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Laurie Graves Author Pages

Of Superheroes, Pizza, and Cocktails

The pine pollen is flying, and the mosquitoes are out in force. June has come to Maine, and it’s time to finish the spring gardening chores. Fortunately, today is a bright and beautiful day, and this afternoon Clif and I will be outside.

The last week of May, when our daughter Dee came to visit, was cool and rainy. Still, we had a good time. We are all movie buffs, and the rainy week was a perfect time to go to the cinema as well as watch films on Netflix. Our favorite was Avengers: Endgame. I know. Avengers is a blockbuster movie about comic-book heroes ranging from Spider Man to Thor. But it also addresses one of the most serious issues of our times—overpopulation—in a way that smaller movies seldom do. While Avengers has the usual mega fight at the end of the movie, it also gives the characters plenty of breathing room, allowing them to mourn the terrible loss of having half of Earth’s population wiped out by the supervillain Thanos. (For an economic discussion about Thanos and his plan, check out NPR’s Planet Money.)

I realize I’m going out on a limb here, but it seems to me that nowadays, comic books, fantasy, and science fiction are doing the best at addressing the major issues we face. On the surface, these stories seem to have a lot of folderol and fighting, but underneath they have a moral seriousness and scope missing in most mainstream or literary fiction. I’ve had this discussion in book group and on Facebook. Naturally, I’ve received push back, all of it thoughtful and respectful. The push back hasn’t exactly changed my mind—I continue to think that fantasy, comic books, and science fiction should be taken seriously. However, perhaps not all mainstream stories are entirely vapid, and I was too quick to dismiss an entire genre. Anyway, readers, if you have thoughts about this, please chime in.

Back to last week…

We went to the Kennebec River on a misty, cool day, and Clif took these pictures of the moody river and the bright chairs.

We also went to Cushnoc in Augusta, one of our favorite places to go for pizza.

We had cocktails and beer.

And, of course, pizza.

All in all, a good rainy week.

 

 

A Short Break to Focus on Writing and Gardening

Every once in a while, I have a time crunch in my life, where it becomes necessary for me to pare things down to basics. Right now is such a time.

I am working on the appropriately titled Out of Time, the third book in my Great Library series. For Out of Time to be published in 2020, the first draft must be finished in 2019. After the first draft, there is still a lot to do—editing, revising, and more editing. When the book is written, the work is far from over, and I have to allow for that when I plan the publishing schedule.

Anyway, we are nearly halfway through the year, which means that if I’m going to stay on track, I need to be halfway done writing my book by the beginning of June. With 39,500 words written, I’m nearly there.

But—isn’t there always a but?—it is also gardening season. Because I live in Maine, there isn’t a big window of opportunity for spring chores. Spring comes to this northern state at a mad gallop, and I only have the month of May to get things done.

Therefore, until June, I’m going to take a break from writing for this blog so that I can concentrate on my book and on my gardens. I’ll continue to read other blogs and comment when I can. Sometimes, I might only be able to “like” a piece.

I’m sorry to have to pare down like this, but it is necessary.

See  you in June!

 

To the Bar Harbor Comic Con

Clif and I are two homebodies who don’t travel much. We work from home, and if we rove too much, the work doesn’t get done. Also, we are acutely concerned about our carbon emissions, which means that nowadays, the car is primarily used for necessities, with an occasional trip for pleasure thrown in.

Going to events to sell books falls under the category of a necessity, as we have found that personal appearances work best. Fortunately, our little red Honda Fit—a.k.a Sparky—gets great gas mileage, and the hatchback allows us to bring books, tables, chairs, banners, and lunch. With careful packing, there is even room for our canopy for outdoor events. (Tootlepedal, this green bean is green with envy over your new electric car. Someday, we hope to follow your example.)

On Saturday, we took our traveling road show to the Bar Harbor Comic Con, about 120 miles from Winthrop. Tucked by the ocean and surrounded by mountains, Bar Harbor is surely one of the loveliest towns in Maine.

Here is a shot from the pier in downtown Bar Harbor. The day was overcast, but the picture gives some idea of the beauty of the town.

The Comic Con was a few miles from Bar Harbor Village. Like all Comic Cons, there was a lot of fun and folderol.

Here is a nearby vendor, Cheryl Rathbun of Myth’s N’ Monsters, with one of her marvelous creations. What would you call it? A merhorse? A seahorse? Whatever the name, she was kind enough to pose with her delightful creature. (How my daughters would have loved this blue beauty when they were young. I can picture them prancing around the house with them. Yes, there would have been two.)

And where else do you see a race between two BB-8s? And with  Batman at one of the controls?

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a crowd at this event. I suspect the day was good enough for yard work. I spoke with another vendor who had been to this Comic Con two years ago. Then, the event  was held in April  when the ground was still slushy and being outside was really not a good option. That year, the Comic Con was packed.

Still, we had a good time. Several people mentioned that they had heard of me and my books. When you are an indie author and publisher with a budget as big as a minute, this is always a great thing to hear.

Finally, because we live inland and stay close to home, we don’t often see the ocean. And that is always a treat.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle Goes To Chapel Hill Public Library

Awhile back, I suggested that an easy way for readers to support indie writers would be to ask local libraries to purchase their books. My daughter Shannon, who lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, took this advice to heart and asked her library to purchase Myrtle the Purple Turtle, written by my blogging friend Cynthia Reyes.

And Chapel Hill Public Library complied! Here Shannon is, posing with Myrtle the Purple Turtle in front of the library’s sign.

Thank you Shannon and thank you Chapel Hill Public Library for supporting a fantastic indie writer.

 

Another Way to Support Writers: Ask Your Library to Purchase Their Books

Recently, courtesy of my daughter Shannon, my book Library Lost traveled south to the public library in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Shannon asked the Chapel Hill Public Library to purchase Library Lost to add to its collection.  And voilà! They honored her request, and Library Lost is now in the library’s young adult section. (Two years ago, Shannon did the same thing with Maya and the Book of Everything.)

Readers, this is such a wonderful way to support writers—not just me—and it only costs a little bit of time. Now I know very well that not all libraries have big book budgets, but it never hurts to request the purchase of a book. And if the library does honor the request, checking out the book, even if you’ve already read it, gives the book a good start.

Finally, when returning the book, take a few minutes to tell the librarian how much you liked the book and provide a brief synopsis. By calling it to a librarian’s attention, you will have given the book a little leg up, something that cannot be overemphasized, especially for indie writers. Librarians’ recommendations go a long way toward promoting a book.

In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I’m going to ask my own Bailey Library to purchase Myrtle the Purple Turtle written by the fabulous Cynthia Reyes

In addition, I will request Myrtle’s Game, again by Cynthia and also with her daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange. Both books would make for a terrific and timely program on bullying and inclusion, and I will be sure to mention this when I ask my library to purchase these books.

Finally, if you do ask your library to purchase my books, and Maya and the Book of Everything or Library Lost are added to your library’s collection, I have a favor to ask. If you have time, take a picture similar to the one of Library Lost in front of the Chapel Hill Public Library.  Send the picture to me, and I will feature it on my blog.

What fun it would be to see either Maya or Library Lost or both in front of different libraries.

 

 

A Repost of “Buy Indie, Borrow the Big Bestsellers” by Cynthia Reyes

Cynthia Reyes, a writer, blogger, and journalist from Canada, is someone I’ve featured in my blog several times. Most recently, she and her daughter have written the delightful Myrtle’s Game, featuring the delightful purple turtle as she deals with those who would exclude her.

Anyway, Buy Indie, Borrow the Big Bestsellers, her latest post on her blog, exactly captures my philosophy. Cynthia writes, “The way I see it, the bigtime authors will still get my support, via the public library.  Local libraries are among my favourite places on earth and librarians are stars. I borrow the famous books there….But Indie authors and presses need my money. ” And when Cynthia purchase books, they are usually from indie authors and presses.

Hear, hear! I, too, do my best to support indie writers, artists, and other creative types who earn money selling their creations. Readers, I know a lot of you do, too. However, Cynthia’s eloquent words remind us why it’s so important to buy from indie writers and artists.

This post, of course, falls squarely in the department of shameless self-promotion because not only am I an indie author and publisher, but also my book, Library Lost, is featured in Cynthia’s post.

Many thanks, Cynthia!

 

 

A Warm Bear of a Place

Yesterday, we took our books and illustrations to Bear Bones Beer in Lewiston, Maine. It was part of a pop-up event sponsored by the Sunday Indie Market.

While we didn’t sell many books—it was a fairly quiet January Sunday at Bear Bones—we had one heck of a good time. First of all, Bear Bones is such a warm, inviting place to gather, whether you’re a beer drinker or not. There are wooden tables with chairs scattered here and there as well as comfortable chairs in front of a gas fireplace. (Alas, we did not take more pictures of the charming interior. What were we thinking?) In short, Bear Bones has a great vibe, a place to come on a cold day, to meet people and talk.

And talk we did, mostly with the other delightful vendors. We were lucky enough to be next Nate and Megan Chasse of Sweet & Savory Bakehouse. My oh my, what good bakers they are! Nate generously gave us a bag of mixed bagels, which we had with soup when we got home. Their bagels taste tangier than most bagels, and Clif and I had to be firm with ourselves and stop with just one each. We learned that Nate went to culinary school and that he and Megan are able to support themselves with the proceeds from their bakery.  Go team, Chasse!

I also had some time to sit in a comfy chair by the fireplace. I chatted with Sheri Withers Hollenbeck, one of the organizers of the Sunday Indie Market in Lewiston, and her mother, Bonita. So lovely to get to know them.

Food is not served at Bear Bones, but customers are allowed to bring in their own from other places. In a table not from where we were set up, a man brought in a whole cheese cake, which he shared with Nate and Megan and Clif and me. He even provided plates and spoons for us. It’s that kind of place.

When our stint was over, Clif got a baby beer—a $3 hobbit-sized glass of the Bear Bones IPA.  A nice way to end the day.

Readers, if you live in the Lewiston area and want a warm place to go on a cold winter’s day, head to Bear Bones Beer. They also host events such as trivia nights and open mics, so check out their events page before you go.