On our recent travels we have been fortunate to discover some humanity in Bethlehem New Hampshire. Bethlehem is located on route 302 which runs through Maine, New Hampshire, and into Vermont.
We had already passed through town once in the hunt for food the day before. We’d eaten from a good, but standard Chinese food restaurant. The food tasted great, however, it not only landed hard in our stomaches, but my doctor will throttle me if I eat any more of this high fat / sugar laden food. The hunt for vegetarian food was on.
In America today, the abundance of food almost designed to shorten your life is only footsteps away in any direction. We decide we’d need some local knowledge to find some healthy food. Where is the center of local knowledge in any town? Why the library of course. We often stop at library’s for reading and wifi. The Bethlehem public library was our go to source for all things local. The librarian pointed us not a stones throw away to Maia Papaya.
Maia Papaya is in a small unpretentious building next to the post office. When we walked in, the place reeked of humanity. Local artwork and music not pumped in from the classic rock stations greeted us. Vegetarian food; Score! The owner was working behind the counter side by side with her employee’s. Her establishment was an extension of her personality and values. She promotes local artists, and the walls displayed some impressive artwork.
I do not wish to sound like an advertisement, but everyone needs to make a living. If you can do that, and be a human too, well I’m all for it. The experience of Maia Papaya is very cool and up lifting. We would make many return trips here to drink in the atmosphere, and good coffee.
It's refreshing to see individual local business that are connected directly to the community, and not a corporate franchise. The growth of farmers markets and places like Maia Papaya are taking hold throughout America. I for one am very happy to see this change happening.
If you happen to stop in to Maia Papaya, the coffee will cost you, but the humanity is free.
It has been many years since I was in high school. Counting back, it has been over 37 years since I left my home town school. The building no longer exists. The vintage brick and mortar building has been torn down and replaced by a modern institution on the outskirts of town.
My diploma does not have the school name on it. My diploma is a general equivalency diploma issued by the state of Maine. I earned this two years after I would have graduated, if I had stayed in school.
Because of the invitation from Melissa Haskell Ayres, I have faced a paradoxical situation. I have spoken as an author encouraging young students about writing. A subject I did not have any passion for when I was their age. If my high school self were in the room, I would have used the time to daydream or lounge. Instead, I and three other authors, Duane E. Coffill, Michael Goyet, and Dede Moore, faced a group of inquisitive students.
Luckily for me, I am habitually early to events, and I had time to get accustomed to the library. Jane Seeley, Head Librarian, and Audrey Walker, the Assistant Librarian, greeted me warmly. After talking for a bit, I relaxed as much as I could. My fellow authors and I were seated in the front of the room as a guest panel.
The kids trickled in and soon we began talking about our books and perspectives on writing. I was expecting disrespectful and bored students, but instead these kids were very interested in writing. Thank god my former self was not in the room. Many of the students had started writing short stories. They asked many good questions about the writing process.
Each author had a different way they liked to write. A lot of us used self-publishing to one extent or another. The writing world is changing at an amazing rate. It was nice to share our stories with the next generation of writers.
I was also given the honor of being asked by a student to read the opening of a story they had written. I don't think they will ever realize how good it felt to be asked for comment on another author’s writings.
My life would probably not have changed very much if an author had spoken when I was a student. Life was very complicated for me at that time. It's refreshing to see kids who are enthusiastic about expressing themselves. I would like to think I had a positive influence on them during my short visit. If they took away a fraction of the good experience I had, I’ll feel I did my job.
This writing adventure I started has taken me to places I would scarcely have imagined. I hope these students find joy in writing and creating. Too many times success is measured in monetary amounts. As I age, I value experiences much more profoundly than money. What do people do with money? They pay to have experiences. Some of my best life moments have been things I have worked for, not the ones I paid for. I poured my soul into my book, and my life experience bank is being compounded with interest.
I thank Melissa Haskell Ayres and the Oak Hill School system for making me rich with experiences.
On a recent trip to, Quebec Canada, I discovered some masterpieces of artwork you will not find in travel guides. All of these works are painted on structural concrete supports holding up a major roadway.
I have to preface this a little. This is artwork that was sanctioned and allowed by the local powers that be. Some of it will appeal to some, but not all.
I will be the first to say that if you paint onto something that you do not own, you are committing a crime.
Because these works are approved, I love sharing this find with everyone. Some of the works show the grit that comes with street art. A lot of it show some incredible technical talent that is unmistakable as that of a practiced hand.
MY GUEST TODAY IS AUTHOR MARK EVANS! March 15, 2016 Tim Gurung Leave a comment
AUTHOR MARK EVANS!1.Tell me something about yourself first and how you decided to become a writer?
I am an adventurous soul. I dropped out of high school in my youth, and soon found myself hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. I would also tour Europe and log over 2000 miles in that journey. Settling down in Maine, I worked for over 30 years as a carpenter. My father was diagnosed with cancer, and this allowed me some time to not only help him but do something creative. My book “The Flame” was a result of this opportunity. 2.Why you started writing and what makes you keep on writing?
Opportunity and wanting to be creative starts me writing, Now I am waiting for more opportunities to continue my writing. I am still working on getting my first book to the readers who would enjoy it.3.What was your first book and how many books have you published since then?
This is my first book, and it took me into my 50’s to write this one, I hope to not wait so long before the next.4. Why writing is so important for you and what you want to achieve from writ-ing?
Writing is expression, and I had something to say. Intwined in the pages of my book you will find who I really am, and what I value. I write to be heard. By using story to show people rather than tell them what is important to you, the reader will be en-tertained as well as informed. 5. What genre do you write and what is the hardest part of your writing?
I write for young adult to adult. The hardest part for me is editing! Since I dropped out of high school, my spelling and grammar are horrible. That being said, I’d like to think my story telling and content are very good. I’ll let the readers be the judge of course, but I have had some good reviews from many people.6. Which author(s) inspired you the most and why?
Isaac Asimov, Patrick O’Brian, Ray Bradbury, and Arthur C. Clarke. These authors not only have great and inspiring stories, they have something to say about life and human nature. They have left their mark on history through the art of story telling.7.What is your writing style and how you differentiate your writing from other fellow writers?
Several of my readers have said my characters practically walk off the pages. People can identify with them and have strong feeling for them. After all when you read a book you want to be able to see yourself in it.8. Why do people think self-publishing is still a vanity or even stigma and how you going to change that?
Indie authors are part of the new economy. No longer do we have to measure up to a cor-porate view of how marketable our work is. We stand alone, and we take the criticism or the praise for our writing. We are allowed to write outside the box. I consider it bravery, not vanity.
9. Why marketing is so important for indie authors and what steps are you taking for your own marketing needs?
Indie authors by definition are week in marketing. This interview is an example of an at-tempting to reach out to the world. I have no delusions of becoming successful by the stan-dards set by institutional book sellers. The joy I receive is from a reader telling me how much they enjoyed my writing. I plug along in my humble social media attempts. My hope is someday to catch a little traction and get my book to a wider audience. 10. What is your opinion on e-book and do you think people will eventually choose e-book over physical book and why?
E-books are generational. The younger generation is much more comfortable with com-puter reading than us older folks. Paperbacks will never disappear, but I think they will be a smaller part of the market. E-books are also much more environmentally friendly. 11. What are you writing now and what is your expectation from this new book?
I am in the pondering stage of my writing. When the right inspiration and time opportu-nity come along, I’ll put my fingers to the keyboard. 12. Where can people find more about your works?
My website is the best location to find out more about the book. http://theflamebook.com
I have links to not only purchasing the book, but articles about writing it and the cover artwork.
Thank you so much for your time, really appreciated and I take this opportunity to wish you again for all the best. Hey, keep on writing, the world needs you! TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com
Young Writers Club
I have seen advertisements for ‘Writers Retreats’, many times in online groups and local publications. Never did I think I would participate, let alone speak, at such an event. But here I was along with a room full of enthusiastic young writers.
The Retreat was called “Right to Write, Writers’ Retreat, 2016”. It was put on by the Oak Hill Young Writers’ Club. The quiet town of Sabattus Maine Is the home to the club. Melissa Ayres is the point person and leader for this band of excited writers.
Tom Block, a talented illustrator, Steven Powell gifted writer and myself, also a writer, were the guests for the day. I received a spirited introduction from one of my young fans who had read my book. ‘It does not get any better than that.’
After the introductions, the young writers were split equally between the three of us. Along with the kids were several parents and dedicated volunteers. I was able to discuss my book, and engage the kids about why they like to write, and some of the techniques I employ in my writing. The groups would rotate through after 20 minutes or so, giving each of us guests a manageable group to talk to.
Each time I have participated with the Young Writers’ Club, I have come away with a deep respect for the efforts of not only Melissa Ayres, but the whole community. The event was sponsored by local businesses who believe in promoting and encouraging their kids. Reading and writing are the foundations of education, and this town supports them.
I am honored to be invited as a speaker to this retreat. I would like to list the businesses that sponsored this event. Debbie Strout CPA, Percy’s Hardware, Sabattus Knights of Columbus, Sabattus Auto & Truck Sales, and Maine Family FCU. The support that these businesses show are what will make the future for these kids much brighter.
My hope is the vision this group has will take off and inspire more towns to form their own youth writing groups. Many of the kids told me things like, ‘I love to write, and I have several stories started, I just cant figure out which one to finish first.’ One of the writers club member has sent me several drafts of her first novel. I did not have half her talent at this age.
The final gift I received was from a writer who presented me with a drawing she made during the day. Having no children of my own, I do not get very many hand made drawings. I will find a suitable frame for it as a memento of my experience.
Thank you again Oak Hill Young Writers Club. You hav made my dreams come true.
© Mark A Evans 1/20/2016
The large brass bell atop the town hall calls the archers to the field. Several times a year the village holds a contest allowing we, the archers, to put our skills to the test. The rewards are like that of many contests, money and prestige.
The field upon which the contest is held stretches out far into the distance. Excited villagers come to cheer and watch the competition.
Targets are place incrementally farther and farther away from the shooters line. The rewards for hitting them become more lucrative the greater the distance they are away. Some targets are so close it is almost absurdly easy to strike them. The archers risk very little in aiming at these. The rewards are as minimal as the risk. They are considered safe and reliable, but no glory or cheers will be heard from placing your arrows into them. Some archers choose this target not willing to risk their precious arrows. Better to have won something, than to have risked, and come away with nothing. It is also a favored target of those with bows of poor design, or an arm without the strength to pull the string far enough to reach the greater distances.
The next targets are smaller and father away. You need more skill, strength, and experience to hit these. Sometimes though, even the weaker participants will find luck on their side. They will win the prize that was actually beyond their real skill. This line of targets has, of course, much more reward. This is why less skilled archers are willing to risk taking aim at them. The better archers will often shoot for the middle distances. The jingling of coin in their pockets attests to their skill.
The farthest target is way off almost out of sight. The reward for hitting it is staggering. Perhaps only one archer in ten years of contest will claim this prize. That is not to say that it is not shot upon regularly. Many an archer will waste an arrow if he feels his quiver is adequately supplied to warrant such a risk. The young and foolish often shoot at this one, only to watch the arrows fall short. They do not even understand the limits of their strength and accuracy, until they are humbled in front of the crowd. Oh what a spectacle when an arrow hits this lofty mark. The wealth, glory, and fame are intoxicating. The stories and songs that fill the tavern after this triumph will be spoken of for years to come. This is why so many archers are willing to take aim at it.
The contest is about to commence. My turn will not come until long into the afternoon. My strategy has been to play it very safe for several years. This time however, I will set my goals upon the middle row. Oh I may land a few, just to be safe, in the closest ones, but I am more ambitious today.
I watch one by one as the other contestants stand before the crowd and shoot their arrows. The first participant is a wealthy man who’s quiver is full to the brim. Those wealthy enough to afford more arrows have much more opportunity to be successful. He has no reason to play it safe. He does not shoot any arrows at the close safe targets. His aim is at the middle distance, of which he often hits. With his wealth and skill, he also shoots plenty of arrows at the farthest mark. It is of little consequence to him. Already he has plenty of gold from the middle distances. Try as he might though, he does not strike the farthest target, even though he shoots many arrows at it. He is much more interested in prestige than money at this point. The onlookers enjoy his attempts, but there is little excitement because he is expected to shoot for this prize. His turn is done, and he has used is brimming quiver to brim his pockets as well.
Then next archer approaches. This archer is well known for their skill, only they have very few arrows in their quiver. One after another the closer targets are struck. Disappointed looks pass among the audience. Such a skilled archer, and yet they take the safe and easy path. The onlookers show little respect for this archers careful use of what little resource they have. The crowd lives for excitement, all the while they are not risking anything themselves. The audience did not come here to see safe, they have come here to see glory.
It is now my time to stand before the range. As I approach the shooting line, I take notice of a young man standing very close by. He is well know about our village. Dirty and disheveled, his appearance displays his fate. He has no family or means of prosperity. Like the other archers, he has a bow, but in his quiver, there is not a single arrow. He seems strong and able. I am sure he could muster enough ability to hit the closest targets, if only he was given an opportunity.
Time after time I launch a salvo into the middle and closer targets. I have lost a few arrows, but for the most part, I am quite successful. I reach down one last time and feel the rough and misshapen shaft of my last arrow. It is old and week, but it is probably good enough to fly to the nearest marks. Instead of placing the arrow to my string, I turn and with a self righteousness place it in the poor man hands. I smile and beam as if I had just saved the mans life. The crowd cheers and waves their approval of my generosity.
A hush comes over the field. All eyes watch as this final archer places the crooked arrow into the bow. All know he can not afford to shoot at any but the closest target. We fully expected him to take aim at the nearest goal and earn his pittance. Then hopefully he'd return the favor and thank me for my kindness.
Before anyone had time to think, the man pulls the bow full back with all his might, then let's fly his arrow. I thought for sure the paltry shaft would shatter with the force. His intention is for the farthest target. Not a breath could be heard as everyone watched his arrow in flight.
The village will never forget this day. The poorest archer taking his only opportunity, and shooting his arrow risking it for all, or nothing. Maybe he will be rich, or maybe he will not. The one thing we know is, he risked more than anyone this day.
The question your going to ask is, did his arrow find it's way, or did it fail to achieve? To tell you the truth It does not matter. The only thing that really matters is why the arrow’s owner chose to send it on this course.
© Mark A Evans 1/20/2016
Today I was visiting my local Freeport Community Library and visited my book. I’m sorry, yes it's like seeing your first born at preschool. Here are a couple of pictures from this proud author. The best thing of all is seeing the two stamps indicating two people have checked out the book. I can’t tell you the feeling you get every time someone says they have read the book and enjoyed it. This is indeed what makes it all worth while.
The Freeport Community Library has made me one happy author! They have purchased my newly released book "The Flame". I can't tell you how much this means to me. I and my 'Flame Team' have been working very hard over the past two years to bring the book to completion.
There is a sense of accomplishment having my book shelved in my hometown library. Hopefully, some readers will take the book home and enjoy it.
I am also feeling supported by my community when the library added my name to the thousands of authors in their catalog. Having lived in many towns along the midcoast, Freeport is the town I chose to grow roots in. The more I interact with the generous and talented people of Freeport, the more I love the town. With the library willing to add my book to the community resources, I feel even more connected to our town.
The library does so much for us all. I have seen people parked in the parking lot using the Wi-Fi before and after hours. The community calendar is full of activities for young and old alike - movies, concerts, author talks, community events. I and my wife have performed many times at the library coffee house, which is hosted there several times a year. And of course, there are plenty of books, magazines, movies, computers, desks, and comfy chairs in which to read.
Thank you Freeport Community Library. I wish you could see how happy you have made me.
Oak Hill Middle School
Just a few days ago, I was given the opportunity to speak at the Oak Hill Middle School in Sabattus, Maine. This has been the best experience I have had as a writer so far in my short career.
It all started when I replied to Melissa Haskell Ayres’ Facebook post asking for authors to join in for a writers talk at her school. It took me many hours of lamenting before I was brave enough ask to be included in the event. After a short conversation with Melissa, she welcomed me to the event.
Now the nervousness really started to kick in. I had just volunteered myself to speak in front of middle school kids for an hour of talks. I was going to have to step up to the plate and show my stuff. Nothing in my carpenter career was going to be of use to me now, but my recent stage performances as a musician would be paramount in helping me through this.
I was hoping the kids would have lots of questions and I wouldn’t have to rely on prepared material too much. Just in case though, I made an outline of the things I thought were most important in writing.
After following Garmina’s mechanical voice instructions, I arrived at the school. Melissa found me at the front desk and led me to the other authors. I was introduced to Gail Van Wart, April Wood, John Hodgkins, Jane Harvey-Meade, and Keith & Theresa Evans. Keith, Theresa, and Melissa were the founders of the Oak Hill Young Writers Club. I had not met these authors before, but they greeted me warmly and we made small talk until it was time to go to our assigned classrooms.
I was brought to a good size room and left alone to await the kids’ arrival. There I was standing alone with no other person to prompt or guide me. I thought to myself, ‘Dear God, what have I gotten myself into?’ The bell rang and kids started to fill the room; and I do mean fill. There were so many kids that a third of them had to stand along the walls. A little relief came as I saw some teachers enter the room. At least I wouldn’t be totally alone.
After the room completely filled, one of the teachers said, “you’re on.” I did my best to hide my deer in the headlight eyes. I jumped right in introducing myself and asking for questions. The cricket chirps were a good indication this was not going to be a question and answer kind of talk. I quickly went to plan B. I picked up my keyword outline and jumped in. That outline was the biggest butt saving thing I have ever done. I went through the talking points I had on the sheet and got a few questions. Just as I was running out of material, the bell would ring, and the whole process began again.
I cannot speak for the kids, but I think it went well. I have to give them credit. They were listening to an old guy talk about writing. This was not an activity they had chosen to come to, and they had multiple authors to see over the next hour. I was amazed at how well they kept it together to listen to me for 20 minutes. I don’t think I would have done as well in my middle school days. As with any large group, there were a few kids who were interested in writing and they asked most of the questions. My hope is that some of the things I had to say may stick with the kids.
After the final bell rang, the authors settled into the cafeteria. Several of the kids from the writing club came and visited with us. They asked questions and did interviews. I wish I had their ability at that age. I was very impressed. One of the students passed her writing on to me to look at. This was an honor I was not expecting. After looking at her work I am jealous of her ability. She will be schooling us before she realizes it.
Melissa had a last surprise for us. She presented each author with a beautiful journal, a young writers club pen, and a gift certificate to a local restaurant. This was icing on the cake.
Thank you Young Writers’ Club, Oak Hill Middle School, and especially Melissa for this experience. I hope your writers’ club will catch on with other schools in Maine. I believe we need to give kids more outlets for self-expression besides phones, and computers. This is not limited to writing. So many of the arts need to be promoted; painting, sculpture, theater, photography, music and of course writing.
I think we who write and produce artwork wish we could do it full time. However, so many of us must put food on the table with other skills.
I do not lament my profession. I am very proud of the work I do. Like so many artists, I have a longing to express myself. Who doesn't, really? We are in many ways all the same. The only difference is that I found the time and ambition to write a novel. The life experiences we gain from working and living are the reservoir of knowledge we use to create our stories.
Someday I may be able to feed myself with my writing. For now, I am content to put my hands to work making other people's homes a little more beautiful.