Category Archives: Books

Twisted Sisters

On Saturday and Sunday, Clif and I took our books and prints to a craft fair sponsored by the Friends of the Wells Public Library. Wells, Maine, is quite a distance from where we live in central Maine, but this craft fair is well worth the trip. We went last year and sold lots of books. While we didn’t sell quite as many books this year, we sold enough so that we were satisfied.

One of the pleasures of going to various craft fairs is meeting and talking to the other vendors. Last year we were across from these three charming, lively women who have dubbed themselves “Twisted Sisters.” Their business card describes them as “Three Sisters Practicing Old Crafts.” This year, we were again lucky enough to be across from the Twisted Sisters. Aren’t those aprons snappy? I heard one customer ask if the aprons were for sale. Unfortunately, they were not.

From left to right: Cynthia Hatfield, Cheryl Pomerleau, and Dianne Pomeroy -Hathorn

Here are some of the lovely items from Cynthia’s table,

Cheryl’s table,

and Dianne’s table.

During the two days of the craft fair, lots of fairgoers clustered around the three booths, and I expect many lucky people will be getting Christmas presents handcrafted by the Twisted Sisters.  (I, too, bought something for a special friend.)

The Twisted Sisters don’t have a website, but this time of year they pop up at various fairs in Maine. If you should come across the Twisted Sisters, don’t hesitate to  buy a wonderful handcrafted item from these sisters who practice the old crafts.

Sure beats anything you could find in a big box store.

Rapunzel Reads Reviews Maya

Not long ago, I was introduced to Rapunzel Reads, a fresh, charming blog dedicated to reviewing books for middle readers and young adults.

According to the blurb on the blog, here is how Rapunzel Reads was named:

Everyone knows that Rapunzel spent her early years locked up in a tower. We’d like to think she had plenty of books to while away the time, and that she’d appreciate our own favorites.

The blog is written “by & for kids.” The two young reviewers—“Piranha T.” and “Super Kitty”— are sisters who are twelve and fourteen. In the  About section, Piranha T. and Super Kitty explain why they started Rapunzel Reads:

We…love to read, and to share what we read with our friends and family. With the help of our mother (who is also happiest when curled up somewhere with a stack of great books) we’ve decided to start this blog as a way to never lose sight of our absolute favorites, and to get a conversation going with people we know (and those we don’t!), who also might want to share their favorites with us on this site….

A few weeks ago Piranha T. reviewed Maya and the Book of Everything for Rapunzel Reads. What an honor! While positive reviews are always welcome, it is especially gratifying to have a good review written by a young person. Piranha T. concluded:

Maya and the Book of Everything was an excellent fantasy. Laurie Graves wrote a well-rounded plot which kept surprising me with twists I never would have anticipated. Maya was a clever and interesting heroine who I absolutely loved. The themes on books and reading were also fun, reminding me (although slightly younger than this book) of Finding Serendipity. I would highly recommend Maya and the Book of Everything to lovers of fantasy and complex plots ages twelve and up.

Many, many thanks, Piranha T., for this wonderful review. And readers, do check out Rapunzel Reads when you have a chance. The reviews are short and snappy, and those who love children’s literature will want to add many of the featured books to their TBR pile.

Progress Report as Summer Slides into Fall

Although I haven’t been blogging, I have been working diligently on my YA fantasy novel, Out of Time. I am about three-quarters done. The end is in sight, and I can definitely see land now.  This galloping toward the finish line is the exciting part of writing a book, and thoughts of editing and revision are pushed firmly to the side. All that matters now is the story, and there will be time enough for the really picky work when I am finished.

While I have been feverishly working—six days a week, with Sundays off—late summer has begun its slide into early fall. A bittersweet time. Fall, with its blaze of orange, red, and yellow, is magnificent in Maine. The cool, crisp days are invigorating, and the bounty of apples, squash, and potatoes reminds us of all the good things that come from Earth. Simmering soups and fresh biscuits or muffins make this a cozy season.

But—somehow there is always a but—the days are shorter, and we no longer have long nights on the patio. The nights have become cool enough that we have begun thinking about turning on the heat, a cost that is a burden for those of us who live on a shoestring budget.

In this part of the world, fall is also hurricane season, and right now there is a brute of a storm named Dorian that is smashing the Bahamas and heading toward Florida. We mourn for the destruction in the Bahamas and wait apprehensively as Dorian approaches Florida. “Go out to sea, go out to sea,” we pray, but the storm runs by its own rules and will hit wherever it wants.

While hurricanes usually don’t make it as far north as Maine, we have nevertheless begun thinking of stocking up on canned beans, canned soup, peanut butter, and batteries. Winter is coming, and we want to be prepared. Yesterday I emptied, scrubbed, and refilled the big covered buckets we use for storing water. That way, if a storm knocks out our power, we have water. We have a well, and no power means no water. This scrubbing and refilling is a yearly fall ritual, another reminder that summer is coming to an end.

The gardens are yet another reminder. As my blogging friend Tootlepedal might put it, our gardens are no longer at their best. Their midsummer glory is a thing of the past, and now a faded, slightly regretful air hangs over everything. And the shrubs, neglected last year, are in desperate need of a trimming.

Fortunately, we have black-eyed Susans to brighten the yard.

And the promising blush of pink from the sedums.

Farewell, Summer. Sometimes, especially in July, you are too hot, but I still love you.

And now it’s back to work on Out of Time. I am hoping that my next post—probably the end of September—will have the title Finished.

 

 

Coming Down the Homestretch, Time for Another Break

The homestretch in the title refers to the current fantasy novel I am writing, Out of Time, Book Three in the Great Library Series. Readers, I am at the exciting point where the end is in sight, and with some hard work, I expect to finish the book by the end of September.

This also means that it is time for another break in blog writing. Right now, all I can think about is my book, and focusing on Out of Time is the thing to do. I am very pleased with the progress I’ve made. I started writing Out of Time the second week in January, and here I am, eight months later, with the book nearly finished. The publishing date is fall 2020.

Because once the book is written, there is still much editing to do, and it will take many months to get Out of Time in shape. But what a good feeling it will be to have the first draft done.

I should be back to blogging sometime the end of September, but I might post a picture from time to time. We’ll see. I will continue to read and comment on posts written by my blogging friends.

I’ll sign out with some pictures of the fading garden’s still lovely flowers. See you all in a month or so.

 

 

The Pull of Abandoned Places

This was a weekend of selling books, and what a good weekend it was. We went to two shows—the Summer Arts Festival in our own little town of Winthrop and the Sunday Indie Market at the Baxter Brewing Company’s Pub in Lewiston. The Summer Arts Festival was fun, and we sold lots of books. Other vendors did well, too, and as I’ve noted before, it means a lot to us when people come to these events and buy what we have created.

However, a big highlight of the weekend was the setting of the Sunday Indie Market in Lewiston, a huge mill complex that is slowly being renovated, where shabby is juxtaposed with new. Clif and I are both drawn to buildings that have been abandoned. Somehow, in their neglect, these buildings acquire a dignity that they often didn’t have when they were in better repair.

For many people, Maine is a state of quaint seaside villages that caters to those who are from away, as we say here. The coast is certainly one beautiful aspect of the state. However, Clif and I were born inland—in Bangor and Waterville—two communities that do not give Maine its quaint reputation. We are old enough to remember when these cities were filled with factories and were more than a little gritty. These places feel like home to us.

Once upon a time, Lewiston was also a city of mills and factory workers.

Here is the gate at the pub, where the Sunday Indie Market was held.

We set up a booth on one side of the walkway. Behind us were shiny  new silos and old bricks.

Across from us, green growth reached up to cover neglect,

and water rushed by.

From afar, the walkway almost looks as though a mural has been painted on it. But here is one of Clif’s photo that takes a closer look and reveals peeling rather than painting.

Finally, old next to new.

While we love nature as much as the next Mainer, these half-abandoned places exert an almost gravitational pull on us, and we had mixed feelings when we heard that the rest of this mill complex was slated for renovation. I know. I know. We really don’t want these factories to fall to the ground, and we want them to be useful once more.

But gussied up, the buildings lose their striking visual appeal. Good for the community, perhaps, but not so good for photography.

 

The Corpse in the Compost

Fortunately, the title of this post does not come from personal experience. So far, there have been no corpses in my compost.

Instead, this is the title of a mystery novel written by A. Carman Clark. This lovely book captures the essence of rural Maine through the eyes of its protagonist, Amy Creighton, a woman of boundless curiosity who loves to cook and garden. She cherishes her solitude, but at the drop of a hat, she is ready to make muffins for friends and guests. When a corpse turns up in a neighbor’s compost, what is this freelance editor to do but to start investigating?

Amy’s knowledge of small-town life and her sympathy for the confined lives of some of the villagers makes her a sympathetic listener for both young and old.  Gradually, the details of the crime begun to emerge.

A. Carman Clark, a good writer and a good cook, was a friend of mine. When she was eighty-three, Arley published her first Amy Creighton mystery, The Maine Mulch Murder. Encouraged by the reception, Arley wrote a second book, The Corpse in the Compost. Unfortunately, Arley died before it was ready to be published, but she did leave a draft manuscript with notes and suggestions from a friend, from an editor, and from her daughter Kate Flora, also a writer.

On the Maine Crime Writer’s blog, Kate writes “Two summer ago, in the space between my own books, and nudged by Ann and Paula at the Mainely Murders bookstore http://mainelymurders.com, who had created a following for Maine MulchI sat down with the manuscript and started editing. As I’ve blogged about before, there were a lot of questions I wanted to ask my mother. As she was unavailable, I had to wing it. I’ll never know whether I made the right choices. But we were close, and I could usually find her ‘voice’ in making changes or amendments to the book.”

I’m happy to report that Kate succeeded beautifully in capturing Arley’s voice—crisp, precise, sympathetic, and observant.

“The Corpse in the Compost” is available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Corpse-Compost-Amy-Cre…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

Be sure to buy two copies: One for yourself and one for a gift.  This is a gem of a book you’ll want to give to your mystery-loving friends.

Alas, Poor Cabbage

On Wednesday, Clif and I set up our canopy and book display at the Gardiner Farmers Market, held at the lovely, expansive common on the hill above downtown. The Gardiner Common—or Green, as it is often called in New England—is a wonderful place for children.  The Common is large enough so that parents do not have to worry about children  running into the road. There are swings and slides, and on hot days, a fountain to play in.

We were next to a vendor—Mike from Andrews Farm—with the most gorgeous array of veggies.

Here is a picture of Clif staring pensively at one of our purchases.

All in all, it was a relaxing day. There were no mosquitoes—praise be!—and the day was fine, warm but not too hot. We sold some books and prints. We listened to children play. We watched people walk their dogs. We bought a cabbage and some sugar snap peas, both of which we used in a stir-fry last night. Utterly delicious.

We have reserved another date in August to return to this farmers market, and we are looking forward to going back to the beautiful Gardiner Common.