#Thriller in the Woods #Book Signing and #Author Event

thrillerinwoods1-e1539282021408.jpgI’m fortunate enough to live in an area with an incredible indie bookstore and some fantastic local authors who are kind enough to indulge the local readership with awesome events.

When I heard that White Birch Books was sponsoring “Thriller in the Woods: A Night of Conversation with Lisa Gardner and Lisa Unger,” I knew I couldn’t miss it.

Lisa Gardner launches her book tour in North Conway, NH each year. She’s a great speaker, super personable, and pens thrillers guaranteed to keep you on the edge thrillerinwoods.jpgof your seat! I try to attend any event where she’s featured, because it’s sure to be a blast! This time, the event was held at Theater in the Woods, and she brought a friend!!!

Lisa Gardner and Lisa Unger are both internationally best selling authors. They both write suspenseful thrillers. They’re both named Lisa. Put them in a room together and let the adventure begin!

thrillerinwoods2The event was in celebration of the release of Lisa Unger’s newest novel, Under My Skin, and the paperback release of Lisa Gardner’s novel, Look For Me.

The two authors had an incredibly interesting discussion touching on everything from their different writing processes, where they get their ideas, how they perform their research, how they got their start, and so much more!

Both women are wonderfully dynamic, and the conversation flowed with the natural ease of two old friends having a casual chat. I really enjoy attending book signings and author talks, and have met my fair share of bestselling authors in the process – I cannot stress how genuinely friendly and engaging these ladies are! If you get the chance to see either of them speak, do it! You won’t regret it! #TeamLisa

 

 

 

My Awesome New #Author T-Shirt

A few weeks ago I shared a great new website (https://literarybookgifts.com) that offers gifts for book lovers, as well as a promo code (SHANNONHOLLINGER20) to help you save 20% off your order. I couldn’t resist using the promo code and ordering a t-shirt for myself.

I love my new shirt!

Between the quality image and the soft fabric, what’s not to love! Since the website said that the shirts run a bit small, I ordered an x-large because I’m tall and hate anything too tight. It fits perfectly, which is great, because I’m planning on wearing this shirt all the time!

If you haven’t been yet, head on over to the website and check out what they have to offer! Feel free to share the promo code far and wide! If you order something, I’d love to know what and how you feel about it (I’m trying to pare down my Christmas wish list 😉 )!

 

 

Lost in the Land of #Litsy

In case you haven’t noticed, I read. A lot. I read when I take my dogs out, I read while I’m brushing my teeth, I read while I’m ‘watching’ a movie. Some people understand the compulsion to always have their nose buried in a book. Many do not.

memeMy reading addiction habit sometimes leaves me feeling awkward and inadequate on social media. I’ll read what others are posting, skim the conversations they’re having, but my possible responses don’t seem appropriate. “Never seen that show. Haven’t watched that. Ohh, I read the best book while that was on.”

I felt myself drawing away from Facebook. I gave Google+ a try. Found myself spending more and more time on Goodreads. Instagram was good for a quick fix, but really, none of these provided me with what I was looking for.

PhotoHuman connection, interaction, something that makes you feel in touch with, a part of the rest of the world. Then, about a month ago, I found what I was looking for. Litsy. A land of literature, where everyone loves books as much as you do. The sight, the smell, the very thought of the written page triggering emotions that, for once, are shared.

Litsy has been described as Goodreads meets Instragram, except you interact more, everyone is always super nice, and you never come across a ‘no-no’ picture. There are book pictures, book quotes, book review – seriously, the most this place deviates from books is when people post pictures of their adorable reading companions – also with books.

If this sounds like a place you’d want to be, you can get the app here. And because this isn’t the type of social media where there’s stranger danger, look me up @BookDragonNotWorm. We’ll be friends that talk about – what else? Books!

 

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves

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lostriver1lostriverLast month, thanks to an awesome deal through Groupon, we went and explored Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in Woodstock, New Hampshire. This attraction features a series of over 1000 stairs leading you up, down, and through a glacial gorge notched into huge slabs of granite rock. Winding your way past a series of cascades, you can’t help but feel the weight of the passage of time upon the landscape. And while I wasn’t feeling the caves that day, (I proved myself enough at the Polar Caves in Rumney), there were a ton of tight, twisty little passages for spelunkers to explore. This is a fun excursion, easily lengthened by numerous hiking trails. While there, I highly recommend exploring the great towns of Woodstock and Lincoln, and taking in  the gorgeous views, especially if you find your way to the Kancamagus Highway.

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(More) Adventures in Pumpkin Carving

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Every year when I see those big, round, orange pumpkins hit the stores, I feel so happy. I have such big plans for what I’m going to carve. Intricate masterpieces, works of art, carvings that are downright spooky!

Pumpkin Carving:

Yet every year, that nasty, horrible thing called adulthood takes over. So many things to do, so little time, and the procurement of said pumpkins gets put off time and again until it’s the last minute and I only manage to get some decent gourds because I have unnaturally large arms and can reach the gems hiding deep in the center of the pulpy, rotting orange mass. Sigh.

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This year I didn’t scoop and carve until the night of Halloween itself. It was late, I was tired, and instead of enjoying what is one of my favorite once a year pastimes, I just wanted to get it over with. Double sigh.
It’s time to get kraken!… and carvin’!!!!:

So now that I’ve shown you all the awesome carvings in all their pumpkin glory that I wanted to do, it’s time to reveal my (lame excuse for a) jack o’lantern, while diverting your attention by telling you how it’s really quite a calculated move because I saw a picture of a moose eating a pumpkin and I figured that a moose wouldn’t be able to resist eating a pumpkin with a moose carved in it, so it’s all a part of my evil plan bwahaha. (Did you buy that story? Yeah, I didn’t either.) Once again, my dreams of pumpkin carving splendor must wait until next year.

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Groundhogs, Gardens, and Guilt

BillAbout a month ago I made a new friend. It was an inquisitive, furry little creature that moved in with the chipmunks under my porch. After a quick internet search, I confirmed that it was a groundhog and gave him (or her) what may be the most imaginative name ever for a groundhog, Bill Murray.

Having no prior experience with groundhogs, this is complete conjecture, but I think Bill Murray may be cooler than the average groundhog. Bill thought nothing of coming up on the front stoop and looking inside the house. Or hanging out in my flowers. Or the dog pen (which wasn’t the best idea on Bill’s part).

Bill2Every day, I’d give Bill my apple core. He helped himself to lettuce and strawberries from my garden. I didn’t mind, because I’d grown way more lettuce than my husband and I could eat, and I’d rather share with Bill than risk it going to waste. And Bill left all the rest of the vegetable alone. So ours was a symbiotic friendship.

Alas, it could not last.

Because Bill started chewing on the house, eating the wood trim away to make the holes he had dug in the ground bigger. Keeping up with an old farm house is hard enough without a saboteur in my midst. So the decision was made. Bill had to go.

Bill3I bought a live trap at the local farmer’s union. Despite the betrayal, this wasn’t a Fredo from Godfather moment. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to Bill. I just didn’t want him to destroy my house.

Several days passed without Bill getting in the trap. The chipmunks ran in and grabbed the apple core out, minions bringing the loot to their bigger roommate. I had almost given up hope. I thought it would never happen. Then I took the dogs out one rainy night before bed, and I knew. It was the most inopportune time. I was tired. Cranky. I wanted to crawl in bed and get some sleep. It was wet and miserable out, not the kind of weather to leave a living creature trapped out in the elements. Sure enough, Bill was in the cage.

I loaded the trap in the back of the Jeep, my husband and I standing over the seemingly fearless creature in the cage. Bill looked at me with sadness and regret in his eyes. The house destruction was a moment of weakness, he seemed to say, it wouldn’t happen again. He put his little hand through the wires of the cage, as if he were reaching for me, his eyes never leaving mine. My heart broke. But my mind was made up.

The guys at the farmer’s union told me to make sure I took him at least 10 miles away, preferably over a body of water, to prevent his return. So my husband and I spent an hour driving him way farther than that out to his new home, the shore of a huge pond deep in the woods of moose country. If the area could support moose, (and the deer and fox we passed in droves), then surely a groundhog’s needs could be met, too.

I opened the cage along the edge of the pond. Bill stepped out, turned around, and looked at me. He seemed to be asking me not to do it. He could change, he’d be a better friend, stay out of the garden and be less destructive. I shook my head no. He slowly walked off, pausing often to look back at me, making sure I didn’t have a last minute change of mind. As much as it hurt, I stood strong.

I spent days wracked with guilt. Would Bill be alright in his new home? Would he be safe? Would he be overcome with crippling depression at the rejection, unable to get out of his groundhog bed in the morning?

Bill4A week passed. The void Bill Murray left in my life was starting to shrink. The pain was starting to fade. I walked into the kitchen, where my husband was eating lunch. He looked at me a moment, then suggested that I look outside. There, out front, was a groundhog. Apparently, I had just missed seeing the little face peer inside. The body looked a little bigger, the tail was pretty ratty.

Could it be? Had Bill Murray hiked over twenty miles to return home?  All guilt I felt immediately vanished, replaced by fear. Maybe even a little anger. How would I ever manage to catch him again? What would he do in retribution? Throwing open the door, I went outside to confront my nemesis. The groundhog froze, looked at me with fear, and bolted. Never to return again.

Was it Bill Murray? I’ll never know for sure, but I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that Bill is stretched out, relaxing on a sunny pond bank, chewing on tender shoots and living the good life. I wish all the best for Bill. As long as he doesn’t come back.

 

Titanic Exhibit at the Portland Science Center

Hidden down a side street, and occupying the second and third floor of a building only a stone’s throw from the water, the Portland Science Center opened in the summer of 2015. I missed their first display, the popular Body Worlds exhibit that’s been traveling across the nation, but I was excited to attend their newest show that opened just this past weekend: Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

After all, who can resist Jack and Rose and love that never dies and . . . oh, yeah, this isn’t about the movie. It’s about the actual ship and the tragedy that struck in the form of an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, killing 1517 people. It’s about the artifacts that have been recovered, items that may seem mundane until you consider that they’ve been recovered from over 12,500 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. It’s about remembering those that lost their lives.

There’s not much I can say to elaborate on what you probably already know. I will say that the exhibit was an experience I’m glad to have not missed. The Science Center did a great job of personalizing the experience by issuing a replica ticket to each patron, with the details of one passenger on the back side. At the end of the exhibit there are memorial walls where you can discover the fate of ‘your’ passenger.

Also on display are replicas of the rooms, menus, and items provided by the shipping company for the comfort of its passengers, all examples of the separation of the classes on-board the ship.

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If you get the chance, step back in time and experience the short-lived history of the Titanic. It’s a truly humbling experience.

Adventures with Asparagus

I like asparagus. Imagine that said to the tune of I like turtles. I know those extra syllables throw it off a little, but you get the idea. I hope. Anyways, I like asparagus, but they tend to be pricey up here in the northeast and they like to try and force you to buy a big bundle which you have to eat immediately or they go slimey and bad and and then money is wasted, and since no one’s going to pay me to film a TV reality series called When Vegetables Go Bad, I  end up putting ginormous portions of asparagus on our dinner plates. (I’m going somewhere with this, I promise, just stick with me a bit longer).

So I’m trying this whole growing my own fruit and veggies thing, and I discover that asparagus are not only a perennial, but also that they will survive the snowy winter to come back year after year. The only catch is that you have to wait a few years for your first harvest. So I thought to myself, “You better get started, then.” So I did. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Going out to my asparagus patch, day after day looking for something, seeing nothing, wondering if an underground rodent stole my crop or if my seedlings were bad. Staring at the dirt, feeling like an idiot, thinking, “I like asparagus,” to the tune of that little zombie kid saying, “I like turtles.” And now we’ve come full circle.

Then, after two months, when I’ve almost given up hope, I see this:

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Looks like an asparagus, doesn’t it. So, instead of staring at the dirt, I got to look at this little guy while I crouched down next to the garden bed and cheered him on. Then this happened:

IMG_20160607_093802632     And this:            IMG_20160607_093752329

Now this:

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And more little asparagi raise their little heads and branch out into weird looking things every day. I wasn’t wasting my time! And the moral of the story is, if you’ve planted asparagus and you’re getting tired of staring at dirt, wait a little longer, my friend. If you plant them, they will come. You just won’t be able to harvest them for the first two or three years. And since I have no idea how to harvest asparagus, that, too, will be an adventure!

Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse in Maine

The Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth in Maine is a picturesque lighthouse on a small jetty in the Atlantic.

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I visited on a sunny day in mid-March when the winds were high and chilly.

The photos don’t do the beauty of this spot justice.

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The water was an unbelievable shade of blue.

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A cliff walk snakes along the shore, providing the perfect place to get some fresh air and sunshine.

Living Large with Life Sized Chocolate

lenny1While this winter has been mild, it’s also been long and uneventful. I haven’t gotten to do much hiking, and the needle on the adventure scale has been buried at zero. So when my birthday came around, I seized the opportunity to plan a Sunday Funday.

Birthday adventure pickings have been slim for me in New England, what with so many fun things being closed until summer. But I was bound and determined to find something I’d never done before. I narrowed my focus to a day trip to the coast of Maine. I wanted to stop by all the gorgeous little towns sprinkled along the Atlantic, but I didn’t want to spend the entire day in the car, AND again, not much is open right now, so I further narrowed my focus to the Portland area, where I was sure I could cap off the adventure with a delicious dinner. lenny5

That’s when I stumbled upon Len Libby Chocolatier in Scarborough, Maine. I love chocolate. One of the good things about New England is that specialty chocolate stores are not in short supply, which ALMOST makes up for everything still being on winter lock-down in March. But this chocolatier has something the rest don’t.

A LIFE SIZED chocolate MOOSE.

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Yeah, that’s right. I kid you not. And while maybe that’s not your thing, maybe you could go your entire life without seeing a 1700 pound chocolate moose, once I knew he existed, I had to pay ‘Lenny’ a visit. So I did. And now I’m spoiled. Now I want all my chocolate life sized, and I want all my friends to smell that good! 😉

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Len Libby Chocolatier is just a short drive from the Portland, Maine area. And yes, their chocolate is fantastic!