Three New Maine Clambake Books to Come! (And a Giveaway!)

by Barb, sitting in her front porch in Boothbay Harbor, Maine on the most gorgeous day

I’m thrilled to announce that Kensington has asked me to write three new Maine Clambake Mysteries after Book 6, Stowed Away, coming December 26, 2017. And, bonus for me, and I hope for you, there will also be a second Christmas-themed novella. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to tell more stories about Julia Snowden, her family and their friends and Busman’s Harbor, Maine.

In September, 2014, when I announced books four through six, I thought I knew what those books were about. You can read my descriptions here. The first two, Fogged In and Iced Under did get written, though the title of Fogged Inn changed slightly. The third book, Elvered After did not.

The original plan was to set three books during the tourist season–Clammed Up, Boiled Over, and Musseled Out–and three in the off season. But then I had the chance to write my first Christmas-themed novella, “Nogged Off,” and that made three Maine Clambake stories that took place in the fog, ice, and snow. So my editor at Kensington, John Scognamiglio, and I decided we needed to get back to sunshine and lighthouses and clams with book six.

Kensington also felt that most people wouldn’t know what elvers are, and when they discovered they’re tiny, transparent baby eels, it wouldn’t help the book’s appeal. (Not to mention, what would be on the cover?) I, on the other hand still love the story. Did you know that the elver fishery is the second largest by revenue in Maine? That opposite of most sea animals, eels go to the salt water of the Sargasso Sea to spawn and return to the fresh water of Maine’s rivers to mature? That a Mainer with an hard-to-get elver license and a place on a river to fish can make a year’s income in nine weeks? That the elvers are sold to eel farms in Asia to become sushi and other delicacies? That elvers are worth $350 a pound and the business is transacted in cash, so people are walking around the docks with tens of thousands of dollars in cash in their pockets? Plenty of reasons to kill someone, right?

But I’ll reluctantly put the elvers aside for now to explore other aspects of life on the Maine coast. And try to answer some burning questions, for example…

  • Are Julia and Chris going to make it?
  • Will the Snowdens rebuild Windsholme, the mansion on their private island?
  • Will Julia’s mother’s extended family be in more books?
  • What’s up with Julia’s father’s family? Don’t they live in Busman’s Harbor? Are we ever going to meet them?
  • And Chris’s family. Why does he never talk about them, even when asked directly?

I know some of the answers, but not all of them, and I can’t wait to find out.

I do know what’s in the holiday novella, which is my current WIP, but I’m not telling!

Readers: Do you have any feelings about the burning questions above? Is there anything you’d like to say about what you hope happens in the Snowden family saga? Let me know and one commenter on the blog will win a Snowden Family Clambake tote bag.

There are also three chances to win a tote bag offered in my newsletter, where I announced the new contract today. If you’d like to sign up for my (very occasional) e-mails, you can do so here.

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Romantic Gestures — What Does Your Protagonist Think?

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We are having a “We Love Our Readers” giveaway every Wednesday in February. Leave a comment for a chance to win no later than midnight the Thursday after the post. This week one reader has a chance to win a book from Liz and Edith.

Last week we talked about romance in cozies and this week we focus on how it impacts our protagonist. Is your protagonist a romantic? Is there someone special in her life who is? Has your protagonist created a romantic moment or has the love in her life? Was it a big thing or a little thing? How did it impact them?

Edith: What great questions! How our protagonists react to things like romance is just as called-to-justiceimportant as what she carries in her handbag and what’s in her fridge. I will focus on my midwife Rose Carroll. I built the romance into book one. Despite being a practical independent midwife, she’s a romantic, too, but she’s conflicted about committing to David Dodge because of a painful (highly abusive, actually) experience when she was a teenager. There’s a very romantic scene in Called to Justice (out April 8!) where David takes her in his buggy out to the wide Merrimack River on a full moon night. (“The full moon splashed a silver path from the distant bank across to ours.”) You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.

custombakedmurderLiz: Stan Connor came to Frog Ledge with a token boyfriend. She’d totally forgotten what it was like to really feel in love or even romance. In fact, she snickered at all the sappy love stories or songs when she heard them and chalked it up to unrealistic people who would eventually find their bubble burst. Then she met Jake McGee. Once she’d lost the loser boyfriend, it took them a couple of books to get things right, but Stan has now turned into one of those people who sighs over love songs, delights in sappy movies, and generally thinks her life is better because of Jake.

Sherry: Sarah has had a rocky romantic life since she is A good Day to BuyCoverrecently divorced in the first book Tagged for Death. In the third book, All Murders Final!, she does go on one romantic date with Seth Anderson to the historic Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. And Sarah does like to be wooed. It was fun to go to the Wayside Inn with the Wickeds in December after our Books and Bagels event in Sudbury. The pictures below are from the Wayside Inn. The one on the left is the tavern.

IcedunderfrontcoverBarb: My amateur sleuth, Julia Snowden, is the product of a great romance–the marriage of a lonely girl who spent her summers on a private island and a local boy who delivered groceries in his skiff. Julia thinks her mother is the romantic and she is the pragmatist. I’m not so sure. Certainly Julia fell into the arms of Chris Durand when he appeared on her family’s tour boat to clear up some misunderstandings and confess his interest in her.

Jessie: There is at least a touch of romance in each of my series. That being said, none of my protagonists are romantics. They are all independent women with a lot WhispersBeyond_Fixgoing on in their lives whether or not they have a romantic partner. None of them are looking for romance; in fact, Gwen Fifield from Live Free or Die and Dani Greene from the Sugar Grove series are more interested in dodging matchmaking efforts by their friends and families.

Julie: Ruth Clagan is recently divorced in Clock Shop Mystery series, so she isn’t looking for romance. That said, Ben the handsome barber from next door is a dish, so there’s that. Her feelings for Ben throw her off a bit. She takes it slow, and finds it hard to trust. But did I mention that he’s handsome? Think Robert Redford in the early 70’s. That handsome. More chimeimportantly, he’s a good guy. That makes all the difference for her.

Readers: Do you have a favorite romantic moment from a book?

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Wicked Wednesday – Keeping Series Characters Evolving

It’s Wicked Wednesday, when we all weigh in on a topic. This month, we’re focusing on craft, so naturally we’re starting the conversation with characters. Since we all write series, we’re constantly thinking about creating interesting, three-dimensional, continuously evolving characters. Today we’re sharing some of the ways we do that.

Liz: I’m constantly thinking about Stan’s evolution as I get deeper into the Pawsitively Organic series. It’s been so interesting to see her come alive from the original sketch I created for my proposal. Now, three books later, I’m watching her become a different person as she settles into her new life. She’s learning how to think outside of the structured environment in which she spent most of her adult life. She’s learning how to deal with a relationship that’s much more than a convenience thing. And she’s forced to explore a complicated relationship with her mother that she’s ignored for a long time. To get to the heart of why she’s doing certain things, I try to keep in mind what her motivation would be for everything – what makes sense based on who she is. And a lot of times, we’re discovering that together so it’s a fun process.

Edith: I hope Cam is evolving in the Local Foods Mysteries! I know readers have reportedsnowonhoophouse that they like her evolving relationships,  and she’s certainly learning a lot about farming, at which she was a novice half a year before the series started. In the third book, Farmed and Dangerous, which takes place during a snowy January, she finds the strength to do a couple of things she thought she’d never have to (sorry, can’t reveal more or I’d spoil the plot!). Probably the main way she’s changing is getting out of her social isolation as a software engineer and learning how to be comfortable with people, which she has to do as a farmer. But what Liz says is true – we have to always keep the character’s motivation in mind.

Barb: Such a timely question for me as I work on my proposal for the next three books in the Maine Clambake Mystery series. In Clammed Up, Julia Snowden returns to the Maine harbor town of her birth to spend the summer leading the charge to save her family’s ailing clambake business. Complications ensue. She’s in love with a guy who will never follow her back to New York. What to do? It’s important to me that Julia keeps evolving, and that we don’t get stuck in this will-she-or-won’t-she relationship forever. After all, she’s thirty, not fifteen, and adults either do or they don’t. So the next three books will have a different question at their heart. And as soon as I know what it is, (and it gets the go-ahead from my editor), I’ll let you know!

Sherry: One of the story lines in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Series is Sarah learning to live on her own. She married at nineteen and then at thirty-eight is divorced in Tagged for Death. She has to support herself for the first time too. She also lives across the country from her family so emotional support through a difficult time is another issue.

Jessie: The overall character arc for Dani, the protagonist in the Sugar Grove series involves her being taken more seriously by her family, her community and even by herself. In each of the books Dani grows herself as she grows her business. Little by little she is putting her own stamp on what has been a family endeavor and she gets stronger with each passing book.

I like creating growth situations for some of the supporting characters too, like Dani’s mother and sister. I think it makes for a richer story and I have a lot of fun exploring how Dani’s changes prompt some of theirs as well.

Readers: Have you seen the characters in the Wicked Cozys’ books evolve? What about in other series you love? Do you stop reading if the protagonist never changes?