Pick Your Poison

I’ve been writing books set in the 1920s, and reading books written in the 1920s. Do you know that Anita Loos’ book Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was considered the definitive description of the Flapper and the tempestuous Twenties? Something got lost in the Marilyn Monroe/Jane Russell movie translation. Apparently adhering to the dubious and decadent mores of the Jazz Age did not fly in strict 1950s Hollywood, and they swept most of the naughtiness under the rug.

Edith Wharton called GPB “the great American novel.” I love Edith, though I really can’t say I agree. I found it too silly, and I generally like silly. But more people read it than The Great Gatsby. It was wildly popular, even syndicated as a cartoon in newspapers for a couple of years. All sorts of serious people praised it, including Faulkner, Huxley, and Joyce, which makes me scratch my head.

Most writers who made their names in the 20s leave me somewhat perplexed anyway. Fitzgerald and Hemingway are probably the most famous, and deeply flawed as human beings, if not as writers. I know, who am I to judge? The nerve! No one will ever teach a course on my books/write doctoral dissertations/make film adaptations not only of my novels but my LIFE, LOL.

But I don’t plan to follow their footsteps and day-drink. I am in absolute awe that some authors can write more or less coherently with alcohol at hand to get the creativity flowing. I’d have to nap before I finished typing a page.

The 20s are particularly known for new cocktails, and the excessive drinking thereof. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was bubbling with champagne on every page. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald had careless bad-boy Tom Buchanan serve his guests Gin Rickeys, easy enough for the Buchanan butler to make. He’d take a highball glass filled with ice, 2 ounces gin, ½ ounce lime juice, and top it off with club soda and a couple of lime slices. Sounds refreshing but tart, in which case a smidge of simple syrup can be added.

As a writer, the Last Word cocktail intrigues me: take 2 oz. gin, 1 oz. green chartreuse, 1 oz. maraschino liqueur, 1 oz lime juice, shake together with ice, then pour into a coupe glass. Drop in a brandied cherry. I might not speak for a while.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have none of these ingredients, or a butler, and you remember my nap situation. What does keep me going? It’s not coffee. I usually have one cup when I wake up, and that’s it. There is a lovely tea station in the kitchen, currently with six kinds of caffeinated and decaffeinated tea bags and loose tea. But most of the time I forget it’s there, which is sad, since I can see the counter from my desk chair. (Look at that cute pink teapot!) I go through several bottles of cold water during the day, and sometimes indulge in a real Coke at lunchtime. Coca Cola is probably my favorite beverage. No wonder they’re not making a movie about me. B-O-R-I-N-G.

So, it’s Coke and bottled water for me. Tea, coffee, or do you need something else to power your day?

Maggie Robinson’s latest mystery is Farewell Blues, named as a BookBub reader favorite for October.

For more information, please visit her website.




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Bloodroot: Best New England Crime Stories 2021

During my teenage years I went through a long period when I immersed myself in the short stories of great writers such as Shirley Jackson, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin and John Steinbeck. I read their full-length books as well, devoured novels like The Haunting of Hill House, Another Country and The Grapes of Wrath. But their short work provided an opportunity to analyze how to craft a complete, satisfying story in, say, five thousand carefully chosen words.

The lessons I took from my youthful short-story obsession? Each sentence has to do a lot of work in a short story, each scene needs to be tight. The story arc must be sharp, but not precipitous. Above all, from word one, the writer needs to know her destination.

Like many would-be novelists I started my career as a journalist, but after working as a newspaper reporter for the better part of a decade, I became a lawyer. Since circling my way back to fiction I’ve focused almost all of my creative writing energy on novels. I have three to my credit, yet until now I’ve never published a short story.

Happily, my tale of a criminal defense attorney contending with a very high-maintenance client is included in this year’s anthology Bloodroot: Best New England Crime Stories 2021. Called Means, Motive and Opportunity, it introduces Portland criminal defense lawyer Neva Pierce, who, coincidentally enough, turns out to be a friend and colleague of Joe Gale, the protagonist in my first series.

Bloodroot is the nineteenth annual collection of stories by New England writers, Crime Spell Books having taken the baton this year from longtime publisher Level Best Books. Editors Susan Oleksiw, Ang Pompano and Leslie Wheeler, all fine writers themselves, have selected twenty-four stories to feature this year and one-quarter(!) of us have Maine connections.

In addition to my story, the anthology includes short works by Bruce Robert Coffin (Murphy’s Law), Kate Flora (Best Served Cold), Judith Green (Virtue Is Its Own Reward), Vaughn Hardacker (Just Like Jesse James) and Sarah Smith (Jane Austen’s House).

We’ll be signing copies at New England Crime Bake in Dedham, Massachusetts, November 12-14.  Not going to the “Bake? Here’s a link to order as many copies as you like: https://www.amazon.com/Bloodroot-Best-England-Crime-Stories/dp/0997352051/

As my friend Dick Cass so often points out, books make wonderful gifts. Bloodroot fits that bill, offering stories in every genre under the crime fiction umbrella.

Get ahead of the predicted holiday supply chain woes and order your copies today!


Brenda Buchanan is a lawyer and the author of the Joe Gale Mystery Series, featuring a diehard Maine newspaper reporter who covers the crime and courts beat. Three books—QUICK PIVOT, COVER STORY and TRUTH BEAT—are available everywhere e-books are sold.  Her story MEANS, MOTIVE AND OPPORTUNITY is included in Bloodroot: Best New England Crime Stories 2021.









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The Colorful Crescendo Before The Dark

Kate Flora: A thousand years ago, when I was in elementary school, we learned this poem by Nancy Byrd Turner for Halloween.

Black And Gold

Everything is black and gold,
Black and gold, to-night:
Yellow pumpkins, yellow moon
Yellow candlelight;

Jet-black cats with golden eyes
Shadows black as ink,
Firelight blinking in the dark
With a yellow blink

Black and gold, black and gold
Nothing in between-
When the world turns black and gold
Then it’s Halloween!

The last stanza has stayed in my head ever since.

I was looking back at last Halloween, and realized that it had snowed and everything was blanketed with white.

My owl statue covered with Halloween snow

This year, we were luckier, and that luck has carried on into November. Fall is a very busy season and I expect many of you are like me and have to force yourselves to slow down and take in the beauty of the last of the leaves, the gold of salt marshes, and the last garden flowers that refuse to quit. I may be writing this just to encourage you to do that. Slow down on your walks, look around, and see the colors around you.

Amsonia turns a rich gold

Outside my window there is a gingko tree that was a leggy juvenile when we bought our house forty years ago. I have read that it has a long adolescence. Now it is a majestic giant. The tree has a particular quirk—on the day of the first frost, all of the leaves fall off. When the boys were young, it happened earlier, and we used to gather those fan-shaped golden leaves, stuff an old shirt and pants, pose them in a lawn chair with a pumpkin for a head and bean boots on its feet. Stick a hat on the pumpkins and voila! Pumpkin man. Great for a scary display on Halloween.

This year, the leaves are still clinging, slowly turning from green to pale gold to deep gold. I am waiting for the shower as they fall.

I don’t like November’s brown and gray, so I am trying to savor every day that it holds off. In the meantime, I am appreciating those plants that are still blooming in the garden. The anemones put on a fine show from mid-September to mid-October, as did the asters. Now, without any competition, masses of pale pink chrysanthemums are blooming. The hydrangea leaves and blooms are turning purple and pink. The tassels on the grasses are waving against the blue fall sky.

Chrysanthemums are the last to bloom

It’s true that I’m supposed to be inside. I have many books to read and I plan to try and do NaNoWriMo this month to finish my long-overdue Thea Kozak mystery. It’s hard to stay inside, though.

We writers have to pay attention to the seasons. In Chosen for Death, I set the story in the fall but wrote it in the spring, and was lucky to catch the problem of blooming azaleas in time to change them to chrysanthemums. I began my third Joe Burgess mystery, Redemption, in the fall, and watched Burgess stand on a hill on the Portland’s East End and gaze out over the stunning blue of a fall ocean. A plan for a picnic at Popham Beach was derailed by a body in the harbor. But I had to go to the beach for research, to see what he might have seen. The last sailboats of the season, white sails like blown tissues escaping from a box.

I may not like November, or December, and I particularly dislike February, but they are easier months to write in. I think. Maybe I should force myself outside more, and see what they have to offer.



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New Book

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. NEW BOOK! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write those words. I had a long stretch when I wasn’t writing anything new at all, but now, in just eight days, my NEW BOOK will be released.

I’ve written about The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries here before, talking about the cover art. Here’s what the final cover looks like:

You’ll notice I worked in both my names. That translates to listing Kathy Lynn Emerson and Kaitlyn Dunnett as authors at the top of alternate pages in the text. That’s only fair. The first two stories were previously published in a collection under Kathy’s name. The third short story and the novella have never appeared in print before, but the Valentine Veilleux character shows up in two of the books I wrote as Kaitlyn.

Now the trick is to get people to actually buy the book. I’m terrible at self-promotion. I’m hoping fans of my Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the Deadly Edits series will remember Val and want to read her adventures. For those who don’t have a clue who she is, here’s the blurb I’m using for the book:

The three short stories and a novella that comprise The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries feature professional photographer Valentine Veilleux as an amateur sleuth. Val specializes in creating calendars for organizations to use for fundraising purposes. She is a free spirit who travels the country in a RV, custom-designed to serve as both home and workplace, with her three-legged cat, Lucky, for company. In the course of each job she takes on, she becomes involved with a group of people who know each other and often share dark secrets. When a member of such a group is murdered, Val has the advantage of an outsider’s perspective combined with an insider’s knowledge of the suspects, while her photographs provide clues the police have missed. Val first appeared in Kaitlyn Dunnett’s ninth Liss MacCrimmon Mystery, The Scottie Barked at Midnight, and reappeared in the second book (Clause &Effect) of her Deadly Edits Mysteries. Kaitlyn Dunnett is a pseudonym for Kathy Lynn Emerson, Agatha-award winning author of both fiction and nonfiction.

The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries will go on sale on Tuesday, November 9, in both e-book ($5,99) and trade paperback ($10.99) formats, although be advised that if you want the paperback, you should order as soon as possible. Supply chain delays have affected print-on-demand printing as well as the production of traditionally published books. My book is published with the aid of Draft2Digital, which provides pre-ordering through Barnes & Noble and Apple, but not with Amazon. You’ll have to wait to order until November 9 if your heart is set on the Kindle edition. Here is a link to various stores where it can be purchased as an e-book and in trade paperback format: https://books2read.com/u/bpaPlz  More online bookstores will be added closer to November 9 and you can also ask your local library to order a copy in either format. Independent bookstores can obtain copies of the paperback if you ask.

Question for readers: do you pre-order books, either e or print? Doing so can help impress a writer’s publisher if she’s traditionally published, so I imagine it factors into some algorithm or other for all books. What I do know is that sales matter. So do reviews, especially on Amazon. Any help in getting the word out about The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries will be much appreciated by both Kaitlyn and Kathy.

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett has had sixty-four books traditionally published and has self published several children’s books and three works of nonfiction. 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. Her newest books are Murder, She Edited (the fourth book in the contemporary “Deadly Edits” series, written as Kaitlyn) and, as Kathy, I Kill People for a Living: A Collection of Essays by a Writer of Cozy Mysteries. 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, now available in e-book format.


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Weekend Update: October 30-31, 2021

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be  posts by Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson (Monday), Kate Flora (Tuesday), Brenda Buchanan (Thursday), and Maggie Robinson (Friday). Some Wednesdays from now on will be “Win a Book Wednesday” with giveaways, drawings, and announcements of winners. Be sure to stop by at mid-week to see what’s new.

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

Kaitlyn Dunnett’s new title, The Valentine Veilleux Mysteries, a collection of three short stories and a novella featuring a traveling calendar photographer, will be released on November 9. It can be pre-ordered at the B&N and Apple sites. Amazon should have it available on the 9th. Here is a link to various stores where it can be purchased as an e-book and in trade paperback format: https://books2read.com/u/bpaPlz 

More online bookstores will be added closer to November 9 but you can also ask your local library to order a copy in either format. Independent bookstores can obtain copies of the paperback if you ask.



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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For Halloween? The Scariest Books and Movies Ever

Today, to celebrate Halloween in all its dark glory, we’re sharing some of the scariest books and movies (TV shows count, too) we’ve ever read or seen. We invite you to join in.


John Clark: Books don’t scare me, but when I was in college back in the 1960s, a bunch of us believed a classmate was driven insane by reading The Mind Parasites: The Supernatural Metaphysical Cult Thriller by Colin Wilson. We found out months later she had schizophrenia and the book was just a book. As for movies, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte starring Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland which came out in 1964 still creeps me out when I think of it.  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058213/

Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett: I try to avoid being scared, because when a book or movie does scare me, the impact stays with me. Stephen King’s Pet Sematary and Salem’s Lot (especially the scene shooting rats at the dump) for books and, oddly, Clive Cussler’s Dragon, which includes a plot to wipe out all electronics on the planet. The movie that terrified me as a child was The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. I was looking over my shoulder for that cyclops for months afterward! But the best horror movie of all time, in my humble opinion, is the original black and white film, The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s novel. There is no blood or gore. The scary stuff is all in the viewer’s mind, created by some terrific acting and special effects.

Maggie Robinson: Total wuss here. Much too anxious. I have missed many, many  movie scenes due to closed eyes. I had to stop reading Stephen King years ago though I still love The Stand–so many bad dreams. But one scary book still sticks with me, Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home. Beneath the surface of pristine perfection, evil lurks…

Kate Flora: The scariest book I ever read is, interestingly enough, one that wouldn’t work in today’s digital world, though I expect that an innovative writer could find a way to work a similar plot. The book is Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon. A book in which the killer chooses the families he murders in grotesque ways through processing their family photos in an on-line photo lab. Gave me chills for years. In the film department, undoubtedly The House on Haunted Hill. What I most remember, though, is that my brother John suggested the movie, saying it would be funny, and since we didn’t have any money, we had to search through coat pockets and old purses to finally come up with enough to buy our tickets. It wasn’t funny. It was the close your eyes and hope it ends, leave you with nightmares kind of film. Followed closely by a Twilight Zone episode called To Serve Man. The final scene still makes me shudder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp_EhjlLGkQ

I asked some of my friends on Facebook for their scariest books, and while there are a few votes for Red DragonStephen King books were the overwhelming winners. Among the other suggestions, in case you are looking to be scared are: In Cold Blood, The Exorcist, Silence of the Lambs, The Lottery or The Haunting of Hill House, Amityville Horror, Come Closer, Night of the Hunter, and of course, anything by Poe.


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How Laying a Dry Stonewall is Like Writing a Novel

Kate Flora here, apologizing. We were supposed to rerun one of Darcy Scott’s posts yesterday, but someone (me?) got busy clearing out cupboards of anything the mouse might eat and then driving several hours in the rain and became brain dead and forgot. So here you go. It is fascinating how many other things we do–like gardening–are like shaping a novel.
Darcy Scott here, feeling nostalgic on this crisp November morning and remembering another such day maybe ten years back when, after reluctantly bailing on the oh-so-romantic but completely impractical idea of spending Maine winters shivering aboard our sailboat in Kittery, we decided to suck it up and move ashore for the coldest of the winter months. The fact our boat was also our home posed a serious logistical problem until we happened to spot a “For Sale” sign pointing the way to a piece of land high on a bluff. We jumped on it, and giddy with possibility, designed our new house over martinis and began to build. While my husband and his cronies sawed wood and slung hammers, I cast about for a project of my own, eventually hitting on the idea of building a stonewall. A dry-laid stonewall, no less. It would be my first, but I’d watched any number of these things go up over the years. How hard could it be, after all?
The early stages
As I sourced my materials—rocks of various sizes and shapes that I dug, rolled and otherwise manhandled to my chosen spot at the top of the drive—I was forming a loose mental plan, choosing long, flat rocks as my basic building blocks, while saving smaller, oddly-shaped pieces for corners and architectural features, if you will. Piles here; piles there; piles, piles everywhere. Then it hit me. This very organic process was exactly the approach I take when writing my novels: sourcing and loosely organizing my raw material (rocks vs. research and character notes); strategically setting those building blocks to support the weight of what was to come, while holding aside the elements that would eventually flesh everything out (a gnarly, angled granite corner piece vs. a good plot twist, for instance). Think of it more as an action plan than an outline, which is something that’s never really worked for me. Before I began my first novel, Hunter Huntress (Snowbooks, LTD., UK, 2010), I spent three months on a detailed outline I tossed when my characters began going their own merry way. I then cobbled together another based on the direction in which the first few chapters seemed to be heading, and ended up chucking that as well. Lesson learned. Now I loosely plot maybe three chapters out, and I’ve stuck with that strategy ever since.
Back to the wall. As I worked, I found myself setting aside certain pieces—too long, too bulky, too lovely to be overshadowed by the bits around them—trusting that I’d know where they should go when the time came. Bouts of self-doubt inevitably set in, of course, as they do with any creative project. Should I make the wall higher? Longer? Wider?  (Should I beef up the chapter with additional detail or insert a few more bits of the subplot?) As the wall took shape, so did the house. The men were on to the electrics, plumbing, and heat by this time, and with an ever-increasing number of sub-contractors making their way up the drive, it was inevitable that a truck or two or three would back into my rocky expanse, dislodging some portion of the narrative— I mean stonewall. Undaunted, I rebuilt time and time again, despite what was clearly a faulty design. Wrong location, too low to be seen in the rearview, not substantial enough to withstand being hit—take your pick. It was a tough moment, not unlike the process of re-writing a chapter that’s not really working—one you can’t quite let go of. Until you finally do. Eventually I gave up on the thing, just as I’d abandoned a few early manuscripts as hopelessly flawed. A heartbreaker for sure, but a good lesson in the end, and one not without its own bittersweet rewards. It just might be that success equates less with the end result than with the creative process that gets you there. Turns out, the top of the drive works just as well for the luxuriant bank of daffodils that rises to greet me each spring. I’ll take it. Darcy Scott (Winner, 2019 National Indie Excellence Award; Best Mystery, 2013 Indie Book Awards; Silver Award, 2013 Readers Favorite Book Awards; Bronze Award, 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 2010 by Snowbooks, Ltd., UK.
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It’s Fall In The County


Vaughn C. Hardacker here: Earlier this month my partner Jane and I decided to fire up the ATV and embark on our annual Leaf Peep Excursion into the north Maine woods.  I would like to say that this years experience was entirely positive but I can’t.  The foliage is (as you read this) most likely past peak now, but on the day we took our ride, we always travel the trails that lead to the Fish River Chain of lakes…more specifically Cross and Long Lakes.  We usually end up having a meal at Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha (If you aren’t familiar with this part of the world, it is pronounced A-Gat ) while we looked at the panoramic view of Long Lake.

The foliage was great and the recent rains had cut the trail dust so much that it was not discernable.  The sun was bright, the temperature in the high 60’s, low 70’s, and the wind was calm.  The sun shining on the leaves emphasized the colors making it a truly enjoyable run–well, almost.  It never ceases to amaze me the work nature has put into ensuring our woodland has a colorful wardrobe before settling down for a long winter’s sleep.

I have been told that there is only one other area on Earth that experiences the autumn colors of New England and it’s in China.

There is particular area that I have always enjoyed. A beautiful hardwood ridge that was possibly one of the most serene places I have ever encountered.

Before: What it Nature hundreds of years to make

I was all set to slow down and spend some time here. You can imagine how I felt when this is what I found.  I have seen what was left after a B-52 Arclight took place in Vietnam.  An Arclight is when the huge bombers would drop a continuous line of 500 pound bombs on an area. For instance, the line would start at the base of  a mountain, climb the mountain, descend on the other side, cross a valley and go up the next mountain, again, and again, and again.

Now: What man did in a matter of weeks.

You can believe me when I say that the devastation was nowhere near this bad.  The other thing that lights a three-foot fire under my butt is that this annihilation of our wood lands is being done by a company that isn’t even headquartered in our country, let alone our state.   Maine does, however, award them the rights to cutting any and all timber.  Don’t let someone from Irving catch you cutting a live Christmas tree without their permission. I’ve heard several people say, “But, they plant new trees.”

Really?  Here’s what I know. They do plant, but they plant pine and spruce–evergreens–not deciduous trees that provide us with our beautiful mix of colors.  It is conceivable that by the time my great-grand children reach my age, fall foliage could be their generation’s dinosaur–something they hear about but have never seen.  The only place left will be China–maybe.  Our woodlands will be entirely comprised of evergreen trees.  I’m not even going to get into the impact that will have on the creatures that make their home there.

I’ve been seeing the recent ad blitz about preposition 1 and the CMP power line project.  It does not matter what we the people of Maine want…it matters how much money will be spent ensuring that our legislators vote in the company’s favor.  When I was a teenager the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build a dam on the Allagash River (Called the Dickey-Lincoln Project).  Upon completion of the dam the town of Allagash was projected to be under 300 feet of water (or so rumor had it).  That project and the CMP project have one thing in common…every kilowatt of power created will go to Massachusetts.  What does Maine get? SCREWED! Pardon my language, but I for one am sick and tired of the way that our government (local, state, and national) plays favorites.  What might one ask is the determining factor between the favorites and those excluded?  Votes.  Massachusetts, when compared to Maine, is a wealthy highly populated state.  Guess who the favorite is.

I wonder what Paul Bunyan would think if he saw this!  This machine will cut more timber in an hour than a man will cut in days.

Why is the deforestation of our planet important?  Let’s think about the global perspective. Trees absorb carbon dioxide during the daylight hours and expel oxygen during night hours.  In doing research for a novel I am currently writing, I came across an eye-opening statistic. The largest forest on Earth is the Amazon in Brazil.  I’ve seen statistics that say the Amazon alone creates five percent of the world’s oxygen that is one-twentieth of all the oxygen in the world.  What has been happening for several decades?  The Amazon has been under attack from loggers, miners, and farmers.  The government of Brazil was giving free land in the Amazon Basin to anyone who would clear the land and plant crops.  The problem is that when these peasant farmers tried to raise crops they quickly learned that all the soil was good for was being a forest.  So what did they do?  They abandoned the land they’d just cleared and moved on to destroy another section of forest.  This is taking place in tropical rainforests around the world.

In closing.  Of late we’ve all heard about climate change.  There is a lot of debate about how to address it.  In our country it’s in vogue to attack certain industries i. e. coal.  I’m not saying that they don’t contribute, but is our government penalizing us when other industrialized countries are as much, if not more, responsible.  Remember the pictures of the atmosphere in the Beijing Olympics.  Anybody have a clue about what the Chinese government is doing to address the problem?  It has also been said:  The Amazon rainforest is where the Earth sweats.  (Maybe there’s a clue here about how to truly solve global warming.)

I think maybe it’s time that we, the people took matters in hand.  How? Vote out the life-time politicians who only serve to become rich and put term limits on every public office.  I have never been a proponent of term limits, but the American electorate has proven time and time again that they are unwilling to do the homework required to make an intelligent decision in the ballot booth.  Instead, they vote the way that news commentators tell them on TV.  As a result, they keep voting in the same corrupt people (that goes for both political parties) for whom a political office is nothing more than a means to achieve wealth and hold power.  Ask yourself: What has ant elected official done for me lately–or forever…

‘Nuff said.


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Weekend Update: October 23-24, 2021

Next week at Maine Crime Writers there will be  posts by Vaughn Hardacker (Monday), Darcy Scott (Tuesday), and Dick Cass (Thursday), with a group Halloween post on Friday. Some Wednesdays from now on will be “Win a Book Wednesday” with giveaways, drawings, and announcements of winners. Be sure to stop by at mid-week to see what’s new.

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

Longing for a library program? Curious about how writers find their characters? Then join us for a Zoom program at the Belgrade Library next Thursday.

Maine Crime Writers present Casting Call: How Writers Staff Their Mysteries.

Maine Crime Writers
Maine Crime Writers
Event Date:
Thursday, October 28, 2021 – 6:00pm

Maine Crime Writers will present a panel of four local authors to share their insights into writing. Learn how Kate Flora, Maureen Milliken, Susan Vaughan, and Maggie Robinson come up with their varied and interesting casts. If you’re a writer or a reader, this event will make you take a second look at your favorite characters and give you insight into writing your own. Here’s the Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/96521337579

And on a similar note, here’s a program including our own Kate Flora focusing on how writers create suspense:

CFA Mystery Night
” Sunday, October 31, 2021
” 7:00 PM 8:00 PM
CFA Mystery Night
Keeping The Pages Turning:
How Crime Writers
Create Suspense
Join CFA Mystery Night emcee and celebrated author Kate Flora to discover how to create suspense in fiction with mystery writers Susan Oleksiw, Dale Phillips and Susan Smith.
Register in advance for this meeting:

Susan Vaughan’s newest release, GENUINE FAKE, is free on Amazon through Sunday, Oct. 24. Here’s a short description: Someone is forging Gemma Bellini’s famous grandfather’s paintings and trying to kill her. She needs the man she never forgot. Haunted by his men’s deaths, former Army Ranger Boyd Kirby fears he can’t keep Gemma safe. When sparks between them ignite to flames, the danger escalates. To order, go here: http://getbook.at/GenuineFake

Next week, another sale! To celebrate Halloween, Susan’s most suspenseful book, according to reviews, PRIMAL OBSESSION, will be on sale for 99 cents Oct. 28-Oct. 31. Here’s a short description: On a canoe trip in Maine, Annie can’t help feeling a spark with gorgeous guide Sam. But can Sam keep Annie safe when she learns that a killer is stalking her through the wilderness? To order, go here: http://getBook.at/Primal-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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Try a Little Kindness

Today, as part of revisiting some of our bloggers from the past, we’re sharing a post from the wonderful Dorothy Cannell which seems highly relevant now, as it is about people misbehaving on an airplane. Enjoy!

Dorothy Cannell: In April my husband, Julian, and I visited our son and daughter-in-lawScreen Shot 2018-06-26 at 1.13.39 PM in Arizona.  Our return was delayed a couple of days due to bad weather, and the only flight that could be rescheduled left at midnight with a stopover in Philadelphia.  Additionally, we weren’t able to sit together, but as we were separated by only a couple of rows, each on aisle seats, that was no problem for us.  I have a tendency to be oblivious to what’s going on around me when my hands and mind are occupied so I missed what was happening behind me before take-off.  Then I heard a female voice exclaim, “She so mean to me. So mean to me.”  I looked up from stowing my bag under the seat and saw a flight attendant standing in the aisle and realized from what the attendant was saying that she was attempting to deal with a disgruntled passenger in an aisle seat.

“We can’t have this,” the attendant said.

“She got up to put a bag in the over-head bin and then to go to the bathroom and I had to get out of my aisle seat each time,” snapped back the woman in the aisle seat.

By now I had turned my head.  Standing was a young woman seeking the middle seat in the row, obviously the one I’d first heard because the same words came again.  “She so mean to me.”  The accent (to my less than knowledgeable ear) sounded Hispanic.  I wondered how fluent she might be in English and if not how this frustrating this must be for her.  She was visibly on the verge of tears.  The woman in the aisle seat then bellowed an irate explanation of her view point to the flight attendant.  I offered to change seats with the young woman.

“We can’t have this,” said the flight attendant.  I thought she meant I couldn’t exchange seats.  Then I realized she was repeating her earlier words about the situation because she turned toward the young woman, “You do realize that if you move she will still be behind you.”

The exchange was made, the flight attendant moved off, and I settled in next to the ‘difficult’ woman. She engaged in a gushing monologue about her visit to Arizona and where she was headed.  Unfortunately, it was Maine and I hoped we’d be separated by the length of the plane when we boarded our connecting flight in Philadelphia.  We were interrupted before I’d got out more than “Really” and “How nice,” by a by teenage boy asking if he could get through to the window seat.

“You can” snarled the woman, “so I must get up again!”

Within minutes of this being accomplished a woman in a uniform that did not resemble those worn by any of the flight attendants stopped opposite our row.  “I need you to come with me,” she said in a level voice to the woman seated next to me.

“I can’t,” was the annoyed – irate response, “I’ve already been up and down enough.  My bags are here.  I’m not leaving my bags.  Why should I move?  That girl …” It went on, but she was cut off, by the firm voice from what I now realized was Security.

“You will come with me NOW.  Your luggage will be brought to you,” the security agent commanded.  The woman got up to the accompaniment of furious mutterings and soon disappeared down the aisle.

Julian leaned across to me and whispered:  “They’ll punish her by putting her in first class.”  A moment later a man poked his head up from the seat behind. “You wouldn’t believe the things she said to that young woman.  “Awful.  Hateful.” Other voices joined in condemnation of the behavior and appreciation of how well the situation had been handled.

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 1.13.05 PMJulian was right about the woman being put in a better seat where she could be kept a close eye on, because we saw her in the deplaning area when we got off.  The young woman came up to me and thanked me for changing seats.  Her English wasn’t good, but her eyes said so much.

I am going back to Arizona next week, which is what reminded me of this incident, and I remembered an article I read years ago about emotional IQ and a mention of Henry James.  When James was asked by a nephew what were the three ingredients to a successful life, he replied:  “To be Kind. To be Kind. To be kind.”

I did what any of us would do in similar circumstances; it cost me nothing but a few moments of time.  I’d like to think it costs even less not to cause unnecessary distress.  Nastiness belongs in fiction, which Henry James proved so well in The Turn of The Screw.

I had purchased a pin from the Green Store in Belfast which says, “Try to be kind.”  I plan to wear it often – especially when I travel.

Happy reading,


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