Memories of Traveling, Redux

For me, New England’s long winter months require a general re-think—particularly this year, gripped as I am by nostalgia for a time we could all travel freely and vacation together. Thus this revisiting of one of my favorite posts from the not so distant past with a few extra shots thrown in at the end that I didn’t include the first time around. 

If you’ve been following my Maine Crime Writers saga, you’re already aware that my husband and I spend summers living aboard our sailboat as we travel the coast of Maine, but some years back my in-laws (good, old fashioned Anglophiles that they were) introduced us to their own favorite cruising style: narrowboating in Wales.  

Leaving Chirk Marina via the Llangollen Canal

The rich and complex history of the British Inland Waterways—with their accompanying flights of locks, swing and lift bridges, tunnels, and canal-side pubs (ah, those pubs!)—would require a separate post or three to adequately explain, so should the concept interest you I suggest you check it all out on Wikipedia. For now, a bit of history to whet the appetite.

Designed and built before the advent of railways, and as a network for ferrying goods and services throughout the land, these shallow, narrow canals are today home to a unique kind of tiller-steered watercraft sporting a nominal beam (about six and a half feet) and length of up to seventy-two feet that now crisscross the region in a strictly recreational role. 

Originally pulled by horses along the towpaths paralleling the canals—paths used these days for walking and cycling—today’s “narrowboats” are mostly diesel-powered, with interiors as comfortably fitted-out as many summer cottages. And while the kitchens (galleys in boat-speak), are more than adequate for pretty much anything you’d care to whip up, we choose to pub it whenever possible.

One of the Many Roman-Era Canal Bridges Still in Use

Our preference is to arrive in country mid to late May, before the start of British tourism’s “high season” and just as the year’s crop of lambs and goslings are first making their appearance along the more pastoral routes (our favorites). In spring, the rural towpaths are bordered by a mix of rustic fencing and rambling stone walls wildly ablaze with the gold of Scotch Broom, riots of wild lilac and clematis blooms the size of dinner plates. In many places, these towpaths are just a few miles’ walk from publicly accessible castles, ancient bridgeworks, aqueducts, and the cobbled streets of centuries old villages such as Ellesmere, where kerchiefed grannies still wander with basketed arm to do their marketing.

UK canal routes range in flavor from the urban to the rural, as well as in length and difficulty of terrain—utilizing a system of locks that enable the boats to change elevation along the way. This can be a slow and arduous process during the busier months, resulting in impromptu cocktail parties and barbecues breaking out along the towpath as travelers meet and commiserate with others in the queue for the flights (series) of locks. Rather conveniently, locks are often found cheek by jowl with canal-side pubs serving much needed sustenance.

Our Vessel, The Mayfly
The Top of the Grindley Brook Locks (Note the pub on the left)

The best boat hire company in the UK, in our view, is Black Prince Narrowboats (https://www.black-prince.com), with bases in England, Scotland and Wales. We like to rent from their Chirk base in the Ceiriog Valley of North Wales, a few hours’ train ride from Manchester airport, which provides easy access to our favorite canal route: the peaceful and bucolic Llangollen Canal (or “The Welsh” as it’s known to locals)—arguably the most beautiful in Britain. Pronouncing this properly is tricky, and when done correctly sounds as if you’re hocking up a fly from the nether reaches of your throat.  

Forty-one miles in length, the Llangollen dips through hillsides thick with sheep, cows, and wildflowers. A real highlight is traversing the navigable Pontcysyllte Aquaduct over the River Dee. This 18-arched stone and cast iron structure (completed in 1805) is the longest aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest canal aqueduct in the world. Check out this video for a taste of the experience: https://binged.it/3fYbwbq

From here, it’s maybe an hour farther on to where the canal dead ends in the town of Llangollen itself with its many shops, quaint tea rooms (a full English Cream Tea can be had here for a song), and, yes, more pubs. The Robin’s Nest is a particularly good one in town, its claim to fame being the coronary-clogging “Cumberland sausage and egg stottie”—a kind of savory pastry that’s the hands-down favorite of the men in our party. Others worthy of a stop at various points along our route include The Romping Pig, Dusty Miller, Cotton Arms, the Royal Shepherd, The Brown Cow, The Black Lion, and my personal favorite, Darcy’s Pub (yes, it’s a real place). The drinks are large and the food generally excellent. Be sure to try the Spotted Dick somewhere along the way (no worries…it’s a dessert pudding).  The entertainment is, well, eclectic.

The Men Check Out the Bar…
…While the Women Check Out the Entertainment

Llangollen “attractions” include Chirk Castle—a magnificent, 700-year-old marcher fortress built by King Edward I—and the remains of Castell Dinas Bran situated some 4000 feet above the verdant Vale of Llangollen and 800 feet above the town itself. Built in the 1230s by Madog ap Gruffyd Maelor, a nemesis of LLewelyn the Great (who was, interestingly enough, an ancestor of mine), the ruins are a good 45 minute uphill climb. Trust me; the view is worth it.

Looking Toward the Vale of Llangollen from the Ruins of Castell Dinas Bran

After all this hiking and pubbing, you’ll no doubt be ready for a rest. Simply pull your boat to the side of the canal anywhere you fancy, drive a stake into the towpath, and tie off for the night. Drinkies are at six.  Okay, five-thirty.

The Author at the Tiller

A few photos not included the first time around…

Chirk Viaduct and Aquaduct
Chirk Castle
Who knew?

Darcy Scott (Winner, 2019 National Indie Excellence Award; Best Mystery, 2013 Indie Book Awards; Silver Award, 2013 Readers Favorite Book Awards; Bronze Prize, 2013 IPPY Awards) is a live-aboard sailor and experienced ocean cruiser with more than 20,000 blue water miles under her belt. For all her wandering, her summer home and favorite cruising grounds remain along the coast of Maine—the history and rugged beauty of its sparsely populated out-islands serving as inspiration for much of her fiction, including her popular Maine-based Island Mystery Series. Her debut novel, Hunter Huntress, was published in Britain in 2010.

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Walking in Winter

This is the first winter in many years I haven’t spent working out in a gym, for the obvious reasons, and other than not having that reason to warm my car up in the morning, I’ve been surprised to find I don’t really miss it.

The curtain dropped on public involvement around mid-March of last year and so the grip of winter at that point had loosened considerably. Instead of riding the bike to nowhere or climbing the stairway to the moon, I walked.

My town has great walking possibilities—Crescent Beach State Park, Kettle Cove, Fort Williams—but I don’t always want to fire up the vehicle to go someplace to walk (feels a little like putting my bike in the car to go somewhere to ride), so I’ve developed a bunch of walking loops that take me through my neighborhood.

Other than the ease of it, I’ve noticed many more small things and many more ways in which each day in the movement of the seasons brings something new. For example, if you aren’t walking outside right now (admittedly, in single degree temps), you’re maybe not aware that bird life is starting to kick up, that songs and movement in the brush are probably at their highest level since last fall.

The other obvious benefit is the requirement to slow down. Even as fit as I am (heh), I can only walk so fast on frost-heaved roads and icy verges, which has forced me to throttle back my desire to get a walk done and enjoy where I am. And see.

See the profusion of cardinals that resides in our local copses, the snow coats drifting off of frozen twigs in the breeze, the pile of old ski gear someone left leaned against an old car last fall, now buried in snow. Where’s the story that explains that? Or the massive stack of lobster traps that hasn’t moved in a year?

I know the places in the roads where the melt accumulates, then freezes at night. I know which stand of trees I can duck into for a discreet pee. I know how the dark water of Trout Brook looks as it flows under the ice.

I’ve connected with a few more locals, too, the early dog-walkers and hand-wavers, the same people on their way to work at the same time every morning.

It’s brought a different sense to my writing, this slowing down. I find, with extra time, I’m less focused on getting my daily quota done, more focused on teasing out better sentences, weighing the worth of my words. It’s an open question whether that helps the books eventually, but there’s always hope. As there is for the spring.

 

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Now that you’re comfy online, check out the Harrisville Children’s Center Auction

One thing the pandemic has added to our lives that may not be that bad is more comfort with a virtual world. Yeah, I know, if you’re like me, Zoom meetings are getting pretty old. But there’s also so much more accessibility for things that were always in person before — not just author talks and things like the Maine Crime Writers Making a Mystery panel (coming to a library near you!), but all sorts of things that used to require getting in the car and driving to.

In recent weeks I’ve thought of attending (though haven’t always followed through), a public hearing on dam removal on the Kennebec River, a museum-sponsored look at how the Androscoggin River has been cleaned up over 50 years, a webinar on the National Register of Historic Places and Maine properties on it and more. If that stuff doesn’t pique your interest — yes my insterests are very dorky — there is plenty of other stuff out there.

One virtual event that existed way before the pandemic made being online all the time a thing is the Harrisville Children’s Center annual auction. The auction, in its 15th year, raises money for the nonprofit Harrisville Children’s Center, which provides child services in the Monadnock region of western New Hampshire. Its goal this year is to raise $23,000. last year, 305 auction registrants throughout New England and beyond placed 3,663 bids to raise more than $22,000.

While western New Hampshire may seem like a long way away, especially this time of year, the auction is online and has been way before that was a thing. It has 464 items, and 87 of those items are books. Full disclosure, one of those books is mine, the third book in my Bernie O’Dea mystery series BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST.

But if you think this is a shameless ploy to get you to bid on my book, it’s not. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve already read it or you’ve decided to take a pass. That’s cool with me, after all I’m the gal who wants to attend webinars about Maine river infrastructure. I know everyone has different tastes.

Anyway, it also has books by fellow Maine Crime Writer Vaughn Hardacker and writers even more famous than we are. It’s a great chance to browse through some authors and also help out a great cause.

I know you’re comfy being online now. You’re Zooming and Facetiming and meeting up and Amazoning your heart out. So next time you’re online check out the auction at hccauction.org. It runs through 9 p.m. March 21.

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Weekend Update: February 20-21, 2021

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Maureen Milliken (Monday), Dick Cass (Tuesday), Darcy Scott (Thursday) and Sandra Neily (Friday).

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

The winner of a copy of The Corpse in the Compost is a commenter known as Chickadee04287. If you would like to send us your name and mailing address, the book will find its way to you. Thanks for commenting. We enjoy the interaction.

5_4

While we are all still masked and isolated, there is hope that someday soon we will gather in person. But whether in person or via Zoom or another medium, Maine crime writers are available to do programs for your library or your organization or school. Popular ones that allow a lot of reader interaction are our Making a Mystery program and Casting Call: How we find out characters. Please let us know using the contact below if you’d be interested in a program.

In Making a Mystery, the audience suggests character names, occupations, location of the crime, the weapon, and the motive, and the panel uses that to create an on the fly mystery. In Casting Call: How writers staff their stories, we use audience suggestions to show how we develop our characters and give them the attributes they need for their roles in the story.

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. We also do programs on Zoom. Contact Kate Flora

 

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GEORGE SMITH, TIRELESS ADVOCATE OF MAINE’S ENVIRONMENT

I dedicate today’s post to George Smith, ground-breaking Maine outdoorsman, tireless writer of outdoor activities, travel and legislative issues, and director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for nearly two decades.

George died this week at 72 following his ALS diagnosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, last year.

Governor Janet Mills who knew George well described him this way: “George loved Maine. And Maine loved George … An avid sportsman, a prolific writer, and a good-natured friend to all, George Smith was the very embodiment of the character of Maine: strong but kind, independent but compassionate, wise but humble.”

While I certainly didn’t know George well, our limited interactions demonstrate his generosity and kindness. I first met him a while back at the annual Boothbay Railroad Village “Books in Boothbay” event. The first mystery in my Maine Oceanographer Mara Tusconi series had just been published, and I was trying to pitch the eco-mystery to anyone who’d listen. George didn’t just stop to listen; he asked questions, requested a copy, and offered to write a review of future books if he liked what he read.

George’s blurb for “Glass Eels, Shattered Sea” is featured on the book’s back cover. His comment that my novels “really capture Maine’s islands and put you there—and on the water” meant the world to me.

Among the many tributes to George, I especially appreciate Angus King’s. The senator said: “I loved George Smith … He spent his life exploring the Maine outdoors – and if you asked him, there was no better way to live. That is why George used every tool at his disposal to share these natural treasures with millions. As a prolific and talented writer, George’s tales of adventure encouraged countless Maine people to take a walk in the woods; as a dogged advocate and natural leader, he spent decades supporting conservation efforts to make public lands more accessible for everyone. He was tough, smart, and deeply determined to protect the boundless beauty of Maine. Nature speaks a language of its own – one that George spoke fluently, with joy in his heart.

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Tell again: the pleasures of re-reading

Like many others in what is now nearly a year of plague-induced isolation, my wife and I spent many hours reading.  In normal times we read a lot.  I always have two books going at a time, alternating between one fiction and one nonfiction one, and my wife is usually buried deep in a novel (though, as I have noted in prefaces to my own mysteries, never any of that genre—including mine!).  In 2020, we read even more. 

The problem, however, was getting books to read.  The bookstore in Portland that I routinely patronize shut down at the beginning of the plague.  It offered delivery of orders, but that approach presented two problems:  first, you have to know just what you want and can’t browse to find books you don’t know you want; second, the delivery systems (USPS, FedEx, UPS) were so overwhelmed by the surge in online purchases that it often took weeks to get the books I ordered.  I found another independent bookseller that remained open and began to buy there, but because it’s smaller than the Portland one its stock is limited.  Special orders were readily accepted, but the problem of knowing exactly what book you want remained.  I understand there’s a website of a company in Seattle on which you can order anything you want, but the day I patronize it will be the day of my memorial service. 

It turned out the solution to our problem of finding books was right in front of us in the form of yards and yards of bookshelves where over the years we have placed thousands of books. But of course, with few exceptions, we had read them already.  Reading a book for a second time was simply not a habit, with the exception of those very special ones that I ritualistically re-read every year:  The Great Gatsby and Walden.  So the absence of new books to read as we endured the plague forced us to become re-readers.  What a pleasure it turned out to be. 

I started with the 12 novels of Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time series, reading two a week and enjoying revisiting the very English world Powell creates so brilliantly.  Next came a festival of John Marquand, in some ways an American version of Powell.  I had read most of his novels at one time or another, but reading through them in order of publication gave me a new appreciation of his talent and of his growth as a writer.  He is sadly neglected today, but as I re-read him I became a bit of a crusader on his behalf, sending emails to friends urging them to give Marquand a try.  John Cheever was a natural fit in this line of writers of novels of social manners, but he turned out not to hold up well.  The Wapshot novels were disappointing and kept me from going on to his later ones, at least for now.  I may return to them if the plague persists.  Other old favorites have held up well in re-reading.

I also re-read nonfiction, mostly historical studies that I had read in my earlier days as a scholar of early American literature and culture.  The master works by Bernard Bailyn and Edmund Morgan were particularly impressive on second reading.  I’m currently re-reading Alan Heimert’s Religion and the American Mind  from the Great Awakening to the Revolution, a 550 pager so dense with theological analysis that I limit myself to 30 or 40 pages a day.  As I do, I’m coming around to accept the original criticism of it as a work of fiction, but that’s another matter.   

When I tell friends about my re-reading frenzy, the first question is always “How much do you remember?” Sometimes a lot, sometimes almost nothing beyond a sense of general atmosphere or strong characters.  Plots in novels rarely come back to me, and even though in re-reading the historical studies I always know how things turned out in reality I seldom remember the shape of the writer’s argument.  Perhaps I just suffer from poor memory.  But I think it’s more a case of being a different person.  It’s a truism that books appeal differently to you at different times in your life, and finding new pleasures in books you had liked before becomes a way of understanding your own growth. Maybe the pleasure of re-reading is simply having something to read.  But I also think that there is some deep human need to repeat, to revisit, to try again.  When I finish telling a story to my 5-year old granddaughter, she almost always says, “Tell again.”  She likes the comfort of hearing something she likes a second or third time.  I’m now reading to her the Pooh stories, a deeply satisfying experience for me because I read them to her father so many years ago—read and re-read them to the point that we both have huge passages forever lodged in our minds and can repeat them if triggered by a phrase like “it was on just such a blusterous day as this” or “these are the wrong sort of bees.” 

We know the plague will eventually end, and when it does bookstores will open and I’ll be back to browse and sample new titles.  But my re-reading habit isn’t likely to go away.  I know I’ll still pace my bookshelves and seize on a novel or a history that I once liked and want to find out if I still do—and why.  Tell again.              

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The Best and the Worst: Advice for Writers

Kate Flora: Recently, I asked my fellow Maine crime writers, and some of my writer friends on Facebook, to share the best writing advice they’ve ever gotten, and the worst. It was a fascinating query, and here are some of the answers. Of course, any writer will tell you that what works for one person may not work for another, whether it is word of mouth or something read in a book about writing craft. You will always have to pick and choose the advice that feels right for you, and adherence to that advice may change as you evolve as a writer.

question marks

So here you go:

From me, the advice I got from my mother, A. Carman Clark, a writer herself: Put your seat in the seat and keep it there. I’ve always embroidered on that to say that for my kind of writer—the disciplined, go to work every day kind—you cannot wait for that inspiring, fluttery little muse to come and land on your shoulder. You write when it is hard. You write when it is easy. You write on those days when it feels like you are scribbling the words on your arm and then peeling off the skin and sticking it to the page. That way, when the flow happens and the story begins to roll from your brain to your fingers, you will be there, and ready.

Worst? If something you’ve written makes you cry when you reread it, rewrite it. I absolutely don’t agree.

Maureen Milliken: 

Best? Sit down and write.

Worst? Outline the entire plot and book, including every chapter and scene and write in-depth character profiles before starting the book.

Brenda Buchanan: 

Best? Persistence pays off.

Worst? Outlines are absolutely necessary

Maggie Robinson:

Best and worst? Write every day. I have amended it with “don’t beat yourself up if you don’t.”

Charlene D’Avanzo:

Best? 1) Develop a daily writing schedule, make it work for you, but give yourself a break once in a while.  2) Speak with your own voice and from your own experience. Don’t try to imitate another author you may admire; but 3) read widely and consciously. 4) Develop a promotion style and mechanism that works for you. 5) Celebrate your achievements—writing and publishing books is a real accomplishment. 6) Realize that all of this may take a good deal of time.

Worst? (this is harder) 1) write only what you know. (Depends on what “know” means) and 2) Don’t use semicolons.

pen dripping ink

Kaitlyn Dunnett:

Best: (concerning doing lunch with editors in NYC) Talent never pays

Worst: Any advice that starts with “You have to …”

And from my FB friends:

Chuck Greaves:

Worst? “Kill your darlings.” I say, make nothing but darlings and guard them with your life. But, from Randall Plattcommenting on that: I don’t kill my darlings but if they don’t add to the story, then I send them to my writer’s Green Room, where, if they are truly compelling characters, they will be used another day.

Jeri Westerson:

Mostly I don’t think a lot of people understand “write what you know.” It doesn’t mean if you’re a waitress to only write about waitresses. It means to write your characters with the emotional experiences that you know. My son, when he started to write in high school, took on a short story about someone far older with emotional issues that he obviously didn’t know about—and it showed.

Sue Ellen Snape:

Best? (from the late Bill Tapply) Don’t use a dollar word when a nickel word will do.

Worst? (advice on how to begin a mystery) “Shoot the sheriff in the first line.”

Typewriter

Matthew Mallio:

Best? It’s got to be your work with your voice.

Worst? Good luck. You’re up against trust fund kids.

Albert Tucher:

Best? Take out all the good lines and see if it still works

Worst? Write what you know (readers, you will see a consensus emerging here)

Meg Dobson:

Best? Butt in chair.

Worst? From 5th grade teacher—comma whenever you pause in reading.

Eileen Dryer:

Best? Just because the story’s been told before doesn’t mean it’s been told by you. Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story are the same story.

Worst? There is only one way to write. If you don’t follow those rules you can’t do it. When I teach, I always start with a Somerset Maugham quote: “There are three hard and fast rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one can agree on what they are.”

Diane Kane:

Best? Grow a thick skin.

Worst? You have to write with pencil and paper to be a writer.

Laurie LaBar:

Best? If it doesn’t flow, take out your favorite bit and see what happens.

Worst? Write what you think will sell.

I would add, regarding this last, that by the time you finish the book you’re writing to the market, the market will have moved on. There’s more, friends. Maybe some of it will appear tomorrow. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear some of the advice you’ve been given. What works. What doesn’t. What you’ve discovered on your own writing journey.

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Grouches, Crabs, & Pooches

Today is Presidents Day. I noted in checking through my past posts that my assigned date last year fell also on Presidents Day. In 2020, I wrote about presidential trivia. So rather than repeat, I’ll mention it briefly and move on. The federal holiday began as a commemoration of George Washington’s birthday, February 22, but now we celebrate on the third Monday in the month. The holiday takes place during the birth month of the country’s two most prominent presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and honors both, as well as other presidents. The holiday now never lands on a single president’s birthday.

Although February is a short month, the month contains over 100 National Days. Many have already occurred. Since I can’t cover them all, I’ve chosen a few that caught my fancy. Tomorrow, Feb. 16, is National Do a Grouch a Favor Day, which is a call to kindness. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a grouch is a habitually irritable or complaining person, a grumbler. Everyone knows a grouch, and some of us may even be guilty of being one, maybe not all the time, but on our rough days. During this pandemic, it’s hard not to experience grouchiness. On National Do a Grouch a Favor Day, we can turn frowns upside down with a dose of kindness. Make it a better day for that grouchy friend, relative, co-worker, boss, neighbor or that someone who lives in your house. Visit with them, offer to help with a difficult task, listen to their complaints, just for the day, or take them their favorite cookies. Watch together the movie Grumpy Old Men.

National Crabmeat Stuffed Flounder Day is Feb. 18. Flounder is a flatfish of approximately 100 different species. While there are thousands of species of crabs, only certain ones are edible. In the United States, some of the more popular and tasty ones are the blue crab, stone crab, Dungeness, king, and rock or snow crabs. In Maine, crabmeat generally comes from rock crabs or Jonah crabs. The best way I know to celebrate this holiday is with a meal. Here’s a recipe for 4 servings of Crabmeat Stuffed Flounder I found on The Nibble.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. For the stuffing: 2 tbsp unsalted butter; 1 small onion, finely chopped; 1 celery rib, minced; ¼ cup chopped parsley or dill plus more for garnish; ½ cup plain breadcrumbs; 8 ounces crabmeat, picked over; 1 tbsp lemon juice; and 1/8 tbsp cayenne pepper. Melt butter in skillet. Add onion and celery and sauté until soft. Stir in parsley or dill. Remove skillet from heat and stir in breadcrumbs, crabmeat, lemon juice, and cayenne. For the flounder: 4 8-ounce flounder; paprika; lemon wedges. Divide the crabmeat mixture among fillets and roll up. Hold together with toothpicks. Place seam side down in lightly oiled 9×13-inch ovenproof dish. Sprinkle paprika over fish. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with more parsley or dill and lemon before serving. Bon appétit!

Next up on Feb. 20 are National Love Your Pet Day and on Feb. 23 National Dog Biscuit Day. On Love Your Pet Day, we are encouraged to show extra appreciation to our pets and the special relationship they hold in our lives. If yours is a dog, that works for Dog Biscuit Day as well. Whether dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, fish, or rats, spending time with them will reap extra benefits to both—in humans, stress relief and lower blood pressure. Ideas include a special treat or extra walk, checking that vaccines are up to date, playing with them, a new toy, and more. My dog Sasha, who’s 14 ½ has gained weight lately, possibly because of too many dog biscuits, so my treats for her will be extra walks.

February continues with many days whose origins are sketchy—Tile Day, Toast Day, Chili Day, Tooth Fairy Day, and Tell a Fairy Tale Day are a few. On Feb. 20, it’s National Cherry Pie Day, in honor of George Washington said to have cut down a cherry tree and confessed to it. There’s no mention in history of whether cherry pie was made from the fruit of that tree.

*** On a personal note, the Kindle version of my most recent release, Hidden Obsession, is on sale today. Sorry to say the sale began Feb.11 and ends today, Feb. 15, but there’s time. Here’s a short description of the book and a buy link. Revisiting the past can heal… or lead to murder. Sheri’s reluctant return to Maine coincides with a murder. She finds herself in the killer’s crosshairs and in the arms of determined blue-eyed cop Justin. Can he solve the case before the killer carries out a special plan for Sheri? http://getbook.at/Hidden-Obsession

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Weekend Update: February 13-14, 2021

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be posts by Susan Vaughan (Monday), Kate Flora (Tuesday), William Andrews (Thursday) and Charlene D’Avanzo (Friday).

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

Susan Vaughan: The Kindle version of my Maine-set romantic suspense novel, Hidden Obsession, is only 99c through Feb. 15. Here’s a short description.

Revisiting the past can heal… or lead to murder.
Sheri’s reluctant return to Maine coincides with a murder. She finds herself in the killer’s crosshairs and in the arms of determined blue-eyed cop Justin. Can he solve the case before the killer carries out a special plan for Sheri?

And a review: “A highly entertaining read—a thriller, a mystery and a romance, all bundled into one. A real page-turner, with plenty of action, fully-rounded characters, and a Maine setting to hold it all together.” 5 * on Amazon

Order here: http://getbook.at/Hidden-Obsession

 

 

 

 

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. We also do programs on Zoom. Contact Kate Flora

 

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Pieces Falling into Place

In my last post, I talked about the possibility of self-publishing a collection of my essays, to be made up of some of the 249 blogs I’ve posted at Maine Crime Writers since the summer of 2011. The response to this idea was very encouraging and one lucky person who commented now owns an autographed copy of Crime & Punctuation. I picked the winner at random, but all the suggestions were very helpful in planning out what I wanted to do next. My sincere thanks go out to everyone who posted a comment.

To my delight, it took me less than a week to pull together a rough draft of the proposed collection and to figure out how to improve upon my original concept. For one thing, there will be fewer sections. While it’s still necessary to organize the essays into topics, rather than just throw them out there willy-nilly, a nine-part structure seem to cover all the bases. They are:

Cozy Mysteries
Historical Novels
My Life in Books
Climbing the Family Tree
People, Real and Fictional
Places
Miscellaneous Tips for Writers
Cats
Odds and Ends

I have a tentative title, too, from the very first blog I wrote for Maine Crime Writers: I Kill People for A Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Murder Mysteries. I know it’s long, but without the subtitle potential readers might get the wrong impression!

Although I’ve now chosen which blogs to include, I’m still fiddling with details. In some cases, an essay could be placed in more than one section. There’s also the problem of repetition. I told some of the same stories, both writing and personal, in more than one blog over the years, but since the context is different, I have to decide whether or not to eliminate all but one instance.

The other decision I have to make is whether or not to include the original date of each essay. I’m editing them, so I can insert updates on information where required, and I’m not putting them in the order they were written.

Decisions. Decisions. All thoughts and suggestions are welcome!

And, of course, before anything is made available to the public, I’ll need to have the whole thing professionally copy edited and get the wonderful cover designer I used for my children’s books to come up with something that will catch the eye of potential buyers.

One more thing I have to share—for the first time in ages, I’m having fun working on a book. That’s worth its weight in gold.

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-three books traditionally published and has self published several children’s books. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist 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. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary “Deadly Edits” series (A Fatal Fiction) as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things. She maintains websites at www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, is the gateway to over 2300 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.

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