October Spookiness Comes to the Island

October is time to rake and can and plan for winter in Martha’s Vineyard. The daylight hours are shortening, flocks of tourists are nearly gone. Year round residents take a little time to have Halloween fun with jack-o-lanterns and autumn’s beautiful leaves.

October’s book choice was an easy one: Mudge loves coming up with the Halloween book. This year he’s going with the master of darkness himself, Stephen King. The twist is King’s co-writer is his son, Owen. Can Mudge spook the group more than last year with:

Pick it up at Amazon, B&N, Apple Books, or Kobo.


Have you read Sleeping Beauties yet? Yes? –proceed scrolling for some very real comments by the members of the BBG.

If not, download it before you proceed.

There may be spoilers, otherwise!


Blythe (proprietress of Blythe Cove Manor): Well, I’m not a King fan, as you all know. I like lighter books, with very happy endings. But I must say it was interesting to see how the world coped with losing women. And there’s something satisfying when a sleeping woman leaves no doubt that her sleep should not be disturbed. I will be sleeping with a light on for the rest of the month, as usual Mudge.

Helen (director of the local library): I love a good mystery, even if it comes with supernatural suspense. Knowing what had caused the Aurora virus and whether the women would come back. Not to mention how much the world would have changed when they did come back. I’m not sure how I’d have felt. Also, has anyone else noticed how the heater, when it turns on at night, sounds a lot like a ghost pounding up the stairs?

Mudge (excursion boat owner/operator): Knew it. Knew this book would get you Blythe. I picked it because King is the King, as you know I believe. Now that’s he’s passing on the torch to his son Owen, I want to get everyone ready for next year. By the way, I found this excellent jack-o-lantern nightlight for you all. Maybe you’ll have sweet dreams before November, Blythe.

Aggie (owner, Sandpiper Restaurant): Mudge, leave it to you. If you’re King’s #1 fan, then I’m his #2. This book made me think, jump, and look behind me every time I heard a creaky floorboard, or a rustling rush of wind. I want to be Eve Black, just so you all know.

Fred (island taxi driver): Mudge, I look forward to the October pick all year long. This one took me to surprising places. Fortunately, I don’t believe in ghosts or zombie sleeping beauties, so I’m still getting my eight hours without trouble.

Did you miss the other book group picks? Check them all out here.

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The Blythe Cove Book Group Goes Back to School With a Good Book

September is back to school in Martha’s Vineyard, just like most other places. The daylight hours are shortening, flocks of tourists are thinning. Year round residents take a deep sigh of relief that they’ll have the island back to themselves.

September’s book choice was an easy one: Aggie has a secret plan for one of the young year-round residents of Blythe Cove Manor. Here’s her reasoning for the book she chose:

Sometimes you come across a young person who is talented, smart, kind, and would greatly benefit from an Ivy League education (don’t scowl Mudge). But said young person doesn’t even know how to dream about such a thing. This book is meant to help me (and maybe you, too, Blythe) figure out how to get said young person to start thinking Ivy League.

Pick it up at Amazon, B&N, iBooks, or Kobo.


Have you read Secret Society Girl yet? Yes? –proceed scrolling for some very real comments by the members of the BBG.

If not, download it before you proceed.

There may be spoilers, otherwise!


Blythe (proprietress of Blythe Cove Manor): Oh Helen, I didn’t know much about what it meant to go to an Ivy League university before. I heartily agree that we need to help make this happen for our special young person. To think that until so very recently, these secret societies didn’t take young women is utterly disgraceful.

Helen (director of the local library): I don’t want to say who I’m speaking of, although Blythe obviously knows her. I recognize this is an unusual way to choose a book for the book group, but I enjoyed it. I had a nice, staid, state university education with no secret societies. But I’m not brilliant, and I don’t aspire to much more than enjoying life on the island and making sure everyone gets matched with their perfect next read. I think this book is just the one to get a young woman thinking about her possibilities off island..

Mudge (excursion boat owner/operator): Hmmm. Helen, I didn’t realize an Ivy League education came with so much drama, but I suppose it makes sense. I enjoyed the book, although I thought most Yalie’s would benefit from a summer at sea to teach them how to handle the real life drama the sea can throw at you.

Aggie (owner, Sandpiper Restaurant): Helen, this was an interesting choice for you, since you usually trend toward literary, or an Oprah pick. At first, I didn’t like the light tone, but then I realized that it was Amy’s self defense mechanism against a university social structure that still tends to see young women as not-quite-good-enough. It has got me thinking about whether my son should read it.

Fred (island taxi driver): I thought I was going to hate this, Helen. I usually love your picks, though, so… all I have to say is “Glad I didn’t want an Ivy League education!” But, to your point about a certain someone who could benefit from it, I agree. Let’s make a plan to see our young person not only reads this book, and others to get her thinking about the possibilities, but let’s do more.

Did you miss the other book group picks? Check them all out here.

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Real or Fiction

Real or Fiction: Where does one begin?

by Shirley Hailstock


I recently read an author’s blog about writing from or about real life. Many authors do this, myself included. However, until I read her blog, I thought most of what I wrote was fiction, made up, not associated with the real world, but of a world I created. I never use people I know in my stories. I tried using the name of a relative once and found I was making the character that person.


This is not to say that the attributes of characters I write about are not from real people. All of them are. But shortly after introducing a character, they take on a life of their own and the author can only record what they say and do.

The stories I write come from the heart, from past experiences or from emotions that I’ve experienced or can tap into, empathize with. They reveal a lot about the writer. This is why the stories we find most endearing are the ones that have an underlying truth to them. It’s not “in your face” truth, but subtle, the kind that touches the emotional nerves and basically rings our bells. As readers, they draw us in, identify the same emotions the reader has, giving the reader an experience that is safe while it can make the heart beat faster, return them to the memory of a first love, or have them living vicariously through the pages.

We all have favorite authors. For several of mine, I’ve done binge reading of their books, usually fifteen titles in a row. I do this to learn about writing, but the by-product of this method is I learn a lot about that author, their views on the world, what they read, what political stand they have and what kind of person they are.

This may seem like an audacious comment since most authors are introverts and do not want to put their lives out in the world.  However, as an author, our stories reveal that we’ve opened a vein and poured our blood into the stories. This is honesty. It’s real. It’s the truth. And it makes for vivid stories that glue the reader to her/his chair as the author takes them on an adventure. And within that adventure, in between the lines and pages and chapters, inside the world created by the author, is the truth of the author’s conscious, her/his values, her/his life.

So the next time you pick up a book to read, handle it carefully and remember you’re holding the author’s heart in your hands.


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VINEYARD ADVENTURES: A Blythe Cove Manor Blog – Which Back-To-School Era Are You In?

Which Back To School Era Are You In?

We all go through stages in life, and sometimes it’s fun to look at life’s stages through a new lens. This week we will be looking at our stage in life relative to the back-to-school season.

The way I see it, there are four stages…let’s call them “eras” of back-to-school.

ERA 1: The Student

The back-to-school commercials appeal to you because you are actually going back to school. You want new clothes, you need new supplies, and you have a burning desire to fit in. Your summer is coming to an end, which is sad. The nerves are kicking in for a new school season, which is exciting. Basically, back-to-school is all about going back to school!

ERA 2: Post-Education 

You are out of school, working hard at a job, no kids, just climbing the corporate ladder. Back-to-school commercials seem comical in a way and downright obnoxious. You think back to the days when back-to-school used to mean something so important to you, and now that you’ve grown up a bit it all just seems ridiculous. Maybe you can go shopping and pick up a deal or two anyway. Why not? Back-to-school season simply reminds you of your youth. You either love it, or hate it.

ERA 3: The Parent

The commercials appeal to you because that means your kids are going back to school. Either that, or your little ones are going away for the first time, and it’s the beginning of a new era. You are all about savings. They don’t need the most expensive shoes or clothes, and why do they still need colored pencils? Seriously. Summer’s end only means that the weather changes, because you haven’t had a summer break in ages. You will be sad to see the babies grow up, or you will be elated to have the teenagers out of your house. Basically, back-to-school is all about your kids leaving the house!

ERA 4: Post-Parenting

The kids are all grown and they are having kids of their own. Back-to-school season has come full circle. Now you are there to pick up all the goodies that you never would have bought as a parent. Maybe you can look back at back-to-school season with fond memories. Or maybe the whole rigamarole has you flummoxed. Either way back-to-school for you means nothing more than a memory.

And let’s not forget teachers. But that’s a whole different blog.

Which back-to-school era you are in? Do you look back at this season with fond memories? Let us know in the comments below.

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