Category Archives: News

Northern New England Blogging Get-Together

My blogging vacation is over, and I have an exciting announcement to make.

Blogging friend Judy—from New England Garden and Thread—and I are planning a blogging get-together on Thursday, June 15th at beautiful Bedrock Gardens in Lee, New Hampshire. We hope that blogging friends who live in the area will put that date on the calendar and join us.

We chose Bedrock Gardens because it is within driving distance for many blogging friends in Northern New England. (Bedrock Gardens is about two hours from where I live in central Maine.) Also, I have to admit that after reading about Bedrock Gardens on Judy’s blog, I have been very keen to see this garden.

Admission to the garden is $15, and Judy has arranged for us to have a free tour, which starts at 10:30. There is plenty of parking at Bedrock Gardens as well as restrooms. There is also plenty of room for us to bring chairs and have a bag lunch after the tour is done.

The get-together and tour will happen even if there is a light drizzle. If the weather forecast is for pouring rain, the tour will be canceled, but we will meet at a local restaurant for lunch and a chat.

If you are interested in coming, please let me know in the comments, and I will get back to you.

Hope to see those of you who are within driving distance on Thursday, June 15th at Bedrock Gardens in Lee, New Hampshire.

A Blogging Break

It’s that busy, busy time of year when the days just gallop by. (I am always grateful for the quiet of winter.) Between selling books—yay!—working on my next book, gatherings with friends, and yard work, my days are pretty full.

Time to take a little blogging break. I plan on returning on May 5.

Happy spring to those of you who live in the northern hemisphere. Happy autumn to those of you who live in the southern hemisphere. And happy Earth Day to all.

See you in May!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Day and Snow-Gauge Clif

This week’s post is a day early in order to take note of a very important day—National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, which is celebrated in the United States every year on April 2.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are one of my favorites, and I eat them regularly, enjoying the contrast between the salty peanut butter and the sweet jelly.

Naturally, not everyone in the United States loves PB&J, as we call it. My eldest daughter doesn’t like them, and I often wonder why the heck she doesn’t. But in the U.S. so many people like PB&J that the powers that be decided this delicious sandwich needed its own special day. It’s nice to know that sometimes justice is served.

One of my blogging friends, Platypus Man of Now I’m 64, has indicated that PB&J is not universally loved in the U.K. and that  he has a horror of them. Well, each to his or her own.

In honor of PB&J Day, I am sharing with readers pictures of my delicious lunch this afternoon. For those who are celebrating this special day, bon appétit!

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Now on to a more serious matter—Snow-Gauge Clif.

In Maine, the last week of March was quite the week of melting snow. To show the contrast, I will post both last week’s Snow-Gauge Clif’s pictures alongside of this week’s.

Here is last week’s picture, taken on Monday, March 27:

Here is this week’s picture.

Here are pictures from the  walkway.

Last week,

and this week.

Now on to the backyard.

Last week.

This week.

Let’s just say that when the snow decides to melt in Maine, it goes.

By gum, it’s almost staring to feel like spring, and I even took the Christmas wreath down.

I think this alone merits a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Don’t you?

After the Nor’easter

A nasty storm blew across the country, and by the time it hit Maine, the storm had become a nor’easter. Fortunately, central Maine was spared much of the snow and wind damage. Not so for southern and coastal Maine, where the wind blew hard and knocked out power for tens of thousands of folks.

We only got about four inches of snow, and although the lights blacked out once, they came back on, and we didn’t lose our power. Because it is March, the snow was wet and heavy but not hard to clean as there wasn’t that much of it.

Here are some scenes from what we hope will be the last big storm of winter. However, with the way this year has gone, who the heck knows?

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Today I came upon Mama’s Broke on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, and I couldn’t resist sharing this with you. How good Lisa Maria Bates and Amy Lou Keeler are! They combine traditional music with innovative techniques, such as using chopsticks to play the fiddle. Enjoy.

 

Polar Punch

Weather Report

On Friday we had what has been referred to as a “Polar Punch.” Cold air from the Arctic blew into New England, and in central Maine the temperature dipped to -23°F, with the wind chill making it seem like -50°F. As a Mainer, I am used to cold weather, but this, as the saying goes, took the cake. I don’t remember winter ever being this cold when I was a child.

On Friday night, as the temperature plummeted and the wind blew hard, the house cracked in loud protest. At first, Clif and I thought a bird had flown into a window in the dining room, but when we checked the ground below the windows, we didn’t see anything. However, when the cracks continued, we realized the noise was coming from the house itself, and it felt as though we were being visited by restless spirits. Two Facebook friends described how their dogs were spooked by the sharp cracks, which sounded like gunshots or large branches breaking. I could sympathize with the dogs. Clif and I were disconcerted, too.

Through it all, we stayed cozy and warm and mostly inside. (Clif braved the Arctic blast to check the mail.) We have three kinds of heat—electric, gas, and wood. We used them all. I expect we won’t  be too happy to see next month’s heating bill, but staying warm is important.

And what is the forecast for next week? Highs in the 40s. What the heck!

Here is a pictorial record of the Polar Punch at our home on the edge of the woods. While I didn’t get a shot of the thermometer when the weather was at its coldest, this is what the temperature was on Friday night before we went to bed. Still a bit on the brisk side, and with the wind blowing, it felt even colder.

When I got up on Saturday morning, it was still pretty darned cold.

Ice coated the inside of the dining room windows. (We have insulated shades that we pull down at night.) The leaves are decals we use to help stop the birds from flying into the window. If you look closely, by the last leaf at the bottom, you can the circles my finger left behind as I tested the window to see if the ice was on the inside or outside.

The window in my bedroom was completely covered. Fortunately, this ice was on the outside.

In the kitchen, at least, we could peek outside, but note the layer of ice on the inside at the bottom.  I’m not sure why there is such a difference in ice build-up on the various windows, but it’s probably due to the age of the glass and the variation of the insulating shades, which were not bought at the same time.

The fierce wind blew sticks and debris into the yard. I’ll be waiting until spring comes to clean them up.

Lucky for us, the polar punch didn’t stay long. By Sunday, the ice inside the window was gone, and the temp was 25°F and climbing.

For now, at least, the extreme cold is over.

This week, there will be no Reading Section on this Monday post.  While Clif and I are pretty unflappable when it comes to cold weather—we are Mainers, after all—this weather gave us the jitters and pretty much dominated our thoughts and conversation.

Next week, I’ll discuss another book.

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!

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.

 

A Clarification about the Contest

A blogging friend just sent me a note letting me know that the comments section is closed on my October 3 post—October Delights and a Contest. (This is to win a copy of my upcoming book Of Time and Magic. I will also be giving away three calendars that feature a map—designed by my husband Clif—of the Great Library and its surrounds.)

A few years ago, Clif set the comments section on posts to close after a couple of weeks. I was getting slammed with spam, and limiting the comments section for two weeks really helped with that.

However, the two-week window for commenting makes entering the contest a little difficult for readers who are catching up on Hinterlands posts. But never fear! Readers can enter the contest via a comment on any post.

So don’t be shy! If you haven’t entered the contest but would like to, you can let me know in the comments section on this post and on any post going forward.

The contest ends in a little under two weeks, on November 5.

Good luck!

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.

 

 

Now I’m 65

Last week, I turned sixty five. In the United States, sixty five is a milestone event. At last, I can go on Medicare, a federal health insurance program, and not have to worry about where I will get affordable health insurance. (Alas, over the years, it has been a big worry.)

As with all milestone events, there came a certain amount of reflection when I turned sixty five. Here is what I wrote on Facebook: “Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was fifty three, and I remember wondering if I would make it to my sixtieth birthday. Turns out I was lucky. My cancer was not aggressive and while I needed radiation, I did not need chemo. And here I am, at sixty five. Very, very grateful.”

Yes, very grateful indeed.

There will be a family celebration this weekend for me and for Clif, who also has a September birthday.

But on my actual birthday—a bright, clear, windy September day—my friend Dawna came over and  brought me this sweet assortment of goodies.

The lavender and basil came from her own garden, she made the card, and the jam and honey are local.

Wowsah! Who could ask for anything more?

Many, many thanks, Dawna!