by Barb, first post of 2022 from Portland, Maine
Happy spring! I am back from Key West with some novella news.
As regular readers know, in addition to the Maine Clambake novels, I’ve been lucky enough to have four published novellas, with two more under contract, all part of the Maine Clambake series. The novellas are themed around holidays and are packaged in hardcover and then mass market paperback, along with novellas by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis.
I love writing these stories. For one thing, there’s the holiday theme. So far the holidays–two novellas related to Christmas, two related to Halloween, and (coming) one related to Saint Patrick’s Day and one to Easter–all take place in the off-season, when the Snowden Family Clambake isn’t open. The novellas give me a chance to check in on the Snowdens and find out what’s up with them when they’re not so busy with tourists. In the fall-winter-spring there’s more time for family and friends and definitely more time for sleuthing.
The novellas are 25,000 to 30,000 words long, between a third and a half the length of a typical Maine Clambake novel. They may be structured like a traditional whodunnit, or may use a different type of structure, more like a short story.
Kensington recently announced that two of the novellas, originally published in anthologies, will be released this year as standalone ebooks. Another collection will released in mass market paperback format this year, and still another is brand new for next year.
Here’s a brief review of the novellas, including news about the upcoming standalones, and the new release.
Nogged Off is the first novella I wrote. In the Maine Clambake canon, it falls between Fogged Inn and Iced Under. Nogged Off has been available as a standalone ebook since 2019. In anthology form, Eggnog Murder is available in hardcover, mass market paperback, trade paperback, ebook, large print, and audiobook, so something for everyone. In Nogged Off, the subtenant in Julia’s New York apartment, Imogen Geinkes, takes the entire Snowden family on a wild Christmas ride. When I wrote it, I had no idea if I would ever be asked to write a Christmas story again, so I threw the kitchen sink at it–every Christmas tradition from my little Maine town and a few more.
Logged On is the second Christmas novella. It appears in the anthology Yule Log Murder and will be published as a standalone ebook on September 27, 2022. No cover yet for the standalone, but the ebook is up for pre-order on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Apple, and Google Play. In other words, the usual suspects. This story falls between Stowed Away and Steamed Open, though I had a lively discussion with a reader on Goodreads, who insisted it was misnumbered and came between Steamed Open and Sealed Off. I admit that since I had to write this story out of sequence, I was completely flummoxed as to the chronology. I’m not convinced, though, that moving it as the reader suggested solves the entire problem. The assignment was to write a mystery around a Bûche de Noël. Not being a cake baker, I was immediately out of my depth. Then I studied Bûche de Noël recipes and completely freaked out. But, in a silver lining. that very complex process of baking, filling, rolling, icing, and decorating the cake became the structure for the story.
This is the cover reveal for the standalone ebook Hallowed Out, which will be released on July 26, 2022. This novella, originally published in the anthology Haunted House Murder, begins before the events in Sealed Off and largely takes place after them, (which I thought was a pretty neat trick). I was initially skeptical when I moved from Christmas to Halloween. I love the Christmas season and I hate, hate Halloween. (Though life has conspired, primarily by the production of children and grandchildren, to keep sucking me back in.) I ended up really enjoying the research this novella got me to do about Maine during Prohibition, when places like Busman’s Harbor were primary sites for smuggling hard liquor from Canada.
No news on a standalone version of “Scared Off,” (nor would I expect there to be), but the mass market paperback of the anthology it appears in, Halloween Party Murder, will be released on August 23, 2022. This novella falls in the timeline between Shucked Apart, and the next Maine Clambake Mystery to be released on June 28, 2022, Muddled Through. This novella about a preteen party run amok, a ghost, and a mysterious bookkeeper was really fun to write.
This is the cover reveal and announcement for the next novella collection from Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and me, Irish Coffee Murder, to be released in February, 2023. It’s not up for pre-order yet, but don’t worry. I’ll let you know when it is, probably here and in a thousand other places. Since my stories are always in the third position in these books, I figured poisoning someone with Irish coffee would already have been done. Instead, I came up with a group of friends and family, gathered around a fire on St. Patrick’s night, during a blackout, drinking Irish coffee and talking about an historical murder, with each storyteller offering a different theory of the case and and a different killer. What really happened? Of course, Julia has to find out. “Perked Up” takes place in March, after the events of Muddled Through and before Maine Clambake #11, as yet not officially titled.
So that’s the (rather long, apologies) novella update from me.
Readers: Do you enjoy these peeks at what characters are doing between books? Yay or nay? Let me know in the comments.