Tuesday, May 4, 2021

New Biography of a formative naturalist


The Birdman of Koskonong: The life of naturalist Thure Kumlien
Martha Bergland
© April 20, 2021 by Wisconsin Historical Society Press
304 pp

ISBN 978-0870-209529
Print $20
Ebook $11.99

WHS Bookstore 
Barnes and Noble
Kobo Walmart

About the Book: Thure Kumlien was one of Wisconsin’s earliest Swedish settlers and an accomplished ornithologist, botanist, and naturalist in the mid-1800s, though his name is not well known today. He settled on the shore of Lake Koshkonong in 1843 and soon began sending bird specimens to museums and collectors in Europe and the eastern United States, including the Smithsonian. Later, he prepared natural history exhibits for the newly established University of Wisconsin and became the first curator and third employee of the new Milwaukee Public Museum. 

For all of his achievements, Kumlien never gained the widespread notoriety of Wisconsin naturalists John Muir, Increase Lapham, or Aldo Leopold. Kumlien did his work behind the scenes, content to spend his days in the marshes and swamps rather than in the public eye. He once wrote that he was not “cut out for pretensions and show in the world.” Yet, his detailed observations of Wisconsin’s natural world—including the impact of early agriculture on the environment—were hugely important to the fields of ornithology and botany. As this carefully researched and lovingly rendered biography proves, Thure Kumlien deserves to be remembered as one of Wisconsin’s most influential naturalists. 

My Review:

A poignant, heart-felt prologue featuring the recollections of Thure (TOO reh) Kumlien’s (koom-LEEN) young friend Edward Lee Greene opens this outstanding biographical account of scarcely known Swedish-American naturalist. In Wisconsin’s early European settlement period, mid to late nineteenth century, several personalities took a dedicated interest in identifying and recording Wisconsin’s unique natural features, including flora and fauna. One particular plant, the elusive Linnea borealis, was a cherished signal of what once flourished in the state, and could so easily be lost. This life-long memory sets the tone for Bergland’s biographical account.

Kumlien might not have been the most famous, but the dedication of this farmer educator naturalist to documenting and sharing Wisconsin’s wildlife enriched museums and scientific collections around the world, including the Milwaukee Public Museum, one of my favorite places. “The specimens that men such as Kumlien gathered in the 1840 are even more valuable today than they were then—something these naturalists at least partially understood but probably not the extent that we do now,” for the vast data they reveal about birds and environment. They provide resources for the study of “the effects of industrial pollution, climate change, and genetics.”

Using several samples of Kumlien’s letters and artwork of birds, nests, feathers, and flora, the biography is richly embellished with his own few words, historical photographs and accounts from family members and friends. Details, such as newspaper advertising text for ship passengers emigrating to America, and brief articles about departures and the ports of call enliven the story. Careful attention to fact, such as what was inscribed on tombstones, and not only the date of the Kumlien’s wedding but the future of the Justice of the Peace who married them show the depth of Bergland’s research.

After establishing Kumlien’s well-to-do upbringing in Sweden and the development of his passion for ornithology through the first third of the book, the author divides the chapters into short segments of years from Kumlien’s emigration, marriage, and settlement in Wisconsin in 1843. The sight of Milwaukee, the rawness of the young city being cut from wilderness on the shores of Lake Michigan, may have influenced Kumlien of the need to preserve aspects of nature which could quickly be destroyed. The early section of the book is richly documented through a surviving diary of the era. Kumlien was a gentleman scholar from Sweden, highly educated but not learned about pioneer living. Early struggles and losses dominate Thure and Christina Kumlien’s life at Lake Koshkonong where they lived in a poorly constructed shanty for the first six years of their marriage. Of Kumlien’s introduction to American ornithology, he sold six bushels of potatoes and fees for appraising neighboring property he purchased to pay for a $3 copy of Wilson’s Ornithology, being unable to afford works by Audubon. To earn cash, he used his taxidermy skills and sold mounted birds to friends, neighbors, collectors, and museums. He also collected samples of native flora and seed, small mammals, and insects which he carefully preserved, identified and shipped to universities and museums around the world.

In 1850, as a result of a Janesville Gazette article about Kumlien, he was introduced by letter to Thomas Mayo Brewer of the Boston Society of Natural History. Kumlien began to supply nests, eggs, and bird skins as well as detailed descriptions to Brewer and a large number of other collectors. These years of collecting, observing, identifying were intense times for American ornithologists as they classified and corrected each other and themselves, and occasionally Audubon, when errors were noted. Eventually Kumlien secured a teaching position at a nearby school after the Civil War. The Kumleins had four surviving children and took up various interests, such as tobacco farming, art, and career government offices in fisheries, besides the constant collection, preservation, and sale of various species of wildlife. Kumlien worked on and off during his final years as a conservator and enthusiastic guide at the Milwaukee Public Museum. 

Complementing the biography with art from Thure’s great-great-grandson, Bergland’s text is written in a friendly style, including the reader in exploration, discoveries and excitement, tragedy, and joy of life in a new country. Kumlien may never take his rightful place next to Increase Lapham or Aldo Leopold, but I am grateful to have gotten to know him better through this biography. 

About the Author: Martha Bergland is the coauthor, with Paul G. Hayes, of Studying Wisconsin—a Society Press biography on famed Wisconsin naturalist Increase Lapham, which won the Milwaukee County Historical Society’s Gambrinus Prize. She taught for many years at Milwaukee Area Technical College, and lives in Glendale, Wisc

Friday, April 30, 2021

Lake Geneva Beachside Authorfest Returns to Library Park in July


Sign up now for your vendor spot-

applications available at the library website.

Calling All Authors!


The Friends of the LakeGeneva Library and Breadloaf Books

invite area authors to Beachside Authorfest 2021


Saturday, July 10, 2021

10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Surrounding the Lake Geneva Public Library


918 W Main Street, Lake Geneva, WI


$25/spot - No refunds

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Nonfiction Writers Conference May 5-7 WWA members disount


11th annual Nonfiction Writers Conference


May 5-7, 2021

 Featuring 15 speakers and content-rich learning sessions, this event is completely virtual. All sessions are delivered via webinar, so you can attend from anywhere—no travel is required!

 Special guest speakers include don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Martha Beck, discussing lessons from her new book The Way of Integrity.


In addition, you can:

 Participate in the popular Ask-a-Pro sessions,

complimentary one-on-one consultations with literary agents,

publishing and marketing pros, and other industry experts, delivered by phone or Skype. Many attendees feel these sessions are worth the cost of admission alone.

 Apply to participate in LIVE agent pitch sessions.

 Access a private, attendees-only Facebook group where you can connect with fellow attendees, industry pros, and speakers.

 Receive event replay recordings (audio and video) and typed transcripts, depending on the registration level you choose.


Add membership in the Nonfiction Authors Association,

depending on the registration level you choose.

 If you want to sell more books, generate bigger profits, and establish yourself as a top author in your field, this event is for you.

 Save 33% off with code: PARTNER33


Friday, April 16, 2021

Janet Kay and Rainy Lake Rendezvous

 This review originally appeared at Wisconsin Writers Association
Rainy Lake Rendezvous, by Janet Kay
Psychological drama,  232 pp
May 2020, Independently published
Reviewed by Lisa Lickel, www.LisaLickel.com
Print $15.95
Ebook $2.99
Buy on Amazon

About the Book:

Determined to reclaim Beth, the ex-wife whom he divorced ten years ago, Rob leaves behind his former identity as a prominent Chicago attorney and embarks upon a secretive mission to rescue her from the man whom he believes is holding her hostage. Together, he and Beth will begin a new life in a remote cabin in the Canadian wilderness.

But Beth has finally found peace and is no longer living in fear of her delusional ex-husband. She is happily remarried to an Ojibwe artist who honors his ancestors' cultural beliefs and traditions. They live on a wilderness island on Rainy Lake along the Minnesota/Canada international border where they are raising ten-year-old Jason.

Jason's idyllic childhood takes an unexpected turn when he awakens from a dream to find himself on a bizarre wilderness adventure with a stranger - accompanied by a spirit from beyond this world. This transformational journey, filled with twists and turns, leads to the discovery of long held family secrets that will change all of their lives forever.

Can they let go of the past, learn to forgive, and move into an uncertain future together?
Genres: Psychological Suspense, Wilderness Adventure, Supernatural
"Rainy Lake Rendezvous is a tale that begins with obsession and madness but becomes, in the end, a journey with something quite different in mind. Janet Kay offers readers a rich tapestry of intrigue, of history, of Ojibwe lore and culture… “ William Kent Krueger
My review:
Janet Kay’s creepy and delusional ex-lawyer Rob Calhoun, aka Bob Johnson, will make you think twice about taking that vacation in the deep north woods. Rob has never been short of charm, until he divorced his wife for a pregnant girlfriend/wife number two who promptly disappeared with the son he never knew nor cared about. Ten years’ worth of obsessive preparation to rescue Beth, the wife Rob should never have let go, leads to an intriguing, terrifying series of revelations that will keep readers turning pages.
A mysterious message repeats in Bob’s head…Bob has a rendezvous with death. As we learn more about Bob, his ex-wife Beth and new husband Seth, and their young son Jason, the deeper we’re drawn into this tale of spirit guides, premonition, and the results of choices that haunt them. Taking on a new persona, Bob’s careful plot winds across the US-Canada border and onto First Nation lands through the legendary boundary waters and islands of Minnesota and Ontario. Fall and its treacherous weather add to the suspense. Bob justifies his mania by believing Seth must be holding Beth hostage and he must save her.
Seth’s thought-provoking grandmother holds the story together as she whispers to each of them from beyond messages of warning, comfort, and a purpose that needs to be carried out.
A sequel to Waters of the Dancing Sky, echoes of reincarnation from earlier lives complement contemporary events. The profound message of forgiveness, “forgiving others—and yourself—were the keys to letting go of the past and embracing a future filled with endless possibilities” leaves the reader with hope. Kay’s tale of possibilities is recommended for high school-age readers and up who love adventurous drama and mysteries. Mild language and alcohol use.

About the Author
Janet Kay lives and writes on a pristine lake in the woods of northwest Wisconsin.  Drawn to nature since she was a child, she sees it's wonders as a source of renewal, reflection and connection with something greater than oneself.  Her lifelong interests include creative writing, travel, photography, exploring nature, and spending time with family and friends.  She has a special interest in the Victorian era and in the paranormal. http://www.novelsbyjanetkay.com/

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Wisconsin Arts Board Holds Town Hall Meeting


4 PM - 5:30 PM
Register here

The Wisconsin Arts Board and its partners invite you to a second statewide forum to share your insights about what should come next in the recovery and stability of WI’s arts ecosystem.
Our partners in this are organizations that are also missioned to serve you:  Arts Wisconsin, Association of Wisconsin Artists, Film Wisconsin, gener8tor art, gener8tor music, Imagine MKE, Mary Nohl Fellowships, Milwaukee Artist Resource Network, Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, Wisconsin Alliance of Composers, Wisconsin Dance Council, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Visual Artists, and the Wisconsin Writers Association.
We know that artists and creative workers have been, and continue to be, absolutely crucial to WI’s health and vibrancy.  As we move through the COVID-19 pandemic, address issues of racial equity and social justice, and re-establish Wisconsin’s thriving creative economy, your work is more critical than ever.
With thanks to those of you who shared your wisdom, insight, and questions at our first Town Hall in December, we invite everyone to update us on how you’re doing, what you need, what you want to offer, how we can help, and how we can best work together to determine where we go from here. 
So please join us on Monday, April 26 from 4:00 – 5:30pm for Wisconsin Artists and Creative Workers Town Hall 2.0! 
Click here to register (registration is required) so we can send you the meeting connection information (be sure to include your email address): https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PGHCLZW
The co-host organizations will be there to update you on the work that we’ve been doing with/on behalf of WI’s artists and creative workers, and to listen to and learn from your updates. 
As with the December Town Hall, we anticipate that the number of people attending will be greater than the number of minutes that we will have available, so not all attendees will have an opportunity to speak. Therefore, if you would like to speak, please note this in your registration. We will send you a confirmation if you are on the speaker list ahead of the web meeting, allotting 2 minutes per speaker. Speakers will be selected based on order of registration, with discretion of the event moderators to adjust the speaker list to ensure a broad diversity in our speakers.
Anyone is welcome to join the Town Hall as an active listener, posing respectful questions and comments in the Chat, or just listening.  We will take the Town Hall recording, chat record, and topics/questions posed in the registrations to help inform future discussions, resource development, and/or Q & A pages on our various art service organization websites. 
Questions? Please email karen.goeschko@wisconsin.gov.
We hope to see you on April 26.

George T. Tzougros
Executive Director
Wisconsin Arts Board
PO Box 8690
Madison, WI 53708-8690

T    (608) 267-2006
F    (608) 267-0380

Monday, April 12, 2021

New short fiction from Ryan R Campbell


And Ampersand: Short Stories on Endings and Beginnings (of a Sort)
Contemporary Fiction
Length: 27 pages
Date published: April 12, 2021
Cedarbrook Books
Ebook: $3.99
Print: $6.99
Buy the Book
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books

About the Book:

Your death comes on slowly, while elsewhere, a nameless man fakes his own. Encased in glass, a young man navigates a world meant for those beyond. A mudslide washes away a once romantic weekend, and a childhood swim drowns all illusion of innocence.

These are but some of the tales in And Ampersand: Short Stories on Endings and Beginnings (of a Sort). In this collection of flash fiction, short stories, and freeform prose, International Book Awards finalist R.R. Campbell returns as Ryan R. Campbell to juxtapose genesis and resolution, to bask in the beauty of rebirth in the most unexpected of places and at the most unexpected of times.

Born of the author’s own reinvention and oft-inspired by true events, And Ampersand is the perfect pocket companion for any reader who’s ever tussled with the tie between inception and end. 


My Review

Ryan R. Campbell’s collection of eight very short pieces delivers on the promise of “Here, together, we’ll endure the shifting of the earth.”

Between one and three pages each, the stories explore the precipice that divides life from death, experience from naïveté, grief from joy. Campbell celebrates lyricism when he explains, “It’s sunrise coffee and footsteps on pavement, birdsong and blunder, woe at the hands of and triumph over oneself.”

The title piece, And Ampersand, imagines an ageless death that’s simply another beginning, perhaps a crossing from one age to another, a metamorphosis of responsibility or perception of maturity. “Your final breath escapes when the last of the magic leaves the world.”

Campbell’s tales imagine getting a redo at life with uncanny and sometimes disturbing fantasizing the moments of demise, and are rich with description: adrenaline tingling, seconds bleeding into eternity, treetops cowering and snow kissing roads. There are stories of introspection, mostly anonymous, some with named characters, but representative of anyone, everyone. Who doesn’t want to escape from natural disaster, or manmade disaster that comes with heart aching and heart breaking choices and regret?

The stories erupt from all walks of life and ages and stages of the participants. A single parent is dreadfully injured and needs to leave a message; a young husband wants to forgive; a youngster faces the reality of his fear; and a loss triggers a cycle of memories that immortalizes the one who’s passed on.

Beautifully expressed in controlled, tightly woven and sharply focused language, And Ampersand is sure to captivate readers of short literary fiction. Thoughtful and provocative.

About the Author

Ryan R. Campbell lives in Stoughton, Wisconsin, with his wife, Lacey, and their cats, Hashtag and Rhaegar. Together, they own and operate Kill Your Darlings Candle Company, which sustainably illuminates the lives of readers, writers, and their communities with their candles for the wordsmiths of the world.

The author’s work as R.R. Campbell has earned him accolades including finalist placement in the International Book Awards and acclaim from New York Times bestselling authors.

He is also the founder of the Writescast Network and a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Writers Association.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Fantasy from Madison's R Chris Reeder


The Trickster’s Sister, sequel to The Changeling’s Daughter
R Chris Reeder
Black Rose Writing
YA Fantasy
440 pp April 2021

Print $22.95 
Buy on Amazon 
Barnes and Noble
Publisher - The Trickster's Sister
Publisher -- book 1, The Changeling's Daughter

About the Book
After getting kidnapped by a demigod and imprisoned in another dimension, Makayla was really hoping that her life would get back to normal. Or at least as normal as life could be when you had a goblin for a best friend.

But now her sleepy midwestern town is being invaded by shadows. Her neighbors are being stolen away and replaced by changelings. And when she tries to escape, her path threatens to take her to the one place she never wanted to return to: the mysterious and dangerous Land of Annwfyn.
My review
Reeder’s fantasy YA is a story of friendship, the best kind of friendship; of finding and using your gifts, and family. It’s a quest for a missing brother; it’s a take-care-of-the-baby-while-we save-the-universe, figure-out-who-we-are, and a rescue adventure, all wrapped in girl power—the kind that needs only best friends.
Universal truths still compete as good and evil vie for dominance. Reeder has a way of twisting common perceptions into misperceptions that bare our prejudices. A mystifying and frightening invasion is taking place, and the ministry in charge of the changeling operations all over the universe is purposefully being misdirected. I love how Reeder confabulates the changeling log book. Scenes like that, and how the girls work together to unravel the mystery are amazing and beautiful. Sure, the girls argue and fight, but realize they must work together and help each other face their worst nightmares in order to survive. What one does, sacrifices, is willing to take on for love of another, is the framework. I enjoy Reeder’s use of short, tight chapters to ramp up tension, although occasionally the breaks are a distraction from the story.
Persistence, never give up, fight for what you believe, and most of all: appreciate yourself are all qualities that define this story as told from Makayla’s point of view on the human side and the administration minister’s side. Everyone must rise above if good is to win in this serial adventure. As in the first book, the author uses typical teenage issues of identity challenges, cursing, and quite a bit of fantasy violence, so parents who mind might want to check it out first.
About the Author
R. Chris Reeder grew up in a tiny town you've never heard of and attended college in Walla Walla, Washington. He founded a theatre company, worked across the country as a professional Shakespearean actor, traveled the globe as an international courier, took a year and a half detour to be a singing activist, and then settled down into the comfortable life of a stay-at-home father and part-time author.
He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife, two children, and a pair of cats named Monster Jack and Tiny Jill. www.rchrisreeder.com