Category Archives: Books

Galloping Spring

Spring has galloped into Maine, and she is nearly out of sight. The leaves are full sized, and the early flowers have become a sweet memory. Gone are the tulips and the daffodils, but the irises, daisies, and lupines are in glorious bloom. We are on the edge of summer, lovely summer, so welcome after the long, frigid winter we had.

On Sunday, Clif and I went for a bike ride along Maranacook Lake. A couple of hardy souls—children, of course—were swimming in the cold water.

Whenever we go on this bike ride—our everyday route—we are thankful to live in such a pretty little town that has so much water. Maranacook is only one of several lakes and big ponds in Winthrop.

In between gardening and biking, I have been working on my YA fantasy Library Lost. My first readers—my family—have commented and have made editing suggestions, which I am now implementing. I am fortunate to have a family of such good readers. Their advice is invaluable, and without them, my books wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.

By the end of this week, Library Lost should be ready for copy editing. This is a long process, and while Library Lost is edited, I will begin the third book, Library Regained.

No rest for writers, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

 

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Fabulous Ferns

Library Lost has been sent to various proof readers, and now I have time on my hands, so to speak, as I wait for the comments and the, ahem, opportunities for rewriting.

What to do, what to do?

Just kidding, of course. Spring, lovely though she is, brings so much work that at times it makes me positively dizzy.  Breathe, breathe, breathe, as my daughter Shannon would say.

In fact, after being cooped inside for those long winter months, it’s a great pleasure to be outside, working in the gardens and feeling the sun on my face. Birds are everywhere, tweeting, flying, coming to the feeders.

Ferns are unfurling, and what fascinating plants they are. Because we live in the woods, ferns thrive in our yard. These dinosaur plants rim the edge of our house in the back, and I have encouraged them, not raking the leaves that blow there. Along with shade, ferns love leaves.

Yesterday, I took some pictures of the baby ferns, stretching from their winter’s sleep.

As they mature, their color deepens, but this bright green sings, “Spring, spring, spring!”

Let’s take a closer look. Their little heads look as though they are composed of a ball of tiny ferns.

Let’s take a closer look still. So fuzzy and new!

With all this beauty and excitement in the yard, it’s a wonder I get anything done in my gardens.

And yet I do.

 

 

I Have Been Noted

One of the great delights of blogging is becoming friends with people you normally wouldn’t meet. Some of those friends are not that far—in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Others are actually much farther away—Canada, England, Scotland, and even Australia.

One such blogging friend is Quercus, who lives in England. (He has a blog called Quercus Community.) In response to one of my comments on a recent post, he referred to me as “a noted author of YA fiction.”  So very kind of him, but I replied that “noted” might be overstating the case. He wrote back: “I stand by what I said. If necessary I will write a post tomorrow titled ‘A Note About Laurie Graves’, and then you really will be noted!”

By gosh, Quercus did exactly as he promised, and he wrote a lovely post entitled A Note About Laurie Graves – Author, Raconteur and Eater of Ice Cream. 

I was tickled, touched, and oh so pleased that he would take the time to write about me, to, in fact, note me. Also, as an indie author with a budget as big as a minute, readers’ kind words and promotions really help.

Many, many thanks, Quercus, for noting me. And thanks to all my other blogging friends who have bought and read Maya and the Book of Everything and have been so encouraging.

It really makes a difference.

And, Quercus, thanks to you I will no longer hesitate to state that I am a noted author.

 

 

First Draft of Library Lost: Done!

Yesterday came that magical moment when I wrote the ending line of Library Lost. Somehow, it is both exciting and a let-down to finish a novel. Wonderful, after all that work, to come to the end, but I felt restless, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. Fortunately,  plenty of gardening chores await, and I spent a couple of hours removing leaves from one of the beds out front.

I posted the Library Lost news on my Facebook page, and one of the sweetest responses I got was from an acquaintance who lived in central Maine but who has just moved to the Southwest. She wrote that Maya and the Book of Everything traveled with her across country and has just been unpacked. It is now on her bookshelf along with other favorite fantasy novels. That sure made me smile!

Although the first draft of Library Lost is finished, there is still much to do. I need to read it from front to back to see how it all comes together. Some writers work from an outline, and they know, from chapter to chapter, how things are going to turn out.

I am not one of those writers. In my head, I have a notion of where I want the story to go, but basically I just wing it from chapter to chapter, and sometimes what I write in Chapter 15 changes what happens in Chapter 8. This means I have to reread very carefully to be sure that I’ve made the appropriate changes.

Perhaps this seems like a funny way of writing. In a way, it is. But I have tried outlining a novel, and it didn’t work for me. First, it seemed like everything was already mapped out, and where’s the fun in that? For me, the adventure in writing lies with not exactly knowing what the characters are going to do at any given moment. Second, I deviated so much from the outline that it felt like a waste of time to even have one.

Anyway, now it’s time to reread carefully before sending Library Lost to my proof readers, who, with squinted eyes, will go over the story. So again, for the next week or so, I will be primarily absorbed with the book and probably won’t do much blogging.

A lot of work, but it’s good work, the work I want to be doing.

Last night, the weather was warm and lovely, and with drinks on the patio, we celebrated the completion of the first draft of Library Lost.

Cheers!

Five for Friday: The Golden Age of Illustration

Today’s post is going to be a little different, a reflection of my newest obsession, the golden age of illustration, which ran roughly from 1880 to 1920. As Artcyclopedia puts it, advances in technology allowed for “accurate and inexpensive reproduction of art,” both in books and magazines.

Nowhere was this more evident or glorious than in illustrations for children’s books. Beatrix Potter, of course, comes to mind, but there were many others, too: Edmund Dulac, Jessie Willcox Smith, Walter Crane, and Sir John Tennial, to name a few.

As chance would have it, there is even a Facebook group called The Golden Age of illustration. I joined the group not long ago, and that’s when I became hooked on illustrations from this period, especially the ones for children’s books. Not surprising as I write books for young people.

Many of the images from this period are in the public domain, which means we are free to use them as we wish. Clif, who is a talented graphic artist, has caught the golden age of illustration bug and is working with some of the pictures. He has been enlarging the illustrations, smoothing the pixels, and retouching the illustrations. We plan to sell matted prints at fairs we go to, and he has done research about the artist and the books the illustrations come from. This information will be included with the prints.

Below are five of the illustrations he has worked on, and they are by Edmund Dulac and Jessie Willcox Smith.

This is one of my favorites. The illustrator is Edmund Dulac, and the picture is from the story “A Little Girl in a Book,” written by Mrs. Rodolph Stawell. Funny to think there was a time when women writers went by their husband’s name, but there you are. Progress has definitely been made on that front.

This is another of Edmund Dulac’s illustrations, and it’s from “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. It’s not a scene I’m familiar with, that’s for sure.

Jessie Willcox Smith did this illustration for The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik.

As well as this one—Little Red and the Wolf—otherwise known as Little Red Riding Hood.

And finally, here is a Jessie Willcox Smith’s illustration from The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley.

Today, there are many fine artists who create illustrations for children’s books. But for me, there is something about pictures from the Golden Age of Illustration that captures the wonder, magic, and even the dread of fantasy and fairy tales.

I wonder what it was from that period that allowed illustrators to tap into art that goes so beautifully with the stories.

March Is Here, but So Is Poet Claire Hersom

Tra-la, tra la! March is officially here. Although we Mainers put a brave face on it and even go out for ice cream, we already feel the weight of this too-long month, rightly known as Maine’s fifth season—mud season. So far, there hasn’t been too much mud, but we know it is coming. Yes, we do.

Right now, March, in typical fashion, is whipping us back and forth. One day the weather will be mild with temperatures in the fifties, and the next day there will be a blizzard with over a foot of snow— the forecast for this Wednesday. Mainers take it in stride, but we do complain. A lot. In fact, complaining about March weather is one of our favorite pastimes.

Here is a shot of our backyard as it emerges from winter. Oh, the glory, and it’s just going to get worse. Clif will have to put planks on the walkway so that that he won’t sink into the mud as he hauls wood.

But enough of March! Instead, let us turn our attention to a very fine poet, Claire Hersom. I posted this picture of her a few days ago, but it is so cute—note the sly look on her face—that I thought I’d post it again.

I met Claire about fifteen years ago, when Clif and I published a literary magazine called Wolf Moon Journal. Via the Internet, Claire submitted some of her poems, and I was immediately taken with her use of language and her ability to get to the heart of things.  As if good poetry weren’t enough, I also learned that Claire lived less than a mile from me, but somehow, even in our small town, I had never met her. So funny!

Over the years, we featured many of her poems in Wolf Moon, and we became friends. As it so happened, she introduced her nephew, Mike Mulkeen, to our daughter, Shannon, and the two hit it off immediately. This August, they will have been married eight years.

Claire has published many books of poetry, and her most recent one, published in 2017 by Moon Pie Press, is Dreamscape.

What a lovely cover! As far as I’m concerned, you can never go wrong with blue, and it features snappy art work by her talented granddaughter, Eleanor Rose Folsom.

Claire has generously allowed me to use one of her poems in this post, and I chose “Dreamscape,” also the book’s title. Many, Many thanks, Claire!

Dreamscape 

It’s always in the early, dark morning
when a chill lingers from the night air
that we balance and
suspend in so many forms
at the brink of the precipice –
that first glimmer of day, of hope,
the new beginning hardly noticed
were it not for the argument of birds,
the bending, dew-filled pine,
the hollow stamp of deer outlined
in the grass under our windows.
Settled in last night beside you in dream,
they too waited, their warm fawn bodies
of stick-legs and too-big ears listening
for sounds; the same sounds as you,
eyes never too far from a flutter,
never completely at rest.

 

An Early Christmas Present

More snow today, and the landscape definitely looks wintry. Here is the view from our front deck.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for freezing rain later in the day, and if there is one thing we Mainers hate, it’s freezing rain. Because Clif and I work from home, we no longer have to worry about driving on slick roads, but we are certainly sympathetic with those who must brave slippery highways to get to their jobs. Fingers crossed that the forecast is wrong, and it snows rather than rains.

Christmas, lovely Christmas, is just around the corner. Soon “the kids”—Dee, Mike, and Shannon—will be coming home, and I am so anxious to see them that I wish they were arriving this weekend rather than next weekend. On the other hand, there is still much to do, and I need that extra week. Nevertheless…

As the title of this post indicates, I received a wonderful early Christmas present from my blogging friend Sheryl of Flowery Prose, who writes about nature, flower, and books from her home in Alberta, Canada. Recently, she wrote a terrific review of my fantasy novel, Maya and the Book of Everything. Here is what she wrote:

“A mysterious library, magical books, and unexpected journeys to new lands and times?  A resourceful, intelligent, and thoughtful teenaged protagonist that we can relate to and love and root for?  A clever, fresh (and extremely relevant) take on the classic battle between good and evil?  Creative plotting, beautifully realized characterization, precisely detailed world building, and perfect pacing?  I’m all in.  Laurie’s book really is everything!

“As it is the season of gift giving, if you’re having a difficult time buying for the young teenagers in your life, well, have I got a suggestion for you.  And while you’re at it, click an extra copy into your cart for yourself.  Because we could all use a Book of Everything in our lives.  🙂

“(I’m sure glad she’s already working on the sequel because I’m not certain how long I can wait, given that juicy wallop set up at the end…).”

Many thanks, many thanks, Sheryl!