Weekend Update: November 17-18, 2018

Next week at Maine Crime Writers, there will be posts by Joe Souza (Monday) Vaughn Hardacker (Tuesday), Brenda Bruchanan (Wednesday) Jen Blood (Thursday), and Barb Ross (Friday).

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

 from Kaitlyn Dunnett: Cover reveal. The book won’t be out until June 0f 2019 but this is what the next entry in the Deadly Edits series featuring book doctor Mikki Lincoln will look like.

 

 

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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The Reformation/Rehabilitation/Regeneration of a Romance Writer

Today please welcome special guest Maggie Robinson to Maine Crime Writers. Maggie is a former teacher, library clerk and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adjectives and adverbs as possible doing so. Some twenty historical romances later, she’s decided to try her hand at historical mystery and the result, Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, was published this week by Poisoned Pen Press. A two-time Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice nominee, her books have been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Dutch and Italian. A transplanted New Yorker, she now lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing.

The Reformation/Rehabilitation/Regeneration of a Romance Writer

by Maggie Robinson

I was working on the fourth book of my Cotswold Confidential historical romance series, and it was taking forever. One whole year, only 40,000 words. And those 40,000 words? Pure dreck. The hero was an undercover spy who was presumed dead, his estranged wife both frigid and dyslexic. He tries to woo her pretending to be someone else, and she’s so inane she doesn’t recognize her own husband. Just typing this makes me howl with laughter.

Something had to change. Get me loving writing again. And something that wouldn’t take most of two years to finish. I am a terrible pantser, cannot plot or outline to save my life, so I’d always avoided mysteries, my first reading love. How could I write a mystery, which requires some structure, when I never knew what was going to happen until my fingers hit the keyboard and my brain more or less woke up?

But on the advice of my agent, I decided to try, and I discovered that I did NOT have to know whodunit. I just fixed it so that virtually everybody could have, and decided along the way. Guilty until proven innocent, which has been getting a bad rap lately, but it works for me.

And so, in a mere two and a half months last fall at my desk in Belgrade, I wrote Nobody’s Sweetheart Now, a 1920s-era cozy featuring Lady Adelaide Compton, a widowed marquess’ daughter, Devenand Hunter, an Anglo-Indian detective from Scotland Yard, and…Great War flying ace Major Rupert Compton, Addie’s late and unlamented husband. Yes, a ghost, who must atone for his many sins by doing a few good deeds before he can earn his celestial wings. Something unlocked and the words flowed. The book released on November 13, and so far critics have been kind.

I don’t have the benefit of working in a pharmacy as Agatha Christie did, so if anyone looks at my computer history, they’ll be worried I’m going to poison them. Or join a girl gang like the Forty Elephants, who stuffed fur coats and diamond bracelets into their knickers, robbing homes and stores throughout England. Research has been the most fun, and the Roaring Twenties are rife with plot bunnies. Although off by a decade, watching all those black and white screwball comedies from the 30s came in handy, too.

Each book in the Lady Adelaide series is named for a song popular in the era. The second, Who’s Sorry Now?, comes out next May. I was shocked to realize the song didn’t originate with Connie Francis, but was published in 1923. This really was a golden age in music, delivering standards that hold up perfectly almost a hundred years later. It Had to Be You. Me and My Shadow. Always. Someone to Watch Over Me. Like Rupert!

So, I am embracing a life of crime, finding it much more satisfying to kill off my characters than make them kiss. I have seen the light…or perhaps the dark. In any event, thank you Maine Crime Writers for this opportunity to guest post!

You can read first chapters of all my books at MaggieRobinson.net

[An aside, from Kathy/Kaitlyn: I’ve already read Nobody’s Sweetheart Now and it’s terrific—fast-paced, fun, and funny.]

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What did you do in the war, Daddy?

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett here. Every year when Veterans’ Day comes around, I think of my father, William R. (Russ) Gorton. He graduated from Liberty High School in Liberty, New York in 1928, the same year my mother graduated from Liberty’s biggest rival, Monticello. They met at a dance where my father was playing piano and his best friend Tony Raffa Jr. was also in the band. I don’t know much more than that, but it was the Roaring Twenties and I have a good imagination. Mom and Dad courted from 1928 until 1935, then got married at the Presbyterian minister’s house with Daddy’s older brother, Les, and Mom’s best friend, Lil Benmosche, as witnesses. At that time, Daddy worked for New York State Electric &Gas as a meter reader and Mom was a licensed beautician.

Daddy was thirty-one when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He immediately enlisted in the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force) and was sent to Officer Candidate School and then to Chemical Warfare School and Supply and Transportation School. At some point in his training, one of the senior officers giving trainees a hard time asked my father if he knew who he was. My father didn’t have a clue, but he later learned that he’d been hazed by none other than Clark Gable.

After being assigned to the 512th Fighter Bomber Squadron of the 9th Air Force (part of the 406th Bombardment Group) as Supply Officer, he ended up, in March 1943, at Key Field in Mississippi. My mother was able to join him there for a awhile, but it wasn’t long before he was sent to South Carolina and then transported by train to Camp Shanks, New York, a staging base for overseas movement to Europe. My father traveled to England aboard the H.M.T. Stirling Castle, a ship intended to carry 792 first and second class passengers. The 406th fighter group alone had 951 members. In all 4,755 men were aboard when she sailed on March 23, 1944 as part of a large convoy. She docked in Liverpool on April 3. Ashford, Kent was group headquarters and the members of the squadron lived in tents around the edges of the airfield. From there they made bombing runs into Europe and they provided air cover on D-Day. The entire squadron was in Normandy shortly afterward.

My father used to say they followed Patten across Europe. Their “combat operational period” was May 8, 1944-May 9, 1945. during which time they were in France, Belgium, and Germany. On one occasion, my father went up with one of the pilots and flew over Paris. Most of the time he was on the ground, first as supply officer and later in charge of all personnel problems in the squadron as Adjutant. He also supervised the Mess.

He never talked much about the war. I suspect part of the reason was that it was his job to pack up the effects of airmen who had been killed and send them home to their families. That can’t have been pleasant. He did have fond memories of Andy, the bulldog puppy the squadron adopted in England and took with them when they were deployed.

 

My father left Germany on October 30, 1945 and was back in the U.S., at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, on November 13. For his service, he was awarded two Presidential citations, six battle stars, and an ETO medal. After the war, he stayed in U. S. Air Force Reserves and had achieved the rank of major by the time he resigned his commission at the age of sixty-five.

As for my mother, she was never one to sit back and do nothing. During World War II, she took a job demonstrating beauty products. Despite wartime shortages, women on the home front were supposed to do their bit to keep up morale by looking pretty. While my father traveled all over Europe, she traveled all over the U.S.

And then, of course, in 1947—me.

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett is the author of nearly sixty traditionally published books written under several names. 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 Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries (Overkilt) and the “Deadly Edits” series (Crime & Punctuation) as Kaitlyn and the historical Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in a Cornish Alehouse) as Kathy. The latter series is a spin-off from her earlier “Face Down” mysteries and is set in Elizabethan England. Her most recent collection of short stories is Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at www.TudorWomen.com

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Seasonal adjustment

Is there anything more trite than observations about the changing seasons and how we react to those changes?  Poets, composers, and painters have had a field day with that subject, using it to explore attitudes toward life and death, the cycle of the seasons serving as a metaphor for the cycle of life.  While I have no profound views to offer, at this time of year I’m unable to resist writing about the shift from fall to winter that is now upon us.  I leave it to others to muse on deeper meanings; for me the change is practical.

Full disclosure:  winter is my favorite season.  I love snow and the activities it makes possible, particularly in my case snowshoeing and downhill skiing.  I’m very fond of fall for its foliage, and I’ve learned to tolerate summer because I can bike and boat.  I really, really don’t like spring, when the lengthening light triggers my RSAD (reverse seasonal affective disorder).  It’s a real disorder, affecting 5% or so of the population, in whom it induces claustrophobia, anxiety, and mild depression.  Winter may appeal to me precisely because it’s the opposite of spring:  daylight decreases, and sun on snow opens the world and mitigates claustrophobia (okay, there’s such a thing as cabin fever, but an hour or two on snowshoes in the woods easily overcomes that).

As the switch from fall to winter begins, the ritual in our house is called Seasonal Adjustment.  Bikes go down to the cellar to enjoy their long winter’s nap; skis and snowshoes come upstairs;  parka, gloves, and goggles migrate from a remote closet to the main one.  Snow shovels come to the porch, scrapers return to the cars, and snow tires are installed in the one vehicle that lacks AWD.  Fire wood is loaded on the porch, handy for frequent restocking beside the stove. 20181112_090606_resized

Seasonal Adjustment is now underway in our house, and in a few days all things winter will replace all things fall and summer.  Then the wait will begin for the first serious snow.  We’ve had a few inches here and there over the past weeks but not nearly enough to provide the full cover I yearn for.    20160426_120058_resized

When that first serious snow comes my wife and I will head to the trails in the woods above our house with our snowshoes and begin tracing the various routes we favor.  20170316_143036_resized

The beginning of the season is like the ending in April:  too much low vegetation will still be uncovered, brooks will not be fully frozen, and trees blown down by the recent winds will block some trails.  But we’ll be out there, overcoming those small obstacles so we can once again experience the thrill of silence and bright sunshine on crisp white snow while we watch for the tracks left by deer, moose, foxes, and rabbits.  After that great first day on snowshoes, we’ll await the next milestone event:  the start of the downhill ski season.  We live at Sunday River Ski Area, or more exactly in a small development a half mile from one of the lodges.  Although skiing has been going on (and off) for the past few weeks at Sunday River, we wait till serious natural snow joins the manufactured variety and allows access to a few dozen trails.  If the past is a guide, we’ll be taking our first runs in early December.

I anticipate all this with the glee children feel as Christmas approaches.  Christmas will be great, too, with family and friends gathering for multiple seasonal celebrations.  But it’s the snow, the cold temperatures, the bright sunshine that really excite me now as winter approaches.  Does this say something about my character?  Am I acting out some deep human need to celebrate the cycle of seasons/life?  No doubt, but abstract thoughts aren’t really on my mind right now.  Summer and fall were fun, and I’m grateful to have had them, but winter is fast approaching.  Bring it on!

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Maine Writers at the Crime Bake

The New England Crime Bake, our own regional mystery conference held every November, was this past weekend. The guest of honor this year was Walter Mosley, who inspired us all. Here are some pics from the event. Dick Cass was the volunteer wrangler and Bruce Coffin was swarmed by writers looking for cop expertise. Kate Flora received the Lifetime Achievement Award and got to wear a banner of crime scene tape and tiara and clutch roses like a prom queen. Brenda Buchanan was guest of honor wrangler. Lea Wait was talking about her next book, due in February. Barbara Ross was there with the Wicked Cozies and her adorable granddaughter, Viola.

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Dick bowing down in front of the Queen . .

The Crime Bake Mascot . . with handcuffs applied.

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NEVER FORGET THOSE WHO SERVED

Vaughn Hardacker here: Today, November 11, is special to our veterans. Memorial Day honors all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their life to maintain our way of life. November 11 is Veteran’s Day and it honors all who have served in our country’s military services not just those of us who are combat veterans. Always remember that although many veterans did not serve in a combat zone, all were willing to go if sent.

Pvt V. C. Hardacker June 1966

Those of you who attend the New England Chapter of the MWA and Sisters In Crime CrimeBake Conference may have noted that while I attended the first eleven (serving on the committee for five of them) I have been absent for the past ten. The reason, it falls on Veteran’s Day weekend and as the Commandant of the northernmost Marine Corps League Detachment in the continental United States I have any number of veteran and Marine Corps events (November 10 is the Marine Corps birthday–this is our 243rd year) which I have come to believe are more important than CrimeBake. A few years ago I came across a poem that really hit home with me and I’d like to share it with you. It is titled: A VETERAN DIED TODAY.

 

Flag Raising, Iwo Jima Island February 1945

A VETERAN DIED TODAY

Anonymous

He was getting old and paunchy, and his health was failing fast.
And he sat around the Legion, telling of his past.
Of the war that he had fought in. Of the deeds he had done.
Of the exploits with his buddies. They were heroes, every one.

Though, sometimes to his neighbors,  his tales became a joke.
All his buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer, for old Bill has passed away.
And the world’s a little poorer, for a Veteran died today.

No, he wasn’t mourned by many, just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary, very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family, quietly going on his way.
And the world won’t note his passing’ though a Veteran died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state.
While thousands note their passing, proclaiming they were great.
The papers tell their life stories, from the time that they were young.
But the passing of a Veteran, goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of this land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise,and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow, who in time of war and strife,
Goes off to serve country. And offers up his life.

The politician’s stipend, and the style in which they live.
Are sometimes disproportionate, to the service that they give.
While the ordinary Veteran, who offered up his all
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension small

Its so easy to forget, for it was so long ago.
That our Bobs and Jims went to battle, but we know.
It was not the politician, with his compromise and ploy,
Who won for us this freedom that our citizens enjoy.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand.
Would you really want some cop-out, with his ever waffling hand.
Or would you want a veteran, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and his country and fight until the end?

He’s just a common veteran and his ranks are growing thin.
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, we find the Veteran’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor, while he’s alive to hear the praise.
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days
Perhaps a simple headline in the paper that might say
“Pay honor to this hero, for a Veteran died today”.

 

Reflections by Lee Teter

Every day I reflect on many of my fellow veterans who are no longer with us. Above the head of my bed is a print of Lee Teter’s painting Reflections and I spend a few moments studying it each day recalling all of my brothers and sisters who gave of themselves so that those who preceded us and those who follow us will be the beneficiaries of the freedoms which many of us take for granted.

In closing, any time that you greet a veteran saying: “Thank you for your service.” Shake their hand, if they are close friends or relatives give them a hug it will tell us that “Thank you for your service,” is more than just impersonal words like “How are you doing.”

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Weekend Update: November 10-11, 2018

Next week at Maine Crime Writers, there will a special Crime Bake Edition on Monday, followed by posts by Kate Flora (Tuesday), William Andrews (Wednesday) Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson (Thursday), and a guest post from Maggie Robinson (Friday).

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

Lea Wait: Yes, I’ll be one of the Maine Crime Writers at Crime Bake this weekend. I’ll be moderating a panel on writing for “the younger set” on Saturday afternoon. Then, from November 15 through the 18, I’ll be signing my books at Gifts for Giving, a special art and crafts holiday show in Boothbay Harbor.  Thursday, November 15 I’ll be there (Studio 53, 53 Townsend Avenue) from 10 am until 5 pm; Friday, November 16, I’ll be there from 4 p.m. until 8 pm (the official opening, with wine and goodies, will be from 5 until 8), Saturday, November 17, I’ll be there from 7am until 5 pm, and Sunday, November 18, from 10 am until 4 pm. If you’re heading for Boothbay, don’t forget that Gardens Aglow, an annual spectacular of lights, will be at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens at night, beginning November 15.

NEWS BULLETIN!  At New England Crime Bake this weekend, Kate Flora, the founder of this blog, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her many years of inspirational service to the New England crime writing community  A parade of colleagues took to the podium to talk about Kate’s consistent, enthusiastic support of other writers and her sustained work over many years to build a strong, vibrant community.  Congratulations, Kate!

Kate Flora, in her well-deserved tiara.

And 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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