Book Review: Going Coastal

This review is not by me, but was written by a poet friend of mine, Jan Chronister. She reviewed “Going Coastal: An Anthology of Lake Superior Short Stories.” One of my short stories is in the book and I helped shepherd the project to life.

The “Going Coastal” anthology sporting its snazzy Northeastern MN Book Awards seal.

Full disclosure: we exchanged books for honest reviews. You can find my review of “Decenia,” Jan’s book of poetry, on Goodreads.

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I’m a poet and rarely write poems longer than a page, so I find short stories intimidating. The stories in Going Coastal proved to me what I have been missing as a reader. Not only am I awed by the talent and craft it takes to create such prize-winning stories, but the time I invested in reading the anthology has rewarded me with new knowledge and insights.

Especially impressive are two young authors, Teresa Allison-Price and Maxwell Reagan, whose stories are their first published pieces. Without reading their bios, I would never have guessed this fact. After reading Johnna Suihkonen’s “What a Fire Weighs,” I will never look at an agate the same way again. Her metaphorical piece with its poetic feel reached out to me. Marie Zhuikov’s “Water Witch” kept me mesmerized with its well-paced narrative and intriguing subject matter. “The Urge for Going” should be required reading for anyone planning a trip up the North Shore. Following in the steps of Phil Fitzpatrick’s protagonist will deepen the experience and give every stop special meaning.

Two stories brought me to tears. I have always felt the natural world was where we should worship and Evan Sasman’s “The Painting” reinforced my belief. “Superior Mordant” by Judy Budreau pulled me in and had well-developed characters I could relate to.

Eric Chandler’s “The Heart Under the Lake” could only be written by someone who loves Lake Superior and the lands around it. It is a satisfying, well-crafted coming of age story that blends science with verbal artistry and maritime history. It was a delight to read.

I sensed autobiographical elements in many of these stories. That, admittedly, is one reason writers write. Another reason, perhaps not always acknowledged, is that they hope to enable readers to discover (or rediscover) thoughts and emotions that are often hidden under the cares of daily living. I’m glad I spent time with this collection that fosters self-reflection through superb short stories.

Author Reading: North Shore Readers and Writers Festival

NS Writers Fest logoI’m going to meander up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Grand Marias, Minnesota, this November. I’ve been asked to give a reading as part of a panel of local writers during a lunch session of the North Shore Readers and Writers Festival on November 9.

I’ll be reading an excerpt of my Lake Superior-inspired story from the “Going Coastal” anthology along with two of my favorite local writers: Felicia Schneiderhan (“Newlyweds Afloat”), and Eric Chandler (“Hugging This Rock: Poems of Earth & Sky, Love & War”).

Best of all, this is a free event! You can bring your own lunch and attend at no cost, but you do need to register through the festival website. There are also options to buy lunch.

The festival looks like an awesome way to meet published authors and learn from them. Check out the course schedule and see if anything strikes your fancy. All the classes are available ala carte, so that keeps costs down.

Wisconsin Public Radio Interview – Holiday Reads

love-books-1Greetings! I had the privilege of being interviewed last week on the local Wisconsin Public Radio affiliate, along with Julie Gard, a poetry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and Julie Buckles, the public relations person for Northland College in Ashland, Wis.

The show is hosted by Danielle Kaeding, now a full-fledged reporter for KUWS Radio (91.3 FM), who assisted me when she was but a college student and I had a radio show for work. Danielle hosts “Hear Me Out,” an hour-long show every Friday morning. She asked us what books we recommend for holiday gifts and holiday reading. (During all that spare time you have during holiday break – right!?)

In my role on the board of Lake Superior Writers (a local writers’ group), I always like to feature our member writers and other local authors when the topic of books comes up. And this interview was no exception. Between the three of us, we hit many of the most recent books produced locally. I only wish we would have had more time to highlight even more authors.

Our interview is featured in the first half-hour of the show. You can listen here.

Oh, and if you need a little romance during your holiday, don’t forget about my books.

Happy Reading!

Radio Interview About My Books

Hello — Life has been sweeping over me like a tidal wave recently, but I was still able to make time for an interview about my novels on a community radio station. Follow this link to hear my interview yesterday on KUMD’s Minnesota Reads show (and discover why I’m nervous to have my parents read my books).

I was honored to be included in the show, which airs every Thursday morning at 8:15 a.m. Tune in!

I’m Somebody Now!

Web ImageI just finished creating my author web site. I’m so excited – I feel like Steve Martin’s character Navin in the movie “The Jerk,” when he finds his name in the phone book for the first time:

Navin R. Johnson: The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!

Harry Hartounian: Boy, I wish I could get that excited about nothing.

Navin R. Johnson: Nothing? Are you kidding? Page 73 – Johnson, Navin R.! I’m somebody now! Millions of people look at this book everyday! This is the kind of spontaneous publicity – your name in print – that makes people. I’m in print! Things are going to start happening to me now.

I have my own web site! I’m somebody! Whether or not things start happening because of it depends, I guess, on my efforts to make it visible (hence this blog posting, heh heh).

I’ve been my own Realtor, divorce lawyer, tax preparer, and now web designer. Of these, I am most proud of the web designer title. Creating the site was my New Year’s resolution, and it took this long for me to decide what to say and to work through all the technical difficulties associated with it.

But it’s up, it’s out in the world, even better than the phone book! If you’d like to know more about me and my writing, please take a look at http://www.marieZwrites.com. You can even pre-order my new eco-mystic romance novel, “Plover Landing,” due out this summer.