A Quiet Blue Wheel
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What does the title A Quiet Blue Wheel mean? To each writer in this anthology of Bangor, Maine-area writers, it means something different, so come and explore their quiet blue wheels.

  • It’s a blue ship’s wheel in a painting that might exist.
  • It’s a beloved blue spinning wheel of a New World immigrant.
  • It’s a street called Blue Wheel Drive, where two unlikely friends meet.
  • It’s a wheel of blue cheese at the site of a sudden death—or murder.
  • It’s a blue wheel in a hay baler that took a man’s life in rural Maine.
  • It’s a pair of blue wheels in two intertwined realities.
  • It’s a blue wheel on an old safe, at the center of an old mystery.
  • It’s a wheel of blue granite surrounding a grave in an old cemetery.
  • It’s a big blue pillow a tiny elephant uses as his security blanket.
  • It’s a metaphorical blue wheel in the life of a horse-riding woman.

Through ten very different interpretations, there’s a story for everyone in A Quiet Blue Wheel.

Read Excerpts from the Stories (PDF, 494 KB)
Including the introduction, dedication, and the opening pages of each story. Bear in mind that, usually, the story hasn't gotten rolling in just those couple of pages; there's a lot of storytelling packed into each of these!

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The Stories

A Quiet Blue Wheel features 10 stories by 10 authors, all of them echoing the anthology's title in some way. And each author has a very different quiet blue wheel.

This is the first in a series of anthologies by Bangor, Maine-area writers who attended the class "Creative Writing: The Short Story" through Bangor Adult Education. The class instructor is this anthology's editor.

"Appaloosa Night"
by Amanda M. Updegraff

Amanda Updegraff doesn’t waste any time letting us know what her quiet blue wheel is, but this metaphorical wheel permeates the life of the protagonist throughout. Most of us have those moments of desperation and futility in our lives, and we each deal with them in our own ways. Some of us run away from our problems; others of us face them. Perhaps the protagonist in this story does a little bit of both.

"Her Room"
by Charles J. O'Leary

If Philip Marlowe were an Irish cop in Boston, the character you’re about to meet might well be him. But unlike Chandler’s larger-than-life detective, this hard-boiled cop isn’t quite as invincible, as he’s been hit with a pair of traumas that forever changed his life. Charles O’Leary lets us ride along for the journey his damaged hero takes, which quickly moves from its opening detective-noir feel to a more relaxed mystery in Maine, where a work of art might feature a blue wheel... and it isn’t talking.

"The Elephant in the Corner"
by J.D. Updegraff

Josh Updegraff knew from the beginning his story would involve a miniature elephant, and having a miniature elephant for a protagonist isn’t like having just about any other character as a protagonist. Raja’s quiet blue wheel is a security blanket of sorts, giving him a place of rest during the good times and a place of comfort during the bad. And as this little pachyderm embarks on his adventures in a human world, he’ll find plenty of both.

"Ten Grand"
by Christopher Olsen

Christopher Olsen’s blue wheel seems very not-quiet at first. It’s set on a backdrop of local Bangor history, thanks to Olsen’s first-person familiarity with local history and the Bangor Historical Society. But he’s changed names and situations to protect the innocent, and perhaps the guilty, while working up a good, old-fashioned ghost story. It’s worth noting here that Chris wins the awards for “Hardest-Working Student” and “Most-Improved Student,” having diligently worked through seven drafts in a die-hard bid to produce his first story so that it would be publishable and engaging. He’s done an exemplary job, and has never known the meaning of the word “quit.”

by Anette Ruppel Rodrigues

Anette Ruppel Rodrigues is German by birth, a German instructor by vocation, and a historian by avocation—or perhaps by fate, given her devout commitment to the history she pursues. For her inaugural fiction story, she has drawn on her extensive knowledge of the history of German participation in the early days of the United States, particularly in Maine and the Maritimes, to craft a tale based on fact, with richly drawn characters who were actually real people. But the particulars of the story are from her imagination, including one important object in the title character’s life, which serves as her quiet blue wheel.

"The Curse of John Trafford's Grave"
by David M. Fitzpatrick

A high-school prank set in a Maine cemetery can’t end well. In David M. Fitzpatrick’s telling, the young characters’ lives, filled with hopes and desires, go skidding off the rails. The quiet blue wheel is unmoved, unchanged as it observes the events unfold. But don’t think you’ve got it all figured out; the story’s narrator holds his pain close and reveals it slowly.
—Greg Westrich

"Until We Meet Again"
by Paula Burnett

If you’re looking for a literal quiet blue wheel here, you won’t find it, but Paula Burnett’s story does center on a blue wheel of sorts. And what’s quiet about it? It might seem like very little, but with the bottled-up emotions and festering pain both Megan and her new-found friend are trying fiercely to handle, you’ll soon see that what’s truly important on Blue Wheel Drive is sadly quiet, and desperately in need of being voiced. This is a story of loss and redemption for two unlikely friends who, when they most need it, find each other.

"Pungent Death"
by Kelly Jean Richardson

There’s nothing like a murder mystery, but they’re usually told from the point of view of the investigator trying to solve the case. This one sort of is, but Nora isn’t a typical detective. Rather, she’s a woman caught up in the midst of circumstances, with connections to the suspects, a blooming romance with the police detective, and a big wheel of blue cheese that isn’t talking… because nobody knows where it went. Kelly Jean Richardson’s first published story takes her love of a good mystery and puts it to good use.

"Greenland, ME"
by Greg Westrich

Tourists think that Maine is all about lobsters and Bar Harbor, but there’s something about rural Maine that goes far beyond those things. There’s the tenacity and perseverance of Mainers, and the strong work ethic you’ll find in them. There’s the deep sense of pride those folks have. And there’s the time-hardened Maine concept of what it means to be “from away”—a concept often adhered to with the fiercest resolution. In his story, Greg Westrich—who is, in fact, “from away”—shows us how keenly he understands those things, and he weaves them together into a tragic mystery where one quiet blue wheel tells a terrible story. What happens in the lonely woods of this fictional Maine community could happen in any of the real towns you’ll find once you venture even a short way off Interstate 95.

"Reclaiming Candace"
by Marsha Libby

Marsha Libby had two distinct story ideas for her contribution to this anthology. Unable to decide which she most wanted to write, she decided to do them both. The result is an intertwined pair of tales about coming to terms with difficult circumstances and finding the power to go forward. One story happens in our world, in the here and now; the other takes place in a world of fantasy, where magic prevails, but where the challenges of the human condition are just as prevalent as they are in ours. Libby gives us two subtle quiet blue wheels, both wrought with power—one literally, the other metaphorically. What follows is an expert blending of two stories, two protagonists, and two quiet blue wheels into a tale you won’t soon forget.




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