Monday, August 18, 2014

Michigander Monday: Andy Mozina

I'm pleased to welcome Andy Mozina to Michigander Monday!

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

Andy:  I grew up in Wisconsin, in a Milwaukee suburb, and spent years in Chicago, Boston and St. Louis before settling in Kalamazoo where I’ve lived with my wife, Lorri, and daughter, Madeleine for the past fifteen years. I teach literature and creative writing at Kalamazoo College and root for Wisconsin sports teams from a distance.

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

Andy:  I’ve written two collections of short stories, The Women Were Leaving the Men (2007) and Quality Snacks (2014), both published by Wayne State University Press. Both collections are about relationships and intimacy and ambition. The characters are usually somewhat deluded men (though I have some female protagonists as well) who make a lot of mistakes. The characters run the gamut from astronauts and metallurgists to lawyers and secretaries to pizza delivery men and cowboys. I also have stories about pop culture figures like Elvis and Santa Claus. The stories try to blend funny/sad. A lot of wrongness.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Andy:  A novel about a divorced harpist taking a symphony audition. It’s about the whole family/career dilemma from the point of view of a guy struggling to be a good father.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Andy:  I’ll be doing readings in Ann Arbor on September 16th, in Grand Rapids on September 25th, in Kalamazoo on October 16, and in Portage on November 2.  Please check out for the latest.

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

Andy:  We’ve got some great indie bookstores here in Kalamazoo: Bookbug, Michigan News Agency and Kazoo Books. The proprietors go out of their way to support local writers.

The Kalamazoo Public Library is pretty great, and I love the Reading Room at the Hatcher Library on U of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Andy:  Some of my favorites: Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Beaver Island and Mackinac Island. I couldn’t believe how clear Lake Michigan water is around Beaver Island! The beach there felt downright Caribbean.

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

Andy:  Oberon Day in Kalamazoo is one of my favorite Michigan events. It’s the day that Bell’s Brewery releases their summer beer, Oberon. It comes near the end of March and it means that we have survived, or will survive, the winter.

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

Andy:  Some of my favorite writers are lifetime Michiganders: Bonnie Jo Campbell, Lisa Lenzo, Michael Zadoorian, John Rybicki, to name just a few.

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

Andy:  Aside from the occasional tornado, we are largely free of natural disasters. This creates a very stable environment for homes, industry and recreation. Also, no, it is not possible to see across Lake Michigan.

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?

Andy:  As I said, I’m from Wisconsin, so I’m not sure I’m in a position to say. Michiganderianite?

Debbie:  Andy, we'll add a new column!  Thank you so much for being here today for Michiganderianite Monday!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Carrie Pearson's Blog Tour!

I'm very happy to be hosting Carrie Pearson today as part of her weeklong blog tour!  Some of you may recall Carrie from her Michigander Monday interview in 2012 not long after her first book came out.  She's back now with a brand new book.  Let's hear all about it!

Debbie:  Carrie, please tell us about your new book.

Carrie:  A Cool Summer Tail (Arbordale Publishing, March 2014) is a nonfiction picture book for readers ages 4-8 that explores how woodland animals adapt to summer heat. While the content is true to life, the story is told in a fictional style with lyricism, rhyming, alliteration, and imagery.  The book is unique because it is told from animals’ perspectives, and because it compares and contrasts how animals and humans adapt.

A Cool Summer Tail is a companion to my earlier book called A Warm Winter Tail which won a Gelett Burgess Award in the Nature for All Ages category. Christina Wald, the illustrator for both books, created visuals that are authentic but still child-friendly and ask to be explored over and over. We hope each book individually and both books together will provide insights into the amazing world of animal adaptation.

Debbie:  Do you have any upcoming events or appearances scheduled?

Carrie:  I was just at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum on August 14 for their popular Second Thursday event. I am currently working on a late fall tour of downstate Michigan, but it’s all top secret information so far. I will say it is highly likely you’ll see me as a featured speaker at the Michigan Reading Association annual conference this spring and I’m super excited about this opportunity.

Debbie:  You live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Playing off the theme of your books, please tell us a little about the summers there, the winters there, and how you have adapted to U.P. weather.

Carrie:  I live on the shore of Lake Superior – the largest body of fresh water in the world—that acts more like an ocean than a lake and totally influences our regional environment. We can have more weather patterns in a day than Simplicity could ever create. Changes in weather are typical, and we Marquette-ites know to carry extra clothing whenever we leave our houses. Extremes in temperature are also typical so we can endure winters with very low temps (from December to February 2014, our average temperature was 7.5 degrees F. That is not a typo!) and have a few really hot days (above 80 degrees!!) in the summer. Because the climate can be hostile, I've always wanted to delve more deeply into strategies animals use to survive. Both books gave me the opportunity for this but also the chance to share and celebrate how adaptable animals are. Personally, I've adapted by embracing our climate with mostly good humor. I've never regretted getting outside even if it appears to be too hot or too cold for my own good.

Debbie:  You’re the co-Regional Advisor of the Michigan chapter of SCBWI.  Could you please tell us a little about SCBWI, its impact on your writing career, and what your role is as RA?

Carrie:  Warning! Zealot alert!!

SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is the richest resource for aspiring and current authors and illustrators in the world of children’s books. The founders, Steve Mooser and Lin Oliver, call SCBWI members “the tribe” which represents their desire to create unity, camaraderie, and support within a difficult environment. SCBWI offers conferences, grants, connections, education…so much that it is hard to describe adequately. (And I’m not usually at a loss for words!) An “RA” or Regional Advisor is a volunteer team leader of a region (our region is upper and lower Michigan). There are 80 regions around the world. My co-RA is author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski and together with our Advisory Committee and special volunteers (like you!), we work to create a positive learning environment for Michigan SCBWI members. We do this through our robust website ( conferences, free regional Meet Ups, webinars, and social media connections.

When I first accepted the RA position in June 2013, I worried my writing time would be engulfed by SCBWI duties. It has challenged me to be more efficient with my time, but the rewards are definitely worth it. I’ve met many industry influencers, have the benefit of my RA colleagues’ experiences, and am always growing as a writer and leader through this position.

Debbie:  What are you currently working on?

Carrie:  I’m currently working on patience as I have three books on submission through my agent (two picture books and a MG historical). It never gets easier to wait, does it? My works in progress include at least one and maybe more projects about the ecosystem in the top of the tallest trees in the world and a biographical vignette book about Cuban-Americans who came to the US during Operation Pedro Pan in the early 1960s. (More about this here: I love working where fiction and nonfiction collide so expect to see more from me in this area!

Debbie:  Anything else you’d like to add?

Carrie:  Just a thank you for including me on Jumping the Candlestick and helping me celebrate the release of A Cool Summer Tail. I’m offering a free giveaway of this book and a plush animal featured in it. To be eligible, readers need to leave a comment at each of the stops on the tour. The winner will be drawn randomly and announced on my blog ( on August 19. Good luck!

August 11: Anastasia Suen: Booktalking #kidlit and Nonfiction Monday

August 14: Brittney Breakey: Author Turf

August 15: Deborah Diesen: Jumping the Candlestick

August 18: Jennifer Chamblis Bertman:

Debbie:  Carrie, thank you so much for being here today!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Michigander Monday: Michele Root-Bernstein

I'm very happy to welcome Michele Root-Bernstein to Michigander Monday!  I've known Michele for over a decade, and she's a talented scholar, a marvelous writer, and a wonderful person.  It's great to have her here today to tell us about her new book and her other writing.

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

Michele:  The short answer: I started out as an historian, and I have become over the years an independent scholar in creativity studies affiliated with Michigan State University, as well as a haiku poet. The long answer includes the fact that I've tried my hand at all sorts of writing, including novels, short stories, poetry, creative non-fiction and even children’s picture books. Everything but the creative non-fiction and the haiku has remained in the drawer. But it’s all helped shaped the interests and skills I bring to creativity studies. I think it’s important to try to understand creative processes from the inside out as well as from the outside in.

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

Michele:  My first book grew out of my dissertation work in history, and I would expect only specialists in 18th century theater to have any interest in it. So I’ll spare you.

After that, I began to collaborate with my husband, Bob, on books meant for a much wider reading public. Our first together was Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels, a fun look at some traditional medical therapies that have made come-backs in modern medicine. In some cases, when antibiotics or surgical debridement fail, nothing works better than honey or maggots to clean out and heal a wound.

Having established that we liked to work together, Bob and I wrote our second book, Sparks of Genius, The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. This book pulled together our long-standing fascination with imaginative skills commonly found among individuals across the arts, sciences and other problem-solving professions. We talk about observing, imaging, pattern recognizing, empathizing, dimensional thinking and modeling, to name about half of what we call the “thinking tools.” In creative moments, zoologists may rely as much on empathizing as actors, musicians may exercise dimensional thinking as rigorously as physicists.

Inventing Imaginary Worlds: From Childhood Play to Adult Creativity Across the Arts and Sciences is my newest book, out this June, and one I wrote myself. It’s been a labor of love, literally, since the original inspiration for the work came from watching my children play. There seemed to be so many connections between what children do in their make-believe and what grownups do in their creative endeavors, I just had to investigate further.

I focused on the invention of imaginary worlds, what I call worldplay, a complex form of pretend play that often shows up in middle childhood (ages 6 to 12). Worldplay can go overlooked by adults, because it’s a private activity, either solitary or shared with one or two intimate friends, and much of it goes on in the head, out of sight. I hunted down examples by trolling through biographies and memoirs for records of childhood worldplay in the past, I sent questionnaires to college students and mature professionals, and I interviewed children, too.

What I found is that worldplay is more common than we might think. And it has strong links to creative endeavor in adulthood. Make-believe play throughout childhood and adolescence forges important skills for a lifetime!

Debbie:  Do you have an author website?

Michele:  I do. Anyone interested in learning more about Inventing Imaginary Worlds and the creative value of imaginative play can go to
Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Michele:  Bob and I are planning a book on creative process, or rather, the capacities that enable creative behaviors and outcomes. We’re still in the research and early writing phase, so I imagine the work will take a while.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Michele:  Schuler Books gets my vote. I greatly appreciate the wide selection of books; the used book section; the café; and maybe most of all, the incredible support of book clubs.

Debbie:  And a favorite Michigan library?

Michele:  Michigan State University Library. I can’t leave the confines of my study without it.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Michele:  One of my friends has a cottage on the shores of Lake Michigan. Every summer she invites our book reading group for a weekend book binge. I love it! I also happen to think that the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids is very special and I try to visit at least once a year.

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

Michele:  Spring. You know, writing haiku is very much a practice of attention, especially attention to nature. Summer, fall and winter get their due, but there’s something about spring that is very optimistic—particularly after way too many months of cloud cover. Many personal favorites among my own haiku focus on the seasonal possibilities. For example:
this morning
it takes the iris to open
Debbie:  Beautiful!  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?

Michele:  Yes. J

Debbie:  Great answer!  We'll put you in both columns.  Michele, thank you very much for being here today for Michigander Monday!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Poetry Friday

I sat on the front porch and watched the Theater of Rain.

"I hope it doesn't last too long," I thought.
"I hope it doesn't flood the street," I thought.
"Or seep into the basement.  Or reveal the structural inadequacies of the roof," I thought.
"I hope it doesn't have a dramatic final act wherein a lightning bolt fells a tree, taking out an innocent bystander watching from her front porch," I thought.
"Perhaps I should have cleaned the gutters," I thought.
"Or gotten around to sorting those old boxes in the basement," I thought.

The Theater of Rain did not care what I thought.
"The show must go on," rumbled the sky.

Later, I thought to applaud

but never did.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Michigander Monday: Dennis Cawthorne

I'm pleased to welcome Dennis Cawthorne to Michigander Monday!

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

Dennis:  I am a lawyer, legislator, chairman of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, businessman, saloonkeeper-restaurateur, chamber of commerce manager, and carriage driver.  I know the famed Great Lakes destination, its people, and its idiosyncrasies like few other people.  For a great part of each of the last 54 years, I have lived, worked, and played on iconic Mackinac Island.

I am also a world traveler, having visited sixty countries on six continents.  I have served as an official United States delegate to international conferences of government leaders in Moscow, Beijing, and Brussels.  I am a graduate of Albion College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School.

When not on Mackinac Island or travelling world-wide, I make my home in East Lansing, Michigan.  My wife Cynthia and I have two sons and three grandchildren.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book, Mackinac Island:  Inside, Up Close, and Personal.

Dennis:  Many books have been written about Mackinac Island, usually focusing on its history, its scenic beauty, or its architecture.  This is not one of those books.  Rather, this book is a nostalgic and candid behind the scenes look at more than a century of Mackinac people and events.  It's part memoir, part history, and part chronicle.  All of it is true.

Mackinac Island is very much a small town, yet each year it hosts over three quarters of a million people and is often the focal point of national and even international media coverage.  It attracts celebrities of every kind as well as masses of "average Americans."  It is the summer home of Michigan's governor, frequently a hotbed of state political activity, and a place endlessly fascinating to those who know it.

For a half century and more, beginning in 1960, I came to know and experience Mackinac intimately.  I did so through the prism of the many roles I played there during those years: carriage driver, chamber of commerce manager, state legislator, saloonkeeper, attorney, legislative advocate and for over 20 years member and chairman of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission which governs 83% of the Island's land area.  Along the way, I built a home, became engaged, got married, and raised two sons there.  Probably I will be buried there.

I have been an eyewitness to- and too often involved in- a host of events that one does not normally associate with Mackinac: murder, political intrigue, a disastrous fire, scandal controversy, hilarity, and high jinks of all kinds, made all the more fascinating by the very fact they happened on Mackinac.

Through it all, I came to know intimately and appreciate Mackinac's rich stew of colorful characters and events, its multiple layers unseen and unknown to casual visitors.  But I have not been a passive observer of Mackinac.  I like to think I also played a role in shaping and impacting the Mackinac Island of today, I hope for the better.

Designed for those who really want to "know" Mackinac from the inside, this is the story of an amazing half century of life and times on an incredible island.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Dennis:  No other books planned.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Dennis:  Several pending.

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

Dennis:  The Island Book Store on Mackinac Island.  The State Library of Michigan.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Dennis:  Mackinac Island, of course.

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

Dennis:  The annual Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island.

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

Dennis:  Most of the people mentioned in the book.

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

Dennis:  What a great scenic state it is!

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?

Dennis:  Emphatically a Michigander!

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Michigander Monday: Bethany Neal

I'm pleased to welcome Bethany Neal to Michigander Monday!

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

Bethany:  Well, I was born and raised in Saginaw, MI and now I live in Ann Arbor. It took me awhile to figure out I was a writer. I graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in interior design and I've also worked as a photographer and teacher's aid. Now that I'm writing, though, I can't get enough!

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

Bethany:  Of course! My Last Kiss is about a girl named Cassidy Haines who wakes up the morning after her seventeenth birthday party...dead. Worst birthday present ever, right?! Everyone assumes she committed suicide because of a note she was holding when she died, but the more she observes from her friends and slowly starts to remember about that fateful night, the more she is convinced someone she trusted is responsible for her death. It's a mystery/thriller/love story, and I hope you all love it!

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Bethany:  Always. I have so many crazy ideas that I don't have enough time to write them all. My agent just submitted a new project, so hopefully I'll be able to tell everyone more about that soon. All I can say is that it's creepy and deadly! I'm also working on a brand spankin' new book, so there are things all over the place in various stages.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Bethany:  I will be at my hometown Barnes & Noble in Saginaw, MI on August 2nd for an event they're hosting called Get Pop Cultured, but before that I'll be at Literati Bookstore on Monday, July 28th to discuss My Last Kiss with their inaugural Teen Book Club. I'm super psyched about this one because I helped nudge Literati into hosting a teen version of their regular book club. I'm also very honored that they chose my book to be their first. It should be a blast!

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

Bethany:  I was just at McLean and Eakin up in Petoskey for a signing & writing workshop and it was phenomenal! The staff their are so knowledgeable and total book people. Plus there's a store dog named Edith. What more could you ask for? I don't think I could choose a favorite library. Too many to pick from!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Bethany:  I love going to Bronner's in Frankenmuth. Does that count?

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

Bethany:  I love going to the Renaissance Festival in Holly, but I always end up being accosted by a random performer, which makes my introvert alarm sound. It's a love/hate relationship with me and the Renaissance Fest.

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

Bethany:  Well, living in Ann Arbor, the new buzz is that Madonna's daughter Lourdes is going to be a freshman at U of M this coming fall. Not sure that counts for anything, but it's happening.

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

Bethany:  We're the nation's high five. (Get it, 'cause of the mitten?)

Debbie:  Love it!  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?

Bethany:  Oh, I'm a gander all the way!

Debbie:  Bethany, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  And thank you for joining us for Michigander Monday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Michigander Monday: Carrie Booth Walling

I'm pleased to welcome Carrie Booth Walling to Michigander Monday!

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

Carrie:  I was born and raised in Bay City Michigan and am a Spartan through and through – a proud graduate of Michigan State University. After spending several years living out of the state – in Aberystwyth Wales, Washington, DC and Minneapolis Minnesota – my husband and I moved back to Michigan in 2006.  Our home is in Flint, Michigan where my husband, Dayne Walling, is Mayor.  We have two amazing sons – Bennett and Emery – and we are thrilled to be raising them in Flint where their father was born and raised. As a mom of two avid soccer players, I spend much of my free time on the sidelines watching soccer matches.  This summer we couldn’t get enough of cheering for Team USA in the World Cup. 

I am a political science professor at Albion College where I teach a variety of courses in international relations and human rights.  I research how international organizations like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court respond to mass atrocity crimes; and I write about the impact that human rights norms have on the conduct of international affairs.  

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

Carrie:  My book, All Necessary Measures: The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013) considers how the United Nations Security Council began to entertain questions about human rights when previously such discussions were considered inappropriate.  I then show how principled arguments for human rights led to the practice of humanitarian intervention – the use of military force to rescue populations at risk of mass killing. The book examines Security Council decision-making in 8 conflicts characterized by mass atrocity crimes between 1991 and 2011: Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, the Darfur region of Sudan and Libya.  The purpose is two-fold: 1) to help explain why humanitarian intervention happens in some places and not others; and 2) to show how human rights norms are changing the meaning of state sovereignty and the legitimate purpose of military force at the United Nations.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Carrie:  I have not yet started my next book but I am exploring the possibility of writing a book on the research and advocacy practices of Human Rights Watch, an independent international organization that works to advance the cause of human rights world-wide.  I am working on a series of journal articles including an article comparing Security Council policy in Libya and Syria, an article on justice and accountability for Syrian civilians, and an article on the relationship between the Security Council and the International Criminal Court.  In a couple of months Human Rights Quarterly will publish an article I’ve coauthored with Susan Waltz (Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan) about a new human rights website that we’ve developed.  If your readers are interested in learning more about human rights they can visit our website, Human Rights Advocacy and The History of the International Human Rights Standards, which we liken to an open access online textbook at

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Carrie:  As a professor and author of an academic text, most of my book talks take place at colleges and universities during the academic year.  Last year, I enjoyed sharing the book with students at Albion College, the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor and Flint campuses) and Wayne State University.  This month, I’m presenting the findings at a workshop at The Hague Institute for Global Justice in the Netherlands.  I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next. 

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

Carrie:  I have a great fondness for the old Bay City Public Library.  I remember riding my bike there on Saturday afternoons in the summer with a quarter in my pocket to call my parents on the payphone after I got there.  I’ve spent so much of my life and professional career in libraries and find that I love them all – from searching the stacks at the big research libraries at U of M and MSU, to writing book chapters in the Michigan historical section of the Flint Public library, and grabbing a drink with students in the café at Albion’s college library.  For me, libraries are magical places where ideas are born and get tested. 

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Carrie:  I have always loved Sleeping Bear Sand dunes.  I remember climbing to the top in my bare feet and running back down again as a little girl.  Now I get to chase my own kids through the sand and try to keep up.  One of the best ways to enjoy the dunes is to camp at the Platte River Campground.  It’s nice to slow down the pace and really take time to enjoy one of our great national parks right here in Michigan.

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

Carrie:  Perhaps your readers will find this surprising, but I love to be in downtown Flint, Michigan on any Saturday in August.  It’s hard to choose just one event.  The revitalized downtown hosts thousands and thousands of people from all across the state at several annual festivals that are fun for everyone.  August 8-10 we host the CANUSA games – North America’s largest and longest running international friendship games between Hamilton, Ontario and Flint Michigan.  Over 1400 youth athletes compete in 16 events to win the CANUSA cup.  August 12-16 we host the annual Back to the Bricks car show and cruise, considered one of the country’s best auto events.  It’s free to come down and walk the bricks lined with the classic cars and there is plenty of live music and entertainment.  Flint is also home to the Crim Festival of Races which features a competitive 10 mile run that draws elite world-class runners, wheelers, and locals.  For those of us with less endurance there are other fun and competitive races including a teddy bear trot for young kids and 1 mile, 5K and 8k races.  In 2013, the Crim boasted 15,000 racers and 60,000 spectators to cheer them on.  Much of the Flint community comes out to cheer on the runners and supply them with water or beer along the route.  This year’s race weekend is August 22-23.  And if you like to eat, we have plenty of offerings at locally owned and operated restaurants and bars.

The newest hotspot in Flint though is the Flint Farmers' Market in downtown.  Thousands of people from all over the area have been flocking to the new public market that boasts over 50 indoor vendors and another 25 outside.  You can buy everything from fresh farm produce and flowers to gourmet wines and chocolates.  The market has an art gallery, café, Middle Eastern and Mexican groceries and even a mini hardware. Market days feature live music on the lawn outside and often cooking demonstrations.  The kids will enjoy donuts, popcorn and the mini farm play land hosted by the Flint Children’s Museum.  I love to buy my groceries there because I can meet the farmers and small business owners who have lovingly made the products that I buy and the festival-like atmosphere feels good.  It’s like shopping among friends. 

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

Carrie:  Christopher Paul Curtis is an award winning author who grew up in Michigan.  His book, Bud, Not Buddy, was the first to receive both the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King author award.  His book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, was recently made into a Hallmark Channel original movie.  Curtis really knows how to connect to young people and especially elementary and middle school aged kids.  I remember taking a family road trip with our kids listening to his book, Bucking the Sarge, on audio and the kids just rolling with laughter in the backseat – what an enjoyable car ride that was.  Curtis has really mastered the art of upper elementary school boy humor and his books feature Michigan cities, Michigan families and address important cultural and historical periods in US history.  I love to read them too and they make me laugh but not as much as the two boys in the backseat.  

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

Carrie:  We have a beautiful state and it’s a great place to vacation and explore nature but it’s the people that live here that make our state so special.

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?

Carrie:  My husband uses the phrase “people from Michigan” but I grew up a Michigander.

Debbie:  Carrie, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you very much for being here today for Michigander Monday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Michigander Monday: Julie Jaffee Nagel

I'm pleased to welcome Dr. Julie Jaffee Nagel to Michigander Monday:

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

Julie:  I am a hybrid.  Since I was a very small child, I wanted to be a concert pianist and I pursued that goal for many years.  I attended The Juilliard School in New York City and graduated with both my Bachelor of Music and Master of Science Degrees in Piano.  After being in the music field performing and teaching for about 15 years, I returned to school at The University of Michigan where I earned my Masters Degree in Social Work, my Master’s Degree in Psychology and my Ph.D. in both Psychology and Social Work.  I was fascinated by stage fright and career choice in music, both of which were a part of my life. After receiving my doctorate I worked as a therapist and taught some courses at University of Michigan, but gradually I decided to deepen my understanding of myself and the people I treated in my consulting room.  I trained to become a psychoanalyst at The Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. I am in private practice in Ann Arbor where I see people (not just musicians) who experience stage fright as well as depression, anxiety issues, career concerns, relationship problems, and other mental health issues. I love to help people grow emotionally and feel good about themselves.  I give presentations to organizations of all kinds, publish articles in peer reviewed journals, and have recently had my  first book published - Melodies of the Mind which combines my work in music and mental health. I write regular blogs and you can find them on my website:  At my web site, readers are invited to subscribe to my blog to receive it automatically.

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

Julie:  Melodies of the Mind takes an in-depth look about how music is a direct pathway to our emotions – even before we can find words to describe how we feel.  My work is original in that I use music itself as my formal “data” and show how music and psychological ideas are very compatible with each other.  For example, I examine the concepts of conflict and tension we all experience and how we can (or don’t) deal with these feelings.  To do this, I analyzed music from West Side Story  - and particularly the songs “Gee, Officer Krupke” and “The Tonight Ensemble.”  You don’t have to know how music “works” to be moved by it, but I show how it does work and why it evokes feelings.  Other chapters offer other specific musical compositions to illustrate psychological themes such as love, envy, hate, jealousy, psychological development.  One of my important goals is to illustrate how both music and psychology are relevant in everyday life, and need to be used “outside their formal boxes” of the concert hall and consulting room.  Music and psychological ideas are relevant to the fields of education, the humanities, and in social or even political settings. You don’t need to be a musician or a psychologist to know that music affects you deeply.  I try to show how and why this happens.  I love blending my “two” passions.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Julie:  I am in the process of writing another book on Performance Anxiety – as a manual for music teachers. I have a publisher for this book.  I also hope to find a different trade publisher for a book on Stage Fright, written as a narrative,  that will be interesting  and helpful to the general public.  Stage Fright is something that all kinds of people struggle with –musicians, actors, writers, academics, executives, lawyers, physicians, athletes, public speakers, students – and people with social anxiety…..the list is endless.  Stage fright is part of being human but it can be channeled and not interfere with professional and personal fulfillment or be overwhelming.

I was also invited to write a regular column for Clavier Companion and another article on musicians’ psychological health and “wellness” for The American Music Teacher.  These are ways I enjoy blending my background in music and mental health while interacting with music teachers and others.  It’s important to realize that mental attitudes are as important as aptitudes in performing – whether it is music, public speaking, test taking, writing, social interactions and other ways we live in the world.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Julie:  Just gave a TED-style talk on Stage Fright at the American Psychoanalytic Association Meetings in Chicago (June 2014).  This was a fascinating experience - unlike any presentation I’ve done in the past.  I’d love to give a “real” TED talk on this topic - the audience really liked it.

Ohio State Music Teachers’ Conference, Oct. 2014 (Stage Fright)

Contemporary Freudian Society, New York City -  Nov. 2014 (A “conversation”  I wrote between Freud and Mozart  - they return from eternity to talk with each other)

American Psychoanalytic Association  - New York City – Jan. 2015 – (Stage Fright and Shame Dynamics)

Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida- winter 2014 (Stage Fright)

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

Julie:  I wish we had more bookstores PERIOD – it’s so sad to see them disappearing. And it’s so good too hold a book in your hand.  I am not a fan of Kindle.

In Ann Arbor we only have 2 independent  books stores now – Nicola's which has long survived, and a new one Literati.

I can’t imagine a better library than the Graduate Library at the University of Michigan.  When I wrote my dissertation, I would go to the stacks (in the days before everything was on computer) and look for journals and books and then get fascinated by seeing something else not related to my topic (Career Choice in Music).  So I would sit down and read all kinds of things before I ever got what I needed for my own work.  That was wonderful.  I love computers, but you can’t browse the internet the way you can the stacks in a good library.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Julie:  I love Ann Arbor and happy to call it home for so many years.  When we first moved here in 1969 from New York, Ann Arbor was already a wonderful place but nothing like it has become –even  more cosmopolitan now but still with a small town feel.  At that time there was only one Chinese restaurant in the entire city -  that served  egg drop soup (with saltine crackers!!!) as their only soup choice. Now we have many international choices for dining and more and more creative cultural events all the time.

I love the UP and Northern Michigan – taught piano and performed for about 13 years at National Music Camp in Interlochen and fell in love with the area…..This was all before I changed careers to psychology.

I love the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market.

The magnificent River Walk in downtown Dexter is a wonderful place to walk in the middle of nature surrounded by water – I think it extends from Dexter to the Huron River – and there are the most beautiful plants and birds, and little waterfalls, and all kinds of nature along the way.   It is a very peaceful place  for a mental vacation. Whoever designed and built it are geniuses.

Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor is a gem – intimate setting and lovely surroundings.  Wonderful piano for performances.

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

Julie:  I enjoy the annual Art Fair in the summer in Ann Arbor – although it’s usually the hottest week of the summer.  The creativity of all the artists is amazing.  I love the concerts at Hill Auditorium.  I appreciate the change of seasons – although this past winter is not on that list.

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

Julie:  My husband, Louis – is one of the best pianists I've ever heard (personal bias aside) – he is at home on the stage and just gave a memorable concert at Steinway Hall in New York City in April…..he is on the piano faculty at Univ. Michigan School of Music. We met at Juilliard.

A special person to us is our veterinarian in Ann Arbor, Dr. Bill MacArthur.  He takes care of your pet like a member of your and his family.  Dr. Bill gave extra quality years and long life to our beloved cat, Cadenza. I am eternally grateful to him.

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

Julie:  Aside from last winter- this is a fabulous place to live.  We have everything in Michigan – culture, sports, education, good food, the lakes, and ever-changing weather.  And the people are pretty nice too!!

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?

Julie:  I am a Michigander –  We moved to Ann Arbor in 1969.  This is my home!

Debbie:  We'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much, Julie, for being here today for Michigander Monday!

Friday, July 11, 2014

I know they mine data. I know they waste time. But I'm powerless to resist those quizzes.

"Oh, Buzzfeed," I say.  "I don't need to take your silly 'Which Day of the Week Are You?' quiz.  I already know I'm a Tuesday."

"C'mon," says Buzzfeed.

"No!  Your quizzes are ridiculous.  Just because they pop up in my news feed doesn't mean I have to click.  I've sworn them off!"

"'Sworn them off' being a phrase here meaning that it's been almost 22 hours since your last quiz?"

"That's not nice," I say.  "You should take a 'What Kind of Meanie Are You?' quiz."

"No, I shouldn't.  That's silly.  I don't take quizzes.  I give them.  C'mon!  Take the quiz."

"No!  Your quizzes are ridiculous!"

"You're repeating yourself."

"Kinda like your questions.  Is it a law of the Buzzfeed kingdom that every quiz have a Beyoncé song question?"

"Does it make you feel inadequate when you don't recognize contemporary cultural references in the quizzes?"

“I don't know why you'd say that."

“Because I saw your 'Which historical time period are you?' quiz results.  It's OK.  I eventually stopped laughing."

"Glad to have been so entertaining."

"Well, but the thing is, you might NOT be a Tuesday."

"I’m sure I’m a Tuesday.  Some things you just know."

"You could be a Friday.  Gal like you!  Surely.  Maybe even a Saturday.  A Saturday!"

"You really think so?"

"Could be.  Consider the popular Beyoncé song, 'You Never Really Know If You’re a Tuesday Until You Take The Quiz.'"

"That’s not a Beyoncé lyric!" [pauses]  "Is it?"

"No.  It's a line of dialogue from a really popular TV show that you've never even heard of."  [coughs quietly – makes a noise that sounds sort of like 'Pleistocene']

"Have too heard of it!  Whatever it is.  It just comes on the wrong night.  That's all.  Otherwise I would known that."

"Here's what I know.  You're going to take this quiz.  And you're going to love the result."

"Well…  OK.  Maybe just this one.  My LAST one.  Really."

[takes quiz]

"Oh, Buzzfeed," I say.  "I'm a Tuesday!"

"Congratulations!  Great day of the week.  One of the top seven.  Now.  How about taking my 'Which flavor of Italian soda are you?' quiz?"

"Will there be any questions where none of the answers apply?"

"Pretty much all of them.  But there might be some cute cat photos tossed in!"

"Well…" [thinks it over; seconds elapse]  "OK.  Maybe just this one.  But it's my last one.  Really!"

Monday, July 7, 2014

Michigander Monday: Bob Linsenman

I'm pleased to welcome Bob Linsenman to Michigander Monday!

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

Bob:  I am a Michigan product through and through....a 1965 graduate of Oakland University, English major  Russian minor (I wanted to learn how to say "Don't shoot, comrade!" -- actually the Russians were ahead of the USA in the space race and I needed three years of a foreign language for a BA degree, so.....)

Our family lived in Oakland county but we vacationed and spent nearly every weekend in northern Michigan at our cabin near Loon Lake in Oscoda county.

After college I worked in the CBS Publishing Group for college text publisher Holt, Rinehart & Winston, later for a large computer firm, as a non-fiction literary agent, as a fly shop manager and fly fishing guide, and through all this I wrote many magazine articles on fly fishing and six books on fly angling.

Snowblood's Journal is my first fiction effort. The reviews have been wonderful and, honestly, I am quite proud of it.

Debbie:  Tell us more about your books.

Bob:  My non-fiction titles are: Trout Streams of Michigan, Great Lakes Steelhead, The Au Sable River, Michigan Blue-Ribbon Fly Fishing Guide, Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout, and Best Streams for Great Lakes Steelhead. All of these have been well received but the first one, Trout Streams of Michigan, has sold the most copies by far.

The novel, Snowblood's Journal, is about two cousins from northern Michigan who find themselves in the new scout dog program during the Vietnam war. The story presents the incredible bravery and pure heroism of these men and their wonderful dogs.

We have presentations and signings scheduled and this list will certainly grow, so it's best if people track them through the Facebook site for Snowblood's Journal by Bob Linsenman, or through my publisher, Arbutus Press. Right now we have July 12 at the Moore Library in Lexington, MI; August 21 at the West Branch Library; and September 11, at the Kalkaska Library.

The previous events have all been well attended, successful in my opinion.

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

Bob:  I like all bookstores, big and small. Horizon Books in Traverse City is one favorite.

All libraries are good for the public and private soul.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Bob:  Anywhere along the Au Sable River where I can dangle a foot or hand in the soothing current and let the river suck the poison from my soul.

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

Bob:  The northern lights and shooting stars rarely coincide, but when they do I watch the miracle unfold over Loon Lake or Island Lake. This is the best event by far.

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

Bob:  There are lots of great, funny, dedicated, selfless, heroic, generous folks in this fine state. We should all cherish our own private list.

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

Bob:  Michigan has the longest coastline of any state except Alaska.

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?

Bob:  I am and always will be a Michigander. A "Michiganian" is a member in an exclusive little club that only welcomes flatlanders and fudgies. A Michigander supports diversity and proudly includes Yoopers, Trolls, Bush Weasels, Swamp Angels, and Jack Pine Savages among its members. I am a Jack Pine Savage by the way.

Debbie:  Bob, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you very much for being here today for Michigander Monday.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Michigander Monday: Rosemary Van Deuren

I'm very pleased to welcome the fabulous Rosemary Van Deuren to Michigander Monday!

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

Rosemary:  I am a novelist, essayist, interviewer, and press writer. I wrote the arts and entertainment column "Flipside" for the former webzine, which was chosen by the Writer's Guild of America West for their Hotlist: A Guide to the Web's Most Cutting Edge New Media Content.

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

Rosemary:  My debut novel Basajaun is a young adult adventure fantasy about a twelve year-old girl who's trying to rescue a warren of mystical rabbits from a dark and sinister force. Some people have called it "Watership Down meets Little Red Riding Hood," or, "The Golden Compass meets The Velveteen Rabbit," but with an approach that's completely new. I wanted to create the kind of story that would have resonated with me when I was twelve, so it's a little bit scary, a little bit contemplative, and a little bit magical -- just how I liked my books when I was a kid. The narrative was written for ages ten and up, but honestly, I have as many adult readers now as younger ones!

A Basajaun book trailer is available for viewing at

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Rosemary:  I've just signed with the Florida merchandise company District Lines to do Basajaun t-shirts, and I'm super pumped about that. Everything is shaping up terrific, and the DL folks are helping me get ready for the launch ... soon!

I've also recently conducted an in-depth guest-interview with musician and engineer Stephen Linsley for the UK / US music website Louder Than War. It's a beautiful interview. Stephen was also the bassist for The Jim Carroll Band, and he offers such an insightful and nuanced account of his experiences in the music world, and how they've impacted his life.

As for the long haul, I'm working on my next novel -- something completely different from Basajaun, which has been a rewarding challenge so far. I'm posting snippets from the new manuscript online, and you can find those on the writing page of my website.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Rosemary:  I just got back from the Ann Arbor Book Festival Street Fair. It was a great time! I got to read at their open-air children's and young adult event. Also coming up in Ann Arbor, I'll be at the Kerrytown Bookfest on September 7th (as will a certain Pout-Pout Fish author, I hear!).

Debbie:  Looking forward to it!!  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

Rosemary:  I always find something at the Dawn Treader Book Shop in Ann Arbor. And John K. King Books in Detroit was staggering back when I went there -- the building is five stories high! Curious Book Shop in East Lansing is a lot of fun too. Ray Walsh, the store owner, reviewed Basajaun for his column in The Lansing State Journal newspaper. He's also part of the Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show that runs bi-annually in Lansing. If you want to cast your peepers over a signed first edition of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood in a locked plexiglass case, that's the place to do it!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Rosemary:  I love The Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary. I'm a companion rabbit owner, and the GLRS does wonderful work. Their non-profit farm property in Monroe, Michigan is equipped to lovingly house fifty or so rescued, adoptable rabbits and a handful of potbellied pigs. When people are looking to add a pet rabbit to their home, I always send them to The Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary.

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

Rosemary:  The Bat Zone tours at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills are pretty rad. Their educators conduct tours daily in the summer and on weekends the rest of the year. It's a great way for children (and adults!) to familiarize themselves first-hand with bats and other nocturnal creatures, like owls and sloths. The Bat Zone facility is also the headquarters for the Organization for Bat Conservation. Jannell Cannon, the author of Stellaluna, is affiliated with the OBC.

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

Rosemary:  There is so much talent here in the state, I wouldn't want to risk leaving anyone out! But Michigan boasts a roster of acclaimed individuals, spanning back years. Iggy Pop was born in Muskegon and grew up in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. Rosa Parks wrote her autobiography in Detroit and retired there. And Robert Frost held a fellowship teaching post at the University of Michigan in the twenties. Can you imagine?

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

Rosemary:  We have marvelous parks here. They are awesome. The trees and vegetation in this part of the country are lovely, and there's a bounty of nature centers and deep, wooded trails that are open to the public. All my city-mouse friends look forward to the forest escape when they visit me here. I'm the lucky one who has access to it whenever I want!

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?

Rosemary:  I grew up in Wisconsin -- I've heard the term "Wisconsinites." [laughs] "Michigander" rolls off the tongue more easily than Michiganian, I think. Also, then you can say, "What's good for the Mittengoose is good for the Michigander."

Debbie:  Love it!  We'll add you to the Michigander column.  Rosemary, thank you so much for being here today for Michigander Monday!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School! - and interview round-up

I'm happy to announce that today is the release day for The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, my and Dan Hanna's latest adventure for Mr. Fish!

With the release of the book, I've had a number of blog interviews lately, and I thought I'd round them up here in one post.  Click the links to head over to the interviews -- you'll discover some wonderful blogs in the process!

Most of the blogs feature book reviews and/or author interviews regularly, so I highly recommend that you add the blogs to your reading list!

Author Turf interview

Pawing Through Books interview

Art with Mr. E interview (includes a giveaway!)

Thank you to Brittney, Peggy, and Ted for interviewing me.  Much fun!

I also was interviewed by John Sellers for a Publishers Weekly PW KidsCast -- it's a podcast interview.

And several bloggers have recently posted reviews or craft activities:

Motley Toddler craft ideas (and a giveaway! - sign up by 6/27)

Pawing through Books: reviews of The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, Picture Day Perfection, and The Pout-Pout Fish

Bumbles and Fairy-Tales:  reviews of Smile, Pout-Pout Fish and The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School

Thank you, Misty, Peggy, and Margie!

And it was great to have the new Pout-Pout Fish book mentioned in an article by Devon Corneal over on HuffPost Education, "24 Books That Will Captivate Your Kids This Summer."

I think that's it, though let me know if I've overlooked any links to interviews/reviews/etc.

(And I promise that my next post will be less me-me-me and fish-fish-fish!  It's just very exciting to have a book birthday!  :)