Monthly Archives: June 2013

MCLEAN AND EAKIN, BOOKSELLERS

Indie Booksellers almost always captivate me, put me under their spell. Last week I had a few minutes at one of the very best. McLean and Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, MI. Wow! What a place! Not only is it a place filled with terrific books, so many of them. It is also brimming with welcoming spirit that will fill your heart with joy.

I had only a few minutes last week when I dashed in like I was being chased by the rain. Two delightful staffers gathered my scattered self. You would have thought I was their oldest customer. In moments they had a pick for me. The recommendation: The Invisible Bridge. It is a novel by Julie Orringer. A New York Times Notable Book the Chicago Tribune says it is a tale of war-torn lovers, family and survival of the luckiest rather than the fittest. Other reviewers sing its praises. It sounded like a fit for me. I bought it and left with enough McLean and Eakin newsletters for five friends waiting at a nearby restaurant.

I have my favorite bookstores: Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, Downtown Books in Apalachicola. Now I have one in my own state. Hooray!

What I am especially looking forward to is a special trip to Petoskey to spend some quality time in McLean and Eakin with the books and the people. In the meantime they have a website that will have you salivating. www.mcleanandeakin.com It is so complete and easy-to-use that it could keep anyone out of trouble for some time. It may cause us to buy more books and that is a good thing.

Some piece of information you absolutely need is on this website. For example, I learned that one of my favorite authors Ivan Doig had a new book out last year, and I totally missed it. He writes great stories about interesting family relationships, and the characters usually live in Montana, a place I love to go to in books. I love to be there in person, too, but it is far away.

A very special thanks to the staff. They treated me like a visiting dignitary rather than a person who……… Well, I’ll leave that to your imagination. I am so looking forward to my next visit.

Please let us know about your favorite bookstores. Tell us about the one that excites and calms you at the same time.

THE JOY OF READING JANISSE RAY

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Here’s a shout out for Festival of Faith and Writing 2014 to be held April 10-12, 2014 in Grand Rapids, MI. The organizers of this wonderful writing conference have recently announced Janisse Ray, writer, naturalist and environmental activist, as an addition to the roster of speakers. http://festival.calvin.edu/

I am a huge fan and cannot wait to meet her in person. I first encountered her writing in a book entitled Between Two Rivers: Stories From the Red Hills to the Gulf. The essays in this book (by Janisse and others) made me fall in love with the terrain of the Red Hills area of North Florida and it’s flora and fauna. My husband and I have explored many of the places written about in this interesting book.

I am now reading her most recent book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. I learn about seed saving and some of the people who lead this revolution with their fingers in the dirt. She discusses issues of food safety, food politics, plant sex and much more. Nearly every essay is a story about real people, and she makes the words on the page sing their reality for all of us. Her writing is filled with energy and fun.

I believe available, sustainable, nutritious food is worth caring about. I want to learn more.

Janisse Ray has published a number of books. Over the past few years I have purchased several at Downtown Books in Apalachicola, Florida. This cozy little shop is a favorite of mine. http://downtownbooksandpurl.com

Janise is the author of Drifting Into Darien. A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River. She is a native of southern Georgia. When I read this book, I journeyed down the river with Janisse and her friends. I saw the area through her eyes.

Her book of poetry, A House of Branches, holds a place of honor on my desk. Her poems transport me into the natural world. They speak enjoyment, inspiration and beauty. Hers is a language I want to learn.

She has written other books. You will want to discover her writing for yourself. Her words and ideas have added a new dimension to the joy I find in reading and writing about specific places. She is an inspiration and a model for me. I am grateful and excited to live the hope that I will meet her next year.

Here is her link. janisseray.weebly.com

First Post

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When I saw the picture of this antique wardrobe posted by one of my many Iowa friends on Facebook (from Broad Street Market at Carter Station), I couldn’t get enough of seeing it. Each day at first, and then every few days, for what must have been two weeks, I would give it a look and simply enjoy its beauty. Soon I imagined that a character in one of my unpublished novels (the one I’m currently trying to find an agent to represent) who was a cabinet maker, had built it. The year was right. And then, one day, I saw clearly two little black boys with bright eyes peering out from the floor of the wardrobe.

In many of the author interviews I read, the interviewer asks the author where she gets her ideas. Authors seem not to like this question. I don’t blame them. I believe writers are always grateful for inspiration wherever it is found. There is no certainty for what will drill deep into the well of interest for any particular writer. Some ideas seem to keep growing. They make me think of Jack and the Beanstalk. What will I find at the top?

So I’m off searching materials about the underground railroad, contraband, Copperheads and the writings of women on the prairie during the Civil War. It’s so much fun. A finished short story with a working title “The Wardrobe” is hopefully in my future. Maybe soon, I’ll have a paragraph or two to share in the Writings section of this blog.