The 18th Books in Boothbay July 9 featured 40 authors of every genre – history, mystery, healing/self help, poetry, adventure, children’s literature, non-fiction, music – it’s a reader’s candy store! The event was held at Boothbay Railway Village in the old Town Hall.
This year’s authors were Hilary Bartlett, Ellen Booraem, David Brook, Sarah Carlson, Laurie Chandler, William Chandler, Hillary Dow, Irene Murtagh Drago, Gail Donovan, Justine Dymond, Kate Flora, S.G. Grant, Kristy Lageroos, Cynthia Langdon, Elizabeth Miller, Sandra Neily, Maria Padian, Terri Blen Parker, Jule Selbo, David Sloan, Charlotte Agell William Anthony, Danielle Bannister, Sue Baumgardner, Cheryl Blaydon, Rae Chalmers, Matt Cost, Ed Crocket, Charlene D'Avanzo, Luca DiMatteo, Jennifer Dupree, Carol Ekster, Vaughn Hardacker, Julie Lane (Castlebay), Lincoln County Historical Association, BJ Magnani, Len Mattano, Shawn McCarthy, Hunter Nichols, Anne Britting Oleson, Lynne Schmidt, Kevin St. Jarre and Alexandra Thompson.
Sure, we all attend Books in Boothbay for the books, to meet some of our favorite Maine authors, and talk about their new work ready and waiting to come home with us. But, truly, each author’s life story makes for pretty interesting reading as well.
Sandra Neily of Greenville (formerly of East Boothbay) and Westport Island was promoting “Deadly Assault – A Mystery In Maine #3” complete with a handout with chapter one and the first paragraph of chapter two with her books. The first two in the series are “Deadly Trespass” and “Deadly Turn.” Neily loves the woods. Seeing nothing but trees brings her great joy. It isn’t any wonder this self-taught fiction writer is a former Maine Woods Guide who turned her experiences into novels.
“I started writing the books while I was still a Guide,” she said. “I transferred my feelings about the woods to these books … through an unusual narrator: She’s middle-aged and has arthritis, and has a daughter who makes ‘mom’ a multi-syllable word.”
Neily created this mission statement for herself right from the start: “I want to take people to the Maine Woods now – and in the future – so they will not want to leave it. “A lot of the woods are at risk and most people don’t realize it,” she said.
These “Deadly” books blend fishing, hunting, politics and the Maine woods into murder mysteries and have drawn male readers to follow her to Moosehead Lake and other areas.
“I wanted to write a page turner,” Neily said. “One that would have people in their beds reading at 2 a.m. who’d send me the text: ‘Damn you.’”
Did she receive those texts? “Yes I did,” she replied smiling widely.
Children’s author Hillary Dow of Lewiston has been writing and illustrating her tales for four years. Dow’s illustrations are all done in felt – and all of the sheep’s wool used to create her needle felted illustrations are from locally sourced farms. Hence, her tagline: “From Farm to Bookshelf.”
Dow said, “My goal is to write and illustrate, with wool, a new book every year – in paperback and hardcover.”
Before she began writing and illustrating children’s books four years ago, Dow had put her writing ambitions on hold to focus on her marketing career, marriage and raising two elementary school-aged kids. She told herself she would write and illustrate books when she retired. Fortunately for young readers, she moved up that timeline and began fulfilling her dream of writing – and uniquely illustrating – books for kids now.
The adventure in her latest book, “Fairy Spells and Strawberry Elves,” begins when mermaid Viève discovers a seashell that turns out to be a portal to a woodland fairyland called Lichendia. And, when she passes through the shell into this land she, too, is a fairy. Viève helps the fairies wake the Strawberry Elves. Why are they asleep? What kinds of spells and potions will they make and from what? You’ll have to buy a copy to find out – and, said Dow, at the end of the story there’s the “best strawberry shortcake recipe in the world” waiting to be conjured up!
“All in, I worked on ‘Fairy Spells and Strawberry Elves’ for six months,” Dow said. “I can do an illustration a week – when I’m up at 4 a.m. and felting from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m. I have another book coming out in August, ‘The Sun Fairy,’ and a new one that’s half illustrated.”
Dow also has a YouTube channel to share updates on publications and teach felt illustrating; and a website: https://bindingtales.com
Kristy Lageroos was there with her first published book, “Candice and Lucy at the Halloween House” – an exciting event in any writer’s life! Lageroos is a myofascial therapist who taught children’s theater. She started out writing children’s plays and moved into books – and a couple are for adult readers.
The inspiration for the book with her at the event came from her daughter. “She came home from kindergarten one day and said her friends told her not to play with a certain boy at their school because he ‘was different.’ I asked my daughter if she listened to them. She said, ‘I told them he doesn’t have many friends and I was going to play with him anyway.’ I thought that was so brave of her … so, the main character in the story faces a similar dilemma.”
Lageroos, who loves kids’ energy, said it’s been pretty exciting having a first book published. And there is another book on the way; actually, “about a million on (her) computer.”
Terri Blen Parker: After you hear her story about growing up on Swan Island you understand why she was compelled to write about it – in three volumes. The first book in the trilogy is “Swan Island in the Kennebec: Journey to Sowangen, Island of Eagles,” to be followed by “Swan Island in the Kennebec - Perkins Township & Swango Health Spa;” and the last volume, “Swan Island in the Kennebec - Steve Powell Biological Station & State of Maine Wildlife Refuge.”
“I spent nine years reading all the history books I could find by Maine authors on Swan Island before I started writing,” Parker said. “I sent the manuscript for the first book to the publisher in 2018. My goal was to have it published before my father passed – and he did get to read it cover to cover,” shared Parker who grew up on Swan Island with her grandparents who were its caretakers.
“As a child I had a rare bone disease ... my joints were very weak and I was diagnosed terminal at age 10. I had to be carried everywhere. We were the only three people living there. My grandparents told me Swan Island was magical – and it was. Is. It’s where I learned to journal, write stories, and develop my writing skills. I was homeschooled and when I was well enough he took me by boat to the mainland and then came back and picked me up to go back home.
Ellen Booraem of Brooklin was an award-winning news reporter for 30 years. One day she decided it was time … let’s delve into some fiction! Booraem’s “River Magic,” her fourth foray into fantasy, won a Maine Literary Award. “River Magic” is for middle school-aged kids.
So how does it work for her, writing fiction as opposed to reporting on real life? What’s her process like beyond doing basic research?
“I start with the fantasy character(s), in this case it was a dragon and the person that rides the dragon,” she said. “Then I think of a problem that kind of a character would have and then of a problem a kid with a similar or contrasting problem might be (having),” Booraem shared.
“The story becomes the kid’s story, but with this one, the kid character started out angry, but as the story went on, she wasn’t angry anymore. This is what happens sometimes when you write: your characters don’t turn out the way you expect them to – they have minds of their own.”
And, yes, she is working on a new book. This one is about a kid whose mother is a valkarie. Sounds like a possible power struggle?
Sarah Carlson – For this retired elementary school teacher, poetry and photography have been a saving grace. Her poems, always complemented by one of her photographs, are relatable and go right to the heart of living and life. She found poetry, or perhaps it found her, as she faced the sudden death of her husband. Writing poetry provided her with a means to express her emotions and thoughts, to work through the powerful change in direction her life was taking. In April 2020, “In the Currents of Quiet” was published about loss, discovery, healing, and health written over 14 years.
“A lot of people have told me they keep a copy of a book on their bedroom table and pop it open when they need uplifting or a glimpse of grace or healing,” Carlson said.
Her first book, “The Dragonfly,” was a self publishing venture, followed by “The Radiance Of Change” in 2018. Carlson wrote the book of poems, accompanied by her photographs, over 12 years. She began to write the soon to be released, “Tender Light Softens” during the pandemic, putting thoughts to paper about retiring from teaching, becoming a grandmother, losing her mother, “all the things life brings and connecting with ourselves and the loss of life and everything that contains.”
Visit her blog: https://meanderingsoftheheart.blogspot.com for new poetry written almost daily.
Hilary Bartlett, the West Boothbay Harbor-based Liverpudlian author-artist-scientist, was back with her highly popular book, “The Thistle Inn: A Wee Bit of Scotland in Maine.” While this book was a delight to write as she recaptured those magical years of The Thistle Inn in Boothbay through her memories and those of the many other colorful patrons, her new book, being released in August, brought all of her talents to the fore.
As she explored the various kinds of mushrooms here on the Midcoast, she wrote using her own sketches, researched her heart out, and experimented with new recipes and enjoyed familiar ones in her kitchen. Art, science and cooking spell heaven for Bartlett. Look for it at next year’s event for an autographed copy – but, why wait, right?
Books In Boothbay will return to Boothbay Railway Village next July with more Maine authors.
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