Easing into the Future

Edith here, roasting north of Boston.

I’m in that stage of revisions on my work-in progress (Quaker Midwife Mystery #4) where I print out the manuscript and spend a couple of days at the dining table with a colored pen and words on paper. Last week Ramona DeFelice Long, my dear friend, editor, and writer, wrote a blog post about how she no longer prints out her manuscripts.

Even though using expensive ink smarts, and watching all that paper crank through my printer does, too, I can’t abandon my paper readthroughs. I do it three times during my writing/revision process. Right now is the first time, after I have finished the first draft and addressed all my self-queries I had saved for later (things like, Did the Meetinghouse have a furnace in the basement? Did the post office have lockable individual post boxes? What went on during the winter on the frozen river? And so on). Paper readthrough

Reading straight through shows me continuity issues, weak plot points, and the flow of the book. I see the words differently on paper, too. I’ll do it again just before I send it off to be edited, and again before I send it to my publisher.

I don’t, however, write original content on paper (unless I am absolutely stuck somewhere with time on my hands and no laptop), and would never go back to that.

In other areas I also have a foot in both the paper and the digital worlds. We pay almost all our bills by writing an actual, old-fashioned check and sending it in an envelope with a stamp on it. I know I could do it all online, but there’s something about sitting down with the checkbook that feels safer, and is also a link to the past. I can picture my father doing the exact same thing.

calendarI’m a convert to Google calendar. I love it! It’s on both my computers and on my phone., and it sends me handy reminders. I don’t even need the appointment card from the doctor any more – I just poke the appointment into my phone and we’re done. But I also use a paper calendar at my desk, and we keep one downstairs, too. I like that visual reminder of what’s coming up and what has already happened.

I prefer to read books on paper. That said, having a Kindle is a boon for traveling or for trying out a book from a new author I can’t get from the library or am not sure I want to own.

A couple parts of my life that are reassuringly old-fashioned are cooking and gardening. I just don’t see those going digital any time soon (although I do often find recipes online, so there’s that).

Readers: what about you? Are you all digital all the time, or straddling the worlds as I am? What’s your favorite analog thing, and your favorite digital?

Bastille Day!

Edith here, enjoying full summer north of Boston. Today is the day when, well, I’ll let history.com tell you:

“Parisian revolutionaries and mutinous troops storm and dismantle the Bastille, a royal fortress and prison that had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. This dramatic action signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie-Antoinette, were executed.”

Prise_de_la_Bastille

The famous Prise-de-la-Bastille painting by by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel

However, another history site gives a rather different take on the storming. “Back in July of 1789, France had already experienced a rough summer that included food shortages, high taxes (as a solution to King Louis XVI’s debts) and the militarization of Paris. Sensing distress, the king called upon the Estates-General—an assembly that hadn’t met in more than a century—to deliver a new tax plan. That resulted in the Third Estate, the non-noble/non-clergy portion of the assembly, breaking from the clergy and nobility, and demanding a written constitution from France….Weeks later, … fears that Louis XVI was attempting to quash any political revolution began to boil.

“That fear culminated on July 14 in a march to the Hôtel des Invalides to loot firearms and cannons, and a resulting (and far more famous) trip to the Bastille for proper ammunition. That hunt for gunpowder—not the hope of freeing prisoners—was the main reason for the storming of the Bastille. The events that followed—the freeing of the few prisoners that remained at the Bastille, but also a deadly battle and the brutal beheading of the prison governor and his officers—were more of a side effect of chaotic uprising, rather than its intent….A year later, France would host the Fête de la Fédération on July 14 to celebrate the France’s constitutional monarchy and to honor France’s newfound unity. “

Vive la Resistance! Every year two widely traveled friends of mine throw a Bastille Day party. They fill their back yard with tables and chairs and decorate with red and blue. They make a big Coq au Vin and all the guests bring French-themed side dishes or desserts. At the end of the evening we all stand to sing the “Marseilles” – yes, they pass out the words to the song.

FrenchSalade

My salade composée from last year

This year I’m bringing Chocolate Raspberry Clafoutis – the party is tomorrow.

Readers: Do you celebrate Bastille Day? If not, what’s your favorite revolution?

 

 

Declaring Independence

Edith here. I know you’re all out celebrating our country’s origins, and I wish you the best, safest, and most delicious of gatherings.

US-original-Declaration-1776

Although all the signatories of the Declaration of Independence were (white landowning) men, I just learned from dynamite mystery author Martha Reed that the first printed copy was printed by Mary Katherine Goddard!

“When on January 18, 1777, the Second Continental Congress moved that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, Goddard was one of the first to offer the use of her press. This was in spite of the risks of being associated with what was considered a treasonable document by the British. Her copy, the Goddard Broadside, was the second printed, and the first to contain the typeset names of the signatories, including John Hancock .”

And just in case you haven’t read it recently, here’s the full text of the declaration, thanks to ushistory.org:

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Readers: How often do you read the whole thing? Was this your first time? What pops out at you?

Cover Reveal – Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Edith, with some delightful news, and a giveaway!

I have, that is, Maddie Day has, a cover for Book Four in the Country Store Mysteries. The book is called Biscuits and Slashed Browns, and it takes place during maple sap season in Brown County, Indiana. The book releases January 30, 2018. It is, of course, available for preorder wherever books are sold, and preorders really help the author. I’m giving away an apron and a signed cover flat to one lucky commenter today (US aprononly)!

Here’s the cover blurb:

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple Syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late-winter in South Lick, Indiana—until murder saps the life out of the celebration . . .

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

So, without further ado, I present the cover:

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Don’t you love it? We have the bottles of syrup, the sugaring-off shack, the sap buckets, pancakes, biscuits, a little March snow left on the ground, even the slashing knife.

And on the bench sits Robbie’s cat Birdy. For those of you who didn’t hear, this Birdy is modeled on my real-life cat Birdy, and he died on June 6, just a few weeks ago. I miss him terribly, and am comforted that he’ll live on in this series.

BirdywithFLIPPED

Birdy, the cat in the Country Store Mysteries – literally, in this case!

Readers: To win one of my Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day aprons–which I save for extra-special giveaways–and a signed cover flat, tell me in the comments section what’s your favorite thing to eat using maple syrup. Pancakes? Maple sugar candy? A mapletini? Oatmeal? Maple bars? Dish, gang.

 

Turning Five

Edith here, luxuriating in the rebirth of life (finally!) north of Boston – salad greens, flowering shrubs, fresh eggs, book ideas, and so much more. Make sure you read to the end for a special giveaway.

Mulch Ado About Murder releases today! I am delighted that the Local Foods Mysteries has continued through book five. I originally conceived of organic farmer Cameron Flaherty way, way back in 1994. At the time I operated and co-owned the smallest certified organic farm in my county tucked away up here in the northeast corner of Massachusetts.

mulch-ado-about-murder

When A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die finally came out in 2013, it introduced Cam, her great-uncle Albert, the town of Westbury, and the cast of regular characters who have kept Cam company throughout the series. The book opens on June 1, the first day her CSA customers are coming to pick up their shares of the produce she harvested that morning: herbs, greens, asparagus, and more.

A Tine To Live A Tine To Die PB COVER

In Tine we meet the cast of continuing characters: Lucinda, the devoted Brazilian locavore. Felicity, a committed volunteer with a long gray braid and an infallibly cheery manner. Albert, of course, who gave Cam his farm. A younger volunteer, Alexandra, and the even younger girl scout Ellie who loves helping out. Plus State police detective Pete Pappas, who is back in every book but takes on an additional role in book two.

The books release once a year at the end of May, but book time is different. Til Dirt Do Us Part, the second book, takes place in early October.

Til Dirt do us Part Cover

One of Cam’s more difficult shareholders is murdered the day after a farm-to-table dinner and her stepson Bobby is wanted for questioning. Cam doesn’t think the hunky carpenter who rebuilt her barn is involved – but is he?

Farmed and Dangerous is the winter story, with a blizzard, someone murdered in Albert’s assisted living residence, Cam under suspicion because she provided the produce that was poisoned, and an apparent attack on Cam herself.

FarmedandDan

I was delighted Cam’s farm cat Preston finally appeared on a cover. He’s our senior cat here at home and he deserves his moments of fame.

Book four, Murder Most Fowl, was a fun one. I got to set a couple of scenes in a New England town meeting very much like the one I used to attend in West Newbury, which Westbury is closed modeled on.

Murder Most Fowl

The wasn’t fun for the murdered poultry farmer, of course, but I loved that Cam acquired chicks, and I learned about foxes, too. I got the murder weapon from a talk the Poison Lady (Luci Zahray) gave, and the book just came out in paperback.

And now we’re up to Mulch Ado About Murderbook five, where Cam’s peripatetic parents come to visit. Both of them are immersed in a good deal of trouble, and Cam gets to know them more intimately. Over the course of the series Cam has grown to know herself better, too. This nerdy introvert, a former software engineer, had no idea when she acquired the farm that growing and selling food would involve hanging out with people, not just vegetables. What blossomed in her is a realization that she likes it.

The story takes place right now, so the series has come around the full cycle of the farming year. I decided to celebrate by throwing a fifth birthday party on June 1!

LOCAl Foods birthday party

Come on over to the Facebook event page between 6:30 and 9:30 PM eastern time. Twelve authors, including many of the Wickeds, are going to pop in every fifteen minutes and each will have a giveaway to a commenter during that period. I have a slew of items I’ll give away, too.

prizes

And the grand prize is a signed set of all five books in hardcover. We’ll have virtual cake – carrot, of course – and bubbly, too.

But for today, let’s celebrate Mulched‘s release by me giving away one of my author aprons to a commenter here!

Pasting up a Vision

Edith here, during the busy month of May! The Saturday night activity at the recent Wicked Cozy Authors retreat was to create a vision board, so I thought I’d share how that went for me.

I’d never made a vision board, but several others among us had, and reported that they’d had success in having certain visions come to fruition. So I said, Sure! We each brought a stack of magazines to cut words and pictures out of. Liz, Jessie, and Julie brought boards, markers, glue sticks. Barb had a collection of stickers.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but Julie said, “Cut out what speaks to you.” Okay, I could do that. It was fun to see the wide array of magazines we each brought to the table, from self-help to mystery publications to the newspaper’s Sunday magazine to a community college catalog (admittedly on nice paper with cool graphics), and more. It was fun to sit around leafing through, cutting out, and chatting as we passed along the publications.

visionfinding1.jpg

Then we got out the boards, glue, and stickers and began assembling. Yes, adult beverages might have come out, too. Hey, it was Saturday night!

board assemblycropEveryone’s turned out different, of course. At the end we shared some of the details of how our visions were manifested in paper. I think mine (an in-progress version visible in this picture) came out more a statement of where I am and what I value rather than where differently I might like to aim my life, but I’m fine with that. And I included a couple of aspirations – Anthony Award, anyone?

 

Readers, have you ever created a vision board? In paper or digitally (because, of course, that’s another way to go)? Did you see direct results?

Poetry & Literature – Mine!

PoetryMonthEdith here, still basking in yesterday’s wonderful afternoon celebration.

Here in Amesbury in the northeast corner of Massachusetts, we have a Poet Laureate. She is the multi-talented Lainie Senechal, a native of the town, who not only writes poetry and paints, but has worked tirelessly to spread poetry through the populace. April is National Poetry Month, and Lainie, with the help of Amesbury’s Cultural Council and the Whittier Home Museum, set up seven events. Poetry and Film. Poetry and Yoga. Poetry and History. You get the picture, and there were others, too. The list also included two poetry contests for young people in the area.

Yesterday was was reserved for Poetry and Literature, and the literature was my second Quaker Midwife Mystery, Called to Justice! I was delighted and honored when Lainie suggested the event, and I thought I’d share the highlights here.

2017-04-23-Edith-Maxwell-Lainie-Senechal

Me and Lainie Senechal. Photo courtesy Christine Green.

We held the gathering at a lovely crepe (and other delicacies) restaurant, The Noshery, so folks ordered food and drink to enjoy during the readings and discussion. Jon Mooers is the very generous and talented owner and chef, a keen supporter of Amesbury’s history.

JpnMoors

(Some years past he painted two fabulous murals on brick walls on Main Street that evoke the era when I set my books.)

amesbury-mural2

Jon suggested we set up an antique-look corner for my books, so I borrowed a table from the Friends Meetinghouse.

pileofbooks

As always, I reference a couple of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poems in the book, since he’s a supporting character in the series, so we interspersed portions of those works.  I shared the background of Called to Justice and read several short passages to introduce the poems. Our readers included Lainie, Chris Bryant (President of the Whittier Home Museum), and me. Whittier’s friend Lucy Larcom makes an appearance in the book, so Lainie read one poem about Larcom and another by the well-known New England author, a former mill girl herself.

20170423_143316

Chris Bryant reading Whittier’s  “One of the Signers,” quoted in the book

Poet Carla Panciera wrote a midwifery poem especially for me – “Midwife in the Barn” – and she came to read it herself!

20170423_145013

The questions were many and varied, and I sold and signed books afterward. It was a sweet way to launch my book in the town where it’s set (and where I live) and to celebrate poetry of all kinds at the same time. Thanks to fan Gerry Morenski who volunteered to take pictures while I was up front!

Readers: How do you feel about poetry? What’s your favorite one?