Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Peppermint Lead Balls and others things Christmas-y

Earlier today I taped a conversation with Lorna Landvik about her Christmas novel "Tis the Season". We got talking about holiday traditions and Christmas cookies and she said she always tries a couple of NEW recipes every Christmas. The lemon shortbread cookies went over very well but the peppermint puffs....well, as she said, "they should have named them Peppermint Lead Balls".

It's always a little iffy to try a new holiday cookie. This year my oven is the fritz so I'm just doing "melty" cookies. The time honored "Bert's Butterscotch Bitches" and those other ones with the almond bark. And M&M's... you know! I'll have to forgo the walnut tarts and lime rickeys.

Lorna also talked about a one woman show (if you can count all the characters in her head as one woman!) at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. It sounds great - she makes up characters based on the people in the audience and has wigs/costumes on stage. And as she said, one lucky audience member gets a margarita that she mixes up on stage. Look here for more information.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Favorite books of the year!!!

It's way too hard to pick my favorite reads of the year but I will try my darndest. Deep breath. Here we go... in NO particular order, some of my favorite novels of the year:

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton - this makes you think about the people behind the crimes that we find unspeakable. It makes you think that they too have mothers and there is no black and white. Make sure you have an evening/afternoon free for this one, you'll need to read it in one sitting. Just ask my neighbor Randy.

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani - I'm a sucker for ANYTHING this woman writes. I don't care about fancy high heeled shoes, I don't live in New York, I don't travel to Italy to study artisan craftsmanship but I do love my family and food and my work. And this character Valentine. She's stubborn, faithful and so imperfect that anyone would be drawn to her. MN tie: her mother grew up in Chisholm, MN.

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley- Who knew that high school hockey could be so mysterious? It is set in the U.P of Michigan amidst a community obsessed with hockey who hasn't quite gotten over the championship that got away. When a journalist comes back to town to edit the newspaper he finds more than memories of his high school hockey career. MN tie: once my luggage was sent to Michigan instead of Minnesota. Does that count?

Remedies by Kate Ledger - this is the story of a physician who thinks he's discovered the cure for pain. He and his wife have been growing apart and the story delves into how there are times in our lives where we feel ENTITLED to break the rules. MN tie: Kate is a freelance writer from St. Paul.

Billie Standish was Here by Nancy Crocker - okay fine, this one is a young adult novel, but still, it counts. I'm a sucker for a book about friendship. Unlikely friendship at that, people of different generations who really change the course of another's life. Miss Lydia becomes the caretaker that 11 year old Billie Standish needs. MN tie: Nancy lives in Minneapolis

Rough Country by John Sandford - I'm one of the few who had never read one of his thrillers...
so it was a big deal to not only finally read one, but to interview him and meet him in person. This is a Virgil Flowers book and set in Grand Rapids, MN where a woman's body is found at a resort that has some secrets of its own to reveal. MN tie: Sandford is from St. Paul

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - This one was chilling and surprising. Chilly in setting and tone in northern Wisconsin in the wintertime, and surprising in that the style of storytelling he uses made me think it would be a sweeping historical novel in the vein of Laura Ingalls Wilder all grown up. Holy man, it was gripping. MN tie: is northern Wisconsin close enough?

so many books! Here's some other notables from the year:

Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger
Missing Mark by Julie Kramer
The Yamas and the Niyamas by Deborah Adele
All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

I know I've left some out - what are your favorite books of the last year?

your 'go to' author?

Is there an author or books that you have continually gone back to in your life? For my husband Tom that author is Louis L'Amour. For as long as I've known him, when we go on a trip he always throws a L'Amour paperback in the suitcase.

When I got the chance to interview L'Amour's widow Kathy about the newly published "The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour - Frontier Stories Volume 7" Tom was excited.

Before I did that I needed to get to the bottom of this reading passion of his. "Why?" I asked.

Tom talked about a couple of things that stood out to him. Setting. The wild west. Wide open uncivilized territory where Louis himself had been. Or at least it FELT like Louis had been to.

And the eternal battle of good v. evil. Tom keeps going back for the formula of a Louis L'Amour novel.

There are more than 300 million copies of his books in print and he's the American born novelist in history to receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Tune in this week for my conversation with Kathy L'Amour about her late husband's work. Or check the archive.

And let us know what paperback you stuff in your suitcase!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

From last week's show....Zippora Karz & Sandra Harper

Zippora Karz was my guest - talking about her book "Sugarless Plum - A Ballerina's Triumph Over Diabetes" Check out her video here:

I also talked with novelist and playwright Sandra Harper about her new book with a holiday setting, "Over the Holidays". If you missed the conversations, check out the Realgoodwords archive. And as long as we're doing videos, check out this one with Sandra Harper.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Could you handle....

living off the land, with no electricity, sometimes faulty equipment, monitoring the habits of sea ottters for over a year??? Wait, there's as second part to this question. Could you handle all of that, with your spouse?

Judy Swain Garshelis and her husband Turk did just that. They spent over a year in the remote near Prince William Sound in Alaska, studying the breeding and eating and general movements of sea otters.

Judy told me how the head of the project (from the University of Minnesota) said that he didn't think it was a good idea for a married couple to do the project together. But the Garshelis' proved him wrong. Now, years later, Judy has written about their experiences. The book is called "Otter Spotters - A Wildlife Adventure in Alaska". Judy will be talking about her book and experiences on Thursday Dec. 1st at 7pm at the Grand Rapids Area Library and also signing copies of her book at the Village Bookstore on Saturday Dec. 5th.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Upcoming library/author events in northern Minnesota

Thursday Nov. 19th - The Amazing Charles will be at the Hibbing Public Library from 6-7 teaching about balloon art.

Thursday Nov. 19th - Lorna Landvik is at the Bemidji Public Library at 7pm.

Saturday Nov. 21 - 10:30 at Bemidji Public Library Alison Edgerton will talk about the "real" Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Saturday Nov. 21 - Stephanie Stevens will be at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids at noon to talk about her book for children, "Isabelle and Grandma Birdie".

Sunday Nov. 22 - Deborah Adele will be at CENTER in Grand Rapids at 11am to lead a discussion of her book "The Yamas & the Niyamas - Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practices". See Center's website for prices and more information.

Saturday Nov. 28 - Tom Chase has a book part for his first sci-fi novel "Stargazer - The First Days" at Brewed Awakenings in Grand Rapids starting at 11am.

Thursday Dec. 1 - Judy Swain Garshelis is at the Grand Rapids Area Library at 7pm to talk about her book "The Otter Spotters - A Wildlife Adventure in Alaska".

Saturday Dec. 5 - Judy is at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids at 12, signing copies of "The Otter Spotters - A Wildlife Adventure in Alaska".

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yamas & the Niyamas


Yamas? Niyamas?

The Yamas & Niyamas are yoga's ten ethical guidelines and comprise the first two limbs of Yoga's eight-fold path.

They are the foundation of skillful living.

Yamas include nonviolence, truthfulness, nonstealing, nonexcess and nonpossessiveness. Niyamas include purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study and surrender.

Deborah Adele is the author of the book "Yamas & the Niyamas - Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice"and the co-owner of YogaNorth in Duluth, MN.

She'll be not only my guest this week on Realgoodwords, but she'll also be in Grand Rapids on Sunday morning (November 22) to kick off a guided study of her book at Center.
In the preface of her book, The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice, Deborah Adele says, "We all want to live well. Let's face it, at the end of the day, it's not how much you have or how much you accomplished that counts. What matters is how well you have participated in your own life, both the ordinary routines and the extraordinary surprises." Deborah brings these 10 guidelines to life with gentleness and grace as she shares her own life stories. She provides opportunities for self reflection as she challenges us to apply yogic wisdom to our lives today.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A recipe from Michelle Maisto's memoir

Her new book is called "Gastronomy of Marriage - A Memoir of Food and Love". One of the things I like about it is that she treats food as culture. She uses food memories to tell stories. Like her grandma's famous walnut tarts. Not only does she tell us about her mother making these and 11 other kinds of cookies at Christmastime, she gives us the recipe for these delights.
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 cup flour

1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts or a combination of the two
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For this recipe you'll need a mini muffin tin (two ideally). Put these in the refrigerator. Then blend the crust ingredients until smooth. If, like me, you tend to have warm hands, wash them under cold water. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into each muffin cup and press the dough with your fingertips until each one is like a mini piecrust. Don't press them so thin that you can see the gray of the muffin tin; the thickness of a navel orange peel is about right.

Put the muffin tines back into the refrigerator while you make the filling, simply mixing the ingredients together. Spoon the filling into each little pie shell, leaving a little space before the top of the crust. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is light brown.

Tune in this week for my conversation with Michelle Maisto about her relationship and her relationship to food. If you miss it, check the archive!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Poetry inspired by Nature and the phenology show on KAXE

Each week on phenology talkbacks with John Latimer, we get to hear students from around the region call in their phenology sitings. One of the regular contributors is from Ms. Hagelie's class at the Charter School in Emily. This week we got a treat of poetry inspired by white pines. Enjoy! (Thanks to Eli Sagor of My Minnesota Woods.org for the photos)

White Pine
White Pine of beauty,
Sticky sap and big pine cones,
Your beauty is so grand.
Roots that go so far,
Green needles against blue sky,
The king of trees is pine.

Written by:

White Pine Big Tree
It has rough bark,
It is the biggest tree ever.
It has lots of needles,
It also has big branches.
It has no leaves.

Written by:

Old White Pine
Tall, thick, round, wide, rough,
Soft, pointy, odd,
Old White Pine

Written by:

White Pine
The White Pine is mossy,
It is hard.
It has thick branches,
It is tall and wide.
It has many branches,
Its needles fall off.
It has indentations,
Some branches are cut off.

Written by:

The White Pine
Its bark is rough,
Its rather tough.
Its tall and round,
Weighs more than a pound.
Its full of moss and needles,
Home to birds and beetles.
Its bark is as brown as a penny,
It is loved by many!

Written by:

Our White Pine
The branches are long.
It has lots of pine needles.
Trunk is really wide.

Written by:

White Pine
The big White Pine towers over the rest.
It’s a big rough and tough tree.
It’s bark is rough, it’s needles pointy,
It’s one great tree!
The branches twist and turn,
Our tree is a White Pine.

Written by:

White Pine
So sweet and fine,
You’re the big White Pine.
You’re the biggest I can see,
You are bigger than those other trees.

Written by:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

All Cakes Considered by NPR's Melissa Gray

This week I had the chance to talk with NPR producer and cake guru Melissa Gray. Her new book is called "All Cakes Considered". Not only did I enjoy it, but my coworkers did - because I decided in order to be fully "prepared" for this interview, I needed to make a cake at work and see what the response was.

The response was "mmm" and "buttery" and "so moist" and "pass the whipped cream" and "who ate all the cake?"*

The recipe I chose was "The Barefoot Contessa's Sour Cream Coffee Cake". Here's the recipe:

YOU'LL NEED: A 10-inch tube pan

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2 Tbsp real maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

2. Cream the butter and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment for 4-5 minutes until light.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream.

4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With teh mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Melissa's note: Don't worry about sifting - dry whisking will work fine

5. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms crumbs. Mix in the walnuts if desired.
Melissa's note: You can also use a wooden spoon if you don't want to use your fingers.

6. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

7. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, to a serving plate.

8. For the glaze, whisk the confectioner's sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Heidi's notes: KAXE staffers couldn't wait the 30 minutes for cooling - and we didn't even take it out of the pan, we just spooned our warm pieces out. Also some (scott) didn't think the frosting was necessary while others (jennifer) did.

Do you bring cakes/cookies/treats to your workplace? What goes over the best?

If you missed the interview, you can hear it here!

*apologies to John Latimer and Mark Tarner who missed out. I'll try another cake on a Tuesday John, I promise.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

William Kent Krueger this week on Realgoodwords

William Kent Krueger's latest is called "Heaven's Keep" and this time Cork O'Connor is not hired or called in to solve a mystery. This time the mystery is his life. His wife Jo has left northern Minnesota on a small plane, headed to a business meeting when the plane goes down in the Wyoming Rockies. Stay tuned for our conversation this week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do It Yourself Reading!

It's the KAXE Do-It-Yourself Fall Fundraiser at KAXE. What's more DIY than reading? And might I add, what's more FANTASTIC than reading?

My answer? almost nothing (okay, maybe my hubby, family, friends, kaxe)

As you may have guessed, I love to read. Since I was a a little kid I've always carried books with me. I came from a fishing-obsessed family and though I wasn't let off the hook from fishing, my dad was always kind enough to let me bring a book for when the fishing got slow. I remember climbing up into the cubby hole in the front of the boat and cracking open my latest Boxcar Children mystery or Beverly Cleary novel.

How would that bespectacled quiet girl have known that she would actually grow up to talk to authors. ON THE RADIO! On KAXE nonetheless! The only thing that could be better would be if I could talk to authors in a boat, on the lake, with my dad driving!

I know there are readers and writers out there who appreciate KAXE and Realgoodwords...appreciate conversations like you'll hear tonight - with Rachel Simon. Rachel's written a great book, a self-help manual really for all the wives out there. As I can attest, getting through a self-help project (like tiling the floors perhaps) and still wanting to speak to your spouse is no easy feat. The book is called "Building a Home With My Husband - A Journey Through the Renovation of Love" and what I like most is that Rachel owns up to what she's NOT good at. And like me, she's not much of a painter.

Also DIY on Realgoodwords this week: cooking and food! Pim Techamuanvivit and "The Foodie Handbook - The Almost Definitive Guide to Gastronomy". Pim has toured the world and can give you advice on how to look good ordering wine to trying something new in a restaurant to making your own food that you and others will love. It's all about reclaiming our relationship to food Pim writes, getting over that quickie food, covert snacking mentality and remembering when a simple taste could take you away. She writes about a food memory,
"Perhaps that summer when you were eight, standing near an ice cream vendor in the park on a hot afternoon, a cone in your hand. Most of the yummy chocolate ice cream had probably melted, dripping halfway down to your elbow, but you hardly cared. Back when your love of food was, simply, pure joy, all your attention was focused on the sweet, creamy, chocolaty deliciousness you were savoring. This was back before you even knew what the word savoring meant, but you savored it anyway."
Support Realgoodwords on KAXE by being a member. It's easy to do...look at works in your budget and support something you believe in. Like reading. And community radio!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

this week on Realgoodwords: Names I can't pronounce!

Pim Techamuanvivit and Mireille Guiliano. Help anyone? I live in northern Minnesota and the toughest word we use is PASTY. We're talking about the meat & rutabega pocket made famous by the miners. Nothing twirly there if you get my drift.

What words can't you pronounce?

This week my authors Pim and Mir (as I like to call them) will talk about loving food and the art of work and savoir faire. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What I'm reading now

I'm halfway through the latest William Kent Krueger mystery, "Heaven's Keep". At the beginning of this one Cork O'Connor's wife Jo has headed off to Wyoming in a chartered plane.

And I won't tell you anymore than that. I'll keep you hanging. Stay tuned for a conversation with William Kent Krueger in the next month or so.

What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Julie Kramer is back on Realgoodwords this week

Julie's latest Riley Spartz mystery, "Missing Mark" is featured on this week's Realgoodwords. Riley is a Minneapolis news reporter whose intrigue in a classified ad leads her right into another mystery.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

20th Annual Sinclair Lewis Writer's Conference Coming Up!

I talked with author Will Weaver this week on Realgoodwords. He's going to be the keynote speaker at the 20th annual Sinclair Lewis Writer's Conference in Sauk Center (where the infamous book Main Street was set). Will is known for his short stories, adult novels and young adult novels as well as the award winning independent film (Sweetland) that was based on Will's short story, "A Gravestone Made of Wheat". Will's keynote address will be about audience.

Minnesota mystery writer William Kent Krueger will also be there, his talk will be about how to use suspense. Krueger has been a guest on Realgoodwords in the past, and I'll be talking to him later this fall about his latest in the series about Cork O'Connor, "Heaven's Keep".

Also speaking is Minnesota author Wang Ping. She will speak about writing short stories. Wang Ping was awarded a 2009 McKnight Artist Fellowship for creative prose from the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.

Milkweed Editions editor Daniel Slager will also be presenting at the conference in Sauk Center. His talk will be about the future of books.

The 20th Annual Sinclair Lewis Writer's Conference is Saturday October 10th from 8:30-5:30. For more information click here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

getting ready for john sandford

It's a big week for me where authors are concerned. I'll be talking with Nick Hornby, Julie Kramer and John Sandford.

John Sandford will be in Grand Rapids on Saturday October 3 at 1pm at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids for a book signing and Q & A. I'll be giving a brief introduction - but YOU can get a sneak "hear" and tune in this Wednesday night for our conversation on Realgoodwords. If you can't wait that long, take a look at his video.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You gotta see this guy's you tube stuff!

I talked with young adult author John Green today about his latest novel "Paper Towns". It's a great book (notice I didn't say FOR YOUNG ADULTS - it's just great period) about a nerd.

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life--dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge--he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues--and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

Besides his novel, I had the chance to look into John's "web presence", and what a present it was! (okay, kinda lame, forgive me)

One of the things John is known for is the video letters to his brother Hank. They are called the nerdfighters, and you should totally check it out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

When is it okay to fall? Or fail for that matter?

Has falling or failing ever led YOU right to where you were supposed to be?

There are many stories about the burdens of parenthood - the complexities of the bonds of mothers and daughters. There are many stories about divorce and how it affects the kids. But mostly, those kids are little or in their teenage years. And the complexities of the mother daughter bonds are not about the messy times when your mother is falling apart right before your eyes, as you yourself are about to fall apart. Laura Moriarty's new novel "While I'm Falling" tackles these issues with a fresh perspective. Bestselling author Jodi Picoult had this to say about "While I'm Falling":

While I'm Falling deftly captures the moment a child realizes that growing up means being responsible for your parents' mistakes—and preventing yourself from making the same ones. Laura Moriarty keeps getting better and better.

This week I get the chance to talk with Laura Moriarty about her new novel "While I'm Falling"- hope you can join us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tonight on Realgoodwords: After You

Say you have a best friend. This person knows you better than ANYBODY. Knows you better than your parents, your spouse....

and suddenly that person is gone.

What then? What if it turned out that you DIDN'T know that person as well as you thought?

Julie Buxbaum's new novel is "After You". It is described as:

The complexities of friendship. The unraveling of a neglected marriage. And the redemptive power of literature...Julie Buxbaum, the acclaimed author of The Opposite of Love, delivers a powerful, gloriously written novel aboutlove, family, and the secrets we hide from each other, and ourselves.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is the American Dream alive?

Picture this: fresh out of college, a star basketball player decides to NOT live in his parent's basement, but try an experiment. An experiment not in hallucinogenics but in the AMERICAN DREAM.

That's Adam Shepard.

Adam, largely in response to Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickel and Dimed" wanted to prove that the American Dream is alive and well. So he set out on an experiment. Here were the parameters of his "from scratch" life:
*He would take with him $25, a tarp, a sleeping bag, an empty gym bag and the clothes on his back

*He would take the train and be dropped somewhere randomly

*Within 365 days he had to have a furnished apartment, a car, $2500 and be in a position to move up in his job

Did he prove his point? Do you think the American Dream is still alive?

I'll be talking with Adam this week on Realgoodwords... in preparation for Adam's visit to northern Minnesota. He'll be speaking at Itasca Community College on Wednesday September 23rd at 12pm at Davies Theater on the campus of Itasca Community College.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This week's show

This week I talk with author John Shors about his latest novel "Dragon House". It's the story of Iris and Noah - two Americans in Vietnam who open a center to house and educate Vietnamese street children. Reviewers have said that the question that echoes throughout this novel is "how can we be better?"

The other book I'll feature this week is also about how to make ourselves better: whether we're a teacher, a a parent or a student. The journal of first year teacher Esme Raji Codell "Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year" has been re-published 10 years later. Described as"a rash, petite, white lady who roller-skates through the halls and insists that her fifth-graders call her "Madame Esmé." But it's not all fun and games: she introduces us to children who fling their desks and apologize in tears, and at one point, after reporting a disruptive student to her mother, who subsequently thrashes the young girl, she dry heaves into her classroom's trash can."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So it's not book-related!

I can't help it, it was pretty exciting - last week in Homer, Alaska and Tom's GIANT fish!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thanks for listening and responding

I got a great email from a listener today, about the interview I did with Jody Allen Crowe about "The Fatal Link - the Connection Between School Shooters and the Brain Damage from Prenatal Exposure to Alcohol". Thanks Gerry!

If you missed the interview, you can listen here.

Thanks once again for the great job in the interview with Jody Crow.
I'll pass on his book title to many others.
It's that time of year to head back and teach at HCC and this
information will fit right into my drug course.
Thanks once again for providing such a vital link in people's lives.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Go to where the silence is and say something

Author Amy Efaw (rhymes with Hee-Haw she told me!) told me that her mission statement as a writer came from a NPR report she heard by Amy Goodman where she said: "Go to where the silence is and say something".

In many ways both the authors on this week's Realgoodwords have done that. They are talking about what we are AFRAID to talk about. For Minnesota educator and author Jody Crowe, that silence is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and the link to school shooters. For Amy Efaw, it is young girls getting pregnant, having their babies and leaving them in motels or bathroom stalls or dumpsters.

Here's some startling findings about fetal alcohol syndrome-
A MN study identified women who were at risk for drinking during pregnancy...
the risk factors were:
College educated (most likely to drink)
Working in high level white collar jobs
Younger (college aged) or older (35-45)
Affluent (over $50,000)
Living in the Metro
As Jody said in our conversation, this is clearly NOT just a native American issue.

Amy Efaw's young adult novel "After" is about a teen who has a baby and leaves it in a dumpster. Here's some of the statistics about teenage pregnancy.
Each year almost 750,000 teenage women 15-19 become pregnant.

The U.S. has the highest rates of teen pregnancies and birth among comparable countries.

In a year, over 365 babies are found abandoned.

Both authors on this week's show are saying something. That's for sure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kids these days!

On this week's Realgoodwords I'll talk with young adult author Jay Asher. His book, "Thirteen Reasons Why" is a bestseller. The title refers to the 13 reasons why Hannah Baker killed herself. Controversial? Hell yes. Kids though, can't get enough of it. So the question is: books about teen suicide, teen pregnancy, teen drug abuse, eating disorders....teen YOU NAME IT... does it lead to MORE of the "problem"? What appeals to young adults about the darker themes like these? Earlier this year I talked with bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson about her book "Wintergirls" which had to do with eating disorders. I asked her if there was any worry on her part that her theme/subject matter would actually ENTICE an eating disorder. She told me that if you are prone to an eating disorder - EVERYTHING would spur it on - TV, magazines, Internet....all of these things exist and a book that delves into the issue doesn't mean it is glorifying the problem. Or does it?

We are not living in the days of Nancy Drew and her boyfriend Ned Nickerson anymore. These tough issues that face teens aren't going away.... and some people think that kids need to know it's okay to read REAL stories and communicate about them.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

This week on Realgoodwords

Tune in for a conversation with 2 MN authors....Susan Marks and Jim Proebstle.

Susan's new book is called Historic Photos of Minnesota. She compiled the photos, did the research and wrote the text in this fascinating new book. There are so many stories behind these fascinating photos - like the one you see on the cover to the left - women's hockey at the U of MN in the 1920s. Susan talks at length about the research process and how she came to write/compile the book.

Jim Proebstle spends his summers on Leech Lake and is the author of the mystery "In the Absence of Honor" . Last time Jim and I talked his first novel had just come out. This time he talks about how he has marketed his book and what his writer journey has been like so far.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Ever seen that movie? With Alan Arkin? And Carl Reiner? Me too.

Russia is certainly in the news a lot lately - and is ALWAYS in the mind and books of Minnesota author Robert Alexander. His third historical fiction novel in his trilogy is "The Romanov Bride" (previous books were The Kitchen Boy and Rasputin's Daughter).

"The Romanov Bride" (see a cool video/movie of the book here) is the story of the Grand Duchess Elisavyeta who is ensconced in the most lavish court in the world - the Romanovs. In that same city, Pavel is a simple village man who is moved to overthrowing the Romanovs when his young bride is killed during a peaceful political demonstration.

I asked Robert about the current climate of Russia and President Obama's trip there. He told me,
"There are 4 things to remember about Russia. 1. they are hard negotiators 2. in Russian NO is the BEGINNING of negotiation 3. They are drama queens from the get-go. 4. Russians are fearful of us; there is a central premise that the U.S. has a hidden agenda to destroy Russia."
He went on to explain this assumed agenda,
"That was sort of played up in the cold war era and in early 90's it faded away.... but after the collapse of the Soviet Union we didn't do much to help it get up. In fact, we offered NATO membership to 1/2 of central Europe and 1/2 of the former allies of Russia... but we haven't offered NATO membership to Russia itself."

Tune in for our conversation this week - about the book - about the various names he writes under and his mix-up with Robert Zimmerman late at night on the phone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Help celebrate the new Pequot Lakes library!

Pequot lakes is a small town in Minnesota, population 1956. It's a little over 20 miles north of Brainerd. You'll notice it because of the bobber water tower right in the middle of town. Another thing you should know about Pequot Lakes is their cool library. It's a volunteer library, run by 30 volunteers. There are over 1800 card holders in the library, and they average 50 patrons a day!

They are in the process of change at the Pequot Lakes library! Soon they'll be moving to a new location and this weekend, to raise money for this move, they are holding a book sale.

It'll take place Friday July 3rd from 7:30-4pm and Sunday July 5th from 7:30am-3pm. They are located in the Pequot Lakes city hall at 4638 County Rd. 11. (It's the big white house with the pillars!)

Diet? Milkshake! Diet? Milkshake! Diet? Milkshake...

It's the eternal struggle, isn't it? Succumb to your summer desires of cool ice cream coupled with chocolate sauce or fruit or caramel or basil/lemon, served in a metal cup OR stick to your new food attitude, where milkshakes, while not exactly "evil", are not really on the program.

This week's Realgoodwords battles it out between body image issues and milkshakes. Okay, not really. But somehow, these 2 interviews work well together, kinda like peanut butter and chocolate.

Adam Ried is a cookbook and kitchen equipment junkie. He's the food columnist for the Boston Globe Magazine and the equipment expert for American's Test Kitchens and Cook's Country from America's Test Kitchens.

His new book is "Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes" and along with the standard chocolate milkshake Adam's got some doozies like Shot in the Dark Coffee Shake and Peanut Molasses Shake and Sweet Corn and Basil Shake. Tune in for some fun conversation and memories of those perfect shakes. See the photo of one of Adam's favorite's: the Lemon Buttermilk Shake. See here for the recipe.

Stephanie Klein
is a very popular blogger who "tells things straight up and unfiltered". Her first memoir came from that, called "Straight Up and Dirty" and is being made into a 1/2 hour comedy for television. Her latest is another memoir, this time about her childhood as an overweight kid. It's called "Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp".

I asked Stephanie about being a mom and how she is going to deal with weight issues and her own kids.

She said, "I don't just tell them they are beautiful - I make sure they see that I tell myself that I'm beautiful - even if I don't feel it."

I asked Stephanie if changing the negative self talk to positive helped her in weight loss. I expected her to say yes. Instead she said,
"I don't think petting my arms and complimenting them on what a great job they are doing staying attached to my shoulders worked for me. The whole 'love yourself in the mirror' didn't work for me. What actually worked was seeing my before pictures when I was a kid and really looking at them and taking a step back. Just look at that form, that person, that girl - if she were your daughter...is she beautiful? I look at them and say YES! You WERE beautiful, you were pretty, you were energetic, you had this amazing personality. I wished that someone would have focused on that and focused on bringing out all of my talents instead of "you're the fat girl" and my father puffing out his cheeks at me at the dinner table when I'd go in for seconds. Because I think it all of my energy were focused on singing or painting or learning photography I wouldn't be so apt to sit down in the front of the television and eat a third bowl of cereal."

Or a third milkshake? It's almost the 4th of July, I think ONE milkshake is okay. Don't you?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If only we could all learn to share...

On this week's Realgoodwords we're learning how to share our toys with others. No really. Janelle Orsi is the co-author of the new book "Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Save Money". Janelle is a lawyer and in the book she offers ideas on how we can share with our neighbors, friends and families in all kinds of ways. Like:

-share tools....lawnmowers, saws, rototillers, washer & dryer, exercise equipment, you name it.
-share food.... agree to grow certain things and then trade with your community. Start a potluck club. Make lunch together at your workplace.
-share services....like babysitting - nannies, dog walkers

On the Sharing Solutions blog they talk about a way you can share your stuff online. See SwapTree for more information.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

cool video from MN author Scott Muskin

Authors are doing really interesting things online to promote their books... check out MN author Scott Muskin's videos!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

books coming up on RGW

MN author Scott Muskin will be on Realgoodwords next week.. I'm enjoying reading his novel, "The Annunciations of Hank Meyerson, Mama's Boy and Scholar". It's making me laugh!

The Star Tribune said, "That's where the delight in Muskin's writing lies, in the lightning-quick shift from micro to macro and back again....You'll see yourself, and your loved ones, in his near pitch-perfect characters."

Also next week is author Rachel Simon (She wrote "Riding the Bus with My Sister") and her new book, "Building a Home With My Husband - A Journey Through the Renovation of Love". Author Daniel Gottlieb said, "This book is a treasure the likes of which I never expected. Rachel Simon is a great writer and has incredible skill. She is a wise soul." I'm hoping this one is a how-to book!

What are YOU reading?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wednesdays with Willard

This week on Realgoodwords you'll hear about a couple of very different books....Duluth author and judge Mark Munger talks with me about his book "Mr. Environment: The Willard Munger Story". This is a comprehensive biography about one of the most influential legislators in Minnesota state history.

Former MN governor Arne Carlson said "He unleashed the notion that the legislature could listen to and use new ideas in the areas of the environment and conservation."

My other guest is Meg Waite Clayton. I'll talk with Meg about "The Wednesday Sisters: A Novel". It's the story of a group of young mothers who meet in the park weekly and start writing. We being the story in the late 1960's in California and see the changes in history through their eyes - the first man on the moon - the Vietnam War - the Women's Movement....

"This generous and inventive book is a delight to read, an evocation of the power of friendship to sustain, encourage, and embolden us" Karen Joy Fowler, author of "The Jane Austen Book Club"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

hockey and intrigue in a small town

Bryan Gruley is my guest on Realgoodwords this week. He's the Chicago bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and he's just published his first novel, "Starvation Lake - A Mystery".

Set in small town, lower upper peninsula Michigan, Gus Carpenter is the editor of the town's paper, and a former hockey player who grew up there. We all know the importance of hockey to our towns in Minnesota, and the great holiday of the state high school hockey tournaments.... it's the same for Starvation, Michigan. Gus in fact, has always been haunted by that final game, that he, as goalie, lost for his team. Or so everyone makes him believe.

"Starvation Lake" is a dark mystery. There's humor and friendship and family and hockey, but at the core, there's a sinister story here that keeps you turning pages. Critics have said,

"Smashing debut thriller … a story so gripping that you’ll probably devour it in one gulp—like the heavenly sounding egg pie served at Audrey’s Diner." Chicago Tribune

"Outstanding… a tale of violence and betrayal that will remind many of Dennis Lehane." Publisher's Weekly.

To get a sneak peek, check out Bryan's cool website for the book here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MN author Nancy Crocker

I "met" Minnesota author Nancy Crocker through facebook. I know, I know, the dreaded facebook. What would Mark Bauerlein think? But here's the thing: facebook is not all quizzes to see which superhero you are or that girl you sat behind in Mrs. Kramer's 5th grade math class. It's a good way for authors to get their books out there...and for people like me to find them.

"Billie Standish Was Here" (a finalist for the 2007 MN Book Award) is classified as a young adult book. But that's hooey as far as I'm concerned. A good book is a good book, even if the main character is 11 years old.

Billie Standish is a girl living in rural Missouri who badly needs a friend. When most of her town evacuates when the river threatens to crest, Billie finds what she's been needing in Miss Lydia. So what if she's 70 years older? A friend is a friend. I won't give anything away here, but pretty early on Billie suffers through a shocking event. But this isn't an afterschool special that defines her by this event. Billie grows through this experience. Tune in for my conversation this week on Realgoodwords. Heard Wednesdays from 6-7pm and Sundays 9-10am.

From Booklist
Proving that the heavily mined "child and elderly neighbor change each other's lives" premise isn't completely dry, Crocker's sturdy debut explores the deep and subtle reaches of a friendship that blooms between 11-year-old Billie and her across-the-road neighbor Miss Lydia. Set in a small town several generations ago, this is anchored by three pivotal acts—one driven by hate, one by love, and one a complex combination of the two.The story covers five years of Billie's struggles to get out from under the thumb of her spiteful, abusive mother, and Lydia's efforts to erase the guilt of two terrible secrets as, with agonizing slowness, her aging body fails. Crocker skillfully lays out the heart-deep regard that develops between these two perceptive, spirited females (Lydia is occasionally given to hilariously salty language) as life throws them severe challenges that they weather with each other's help. In Billie, the author creates a narrator whose credible mix of naïveté, resilience, and uncertain but budding sense of self-respect that will speak to young readers. This easily transcends its familiar themes and locale

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is the digital age stupefying our kids?

That's what author Mark Bauerlein thinks. Did you know that the average teenager does 1742 text messages PER MONTH! Does this alarm you? Do you think it says something about the next generation? Mark Bauerlein is the author of "The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future", he's one of my guests on this week's Realgoodwords. See what the New York Times had to say here.

Is this just the same old tirade of old people? Didn't they say the same thing about Elvis Presley? Or pong? Let us know what you think!

Watch the author talk about his book here. And tune in this week on Wednesday from 6-7pm and Sunday 9-10am. Or see the Realgoodwords archive later in the week....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Childhood and identity

This week on Realgoodwords are two new memoirs from women who are, to some extent, both writing about identity. Laura M. Flynn grew up in San Fransisco with a mentally ill mother. Her story shows not only the onset of schizophrenia and how it affects a family, but it shows the ordinary-ness of it; the good moments as well as the bad. Her father eventually divorced her mother, but left the three girls with their mother, because as she told me, "he didn't know that she wouldn't get better". Laura M. Flynn's "Swallow the Earth" was a finalist for a MN Book Award. The Washington Post wrote:

Despite all, Flynn's childhood contained love. Her salvation came through her father's protectiveness, her closeness with her sisters, and the imaginative world the three girls created together.

While Laura M. Flynn is examining her childhood to more fully understand who she is as an adult. In Mei-Ling Hopgood's "Lucky Girl" she, as an adult, comes to meet and understand the parents who gave her up for adoption in Taiwan. Kirkus Review's writes:

Hopgood writes with humor and grace about her efforts to understand how biology, chance, choice and love intersect to delineate a life. A wise, moving meditation on the meaning of family, identity and fate.

May is National Mental Health Awareness month and the Grand Rapids chapter of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is bringing Laura Flynn to Grand Rapids to speak - she'll be at the MacRostie Art Center Tuesday May 19th at 6:30pm. She'll be in Brainerd the next day, signing her book at BookWorld. And in June she's part of the Brainerd Public Library's Brown Bag lunch series.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

who inspired Bob Dylan?

Last fall at KAXE we had the great great fortune to host the StoryCorps project in Grand Rapids. We not only got the chance to meet different people in our community, see the effects of listening to loved ones and watch the StoryCorps crew in action, but we also got the chance to show them what Northern Minnesota is all about. Sometimes it takes showing people where you live to really get how unique it is. I'm grateful to StoryCorps for their visit that reminded me why I live here.

Alex Kelly, one of the StoryCorps faciliatators and I went to Hibbing one day. We saw the Greyhound bus museum, the Hull-Rust mine pit and we did a "Dylan" tour.

Luckily, I have my connections (thank you Aaron Brown) and he was able to spice up our Dylan tour. We journeyed to the home of B.J. Rolfzen, Bob Zimmerman's high school English teacher. Over the years many historians, documentarians and fans have contacted Mr. Rolfzen because Dylan has cited him as a great influence on his writing. On Realgoodwords you can overhear our conversation with B.J. here.

For the past five years Hibbing has held "Dylan Days" as a celebration of the influence of the Iron Range on Bob Dylan's career. Held around his birthday, every year there's the hopes that Bob Dylan may actually show up to some of the events. This year is a high school reunion that may attract him. Who knows? Stranger things have happened, like Doug MacRostie getting ahold of Dylan's cell phone number and leaving him messages.

Sometimes I wonder why towns celebrate their giant balls of twine or their local legends - either people who left town at a young age or never really want to admit where they came from. But lately I get it. It's how we show our pride and it's an excuse to get together and build community. It's not necessarily about Judy Garland or Bob Dylan. It's about celebrating this place where we live...

From the Dylan Days website:
The following excerpt from the May edition of Rolling Stone's Douglas Brinkley interview with Dylan explains why we organize Dylan Days:

“I ask Dylan if he minds people visiting Hibbing or Duluth or Minneapolis searching for the root of his talent. ‘Not at all,’ he surprisingly says. ‘That town where I grew up hasn’t really changed that much, so whatever was in the air before is probably still there. I go through once in a while coming down from Canada. I’ll stop there and wander around.’"

Dylan Days is May 21st - 24th check here for the complete schedule.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Interviews and reading for the week ahead

I'm reading Michael Perry's latest book "Coop - A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting". What is it with chickens? Seems like everybody's doing it! Michael Perry gives readers his very real, back to the basics, life in rural Wisconsin. Read his description of his concern over his father's new "lifestyle".
My father recently joined the community choir. Sounds innocuous enough - sweet, even - but my immediate reaction was to phone my brother John and ask if he thought Dad might be smoking reefer. Four decades I've known my father, and he has led an avowedly quiet life. He works hard, he works quiet, he works above all to avoid any public act more conspicuous than renewing his driver's license. And now suddenly he's out there on tour (Chetek...Bloomer...Sand Creek... it's all a crazy blur), ascending the risers to raise his voice in public.

Tune in this week for my conversation with Michael Perry.

Also on the docket, for a different reason, is the vampire tween novel "Betrayed: House of Night Book Two". My thirteen year old friend Erika (maybe you've heard her excellent cohosting on the Friday morning show with us?) asked me to be her reading partner for a class project. Little did I know I'd be entering the odd world of teenage vampires. Except for the bloodsucking, the all night school sleep during the day thing and markings, these kids have the same issues facing any others. Issues of acceptance, trust, romance, independence, responsibility and friendship. Did I mention bloodsucking? Yup, bloodsucking! This is our final week of the project.

Another interview coming up this week is with Erik Reece. Erik's new book is called "An American Gospel - On Family, History, and the Kingdom of God".
Reece describes how he found a Christianity he could embrace in Jefferson's famous Jefferson Bible, which stripped out all references to the miracles and divinity of Jesus, emphasizing instead his teachings about how we should behave towards one another in the here and now.
I also watched a very literary movie last week, while I was off on my writing retreat. I'd seen the movie before, but I watched the commentary with Helen Hunt. The movie is called "Then She Found Me" and it stars Helen and is also written and directed by her. I found Helen's comments a fascinating look at an artist. You can see the trailer here:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What it means to be a modern military wife

Alison Buckholtz
joins me on Realgoodwords this week - she's married to an active duty Navy pilot who never thought she'd be in the military world. Her new book is called "Standing By - The Making of an Military Family in a Time of World". She says,

"For me it was really about learning how to ask for help- and accept help when it was offered. That wasn't something that came naturally to me... I don't think that I could have survived deployment without that social safety net (other military spouses)"

finding ALTARS everywhere with Barbara Brown Taylor

I had a great conversation with Barbara Brown Taylor about her new book "An Altar in the World - A Geography of Faith". A former minister, she now teaches and has written about looking at everyday, not just Sundays, as an altar of sorts. She begins the book with this poem called CAPABLE FLESH. You can hear it live tonight at 6pm, CST here or Sunday morning at 9am. Or check the Realgoodwords archive.

The tender flesh itself
will be found one day
-quite surprisingly-
to be capable of receiving,
and yes, full
capable of embracing
the searing energies of God.
Go figure. Fear not.
For even at its beginning
the humble clay received
God's art, whereby
one part became the eye,
another the ear, and yet
another this impetuous hand.
Therefore, the flesh
is not to be excluded
from the wisdom and the power
that now and ever animates
all things. His life-giving
agency is made perfect,
we are told, in weakness-
made perfect in the flesh.
-St. Irenaeus (c.125-c.210)
adapted and translated by Scott Cairns

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

William Kent Krueger this week

Tune in for a discussion of William Kent Krueger's latest, "Red Knife".

William and I talked about the character that he writers about Cork O'Connor. Cork is half Irish-American, have Ojibwe. A former sheriff who is now a private investigator, he's a man that embodies the conflict that we often see in Northern Minnesota. As William said, "a fiction writer is always thinking where is the conflict?"

In "Red Knife" violence and how we deal with and handle it is at the core. Cork O'Connor has been called in to help with a conflict that concerns a man whose daughter has died due to meth addiction and the Ojibwe gang, Red Boyz, that supplied her with the drug.

Publishers Weekly called Red Knife "outstanding... Simply and elegantly told, this sad story of loyalty and honor, corruption and hatred, hauntingly carves utterly convincing characters, both red and white, into the consciousness."

William Kent Krueger is going to be speaking at Ironworld in Chisholm this Saturday

April 18: "For Love or Money: Six Reasons to Write," with "Cork O'Connor" series author William Kent Krueger
An Oregon native and former logger, construction worker and four-time Minnesota Book Award winner, Krueger will discuss both his work and why he chose to become a writer, including the compelling reasons for setting his novels on the Iron Range.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book events coming up in Northern Minnesota

Coming up this weekend (April 10-11th) in the Brainerd/Nisswa area is the first annual Minnesota Author's weekend at Grandview Lodge featuring Doug Wood, Will Weaver and Mary Casanova. Some of the topics include Doug Wood's "Earth Songs and Earth Stories" and Will Weaver's "Pathways to Publication - But First Comes the Writing" and Mary Casanova's "No Less Than Stars".

Bestselling Minnesota mystery writer William Kent Krueger will be at Ironworld in Chisholm on Saturday April 18th from 2-3pm. Krueger writes mysteries set on the Iron Range featuring Cork O'Connor. The latest is "Red Knife". Publisher's Weekly called Red Knife "outstanding... Simply and elegantly told, this sad story of loyalty and honor, corruption and hatred, hauntingly carves utterly convincing characters, both red and white, into the consciousness."

Coming up Tuesday April 21st at the Grand Rapids Area Library there will be a noontime tribute to author Bill Holm for National Poetry Month. From 12-1:30 area writers and fans of Bill Holm will gather to read excerpts from his work. Later that evening, at 5:30 at Brewed Awakenings coffeehouse in Grand Rapids there will be a celebration of Itasca Community College's publication "Spring Thaw". You are invited to come listen to excerpts from the publication as well as share your own poetry.