Monday, February 23, 2015

Michigander Monday: Alison DeCamp

I'm pleased to welcome Alison DeCamp to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Alison, please tell us a little about yourself.

Alison:  I grew up in St. Ignace, Michigan, attended MSU, taught middle school and high school language arts until our second child was born (both children are now teenagers), have had a variety of jobs since (dog walker, bookseller) but have mainly been a stay-at-home wife and mother, and now a writer—what I've secretly wanted to be since I was a kid.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book.

Alison:  My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!) is basically Diary of a Wimpy Kid set in 1895. Stan is hauled to a lumber camp in the U.P. with his mother and granny. There he is determined to find his long-lost father (the one who, until recently, he thought was “dearly departed.”). He’s foiled at every turn by his slightly older cousin, Geri (who diagnoses him will all sorts of 19th century diseases), Stinky Pete (who may or may not be a cold-blooded killer), and his mama’s unwelcome suitors. He also embellishes his tale with postcards, trading cards, and advertisements from the time period.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Alison:  I have a three book deal with Phoebe Yeh at Crown Books for Young Readers. I just got edits back for the second book. It’s the same characters (mostly) now in St. Ignace. Except Stan’s dad might actually show up. And that could be good, or it could be really bad. I’m not sure what she will want for book three, but I have some other books I’m working on, both middle grade.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Alison:  My launch party will be held at Between the Covers bookstore in Harbor Springs on February 25, and I’ll be signing books on February 28 at 2:00 at Horizon Books in Traverse City. I have some school events scheduled as well.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Alison:  My very favorite bookstore is the one in Harbor Springs: Between the Covers. I also work there part time, but that’s mainly for the discount. Also, I think I was in there so much the owner, Katie Capaldi, just gave up and offered me a job.

Debbie:  A favorite Michigan library?

Alison:  Of course the Harbor Springs Public Library, which is small and quaint and dates back to 1894.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Alison:  I really, really love Harbor Springs and am so happy I get to call it home. It’s true there is no Target, but I’m a small-town girl at heart. Also, I love the lake. (I would take a Target, however.)

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Alison:  I’m not a huge “event” person, but in 2016 Harbor Springs is beginning its first annual Harbor Springs Festival of the Book, a three day festival that will bring nationally known authors to town to celebrate stories in all forms. I’m crazy excited for this.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Alison:  There are so many, aren’t there? My favorite YA writer is Kate Bassett, also my critique partner. Her book, Words and Their Meanings, hit many Michigan best-seller lists and is beautiful writing mixed with a heartfelt story.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Alison:  I would love non-Michiganders to know that Michigan is so incredibly beautiful it will take your breath away. The lakes in the summer, the trees in autumn, the snow-covered everything in winter and the relief we all feel with spring make it hard to beat.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Alison:  I’m a Yooper. ;)

Debbie:  Alison, we'll add you to the Yooper column.  Thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Find Alison at her web site, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Goodreads.  Signed copies of her book can be ordered from Between the Covers at 231-526-6658 or through its Facebook page

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mr. Fish encountered a shark...

...but lived to tell.

(No fish were harmed in the making of this photo.  Taken by Macmillan staff at Toy Fair 2015.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Michigander Monday: Josh Malerman

I'm pleased to welcome Josh Malerman to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Josh, please tell us a little about yourself.

Josh:  For ten years I was a “failed” novelist. That means I began many of them but never finished one. I had a breakthrough at age 29, wrote a crazy psycho-sexual horror novel in 28 days and in the ten years that have followed I've been finishing them one after another. Of course, there are many things I could tell you about myself. But the middle point of those two decades really means something to me.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book.

Josh:  Bird Box is about a mother and two kids traveling down a river blindfolded, attempting to escape Infinity. Sounds nuts, yeah? Well we've all heard the idea that man can’t fathom infinity… that our minds aren't equipped for it. Even as a kid this idea worried me. But what scares me more is the idea of infinity personified, a creature capable of scrambling our brains in the same way. I imagine Infinity on the porch-swing, waiting for me to finish my coffee and leave the house. There I’d see him/it and… and who knows, right? What would happen if we encountered this impossibly lofty idea in a sentient form? Well, that’s what’s happened to Malorie in Bird Box. The book alternates between these river scenes and snapshots of Malorie and a half dozen housemates, people trying to figure out how to live with Infinity out on the front porch.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Josh:  Working on the follow up now. I don’t have a title for it yet. Usually I do and usually those few words propel me. Maybe I’ll find it soon. In any event, it’s about members of the army band, sent into the jungle to locate the source of a mysterious, nasty sound. Imagine musician-soldiers on night-watch, wearing headphones, pointing boom-mics into the deep dark woods.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Josh:  February 16th at Literati Books in Ann Arbor. April 11th in San Antonio, TX. Since Bird Box was named one of Michigan’s notable books, I’ll tour a handful of libraries. An appearance at the Ferndale Library on April 2nd, which is especially exciting because the book is featured for the month of March, in which copies are handed out to library members who want it. So that appearance could be a good one.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Josh:  Book World in Marquette is exactly what I love about a bookstore. I lived up there for three months and that’s where I got my magazines (Rue Morgue and Fangoria) plus any new horror novels that came out. Got Breed there. McLean and Eakin in Petoskey is out of this world. Kind of place where you wanna absorb every book in the store. Book Beat in Oak Park is incredible. Just wonderful. The feel in there, the stock, the owners. It’s the kind of place you can walk into and immediately start talking books with people. They turned me on to Philip K. Dick, amongst others. The Library Bookstore in Ferndale has a great horror section, manned by a fella who knows more about the genre than just about anybody I know. When my band was touring I used to call him up on the phone, “Hey, I’m at a Salvation Army in Arizona… found a collection called Dark Forces. Is it a good one?” Bookbug in Kalamazoo is awesome. Nicola's in Ann Arbor. I love love love Schuler Books in Lansing, Okemos, and Grand Rapids. I mean, there are so many good ones. Brilliant Books up north.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Josh:  I love Marquette. My girl is from the UP and her sister lives in Marquette and we spent a season (Autumn) up there. I rented an office from which you could see Lake Superior. It was one of those old detectivey offices; frosted glass windows, creaky wood floors… felt straight out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? But there are so many places. One summer Allison and I really experienced Michigan’s west coast. It’s hard to spend time out there and not wanna move there. You know? And yet, how is home not my favorite? Where my family and insane friends live? Where my office is? Where I can hang out with a different invigorating character every night of the week?

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Josh:  Motor City Nightmares. I love when a conference room becomes a horror market. I love when people dress up scary. You can meet weird filmmakers there, find old horror soundtracks on vinyl. I met Dee Wallace there one year. I was so nervous.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Josh:  Ah man. How about the actor Jason Glasgow. And my girl Allison Laakko is a holy-shit artist, actress, singer, too. I not so secretly see her completing a masterpiece one day. Matt Jones. Musician from Ypsilanti. Misty Lynn, also from Ypsilanti. Start there. They’ll blow your minds up the middle and their shows feel like summer camp used to feel; that sense of, But I don’t wanna go home yet! Go Comedy and Planet Ant both have great comedy troupes. Jeff Milo is our music-journalist-hero. The bass player form my band, the High Strung, also plays in a band called the Mythics and they are really good. Gorgeous, delicate, classy, inspiring. The Handgrenades, a rock band who are reinventing themselves as I write this. James Hall, filmmaker, just finished the Harbinger, a great horror short you can find online. He’s another one I anticipate a holy-shit work of art from. Eleanora’s new EP is magnificent. Get Super Rad, filmmakers, editors; these guys are amazing.

In other words, I’m surrounded. We all are. And we love it that way.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Josh:  Oh, I don’t know! Come visit Allison and I. Come over to our house and we’ll play you records and we can talk weird books and movies and maybe we’ll even paint ourselves up and build an alien landing pad out in the yard. Maybe aliens will even land on it. We can shoot a movie, eat well, sleep, whatever. But whatever we do, we’re gonna do it with spirit and I think most houses are like that in this area. Let the non-michiganders know that there’s a lot of spirit here. You know how some places, some locales are regarded as “spiritual vortexes”? Michigan is kinda like that. In a less crystally way.

Debbie:  Last question. Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Josh:  Michigander. I’ve never tried the other one on. Maybe I should. Maybe that’ll be like an artistic phase thing. Malerman was a Michigander up until 2015, when he quite suddenly became a Michiganian. Some found it curious, others snooty, but as they say, Life is a wheel that constantly turns, and reinvention is how the old ways burn…

Debbie:  Josh, we'll add you to the Michigander column - for now!  Thank you for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Michigander Monday: Jillena Rose

I'm pleased to welcome Jillena Rose to Michigander Monday!  Jillena is one of the five finalists for the U.P. Poet Laureate position.

Debbie:  Jillena, please tell us a little about yourself.

Jillena:  My parents moved up to Hancock, Michigan when I was seven . I grew up there and after moving away (1986) for a few years and having a family, I returned to the Sault Sainte Marie area with my then husband and three children in 1997. I did my undergraduate work at LSSU and received my MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina in 2006. I’ve been teaching as full-time faculty since 2009—mostly Freshman Composition and Creative Writing. My colleagues and I founded the Creative Writing Program in 2010 and we have a terrific, talented and diverse faculty. I’m non-fiction Editor for our International Journal, Border Crossing. I write my own work when I can and enjoy more than I can say, growing our writers both on campus and in the community.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your writing.

Jillena:  I write mostly poetry and some creative non-fiction. I’ve been published in several print and online publications. I suppose the poem with the most history is "Taos," which was chosen by former US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser to appear in his syndicated column. From there, it was picked up by a Syrian Professor and translated into Arabic and released to papers in Jordan and Iraq—the poem that went around the world. I have one small chapbook of poems, Cedar Cathedral,  is available locally.

I was pleased to be part of a community project in St. Ignace three years ago. I participated in nine months of conversations between local Catholic and tribal communities in an effort to re-vise and re-shape the historic Father Marquette Pageant to more accurately reflect the early relationship between the Anishnabe and Jesuit communities in that area. The result of these historic and challenging talks is a small booklet,  Walking the Quill of the Feather: a short reflection of the spiritual history of the Anishnabe and the Jesuits at St. Ignace. It represents the beginning of a long overdue healing conversation that continues today.

Debbie:  Other publications and projects on the horizon?

Jillena:  My chapbook, Light As Sparrows, is forthcoming in 2015 from Aldrich Press. The book is a collection of ekphrastic narrative poems in the voices of  Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Steiglitz.  I’m editing a small cross-genre book, Adoration in Ordinary Times, and am preparing to send it to some small presses. I’m also in the process of translating a wonderful little 19th century handwritten journal from the original French.  It’s full of poems and songs and prayers—a treasure picked up by a friend at a dollar a bag book sale at one of our UP Libraries!

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Jillena:  I have no appearances planned at this time.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Jillena:  My favorite Michigan bookstore might surprise you. There’s a tremendously huge consignment shop in Laurium, Michigan called the Yard Sale. It’s in a wonderful old wood and marble bank building. The entire first floor is full, top to bottom, of used books of every kind you can imagine. I spend hours there every time I visit the Keweenaw.  My favorite libraries are the ones closest to my home and heart. Bayliss Community Library was willing to work with me to begin a writers group almost ten years ago and a reading series to highlight local and regional poets. Both are still going strong today.  Pickford Community Library is relatively new on the scene. They began as a grassroots, from scratch community project, raising money through fall harvest days and hamburger bashes. They are now part of the Superior District Library. Programming for the community at this little library is phenomenal, providing opportunities in a rural area unheard of in most of the UP. The director, Ann Marie Smith, along with her cadre of dedicated volunteers is a powerhouse.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Jillena:  My favorite place in Michigan is the Upper Peninsula. I can’t believe the grace and good fortune that allow me to work at what I love in the place I love.  As for the rest, please see the next answer.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Jillena:  I attend the shore of Lake Superior year round to watch the changes in the shoreline, the rising and setting of the sun, the passage of seasons over the waters and storms with winds and waves singing louder than any symphony ever could. I attend the silent woods in winter, the busy woods in Spring, and the brilliant woods in Autumn. I sit or stand perfectly still until a snowy owl  or a soaring hawk  appears in a flash, swoops down then disappears up into the sky. I frequent the parks along the St. Mary’s River in summer and listen to the tourists shout the names of the freighters up-bound or down and guess at what they’re carrying. I drive through Blaney Park every chance I get. It’s a vintage resort from the 20’s and 30’s, now almost a ghost town. You can almost hear an old wind-up victrola playing from the old dining hall when you drive through.  I return to the Keweenaw at least once a year to walk among the ruins of copper mines, eat at the Suomi Bakery and seek out the old outdoor rinks where my sisters and I skated in winter, heedless of the cold. I attend the backyards of friends on long summer nights to sing and listen to them play music while crickets chirp, bats flit overhead and a fire burns in an old stove to hold-back the inevitable chill. Once a year, just before school starts again, I travel to Whitefish Point and stand at what I thought of when I was a little girl as the tip of real world. I would find it on the map and cover it with my finger and close my eyes.  Now I got to that sacred place, the place where we commemorate the hard working freighter crews of the Great Lakes and beyond.  I think back over the past year and cast my hopes for the new one out into the lake.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Jillena:  To be honest, the interesting people I know in the UP would rather I talk about what they give to our communities than who they are themselves, because these people, more than any others, make a community rich in opportunities and resources  so young families and artists want to stay and make this their home. I think there is a misperception that the UP is a wasteland devoid of culture and “good things” that enrich life elsewhere. This just isn’t so. Here are a few things you should know: We have breweries like Soo Brew, Upper Hand Brewery  and the Keweenaw Brewing Company  that provide not only terrific ale, but are also venues for live entertainment. We have wineries producing award winning estate grown wine like Northern Sun Winery in Bark River. We have locally owned restaurants that try to use locally grown  produce and meat like Bobaloon’s in Escanaba and Upper Crust Pizza in Sault Sainte Marie. Most larger towns have farmer’s markets that run summer and winter. We have terrific musicians in the area who often run a circuit of free to the public music in the park events during the summer months. The Errant Late Night Gardeners are a terrific early Jazz trio. No Strings Attached is an all female trio that plays lovely country music and ballads. Lise White and friends play everything  from jazz to Bob Dylan  to traditional French Canadian folksongs. Finally, a nod to Places Like the  Vertin’s Gallery in Calumet, and Sault Realism and the Alberta House Art gallery in Sault Sainte Marie for highlighting local art, and non-profit ventures like the Sault Theater Arts Project (STARS) which is training and inspiring a whole new generation of fine and performing artists here in the UP.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Jillena:  Since I know the Upper Peninsula best, I think I’ll respond strictly about this area. I want those who’ve never been here, or those who pass through too quickly on their way to somewhere else, to know that it’s a wild treasure not quickly uncovered or easily categorized. It’s a rich store of history to be both proud of and a little embarrassed about (the Anishnabe culture is rich in wisdom and art and needs to be foregrounded more so those of us who aren’t first nation can learn how to interact with the world around us in more genuine ways). It’s a gift of largely untouched pristine nature highly valued and fiercely protected by those who’ve taken the time to know it well.  The people of the Upper Peninsula are warm, thoughtful and often come here determined to lead an authentic life away from distractions. Very often this life includes some form of art or expression that enriches the communities in which they find themselves. We don’t have a lot of instant entertainment here, so we make our own—and from music, to photography, to visual art, writing, traditional native ceremony  and fiber arts, the results are stunningly, simply beautiful. Knowing the UP takes time; it takes slowing down; it takes getting quiet, but this place and the people who choose it for their home are well worth the effort. It will take your breath away.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Jillena:  I fall firmly into the “Michigander” camp.

Debbie:  Jillena, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Guest Blog Post by Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison

Today I'm happy to share with you a guest blog post by Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison.

Leslie is a picture book author and illustrator and co-RA of SCBWI-Michigan; Darcy is an author of fiction and non-fiction and a writing teacher who leads revision retreats.  Together they will be faculty for the Highlights Foundation workshop PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz, April 23-26 in Honesdale, PA (registration info here).

To give you a taste of their workshop, what follows is a brief exploration of nine popular picture book topics that absolutely require a fresh approach if you're going to write about them.  Take it away, Leslie and Darcy!


9 Picture Book Topics to Avoid (Or Be Ready for Stiff Competition and Write a Story with a Fresh Take)
-- by Leslie Helakoski and Darcy Pattison

When people think about writing a children’s picture book, clichéd topics pop up. These classic themes are based on universal childhood experiences. It’s not that these topics are taboo. Instead, they are so common that competition is fierce. As they say, children’s publishing is a bunny-eat-bunny world.

Here are the top 9 topics to avoid. Also listed is a children’s book, published within the last 5 years, that is a fresh take on the topic. If you are considering writing a picture book about one of these topics, it will be a harder sale unless you can find an original way to approach it.

1. First Day of School. Everyone wants to get kids ready for the first day of school, and it’s hard to find a fresh approach.

Updated Title that Works:
Dad’s First Day (July, 2015), written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

2. Tooth fairy. People have 32 teeth, and losing baby teeth in early elementary school is a universal experience. The tooth fairy often has a place in a family story, which makes it a perennial topic for a children’s book.

Updated Title that Works:
The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy (2013) by Martha Brockenbrough, illustrated by Israel Sanchez

3. Christmas/Halloween. Major holidays are often the focus on children’s books.

Updated Titles that Work:
Christmas Parade (2012) written and illustrated by Sandra Boynton
Smudge and the Book of Mistakes: A Christmas Story (2013), by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Stephen Costanza.

4. Wanting a pet. From gerbils to dogs, cats to chinchillas—humans love their pets. It’s a natural topic for a children’s book.

Updated Titles that Work:
I Want a Dog: My Opinion Essay (2015) by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Ewa O’Neill
I Want a Cat: My Opinion Essay (2015) by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Ewa O’Neill

5. Dealing with a disability. With today’s cultural emphasis on diversity (#WeNeedDiversity), libraries are looking for stories with disabled characters.

Updated Title that Works:
My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay (2015) by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

6. Visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Who buys books for children? Grandparents! And of course, grandparents want to encourage a close relationship with their grandchildren. Do this topic with humor and honest emotion and you’ll have a winner.

Updated Titles that Work:
How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish
How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish

7. New baby in the family. Young children often have to move over and make room for a new sibling. Books helps them work through the complicated emotions when a new baby arrives.

Updated Title that Works:
You Were the First (2013) by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

8. Barnyard stories/rural nostalgia. The rural roots of America are ever-present in children’s books. One of the first things kids learn is the sounds made by farm animals. From there, chickens and pigs rule!

Updated Title that Works:
Big Pigs (2014), written and illustrated by Leslie Helakoski

9. Bedtime stories. Kids who are read to become better readers. What better time to read than bedtime? And if the story ends on a quiet note that encourages the kids to go to sleep faster, parents will love you.

Updated Title that Works:
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (2012) by Sherry Duskey Rinker,
illustrated by Tom Lictenheld

Not convinced that you should avoid these topics? Then put on your A-Game! Because the competition for children’s picture books about these topics is fierce. Yet, if you write a fantastic story about one of these topics, it might just become a classic.


Thank you, Leslie and Darcy!

If you're interested in Leslie and Darcy's workshop, find info here.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Michigander Monday, Mini-Edition: Kristen Remenar

Today’s Michigander Monday interview is a special mini-edition.  The fabulous Kristen Remenar will be back here later in the year for a full-length Michigander Monday interview, but for reasons that we’ll get to momentarily, I thought today would be a great day to introduce you to Kris and her forthcoming book.  And since the date today is 2/2, let’s go with a 2 theme for the questions!

Debbie:  Kris, please tell us two things about your forthcoming book.

1. My editor called me on Groundhog's Day to tell me she wanted to acquire my book about Groundhog's Day, a lovely bit of kismet she arranged, which shows you how awesome my editor is.
2. Groundhog's Dilemma is illustrated by Matt Faulkner, an award-winning author/illustrator and a fabulous husband (mine).

Debbie:  And two things about you!

1. I was born on Groundhog's Day.
2. Every year I wish the groundhog would make Spring come early, but I live in Michigan, so long winters are kind of a given.

Debbie:  How about two things about Matt Faulkner?

1. Groundhog's Dilemma is the 39th book Matt has illustrated.
Sample sketches by Matt Faulkner
2. Like the squirrel in our book, Matt is fond of nuts, especially walnuts. (If you really want to win him over, bake the walnuts in chocolate chip cookies.)

Debbie:  Two things we probably don’t know about Groundhog’s Day.

1. People in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania have been celebrating Groundhog's Day for over 125 years.
2. Groundhogs whistle when they are scared, so in some parts of America they are called "whistle pigs."

Debbie:  Two fun facts about your library.

1. I've been a children's librarian at the Orion Township Public Library for over a decade.
2. Our town, Lake Orion, is probably the only place in the world where O-r-i-o-n is properly pronounced "ORE-ee-un".

Debbie:  Two words that rhyme with Remenar.  

1. Seminar! I've been teaching seminars on early literacy and the best books to build reading skills for five years. I can't wait for the first seminar when I get to feature my very own picture book!
2. Phlegm-enar (a nickname I did not like in middle school)

Debbie:  Your two favorite knock-knock jokes.

1. Knock knock.
Who's there?
Sam and Janet.
Sam and Janet who?
Sam-and-Janet evening, when you find your true love....

2. Knock knock
Who's there?
Juno who?
Juno I'm out here, so let me in!

Debbie:  And finally, two places we can find out more about you.

2. On Facebook as Kristen Remenar

Debbie:  Kris, thank you so much for being here today.  Happy Groundhog's Day, and Happy Birthday!  We're all looking forward to the publication of Groundhog's Dilemma.  Can't wait!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Michigander Monday: Beverly Matherne

I'm pleased to welcome Beverly Matherne to Michigander Monday!  Beverly is one of the five finalists for U.P. Poet Laureate.  Let's get to know a little bit more about her and her writing.

Debbie:  Beverly, please tell us a little about yourself.

Beverly:  I was born along the Mississippi River, just west of New Orleans, to a French speaking family. To maintain my Francophone identity, I've studied French over 40 years, earlier as a young student at l'Institut Catholique in Paris and later in the MA program in French at University of California, at Berkeley. Because I do all I can to foster a lasting French presence in Louisiana, I publish my books in facing pages of French and English, and I've received positive feedback for my efforts, in a review of my blues poetry in the international edition of Le Figaro, for example, and in a completed dissertation from University of Paris III that investigates my bilingual writing process alongside that of seven other authors, including Samuel Beckett.

As tenured professor in the Department of English at Northern Michigan University, I've taught dramatic literature and playwriting. I've also taught technical writing from introductory to graduate levels because of a seven-year stint in the computer industry in California before I arrived at NMU. Even though I had published eight articles on the drama and produced 28 articles and collaterals on relational database technology, I was also publishing a lot of poetry and receiving invitations to read nationally and internationally. I was soon allowed to put aside other areas of concentration to focus sharply on poetry. In addition to teaching poetry in our creative writing programs, I served as director of the MFA Program (four years), director of the Visiting Writers Series (seven years) and poetry editor of Passages North literary magazine (four years). Because of my Francophone background, I also taught first-year French language courses at NMU for six years.

I've done over 240 readings and poetry performances across the U.S., Canada and France, and in Spain, Germany, Belgium and Wales. Venues include Cornell University, Tulane University, Shakespeare and Company in Paris and the United Nations in New York. I was also the guest of poet Grace Cavalieri on her radio show, “The Poet and the Poem,” broadcast live from Washington, D.C.

My work appears in many French publications and in Great River Review, Interdisciplinary Humanities, Metamorphoses, Paterson Literary Review, and Verse, to name a few.

I have a Ph.D. in Drama from Saint Louis University and M.A. and B.A. degrees in English from University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

In June of 2014, I retired from NMU and now enjoy writing fulltime.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Beverly:  My sixth book of poetry, Bayou des Acadiens / Blind River, stories and prose poems endorsed by John Smolens and Jack Driscoll, is due out any day, from Éditions Perce-Neige. My fifth book, Cadillac: Sa Jeunesse En France / Cadillac: His Early Days in France, a collection of linked prose poems endorsed by Jim Harrison and Dyane Léger, is from Éditions Tintamarre. My fourth, La Grande Pointe / Grand Point, and my third, Le Blues Braillant / The Blues Cryin', free verse and blues poetry respectively, are both from Cross-Cultural Communications. My second and first, chapbooks in free verse, are Les Images Cadienne / Cajun Images, from Ridgeway Press, and Je Me Souviens de Louisiane / I Remember Louisiana, from March Street Press. Folks endorsing earlier titles include Jim Daniels, Jane Hirshfield, and Judith Minty.

I've received seven first-place prizes, including the Hackney Literary Award for Poetry, and four Pushcart Prize nominations. In 2010, I received the Outstanding Writer Award from the Marquette Arts and Culture Association.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Beverly:  In 1999, I was invited to write an epic poem about the arrival of the Acadians, today’s Cajuns, in Louisiana, for Congrès Mondial Acadien / the Acadian World Congress. I’m expanding that prose poem, consisting of six dramatic monologues, into a full-length book. I also continue to translate Stanley Kunitz’s poems, ten of which already appear in a special portfolio edition, The Artist / L'Artiste, with lithographs, from Cross-Cultural Communications. I’m now planning a book-length translation of Kunitz’s poems.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Beverly:  I’m in Sonoma County, California, until the first of April. In May, I’ll read for the Northern Center for Lifelong Learning at NMU, and in August, I’ll be one of three poets reading at a Chopin recital by pianist Nancy Railey. This summer, I’ll be touring with the new book in Louisiana. I post upcoming readings on my website:, where you can also see samples of my poetry and hear me perform one of my blues poems with fiddle and slide guitar accompaniment.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Beverly:  Snowbound Books is my favorite bookstore. They carry excellent new and used books and support local authors. I order my poetry and fiction books there. I enjoy working with owner Dana Schultz on Marquette’s One Book One Community Committee, for which I serve as co-chair.

As for libraries, my favorite is Ishpeming Carnegie Public Library. I love its Neo-classical revival style: Doric columns at the entrance, stunning copula. I love the small-town feel of the library and the helpful librarians. They support local writers, and I've read there many times over the years.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Beverly:  Ishpeming, a small town of 6,000 folks, about 15 miles west of Marquette, is my favorite city. I love its magnificent City Hall, its red sandstone, huge arched entrance, and square tower with pyramidal roof. Once the center of iron ore production, the city boasts of several recently restored buildings, including that of Globe Printing, famous for fine printing and publishing and for The Roosevelt Nightclub, where the cast of Anatomy of a Murder used to convene after hours. You can still see autographs of Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick and others on the wall.

The city’s Victorian homes so caught my attention that I purchased one, a Queen Anne, in 2004. I've been restoring it ever since, doing much of the work myself; I maintain its retaining wall, for example, having learned how to tuck point from a local mason. My longish prose poem “The Poet’s Vision,” in Here, Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is set in this, my home, known as the Butler House.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Beverly:  I love attending the UP 200 Sled Dog Races, the take-off, in Marquette. Coming from the Deep South, I had never seen anything like it, huskies and malamutes in booties, wild for the run, the below zero weather—burr! I also attend Marquette Symphony concerts regularly, having served on its board for four years.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Beverly:  I love the Finnish-American writer and TV personality, Carl Pellonpaa (Finland Calling). I've never seen the man without a smile, a sparkle in the eye, and a good joke to tell.

Michigan writers who also make me smile include Martin Achatz, Charles Baxter, Jim Daniels, Jack Driscoll, John Gubbins, Kate Myers Hanson, Jim Harrison, Jonathan Johnson, Judith Minty, and John Smolens.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Beverly:  As someone who grew up along the Mississippi River and among bayous, all muddy waters, I would like others to know that Lake Superior is so clear you can easily see rocks on its floor, from lookouts as high as 40 feet. Winter is another matter: snow is frequent, this season’s first Polar Plunge having buried my Subaru in a six-foot drift. Mornings after storms though—trees laden with snow, sometimes ice, the white expanse—transport you to holy silence.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Beverly:  I say Michigander. When I was 19-21, I had a boyfriend named Bill from Ann Arbor, who always said Michigander, so I do, too. I've never heard of Michiganian and I've lived here for 24 years. By the way, I've fallen in love with this place.

Debbie:  Beverly, we'll add you to the Michigander column.  Thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New book especially for babies and very young toddlers!

New in bookstores and libraries this week is my and Dan Hanna's Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish.

It's a mini-adventure for Mr. Fish, appropriate for the youngest of book lovers -- babies and very young toddlers.

In board book format, it's just 12 pages long with a few words per page.  The story always helps Mr. Fish fall asleep at bedtime and naptime!

We hope you enjoy it.

It's the second of Mr. Fish's mini-adventures.  His full-length adventures will be continuing as well!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Michigander Monday: Janeen Rastall

I'm pleased to welcome Janeen Rastall to Michigander Monday! Janeen is one of ten poets who were recently nominated for the U.P. Poet Laureate position.

Debbie:  Janeen, please tell us a little about yourself.

Janeen:  I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan across from Lake Superior with my husband, Richard Rastall. I am a big geek, a retired computer analyst. I write poems that I hope are accessible and honest.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your publications.

Janeen:  My chapbook, In the Yellowed House, was published by dancing girl press in 2014. My poetry has appeared in several publications including: The Midwest Quarterly, the museum of americana, Midwestern Gothic and The Michigan Poet. I was nominated by Wayne State University Press (2013) and Border Crossing (2014) for a Pushcart Prize.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Janeen:  My manuscript From The Night Museum received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Two of Cups Press Chapbook Competition. I have two other manuscripts in various stages of revision.

In 2014, I wrote, produced and acted in a 2 person play with my husband. We hope to do an encore production this year.

I am very excited to be a part of Here, Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an anthology by Michigan State University Press in May, 2015.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Janeen:  On April 16th, I will be reading at Bayliss Library in Sault Ste Marie and May 13th at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College. I post my readings at my website:

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Janeen:  Book World and Snowbound Books are very supportive of Michigan authors. I love Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore in Munising and Barnes and Noble in Lansing.

We are blessed with fabulous libraries in the U.P.: Peter White Library in Marquette, Bayliss Library in Sault Ste Marie, Tahquamenon Area Library in Newberry and Escanaba Public Library are fantastic libraries with many exciting programs.

I have a special place in my heart for the Capital Area District Libraries. I worked as an Assistant at the Haslett Public Library. Their outreach with programs, bookmobiles and books by mail bring their branches out into neighborhoods.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Janeen:  I am madly in love with the U.P. Its rugged beauty is breathtaking. In the winter, I can cross country ski or snowshoe from my back door on great trails and the rest of the year I can bike all the way to Marquette. There are many places to kayak. Waterfalls and lighthouses are waiting to be explored. Marquette has a wonderful arts community with music and art festivals all summer, a Halloween festival with dragon costumes and parades. Yoopers are friendly and warm-hearted. I guess that is how we survive our long winters.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Janeen:  The Children’s Book Festival at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie is a great event for families as well as authors. Student dress as book characters and have fun booths for children. I went to some great workshops by children’s authors on writing and publishing techniques there.

I love the Poetry Society of Michigan meetings with readings by Jack Ridl, John Rybicki and Milton Bates and the opportunity to meet poets from across the state.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Janeen:  Some of my favorite Michigan authors are Julie Brooks Barbour, Sally Brunk, Jen Howard, Amorak Huey, April Lindala, Mary McMyne, Jack Ridl and Keith Taylor.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Janeen:  Michigan is the home of the great saltless sea, Superior. Lake Superior is so clear and constantly changing. Some days surfers can ride the waves, other days it is calm with eagles fishing across its face (while I was typing, a bald eagle was sitting in a tree right across the street). Bears and wolves roam in the forest. You can wander the beaches and rarely see another person.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Janeen:  Oh, I am a gander, a Michigander ;)

Debbie:  Janeen, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Michigander Monday: Eric Gadzinski

I'm pleased to welcome Eric Gadzinski to Michigander Monday!  Eric is one of the nominees for the U.P. Poet Laureate position (for more info, click here).  I'll be talking with many of the nominees over the coming weeks.

Debbie:  Eric, please tell us a little about yourself.

Eric:  I was born in Vermont and until 40 lived in various places along the Northeast corridor (Boston-Philadelphia), with two notable exceptions in Mexico and North Carolina.  This year will be 20 in the UP, specifically the Sault and thereabouts.  Ph.D in leterchur from Temple University.  Was taking a cross country trip and stopped to get gas at the international bridge, looked up, and said "I'll be damned, there's a university here."  The rest is history.  

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Eric:  I've published in ones, twos and threes in a lot of print and electronic journals.  My book, Tattoo, is published by Finishing Line Press.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Eric:  I have another book, Road's End, in circulation, and am slowly preparing two more (or one, we'll see).  I am also in the process of translating two Ojibway language poems by the early 19th C. author Jane Johnston Schoolcraft (from the Sault), in a manner that attempts to better capture the sound and sense than the hackneyed rhyming pentameter translations her husband made at the time. Way on the back burner is a paper about literary imposters, specifically two cases where poets have claimed to be (and write as) Vietnam veterans when they were not.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Eric:  Today I plan to appear at the Goodwill store to look for a sweater or book (I've had some good luck there recently with books).  Later I'll be appearing at Super Value to get something for supper.  Starting January 12 I will be appearing at various locations on the Lake Superior State University campus holding forth on various subjects in literature and composition.  You mean poetry readings?  None scheduled at the moment, although I think LSSU's English dept. might have something planned for April, poetry month, that may require something out loud from me.  Summer before last I participated in the UP Writers series.  I really liked reading for people in some of the small crossroad towns and woods villages up here.  People actually showed up for advertised poetry readings, which I thought was pretty remarkable.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?  And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Eric:  Snowbound Books in Marquette is a nifty shop.  Peter White library, also Marquette, has been kind to me.  There used to be a fascinating used bookstore in Munising, since closed.  As I mentioned, I recently have had some pretty good luck at Goodwill in the Sault and you can't beat the prices.  We have a large used bookstore, UP North Books, in the Sault, that carries mostly romances and mysteries.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Eric:  Over thisaway, on the Bay Mills reservation, there's a place called Mission Hill with a local cemetery that also offers a spectacular overlook across the woods and Monacle Lake to the mouth of Lake Superior.  My wife and I used to go there before we were married, and go there still.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Eric:  I get a kick out of going to any small place up here that has a Polish festival.  First one I went to here was one held in Strongs at the Crosscut Bar.  Soul food, polkas, beer.  People come for a good time whether or not their name ends in ski.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Eric:  Jillena Rose, of Sault Sainte Marie, is a laureate finalist who is native to the UP and writes exquisitely.  George Denger, LSSU professor of communication, outdoorsman, boxing afficionado, and hall of fame winner of an NCAA forensics pentathalon, is one of the most remarkable people I've met.  Carolyn Dale, assistant superintendent of the J.K.L. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnaable School in the Sault, is fast becoming nationally recognized for both Native American education and educational administration in general.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Eric:  Once you're a hundred miles north of Detroit you're pretty much on your own.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Eric:  Going to have to abstain on this.  My wife is a member of the Sault Tribe, Anishnaabe, the people, the first people.  The rest of us are Chmooks, which comes from the word for long knives (swords), and sounds a lot like the Yiddish "schmuck", but means white guys, honkys, crackers, them.  Don't care what kind of ander/anian you are, unless your bones go back thousands of years, we're all just tourists.

Debbie:  Eric, sounds like we need a new column for the tally!  Thank you so much for joining us today.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Michigander Monday: Barbara Henning

I'm pleased to welcome Barbara Henning to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Barbara, please tell us a little about yourself.

Barbara:  I grew up in East Detroit, a suburb of Detroit. I believe it is now called East Pointe. When I was 18 years old I moved into the city and I lived on the Eastside for a few years and then moved downtown to the Cass Corridor where I attended Wayne State University and taught in the English Department. While I was an undergrad and a grad student, I was lucky to work with Charles Baxter and Esther Broner, and a number of other very supportive writers and teachers.  In 1983 I moved to New York City where I have lived ever since – except for a year in India and a few years in Tucson, Arizona.  One of the wonderful things about living in the East Village in NYC is that I am only a few blocks away from St. Marks Poetry Project, a place where I have read many times and listened to some of the best poets in the country. But I started giving poetry readings in Detroit, at Alvin’s Finer and at the Detroit Art Museum series that George Tysh used to run.  I’m a fiction writer and a poet and my writing has been deeply influenced by my childhood and young adult life in Detroit, Michigan.  Michigan is a place that is woven into my way of living and thinking.  It is present in every book I have written.  

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Barbara:  I have written three novels and nine books of poetry, the most recent are two collections of poetry and prose, A Swift Passage (Quale Press 2013) and Cities & Memory (Chax Press 2010); a novel, Thirty Miles to Rosebud (BlazeVOX 2009); and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists 2007). One of my first books, Smoking in the Twilight Bar is a collection of prose poems set in the Cass Corridor.

Thirty Miles to Rosebud is a novel that takes place in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in New York City, with a brief drive through Detroit.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Barbara:  A Day Like Today is collection of poems forthcoming from Negative Capability Press in 2015. And I’m working on a new novel.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Barbara:  I read every year in Detroit, but nothing is scheduled right now.  I’m teaching a workshop in Goshen New York for Poetry on the Loose in a few weeks.   Reading in Portland Oregon on March 14, 2015.  Setting up a reading in 2015 with the Poetry Project in NYC.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Barbara:  My favorite library in Detroit is the main library on Woodward Avenue.  It is so elegant. They used to have little rooms on the second floor where you could work. I’m not sure if they are still there. When I was living in the Chatsworth Annex, I would hide out there and read and write, day after day.  My favorite bookstore was Marwil Books on the corner of Warren and Cass Ave.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Barbara:  I always loved the downtown Detroit River waterfront, sitting there and looking out at Windsor.  I know it has changed a lot over the years, but my husband, Allen Saperstein, and I used to take old time photographs of people at the Ethnic Festivals. Also he sold lemonade and popcorn there.  We spent a lot of time on the river.  I write about the riverfront (and the despair of Detroit at the time) in my novel, Black Lace.

I also love driving over the Mackinaw Bridge into the Upper Penninsula. The span of that bridge over the lake is gorgeous. I cross that bridge a few times in Thirty Miles to Rosebud.

When I’m visiting with relatives in Detroit now, at dusk during warm weather, there is the sound of crickets.  I miss the Michigan crickets.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Barbara:  In the 70’s Allen and I also worked in many fairs in Southern Michigan.  The one we loved to work the most was the Ann Arbor Art Fair.  I remember when so many hippies came in for that fair and they were sleeping along the edges of the parks.  That time is over now, but as a young person, it was exciting.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Barbara:  There are many wonderful writers in Detroit, from Detroit.  But there is one man on my mind right now, a wonderful old man who used to take photographs in front of the Detroit Art Museum—Art Frasier.   He would develop the photos inside an old box camera he had built and sell them for 50 cents.  We bought his camera and that was the camera we used when we traveled in the fairs. When I was a young girl, a man would come by my grandmother’s house on Altar Road on a horse to take your photograph.  I guess Art was the last of that kind of photographer in the city.  He died some years ago and I’m glad to leave his name here. We still have the camera. Here is a link to some of the photos we took in the mid 70’s. Some of the photos were taken on 2nd Avenue on the side of the Bronx Bar, others at the State Fair Grounds (now closed) and some downtown near Cobo Hall.  The one with the triangles was taken by Art before we bought the camera.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Barbara:  Michigan is a land of forests, snow and water, a place where I have camped and hiked, a place where industrial cities were vibrant and then desperate.  Now I hear tales of local artists and farmers remaking the landscape of the cities.  In Cities and Memories and A Swift Passage I write about Michigan and Detroit and the violence and the beauty.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally, which is the better term: Michigander or Michiganian?

Barbara:  I've always been a Michigander.

Debbie:  We'll add you to the Michigander column!  Barbara, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Michigander Monday: Charmi Keranen

I'm pleased to welcome Charmi Keranen to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Charmi, please tell us a little about yourself.

Charmi:  I came to Michigan by way of the spoils of marriage, rather than by birth right.  (Who said marriage was dead?!)  My husband’s family was part of the great wave of Finnish immigrants who settled in the Keweenaw Peninsula during the mining boom.  I was raised a Hoosier, but just a mile or so from the Michigan border in an area often referred to as Michiana.  I didn’t know it, but I was already on my way to becoming a Michigan/Indiana hybrid.  The Michigan I knew growing up was the southwest corner, full of fruit hills and vineyards and towering sand dunes, hot enough to scorch a little girl’s feet come the end of summer.  Imagine my surprise the first time I saw my husband’s Michigan, the Keweenaw, when I was 19 years old.   Every last bit of geography was foreign, from the unforgettable blue of Lake Superior (which is never warm enough) to the miles and miles of pine forest.  And abandoned cemeteries!  And black bears!   It’s a grand understatement to say I was bowled over.  My hybrid fate was becoming sealed.

Fast forward a decade or so.  My wonderful in-laws have passed away and my husband and I have suddenly inherited a second home in the Keweenaw.  I have now stretched my Michiana identity all the way to butt up against Canada!  And so it remains.

Today I work as scopist for court reporters, which means that I make court transcripts readable!  I am an editor of sorts, reading everything from murder to malpractice cases.  My job inspires much of my writing.  Because I am self-employed and work from home, I have time to play around a bit.  Aside from writing (of course) I am a home brewer with a big garden (including hops) and for the past two years have been keeping bees.  At parties, people used to ask me about my work and my kids, now it’s all about the beer and the bees!  (Fingers crossed that the bees survive this winter.  Last year wasn’t so hot.  In fact, it was Polar Vortex cold.  The beer, it does just fine with the cold.)

I still talk about my kids, though.  My husband and I have two grown children.  Our son, Tom, is both a musician and a brewer.  What can be better than music and beer, huh?  Our daughter Jocelyn is serving in the Peace Corps in Tanzania.  “Hey Mom, that bird noise outside my window, turns out it was a hyena.”  Gah!  I will be visiting her this winter and gaining an entirely new perspective on life, I’m sure.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your books.

Charmi:  In 2012 my first poetry chapbook, The Afterlife is a Dry County, was published by Big Wonderful Press.  You can pick it up directly from the publisher, but it is also available from Amazon and on Kindle (instant gratification!)  It’s a fun little book with my hybrid nature on full display.  I am also very excited to be included in the anthology Here, coming out in the spring of 2015, from Michigan State University Press.  Many thanks to Ron Riekki for choosing my work to be included.  I am thrilled!

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Charmi:  Yes!  This summer I finished a found poetry manuscript called So ber.  The poems in So ber are not so much erasures as they are gleanings taken from the novel So Big by Kalamazoo native Edna Ferber, winner of the 1925 Pulitzer Prize.  I began So ber back in 2013 when I took part in a project called the Pulitzer Remix, put together by the editor of the Found Poetry Review.  At that time I wrote 30 poems for National Poetry Month.  Over the summer of 2014 I expanded the manuscript to 55 poems.  So ber is in search of a publisher.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Charmi:  Oh, yes.  Harbinger Books in Calumet, Michigan.  It has so much character and you’ll find everything from wonderful poetry to great Michigan history tomes.  I stumbled upon them one rainy day and came out with more books than one should try to juggle in a downpour.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Charmi:  The Keweenaw AND the fruit hills.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Charmi:  Nothing beats the Gay parade on the 4th of July in the little town of Gay, population 60.  It’s the bomb.  Except maybe picking blueberries on the Lake Superior shoreline outside of Gay in August.  That’s also the bomb.  Sometimes a black bear will join you.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Charmi:  Oh, gosh.  Read David Dodd Lee’s poetry and Bonnie Jo Campbell’s fiction.  They’re not just top notch Michigan writers, they are top notch American writers.  You will read their work and say, What?!  What?!  You won’t be the same.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Charmi:  Michigan is so diverse.  I’ve talked about the places I know, but those places are just a tiny part of Michigan.  There is so much more.  I mean, I haven’t even started talking about the great beer!

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally, which is the better term: Michigander or Michiganian?

Charmi:  A billion pages ago I said I was a hybrid.  I guess that’s what I remain.  I am a Michianite.  Truly.  Check my DNA.

Debbie:  Charmi, we'll put you in the Michianite column!  Thank you for joining us today for Michianite Monday!