Monday, November 28, 2016

Michigander Monday: Jordan J. Scavone

I'm pleased to welcome Jordan Scavone to Michigander Monday!

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

Jordan:  This past April I received my M.A. in Children’s Literature from Eastern Michigan University. I also studied for my undergraduate degree in Ypsilanti, majoring in Children’s Literature and Theater for the Young, with a Minor in Communications. I originally wanted to go to EMU to do Forensics (Competitive Speech). I did it all through high school, and ended up doing it for a little over three years in college. That background allowed me to be extremely comfortable with talking to people - something that has really helped me during signing events, school visits, and talking with people within the field. Also, I’m a huge wrestling and video game fan. I actually did ‘backyard wrestling’ in high school with some friends and thought about pursuing it as a full-time thing at one point, but, then I remembered I’m not a fan of pain haha.

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

Jordan:  Might-E is my debut children’s book, and it follows a preschool girl named Emma. She suffers from social anxiety, and a general fear of being around other people. In order to help her overcome her fears she transforms from Emma into Might-E, the bravest, strongest, and mightiest superhero on the planet.

I really wanted to create something that would not only entertain, but inspire and help children (and adults alike) grow. I think this is something that most children’s authors want to do, so I suppose it isn’t that unique. But I felt that combining the aspects of the superhero genre as well as comics, I would be able to create a more desirable book. My illustrator Caitlyn Notaro (formerly Knepka – she got married! Yay!) is incredible and perfectly captured what I wanted visually. While I think my story is good enough to stand on its own, I know that Caitlyn’s ability really raised up, and elevated Might-E to another level.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Jordan:  I’m brainstorming a few ideas, while playing with some picture book manuscripts. I’m also exploring the world of YA literature. While exploring new ideas, and new stories, I am also sending out queries to agents. I want to extend the reach of my stories to more regions, and continue to push my story out, and inspire more kids.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Jordan:  Yes!  December 3rd at the Barnes and Noble in Brighton, December 10th at the Barnes and Noble in Grandville, and January 14th at the Barnes and Noble in Lansing. My book's Facebook page ( as well as my website ( have a constantly updating list of events.

I’m also lucky enough to be doing a school visit to an Ann Arbor elementary school this December. School visits are some of my favorite events; I’ve only done a few, but they are beyond fun, and really show me that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

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

Jordan:  I love the Dawn Treader in Ann Arbor. If you’ve never been it is wonderful. It is a deep literal treasure trove of books. Burgess Meredith would love it there. That’s a Twilight Zone joke. As for my favorite library, that would be the Wixom Library. Though I’ve only been there a couple times, it features a beautiful fountain area where my wife and I got our wedding pictures taken!

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Jordan:  The Sterling Heights Nature Center (across the street from where I grew up) is certainly one of my favorite places in Michigan. I spent a lot of time there, and it was where my wife and I took our first date. I also really really really like Mackinaw Island. I went once my senior year of High School and if I could afford it I’d go back yearly.

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

Jordan:  I’d like to one day go to the Traverse City Children’s Book Festival. I’ve heard it’s really fun, and I’ve also never been to Traverse City, so win win!

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

Jordan:  Earlier this year I met Cori McCarthy.  She is a Michigan Author out of Big Rapids. We picked up each other's books (her books for myself and Might-E for her little one). She was then gracious enough to do a review and blurb for Might-E. I’d encourage anyone to pick up Breaking Sky and You Were Here. They are stellar reads.

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

Jordan:  Some of us do not care about the feud between Michigan and Ohio schools. I’ll go fortify my doors and windows now.

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?

Jordan:  Michigander for life!

Debbie:  Jordan, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you for joining us today for a Might-E Michigander Monday!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Michigander Monday: Susan Froetschel

I'm pleased to welcome Susan Froetschel to Michigander Monday!

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

Susan:  I grew up in Pittsburgh and after living in many states, from Alaska to New York, I relish living and working in East Lansing. I am managing editor for an online magazine – YaleGlobal Online – which explores globalization defined as the interconnectedness of our world. These connections turn up in politics, economic, trade and security alliances, labor, health care, environment and many other ways – and what better job could there be than exploring the world and such connections through reading and writing? Chance encounters can leave lasting effects, and with instant global communications, a few ideas resonate and travel far. Such connections and encounters have found their way into my stories.  

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

Susan:  All my writing focuses on characters, ordinary people, both parents and their children, who question troublesome policies that others in their communities take for granted. As an editor and former newspaper reporter, I enjoy analyzing how public polices influence families and small communities – and analyzing these through fiction.

I have written five mystery novels and descriptions of where I live at the time slip into these books, though that may seem odd since my two most recent books – Fear of Beauty and Allure of Deceit – are set in a remote farming village in Afghanistan. Fear of Beauty is about a woman who is desperate to learn how to read so she can figure out the reasons behind the death of her oldest son. Allure of Deceit is about how charity can have a hidden agenda – and a foundation director who uses the program to investigate the death of her son. Royal Escape – set in London – is about a princess who resists the monarchy’s controls and discovers that security is more trap than protection. My first two novels were set in Sitka, Alaska, and the first was Alaska Gray, about art forgeries and a scholarship fraud. The second, Interruptions, is about a mother and son who work at cross purposes to fight a cross-island road with exorbitant costs in terms of money and the environment.

An excerpt of Fear of Beauty is available at Criminal Element.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Susan:  I have started a third book set in Afghanistan, but may take a detour into a story about a family with many secrets and resentments – possibly set in Michigan or Pennsylvania.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Susan:  Nothing on the schedule at this moment, but I always enjoy to speaking about writing and publishing, the celebrity culture, and many topics related to globalization for libraries, book groups, senior centers, clubs or classrooms for students of all ages. I have given many programs in Maine, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, Georgia as well as Michigan.

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

Susan:  I love and appreciate every bookstore that stocks my books for their readers and that includes Horizon in Traverse City, McLean and Eakin in Petoskey, Blue Phoenix and Olivet in Alpena, and Schuler Books in Okemos! Naming a favorite library is again too difficult. I always enjoy my hometown library – the East Lansing Public Library. But I also enjoy exploring the extensive collections at college libraries like Michigan State University and Yale.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Susan:  The lakeside communities are stunningly beautiful, friendly and peaceful – Alpena, Saugatuck, Cheboygan – with the Great Lakes, again it’s very hard to decide!

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

Susan:  My favorite event is the Alpena Book Festival held each September. The entire downtown rallies to support of Michigan authors and organize a wide range of programs for readers and aspiring authors alike. The town is ideal for a book festival with the library, two bookstores, an art store, bakery, and wine-tasting room all in close proximity.

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

Susan:  Peg Herring is a talented and thoughtful mystery writer who juggles three series (The Loser Series, The Dead Detective Series and the Simon and Elizabeth Tudor Series) along with many other projects. She is fantastic at organizing, motivating and mentoring writers of all levels. She is adventurous and never shoots down new ideas. Connie Doherty, who just released her first mystery book, has a great voice and imagination.

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

Susan:  The people are open, friendly and the best at making their communities welcoming places.

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?

Susan:  Count me in with the ganders.

Debbie:  Susan, we'll add you to the Michigander column.  Thank you for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

To learn more about Susan and her books, visit her web site (which includes her blog), Facebook page, Twitter account, and Yale Global.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why are some Pout-Pout Fish stories longer than others?

I thought it might be helpful to provide an overview of the three kinds of Pout-Pout Fish books, since each kind differs from the others in length and format.

The three kinds are:  1) full-length adventure stories; 2) mini-adventures; and 3) novelty items.

There are currently four full-length adventure stories:  The Pout-Pout Fish; The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark; The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School; and The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish. Each of these books is a picture book story meant for toddlers, preschoolers, early elementary, and beyond, and are each about 500 or 600 words long.  They come in a hardcover format (approximately 10" x 10", with hard covers and paper pages); two of them (the original and the Big-Big Dark) also come in board book format (about 6.5" x 6.5", with thick board pages).  The board book versions of these stories are not shortened or abridged from the hard cover.

The mini-adventures are much shorter and simpler than the full-length adventure stories.  There are currently four of them:  Smile, Pout-Pout Fish; Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish; Kiss, Kiss, Pout-Pout Fish; and Trick or Treat, Pout-Pout Fish.  They're twelve pages long with just a few words per page - no more than around 50 words total.  They come in board book format -- they're the same size as the full-length adventure board books, but much thinner due to fewer pages.

The novelty items are a variety of activity books, including a lift-the-flap book, an alphabet and numbers workbook, a sticker book, and a touch-and-feel book.  Word length and format varies.

For more information about the various books, please visit my web page, or email me.

Thank you for your interest in The Pout-Pout Fish series!!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Booksigning Nov. 26, 11 AM to 1 PM

I'll be signing books at the Eastwood Schuler Books on Saturday, November 26, from 11 AM to 1 PM.  Hope to see you!

Location details etc. available at this link.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Poem of Sorts. A promise.

Come and sit next to me.

There's room.

I will not harm you.
I will not make fun of you.
I will not push you away.
Whether we agree on everything,
on some things,
or on almost nothing at all,
it does not matter.
There's a place for you next to me,
and always.
You are safe.

And we can sit together

for as long as it takes

to find the strength

To Stand.