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Aiming for Audience: How Peaks Island Authors Do It

Aiming for Audience event

Aiming for Audience event

In an era when many people are tempted to debate the future of books and libraries, it’s comforting to me that the discussion on Peaks Island centers more around how we can make our library bigger and better, and which authors are going to meet with the public next.

This week, I’ll have the pleasure of tackling the topic of  “Aiming for Audience” with a panel of authors, including Tom Bohan, Twain Braden, Mira Ptacin, and Chuck Radis. While we’re foregrounding magazine and journal articles, aiming for audience is something all writers should consider at the writing, editing, and pitching-for-publication phases. For that matter, it’s a topic that everyone should think about whether you’re a teacher, a politician, or a businessman.

Who are the readers that you are most interested in reaching? What do you hope to accomplish when you reach your readers; in other words, what do you hope that they will feel, think, discover, or do?

Peel yourself away from the beach or deck for a couple of hours and join us at the:

Friends of the Peaks Island Library Annual Meeting & Program

Thursday, July 30, 2015, 7-8:30 PM
McVane Community Center, 129 Island Avenue, Peaks Island
Refreshments will be served.

Written by Patricia Erikson, Peaks Island Press offers behind-the-scenes glimpses of a vibrant, literary community perched on Peaks Island, two miles off the coast of the beautiful and award-winning city of Portland, Maine. If you haven’t already, you may subscribe in the upper right corner at

Come aboard for Sailing & Seamanship book events with Twain Braden

Boats on Peaks IslandA few months ago, Peaks Island Press caught up with Twain Braden to talk about his newest publication, The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship. Now that we’ve had what may be the hottest day of summer and this finely-illustrated and -narrated book has hit the docks, it’s time to turn out to hear Braden and illustrator, Sam Manning, speak at Longfellow Books on Monument Square this Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m.

If your barbecue schedule conflicts with the event this week, then don’t despair, Braden will also speak at the Peaks Island branch of the Portland Public Library next week, Monday, July 22, at 7 p.m. This talk will entail more of a hands-on discussion of navigation techniques. Feel free to bring charts and navigational tools if you’re interested in learning coastal piloting skills.


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Twain Braden: The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship


Twain Braden with his newest boat renovation project

A year and a half ago, Peaks Island Press caught up with Twain Braden when he and his family migrated back to “the Rock,” back to living on Peaks Island like so many other families who have left and then returned, including my own. The 2011 post talked about his Ghosts of the Pioneers and hinted that his next book was in production. Now, “The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship” (Skyhorse Publishing 2013) is hitting the market just in time for the intended audience – beginner and expert sailors alike – to grab a copy before they give up leisurely reading for hauling sails. Although Twain practices law, he’s also known to be the kind of guy who clings to a bowsprit in 30 knot winds, if that’s what the situation demands. Suffice it to say, Twain is not your average island author. A Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship joins a long list of Twain’s maritime publications – Wooden Boat and Ocean Navigator articles,  The Handbook of Sailing Techniques: Professional Tips, Expert Advice, Essential Skills (2003) and the non-fiction thriller In Peril: A Daring Decision, a Captain’s Resolve, and the Salvage that Made History written with Skip Strong (2003[2005].

Unlike most encyclopedic manuals, The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship animates instructional methods with stories of maritime adventures and beautiful illustrations. Everything from knots and lines to sailboat anatomy to anchoring, mooring, and berthing has its own chapter. By interweaving stories from his experience as a mariner with hands-on techniques, Twain makes clear the critical importance of good seamanship.


Twain Braden looks over the page proofs of The Complete Guide to Sailing & Seamanship

Readers of this newest book will be delighted to see that Twain has partnered with world-renowned marine illustrator Sam Manning who Mainers know from his over 30 years of illustration for Wooden Boat Magazine. Over 100 black and white illustrations enhance this guidebook.

Looking over the page proofs of the book, Twain pointed out one of Manning sketches that illustrates the story of a particular journey by the schooner, Bagheera, from Maryland to its new home in Maine. Twain has described the experience of the Bagheera losing its propeller and getting hammered by a storm front.


Twain points to one of Sam Manning’s sketches that illustrates one of Bagheera’s misadventures

Navigator, Jan./Feb. 2003, “

“At some point on that cold, miserable night, I made the choice to turn back for Gloucester. Twenty to 25 knots and a few breaking waves was one thing. Thirty to 40 knots and green water washing down the decks of an old boat that deserved better – and a seasick crew – was no one’s idea of a good time…We ultimately limped into Portland, Maine, feeling more like whipped dogs than conquering heroes (see Ocean Navigator “It’s hard to go home again”).

You’ll have to grab a copy of The Complete Guide to hear more of these stories. And with the renovation of a 20 foot Small Point One Design yacht under way (see above) with Lawrence Mott, more adventures are sure to follow.

Twain Braden: Ghosts of the Pioneers

Twain Braden

When it comes to journeys, Twain Braden knows how to take them – and how to write about them. Professional mariner, lawyer, camp director, and writer, this renaissance man has returned to Peaks Island with his wife, Leah, and their four children after “living “away” since 2003. He returns with several published books and articles to his name with more in the queue.

A graduate of Hobart College and Charleston School of Law, Twain braves not only legal tomes but the unexpected adventures that wilderness trips and sailing the Atlantic Ocean or Caribbean Sea can throw at him. I got to know Twain and Leah as near-neighbors who had a son the same age as my daughter. Our shared stories broadened when my husband helped Twain (then co-owner of Portland Schooner Co with Scott Reischmann), sail the historic schooner Bagheera from Delaware up to its new home in Portland. These days, when he’s not sailing or writing, he’s directing Camp Glen Brook in Marlborough, NH.

Twain has published articles with Wooden Boat, Northern New England Journey, and Ocean Navigator. He also authored The Handbook of Sailing Techniques: Professional Tips, Expert Advice, Essential Skills (2003) and the non-fiction thriller In Peril: A Daring Decision, a Captain’s Resolve, and the Salvage that Made History written with Skip Strong (2003[2005] – both published with The Lyons Press.

Ghosts of the Pioneers

The summer before Twain graduated from law school in the spring of 2007, he and his family embarked upon a cross-country journey that led to the publication of Ghosts of the Pioneers: A Family Search for the Independent Oregon Colony of 1844. Twain blogged as they camped from Charleston to Independence, Miss. and then followed the Oregon Trail. In places, such as along a stretch of Rte 80 in Nebraska, major roads overlay the historic trail’s path. In other more rural areas, wagon wheel ruts remained visible. Twain’s first-person narrative  juxtaposes the story of the Independent Oregon Colony’s arduous journey westward with his family’s own modern-day trip. None other than documentary film director/producer Ken Burns said of Ghost of the Pioneers “This is a wonderful, close-to-the-earth book about the West, that magical place where the best of us met the worst of us and nothing was ever the same.”

Welcome back to The Rock, Twain, where writers are always welcome! We’re looking forward to the news of your next book, already in the hands of a publisher.

Twain's Writing Closet

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