Dakota Midday: Jerry Nelson, "Dear County Agent Guy"

Jerry Nelson embraced the American farming dream and lived to tell about it. His book, "Dear County Agent Guy" is a compilation of his newspaper columns. As we continue the Dakota Midday Book Club, Nelson visited the SDPB studios for a conversation about life, death, and laughter and why you should never sleep with a baby chick.

Dakota Midday Book Club: Denice Turner's "Worthy"

Denice Turner teaches at Black Hills State University. Her book "Worthy" was chosen as a Dakota Midday Book Club selection. "Worthy" is a memoir. In it the author searches for truth after her mother's mysterious death in a fire. Denice Turner joins Dakota Midday to talk about a writer's challenge to craft herself into a character, the struggle to find an authentic sense of self worth, and the joys (and occasional despair) of parenting. Full interview with Denice Turner:

Dakota Midday: 'Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse'

Beginning with her 1988 novel, The Cape Ann , Faith Sullivan has told stories of the people living in the fictional small town of Harvester, Minnesota. In her latest novel, Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, Sullivan tells the life story of school teacher Nell Stillman, a minor character in The Cape Ann. The book opens in 1900 when the death of her husband leaves her alone and penniless with a baby boy, Hilly. But she's rescued by a sympathetic and wealthy couple who offer her a job as a third grade teacher. She falls into an uneasy love affair with a politician and is devastated when her son goes off to war and comes back traumatically shell-shocked. But through it all, she's comforted by her strong, multi-generational friendships and the novels of English author P.G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves and Wooster. The Wall Street Journal picked Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse as one of the top ten best books of fiction for 2015. Faith Sullivan joined the Dakota Midday Book Club and discussed Good Night,

Dakota Midday: 'The High Divide'

As Lin Enger's The High Divide opens, it's 1886 and Ulysses Pope has been missing for six weeks. A civil war veteran who also fought in the Indian wars, Ulysses left his wife and two sons behind on the far edge of Minnesota's western prairie with only a brief note and no explanation of why he left and where he's heading. Ulysses' 16-year-old son, Eli, intercepts a letter from a woman in Bismarck, suggesting that his father had recently visited her. In a quest to find Ulysses, Eli attempts to sneak out in the middle of the night but is followed by his younger, sickly 9-year-old brother, Danny. Together they hop a freight train and travel west across Dakota Territory. Once their mother, Gretta, realizes her sons are gone, she embarks on her own travels to find out what happened to her husband and sons. Lin Enger teaches at Minnesota State University in Moorhead. He's an Iowa Workshop graduate and the author of the novel Undiscovered County. Enger joined the Dakota Midday Book Club for a

Festival of Books: Faith Sullivan

Beginning with her 1988 novel, Cape Ann , Faith Sullivan has told stories of the people living in the fictional small town of Harvester, Minnesota. In her newest novel, Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, Sullivan tells the life story of school teacher Nell Stillman, a minor character from Cape Ann. The book opens in 1900 when the death of her husband leaves her alone and penniless with a baby boy, Hilly. But she's rescued by a sympathetic couple who offer her a job as a third grade teacher. She falls into an uneasy love affair with a politician and her son goes off to war and comes back traumatically shell-shocked. But through it all, she's comforted by her strong friendships and the novels of English author P.G. Wodehouse, creator of Jeeves and Wooster. Faith Sullivan joined Dakota Midday from the 2015 South Dakota Festival of Books.

Festival of Books: Ron Capps

Ron Capps served in the Army and Army Reserve for 25 years and is also a retired Foreign Service officer for the Department of State. He served both branches in some of the world's deadliest places: wartime Kosovo, Darfur, Chad, Afghanistan and Iraq. The horrors of what he witnessed and his inability to stop the death and bloodshed inflicted him with shakes, panic attacks and severe depression. Capps' memoir, Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years, chronicles his wartime experiences and his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Capps is also the founder and director of the Veterans Writing Project, a non-profit providing writing seminars for veterans and their adult family members. He joined Dakota Midday from the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

Festival of Books: Brittany Gibbons

In 2007, Brittany Gibbons began writing about her experiences as a curvy woman in her blog, Brittany Herself . She wore a swimming suit to denounce body shaming in a TED talk a few years ago. Her mission is to destroy the myth that every plus-size woman hates her body and herself. Her book, Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin... Every Inch of It, is a memoir of her life from her teens in rural Ohio to the early years of her marriage and as mother of three kids. Gibbons joined Dakota Midday from the 2015 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood.

Festival of Books: The Life And Legend Of Calamity Jane

One of the best-known early residents of Deadwood is Calamity Jane. According to the various stories about her, she was a scout for the army, a pony express rider, a sidekick of Wild Bill Hickcok, and an angel of mercy who nursed small-pox victims and aided the poor. The reality is she wasn't a Wild West heroine, but a tragic alcoholic. However, the legend of Calamity Jane has endured from 19th century dime novels, through Hollywood films, to the recent HBO series, Deadwood. James McLaird in his book, Calamity Jane: The Woman and the Legend, and Richard Etulain in his books, The Life and Legends of Calamity Jane and Calamity Jane: A Reader's Guide, write about the real life of Calamity Jane and the myths that have shaped her reputation. McLaird taught history at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell for 37 years. Etulain is Professor Emeritus of History and former director of the Center for the American West at the University of New Mexico. The joined Dakota Midday from the 2015 South

Dakota Midday: 'The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band'

Sissy Roberts believes she has a family curse: being a listener. Just like her mother, people tell her the bad things she doesn't want to know, things they wouldn't confess to a priest. Sissy is a young Lakota woman with dreams of going to college, but since she can't figure out how to pay for it, she works as a waitress and plays guitar and sings on Saturday nights with the Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band. The group's handle is also the name of Frances Washburn's third novel, set in the year 1969. As the book opens, the band is playing in a rough bar north of Pine Ridge in Scenic, South Dakota for the 4 th of July rodeo and dance. After the raucous night of drinking and dancing is over, Buffalo Ames is found dead along the railroad tracks near the bar. Because Sissy is the person who hears everyone's confessions, she's drawn into the FBI investigation into Buffalo Ames' death. The Red Bird All-Indian Traveling Band is more than a murder mystery, though. It's the story of a strong,

Dakota Midday: Dan O'Brien's Wild Idea

Bison once numbered in the tens of millions in a range stretching across North America from Alaska to Mexico. Many native wildlife species depended on massive herds of grazing bison to shape the ecosystem. By the late 19th Century there were only about a thousand bison left, victims of hunting and western expansion. But today there are some 400,000 buffalo in North America according to the National Bison Association. About 1,000 of them live on Dan O'Brien's Cheyenne River Ranch just west of Badlands National Park and north of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Nearly 20 years ago, O'Brien started the Wild Idea Buffalo Company to help keep his small ranch going and to offer an alternative to industrialized meat production. But starting the enterprise wasn't easy, especially for someone who admits he knew nothing about business. O'Brien's latest book, Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land, is an account of his efforts to raise buffalo with dignity and respect as a sustainable

Dakota Midday: 'Pioneer Girl'

Before she wrote her beloved Little House on the Prairie series for children, Laura Ingalls Wilder penned an autobiography called Pioneer Girl. Written for adults, the book presents a somewhat grittier, first-person account of life as a pioneer in the Midwest. Pioneer Girl was rejected by publishers, but Wilder's manuscript served as source material for the Little House books. More than 80 years later, the South Dakota Historical Society Press has published the original manuscript for the first time in an extensively annotated volume edited by author and Wilder scholar Pamela Smith Hill . Hill grew up in Springfield, Missouri, about forty minutes from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Rocky Ridge Farm where Wilder wrote Pioneer Girl and the Little House series. Hill graduated from USD and launched her professional writing career in South Dakota. She published her first book for young adults, Ghost Horses , in 1996. She's also the author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writers Life, published by the

Great-Grandmother Inspires South Dakota Homestead Novel

In the opening of Dawn Wink's novel, Meadowlark , 16-year-old Grace is an excited young bride looking forward to a life with her new husband, Tom. But any ideas of she has of an idyllic life together are shattered during their trip from the wedding to western South Dakota. Without warning, Tom pulls her off the wagon, punches and kicks her, and leaves her to walk the rest of the way to their sod hot. Living with an abusive husband is just one of the challenges Grace faces. There's also the loneliness and isolation that challenged other homesteaders struggling to survive on an often harsh landscape. But helping her through these difficulties are two other young women: Mae, a bold, plucky doctor from Boston; and Daisy, a Lakota widow. With their help, Grace survives and learns how to create beauty from ugliness. Grace is also the name of Dawn Wink's great-grandmother and the source of inspiration for Meadowlark. Like her fictional counterpart, the real-life Grace traveled to western

Festival of Books: Joseph Bruchac

The hero of Joseph Bruchac's new young adult book, Killer of Enemies , is a 17-year-old Apache girl named Lozen. She's living in a in a post-apocalyptic world running wild with genetically-modified monsters, or gemods. Her mother and brother are being held hostage by the Ones in a former penitentiary that serves as a sanctuary for survivors. Because of her unique survival skills and magical abilities, Lozen is conscripted by the Ones and sent on repeated quests to slay the gemods. Joseph Bruchac lives in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains and is a storyteller, poet and author of over 100 books. His work often reflects his Abenaki Indian heritage as well as the stories and legends of other Native peoples. Bruchac is one of the featured authors at the 2014 South Dakota Festival of Books. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed creating a dystopian nightmare and strong female characters.

Festival of Books: Dan O'Brien

Along with being an author, Dan O'Brien is also a wildlife biologist, falconer and buffalo rancher. He's written six novels and four books of non-fiction. His latest book is Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land. It's an account of efforts to raise buffalo with dignity and respect as a sustainable enterprise in the Cheyenne River Valley. It's also a love story - of family, friends, the often harsh-landscape of western South Dakota and the American bison. Dan O'Brien is one of the featured authors at the 2014 South Dakota Festival of Books. He joined Dakota Midday and discussed raising buffalo and still finding time to write. For more information about O'Brien's Wild Idea Buffalo Company, click here.

Festival of Books: Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is a best-selling crime writer whose latest book, Cop Town , is set in 1974 Atlanta. It's the story of a couple of young female officers who are trying to prove their worth in the macho Atlanta PD and also tracking down a serial killer who is targeting cops. Kate Murphy is a young widow from a privileged background and new on the job. She's partnered with Maggie Lawson, whose brother and uncle are also police officers. Cop Town raises issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and class inequality. Slaughter says that by setting the book in the 1970s, she gives readers some remove to look at how things used to be and perhaps understand how much and how little things have changed. Karin Slaughter is one of the featured authors at the 2014 South Dakota Festival of Books. She joined Dakota Midday and discussed using crime novel to explore social and political issues.