George Smith's blog

Bad Moon Rising by Stephen Pickering

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I’ve always been impressed by folks who retired from careers that had nothing to do with writing, who then begin writing in their retirement years. It’s probably easier to write nonfiction, at least it is for me, but those who can write compelling novels are definitely few and far between.

I’ve been working on a novel for many years and have only gotten up to 8,000 words. Just 60,000 to go! I think it’s particularly challenging to write good dialogue, something that I value as a reader of novels.

Stephen Pickering has somehow mastered the craft of writing fiction, and he’s particularly good with dialogue. His novel, Bad Moon Rising, published by North Country Press in Unity, is, well, masterful. I raced through it in a single day while vacationing in Lubec. It’s that compelling.

What weaknesses do you see in Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife?

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 This is the second in a series of columns about the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. Two outstanding and experienced national consultants, Mark Duda of Responsive Management and Jodi Valenta of Mill Creek Communications, have been retained to assist the agency with this project. I plan to follow this process very closely, attend as many of the meetings and events as I can, and tell you all about it, for two reasons. First, I’ve been making recommendations to improve communications at DIF&W for many years, and this year submitted legislation to re-establish the marketing position at the agency. Sponsored by Representative Bob Duchesne, the bill garnered a lot of support at its public hearing, including from sportsmen’s groups and tourism officials, and was held over to next year by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, to see how it might be used to advance this new DIF&W project. Second, this project is all about you. And I want to give you a chance to participate.

Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller

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When my wife Linda noticed the novel I was reading, at the Lubec, Maine ocean-side cottage we were renting for an August vacation, she laughed. Summer of the Dead didn’t sound like the kind of light summer reading you’d tackle here.

But I’ve been a longtime fan of crime novels, focused on favorite old authors like Ed McBain and John MacDonald, with a collection of their books on my shelves, and some newer writers, including Michael Connelly and two Mainers, Paul Doiron and Gerry Boyle. But I’m always open to new authors, so when I saw Michael Connelly’s quote on the cover of Julia Keller’s Summer of the Dead, I decided to give it a try. Connelly wrote this about Keller’s central character: “Bell Elkins is one of the most fully realized characters in fiction today.”

Dave O’Connor’s book will stimulate your own great hunting and fishing memories

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Checking out the newly published books recently at Islandport Press in Yarmouth, I was excited to see a book by Dave O’Connor. I’ve been enjoying Dave’s columns in the Northwoods Sporting Journal for more than 20 years. He’s an entertaining writer, for sure.

Islandport published my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, last year and I’ve been encouraging them to consider more hunting/fishing/outdoor adventure books, so it was great to see Dave’s new book on their shelves. Huntin’ and Fishin’ with the Ole Man is full of stories about Dave’s many adventures with his father, Edward “Steamer” O’Connor, and trust me, they had some funny, amazing, exciting hunting and fishing experiences.

A trip into the North Woods is relaxing and restorative

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                Macannamac Camps in the north woods is a relaxing and restorative place, the idealic Maine we talk about but rarely experience. Fifty miles northwest of Millinocket, Jack McPhee built most of his log cabins in the 1980s on Haymock, Spider, and Cliff Lakes. He was a warden pilot, knew every lake and pond in the north woods, and selected these for their remoteness and great hunting and fishing.

                Today, they are still busy in the spring and early summer with anglers, and in the fall when hunters flock here seeking deer, moose, and grouse. Open all winter long, Macannamac is also popular with ice anglers and snowmobilers. Ironically, they are least busy in July and August when we visited. If you are looking for a summer get-a-way in the real Maine, put these camps on your list!

Goodbye Salmon Hello Rainbow Trout

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“Once noted as one of the top salmon waters in Maine, it’s now rare for a salmon to survive for more than one year in Long Pond,” wrote Jason Seiders, DIF&W Regional Fisheries Biologist. I can only add, boy, did I enjoy catching big salmon at this beautiful pond, part of the Belgrade Lakes and just ten minutes from my house.

Then illegal and/or inadvertent stocking of other nonnative and invasive species, from pike to landlocked alewives, ruined the salmon fishery and crowded out other cold water species like brook trout. Today, smallmouth bass is the most popular fishery in Long Pond.

National Expert chosen to improve communications and marketing of fish and wildlife

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Mark Duda has worked on more than 1000 marketing, communications, and public relations research, plans, and projects involving fisheries and wildlife, for state agencies, universities, businesses, and all the major hunting and fishing national organizations. And now he’s coming to Maine.

Our Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has launched a very-much-needed and very-exciting project to improve its communications with the public and, eventually, grow its market. In the Request for Proposals that the agency advertised, they noted, “In order to maintain and enhance current programs, mandates, and projects, MDIFW must continue to maintain support for its programs amongst its current constituents while generating new support from the general public who value wildlife and its associated recreational opportunities.”

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