Category Archives: News

Friday Favorites: A Spring Walk and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

In Maine in March, Spring is a fitful affair that comes and goes. Sometimes it seems like winter; other times, there is a hint of something soft and warm in the air.

Yesterday definitely felt like spring. The temperature reached the mid-50s, a heatwave as far as Clif and I are concerned, and in the afternoon, after our work for the day was finished, out we went for a walk.

I know from reading other blogs that some people get snowdrops and daffodils this time of year.

In Maine we get footprints in the mud,

water rushing down the side of the road,

and a bucket to collect sap for making maple syrup.

But because Clif and I are Mainers, this is what we are used to, and all these modest signs of Spring are thrilling to us. There might be more cold weather, there might even be snow, but Winter is relaxing his icy grip.

Also on yesterday’s walk, we thrilled to the sight of the snowbanks pulling away from the side of the road.

We stopped to chat with our friends Cheryl and Deny, who were out in their fenced-in backyard with their dogs. Our friend Judy, with her own dog, was visiting. How good it was to see them all, lovely dogs included.

We waved to other neighbors who were sitting on their front porch.

“Heatwave” I called.

“Yes, yes,” they called back.

And to follow a tradition that I’ve begun this year, here are Clif and I waving to you.

It might look as though I have some kind of third appendage hanging from me on the far left. Instead, it is the sleeve of my jacket. I grew so warm that I had to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist.

What can I say? I’m a “Mainah,” and after the cold of winter, 55°F with no wind feels pretty darned warm.

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This week for music, I’m going to branch out from my beloved Tiny Desk Concerts to feature a YouTube video of “The Impression that I Get” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. It seems to me that during this difficult year, most of us have been knocking on wood, and I bet these musicians are, too.

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Here are favorites and simple pleasures from other blogging friends:

Dawn, from Change is Hard, featured her smiling Sheltie.  And what could be better than a smiling Sheltie? Not much.

On the other hand, the birthday of a beloved child is pretty darned special, too. Ju-Lyn, from Touring My Backyard, and her family recently celebrated her lovely daughter’s 21 birthday. Happy birthday, Jo!

Thistles and Kiwis wrote about all the cool things popping up in Wellington—art, parks, food. What a great place!

Announcing Episode 1 of Our Podcast, Tales from the Other Green Door

Today, on this warm, sunny Wednesday in March, we are releasing Episode 1 of our new podcast, Tales from The Other Green Door. The podcast is an offshoot of my novel Out of Time, and it involves two elves—Jace Willowdale and her cousin Thirret Greenwood—and their adventures in Portland, Maine. They run a café called—ta-da!—The Other Green Door, where they not only bake tasty treats but also collect magical relics.

Each Wednesday, for the next eleven weeks, we will be dropping a new episode of “The Wings of Luck,” the first tale from The Other Green Door podcast.

In episode 1, “A Grenog Comes to the Café,” an unexpected visitor turns up at The Other Green Door, setting in motion a dangerous chain of events.

Hope to see you at The Other Green Door, which has the best croissants and magical relics in town.

Snow-Gauge Clif: March 8, 2021

From last week to this week, the snow has barely melted. It is, after all, early March in Maine, which is much like February—still in winter’s grip with the possibility of one or two major snowstorms. The temps go well below freezing at night, and when we get up in the morning, the house is a tad below 60°. A little brisk, as we Mainers might say.

Here is Snow-Gauge Clif in the front yard.

And here he is in the backyard.

Outside our living room window, icicles hang from our shrubs.

But as we make our slow way through March, I can feel a softening. For one thing, the days are longer. It is light well before 7:00 a.m., and it doesn’t get dark until 6:00 p.m. Sheer bliss from the days of December, when the dark closed in at 4:00 p.m.

Also, perhaps most cheering of all, the birds have begun their spring songs—chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals. How I love to hear them. The bird feeders need to be refilled frequently as the birds are coming more often than they did during the winter. Perhaps they are fortifying themselves for the hard work of starting and raising a family.

This week, the forecast is for temperatures to be in the 40s and even the 50s. A regular heatwave after the cold of February.

Am I ready? You bet I am.

As soon as the patio has a clear spot for the chairs, and the weather is consistently mild—above 40—we’ll begin having socially distanced visits again.

A Not So Timely Out of Time

Recently, some of my blogging friends in the United States have mentioned that books they ordered from Hinterlands Press have just been delivered. As the books were mailed a month ago, it seems that Out of Time delivery has not been very timely. Sorry!

When books are ordered directly from Hinterlands Press, they are shipped within a day or two of when the order is received. The pandemic has spurred us into being completely set-up for processing orders from home. We have a scale, and we print labels directly, which include postage. Finally, our postal service picks up packages six days a week directly from our very own mailbox.

What we can’t control is what happens when the packages get to the post office. I think the postal service was extremely stressed over the holidays, and I expect they did their best, given the circumstances.

I hope now that the holidays are over, packages will arrive in a more timely fashion. In normal circumstances, books should arrive within five to seven days of when they are ordered.

Anyway, thanks for your patience and understanding.

 

A Heartbreaking Day

Yesterday was a heartbreaking day for this country. A mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Senators and Representatives convened to count the presidential electoral votes and formalize the choice made by each state. Make no mistake: Joe Bidden was the winner in November’s election with a solid lead over Donald Trump. But the mob, egged on by Trump not long before they rioted, maintained that the election had been stolen and that they wanted to “take back America.”

As soon as we heard the news in the early afternoon, Clif and I were unable to focus on anything else. We turned on the television and watched in real time as the mob broke windows, looted, scaled walls, waved Confederate flags, took over Nancy Pelosi’s office, and snapped selfies of themselves as they committed what can only be called sedition. Later, in the New York Times, I saw a picture of a gallows the mob had erected.

Yes, we have had riots before in this country, and property and stores have been burned and looted, but never in my lifetime has a mob stormed the Capitol in an attempt to change the lawful results of an election. To my way of thinking, this puts yesterday’s event—an attempted coup—in a whole different category from previous riots, on par with countries that govern by dictatorship rather than by democracy.

Even the reporters, used to seeing many hard things, were shocked. An ABC reporter maintained that “history will remember January 6, 2021 as a day of infamy, the legacy of Donald Trump.”

While the Capitol police did a good job of protecting the Senators, Representatives, reporters, and other folks working there, they seemed woefully understaffed, and the mob more or less roamed at will for quite a while. Eventually the mob was cleared out. Some were arrested; most were allowed to go free. One woman was shot and killed. Others were injured. Pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails were found.

According to the New York Times, “Congress reconvened around 8 p.m. Eastern to certify the Electoral College results, and members of the National Guard from D.C. and Virginia were mobilized to prevent Trump supporters from entering the Capitol again.”

This time, the mob was foiled. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are officially the president and vice-president elect of the United States. Given there is no successful coup, Biden and Harris will be sworn in on January 20.

As for Trump? There are rumblings about removing him from office, but I will surprised if anything comes of that. I suppose it all depends on what he does between now and January 20. While Trump continues to falsely claim that the election was stolen from him, he promised there will be an orderly transition on January 20. That’s big of him, isn’t it? Well, we shall see.

Last night at the Capitol, Maine’s Senator Angus King spoke eloquently, and I will end with part of his speech: “We are a 240-year anomaly in world history. We think that what we have here in this country is the way it’s always been. It is a very unusual form of government. The normal form of government throughout world history is dictators, kings, czars, pharaohs, warlords, tyrants. And we thought 20 years ago the march of history was toward democracy, but it is in retreat in Hungary and Turkey, goodness knows in Russia. Democracy, as we have practiced it, is fragile. It’s fragile, and it rests upon trust. It rests upon trust in facts. It rests upon trust in courts. In public officials, and, yes, in elections…”

Wise words, and we would do well to heed them.

Unfortunately, a sizeable part of the population in this country does not, and what follows next remains to be seen.

 

It Hardly Feels Like Christmas

How quiet Christmas is this year. No wrapping of presents—all have been sent directly from where they were ordered—no rushing to clean the house, no flurry of cooking and baking. Less stress, to be sure, but also much, much less fun. As Clif noted, it hardly feels like Christmas.

In the guest bedroom, there is a stack of presents for us, which we will open via Zoom with the kids tonight on Christmas Eve. But without the kids actually being here, somehow things just don’t feel right. While we certainly appreciate their generosity, it is the presence of the kids that  really makes the holidays special.

Next Christmas, I hope, will be better with a big pot of chili and other goodies, with kids and family and friends and movies and lots of laughter.

I expect this will be a quiet holiday season for most of you. But I wish you all a good one nonetheless.

I’ll be taking a break from blogging, reading as well as writing, from now until the new year.  It will give me a chance to rest and gather my energies for 2021, when I will begin work on Book Four of my Great Library Series and record my podcast Tales from the Other Green Door, a spinoff of Out of Time.

Stay safe, be well. A vaccine will soon be available to us all, and life will open up again.

See you all in 2021!

Last Week for Wicked Good Deal on Out of Time

Many thanks to all of you who have ordered my new YA fantasy novel Out of Time. I so appreciate it. Because of my wonderful blogging friends, my books have traveled all around the world. No small thing for an indie publisher whose budget is as big as a minute.

For blogging friends in the United States who haven’t had a chance to order the book, the wicked good deal on our website is in effect until December 19. The total cost of the book is $12, no shipping fee. (Don’t forget to use the coupon code.) Naturally, I will sign the book if you would like.

Here is the link to our website: https://hinterlandspress.com/

And don’t you think the cover is a festive color for this time of year?

Friday Favorites: And the Winners Are…

The 2020 Hinterlands Press Giveaway is over, and the names have been drawn.

Readers near and far—from all around the world—entered the contest, and what a treat to note the different places.  A wonderful example of how blogging really expands the horizon, especially during a time when we must stay so close to home.

Here are the winners:

A copy of Out of Time:
Going Batty in Wales

Calendars:
Shane Malcolm Billings, Maine
Ju-Lyn Tan, Singapore
JoAnne LaFear, Maine

Congratulations to the winners!

I wish everyone who entered had won, but alas that is not how giveaways work. However, as we Mainers would say, I can give you a wicked good deal just in time for the holidays. From now until December 19, for orders shipped in the United States, we are offering a 20%  discount for Out of Time on our Hinterlands Press website. 

Free shipping is still included. And you get a signed copy. (Unfortunately, shipping is too expensive to extend this discount to my out-of-country friends. So sorry!)

Again, congratulations to the winners! I will be getting in touch with you soon for your mailing addresses.

 

Walking on Sunshine

Yesterday, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from me.  Pennsylvania was called for Joe Biden, and he therefore had more than enough votes to win the electoral college, the arcane way our country selects a president. Each state is assigned a number of  electors, who in turn have one vote. The number of electors in each state are based on population. In turn, those electors are pledged to vote how the majority in each state has voted. The winner must get at least 270 votes. With Pennsylvania, Biden reached 279. (President Trump has vowed to challenge in court the results of the election. The general feeling is that too many votes have gone to Biden for any of the challenges to change the outcome of the presidential race.)

Do I think this is a strange way to elect a president? Yes, I do. But it is the system this country has, and for now we must go with it.

At any rate, despite the fact that Trump has not conceded—customary but not required—Joe Biden is now our president-elect. There was literally dancing in the streets as people across the country celebrated the news.

On Saturday night, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and President-elect Joe Biden gave speeches that were full of empathy, hope, grace, and resolve. On the stage I saw joy and love as their families joined them after the speeches were over.

As they face formidable challenges in this country and around the world, Biden and Harris will need every bit of grace and resolve they can muster.

Best of luck to them!

And the song below, sung by the buoyant Katrina & The Waves, exactly captures the way I felt yesterday.

 

Correction: My daughter, Shannon, very nicely let me know that when Pennsylvania was called the numbers were 273, before Nevada was added. ;))