Happy Release Day to CALL ME AMY! Here is how the top of the book display cabinet looks at the library where I work:
The Call Me Amy launch party was a great success. To see lots of pictures from the event, click the launch photos tab above. Nine more days until the official release!
I’m so excited for the CALL ME AMY Book Launch Party. Guess what the theme is!
I’m all ready to give out books next Tuesday! I chose My Ántonia by Willa Cather.
My Ántonia is an exciting, sentimental, sometimes upsetting novel about the pioneers of the American west. One of Cather’s earliest novels — written in 1918 — My Ántonia is the story of Antonia Shimerda, who arrives on the Nebraska frontier as part of a family of Bohemian emigrants. In quiet, probing depth, the story commemorates the spirit and courage of the immigrant pioneers whose persistence and strength helped to build America.
World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers. This year, World Book Night will be celebrated in the U.S., the UK, and Ireland.
Less than 2 months to go—an exciting time! ARCs (advanced reading copies) have circulated among journals and I was honored to learn prestigious Booklist would be reviewing CALL ME AMY. They receive more than 60,000 submissions a year and only evaluate a fraction of those. But to read their assessment was even better! Here’s a sneak peek of the review in its entirety as it will appear in the April 15th issue of Booklist. If you are unable to make the book launch party, click on the cover in the right sidebar to preorder CALL ME AMY.
The whoopie pie is the official state treat of Maine (their state dessert is blueberry pie). In the way that donut holes were leftover from donuts, whoopie pies were first made from the leftover batter of larger cakes. The Amish also have a claim to the whoopie pie’s earliest appearance. Wherever they originated, these delicious mini cakes with cream filling have been a classic since the 1920s. In 2011, the world’s largest whoopie pie was created in South Portland, Maine. It weighed 1,062 pounds. Proceeds from selling servings of the enormous filled-cake were used to send whoopie pies to soldiers overseas. And like those who received them many years ago, the soldiers may have said “whoopie!” when they opened their surprise packages.
If you were to cruise along the Maine coast, you’d see dots of bright colors floating everywhere on the surface of the ocean. Buoys are attached by rope to the traps that sit on the bottom. Each lobsterman paints his/her buoys with a unique color pattern. This way they can later find and identify their traps. An indicator buoy is displayed on all boats so everyone will know which buoys belong to which fisherman. Traditionally, lobster buoys were made of wood, but now most are plastic or Styrofoam. Whether from lumber or artificial materials, they are pretty, practical, and necessary for this vital livelihood.
I had a great time creating this paper doll for all of you young or young-at-heart followers. You can click on the link for a printable pdf copy. For my own set, I printed it twice, once on cardstock for the doll, and once on regular paper for the clothes. Be sure to snip a thin slit between Amy’s shoulders and hair so that the tabs will fit. You may also want to add an extra tab to the top of her bellbottoms. ♥ Have fun! amy paper doll
For Valentine’s Day, I set up a ‘Blind Date with a Book’ display at the library. Patrons can check out the wrapped books. When they get home and open their packages, they’ll meet their book dates. Maybe they’ll have a future together or maybe their date will turn out to be a dud. Either way, they’ll return it to the library, and unlike some blind dates, no hard feelings!
Eastern Egg Rock, an island off the coast of Maine, used to have plenty of puffins, but by 1973 they had all vanished. Between 1973 and 1986, Audubon naturalists, led by Dr. Stephen W. Kress, transported young puffins from Newfoundland (where there are plenty of puffins) and reintroduced them to Eastern Egg Rock. Vitamin fortified fish was placed in their burrows until the puffins were ready to be on their own. After several years at sea, the first transplanted pairs returned in 1977. To encourage the curious young puffins to come ashore, wooden puffin decoys were positioned here and there on the rocks. Today there are over 100 pairs nesting on Eastern Egg Rock. If you’d like to get involved, look into Project Puffin. A picture of my adopted puffin, Abigale, is shown on the About the Author page.
I am going to let Lucy Maud Montgomery do a guest post today. Many of you will recognize her as the author of the Anne of Green Gables series. Here is what she had to say about writing:
“I cannot remember the time when I was not writing or when I did not mean to be an author. To write has always been my central purpose around which every effort and hope and ambition of my life has grouped itself. During one of those winters of school teaching I boarded in a very cold farmhouse. In the evenings, after a day of strenuous school work, I would be too tired to write. So I religiously arose an hour earlier in the mornings for that purpose. For five months I got up at 6 o’clock and dressed by lamplight. The fires would not yet be on, of course, and the house would be very cold. But I would put on a heavy coat, sit on my feet to keep them from freezing and with fingers so cramped that I could scarcely hold the pen, I would write my ‘stunt’ for the day…. Then I would thaw out my hands, eat breakfast and go to school. When people say to me, as they occasionally do, ‘Oh, how I envy you your gift, how I wish I could write as you do,’ I am inclined to wonder, with some inward amusement, how much they would have envied me on those dark, cold, winter mornings of my apprenticeship.”
And this is what Lucy wrote after Anne of Green Gables was rejected from five publishers two years previous:
“The manuscript (of Anne) lay in the hatbox until I came across it one winter day while rummaging. I began turning over the leaves, reading a bit here or there. It didn’t seem so very bad. ‘I’ll try once more,’ I thought.”
Thank goodness she revisited that hatbox!
Back when I was a kid, I ‘wrote’ my first book. I would have been amazed to see what kids can do today with computer tools.
For more recipes from Miss Cogshell’s recipe box, please scroll down.
I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. It amazes and anchors me to have such a steadfast constancy in our lives. And, like my ancestors before me, this pull grows stronger as I age. While growing up I was fortunate to have two sets of grandparents who retired to the coast: my Cape Cod grandparents and my Port Clyde grandparents. Long before I was born, my great-grandmother taught on Monhegan Island off the coast of Maine. Along with raising four kids, she was an artist.
Here is one of her paintings:
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott wrote the above quotation 150 years ago. Her words are still relevant today and will continue to be significant for many years to come. Now that’s endurance!
Winter comes to New England.
Our Christmas cacti are all ready for the holiday season!
Scroll back through older posts to find Miss Cogshell’s recipe for ginger cookies.
My harbor seal’s adoption is finalized. After spotting a big-eyed seal off the coast of Cape Cod a few days ago, it seemed good timing to post this news.
We have a festive tradition in our home. Each year, the children make turkey apples to decorate the table for our Thanksgiving celebration. If you’d like to try some, you’ll need marshmallows, gumdrops, gummy worms, toothpicks and apples. Have fun!
When my children were small, they enjoyed carving this pumpkin with their grandfather. It’s one of my favorite Halloween pictures.
These porcelain figurines remind me of the ones Amy discovers in Miss Cogshell’s corner curio cupboard.
Autumn is a beautiful time of year here in New England.
I work in a public library. Our first floor display cabinet had stood empty for a while, so I brought in my picture books from other countries. The books fit the shelves just right and made up a nice collection. The little Clifford book (Big Red Dog) is written in Spanish. Can you guess which books came from Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, or Sweden?
Stories can play an important role in shaping our thoughts and interests. In MISS RUMPHIUS by Barbara Cooney, the main character spreads seeds of beauty throughout her village, and is consequently nicknamed The Lupine Lady. Because of this favorite picture book, I was inspired to grow lupines in my backyard. Later I found myself planting them in my own book, as well.
Amy has always wanted to see a moose in the wild. Would you want to meet one? Moose, the largest species of the deer family, can be enormous. Some of the largest adult moose are close to 7 feet tall and weigh up to 1500 pounds. Their diet consists of both ground and water vegetation. The males are known for their antlers. The most common moose predators are bears, wolves, and humans. Moose don’t travel in herds, but spend most of their time alone. They are usually slow moving but can go fast if startled!
We’ve had another great blueberry season in our backyard this summer. Many people like the small wild blueberries, but I prefer big ones—the plumper the better.
Back in April, I had the privilege of attending the photo shoot for the CALL ME AMY book cover. Thompson Photography & Graphic Design landed the job and came up with some beautiful results. Here’s a sneak peek of ‘Amy’ (and me!) on location.
In CALL ME AMY, Miss Cogshell has a lilac bush beside her back door. So do I!
Seals come in all different sizes and colors. They have a thick layer of blubber to keep themselves warm. Harbor seals are excellent swimmers and can stay under water for about 30 minutes. They glide their smooth bodies through the water by flapping their wide back flippers. On land, they slowly drag their bodies along with their front flippers. Seals have the same bones in their flippers that humans have in their hands. All seals shed their old coats each year to reveal new ones underneath. They can see very well under water, whereas on land their vision is a little blurry. Harbor seals don’t have external ears but they can hear. Seals can make many noises. They can bark, chirp, honk, cough, bleat, grunt or roar. A harbor seal at the New England Aquarium learned to say his name, “Hoover,” and phrases such as “Come over here” and “Get out of here!” A 1997 aerial survey counted nearly 31,000 harbor seals in the Gulf of Maine.
In Chapter One of CALL ME AMY, Amy mentions that she is a fan of the Trixie Belden Series. These were mystery books written between 1948 and 1986. There were 39 volumes and about 16 of them were already available in 1973. The first six were written by Julie Campbell. After she moved on to other projects, a variety of writers took over the Trixie Belden books under the pseudonym Kathryn Kenny. Over the past ten years, Random House has reissued most of the series. The books star a girl detective and her best friend Honey. Trixie lives on Crabapple Farm and Honey lives next door in the Manor House estate. The girls form a club called the Bob-Whites with other friends and have many exciting adventures.
CALL ME AMY takes place in 1973. I partly picked that year for Pup, because it was soon after the Federal Marine Mammal Protection Act had passed.
President Richard Nixon was up to his ears in Watergate, and the United States ended its involvement in the Vietnam War that year. In New York City, the World Trade Center officially opened and the first handheld cellular phone call was made. Elvis Presley’s concert in Hawaii was the first worldwide telecast by an entertainer and Secretariat became the first U. S. Triple Crown Champion. Skylab, the first American space station, was launched, and the Sears Tower in Chicago became the world’s tallest building.
Stamps cost 8 cents and gas was 39 cents a gallon. The Academy Award for Best Picture went to “The Godfather.” The Grammy Award for Record of the Year was “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” by Roberta Flack.
Letter Carriers were first allowed to wear shorts in 1973. In other fashion, denim blue jeans of all types were very big that year—embroidered, studded, painted, or faded. Platform shoes and hairstyles both reached new heights. Other popular hairdos were the ‘shag’ and the ‘afro’.