Come celebrate the paperback release!

Hometown Book Release Event

The initial release of Once Upon a River was a wild event, and so for the paperback release we’ll keep it calm and cool and relaxing.

Two Events this June

The cover of this book says that Once Upon a River is a National Bestseller.  Go figure!  Well, that’s just fine, and now that it is coming out in paperback, I want to invite all of you to celebrate \

June 3, Sunday, 3-6pm Reception

Old Dog Tavern, 402 East Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo, MI (269) 381-5677

  •  Come in and get your book signed and have a drink and a snack with the gang.
  • Listen to Steve Barrett and Leonard Duke play fine acoustic music.
  • Meet folks from the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition, who will be there to talk about what their organization is doing to help get PCBs out of the Kalamazoo River.
  •  Michigan News Agency will be selling books

June 4, Monday, 6-8:30 pm

Comstock Township Library      6130 King Highway  (269) 345-0136

 6:00  pm  River Walk

with BJC and Gary Wager of the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition (meet outside the library at 5:45)

7:00 Author Reading, Talk, Q&A

at the Comstock Township library, followed by a book signing. Come on in and say hello to me, my friends and family, including her mom, Susanna Campbell.

Kazoo Books will sell Books at this event.

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The Night for Notable Michigan Books

We all had a great time in Lansing, Michigan last Saturday when Michigan luminaries got together and shared our love of books.  I somehow got tapped to moderate a panel with the two heavyweights, National Book Award fiction winners, Jaimy Gordon (Lord of Misrule) and Jesmyn Ward (Salvage the Bones.) The event was at the Library of Michigan and darling Christopher took some photos.


Here we are, the three of us, Jaimy in the middle, up on stage in front of the assembled crowd, which included former governor Jim Blanchard, among other Michigan notables. I was very happy to be asking the questions rather than answering them, and if you want to know whether two glasses of wine affects my ability to moderate, well, you will have to click on this link to the videotaped interview. (I’m not recommending it, but am merely offering it


Chris took this photo of all of us assembled on stage. I was a notable author this year, so I’m in the photo, while Jaimy Gordon was notable in 2010.

1st row, left to right:  Susan Whitall, Kevin John, Sara Fitzgerald, Thomas Wilson, M. Christine Byron, Bruce Kopytek, Jack Dempsey, Jane Shapiro

2nd row, left to right:  Dan Johnson, Bill Vlasic, BONNIE JO CAMPBELL, Ellen Airgood, Scott Sparling, Keith Taylor, Anthony Youn and Colleen Murray Fisher

Though very notable, Jesmyn’s book was not officially a Michigan Notable book as she only lived in Michigan while she was getting her MFA in creative writing at U of M and she writes about her native Mississippi.

I was so happy to snag some extra tickets to share with my friends.  Here are some of them:


Here are my girl pals Susan Ramsey and Jamie Blake, who were great company in the car on the way there. (Chris drove, so we chatted).


And it was great fun to have my Lansing bookselling pals here too, Scott Harris (owner of Everybody Reads) and Randall Glumm (former owner of Way Station Books). These guys make any party funner.


Here’s a photo Chris took of Sandra Seaton (playwright and librettist), Peter Blickle (Jaimy’s Peter) and Jaimy Gordon.


Here I am talking to Governor Blanchard.  By now I’ve had another glass of wine, so I just kept grinning at him. The thing behind us is a little rock garden

Here’s a photo in which Jesmyn is smiling. I think she is not drinking before going on stage. Smart gal!

And this is another photo of Jesmyn, here looking thoughtful.

If you haven’t heard enough about this event or the Michigan Notable Books program, here is Bill Castanier’s column about the evening’s event:

And here is the Library of Michigan’s official site listing their twenty choices.,1607,7-140-54574_39583-248258–,00.html#2012%20MNB%20Title%20List

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Story Week – Columbia College – Chicago

What a great time was had by all at the 25th Annual Story Week, eight days of events put together by and supported by the Fiction Dept. at Columbia College. The topic this year was “Surviving the American Dream.” Chicago was alive with fiction.  I felt fortunate to be a special guest, along with Heidi W. Durrow, Dagoberto Gilb, Young Jean Lee, Samuel Park, John Sayles, Christine Sneed, Nami Mun and Patricia Ann McNair, along with the whole fiction dept. at Columbia. Here’s the link:

If you missed it this year, be sure to catch it in March 2013.


The Columbia folks put me up in a great penthouse apartment, which afforded me a 270 degree view of the city, and because the weather was unseasonably warm, I got to hang around outside on the roof. The above photo is taken by Jason Pettus of the Chicago Literature and Photography Center, and you can hear his 45-minute unedited interview with me here:


Here’s a night photo I managed to inexpertly take with my own camera.


I shared my fabulous penthouse apartment with an artist couple, Loy McWhirter and Bruce Greene.  Loy McWhirter is an artist and musician who was at Columbia for the Book Arts Department, and she showed me her homemade scrabble game. Isn’t it gorgeous?  Bruce Greene is a fiddler from North Carolina. Here’s his old tyme music hall of fame page:


This is a photo with Cyn Vargas, one of the brilliant Columbia College graduate students who took my mini-course on modular fiction.


This was a fun bunch of Columbia students who stayed after my reading to apply American Salvage Tattoos.

Here’s a big fan, Alex Kretchmar, who wanted a signature, but didn’t have his book with him.

And then there were the official events.  Don DeGrazia interviewed me in the afternoon, and we talked about sex, among other things.  In the evening, Donna Seaman, Booklist editor, and interviewer extraordinaire, raked me over the coals and made me answer the hard questions. (Actually, I’m kidding. Donna Seaman, who has a radio show on WBEZ, is the smartest reviewer and kindest person in the literary world)    Also, it was great to be on a panel with Patricia McNair, Christine Sneed, Samuel Park, and Nami Mun. I’m wondering why I didn’t get any photos of those events.

Samuel Park did get some photos and he put up a great blog about Story Week that includes a detailed account of our panel:

I want to thank Randy Albers and the whole fiction department for making Story Week happen, and for giving me the opportunity to work with Columbia’s graduate and undergraduate students. Cheers!

Below is one more photo from my penthouse, showing how the El Train looks.


And here’s Unca Terry on the roof, looking over Terry’s Alma mater, Roosevelt University.

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Oakland University visit

Oakland University is a lovely place to visit!  The folks there brought me in to visit some classes (Jeff Chapman’s Advanced fiction and Susan Hawkin’s Literature class) and then give a reading.  I was taking a lot of cold medicine,  and so I may have said some wacky things during the Q&A.   After my reading, Gladys Cardiff generously escorted me to dinner at Rojo Mexican Bistro in Rochester, along with Dawn Newton and two smart students.  Here we are posed in front of a mural in the restaurant Gladys Cardiff (back left with turquoise necklace) was getting her PhD at Western Michigan University at the same time I was getting my MFA; Dawn Newton (back right) and I are pals from numerous writing events; in the blue shirt is Liz Silverman and in the red sweater is Christina McDaniel. I slept very well in the Royal Park Hotel and ate delicious oatmeal with berries in the morning.

Below is a photo that James Tomlinson sent me of the two of us.  He also wrote about my reading of “Shotgun Wedding” on his blog

Thanks, James, for you thoughtful review.

While I was in Rochester, I learned that there was a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe’s there, so I was a little slower getting out of town than I would have been otherwise.  Those of you who do not live in Western Michigan may not be aware that we do not have a single Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods East of Ann Arbor.  Yes, we are suffering.

So I want to thank everyone at Oakland University for a great visit.

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Eating at AWP 2012 in Chicago

Okay, here’s my second WordPress blog.  I think I forgot all I learned by putting up my first blog.  I’m sharing some photos from AWP in Chicago, most of which were taken in restaurants. At home I pretty much eat the same thing every day, so it was pretty exciting to be eating fancy foods in respectable establishments.

This is taken of me and some of my brilliant former students from Pacific University by a kind stranger at The Bean in Chicago (BJC, Ellen Michaelson, Heather Sappenfield, Sue Staats.)  Below see a photo of our food at the Gage restaurant, 24 S. Michigan Avenue, we went to together.

Heather and I both had beet salads, and I wished they were more generous in proportion. Sue had a wild mushroom sandwich and a cup of soup with fries.  Ellen had a seared steak salad.

In the Gage bathroom, we found this great old sink, and all three gals washed their hands at the same time. Later we went to the Corner Bakery and ate pastries

Here Karen and I are at the great tapas restaurant Mercat a la Planxa, 638 S. Michigan.  Angela took the photo. Karen and Angela V. are from the nonprofit organization Literature For All Of Us  Below, find a close up of my bowl of trufflized turnip soup with stuff on to

The stuff on the cracker is proscuitto, fig, goat cheese, and green stuff.

The evening after taking part in the National Book Critics Circle reading, I was honored to go to dinner with some NBCC folks, in an event organized by Jane Ciabattari, and we sat in a private room at the back of a restaurant called Gioco, 1312 W. Wabash. I sat next to Bruce McPherson, who published Jaimy Gordon’s National Book award winning Lord of Misrule. Across from me was Jaimy.  On my left sat YA author Lucy Silag, and next to her sat her mom, Jane Smiley, and on the other side of Jane Smiley was Darrin Strauss (2011 NBCC winner in autobiography). Jane, Lucy, and Darrin left early to go to the Literary Death Match, in which Jane was either competing or judging.  Jaimy and Bruce also left early to go to a second dinner with other people.  Those of us who remained are pictured below.  We all loved that the doors to the private room in which we were eating became book shelves.

From left to right: Christie Cooke (who teaches at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence,Kansas), Isabel Wilkerson (winner of the 2010 NBCC award in Nonfiction), Denise Low-Weso (President of Board of Directors of AWP, Jane Ciabattari (National Book Critics Circle Vice President and organizer of NBCC AWP event), Noreen Tomassi, (Director of the Center for Fiction in NYC).

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Hello world!

Welcome to After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
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I’m new to WordPress

I’m just checking out the situation over here at WordPress, wondering if I should move from Blogger.  Here’s one of my favorite pictures.  Notice I’m wearing Converse Jack Purcell blue-tips.



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