Category Archives: Books

One of the Highlights of My Year

On Saturday, I went to The Art Walk in downtown Winthrop. It’s a lovely shop that features handcrafted items from local artists, authors, and crafters.

As it turns out, The Art Walk features my books, and I am happy to report that my novels have been selling well there and in many other places, too. So well, in fact, that almost every day, UPS comes by with another box of books to replenish our supply.

While I love to go to The Art Walk to buy special gifts for family and friends, last Saturday I was there for a book signing. (In between signing books, I did manage to buy several presents.)

As I sat by my table and listened to Christmas music and the happy chatter of holiday shoppers—somehow small stores have such a good vibe—two women, a mother and daughter, walked in and came right over. I am friends with both on Facebook, and I knew they might be coming, but because it has been thirty years since we last got together, it was such a treat to see them. Thirty years ago, the daughter was a little girl. Thirty years ago, they lived in Winthrop. Thirty years ago, the mother helped me bake a peanut butter cake for Clif’s birthday.

But then, as such things happen, they moved out of town, and we lost touch with each other. I know there are a lot of bad things about Facebook, but thanks to Facebook, we reconnected.

And here’s the most wonderful thing—we chatted as though we had met as recently as last week. There were no awkward silences, and the conversation just flowed. As the title of this post indicates, seeing them was one of the highlights of my year.

They bought books, and I signed them. Before they left, I promised to have them over next summer for lunch on the patio when the flowers in the back garden are in bloom.

The mother promised to make a peanut butter cake to celebrate finally getting together after thirty years.

Can’t wait! I’m already planning what I will make for them.

 

Presenting: Of Time and Magic

It wasn’t that time stopped in the library. It was as if it were captured here, collected here, and in all libraries—and not only my time, my life, but all human time as well. In the library, time is dammed up—not just stopped but saved.                                                                                                          ~The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The big day is here with the release of Of Time and Magic, Book Four in the Great Library Series. Of Time and Magic concludes the story begun in Maya and the Book of Everything, when Maya began her fateful journey on that train from New York to Boston and gained possession of the enigmatic Book of Everything.

Already the response has been excellent, and I’ve begun receiving orders.

If you would like to order a paperback copy of Of Time and Magic, this link will bring you to our Hinterlands Press website. Shipping is free in the U.S., and I would be more than happy to inscribe your book.

Even though the ebook is available through Amazon, the paperback book is not yet available through them. Unfortunately, we have been having problems with Amazon, and the issues are yet to be resolved. But Of Time and Magic is available through Ingram, which means that you should be able to order the book at your local bookstore.

Finally, dear blogging friends, you might be interested in knowing that Of Time and Magic is dedicated to you.

Here is what I wrote:                                                                                                       Of Time and Magic is dedicated to my wonderful blogging friends. Because of your support and encouragement, my Great Library novels have traveled all around the world. No small feat for an indie series.

Many, many thanks to you all!

Maya and Mémère: The Strange Case of Life Imitating Art

Last weekend, Clif and I took our books to a big craft fair in Gorham, over an hour from where we live. Neither Clif and I are morning people, and we had to get up at God-awful-o’clock in the morning to go to Gorham and set up before the show opened. This we did, with only a bit of fuss. After all, Clif and I are no longer spring chickens. Even with a cart, lugging boxes of boxes, the table, and chairs is a lot of work for us.

But how worthwhile it was. Not only did we sell quite a few books, but I also met a customer—a woman about my age—whose story tickled me silly.

Coming over to the table, she smiled at me. “I want to buy the first book in the series.”

“Great” I replied.

“It’s for a girl named Maya.”

“Oh, nice!”

“And I’m her mémère.”

Delighted and nearly speechless, I stared at the woman. Now, I have had many grandmothers buy books for their granddaughters, and there have even been a few named Maya, but as far as I know, not one of the grandmothers went by the Franco-American term mémère.

A brief backstory for readers unfamiliar with my Great Library Series. Maya, as the title of the first book suggests, is the main character in the series. When Maya and the Book of Everything opens, Maya is traveling by train from New York to Maine to spend the summer with her mémère. (On that train, Maya gains possession of the mysterious Book of Everything.) Mémère becomes an important character in the series, and in Library Lost you might even say that she kicks butt.

Naturally, I related all this to the woman, and she was as delighted as I was. Unfortunately, in Maine—where at least 30% of the population are descendants of French Canadians—very few novels  feature Franco-Americans who have mémères and pépères. To say Franco-Americans are underrepresented in Maine culture doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

Although my books are fantasies, they are also rooted in reality, and it was important for me to bring my Franco-American heritage into the stories.

In my upcoming book, Of Time and Magic, Maya’s mémère continues to play a big role in the story. The series begins with her and ends with her.

It might even be fair to state that the Great Library books are a love letter to mémères everywhere.

And the Winners Are…

For the past month, readers were invited to enter a contest where my upcoming fantasy novel, Of Time and Magic, Book Four in my Great Library Series, would be given away. Also included in the contest were three calendars featuring a map of Samaras Island—home of the Great Library—and Watertown, the small city across from the island.

Designed by Clif Graves and made with Inkarnate.com

 

In the post where I announced the contested, I noted that I would send the book anywhere on this planet. I encouraged readers from away to enter, and enter they did, from Scotland, Wales, England, South Africa, Singapore, and Australia. What a thrill to have readers from around the world enter my contest. I also had plenty of entries from the United States and Canada, and that, too, was gratifying.

And the winners are…

A copy of Of Time and Magic—Betsy Stevenson

The calendar—Burni Andres, Donna Lambert, and Oscar of the blog Hermits Door.

Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to all who entered.

In the next two days, I’ll be in contact with the winners to confirm addresses.

Of Time and Magic is at the printers and copies should be available in a couple of weeks. Or perhaps sooner. I’ll keep you posted.

The calendar is also at the printers, and like the book, it should be available in a couple of weeks.

Again, many, many thanks to all who entered the contest.

 

October Delights and a Contest

The calendar has flipped to October, and the weather has reacted accordingly. Mornings are a little on the chilly side.

There have been frost warnings for our area, but our yard is so well protected by the woods that the tender perennials haven’t been struck yet. Despite the cool weather, the impatiens are still thriving. What a year it’s been for them!

But the rest of the plants are definitely past their best. Nevertheless, they have their own fall beauty.

The ferns, no longer green, are instead a crisp brown.

Sedums mix with the red leaves of evening primroses.

And the seed heads of the black-eyed Susans stand at attention.

But what I like best about October is its nutty smell as plants go to seed and leaves lose their green. Unfortunately, I can’t capture this delightful smell. Sure wish I could.

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And now for the contest!

To celebrate the publication of Of Time and Magic, I will be giving away a copy of the book. Also, I will be giving away three calendars featuring the nifty map Clif is putting together for Of Time and Magic. To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comment section, and I’ll add your name to the list. I will mail the book and the calendars anywhere in the world, so readers outside the United States, please don’t hesitate to enter the contest.

The contest begins today—Monday, October 3—and will end Saturday, November 5.

Whether you live near or far, don’t be shy about entering this contest.

 

 

Still Time for a Little Fun

Unfortunately, because of high winds last weekend—thanks to Hurricane Fiona—we didn’t get to have our family picnic to celebrate birthdays. Disappointing, but when we saw how hard Fiona hit the Maritimes, we really couldn’t complain. (One of my blogging friends wrote to tell me that Maine power companies had sent trucks up to help with the widespread power outages.) Next weekend, we’ll try again for a birthday picnic.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy working on my book Of Time and Magic. We got the first proof copy in, and as you can see from all the page markers, I found quite a few things to change or correct. I expect there will be at least two more proof copies before the book is ready to be printed for readers.

Despite all the hard work of editing, I still found time to have a little fun.

There was Gloomhaven with Dee and Clif.

And our friends Dawna and Jim invited us over for quiche and salad—Yum!—and S’mores for dessert. Double yum.

Dawna and Jim’s daughter and son-in-law built them this snappy fire pit.

Jim started a fire,

and the roasting commenced.

As you might have noticed, the marshmallows on the left are a little on the toasty side.

No matter! Tuck them between chocolate and graham crackers, and as we would say in Maine, you have a wicked good sweet treat.

 

Back Again in the Same Year

Well, working on my book Of Time and Magic took longer than I thought it would. What I had hoped would be a week or so stretched out to a couple of weeks or so. No surprise. Such things always take longer than expected. There is still more fiddly editing to do, but the major work is done, and we are on track for a late fall publication, the end of October or the beginning of November.

It wasn’t all work and no play at our home by the edge of the woods. A good friend, whom I’ve known for thirty years, turned eighty in August. I made a little chocolate cake—vegan, no less—and we met on the patio for tea, coffee, and cake. I gave her eighty Hershey kisses tucked in a special glass commemorating this milestone birthday.

How lovely it was to make the cake, pick some flowers from my garden, and get together on an afternoon that was so fine—warm but not hot with a deep blue sky—that we both wished we could  somehow preserve this weather for days when the sky is gray, and the slush is deep. (March, I’m talking about you.)

Impossible, of course. But at least the memory of chocolate cake, fine weather, and black-eyed Susans will be there to cheer us up.

 

 

Another Saturday in the Park

August, buzzing August. During the day, there is the high-pitched whir of the grasshoppers. At night, a chorus of crickets. (I know. I keep going on about crickets and grasshoppers. But I love their songs so much. ) The days have been hot but not humid, and the nights are pleasantly cool.

Last week we got a whole inch of blessed rain, not a downpour that beat down the garden but instead nice and steady. More rain is expected today, and again it will be most welcome.

What is it about raindrops on flowers?

Speaking of flowers…the August flowers and vegetables continue to thrive.

Coleuses, moved from the front porch so that Clif can work on the window, peek through the rail from the driveway.

The black-eyed Susans continue to brighten the late summer garden.

In the back garden, there are plenty of ripe tomatoes to have some every day for my lunch. Soon, perhaps, there will be enough to make a sauce. The variety I plant is Juliette, one of the few tomatoes that thrive in my part sun, part shade backyard. However, I love this sweet, sturdy mini-roma tomato so much that I would plant them even if I had a sunny yard.

On Saturday, a hot but dry day, we met friends in Augusta’s small but lovely Capitol Park for pizza and a chat. We are still being cautious about get togethers, and we like to meet outdoors.

Here is a longer view.

Finally, a treat of a package came last week—The Necromancer’s Daughter, a new fantasy novel by my blogging friend D. Wallace Peach. Wonderful cover, and I’m certainly looking forward to reading the book.

 

The Cover of “Of Time and Magic”!

Woo-hoo! Double woo-hoo! Here is the cover of Of Time and Magic, the fourth book in my Great Library Series. James T. Egan, of Bookfly Designs, created this beautiful cover. I really do think it’s my favorite.

 Of Time and Magic spans two universes, many planets, and the high seas. It concludes the story begun in Maya and the Book of Everything, when Maya began her fateful journey on that train from New York to Boston and gained possession of the enigmatic Book of Everything. Publication will be in the fall, probably in October.

Sniff. My little baby’s all grown up.

Back after a Much-Needed Rest

My two-week staycation zipped right by. It was a quiet but pleasing blend of books, resting, and puttering around the house. What a treat to read in the morning and not have work tapping on my shoulder.

And what was I reading?

About a month ago, I fell in love with the Slow Horses series on Apple TV+.  The series, based on the book by Mick Herron, is about a group of misfit and disgraced spies—dubbed “slow horses”—led by the acerbic Jackson Lamb, played by the great and good Gary Oldman. Their headquarters are the decrepit and depressing Slough House, a far cry from MI5’s Regent’s Park.  Naturally, trouble finds the band of misfits, and it doesn’t take the viewer long to wonder who the real misfits are. Only six episodes long, Slow Horses ended all too soon, and I decided to check out the book, the first in the Slough House series.

It was love at first read. Slow Horses is quirky but so well written with a cracking plot and a gripping cast of characters. There are eight books in the Slough House series, and courtesy of my library, I whipped through them with the speed I usually reserve for a box of See’s chocolates. I read like a woman possessed, with the contradictory feelings of both wanting and not wanting to finish the series. Hats off to Mick Herron, who writes impeccable prose at a clip that any hack writer would envy.

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I also spent a lot of time on the patio, where the garden is at its best.

Here is a longer view.

And a little abstraction of evening primroses and lilies, taken through the back of one of the lawn chairs.

The front yard is abloom, too. July is definitely the month for the gardens at our home at the edge of the woods.

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The cover for my book Of Time and Magic is underway at the fabulous Bookfly Design. Soon I will have a cover to share with you. I’m very excited about this. It’s also a little bittersweet as Of Time and Magic concludes Maya’s journey and the battle for the Great Library.