Cover Art

I don’t usually like to write posts that have no purpose other than to promote things I’m doing, even though I suppose that’s kind of the point of having an author website. Keeping that in mind, I’m very excited to share the cover of my second novel, The River Is Everywhere, which will be published in March by Vine Leaves Press.

A friend and fellow author told me that the cover was “me” when she saw it, which made me laugh because it’s kind of dark and moody, and a little mysterious. I’m definitely prone to the first two, and maybe the third, but I don’t think I’m the best judge of that.

Anyway, I think the cover is perfect. The folks at Vine Leaves did a great job taking the ideas I sent them and creating something that really conveys the mood of the book, and, I guess, me.

I’ll post updates about The River Is Everywhere as I get them. Thanks again to everyone who follows this blog, and to all the people who have helped the book along its journey to becoming a real, tangible thing.

ENP

The Sound of Silence

I don’t like loud or repetitive noises. In fact, a lot of sounds bother me, regardless of their volume. I especially dislike electronic devices, household appliances, and toys that beep, buzz, or talk unnecessarily. I have disabled the sound-making capability of just about everything in my house that I can. I mute videos on social media. I’m one of the few people I know who can sit in the car for hours without the radio on without even noticing that it’s been turned off.

When my daughter was a toddler, I took the batteries out of her talking Cookie Monster toy and told her it was broken. I still feel kind of badly about it, but I was a stay-at-home mom who was often alone twelve or more hours a day while my husband was at work. It was either a quiet Cookie or a nervous breakdown.

I even removed the whistle from our tea kettle, which drives my husband crazy. “How am I supposed to know when it’s boiling?” he asked. “When a lot of steam comes out of the spout,” I said. “You just have to watch it.”

I’ve always been this way. A couple of years back, I learned that there’s a name for my supersenstivity to sounds, an issue I also have with bright lights (I’ll save this for another post): sensory processing sensitivity or SPS.

Sensory processing sensitivity is an inherited trait, just like being tall or having blonde hair. People who have SPS are born with hypersensitive nervous systems. SPS is one of the traits common among highly sensitive people, of which I am one.

One of the most problematic issues my SPS causes is an aversion to the sound of my own voice. I don’t usually notice it if I’m having a conversation with someone because most of the time I’m concentrating on what the other person is saying. But I have a real problem with things like public speaking and reading aloud.

When I was in school, the issue was most noticeable in my foreign language classes. I always did well on written exams and homework, but could hardly ever bring myself to say anything out loud. I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve never been able to effectively learn to speak French even though I’d really like to.

My second novel, The River Is Everywhere, will be published this March. Among the things I need to do to market the book is plan author readings at bookstores and libraries, events that will require me to both engage in public speaking and read aloud. Although I know how important these types of events are, I’m dreading having to do them.

I’ve asked other authors I know for advice regarding this, and most of them have told me the best thing I can do is practice reading aloud from the book, and keep in mind that anyone who comes to a reading is there because they want to hear what I have to say. This makes a lot of sense, but I know it won’t be easy. Still, I’m going to give it my best shot.

Until then, I’m going to enjoy living and working in my quiet house.

ENP

Traveling Along the River

On August 4, I lost my friend Mario to cancer. He was the third friend of mine to die of the disease this year. His death wasn’t unexpected. He was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer in July 2021, and the last time I saw him, this past April at another friend’s funeral, I barely recognized him. Still, Mario was one of those larger-than-life people you can’t imagine not being in the world.

Without meaning to, Mario became the center of attention in any room he walked into. He was intelligent, talented, had dozens of friends, and a heart big enough to make Santa Claus jealous. I met Mario more than 30 years ago, when I was 18, when we were both freshman in college—kids. We didn’t see each other all the time, but it’s still hard for me to imagine my life as an adult without him in it.

I was in the middle of working on developmental edits for my second novel, The River Is Everywhere, when Mario died. (The book will be released in March 2023 by Vine Leaves Press.) Before sitting down to work on it near the end of July, it had been more than a year since I’d looked at the manuscript. The book’s main character, Ernest, is a 16-year-old high school student who loses his best friend in an accident. He spends much of the story trying to make sense of his friend’s death.

I wrote the book years ago, before any of my friends had cancer, before I could have imagined any of them ever meeting such terrible fates. And yet, when I was re-reading the manuscript, I found myself drawn into Ernest’s world: Here was someone who was dealing with the some of same feelings that I was. The fact that I had made Ernest and his story up didn’t seem to matter at all.

As hard as it was at times to motivate myself to get my butt in the chair, working on the book helped me begin to heal from the loss of my friends in ways I hadn’t expected. At its heart, the novel is a coming-of-age tale and adventure story. When I wrote it, helping readers deal with loss and grief wasn’t one of my intentions.

I suppose that’s one of the things that makes art so important: Often, it’s much more powerful and meaningful than it appears on the surface.

This experience has made me hope that someday The River Is Everywhere might help someone else in the same way it’s helped me.

ENP

The River Is Everywhere

I’m happy to report that I have recently signed a publication agreement with Vine Leaves Press for the publication of my second novel, The River Is Everywhere, which will be released in February 2022.

Literary fiction with hints of magical realism, The River Is Everywhere is set in the Massachusetts Berkshires and New Brunswick, Canada. It is the coming of age story of Ernest Benoit, a high school honors student from a devout Catholic Franco-American family, whose life is set on an unexpected and challenging path after his best friend, John Delaney, drowns while they are surfing together on Cape Cod.

John’s death makes Ernest question everything he once believed in, most especially God. He stops attending Mass and gets into trouble at school, but rather than going along with his parents’ plan to transfer him to an elite all-boys boarding school, Ernest buys a bus ticket to New York.

After surviving a fiery crash on the way to the city, Ernest saves a 7-year-old girl from drowning. While attempting to reunite the girl with her birth mother, a lonely middle-aged woman named Ann who had given them a place to stay lures Ernest into her bed. When Ann threatens them with a gun to prevent them from leaving, CL manages to remove the ammunition clip from the weapon, and they escape into the night.

The next morning, exhausted and chilled to the bone, Ernest and the girl, who he nicknames CL, meet Roland Laliberté, a modern-day adventurer and coureur des bois who makes a living playing poker, can shoot a bottle cap out of a tree from 50 yards away, and lives in a handmade log cabin with a tame black bear named Maurice.

Roland treats Ernest like a son, teaching him how to shoot a rifle, hunt for food, and drive a car. When Ann falsely accuses Ernest of rape, Roland sneaks him and CL over the Canadian border to protect Ernest from the police until the allegations can be proved untrue. But as Ernest settles into life on Roland’s family’s farm, it soon it becomes unclear who has saved whom, and whether Ernest will ever be able to return home.

ENP

Reading With Kids During Quarantine Promotes Active, Engaged Learning

No matter where you live, you’ve most likely been affected by COVID-19 in some way. Tasked with working remotely while also helping their kids with online school assignments, parents who are quarantined with young children might be in one of the toughest situations. With many U.S. states announcing that schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year, parents must find activities that will keep their kids entertained and engaged, while also helping them learn. For many, this is proving to be quite a challenge.

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, reading with children interactively on a daily basis can help kids develop important literacy and language skills, while also helping them learn about the world around them. Reading with your kids is also a great way to spend quality time together and create lasting memories.

Several online resources are available to help kids (and parents) get easier access to books during quarantine, including Penguin Random House Audio, LibriVox, Project Gutenberg and International Children’s Digital Library.

For a limited time my middle grade novel, The Blue Bottle, an adventure story for kids age 8 to 13, is available for 50 percent off the cover price.

Stay healthy, and happy reading!

ENP

“Atlantic Currents” Now Available

Atlantic Currents, a short story collection featuring work by 65 writers linked to Cork, Ireland, and Lowell, Mass., is now available from Loom Press. I’m proud to have my short story “Death and the Modern Girl” included in the book alongside those of so many talented writers.

The book is meant to celebrate the connection between Cork and Lowell as UNESCO Global Network Learning Cities. Learning Cities support the practice of lifelong learning by promoting policy dialogue and peer education.

A book launch event will be held at some point in the (hopefully) near future, when the danger of contracting Covid19 has passed.

Visit Loom Press’ website for ordering information.

ENP

“Atlantic Currents” Coming in April 2020

I’m proud to have one of my short stories included in the forthcoming anthology “Atlantic Currents” (Loom Press, April 2020). The short story collection features 65 writers linked to Cork, Ireland, and Lowell, Mass. Both cities are part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. Learning Cities support the practice of lifelong learning by promoting policy dialogue and peer education. Check back soon for Loom Press ordering information.

The Blue Bottle Now Available

I’m happy to announce that “The Blue Bottle” is now available on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com as well as on North Country Press’ website. If you have read the book and enjoyed it please consider leaving a review.

Check back soon for live reading dates and times.

The Blue Bottle Now Available for Pre-Order

I’m excited to share that The Blue Bottle is now available for pre-order on North Country Press‘ website. Books are $14.95 and will ship in late September. If you have kids in your life age 7 to 14 who love to read, this book will make a great gift. Reserve your copy today!

The Blue Bottle Cover Reveal and Updated Publication Date

The cover for The Blue Bottle is finished, and it looks great. A big thank you to Lucy Turner of Lucy Turner Art & Illustration, who created the cover image, and to the talented and very nice people at North Country Press for all of their hard work.

The expected publication date for The Blue Bottle has been moved to mid-October. Check back soon for the exact date.