Thursday, December 16, 2010
These are the questions that Joan Steffend found herself asking. Most of us know her as a former anchorwoman on KARE-11 news out of Minneapolis. Or host of Decorating Cents on HGTV. A redhead with a big smile and an easy laugh.
But like everyone, Joan found herself wondering where her sparkle had gone. Where was she headed?
Joan sat down and wrote a very interesting book - a picture book of sorts, but for adults. It's called "...And She Sparkled".
I talk with Joan Steffend this week on Realgoodwords and I found her charming and very real...check out the video here.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Award winning Bemidji writer Will Weaver has just published his memoir called "The Last Hunter: An American Family Album". Will's book is a sojourn through his life - connecting the stories of his youth with his adulthood, all through the lens of hunting. Will grew up near Dorset, MN... he writes of a place he knew well there:
"A railroad cleaved through our family of farms. It separated Gerry's place from mine, but the crossing, with its slivered planks and tire-burnished bolts, was a meeting spot, and the railroad bed a boy's highway. Almost daily we walked it west a mile to our grandfather's place and sometimes beyond, to the edge of town two more miles away. East took us two miles to Dorset, a town of thirty or so with a lumberyard, bait shop and cafe. Beyond Dorset was uncharted territory - the edge of the earth - so we settled for a candy bar or an ice cream cone at the cafe in Dorset, then turned back. " Chapter 6, page 55 of "The Last Hunter"Will will be signing books on Sunday December 12th at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids from 2-4pm. He's also my guest this week on Realgoodwords!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Bestselling author Adriana Trigiani is back on Realgoodwords this week talking about her grandmothers. Really, what could be better? Here's an excerpt of our conversation:
(I asked Adriana about her grandmothers and how they have influenced ALL of her writing)
"They're a big part of the rock that I keep turning over and over again. The themes that I'm interested in -- who we choose to love and partner with in life -- the creation of families ---what we choose to make by the labor of our own hands.... My grandmothers shined in all those areas so they're a source of constant inspiration but more than the inspiration I ABIDE by them. What can I say? They're in heaven now but I still feel their presence around me all the time."
She went on to talk about her Grandmother Lucy from Chisholm, MN.
"Those Minnesota roots are really something. I had the great fortune of spending time in Chisholm quite a bit of the time and I just love the people. It was fun for me to paint the landscape for people who may have never visited the Iron Range. It's a very, very special place and I think one of the reasons it really produced so many great people were those deep family ties."
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
What would you do if you heard that? For author Julie Klam, she immediately pictured the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and thought "I have to have him". She got in her car, drove to Pennsylvania to meet Otto and immediately fell in love with him. She told me, "He was the man of my dreams".
Julie Klam's book is called "You Had Me At Woof: How Dogs Taught Me The Secrets of Happiness". Check out her book trailer, and tune in to Realgoodwords this week for my conversation with her.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I taped the interview and Kristen and Rich were great. Me? Kind of a dope. Nervous. Giggly. Making jokes. Seriously, what is my problem?
So, finally, after stewing and wondering where and when to run this interview, I decided that I needed to get some courage. Showcase a book that I wouldn't normally feature on the KAXE airwaves. Even on the rebroadcast of Realgoodwords at 9am on Sunday.
Along with the "The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex" the show turned into a really interesting one - featuring the independent book publisher Chronicle Books. I talk with Brian McCullen from McSweeney's about "Art of McSweeney's" as well as Lesley M. M. Blume about "Let's Bring Back". Oh, and that sex book. Did I mention that?
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Minnesota author Gayla Marty is coming to Grand Rapids on Tuesday November 16th. She'll be speaking about her book "Memory of Trees - A Daughter's Story of a Family Farm" from 6:30-8:30. The event is sponsored by the MN Women's Woodland Network . The organization was formed to help women learn about trees, nature and caring for the land. It's a new program that is informal learning that is conversational by nature. This event is free but a RSVP is required. See here for more information.
I'll be talking to Gayla Marty again this week on Realgoodwords. We spoke last summer about "Memory of Trees" but I was so intrigued I wanted to talk about more of the issues she writes about in her book. It's been described as a story of a farm in Central Minnesota... Marty explores "the relationship of forests, farms, and migration in Western civilization is uncovered through the example of this farm in the “golden triangle” between the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. On the journey to understanding, trees provide touchstones, connections to sacred and classical history—companions leading the way forward."
Also this week on Realgoodwords - a satire of office life with Richard Hine's "Russell Wiley is Out to Lunch" a book as clever as its website. Check it out here and tune in for our conversation!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Author and professor Suzanne Berne did. In her new book "Missing Lucile: Memories of the Grandmother I Never Knew" she does research about the life of her grandmother and the times in which she lived. In our conversation Suzanne said:
"To have a grandmother who didn't have the right to vote - is a really interesting thing for a woman to think about in 2010 - that was just one of the things that I was led to as I was thinking and writing about her."My conversation with Suzanne really got me thinking about my relatives - the people that I never met but have impact on my life now. I especially thought about my great great aunt Tilly - a woman who I've always felt close to and wondered about. As I was growing up I would always ask my grandma if we could read through Tilly's postcard collection. Later in life my grandma passed these postcards on to me - and I've always read them and tried to somehow piece together Tilly's life. I feel honored to have them in my possession, especially because Tilly didn't have children to pass them on to.
Suzanne's book interested me not just in her family, but in looking more into my own.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
T.R. Reid is a veteran Washington Post reporter who has just put out the paperback version of his bestselling book "The Healing of American - A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care". This new version also contains an explanation of President Obama's health care legislation.
The premise of the book is that T.R. Reid, as a foreign correspondent, had the opportunity to look at how other countries deal with health care. The so-called "socialized medicine" that is out there. What he found was that so many places are doing it SO much better than we are. And in a lot of different manners that really don't add up to the scary moniker of "socialized medicine".
Check out T.R. Reid's column in the Washington Post called "5 Myths About Health Care" . You can also read an article and watch T.R. Reid's documentary on Frontline here called "Sick Around the World". And tune in for my conversation with T.R. Reid this week on Realgoodwords.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I know so many people who read every single Janet Evanovich novel that comes out. Including a teacher friend of mine who I recently loaned "Wicked Appetite" to. She left a post-it note on the book that said
"Great fun! Certainly it is just as healthy to laugh out loud at a silly book as it is to do yoga!"
She's talking about this new novel that features cupcake baker Lizzy Tucker. I asked Janet about cupcakes and she said:
"Cupcakes are an important part of life! Cupcakes are happy! I'm in favor of cupcakes everywhere!"
She also talked about how the setting of Salem, Massachusetts plays on the history of witches. She said she was inspired by the old tv show "Bewitched" and Aunt Clara - the witch who couldn't quite get anything right.
"This is probably my favorite book of all of the books that I've written. I love the Plum books but there's something about this book that just...I had so much freedom because of the nature and I had so much fun with Shirley because I could put this kind of strange spell on her and just have a lot of fun. "
She's talking about the spell where Shirley speaks oddly. Here's a little excerpt (from P. 84 of "Wicked Appetite" by Janet Evanovich) :
Shirley had finished the turkey leg and was working her way through the Snickers bars.
"You inherited a key" I said to her.
Shirley vigorously shook her head.
I took another look at the key ring. There were three keys and a ladybug charm on the ring.
"It's the charm" I said.
Shirley nodded. "Clam bake."
I removed the ladybug from the ring and held it in my hand. It vibrated slightly and grew warm.
Shirley pointed to the photo on the end table. "Twinkies," she said. And she counted off on three fingers, "Huey, Dewey, Louie."
"I don't get what she's trying to tell us" said Diesel.
Tune in for my conversation with Janet Evanovich, or check the Realgoodwords archive.
"I came away with this incredible admiration and respect for the men who spent their lives in near dark resting iron from the earth so that they could support their families - what they had to do to accomplish that just amazed me."
William Kent Krueger has had great success with his Cork O'Connor mysteries but this one, Vermilion Drift, is the first that has made the New York Times Bestseller list. Congrats Kent!
He'll be in Northern Minnesota on Saturday November 6 at the Village Bookstore in Grand Rapids, Howard Street Books in Hibbing at 1pm and at Woodward's in Virginia at 3pm. On Sunday November 7th he'll be at Bookin' It bookstore in Little Falls.
Tune in for our conversation on Realgoodwords. You can hear it live, audio streaming on Wednesday evenings from 6-7, Sunday mornings from 9-10 and archived online here.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
I also found out an interesting quirk about the two of them: they ALWAYS finish a book. I mean ALWAYS.
I was impressed. I myself don't.
How about you? It's an important question - almost as important as "do you dance to remember or dance to forget"....
post your answers to BOTH questions here....
The Village Bookstore will celebrate 30 years on Saturday October 23rd with 30% off of everything in the store.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Jenny Nelson's novel is called "Georgia's Kitchen" and it's the kind of book I really like. It involves food and by outward appearances it seems "lighter". It's not a throw away book that some might call "chick-lit". Jenny Nelson is deceptive in her writing - she entertains us but in the end there is more to it.
"Georgia's Kitchen" is the story of chef Georgia in New York. She's at the cusp of a great review at her restaurant - only to find out that she's been sacked because of something she didn't do. She also gets sacked by her fiancee. So what's a girl to do? Find a new opportunity in Italy at a new restaurant starting up in Tuscany. In the meantime, Georgia takes the time to figure out what she actually wants out of her life, apart from a dictatorial restaurant owner or romantic partner.
Danielle Evans is a short story writer who Ron Charles of The Washington Post described like this: "I hope Danielle Evans is a very nice person because that might be her only defense against other writers' seething envy". She's already been chosen by Salman Rushdie for the Best American Short Stories 2008 and by Richard Russo for the Best American Short Stories of 2010. Her work is described as being "a bold perspective on the experience of being young and African American in modern-day America. Here's info on a couple of the stories included in "Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self".
"Harvest" This is the story of a college student's unexpected pregnancy in the midst of other, white classmates who making extra money selling their eggs to fertility clinics. In the story "Snakes" two cousins are sent to live with their grandmother in the summertime. One is part African-American and is treated very differently than the other one. Unexpected things happen - both then and later in the cousins' lives.
Tune in tonight from 6-7pm for Realgoodwords or Sunday morning from 9-10. Later this week you can find the interviews archived here.
And check out the Washington Post's Ron Charles funny video review here.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I've always liked the idea that you end up doing exactly what you should be doing - that it's a happy accident of sorts. This is not to say that Laurie Hertzel hasn't worked hard over years to get to where she is.... but as she explores in her memoir, she didn't exactly seek out a career in journalism. It just sort of happened.
Laurie's memoir is not the kind of memoir we hear about a lot. It's really a memoir of her profession of journalism. But its appeal is far reaching - it gives us a glimpse into the history of northeastern Minnesota during Laurie's career at the Duluth News Tribune. As she told me, she was writing (during the 70s and 80s) "end of era" stories about the changes of the region.
It's NOT a happy accident that Laurie is coming to Grand Rapids next week to speak at the Grand Rapids Area Library. This was planned. She'll be coming for an event on September 28th at 7pm that is a celebration of 10 years of the library's Mississippi River location. I'll be there as part of the program to interview Laurie about her book and about reading and her day job as books editor of the Start Tribune. Readers and members of book clubs are especially encouraged to attend this event - it's in collaboration with the Village Bookstore, KAXE and the Grand Rapids Area Libary with drawings for book-ish gift baskets and favorite books of area book clubs on display and for sale.
Laurie is my guest this week on Realgoodwords... hope you get a chance to hear our conversation and I hope to see you next Tuesday!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This week on Realgoodwords I talk with Dr. Henry Emmons. He's a psychiatrist based in Minneapolis who has written a new book called "The Chemistry of Calm".
The Grand Rapids chapter of NAMI - the National Alliance of Mental Illness - is bringing him to Itasca Community College on Thursday October 7th. See here for more information on that.
Dr. Emmons and I spoke about how having stress and anxiety in your life is not necessarily a BAD thing. For instance, you SHOULD be worried about your children when you drive a vehicle - and that should push you to make sure they are always in car seats and wearing seat belts. This is GOOD anxiety. But worrying day in and day out that your child could be harmed in a car accident at any time is not so good. Dr. Emmons had this to say:
"The problem for so many people is not that they have too much stress in their lives - it's that it never lets up. And that's the big difference between what we experience nowadays and the way that I think that things used to be. People have always experienced huge stresses in their lives in some ways probably WORSE stress than we live with now. The difference is that it used to come and go - people would have a chance to completely recover from it... their bodies would reset. Their brains would have the chance to get completely back to baseline and now that doesn't happen as often. For so many reasons our brains and our bodies and our stress hormones are activated all the time and we never really have a chance to get back to our healthy baseline."
Tune in Wednesday from 6-7pm or Sunday from 9-10am. If you miss that, check the archive here.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
My guests this week are authors Mary Shideler and John Shors.
John is back on Realgoodwords; this time to talk about his new novel called "The Wishing Trees". It's the story of a father and daughter and their quest to travel the world to honor their late wife and mother. Their first stop is Japan where Maddi, the 10 year old, finds out about wishing trees. Wishing Trees are where you write down your wish in life and hang it on a tree. They are thought to be spiritual and mystical places. Maddi and her father Ian not only put their wishes in wishing trees, they follow the plan and itinerary that was left for them. Ian and Maddi's quest is at times heartbreaking but is filled with transformation and redemption. Writer Wally Lamb called it "Poignant and life-affirming".
John's novels have been bestsellers and translated into many different languages. This is due in part I think, to his dedication to his readers. John has visited with over 2400 different book clubs across the country (mostly through speakerphone) - sometimes speaking to up to 3 of them in an evening. Check his website for more information.
Itasca County resident Mary Shideler is also on this week - talking about the completion of her quest to kayak ALL the lakes of Itasca County. She's published a book about this quest called "Mary the Kayak Lady - One Woman, One Kayak, 1007 Lakes." Mary talks about where she got her sense of adventure and how she put together her beautiful new book. Duluth News Tribune writer Sam Cook wrote, "Mary Shideler possesses both a sense of wonder and a sense of purpose. Her kayaking quest should be an inspiration to all of us who dare to follow our dreams."
Mary is at the Grand Rapids Area Library talking about her quest on Thursday September 15th at 7pm.
What's your quest? What drives you? Are you like me and feel the pull of the 8 wheels and knee pads of roller derby?
You can hear Realgoodwords every Wednesday on KAXE from 6-7pm and Sunday mornings from 9-10am. Archived interviews can be found here.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Christopher McDougall is on Realgoodwords this week - talking about how the industry of running shoes has it all wrong. He happened upon a tribe of people in Mexico that take great joy in running all the time and at great lengths, with either flat homemade sandals or barefoot. His book has been wildly successful and more and more people are picking up the ideas of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's Copper Canyons. Check out Chris' video from the New York Times here. If you missed my conversation with him, you can hear it on the Realgoodwords archive here.
Chris will be in Wayzata, MN next week at the Bookcase talking about his book on Sept. 15th at 6:30pm.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I'm not someone who complains that there isn't enough to do up here in northern Minnesota, but I do miss opportunities. But this one I WILL NOT MISS! Coming up Saturday September 25th Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will be in Bemidji. A poetry reading? Sounds stuffy! But here's the thing: it's Billy Collins. The farthest thing from stuffy. He's real and funny and smart and has this way of making you forget that what he's doing is reading poetry. The New Yorker wrote "What Collins does best is turn an apparently simple phrase into a numinous moment.... a poet of plenitude,irony and Augustan grace."
You can hear Billy Collins on Saturday September 25th at the Bemidji High School Auditorium at 7:30pm. Tickets are available at the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts 218-444-5606 or at KAXE 218-326-1234.
You can also hear Billy Collins this week on Realgoodwords - Wed. September 8th(6pm) with a rebroadcast on Sunday September 12th (9am). Also on the show this week is Christopher McDougall author of "Born to Run - A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen". McDougall's book has become an international movement - with an idea at the center that the answer to pain free running and endurance is to run barefoot. YES, run barefoot. Stay tuned!
Christopher McDougall will be in Minnesota - in Wayzata at The Bookcase on Wednesday September 15th.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
This week on Realgoodwords Bryan Gruley is back with his sequel to "Starvation Lake"....it's called "The Hanging Tree". Gus Carpenter is at the center - and this time he is trying to figure out why exactly his cousin Gracie was found hanging in a shoe tree.
I've never SEEN a shoe tree in real life, but I've heard about them. Roadside America calls them the greatest embodiment of the American Spirit you can find on the highway. Hmm. Really?
Gruley's "The Hanging Tree" just begins with this bit of great American spirit.... but what follows is a fascinating look at the passion of a Michigan hockey town and the complexities of journalism in a small town. Bruce DeSilva of the Associated Press says it’s “an exceptionally well-written novel by an author who has mastered the conventions of his genre.”
Also this week I talk with the British bestselling author Harriet Evans. Her new novel is called "I Remember You" and it's what some people might call "chick-lit" but what I call a mini-vacation. In our conversation this week, Harriet and I talked about how books in this genre can be overlooked because of quaint covers or because they aren't written by men. "I Remember You" has been called "A fabulous feel-good love story of friendship lost and love regained’ by Woman and Home.
Speaking of Realgoodwords, a couple of times during our conversation Harriet used the word "rubbish". I think I may have found my new favorite word! It's useful in so many ways!
Don't have time to read? RUBBISH?
What do you have to take out when you get home? RUBBISH!
Can't remember if you renewed your membership to KAXE? RUBBISH!
There's no rubbish this week on Realgoodwords.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Here are some comments James Lee Burke had about his writing process:
I've always been fortunate - the story has always been with me. I never know where its going! I write sometimes in the middle of the night... I keep a notepad by my bed. Sometimes I get up about 4am and write.James Lee Burke's latest Dave Robicheaux novel is "The Glass Rainbow".
Shakespeare said something I never forgot, he said, "All power lies in the world of dreams" and in one sonnet he said that illumination came to him not during his sleep. He said that at dawn he woke to darkness, but illuminosity waited for him the next night. And it was out of his dreams that he fashioned his greatest poetry.
I believe that's true of every artist. That a hand other than one's own has already fashioned a story. It's in the unconscious. And it's a matter of incrementally discovering it. Leonardo said that of his sculpture - he said he never carved the figure he released it from the stone.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
What I read on my summer vacation
by Maddi Frick
The books I have most enjoyed this summer, after The Picture of Dorian Gray, were two books by New York Times Bestselling author Gail Carriger, Soulless and Changeless. I read the first in under 24 hours, and then made my dad stop at the Village Bookstore to pick up the second, which I promptly finished in another 24 hours. And no, I didn’t finish them so quickly because they’re a quick read; I literally could not put them down.
Ms. Carriger’s novels follow Alexia Tarabotti, an unmarried, quick-witted, pragmatic lady living in Victorian England. She also has no soul. The novels are set in a world where werewolves and vampires have somewhat assimilated into high society, yet proper manners are still a must.
I wouldn’t call this series a derivative of the still-strong vampire/ supernatural craze sweeping the nation, although vampire popularity may have helped these novels become so popular so quickly. I sense no whiff of epic teenage “love-me-or-I-will-die” histrionics usually found in every book in the Young Adult book section in Target (I challenge you to find a book there without black on the cover or lurking vampires within its pages).
No, Ms. Carriger has succeeded in writing a more enjoyable novel of the supernatural, dabbling in humor, sci-fi steampunk, mystery and romance. Not only were the books delightful to read, so was Ms. Carriger to interview. We talked about her inspirations, personal rules and upcoming projects; the third in the series, Blameless, releases September 1st. Listen in this Wednesday at 6pm CT to Real Good Words to hear my interview with Gail Carriger.
BONUS- I have a tendency to make my own playlists for things and I made one for researching for this interview; here it is!
100 Years From Now - Karen Elson
The Tale of Two Doves - A Whisper in the Night
Body And Soul - Billie Holiday
The Great Exchange - Thrice
Novocaine for the Soul - Eels
Vampires - Fastball
You’ve Changed - Sia
A Change Would Do You Good - Sheryl Crow
Werewolf - Cat Power