Book of the Week #52

Faith on Trial: Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science and the First Amendment by Peter A. Wallner (Concord, NH: Plaidswede Publishing, 2014.)
"In the category 'truth is stranger than fiction' is the case of Eddy v. Frye, argued before the Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1907. Ostensibly, the case was about who should care for an eighty-five-year-old woman: her estranged son and adopted son, or the people who has surrounded her for years. But in reality, this was a heresy trial in civil court. The plaintiffs int he case were more concerned about discrediting the religious doctrine of the old woman, Mary Baker Eddy, and the religion she founded, Christian Science, than they were about caring for her in old age. In fact, the case was brought before the public by a great newspaper, litigated by a well-known progressive politician, and promoted by such famous Americans as Mark Twain, Willa Cather, and Joseph Pulitzer. The last heresy trial in the United States would test whether a new religious movement would be banned for teaching a reportedly dangerous doctrine, or whether the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution truly protected the right of every American to believe and practice what religion they chose." (p. ix)


2015 Ladybug Winner

New Hampshire children have chosen The Day the Crayons Quit written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers as the winner of the 2015 Ladybug Picture Book Award. 
There were 22,845 votes cast this year at 173 sites across the state.  The winning book received 8,769 votes. 
A complete list of voting results is available on the Ladybug Picture Book Award website.


Book of the Week #51

The Pawnbroker's Daughter: A Memoir by Maxine Kumin (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015)

In her own perfectly chosen words Maxine Kumin explains in this memoir how a little Jewish girl from Philadelphia became one of America's foremost poets.
"When my fourth poetry book, Up Country: Poems of New England, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973, I was stunned. The news came in a phone call from a local television station; I was certain someone was perpetrating a cruel hoax. Once I was persuaded the award was real, I was aghast. Harper & Row were, too. In six weeks they managed to renew the print run and bring out a paperback edition as well. However, when my editor, accompanying me to my first reading at the 92nd Street Y in New York, announced cheerfully, "This should be fun. I've never been to a poetry reading before," I was so unsettled that I misplaced the carefully annotated list of poems I planned to read and had to choose as I went along. That summer after the flurry of interviews, including appearances on TV, I fled from suburban Boston to our derelict former dairy farm in New Hampshire. Candide's advice to cultivate my garden helped center me. I was truly afraid I would never write again--but the poems came, as they always had, on their own terms, beginning in the most unexpected ways and demanding that I pay attention." (p.82)


Q&A: Susan Ann Wall

Susan Ann Wall
There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state, some full-time, some part-time.  As the Director of the NH Center for the Book I get the opportunity to talk to many of them. This interview series of Q&As with New Hampshire authors here on Book Notes lets me share that experience a bit with my blog readers.
If someone hasn't read your work yet, where should they start?
I currently have two romantic series, the Fighting Back for Love series which has two novels and the Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love series, which has the 5th book coming out December 3. The two series are quite different. Because the Fighting Back for Love series focuses on life after cancer, whether as a survivor or a caregiver, they are very emotionally charged books. If you like the kind of story that makes you laugh on one page and cry on the next, I recommend starting with that series. If you prefer not to shed so many tears, the Puget Sound series focuses on New Beginnings, Enduring Friendships, and Unexpected Love.
When did you first think of yourself as a writer?
Always. I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I started out writing poetry, but also loved writing research papers in high school and college. I also wrote for the college newspaper and continued to write poetry in my early twenties. But I didn’t consider myself a “novelist” until I wrote my first novel in 2010.
How did you end up living in NH?
I grew up here! I did move away for 13 years, between my time in college in Massachusetts and then five years in the U.S. Army and then another 7 moving around. While we were vacationing here one summer, we just fell in love with the peacefulness and beauty and decided this was where we wanted to raise our children. That was 2006 and we moved back in 2007, building a house on the same property where I spent my wonderful childhood.
Where do you like to write?
Anywhere. I don’t have a set “writing spot” or what a lot of writers call a “writing cave.” I enjoy sitting in my rocking chair on the deck and writing, but most of my writing is accomplished in my comfy chair in the living room.
How important is place in your writing?
Location is very important. Setting is its own character and has a great influence on the story as well as the characters. City folk behave differently than country folk, so I try to stay true to that in my books.
What do you do when you aren't writing?
I have three kids, ages 10, 11, and 13, so they keep me busy. We love to kayak and ski, and we love to travel, so we go on a few adventures every year.
What’s the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given?
Breathe. It sounds so simple, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in my crazy life, and overwhelmed with my ever-growing to-do list that I forget just to sit back and breathe. Making the conscious effort to breathe in and out offers moments to reflect on what’s important and allows me to put things into perspective. I actually wrote a poem (Because I Breathe) back in 1995 inspired by my friend’s advice and it is something I like to share with my friends when they get caught up in the craziness of life.
What books do you love and what about them speaks to you?
I read a lot and I have some favorite authors. Susan Mallery and Jill Shalvis are my favorite romance authors. They tell great stories that offer such a fun escape. I also love to read Barry Eisler who writes political thrillers and Lisa Gardner who writes crime thrillers. These stories are often complex and I love getting wrapped up in those kinds of plots and trying to predict what’s going to happen (I’m usually wrong because they are so good at the plot twists).
What are you working on now?
December 3 is the release of my next Puget Sound ~ Alive With Love novel. The Sound of Circumstance is book #5 in this series, so I’m busy with final edits and book promotion. In November I’ll be writing Whisper to a Scream, the story of a female soldier who has been medically discharged from the army and is learning to live with PTSD and combat injuries while battling a prescription drug addiction. This book will be released in March. I’m also in the final revisions of the first novella in my new Reluctant Brides series, Marrying for Love, which will be released in an anthology with 7 other authors in January. I have a really aggressive publication schedule in 2016, so I’ll be writing like crazy and constantly reminding myself to breathe!! 

You can learn more about Susan and her work at www.susanannwall.com