I have a rather large Smoker:
and I use pre-burned wood sticks(Sticks are usually just split wood, and can be most any size-8",12",16",and so on...) I do this in a barrel :
After pre-burning and placing into the firebox, it should look similar to this:
Doing it this way gives me very good control of my heat; when I see a change of 10*F to 15*F change of my usual 225*F, I adjust what's needed and add more embers as needed.
Pre-burning produces a better smoke (IMHO)-no crud on the meat.
As for the Maple-YES, it's a VERY good wood,sweet,mild and is great on most anything you Smoke-especially when mixed with Apple on PorkButt.
I love to cook big... parties, gatherings for family and friends or just to get out and do something to freeze for later.
Hope this helps and you join me in the Fun of Smoking(tending it is where the fun is), and isn't "FUN" and stress relief the best part of BBQing?
Have fun and SMOKE HAPPY