Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nice Girls Don't Bite - Joan Sween

Nice Girls Don't Bite

by Joan Sween

When "Transylvania Nasty" collides with "Minnesota Nice" the outcome is hilarious. In this novel, which is definitely intended for laughs, not chills, Erleen and Louise, antiques dealers from the land of Garrison Keillor, come back from a buying trip to Romania to discover they got more than they bargained for. 

"We can't be vampires! There's no such thing as vampires!"

"I absolutely refuse to go all crazy and look mean and bite people!" 

"How are we supposed to put on makeup if we can't see ourselves in mirrors?" 

After the first shock, they begin to cope like sensible down-to-earth Minnesotans, vowing to lead normal lives, never reveal what they are, and never ever to bite anyone. Then they stumble onto a bank robbery, a murder, and a kidnapping. Attempting to free their kidnapped friends, they confront a Norwegian crime lord whose Colombian partners decide they are witches—"Brujas! Brujas! But after putting ineffectual bullets through the ladies, the Colombians change their minds—"Vampiro!" Reluctantly, Erleen and Louise realize they must behave like "real" vampires in order to put a stop to an international drug ring. Which they do—but without ever biting anyone. 


In Joan's pre-teen years, she wrote short stories about fairies, and learned to play the piano accordion.  Her father was a construction engineer; they moved a lot. The accordion was easier to move than a piano.  As a teenager in high school she was in the class plays and wrote pep skits.  Pep skits taught her about mystery writing–the home team, like justice, always had to triumph.  In college she was in a multitude of plays, wrote poetry, edited the college newspaper, and got engaged 16 times. 

She credits her wacky rites of passage as excellent background for writing a novel about perfectly nice ladies who refuse to behave like vampires She's a member of  Sisters In Crime, former Regional Vice-president of Literary Managers & Dramaturgs of the Americas, and founder of Minnesota Writers’ Alliance.  Her other books can be found on and her plays with Eldridge Plays & Musicals. Joan lives in Rochester, MN, with two cats who are exasperating and a husband who is wonderfully supportive.

Feb 10-12, 2012, premiere of Joan's play, "The Magic Flounder," produced by Matchbox Children's Theatre in the Historic Paramount Theatre, Austin, MN.
May, 2012, book signing sponsored by Minnesota's antiques newspaper, The Old Times at the Prime Promotions Antique Show at the St. Paul State Fairgrounds.  Exact date TBA.
Plays may be found by searching at: 
Dealer's Choice:  A collection of humor columns on antiques and collectibles.
Deathblow:  A detective novel with a serial killer.
Southern Surrender: A one-act farce.
Murder By Accident: A full-length farce.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ReadingMinnesota update: New owner - Mike Kalmbach

Something is different.

Subtle changes in the text on the right-hand side.

A new book cover and title.

A new email address.

What's going on?

After more than two years of posts, Beth is moving on to other opportunities. Rather than let the blog fade into the dark realms of the Internet archives, Beth graciously agreed to let me take over. We'll miss her, but I'm sure she'll still stop by from time to time.

Have no fear. You'll still be reading the same high-quality, Minnesota-centric posts that Beth's been sharing over the past two years.

The big difference is that I'll be organizing the posts. I will maintain the Thursday posting schedule for the foreseeable future, and already have several authors lined up over the coming weeks.

I also plan to introduce reviews as time allows. At first, I expect to post approximately 2 reviews per month in addition to the weekly informational posts.

Who's taking over?

Mike Kalmbach is an author from southeast Minnesota, and leads the Rochester MN Writing Group. Besides his day job as a software engineer, he also moonlights as a freelance editor. His passion is writing science fiction and fantasy, but he enjoys all well-written material.

He recently released his debut novel, The Caldarian Conflict, which focuses on a monk caught between a corrupt government and pirates. A mixture of fantasy, adventure, and mystery, this book is sure to appeal to anyone who enjoys a good plot twist. This fantasy novel is targeted for readers 14 and up.

Want to learn more about The Caldarian Conflict?

Check it out on Amazon (ebook or paperback), Barnes & Noble (ebook or paperback), or wherever books are sold. Autographed copies (perfect as a unique gift) are available at

When does this happen?

This is officially effective today, October 20. I've been making some changes over the past week, so it's still pretty new.

How do I submit suggestions for Minnesota-related authors, book stores, or other items of interest?

Send an email to You can usually expect a response within 48 hours. Please specify whether you would like an informational post or a review.

I'm looking forward to meeting lots of great Minnesota authors. This is going to be fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meaning Beyond Reason - Anthony Caponi

Meaning Beyond Reason

by Anthony Caponi

Meaning Beyond Reason explores the relationship between reason and intuition as it relates to art, education, religion, rhetoric and science. The ideas presented in Meaning Beyond Reason are artist and educator Anthony Caponi’s insights on man and God, beauty, and nature. The book argues that verbal concepts often create false gods, obscure understanding and impinge upon the vital engagement in life. The book explores the ideas that, since he was a young child in Italy, have guided the creation of his artwork and everyday living.

An artist, philosopher, poet, civic leader and environmentalist, Anthony Caponi is also an educator and professor emeritus of Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minn., where he taught and chaired the art department for more than 40 years. He has brought his wealth of experience and artistic skill together in the creation of Caponi Art Park, a 60 acre outdoor sculpture garden and cultural center in Eagan, Minn.

At the age of 90, Anthony Caponi is the creator and artistic director of Caponi Art Park and Learning Center, a nonprofit sculpture garden and outdoor performance venue in Eagan, Minnesota dedicated to making art accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. Located on 60 acres of rolling wooded hills, Caponi Art Park and Learning Center is a distinctive cultural center offering free programs and educational experiences in an inviting, natural setting that seamlessly blends art and nature.

Anthony Caponi does sign books at Caponi Art Park during scheduled artistic and cultural programs.



Voice from the Mountains: A Memoir
Boulders and Pebbles of Poetry and Prose

Nodin Press

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fatal Incident - Jim Proebstle

Fatal Incident

by Jim Proebstle

World War II Conspiracy Inspires a New Novel

It has been more than 65 years since Japan’s surrender marked the end of World War II. But there are still many secrets yet to be revealed, including what brought down the military transport plane being flown by a young pilot from Minnesota.

In Fatal Incident (Emerald Book Co., $23.95, May 2011), a new historical fiction novel by Jim Proebstle, a scenario for the real-life crash of an Army Air Transport Command (ATC) aircraft is revealed. To this day, the cause of the 1944 crash in Alaska’s Mount McKinley Range remains a mystery. No bodies were recovered and none of the 20 people onboard the ill-fated flight were ever heard from again. The novel explores the possibility that a conspiracy involving espionage was to blame for the crash.

The story begins in Depression-era Minnesota with young Nick Morgan and his soon-to-be bride, Martha, soaring high above the clouds over Mankato, Minn., in a plane piloted by Nick. They are excited by where life will take them.

Once married and with the war on, Nick leaves Martha, now pregnant, behind in 1943 to become a pilot for the Army’s ATC in Alaska. While he’s away, the evident stress on their marriage reveals itself through their personal communications in postcards, letters and the few furlough trips home.

The extensive military presence in Alaska serves as a strategic defense position against Japan, as well as the perfect Lend-Lease exchange location for U.S. built P-38’s with Soviet pilots in support of Russia’s war with Germany. This opens the door for espionage through a complex network of Russian listening posts.

Alaska’s uncharted landscape also occupies the attention of high-level Manhattan Project scientists in New Mexico as a possible alternative site for testing the atomic bomb. Nick and his co-pilot, Red Johnson, are tapped for classified flying duty for the brass from Los Alamos as they secretly explore test site options in the remote Yukon Flats area.

All the while, Vladimir Dubisskiy, an entrenched NKVD agent coordinating Lend-Lease aircraft movement in Alaska, is spearheading a plot to steal the United States’ top secret atomic bomb design documents and test site development plans for Alaska. The Soviet hijack scheme fails with the crash of Nick’s plane on March 17, 1944.

When search crews finally reach the crash site in about the most inhospitable place in Alaska – an 11,000 foot uncharted section of the McKinley Range – several bodies are found, but many are also missing, along with the classified Manhattan Project documents.

Fatal Incident challenges us with the possibility that we have never been presented with a complete set of facts surrounding this crash and disappearance of all onboard,” said Proebstle.

In his review of the book, New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger of the Cork O’Connor series said, “Jim Proebstle has written a unique and compelling story, a true event cloaked in the fabric of fiction. Though much of Fatal Incident is speculative, every consideration is grounded in rock-solid fact. This narrative works on so many levels that it doesn’t matter whether or not you accept Proebstle’s conclusions concerning the mystery at the heart of the story. Either way, you’ll enjoy a hell of a good read.”

“Brimming with intrigue, espionage, and romance, Fatal Incident is a captivating story of determination and grit set against the backdrop of WWII. Jim Proebstle does a formidable job developing his characters while constructing a chillingly believable story peppered with brilliantly unexpected twists and turns,” said award-winning mystery writer Marilyn Jax, author of The Find and Road to Omalos.

Fatal Incident is a heart-pounding tale of espionage, suspense, love, geopolitics and heroism capturing a Soviet Union attempt to steal United States secrets of the atomic bomb. I recommend this book to everyone interested in World War II mysteries,” said Bob Bao, author and editor of the MSU Alumni Magazine


Jim Proebstle is new on the scene as an author. His first novel, In the Absence of Honor, was released in August 2008, and has received positive reviews and industry awards.

He and his wife, Carole, call northern Minnesota home for the summer months. Deer Park, IL is their permanent residence, close to their two children and five grandchildren.

Proebstle received his B.A. and M.B.A. from Michigan State University and remains a loyal Spartan. His corporate career in sales and management prepared him to form Prodyne, Inc. – a management consulting firm in which he is still active.