Author Travel Guide: Penhallow, Midcoast Maine

Midcoast Maine is not perhaps as well known as the southern beaches or the Down East locales such as Bar Harbor and Acadia, but it has its own special charm. Towns like Bath, Camden, Rockland, and Belfast showcase the Maine of lobstermen, shipbuilders, and farmers, while towns such as Castine on the many small peninsulas that jut into Penobscot Bay offer gorgeous views.

Disclosure: Penhallow is a fictional town, in which The Penhallow Train Incident and my latest release, Mrs. Spinney’s Secret, is set. If you want to check out the town on which it is based, head to Belfast. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, but if you meander through the towns
you’ll easily find the places I recommend.

You could say Penhallow is caught in a time-warp—populated by farmers and rather dazed former hippies, it combines Mainer down-to-earth attitudes with a gentle flower child feel. It’s often missed because Route 1 bypasses it. However, if you do want to get off the highway, it’s a great spot to stay, and right on Penobscot Bay. Activities abound, including kayaking, sailing, dolphin and bird watching, and swimming. Or you can simply explore the rocky shore for sea glass, pebbles, and shells.

The place to stay

Waldo B&B is a cozy Main Street inn in the middle of the coast town of Penhallow. The hero of Mrs. Spinney’s Secret, Jasper MacEwan, stays there; that is, until he and Cassidy Beauvoir, denizen of Amity Landing, find each other.

Local hangouts

Most locals head to Durkee’s for lunch. It’s not far from the B&B. Or you can take your cooler of beer and coleslaw across the river to Childe’s Lobster Pound and pick your own lobster. You won’t have to worry about eating a bad lobster like Jasper did—unless someone is out to kill you too!

Want something a little less casual? Follow the Red Hat ladies to Fedora’s. The Red Hats are an institution in Penhallow. Their leader, Edna Mae Quimby, is the wife of the sheriff and a formidable presence. The group can often be found at the restaurant on High Street, where they can keep an eye on goings-on. Be sure to stop in afterwards at Mindful Books, Cassidy’s used book store on Church Street. She will help you look for Summer reading or books on Maine, her specialty.

Need something to while away the afternoon?

Five miles down the road is the picturesque village of Amity Landing. You’ll love climbing the hills, and walking down to the dock and sailing marina. It hasn’t always been so peaceful though. A few years ago Hollywood descended upon it. Black Brothers Studios decided to make a picture based on the Penobscot Expedition, the worst naval rout in American history. You can take a little tour. Be sure not to miss Mrs. Spinney’s house—where the action centered. If you stay after dark, you might catch a glimpse or hear the telltale whining of the resident ghost, Snookie.

Midcoast road trip                      

Why not head down East to the Blue Hill Peninsula and Castine. This was the place where an American fleet was soundly defeated by a much smaller English force in 1779. Castine is a beautiful town filled with Georgian and Greek Revival houses. It’s home to the Maine Maritime Academy. Check out Fort George, where the English built fortifications in an attempt to wrest Maine from the Continental Navy. Try Danny Murphy’s for lunch, or for something more elegant, the Pentagouet Inn.

Mrs. Spinney’s Secret was released January 20 from the Wild Rose Press.

Here’s the story:
What do you do when Hollywood takes over your tiny Maine village to make a movie?
Cassidy Beauvoir, chair of the board of overseers of Amity Landing, is ready to throw the bums out; that is, until she meets Jasper MacEwan, the director of American Waterloo: the Rout of the Penobscot Expedition. It’s instant attraction until a series of deadly incidents threatens their budding romance. Are the attacks directed at the movie crew or the townspeople?
As the two search for answers, the trail leads them to long-held secrets of the worst naval defeat of the American Revolution—including betrayal, murder, and a lost hoard of English gold.

Purchase Mrs. Spinney’s Secret at these fine retailors

Google Play

It will also be available on Overdrive, Indigo, and other online stores.

Stella’s Scottsdale Brunch Spots

I admit to a weakness for weekend brunch. Growing up my least favorite meal was breakfast, probably because I would have preferred sleeping in to getting up –breakfast signaled the start of the day Weekend brunch is another matter entirely! Usually it’s hours after my usual wake-up time – sneaking up on lunch.  Here’s five local spots for spending brunch eating dinking and chatting with friends and family.

Olive and Ivy – Excellent patio with a view of Scottsdale waterfront. Even if you miss out on the patio – it’s always busy when the weather’s good – get a booth that faces the patio though floor to ceiling windows. Excellent mimosas and breakfast specialties. It’s one of those places my family has deemed worthy of a special occasion for years. My daughter is fond of the chicken and flatbread and always takes out of town guests here and even hosted one of her birthday dinners as well.                                           Their website promises to whisk you away.


Postino Wine Café – Another awesome patio. Best thing about brunch at Postino is the small plates – my brunch partner and I order one of each and share ending up with five little plates and a taste of everything plus a mimosa, of course. When the weather is nice we sit outside and take advantage of their green filled patio. Each location is a little bit different, but the quality of food and drink is always top notch. Throughout the year that have specials like a free board of bruschetta on a birthday or $5 glasses of wine before 5pm.

Hash Kitchen – Super busy and open only for breakfast and lunch. Variety in the food and the best part – a mimosa fight where the four flavors change seasonally. Brain child of the Maggiore Group, on the weekends HASH adds a DJ for a music filled brunch. My favorite items on the menu are the savory scrambles, where my daughter enjoys the coconut crusted French toast.  Although I enjoy mimosas, Hash is known as having the world’s largest Bloody Mary bar. Its insane the combinations people make for a drink which can include meatballs, fried raviollis, baby corn, mozerella cheese and bacon .

Arcadia Farms Café – Lovely garden patio, inside of the café worth the visit. They kept the original frame work of the house and guest house and converted it into a restaurant making it perfect for ladies who lunch. Its common to see a girls birthday party or bridal shower taking place here. My daughter and I are suckers for any place that serves complimentary scones with flavored butter. Plus brunch on weekends including breakfast tarts, omelets, pastries, coffee, tea and wine. So many choices! For a quick and more casual brunch they do offer a walk up counter right next store and across the street is the bakery where the make some of the best baked goods in town.

The Breakfast Club – This place is PACKED. During Scottsdale’s touring season, people wait in line for upwards of an hour for a seat. My husband and I are big fans of the golden waffle. He is also impressed with the generous side of ham. My daughter is loyal to their breakfast burrito and appreciates the variety of potato offerings. They serve up southwest staples, omelets, quick starts, burros and benedicts. Its one of those rare places where its “cool” to be seen there, but the food is incredibly good and the vibe is inclusive. Inside and outside dining, breakfast every day – that’s what they do – and I will say it again, absolutely the best waffle ever!

Five things I love about Prescott, Arizona

  1. Christmas City. Prescott was the first Arizona city to erect a community Christmas tree (1916). Promoters used the tree to celebrate the county courthouse. They loaded the branches with toys and gifts for children and provided baskets of holiday food to families to insure everyone had a happy holiday. The events around the community have grown to include decorations on every business, parades, crowds of visitors, and musicians. Prescott’s holiday enthusiasm resulted in them becoming Christmas City. Learn more HERE 

2. Courthouse Square and The Gazebo. The Square hosts activities and events all year round. Events include art fairs, food festivals, concerts, outdoor activity days, antique fairs and evening entertainment. Arizona Beer week takes place in February. One of the largest book fairs which hosts authors from all over the globe takes place in March. Prescott Rodeo Days, the world’s oldest rodeo kick off in July. The Jazz festival plays to sold out crowds in the month of August. At the end of the year the city lights up as Christmas City.

3. The Hassayampa Inn. The original investors each contributed $1 per share to build the Inn because the community needed a place to relax and congregate. Today residents congregate in the lobby, pull out board games or playing cards, pick up a glass of wine from the Glass Door Bar or the Peacock Room and socialize. I wrote part of the first two books in the Creekside Dreams series in the lobby. The hotel boasts an antique elevator that requires an employee to operate. Though I’ve stayed there many times I have never met the ghost.  Learn more HERE

4. The Hotel St Michael. The very first elevator in Prescott (1925) still moves guests up and down the five floors in this hotel. The lobby is tiny, not a place to work or socialize, but the hotel is connected to the very own indoor shops.  The Hotel also hosts loveliest staircase from the second to first floor – I can see myself making a grand entrance! As author of paranormal romance I can appreciate the hotel’s other worldly guest who never leaves. The St. Michael also has a ghost – have not personally met her either.

5. The Elks Opera House. Located across the street from The Hassayampa Inn, the Elks Performing Arts Center started life in 1905 with the Opera House on the first floor, Offices on the second floor and The Elks Lodge on the third floor.  Though the building experienced several occupancies, it now has a fully restored venue on the first floor, performance studios on the second and large meeting or event rooms on the top floor. Included is picture of my date to a tribute band performance hanging out with an usher dressed in period costume.