Category Archives: News

Hats off to MIFF!

In central Maine, mid-July chiefly means one thing—The Maine International Film Festival (MIFF), held in Waterville, the fair city where I was born. (We now live about twenty-five miles away.) For ten days, the little city of Waterville—population about 16,000—hosts this wonderful event that features 100 movies in ten days. In addition, directors, writers, actors, and even cinematographers come and talk about their movies. The streets are thrumming with moviegoers, and the local businesses are thrilled to have the extra customers. Because while coastal Maine draws in the tourists, central Maine does not, and MIFF is a boon for the area.

Yesterday afternoon, Clif and I headed to Railroad Square Cinema, one of MIFF’s venues, to buy our tickets and pick up booklets to help guide us through the selection of movies.

Railroad Square has now gotten modern and offers beer and wine to moviegoers as well as the traditional popcorn and candy.

Clif posed in front of the MIFF backdrop.

Our friends Alice and Joel also posed, all kitted out for MIFF.

After business was taken care of, it was on to Mainely Brews for drinks and dinner. We were joined by other friends, and a jolly time was had by all.

Then, off to the first movie—Blow the Man Down–a snappy little thriller centered around women and filmed in Maine.

Tonight we will be picking up our daughter Dee in Portland, and tomorrow, the real move fun will begin.

In between, we will eat pizza, talk to friends, go to happy hours, and generally have a terrific time. There probably won’t be much time for blogging.

As always, I am amazed that a small rural area can host such a vibrant festival.

Hats off to MIFF!

 

Update: Of Hummingbirds and Words

First the words—I reached my goal of 45,000 in Out of Time, the third book in my Great Library Series. Woo-hoo! I am halfway done, more or less, and right on target. A great feeling.

And lest you think I have stayed inside the whole time, here are two pictures of hummingbirds to prove this isn’t so. My wee camera can’t capture these little whizzing beauties as well as other cameras can, but I know these shots will please readers who don’t have hummingbirds come to their backyards.

Dee, my New York daughter, will be arriving on Saturday and will be staying for a week.

I’ll be back to regular blogging the first of June.

Onward, ho!

 

A Short Break to Focus on Writing and Gardening

Every once in a while, I have a time crunch in my life, where it becomes necessary for me to pare things down to basics. Right now is such a time.

I am working on the appropriately titled Out of Time, the third book in my Great Library series. For Out of Time to be published in 2020, the first draft must be finished in 2019. After the first draft, there is still a lot to do—editing, revising, and more editing. When the book is written, the work is far from over, and I have to allow for that when I plan the publishing schedule.

Anyway, we are nearly halfway through the year, which means that if I’m going to stay on track, I need to be halfway done writing my book by the beginning of June. With 39,500 words written, I’m nearly there.

But—isn’t there always a but?—it is also gardening season. Because I live in Maine, there isn’t a big window of opportunity for spring chores. Spring comes to this northern state at a mad gallop, and I only have the month of May to get things done.

Therefore, until June, I’m going to take a break from writing for this blog so that I can concentrate on my book and on my gardens. I’ll continue to read other blogs and comment when I can. Sometimes, I might only be able to “like” a piece.

I’m sorry to have to pare down like this, but it is necessary.

See  you in June!

 

To the Bar Harbor Comic Con

Clif and I are two homebodies who don’t travel much. We work from home, and if we rove too much, the work doesn’t get done. Also, we are acutely concerned about our carbon emissions, which means that nowadays, the car is primarily used for necessities, with an occasional trip for pleasure thrown in.

Going to events to sell books falls under the category of a necessity, as we have found that personal appearances work best. Fortunately, our little red Honda Fit—a.k.a Sparky—gets great gas mileage, and the hatchback allows us to bring books, tables, chairs, banners, and lunch. With careful packing, there is even room for our canopy for outdoor events. (Tootlepedal, this green bean is green with envy over your new electric car. Someday, we hope to follow your example.)

On Saturday, we took our traveling road show to the Bar Harbor Comic Con, about 120 miles from Winthrop. Tucked by the ocean and surrounded by mountains, Bar Harbor is surely one of the loveliest towns in Maine.

Here is a shot from the pier in downtown Bar Harbor. The day was overcast, but the picture gives some idea of the beauty of the town.

The Comic Con was a few miles from Bar Harbor Village. Like all Comic Cons, there was a lot of fun and folderol.

Here is a nearby vendor, Cheryl Rathbun of Myth’s N’ Monsters, with one of her marvelous creations. What would you call it? A merhorse? A seahorse? Whatever the name, she was kind enough to pose with her delightful creature. (How my daughters would have loved this blue beauty when they were young. I can picture them prancing around the house with them. Yes, there would have been two.)

And where else do you see a race between two BB-8s? And with  Batman at one of the controls?

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a crowd at this event. I suspect the day was good enough for yard work. I spoke with another vendor who had been to this Comic Con two years ago. Then, the event  was held in April  when the ground was still slushy and being outside was really not a good option. That year, the Comic Con was packed.

Still, we had a good time. Several people mentioned that they had heard of me and my books. When you are an indie author and publisher with a budget as big as a minute, this is always a great thing to hear.

Finally, because we live inland and stay close to home, we don’t often see the ocean. And that is always a treat.

A Shining, Hopeful Example: Wind Power and Orkney Islands

When you are someone who cares about the environment the way I do—Clif and I refer to ourselves as green beans—it is easy to get discouraged. A focus on climate change, resource depletion, and overpopulation can lead to gloomy thoughts. And let’s face it—most of the news we read about the environment is not good, thus adding to the gloom.

Then in The Guardian comes Robin McKie’s piece: How Orkney Leads the Way for Sustainable Energy. (Thanks to Susanne’s Mom’s Blog for featuring this piece as well as providing the link to it.) According to Mckie, Orkney Islands—an archipelago to the northeast of Scotland—produces so much sustainable energy that they can’t use it all.

Holy cats!That news is enough to make this green bean snap with joy.

So how did Orkney Islands do it? First, because they are islands, all of their power came from the mainland, and their energy costs were expensive. Mckie writes, “Orkney was once utterly dependent on power that was produced by burning coal and gas on the Scottish mainland and then transmitted through an undersea cable.”

Second, Orkney Islands have wind and lots of it. “Low-lying and exposed to both the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea, Orkney is battered by winds and gales throughout the year.”

Rather than gripe about how wind turbines spoil their view, the way we do here in Maine, the Orcadians decided to embrace the wind and use it to produce energy. How much energy? “Orkney…generates, on average over the year, electricity that fulfils 120% of its own needs.”

That’s right. Orkney Islands now have surplus energy that is clean and affordable. They are actually thinking of exporting that energy back to the mainland.

Anyway, McKie’s piece is well worth reading. On this sunny day where the snow from the last storm still hasn’t melted, Orkney’s  success with wind power gave me a much-needed lift.

Correction: I originally wrote that Orkney was between England and France. A couple of my blogging friends corrected that error, letting me know Orkney Islands were to the northeast of Scotland. Many thanks for letting me know.

A Warm Bear of a Place

Yesterday, we took our books and illustrations to Bear Bones Beer in Lewiston, Maine. It was part of a pop-up event sponsored by the Sunday Indie Market.

While we didn’t sell many books—it was a fairly quiet January Sunday at Bear Bones—we had one heck of a good time. First of all, Bear Bones is such a warm, inviting place to gather, whether you’re a beer drinker or not. There are wooden tables with chairs scattered here and there as well as comfortable chairs in front of a gas fireplace. (Alas, we did not take more pictures of the charming interior. What were we thinking?) In short, Bear Bones has a great vibe, a place to come on a cold day, to meet people and talk.

And talk we did, mostly with the other delightful vendors. We were lucky enough to be next Nate and Megan Chasse of Sweet & Savory Bakehouse. My oh my, what good bakers they are! Nate generously gave us a bag of mixed bagels, which we had with soup when we got home. Their bagels taste tangier than most bagels, and Clif and I had to be firm with ourselves and stop with just one each. We learned that Nate went to culinary school and that he and Megan are able to support themselves with the proceeds from their bakery.  Go team, Chasse!

I also had some time to sit in a comfy chair by the fireplace. I chatted with Sheri Withers Hollenbeck, one of the organizers of the Sunday Indie Market in Lewiston, and her mother, Bonita. So lovely to get to know them.

Food is not served at Bear Bones, but customers are allowed to bring in their own from other places. In a table not from where we were set up, a man brought in a whole cheese cake, which he shared with Nate and Megan and Clif and me. He even provided plates and spoons for us. It’s that kind of place.

When our stint was over, Clif got a baby beer—a $3 hobbit-sized glass of the Bear Bones IPA.  A nice way to end the day.

Readers, if you live in the Lewiston area and want a warm place to go on a cold winter’s day, head to Bear Bones Beer. They also host events such as trivia nights and open mics, so check out their events page before you go.