What “Everyone Knows” About Authors …. But Isn’t True

Yes — this is Lea Wait, and this is a “golden oldie” blog post. I first wrote it several years ago, but over the years many readers (and other writers) have commented on it, and I decided that it was time to revisit the subject, with a few additions this time around.

So …

  • All authors are rich.Lea on Wiscasset town pier
  • Authors get as many copies of their published books as they want, free, from their publishers. Just ask them — they’ll give you one. If they don’t give you one, they’re not really your friend. (They’d also love to give copies of their books to any charity that asks. The more giveaways the more readers! And all authors want are readers, right?)
  • Authors get their ideas from a) their dreams; b) the lives of their friends and relatives; c) their characters, who come to them in visions; d) the daily news; and d) complete plots handed to them by strangers. They’d love to hear your ideas for their next book!
  • Authors have a lot of spare time. All they have to do is write down those stories people tell them. So any author would love to a) watch your children; b) walk your dog; c) serve on your organization’s board; or d) organize a benefit for your worthy cause and call all his or her writer friends to come and support it. (Remember: they’re all rich!)
  • Authors do very little editing. That unpleasant chore is delegated to their agents and editors. After all, editing squelches the joy of personal expression.

    Author's Assistant & Muse

    Author’s Assistant & Muse

  • Authors have staffs to take care of their scheduling and itineraries, book their tours, answer fan letters, design and update their websites, post on social media, write blogs, keep their mailing lists up-to-date, and do research for their next books. (Many also have personal trainers, chefs, and people to clean their houses, wash their clothes, run their errands, and take care of any garden or yard work necessary.) All authors have to do is write, and sometimes read speeches written for them. Their publishers, agents, and personal staff take care of the rest.
  • An author may get some rejections at first, but after his first book is published anything he or she writes will be published.
  • Authors always choose the titles of their books, design the covers, decide what format their books will be published in, and set their prices. If you don’t like any of those things, be sure to tell him or her.DSC02321
  • Authors spend a lot of time flying around the country, staying in fancy hotels, being wined and dined, talking with Oprah, and signing their books. The publisher pays for this, of course. If an author is NOT doing this, it’s because he or she has chosen not to.
  • Not all authors smoke, the way they used to, but most of them still drink pretty heavily.  Alcohol fuels their creativity. They also drink because they’re lonely, sitting in front of their computers all the time. Do your author friend a favor by dropping in unexpectedly several times a week to
    Lea's book about an author's life

    Lea’s book about an author’s life

    cheer him up. (And bring wine.)

  • No matter what they say, authors really are their major characters.
  • Therefore, of course, romance writers have hot sex lives, picture book writers think like preschoolers, mystery writers want to kill people, and science fiction writers want to blow up the planet. Authors who write about vampires .. well .. you can guess. College professors write literary fiction for other college professors to analyze.
  • Authors will be really pleased if you tell them you loved their book so much you loaned your copy to twenty of your best friends. They’ll be even more pleased if you tell them that, to save trees and money, you bought it used to begin with.
  • Now that authors can self-publish, only old-fashioned writers work with agents and traditional publishers. They can make a lot more money putting their book up on Kindle or Nook themselves. If your author friend doesn’t know this, do him a favor by telling him.
Lea Wait writes the Shadows Antique Print series and the Mainely Needlepoint series, as well as historical novels set in nineteenth century Maine. She keeps a bottle of champagne in her refrigerator in case there is something to celebrate, and loves eating seafood of all types (except shark) and listening to the voices in her head. She invites you to friend her on Facebook and Goodreads.
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Dead Zones, Cell Phones, and the Strange Perceptions of “Folks From Away”

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. I have a new Liss MacCrimmon mystery coming out at the end of July. In fact, at the end of this post, you’ll see how you can win an advance reading copy even before that. But first, there’s this blog, the result of a pretty good review in Publisher’s Weekly that contained one very strange caveat. Here’s the entire review of Kilt at the Highland Games:

HIGHLANDGAMESCOVER“The Highland Games come to tiny Moosetookalook, Maine, in Dunnett’s enchanting 10th Liss MacCrimmon mystery (after 2015’s The Scottie Barked at Midnight). Despite the influx of trade and tourists, Liss still finds time to do some sleuthing, including finding the dead body of Jason Graye, Moosetookalook’s most despised town selectman and a shady realtor. Suspects abound, and the police are swamped between providing extra coverage for the games, searching for missing persons, investigating Graye’s murder, and looking into a break-in at the post office. Could all these events somehow be connected? Liss enlists the aid of a PI friend to get to the bottom of things, but it’s Liss who ends up facing off with a crazed killer, who’s ready to take out more victims. An implausible lack of cell phone usage undercuts credibility, but otherwise this is an enjoyable cozy from start to finish.”

The funny thing is, there are probably more references to using cell phones in this entry in the series than in most of the previous ones. Liss and Dan use a cell phone to call the chief of police’s cell phone to report the murder. Later, when Liss is rushing toward a dangerous situation, she uses her cell to contact both the police and Jake Murch, her friend the private investigator. You’d better believe she wants backup! There are also references to cell phones in use by a couple of teenagers, one of whom has a “stupid phone” rather than a smart phone because he’s saving every penny he earns for college. And the “missing person” referred to also uses a cell phone of the throwaway type, to avoid being found. I’m really not sure how much more cell phone usage there could have been, especially in rural Maine.

my personal "dead zone"

my personal “dead zone”

Why is rural Maine less likely to rely on cell phones than other places? Ever hear of a “dead zone” where you just can’t get a signal? We’re in one here at my house. No way are we ever going to be able to give up our land line. Cell service is iffy in many areas of Maine, some of them much closer to cities than we are.

hikerremainsI spent a few days earlier this month on Bailey Island, where I was warned not to rely on being able to get a signal. Hikers at this end of the Appalachian Trail receive a similar warning, and ignore it at their peril. Those who make the mistake of thinking they can call for help on a cell phone if they are injured or lost while out in the wilderness are in for a rude awakening. Hikers, climbers, and even skiers have learned this the hard way. A few end up losing their lives as a result of this miscalculation.

cell_phone_oldI do have a cell phone. Like one of those in the novel, it’s a “stupid phone” that has no bells and whistles. I keep it charged and carry it in my purse for emergencies. It costs me under $15 a month. It’s so old that it flips open and has an antenna. It would be no use at all if I needed help in a “dead zone” but when I got a flat tire on the Maine Turnpike on my way home from New England Crime Bake one year, I used it to call AAA and my husband.

As usual, I’m old fashioned and behind the times. Lots of Mainers do have cell phones and use them for all the things folks from away do—texting, checking social media, looking things up at IMDb. Sometimes they even use them to make or take phone calls. I see shoppers in the local Hannaford with phones to their ears, no doubt checking to see if there’s anything else they need to pick up for supper. I see a good many damn fools using cell phones while driving. But they are not everywhere, and not everybody owns one, or even wants one.


I’ve been rambling on the subject of cell phones for some 800 words now, and I don’t know if I’ve said anything particularly significant, but I’d love to hear what those of you reading this think of the whole issue of cell phones and, in particular, whether you would find a mystery novel less believable simply because there isn’t a lot of cell phone usage mentioned in it.

Leave your comment on this subject below and you will automatically be entered in a drawing to receive an advance reading copy of Kilt at the Highland Games. I’ll wait till the end of the month to draw a name, so if you’re reading this up to eight days after it’s posted, you still have a chance to win.


Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of over fifty books written under several names. She won the Agatha Award for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category for “The Blessing Witch.” Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Kilt at the Highland Games ~ July 2016) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in the Merchant’s Hall) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” series and is set in Elizabethan England. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com



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Giveaway- Whispers Beyond the Veil

WhispersBeyond_FixJessie: Delighted to be breathing the salty air on the coast of Maine.

Several years ago my family started spending summers in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Almost immediately, I thought of an idea for The Change of Fortune mysteries series set there in 1898, the year the original pier opened.  One thing led to another and before long the book sold.

I just loved working on this book and writing about life in such a magical place at such an exciting time. I also adore the cover pictured at left. Here’s the publisher’s description of the story:

First in a dazzling new historical mystery series featuring Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a questionable past who suddenly finds her future most uncertain…

Canada, 1898. The only life Ruby Proulx has ever known is that of a nomad, traveling across the country with her snake-oil salesman father. She dreams of taking root somewhere, someday, but, until she can, she makes her way by reading tarot cards. Yet she never imagined her own life would take such a turn…
After one of her father’s medical “miracles” goes deadly wrong, Ruby evades authorities by hiding in the seaside resort town of Old Orchard, Maine, where her estranged aunt, Honoria, owns the Hotel Belden, a unique residence that caters to Spiritualists—a place where Ruby should be safe as long as she can keep her dark secret hidden.
But Ruby’s plan begins to crumble after a psychic investigator checks into the hotel and senses Ruby is hiding more than she’s letting on. Now Ruby must do what she can to escape both his attention and Aunt Honoria’s insistence that she has a true gift, before she loses her precious new home and family forever…

The book won’t be available until September 6, 2016 but I have just received a box of advance reading copies and would love to celebrate their arrival by giving away one of them to a commenter.  So, share a memory in the comments below about Old Orchard Beach, a visit to Maine or something you love about history and you’ll be entered into the drawing for a copy. Good luck!


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A Write of Passage

On a mild clear day in April I mowed my lawn for the first time this season. As I suspect it is for others, this is always a day I look forward to. An annual marker as profound as New Year’s Day, a birthday, or an anniversary. A major event signaling that winter has finally passed, mercifully releasing us from her frigid grasp.image

Now don’t get me wrong, mowing is a bit of a chore, especially with the three acres of grass I have to mow, and by season’s end I’ll be over it. But at this early moment in the spring, following another daylight-shortened, snowy Maine winter, I relish the task and the chance to circle the lawn while my mind wanders freely and the sun warms my face.

For me, mowing the lawn is always a bit of a trip down memory lane to seasons past. Returning are sights and smells, nearly forgotten, once buried beneath January’s blanket. I spy a red breasted robin bobbing along, monitoring my progress and stopping occasionally to unearth a tasty treat. Swallows and finches dart back and forth between the trees like excited shoppers scouting new locations for homes. And a wary band of turkeys watch my progress with interest from a nearby field, their necks swiveling like periscopes above the undergrowth.

Budding birches, maples, and oaks portend the coming of summer’s green. While carried upon a cool nearly imperceptible breeze are the scents of freshly cut grass, lake water, and the earthy decomposition of last year’s fallen leaves.

Years of country living have taught me to abandoned my fruitless attempts at preventing nature’s botanical interlopers from inhabiting my lawn. Inevitably, the coming months will signal the arrival of all manner of color and aromas. Wild strawberries will come creeping, filling the air with their sweet smell. My lawn will be spotted white with clumps of flowering clover, the lavender of violets, the orange and yellows of the Indian Paintbrush, and a bounty of dandelions. And as the infamous yellow blossoms turn, becoming no more than seed balls on a stem, I’ll mow through them amidst a blizzard of white fluff.

I’m constantly on the hunt for the occasional rogue thistle, too. A weed infamous for wreaking havoc on bare feet, in spite of those glorious purple blossoms. Ever vigilant, I’ll do battle, refusing to allow this spiny guy safe passage.

But there’s so much more to this seemingly mindless chore than simply manicuring blades of grass. There’s a symbolism to the act. This first mowing signals the coming of cookouts, family gatherings, and bocce. Leisurely afternoons spent lounging outside with a tall frosty, as clouds pass overhead and Joe Castiglione transports me down to Fenway Park. Evenings on the deck as brilliant crimson sunsets transform into night and fireflies appear above the field, flickering like wandering stars.

As I turn a corner, overlapping my previous row, it occurs to me how very similar tending the lawn is to the act of writing a novel. Editing the first draft is akin to cutting the grass. There may be thin spots in need of watering or a sprinkle of seed to thicken, or a few thistles to remove. Alternating shades of green reflect the directional pass of the blades like the continuous thread of a well told tale. Wild and unkempt at the start, becoming an unbroken expanse of something special once finished. Which reminds me, I’ve got another book to write.

Happy mowing!

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Weekend Update: June 18-19, 2016

fallsbooks1Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Bruce Coffin (Monday), Jessie Crockett (Tuesday), Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett (Wednesday), Lea Wait (Thursday), and John Clark (Friday).

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

NNBNfinalcoverMaureen Milliken is thrilled to announce No News is Bad News, the second in the Bernie O’Dea mystery series, will be released June 28. She’ll have copies available to sell and sign, along with the first in the series, Cold Hard News, at the Belgrade Lakes Fourth of July extravaganza, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 78 Main St. (right next to the gyro stand!), in Belgrade Lakes village.

Vaughn Hardacker and Kate Flora also plan to be on hand at the Meet the Maine Crime Writers tent, so come on up and say hi!

Go to maureenmilliken.com for details and other events.

Kate Flora, with Roger Guay and a clever canine named Saba will be at the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor on Thursday the 23rd. Hope you will stop in to hear this fabulous storyteller share his adventures with the warden service, and what’s really involved in the lives of Maine’s off-road traffic cops, wildlife enforcers, and search and rescue champions.

Kate Flora, Roger Guay, and Saba

Kate Flora, Roger Guay, and Saba







Kate, Lea Wait, Kaitlyn Dunnett, and Barb Ross spent a lovely three nights and four days at a writing retreat on Bailey Island. Everyone was productive and happy. Look for lots of great books in 2017!



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, book group, 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: mail to: kateflora@gmail.com

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