Archive for Maine
Every year, the changing island weather prompts me to write, like a patient writing instructor prodding its lazy student. To get my attention, the island lobs cranberry-orange sunsets at me and tempts me with the sound of clattering trees or rolling beach cobbles. And then I ache to write, usually. This fall, I dared to remain sullen and shunned my keyboard.
One morning, the island retaliated by tossing a surf-worn, sandy book at my feet as I walked along the beach below my home. I was as surprised to see a book floating in the surf as I would have been to stumble across a baby seal sitting on the sand. Picking the book up, I recognized the black moleskin cover that protects beloved journals. Sea-soaked, the cover had warped wildly, but the pages clung stubbornly to the binding.
I felt guilty at the prospect of touching a writer’s private possession and yet shouldn’t I rescue it from the waves and try to identify its owner? Prying the journal open carefully, I peered at blurred handwriting. The disintegrating pages spoke of an old man wearing snakeskin boots, walking alongside the author as osprey soared overhead. But the “In case of loss return to:” line remained empty. There was no way to know how far it had floated before it washed up at my feet like a literary message in the bottle. Unsure of what to do, I carried it home to dry it out.
The salty pages are wavy and brittle now. The well-traveled moleskin journal could be considered flotsam worthy of the trash. Yet, saving it reminds me to keep writing.
Of course, if the journal belongs to you, please let me know.
From riots and imprisoned journalists to dictators and free elections, Julie Fisher’s scope manages to make sense of what at first appears to be sheer madness globally – a march toward democracy. As Peaks Island Press published in July, the struggles in Turkey, Egypt, and other countries that have inflamed international news have also spotlighted the most recent book published by Peaks Island scholar and author Julie Fisher. Fisher’s hot-off-the-press Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan, and Argentina (Kettering Foundation Press, 2013) illuminates the nature of struggles for democracy internationally with a clarity that should make Americans sit up and take notice. While much U.S. foreign policy tries to export democracy militarily or by fostering free elections, Fisher advocates for a fuller understanding of what’s required for democracy to “stick,” one that would support countries engaged in democratization.
Now it’s your opportunity to hear her speak and ask the questions that trouble you every time you read the newspaper. The Friends of the Peaks Island branch of the Portland Public Library are hosting Julie on Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00 PM in the Peaks Island Community Room.
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
Guest post by event organizer Jesse Mantsch (email@example.com)
Valued poetry aficionados & devotees:
Stone Boat Poetry Reading on Peaks Island.
August 7, 2013 at 6 PM
Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial and Lodge
proudly featuring former Maine Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl
& your poems! (open reading)
Betsy Sholl has published seven collections of poetry, including Rough Cradle (Alice James Books, 2009). Don’t Explain won the 1997 Felix Pollak Prize from the University of Wisconsin, and her book The Red Line won the 1991 AWP Prize for Poetry. Her chapbooks include Pick A Card, winner of the Maine Chapbook Competition in 1991, and Betsy Sholl: Greatest Hits, 1974-2004, Pudding House Publications. She was a founding member of Alice James Books and published three collections with them: Changing Faces, Appalachian Winter and Rooms Overhead. Among her awards are a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts, and two Maine Writer’s Fellowships. Her work has been included in several anthologies, including Letters to America, Contemporary American Poetry on Race, and a range of magazines, including Field, Triquarterly, Brilliant Corners, The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, Beloit Poetry Journal. She has been a visiting poet at the University of Pittsburgh and Bucknell University. She lives in Portland, Maine, and teaches at the University of Southern Maine and in the MFA Program of Vermont College.
Come show our honored guest some island hospitality at one of Peaks Island’s historic sites, the Eighth Maine Regiment Memorial and Lodge
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 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm · Filed under Authors, Events and tagged: author, book, how to write a book, Maine, non-fiction, sailing, The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship, things to do in Maine, Twain Braden, writer, writing
A few months ago, Peaks Island Press caught up with Twain Braden to talk about his newest publication, The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship. Now that we’ve had what may be the hottest day of summer and this finely-illustrated and -narrated book has hit the docks, it’s time to turn out to hear Braden and illustrator, Sam Manning, speak at Longfellow Books on Monument Square this Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m.
If your barbecue schedule conflicts with the event this week, then don’t despair, Braden will also speak at the Peaks Island branch of the Portland Public Library next week, Monday, July 22, at 7 p.m. This talk will entail more of a hands-on discussion of navigation techniques. Feel free to bring charts and navigational tools if you’re interested in learning coastal piloting skills.
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.
Struggles in Turkey, Egypt, and other countries have inflamed international news recently and, in the process, spotlighted the most recent book published by Peaks Island scholar and author Julie Fisher. Fisher’s hot-off-the-press Importing Democracy: The Role of NGOs in South Africa, Tajikistan, and Argentina (Kettering Foundation Press, 2013) illuminates the nature of struggles for democracy internationally with a clarity that should make Americans sit up and take notice. While much U.S. foreign policy tries to export democracy militarily or by fostering free elections, Fisher advocates for a fuller understanding of what’s required for democracy to “stick,” one that would support countries engaged in democratization.
My visit with Fisher at her island home coincided with one of her many radio interviews, some given in studios and others by phone. Since our interview followed on the heels of the ouster of Egypt’s President Morsi, Egypt started our conversation.
“Democracy is a ‘puzzle’ whose various pieces must find their place. Egypt is the number one story in the news right now. In order to get the democratization process going anywhere, you need a whole triangle of processes; Egypt demonstrates that election is only one piece of the democratization puzzle,” Fisher said.
What are the elements of the triangle of democratization? It goes something like this:
1) Loyal Opposition (the opposition to policies of a ruling regime without overthrow); and
2) Popular Support (as seen in protests demanding accountability of government); and
3) Civil Society (the whole collection of organizations that are non governmental, such as churches, non-profits, and community organizations).
Fisher explains that most countries achieve political participation and protests, but not loyal opposition. Or, their civil society is too weak to carry forward the work of protests because she said, “People tire of being in the streets. They need the non-profit organizations to continue the change.” Importing Democracy outlines several case studies of what Fisher calls “democratization NGOs”, or the “spear carriers” that help strengthen democratization processes. These case studies are based upon her own research.
Fisher’s new book is garnering attention locally and internationally. Keith Shortall of Maine Things Considered invited her to speak with him about the ideals of U.S. democracy in honor of Independence Day; this interview joined that of many other radio stations from California to Colorado and Minnesota to Florida. Fisher was also invited to speak at the The Anne Frank Center USA in New York City and at the Library of Congress.
If you would like to meet Julie or see her book, you can catch her this week at the Color and Pages of Peaks event on July 12-13 or you can attend her Brown Bag Lecture and book signing at the Portland Public Library on September 27th at noon.
Peaks Island authors are invited to participate in a popular, annual event at the beautiful, historic Trefethen-Evergreen Improvement Association (TEIA) on Diamond Passage, an event formerly known as the Color of Peaks Art Show and fundraiser for camperships. This year the event has expanded to include books and has become the “Color & Pages of Peaks Artist & Author” Show from July 12th to 13th.
The Show will commence with a wine-and-cheese opening reception on Friday evening, July 12th from 6-8:00 PM; bring an appetizer to share and come prepared to enjoy music by Heather Thompson and Sam Saltonstall. The show continues the next day on Saturday, July 13th from 8 AM to 2 PM.
Authors are asked to pre-register for this book exhibit, to drop off their books by July 11th, and to pick up their books by 3 PM on the 13th. Co-organizers Friends of Peaks Island Library and Friends of TEIA will charge a 10% commission on all book sales. For more information or to secure a registration form, authors should please contact Kathryn Moxhay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re an island author, you know it never hurts to network in marketing your books. If you’re a literary tourist, then you won’t want to miss seeing Peaks Island as an inspiration for countless authors. For the past 8 years, this has been one of the best feel-good events of the summer and the one with the best view, so don’t miss it!
Who is Patricia Erikson? – I’m an author, educator, and consultant who lives on Peaks Island in Casco Bay, Maine and blogs at Peaks Island Press to keep up with the many writers whose talent and joie de vivre make this island community an amazing place. I’m also a history geek who blogs at Heritage in Maine.