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!  :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Michigander Monday: Mary D. Bowman

I'm pleased to welcome Mary D. Bowman to Michigander Monday!

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

Mary:  I was born and raised in Phila, Pa, and "migrated" to Harbor Springs with my husband, Andy, who had summered here as a child.

We have lived in Harbor Springs for 41 years, and raised our two children here, who are married with their own children. I am not an author by trade, just a grandmother who loves to tell stories to the kids.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book, Little Spruce of Raspberry Creek.

Mary:  Andy and I were on a five week camping trip from here to Fairbanks, Ak and back, the summer of 2010. During our many hours of driving, I enjoyed the sights, many of which were wooded areas, mountains, and lots of gorgeous scenery. I began to write down a story based on a little spruce tree I saw leaning out over a creek. I "went with it" wondering what his life would have been like were he able to grow tall and straight. As the story unfolded I realized there was a message in it, as "little spruce" did not fulfill his dream of being a stately tree, but became something more important to his forest friends: that being a bridge over which the small animals could escape from a forest fire. Life doesn't always go as we plan, but frequently things turn out better than imagined.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Mary:  I often think of a sequel to Little Spruce, but thus far haven't acted on it. I do enjoy asking school kids when I visit their classes, what they think might happen to Little Spruce, or perhaps the children or animals who visited him as a seedling, then as an adult tree in his "altered" form .

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Mary:  Beyond visiting schools, I have had signings/ readings in local book stores, who are gracious enough to carry my book. This summer my only appearance will be August 12, at the Charlevoix Public Library for a Michigan authors event. I am very excited about this, and hope to meet and greet many folks .

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite place in Michigan?

Mary:  In reference to a favorite place in Michigan, I would have to say, Harbor Springs :)  We do have a boat and cruise the area, especially the North Channel (northern Lake Huron, Manitoulin Is. Ont).

Debbie:  How about a favorite bookstore?

Mary:  My favorite book stores are all the area's independent stores, and not just because they carry my book. I think the "indies" are critical to communities, and offer the personal expertise you WON'T find on Amazon! We owned a ski/sports/clothing store, The Outfitter, here in Harbor Springs, for 23 years, and thankfully it is doing very well under new, younger ownership. It is a focal point of town, the way local bookstores are.

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?

Mary:  I cannot consider myself a "Michigander or Michiganian"'' as I've only been here 40'odd years. But it is my "home" and all my eastern relatives who visit understand quickly why it is so important to us.

Debbie:  Mary, thank you so much for being here for Michigander Monday!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Michigander Monday: Bruce Mills

I'm pleased to welcome Bruce Mills to Michigander Monday!

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

Bruce:  Though I’ve now lived in Michigan for nearly twenty-two years, my family (and imagination) has deep roots in Iowa.  I am reminded of this affinity to flat land and prairie when I travel the tree-lined roads near Kalamazoo.  I can feel a bit closed in at times!  From my home town of Storm Lake, I could drive five minutes, pull onto a gravel road, and see little but small farm groves and distant water towers poking the horizon. Nothing but field and sky—or so it seems.

Still, I am a proud Kalamazoon—pronounced Kalamazoo-en!—having taught in the English Department at Kalamazoo College now for over two decades.  Among other things, the city is known for The Promise that, depending upon the number of years a student attends the city’s public schools, provides partial or full tuition to any state university.  (My daughter went to the University of Michigan as a result of this program.)  The city and county also has rich resources for people on the autism spectrum, a fact important to my family after our son was diagnosed in 1995.

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

Bruce:  I feel the need to claim both my work as a scholar in American literature and a writer of creative nonfiction!  In addition to books focusing on abolitionist Lydia Maria Child, I published Poe, Fuller, and the Mesmeric Arts: Transition States in the American Renaissance, research that investigated Edgar Allan Poe’s and Margaret Fuller’s fascination with early notions of the unconscious in their fiction and nonfiction.

More recently, I have turned to creative nonfiction.  In 2011, I co-edited Siblings and Autism: Stories Spanning Generations and Cultures with Debra Cumberland.  And, this past November, my memoir An Archaeology of Yearning was released by Etruscan Press.  It is this book that I have been traveling with this winter and spring.   As I have noted in publicity material, the memoir explores my family’s relationship with my son.  As the absence of the word “autism” in the title suggests, however, I hope to have captured something more expansive through this archaeological dig.  That is, the book reflects upon the nature of human connection and illuminates how stories and storytelling keep that connection alive.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Bruce:  I have been captivated by the evolution of my small home town of ten thousand in Iowa.  Almost entirely white in my growing up years (early 1960s to mid-1980s), residents of color currently make up nearly half the population.  This transformation intrigues me.  As you might imagine, it is a community whose members commit to work, to worship, and to the schools with different pasts.  When I drive along Lakeshore Drive, I observe Vietnamese families picnicking; at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church where I was confirmed, announcements for passers-by are in Spanish and English.   I am not sure whether I will compose a book as yet, but I feel the need to write my way into this present in light of my past.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Bruce:  I am between a run of spring events and scheduling summer and fall ones.  Looking farther ahead, I will be doing a talk/book signing in association with the Developmental Disabilities Institute at Wayne State University on October 30—for those Michiganders in the Detroit area who may be interested!  I will be posting other events as they get scheduled on my website: .

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? A favorite Michigan library?

Bruce:  In Kalamazoo, we have three independent bookstores that support a vibrant writing community: The Bookbug, Kazoo Books, and Michigan News Agency.  I admire the owners who invest their heart, soul, and money in these enterprises: Joanna Parzakonis and Derek Moliter (Bookbug), Gloria Tiller (Kazoo Books), and Dean Hauk (Michigan News Agency).  The Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor (and its owners Hilary Lowe and Mike Gustafson) also deserves a shout out for establishing a downtown bookstore after the departure of Borders.

Regarding Michigan libraries, let me note two award-winning ones.  Kalamazoo Public Library, recipient of the Library of the Year Award in 2002, and the Chelsea District Library which was honored as the Best Small Library in 2008.  These places and spaces really elevate the community through their engaged staff, resources, and support for readings (and authors!).

And I cannot forget the archives at Kalamazoo College and the Bentley Historical Library in Ann Arbor.  During this past year, I have spent time in both.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Bruce:  By now, you have certainly heard of my love of Kalamazoo.  In the summer, when my wife and I are able, we enjoy the many fests: Island, Blues, and the Rib Fest.  The Rib Fest is especially important to us since it supports Community Advocates and its mission of serving those with physical and developmental disabilities.

We have also loved getting away to South Haven in the summer.  We like the beach and always try to make it to their blueberry festival in early August.

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

Bruce:  In mid-May, I enjoyed my first Zoo-de-Mack Bike Bash and thoroughly enjoyed the fifty-one mile ride with friends and the post-event camaraderie.  The bike ride starts at Boyne Highlands Resort and ends at Mackinac City.  My daughter, Sarah, talked me into the event.   (The ride was an act of faith given that I had only covered 25 miles in any single outing in the weeks prior to the trip.)  While I only endured the final 8-10 miles by carrying on a lively conversation with myself, I did cross the finish line without collapsing.  Even while gasping for oxygen along the way at times, I enjoyed the scenic roads, especially those that offered a glimpse of Lake Michigan.

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

Bruce:  Perhaps the best way I can respond to this question is by encouraging readers to click the following link about the writing community in Kalamazoo: .

The work coming out of this area is quite stunning.

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

Bruce:  Fruit.  Farmer’s Markets.  And, of course, plenty of camping and outdoor opportunities, especially from the knuckles to fingertips of the Michigan mitten.

Here is a fun fact.  You could drive from Kalamazoo to New York in about the same time it takes to travel from the city to the far end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  I am not sure what this means—except, perhaps, that the state has much for people to explore.

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?

Bruce:  I have already tipped my hat on this one in an earlier response.  Michigander.

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

Monday, June 2, 2014

Michigander Monday: James Montgomery Jackson

I'm very pleased to welcome James M. Jackson to Michigander Monday!

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

Jim:  I’m a birdbrain. That is, I follow the migratory birds, who know there are real advantages to being up north in the summer and down south in the winter. We now split our time roughly 50/50 between the deep woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (in Iron County) and Georgia’s Lowcountry. Although I am happy in either place I am, I far prefer our northern home. I must say, though, I was not sorry to miss this year’s winter in Michigan.

After I retired in 2002 from a career as a financial consultant specializing in pension and post-retirement medical plans (yes, you may yawn) I took up writing. I write both fiction and nonfiction.

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

Jim:  I write the Seamus McCree mystery series for Barking Rain Press. Bad Policy was published in 2013 and Cabin Fever was published April 2014. Cabin Fever uses Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the dead of winter as its setting. Here’s the back copy blurb:
Financial crimes investigator Seamus McCree returns in this thrilling sequel to Bad Policy. With his house in Cincinnati in ruins, Seamus retreats to the family cabin for some well-earned rest and relaxation. But his plans for a quiet, contemplative winter in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula are shattered when he discovers a naked woman on his porch during a blizzard. The mystery woman is suffering from hypothermia, frostbite, high fever, amnesia—and rope burns on her wrists and ankles.
Snowbound at the cabin, without transportation or phone coverage, Seamus struggles to keep the woman alive and find a way to get an SOS message out. What he doesn't know is that a domestic paramilitary organization is hunting for an escaped female prisoner—and closing in on his isolated refuge.
In addition, Master Point Press published my acclaimed book for intermediate bridge players, One Trick at a Time: How to start winning at bridge (2012).

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Jim:  I am currently working on the third Seamus McCree mystery, titled Doubtful Relations. In it Seamus’s ex-wife’s husband goes missing and she ensnares the whole family in determining what happened to him.

I am also starting work on a YA novel set at the end of the 21st century.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

The best way to check on my schedule is through my website:, which has a current listing.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? A favorite Michigan library?

Jim:  Whatever bookstore I am in is my favorite bookstore at the time, although I prefer to support independent bookstores rather than chains. We are lucky that we have two great libraries in my home county. At a time when my fellow taxpayers reduced taxes for local governments our township continued to approve full funding of the Crystal Falls Community District Library. On the other side of the county in Iron River, MI is the West Iron District Library. Since my taxes do not support that one, I have become a lifetime member of their Friends of the Library.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Jim:  How corny is this, right? My favorite place is my home on eighty acres situated on the east side of a small remote inland lake fifteen miles from the nearest place (Amasa, MI) where you can buy anything.

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

Jim:  I love the name of this: The Humongous Fungus Fest. Located in Iron County is a single living organism that covers approximately 37 acres, an Armillaria gallica fungus. Deemed at its discovery the world’s largest and oldest living organism, it weighs some 21,000 pounds and is 1,500 years old (give or take). An Oregon fungus was since discovered that is much larger (2,200 acres), but unlike the Michigan fungus, which is all connected, the Oregon fungus is in multiple pieces that have the same genetic code.

Regardless of whether or not it is the largest living thing, it’s still a good excuse for a multi-day party in the county seat, Crystal Falls.

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

Jim:  I think it’s great that Steve Mariucci (former NFL head coach and now sports commentator) and Tom Izzo (Michigan State head basketball coach) have been best friends since high school in Iron Mountain. When I think of Michigan writers, Jim Harrison first comes to mind, although he no longer lives in state. Only last year did I become aware of Bonnie Jo Campbell, but I’ll add her to my list.

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

Jim:  Michigan is the second largest state east of the Mississippi. It takes ten hours to drive the six hundred miles between Detroit and Ironwood. You get to cross the Mackinac Bridge—the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere and fifth longest in the world.

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?

Jim:  Michigander sounds correct to me. (Of course, I’m proud to call myself a Yooper!)

Debbie:  Jim, we'll add you to the Michigander column (and the Yooper column!).  Thanks so much for being here today!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Poetry Friday

Spring breeze sings softly.
Branches creak.  Crackle.  Then bend.
Tree buds greet the sky.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Upcoming Events

Winter has finally melted away, but I'm still in catch-up mode on a number of fronts, and so I haven't yet re-launched any of my long-neglected blog features (such as the Michigander Monday series).  I apologize for that, but I appreciate your patience.  I hope to be up and running again soon.

In the meantime, for those of you who are in the Lansing area, I wanted let you know of a couple of upcoming story time events.

On Saturday, May 17, I'll be at the Schuler Books in Okemos, MI for a story time.  I believe the time will be 11 AM (I'll doublecheck on that).  I'll read The Pout-Pout Fish and one or more of my other books.

On Saturday, June 28, I'll be at the Eastwood Town Center Schuler Books, Lansing, MI, for the launch of The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School.  11 AM, I think (though I'll doublecheck before then).

Here's a sneak peek at The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School:

Hope to see some of you at the story times!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Michigander Monday

It's been quite a while since I've posted a new Michigander Monday profile.  Sorry about that!  There's no shortage of wonderful authors to interview; but it's been a particularly busy winter, and I haven't been reaching out to potential interviewees lately.  I hope to resume the profiles in about a month or so.  Thank you for your patience!