Exeter LitFest SCHEDULE!

Book lovers – BIG FUN coming up in Exeter! On Saturday, April 1, the Exeter Town Hall is the scene of the free day of local authors (12-5pm). I’ll put the schedule with the times below.

BUT on the eve of the LitFest is the outrageous FUNdraiser – a roaring twenties Speakeasy, complete with bootleg gin and a live jazz show. (Friday night 7-9pm at Mila function hall. $30 tickets are still available.)

In the daytime, in the nightime…aint’ we got fun??

Complete info including author bios and speakeasy tickets are at the ExeterLitFest.com website.

Hope to see you there! ~ RM Allen

EXETER LITFEST SCHEDULE: Saturday April 1, 2023

Exeter Town Hall – Free & Open to the Public

12-12:45 PM Keynote Speaker:

Rabia Chaudry, true-crime podcaster & author of Fatty Fatty Boom Boom & Adnan’s Story.  In discussion with Lara Bricker. (Book signing follows 12:45–1:30pm)

1:00 to 1:45 PM Upstairs Gallery:

POETRY READING: Diannely Antigua and Ralph Sneeden, with a tribute to the late Exeter poet, Harvey Shepard. Moderated by Todd Hearon.

2:00 to 2:45 PM Downstairs:

AUTHOR TALK: Keith O’Brien, author of Paradise Falls: The True Story of an Environmental Catastrophe, in conversation with The Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath.

2:00 to 2:45 PM Upstairs Gallery:

POETRY: Arts in Action: Celebrating Poetic Possibilities – Exeter High School teachers Dennis Magliozzi and Kristina Peterson. A selection of high school students will share their slam and spoken word poetry. Intro by Jack Herney.

3:00 to 3:45 PM Downstairs:

AUTHOR PANEL: Memory and Mystery – Novelists Annie Hartnett, author of Unlikely Animals, and Lara Prescott, author of The Secrets We Kept.

3:00 to 3:45 PM Upstairs Gallery:

AUTHOR PANEL: Preserving Family Histories – Learn how to write your story with June Fabre, James Nealon, and Tom Tufts. All attendees will be given a tip sheet to help them get started. Lots of Q & A time! Moderated by Renay Allen / Peg Aaronian.

4:00- 4:45 PM Downstairs:

AUTHOR TALK: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, UNH Physicist & author of The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred.

In discussion with PEA’s Frances Johnson.


Don’t forget to visit our free bookswap table.

In honor of Bookmobile founder, an Exeter girl, Mary Lemist Titcomb.
It will be on the steps of the Exeter Town Hall. BYObag and fill it up 🙂

Visit these Exeter restaurants
having LitFest “1920’s” specials:

Ambrose/ Otis / Cornicello / Czar’s Brewing / Sawbelly Pub / Vino e Vivo

Hello mask-free 2023 !

UPDATE: On Jan 9 we announced to the Exeter Select Board that we will partner with the Black Heritage Trail of NH on the proposed pocket-park, and are in their queue for a 2024 project.

Happy New Year to all!

And a great big thanks to all who purchased my mystery books this past holiday season. Let me give you an update on where your money has and will be going…

As the black hole in time that was the Covid-era begins to recede, finally we are ready to look forward again. It is with a happy heart that I tell you that the timing is finally right for Exeter’s Black Heritage Pocket-Park that had been proposed just before Covid hit.

As you remember, I pledged to donate profits from my book sales to tangible reminders of Exeter’s historic Black community. So far, money has been spent on: a gravestone for Rebecca Walker, a plaque for John Cutler (via Sandy Martin), and a large stone step for Jude Hall (this spring at the American Independence Museum). All that remains for us is to finish is the pocket-park idea. (Depending on the design and some other details, there may be a crowd-funding element).

The idea was to locate a bench and a stone near/in the Swasey Parkway area. The Town had to jump through many hoops to enact the closure of half of Swasey Parkway (requested by citizen vote 2022). They are almost ready. So, I will speak to them on Monday night to update them on the pocket-park, and see what they have to say.

We look forward to partnering with the Black Heritage Trail of NH to place their handsome stone marker in the pocket-park. The remainder of my book profits are earmarked for this project (and one with Exeter Chapter DAR). Depending on the design, there may be a crowd-funding element this spring, too. TBD!

Stay tuned – and once again – thanks for your support of the project.
~ RM Allen

PS: An annual NYE ritual of mine is the “Word-of-the-Year” and this year it is “home”. Thank you for helping me to bring this historic community home 🙂

New Book Launch!

“Yuletide at Exeter” is coming just in time for holiday shopping. Get in the holiday spirit with your favorite local sleuth, Maryvonne, as she goes on the hunt for a pickpocket and stalker during a very busy and festive weekend in Exeter. Eggnog anyone?

Here is a preview of my early book promo tour. Hope to see you at one or more event!

Oct. 11 at Exeter Public Library at 7pm: panel discussion

RM Allen and Barbara Rimkunas in a panel with host Julia Lantern in “Courageous Conversations”. RM Allen will speak about James Monroe Whitfield, a Black poet profiled in her book “Incident at Ioka”. She will also gift the library with a preview copy of her latest book, “Yuletide at Exeter”.

Oct. 25 at Water Street Bookstore at 7pm:  book launch of “Yuletide at Exeter”!

RM Allen lives in Exeter and loves to write mysteries set in the downtown. The newest book in her series takes place on the Festival of the Trees weekend. Her sly sleuth, Maryvonne, is on the trail of a pickpocket and a stalker during the Clan MacBean family reunion. RM Allen’s book series explores the contributions of Exeter’s historical Black community. All book profits donated to a Black heritage project in Exeter. Info at RM-Allen.com

Nov. 16 at Riverwoods, Holiday Fair Afternoon.

Always a fun event for the residents at Riverwoods Retirement Community. RM Allen and Lara Bricker will co-host a book table together again. Two fun local authors in one place!

More dates TBA

Interested in having RM Allen at your in-person or online event? Send request to RmAllenNH@gmail.com


I encourage you to “go local” this month; by learning the history of Blacks in your own town. If you live in Exeter, why not introduce yourself to the poems of James Monroe Whitfield, who was born on Whitfield’s Lane, now renamed Elliot Street?

Happy 200th James!

Did you know that this April is the 200th birthday of this Exeter-born Black man who published a book of poems in 1853? And did you know that his book America; and other poems” is held by the Library of Congress as an important part of American history and culture?

What local Black history might your town have “de-emphasized”? No better time than now to give it a homecoming.

In 2020, Whitfield was included in the anthology “African-American Poetry; 250 years of struggle and song.” This spring, his 200th bday will be honored at the Saturday, April 2, 2022 Exeter LitFest. Another local poet, Willie Perdomo, who was also included in the anthology, will bridge past and present by reading both a poem of Whitfield’s and a poem of his own. It will be like a bit of time-travel.

Why not look up Whitfield on Wikipedia, read him online, or at the Exeter Public Library? If you don’t read poetry – how about some light reading on him instead? I wrote a series of historical-fiction cozy caper mysteries set in Exeter that feature a few of our past residents.

Whitfield is profiled in my book “Incident at Ioka” which is for sale at Water Street Bookstore (or here https://www.amazon.com/Incident-Ioka-Maryvonne-Mini-Mystery/dp/0988374439 ).

Other books profile Jude Hall, a Revolutionary War soldier, and John G. Cutler. Both men are now on Wikipedia. Yes, they have “come home” too!

Heartwarming Holiday

It is wonderful to be able to gather in person with family again. (I am very grateful that the vaccines enabled this.) Our Thanksgiving meal was very heartwarming indeed, and I look forward to the look on my little grandson’s face in the crowd when he sees the town square light up tomorrow at 5pm. These family moments are so precious.

Today I write a quick update about another family: The Jude and Rhoda Hall family of Exeter, NH. Jude was a Black Revolutionary War patriot who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill and for the next 8 years.

He returned to Exeter, married Rhoda and together they had a large family. But – and a very significant but – tragically, three of their sons were stolen into Southern slavery back in the early 1800’s. This hushed up sundering of their family was a foul state of affairs that has festered.

But sundered no more! Today I am pleased to announce that a professional genealogist, Gail Garda, has completes her research on the Jude Hall family tree. Use this link to download or view a sample of her report. The report is now also presented publicly through the new “Jude and Rhoda Hall Society” page on Facebook. Who can say where this will lead? Especially if DNA is involved 🙂 The point of this small act of redress is to gather Jude and Rhoda’s family back together.

It is my wish this season that this genealogical report brings heartwarming family joy to the descendants of this Exeter couple, whose story has been neglected for so long.

~RM Allen

PS. We will be continuing this spring to work on the proposed “Black Heritage Pocket-Park” project at the head of Swasey Parkway. Wouldn’t it be terrific if some of Jude and Rhoda’s people were in attendance? Kind of heartwarming, wouldn’t you say?

Giving Thanks

The Wheel of the Year is turning into darkness. Time to begin the hunkering down. But first, we give thanks for the harvest. Can you smell the turkey and fixings? Have you given thought to what you are thankful for yet? I am thankful for so, so, many things – including this guy above, whom I adore!

To begin, I want to say a special thank you to all of those who are working on a more inclusive history of America. There are so many people now! Here is something interesting and new (for me): you can add a few words of Abenaki into your Turkey gathering. See a tribal land acknowledgment for Exeter here that I read before a meeting last month. I had to practice the words for a while, they felt strange in my mouth.

Earlier I had promised an update on the pocket-park idea – so here it is.

Now as you know,  I am on a small ad-hoc committee working on a quiet pocket-park in honor of the historic African-American community that once thrived in Exeter. The project will lay dormant this winter, but we will pick it up again in the spring. But I am doing some background leg-work in the meantime.

Today I and 50 others attended a Black Heritage Trail of NH (BHTNH) marker unveiling in a small pocket-park in Portsmouth at 325 State Street. Speeches, songs, and champagne: very nicely done! The quiet park has two benches, a tree, and a stone marker. (Go check it out, it is similar to what our ad hoc committee has in mind.) Last month I met with JerriAnne, the BHTNH director, about the Exeter pocket-park project. They want to collaborate, so today’s event could be similar to what we end up doing.

Pomp and Candace Spring marker, 325 State St, Portsmouth, NH 11.2021

Other leg-work I have done is to visit two other parks while on a road trip. The Alex Haley Memorial at Annapolis Harbor, which strikes a nice balance between fact and whimsy. This balance makes it very accessible to all. (Alex Haley wrote “Roots” and the market in which his ancestor was sold is directly across the street from this wharf.)

Alex Haley of Roots

We also drove on the Harriet Tubman Byway, and visited her pocket-park in Cambridge, MD. This one was not as accessible – the location was odd. But I was glad I went to gather ideas. There are about 40 stops on this driving tour.

Thanks to you all for reading this blog. Enjoy the feasting, friends and family. I am grateful for you all. I have the best friends!!

Thanks for hanging with me😊  What fun!!

 PS: Tomorrow night is a full moon eclipse, and I have a niece who is due to give birth. Maybe it will be the day little Violett arrives? Another reason to give thanks.

Happy Halloween

I recently hosted a guided walk and book reading at dusk at Exeter Cemetery, where I set some spines a’tingling alongside the crypt. I had rolled out some “fake” blood and everything. It was super fun! I do so love Halloween.

You can sample the Exeter flavors of Halloween on your own when you read my newest cozy-caper, “Incident at Exeter Depot”. It spins three new, creepy stories set in places I tend to haunt. Like cemeteries: I admit I am a fan.

Here is the link to the book (or just go to Water St Bookstore). ​https://www.amazon.com/Incident-Exeter-Depot-Mini-Mystery-Mini-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B08XM32YVG As you know, all profits to support Black Heritage projects in Exeter, NH.

Now, what else have I been up to? I had a professional genealogist working on Black Revolutionary War soldier Jude Hall’s family tree this summer. And I have also created a Facebook page “Jude and Rhoda Hall Society” on her suggestion. Once the tree is complete, we will place it up there as a downloadable file. Jude and Rhoda have hundreds of descendants. Right up to today.

And I finally met with the fun people at the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire in regards to Exeter’s Black Heritage Pocket-Park. They love the idea and would like to put a BHTNH marker there too. Yay!

And upcoming, there is a birthday road trip in the works! Seems I will be passing quite near to the Harriet Tubman Memorial Garden in Maryland. I plan to stop in and see what this pocket-park looks like. It may be helpful in some way to the pocket park project we will be working on this spring.

I’ll be back, post-trip, with an update on the trip. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my creepy book…

Summer Gifts

It’s July in Exeter, NH, and that means the annual American Independence Festival is about to begin. Due to Covid, this year it is on three weekends instead of the usual packed crowds jammed into one weekend. This year they are adding in more about the soldiers of African descent. Nice!

This spring, I had been working on this painting I call “Jude Hall at the Powder House.” When it was still unfinished it became a focal point in my pop-up art-installation on Juneteenth 2021 in the park.

Now it is finally finished, so I presented it as a gift to the American Independence Museum Their fancy yellow building on the hill is where Jude would go to collect his military pension. I wonder if he ever imagined there would be a painting of him on the wall in the room where they kept (and still keep) the strongbox??

I have no idea what Jude really looked like, but accounts of that time say he had dark skin, and was very large and strong. I imagine him as a Shaquille O’Neal type, so that’s how I painted him.

The 1771 Powder House is a pride and joy of Exeter, NH. It once housed the powder that was used at the Battle of Bunker Hill. So both Jude and the powder were at the same place on that fateful day. I thought about that a lot as I sat at my easel in front of this historic brick building on the river.

Another thing I though about was the tragedy of three of his free-born sons. Do you see those three light bricks near Jude’s eyes? They represent his three grown sons that were stolen into slavery. Jude seems to be looking at you, but he is really keeping his eyes on those three bricks. So am I.

To end this blog post, here is a summer gift for fans of my mystery book about Jude Hall, “Incident at Exeter Tavern”. You keep asking for a map, so I sketched one out this past rainy weekend. Enjoy your Revolutionary walkabout 🙂