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2012 Book Club Blast

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Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave., Minneapolis

Keynote author: KATE DiCAMILLO

The Loft Literary Center University of Minnesota Press

Register now for the third annual MinnPost Book Club Blast featuring Kate DiCamillo, the award-winning author of “The Magician’s Elephant,” “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” “The Tale of Despereaux,” “Because of Winn-Dixie” and many other beloved and unforgettable tales.

$5 per person for MinnPost member-donors and any # of guests
$10 per person for others

Click here to reserve your spot now!



1:30-2:00 p.m.  Registration & Door Prize Entry – Entrance, first floor

2:00-2:45 p.m.  Keynote Author – Target Performance Hall, second floor
        Welcome from MinnPost
Kate DiCamillo in conversation with journalist Sarah T. Williams
Audience Q & A

3:00-3:30 p.m.  Breakout Session A – Classrooms, third floor
        Choose from five possible sessions (see below)

3:40-4:10 p.m.  Second Breakout Session B  – Classrooms, third floor
        Choose from five possible sessions (see below)

4:15-5:00 p.m.  Reception – Jay Cowles Literary Commons, second floor
        Door prize winners announced
Complementary wine and deserts
Book sale by Magers & Quinn Booksellers (Conference Room)
Author book signing


A. Running a successful book club
Book club experts share insights into running successful book clubs, including tips on starting a book club, making book selections, enlivening meetings and choosing extension activities. They’ll also cover the pros and cons of online book clubs and discuss online resources and software available to book clubs.
Presenters: Audra Otto, JoEllen Haugo
Classroom 302, third floor

B. Share your favorite book club reads
Book club experts give a brief overview of recent best-selling popular fiction titles that may be of interest to readers and facilitate a group discussion in which participants share their own favorite books with one another. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to choose two books to discuss and either bring copies of the books or a short printout (book title, author, synopsis) to this session.
Presenters: Susan Albright, Barbara Pierce
Mahai Book Club Room, third floor

C. Do writers need a publisher?
In 2008, for the first time in history, more books were self-published than published traditionally. In 2009, 76 percent of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses reduced production. In this breakout session, panelists debate the question: In the age of e-books, Kindle Direct Publishing, a booming print-on-demand industry and endless online tools and social media sites to facilitate self-promotion, do writers still need literary agents and publishers?
Panelists: Jack El-Hai, Susan Doerr of U of M Press, Dara Beevas of Beaver’s Pond Press
Classroom 304, third floor

D. How should writers promote themselves online?
Self-promotion is an issue most writers struggle with. The perpetual expansion of the internet continually provides writers with new and improved ways to market themselves and to build a following of readers. Promotional advice has become dogma: frequently update your website, blog and tweet daily, re-tweet to engage readers, promote your work in 20-30 percent of your postings… and on and on. In this breakout session, author Dennis Cass approaches the issues of online literary promotion, the demands and pressures to self-promote, and the actual effect of self-promotion on reader numbers and sales.
Speaker: Dennis Cass
Classroom 308, third floor

E. Memoir author panel
Three local authors discuss their memoirs, compare experiences of the writing process and discuss navigating the fine lines between autobiography, memoir and fiction. Followed by audience Q & A.
Panelists: Matthew Batt, Paul Metsa, Sarah Stonich
Classroom 303, third floor


Tickets to the 2012 Minnesota Book Awards Gala

Two tickets (valued at $45 each) to the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, Apr. 14, 2012, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the St. Paul riverfront. Sponsored by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, the Minnesota Book Awards honor exceptional authors in eight genre categories. At this year’s ceremony, the Readers’ Choice Award, Kay Sexton Award, Minnesota Book Artist Award and Hognander Minnesota History Award will also be presented. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m.; the program begins at 8 p.m. An after-party celebration featuring The Willie August Project band will kick off immediately following the ceremony.

Kate DiCamillo gift basket

A gift basket filled with books, audio CDs and posters from Book Club Blast keynote author Kate DiCamillo. The assortment of books — all signed by DiCamillo — includes hardcover copies of “The Magician’s Elephant,” “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane,” “The Tale of Despereaux” and the anthology “The Chronicles of Harris Burdick;” softcover copies of “Because of Winn-Dixie,” “The Tiger Rising” and several books in the “Mercy Watson” picture book series; and audio editions of “The Tiger Rising” and “The Mercy Watson Collection: Volume Three.”

Tickets for the Pen Pals author lecture series

Two tickets (valued at $150 each) for the 2011-2012 Pen Pals author lecture series. A program of The Friends of the Hennepin County Library, Pen Pals is one of the most highly-regarded and longest running literary series in the Twin Cities. This season’s remaining speakers include:
* March 15-16: Wallace Shawn, author of “Essays” and actor known for his roles in “The Princess Bride” and “My Dinner with Andre”
* April 19-20: Dr. Brian Greene, leading theoretical physicist and author of the national best-sellers “The Elegant Universe” and “The Hidden Reality”
* May 10-11: Arthur Phillips, Minneapolis native and author of five novels, including “Prague” and “The Tragedy of Arthur”

Bookworm gift basket

Along with four stories by Kate DiCamillo, this gift basket contains copies of the “2012 St. Paul Almanac” — an annual calendar and guide to take the curious urban adventurer through the year in Minnesota’s capital city — and an assortment of books from local publishers, including University of Minnesota Press and Minnesota Historical Society Press.

Tickets to “The Diary of Anne Frank” at Park Square Theatre

Two tickets (valued at $40 each) to Park Square Theatre’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” on Saturday, Mar. 31, 2012. Dramatized by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, the legendary journals of Anne Frank provide an extraordinary account of eight Jews hiding in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Under the direction of Scott Rubsam, Anne’s experiences in confinement come to life on stage in a lyrical, inspiring performance about an intensely gifted young woman whose imagination and hope wouldn’t be stifled by adversity.

Gift certificate for The Loft Literary Center

A non-expiring $50 gift certificate to The Loft Literary Center. The certificate can be used to jump into a creative writing class or schedule some quiet writing time in a Loft studio.

Local Pride coffee collection

Two large MinnPost bistro mugs — featuring our new logo — paired with bags of coffee beans from Peace Coffee — proudly roasting, pedaling and brewing outstanding fair trade and organic coffee in the Twin Cities for 15 years strong.



Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo
A beloved storyteller who has captivated and enchanted young and adult readers across America, DiCamillo has authored more than 15 young adult novels, chapter books, short stories and picture books.

Her debut novel, “Because of Winn-Dixie,” won the Newbery Honor and was released as a film in 2005. Her second novel, “The Tiger Rising,” was a National Book Award finalist and is currently being adapted for the big screen for a 2013 release. “The Tale of Despereaux,” DiCamillo’s sensation third novel, won the Newbery Award and was released as a film in 2008. Her follow-up — the achingly beautiful “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” — was the winner of a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and was optioned by New Line Cinema. DiCamillo’s newest novel, “The Magician’s Elephant” — a haunting fable about trusting the unexpected and making the extraordinary come true — was a New York Times best-seller and is being adapted into a film by 20th Century Fox.

DiCamillo’s chapter books include “Bink and Gollie” and six wry, endearing books starring the precocious pig Mercy Watson — including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book “Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride.” Her picture books include “Great Joy” and “Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken.” Her new short story, “Third Floor Bedroom” (2011) is featured in “The Chronicles of Harris Burdick,” anthology illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.

Sarah T. Williams

Sarah T. Williams
A MinnPost journalist and host of MinnPost’s Book Club Club site, Williams was formerly the books editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where she worked as a news editor and reporter for 27 years. Williams is currently the communications and public relations manager at the Hazelden Foundation.

Matthew Batt

Matthew Batt
Recently described in The Missouri Review as a “heavy hitter” of nonfiction, Batt is the author of “Sugarhouse,” a memoir coming out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in June 2012. It’s the harrowing — and often hilarious — story of renovating a Salt Lake City crack house and his life along with it. This witty and affecting memoir relays the misadventures of a commitment-phobic couple who, on the heels of a heartbreaking year, try to catapult themselves into adulthood by purchasing a dilapidated former crack house and attempting to turn it into “home sweet home.”

A professor of English at the University of St. Thomas, Batt’s fiction, creative nonfiction and reviews have appeared in Tin House, The Huffington Post, Mid-American Review, Fifth Wednesday, Quarterly West, Western Humanities Review, Soundings East, The Isthmus, San Francisco Chronicle, Salt Lake Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, and in the anthology “Food & Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast.” He is the recipient of a 2010 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize six times. He is currently finishing his forthcoming book “The Enthusiast,” a collection of compulsive essays about obsessive subjects.

Dara Beevas

Dara Beevas
A writer, editor and blogger, Beevas has worked in publishing for more than a decade. Beevas is currently vice president of Beaver’s Pond Press, a “mentoring press” hybrid publishing model that closes the gap between self-publishing and royalty publishing by providing consulting, editing, book design, printing, e-book and marketing services for indie authors. Beevas’s passion for mentoring authors led her to co-found Wise, Ink, a newly-launched online community dedicated to the indie author revolution. In 2009, Beevas was selected as an “Emerging Writer” by the Givens Foundation for African American Literature.

Dennis Cass

Dennis Cass
A writer, teacher and performer, Cass is the author of “Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain,” from HarperCollins. An accessible survey of basic concepts in neuroscience, “Head Case” is also a memoir about fathers and sons, prescription drug abuse and mental illness and why some people shouldn’t live in New York City. Cass describes it as “a popular science book for people who would never in a million years read a popular science book.” Cass made a wildly popular book trailer for “Head Case,” featuring the end of a cellphone conversation about what he is — or is not — doing to promote the release of his paperback. The trailer, “Book Launch 2.0,” won the 2010 Moby Award (the Oscars of book trailers) for Best Performance by an Author.

Currently working on his second book, Cass’s writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, the New York Times Magazine, the online journal Slate, GQ and Mother Jones. He has taught creative nonfiction at Carleton College, served as a juror for MNArtists.org’s literary contest miniStories and judged the Literary Death Match competitive reading series. Cass is a frequent speaker on writing, book marketing and social media, and has worked to help emerging writers make sense of how technology is transforming the creation, distribution and promotion of literature.

Susan Doerr

Susan Doerr
A bookselling and publishing professional for more than 18 years, Doerr has spent the past six years with the University of Minnesota Press, where part of her role as Operations Manager is serving on the digital publishing team. Prior to joining U of M Press, Doerr worked as the marketing director for Consortium Book Sales and Distribution and as a publicist for Milkweed Press. She tweets about what she’s learning, reading, and cooking at @susanmpls.

Jack El-Hai

Jack El-Hai
A veteran writer, essayist and historical journalist, El-Hai is the author of a biography of Dr. Walter Freeman, “The Lobotomist: Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness” from Wiley. He previously authored “Lost Minnesota: Stories of Vanished Places” from University of Minnesota Press, as well as numerous corporate and organizational history books.

El-Hai’s work has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, American Heritage, The Washington Post Magazine, The History Channel Magazine and many other publications. El-Hai has received several honors and awards for his work, including the June Roth Memorial Award for Medical Journalism, grants from the Center for Arts Criticism and fellowships from the McKnight and Jerome foundations. A past vice president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, El-Hai frequently gives public lectures and workshops on writing and teaches at The Loft Literary Center.

Paul Metsa

Paul Metsa
A legendary musician and songwriter, Metsa has received seven Minnesota Music Awards and played more than five thousand gigs, including forays to Iceland and Siberia. His new memoir from University of Minnesota Press, “Blue Guitar Highway,” is a true musician’s tale: the story of a boy growing up on the Iron Range, playing his guitar at family gatherings, coming of age in the psychedelic seventies, and honing his craft as a pro in Minneapolis, ground zero of American popular music in the mid-eighties.

Metsa’s memoir takes readers right onto the stages he shared with stars like Billy Bragg, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. And it gives a close-up, dizzying view of the roller-coaster ride that is the professional musician’s life, played out against the polarizing politics and intimate history of the past few decades of American culture. Written with a songwriter’s sense of detail and ear for poetry, “Blue Guitar Highway” conveys all the sweet absurdity, dry humor and passion for the language of music that has made his story sing.

Sarah Stonich

Sarah Stonich
Stonich is the author of the internationally-acclaimed novels “These Granite Islands” and “The Ice Chorus,” — which have been translated into eight languages — and the short story collection “Vacationland.” Her new memoir from Borealis Books, “Shelter,” recounts the experience of buying land and building a cabin near Ely. Stonich describes the book as “a skinny dip into the past.” Stonich is a recipient of the Loft/McKnight Award for Fiction, a Jerome Foundation Grant and a Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship.

Susan Albright

Susan Albright
Albright is co-managing editor at MinnPost, where she oversees arts coverage and Community Voices, and writes about national and foreign developments. Before joining MinnPost, Albright was editor of the Star Tribune’s editorial pages. She has also held editing positions at the Louisville Times and the Syracuse Herald-Journal and the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.

Barbara Pierce

Barbara Pierce
A librarian and book club facilitator at the Highland Park Library in St. Paul, Pierce has been a Minnesota Book Awards judge for the past three years. Pierce also serves on the Minnesota Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Round Table steering committee and has been a presenter at the last four Minnesota Library Association Conferences — usually speaking on her favorite genre, Scandinavian mysteries.

Audra Otto

Audra Otto
Otto coordinates and writes for MinnPost’s Book Club Club and Young Professionals Network. Prior to joining MinnPost, Otto earned her M.A. in Literature and Film from University College Cork, Ireland, and worked at various Twin Cities publications and small publishers. This past October, Otto spoke at the Minnesota Library Association Conference as part of an expert panel on book clubs.

JoEllen Haugo

JoEllen Haugo
A librarian with the Hennepin County Library for more than 15 years, Haugo works with the Minneapolis Central Library’s extensive history collection, acts as a genealogy instructor and serves on the team that coordinates the Family History Fair and History Day events. Haugo also facilitates and leads two of the Library’s book clubs.



The Loft Literary Center University of Minnesota Press