Wicked New England – Outdoor Festivals

Don’t you just love summer and all the outdoor activities? Aside from the beach,   we’re so lucky here in New England to have so many cool outdoor festivals. There really is something for everyone – jazz, seafood, cars, art, lobster, the list goes on. So Wickeds, what kind of festival will you fight the crowds and the heat to attend?

Edith: We went to the Lowell International Folk Festival last Saturday, as we do

The Seamus Egan Project playing Irish

every year. All of downtown Lowell is closed to vehicle traffic. Musical groups from all over the world fill five venues, and dancing is encouraged. International food is served hot, smelling delectable, from Filipino to Cambodian to Portuguese to Greek. And this year it wasn’t 95 degrees, but a comfortable 75. The festival is free!

Julie: Does going to outdoor theater count? I saw Romeo and Juliet on the Boston Common last week. It is Commonwealth Shakespeare’s 22nd show on the Common. Free, and runs through this weekend (Aug 6). I went with friends, my sister, and the nieces. It is a wonderful production, and I was more than happy to be part of a crowd experiencing the show.

Jessie: I don’t really attend festivals usually but I do love Illumination Night in Ocean Park, Maine. It occurs of the first Saturday of August every year and most of the houses in the community are decked out with twinkling lights. It is a magical experience to wander through the pokey little lanes peeping at all the displays and mingling with the crowds.

Liz: I love art festivals. There was one in town a few weeks back, and in addition to the lovely art, there’s always such cool jewelry! You meet such great people, and dogs are welcome so that’s even better. And this weekend, there’s another art festival right on my street, which will be so fun.

Barb: Our town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine has lots of celebrations and festivals. Windjammer Days is the last week in June, when old wooden schooners make a stately appearance in the harbor. The Claw Down in September is a lobster cooking competition and related fun activities. And the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens festival of lights called Gardens Aglow runs through the entire holiday season. We stay pretty busy here.

Windjammer Days, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Photo by Bill Carito

Sherry: Wow, now I want to go to all of these festivals and activities! And I love the photograph, Barb! Bedford used to have an Apple Festival on the town common that was fun to attend. One year I met the town historian there and he was fascinating! I also love to go to flea markets like the one below!

Readers: Do you have a favorite festival?

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Summer Reads 2017

NEWS FLASH: Meg is the winner of Peg’s book for commenting yesterday. Congratulations, Meg! Peg will be contacting you by email.

It’s full summer in New England – sun-kissed tomatoes, sun-pinked skin from the beach, sunny yellow flowers abloom. So what are we reading, Wickeds and friends? Share your favorite kick-back-and-lose-yourself-in-a-story choices.

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Edith: I have the great honor of being nominated for a Macavity Award, the Sue FederMemorial Award for Best Historical Novel, along with Catriona McPherson, Ann Parker, James Ziskin, Lyndsay Faye, and Susanna Calkins (in no particular order). I’m reading each of their nominated books before I head to Toronto for Bouchercon in October. So far I’ve loved Catriona’s The Reek of Red Herrings and Lynsday’s Jane Steele. Next up is Ann’s What Gold Buys, which I’m eagerly anticipating.

Sherry: I’ve read a lot of great books over the past few weeks. First up was Identity by Ingrid Thoft. I love this series and have to keep myself from binge reading it. Second I was delighted to read my friend Kim Stockley’s YA fantasy A Shattered Moon the first in a trilogy with the concept: There is still an Eden but it’s no longer paradise. I read an early version and loved it even more now. Then I read Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen. What a plot and full of his usual quirks. I just started Murder with Chicken and Waffles by A.L. Herbert who I met at an event on Saturday. When a book starts with cornbread you know it’s  going to be good.

Liz: I have so many books on my list! I just finished World Gone By by Dennis Lehane, and Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein. Next on my list is Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz.

Julie: Diane Vallere and I were on a panel together at Malice. She mentioned that she will read through an entire series at a time–both to enjoy and to learn from. With that as an inspiration, and with a vacation coming up, I’ve decided to read Louise Penny’s series. She is a favorite of so many, and I am already glad I’m diving in.

Barb: I feel like a broken record, because I think every time we do this I’m reading William Kent Krueger. However, I am almost caught up to the present. Currently reading Manitou Canyon. Like Julie, I have vacation coming up. I’m planning to bring Paul Doiron’s latest, Knife Creek, and Bruce Robert Coffin’s second novel, Beneath the Depths. And, like every year, the last week in August, I’ll be at Sherman’s in Boothbay Harbor, picking up a copy of Louise Penny’s latest, Glass Houses this year, for my Labor Day weekend reading pleasure.

Jessie: I am currently reading Radha Vatsal’s A Front Page Affair and am enjoying it immensely! I recently finished Cold Comfort by Quentin Bates and Herbie’s Game by Timothy Hallinan. For non-fiction I am savoring Naturalists in Paradise: Wallace, Bates and Spruce in the Amazon by John Hemming.

Readers: Share your summer reads!

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July Opening Lines

Add your own opening line for this picture!

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Edith:  If ya want somebody to do something, tell ’em not to do it. I told her running alone on the rail trail was too dangerous. My plan worked, and now I’m blissfully alone.

Julie: There were runner’s stretches, then there were stretchy runners. She was the latter, and never met a wall she didn’t like. Until Tuesday. Did that look like a cliff to you?

Liz: I might not have noticed the shoe if I hadn’t dropped my phone during my walk. But when I bent over to pick it up, there it was. I thought at first it was a kid playing hide and seek, but boy was I wrong…

Sherry: I really wish I wouldn’t have pulled on that shoe when I found it.

Barb: “Go get it, girl! Go get it.” But Trixie shook me off, growling and baring her tiny teeth, so I dove through the hedge to retrieve her favorite ball. When I broke through the undergrowth on the other side, I saw something so strange and magical, so astonishing and terrifying, it changed my life forever..

Jessie: Patrice had always wondered how Melody had dazzled the judges, year after year at the annual Little Watford garden competition. Now that she knew her rival’s secret she could check two items from the top of her to-do list: win the Silver Spade trophy and rid her household of her layabout brother-in-law.

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It’s A Full Moon

Today is the full moon. Not just any full moon, but the smallest and the lowest of the year. In the northern part of the country, even at it’s highest point, at 1:00 a.m., the tiny moon is only a third of the way up in the sky. Because it’s so low, it often has an amber color, which is why some call it the honey moon.

I know the Wickeds run from hot to cold on the woo-woo stuff, but tell me, fellow writers, are you affected by the full moon? Do you believe others are?

Liz: Oooh, my kind of post 🙂 I love learning about the moon phases and what they mean. So for this strawberry moon, I learned it’s in my sign (Sagittarius), and that means I can be rewarded for “hard and smart work and passions,” according to one horoscope site. Unfortunately it also means my emotions can be stronger as well, which isn’t necessarily a good thing these days!

Sherry: I’m on the not so woo-woo side of the Wicked woo-woo spectrum. That said, our dog Lily barks more in the middle of the night the few days before and the night of the full moon. I’ve also noticed that people seem to drive crazier around the full moon. But maybe that’s because they are tired from their dog barking in the middle of the night.

Julie: I love the moon. I took a class once, and had to go out for three nights and chart the path of the moon. It was October, and I was really grouchy about it the first night. Then I loved learning, watching. That, and From the Earth to the Moon was one of my favorite TV series ever. So full moons make me smile. But I also do feel affected by the moon, and notice it in others. According to an astrology site, I should stay clear of emotional triggers during the full moon. Considering Friday I have a graduation (morning) and wedding (evening) on the docket, fat chance of that!

Jessie: I am all about the woo-woo and the moon is no exception! Some people believe that the new moon is for setting intentions and plans for those things you wish to accomplish or to bring into your life before the next new moon. They believe the full moon is for letting go of things that no longer serve you like bad habits or clutter. I confess, more often than not I try to use that rhythm to move through my life.

Edith'sChartEdith: I’m also not a particularly woo-woo person, but I do think there is something to be said for astrology. My sun and rising sign are in Scorpio – intense, given to extremes – but my moon (and I was born during a full moon) is in Taurus, which is how most people see me – the “crunchy granola” type (truth – I’m both). I love following the progress of the moon. As a former doula and now author who writes about a midwife, I can say that midwives swear there are more births during a full moon. The moon affects the oceans, why wouldn’t it affect the amniotic fluid in a full-term pregnant woman?

Barb: My mother-in-law held the moon in great esteem. She called herself a “lunatic” and swore she couldn’t sleep when the moon was full. The problem was, she never checked to see if was actually full, and often claimed not to have slept when it was not. I’m the blog skeptic, I know. I don’t believe in astrology. And I just read an article from a scientific journal that showed statistically that emergency rooms are not busier when the moon is full, even though we all believe they are and remark on it. I think it’s a noticing bias. But, the moon does exert a gravitational pull and control the tides–so on that level I’ll concede, who knows what it might be up to? And I do love looking at the moon, no matter what it is or is not doing.

Readers: Are you moon believers, or moon skeptics? Any good moon stories?

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Memorial Day Moments

It’s Memorial Day – summer is kicking off, it’s a long weekend (for us day-jobbers, anyway) and hopefully the weather is beautiful where you are! We’re talking today about our favorite things to do on this day – traditions, trips, and more. So Wickeds, what’s the plan for today?

Jessie: I will be in the U.K. over the holiday weekend. One of my kids is planning the trip and is keeping everything a surprise so I have no idea what my plans are yet. It should be fun!

Julie: Jessie, have a wonderful trip! I love Memorial Day weekend. It is a time of reflection (the reason for the holiday). It also marks the end of winter, and the kick off to summer. Summer in New England is a marvel, and I relish it. I always toast the ocean (or a body of water), and paint my toenails. Not at the same time.

Barb: Julie, I love the idea of painting your toenails. I always welcome barefoot weather, the best months of the year. I’ve wracked my brain, but I can’t think of any Memorial Day traditions. Patriot’s Day (mid-April), yes. Fourth of July, for sure. But in New England Memorial Day is as apt to be cold and gray as sunny and warm, so it’s hard to make plans and I got nothin’.

Sherry: We don’t have any big traditions for Memorial Day either. Growing up we didn’t live close to any family so there was no visiting graves. This Memorial Day will find me writing as I try to meet a self-imposed deadline. Wish me luck!

Edith: It’s time for me to start a new book, Sherry, so I’ll be writing, too, until we go to some friends for a cookout or maybe a cook-in, because, as Barb said, this year the day is forecast to be rainy and chilly.

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Artist Ellen Rogers with the banners. Photo by Bryan Eaton, Newburyport Daily News.

But I’ll also walk across town to visit an amazing memorial a local artist has created this year. She filled a field across from her house with 7000 white banners. Each has the name of an American service person who died in Irag and Afganhistan, and each includes the number of dead on that date. Sobering.

Readers: What’s your plan for today? Traditions?

The Annual Wicked Retreat

It’s that time of year again – the Wickeds are going on retreat, starting today. This year, we’re changing things up a bit and heading to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, to stay at Barb’s famous former B&B. We’re planning a lot of fun, food, and drinks – and of course, work. So, Wickeds, what do you hope to accomplish this year?

Edith: I might still be polishing Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery number one, due June first. But I might start plotting (did I, a Pantser, just use the PL-word?) and writing Quaker Midwife Mystery number four, since that’s next on the schedule. Conversation with the Wickeds is high on the agenda, as always, and I hope to get a Canva tutorial from Julie and Sherry, so I can get over my graphics ineptitude. Can’t wait!

Sherry: I hope to get some plotting done too — yikes, Edith maybe the others are converting us! I will be working on book six which has a possible title of For Whom The Belle Tolls. I love our late night late night chats when we are settled down with a glass of wine. See you all soon.

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Animal socks Liz brought each of us to the retreat one year! Guess whose foot is whose…

Liz: Hoping to get a bunch of words written in the second Cat Cafe Mystery, as well as a plotting session for book seven in the Pawsitively Organic Series. And some quality time with my besties…

Jessie: When I am writing I’ll be working on the second book in my new Beryl and Edwina series. Liz and I also plan to demonstrate interactive plotting/ brainstorming/ book noodling for those Wickeds who are not quite convinced about the upside of plotting ahead. I hope to convince at least one of them that premeditated crimes can be as much fun as those that are crimes of passion!

Barb: I’ll be finishing up a short story and getting it to my writers’ group. I also hope to make good progress on two synopses.

Julie: I have copy edits due next week for Theater Cop series book one, A CHRISTMAS PERIL. Pages are printed out, and I will be doing another read through and some final tweaking. I also just finished a draft of Theater Cop series book two, tentatively titled WITH A KIISS I DIE. I want to do a read through so I can get it to my first reader, Jason Allen-Forrest. I also want to talk to Edith and Liz about this juggling two series business. Plus, wine.

Readers: What do you like to accomplish when you go away from your everyday routine? Do you have a list, or prefer just chilling? And if we’re a little slow on responses to comments today, it’s because many of us are traveling north!

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Malice Domestic Highlights

Another Malice down! We’re getting back in the swing of real life, but thought we’d share the best and brightest moments from our time in Bethesda last week.

Edith: We all, including Accomplice Sheila Connolly, united for a panel at the Barnes & Noble the night before Malice started.

Sherry: It’s all about the people! I love seeing only friends and meeting new ones!

Jessie: I agree with Sherry about the people. It is such fun to catch up with friends and to make new ones.

Barb: The Best Contemporary Novel panel was a highlight for me I was on it with fellow nominees with Ellen Byron, Catriona McPherson, and Hank Phillippi Ryan, moderated by Shawn Reilly Simmons. Congratulations to the winner, the amazing Louise Penny. Catching up with my college friend Vida Antolin-Jenkins and meeting the super-impressive Kate Carlisle.

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The Sisters in Crime breakfast honored quite a few past presidents (that is, Goddesses) for our 30th anniversary celebration. Many of us credit Sisters in Crime with our writing making it into publication.

Past SINC Prez

Edith: It was such a treat and an honor that three of us were nominated for four Agatha Awards this year! Here are Barb, Jessie, and me before the awards banquet.

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Liz: As usual, we had a really amazing time seeing friends and enjoying each other’s company. Here’s us getting ready for the banquet.

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Sherry, Julie and I had a lovely group sitting at our banquet table. And notice Julie’s really cool skull necklace!!

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I met Elisa Varey, who won the bid on our Malice basket we put together for the auction. She came by my 5pm signing to say hello, and have me sign on of the books. Thanks for bidding on the Wickeds Elisa!

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Winning bidder on our Wicked basket at the Malice Auction. Photo by Cheryl Hollon.

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Hollon and Holmes, signing together again! Thanks for taking the picture Dru Ann Love.

Edith: I had a fabulous group at my table, too, including Elisa! Midnight Ink kindly donated copies of my new Quaker Midwife mystery.

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