The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

by Barb, stuck in Boston because she’s selling her house, but soon to be spending more time in Maine!

We hope many of you, both authors and readers, will be coming to visit us soon at Books in Boothbay at the Boothbay Railway Village on July 8, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. If you’re coming, you may be wondering, what shall I do while I’m in the Boothbay region?

We have lots of fabulous things to do. Eat lobster by the water. Take a tour boat or a kayak. One place my husband Bill Carito and I always recommend is the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. We’re members, so we go frequently. We always go when our family is visiting because our granddaughter loves the place so much. There’s a wonderful children’s garden with plenty of activities, but lots of wonderful spaces for adults, too.

Lea Wait and I both live on the peninsula (at opposite ends). Lea’s written about visiting the gardens both in summer and in winter.

The last time we were there was in mid-June. You’d think it would be a not-great time. The wonderful flowering bulbs and bushes are done, and the annual flowers not yet out, especially with the cold, wet spring we had this year. Nonetheless, we had a terrific visit.

Here are some of Bill’s photos from the day. I hope you’ll consider coming for Books in Boothbay and take time afterward to tour the garden.


Fairy houses



[All photos in this post are by Bill Carito. If you like them and want to see more, you can friend him on Facebook at and follow him on Instagram at billcarito and bill.carito.colorphotos.]


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Exploring Indolence

Kate Flora: When I told my husband Ken that my goal for the summer was to embrace

Watching the water’s shadows and reflections

indolence, he responded that he thought that was kind of a negative word. He may be right, and I would welcome suggestions from all of you for a better term. Here’s what you will be describing.

Ever since I bought my first computer and joined my fellow writers in the unpublished writer’s corner thirty-four years ago, I’ve been an obsessive writer. I like obsession. I embrace obsession. I thrive on those hours when I get to be glued to my keyboard, the words and stories flowing, my characters taking wing and sometimes misbehaving. I have loved being in story and seeing where the adventure takes me. My trust laptop has been lugged all over the world because I seem never to have been without a deadline, or a final set of edits, or something that has to be created that just can’t wait.

Well. I’m not going to stop writing, but I am going to step back from letting that laptop control my life. Just imagine how much lighter I will feel if I’m not hiking through the Czech Republic with a laptop in my backpack?


The lavender Mother’s Day rose from my son

Just like learning the discipline of writing, though, I think learning the discipline of indolence, or getting into the zen of gardening, or taking the time to watch the clouds, or simply sitting and inhaling the magic of Harpswell sunsets, will be a challenge. I get this restless feeling when I’m not working. When I’m trying to beat back the goutweed that is devouring a flower bed, I find that I am making lists of what I need to do in the writing world. I will be admiring the clear spot that I’ve finally carved from a wilderness of weeds, and suddenly I will be thinking: No. Wait. That interview is still too short. Something else needs to come out in it which will connect to something a character said earlier. I will be wondering: Where, exactly, has Heidi gone, and is she safe or is she in danger? And when we will finally find a body–this is a murder mystery, after all.

Okay. So achieving indolence will not be easy. I can loll about, reading a novel, from perhaps half an hour before I start making a list of chores to be done and get snapped back that elusive plot again.

But it is a start.

I’ve long said that writers need to pay attention to the world that surrounds us so that we

Watching clouds above Lake Lucerne

can refill the well of character, setting, and detail. I know that the creative soul needs nourishment, not just steady work and endless applications of seat to seat. So maybe, despite the pleasure with which I announce my new dedication to indolence, I am lying to myself, and to you. Maybe this, too, is part of the writer’s work.

What do you think?

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Maine Crime Writers share what we’re reading

A man called Dave, a dog named Reny, and a book by Kate

It’s summertime, and that means reading. Even those of us who are in writer’s jail are finding time to pick up a book, and what a wide variety of things we’re reading. Here’s a sample:

Kate Flora: I’m reading Michael Lewis’s The Undoing Project, the fascinating story of Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky and their research into the psychology of decision-making. That’s on my kindle. Usually, I have at least three books going at once, so I’m also reading Bobbie Ann Mason’s The Girl in the Blue Beret, because we were in Normandy just before the D-Day commemorations, and so I’m reading World War II novels. I started Frederik Bachman’s Beartown, but have temporarily paused because it is not nearly so light-hearted and charming as A Man Called Ove or his other two books that I’ve read. I’ll probably go back and finish because I love his storytelling.

Lea Wait: In the past couple of months I’ve main being reading for research .. .but then took some binge time to read books I just enjoyed, and which weren’t set in New England! I’ve read several of Ed Ifkovic’s historical mysteries centered around the life of Edna Ferber, a fascinating writer I didn’t know nearly enough about.  Most recently – OLD NEWS, set in Chicago in 1923 about the secrets hidden in an immigrant Jewish community. Excellent! I also caught up with Margaret Maron’s DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS – every one of her mysteries is a treat, and takes me into southern culture. Right now I’m reading Sarah Maine’s THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES, a multi-generation gothic mystery set in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Reading is my way of traveling ….

Dick Cass: Joan Didion   South and West (notebooks)

Howard Frank Mosher   On Kingdom Mountain

(“All the best stories are about love,” says Jane Hubbell Kinneson.)

Dana Stabenow Less Than A Treason

Very cooling . . .

John Clark:
I just started reading Transcendent by Katelyn Detweiler, Viking, 2016. ISBN: 9780451469632  I’m 119 pages in after about an hour and a half. Imagine you’re a high school junior and not long after American terrorists bomb Disney World, killing more than 10,000, you discover that your birth wasn’t exactly normal and lots of people believe you might be the salvation to a world gone to hell.

I got it from another book swapper on Paperbackswap (one of six like new YA books from the same person). If I’m this far, this fast in a book, I’m pretty sure it’s a winner.

Bruce Robert Coffin: Currently reading Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and Gone Girl by Gilliam Flynn.

Maureen Milliken: I am in the midst of reading 75 self-published books as a judge for the Writers Digest Self-Published Contest. I have an August 1 deadline so they take up most of my reading time. I don’t like to read mystery and crime fiction — my favorite genre — while I’m in the middle of writing, so for my break from the self-pubs, I have Joseph Wambaugh’s The Fire Lover, waiting. I CAN read true crime, my second-favorite genre while I’m writing, and I can’t wait to get to it.

Joseph Souza: NOBODY’S FOOL by Richard Russo. An old classic by a fellow Mainer.

BEARTOWN by Fredrick Backman. A sad hockey story set in the woods of Sweden.

THE GOOD GIRL by Mary Kubica. So-so thriller.

Barbara Ross: William Kent Krueger, Trickster’s Point. I started reading Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series last year when he was the Guest of Honor at the New England Crime Bake. I’m almost current.

Kathy Lynn Emerson: I’m alternating between reading a new cozy, Bad Housekeeping by Maia Chance and rereading one of Dorothy’s Ellie Haskell mysteries, The Trouble With Harriet, both on my iPad.

Vaughn C. Hardacker: I’m currently working my way through the first ten volumes of W. E. B. Griffin’s The Corps series.

Just received Paul Doiron’s KNIFE  CREEK. Looks like I’ll be taking an brief interlude away from W. E. B. Griffin.

Jen Blood: I’m just finishing up Death Dealer by our own Kate Flora, actually! Absolutely loving it, and can’t believe I haven’t read it sooner. I’m also reading A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die by Edith Maxwell – which I highly recommend if you need a break from Dark and Dire mysteries. It’s the first of her Local Foods cozy mysteries, and really is a great read.

And, finally, I’m listening to Sara Driscoll’s Lone Wolf, an FBI K-9 Novel – which is definitely Dark and Dire, but completely addictive and very well researched.


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Weekend Update: June 24-25, 2017

Next week at Maine Crime Writers, there will be a group post about what we’re reading (Monday), Kate Flora  (Tuesday), Barb Ross (Wednesday), John Clark (Thursday), and Maureen Milliken (Friday).

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

Summer in coming, and you’ll find us at libraries and bookstores all over the state. You will also find some of us at Books In Boothbay, on Saturday, July 8th, which is a book fair too much fun to miss, and at the By the Sea Book Festival in Lincolnville on July 22nd.

Don’t miss our end of the month group post, taking off on the Maine tourism motto: Find Your Maine Thing, where we share some of ours. And please add your own special places and things.

And here’s something to look forward to:

The Mystery in Gerritsen’s Garden

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

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A Photo Journey of the Beasties Who Walk Among Us

I’ll be honest… It’s been a rough month. My pup Killian, who shared my world from the moment he took his first breath back in December of 2006, passed away in May. There have been many, many tears since that time. Between that, trying to finish the latest book, and waiting on word for a house we may or may not be purchasing in Phippsburg (more on that next month – maybe), I’ve been more than a little bit distracted lately.

As a result, all the pieces I started to write for the blog this month just ended up scattered and just not that interesting. While I was looking for inspiration (aka killing time), I started looking through the photos on my phone. Gradually, a theme began to emerge. I know it’s not about crime. Some of the photos don’t even come from Maine. But frankly, with the amount of chaos in the world today, I could use a break from dark thoughts. So, this month I bring you a pictorial journey of a few of the animals who’ve made their way to my phone over the past year or so. I hope you enjoy!

Ben’s cousins live in Springfield, Vermont, so we usually make at least a little time for the Springfield Humane Society while we’re visiting. We took this sweet girl for a walk and had a rousing game of fetch while we were there. What a face!

While visiting Chicago this winter, Ben and I made the rounds to whatever animal-centric locale we could find. The Orphans of the Storm Shelter was a highlight to say the very least. Their cat rooms had been renovated recently, and were phenomenal. You can’t see it in this photo, but on either end of this massive room were whole sections of dog beds where the cats could snooze in the sunshine together. It was awesome!

This gorgeous girl is Jenga, a Dutch shepherd with Maine Search and Rescue Dogs (MESARD). Jenga’s handler, Chad Carleton, and fellow MESARD handler Michele Fleury very kindly let me tag along during a training session in Dresden, and I snagged this photo in a rare down moment. I was first introduced to the breed while training with the Maine Warden Service K-9 unit a few days before up in Montville, when Corporal Michelle Merrifield and her Dutch shepherd Piper showed me the ropes.


Meet Kia… The dog who made me love my car dealer. I bought my Honda Element from Robert’s Auto in Bowdoinham in October of 2016, and have faithfully brought the beast (which I love, incidentally) in for tune-ups whenever needed — partly because Kia makes the whole thing such a pleasure.

Last spring, I took care of my nieces Maya (left) and Maggie (right) for a weekend in April. One of the things we did to fill our days was head out to Kid Hugging Day in Appleton – where we stopped and hugged some kid goats at Appleton Creamery, and pet some super sweet water buffalo calves at Maine Water Buffalo. Definitely a memorable day.

This handsome guy is head peacock at Appleton Creamery, where the nieces and I hugged kids and sampled goat cheese in April, 2016.

A less-happy shot, of one of the dogs from Orphans of the Storm Animal Shelter in Chicago. This sweet girl was being fostered but needed to come back to the shelter for some reason… Her face says it all. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to bring her home with us.

The saintly Princess Serena, Ben’s cousins’ puppy. There’s an ongoing debate as to what breed Serena actually is – they were originally told part poodle, part Rottweiler. I believe the most recent theory is that there is some Rottie in there, but also some schnauzer…? Either way, she’s got a ton of personality, and is far too smart for her own good. Definitely a welcome addition to the family.

My lovely Ben, having a heart-to-heart with the goats of Sunflower Creamery in Cumberland.

Turtles! This shot was taken out on the pond in Cushing, where my mom lives. I love, love, love kayaking out and counting the little turtle heads as they pop up in the water. This weathered tree stump is the favorite hangout of turtles in the know.

And, finally… A parting shot of my beloved Killy. This was taken a couple of years ago, when he was at the vet waiting for a checkup. As shy as he was, I was always amazed at how well he did at these visits. I would love to say it was because he was naturally so well behaved, but I believe the endless supply of treats was the real motivator.

And that does it for this month’s blog post. If you’re so inclined, I would love it if you’d share your favorite animal-related photo from your own phone — or camera, for that matter — in the comments below. Those fuzzy faces never fail to bring a smile to my face! Oh, and if you’d like to see more of these types of photos from me, you can follow me on Instagram, where pretty much my favorite pastime is taking random photos of dogs, cats, bunnies, and birds.

Jen Blood is author of the USA Today-bestselling Erin Solomon Mysteries and Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries. To learn more, visit

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