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October Newsletter

Volume 19

greetings friends:

Pssstt!! ....Here's what I'm seeing...all 275 beautifully designed pages by Tabitha Lahr. And a sneak peek for you!

Chapter 1: A Flimsy Pretext introduces my grandfather, his boss George Hormel (founder of what is now the $10B food conglomerate Hormel Foods, and the embezzler that would reek havoc on the company and southern Minnesota.

Epigraphs: These are the ones I chose--Napolean's for his wisdom that all history is a fable, one that we agree on. And Angela Palm's wonderful writing that further deepens my thinking about the lifelong challenge of figure out who we are and where we come from.

Plus a peak at the title (which I'll reveal in December) and a tiny slice of my beloved grandfather who I never met. He wore the whitest and most starched shirts!

news and events

Last Saturday was the Book Fair at Maine’s first-ever Literary Fest, co-hosted by the incredible Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and Colby College.

With Maine She Writes/Spark sisters Deborah ShepherdRobin Clifford WoodElizabeth Garber…and Cheryl Campbell, we sold and signed books ALL DAY at Monument Square, Portland, ME! It was really fun!! I popped out for great presentations on intersectionality with a panel of authors whose books have been banned, as well as one on writing nature. Both were great.

My swoon moment came when I unexpectedly met Phuc Tran who came by to purchase Poetic License! If you haven’t read his terrific memoir, Sigh, Gone, do! It was one of the Maine Reads this summer and it’s terrific. And it was great to meet him.

On a personal front, Through October, we’ll be hiking a lot at Acadia National Park (our closest mountains) as we train for two weeks of hiking in the southwest in November. We’ll be south of Tucson with a dear former-Vermont friend and a beloved current-Vermont friend; then we four will join Flagstaff Guided Adventures for a customized five day hike in the Grand Canyon. One December, years ago, Michael and I hiked the 15.3 RT miles on Bright Angel Trail from a snowy South Rim down to the Colorado River and back. But this time, we’ll hike where tourists rarely go–on the Widforss Trail from the North Rim, Transept Canyon, the Vermillion Cliffs, and Buckskin Gulch (the longest slot canyon in the world) and have some time on the North Kaibab and Imperial Spencer Trails as well. After that we’ll take a few days in Palm Springs and two weeks with our daughter in Los Angeles. As far as we're concerned, November is the BEST month to NOT be in New England!!

Til then, we're picking the most rugged and toughest trails at Acadia -- mostly jumbles of boulders to climb over and around, slick sheer faces of granite to pull ourselves up over, and, oh yeah, lots and lots of iron and wooden ladders! The southwest will require us at higher elevations, but the trails will be so much easier!

But seriously, on all those trails, and while book 2 is in the capable hands of She Writes Press. I'll be imagining my third book (publication date unknown!) with its working title: Revolution—A Love Story. YES, IT WILL BE FICTION!!! I’m very excited to dig into this different form and to find it's plusses and minuses. This is the story that has been in my head for a long time, based in part on people I knew--the story of a young woman and a man from two different countries and cultures, who speak different languages, and whose family members engaged in armed revolution of two very different kinds. I'm excited to pick up my research in January, while thinking about my two protagonists as I walk along the trails!

boOKS that HAVE slayED me

My latest swoon:

The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka was just what I wanted for summer’s end. Ostensibly about swimmers who stake their laps in an underground

pool in New York City, the athletes know each other only by their swimming behaviors (slow, fast, bumping into others, getting out quickly or slowly, turning as they should or shouldn’t, etc.) and one named Alice who is losing her memory. One day, an unexplained crack appears in the bottom of the pool which throws Alice back to her childhood in a Japanese American incarceration camp in the 1940s.The crack causes all sorts of instability and the book is about community, mothers and daughters, and our urge to be known. I could not put it down. It was recommended on a visit to my old favorite haunt, the Norwich Bookstore, after my insistence that they give me a pile of really good, small books with beautiful words. Get your copy when you can! Rebecca Makkai calls Otsuka “the American author whose work I most thrill to see,” and Colson Whitehead says, “Here comes the new Julie Otsuka novel, so we can begin to live again.” Short, searing, and utterly original.

Also enjoying:

The Book of Delights, another lovely little book, in which Ross Gay delights in something he experiences or finds every day for one year. Funny and poignant while never glossing over the complexity of living in America as a black man, Gay’s book is reminding me to “smell the roses” every waking day.

And just picked up:

Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge, by Susan Hand Shetterly whose newest book I heard her read from the other day on Deer Isle. I’d gone to her reading under an old apple tree behind an old farmhouse with my new friend Deborah Cummins (who lives in Portland and on Deer Isle, is a wonderful poet and writer, AND board chair of the incredible Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance noted above!). The woman on my other side said the Seaweed Chronicles was “mesmerizing and fascinating” as it taught her all about seaweed as well as those who farm it and sell it. This is a growing industry in Maine and elsewhere with political, environmental, and social dilemmas and I'll have the opportunity to meet the new CEO of one of those Maine seaweed companies in another few weeks. Richard Russo says Susan Hand Shetterly’s “precise eye is directly connected not just to a quicksilver mind but also a good, generous heart.” She sounded that way to me! And since I will be meeting with the CEO of a new seaweed manufacturing venture in Portland, it will be good background for our conversation.

Enjoy October AND thanks for your continued support!


Buy Poetic License Here:


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