April 26, 2018
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New Maine tales, from underwater worlds to chicken farms

By Aislinn Sarnacki, BDN Staff

JOURNEY OF THE SEA GLASS by Nicole Fazio, July 2012, Down East Books, 32 pages, hardcover, $16.95.

Real sea glass, a piece smoothed by the waves and clouded with salt, has traveled the sea for decades. Then, washed up on a rocky beach, it winks at a passerby. A product of both man and ocean, it’s now a shiny treasure ready to be scooped up and admired. A curious beachcomber might wonder, what happened during those years at sea? And where did the glass come from in the first place?

With pen and watercolor paint, Portland native Nicole Fazio imagined and illustrated the path of one fragment of green glass in “Journey of the Sea Glass,” published by Maine’s Down East Books in July. A book devoid of text, the story is told through Fazio’s stunning watercolor illustrations, enhanced by her signature ink stippling.

“It was my first time acting as an author because there are no words,” Fazio said. “There was a lot more planning. I wanted to focus on the adventure and whimsy of what would happen underwater, under the waves.”

The story starts in the hands of a young boy on a steamboat in the 1930s, painted in sepia tones. As time passes, the detailed illustrations become more colorful. The glass is snatched up by a playful otter, caught in a school of fish and tossed in the air by a humpback whale.

“One of the perks of the job is that I love going to the New England Aquarium and places around here that have taxidermy animals to do research,” Fazio said. “Animals are my favorite subject matter at the moment.”

A freelance artist and illustrator, Fazio returned to Portland after studying art at the University of Hartford in Connecticut, where she developed her skill in watercolor and ink stippling, also known as pointillism, a style of illustration in which the artist uses tiny ink dots to shade and shape objects.

“It’s got that sort of timeless feel,” said Fazio. “You’re able to get in a lot of detail, but just one dot in the wrong place can really change a whole character’s expression. One or two dots can make a smile a frown. It definitely takes patience and practice.”

At the end of the journey, the fragment of green glass is found by a young girl and her grandfather as they walk along the beach. (And you may want to flip back to the beginning of the book to see if you can make a connection.)

“Journey of the Sea Glass” is Fazio’s third children’s book, after “Down East in the Ocean” and “My Maine.” For information, visit journeyoftheseaglass.com and nicolefazioillustration.com.

In addition to the children’s tale, several new Maine-related books have hit the bookstores (and ebook readers) this summer, from ghost stories to country love stories.

NEBULAE, A BACKYARD COSMOGRAPHY by Dana Wilde, July 2012, Booklocker.com Inc., 328 pages, paperback, $20.95.

With his trusty 4 ½-inch Newtonian telescope, Wilde observes the Maine sky and explores the latest scientific discoveries. His writing melds facts with everyday experience, making astronomy more accessible and relatable to readers. Emotion and science come together in a Maine backyard as the vastness of galaxies, space and time stir fear, awe and inspiration in the author.

Wilde lives in Troy, Maine, and writes the Amateur Naturalist column for the Bangor Daily News. His writings have appeared widely in literary and academic publications, as well as his previous collection “The Other End of the Driveway.” For information, visit dwildepress.net.

HENS AND CHICKENS by Jennifer Wixson, August 2012, White Wave, 272 pages, paperback, $14.95.

Two city women, fed up with corporate America, move to the mythical town of Sovereign, Maine (population 1,048), in search for a better life and maybe a little romance. Former co-workers at an insurance firm — Lila, 27, and Rebecca Johnson, 48 — decide to raise chickens and sell organic eggs instead of count down the hours of workdays in a cubicle. This absorbing story of friendship, healing and love is the first in a three-novel series, The Sovereign Series.

Wixson is a Maine farmer, beekeeper, author and itinerant Quaker minister. Follow her on Twitter @chickenjen.

HOW TO CATCH A LOBSTER IN DOWN EAST MAINE by Christina Lemieux Oragano, August 2012, The History Press, 160 pages, paperback, $16.99.

From a family of four generations of lobster fishermen, Oragano provides a glimpse inside lobstering communities — the trials and triumphs. Divided into sections such as “Trap Wars” and “Working the Tides of Down East Maine,” the book also includes a few of the author’s favorite lobster recipes.

Oragano was born and raised in Cutler, Maine. She runs the popular blog “Notes from a Lobster Fishing Village.” For information, visit notesfromalobsterfishingvillage.blogspot.com.

SARAH CARLISLE’S RIVER AND OTHER SHORT STORIES by Cynthia Lang, August 2012, Mill City Press, 114 pages, paperback, $12.95.

Author Cynthia Lang explores the nature of legacies through the story of her ancestor Sarah Carlisle, the mother of Gardner Colby, benefactor of Colby College. Carlisle married a successful Maine shipbuilder and lived a life of wealth until the War of 1812 destroyed the business and broke her husband’s spirit, laying it on Sarah Carlisle’s shoulders to care for her family.

“Having known what such adversity is, I can appreciate the distress you are in,” begins a letter Carlisle wrote in 1840 to tell her story to a nephew who had fallen on hard times. From the contents of this letter, Lang wrote “Sarah Carlisle’s River.”

A family legacy can be handed down in the form of antique furniture, odd collections, debt or savings, but in this story, Lang shares that, “devoid of weight, of volume, some [legacies] take up no room at all.” She continues to show legacy in many forms in eight additional, and entirely fictional, stories. For information, visit cynthialang.com.

URN & WILLOW by Scott Thomas, June 2012, Dark Regions Press, 200 pages, paperback, $16.95.

In this collection of ghostly tales of 18th and 19th century New England, small-town residents deal with violent, relentless and otherworldly beings. These spooky stories, illuminated by candlelight, delight readers with subtle and lingering fear — the stuff of goosebumps. Be sure to check out Maine tales “The Circular Field” (pages 151-163) and “The Company of Others” (pages 179-194). To purchase “Urn & Willow,” visit darkregions.com/books/urn-and-willow-by-scott-thomas.

Thomas lives in coastal Maine with his girlfriend Peggy. “Urn & Willow” is his eighth short story collection. Others include “Quill and Candle” (2010), “Midnight in New England” (2007), “The Garden of Ghosts (2008)” and “Over the Darkening Fields” (2007).

UTOPIAS: A BRIEF HISTORY FROM ANCIENT WRITINGS TO VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES by Howard P. Segal, May 2012, Wiley-Blackwell, 304 pages, paperback $34.95, hardcover $89.95.

This brief history connects the past and present of utopian thought, from notions born in ancient Greece to present-day paradisiacal cyberspace communities. Segal explores utopias in their many forms — prophecies, writings, political movements, physical communities, etc. — and analyzes the implications of utopian thought.

Segal is professor of history at the University of Maine, where he has taught since 1986. He has published four previous books and also reviews for Nature and Times Higher Education, among other publications.

BLOOD SPORT by Rick Simonds, April 2012, First Edition Design eBook Publishing, 224 pages, paperback, $14.95.

Maine State Police Detective Reed Sanderson is put in charge of a homicide task force in an attempt to solve a series of confusing deaths that appear to be murders without motive. But in getting closer to the truth, he puts his own family in danger.

Simonds, who lives in Maine, turned to writing murder mysteries after coaching basketball (college and professional) for more than 30 years. He is a high school English and creative writing teacher, and he published his first novel, “Blood Code,” in 2011. To learn more, visit ricksimonds.net.

WALTZING WITH BRACEY, A LONG REACH HOME by Brenda Gilchrist, July 2012, Bauhan Publishing LLC, 216 pages, paperback, $21.95.

This memoir is a love letter to the Maine Coast and testament to the strength and importance of human-animal bonds. Gilchrist spent her childhood in London and settled in New York City as a young adult, making trips to Paris, Karachi and Kashmir to visit with her mother and diplomat father. But it wasn’t until middle age, when she inherited her ancestral summer cottage on Deer Isle, that she truly found her place in the world, helped along by her Corgi puppy, Bracey. The driveway of that cottage was the starting place for John Steinbeck’s cross-country trip chronicled in “Travels with Charley.”

Gilchrist has worked various jobs in the New York art and magazine worlds. Since moving to Maine in 1990, she has written, illustrated and designed books published by Braceypoint Press. For information about “Waltzing with Bracey,” visit bauhanpublishing.com. A free public reading and reception will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at the Stonington Opera House.

THE ANSWER IS YES BUT FIRST YOU HAVE TO ASK by Jim Charette, June 2012, Createspace, 130 pages, paperback, $15.

This book will help you ask for more — and get it — in your career, relationships and other important aspects of your life. Charette writes about the opportunities that result from simply asking.

Charette, born and raised in Van Buren, Maine, is a popular keynote speaker on the art of asking. He has a bachelor’s degree in monetary economics and worked for two decades at Merrill Lynch, where he served as vice president and financial advisor. He now has his own professional development consulting business. For information, visit jimcharette.com.

HARTS AT SEA SAILING TO WINDWARD by Barbara J. Hart, January 2012, Hart Enterprises Inc., 280 pages, Kindle, $2.99.

Twenty-five years into marriage, in October 2010, Maine native Barbara Hart and her husband, Stew, left the rocky coast of Maine to sail to exotic lands. This series of essays is about what really happens when a couple sails off into the sunset, of their first year as cruising sailors, and what they learned about weathering storms, provisioning, entering strange harbors, and living in close quarters (with a great deal of humor added in).

Hart grew up in Newport, Maine, and is currently cruising in the Eastern Caribbean with Stew aboard “La Luna,” their 47-foot Cheoy Lee Cutter. The Kindle version of “ Harts at Sea Sailing to Windward” is available at Amazon.com.

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