Monday, September 19, 2011

Michigander Monday: Loreen Niewenhuis

I'm pleased to welcome Loreen Niewenhuis to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Loreen, tell us a little about yourself.

Loreen:  Well, I grew up in the greater Metro Detroit area (Plymouth and South Lyon), went to college in Grand Rapids (Calvin College) and Detroit (Wayne State), and now live in Battle Creek.

I pursued a life of science, getting a Bachelor, then Master of Science degrees. I worked in various aspects of that world including a hospital laboratory, basic animal research, and a bone marrow transplant group.

While taking a break from this work to raise my young sons, I began writing fiction. This evolved into a passion and I returned to school to get my MFA from Spalding University.

Many of my short stories have been published in literary journals and in 2009, my short story collection, Scar Tissue, was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award.

From the time I was a young girl climbing sand dunes and splashing in its cool waters, I felt connected and drawn to Lake Michigan. In 2009 I had a midlife crisis that evolved into a midlife adventure and I hiked all the way around this Great Lake, a journey of 1000-miles!

Debbie:  Wow - what a hike!  Please tell us about your books.

Loreen:  The account of my Lake Michigan adventure, A 1,000 Mile Walk on the Beach, was released in March 2011 by Crickhollow Books. It recently spent several weeks on the Heartland Indie Bestseller List!

My novella, Atlanta, was just released by Main Street Rag Publishing. I was at the Decatur Book Festival (in Georgia) to debut the novella this past Labor Day weekend.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Loreen:  I am the finishing touches on a novel set in the medical world. It’s called Tumor Board. It has a unique, modular structure and I have had a lot of fun working on it.

Next year I will undertake another 1000-mile hike in the Great Lakes region that will allow me to touch all five Great Lakes.I’ll announce the details on my blog this fall (http://LakeTrek.blogspot.com).

Debbie:  Both projects sound very intriguing and absorbing!  How about upcoming appearances?

Loreen:  MANY! Over the next month I’ll be in St. Louis, MO, and in Kalamazoo, Bangor, Mt. Pleasant, Lansing, and Romeo, MI (whew!). Please check my website for events booked through the end of the year: http://LakeTrek.com

Debbie:  Do you have favorite Michigan bookstore?

Loreen:  I am a huge supporter of Michigan’s indie bookstores and have been to MANY of them on my hike and book tour. We are fortunate to have so many indies in Michigan and I encourage everyone to support them by making their book purchases there. A few of my favorites are Brilliant Books (Suttons Bay), Mclean and Eakin (Petoskey), Dog Ears Books (Northport), and Black River Books (South Haven).

Debbie:  I second your enthusiasm for Michigan's great bookstores!  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Loreen:  I’m rather partial to Lake Michigan (ha!) and my favorite stretch of shoreline is the magnificent Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Debbie:  What a lovely area of the state!  Loreen, do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Loreen:  Any sunset on Lake Michigan is one of the best shows you can see in this great state! Traverse City Film Festival is a LOT of fun after the sun goes down.

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

Loreen:  Michigan writers have finally gotten the national recognition they deserve in recent years and I’d like to point out that two have been recently nominated for the National Book Award. Bonnie Jo Campbell was nominated for American Salvage, and Jaimy Gordon was nominated and won for Lord of Misrule.

Debbie:  Michigan has so much writing talent!  How about something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Loreen:  I’ve heard that Michigan has the third-longest “sunset coast” in the nation (behind California and Alaska). The west side of Michigan’s lower peninsula has some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world.

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

Loreen:  Michigander. Totally. Though it seems like we women in Michigan should be called Michigooses. Ha!

Debbie:  Michigander (Michigoose!) it is!  Loreen, thank you so much for being here today for Michigander Monday!!

To learn more about Loreen and her books, visit her web site, her blog, and her FaceBook page.

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