Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Beach Reading

Mr. Fish is tickled to find himself on a "Best Beach Reads" list!  Over on The Children's Book Review, Bianca Schulze has recommendations for summer reading, including The Pout-Pout Fish In The Big-Big Dark.  Thanks, Bianca!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Michigander Monday: Andrea King Collier

This week I'm pleased to welcome writer Andrea King Collier to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Andrea, tell us a little about yourself.

Andrea:  I am a full-time journalist and book author. I have been doing my thing for the past 25 years. I am the mother of two adult children, and three if you count my husband of almost 30 years. I also teach writing.

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

Andrea:  I have two books, Still With Me...A Daughter's Journey of Love and Loss, now available on Kindle. It is about mothers and daughters and the ties that bind us. And The Black Woman's Guide to Black Men's Health, from Warner Wellness. I am also in the anthology Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart from Freelance Success.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Andrea:  First novel. Coming out in Fall. Also a book of essays on turning 50.

Debbie:  Congratulations on both!  How about upcoming appearances?

Andrea:  None until the Fall. Taking the summer off.

Debbie:  Favorite Michigan bookstore? Favorite Michigan library?

Andrea:  I love the East Lansing Public Library. I adore Everybody Reads in Lansing. All the Schuler's--gotta plug the indies.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

AndreaMy house. It is what keeps me coming back to Michigan after a long trip. Think Dorothy, Ruby Slippers, heel click--No Place Like Home.

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

AndreaThe Detroit Jazz Festival is awesome. It draws folks from all over the country. And I love the food festivals that are popping up around the state. I am excited about the way that restaurants, farmers and growers, as well as wineries are branding the great assets here around food.

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

Andrea:  There are so many. One person I discovered recently is Tom Crawford out of Ann Arbor. He was my coach for my recent TEDX Lansing talk.  [Ed. note: you can catch part of Andrea's TEDx talk on YouTube - click here.]  He is also the father of this great cooking app called VizChef. He is creative on so many levels. Travis Tomlin, an amazing young photographer who has a great eye.

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

Andrea:  There is a great arts/creativity community that is alive and well across the state.

Debbie:  Indeed!  I never cease to be amazed at all the talent in this state.  Finally, some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Andrea:  I guess I would be a Michigander. But I have to say, that even though we moved here in 1989, I still feel more like a Hoosier/Chicagoan. Go figure.

Debbie:  We'll add you to the Michigander/Hoosier/Chicagoan column!  Andrea, thank you so much for being here with us today.

To learn more about Andrea King Collier and her books, visit her web site.  And be sure to check out her books at your favorite bookstore or library!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Pout-Pout Fish Sure Gets Around! (And We've Got The Photos To Prove It...)

The delightfully talented and funny Dan Hanna has a collection of Mr. Fish photos.  Follow this link for a display of thumbnails.  Then click on any of the small photos for a larger version and a description.  Here are a few samples:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Michigander Monday: Carrie Harris

I'm thrilled to welcome YA novelist Carrie Harris to Michigander Monday!

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

Carrie:  I grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, which means that I’ve heard just about every joke about burning lake water that you can come up with, and some you probably can’t. Back in Cleveland, I managed the national center for surveillance and research in the human form of Mad Cow disease, and I’ve heard all the jokes about THAT too.

I’d been freelance writing for about ten years when we moved to the Ann Arbor area. I loved writing but always figured it would be a hobby. But the move seemed like the ideal opportunity to take the writing plunge. I was so lucky that my first YA got me an agent, and my second sold to the miracle workers at Random House’s Delacorte Press!

Now I spend my days herding my children on the slip-n-slide, naming my flock of zombie penguins, and trying to convince my ninja-doctor husband that he should wear his ninja garb every day. Because it’s strangely attractive, although maybe that’s just me.

Debbie:  Ninja garb definitely has something going for it.  But setting that aside for a moment...  Tell us about your book!

CarrieBad Taste In Boys is a YA zombie comedy. My main character, super-smartie Kate Grable, gets to play doctor as the student trainer helping out her high school football team. She figures that the experience will look good on her college apps, and she gets to be close to her quarterback crush, Aaron. BONUS! Then something disturbing happens. Kate finds out that the coach has given the team steroids. Except the vials she finds don’t exactly contain steroids. Whatever’s in them is turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating...zombies.

Unless she finds an antidote, no one is safe. Not Aaron, not Kate’s brother, not her best friend...not even Kate...


Debbie:   Ooooh, way to leave us hanging!  The book is now definitely a must-read for all of us!  Other books or projects on the horizon?

CarrieAbsolutely! I’m just putting the finishing touches on my edits for Kate Grable’s second appearance, which is in a standalone book called Bad Hair Day.  It’s tentatively scheduled for summer of 2012, and it’s about werewolves and nanotechnology and blueberry flavored astronauts and killer coconuts. And I’m putting the finishing touches on a new, non-Kate book right now, so I hope to be able to talk more about that one soon!

Debbie Upcoming appearances?

CarrieYes! Bad Taste In Boys officially hit the shelves on July 12th, so I’m running a big online event called Night of the Giving Dead to help celebrate and collect books for Mott Children’s Hospital at U of M. And the official launch party will be on July 23rdat 2 PM at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. I plan to wear my zombie unicorn dress, and I’m really ridiculously excited about that.

I’m also in the process of finalizing some more events, which will be announced on my website—hopefully soon!

Debbie:  Favorite Michigan bookstore? Favorite Michigan library?

CarrieWell, of course I love them all (at length and great expense). But there’s a special place in my heart for Nicola’s, where they let me sit in the throne in the kids’ area and kick my feet while I read. I also can’t get enough of Manchester Public Library, whose tween reading group went on a dead flower hunt to get decorations for my recent appearance (ed note:  article here). You have no idea how cool that made me feel. I am the kind of girl who gets ridiculously excited over dead flowers.

DebbieNicola's Books is fabulous, and I love the Manchester District Library!  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

CarrieEvery year, my family vacations at Oak Cove resort, on Lake Cora near Kalamazoo. It’s one of my favorite places — I spend most of my days in the water. I honestly think that I’m part mermaid. Or a siren. My singing voice would quite easily drive sailors to their deaths. It’s THAT BAD.

Debbie:  I was about to say, "Surely, it can't be that bad," when I thought of my own singing voice, which actually is That Bad.  Perhaps we are kindreds!

How about a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

CarrieI’m a huge fan of the Detroit DerbyGirls. It’s funny, because I’m not really a sports-compatible person in general. But set me down and let me watch a bunch of girls with campy nicknames shove each other around on roller skates, and I’m captivated. In fact, I may or may not have used that obsession as an inspiration for that sekrit third book…

Debbie:  Intriguing!  How about a few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Carrie:  I’m still stuck on the roller derby thing, so the first person I thought of was Racer McChaseHer. Sorry, I get on these tangents and can’t stop.

I’m really proud to count Michigan YA writer Aimee Carter among my friends. Her book The Goddess Test is a terrific read—I was really into mythology as a kid, so I’ve been trying to invent a time machine so I can send a copy back to Junior High Me.

I’m also a huge fan of the zombie penguins from You Look Delicious, and they’re made by Michigan artist CMcKz. You can also get them at Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor.

Debbie Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Carrie:  This is a good place to visit if you’re directionally impaired like me. You can point out the relative location of any city in Michigan using your hand. This does not help me find the grocery store, but it’s really nice when you meet people from out of town, and they tell you where they’re from, and you look at them like a total idiot. They just point to your town on the hand and then theirs. You still look like an idiot, but you’re an idiot who knows where they live.

All joking aside, though? I really love it here.

Debbie:  Me, too!  Finally...  Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Carrie:  I’m a very confused former Ohioan who doesn’t know what the heck to call herself now. If you ever come up with a definite winner, please let me know! Because otherwise I end up calling myself a Michiganderainianette, which is very difficult to say.

Debbie:  New column for the tally -- Michiganderainianette!  Love it.  Carrie, thank you for being here today for Michigander Monday!

To learn more about Carrie, head on over to her web site.  And be sure to check out her auction benefit for Mott Children's Hospital!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Michigander Monday: Kristina Riggle

Jumping The Candlestick's Michigander Monday feature expanded this year and now profiles not only Michigan children's book authors/illustrators (its main focus for the past 3 years) but also Michigan and Michigan-related authors in other genres as well.  And so I am thrilled this week to welcome novelist Kristina Riggle to Michigander Monday!

Kristina has three novels, the most recent of which, Things We Didn't Say, was released last month.  Those of you in the Lansing area, please note that she'll be at Schuler Books Eastwood this Tuesday, July 12, at 7 PM (details here).  Not in the Lansing area?  Be sure to check out her full tour schedule.

Now, for the interview!

Debbie:  Kristina, tell us a little about yourself.

Kristina:  I'm a recovering journalist. My glib answer for what I write is "I write novels about people with problems." I am co-editor for fiction at Literary Mama. I'm married with two kids and a dog.

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

KristinaThings We Didn't Say is about a blended family in crisis when the middle son goes missing and the volatile ex-wife shows up on the scene. That's the plot, anyway. It's a complex web of relationships strained by secrets and withheld emotion.

Debbie:  Sounds wonderful - can't wait to read it!  Other books and projects on the horizon?

Kristina:  I'm finishing up Book Four, which I won't talk about until after my editor reads it! It's also under contract with HarperCollins.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Kristina:  I've been to Chicago and I'm traveling all around Michigan this summer. The whole list is here:

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?

KristinaSchuler Books in Grand Rapids is my wonderful hometown store, but I have many that I love. Literary Life in Grand Rapids, also. McLean and Eakin in Petoskey. Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord. Round Lake Bookstore in Charlevoix.

Debbie:  Those are all fabulous bookstores!  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

KristinaCharlevoix, Michigan, is my favorite place! My grandparents retired there so I've visited often over the years. I set my debut novel, Real Life and Liars, there.

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

Kristina:  I love Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. I won a writing contest as part of Festival in 1990, and I still remember getting that award up on the Calder Stage. It was a thrill. But I love seeing all the musical acts, and the dancing, and the artists with work on display.  It's such a vibrant, fun time.

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

Kristina:  Dean Margaret Hauck, owner of the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, is someone very fun to know. If you stop into the Michigan News, tell her I sent you and talk baseball with her. Speaking of southwest Michigan, Bonnie Jo Campbell, National Book Award nominated author, is great fun and down to earth and full of energy. Wade Rouse, memoirist, is a Michigander these days and he's hilarious. Go hear him speak if you have the chance. I'm afraid I'll leave someone out! Michigan is full of great people.

Debbie:  Very much agreed!  How about something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?

Kristina:  It's not all log cabins and farms outside of Detroit! Some people seem surprised we have actual cities here.

Debbie:  Finally, some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Kristina:  Michigander, of course.

Debbie:  I always like adding a tally mark to that column!  Kris, thank you so much for joining us today!

For more information about Kristina Riggle and her books, head over to her web site, find her on FaceBook, and/or follow her on Twitter!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Night of the Giving Dead

To celebrate the launch of her young adult novel Bad Taste in Boys, which hits shelves on Tuesday, Carrie Harris is hosting an online auction to benefit The Giving Library at the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital.

More information is available at this link, and the auction goes live tomorrow.  I hope you'll consider bidding on some of the items, and/or making a contribution to The Giving Library!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Michigander Monday Expansion

Regular readers of this blog know that for the last couple of years I've been running a (semi)regular feature called "Michigander Monday." My Michigander Monday Q&As have been with children's book authors and illustrators who are current or former Michigan residents.  The purpose of the profiles has been to highlight the talent of the state of Michigan and draw attention to the wonderful resources and opportunities that Michigan offers.

I've recently decided to expand the feature, and while I'll continue to profile lots of children's book authors, I'm now including authors of books for grown-ups as well, though still with the Michigan focus.  In doing so, I hope to get the feature back up to speed as a weekly feature.  It's also in keeping with my own reading interests, which include, well, a bit of everything.

I've got a couple of new interviews ready to roll out this month (not sure if there will be an interview on the 4th, but I do have ones for the 11th and the 18th already set), so be sure to stop by Mondays and get to know some fabulous authors.

And speaking of fabulous authors and eclectic reading tastes...  Those of you participating in my Lazy Person's Book Group (join anytime), how's your summer reading coming?  I've been working my way through most of the book options, and already have discovered several books I would never have encountered otherwise.  If you've got a book recommendation based on your reading for the LPBG -- or heck, if you've got a book recommendation for any reason -- feel free to share it.

I also welcome your recommendations for folks you'd like to see profiled for Michigander Monday.  You can chime in down in the comments section, or email me at deborah [at] deborahdiesen [dot] com

May you all have a wonderful, safe, and relaxing Fourth of July weekend.

(And happy reading, always!)