Rhode Island Authors Showcase – Featuring Phyllis Calvey!

The Rhode Island Authors Showcase is back! Each day in November, I’ll be featuring a different RI author. Each post features a giveaway – a book, an anthology, or something else! All you have to do to be eligible for the daily drawing is leave a comment on the blog post. I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner one week after the blog post (to give you time to catch up).

By commenting on each post, you’re also entered to win our bigger prizes: GRAND PRIZE is a $250 Amazon gift card, BONUS PRIZE is a $100 Amazon gift card, and the CHEER UP YOU WON SOMETHING PRIZE is a $50 Amazon gift card. The big prizes will be chosen, again using a random number generator, on December 7.

Phyllis Calvey

So happy to have Phyllis Calvey on the blog today! You know I have questions….

Phyllis, where is your hometown? Bellingham, Massachusetts (right over the line from Rhode Island!)

What genre(s) do you write? Nonfiction

And what have you written? The Butterfly Club: “Is That You?” (2014), Caterpillar’s Search for the Perfect Halloween Costume (2021)

Who are your favorite authors? I enjoy quoting lines from Tolkien, rereading Jane Austen’s dialogs between Darcy and Elizabeth, and living The Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. After reading the entire series to my family one winter when our children were young, we put our television away for the next seven years; we gathered wood, made a latch-key door, a braided rug, and planted a huge garden.

What were some of your favorite books growing up? Growing up, my mother read all the Little Golden Books to us; Aesop’s Fables, and classics like The Little Red Hen. I loved reading books like Heidi, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, and soon was captivated by the Nancy Drew Mysteries.

What do you like best about writing? I write stories that have really happened. They are so profound and unexpected that people often ask if I made them up. I assure them I’m not that smart! What I love best about writing is finding those unexpected connections that make you feel like you are not writing alone.

What do you find most challenging about writing? What I find most challenging about writing is being patient enough to allow the story itself to lead you. The more I learned about monarchs the more amazed I became how their metamorphic nature seemed planned from the beginning to offer comfort and hope that death is not the end, rather, a new beginning. It is no surprise to me how these ethereal creatures have captured our imagination and perhaps a little part of our soul.

Writing The Butterfly Club kindled a love affair with Monarchs that inspired me to write a children’s book, Caterpillar’s Search for the Perfect Halloween Costume. (Now this one I made up!) In the end, what hadn’t dawned on me was that a Monarch’s bright orange and black wings are the very colors of Halloween!

Where do you get inspiration? How do I find inspiration for a story? I don’t. It finds me.  For example, as my cousin began telling me about an unknown man who came through the line of her 35 year-old brother’s wake wearing a butterfly pin on his lapel and what had taken place, I knew I had found my inspiration for The Butterfly Club: “Is That You?

You’ve just been given the chance to collaborate on a book with one of your favorite authors. Who’s the author and what’s the title going to be? Given the chance, I would love to collaborate on a book with Laura Ingalls, the title being, Little House on the Prairie with Electricity! It would be fun to share our own family’s story with her!

Please answer the following two questions to have a chance to win your choice of a copy of either The Butterfly Club: “Is That You?” or Caterpillar’s Search for the Perfect Halloween Costume.

Question 1. What was your favorite Halloween costume growing up?

Question 2. If you were writing this story what insect and costume might you have chosen? 

(My 21 year-old grandson said a mosquito wearing a vampire costume. I loved the idea but only wanted to use the “good” bugs!)

31 thoughts on “Rhode Island Authors Showcase – Featuring Phyllis Calvey!

  1. My favorite costume was when I was a princess. My mother made my dress from a discarded lavender drapery, and I wore a string of pearls in my hair for a crown. I would be a butterfly, perhaps a yellow swallowtail, I love watching them flit around my yard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My mom made me a pumpkin costume and stuffed it with paper. I was so round, I had trouble walking up the stairs and could t sit at the neighbors for a Halloween party. Also, I couldn’t go to the bathroom! It was Ny favorite because it was so funny that I can’t remember any others!
    If I was an insect, I would be a fly dressed as a butterfly, no one would swat me anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Question 1. What was your favorite Halloween costume growing up?

    It wasn’t my favorite costume, but it looked cool when I started. I was probably 8 years old living in the country. Mom and I tore up an old bedsheet into 4” wide strips and wrapped my entire body to look like a mummy. Unfortunately my sister and I didn’t get very far down the road to do our trick or treating. I never reached the first house because I began unraveling. We returned home and I quickly changed into something else. I don’t remember what the alternative costume was, but it had to be something simple.

    Question 2. If you were writing this story what insect and costume might you have chosen?

    I would choose a praying mantis in a Minister’s outfit. I know—the mantis is a Monarch’s nemesis. But this one would be best friends with all butterflies and would pray for their successful flight to the south (rather than eat them).
    I enjoyed your history. I wish you the best with your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG! I love your idea, a praying mantis in a Minister’s outfit that would pray for their successful flight south. Brilliant! I wish I had consulted with you before I finished the story. And I loved that your favorite costume was being a mummy even though it unraveled. It is telling that you didn’t remember the alternative costume. Halloween has so much to do with the fun memories, making and choosing costumes, trading candy afterward, etc. Thank you for your wonderful addition to Caterpillar’s story! I love to share other people’s ideas at my storytimes. They will love yours!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a great costume that no one would guess who you were! And you know what caterpillar’s costume turned out to be although when the kids see the beautiful Monarch on the last page they all say, “That isn’t a costume at all, that’s a real butterfly!”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That costume must have been beautiful! Ladybug is one of Caterpillar’s friends in the story. And her costume is perfect for her! There are different color ladybugs but Caterpillar’s friend is black and red with 7 black spots. She chose to be a firefighter for Halloween. Can you guess why?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alicia, I love your answer! Maybe that’s indeed why Ladybug chose that costume. I was thinking that Ladybug loved being red and black and a firefighters uniform is red and black too. Thanks for your great response! I will share that at my storytimes!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was a little girl my father (yes, father) sewed a witches costume for me. It had a skirt with alternating black and black/orange Halloween motif panels. The top was a simple black cape with a binding and tie made from the same black and orange material. He also constructed a hat which a little less successful; it kept tipping over. Even when he stuffed the cone it wouldn’t stay on properly! In later years that costume passed down to my younger sister and I got another hand-made witches outfit. The skirt was similar with alternating black and bright colored stylized peacocks. Instead of a cape, this top was a long sleeved button down jacket, one side the black, the other side the peacock fabrics. My folks wised up with the hat: they bought me one made of nice, sturdy plastic. It stayed put.

    Definitely I’d choose a bumble bee costume, as long as it didn’t make me look like John Belushi! I have lots of things in my home with bee motifs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Sounds like a most amazing and original costume and the colors of Halloween – black and orange. Your Dad is quite talented. I truly think homemade costumes are the best and the most memorable! Glad you chose a bee costume, definitely one of the “good” bugs. One of the friends in the book is Honey Bee!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I had a really cool plaid cape with a hood; so, I dressed as little red riding hood for Halloween. I love butterflies; so, that would be my first choice. I, also, love bees and ladybugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Butterfly Club sounds really interesting. When I was growing up, my favorite costume was Mickey Mouse. Now my favorite insect is a grasshopper wearing a duck costume.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The only costume that sticks in my memory is a princess. I remember it was a cold Halloween, and my mom insisted we wear jackets. My siblings and I didn’t want to cover up our costumes. There’s no fun in that!

    If I wrote a book about a bug looking for a Halloween costume, it would probably be an ant in a Ladybug costume. Why a Ladybug? I love fun facts and learned that European farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary when pests began eating their crops. These beetles showed up and ate the pests, and the crops were saved. They named them Ladybugs.

    The Bufferfly Club book sounds really interesting. If I don’t win, I will buy a copy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mothers are like that, sometimes not fun but really, really smart! Thank you for your sharing. When I was writing the book I learned many interesting things about insects. In other cultures ladybugs are known as a sign of good luck, prosperity, and even spiritual for the reasons you cited. I think the true-life stories in the Butterfly Club will reveal how they were created to be the most special insect of all!


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