Monday, October 22, 2012

Michigander Monday: Kelly O'Connor McNees

I'm pleased to welcome Kelly O'Connor McNees to Michigander Monday!

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

Kelly:  I grew up in Lansing and attended the University of Michigan, where I majored in English. After that I moved around quite a bit, to New York City, and later to Rhode Island and Ontario with my husband, who had research appointments at various universities. About three years ago we moved permanently to Chicago, right before my first novel was published. This year has been the busiest one yet: My daughter was born in February, and my second novel went on sale just two weeks ago. I am working on something new now and praying she will sleep through the night one of these days! We love Chicago and are very lucky to live close to the lake, but it's not quite the same over here. I miss Up North.

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

Kelly:  My first novel, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, imagined what might have taken place during the summer of 1855, long before Alcott wrote Little Women. The details of that summer are missing from her letters and journals, and I was inspired to speculate. My second novel, In Need of a Good Wife, tells the story of a group of mail-order brides who travel west from New York City to Nebraska after the Civil War.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Kelly:  I am working on my third novel now, and I am very pleased to say that it is set in northern Michigan. Stay tuned!

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Kelly:  I will be at the Delta Township Library in Lansing on October 25. I also keep busy Skyping in with book clubs all over the country. If you are in a book club and would like to schedule a call, let me know!

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

KellyMcLean & Eakin in Petoskey is my favorite bookstore in Michigan, or anywhere, really. It's a wonderful store and the owners are really committed to being the center of the literary community there. Plus, in order to get there, you get to go to Petoskey!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Kelly:  I love South Haven, where I spent a lot of time as a kid, and Old Mission Peninsula, and Mackinac Island. Now I'm getting homesick.

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

Kelly:  Fall is my favorite season, and anytime I can get up north when the leaves change is a wonderful gift.

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

KellyBonnie Jo Campbell writes wrenching fiction set in Michigan. Her novel Once Upon a River left me speechless for about two days when I finished it last fall. Another favorite Michigan writer is Steve Hamilton, who writes thrillers set in Paradise, in the U.P., about a retired Detroit police officer.

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

Kelly:  I find it hard to believe that northern Michigan is not the number one summer vacation spot for everyone in the country, but I'm sort of glad they don't know. Part of what makes it great is that it flies under the radar.

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: do you prefer "Michigander" or "Michiganian"?

Kelly:  I like Michigander, but embracing that term makes me wonder: Why doesn't anyone ever talk about the Michigoose? What's good for the Michigander must be good for the Michigoose, right?

Debbie:  Absolutely!  Kelly, thank you so very much for joining us today for Michigander/Michigoose Monday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Michigander Monday: Carrie Pearson

I enjoy each and every Michigander Monday profile I do, but I'm particularly thrilled to welcome the fabulous Carrie Pearson to Michigander Monday!

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

Carrie:  I grew up in Hillsdale, Michigan near the Ohio border and was a reading nutcase. I’d read wherever and whenever I could – even locked in the bathroom! After my parent’s divorce when I was 7, I remember my mom’s new boyfriend saying I really needed to get outside more. J My other favorite activities were riding horses, playing Little Kiddles (remember those?) on my grandma’s farm, and driving electric golf carts on the family golf course. What an eclectic mash-up!

Sometime later, I graduated with a BA in early childhood education with a major in psychology and minors in social sciences and natural sciences from the University of Michigan (go blue!). I taught at the Madelon Pound House preschool and started their after-kindergarten enrichment program. I absolutely adored children because of their unique take on the world (and still do!).

After two years, I was asked to run the preschool which pointed me in a new direction: business. Later, I moved into the business world and in my last full-time corporate position, combined my concern for children with business as a professional fundraiser for a large children’s medical center.

Writing was a big part of my business life (proposals, newsletters, marketing materials, etc.) and after my three daughters were born and I’d read literally hundreds of books to them, I decided to try writing for children. I joined SCBWI and when a manuscript won the SCBWI-MI Picture Book Mentorship Award in 2007, my interest was validated. At that moment, my hobby became my intention.

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

CarrieA Warm Winter Tail is a cozy nature book about how animals adapt to the winter. It is told from animals’ perspective – which adds some humor – and compares/contrasts how people and animals manage the cold. It is a lyrical book first with some rhyming elements and packs a bunch of educational stuff into 32 pages. Christina Wald, the amazing illustrator, captured completely the pictures I had in my head. I am grateful for this because my stick drawings would never have done it justice. Seriously, she has a remarkable talent for light, perspective, and creating images that are true to life and yet child friendly.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Carrie:  I am working on a companion title about how animals adapt to heat. I’ve completed a MG historical novel (whew!) and am querying it now. I have several picture book manuscripts in various stages of development and more ideas than time – like most writers.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Carrie:  Oh my yes. My official launch was at Peter White Public Library on Sunday, October 14, 3-4pm. I will be at Horizon Books in Traverse City to sign on Saturday, November 3 10am-12pm; MooseWood Nature Center in Marquette, Sunday November 11, 2-3pm; McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey on Saturday, December 15, 1-3pm. I will travel downstate again after the first of the year and I have a few more regional events in the works (one might include Santa and chocolate – two of my favorite things!).

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore, and/or a favorite Michigan Library?

Carrie:  I love both bookstores in Marquette (Snowbound Books and Book World) for different reasons and appreciate them for being very hardworking resources for our book-loving community.

I’ve spent so much time in the Peter White Public Library’s children’s area that I feel like it is my second home. I adore that they let people eat and drink in there and never shush me – even when I snort at a funny part in my book. Cathy Seblonka, the children’s services librarian, has been so supportive. She read my manuscripts when I first put them on paper and didn’t snicker! She gently told me the truth if something wasn’t working, but also gave me enough positive feedback to keep me going. Years ago and prior to being published, she asked me to participate on a panel for children’s book authors/writers and because she saw me as a real writer, I did too. Her team follows in her footsteps and creates a wonderful environment for children and their adults.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Carrie:  My grandma’s farm in Jonesville where I used to pluck fresh concord grapes off the vine and pop them, warmed by the sun, into my mouth; Nakomis’ Bathtub, a natural granite rock “playground” just off our beach in chilly Lake Superior where we swim when we are brave; the aptly named Gorgeous Trail in Marquette that winds along the banks of the Dead River; Baw Beese Lake in Hillsdale where I grew up waterskiing and riding our snowmobile to Tip Up Festival… so many places and so many memories in Michigan!

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

Carrie:  Fourth of July fireworks in a boat moored in Marquette’s Lower Harbor can’t be beat. The sound echoes off the old iron ore railroad trestle and thumps your chest like a fist. It is a full-senses experience!

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

Carrie:  I continue to be amazed by the Michigan children’s book community. This group of talented writers and illustrators are truly concerned about the success of others -- which is remarkable in a highly competitive industry. It seems the more success we have, the more we help each other.

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

Carrie:  Michigan offers such diversity in natural surroundings, city life, industry, and farming. It is a one-stop shop state!

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

Carrie:  I’d be a Michigander if pushed to make a call on it but what about being a “Michiganine” (like Wolverine) or “Michiganite?” I say let’s vote again!

Debbie:  Carrie, we'll add you to several columns!  Thank you so very much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Poetry Friday: Another Moon Lune

Another moon lune (seem to be stuck on them lately...).

Morning Moon Meditation
(aka Drinking Coffee on the Porch)

In dark sky,
a bright hammock where
my thoughts lie.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Michigander Monday: Scott Lasser

I'm pleased to welcome Scott Lasser to Michigander Monday!

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

Scott:  I was born in Detroit and grew up in its environs.  About halfway through college I started reading novels--for fun. Saul Bellow had a great line that writers are readers who are moved from admiration to emulation.  That was my path; I started writing.  There came a time when I was in my early thirties, with a wife and son and two degrees and no money, when I decided I would be a Wall Street bond trader.  It was a crazy idea, but I didn't know better.  I figured the worst thing that could happen is that I'd get a book out of it.  So, off to business school I went (where I started my first novel, of course), and then to Wall Street.  I landed a job at Lehman Brothers.  Little did I know how that would turn out.  I ended up working in finance for almost 20 years. (I wouldn't recommend it.)  For the last 12 months I've been trying to make a living as a writer.  We'll see how that goes...

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

Scott:  I've published four novels: Battle Creek (a baseball novel), All I Could Get (that book I got out of Wall Street), The Year That Follows (a 9/11 novel, born out of a meeting I had scheduled in NYC on 9/11/01 with the publisher of All I Could Get), and Say Nice Things About Detroit (a Detroit novel, as you might guess; the world needs more of them).

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Scott:  Yes, of course.  As for books, let's just say I'm working on another.  I've also turned in a movie adaptation (written with Derek Green; see below) of Say Nice Things About Detroit and am working on other projects for the screen.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Scott:  I am reading at the Berkley Book Corner this Thursday (10/11), then making appearances at the Metro Detroit Book and Author Society Luncheon on Monday, 10/15 in Livonia, then another that night at the Warren Civic Center Library. Details are on the events page of my website.

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

Scott:  I'll go with Nicola's in Ann Arbor.  I admit to missing Shaman Drum.  I mean no disrespect to any bookstore.  It's a tough, tough business, and those in it are fighting the good fight.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Scott:  I had a great week this summer in Detroit.  I have fond feelings for Ann Arbor.  My grandfather grew up in Onaway, MI, and as I child I spent many a summer at Black Lake, which I still remember with great love.  And the UP is a world unto itself. A great world.

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

Scott:  I've got to admit, I love football.  I try to get to a game or two in Ann Arbor every year, and to catch the Lions whenever I can.  Likewise, I try to catch at least one Tiger game a year.  Shifting gears, I've heard great things about the Traverse City Film Festival and would like to attend one of these years.  And, I'm open for suggestions.

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

Scott:  My friend the writer Derek Green is someone you should know about.  He's a great writer who, so far, has published only one book, but it's well worth checking out.  New World Order is the title.  He's close to completing another.  He and I have worked on a number of screen projects together.  He comes from Jackson.

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

Scott:  The people.  Trust me: to truly appreciate the forthright, can-do attitudes of Michiganders, you probably need to spend a few years somewhere else.

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"?

Scott:  Puh-leeeeze.  Michigander.  A 'Michiganian' sounds like the member of some weird cult.

Debbie:  Another for the Michigander column!  Scott, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Michigander Monday Teaser

A heads-up that the delightful Carrie Pearson will have an upcoming Michigander Monday interview here on Jumping the Candlestick.  In the meantime, she's currently on a whirlwind blog tour.  You can learn more about Carrie and her book, A Warm Winter Tail, at the following blogs:

October 1st:  with Robin McCoy at www.inspiredbysavannah.com

2nd: Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre at www.literaryrambles.com

3rd: Sue Heavenrich at archimedesnotebook.blogspot.com

4th: Tiffany at www.tiftalksbooks.com

5th: Anastasia Suen at asuen.com/blog

8th: Nancy Shaw at www.nancyshawbooks.com

9th:  Darcy Pattison at www.darcypattison.com

11th: Wendy Lawrence at www.thefamilythatreadstogether.com

12th: Jennifer Rumberger at www.jenniferrumberger.com

15th: Deborah Diesen at jumpingthecandlestick.blogspot.com  (hey, that's me!)
 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Michigander Monday: Marcia Davis

I'm pleased to welcome Marcia Davis to Michigander Monday!

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

Marcia:  I'm originally a Jersey Girl and made my way to Michigan via Interstate 80 in a 1974 Ford Gran Torino. My destination was Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where, after three changes of a major, I finally graduated with a B.A. degree in English and a minor in French. Thinking I’d actually teach English as a Second Language, I headed off to the School for International Training in Vermont (you know, where they trained the Peace Corps) and did an internship in Veracruz, Mexico, but decided I hate teaching. By luck or fate, I found myself back in Michigan, where I enrolled in a graduate program at Western Michigan University, earned an M.A. in English, Emphasis on Professional Writing, and voilá, I was a writer. And a Michigan Girl.

For 15 years I worked at office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, Inc., starting in the factory and making my way up to marketing via the test lab and the research group. The year I turned 40 was momentous (read: stressful!): I started a new job in the company as a writer, I got divorced, and I moved to a new house. A couple years later I married my husband, Bill Holm, by eloping to New York City. You can read about it in The New York Times!

In 2009 I started Life Is Fare, a blog for people who are passionate about “happy food”—that is, organic, local, sustainable, and humane. In less than three years it’s had over 90,000 hits.

In 2010 I left Herman Miller to start my freelance writing business called Chez Marcita, LLC and self-published my first cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies, which includes recipes I’ve created or adapted to accommodate my husband Bill Holm’s allergies. During that year I published my first poem, “Kinship,” which appears in the Fall 2010 issue of Driftwood, a Michigan literary publication.

Now I work at home, where our cats, Moo and Fredsy, rule. Every week I get raw milk from a local farm, make butter and yogurt, and make happy food a priority.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book -- and your blog, too!

Marcia:  I started my blog after watching two movies: "Julie & Julia" and "Food, Inc." I always knew I wanted to blog but I wanted it to be a meaningful site with a message, not a focus on me. Both these movies had an impact on me. The first because it inspired me to blog every day. The second because I realized our food system was broken and people needed to know. My blog, Life Is Fare, is based on the premise that you are what you eat. I truly believe if you eat happy food, you'll feel better. At the same time, my husband Bill suffered from allergies to wheat, corn, and pasteurized cow dairy products. Through my blog, and subsequently through my cookbook, Nothing to Sneeze At: Main Dishes for People with Allergies, I try to help people see how easy it is to prepare and eat good food, even with allergies, by making simple adaptations.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Marcia:  I'm working on a novel or a memoir. I haven't decided which genre it will become because, frankly, I don't know if the people involved can handle the truth. Isn't that always a memoir writer's dilemma? But I have a good story to tell, so stay tuned. I might just change the names to protect the innocent.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Marcia:  Nothing is scheduled but I'm often asked to lead discussions about happy food and how to make the most of eating local, organic, sustainable, and humane food. I've done a helluva a lot of research on what's happening with our food system and how to procure happy food in Michigan. We are very lucky to have the resources available to us, even in the Snow Belt!

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

Marcia:  I love my local library (Herrick, in Holland)  but even more I love the Lakeland Library Cooperative that allows me to order books online and pick them up when they're delivered to Herrick. My favorite bookstore is Reader's World in Holland. It's just an old-fashioned, downtown bookstore that's always been open on Sunday even when the rest of Holland was closed down!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Marcia:  After living in Michigan for about 25 years I decided I was going to stay so I figured I'd better hit every corner of this gorgeous state to get to know it thoroughly. Bill and I took a two-week road trip through the U.P. and hit every part except the very far southwestern corner. I loved Keewenaw Peninsula. It's the first time I'd ever heard of a thimbleberry! The Porkies are gorgeous, too. But my old standby, which I can get to more quickly, is Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes, for the camping, the wineries, and the gorgeous lakeshore. I think I'm just partial to Lake Michigan.

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

Marcia:  Being a wine drinker, the Fenn Valley Open House in June is a must-do. I also love camping in Sleeping Bear Dunes when there's a full moon. At Good Harbor Bay you can have a fire on the beach as the full moon rises and it's such a beautiful sight. One time Bill and I attended the Detroit Jazz Festival, which was very cool. I loved seeing Detroit come alive.

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

Marcia:  My new sister-in-law, Debra Wierenga, has written and published some beautiful poetry. And, of course, so has my husband, Bill Holm, a fabulous writer who is also a Book Character in Bob Tarte's animal stories.

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

Marcia:  Michigan is not "the Midwest" in many ways. For one thing, it's not flat. For another, we grow many crops besides corn and soybeans. It's a four-season state and for people who celebrate nature, it's the place to live. There's something about the Great Lakes that make Michigan unique. It should never be lumped in with Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Iowa as part of the bland Midwest.

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

Marcia:  Always a Michigander. Just sounds cool. Animalistic in a way.

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  Marcia, it's been a true pleasure having you here today for Michigander Monday!