People from around the world have asked how we’re doing with all the snow. They’ve also asked for pictures, as it can be hard to imagine this winter bliss from certain balmy locations. So, bundle up, hang onto your hats and welcome to New England! This photo shows how we walk through the early stages of a blizzard.
Later, we locate our vehicles.
Then we drive home.
We check out the window to see if there are any wildlife passing through our backyards.Next day, the kids head off for school.
What can I say, we’re New Englanders and there’s lots of fun to be had in the snow, too!
I had a lot of fun researching 1973 music, fashion, TV shows, and other popular pastimes when I was writing the Amy books. Call Me Amy takes place from March 1973 until August. And Amy’s Choice picks up right after, continuing through November 1973. But what about just before then; what were teens listening to on their transistor radios during the cold weeks of February 1973? Turns out there were some great hits happening exactly 42 years ago today.
First, we’ve got American sensation Stevie Wonder who was born in 1950. He had two huge hits in February 1973 that reached #1: Superstition and You Are the Sunshine of My Life, both from his Talking Book album and both winning Grammy awards. Only 23 years old in 1973, Stevie already had fourteen previous albums to his name (first one at age 11!). He now has more than 25 albums and just as many Grammy awards. Here’s a link to his 1973 performance on Soul Train (wait ’til you see the dancers!): Superstition
Next up, from England, Sir Elton John, born in 1947. One of his enormous hits of February 1973 was Crocodile Rock, quickly followed by more #1 songs off his popular Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album, such as Candle in the Wind, Bennie and the Jets, and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting. Still going strong, he has sold more than 300 million records. Here’s Elton in action (check out the shoes!): Crocodile Rock
American singer-songwriter Carly Simon was born in 1945. On this day in 1973, you’d most likely hear her number one hit You’re So Vain. She had many other hits, as well, but this particular song was always a bit of a mystery. Who is she singing about? She claims it’s not James Taylor (her former husband) or Mick Jagger who sings backup on the original song. Could it be Warren Beatty, as many suspect? Or, as she often says, is it really a combination of three different people? Live from Martha’s Vineyard, you decide: You’re So Vain
Last, but not least, lovely singer-pianist Roberta Flack, born in 1937 in North Carolina and raised in Virginia. Her most popular song of February 1973 was Killing Me Softly with His Song. This hit, released soon after The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, remained at number one for five weeks—both songs won back-to-back Grammy awards. Sit back and enjoy her amazing talent: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it, so I thought I’d share some quick and easy crafts. To make a lollipop flower, cut out four hearts about 3″ tall from construction paper. Punch a hole in the point of each heart. Layer all the hearts on top of each other so that the punched holes line up, add a little glue if needed, and then stick a lollipop through to make a center and stem. For a fuller flower, layer with six hearts.
This second valentine craft will add a fancy touch to your cup of tea. First, cut out two small hearts (I used a cookie cutter for my template). Tape a teabag string between the hearts, and glue the two hearts together to cover the end of the string. Write a saying on the front and you’re all set to drop your teabag into a mug of steaming water.
Amy has been busy choosing Valentine’s Day cards for her friends.Uh oh. She has one extra. Should she give a second Valentine to Ricky or to Craig? If you’ve read Amy’s Choice, you’ll already know who she ends up going with to the Fall Harvest dance. :)
For more crafts and recipes, click on tab at top of page.
If you’ve read Amy’s Choice, then you’ve met Finn. He is a lighthouse keeper and talented painter. In 1973, he lives on a small island across from Amy’s home in Port Wells. Finn paints beautiful coastal scenery using oils and canvas.
Obviously, the above painting is not from the 70s, but at least it’s a gorgeous scene of Maine, the same location where Finn paints. Due to copyright laws, I’m not able to post any of the artwork from more recent artists (Google them!).
Two times in Amy’s Choice, Finn mentions his admiration for real-life painter Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). A good place to view Andy’s work is at the Wyeth Center, a part of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. Click here for another post about Andrew Wyeth and here to view illustrations by his famous father N. C. Wyeth.
A few other American painters who were popular during the 1970s were Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
“Some people have been kind enough to call me a fine artist. I’ve always called myself an illustrator. I’m not sure what the difference is. All I know is that whatever type of work I do, I try to give it my very best. Art has been my life.” Norman Rockwell
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way–things I had no words for.” Georgia O’Keeffe
and Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” Andy Warhol
Speaking of pop art, who remembers Peter Max (1937–)? This old stamp will remind you of his bold cosmic style. More recently, you may have seen his colorful artwork covering a Continental Airlines super jet or the hull of the Norwegian Breakaway cruise ship.
I wish I could post paintings by these amazing American artists, but hardly any of their works are in the public domain. We’ll have to settle for a photograph of Peter Max and me hanging out at the Ritz-Carlton in Boston last summer—long story!
“I never know what I’m going to put on the canvas. The canvas paints itself. I’m just the middleman.” Peter Max
Happy New Year! WordPress sends out an annual update on how our blogs are doing. Here’s a sample from mine: A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people. Viewers were from 77 countries in all. Most visitors came from the United States. Brazil & U.K. were not far behind. The busiest day of the year was November 2nd. The most popular post that day was Release Day Signing.
Thank you everyone for keeping this blog hopping! And now in other news:
Thank you to Rachel Tey! I’m excited to announce she has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. You can read more about Rachel here.
Keeping the Blogisphere a Beautiful Place
The original award image was a bit fuzzy, so I found the above version in a higher resolution.
The Award rules are:
- Display the award on your blog
- Link back to the person who nominated you
- State 7 things about yourself
- Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations
So, here we go…7 things about me:
1. I haven’t watched TV in years, but I love movies.
2. I don’t like jello, but I enjoy chocolate desserts.
3. I’ve never had a cup of coffee, but I like green tea.
4. I eat gluten-free and love NYAJ’s carrot cake.
5. I work in a library and will never tire of books.
6. I don’t have pets, but there are lots of fish in our house.
7. I love art and will return to painting someday.
There are so many inspiring blogs out there and I had tremendous trouble keeping my list to 15 (I may have left in a few extra, while missing others just as deserving). I’m thinking of them as I type–the list goes on and on! With no further ado and in no particular order, I nominate the following bloggers:
Jama at Jama’s Alphabet Soup
Leandra at Le&ndra Wallace
Mirka at Mirka Muse
Barbara at March House Books
Bobbi and friends at Teaching Authors
Mei-Mei at Jedi by Knight
Wendy at Wendy L. MacDonald
Yvonne at Yvonne Ventresca
Laurie at Laurie J. Edwards
Claudine at Carry Us Off Books
Greg at Always in the Middle
Kenne at Becoming is Superior to Being
Cindy at Cindy Rice Designs
Sally at Wee Folk Studio
S. L. at Eagle-Eyed Editor
Dan at redstuffdan
Neil at Neil Murray
Marcia and friends at The Write Stuff
Marianne and friends at Writers’ Rumpus
To those who choose to participate, have fun with it and congratulations!
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Oh, to be like Mary Pickford sitting serenely at her writing desk with nary an internet to distract her.
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”– Helen Keller
I haven’t had the best of luck with New Year’s resolutions. For example, that year I decided to give up chocolate and fat, or at the very least, cut way back on them? By 8:15 AM on New Year’s Day, I’d already failed, thanks to a lone chocolate cruller.
As for writing, I came up with at least a dozen resolutions, but then realized I was heading for failure again. I’ve narrowed them down to my top five.
1. Writing for 20 minutes a day might be a good start. This may not seem like a very long time, but believe me I’ve had trouble accomplishing this task many times. Set goals that are easy to achieve.
2. Read more often. Not just the genre you write, but reach outside the box. Maybe choose a book everyone’s talking about (they must have done something right!). Reread the classics that remain popular a century later. Perhaps a book that had special meaning to you before you decided to become an author.
3. Take more risks in your writing. Step outside your comfort zone with either characters, dialogue, or plot. For example, your characters are happily going along through their story, but what would happen if you suddenly threw them a curve ball? Or, say if you always write third person female historical fiction. Try first person contemporary male and see how your story turns out.
4. Stay focussed on what’s important. If improving your craft is near the top of your list, try not to waste valuable time scanning book sales and reviews. Things which depend on others can’t be controlled, so why waste time worrying about them? Less stressful multi-tasking equals more creative downtime. And, hard to believe, but the social media world will carry on without us even if we don’t check it constantly.
5. Give back to the writing community. Have you read a book you loved? Don’t keep it to yourself. Request it at your local library, review it on Goodreads, Amazon, and any other sites you find. Tell the world! One thing I plan to do is to start interviewing my fellow authors on this blog—stay tuned—there’ll be some great ones coming up!
Whatever happens with your New Year’s resolutions, don’t be hard on yourself. Just take a deep breath, learn from your mistakes and try again the next day.
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here are a few other posts to inspire your writing:
Good luck and best wishes for a productive peaceful 2015!
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”–Neil Gaiman
As I bumped into Nydia the Blind Flower Girl at yet another museum last weekend, I realized I’d seen her several times before. I remembered taking a picture with her once, so I enlisted my daughter to take another one. A docent wandering by, caught us in the act (photos are allowed :) ) and I said, “You must see people posing with Nydia like this all the time.” “No, not really,” she replied. She proceeded to tell us about the beautiful marble sculpture created by Randolph Rogers in 1855.
Randolph Rogers (1825-1892) was born in Waterloo, NY and grew up in Ann Arbor, MI. A neoclassical sculptor, he spent most of his professional life in Florence and Rome. Rogers began his career carving statues of children and portrait busts of tourists. He didn’t enjoy working with marble, so the marble statues were created in his studio by Italian artisans under his supervision, from an original produced by him in plaster. His first large-scale work was Ruth Gleaning (1853), based on a figure in the Old Testament. It proved extremely popular, and up to 20 marble replicas were produced by his studio.
His next large-scale work was Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii (1854–55), based on a character in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s best-selling 1834 novel, The Last Days of Pompeii. It proved even more popular, and his studio produced more than 100 marble replicas in two different sizes. This beautiful sculpture shows Nydia as she escapes from the erupting Mount Vesuvius and searches for her lost companions, including the man she loves.
I looked through my pictures to see if I could find the other photograph I’d remembered and lo and behold I came up with a total of three goofy poses. Usually life-size, you may notice the statue on the left is done in the smaller scale. These photos of us together are from Washington, D.C., Boston, MA, and Manchester, NH, respectively. Am I the only one who feels a strong need to share a secret with Nydia?
Although there are many discrepancies about what went on, who attended, and what they ate, most people agree the first Thanksgiving was held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. I find it interesting that this famous Currier & Ives Lithograph along with the popular tune of “Over the River and Through the Wood,” both created in the mid 1800s, also had roots in Massachusetts.
Over the River and Through the Wood
By Lydia Maria Child
Over the river and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way
To carry the sleigh
Through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river and through the wood,
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes,
And bites the nose,
As over the ground we go.
Over the river and through the wood,
Trot fast, my dapple gray!
Spring over the ground,
Like a hunting hound,
For this is Thanksgiving-Day.
Over the river and through the wood,
And straight through the barnyard gate!
We seem to go
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river and through the wood;
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun!
Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
Lydia Maria Francis Child, born in Medford, Massachusetts (February 11, 1802 – October 20, 1880), was an American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. Here she is in 1870 reading a book.
Currier and Ives was a successful American printmaking firm headed by Nathaniel Currier (1813–1888) born in Roxbury, Massachusetts and James Merritt Ives (1824–1895) of New York. Currier & Ives produced at least 7,500 lithographs during its seven decades. Artists created two to three new images every week on lithographic stones. The images were printed in black and white and then colored by hand in assembly-line fashion, with each worker applying one color. Currier & Ives sold more than a million prints, through peddlers, pushcart vendors and bookstores, through the mail and through an international office in London.
In Amy’s Choice, Amy teaches her friends how to make turkey apples to start off their traditional Thanksgiving celebration. Shown below are a few turkeys the kids in my family made to decorate our Thanksgiving table one year. Any holiday traditions going on in your house?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
As you may have noticed from earlier posts, art has always been a big part of my life, so it’s no surprise that a painter plays an important role in Amy’s Choice (sequel to Call Me Amy is now available!).
Art is everywhere and sometimes where you least expect it. Over the last few years, amazing shoes have popped up all over my city to celebrate its shoe industry history. Some of the newer shoes also serve as benches, like this one which stands in front of the elementary school my children attended.
I love this scholarly lion!
Downtown there are gorgeous murals and twice I’ve run into displays of giant dog sculptures on the common.
Do you have interesting outdoor art where you live?
A huge thank you to everyone who came out yesterday during heavy downpours to get a copy of Amy’s Choice. Even all of you who didn’t make the pictures, I remember and appreciate your support. If it weren’t for readers like you, there’d be no books. :)
Best of luck to those who entered yesterday’s blog contest to win a Visa card or books. I’ll take entries through Nov. 9th and then draw winners that day. To enter contest, please click here.
October by Robert Frost (from A Boy’s Will, 1915)
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Two of my favorite songs to listen to in October are Moondance by Van Morrison and Harvest Moon by Neil Young–click on the song titles to watch & enjoy!
‘They’ say “write what you know.” So, it’s not surprising that a woodshed appears in the Amy books. Some woodsheds are quite simple with just an overhang to keep firewood and kindling dry, but others are more like little cottages. My favorite woodshed was built in 1900. Located in a small fishing village on the coast of Maine, the woodshed is shown in these pictures behind the main house. I don’t know what’s inside now, but there used to be an antique wood-burning stove and a work bench covered with fascinating tools and wood shavings. One of the features I liked best about this particular woodshed was a built-in ladder that brought only the bravest explorers up through a squishy entry to an almost-secret top floor.
Find out how a woodshed features in the sequel to Call Me Amy. Amy’s Choice will be available November 1st!
First, another interview about the Amy books to share. Click here for Marcia Meara’s popular Bookin’ It blog.
This past weekend I returned to Rolling Ridge for my second Novel Revision Retreat. My first time was four years ago when I was still polishing Call Me Amy. Darcy Pattison is the wise instructor at the helm of these nation-wide workshops. This particular retreat (along with two other workshops) was organized by author Anne Broyles.
Rolling Ridge, a 40 room Georgian estate on Lake Cochichewick is located in Massachusetts. There are 38 acres of woods, water views, and rolling hills.
There were only ten of us this time, but along with Massachusetts commuters, participants came from Arkansas, Kansas, Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia.
The dining room is filled with local art and water views. Delicious meals accommodated many special requests from gluten-free to vegan.
There was quite a bit of work beforehand to prepare for the retreat. For example, each person read all the full novel drafts of everyone else in their group. Here’s my group:
After lunch I took a walk around the grounds and was excited to come across a lone red wheelbarrow (we had just discussed William Carlos Williams’ poem about plums earlier that same morning).
It wasn’t long before I spotted several kayakers paddling smoothly across the lake.