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Book and author luncheon draws sold-out crowd this year

BOOK AND AUTHOR LUNCHEON AUTHORS assembled for a group portrait just before the Friends of the Wolfeboro Library Book and Author Luncheon at the Bald Peak Colony Club last Friday, June 3 (l-r): Jeannette Buell, Daryl Thompson, Kate Braestrup, Julie Hahnke and illustrator Marcia Christiansen. (Thomas Beeler photo) (click for larger version)
June 09, 2011
WOLFEBORO — The 28th Annual Book and Author Luncheon at the Bald Peak Colony Club in Moultonborough last Friday, June 3, was a sold-out success. Even the weather cooperated, as the brilliant sun put the golf course and clubhouses in their best light.

In the hour before the meal was served the autograph area was full and all four authors and illustrator Marcia Christiansen were busy signing books and answering questions. There was also a busy raffle of five spectacular baskets created by co-chairs Nancy Ghirardini and Donna Cote as well as other Friends of the Library.

Following the meal Master of Ceremonies Dora Clarkson introduced this year's invited authors.

Kate Braetrup

The first to speak was Kate Braestrup, whose newest book is "Beginner's Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life." Her two earlier work are "Here If You Need Me" and "Marriage and Other Acts of Charity."

In an energetic talk that was both funny and touching, Braestrup explained that she was Chaplin of the Maine Warden Service, which has nothing to do with prisons ("wardens" are game wardens). When asked what she does she doesn't say she is a writer, even though most of her time and income is from writing.

It was not her idea to be a chaplin. The wardens asked her to be one, to comfort victims and family in a time of loss and to express their kindness and compassion. Braestrup said wardens in other states, including New Hampshire, have said they wish they had a chaplin. Being their proves in the end that love is most important.

Braestrup said she was a writer before being a minister, having come from a family of writers. The weird part to her was the fact that her husband Drew, who was a state trooper, decided he wanted to be a minister and they spent a year talking about it before he was killed in a car accident. Braestrup found herself at the age of 33 with four children a widow. The day her husband died a neighbor came to her door with some food to comfort her and there were tears running down her face and a light all around her. That experience drew her to the ministry, and she found she needed to become a minister before she could become a writer.

She said she encounters people at a time when they are "broken open" when you can see what they are really like. It really is "all death all the time."

Her advice to would-be writers was "just write, and then find an agent by finding someone who has an agent." She said, "We know how to take our miseries and turn them into love."

Braestrup said she told her children anything you do in life needs to do three things: feed you, make use of your skills and talents, and allow you to be of service.

She said the idea for her latest book, "Beginner's Grace," came from a book sales meeting, where she was told she should write a book about prayer that is "not boring but useful." She said she was surprised to learn what people, including herself, didn't know about prayer. "It's a different book," she concluded. "I hope you find it's funny."

Jeannette Buell and Daryl Thompson

Next up were the two authors of "Hungry for Summer," a book of favorite recipes collected from residents of islands in Lake Winnipesaukee, Jennette Buell and Daryl Thompson. Alternately speaking and reading extracts from the book, Buell and Thompson explained that they have known each other for a long time and shared recipes for dishes they had enjoyed that were prepared on the islands during summer stays. They decided to gather recipes from other summer islanders.

They tried using mailing lists from the eight towns around the lake (most came back "addressee unknown"), setting up a Web site, and leaving flyers at marinas. No luck.

Then they went island to island leaving flyers and finally had success, especially on larger islands, which are well-represented in the book. By 2008 they had 300 recipes.

Of course they had to test the recipes and both worried about gaining weight, so they enlisted friends and friends of friends to help test and threw parties where friends brought recipe results.

The two authors disclosed several favorite recipes, including one for a blueberry cake that required putting all of the ingredients in a bowl and adding boiling water of top: "Sound awful but it works."

The book contains not just recipes but also many anecdotes about island life. Buell recalled fondly spending summers on the island, where the family stayed during the week while her father was working: there was no TV, and she and her friends just played games and used their imaginations.

Julie Hahnke

Hahnke has written two fantasy novels, the first installments in two separate series: "The Grey Ghost" in "The Wolf's Apprentice" series, and "Through the Eyes of the Raptor," which she says involved shape-shifting (changing to a dog, a squirrel, sparrow, bat and owl) in order to solve a mystery.

The book is more about the nature of good and evil, Hahnke says. Her inspiration was J.K. Rowling, shaped by a speech by President Bush in February 2002 about the "Axis of Evil." She decided to raise questions in the book and leave the reader to answer them, to decided what is the meaning of good and evil.

"Raptor" is the first of six projected books longer books than "The Wolf Apprentice" titles. It was self-published, in part because she could choose her own illustrator, Marcia Christiansen.

"The Grey Ghost" was signed with a publisher and aimed at second graders it is used in 30 schools for reluctant readers. It is set in medieval Scotland, just before firearms were introduced, so most battles were fought with swords and other hand weapons. The history and places are real, and the text builds the story up to each illustration, which acts like a punchline.

Hahnke said she was surprised that the book received an award for being a family-friendly story despite being about clans that kill each other.

The mentor in the story is a luna moth, which only lives a month and is only available for one night to give wisdom. Hahnke got into raising these moths and brought some to the luncheon.

She says she is dedicated to getting kids into reading, citing the fact that while 53 percent of fifth graders read for pleasure, that percentage drops to 22 percent for teens. "Magic is everywhere," she concluded. "You just have to look for it."

An accomplished bagpiper, Hahnke ended her presentation playing "Amazing Grace," but only after asking the audience to stand.

In all, it was an enchanting afternoon.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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