Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Pout-Pout Fish Costume Tour!

A costume character of The Pout-Pout Fish will be on tour for the next few weeks!  The costume appearance schedule is below, with dates and times -- but if you plan to attend one of these events, be sure to call the store first to confirm the time and location, as schedules do sometimes change.

I won't be at any of these events, so if you go, I'd love to see your photos!

Saturday January 25 at 11am Los Altos, CA
Linden Tree Books
265 State St.
Los Altos, CA 94022

Sunday January 26 at 11am San Carlos, CA
The Reading Bug
785 Laurel St.
San Carlos, CA 94070
Contact: Lauren

Tuesday January 28 at 10:30am Denver, CO
Tattered Cover
2526 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80206

Thursday January 30 at 11am Wayzata, MN
The Bookcase
824 East Lake Street
Wayzata, MN 55391

Saturday February 1 at 11am Ann Arbor, MI
Nicola's Books
Westgate Shopping Center
2513 Jackson Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI  48103

Tuesday February 4 at 11am Memphis, TN
The Booksellers at Laurelwood
387 Perkins Road Extended
Memphis, TN 38117

Thursday February 6 at 3:30pm Cincinnati, OH
blue manatee children's bookstore
3054 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45209

Saturday February 8 at 3:30pm Collegeville, PA
Towne Book Center and Cafe
220 Plaza Drive, Suite B-3
Collegeville, PA 19426

Thursday February 13 at 10:30am Madison, CT
RJ Julia Booksellers
768 Boston Post Rd.
Madison, CT 06443

Saturday February 15 at 10am Chicago, IL
Women & Children First
5233 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640

Monday, January 20, 2014

Michigander Monday: Deborah Reed

I'm pleased to welcome Deborah Reed to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Deborah, please tell us a little about yourself and your books.

Deborah:  I am the author of the recently released novel, Things We Set On Fire. I was thrilled when Author Tim O’ Brien (The Things They Carried), had this to say about my work: “What a finely made, complex, and wholly engrossing novel this is. The people who inhabit Things We Set on Fire seem to be squeezed into some catastrophic critical mass, like the Big Bang in reverse, and yet the prose is completely under control, precise and lucid, sometimes electric with nuance, sometimes strangely musical, and always convincing. The moral pressures on these characters become almost unbearable, yet the radiance of grace and pardon and understanding shines on. Reed has given us a beautiful book.”

I am also the author of Carry Yourself Back to Me, a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors’ Pick. I wrote the bestselling thriller, A Small Fortune and its sequel, Fortune’s Deadly Descent, under my pen name, Audrey Braun. All of my novels have been translated or are forthcoming in German. I hold a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (fiction) and teach at UCLA’s Extension Writing Program in Los Angeles, at the Black Forest Writing Seminar with the University of Freiburg, Germany, as well as workshops and conferences around the United States and in Europe. I was born in Detroit and raised in Westland, but have lived in Orlando, Florida; New York City; Düsseldorf and Herzogenaurach, Germany; Portland, Oregon; and currently reside in Los Angeles, California.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Deborah:  I'm currently working on a stand alone Audrey Braun psychological thriller. It takes place in LA. It's so scary I can hardly stand to write it.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Deborah:  Only if you consider me in my pajamas in front of a fire and my computer an "appearance". These days the internet allows the majority of book promotion to take place online, which means writers get to spend more time at home writing more books. This makes me happy.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite place in Michigan?

Deborah:  When I was growing up I always loved going to the apple orchards in Northville to pick apples and make apple cider. I loved canoeing down the Huron River, swimming at Walter Hayes State Park, and fishing with my dad at Kensington Lake, where I inevitably caught a bigger fish than my older brother, who now lives up on Lake Gladwin and still can't stand to hear about it all these decades later. I loved Boblo Island Amusement Park, which of course no longer exists, and the ferryboat rides it to took to get out there.

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

Deborah:  Michigan has some really great writers, some of which I'm happy to call my friends—Bonnie Jo Campbell, Jack Driscoll, Jeanne Haynes Sirotkin, Scott Sparling, Matt Bell, and Sharon Harrigan. Also, as an aside, my husband is a creative director and he recently worked on the Chevy account in Detroit. He was responsible for some of the Chevy commercials that recently ran, as well as quite a few of the billboards and print ads. He isn't from Michigan and we have an ongoing argument over the correct way to pronounce Impala. He claims the first a is long. I say no way. It is, and always has been, short. Im-pal-ah.

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

Deborah:  Impala is pronounced Im-pal-ah:) Elmore Leonard lived and died in Michigan. You can ski just outside of Detroit in the Irish Hills.

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

Deborah:  Michigander, always.

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  Deborah, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Michigander Monday: Ruta Sepetys

I'm pleased to welcome Ruta Sepetys to Michigander Monday!

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

Ruta:  Sure! Here are some Michigan details -

I was born in Detroit and raised in Farmington Hills. I attended Harrison High School and graduated from Hillsdale College.

My grandparents lived in Detroit near 7 Mile and Woodward. I have enormously fond memories of spending time at their house with my siblings and cousins. We created stories, plays, songs, and crazy puppet shows on that street in Detroit.

Below is a recent photo of the neighborhood. Yes, the sidewalks and windows are now cracked and empty, but when I close my eyes I can still hear whispers of voices, laughter, and the magic that was made there.

Debbie:  How have your Michigan roots affected you?

Ruta:  Growing up in Michigan and being exposed to the city of Detroit has definitely had an impact on my life and my writing.

Detroit possesses a unique fighting spirit that inspires me. That spirit is infused in the characters I create.

Bloodied but unbroken. Never given a break but never giving up. Detroit gave life and love to industry, immigrants, musicians, artists, and athletes. Right now the city might be fiscally bankrupt but it will always be rich in story and soul.

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

Ruta:  Thank you! I write historical fiction. I search for under-represented parts of history and weave fictional characters within them.

Through characters and story, I try to bring history alive in a way that readers will absorb and remember. I currently have two novels available:

Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray is set in 1941 and tells the story of a fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl who is arrested and deported to Siberia during Stalin's terror in the Baltic States.

Out of the Easy

Out of the Easy is set in 1950 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The story follows Josie Moraine, the daughter of a brothel prostitute who is trying to escape the Big Easy and the identity she's been born into.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Ruta:  Yes, I'm just finishing my third book which takes place at the end of WWII and exposes a historical event that's been underground for over sixty years. I'm very excited about the new book.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Ruta:  Yes! On January 21st I will be making the following appearance in Michigan. I would love to see and meet your readers there!

Tuesday, January 21

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads Presents "Between Shades of Gray"

6:00 p.m. Reception
7:00 p.m. Presentation

Towsley Center
Washtenaw Community College
4800 Huron River Drive
Ann Arbor, MI

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

RutaBookstore: Reading Express in Farmington Hills. It was a tiny independent bookstore, sadly long gone now. They had a fantastic selection of kids' books.

I used to sit on the floor and read while my mom shopped at the market next door.

Library: Farmington Community Library.  When I was little, I used to think my library card was a Visa or Mastercard. I'd heap my books up onto the counter and whisper, "Put it all on the card, please."

My favorite books to "charge?" Always something by Roald Dahl or The Littles by John Peterson.

(A bit of Michigan library trivia - Michigan was the first state to provide in its Constitution for the establishment of public libraries.)

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Ruta:  I'll choose a favorite late night haunt. I wonder if any of your readers are familiar with it?

As you drive south on Orchard Lake Road, perched on the corner of Ten Mile is a white tiled cube building that serves the best midnight sliders. White Castle, you say? No!  Greene's.

Greene's has been around for over fifty years and there's a reason. The spit and sizzle of grease in the fryer, the scent of caramelized onions when you walk through the door, the 1970's prices. Haven't tried it? You must.

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

Ruta:  I love visiting the Franklin Cider Mill in the fall. There's something so beautiful about waiting in line and battling the bees for a sack of plain cake donuts.

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

Ruta:  Absolutely! I'm so glad you asked.

Michelle Bommarito, Chef

Michelle grew up in Michigan. She is a U of M graduate and a renowned chef. She's been on the culinary staff at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, has worked for Martha Stewart, and has appeared on many Food Network TV shows. She currently lives in Michigan and often gives workshops and events. Don't miss her!

North Star Media

Prior to becoming a writer, I spent 22 years working in the music business in Los Angeles and Nashville. North Star Media is a boutique music entertainment firm in Michigan. Tucked away in Bloomfield Hills, they are quickly becoming a secret weapon in the industry.  North Star represents a diverse roster of recording artists, ranging from brand new indies to multi-platinum superstars. They also work closely with some of today's top composers and producers. Some of the best new music discoveries are coming out of North Star. I'm so thrilled to see such a successful music venture in Michigan!

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

Ruta:  Yes, Michigan Modernism. People outside of Michigan often associate the state solely with the automobile industry. But Michigan's design legacy reaches far beyond automotive. Some of the best modern architecture and furniture design was conceived in Michigan and associated with Cranbrook Educational Community. In fact, it has been said that mid-century modernism was born through Cranbrook. Saarinen, Bertoia, Eames, Knoll - they all had ties to Cranbrook.

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

Ruta:  I've gotta go with Michigander.  That feels more real - like boots in the snow, trips to Traverse City, the Lions on Thanksgiving, 'pop' instead of 'soda.'

Michigander speaks of a warrior, someone in the trenches, someone who is hard-working, creative, and loves their land - even in sub-zero temperatures.

A "Michigander" can take a punch and get back up. A "Michiganian" sounds more like a quiet resident.

Debbie:  Michigander it is!  Ruta, thank you so very much for joining us today for Michigander Monday.

And I hope mid-Michigan Michiganders will make a point to go see you Tuesday, January 21, at the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads event!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Book: Smile, Pout-Pout Fish

Attention, fans of Mr. Fish:

Dan Hanna and I have a new Pout-Pout Fish book out this month.  This one is meant especially for the very young:

Many of you are familiar with The Pout-Pout Fish and its sequel The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark.  Those books have been popular with preschool and school-aged children.  Smile, Pout-Pout Fish, a board book, introduces the character of Mr. Fish to an even younger audience.

The text of Smile, Pout-Pout Fish is very simple and the story focuses on emotions.  Reviews here and here.

Later this year, Mr. Fish and friends will have another full-length hardcover adventure when The Pout-Pout Fish Goes To School is released.

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Michigander Monday: Douglas Trevor

I'm pleased to welcome Douglas Trevor to Michigander Monday!

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

Douglas:  I grew up in Denver, Colorado, and didn't move to Michigan until 2007, when I joined the English Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I write short stories and novels but I'm also an academic who specializes in English Renaissance poetry (writers such as John Donne and William Shakespeare).

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

Douglas:  Well, my most recent book is a novel entitled Girls I Know that is set in Boston (where I lived in the 90s). Girls I Know follows three characters whose lives are changed after a restaurant shooting. The central character, a 29-year-old named Walt Steadman, witnesses the shootings and ends up trying to help the daughter of the restaurant's owners, Mercedes Bittles, cope with the loss of her parents. The third character is a twenty-year-old named Ginger Newton who is writing a book on evil she has entitled Girls I Know. In broad terms, I guess you could say the book looks at how people respond to misfortunes that they are themselves not responsible for, and the unlikely ways in which individuals--young and old--can connect with one another by virtue of such misfortunes.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Douglas:  I'm almost done with a collection of stories, some of which are set in Michigan, that look at people whose lives are changed by virtue of books. The stories follow a wide-range of characters, some of whom are inveterate readers, some of whom feel that books and learning impinge and limit their lives, some of whom haven't had the chance to be educated and are trying to educate themselves, and some of whom find themselves in stories/version of their own lives that they want to break out of.

I've also started another novel, set in Denver and about a central character who uncovers secrets about his family, and the neighborhood in which he grew up.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Douglas:  My next reading is going to be in Chicago, at the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, on January 11, 2014 at 7 PM.

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

DouglasNicola's Books is my favorite bookstore because the staff is so wonderful--highly read, engaging, and they do a wonderful job promoting books that they like. My favorite library is here at the University of Michigan, again because of the amazing staff.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Douglas:  I'm a big fan of the Crystal Lake/Sleeping Bear area of Michigan. In October I gave a reading in Petoskey and had a great time there. That's a beautiful town (and they have a great bookstore there too--McLean and Eakin).

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

Douglas:  I am a homebody. I like to see movies at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, listen to music at the Blind Pig, have drinks at the Old Town Tavern.

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

Douglas:  Everyone should know of my splendid colleague Keith Taylor. Keith is a fantastic poet, teacher, and editor, and he is a tremendous proponent of the arts here in Michigan. Plus, he's a great guy with whom to hang out.

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?

Douglas:  I am a Michigander. Go Blue.

Debbie:  We'll add you to the Michigander column!  Douglas, thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!