good – with a little moderation

BJ Hollars

When Stephen Krensky wrote and published his 2012 children’s book, I Can Do It Myself!, 4-year-olds everywhere took the title as truth ...

Close Encounters of the Midwestern Kind

a deputy sheriff, an unexplained light, & 14 missing minutes

BJ Hollars

At around 2am on Aug. 27, 1979, 35-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy Val Johnson peered out the window of his Ford LTD cruiser to spot a strange light in the sky.

Half a Century of Service to Children

Leanne and Mel Breed among 2018 Honorees at Children's Legacy Luncheon

BJ Hollars

For Leann and Mel Breed, life’s always been about looking out for our children. “They’re our future and we have to take care of them, and we have to inspire them,” Leann says.

Heroics on (And Off) the Tundra

can legendary Lambeau Field compete with the “best night” of teens’ lives?

BJ Hollars, illustrated by Janae Breunig

On a recent visit to Green Bay, we do what is required of us: pay our respects to the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field. I am accompanied by my 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, neither of whom ...

Kid-Less Adventures by the Poolside (a couple rediscovers what actual humans do)

BJ Hollars

My wife and I are sitting poolside at our Puerto Rican resort, and everything is allegedly perfect. The water’s warm, the sun is bright, and the ocean’s just a short walk away. It’s 9:07am, and already we’ve loitered at the gym, made a good faith effort at a beach run, and just wrapped up a leisurely breakfast for two. To our astonishment, nobody is crying and nobody has pooped anyone’s pants.

Of Mice and Men

BJ Hollars

We’d made it most the summer without the air, but at last we break. It’s August, and rather than another night spent sweating in sheets, I reach toward the register, flick the switch from “Off” to “Cool” and wait for the welcome hum of the air conditioner ...

Of Mice and Men

BJ Hollars

We’d made it most the summer without the air, but at last we break. It’s August, and rather than another night spent sweating in sheets, I reach toward the register, flick the switch from “Off” to “Cool” and wait for the welcome hum of the air conditioner ...

Parents Need Privacy, If Only for a Moment

BJ Hollars

The day started off promising enough. I’d just risen from my bed without disturbing the dog, my children, or my wife, a feat that earned me a few minutes of solitude before the day’s chaos began. There, in the ...

The Road Less Traveled for a Reason

father and son find (and lose) their way in the wilds of northern Wisconsin

BJ Hollars

Over the past 72 hours Henry and I’d spent time in Rhinelander, Eagle River, and Mercer, all stops on what I’d vaguely determined was a “book tour,” though the majority of our time was spent playing Marco Polo in the motel pools and combing every antique store we could.

In Defense of the Video Store

you can have your Netflix algorithms; I’ll rely on a clerk named Keith

BJ Hollars, illustrated by Janae Breunig

I walk into the video store on a Tuesday in May, and there, stretched before me, is the exact same scene I’ve enjoyed for decades: shelves chock full of eye-catching DVDs amid bins of microwave popcorn, yardsticks’ worth of licorice, and goo-candy ...

The Trail We Know by Heart

Just take it one foot in front of the other ...

BJ Hollars

In the sixth month of my son’s life, I hike him up a mountain. Or at least the closest we have to a mountain here in Wisconsin, which, as it turns out, is the Potholes Trail in Devil’s Lake State Park ...

Unraveling the Heart

best-selling local author Butler explores fathers, sons in powerful new novel

BJ Hollars, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Entering the Court-n-House late one Wednesday night, I scan the room to spot best-selling author Nickolas Butler punching his selections into the jukebox along the far wall. Bearded and baseball-capped ...

Pinta Island Tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii)

BJ Hollars

In 1906 the world thought it had seen its last Pinta Island tortoise. That year, the California Academy of Sciences led an expedition that yielded a total of three males, after which the search for the long-necked, leather-skinned species went cold ...

ESSAY: Santa Claus, Childlike Wonder, and Reindeer Poop on the Roof

one father’s struggle with maintaining belief in the jolly old elf

BJ Hollars, illustrated by Serena Wagner

There comes a time in every Santa-believer’s life when that believing hits a snag. Often the seeds of doubt are planted by way of schoolyard bullies, or dream-shattering friends, or one’s own late night sneak from a bedroom to catch a parent in the act ...

A Box of Clues

on a historical hunt, books uncovered, records spun, and a resurrection gone awry

BJ Hollars, photos by BJ Hollars

Let me tell you how I first met Fannie Ingram Schwahn. How I was browsing the local antique store a few summers back when there, buried amid the flotsam and jetsam, I came upon a wedding ...


BJ Hollars

One night when my wife is pregnant with our second child, she asks me for a glass of water. It’s late, and though it is a minor request, I still grumble as I sleepwalk to the kitchen. Who can say what time it is? Even the clocks are asleep. But the water is there, and the glasses are there, and so I fill a glass ...

The Land Towards Which They Were Going

the story of James Zwerg, a Wisconsin freedom rider

BJ Hollars

In late February 1961, 21-year-old James Zwerg – a native of Appleton – took his place in a Nashville, Tennessee, movie theater line alongside all the rest. The tall, white Midwesterner was quiet but anxious, confident though a little afraid. To the ticket seller at the front of the line, his exterior surely pegged him as the perfect patron ...

Tilt Your Ear to the Valley

a non-musical regular Joe finds his niche in the scene

BJ Hollars

There comes a time in every teacher’s life when one’s commonalities with one’s students becomes the wedge. When one learns that a line like, “You guys hear the new Phil Collins jam?” no longer holds the cultural cachet it once did ...

What Made a Wisconsin Naturalist Want to Disappear?

BJ Hollars

The hermit had a name but no one knew it, or almost no one did. Francis Zirrer, an import from Yugoslavia, preferred it that way. All he wanted in the world, after all, was for the world to forget he was there. By the 1930s, he and his wife ...

Essay: Finding Fannie

on an obsessive journey, Eau Claire writer B.J. Hollars roams from antique shop to headstone

BJ Hollars, photos by BJ Hollars, Andrea Paulseth

While antiquing one day in Eau Claire, author B.J. Hollars came across a wedding certificate belonging to a Fannie H. Ingram. Driven by no more than obsessive curiosity, Hollars retraced her steps ...

Resurfacing with the Truth

B.J. Hollars recreates (and fabricates) tales of death on the Valley’s waterways

BJ Hollars

Not a year goes by that I don’t read Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, the story of a pack of children who head out one Halloween night to rescue their friend Pip from evil forces. To save him, they must first endure a whirlwind tour to better ...

Confessions of a Wannabe Grill Master

an essay by the acclaimed barbecue wizard grill owner and author BJ Hollars

BJ Hollars

I’ve only ever burned my eyebrows off once, which I suppose makes me some kind of expert ...