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?