Monday, May 18, 2015

Between the Lines: Politics and Community

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM







Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Adam Schuitema 

Adam Schuitema with daughter Elizabeth


Haymaker is a fictional town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula created by Grand Rapids author Adam Schuitema. Haymaker is also the title of Schuitema’s newest book, published in April 2015 by Switchgrass Books. And, haymaker also refers to a forceful blow. All apply to the story.

The book was inspired by a 2014 NPR news story about a small town in New Hampshire that was taken over by a group of libertarians. That led to something of a civil war among the townspeople and the “outsiders.” Schuitema’s Haymaker illustrates what can happen when change is forced upon people, even with "good" intentions. Schuitema says he chose Michigan’s U.P. because it’s an area he knows well from his travels, and because “Yoopers,” are known for their rugged individualism.

Haymaker opens with town resident Donnie Sarver throwing a haymaker in his annual fist fight with some unfortunate who's decided to ...

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Between the Lines: Great Lakes Adventure

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM







Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Loreen Niewenhuis


Loreen Niewenhuis


Her Keen boots slouch comfortably in the closet, shoelaces untied. This is not the first pair of boots Loreen Niewenhuis wore on her series of three thousand-mile hikes, but, at least for a while, it will be the last. For her next great adventure, Niewenhuis is measuring distance by words instead of miles. She's a scientist, a hiker, and a writer.

In 2009, as Niewenhuis felt the nest about to empty with the departure of two nearly grown sons, and her marriage coming to what she refers to as a "planned conclusion," Niewenhuis had a midlife crisis.
“It wasn’t that it was such a traumatic time,” she says. “But I imagined my younger self and how she would have seen me today. I made my midlife crisis into a midlife adventure.”
So began the first thousand-mile hike around Lake Michigan, resulting in the first of Niewenhuis’s adventure trilogy, A 1,000-Mile Walk on the Beach. She began walking in Chicago and ended there seven months later, taking occasional breaks along the way, walking mostly alone. Her two sons as well as friends and relatives joined her here and there, “But I hiked alone about 80 percent of the time.”
Niewenhuis grew up in the Detroit area and has lived in Michigan most of her life. “Once a summer, my parents took the family to Lake Michigan. There weren’t sandy beaches like that on the east side. And the dunes. The dunes! I thought, this is amazing! That was the lake I grew up on.”
CREDIT LOREEN NIEWENHUIS
Niewenhuis has a graduate degree in science and she has worked in a hospital laboratory, in animal research, and on a bone marrow transplant group. She turned her passion to writing while raising her sons and returned to school to earn another master’s degree, this time in the fine arts.
A year later, Niewenhuis headed out on her second thousand-mile adventure, chronicled in A 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Walk. She had thought about her second adventure while she was still on her first. There’s an addictive quality to pushing one’s comfort zone, she admits, and an addictive quality to Michigan’s Great Lakes. She wanted more.
“I wanted to ... "



Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Between the Lines: Indie Books and Writers

by Zinta Aistars
Host of "Between the Lines" on WMUK
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate






Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Jim Donahue, owner of Battle Creek Books, and Sandy Carlson, Battle Creek author




Independent booksellers and local writers: it’s a literary marriage made in book heaven. The owner of the new Battle Creek Books, Jim Donahue, and “tween” author Sandy Carlson from Battle Creek are in full agreement.

Donahue opened the doors of his bookstore in April. After more than 30 years as a physician specializing in geriatrics at the VA Hospital in Battle Creek, the Brooklyn, New York, native decided it was time for a career change. Donahue says he believes his store can join the national resurgence of independent bookstores. And he says that includes a beneficial collaboration with local authors like Sandy Carlson.


Carlson is a retired elementary school teacher who writes historical fiction and fantasy for kids aged 8 to 14. She now tutors dyslexic children and speaks at schools to encourage reading and an enjoyment of the art of storytelling. Her books include The Town That DisappearedWar UnicornLogging WinterTales of the Lost SchoonerStacks of FlapjacksWildfire; and Star Opening.

“I must have called Jim three or four times before he even opened the bookstore,” Carlson laughs. She says local authors are always eager to establish a good business relationship with local booksellers. Having an “indie” in town gives authors a venue for book sales and author events. Those events give bookstore owners increased traffic.

The two see reading trends from sometimes similar, and sometimes opposing viewpoints. Carlson says, as an author ...