Archive for fiction
All across the island, residents are chopping and splitting wood or carrying it inside to stoke their stove again the November chill. And with crime fiction author James Hayman living among us, the chills are bound to keep coming. The last time I wrote about fellow island author, Jim, he had banded together with many others to raise funds to help Longfellow Books recover from storm damage of the blizzard, Nemo. Since that time, Hayman has been busy penning (or should I say keyboarding?), the third in his series of McCabe/Savage thrillers, “Darkness First.”
Islanders conduct a lot of business on our shared ferry ride, and that’s where I caught up with Jim to ask him about “Darkness First.” I was curious to know more about why Harper Collins has released it first as an e-book, rather than the traditional release as an expensive hardcover. The first “imprint” sells for the introductory price of only $2.99. Jim explained, “When Penguin U.K. offered an e-promotion on my second book, The Chill of Night, they sold some 10,000 downloads in a day. That helped me realize that e-books have more than 50% of the genre fiction market and that I should consider going that route.”
True confessions here. I don’t read e-books. You can call me a luddite, but it wouldn’t be true. I’m an aggressive and avid technology consumer, but that inclination has not invaded my nightly escape to bed where I like to hold a book and turn pages when I read voraciously. I’m sorry. I just haven’t gone there yet. I’m sure it will happen.
For those of you who do read novels digitally, you can download Darkness First to your Kindle, Nook, or iPad from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any other e-book source. You can even read the first chapter for free at Amazon or at Jim’s website. The reviewers are saying that this is his best one yet. For insight into Jim’s process of writing a thriller series, don’t miss Bob Keyes’ interview with Hayman, splashed across the front page of today’s Portland Press Herald Audience section.
November 3, 2013 at 6:48 am · Filed under Authors, On Writing and tagged: Catherynne Valente, fiction, how to write a book, Longfellow Books, Maine, Peaks Island, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, YA fiction
Peaks Island author Catherynne Valente has just published “The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two,” her third in a five-part YA fantasy series that has placed her on the New York Times bestseller list.
A reviewer for Booklist said, “As usual, Valente enlightens readers with pearly gleams of wisdom about honesty, identity, free will, and growing up. September often worries who she should be and what path she should follow, but the lovely truth, tenderly told, is that it’s all up to her. Thanks to a dramatic cliff-hanger ending, there is sure to be more empowerment and whimsy to come. Grades 5-8. –Sarah Hunter” and Times Magazine called it, ““One of the most extraordinary works of fantasy, for adults or children, published so far this century.”—Time magazine, on the Fairyland series.”
or watch a trailer about the series
July 23, 2013 at 11:05 am · Filed under Authors, Events and tagged: author, books, fiction, how to write a book, Maine, Scott Nash, The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, things to do in Maine, YA fiction
Scott Nash is preparing for the next book event with his usual genius. Nash’s rendition of a Blue Willow transferware plate – with his protagonist of The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate at the center – took my breath away. The daughter of an antiques fanatic, I grew up surrounded by things like Blue Willow plates, pewter tankards, and spinning wheels. The detailed setting and character of these plates, inspired by 18th century Chinese ceramics, is a perfect choice for getting us to think about ships, pirates, and South China, Maine, of course!
The South China Public Library, the oldest continuously operating library in Maine, is hosting this author-illustrator whose interactive talks are always a big hit. Here are the details:
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
South China Public Library, South China, Maine
July 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm · Filed under Authors, Events and tagged: author, book, fiction, Ghost in Hannah's Parlor, how to write a book, Laima Vince, literary tourism, Maine, middle reader, Peaks Island, things to do in Maine, writer
Laima Vince’s passion for Peaks Island led her to write “The Ghost in Hannah’s Parlor.” This middle reader novel starts one night in November on Captain’s Island when a nine-year-old named Hannah goes downstairs for a glass of water. The adventure begins when Hannah meets the ghost of Hilda De Witt Rose, a turn-of-the-century opera star who lives in a rose in Hannah’s parlor wallpaper along with an entire ghost cast of the opera Carmen.
Now you can discover Vince’s inspiration for this children’s book by walking with her tomorrow — to Snake Alley and to where the famous Gem once stood — Friday, July 11th, starting from the Peaks Island branch of the Portland Public Library at 12:30 pm.
Peaks Island Press doesn’t review books written by fellow islanders because the pretentiousness of that offends me. Instead, I like to feature the authors themselves and their writing process, sometimes even my own writer’s journey. What inspires us to write? How does writing fit into – or spill out of – our lives? So, although this entry may look like a book review, it’s not really. I have just finished reading a book, pressing it against my chest and holding it there as though its wisdom would slip between my ribs. It left me struggling to take my next breath and inspired me to pick up a pen.
You know those e-profiles on Facebook and Linked In, the ones that ask you to list your favorites of this, favorites of that – music, movies, and so on? My finger always taps at the blank prompt for “favorite books.” Favorite is a demanding adjective, one that I only deploy when that something makes me gush. The Help (Kathryn Stockett), Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen) and Chocolat (Joanne Harris) have achieved favorite status for me because they transported me to extraordinary, authentic emotional landscapes. Now that I’ve turned its last page and intend to read it again right away, I list The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey as one of my rare “favorites.”
Ivey is neither Mainer nor islander, but rather an Alaskan writer; however, the ragged, furred-and-clawed setting that she conjures should feel familiar to those of us who maneuver deep snows, burning cold, chronically-shrinking woodpiles, and the pursuit of wringing our blink-like summer of all that it promises. The Snow Child offers a brave, lancing portrait of love and pain and empathy. An aged couple homesteading in Alaska realize that their anguished loneliness may have breathed life into a simple snowman – a snowgirl, really; they then wrestle with fear, chase their hope, and tentatively learn to embrace a more expansive understanding of family and life itself.
Like most people, I have lost loved ones – some unborn and unnamed, others present, yet bent and vacant with illness. Like the main characters of The Snow Child, Jack and Mabel, I dread the fierce love that can make the simple passage of a child out the door turn into an unexpected moment of raw and crippling fear too big to comprehend. But it isn’t the book, it’s Eowyn Ivey, who inspires me as a writer; she beckons her readers into the bitter, toothed Alaskan wilderness to witness the beauty in the sheen of a swan’s feathers and she holds our hand as she shows us the courage it takes to live a fairy tale life whose ending is already known. Reading The Snow Child made it difficult for me to pull in my next breath; it is that moment, that moment of breathless wonder and desperation in life that leaves me no choice but to write.
If you’re intrigued by this book, I point you to the video trailer and an interview with Eowyn Ivey below.
An open discussion and book signing will follow the actors’ readings.
April 8th 7 p.m. at Portland Stage Co., Forest Avenue, Portland.
On Sunday, March 10th, the Peaks Island community of authors, readers, and unabashed bibliophiles will gather to raise funds to benefit their beloved, award-winning independent bookstore, Longfellow Books. As most people know, “Nemo, the Blizzard of 2013″ delivered a destructive blow to the Longfellow Square-based bookstore, requiring it to close temporarily and undergo considerable repairs from damage incurred by severe flooding. Approximately half of the stock was damaged, and insurance will only partially cover the losses – you’re not surprised, I know.
Well, islanders aren’t afraid of rising waters and they’re prone to band together to make important things happen. Author Eleanor Morse is organizing a reading and silent auction to benefit Longfellow Books. Here is how you can get involved.
Love from the Rock
Brackett Memorial United Church
Sunday March 10th, 2:00 p.m.
- 2.00: Children’s book (ages 8 and up) readings begin–including authors Jamie Hogan, Scott Nash and Annie O’Brien;
- 2.30: Silent auction browsing and bidding.
- 2.45: Adult fiction reading from authors Nicole d’Entremont, James Hayman, and Eleanor Morse
- Coffee, tea, amazing baked goods, books for sale.
Longfellow Books is one of the last remaining indie bookstores in the Portland area. It’s
more than a store–it’s a place for people to gather, to browse, to attend readings and
events, to be a thinking and feeling human being. WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO?
Donations of services for the silent auction (help-your-neighbor/brighten March). For instance:
- a drawing lesson
- magician tricks for children’s birthday party
- juggling lessons
- dump run
- clean the refrigerator
- shoot pictures for an hour
- walk the dog/feed the cat
- interior design color consultation
- birthday cake/pie
- teach dance moves
What else?–let your mind roam free! Please email Rhonda Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org or Eleanor Morse at email@example.com to set up your donation.
Donations of baked goods for the afternoon of March 10th. Coffee will be provided, and juice for kids. If you can bring a plate of goodies, please bring it to the Fellowship Hall of the Brackett Church by 1.45 on March 10th.
Previously, I have written about Eleanor Morse and her award-winning novel, The Unexpected Forest. Since that time, Eleanor has written her third novel, White Dog Fell from the Sky, whose publication by Viking she celebrates next Friday, January 11th.
Advance Praise for White Dog Fell From the Sky from Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week” calls it “Brutal and beautiful . . . Morse’s unflinching portrayals of extremes of loyalty and cruelty make for an especially memorable novel.”
Portland’s beloved Indie bookstore, Longfellow Books, will host a wonderful evening of Zambabwean music, beginning at 6:30 p.m., followed by Eleanor reading from her book at 7 p.m.
Interested in learning more about Eleanor and her newest novel, White Dog Fell from the Sky? Read my interview with Eleanor here.
November 12, 2012 at 9:47 pm · Filed under Authors and tagged: books, Catherynne Valente, fiction, Maine, Peaks Island, Scott Nash, The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, The High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate
A little over a month ago, I crowed that two island authors launched books in the same week – Scott Nash with his High Skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate and Catherynne Valente with her The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. Now, to my amazement (and yet, why should I be surprised?), both of them have soared to Amazon’s top 2012 Best Books of the Year list for Children’s Middle Grade readers.
With much love and awe, I applaud them both and invite you to do the same. I already have my copies, do you?