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Archive for Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance

Hayman to Participate in Literary Barn Raising for Cynthia Thayer

“Maine has an unusually strong, tightly-woven writing community, and when tragedy happens to one of us, it impacts us all.”

(writer Shonna Milliken Humphrey in Portland Press Herald)

Darthia Farm prior to the fire

When novelist Cynthia Thayer lost nearly one hundred farm animals (among them draft horses, calves, pigs, and sheep) to a devastating barn fire on the early morning of May 7th, injuring herself in an attempt to save them, Maine’s literary community collectively gasped. Cynthia is not only a beloved member of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance community, but her Darthia Farm operates organically and participates in the Community Supported Agriculture program. Peaks Island author James Hayman joins dozens of other authors who will band together for what they’re calling a literary barn raising this Friday, June 1st from 5-8 pm at Longfellow Books in Portland.

In a Maine Crime Writers essay, Jim shared how he befriended Cynthia:

I initially met Cynthia when she came down to Peaks Island to conduct a writing workshop at the island branch of Portland Public Library.  When I was introduced to her, I told her that I was hard at work on my first fiction.
“How much have you written?” she asked.
“One hundred and fifty pages,” I replied.

James Hayman

“Would you like me to read it and give you my opinion?”
“I’d be thrilled,” I said, surprised by her generosity.
“I have to warn you,” she said, “I’m not your mother.  If I think it’s dreadful, I won’t spare your feelings.”
I told her I wouldn’t want it any other way. I emailed her the manuscript that night and she called me back less than twenty-four hours later.
“I have to tell you,” she said, “You kept me up all night.  I think the book’s terrific.” Once again, I was thrilled. These were the first words from anyone whose literary judgment I respected that made me think that maybe, just maybe I might really become a novelist. She then offered a number of suggestions on how to improve the manuscript.  In each case, she was right. Her suggestions did improve it.

From there, Jim explains, Cynthia became a good friend and mentor. He’s pleased to join the legion of friends and colleagues who are raising funds to help rebuild the barn and acquire new livestock. You can learn more about Cynthia’s writing here and either attend the book-signing event at Longfellow Books or donate to the Darthia Farm Fund.

Literary Barn Raising, June 1, 2012

Frozen, Furious, but Not “Frilly”: Maine Writers Talk Back to LePage

“It’s not a protest, it’s a timely celebration (of poetry),” said Joshua Bodwell, Executive Director of Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance at a gathering of writers in Longfellow Square today.

Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Director, Joshua Bodwell speaking with reporters

What made the the celebration timely was incoming Governor LePage’s stated exclusion of poetry from his inauguration today. Bodwell estimates that, at least since 1995, poetry has played a role in the State’s gubernatorial inaugural ceremony, mirroring  the practice at the presidential inauguration.

To help the crowd celebrate, Maine’s Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl stood at Longfellow’s feet and read a Wesley McNair poem. When asked by a reporter how she responded to LePage’s “no frills” ceremony, she replied “To talk about ‘no frills’ as though art were ‘frills’ is dangerous to the culture and to the arts.”

Another participant at the gathering, Portland’s Poet Laureate Steve Luttrell sharpened Sholl’s point further: “Maine has been dubbed an ‘unfriendly place to do business,’ it can ill afford to be ‘unfriendly to the arts.'” Given the role of cultural tourism in the Maine economy, I couldn’t agree more.

Writer Bill Nemitz gave Longfellow the last word for LePage today in his Press Herald article

“All are architects of Fate,

Working in these walls of Time;

Some with massive deeds and great,

Some with ornaments of rhyme.”

Betsy Sholl offers her view on the importance of the arts to Maine

Book Extravaganzas

“A wildly talented raft of authors” characterizes Maine, according to the promotional poster for this year’s Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Holiday Book Sale. You’ll hear no argument from me.

Should we credit the long winters, scenic vistas, or infamous Yankee stubbornness for all the writers that populate the woods and coves of Maine? Perhaps all three.

Even those who weren’t born and raised here seem to receive gifts from the same muse as Maine’s native sons and daughters. So it’s only fitting that Maine’s 35 year old literary organization is teaming up with Portland Public Library and local independent Longfellow Books to offer a six-hour event chock full of authors and books.
One of Peaks Island’s own – James Hayman – will be there, signing “The Cutting” and “Chill of Night.” So all you island authors and book lovers, jump on the raft and we’ll head to the event together!

Friday, November 26th from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Portland Public Library’s Rines Auditorium

(with Library Open House during the Holiday Tree Lighting in Monument Square

Eleanor Morse: Coming Home to Writing

Eleanor Morse at home on Peaks Island

When does a writer become a writer? When they start writing? When they publish a book or begin to teach writing?

When I asked Eleanor Morse this question, she said she started writing at seven or eight years old, but didn’t identify herself as a writer until she reached her early forties. With her recent novel, Unexpected Forest, winning multiple awards, and her position as a faculty member in the M.F.A. program at Spalding University, it’s hard to think of Eleanor as anything but a writer these days (other than the most compassionate human being you’ve ever met).

Ironically, a major in English literature was as close as Eleanor could get to creative writing while attending Swarthmore College as an undergrad. And that wasn’t very close. “There was no way to use that part of myself,” she told me over a cup of tea and her own homemade rice crackers. “It wasn’t until after college that I reconnected with my writing self, but not until my early forties did I decide to move writing to the center of my life.”

While raising two children and working full time at Maine Medical Center as an adult educator, Eleanor enrolled in a full-time M.F.A. program at Vermont College. “It was lunacy,” she said, “but I couldn’t not do it.” At Vermont College, with Sena Naslund as a mentor, Eleanor charted her own course. “I didn’t always do what I was told in my M.F.A. program. People would always say ‘write what you know.’ Well, I didn’t want to do that. For me, writing is an expansive process.” When Eleanor wanted to stretch and learn more about the ancient paintings of the San or Bushmen of Botswana, she created a character who needed to research them. “All along, as a writer, I’ve headed into areas that I don’t know. I don’t want to be bounded by my own life experience.”

Eleanor started identifying as a writer  “at the point that I started trusting my editorial instincts. Until then, I needed a ‘thumbs up’ from other people to tell me whether or not my writing had value.”

These days, many people are eager to value her writing. Sena Naslund recruited her onto Spalding University’s faculty. Unexpected Forest, published by Down East Books, won Independent Publisher’s “Gold Award” in the Best Regional Fiction of the U.S. Northeast. Also, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance awarded it Winner of Best Published Fiction at the 2008 Maine Literary Awards.

Those who know Eleanor won’t be surprised to hear that she shrugs off such accomplishments and awards. “When I think of the future, I hope I’ll continue to write books as long as I have breath and a brain in my head. Writing means doing my best not to shy away from characters, scenes, or story lines that are hard or emotionally challenging. To create characters that are vulnerable, I need to be vulnerable myself, willing at times to be scared. People often think that writing and living are quite separate. But they’re not.”

Island writers who enroll in Eleanor’s Sudden Fiction classes know that being a good writer and a good human being are synonymous for Eleanor; it’s part of what draws us back to her.

As Eleanor said, she has “come home to writing.” She’s come home indeed and seems very comfortable there.

In “The Chill of (Summer) Night”

Longfellow Books Advertises Release Party

Like other Mainers, Portland residents are famous for their independence. Some even call it stubborness. Longfellow Books on Monument Square is one of the few remaining independent (“fiercely independent” according to its website) bookstores in Portland. It’s also a member of the popular Buy Local movement, a campaign that encourages large changes in the regional economy through small shifts in spending habits.

Longfellow Books knows a good thing when they see it and they want you to buy this summer’s thriller from a local author – James Hayman. For that reason, a promotion for The Chill of Night‘s book release party decorates their store window.

The Chill of Night

Jim’s work ethic is Yankee in nature and he has followed the publication of his first thriller, The Cutting, with another Detective McCabe story set in Portland. See his interview on 207. I’m a fan of Jim’s and a fan of Portland’s sense of place so I don’t plan on missing this book or its release party. As a Mainer, I’m fiercely independent about these sort of things you know. See you there.

Longfellow Books

One Monument Way, Portland

June 22, 2010 7 p.m.

Maine Reads Event

Book Sale and Author Signing (including the island’s own James Hayman)
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Noon- 2 PM
The Abromson Center on the Portland Campus of the University of Southern Maine

Plan to attend this FREE event as Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance‘s part of the larger Maine Festival of the Book.  Approximately 30 authors will be available to autograph books and meet their fans.  Authors include bestseller Tess Gerritsen, Maine’s Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl, James Hayman, Julia Spencer-Fleming and many, many others.

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