Save the date: April brings two of Michigan’s biggest literary events


Spring is in the air, which means two annual literary events are sprouting: A Rally for Writers and Night for Notables.

The former, a combination writer’s workshop and panel series featuring some of Michigan’s most high-profile authors, will take place April 15 at Lansing Community College’s West Campus in Delta Township. Bonnie Jo Campbell, bestselling author of three novels, including “Once Upon a River,” which was adapted into an award-winning feature film, will be the keynote speaker.

Other speakers include Anne-Marie Oomen, whose memoirs “As Long as I Know You: The Mom Book” and “Love, Sex and 4-H” both won Michigan Notable Book awards, and Lansing Poet Laureate Masaki Takahashi, who will conduct a workshop on storytelling.

A Rally for Writers continues to be one of the best bargains among writers’ workshops in the United States. It features 16 breakout sessions and costs $98.50 without lunch ($63.50 for students) or $116 with lunch ($81 for students). More information is available at

Night for Notables, an elegant reception honoring this year’s Michigan Notable Books, is set for the evening of April 22 at the Library of Michigan. For $50, attendees can rub shoulders with authors who are either from Michigan or wrote fantastic works about the state. The entrance ticket, which funds the Library of Michigan Foundation, also includes a memorable buffet among the books.

This year’s keynote speaker is Karen Dionne, who won two awards in the past for “The Marsh King’s Daughter,” which is soon to be a movie starring Daisy Ridley and Garrett Hedlund, and “The Wicked Sister.” 

Dionne will talk about her books and personal journey to becoming a successful author. Her story is one of talent and fortitude, which have made her a force in the thriller genre. Tickets for the event can be purchased online at

“This year’s Michigan Notable Books continue to set a standard of excellence for Michigan authors,” State Librarian Randy Riley said. 

The 2023 list is eclectic, with books ranging from topics as distinct as a biography of a professional wrestler from Lansing to a biography about J Dilla, a musician and producer from Detroit. 

There are several memoirs on this year’s list, including “It’s Hard Being You: A Primer on Being Happy Anyway,” by Lansing’s Sharon Emery. The author writes about her life as a stutterer and how she overcame the impediment to become a writer and communications specialist, coupled with the loss of her adult daughter in a swimming accident. 

“Uphill: A Memoir,” by Jemele Hill, a Michigan State University graduate and Emmy Award-winning former cohost of ESPN’s SportsCenter, shares the story of her work, complicated relationship with God and attempts to forge a new path beyond her family’s cycle of intergenerational trauma.

In “Magic Season: A Son’s Story,” Wade Rouse chronicles his life as a queer kid in a conservative Ozarks community, his relationship with his father and their undying love of the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite strong differences, baseball offers Rouse and his father a shared vocabulary — a way to stay in touch, connect and express their emotions. When his father’s health takes a turn for the worst, Rouse returns to southwest Missouri to share one final season with him.

“I’ll Be There: My Life with the Four Tops,” by Abdul “Duke” Fakir with Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, is a heartfelt memoir from the last surviving member of the band. The book features revealing anecdotes about the group’s formation, their early days as backup singers for the likes of Jackie Wilson and their years working with Berry Gordy at Motown Records.

Also, for the first time, three books by Indigenous authors have made the list, including “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” by Angeline Boulley, a story about a young woman caught up in a homicide on her reservation in Sault Ste. Marie.; “The Peacekeeper: A Novel,” by B.L. Blanchard, a tale of a detective trying to solve two murders in a never-colonized North America; and “The Star That Always Stays,” by Anna Rose Johnson, a coming-of-age story about a young Ojibwe girl who moves to the city from Beaver Island.


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