Category Archives: Newsletter

Summer Adventures

Maine was in a bit of a fog, literally, for much of June. As usual, I drove northeast along the coast (“Down East”) the third week for the annual Stonington sea kayaking get-together. I call the place “kayak heaven” because there are so many little islands we land on within an easy paddle. The weather was off and on rainy so a couple of us drove off the peninsula up to Acadia National Park for a day of hiking in the clouds. It was great.

Stonington is a terrific little town that embodies Maine history and culture. “Little” because its 40 square miles is 75% water. The harbor is packed with lobster boats. At early light, the chug of the boat motors drifts into our bedroom windows (the house we’ve rented for decades is right on the water). During a day’s paddle we watch hard-working lobstermen circle their colorful buoys (each is unique and registered) and “haul traps”. In a day, an ambitious lobstermen might pull 800 traps up onto his boat. For each one he and his sternman (who might be female) will yank out “keepers”, throw back ones too small or too big or “berried” (females with eggs), add new bait, and slide the trap off the stern into the water.

Lobstering has been part of Stonington’s fabric for a very long time, but recently it’s become the industry’s “sweet spot” partly because of coastal warming. Last year about 17 million pounds of lobster were hauled up onto its docks.

Readers might recall that last June three paddlers – I was one – were caught in a horrendous “gale”. The thing blew up in a instant and it took every bit of skill we had to stay in our boats. With five-foot plus waves close together and howling wind, rescue would’ve been impossible. Of course, we were wearing wetsuits which would have protected us from the frigid water if we did go over. Off Acadia, two other paddlers weren’t so lucky. Caught in the same gale, they flipped and died of hypothermia. They weren’t wearing wetsuits.

As I write this in July, the water has warmed up. I’ve even gone swimming off Little John Island in Yarmouth where I live. It’s, as they say, “bracing”. Tonight when its fully dark, John and I will paddle out a bit, splash the water, and be amazed by the bioluminescence. Tiny dinoflagellates light up when disturbed like that – and nobody really knows why. Truly amazing.

Spring 2017

Demon Spirit, Devil Sea is speeding along though the review and early printing process. I’ll actually hold the book in my hands soon (review copy) and expect it to come out in early May. Maine Authors Publishing is now my publisher and it’s been terrific working with them.

Since the story takes place in a remote place few know exists, I include a map of Haida Gwaii and its location. As you can see, it’s way out there in the Pacific Ocean!

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As in all my books, the outdoor environment plays a major role. Haida Gwaii literally drips with nature because it’s one of the few temperate rainforests left on Earth. The moody, wet, spooky rainforest is a great backdrop for a murder mystery. Besides that, the cold, deep, and sometimes fierce Pacific Ocean is always right there waiting to claim the unprepared or unlucky.

I won’t give away too much, but Mara ends up cold, wet, and desperately in need of rescue.

Haida Gwaii is also an active earthquake zone because it’s on the convergence of two major plates. This geology produces hot springs which attract tourists and are important sacred places for the Haida Nation. The hot springs also play a key role in “Demon Spirit”.

For more information on Demon Spirit, Devil Sea, click here.

Maine in June

Summer has definitely arrived in Southern Maine – lilacs are in full bloom and best of all, the water has warmed up to safer temperatures. I paddle alone quite a bit (close to shore) and the dangers of Maine’s cold water are very real. Readers of COLD BLOOD, HOT SEA will see what I mean!

Finally, the first in the Mara Tusconi Mystery series will be published this month on June 7th. Reviews have been very positive. I especially liked the one in Foreward Reviews, the independent press magazine:

Pacing is spot-on, making for a page-turner that allows time for reflection on larger issues … of note is the friendship between [Mara and Harvey]; their relationship is warm, believable, and modernly feminist without being preachy. Cold Blood, Hot Sea will make for great beach reading, but it also has met on its bones, with rich characterization and an intriguing mystery at its core.

I have a three-book contract with Torrey House Press—a book a year. The editors will soon give me feedback about book number two (Deadly Spirit of the Sea) in which Mara, Harvey and Ted travel to Haida Gwaii. It’s an archipelago of islands and national park off British Columbia where there’s a temperate rain forest and lots of sea kayaking, of course. The native Haida’s mysticism and intimacy with nature is the basis for another “cli-fi” mystery.

Now that it’s June, I’ve started on the third book. Lobster Trapped (working title) takes Mara and her friends back to Maine. There, lobstermen wars, Maine islands, secrets, and Mara’s lobstering cousin Gordy are the foundation for the story.

It’ll be a busy, busy summer. I’ll do Cold Blood, Hot Sea readings and signings, rework the second book, and write the first draft of the third one. I’m doing what I love and consider myself extraordinarily lucky.

Speaking of luck, I want to thank the many friends and colleagues who’ve helped me with book promotion. These days, it’s up to authors to do most of that (Facebook, setting up readings, etc.). For a first-time author like me, it’s a lot to learn. I’ve had a ton of help for which I am so very grateful.

New Release Date!

For those of you who have been wondering, Cold Blood, Hot Sea has it’s new release date. You will be able to purchase the book come June 7th. It’s not that far off, so naturally I’m incredibly excited!

In the meantime, keep an eye on my News and Events Page. Some cool events are coming up, so don’t miss out!

A Cloud and a Silver Lining

Due to an unfortunate printing error, the back of my book was barely readable and Torrey House had to have the book reprinted. As a result, the publication date has been pushed back to June, the exact date to be determined. So you’ll have to wait another month to find out what’s in store for Mara. It’s a bummer but what can you do?

On a brighter note, because of the reprint the book got a new cover!

What do you all think? Let me know!

You can email me your thoughts or leave them in a comment on my Facebook or Goodreads page, found under the contact section.

There’s No Place Like Maine

I’ve returned to Maine! Half the year I live in the Midwest with my husband, John Briggs (he’s Director of the Konza Prairie Preserve, a Nature Conservancy site). From April-November I’m in Maine and we travel back and forth.

I’m drinking up Maine. How I missed the slosh of waves on rocks and air perfumed with the odor of salt and seaweed! And – of course – sea kayaking. First warmish day, I’ll roll my 17 foot kayak down the driveway and launch it in the saltmarsh across the street. Huge grin on my face, I’ll paddle into the wind, play on the waves, and absolutely love it. I do have to be careful to get back before low tide, though, or I’ll be stuck in the mud!

Cold Blood, Hot Sea will be published in May. Now that I’m back, I’ll visit bookstores to set up readings plus chats about climate-fiction (“cli-fi”) and environmental impacts of warming on Maine’s coast. I’d love to do some with environmental organizations. Those will take place over the summer and I’ll post information on this website. I do have readings already schedule with several book groups, but those are private events.

Several friends have asked about cli-fi since they’ve never heard the term. My friend and colleague, Dan Bloom, coined the term a while back. In a nutshell, this is fiction in which climate change is a major theme (or the theme). Most cli-fi takes place in the future and is dystopian, scary, and depressing. Of course, that approach serves a purpose.

Cold Blood, Hot Sea is very different. It’s a contemporary story in which readers get an idea what climate scientists actually do and about they type of harassment they have to deal with. But it’s not gloomy by any means. It’s funny (like when Mara….oh, can’t let the cat out of the bag), fast paced, and immerses readers in the mysterious above and underwater ocean domain. And, of course, it’s a mystery so readers can try to figure out “who done it” along with Mara.