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Posts Tagged ‘Maine’

1871. The war has been over for six years but Rupe Smith still fights his demons. Ten years have passed since he left his Maine village. His Wyoming ranch is the one place he wants to be and the last place he can be. There is no escape from the guilt of his parents’ grief or his longing for the girl whose one letter kept him alive, without knowing she is beyond his reach, married and raising a family.

Cathryn Marcher is not the giddy, giggling girl with high ideals she was before the war. The woman who waited for Rupert Smith’s safe return has no doubt she isn’t the reason he has finally come home. The haunted expression on his handsome face reminds her of the outcome, the horror and suffering of war she saw close at hand, all those years ago, in the faces of soldiers she nursed in Boston.

Captain Smith and Miss Marcher share a love of music but Cathryn must hide her disappointment when Rupert chooses to sing in harmony with the widow, Mrs. Miller, whom the residents of Oslo Hill believe will be his bride.

Susan Miller’s disdain for her voice teacher, her rival for Rupert’s love, is matched by Colonel Jericho Colson’s loathing for his fellow Union Army officer, his rival for Cathryn’s heart.

Available in print on CreateSpace, as an ebook on Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon

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NB5#2-300That was first published in ClassicandCozyBooks.blogspot.com – the group blog I’ve participated in since February 2014 – two years ago from this coming Wednesday!

We’ve all read books set in different countries, regions, time periods with characters from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. The attempt to capture the sound of speech and cultural nuances is all part of the craft of setting a sense of time and place.

Regional dialects lend authenticity to stories set in specific localities. Regional dialects give authors nightmares and headaches. Regional dialects give readers nightmares and frowns. Walking the narrow line between authenticity and insult is an art. Achieving a sense of place and depth of character without confusion or irritation is an art.

In my most recent endeavor, the novel-by-installment, Nights Before, I returned to my childhood home state, NB6-300Maine. I had been working on an historical novel set in a small town in Oxford County, and was inspired then to write a contemporary romance as well. I had clear visions of the streets of Portland from childhood and more recent visits, but it is the Maine accent that distinguishes the sense of place more than the images of snow and falling leaves. The whole of the Northeast can boast the brilliant colors of Fall and the quiet of a snow-blanketed scene. Only Mainers talk like Mainers.

I was born into a family of native Mainers, I remain one myself though I’ve lived far away for most of my life. When I began this book-by-installments, I wanted to pay tribute to that distinctive way of speech, but, except for a few vague recollections of my mother saying ‘cunning’ or the proverbial ‘down the rod apiece’ and ‘ya cahn’t get theah from heah,’ my Maine vocabulary was sadly lacking.
I realized I had to research my first language!

Fortunately, there are Internet sites for that. I went to several, including How to Talk Like a Mainer which was a lot of fun and reminded me of all I’m missing here on the West Coast. And I realized that the Maine accent is a serious topic for wide discussion. There is something about the way we talk that fascinates those who don’t — or I’m just putting a proud face on what the rest of the English-speaking world thinks is plain ‘odd’.

Nights Before#4-300CIn any case, I had to get it right. The more I went through the pronunciations and the vocabulary, I heard the words in my head, spoken as they had been spoken by my parents and siblings before the great exodus to the other side of the country. They came more easily from my own lips. Ayuh is now my first response in the affirmative and has started to spread to other members of my west coast family. And as I developed the dialogue in the first story of the novel, I went all out.
Howevah, too much of a good thing spoils the affect. Here’s an example:

“Sure. Take it easy goin’ over tah Rosemont. The road’s open now, but I’ve heard theah’s a dip where theah weren’t one.”

Easy enough to read, but what if I’d written it like this: “Shu-ah. Take it easy goin’ ovah tah Rosemont. The rod’s open now, but Ah’ve hehd they-ah’s a dip whey-ah they-ah wehn’t one.”

Not as easy. In Elements of Style, Strunk & White make it clear that an over abundance of apostrophes and colloquial spelling curtail the flow of reading. Giving a hint of a different dialect is desirable on all accounts relating to the senses of authenticity, place, time, character, personality. In this novel, I distinguish between native Mainers and those ‘from away’ or who’ve been away or have abandoned their roots.

Although I will never knowingly abandon my accent, the ability to talk like a Mainah fades, returning only when I write like a Mainah and I have to admit, I’m wicked glad I’ve had the opportunity.

Here is a taste of the vocabulary in these stories:

  • bug – lobster
  • cunnin’ – cute, sweet
  • finest – term of endearment, the best
  • wicked – very

 

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On the Night Before Labor Day, a preview of my latest novel: Opening chapter of first story.

Nights Before: The NovelNew Year’s Eve is a time for reflection and change. Jocelyn has more changes coming at her from all directions beginning on a Portland, Maine winter day than she’s faced since her mother’s death. None of it bodes well for the junior editor’s fledgling career when her fiancé abandons her. If not for three unwise princes, a Viking warrior and a sinkhole…

So starts the last day of an Old Year in Jocelyn Tavers’s life. Over the next 12 months, she faces her 26th birthday, falling on Mother’s Day, at the same time as she wonders what happened to a certain officious lawman and a certain deserter father remembers her birthday after only fifteen years of neglect.

An ex-boyfriend and the appearance of a complete stranger are not the only obstacles to disrupt her author’s book launch, especially when that stranger is her next editing assignment.

But this New Year isn’t all downhill. Nights Before national holidays bring more than big sale weekends for Joey-Jo, including all she ever wanted for Christmas.

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Here in California, we think of lilacs as cultivated garden shrubbery, container plants for decks, flowering in Spring. In Maine, lilacs grow in the wild, spreading into groves so large a four-year-old can build an imaginary dream house fit for fairies and elfin princes.

We start building our dreams as soon as we have the ability to articulate what our longings are and where they can take us. Although we may have no clear recollection of the first moment we heard a fairytale or an heroic journey or watched a film about baseball or rugby or corporate ownership, that spark ignited in our inarticulate brain.

That ignition gave us the words we needed to voice that dream so our subconscious could begin its lifelong work to make that dream or some part of it a reality.

Book Cover: Salsa Dancing with PterodactylsThe next steps are entirely in our own hands. How far we are willing to go depends on what other longings come along as we gain experience.

Emily, in my most recent novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, has a childhood dream of performing on stage as a ballerina. As a grown woman, having a family supplants the earlier dream, though never replacing it. Emily sees her dream through, though not in the way she first envisioned.

We accumulate wants and needs, filtering as we mature, allowing for reality checks, allowing for the naysayers and the dream-crushers and the green-eyed pillagers and, worst of all, the indoctrinators.

Which of your childhood dreams have you fulfilled in some way? Which have you willingly let go? Which were stamped out of you? And which are you still working on?

As my SFSU department chairman, Thurston Womack, once said to me, “If you do it and it doesn’t work out, you can turn around. If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it the rest of your life.”

I have no regrets. You?

 

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Maine is one of those far off places we know with a mystical quality. We are close to Canada and far enough away from the big cities, bordered on the west by New Hampshire and on the east by the rockiest coast and the Atlantic.

Our neighbors keep watch over us and keep to themselves. We do the same for them. We are naturally laconic, being a bit shy of people from away but when called upon we can tell some tall tales.

From my earliest memory, Maine has been the place my imagination whisks me away to though I haven’t lived there since I was five.

Book Cover: Nights Before #3I’ve found Maine in my solitary excursions to Golden Gate Park as a young girl on a bike and again when I moved to live in Wales as a newly wedded wife. Neither of these places are as cold in Winter nor as vibrant in Fall but close enough to give me that sense of being ‘at home’.

Where is the place you call home? Where do you feel your greatest sense of being where you belong?

A few years ago, the editor of a Welsh writers’ anthology asked me what I wrote about, what my over-arching theme was. Although I had never thought about it, I answered, “Finding a home, a place to belong.”

My serial novel in six installments, Nights Before,  is set in Maine, a kind of love letter to the state and the people hardy enough to live there year-round.

All the very best,

Leigh

 

 

 

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NB6-300

Exclusive for my EverWriting readers:

Here is the cover for the final story in my Nights Before serial novel, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve.

The photograph is one that I took a few winters ago and the designer is Gwiboz who was able to work Photoshop magic, as usual.

The berries are puffy white. If you know the variety of the tree, let me know! I’ve seen these all over the world and been fascinated by them, but don’t know what they are.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Eve will be released later this month.

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Eres Books has enrolled my novels in the Read an eBook Week from Sunday, March 3, 2013.  The first two stories of the Nights Before series and Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Part I are on offer. Also Following the Troops, Life for an Army Wife 1941-1945 is included.

Just search for the book’s page and the discount code will be near the top of the page, on the right, opposite the cover image. The code for Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Part I is REW50 and is valid until midnight, March 9th, 2013. ‘Twas the Night Before New Year and ‘Twas the Night Before Valentine’s Day are FREE, the code is RW100.

The code for a FREE copy of Following the Troops is also RW100. Hurry. Midnight, March 9th, 2013 is approaching.

Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, Part II will be released on March 29th, 2013, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to read Part I at half price.

Not yet a Smashwords reader, author or publisher? Sign up before or during the sale to take advantage of this opportunity.

The above promotion is only on smashwords.com but you can find my books on the iBookstore as well as all other major online retailers.

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