Weekend Update: April 19-20, 2014

This is our special Maine Crime Wave edition. If technology cooperates, we’ll be adding to this post from the venue in Portland. If it doesn’t, look for more follofallsbooks1w-up in future posts.

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by James Hayman (Monday), Barbara Ross (Tuesday), Susan Vaughan (Wednesday), John Clark (Thursday), and Kate Flora (Friday). 

In the news department, here’s what’s happening with some of us who blog regularly at Maine Crime Writers:

Lea Wait: On Tuesday, April 22, (spring vacation week for Maine’s schools) I’ll be speaking about my latest book for young people, Uncertain Glory, at 3 p.m. in the Wiscasset Library, on High Street in Wiscasset. I’ll be bringing with me some primary sources … and some 19th century kitchen utensils and memories of Wiscasset. Readers of all ages invited, and copies of my books will be available for purchase and signing.


An invitation to readers of this blog: Do you have news relating to Maine, Crime, or Writing? We’d love to hear from you. Just comment below to share.

And a reminder: If your library, school, or organization is looking for a speaker, we are often available to talk about the writing process, research, where we get our ideas, and other mysteries of the business. Contact Kate Flora: kateflora@gmail.com


Posted in Sunday Updates | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Library Story

Hi. Barb here.

Caroline Furness Jayne

Caroline Furness Jayne

Over the years, many of us Maine Crime Writers have told the story of the library that most influenced our lives. I was supposed to tell mine last year, but National Library Week coincided with Boston Marathon week, and I found I just couldn’t.

So I’m trying here again.

I grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, but in the summer between fourth and fifth grade, my family moved to Wallingford, Pennsylvania, a southwestern suburb of Philadelphia. We moved into a development called Heatherwold, a small community of sidewalkless, winding roads and houses of brick and stone built just before the second World War.

HKFphotoFor me, the most amazing thing about Heatherwold was that the community library, The Helen Kate Furness, was right in our development. I was, at ten, at last allowed to walk to the library by myself, any time I wanted. One of my most vivid sense memories is of walking there one evening in the fall. The sky was dark, the air crisp, and as I walked, I drank in the freedom that you feel when you are a child, on your own, in charge of where you’re going for the first time. An enormous flock of Canadian geese flew overhead, so noisy I can hear them still.

At the Helen Kate Furness, I read everything I could in the children’s library, books that would now be labeled young adult, and then the librarian gently suggested that I go upstairs to the adult library. I did and never looked back, inhaling mysteries, historical fiction and classics in the adult collection.

lindenshade-loc-3Heatherwold and the library were built on the land of Lindenshade, the country estate of Horace Howard Furness (1833-1912) whom Wikipedia describes as the “most important Shakespearean scholar of the 19th century.” The library is named for his wife and collaborator. His brother was the noted Victorian architect Frank Furness and Lindenshade is attributed to him.

When I was a child, only two widely separated wings of Lindenshade still stood. One was the brick library built for H.H. Furness’s collection. In the early 1960s when I lived in Wallingford, the former library wing was a rental property where my friend Alison lived. When I look at this photo of Furness in his library, I wonder how that worked.


Horace Howard Furness in his library.

Everything you read about Lindenshade says it was demolished except for its library in 1940. But I am certain that when I lived in Wallingford in the early 1960s, the two-story wing you see in the foreground of the photo below still stood. And in it lived the descendents of H. H. Furness’s daughter Caroline Furness Jayne.


Jayne was an enthologist who in 1906 published the definitive work String Figures and How to Make Them: a study of cat’s cradle in many lands. It is still in print today, and just to bring us full cycle, in 2000 D.R. Meredith wrote a cozy mystery, By Hook or By Book, about a missing Jayne manuscript and a murder at a string figure conference.

The wing that still stood was at the end of a lane at the edge of a wood, and in it lived three beautiful little girls with long braids. And beyond their house, and its stables, in a wild wood, was the basement of Cornelia Furness Jayne’s old mansion, called Sub Rosa, the remains of a marble swimming pool and a bamboo forest. The woods were a magnet for children and we spent hours and hours playing there.

Sub Rosa

Sub Rosa

I cannot tell you how many times those woods, those ruins and those three little girls have appeared in my writing–short stories, novels, what have you. It is the place of my childhood imagination.

Today, Google maps shows me, H.H. Furness’s library has an addition, which makes it look like a comfortable home. The old wing where the Jayne girls lived has either been radically remodeled or torn down and rebuilt, the same for the stable. The woods are now called Furness Park. The Helen Kate Furness Library had a second addition in 1974 and goes on as the community library.

(Note: Many of the photos here and some of what I learned of the history is from the personal website of Richard Griscom.)

Posted in Barb's Posts | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Support Your Local Library

In honor of National Library Week, here’s a post we did as a group way back when MCW was young. The sentiment still holds–writers love libraries. We love our local libraries, we love the libraries we visit, and we love the librarians who converse with us through the blog, on Facebook, at mystery conferences and at gatherings we’re attending. For many of us, libraries were the temples and/or refuges of our youth and helped us keep our noses buried in books.

(And note: one lucky commenter on one of this week’s blogs will win a bag of mysteries)

Kaitlyn Dunnett: I made the mistake of making the following suggestion: how about writers and

Lea Wait, Al Lamanda and Jim Hayman at the Kennebunkport Library.

Lea Wait, Al Lamanda and Jim Hayman at the Kennebunkport Library.

libraries as a group topic? We could relate funny/good experiences, talk about some of the neat-looking buildings around the state, and maybe make a plug to “support your local library.” The immediate response to this from our resident guru (that would be Kate) was “Feel free to start that post with a story.” I immediately went blank. I can’t even count the number of Maine libraries I’ve visited, on my own or as part of a Sisters In Crime panel. There are lots of lovely memories. Unfortunately, I’m not always sure which memories go with which library. This is doubly embarrassing because Maine libraries often have unique features. Patrons have to walk across a bridge over a stream to reach the Wilton Free Public Library, which backs up against a cliff on the other side. Once or twice, it has been completely cut off by high water. I did one of my very first book signings there, way back in 1985 when my first novel, The Mystery of Hilliard’s Castle (w/a Kathy Lynn Emerson for ages 8-12 and published by Down East Books) came out. Here’s a picture taken that day, back when my hair was brown instead of gray. Another unique library is the Friend Memorial Public Library in Brooklin, Maine, a center of boat building. Those same boat builders constructed shelves that slide back out of the way to create an open space for programs. Many of our small Maine libraries sponsor reading groups as well as inviting authors to speak. I’ve met several times with the mystery readers’ group at the library in Rumford and always have a wonderful time.

The Friend Memorial Library, Brooklin, Maine

Okay, that’s a start on good thoughts about Maine libraries. What stories do the rest of you have to tell?

Lea Wait: Maine is the kind of state where you don’t tear down or throw out. You re-use. So some of my favorite libraries had former lives.  The Wiscasset Library was once headquarters of the 19th century Lincoln and Kennebec Bank;  the original vault is still in the basement. The Winslow Public Library had its start as a roller skating rink;  the center of the rink is now a wonderful oval children’s department. The Thomaston Library was once an elementary school. And, of course, too many libraries to be counted started their lives as large elegant homes.

Sarah Graves: While thinking about what to say here, I realized that my relationship with libraries large and small, public and private, is one of the longest and strongest relationships in my life. From the tiny three-rooms-above-the-fire-station in Pewaukee, Wisconsin through the wonders of government and university collections and now back to Eastport, Maine’s excellent Peavey Library, I’ve relied upon them for all kinds of things. Information, of course, and entertainment…but also for peace of mind, that sense that here is something worth having and saving for all of us, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. And for humility…because there’s nothing like the sight of the book that was the Big New Thing in 1955 to lend  perspective to whatever my little writing-tale-of-woe happens to be that day.

Paul Doiron after a book talk at the Curtis Library in Brunswick

Paul Doiron after a book talk at the Curtis Library in Brunswick

Kaitlyn: I doubt there’s room enough here to mention all the libraries that have done good things for Maine writers over the years. The public libraries in Portland and Bangor are large but writer-friendly. I still have the tee-shirt from a panel Kate Flora and I and some others did there eons ago. It says: “Solve a Mystery . . . Read.” The Maine State Library in Augusta has a collection of books by Maine authors. In addition, the librarians there are always willing to help with research. The library also offers free access to MARVEL, which provides the text of articles online. I use Mantor Library at the University of Maine at Farmington regularly for research and keep the inter-library loan staff very busy every time I start a new book. With a courtesy card from that branch, I can request books online from anywhere in the University of Maine system (URSUS) and from other libraries connected to it through MAINECAT. The little libraries are great for research, too, especially in local history and genealogy. They can all order inter-library loans.  And many of them function as mini-museums, too, with permanent exhibits of items of local historical interest. Even with budget cuts, most rural Maine libraries still manage to provide all kinds of extras to patrons, everything from computer access to photocopying services. And, of course, books.

Gerry Boyle: What would we do without libraries and librarians, the best “handsellers” in the book business? From Biddeford to Portland to Bangor and beyond, I’ve always enjoyed my visits with library patrons. But I must say my favorite is the Albert Church Brown Memorial Library in China Village. Where I live. Where I was, for many years, president of the board of trustees. Now I’m the guy who lovingly mows the library lawn.

I’ve spoken a couple of times at “my” library but I must say it always seems a bit odd. The patrons mostly know me as a neighbor and friend, somebody to chat with at the post office or the transfer station. So when I go and read from one of my books or sign books there it seems kind of pretentious. When I ask for questions, I expect somebody to say, “Gerry. Good to see you here. When are you going to return my wrench?”

That said, our village library, like others, is a mystery lovers haven. A room full of titles, new and old. I can take out a yellowed John Creasey or the newest release. I can ask Mary Grow, the librarian, what she recommends. She’ll tell me what she thinks, the feedback she’s getting, whether she thinks I’ll like it. When I finish a book, I not only return it, I give my unofficial review.

So when a reader says, “Sorry, I don’t buy your books. I get them at the library,” I don’t complain. These are places where the reading is the thing.

Barb Ross:  I’ve been to the Friend Memorial, too.  On a panel with Katherine Hall Page, Valerie Wolzien and Wiscasset’s Janet Morgan.  What a gem! My library gigs, in Maine and throughout New England have been great.  Many librarians could give many booksellers lessons in how to manage an event, in my opinion.  How’s that for a grand generalization and a controversial statement to boot?

Here I am at my first library panel in Wells, Maine with Kate Flora, Jayne Hitchcock and Anne Mosey introducing. Can it really be just eleven months ago? I was nervous and very glad to be in the capable hands of Kate Flora.

Kate Flora: Among my memorable experiences at Maine libraries I have to put a very special night at the McArthur Public Library in Biddeford, with Lea Wait and Ruth McCarty. It wasn’t just that the librarians were so kind and friendly, nor that the crowd that night (and it WAS a crowd–our Maine librarians are good at giving us an audience) was so receptive and asked such intriguing questions. It was the refreshments. I’ve posted this photograph on a number of occasions, because it is such a prize, and it has inspired many another library to do the same.

Biddeford Library serves finger cookies for a mystery event

Camden Library serves finger cookies. Who can resist this very unusual spin of the term, “finger cookies?”

And no one can say our librarians lack ingenuity and creativity. See the cake the Freeport Community Library provided for a crime story/Poe’s Birthday event. And the Camden Public Library did themselves proud with an entire buffet of mystery treats for a panel that Gerry, Jim and I did there.

Freeport Library hosts “Poe’s Birthday” with a special cake

Camden’s “Cake to Die For”

My “home” library, of course, is the Vose Library, in Union. It’s where I had my first job, helping the librarian after school. And where they’ve invited me to participate a few times in their annual “Soup and Suspense mystery event.

And of course, while the list could go on and on, since visiting Maine libraries is one of my favorite “pastimes,” I cannot end this (though I know this group will be back to the subject of libraries many times) without mentioning Carol Briggs, a serious author supporter at the Curtis Library in Brunswick, and Charlene Clemons, at the Ellsworth, Maine library, who has declared herself my biggest fan. I wonder if people realize how much such a declaration means?

Jim Hayman: For those of you who haven’t heard the brand new 3,500 square foot library opened on Swans Island on July 8th, just a couple of weeks ago.  The old island library, which had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, burned to the ground in 2008 after being struck by lightning. Here’s a shot of the fire.

Swans Island library burns to the ground.

Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (I’m on the board) is planning to contribute some of the books entered in last month’s Maine Literary Awards to the new library.  I’ve added copies of my own to the mix.  Anyone who has new books they’re willing to contribute might also consider sending them along.

 Julia Spencer-Fleming: My local library, the Salmon Falls Library, is typical of what you find in many of Maine’s rural areas. It’s reused from an older building (in this case, the first kindergarten in the Buxton/Hollis area, donated to the town by its most famous author, Kate Douglas Wiggins.) It’s open about 20 hours a week and has one paid employee, the director. (She also acts as children’s librarian, acquisitions director, programming manager, etc., etc.) The wonderful thing is, there are three other libraries serving the two towns; West Buxton, Hollis Center and Berry Memorial. Between them, area residents have the same choices and hours that library-goers in the city enjoy.

I support my library as a volunteer and  as a donor. I also recently became the President of the Friends, by virtue of being the last one to arrive at the annual meeting. Finally, I’m the Salmon Falls Library’s Writer-in-Residence, which means I get the key and can work there when the place isn’t open to the public. Since it’s the only place around with air conditioning, I’m there quite a lot in July and August!

Kaitlyn: One last comment from me. Support your local library. Volunteer. Check out old favorites from the stacks, since whether or not they are culled depends upon how recently they were read. And donate books (in good condition) that you’ve read and don’t need to keep. Even if they aren’t added to the library collection, they can help raise funds at library book sales.


Posted in Group Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Curtis Memorial Library Mystery Series

photo-75In 2007 the Friends of the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine and the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime (www.sincne.org) formed a partnership to provide a mystery writers’ series for the library’s readers. In 2010, the Friends were contacted by Kate Flora, a familiar speaker at the Curtis Memorial Library, and coordinator of the crime writing blog, Maine Crime Writers, (mainecrimewriters.com) to ask if her group could join the mystery authors partnership. As a result of these two collaborations, a very successful relationship was formed, resulting in our annual mystery series at the library.

Each year in February, the Friends contact Leslie Wheeler, the Speaker’s Bureau coordinator for sisters in Crime and Kate Flora, of the Maine Crime Writers’ group, with available dates. Leslie and Kate then find mystery authors new to the Curtis audience, or favorite authors with new books. Curtis Memorial then provides the setting and mystery readers flock to the library.

The mystery author series takes place in September and October in the Morrell Meeting Room at the library. Gulf of Maine provides the books for purchase and author signing. Bohemian Coffee House provides incredible refreshments, including, in the words of organizer Carol Briggs, “cookies to die for.”

Authors have no set formula concerning the subjects of their talks. Talks could include how to plot a story or how writers go about building their characters. Talks could include the solitary life of the writer, something about their personal lives, such as writing in pajamas, or how they do their research. The audience may ask questions during the talk or wait until the end to ask their questions, but one of the highlights will always been the time after the formal talk when readers get to chat informally with favorite authors, or meet new writers, and get their books signed.

The speakers may be familiar authors like Tess Gerritsen or Julia Spencer-Fleming, or Paul Doiron, or Paul Doiron Book Talk and Signingnewcomers in the mystery field like Barbara Ross or Vicki Doudera. With Leslie and Kate both helping to organize the events, we get to meet new Maine authors as well as writers from all over New England.

Here’s a quote from Leslie Wheeler:

The series at the Curtis is a great opportunity for NE mystery writers.  As I was looking back over old e-mails, found several from authors, who having done an event at the Curtis one year had such a good experience that they were eager to come back again.  I was so glad to have the opportunity to speak at the library myself in 2010, and meet you in person.  Everything was handled so well—a large, literate audience who asked good questions, the event filmed by a local TV station, and a generous fee—what more could an author want?  These are all things I mention when I post the opportunity on my Speakers Bureau distribution list.

Actually, Leslie was mistaken about the event being filmed by a local TV station. The evenings are filmed by Curtis Memorial librarian Paul Dostie. The video is made available to the local TV station. A copy is added to the library collection. And a copy is given to the presenting author.

paula betsy vicki carol bSince we began this series, it has become so well known in the writing community that Leslie and Kate are now approached by authors wanting to be a part of the program. It is rewarding to know that the Curtis Library, New England Sisters in Crime, and Maine Crime Writers are giving mystery authors such an appealing opportunity to spend an evening with their readers.

Kate Flora: And, we hope, an opportunity for readers to meet the diverse range of crime writers we have here in Maine and elsewhere in New England. I asked Carol Briggs, who organizes this, why the Curtis Library decided to do a mystery series?

Why mysteries? I think the fact that my area in the library is the mysteries had a lot to do with the kate carol bselection but I also think we have a large group of mystery readers who have very varied tastes. From a Sarah Graves to Steig Larssen to Robert Parker and even a Kate Flora. They know what they like and will request purchasing THEIR authors books. Of course the fact that I love mysteries is a plus all round.


The readers really love the programs. What’s not to love, they get to hear an author talk about books and writing, ask them questions, meet them afterwards, and also get an autographed copy of one of the authors books. It’s a win win for the audience and the writer.

Posted in Guest Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Library Talks

It’s going to  be one of those days for me! I couldn’t find the Login link and had to root around the site to finally find it, so I apologize for this being late as a post.

With it being Library Week, is there anything special you are doing? I don’t have anything up my sleeve yet, but do have a bunch of books I plan on dropping off at my local library as a donation, including my latest, True Crime Online (http://truecrime-online.com). I make sure I sign it – they usually place signed copies of books either up front as people walk in the door or in a prominent place.

Do you donate your books (if you are published) and sign them?

Next month I will be speaking at the Hollis, New Hampshire library about the safety of online shopping. That was their request. They have mainly seniors who come to their talks and most are online and are wary about shopping on the Internet. I will make sure to allay their fears with some simple tips, which I will share with you:

1. Try to use on credit card or a prepaid card for all your shopping online so that if the transaction does go wrong, you only have one company to deal with.

2. Make sure the shopping web site is someplace you are familiar with or that a friend recommended. If you find the item you want is on a site you are not familiar with, check to make sure they have a secure checkout procedure. This means that when you put your item in a cart (or similar method) that the web URL changes from http:// to https:// – the “s” means it’s secure. If that doesn’t happen, then get out of there and try to find a reputable site that sells the item you want.

3. Check shipping rates – sometimes you find the item you want at a great price, then find the shipping is a bit outrageous. Many sites offer free shipping over a certain dollar amount and around the Christmas holidays, free shipping is rampant for pretty much anything you want to buy.

4. Check shipping delivery times – sometimes you’ll pay for shipping and it’s sent the slowest way possible. If they don’t post shipping rates and delivery times readily, it’s time to pick another web site to shop from.

5. Take advantage of ordering something online, then having it shipped to a store location near you. You save on shipping costs, and if you are in Maine and can get to New Hampshire, taxes (shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!).

Any advice out there you can add about your online shopping experiences?

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments