My Maine Connection

Hi.  I’m Barbara Ross, author of The Death of an Ambitious Woman, and a co-editor at Level Best Books. I’m awed to be here with this amazing group of authors. I think I may be a double newbie, the newest fiction author (my book was published just a few months after Paul Doiron’s The Poacher’s Son) and the newest to Maine.

My Maine connection begins in 1989 when my mother-in-law and a friend took a trip to Bar Harbor. Afterwards, they came gunkholing down the coast in their car, visiting every antique, gift and craft shop along the way, as one does (and especially as that pair did).

It got late, so they decided to stay over rather than try to get back to Massachusetts.  Somehow, they found their way down Route 27 to Boothbay Harbor, where, completely unplanned, they spent the night at a bed and breakfast at the head of the harbor called the Seafarer Inn.

The next morning the owners mentioned that they were selling the inn.  In that moment, my mother-in-law said,  “I’ll buy it.”

If she had ever before harbored dreams of running a bed and breakfast, she’d never breathed a word of them to those nearest and dearest.

My mother-in-law Olga and my kids on the front porch of the Seafarer. 1990

But, buy it she did.  It turned out the perfect gig for a widowed school teacher.  My mother-in-law is warm, charming, and a great cook. My husband and I were always astonished to find reserved Midwestern couples hugging and kissing her good-bye after a single night at the Seafarer, promising to send Christmas cards.

By 2005 things had changed again.  In her late seventies, it took more help for my mother-in-law to run the inn and the economics began to tip sideways. So, in a transaction so complex I took to calling it “Momitrage,” my husband I and became the owners of the Seafarer.

The view from our porch. My husband has photographed this view in every season, weather, time of day and tide. He’s a bit of a nut.

We don’t run it as an inn anymore.  I am notoriously not a morning person and can think of nothing worse than coming downstairs to find a table full of happy, chatting strangers.  I guess we could run a Bed and Get-your-own-damn-breakfast, but I doubt there’s much of a market.  It’s an oversized summer home that fits the whole family and has the best front porch in the world.  My mother-in-law’s still there from July to November, when we throw her out so we can shut the place down for the winter, because opening the heating bills causes actual, physical pain.

Fireworks seen from the porch, Windjammer Days, 2011

When she bought the Seafarer, my mother-in-law was just a few years older than I am now.  In her sixties, she learned both the art and the business of hospitality.  So whenever I am stymied, frustrated, overwhelmed or just plain panicked by the challenge of learning the art and the business of fiction-writing, I think of her, talk myself off the ceiling and get down to it.

For me, that’s the lesson of the Seafarer.




About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at
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12 Responses to My Maine Connection

  1. Edith says:

    How wonderful to hear the whole story. I knew only bits of it before. Your mother-in-law sounds like a special type. I’ll try to remember her lesson, too!


  2. I love the idea of a bed and get-your-own-damn-breakfast! Great blog with lots of pictures. thanks for sharing.


  3. Barb Ross says:


    Some friends have suggested a Bed and I’ll-meet-you-on-the-porch-for-a-glass-of-wine-at-4. That’s an idea I can get behind.


  4. MCWriTers says:

    Love the story and those great photographs. How about a Bed-and-get-your-own-glass-of-wine-for Breakfast?

  5. Barbara, this is hysterical–thanks for sharing the story! Your mother in law sounds like a great character. Waiting impatiently for your next book! Love, Lucy

  6. Great story about your mother-in-law and her Boothbay B & B, Barb. I think running a country inn or a B & B is a fantasy of lots of people have. It was mine for awhile when, after the end of a long-ago marriage, I found myself living alone in the Berkshires. But like you, Barb, I prefer quiet in the mornings–it’s my best time to write!–and realized I wouldn’t be happy serving muffins to a bunch of guests. So, hats off to your mother-in-law for doing it!


  7. Marilyn Mick says:

    Lovely story. Great pictures!

  8. Barb — we’ll be trading more B&B stories soon! fun post!

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