Category Archives: News

Busy, Busy, Busy and Books, Books, Books

Spring is galloping toward summer, and I am scrabbling to keep up. I’m not behind, which is a win for me. But there is a lot of planting to do, and that will be my focus for the next couple of weeks. Onward, ho!

However, I did take the time to visit our local Barnes & Noble this weekend. Shane Malcolm Billings, who once worked at our town’s library, alerted me that a certain series was displayed not once but twice in the store—with local writers and in the YA fantasy section. (Shane now works at Barnes & Noble as well as at another library.)

First, with local writers. What a treat for this indie writer to see her books displayed all in a row—Maya and the Book of Everything, Library Lost, and Out of Time.

Then in the Young Adult fantasy section. There was even a blurb/recommendation written by none other than Shane. Many thanks, Shane, for your wonderful support!

When the staff became aware of who I was and why I was there—to photograph my books—they asked if I would sign all the copies.

This I did, and the books received an “autographed” sticker.

After which Clif and I went out to celebrate with ice cream.

And here this short post will end. Usually, I feature links to other blogs, but until the plants are planted and spring chores are finished, I must be brief.

When this crazy but wonderful season is over, I will be back to a more normal blogging schedule.

Until then…

Cutting Back to Two Posts a Week

As Stephen Foster once put it, this is the merry, merry month of May. The grass is greening, the dandelions are blooming, and the birds are singing.

For Mainers who garden, it is also the busy, busy month of May. In northern New England, spring is a rushed affair. By the time mid-June rolls around, the gardens are so well established that you had better have all the composting, fertilizing, and moving of plants done or you are out of luck and out of time.

To add to the merriment, I am also in the thickets of At Sea, Book Four in my Great Library Series. My current podcast story is winding down, but I’m still working on it. Then there is blogging, and while the writing is more casual, I spend a fair amount of time on each post, even fluff ones such as my Friday Favorites.

In my younger days, I could have managed it all and still have energy leftover for night-time projects. I kid you not. Once the children were in bed, I used to do fun little things like, say, paint cupboards or clean out a closet. As I look back at my younger self, I marvel at how much energy I had. Now that I am a senior, evenings are spent watching an hour or two of television before going to bed far earlier than I ever would have imagined when I was in my twenties or thirties.

This is a roundabout way of explaining that I will no longer be blogging three days a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Instead, I am cutting back to Monday and Wednesday for the foreseeable future. Having an extra day to work on my book will be a big help. And who knows? Some rainy day, I might even be able to clean out a closet. We’ll see. Books, podcasts, and gardening always seem take precedence.

I will still be reading and commenting on other blogs. Such a wonderful community and a real source of comfort during the past year, which has been scary and lonely and just plain stressful.

Also, on Mondays, I will continue featuring posts from other blogging friends. I enjoy looking outward as well as inward, and it is my pleasure to share posts from folks near and far. Formerly, I did this on my Friday posts, and I decided it was a feature I want to keep even though I am cutting back.

***************************

So here are some  posts from blogging friends near and far:

On the green banks next to green water, Clover and Ivy found a lone goose to add more atmosphere to this already moody picture.

On Thistles and Kiwis, along with the usual photos of mouth-watering food, is a photo of a tree with foliage so glorious it made my heart leap.

Ju-Lyn, of Touring my Backyard, takes a detour that brings her to some wonderful, funky public art.

 

New Blue Chairs

On Saturday, there was great excitement at our home in the woods. Six new chairs were delivered for our patio—our living room as soon as the weather is good.

Because we are Mainers, Clif and I are not ones to get rid of things willy-nilly. Mindful of both the drain on our budget and the drain on the environment, we like to keep things as long as possible.

And so it was with our previous chairs, which we had had for twenty years. The seats were, ahem, tired. Very tired. (One had even ripped.) Twice we had scraped and repainted the arms and legs, but the rust was making such inroads that a third time seemed like a fool’s errand.  In short, it was time for new chairs.

And here they are!

Naturally, we needed to have drinks to celebrate the arrival of chairs that not only look good but are also comfortable.

May the new chairs last as long as their predecessors did!

As for the old chairs…Did we toss them out? We did not. Instead, we tucked them down cellar to be used—primarily by Clif and me— when we need more than six chairs.

After all, we don’t want to get too drastic about throwing things out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Problem Solved: I’m Now Getting Email Updates from Blogs I Follow

Today’s Friday Favorites has been preempted by a Friday unfavorite— WordPress.com—and a solution to a problem they created that is even worse than Block Editor.

As some of you might know, for the past few days I have not been receiving email updates from WordPress blogs I follow. This has  been a very bad thing for me as I follow a lot of blogs, and email updates are a huge help. For the past two days, I have been blundering around in an attempt to keep up.

Readers, this was not a happy time.

Clif, who is my site’s chief administrator and all around computer guy, checked the settings on his WordPress profile. A day ago, he found that unbeknownst to us, a box had been ticked in a section called “Block Emails.”  (Thank you, WordPress poltergeist.) He promptly unchecked it.

Problem solved? Not quite.

I, too, am an administrator, and that dastardly “Block Emails” box was also ticked on my WordPress profile. The box was duly unticked. (On the other hand, I am still ticked off that WordPress would torment me this way.)  But hallelujah and glory be, I am now getting blog post notices in my email.

I mention all this because a blogging friend noted that she hadn’t been receiving many email updates, either.

So I figured—yes, friend, this can happen to you.

Should this indeed happen, here is a screen grab that Clif put together to help you escape from the WordPress poltergeist that wants to block bloggers from receiving email updates.

Here are Clif’s instructions:

“Go to the upper right corner of WordPress and click on your profile picture. This will take you to a page called “My Profile.”  On the left side, choose Notification settings. Then go to the Reader Subscriptions tab at the top. Click on this. At the bottom, you will find a section Block emails.

Uncheck this puppy if you want to receive email updates from blogs you follow on WordPress.com.

Good luck. I hope you never have to use these instructions.

Here is my conclusion: WordPress is a giddy thing. Fortunately for them, the WordPress community is so wonderful—supportive, entertaining, illuminating. Otherwise, we’d never put up with their shenanigans.

 

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.

∗∗∗∗∗

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.

∗∗∗∗∗

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.