Have you ever thought it would be fun to have a tea party? I hosted one a while back with fellow authors, illustrators, librarians, and readers in attendance. We played literary games, sipped tea, nibbled on scones and crumpets, and had great conversations!
As the author of Winnie-the-Pooh stated: “A Proper Tea is much nicer than a Very Nearly Tea, which is one you forget about afterwards.” ~A.A. Milne
For centuries, people around the world have been fascinated by lighthouses. They can be found on dangerous coastlines, islands, and harbors. Before their existence, people would light fires along the shore to guide sailors. One of the very first (and tallest!) lighthouses was built in Egypt around 280 BC. The first in America was built in 1716 in Boston Harbor, but was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The current lighthouse, located on Little Brewster Island, dates from 1783.
A lighthouse features in the sequel to Call Me Amy. Naturally, I had to do some research. :) Here are pictures of a few I’ve recently visited. I climbed all 185 steps of the one shown top middle–what a view from the top!
One Saturday I was strolling through Hobby Lobby when I happened upon two little packs of ‘beads.’ Each package had three book charms in it AND they were half-price. Of course I had to buy them. Next, I hunted for some sort of open-link chain to put the little classics on. I found a pretty one at A. C. Moore. After I finished attaching the charms to the necklace, I realized they matched my old book pin. Working at a library, I can get away with wearing all nine books at once. I guess you could say I’m all booked up!
I’m always running into people who say they want to write a book or that they have a great idea for a story. Easy to say, but maybe now is the time to really give it a try, to walk your talk. You can keep hoping to do this someday or you can just dig in and accomplish your goal while others are still talking about it. Writing doesn’t have to take a lot of time, even one page a day will give you a 365 page draft before the year is out. After you’ve got that draft, it’s time to revise and polish. A great way to do this is by joining a writing group. Be prepared for the possibility of harsh feedback. True, writing is subjective, but that’s why a group is good. When more than one person tells you a passage is unclear, it probably really does need reworking. Writing takes a tough skin, however those who stick with it, will someday have their book.
Whether it actually gets published is another story, but if you’re serious and in this field for the long run, you can achieve that, as well. Here are a few examples of children’s books that took a while to shine. Luckily for us, their authors didn’t give up.
16 publishers rejected THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Here’s one of their comments: “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” Before going on to win a Newbery Medal, A WRINKLE IN TIME was rejected by 26 publishers. LORD OF THE FLIES—20 times. And of course, the first HARRY POTTER book was returned unwanted by 12 publishers. Here’s the winner for this group: Dr. Suess’s first book received 27 rejections.
Easier said than done, but hang in there and happy writing!
If any of you have your own tips for getting the job done, please click just above the typewriter and leave a comment.
First, I’m thrilled to introduce the new book trailer for Call Me Amy:
And then this fantastic review and recommendation from the October issue of Library Media Connection. Here’s part of it: “Every once in a while, a book comes along that you just can’t put down. This book draws you in so deeply, you just have to keep reading. Set in the 1970s, it is a heartwarming story of friendship and coming of age. The story is well-developed and has enough twists and turns to keep even a reluctant reader interested.” —Pamela K. Simmons, Librarian, Penn Yan, NY
Also, I was excited when a Singapore library system link was pointed out to me. Looks like at least 25 libraries now have a copy of Call Me Amy and a dozen of them are already checked out. So fun to picture my book being in the hands of readers over 9000 miles away from where I live. Happy reading!
This little ghost family has just put their pumpkins out on the stoop. What a fun, easy way to make healthy snacks during the Halloween season. We used clementines, green beans, bananas, and chocolate chips. For more recipes and crafts, click on the Recipes & Crafts button in right sidebar.
I’m back from a fun-filled vacation in Bermuda. Looks like a copy of Call Me Amy hid itself in my suitcase and then popped into a palm tree.
Mark Twain often stayed on this beautiful island of friendly people. Statues of him can still be found in several locations.
Now that summer has ended, I had to make a quick trip to the coast before winter sets in, just to breathe in that fresh ocean air. I wasn’t disappointed.
Yesterday, I spent the day at a good ol’ fashioned New England farm festival. Although previously scheduled for last Sunday, the event was postponed a week in hopes of better weather. And what a gorgeous day it turned out to be!
Pup liked to watch the whirligigs next door:
My sister gave me this adorable bag. Since Call Me Amy features an abandoned harbor seal and takes place in 1973, it is the perfect satchel to carry a copy of the book while I’m out and about. Between the cheerful polka dot lining and little zipper pull peace sign—I love it!
Do you have a favorite picture book? There are so many fantastic ones to pick from. Some of my all-time top choices are in the above photo. But then I wondered what I’d choose from more recent titles. The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks came to mind for its beautifully written story within a story. Hallensleben’s paintings are gorgeous, too. Speaking of bears, how cute are these books?
Click on comments to share your own favorite picture books.
This picture shows famous artist Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) in front of his home in Port Clyde. He is the young man in the big white hat, sketching to the admiration of the local boys surrounding him. My father took this photograph many years ago and his dog Blackie is in it! I wish I could post some of Andy’s beautiful paintings, but they are not in public domain. Instead I will add a recent picture I took of that same area. As a sneak peek: you’ll see Andy’s name mentioned several times in the sequel to Call Me Amy.
It’s so much fun to work at a public library surrounded by books and those who love them. We’ve just taken down our staff art exhibit. The display included photographs, paintings, pastels, and needlework. Here is a fuzzy close-up of my contribution.
Besides all the fun events, another great thing about working at the library is I get to hear firsthand how readers like my book. In the beginning it was mostly friends and older patrons, and I figured some were just being kind. But now all the kids are checking it out. The other night while I was working at the front circulation desk, three young girls, all unbeknownst to each other, came in at different times to return my book (our library owns a dozen copies :)). The first girl, about 12 years old, asked if I could recommend other books like Call Me Amy. I told her “that’s so nice to hear!” She replied: “I really liked it. I like books that are a little sad, but then happy in the end.” The other two kids were enthusiastic, too, and both said they couldn’t wait for the sequel. Here is a picture of another young patron at the book club event we held earlier in the summer.
When I do book signings, I always have a bowl of salt water taffy on my table to tie in with the ocean theme of Call Me Amy. I thought I’d put an Old Salt (seafaring fellow) in this picture of the taffy. According to legend, in 1883 a candy shop was flooded during a major storm. As a result, David Bradley’s entire stock of taffy was saturated with salt water from the ocean. For a joke, he offered the “salt water” taffy to his next customers. The name stuck and people have been enjoying it ever since. Salt water taffy doesn’t actually contain seawater but it does have both water and salt as ingredients. After it has cooked and cooled, the sticky treat needs to be stretched. This adds air to the mixture and keeps it soft. Before the process was automated, many a household enjoyed taffy pulls.
I was recently interviewed for the popular Guide to Literary Agents blog run by Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest. Click on the link to read it:
Also, one of my website followers brought it to my attention that she never realized the large picture buttons going down the right side of this page are clickable. She happened to click one accidentally and was surprised to find a whole new page. Now you all know!
University of New England has a Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center where they nurture orphaned baby harbor seals back to health and then, when they’re strong enough, release them back to the ocean. I had the opportunity to witness this firsthand. Five pups who started out at about 15 pounds and now average 50 pounds were set free on a mild day in August. How wonderful to see the healthy pups swimming out to sea as nature intended.
Here are the first two starting out:
On their way:
They made it:
Happy travels little seals, be safe.
While relaxing with my family on a local boardwalk yesterday, I was presented with an early birthday present. It’s Amy’s sneaker! Those of you who have read Call Me Amy know that she was always hanging out on the pier in her lime green sneakers, so of course I had to take a picture of my gift in its natural surroundings—perched on a wharf. This adorable facsimile, with a slot in the top, is actually a bank to store coins in—very cute!
I enjoyed signing books and meeting lots of people at Barnes & Noble yesterday.
The 3rd Annual New England Author Fair hosted by Bayswater Book Co. in Center Harbor, NH was a big success. Lots of people attended and the rain held off!
There’s nothing like time spent Down East—the waves crashed, the seagulls soared, and the lupines were in bloom. Along the way I stopped in at many bookstores and libraries to introduce Amy and say Hi.
School is almost out, have you got your summer reading lined up?
I had an amazing, whirlwind time at BookExpo America—so many people and so many books!
I even got to pose with one of the celebrities!
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?