Friday, December 18, 2009

Robert Siqveland - The Wilderness of Time

The Wilderness of Time

by Bob Siqveland

ISBN: 978-0-9741109-1-2

That ambiguous chasm that separates justice from the law affects our lives constantly, more so than we are probably willing to admit.

There are fundamental and universal truths that one faces every day, emanating from classic conflicts between justice and the law, conscience and the law, the subtlety of innocence versus the law, and innocence versus evil. In the end, they are mostly interpretive, and each of us ultimately must own our interpretations and the behaviors they spawn.

Why do most people cheer vigilante justice when it’s illegal? Lines and boundaries. Individual and societal. Subjective and objective. Or, how about when who we are conflicts with who we think we are, or who others think we are, or even who we think others think we are?
Sean O’Dell, a decorated 63-year-old cop, plants evidence in order to protect his friend of 50 years from a murder conviction. He knows that his friend is the real victim and chooses to risk his oath, reputation, and even freedom to prove it. Does the end justify the means, and what price must he pay for a justice that may be veiled in a lifelong untruth?

Cops, lawyers, judges, and society will have different answers, but where those answers conflict with conscience, regardless of law, can there be a winner? You make the call.

Bob Siqveland graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1967. He enjoys many art endeavors and has recorded his music. He commanded an artillery battery while serving in the Army before spending 23 years as a venture capitalist. He is currently involved in the gaming industry and lives in Northern Minnesota.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Holiday Gift Giving


As you scurry through the store trying to find those ideal gifts for your loved ones, don’t forget the gift of words. Whether it’s a mystery, a cook book, poetry, a financial guide, history, children’s book, inspirational, travel, or folk lure, a book never goes out of style. Every turn of a page brings adventure.

I want to thank all the creative folks who participated in my Reading Minnesota Blog during 2009. Authors, illustrators, reviewers, bookstore owners, publishers, and editors—what a tremendous pool of talent!

I also want to thank those who dropped by to read the features and leave comments. I hope you enjoyed them. Maybe you found a new bookstore to visit, added an author or illustrator’s work to your list of books read, enjoyed the explanation of what editors and reviewers face on a weekly basis, or were as amazed as I was at the publishing enterprise in Minnesota.

What will 2010 bring to Reading Minnesota? I bet you’ll find new talent, new locations, and I know you’ll revisit old friends as they produce new works.

Have a joyous holiday season.

Beth Solheim
Reading Minnesota

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christina Rodriguez - Why Hands Off is Best!

I believe each of us has a secret desire to white a children’s book. Is it the child in us clamoring to get out, or is it the desire to bring happiness to children as they listen to your story? If I’m not an illustrator, should I write the book if I can’t illustrate?

Christina Rodriguez, award winning illustrator, has kindly agreed to answer my questions.

The Author-Illustrator Relationship: Why a Hands-off Approach is Best

As a children’s book illustrator, one of the questions I am frequently asked by aspiring children’s book authors is, “Do I need to find an illustrator for the story I want to submit to a publisher?” I actually love getting this question because at it’s so easy to answer: “No.”

Publishers, whose money is backing the production, a lot of the promotion, and ultimately the success or failure of the book, rightfully want to choose the illustrator themselves. As you trusted their judgment when they selected your story for publication, you should trust them as they choose an illustrator for your words. What happens next may not always match your vision, but it is the publisher’s vision - comprised by a team of hardened industry professionals - that ultimately sells your picture book.

Illustrators need freedom to impart their unique sensibilities into the work; the old adage “Too many cooks spoil the soup” is pretty applicable in children’s book illustration. As such, it is not unusual for the author and illustrator of a book to never meet and for the author to have little to no input on the art. You don’t need to write illustration cues into your manuscript. Explicit compositional directions, color palette suggestions, or other “pointers” from an author are often distracting and unnecessary. When I read a manuscript, the words envelop me and I let the images come to my mind as they may. Illustration cues totally break that vibe.

That’s not to say that you don’t have any control over some of the visual decisions. I personally don’t mind a little insight into what the author was imagining as he or she wrote the story, because I do find that fascinating. I also love being able to reach an author for clarification if I have some questions about the text. For these scenarios, the author and illustrator can always reach each other through the art director. It is the art director who works closely with the illustrator, receives the sketches, makes those tough editing calls, and gives the final approval on each stage of the art. A good art director still wants to see the illustrator’s take on the story, but will also provide needed guidance and structure.

We illustrators understand that your story is important to you; after all, it’s important to us too! Trust that it is foremost in our minds, even if we don’t always see it in the same way. The individual style, sensibilities, and artistic viewpoint that an illustrator brings to the table will, in due course, make your picture book a stronger piece of work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ott Lukk - Poet

by Ott Lukk

A volatile mixture full of passions both requited and unrequited; that is the poetry of Love Or Lust.”

It’s one of the oldest dilemmas of all time: love versus lust. Sometimes the two elements are one and the same, sometimes they are not, and sometimes it doesn’t matter, as you find yourself enveloped in one, the other, or both of these intoxicating, powerful emotions. In Love Or Lust, author Ott Lukk takes you on a literary journey that passionately explores these familiar concepts in a magnificently rendered work.

In this volume of poetry, themes ranging from how to discern the ethereal nuances of love or lust, to how these two oftentimes dueling emotions merge seamlessly and unexpectedly into one, are brought to the surface in an achingly beautiful voice, filled with desire and yearning in every carefully chosen word.

The essence of beauty, the concept of death, the fleeting nature of time, gods, goddesses, and religion. The simple joys of childhood and parenthood. Lukk’s poetry brilliantly weaves through all of these themes and beyond to make this truly an extraordinary and unforgettable collection to be treasured and contemplated by all who come across it.

The twin themes of passion—love or lust—transcend the written word beautifully, flowing into lyrical song, another avenue through which Lukk’s creative voice can be heard. The sweetness of love and the boldness of lust—at times they both frame the romantic parameters of our richly complex and intertwined hearts and spirits.


Ott Lukk was born in Tübingen, Germany, shortly after the close of World War II to Estonian parents. He immigrated to the United States when he was three years old, and he and his family eventually settled in Minnesota. Ott has a Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, and a Bachelor of Science in Business from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Ott writes both poetry and songs, and his songs have won awards such as the Billboard World Songwriting Contest, the Great American Songwriting Contest, and the Song of the Year Contest. Some of these lyrics are included in Love Or Lust, used with permission of his publishing firm, "Suspended Spider Songs." An artist also, Ott's original artwork appears on the book's front cover.

Ott lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Emily, daughter, Tiffany, and two Ragdoll cats, Fluffy and Ruby.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Whistling Shade Press

Whistling Shade Press

St. Paul, Minnesota

Owner: Joel Van Valin

Whistling Shade Press has four books published, with four more in the works. We are really more of a journal. Whistling Shade is a literary print newspaper that has been published since 2001. Until last year we were quarterly, but for the time being we are semi-annual (mainly because I have had to move temporarily to Los Angeles). We publish poetry, fiction, memoirs, literary essays and book reviews, and are distributed freely in cafes, book stores, and libraries in the Twin Cities area. About half of the authors we publish in any given issue are local. Our circulation is 2500.

The book publishing venture began as a sideline. We have always been a venue for local authors to reach a local audience. We wanted to extend that to book-length work as well. Our four books published so far are by Jarda Cervenka (Fausto's Afternoon, a collection of stories set in different countries around the world), Daniel Gabriel (Tales from the Tinker's Dam, a collection of stories surrounding a pub in Wales), Norita Dittberner-Jax (The Watch, a collection of poetry) and David McLean (Cadaver's Dance, a collection of poetry). In 2010 we will publish books by Sharon Chmielarz (poetry), Hanakia Zedek (poetry/philosophy), Jeff Vande Zande (novella) and Dylan Garcia-Wahl (poetry). All of the authors except for McLean and Vande Zande are local.

Staff pictured in the photo are left to right, top to bottom: Michael Ramberg, Rhonda Niola, Deanna Reiter, Justin Teerlinck, Lauren Bartel, Joel Van Valin, Sten Johnson.

As to how we got started ... well in 2001 I earned my pilot's license, and I decided to try something a bit different than flying Cesnas. I love literature and work in the newspaper industry, so my idea was to create a combination of the two. Local readers and writers responded with high spirits and enthusiasm, and so we are now in our ninth year and have a small staff of six or seven volunteers who run the journal and book publishing division.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Deanna Reiter - The Nine Scoundrels

The Nine Scoundrels
How to Recognize and Release Subtle Patterns of Sabotage

by Deanna Reiter

ISBN: 978-0-98003755-5

Whistling Shade Press

The Nine Scoundrels is a non-fiction personal-growth book that helps you become conscious of the nine dominant roles that exist to distract us from a life of joy, so we can dissolve the mind-set that has kept us locked in a world that is no longer ideal in one way or another. Discover the patterns that are blocking your joy and create the life you desire and deserve. This book offers the opportunity to move beyond the former parameters of your mind and The Nine Scoundrels lurking in your life.

Each of these scoundrels has a unique way of sabotaging our happiness. But again, it is our perception and our individual thoughts and actions that can get in our way in the presence of these scoundrels. We have invented and invited the scoundrels into our lives. It is simple and easy to release them, however. We need only become aware of them in order to be free.

Deanna Reiter, MA, is an expert in positive thinking and releasing sabotage. She is the author of Dancing with Divinity: Positive Affirmations for any Situation and The Nine Scoundrels: How to Recognize and Release Subtle Patterns of Sabotage. She is also the creator of two DVDs: Dancing with Divinity Yoga DVD and Reiki Affirmation Dance. Deanna is a Certified Yoga and Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer, Rebirthing Breathworker, Reiki Practitioner and public speaker residing in Minneapolis. Deanna is a Master Trainer for the National Exercise Trainers Association, teaching yoga and pilates certification workshops nationwide.


Jan. 22-24
The Christine Center in Wisconsin

March 27-29
White Water State Park Group Lodge Zumbrota, MN

Contact for more information.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yvonne Palka

Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist

By Yvonne Palka

ISBN: 13978-0-9817668-0-5

HeartRock Press

On the wild ocean coast of Washington State you’ll find enormous sea stacks at Point of Arches, Shi Shi Beach. The rocks loom high and dark over the water, like the backs of
ancient mythical creatures. When Jaxon and Allie encounter the Shi Shi dragons, they are quickly befriended by the whole family. But no one is safe from the thieving, temperamental dragon Zorg and his strange brood. Allie and Jaxon will need all the ingenuity they can muster––as well as the help of Niji, the dragon foundling––to defeat the dark-winged Zorg and restore peace to Shi Shi Beach.

Yvonne Palka is not your average grandmother. Part-time Twin Cities resident/part-time Whidbey Island, WA resident, a retired college professor and biologist, a sumi-e (Asian brush painting) artist, and now an award-winning children’s book author of Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist (HeartRock Press, 2009). And, believe me, Palka’s dragons are not your grandmother’s dragons!

When Palka became a grandmother she would often take the youngest of her brood to gaze upon the mile-long cavalcade of sea stacks and natural arches called the Point of Arches at Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park. She would ask the children, “Do you think these are just rocks? Or are they dragons asleep in the sand?” Thus began her affinity for creating dragon adventure stories and combining them with her talent as a sumi-e artist. Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist is a chapter book written and illustrated by Palka based on the stories she has been creating through the years as she watched her children and grandchildren grow.

Dragon Fire, Ocean Mist was recently awarded a bronze medal in the “Best First Chapter Book” category of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards of the Jenkins Group Publishing service.

Palka will be in the Twin Cities for the next couple of months, and will be doing some presentations at the local Barnes and Noble in Maple Grove, MN and visiting several schools in the area for school book fairs. The kids will have the opportunity to try their hand at sumi-e painting. Palka will also be an author-in-residence with the 4th graders at Oakview Elementary School the week of December 14, 2009. For more information on the author and her Minnesota event lisText Colortings, please visit:



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Laura Childs - Eggs Benedict Arnold

Eggs Benedict Arnold

by Laura Childs

Berkley Prime Crime

ISBN 978-0-425-23155-5

The Cackleberry Club?
Dan Brown it’s not!

Why Eggs Benedict Arnold, by Laura Childs, local author and New York Times bestselling author, may turn out to be the little book that could this holiday season.

When times are tough and money’s tight, a surprising number of readers turn to good old-fashioned cozy mysteries. The paper kind you can curl up with instead of a hard, impersonal e-book. The kind that costs just $7.99.

Laura Childs has filled Eggs Benedict Arnold, the second book in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series, with a raft of small-town Minnesota characters that make you yearn for simpler times. At the top of the list are Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, the wise-cracking (and egg cracking) entrepreneurial ladies of the Cackleberry Club café, who whip up Egg Strata and Slumbering Volcanoes in the morning, then work a double shift as amateur sleuths.

In between two murders, a car chase, and tromping through a deserted cemetery, they manage to hold a Knit-in for charity, serve afternoon tea, and stage a cake decorating contest. Author Laura Childs is betting that women (and a few men) will make this second book in the series a #1 bestseller just like the first one was. “We all crave a little comfort right now,” said Childs. “We want to return to basics like homemade breakfast, cake and cookie recipes, and neighbors who are quirky but pull together when they have to.”

Spirituality abounds, too, along with a surprising amount of pulse-pounding action. And for readers on a budget, there’s that mass market price.

Laura Childs (the pseudonym of Gerry Schmitt) is the author of three different mystery series, including the Tea Shop Mysteries, the Scrapbook Mysteries, and the Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Her books have made trips to the New York Times, USA Today and Independent Mystery Booksellers bestseller lists. She is the former founder and CEO of Mission Critical Marketing.

Tea Shop Mysteries
Death by Darjeeling
Gunpowder Green
Shades of Earl Grey
English Breakfast Club Murder
Jasmine Moon Murder
Chamomile Mourning
Blood Orange Brewing
Dragonwell Dead
The Silver Needle Murder
Oolong Dead
The Teaberry Strangler
Scones & Bones
Agony of the Leaves

Scrapbook Mysteries
Keepsake Crimes
Photo Finished
Bound for Murder
Motif for Murder
Frill Kill
Death Swatch
Tragic Magic
Fiber & Brimstone
Skeleton Letters
Postcards from the Dead

Cackleberry Club Mysteries
Eggs in Purgatory
Eggs Benedict Arnold
Bedeviled Eggs
Stake & Eggs
(December 2012)


BOOK SIGNINGOnce Upon a Crime - Saturday, December 5, 2009
An Eggs Benedict Arnold publication party with book signing and refreshments will be held Saturday, Dec. 5, from noon to 2:00pm at Once Upon a Crime Mystery Bookstore. The store is located at 604 West 26th St., Mpls., MN 55405, phone 612-870-3785.

Borders Books in Minnetonka – Saturday, December 12, 2009
A book signing and recipe giveaway will be held on Saturday, December 12, from noon to 2:00pm at Borders Books in Minnetonka. The store is located at 1501 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka, MN 55305 (adjacent to Ridgedale), phone is 952-595-0977.