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!

Maya and Mémère: The Strange Case of Life Imitating Art

Last weekend, Clif and I took our books to a big craft fair in Gorham, over an hour from where we live. Neither Clif and I are morning people, and we had to get up at God-awful-o’clock in the morning to go to Gorham and set up before the show opened. This we did, with only a bit of fuss. After all, Clif and I are no longer spring chickens. Even with a cart, lugging boxes of boxes, the table, and chairs is a lot of work for us.

But how worthwhile it was. Not only did we sell quite a few books, but I also met a customer—a woman about my age—whose story tickled me silly.

Coming over to the table, she smiled at me. “I want to buy the first book in the series.”

“Great” I replied.

“It’s for a girl named Maya.”

“Oh, nice!”

“And I’m her mémère.”

Delighted and nearly speechless, I stared at the woman. Now, I have had many grandmothers buy books for their granddaughters, and there have even been a few named Maya, but as far as I know, not one of the grandmothers went by the Franco-American term mémère.

A brief backstory for readers unfamiliar with my Great Library Series. Maya, as the title of the first book suggests, is the main character in the series. When Maya and the Book of Everything opens, Maya is traveling by train from New York to Maine to spend the summer with her mémère. (On that train, Maya gains possession of the mysterious Book of Everything.) Mémère becomes an important character in the series, and in Library Lost you might even say that she kicks butt.

Naturally, I related all this to the woman, and she was as delighted as I was. Unfortunately, in Maine—where at least 30% of the population are descendants of French Canadians—very few novels  feature Franco-Americans who have mémères and pépères. To say Franco-Americans are underrepresented in Maine culture doesn’t even begin to describe the situation.

Although my books are fantasies, they are also rooted in reality, and it was important for me to bring my Franco-American heritage into the stories.

In my upcoming book, Of Time and Magic, Maya’s mémère continues to play a big role in the story. The series begins with her and ends with her.

It might even be fair to state that the Great Library books are a love letter to mémères everywhere.

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 Simple Birthday Celebration

We are not a fancy family. Our celebrations are usually held at home, and they feature favorite foods of the people being honored. So it was with our eldest daughter Dee’s birthday gathering on Friday.

Dee wanted biscuits, and I was particularly pleased with the way they came out. Once upon a time, I made them regularly, but now that we are on a low-carb diet, they are an occasional treat. I was glad I hadn’t lost my touch, which can easily happen when you don’t bake often.

My old tattered recipe gave Dee a giggle. It is certainly a minimalist recipe.

I also made a potato and cheddar soup, which everyone loves. Alas, I forget to take a picture of it. The soup is served with tortellini and steamed broccoli.

But I did remember to take a picture of the cake, also made by me.

Although we like to keep things simple, we do like a pretty table, with flowers as the centerpiece.

Our daughter Shannon, her husband Mike, and their dogs Holly and Somara came for the celebration, and what a jolly time we had. The day was warm enough for drinks and appetizers on the patio in the backyard, where the dogs could stretch their legs. We talked about all the things we love to talk about—books, movies, television shows, and, yes, politics. (Fortunately, we are all on the same page when it comes to politics.)

The day was particularly golden.

Both up

and down.

In Maine, October is such a beautiful month for a birthday.

And how lovely it was to have everyone around the table once again.

Happy birthday, Dee!

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!

Walktober: Walking Toward Our House on the Edge of the Woods

With this post, I am joining Robin of Breezes at Dawn for her annual Walkotober event, where blogging friends are invited to go on a walk in October and then share it with her. This year, because home is so important to me, I decided to feature a short walk down the road toward our house.

As the title indicates, our home is on the edge of the woods, and the trees hide the house until suddenly you come upon it.

Here I am, just up the road, no house in sight.

I walk a little farther, and a school bus goes by. Before the bus disappears down the road, I manage to snap a picture of it.

Finally, a glimpse of our red house.

A clearer, view, but still through the trunks of trees.

Finally, here it is, our home: modest, cozy, in need of repairs (we’re working on it.) One of the places I love best.

Leaves, Leaves Everywhere

Last Friday, a powerful storm blew up the coast of Maine, and because we are only fifty miles inland, we felt the effects, too. At the storm’s peak, over 100,000 customers were without power—keep in mind we are a state with a little over a million people.

Half the town of Winthrop lost its power, and although our lights flickered, we were not among those who were in the dark. Thank goodness! As I’ve noted many times, we have a well, and no power means no water.

Clif thinks our power stayed on because we are on the same line as the fire department’s new building, just up the road from us. Could be. Whatever the case, we keep our power through most storms, and when we do lose it,  the power comes back fairly soon. And, yes, we are ever so grateful.

Saturday morning, after the storm, there were leaves, leaves everywhere, making a colorful mosiac.

Here, from above, was the view of our backyard and patio.

Now for a closer look.

Leaves on the patio.

Leaves on the table.

Around the front, leaves on our small deck.

And, finally, leaves on the moss.

Even without a storm, this is a time of year when the leaves come down, down, down.

Is it any wonder we Americans call this time of year fall?

Friday in the Park

The pandemic took away many things, but one thing it has given me is a fondness for parks. Leafy, green, and usually free, they are great places to meet people for a leisurely afternoon. You can stay as long as you want to—no pointed looks from servers indicating that it’s time to leave. If you bring a picnic lunch, the cost is no more than it would be if you had lunch at home. If you feel like splurging, there’s takeout.

Before the pandemic, we seldom met people in parks. Now it is one of our favorite things to do, and I expect we’ll be doing it long after the pandemic ends.

Last Friday, we got together with our daughter Shannon and our son-in-law, Mike at Rotary Park, a small but pretty park in Kennebunk, Maine. (U.S. readers might recall that the Bushes have a summer home in nearby Kennebunkport.) Kennebunk is almost exactly halfway between where we live in Winthrop and where Shannon and Mike live in Massachusetts.

And here’s another great thing about most parks—dogs are allowed if they are on a leash. So it was with Rotary Park. Shannon and Mike could bring their dogs, Holly and Somara, and not have to worry about getting back home to let them out. Plus, it’s nice having “the girls” join us.

Holly on the left and Somara on the right.

 

The day was sunny and warm, and we settled on the grass in a shady spot near the rushing Moussam River.

But there is also a gazebo with picnic tables where folks can have their lunch.

Because the park is in the center of town, there are plenty of places nearby to grab a bite to eat. For a belated birthday lunch, Dee, Shannon, and Mike chipped in to buy us takeout from Kennebunk Rice and Noodles. Both Clif and I ordered the drunken noodles, which were utterly delicious. Clif likes hot food. By the time he was done, his face was red, and he was sweating. Me, not so much. A gentle little zing suits me just fine. Luckily, we were able to choose how hot we wanted our noodles to be.

Yes, I ate the whole thing. I could have some right now.

 

Dee and Mike are pizza hounds, and right across from the noodle shop was Kennebunk House of Pizza. Nice to have different choices for different tastes.

After the food was finished and Holly had slyly slurped some of Clif’s coffee and both dogs were given pizza crust ends, we settled down for a long afternoon chat. There were presents and chocolate cupcakes. We talked about what was going on in our lives and what we were watching. We took a stab at solving the world’s problems, with predictable results.

Late afternoon, as we were getting ready to leave, we all agreed that Rotary Park was a great place to meet in the spring and the fall. (Too cold in the winter, too crowded in the summer.)

We will be back. Until then, I’ll be dreaming about those drunken noodles.

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Speaking of watching (and listening!)…this lovely song—“This Wandering Day”— is from the television series The Rings of Power, a prequel to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I have been a huge Tolkien fan since I was eleven, but it seems to me that you don’t have to be a Tolkien fan to appreciate the beauty and sadness of this song.

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.

 

 

Still Time for a Little Fun

Unfortunately, because of high winds last weekend—thanks to Hurricane Fiona—we didn’t get to have our family picnic to celebrate birthdays. Disappointing, but when we saw how hard Fiona hit the Maritimes, we really couldn’t complain. (One of my blogging friends wrote to tell me that Maine power companies had sent trucks up to help with the widespread power outages.) Next weekend, we’ll try again for a birthday picnic.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy working on my book Of Time and Magic. We got the first proof copy in, and as you can see from all the page markers, I found quite a few things to change or correct. I expect there will be at least two more proof copies before the book is ready to be printed for readers.

Despite all the hard work of editing, I still found time to have a little fun.

There was Gloomhaven with Dee and Clif.

And our friends Dawna and Jim invited us over for quiche and salad—Yum!—and S’mores for dessert. Double yum.

Dawna and Jim’s daughter and son-in-law built them this snappy fire pit.

Jim started a fire,

and the roasting commenced.

As you might have noticed, the marshmallows on the left are a little on the toasty side.

No matter! Tuck them between chocolate and graham crackers, and as we would say in Maine, you have a wicked good sweet treat.

 

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