Monthly Archives: February 2015

Boswell Book Company: Great WI Author Venue

Milwaukee bookseller, Boswell Book Company, routinely hosts author book events. Here is what’s coming up with Wisconsin authors in March. This book store has become a mecca for authors to showcase their work and for book lovers to meet and hear the people who write the books they love, and to get signed copies.  Venues like Boswell are especially important in shrinking opportunities for author events.  More info about Boswell events is at

 Bridget Birdsall, author of Double Exposure

Sunday March 1, at 3:00 pm 

We’re honored to welcome to the Boswell stage Madison author Bridget Birdsall, who will discuss and sign copies of her stunning young adult novel great for ages thirteen and up, Double Exposure, which brings to light complex gender issues, teenage insecurities, and overcoming all obstacles.

Fifteen-year-old Alyx Atlas was raised as a boy, yet she knows something others don’t. She’s a girl. And after her dad dies, it becomes painfully obvious that she must prove it now—to herself and to the world. Born with ambiguous genitalia, Alyx has always felt a little different. But it’s after she sustains a terrible beating behind a 7-Eleven that she and her mother pack up their belongings and move from California to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to start a new life—and Alyx begins over again, this time as a girl.

“Told in clear, straightforward prose, this riveting story of Alyx, and the gauntlet she has to run in order to discover who she truly is, shines a brilliant light on the truth that we are all queer in some way. All of us. In Double Exposure, Bridget Birdsall has given us a story that is courageous, intense, and full of heart. It’s a score from the outside, and everyone who reads it wins!” —Kathi Appelt, author of the Newbery Honor winner The Underneath, Keeper, andThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

About the Author: Bridget Birdsall is an author, artist, educator, and inspirational speaker. Despite dyslexic challenges, Bridget made a midlife decision to pursue her dream of writing books that touch hearts, especially those of young people. She earned her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College and now teaches creative, contemplative, and business writing skills throughout the Midwest. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, is the author of Ordinary Angels, and is known as a writer willing to tackle tough topics. Birdsall lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Melissa Falcon Field, author of What Burns Away
Tuesday March 3, at 7:00 pm

Boswell is proud to present Madison author Melissa Falcon Field, who will read from and sign copies of her brilliant debut, What Burns Away, in which a depressed new mom transplanted from Connecticut to Madison, Wisconsin, gives in to her latent teenage-arsonist fantasies and her first love.

Upon relocating to snowy Madison with a distant physician husband, New England native Claire Spruce is besieged by a dark past when her first love finds her again. Breaking decades of silence, old flame Dean offers an intoxicating, reckless escape from motherhood’s monotony. Enchanted by his return, while yearning for her own mislaid identity, she agrees to repay a favor that could incinerate her marriage and her child’s well-being. What Burns Away is a story of loyalty, family and the realization that the past is nearly always waiting for us in the future.

What Burns Away is a study of safety, loyalty, and heart. But it’s also the story of what happens when those things run up against boredom, when they gaze in the smoky glass of lost mirrors and see soulful shadows of passion, freedom, and risk. A new mom’s fiery first love is back, and he challenges all she’s built for herself, revealing the fragility of suburban dreams—I mean nightmares. In scorching prose, Melissa Falcon Field reminds us that when trouble flies out to the far reaches of the solar system, we’d best not forget it’s coming back.” —Bill Roorbach, author of The Remedy for Love and Life Among Giants

About the Author: Melissa Falcon Field received her MFA in Creative Writing at Texas State University, where she received the Katherine Anne Porter Writer-in-Residence Award two years consecutively. She has been a professor of fiction and nonfiction writing at Texas State University. She grew up in Connecticut, and she lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her family.

Local Author Gina Cilento, author of Mitzi Boo & Mia, Too: Go to England
Saturday March 7, at 2:00 pm

Keep Calm and Carry On—to Boswell for a talk and signing with local author and tennis pro, Gina Cilento, who will debut the first book in her Mitzi Boo & Mia, Too series, Go to England, a unique traveldogue in which adorable English Bulldog sisters Mitzi Boo and Mia guide readers on a sightseeing adventure across England, great for kids of all ages!

Two English Bulldogs—the charismatic and ever-stylish Mitzi Boo and her even-keeled sister, Mia—journey to England after landing their first assignment for World Travel Magazine. From Stonehenge to Buckingham Palace, the two traipse across England desperate to see the Queen, sampling local cuisine, and working through sibling rivalry. Appealing to travel lovers, animal enthusiasts, and kids of all ages, Mitzi Boo & Mia, Too: Go to England is a humorous, off-beat approach to sibling stories, travelogues, and fundraising, with a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every book goes to help fight against animal cruelty.

About the Author: Wisconsin born and raised, Gina Cilento has always been passionate about the wellbeing of animals: one of her lifelong dreams is to open a sanctuary for unwanted and abused animals of all kinds. For two decades, Gina has played tennis professionally in Oregon and Wisconsin. Still teaching and playing competitively, she’s found joy in reviving her art background as the author of Mitzi Boo & Mia, Too: Go to England, starring her two English Bulldogs, Mitzi and Mia.

A Frank L. Weyenberg Library Event (Note: Not at Boswell on Downer in Milwaukee) with Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival and Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule
Thursday March 12, at 6:30 pm

Please join us at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library (located at 11345 N. Cedarburg Road in Mequon) for an evening with beloved Madison author, Jennifer Chiaverini, who will read from and discuss her latest historical novel, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, which treats readers to the inner life of Julia Grant, beloved as a Civil War general’s wife and the First Lady, yet grappled with her profound and complex relationship with the slave who was her namesake—until she forged a proud identity of her own.

In 1844, Missouri belle Julia Dent met dazzling horseman Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant. Four years passed before their parents permitted them to wed, and the groom’s abolitionist family refused to attend the ceremony. Since childhood, Julia owned as a slave another Julia, known as Jule. Jule guarded her mistress’s closely held twin secrets: she had perilously poor vision but was gifted with prophetic sight. So it was that Jule became Julia’s eyes to the world. And what a world it was, marked by gathering clouds of war. The Grants vowed never to be separated, but as Ulysses rose through the ranks—becoming general in chief of the Union Army—so did the stakes of their pact. During the war, Julia would travel, often in the company of Jule and the four Grant children, facing unreliable transportation and certain danger to be at her husband’s side.

Yet Julia and Jule saw two different wars. While Julia spoke out for women—Union and Confederate—she continued to hold Jule as a slave behind Union lines. Upon the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Jule claimed her freedom and rose to prominence as a businesswoman in her own right, taking the honorary title Madame. The two women’s paths continued to cross throughout the Grants’ White House years in Washington, DC, and later in New York City, the site of Grant’s Tomb. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule is the first novel to chronicle this singular relationship, bound by sight and shadow.

About the Author: Jennifer Chiaverini is The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincon’s Dressmaker, The Spymistress, Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival, and the Elm Creek Quilt series. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wisconsinite Gavin Schmitt, author of The Milwaukee Mafia: A Mobsters in the Heartland
Saturday March 14, at2:00 pm

Please join us for an exciting event with Wisconsinite, research enthusiast, and Images of America author, Gavin Schmitt, who will talk about and sign copies of his latest groundbreaking work, The Milwaukee Mafia: Mobsters in the Heartland, the long-awaited history drawing from thousands of police reports, nearly a million confidential FBI pages, and years of meticulous research to shed light on the dark history of Milwaukee’s criminal underworld. For more information, check out the Facebook Event page.

Milwaukee’s Sicilian underworld is something few people speak about in polite company, and even fewer people speak about with any authority. Everyone in Milwaukee has a friend of a friend who knows something, but they only have one piece of a giant puzzle. The secret society known as the Milwaukee Mafia has done an excellent job of keeping its murders, members, and mishaps out of books. Until now. From the time Vito Guardalabene arrived from Italy in the early 1900s, until the days the Mob controlled the Teamsters union, Milwaukee was a city of murder and mayhem. Gavin Schmitt relies on previously unseen police reports, FBI investigative notes, coroner’s records, newspaper articles, family lore, and more to bring to light an era of Milwaukee’s history that has been largely undocumented and shrouded in myth.

Crime historian Thomas Hunt (DiCarlo: Buffalo’s First Family of Crime) calls The Milwaukee Mafia “comprehensive and entertaining,” and “a long overdue assessment of the substantial role of Milwaukee underworld figures in the evolution of American organized crime,” and The Mob and the City author C. Alexander Hortis calls Schmitt “an excellent researcher.”

About the Author: Gavin Schmitt has been a life-long resident of Wisconsin, and has written about the Midwest’s dark history for many years. He has been published in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Informer, and interviewed on the radio. He is the author of Images of America: Milwaukee Mafia (a pictorial companion), Images of America: Neenah, and Images of America: Kaukauna.

Local Author Phillip C. Naylor, author of North Africa: A History from Antiquity to the Present
Monday March 16, at 7:00 pm

Boswell is proud to welcome Marquette Professor of History and co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of North African Studies, Phillip C. Naylor, for a talk and signing of the revised edition of his latest book, North Africa: A History from Antiquity to the Present, the most comprehensive history of North Africa to date, covering the Paleolithic period to the current “North African Spring” uprisings and everything in between.

North Africa has been a vital crossroads throughout history, serving as a connection between Africa, Asia, and Europe. Paradoxically, however, the region’s historical significance has been chronically underestimated. In a book that may lead scholars to reimagine the concept of Western civilization, incorporating the role North African peoples played in shaping “the West,” Phillip Naylor describes a locale whose transcultural heritage serves as a crucial hinge, politically, economically, and socially. Ideal for novices and specialists alike, North Africa begins with an acknowledgment that defining this area has presented challenges throughout history. Naylor’s survey encompasses the Paleolithic period and early Egyptian cultures, leading readers through the pharonic dynasties, the conflicts with Rome and Carthage, the rise of Islam, the growth of the Ottoman Empire, European incursions, and the postcolonial prospects for Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Western Sahara. Emphasizing the importance of encounters and interactions among civilizations, North Africa maps a prominent future for scholarship about this pivotal region. Now with a new afterword that surveys the “North African Spring” uprisings that roiled the region from 2011 to 2013, this is the most comprehensive history of North Africa to date, with accessible, in-depth chapters covering the pre-Islamic period through colonization and independence.

About the Author: Phillip C. Naylor is a Professor of History at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he has directed the Western Civilization program. His previous books include The Historical Dictionary of Algeria and France and Algeria: A History of Decolonization and Transformation. Professor Naylor is publications officer of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS) and co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of North African Studies and a recipient of the Reverend John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.

Local Author Liam Callanan, author of The Cloud Atlas, All Saints, and his latest collection Listen & Other Stories
Friday March 27, at 7:00 pm

Boswell Book Company is proud to welcome beloved local author and professor, Liam Callanan, who will read from and sign copies of his latest book, a collection of stories titled Listen & Other Stories, which has already earned rave reviews as “a wonderfully readable and hugely pleasurable collection” (Margo Livesey) of “lovely stories, indeed” (Alix Ohlin) that is “necessary and timeless” (Michael Parker).

Listen & Other Stories is a book where characters ask readers to do just that: listen to their stories, especially because many aren’t the type of people who often get listened to—even though they should be. These characters’ trials, missed connections, and sundry challenges are full of surprises—some good, some bad, some funny, some wise, and some all this at once. Even more surprising, there’s tenderness here and a lot of heart—which often gets the collection’s characters into a lot of trouble.

“Here is what makes these stories necessary and timeless: Liam Callanan’s incisive ability to render not just our desires and the choices we make to fulfill or thwart those desires, but the mystery behind those choices. These stories glow, backlit by the author’s generous and discriminating vision, his ability to contrast doubt and faith in our actions and interactions, all in the service of an abiding grace. And lest all of the above sound unduly serious, let me assure you: there is humor here of the most vital stripe, wherein halfway through your laughter you realize you’re laughing not only at the characters, but at your own foolish, if well-intentioned, ways.” —Michael Parker, author of The Watery Part of the World

“Over and over Callanan finds that moment when a character’s past, their deepest longings, their most intimate fears, emerge from the flood-waters of daily life and stand exposed. These richly imagined and beautifully written stories transport the reader from TV studios to lonely woods, from an old convent to a new gym, from war-time Alaska to the beach at Santa Monica. The result is a wonderfully readable and hugely pleasurable collection.” —Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

About the Author: Liam Callanan is the author of the novels The Cloud Atlas, a finalist for an Edgar Award, and All Saints, a Target Bookmarked Breakout book. A frequent public radio essayist, Liam has taught at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Los Angeles, he now calls Wisconsin home.

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A Blog for Writers about Wisconsin Waters

Here’s an opportunity for Wisconsinites who like/want to write about all things water in Wisconsin.

The link to the rest of this post is

Welcome to the Waters of Wisconsin blog—an ongoing conversation with local writers, policymakers, farmers, scientists, and others about Wisconsin’s shared waters.
Look for these posts every-other week as we build a community of contributors. If you are interested in becoming an author,
please e-mail Meredith Keller, Wisconsin Academy Initiatives director.
Through this series, we aim to feature great ideas and poignant stories to explore what healthy, abundant water means to Wisconsin and her people. For more updates on Waters of Wisconsin, please sign-up for our mailing list and select “Waters of Wisconsin” under program interests.

For information about Council for Wisconsin Writers awards for Wisconsin writers, please go to

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WHSP Publishes ‘Blue Men and River Monsters’

Here’s news about a new book from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press:

Wisconsin Historical Society Press Logo
For Immediate Release

Kristin Gilpatrick, Marketing Manager
Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Public Works and Folktales
Book Shares Tales of Myths and Legends of the Upper Midwest

Blue Men & River Monsters: Folklore of the NorthFrom hidden Huldrefolk to the Hexemester next door, myths and legends of the northern Midwest are being retold in the new Wisconsin Historical Society Press book, Blue Men and River Monsters: Folklore of the North.

 The book draws from the Wisconsin Historical Society’s WPA Collection and re-opens a treasure trove of folklore stories gathered by Federal Writers program (WPA) workers in the 1930s who recorded the fireside tales of Norwegian and Swiss immigrants, Midwestern pioneers and Native American medicine men and storytellers. In search of stories, legends, songs, and other scraps of traditional knowledge, researchers fanned out across Wisconsin and other states. The resulting handwritten notes, thousands of pages in length, capture history as people remembered it.

Editor John Zimm selected some of the most interesting and noteworthy WPA tales to share in “Blue Men and River Monsters.” From magical creatures of the old country to legends of the mysterious and macabre, this lore is a record of the stories people held on to and the customs, foods, and cures that filled their lives — stories often derived from European culture but adapted to the diverse climate and circumstances of the Upper Midwest.

 “Blue Men and River Monsters” places these intriguing tales alongside stunning artwork collected by the Federal Art Project in Wisconsin, conducted during the same time period in Wisconsin.

 The book’s foreword is written by Michael Edmonds, Deputy Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Library-Archives. Edmonds describes the circumstances that created a Public Works project in Wisconsin to create a state travel guide and collect these legends for it. An e-book edition of “Blue Men and River Monsters” is also available from your favorite e-book vendor .

Media: For a review copy of “Blue Men & River Monsters,” to interview the editor, or for more information, please contact Kristin Gilpatrick, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706; 608-264-6465; email:

The Wisconsin Historical Society Press, publishing the best of

Wisconsin history and culture since 1855 as a division of the Wisconsin Historical Society


About the Editor:
John Zimm  received a BA in history from the University of Wisconsin -Madison and has worked for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press since 2002. His articles have appeared in the Wisconsin Magazine of History, and he is the editor of “This Wicked Rebellion: Wisconsin Civil War Soldiers Write Home” and the author of “The Wisconsin Historical Society: Collecting, Preserving, and Sharing Stories since 1846.”
Foreword writer Michael Edmonds is Deputy Director of the Library-Archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society and curator of its online collection of more than 25,000 pages documenting Freedom Summer. A 1976 graduate of Harvard University, he earned an MS degree at Simmons College in 1979 and taught part-time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The author of several articles and editor of other Society Press books, including “Out of the Northwoods: The Many Lives of Paul Bunyan” and “Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader,” Edmonds has won national awards from the American Folklore Society and the American Association for State and Local History.

Order by phone toll free at 888-999-1669, shop online at, or shop in person at the Wisconsin Historical Museum Shop, 30 N. Carroll St., Madison WI 53703

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Public TV Showcases Past CWW Award Winner

Children’s book author Janet Halfmann, 2011 winner of CWW’s Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award for her Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish, is among the South Milwaukeeans featured in Milwaukee Public TV’s “Around the Corner with John McGivern” as it celebrates South Milwaukee. The show will air on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m, on MPTV Channel 10, and again or Sunday March 1, 7 p.m., on Public TV’s Channel 36..

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Milwaukee Couple Win MWA Raven Award

Ruth and Jon Jordan aren’t mystery writers, but they are mystery writers’ — particularly debut authors — dream. And the Mystery Writers of America has recognized that by presenting  the Jordans with its Raven Award for “outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing.”

Yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story quoted detective fiction writer Laura Lippman as saying, “They have created and run conferences, opened their home to writers traveling on thin budgets. Their enthusiasm for crime-writing is like some magical force that leaks into the water supply and creates other enthusiasts.”

Said novelist Hilary Davidson who nominated the Jordans for the Raven Award, in the same article: “I really think of them as the heart and soul of the crime fiction community.”

Included in the criteria MWA said in its announcement in considering the Jordans for the award was Crimespree Magazine, a bimonthly publication about mystery writing. “The magazine is devoted to promoting writers who are not (yet) household names.”

“If I have a choice between a debut author, or somebody with their second book out, or the latest Michael Connelly, the truth is Michael doesn’t need our help,” Jon Jordan said in the JS story.

Among the awards the Council for Wisconsin Writers will present at its Awards Banquet in May is the Christopher Latham Sholes Award, which recognizes a Wisconsin resident for outstanding encouragement and support of Wisconsin writers. More information about that and CWW is at



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WI Poet Laureate February Schedule

I’ve heard the new Wisconsin poet laureate speak and read her poetry. What a great ambassador for our state.
Here from the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts & Letters are some places she can be heard this month:
Celebrate Wisconsin poets and poetry with Kimberly Blaeser, the new Wisconsin Poet Laureate. The official state ambassador for poetry and creativity, Kim travels to schools, libraries, festivals, and community centers across Wisconsin. Check out her February appearances:

 February 13, 4:00 pm: TEDx Milwaukee Talk @ UWM
February 22, 2:00 pm: Reading w/Max Garland @ Woodland Pattern
February 28, 6:00 pm: BONK! event @ Wustum Museum, Racine

Learn more about Kim on at the new Wisconsin Poet Laureate website or visit the Poet Laureate Facebook page at

Learn more about the Council for Wisconsin Writers at

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One More CCBC CHOICES Book for 2015

In reporting kiddy lit news a few days ago, Bayard Rustin: The Invisible Activist co-authored by Jacqueline Jaeger Houtman (a former CWW Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award) somehow didn’t make it in as one of the titles among Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s CHOICES for 2015. Congratulations to Jacqueline!

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