Remote, but Connected-The other Maine

John Clark slowly melting like the Wicked Witch of the West on a brutal August afternoon. After three months out knocking on doors and listening to people in Somerset County, any doubts about there being two Maines are long gone. First off, this is more about commonality than politics. I’m going to share some of the moments that have stuck with me from Beth and my adventures in the six towns comprising District 105 along with some other things that are indicative of how remote parts of Maine work to connect.


Many interesting trails await rural explorers

We have several Amish families who have moved into Palmyra recently. Friends who know them say that more are coming and I’m happy to hear it. When my writer friend Susan Estes and her husband sold their inactive dairy farm, one of her biggest worries was that whoever bought it would spilt it into lots and not use the land wisely. The Amish family who purchased the property has quite the farm going and Beth swears their strawberries taste better than ones we pick in Athens. We make an effort to wave every time we pass by all three of our new farming neighbors. These families have started working with Moodytown Gardens, a farm in Palmyra run by a young man and his wife who are passionate about such farms being a big part of the future if rural Maine is to survive. There’s labor swapping, reciprocal selling of various crops and joint haying ventures already up and running. It’s the sort of cooperation everyone was used to 50 years ago that has dwindled over the years.

amish hay aug13

Amazing to see how the Amish hay

Many of the experiences we’ve had on rural roads have been uplifting. Nearly everyone wants to talk and be heard. In between the issues, there are moments of connection. My late friend gospel bluegrass musician Jack Woodbury’s name brought smiles and brightening eyes at a couple stops. A husband and wife were enjoying an afternoon with their granddaughter who had been frog hunting. I shared my experience some sixty years ago when we found a blue frog at the Hardie’s farm pond.Her grandparents had played with Jack numerous times over the years. Another woman who plays at several nursing and assisted living facilities every week, got Jack to sing Amazing Grace the day before he died.

At the beginning of a dead end dirt road in Ripley, the woman who answered the door was worried about her thirteen year old stepson. He wants to become a game warden, but school doesn’t interest him. I told her about A Good Man With A Dog and since she had a card at the Dexter Library, I encouraged her to check out a copy. A week later, my successor at the Hartland library weeded a copy and on my next trip through Ripley, I left it on the seat of her car with a note reminding her about our chat.


Thirsty butterflies in Cambridge

Among other moments on the trail have been countless encounters with dogs and chickens. Almost everyone in Ripley and Cambridge has free range chickens as a viable tick deterrent. When I hit the last house on the Todds Corner Road, three of them hurried to greet me. That led to a lengthy conversation with the young homeowner and his daughter. He drives from St. Albans to Embden 5 days a week where he works with group home residents for minimum wage. His situation is far from unique up here. I’ve chatted with plenty of people who work 2-3 part time jobs, often driving at least 60 miles daily to make ends meet.

Every day I’m on the road takes me to new territory. Before agreeing to run, My only experience with Cambridge was going through on my way to Guilford. Now, I’ve been on every road in town and the same applies to Ripley. I’ve met conservatives, liberals and people everywhere in between. Everyone has been civil, a high percentage eager to talk, and more often than not, have something to tell me that’s new to me. I’ve learned plenty about the challenges facing dairy farmers, met a woman whose eighteen year old step son is dying of brain cancer, heard about the frightening staffing issues facing critical care nurses and shared favored spots for finding beach glass with two young sisters in Cambridge. In fact, Beth and I set aside some of our latest finds on Campobello to drop off next time we go by their place.

god hole

You never know what’s overhead unless you look.

We know where to go come winter to admire deer atop a silage pile. The woman who told us said she often sees as many as fifteen at a time. We got to admire a quartet of swallowtail butterflies taking a drink from a freshly watered garden, were invited into an artists home to see the city landscapes he makes from discarded pierces of computers and similar equipment. They’re fascinating and his enthusiasm was contagious.

What’s next on the trail? Who knows? I do know that win or lose, this is going to be an enlightening and rewarding experience…And I’ll be waving an an awful lot of new friends in my future travels.

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My Friend, Lea Wait

by Barb, listening to the gulls outside her window and feeling wistful

In normal circumstances, eulogies come after a person is gone, which has always seemed like a terrible waste to me. And because my friend Lea Wait has been so incredibly open and generous about this part of her life, the last part, I have decided to be open as well.

Lea Wait is my friend and I will miss her terribly.

Lea and Barb at Books in Boothbay, July 2018

Lea probably doesn’t even remember the first time we corresponded. I was the editor of the Sisters in Crime New England newsletter and I reached out to her to see if we could feature an interview with her. I don’t know exactly when this was, but it was when the newsletter was still laid out in Quark, printed at a printer, and stuffed into envelopes with labels and stamps, so you do the math.

Lea graciously replied and answered my interview questions. She was a former executive with AT&T, the single mother of four daughters, adopted when they were older from four different countries. By the time of the interview, she was a published author, living in Maine full-time with her relatively new husband. I thought, “This woman is really cool.”

Lea and Barb at the Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor

Over the next few years, I got to know Lea a little bit more, through Sisters in Crime New England and the New England Crime Bake, but she wasn’t much more than an acquaintance in 2010, when things changed for me. Suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly freed from my corporate job, I finally had the prospect of spending an extended period of time in Maine. My first novel was scheduled to be published that September. I had a new and different life to figure out.

Our house was in Boothbay Harbor, and Lea was in Edgecomb just up the road. I don’t know what caused me to do it, because it is completely unlike me, but I sent her an e-mail saying I was in the area and would love to get together. Lea wrote back an incredibly warm e-mail (I still have it) and invited my husband Bill and me to dinner at her house.

Lea and Barb on a Damariscotta River cruise (oyster and wine tasting–the sacrifices we made for art)

We went to that dinner and the rest, as they say, is history. We just clicked. I liked Lea’s husband Bob a lot, Bill liked Lea, and Bill and Bob got on like a house afire. Lea and Bob were fun companions, fabulous to eat and drink and converse with. We never ran out of things to talk about.

But more than that, they were just a little older than us, and several steps ahead of us. I remember saying to Bill as we drove home that first night, “A writer and an artist living in Maine. It can be done.” I meant, “We could do that, too.”

Lea and I corresponded and talked and visited pretty constantly after that. We had a lot in common, past corporate jobs, this blog, and eventually even the same agent and editor. Basically, we were two women from north Jersey who had fallen in love with Maine, albeit in different decades and in different ways.

Lea at the Lobster dock

In addition to their friendship and support and their modeling of a life I at one time could only dream about, Lea and Bob affected Bill’s life and my life in two very specific ways.

It was Lea who told me the story of how one of her daughters had her wedding reception on a private island off Boothbay Harbor where a family ran a clambake. So when my agent and I had a call to go through possible pitches to publishers, and he said the word, “clambake,” I was off and running and never looked back.

Lea’s husband, artist
Bob Thomas

When Bill started doing digital photography seriously, Bob, who was a photographer before he turned to painting, was incredibly encouraging to Bill, telling him he had an eye, critiquing his work, always generously. It was Bob who introduced Bill to the world of the visual arts. He told Bill about the place where photography competitions were posted, which is what led Bill to be a finalist in a competition and have his photograph exhibited at the Naples Art Association gallery.

Bill Carito, his photograph and his proud spouse, thanks to Bob Thomas.

Thank you, Lea and Bob. Without you our lives quite literally would not be the same.

The last time we saw Bob was in December. Bill and I had come to Boothbay for the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden’s holiday light show, Gardens Aglow. Afterward we met Lea and Bob at Ports of Italy, a favorite restaurant for all four of us. We had a delicious dinner and talked the night away. I would guess, from the timing, that it was one of Bob’s last nights out like that.

And that’s how I choose to remember them both, under a clear sky on a cold, starry night, saying goodnight in the parking lot. Saying good-bye.


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But We’re Really Spying on You

Kate Flora: Some years ago, I was speaking to a high school class about writing, and I IMG_1581was talking to them about how, as writers, we need to train ourselves to be observant. “You think you are here to watch me,” I said, “but actually, I’m here to watch you.” Then I asked them to tell me what a high school classroom sounds like. There was a group hesitation, and then one student ventured: Quiet?

“Not really,” I said, and I pointed out some of the things I’d observed while I was speaking to them. It was winter, and there was the crisp nylon rustle of vests and jackets. The sounds of zippers on clothes and on backpacks. The slam of books, the rattle of pens and pencils on desks. There was the impatient sound of fingernails on desks. The clatter of boot heels and the slap of athletic shoes as they arrived. The thud of book bags on the floor. People whispered. In the background, there was the mechanical sounds of a heating system. Outside, the noise of people walking past.

IMG_7339As I’ve often told my writing students, despite the advice our mothers gave us about minding our own business, a writer’s job is to be nosy. Observant. To see the world around us so that we can then render it on the page for you. What the world looks like at different times of day and different seasons of the year. Plates of food. Shapes and shadows. Amusing signs. Odd little things that other people miss. How people move and talk and the facial expressions that come and go. The people whose faces are set in deep lines of disapproval or disappointment. Those who move with a bounce, whose faces invite a smile. Who by their presence make the day a better one.IMG_9833

Forgive me if I’ve written about this before, but one of my favorite writing exercises, and one I occasionally practice on myself when I’m not teaching, is the sensory isolation exercise. Choose one place, I tell them, and write three different paragraphs using three different senses. The results are fascinating.

This morning, for example, I am writing at the dining room table. If I close my eyes, this is what I smell. Immediately in front of me I smell the leftover breakfast bacon and the oily crispness of French toast. Beyond it, providing sweet and fruity undertones, are the morning’s fruit mixture–the sharpness of raspberries and the sweet notes of nectarines. Farther away, the salty tang of the incoming fog bank. The remnants of this morning’s coffee.

If I close my eyes and listen, there is the clung and hum of the refrigerator, the crispness IMG_6044of a breeze through the leaves, and the distant throb of a lobster boat going past. There’s the clanging rigging and the flapping canvas of a sailboat heading out of the cove. The mmmm sound of the microwave heating up leftovers. The slap and suck of the waves on the rocks. And several birds I don’t recognize, plus a pair of gulls squabbling on a neighbor’s chimney.




Crossing the room to my seat, the old fir floor feels slightly sticky in the morning’s leftover damp. I feel the thickness of the soft wool carpet under the table. The not-quite-fullsizeoutput_16a6enough cushion on the chairs and the pressure of the woven wicker seat against my thighs. The breeze is gentle and soft as it tickles the back of my neck, sending a wayward hair flying to brush against my cheek. The “l” key sticks slightly. My back is stiff and misbehaving and I feel its ease when I shift my shoulders and sit up straighter.

We go through the world, collecting visuals, scents, sensations, and sounds so that we can   enhance our work and make it feel more vivid and engaging. And of course, we spy on you. Why did you choose to wear a black bra under a white tee-shirt? Where did a man that large get the chutzpah to wear a bright red Spiderman shirt? Does that woman know how lovely she looks in turquoise? Oh my gosh. The design on that pink shirt is a gazillion navy blue lobsters! That man’s whole body broadcasts dejection. If only that girl would only stand up straight and own her height.

Yes. We spy. But the characters in our books are not you. They are a composite of the lobster blouse, the slumped shoulders, the wayward hair, the very upright walk. We writers are pieces of human blotting paper, walking around, absorbing the information we need to create our imaginary worlds.



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Weekend Update: August 4-5, 2018

Next week at Maine Crime Writers, there will posts by Kate Flora (Monday) Barb Ross (Tuesday), John Clark (Wednesday), Bruce Coffin (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:

 If you’re looking to meet a lot of Maine Authors, Heidi Dow at the Guildford Library is hosting a Maine Authors Day from 11-1, and Kate Flora, Bruce Coffin, and Barbara Ross will be there.

Kate Flora is pleased to share the news that her collection of crime stories, Careful 6_1What You Wish For is available as an e-book. Here’s the link:

Also, that her Girls’ Night Out novella, Be My Little Sugar, is also available. This delicious tale of a book group that is taking revenge on men behaving badly is a great read on your kindle or your phone. Here’s that link:


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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Editing, What’s It All About?

Susan Vaughan here. Occasionally readers ask me what book editors do and how they work with authors, so here’s a general explanation on the subject, including some input from other Maine Crime Writers.

Book editors receive book proposals and manuscripts from writers and make decisions on which of those should be published. Editors most often have degrees in English, journalism, or related fields. Fiction editors need to possess an overall sense of story, a command of language, and creativity, along with other skills. Once a contract is signed, the acquiring editor reviews the draft in detail for a developmental or content edit. This detailed examination of the manuscript focuses on larger elements such as story structure, characterization, conflict, pacing, and viewpoint, taking care to respect the author’s individual style and voice.

Afterward, the editor conveys suggested changes to the author. If the author has worked with that editor for a while, this part of the process is often collaborative. Here’s what some of the Maine Crime Writers said about collaborating with their editor.

Kathy Lynn Emerson, also writing as Kaitlyn Dunnett, said that her editor at Kensington lets her know well in advance what the art department is thinking. Twice now the scenes the art department and her editor thought would be perfect for upcoming books (Overkilt and next year’s Clause and Effect) didn’t actually represent any scene she’d planned to write. In both cases, she hadn’t yet finished writing, so the simple solution was to add those scenes. Kathy’s current release in her Deadly Edits series (writing as Kaitlyn Dunett) is Crime and Punctuation.

Kate Flora described an instance when an editor worked with her to improve the book. When she was working on her suspense novel, Steal Away, which she published as Katharine Clark, a rare time when she wrote multiple points of view and not just that of the protagonist, her editor pushed her hard to make the husband (a character Kate hated) more rounded and complex. In the end, she felt that the editor’s urging made it a better book, and in some ways made him a better character than the wife, of whom Kate was very fond. She added that the best advice she received from a fellow writer was in response to sharing her elevator pitch about Steal Away. He said, very thoughtfully, that it sounded great but he thought she was starting the book in the wrong place. And he was right.

Bruce Robert Coffin said that his editor gave him the best advice while working on the manuscript for Beyond the Truth was, by far, the toughest book he’s written. In addition to the subject matter, writing the novel brought out some very real emotions in him. The editor advised him to focus on those things that were most important to the story and cautioned against getting caught up in the bits that weren’t. Bruce took his advice to heart and feels the novel is far better for it. Bruce also told me he  feels that his editor and he have a great working relationship. From the start the editor has understood what it is that drives him. He appreciates Bruce’s ability to keep the reader guessing. The editor always pushes him just a little more on each book, and Bruce hopes the good fit continues.

I too have appreciated collaboration with my editor. For the book that was first published by Harlequin and is now reissued as Dark Memories, my editor loved the story and my voice, so she worked with me to make the government agent hero more rounded and, shall we say, more heroic rather than macho. She also thought the hit man’s identity was too obvious, and once I changed that, it improved the suspense aspect of the plot immensely. Readers have consistently told me that they couldn’t guess the hit man’s identity. Yes!

Now I’ll wrap up the editing process. After the content or developmental edit and once the author has revised, the manuscript moves on. A copy editor handles grammar and sentence structure, and a line editor then covers grammar, style, and fact checking. These two jobs are sometimes combined. Finally, an eagle-eyed proofreader corrects any other mistakes that remain.

If you’ve noticed, as I have, errors in published books recently, keep in mind that all of the above and more (cover design, printing, and promotion, for example) must be completed by a deadline, the date the book is scheduled for release.

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Words, Words, Words or … Great Advice

Sandra Neily here: In the dog-days of summer (why do they call it that? … best time to hang with wet, shedding, picnic-eating friends….) I needed some inspiration. Diving deeply into my “love-this-quote” file, I found gems to share.

 Agatha Christie: “Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.

“Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.”Agatha_Christie[1]

Virginia Woolf: “Fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps,
but still attached to life at all four corners.”

Doris Lessing: “There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”

Mark Twain: “A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.”

“To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.”1b3c5a4714df74701465f1bf014c9601[1]

”Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”

Anne Lamott: “If you always dreamed of writing a novel or a memoir, and you used to love to write, and were pretty good at it, will it break your heart if it turns out you never got around to it? If you wake up one day at eighty, will you feel nonchalant that something always took precedence over a daily commitment to discovering your creative spirit? If not–if this very thought fills you with regret–then what are you waiting for?”

Stephen King: “Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”e66w1r0fmuuz[1]

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”

Ray Bradbury: “I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.”

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”

Elmore Leonard: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

Ernest Hemingway: “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”

Barbara Kingsolver: “Pounding out a first draft is like hoeing a row of corn – you just keep your head down and concentrate on getting to the end. Revision is where fine art begins. It’s thrilling to take an ending and pull it backward like a shiny thread through the whole fabric of a manuscript, letting little glints shine through here and there. To plant resolution, like a seed, into chapter one. To create new scenes, investing a character with the necessary damage, the right kind of longing. To pitch out boldly and try again. To work every metaphor across the whole, back and forth, like weaving. I love that.

Elizabeth Strout: “I just want it to be real. Like when I was writing Olive Kitteridge and she would do and say these awful things, and I would say, “Ouch! Ouch!” And then I would say to myself, “Oh, come on, just let her rip, no point in being careful. You know that people say these things or you know that they think these—so just try to do this as truthfully as possible.

“Well, I think that when I start out, I don’t necessarily realize that these women are going to be difficult, and then I go deeper into their “fragile, inarticulate parts” and the frustrations they experience because they can’t articulate their own emotions. They become difficult women as I get further into them …

Nora Ephron:  “I try to write parts for women that are as complicated and interesting as women actually are.”   vita1939-instudy[1]

Franz Kafka: “Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion … Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.”

Terry Tempest Williams: “While focusing on Utah prairie dogs in my book Finding Beauty in a Broken World, I learned that in every prairie dog community there are sentinel dogs whose job is to listen, to look, to watch. Their job is to create alert calls. They are on notice themselves, and they alert their community as to what is happening. Once I watched a prairie dog community from 20 feet for an hour, and the sentinel prairie dogs sent out their calls. The entire community went underground. I thought, “There is nothing here.” Suddenly, two minutes later, the shadow of a red-tail hawk crossed over. That’s paying attention. Sometimes I think that’s what writers are: sentinels. Our books, our poems, our novels are nothing more than alert calls to the community

George Orwell: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

“Good novels are written by people who are not frightened.”

Harlan Coben “Sometimes the loudest cries for help are silent.”

joyce-carol-oates[1]Marie de Nervaud: “You don’t actually have to write anything until you’ve thought it out. This is an enormous relief, and you can sit there searching for the point at which the story becomes a toboggan and starts to slide.”

Joyce Carol Oates: “The first sentence can’t be written until the final sentence is written.”

(ps: Identify the writers? Tough one might be Virginia Woolf.)

Sandy’s novel “Deadly Trespass, A Mystery in Maine,” was a finalist in this year’s Maine Literary Awards, a recipient of a Mystery Writers of America national award, a national finalist in the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Rising Star” contest, and a runner- up in Maine’s Joy of the Pen competition. She lives in the Maine woods (Antler Camp) and says she’d rather be “fly fishing, skiing remote trails, paddling near loons, or just generally out there.” Find more info on the trailer and her website. Her next Mystery in Maine novel, “Deadly Turn,” will be in bookstores next year.SBay summer flowers










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Those Pesky Details

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. Today I’m going to share one of the perils of writing a long-running series. I’m currently working on the thirteenth Liss MacCrimmon mystery and although I kept some notes on characters and setting as I wrote the previous twelve, I’ve realized for a while now that I haven’t been anywhere near thorough enough. I’d be writing a scene and have to stop and try to remember, for example, in which previous book I had Liss go into the back section of the town office to talk to one of the selectmen. Was there an office? A meeting room? A records room? Did she walk down a hall to get there or were all the rooms connected? I had to spend way too much time hunting through scenes in earlier books to locate what I already described so I wouldn’t contradict myself, and even then I couldn’t be certain I hadn’t added more details in another book in the series.

It got to be that I was doing so much of that sort of fact checking that I finally decided it was time for some organized research. In other words, I needed to read the first twelve books in order and take copious notes, especially concerning any casual mention of family members (what did happen to Dan’s mother?) and descriptions that I might need to use again—everything from a character’s taste in drinks to details on the interiors of buildings to the way the road twists and turns between Moosetookalook and nearby Fallstown.

I finished writing Kilt Dead, the first book in the series, in March 2006 and it was published in August 2007. I think I may have reread it once in the last eleven years, but I’m not sure when. Suffice it to say that although I could remember the broad outlines of my plot, I’d forgotten most of the small stuff. When I reread it last month, I ended up with four pages of notes. Most concerned minor details I’d thrown in without much thought and then forgotten about.

Did you know that Liss’s first Scottish dance teacher was her mother? That fact doesn’t change anything too significantly, but it’s a detail that I can now toss into the prickly mother-daughter relationship as it exsits in the current book.

Apparently the original Patsy’s Coffee House only served coffee and pastries. In Scotched, the fifth book, she’s serving lunch. At least that’s not too hard to accept. Patsy just expanded her offerings. I’d forgotten, too, that I had beautician Betsy Twining living above the Clip and Curl in Kilt Dead. Apparently she’d moved out of that apartment by A Wee Christmas Homicide, as it had been empty since September. Liss’s gal pal, Sherri, newly married, is living there in Scotched. Sherri moves around a lot, but at least I already have notes on her next two residences.

More crucial are the discoveries I’m making about Liss’s family. I’d completely forgotten that I gave Margaret Boyd’s late husband a first name in Kilt Dead. When I was making a MacCrimmon family tree to keep the genealogy straight for the work in progress (A View to a Kilt), I gave him a different one. Oops. Good thing I caught that. If I hadn’t, some sharp reader would have.

Yes, readers always catch bloopers. The worst one I’ve let slip past me was describing scones as “flaky” in Kilt Dead and then repeating that error, not once but several times, in Scone Cold Dead. It isn’t that I don’t know what a scone looks and tastes like, and I never meant to imply that a scone was flaky the way a croissant is flaky, but somehow I got the wrong adjective stuck in my head and no one called me on it until after Scone Cold Dead was in print. By then it was too late to correct it.

My hope is that by doing my “research” in the first twelve books, number thirteen will be published without continuity errors. As a side benefit, this read-a-thon is also reminding me of lots of long-forgotten details I can reuse in describing people, places, and things in the WIP and future books.

As of today, I’m up to number six, Bagpipes, Brides, and Homicides, in which Liss’s annoying mother first appears in person and in which Liss’s father becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation. This one ends with a wedding. It appears that marrying off my amateur detective didn’t hurt the series (although some readers felt she chose the wrong suitor). I still have six more books to reread, including the one that won’t be in stores until October 30 (Overkilt). Then it will be back to writing A View to a Kilt, the fall 2019 title, which is due on my editor’s desk on December 1. And after that? I’ll be working on a proposal for even more Liss MacCrimmon mysteries, and much better prepared to get all those pesky details right.

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—November 2018) 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 and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at

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