Weekend Update: August 20-21, 2016

fallsbooks1Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Maureen Milliken (Monday), Barb Ross (Tuesday), Jessie Crockett (Wednesday), Dick Cass (Thursday), and Lea Wait (Friday).

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

Today, Saturday August 20, Lea Wait will be signing at the Arts and Yachts festival at Hodgdon Yachts Services, 100 Ebencook Road in Southport, Maine, from 10am until 6 p.m. She will also be there tomorrow, Sunday, from 3 until 4 p.m.

Saturday, August 27, Lea Wait, Maureen Milliken and Jen Blood will be signing at the Designing Women Art and Crafts Show at Longfellows Greenhouse, Puddledock Road in Manchester, Maine, from 9:30 until 4 p.m. (This event is a benefit for the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center in Winthrop, Maine.)

Bruce Robert Coffin will be appearing on two different morning radio shows, discussing his debut novel, Among the Shadows. On Wednesday August 24th, from about 9 to 10, he’ll be in studio on News Talk 1270 WTSN, Dover, New Hampshire with Mike Violette. Thursday morning, around 8:40, he’ll be chatting with Ken and Matt on Newsradio WGAN, AM 560 or FM 105.5. Tune in and listen!

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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Of Cats, Hats, and Headshots

headshot1Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, today writing about publicity photos. Like actors, writers pretty much have to have them. If you’re a big, bestselling author, your publisher will send a professional photographer to your house for a photo shoot. The rest of us are left to provide our own headshots.

The idea to blog on this subject came from a discussion on a Facebook group I belong to called “People Who Come From Liberty, New York.” Fifty or more years ago, the stores in downtown Liberty, a small town in the Sullivan County Catskills (aka “The Borscht Belt”) had other businesses above them. Someone posted a photo showing the word “Tailor” in an upper window, and that reminded me of a long ago trip with my mother to buy a hat from a milliner in a similar upstairs business. I posted a comment, asking if anyone remembered where that shop was and got an immediate answer. Turns out it belonged to the mother and aunt of a classmate of mine. Small world, right.

Where, you’re asking, is this digression going? It’s going to one of the first photos of me ever to appear on a book jacket. When the first book featuring my sixteenth-century detective, Susanna Appleton, was about to come out from St. Martin’s Press, I paid a visit to our local Glamour Shots. For those unfamiliar with this chain, which sadly no longer has any branches in Maine, they provide everything—costumes, hair styling, and makeup as well as portraits in color or black and white. At the time, author photos in color were still a rarity on book jackets. Anyway, among the items in the extensive wardrobe was a hat. I’ve always loved hats. I wish they’d come back into fashion. And the clincher was that, at that time, activities at Malice Domestic featured a hat contest at the closing tea. What better way, I thought, to present myself as an author of traditional mysteries than to have my picture taken in the kind of hat one might wear to tea? So—me in hat.


You may notice that I am totally unrecognizable in the hat and without my glasses. That, too can be a plus. I’m not always sure I want to be recognized. To tell you the truth, I don’t particularly like having my picture on my book jackets. When I started looking for them, I realized that there were only four times that I actually had to put my face out there along with my prose. The first was on a YA biography of nineteenth-century reporter, Nellie Bly, Making Headlines (1989). That’s the one at the top of this post. The second was the hat picture, for Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie and Face Down Upon an Herbal. For #3-7 in the series, I substituted a photo from a second trip to Glamour Shots, one without a hat. At that time, I was also writing category romance for Bantam’s Loveswept line and they wanted my photo in the books. The first one below went with my contemporary romance novels. The second was the new one for my historical mysteries.



The fourth and, as of this writing, last time a publisher included my picture with the text was when I wrote three more Face Down books for Perseverance Press, and then my nonfiction How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries. For the novels, they used what came to be known as the “nun in the woods” shot and for the how-to, we went with another Glamour Shots photo taken at the same time as the last one.


Since then, no one has insisted on a photo for a book jacket, but I’ve still had to come up with pictures of myself to use to publicize library appearances and the like and—one of the highlights of my writing career—to advertise the fact that I was Guest of Honor at Malice Domestic. That was when I had the photo I currently use taken. By that point, I no longer wanted glamour, or to be hard to recognize. I wanted to look like myself, slightly crooked teeth, double chins, glasses and all, so it was my husband who took pictures. Lots of pictures. We ended up with several good ones. I currently use two of them for publicity.


Kaitlyn Dunnett (298x400)

Remember the title of this blog? Lots of authors have their pictures taken with their cats. I’d love to do that. As a goal, it was right up there with a photo in a hat. Unfortunately, there’s a problem—our cats are more photogenic than I am. They come out looking great. I look like something that, well, the cat dragged in!

headshot with cat

So, what do you like to see as readers? Do you care what writers look like? Do you expect headshots on book jackets? Does seeing a photo of the writer have any effect, positive or negative, on your enjoyment of the book? Inquiring minds want to know.


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) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse ~ UK in December 2016; US in April 2017) 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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In Your Opinion . . .

Kate Flora here, filling in for Dorothy Cannell. For those of you who are regulars, you MCWPoster2016(3)know that this blog is an eclectic mix of writing, author news, exploring our various parts of Maine, food, fun, and whatever else we encounter while we’re at our desks and when we’re allowed to leave them.

Something you must know, if you follow is, is that we’re very interested in you–our readers–and the conversations you start, the comments you make, the questions you ask, and the stories you add to our own.

So today, on behalf of all the writers who blog here, I’m asking the curious question: What do you like to see on this blog? Are we creating the right mix? Are there things about writing or the writer’s life that you wonder about? Are there topics you think we’re neglecting?

If you were the blog runner for a day, what subjects would you throw out to the group to see how everyone would answer?

If you were our guest blogger, what would you like to write about? Did you know that we love guests on our blog? We like to introduce readers to new writers, new books by favorite writers, and to all things “Maine” that we discover along the way, and we would like to share yours.

Do you have a favorite restaurant? A favorite Maine place that you are willing to share?

It is fascinating, for many of us, to hear the questions you ask when we’re doing a book talk. What do you wonder about as you’re reading a mystery? Are there questions about the process you’d like to ask but haven’t? Do you wonder about how we handle series characters and have opinions about those characters yourself?

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 3.17.14 PMDid you know that we sometimes give away bags of books and Maine goodies? We’re doing that during the month of August, and you can’t be one of our lucky winners unless you leave a comment. This is your chance. So share your opinions.

And if you happen to be near Carmel tonight, come to the Golden Harvest Grange at 6, going me and Lea Wait, and Dorothy Cannel, and answer these questions in person. It’s going to be an evening of Death and Desserts, so most likely there will also be chocolate.

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The Busy Season

Ah, summer in Maine. That magical time of year when the turnpike’s clogged from Friday to Sunday, your favorite haunts are choked with tourists, and your friends who live in warmer climes suddenly realize how much they miss you.

I’m not complaining. The weather’s (mostly) been lovely, and (as my last post indicates) I’m more than happy to play tour guide from time to time. But thanks to my publishing schedule, this summer has been doubly busy for me.

THE KILLING KIND came out in paperback on August 2nd. It’s got a snazzy new cover, chock full of lovely blurbs. NPR called it “Relentless and breathtaking.” The New York Times insisted “Read it. Or else.” And my mom said “I liked your old series better.” (There’s a chance that last one didn’t make the cover.) Anyway, if you’ve been waiting to pick up a copy,  now’s the time. Hit up your local bookseller or order via the links on this page.

On August 9th, Mulholland Books released an e-only prequel to THE KILLING KIND, “The Approach.” It’s lean, funny, and thrilling, and—at the rock bottom price of $0.99 for any e-format—it makes for a great introduction to the Michael Hendricks series. And as an added bonus, it also includes a sneak peek at my second Michael Hendricks novel, RED RIGHT HAND! Click here to learn more or for links to buy.

RED RIGHT HANDRRH doesn’t come out until September 13th, but reviews are already coming in. Booklist said it “brims with nice turns on genre conventions.” Kirkus declared it “Fast-moving… entertaining… A good choice for thriller fans.” And, in a starred review, Publishers Weekly called RED RIGHT HAND “Explosive and timely,” going on to say “Holm expertly balances weighty issues of national security with more intimate personal losses, and makes it clear that the best stories happen in the gray area between good and evil.” (No word on what my mom thinks yet.) If you’re interested in learning more about RED RIGHT HAND (or, you know, preordering it) you can do so here.

As busy as this summer’s been, an impending book release means autumn isn’t looking any quieter. I’ve got loads of events coming up, in Maine and elsewhere. If you want to get a book signed or simply say hello, here’s where you’ll find me:

09/15/16 to 09/18/16
New Orleans, Louisiana

Raymond Village Library
Raymond, Maine

09/30/16 to 10/1/16
Murder by the Book
Jesup Library
Bar Harbor, Maine

Vose Library
Union, Maine

Curtis Memorial Library
Brunswick, Maine

Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Keep an eye on my website for details (times, panel information, etc.) and additional appearances; I’m adding new ones all the time. (If you’re a bookseller or librarian and you’d like to schedule an event with me, feel free to drop me a line via the email address in my sidebar.)

Whew! Just typing all that tired me out. Or maybe the heat’s to blame (I’m writing this on Sunday, and it’s pretty sultry in Portland). I wonder when I’m gonna find time to write the next book. I guess that’s what the winter months are for.


Chris Holm is the author of the Collector trilogy, which blends crime and fantasy, and the Michael Hendricks thrillers. His first Hendricks novel, THE KILLING KIND, was nominated for an Anthony, a Barry, a Lefty, and a Macavity Award and named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe Best Book of 2015, and Strand Magazine’s #1 Book of 2015. Hendricks returns September 13th in RED RIGHT HAND. Chris lives in Portland, Maine.

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How to Raise the Perfect Child, Or At Least Lie About It: Preparing for Parenthood

Brendan Rielly: As we prepare to deliver our two oldest back to college and as our youngest enters her junior year in high school, I think often about how Erica and I prepared to become parents in the first place.  This post is taken from a tongue-in-cheek guide to parenting I’ve written called How to Raise the Perfect Child, Or At Least Lie About It.

To prepare yourself for parenthood, you should seek out other parents who have young children. And criticize them. Whatever you do, don’t ask for advice. Criticize them. What do you mean you’re not playing Bach for your baby? I can’t believe your baby food’s not organic. You just have to be firm at bed time, that’s all. Breast-fed children are smarter, but if you don’t want to, I guess that’s your choice. Disposable diapers…don’t you care about the environment?

Have a ball! It’s the last time you’ll have all the answers. Or, you could spend the next nine months whacking yourself on the forehead with a hammer, yelling: “Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!” Soon, your head will go numb, you’ll forget everything you ever knew, and you’ll spend your days walking around in a daze. Boom. Parenthood.

Next, you’ll want to give someone a key to your house and pay them to sneak into your bedroom every two hours and scream in your face. This is important. Points are awarded for how far you jump out of bed and whether you land on your feet, or your face. Points are deducted if you punch the screamer in the face. Parents get arrested for that sort of thing.

After the long jump, you cannot go back to bed. Instead you must take turns heating bottles of milk and squirting them onto each other’s arm. Whoever scalds the other first, loses.

Next, you must carry a bag of compost around for an hour, singing the same song. No variations are permitted. Then, you can go back to bed. Ten minutes later, the screamer will return.

You’re not ready yet. You’re probably two of those people that enjoy stimulating conversations and romantic dinners by candlelight. In other words, you’re not yet parents.

To prepare for parenthood, from now on, every conversation must revolve solely around your child. If it doesn’t, walk away. You must work the word “poo” into every conversation at least once. Never look at the person with whom you’re speaking. Jerk your head around spasmodically like a turkey the day before Thanksgiving. Mutter to yourself frequently.
Encourage half of your coworkers to crawl between your legs whenever you speak to them. When you ask them to stop, have them drop to the floor, kick their feet and scream “No!” Encourage the other half to ignore everything you say until you repeat yourself at least three times, then they are permitted only to respond: “Why?”

Throw away your books, newspapers, magazines and movies. Replace them with books that you rub, scratch, yank, or sniff, and with movies about talking animals that LOVE you and have discovered forty-three verses to Row, Row, Row Your Boat that you never knew existed. Begin every sentence with “You know, this morning on Sesame Street….” Hum the theme song to Barney at work. Loudly.

Having rendered yourself unfit for human conversation, you must now train for the stuff-your-face sprint. Time yourselves while eating. First one done wins. Choking costs points. You’re ready when you can inhale any meal in three minutes or less. You will use the remaining time to take turns spitting baby food in each other’s faces. Points are awarded for adhesion, accuracy, and complementary colors.

Don’t quit now. There is more to learn, little cricket. Spill milk on your suits and let them sit in the sun for a week before wearing. Pour milk on your couch and place it next to your suits. The remotes belong in the oven and your watch goes in the toilet. Install new latches so you can’t open the fridge, oven, or any cabinets and put plastic covers on all doorknobs. You’ll eventually end up locked in the bathroom, furiously spinning the cover around and around. Enjoy it. This is a good time to practice muttering to yourself.

When you do get the bathroom door open, invite all your neighbors to join you. Never go to the bathroom alone. From now on, this is performance art.

Pack every suitcase you own and carry them with you wherever you go while also holding an alley cat hopped up on amphetamines. Purchase all the graham crackers in your store, pour milk on them, and spread the goop across all surfaces in your minivan. It will form a protective barrier between your vehicle and its inhabitants. Generations from now, archaeologists will be able to tell how old your van is by the number of layers. By the way, if you are still driving anything sporty—and by sporty, I mean non-minivanish—drive immediately down to the nearest minivan dealer and sign over all your salary for the next few years. You must have the latest minivan with multiple climate controls and more monitors than NASA, or you will be bad parents.

Some final, but essential, points. Call random doctors at three in the morning and complain that your child looks funny. When they hang up, call back. Tell them she smells funny too. Anytime that you are in a large group, announce that you have to go peepee and run from the room holding yourself. Sniff random people’s bottoms and announce “We have a winner!”

So, as you lay on the bathroom floor exhausted, trapped, famished, ripe, with a constant throbbing in your forehead, know this: you have fooled yourself into thinking you’re ready for parenthood.

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