At the Festival

I’ve probably written more about Moxie than any Mainer. I might even be approaching Frank Potter’s legendary output—who knows. Clearly, given that Mr. Potter’s Moxie canon is print-based and pre-interwebs, we know that he wasn’t Moxie blogging.

When I rewind back to 2004, the memories are still fresh of the late Sue Conroy, convincing me to take on the PR and marketing that year, joining the small band putting on the Moxie Festival. That was merely year 22 (if my Moxie math is right) of what’s now become the 33rd running of one of Maine’s, if not the nation’s, most unique and intriguing summer festivals. What began with 13 postcards and 500 people (according to one version) blossomed into a festival attracting upwards of 50,000 people to Central Maine and the sleepy town of Lisbon Falls. Continue reading

The Summer Season

Summer has arrived. After what seemed like an interminable winter, and a cool spring, heat and humidity are now the order of our days as we proceed into July’s second week.

Maine’s shortest season is one that we all seem to relish. It’s a time for heading to the state’s abundant coastline, or inland to the lakes. Residents of the state try to cram as much outdoor activities into their social calendars as possible.

For me, summer is usually the time I release my books. When Towns Had Teams was a summer book, and of course, both Moxie books were set to come out during Moxie Season. The Perfect Number is also coming out during the summer, with books arriving on Friday from the printer.

There's nothing like the Maine coast in the summer.

There’s nothing like the Maine coast in the summer.

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Building a Consistent Body of Work

Taking a book from idea to finished product, especially doing it yourself, is a process. A process, I might add that very few know much about. Many wannabes aspire, but few actually do it once—let alone multiple times.

After the manuscript had been completed for my first book, When Towns Had Teams, I was having trouble finding a publisher for something I’d poured my passion into for more than a year. Faced with a choice—keep banging my head against a door that wouldn’t open (traditional publishing)—or figure out a new way of doing things, I opted for the latter. I launched my own micro-press imprint, RiverVision Press. It became the vehicle to get that first book out, and subsequent titles of mine (as well as one ill-fated foray into publishing a book by someone else).

Once you figure out how to publish your own book independently, you get hooked. You think, “I’ve done it once; can I do it again?” The gauntlet has been laid down. You are determined to work the DIY angle once again and see if you can improve your process.

Building a catalog.

Building a catalog.

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Why Moxie?

I’ve moved on from Moxie—at least that’s what I tell myself. But, just when I think I’m free, Moxie reels me back in.

An important Lisbon matriarch passed away last Wednesday. Her death, just two weeks prior to the festival she nurtured for nearly a decade resonates through the town where I grew up and where upwards of 50,000 people will be coming to visit, the 2nd weekend in July.

Sue Conroy; Community Leader

Sue Conroy; Community Leader

I’ve written about Sue Conroy in my two books about Moxie. I referred to her as the “behind-the-scenes maven” of Moxie at the time (2008, when I interviewed her for Moxietown). If I had to “blame” someone for the topic that I’m sure some people get tired of hearing me talk about, probably thinking, “STFU about Moxie, already,” then I’m sorry Sue, I’m laying that honor at your feet.

I’ve been working on a story about the upcoming Moxie Festival that will run next Sunday, in the Lewiston Sun-Journal. When b-Section editor, Mark Mogensen, who I’ve been freelancing stories to at the paper for a couple of months, including my latest Explore! columns asked me about writing it, I wasn’t sure I wanted to crank out another piece on Moxie. I mean, what more can I say about the distinctly different soft drink that has spawned a festival in a town that desperately needs the positive energy that fans of Moxie will bring with them when they come to visit for three days? Apparently, a little bit more. Continue reading

Bringing the Moxie

The Moxie Boy and Moxie Boy-in-training.

The Moxie Boy and Moxie Boy-in-training.

Today’s the start of a three-day Moxie weekend. I know I’m supposed to be blogging about Moxie, but sometimes, I think I’ve written just about all I want to about Moxie. Maybe that’s why this year, I’ve toned down my usual Moxie blogging quota.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate Moxie’s history, and all that goes along with this distinctly different soft drink that’s been around since 1884 because I do. The two books, the signings, the interviews I was asked to do, and the Tee Vee appearances are “all good,” as they say. It’s just that my interests and things I want to write about are much broader than one product, even a product as unique as Moxie. Continue reading

Moxie Math

Moxie math and keeping the stories straight.

Moxie math and keeping the stories straight.

Moxie is a state of mind, or so I’ve been told numerous times. Apparently, it also has its own distinctly different system of computation. How else could this be the Moxie Festival’s 31st year, if 2008 was its 25th, or silver anniversary?

History is important to me and by extension, the history of Moxie is something I’ve paid particular attention to especially since 2008 when I wrote my first Moxie book, but really, since 2004, when I first signed on to provide PR and marketing support for the Moxie Committee that summer and the following year, too. Continue reading

This Week in Moxie

Moxie can

I drove through Lisbon Falls over the weekend. One week out from the town’s crowning celebration, the place looked like a ghost town. Save for a couple of banners strung up over Route 196, Lisbon Falls looked nothing like a place where 20,000+ people will flock to in order to celebrate a distinctly different New England soft drink called Moxie.

Moxie’s been on my mind the past few weeks as it often is during July, when Lisbon Falls again assumes its place as the epicenter of the Moxie universe for one weekend. Then, it will go back to being a community in obvious decline, much like it has for the past 30 years that Moxie’s been connected to the place. Continue reading

Moxie Season

The Moxie Boy wants you to drink Moxie!

The Moxie Boy wants you to drink Moxie!

Moxie is a distinctly different soft drink that was once more popular than Coca-Cola, or Pepsi. Now, it’s an iconic regional soft drink with a cult-like fan base and a festival in its honor.

For the uninitiated, the Moxie Festival occurs the second weekend in July, just like it has been now for the past 30 years. The place is Lisbon Falls, the town where I grew up and still live across the Androscoggin River from. Continue reading