Happy Birthday to Us

Hi, it’s Kate Flora, here, on the 4th of July, realizing that in a few short days, Maine Crime Writers will celebrate our first birthday.

It’s been a wonderful year sharing thoughts and ideas, of asking questions about process, of discussing the different ways we approach our writing, richly interspersed with stories about Maine festivals, food, customs, quirks and crime. The particular beauty of blogging with a group is the hearing the different voices and thoughts, and the particular beauty of blogging with other writers is how eloquent and thoughtful those voices are.

I just went back and reread those first introductory columns and was reminded, once again, of what a richly diverse group of writers we are, and how lucky I am to belong to a blog group as talented and thoughtful as Maine Crime Writers.

As the organizer, I got to write the initial column, Maine Crime Writers enter the Blogosphere. It was a quick summary of who we are and why we decided to get together and celebrate our writing, and how living and working in Maine is especially important to us and influences the way we see and the things we write. My fellow bloggers followed to introduce themselves to you.

Leading off was Sarah Graves, who has now given us a whole year of insight into what it’s like to live and write way down east in Eastport. It’s worth it, if you’ve ever imagined living in REALLY rural Maine, to reread some of her posts, beginning with the lovely, “You Might Be a Maine Mystery Writer if…” you drive 300 miles to go to a signing.

Camden writer Vicki Doudera followed with, “Beautiful and Creepy,” focusing on Maiden Cliff in the Camden Hills State Park, where in 1864, Elinor French tumbled off while on a church picnic. Memories of that story were revived when a tourist from the midwest pushed his wife off the cliff, and then fell off himself. Maine is full of places that have stories, and crime writers do love stories.

Wilton writer Kaitlyn Dunnett, in a column titled, “I Kill for a Living” explains how she is actually three writers and has more than 40 books to her credit. As Kathy Lynn Emerson, she has written the Susanna Appleton mystery series, about a 16th century noblewoman and herbalist. As Kate Emerson, she writes historical novels, and as Kaitlyn Dunnett, she is the author of the Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American heritage mysteries.

In his debut column, Gerry Boyle asks the question, “Is the Maine of our respective imaginations something you can find in real life?” After touring Portland with a videographer, working on a book trailer, he concludes that you can “take all of our Maines and ball them up and  you should get something may not be actual, but will ring true.

In “Fans,” Paul Doiron muses on the surprises and revelations of fan letters and comments, and how the stories people come to tell him are “like catnip” to his imagination.

Our own librarian, Hartland librarian John Clark, led off his monthly series of reviews of mysteries for young adults in a column titled, “Ah, Sweet Mysteries of Youth.” We’re very proud of John for reading all of the YA and middle grade books nominated for an Edgar this year, and picking the winner of both categories.

Like Gerry Boyle, James Hayman uses Portland as a setting, and he discusses the allure and importance of his choice to set his thrillers in Portland. Setting is present right from the start in The Cutting, the first line of which is, “Fog can be a sudden thing on the Maine coast.”

Boothbay Harbor writer Barb Ross tells the story of how her family came to be in Maine, when her mother-in-law, on a tootle down the coast, stopped at a B&B in Boothbay Harbor, and the next morning, learning that the place was for sale, decided to buy it and move there.

In “True Confessions,” Edgecomb writer Lea Wait describes how, like Kaitlyn Dunnett, she wears multiple writer’s hats, writing adult mysteries and historical fiction for readers 8-14. Then she related how, having spent her summers in Maine, she now lives here, and says, “I don’t remember when the smell of saltwater breezes didn’t remind me of home, and I every day I tell myself how lucky I am to live in this wonderful state.”

And our 10th member, Julia Spencer-Fleming, in “I Married Maine,” tells how she was courted by a fellow law student who drew her here repeatedly for visits, until they married and her visit became permanent.

It’s been a rich year of blogs about so many things Maine–Moxie, alewives, blueberries, our favorite restaurants and special places. We’ve talked about the challenges and excitement of being writers. We’ve discussed our doubts, the places we get stuck, and celebrated insights and breakthroughs, contracts and life changes. And you’ve been there with us.

Do you have a favorite column? A topic you’d like us to discuss? Join the conversation.

Leave a comment and you might win a copy of my Portland-based police procedural, Redemption.




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7 Responses to Happy Birthday to Us

  1. Dee says:

    Hi – I have really enjoyed all your posts this past year. Please keep up the good work.
    Thanks, Dee

  2. Dru says:

    Happy First Birthday.

    I like all the columns and I love reading about your writing experiences and how life plays a role.

  3. John Clark says:

    Hopefully a few of the YA books I’ve reviewed found new readers. I certainly have had fun being a monthly guest blogger.

  4. I can’t believe it’s really been a year. Thanks, Kate, for dragging me into the world of blogging.


  5. Barb Ross says:

    Happy Birthday! I have to say I’ve learned A LOT from all my fellow Maine Crime Writers this year.

  6. Carol-Lynn Rössel says:

    Wow! A whole year already. I’m really enjoying the blog.

  7. lil Gluckstern says:

    Thank you for helping me visit Maine through your eyes. I really enjoy your blogs, and the varied subjects. I’m also a faithful reader, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know your writings. Happy Anniversary!

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