Monday, July 22, 2013

Michigander Monday: Lori Nelson Spielman

I'm very pleased to welcome Lori Nelson Spielman to Michigander Monday!

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

Lori:  Aside from a year spent in Florida following grad school, and a sabbatical in D.C. a year ago, I’ve lived in The Mitten my entire life. I was raised in the sweet little town of Grand Ledge, attended Central Michigan University and Michigan State University. I currently live with my husband in an old, tree-lined East Lansing neighborhood. I work for the Lansing Public Schools—initially as a speech/language pathologist, later as a high school guidance counselor, and now as a homebound teacher.

During three out of the four seasons, I absolutely love Michigan. But I confess, I’d fast-forward from New Year’s to St. Patty’s Day if I had the power. I’m an avid reader, I love sailing, traveling, writing, meeting new people, and unfortunately, anything made with sugar and butter.

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

Lori:  In a nutshell, The Life List, is the story of a young woman who is forced to complete the life list she’d written as a teen.

Now for the wordier version…Following her beloved mother’s death, Brett Bohlinger naturally assumes she’ll take over the family business. But Brett is stunned when her savvy sister-in-law inherits the multi-million dollar company, and the family attorney hands Brett a life list she’d scribbled down when she was just a girl of fourteen. Brett had no idea her mother’s sense of humor was this twisted: her inheritance hinges upon completing the ten remaining goals on her life list—the very list her mother fished from her Beverly Hills 90210 wastebasket twenty years ago.

And that girl’s life wishes are insane! Have a baby? Not happening. Become a teacher? Surely she’s not expected to swap her lucrative salary and stock options for snotty noses and spelling bees. Buy a horse? The condo board doesn’t even allow fish. And a relationship with her father is out of the question. The coldhearted stranger died seven years ago! But Brett’s biggest challenge is Andrew. When her driven, big-city boyfriend comes home toting a bottle of Perrier-Jouet to celebrate, she doesn’t have the heart—or the guts—to tell him she is not, and never will be, President of Bohlinger Cosmetics. And she’s sure as hell not telling him about that asinine life list. He’d be history if he found out about the traditional, humble life she’d once craved.

Entangled in a web of deceit, Brett is forced to examine the life she chose and the life she once dreamed of as a teen. With a multi-million dollar inheritance at stake and nothing but her mother’s letters to guide her, she wades from her comfy Gold Coast neighborhood into the streets of Southside Chicago in search of a young girl’s dreams. There she faces challenges and victories, and loves and losses that her youthful heart never could have imagined.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Lori:  Here’s hoping. I am working on a second book, but it’s slow-going while trying to promote The Life List and working full-time. But yes, I have every intention of writing more novels.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Lori:  Can you see my hands shaking? Yes, I have several appearances scheduled, but I’m not a natural public speaker, so I’m already a bit of a wreck! And I’ve heard horror stories about authors doing readings in front of 19 empty chairs and one heckler. But I’m grateful for the opportunity to promote my book and I will gladly do whatever it takes.

I have over a dozen events scheduled over the next few months, including at Nicola's Books August 6th at 7:00, the gorgeous new Delta Township Library on August 13th at 6:30, and Horizon Books in Traverse City on August 17th from 2:00-4:00.

All of my events are posted on my website

Debbie:  Lori, I'm taking the liberty of pasting in here a photo of your recent event at Schuler Books to a packed house.  Definitely no empty chairs or hecklers!

Cover Photo

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

Lori:  My favorite bookstore used to be Jocundry’s in East Lansing, but it closed in the mid-nineties. My current favorite is Schuler Books, the Indie bookstore in Eastwood Towne Center. I also love Horizon Books in Traverse City and Petoskey. And I’ve never visited a library I haven’t loved. I can still smell the dusty old book scent of the Grand Ledge Public Library, where I would go as a child. These days I can be seen weekly at either the Lansing Pubic Library or the East Lansing Public Library. The staff is knowledgeable and helpful, and the resources—including a fabulous downloadable library—is first-rate.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Lori:  I love so many places in our beautiful state, especially the quaint Northern Michigan towns and the vibrant streets of Traverse City or Ann Arbor. But my absolute favorite spot is the west coast, as seen from Lake Michigan. My husband and I sail, and to me there’s nothing more tranquil and magical than being out in Lake Michigan with just the power of the wind, listening to the waves lap the hull of the boat, and every so often coming upon a spectacular lighthouse, hulking dunes, or a charming harbor.

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

Lori:  I love the East Lansing Folk Festival as well as the East Lansing Art Fair. Ann Arbor’s Art Fair is even better, but I can walk to East Lansing, so convenience trumps quality! And every year I vow I’m going to attend a Tiger’s game—I haven’t been in decades. Maybe this will be my year. And I can’t forget the East Lansing Film Festival, which gets better every year.

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

Lori:  We have so much talent in this state. I’m sure I’m going to leave someone out, but a few of the talented people I’m lucky enough to know personally include:

Kelly O’Connor McNees, fabulous author of  The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott and In Need of a Good Wife; Mark Mehaffey, internationally acclaimed artist; Markus Pierson, famous artist of the Coyote series; Dennis Hinrichsen, award-winning poet; Julie Lawson Timmer, whose novel Five Days Left is expected to be released in 2014.  Linda Peckham is arguably the best writing instructor in the universe. Linda Dyer Kennedy who now lives in Dallas is a superb photographer. I’m also in awe of Cherry Hamrick, Director of the Delta Township Library and marathon runner, the most recent marathon being in Antarctica, of all places! And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own talented brother, Tom Nelson, who hosts a syndicated television show called, The American Archer.

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

Lori:  I wish outsiders wouldn’t think Detroit or Flint when they hear the word Michigan. We’re so much more than the auto industry. Our state is filled with natural beauty, including some of the best beaches in the world—and I’m convinced the nicest people, too. But then again, maybe we should keep this secret to ourselves. We wouldn’t want those beaches to get too crowded.

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"?

Lori:  I call myself a Michigander. I know it sounds folksy and none too sophisticated, but hey, if the shoe fits…

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  Lori, thank you so much for being here today for Michigander Monday!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Michigander Monday: Returning Soon!

Oh, yeah, a blog!  Kinda forgot I had one.

OK, not really.  Nor did I forget about "Michigander Monday," my favorite and most (semi-)regular blog feature:  weekly interviews with Michigan (or Michigan-related) authors and illustrators.  Things just got a little busy for a while, and so the Michigander Monday feature (and this blog as a whole, and my Twitter account, and my email, and my laundry, etc. etc.) went on hiatus for a while.

But I'm happy to report that Michigander Monday will be up and running again next week!  And while I can't promise weekly postings right away, I hope to hit the target of at least two interviews a month for the next few months, ramping back up to regular weekly interviews again by this fall.  There are so many great Michigan authors and illustrators out there -- I can't wait for us all to start getting to know them better!

In the meantime, thank you for your patience, and for continuing your readership of this blog despite my absence of postings.  More soon!