Petra Mayer is an associate editor and resident nerd at NPR Books, focusing on genre fiction. She brings to the job passion, speed-reading skills, and a truly impressive collection of Doctor Who doodads.

Previously, she was an associate producer and director for the weekend editions of All Things Considered. She handled all of the show's books coverage, and she was also the person to ask if you wanted to know how much snow falls outside NPR's Washington headquarters on a Saturday, how to belly dance, or what pro wrestling looks like up close and personal.

Books News & Features
2:22 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Fans Are Like Friends To 'Reigning Queen' Of Women's Fiction

Debbie Macomber's latest book is Rose Harbor in Bloom.
Deborah Feingold

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 6:12 pm

Go to your nearest paperback rack, and odds are, you'll see two or three, or four, or — well, a lot of books by Debbie Macomber, an author The Sacramento Bee has dubbed "the reigning queen of women's fiction."

Macomber has 170 million books in print; the newest, Rose Harbor in Bloom, has just been released. Her publisher, Random House, celebrated Macomber's selling power earlier this month with a fan retreat at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville, where 400 women gathered for a weekend of tea, knitting and literary friendship.

Read more
12:08 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Michigan benefits from "sin taxes"

Lead in text: 
The report says Michigan gets 3.6 percent of all of its revenue from taxes on alcohol, tobacco, and gambling.
In 2011, state governments collected more than $50 billion in taxes and proceeds from vice: gambling, smoking and alcohol consumption. Some argue that state governments should not profit from residents' vices. However, some states rely on these activities for a substantial proportion of their budget.
11:57 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Bike rentals offered in downtown Battle Creek

Lead in text: 
The Battle Creek Community Foundation and bike shop TeamActive are sponsoring the project.
Starting next week, Battle Creek will offer bicycle rentals to anybody. All that's needed is a credit card and a working pair of legs. In front of Burnham Brook Community Center at 200 W. Michigan Ave. is a B-cycle station. Four bikes and one adult-sized tricycle can be rented by anyone in the community.
11:52 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Rep. Amash blasts domestic NSA surveillance again

Lead in text: 
Amash (R-Grand Rapids) criticized fellow lawmakers to voted against an amendment that would have limited the government's ability to track domestic e-mails and phone calls.
MARSHALL - Friday's town hall held by U.S. Rep. Justin Amash was at different times serious, humorous and contentious. The event was the second stop for Amash, a Republican from Cascade Township, in the area. Earlier in the day, he visited the DaVita Battle Creek Dialysis Center.
11:33 am
Sun August 18, 2013

Trees still hurting from 2012 drought

Lead in text: 
Scientists at Michigan State University say they are trying to find a way to prevent more spruce trees from dying
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Trees in Southwest Michigan, and around the state, have been laid low by a combination of forces that include weather, management practices, age and a deadly combination new fungus diseases. Among the hardest hit is the backbone of Michigan landscaping -- the stately Colorado blue spruce.
11:27 am
Sun August 18, 2013

State: Covert School budget crisis could have been avoided

Lead in text: 
The State Treasury Department says the district should have received about half of a $3.9 million property tax payment by New Covert Generating Company but instead got only $90,000.
COVERT, MI -- If the Covert Township and Van Buren County treasurers had followed the advice of a state official in April, Covert Public Schools may not have had a fiscal meltdown this summer.
Author Interviews
5:57 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

What Drove Wild West's Jesse James To Become An Outlaw?

Jesse James, seen here in his 1874 wedding portrait, fought in the American Civil War before he formed a gang and started robbing banks.
AP

Tales of Jesse James's exploits have grown to almost mythological proportions since the actual man and his gang galloped over the plains stealing horses, holding up trains, and robbing banks in the years after the Civil War. Shot All To Hell: Jesse James, The Northfield Raid, and the Wild West's Greatest Escape is a new book about the legendary man.

Read more
Music Interviews
5:13 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Irene Diaz: Crafting Songs In Dreamy Black And White

Irene Diaz's debut EP is titled I Love You Madly.
Miguel Morales Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 9:50 pm

Read more
All Tech Considered
4:48 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Cracking The Code: Just How Does Encrypted Email Work?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 5:47 pm

If the past few months have taught us anything, it's that everything we do online leaves a digital trail. While it may seem like there's not much we can do about it, there are some tech companies that are working to obscure that trail a little bit, with a process known as encryption.

Read more
It's All Politics
4:47 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Amid Struggle For 'Soul' Of GOP, Libertarians Take Limelight

Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a libertarian Republican, says recent surveillance leaks have "brought home" libertarian ideas.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 8:16 am

"There is no question that there is a civil war that is waging within the party."

That Republican conflict, political science professor David Cohen adds, isn't between just two sides, but among a number of factions, including libertarians.

One of the most public battles has involved national security and civil liberties. Leaks about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs raised alarms for libertarians about the government's reach.

Read more
All Tech Considered
4:12 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Out Of The Comics, Into Reality: Jet Pack Moves Closer To Market

Standing on the center console of the Martin Jetpack, a pilot straps in and uses the joysticks to control flight.
Lee Howell Martin Aircraft Co.

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 6:45 pm

From Buck Rogers to James Bond, we all have a pretty concrete mental image of a jet pack — a motorized backpack with little handles in front and smoke shooting out of the back.

Read more
Music Interviews
12:03 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Vince Gill And Paul Franklin Break Down The Bakersfield Sound

Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, two country legends, pay tribute to Merle Haggard and Buck Owens on a new album.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 5:23 pm

Vince Gill has been making records since he was a teenager. Paul Franklin plays pedal-steel guitar like few others have. The two country legends have a new album together titled Bakersfield.

It's a tribute to a particular kind of country music that came out of Bakersfield, Calif., and was created and championed by a couple of guys from that town named Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Gill says the Bakersfield sound grew out of musicians moving west in the hope of scratching out a living.

Read more
NPR Story
10:42 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Gunfire Exchanged In Standoff At Cairo Mosque

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And this week, Egypt witnessed the bloodiest day in its modern history. More than 600 people were killed, most are in a security crackdown on supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi. And it isn't over. Dozens more people have died since, some in citizen on citizen violence.

Read more
Fresh Air Weekend
9:03 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: 'Orange Is The New Black,' Valerie June, Sherpas

Janae Watson (Vicky Jeudy), Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and Dayanara Diaz (Dascha Polanco) arrive in prison in the first episode of Orange Is the New Black.
Barbara Nitke Netflix

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 11:30 am

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Read more
Digital Life
7:55 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Happy International Geocaching Day!

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

He would be probably the first to wish you a happy International Geocaching Day. Geo what?

DAVE PREBECK: Geocaching is basically a high tech scavenger hunt.

SIMON: That's Dave Prebeck, president of NOVAGO, the Northern Virginia Geocaching organization.

PREBECK: We have people go out and hide something and then they post the latitude and longitude on a website - geocaching.com is the primary one - and then those of us with GPS's get the latitude and longitude from the site and go out looking for them.

Read more
Environment
7:55 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Dolphin Deaths Alarm Scientists

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Dolphins are washing ashore in alarming numbers in the Mid-Atlantic states this summer. More than 160 deaths of dolphins have been reported since early July and that's the worst fate in 26 years. Response teams from New York to Virginia are trying to determine just what's killing all these dolphins. Charlie Potter is working with one of those teams at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Read more
Movies
7:55 am
Sat August 17, 2013

The Words Vivien Leigh Left Behind

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "GONE WITH THE WIND")

VIVIEN LEIGH: (as Scarlett O'Hara) Oh, Rhett, please don't go. You can't leave me, please. I'll never forgive you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA")

CLAUDE RAINS: (as Julius Caesar) Who are you?

LEIGH: (as Cleopatra) Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.

Read more

Ashley, born in Manila, Philippines, was adopted and raised in Western Kentucky. She is a 2010 University of Kentucky graduate with a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science. She also attended the University of Maryland for graduate studies in Journalism for one year. Ashley interned with Morning Edition at NPR Headquarters in Washington, DC, in 2011 and was hired afterward as a temp production assistant. In March 2012, Ashley started her reporting and hosting career at WRKF. She is also a member of the Center for International Journalists 2013 International Reporting Fellowship Program.

Politics
6:02 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Immigration Reform Activists March To Calif. Farm Country

Marchers kick off a 21-day march calling for immigration reform in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday. The 285-mile walk through California's Central Valley ended in Bakersfield at the district office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Immigrant and farm worker rights groups came from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, Calif., by the busload this week. Bakersfield, in the state's Central Valley, is farm country, and immigration is a complex issue here.

The groups were converging on the home of the third-most powerful Republican in the House, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

Activists across the country are targeting a number of Republican members of Congress this summer, trying to pressure the House to take up the immigration reform bill passed in the Senate.

Read more
Asia
6:02 am
Sat August 17, 2013

To Care For U.S. Kids, Filipinas Leave Their Own Behind

Lita and her son, Myke, now live in Houston together. She still works as a nanny and Myke is an interior designer. Lita's two daughters have also immigrated to the United States.
Ashley Westerman For NPR

Originally published on Sun October 6, 2013 4:53 pm

Few American mothers could fathom a situation that would force them to leave their country in order to put food in their children's bellies, clothes on their backs and send them to school. This is the reality for many Filipina women, who cross oceans in search of jobs that pay enough to provide for their families back home.

The Philippines is known worldwide for sending its citizens overseas to work, and a recent study has shown the country consistently deploys more women than men. In the United States, Filipinas are often nurses and caretakers; many work as nannies

Read more
Music
2:03 am
Sat August 17, 2013

William Tyler Speaks 'Truth' Through His Guitar

William Tyler performs in Iowa City.
Clay Masters

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

William Tyler takes the stage at the Trumpet Blossom Café, a vegan restaurant and bar in Iowa City. Surrounded by effects pedals for his guitar, he wears jeans and black cowboy boots, and his fingernails are about an inch long.

Read more
Ecstatic Voices
2:03 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Sufi Mystics Get A Modern Soundtrack

Riad Abdel-Gawad creates new Sufi music by translating sacred chants to the violin.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Read more
All Tech Considered
6:32 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Switching To Gmail May Leave Reporters' Sources At Risk

In the digital world, almost everything you do to communicate leaves a trace. Often, emails are stored on servers even after they're deleted. Phone calls create logs detailing which numbers connected, when and for how long. Your mobile phone can create a record of where you are.

If you're a journalist trying to protect a confidential source, this is a very difficult world to work in.

Read more
Politics
5:52 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

In Rural N.C., New Voter ID Law Awakens Some Old Fears

Opponents of North Carolina's new voter ID legislation wear tape over their mouths while sitting in the gallery of the House chamber of the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C., on April 24, where lawmakers debated new voter laws. On Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a new law that requires a state-approved photo ID to vote and cuts early-voting opportunities.
Gerry Broome AP

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:51 pm

This week, North Carolina's governor signed a new law requiring a state-approved photo ID to cast a vote in a polling place and shortening the period for early voting. The move comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had required large parts of the state to get federal approval before changing voting laws.

Read more
Research News
5:44 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

N. America's Oldest Known Petroglyphs Discovered In Nevada

Courtesy of Larry Benson

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:22 pm

Ancient North Americans gouged elaborate rock art into a heap of big boulders northeast of Reno, Nev., more than 10,000 years ago and perhaps 15,000 years ago. That makes the carvings the oldest known petroglyphs on the continent, according to a paper published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Read more
Business
5:03 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Internet-Based TV Service May Not Change The Cable Market

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 6:22 pm

The race to create a viable Internet-based TV service is on, and the contestants include the biggest names in computer technology: Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Google. Sony has apparently reached a deal — as preliminary — with Viacom to carry the company's cable channels on its planned web TV service.

Code Switch
4:47 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

The Shift In Black Views Of The War On Drugs

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major changes to the nation's criminal justice system that would cut back the use of harsh sentences for certain drug-related crimes.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 11:57 am

This week, Attorney General Eric Holder called for sweeping changes to America's 40-year war on drugs. Holder is the first African-American in the nation's top law enforcement post. He's also part of a growing movement of black leaders who have pushed for major reforms to the drug war.

Read more
Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:21 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Kevin Fitzgerald Plays Not My Job

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 11:27 am

Veterinarian and former bouncer for the Rolling Stones Kevin Fitzgerald answers questions about the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which provided steroids and growth hormones to athletes.

Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
4:21 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Bob Freer Plays Not My Job

Originally published on Sat August 17, 2013 11:27 am

Animal expert Bob Freer answers three questions about Liberace.

Pages