There’s much more than one big story to touch on

There’s more to the origin of Dover Friends Meeting than the three women who were whipped out of town in December 1662 in what would have been a death sentence, had it been carried out to the letter.

Still, it’s a big story, one that occupies a central place in my new book, Quaking Dover. The horrific incident is also the most frequently visited page at the public library’s online history site, and it’s the subject of one of Greenleaf Whittier’s most famous poems.

I’ll be using that to introduce other examples of courage and faith from the town’s Quaker experience when the Dover Public Library features me in a book reading in front of a live audience this coming Wednesday. I hope you can join me, perhaps even posing a question or insight.

The appearance will also be streamed live, but preregistration is required.

That’s 6:30 pm this Wednesday (March 22).

If it’s anything like the Dover400 new authors presentation earlier in the month, I can assure you it will be a blast.


I’m having fun preparing PowerPoint presentations

In general, when it comes to new tech, I’m pretty much of a neo-Luddite. I prefer to stick to the tried-and-true rather than chasing after every new twist and trying to master it before it’s obsolete by the next wave.

I still haven’t stepped up to host a Zoom session, for heaven’s sake. And we’re definitely not E-Zpass users when it comes to highway tolls, either.

Preparing visuals to accompany my public presentations related to my new book, Quaking Dover, however, has me beaming.

The first leap was in learning to connect a laptop to a slide projector – you know, so folks could watch a slide show on a big white screen or a wall.

From that experience, I realized the shots really needed to be all of one size. Some pictures I was discussing ran off the screen, while others were too small. That led to the PowerPoint format.

My initial outing with PowerPoint was with the Whittier Birthplace Museum’s virtual lecture series back in January. There, I was amazed to discover how much I could enlarge a detail from a photo without having it pixilate. Individual signatures from a Quaker marriage document, for instance, could be displayed prominently. The size of the photo in hand wasn’t an issue, either. Up we go!

I’ve been at it again, this time for presentations at the Dover Public Library on March 22 and the Pembroke (Maine) Historical Society on April 18, as well as a third in July via the Falmouth Friends Meeting on Cape Cod. All will be streamed, by the way, if you’re interested in participating. (Do mark your calendars.)

It’s getting easier with each round, and I’m learning how to easily copy a PP slide from one production to another. Yay!

Fun? I’m finding it downright exciting. Hope you do, too.

It’s always a fun time

For those of you living in New Hampshire or southern Maine, here’s an invitation to Dover Friends’ annual Arts & Letters event now rescheduled for 2 pm Saturday, March 18.

It’s one way to sample the local Quaker community as members of all ages display their artistic talents, from painting, drawing, weaving, and photography to original music, poetry, and fiction, perhaps even dance or furniture-making.

The mix each year is different. I remember our amazement when we first saw the museum-quality quilts a newly retired English teacher had begun creating as well as the array of Sculpey figures one of the kids produced. The afternoon even includes a potluck, billed as culinary arts.

The historic meetinghouse is at 141 Central Avenue, just south of the downtown.


For me, it’s a big meet-an-author event

A program Thursday night at the Dover Public Library promises to be lively fun.

Hosted by Dover 400, the folks behind the year-long celebration of the town’s settlement 400 years ago, I’ll be one of three authors of new books about the community’s past. Each of us brings something different to the table, and I’m really looking forward to meeting the others, as well as an audience full of additional insights and angles.

The program will allow each of us to address some prepared questions and briefly discuss our book before turning into wider discussion and an audience Q-and-A.

Retired librarian Cathy Beaudoin, the unofficial (and unrivaled) Dover historian, will be moderating. As an aside, I do wish she’d write the big volume about the city’s textile mills and the ways they transformed the community. She’s already curated a comprehensive lode of entries you’ll find on the public library’s website.

As a handy book you can follow around town, J. Andy Galt contributes an updated set of neighborhood walks that were originally conducted by the Dover Heritage Group. As I’ve previously posted, the city is pedestrian-friendly and has quite a range of architectural styles. In many neighborhoods, every house you pass seems to possess a history, if you stop, look, and have a few tidbits of info in hand. From the directions to one of those walks, Dover Friends Meeting finally learned where our second meetinghouse, from 1720, had been moved and now sits as a private residence.

Former Woodman Institute trustee Tony McManus brings a newly published, wide-ranging collection of newspaper columns he’s written on local history, especially the people involved.

And I’ll be there looking at the early developments from the perspective of the Quakers, for decades the town’s biggest minority.

As a grand finale, there will be an opportunity to sign books we’ll have for sale and meet one-on-one with readers. I couldn’t do that with ebooks.

(The snow date is March 9.)

Somehow it looked different

Seeing this photo of the painted rock along the state highway in Newbury, New Hampshire, had me doing a doubletake. Twice.

First, I realized I have never seen it in winter. Even in summer, it’s easy to miss, and I can’t recall any reason I would have been up that way other than August.

Second, though, I slowly noticed the lettering is different. It’s obviously been repainted, which is supposed to always be done on the sly, and this time the lettering is thicker, bolder.

The slogan and its history did inspire a blog related to the Red Barn, and if you haven’t visited there, please take a tour. It can be an enriching experience.


Ring in the big celebration

My first New Year’s Eve in Dover was filled with wonder when all of the church bells burst out ringing. The next year, however, they were silent.

The occasion, I learned later, was the new millennium, even if technically 2000 was the last year of the old millennium while the actual arrival went unnoticed as such.

This year, Dover’s churches have been asked to ring their bells at 9 pm as a prelude to a fireworks presentation to welcome in the city’s 400th anniversary year observations.

Here’s hoping the weather obliges.

From many miles away, we’ll be thinking of folks there and hoping for a most exciting new yar.

Gearing up for the official book release party

Moving the event back a month has allowed Dover Friends to spread the word more widely, and I’m definitely excited.

Well, it’s their history, too.

The official book release party for Quaking Dover is Saturday at 7 pm in the historic meetinghouse at 141 Central Avenue in Dover, and you’re welcome to join us, if you’re in the area.

In addition to the meet-and-greet, I’ll present an illustrated overview of the story and the ways this book came to be. I have to admit I was surprised by much I uncovered along the way.

Here’s me, above, with the meetinghouse.

Hope to see you!


This side of being an author is all new to me

Eastport’s senior center has invited me to talk about my new book, and that’s what I’ll be doing Friday, October 21, at 1 pm.

I’ll be focusing on Maine’s Nicholas Shapleigh, who was not a Quaker but played a crucial role in sheltering the missionaries who came to Dover. As a powerful lumber merchant, magistrate, and leader of the provincial militia, he was an important figure in what would become the Pine Tree State. His manor on the Piscataqua River sat directly across the water from Hilton Point, where the action began 400 years ago.

The overall content of Quaking Dover has been generating interest in a way I haven’t encountered with my novels or poetry. Having a handsome paper edition from the start is another plus. As much as I love aspects of ebooks, they are much harder to promote than a physical copy in your hand.

Dover may be a five-plus hour drive from Eastport, but there have long been connections.

The center’s at 9 Boynton Street, where I’ll be greeting friends and neighbors.

It’s the first in a series of presentations I’ll be announcing over the next few months. Please stay tuned!

And now in paper!

Taa-tah! My Quaking Dover is officially out as a print-on-demand paper book around the globe.

Check it out through your favorite bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

It does mean going to your favorite book retailer for a copy, but there we are.

Independent bookstores and libraries have their own insiders’ routes to obtain it. Go to them to keep these channels alive.

As for me, I’m stocking up for copies to keep in my car, wherever I go.

How about you?