Let’s Celebrate National Pie Day

I found out two days late, that Jan­u­ary 23rd was Nation­al Pie Day. Who knew? But that bit of infor­ma­tion segues right into a sub­ject I want to vis­it. Well, two subjects—pies and moth­ers. Make that four sub­jects. Add books and movies.

Last Sun­day Parade Mag­a­zine includ­ed with our news­pa­per had an arti­cle about an upcom­ing movie called Labor Day. Both the pic­ture (see below) and the sub­ject and title of the arti­cle (Life of Pie) caught my atten­tion. Of course, it’s about pie. Many years ago Joyce May­nard, author of the book of the same name, had spent the sum­mer with her moth­er who was dying of can­cer bak­ing a pie near­ly every day, while her mother’s friends vis­it­ed. She’d rolled out the crust on wax paper, just as she’d learned from her moth­er. That sum­mer inspired her to teach many oth­ers how to make pie. And bak­ing pies inspired her to include a pie-mak­ing scene in her lat­est nov­el, Labor Day.

Pie and a pie-bak­ing moth­er struck a cord with me. My moth­er loved to bake. We always had dessert of some sort, always home­made, usu­al­ly cake or pie more often than cook­ies. We lived on a farm, so we had our own fruit and berries. I espe­cial­ly remem­ber apple pies. After we chil­dren left home, my moth­er con­tin­ued to bake pies. Since she had become dia­bet­ic, she’d bake a small sug­ar-free one for her­self and anoth­er for my dad. Often she’d bake two and give one away. After my father died, Mom still baked. She couldn’t eat all the pies, so she gave them away. A neigh­bor stopped by? Have a pie. Any fam­i­ly activ­i­ty? Bring two pies. A doc­tor appoint­ment? Take a pie for the entire staff to share.

Although I don’t make many pies myself, I learned from my moth­er. She used a board instead of wax paper to roll out the dough. I use a cloth for my rolling sur­face. The author uses wax paper. But we all did one thing the same—use the absolute min­i­mum of cold water when mix­ing the dough. Those mem­o­ries inspire me to see the movie, and def­i­nite­ly to read the book, Labor Day, by Joyce May­nard. (In fact, due to the mar­vels of the inter­net and Kin­dle, I have it already, when a week ago I didn’t even know the book exist­ed.)

Life of Pie-from Parade Magazine

Life of Pie-from Parade Mag­a­zine

The illus­tra­tion with the arti­cle shows the author demon­strat­ing her pie exper­tise to the movie’s stars, Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. Josh plays an escaped con­vict who hides out in Kate’s house. He makes the pie in the movie. (Kate came to the demon­stra­tion as she want­ed to learn how to bake pies too.) While they baked and ate three pies, author Joyce May­nard found a pie con­nec­tion with actor Josh. His moth­er, who had died young, had also been a bak­er. I too found a con­nec­tion with both of them—a moth­er who baked pies.

On Amazon’s page for Labor Day, I learned more about the book. It is told from the thir­teen-year-old son’s point of view. More infor­ma­tion about Joyce Maynard’s book can be found here. You can read the entire Parade arti­cle here, see a clear­er pic­ture, and even watch a video of Joyce May­nard mak­ing an apple pie. Inci­dent­ly, the movie will open Jan­u­ary 31. And, for a local humor col­umn on the sub­ject, click on Nation­al Pie Day.

Old News That’s Still New

I’ve been busy which is real­ly not a good excuse. Every­one is busy this time of year—the hol­i­days, vis­its, cook­ing, clean­ing, bad colds—and I’ve had them all. Plus, I’ve been pour­ing over the proof of my new book and dis­cov­er­ing lots of things that need to be changed. But I must take time out to write in my blog. And—I’ve found a good subject—the con­tin­u­ing real­iza­tion that the more things change, the more they stay the same!

Every Mon­day our local news­pa­per has a col­umn of old news tak­en from papers 25, 50, 75, and 100 years ago. Yes, our news­pa­per has been in busi­ness that long! (Well, the paper’s name has under­gone a few name changes. It’s now a com­bi­na­tion of the two pre­vi­ous ones put out by the same com­pa­ny.) Would you believe the local news 25 years ago was sim­i­lar to one a fel­low mys­tery writer based her first mys­tery on, and inci­dent­ly, start­ed my habit of clip­ping these columns? The author is Sta­cy Juba, and her book is Twen­ty-Five Years Ago Today. Her book cen­tered around an unsolved mur­der. My local arti­cle tells of an unsolved dis­ap­pear­ance of a 15-year old girl who left with a man “well known to her.” Foul play and her death were feared and she is still miss­ing. Sta­cy, are you up for anoth­er plot? Or, since Sta­cy has sev­er­al oth­er books com­plete­ly plot­ted and pub­lished, am I?

Not only was the 50-year-ago news of a huge snow storm with ultra-low tem­per­a­tures one that I remem­ber well, those ultra-low tem­per­a­tures were repeat­ed this year. For­tu­nate­ly, the twelve-foot drifts weren’t. Of course, that affect­ed the annu­al Penn­syl­va­nia Farm Show—both times. In fact, that hap­pens so often, the fre­quent bad, cold weath­er for the same week is referred to as Farm Show Weath­er.

Now, 75 years ago the weath­er wasn’t real­ly men­tioned. That news was from 1939, a year still in the depres­sion that start­ed ten years ear­li­er and wasn’t com­plete­ly erased until the arms build-up to win World War II began after Pearl Har­bor Day on Decem­ber 7, 1941. Local­ly, 21 “relief chislers” had defraud­ed the gov­ern­ment for a total of $1,408. One woman thought the gov­ern­ment knew she had a job. Her hus­band was in jail and she had to walk ten miles to and from her job. Per­son­al­ly, I think I’d have let her keep the $100.10 she was over­paid. (There are cer­tain facts in this sto­ry that remind me of today as well. Can you say “hard times for many?”)

For­tu­nate­ly, the 100-years ago today sto­ry doesn’t remind me of cur­rent events. A man who owned the local store and ran the enclosed post office came down with “the dread­ed” dis­ease of small pox. Not only was his busi­ness estab­lish­ment quar­an­tined and closed, but his entire fam­i­ly was quar­an­tined and two near­by schools were closed for two weeks.

Have you heard any old news late­ly that could have been said about yes­ter­day as well? If my com­ments sec­tion is work­ing, I’d love to hear it.

Does This Look Like Thanksgiving?

A welcoming door

A wel­com­ing door

Thanks­giv­ing is all about fam­i­ly around the fire, turkey with all the trim­mings, bless­ings, falling leaves, and nip­py weath­er, right? Not always. We vis­it­ed our Flori­da daugh­ter and grand­chil­dren.

Florida Sunset

Flori­da Sun­set

We vis­it­ed the beach where our grand­daugh­ter took a fab­u­lous sun­set pic­ture of her moth­er for her class. We ate lots. Daugh­ter and I worked on for­mat­ting the final ver­sion of my new book. (More about that lat­er.) And we dropped grand­son off at col­lege after his break and came home. Okay, he drove, but it was our car.

Yep, we came home, short­ly to see a lit­tle more than nip­py weath­er.

Early December Snow in Pennsylvania

Ear­ly Decem­ber Snow in Penn­syl­va­nia

How was your Thanks­giv­ing? Did you cel­e­brate in the tra­di­tion­al man­ner?

Looks like the com­ment sec­tion is not work­ing again. You may com­ment on the con­tact page. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Cover Reveal

Some­thing new is com­ing. My first young adult book, Cher­ish, is about to come on the scene.

From the back cov­er:

Cher­ish can’t be my name. It doesn’t sound right. But who am I? I should have lis­tened bet­ter to that mini-psych course in mid­dle school. I’ve heard of bi-polar and mul­ti­ple per­son­al­i­ties. I think. Is this the way peo­ple go crazy?

Kay­la shouldn’t have tak­en that strange girl’s hand, because that’s when every­thing changed.

And, wasn’t it the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry? What’s with the date, Octo­ber, 1946? That can’t be right. It’s the same school, sort of. The same town, but dif­fer­ent.

But, if she is Cher­ish, how about the date on that tomb­stone? If she doesn’t find a way back to her own body, in her own time…,

Kay­la will die in a few days.

Too much to do!

It’s a com­mon prob­lem, at least for me. I make plans, sched­ule things — sure I’ll have no prob­lem han­dling it all. Then what hap­pens? I real­ize I have way more than I want to do.

Exer­cise. It’s very good for one, and absolute­ly essen­tial for a writer who spends so much time in front of her com­put­er. There­fore, two morn­ings a week I exer­cise with a class. Great fun, actu­al­ly. Of course, even though it’s only a 45-minute class, it takes me the rest of the morn­ing to actu­al­ly feel like work­ing. Yep, morn­ing gone.

Two morn­ings gone out of a week? No prob­lem. I can han­dle that two-week class on opti­miz­ing Goodreads for authors. Also, I can learn how to post to my mys­tery cri­tique group all over again since we start­ed using Google groups instead of Yahoo groups. (And, that course? Also on a new venue — more to learn.)

Oh, yeah, there’s a few oth­er things. I’m count­ing down the time until my new YA is pub­lished. Work­ing with the artist on the cov­er design now. And, hope­ful­ly those edits I’m doing on the sequel to Yesterday’s Body will be final edits.

Then there’s the arti­cle and the blog post I agreed to do. A month or two ago I spaced them out, too busy in August and Sep­tem­ber. Yep, due this month. Work­ing on it, real­ly I am.

Is there more? Uh-huh. Old­est grand­son get­ting mar­ried. Then the fol­low­ing week youngest daugh­ter and fam­i­ly hav­ing their annu­al, all-day fall par­ty.

I’m sure there’s a book among those I’ve read that would absolute­ly fit this post. But, will I take an after­noon lulling through the shelves, pick­ing the per­fect read to rec­om­mend? Nope, sor­ry, not today. I’m over-sched­uled as it is. I’ll have more time next week — make that next month.

Sailing Blogs to Visit

This week I didn’t post my usu­al arti­cle. Instead, I vis­it­ed Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers with a blog about a sail­ing trip my hus­band and I made in 1989. It was the first big trip we made on our sail­boat. I called it Sail­ing the Dis­mal Swamp Canal to Hur­ri­cane Hugo.

ICW Trip - 1989

ICW Trip — 1989

To see this post, go to this blog site. Of course, with a title that includes a hur­ri­cane name, you might guess what we ran into.

We took many trips between that one and our last big trip some years lat­er. By then we were too old to han­dle lines and dodge swing­ing booms. We had a pow­er cruis­er instead of a sail boat. For that last trip, we were a group of only two boats. I blogged about that last year for Dames of Dia­logue. You can see it at their blog.

Death of a Hot Chick, the mys­tery men­tioned in both blogs was inspired by my sail­ing trips. So too was my ama­teur sleuth, Cyd Den­linger. I blogged about how I chose her before I had a sin­gle book pub­lished. That is on Work­ing Stuffs.

These blog posts, espe­cial­ly the last one I men­tion above, will give you an idea of how a writer’s mind works when she is craft­ing some­one to solve her mys­ter­ies. Enjoy!

Seasonal Thoughts

Sea­son­al? Not as in salt and pep­per or onion flakes. Oh, no. As in, it must be fall because kids went back to school, despite the fact that fall does not offi­cial­ly arrive until lat­er in Sep­tem­ber. So, since it IS fall, Hal­loween must be close behind. How do I know? My local gro­cery store has a full dis­play of Hal­loween Tastykakes. Yum!

Def­i­nite­ly time for spooky thoughts. Ghosts, mag­ic, and spooky para­nor­mal mys­tery books. Yes!

One series of choice for the sea­son is L. L. Bartlett’s Jeff Resnick series. Bartlett (under two oth­er names) writes two of my favorite cozy mys­tery series, but this is more of a psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller. Jeff has dreams, or visions, of mur­der. How spooky is that? The first in the series is Mur­der on the Mind. The newest one, Dark Waters, comes out on Octo­ber 1, 2013.

Anoth­er favorite series is Sofie Kelly’s Mag­i­cal Cats mys­tery series. Are those cats real, ghosts, or what? One that I read is Curios­i­ty Thrilled The Cat. The newest one, Final Cat­call, also comes out Octo­ber 1, 2013.

Soon I hope to announce my newest mys­tery, a spooky young adult titled Cher­ish. There are ghosts, time trav­el, and Hal­loween involved in this one.

I keep try­ing to get com­ments active on this post. Maybe this time? Don’t know yet. How­ev­er, com­ments will be open on my Goodreads blog tomor­row.

School is Open — Remember When

Remem­ber when school start­ed the Tues­day or Wednes­day after Labor Day? Remem­ber when you took the kids shop­ping for shoes the week before–so they wouldn’t out­grow their new footwear before school start­ed? Remem­ber when the kids scanned the school lunch menu and decid­ed they pre­ferred a bag lunch from home? And most of all — remem­ber when there were no back­packs that weighed down your child’s young shoul­ders?

Okay, I’m old. Even my kids are old because they can remem­ber it all as well. Now, their kids, that’s a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. They have ipads and smart phones and com­put­ers, as well as books. They might take a class pre­sent­ed on the com­put­er at home. They all return to school in August, some even ear­ly August. (Of course, they do get more or longer vaca­tions dur­ing the year. That may be all to the good, actu­al­ly.) I’ve even read about schools that decide the bag lunch isn’t ade­quate and throw it out. Ah, me. A group of us old ladies got togeth­er a cou­ple of weeks ago and agreed that we wouldn’t want to be rais­ing out chil­dren now.

But, of course, every old gen­er­a­tion looks askance at the young upstarts. Every­thing is new, and they wouldn’t want it any oth­er way. Look at the amaz­ing things our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren are learning–and doing. Even we old fogies are catch­ing up with the times. And, for sure, if our young­sters kept to the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry ways, they’d be com­plete­ly lost in a year or two.

How lost would they be if they start­ed the way I did? Maybe you learned to read from a Dick and Jane book too. I did, and, believe it or not, so did my old­est daugh­ter. I was amazed when she brought her book home to show us. There it was. “See Dick run. See Jane run.” All year long she stud­ied from that book, just as I did. And, at the end of the book and the end of the year came the sto­ry I loved. “Dark Pony.”

So, in hon­or of the past, the book I want to men­tion today is We Play (Read With Dick and Jane) It is even avail­able! (There are oth­ers list­ed, but they are unavail­able.)

I would ask you to add a com­ment, but that isn’t work­ing. Don’t know why. Haven’t fig­ured out how to fix it yet. Hope­ful­ly, next week my com­ments will be back. How­ev­er, you can com­ment on my oth­er pages — don’t know why that is either! You may also vis­it my web­site here. Love to see you.

New Reads — Cozy Mystery and More

I love new books. Scan­ning the cov­er, turn­ing the pages, fol­low­ing line after line of… Okay, I also love new e-books. Let me say, I love the plot, the mys­tery, the char­ac­ters, the whole expe­ri­ence of let­ting myself live anoth­er life for a few min­utes, or a few hours. So, when I hear about a new book writ­ten by one of my favorite authors, I’m ready to eaves­drop on a life that I’ve lived before. And, when I open a book by an author new to me, I’m ready to escape into a new real­i­ty. All this is pre­lude to intro­duc­ing a short list of books new­ly pub­lished, or about to be pub­lished next month. Per­haps some of these will intro­duce you to a delight­ful new read.

The first book on my list is an anthol­o­gy of short sto­ries — The Least He Could Do and eleven oth­er sto­ries. When I asked for titles of new books from my Sis­ters in Crime Gup­py chap­ter, I heard about this from the author of the title sto­ry, “The Least He Could Do,” Lynn Mann. Lynn’s sto­ry is sus­pense (and a good one). The oth­ers are a mix of genre’s, all a bit edgy. Avail­able as e-book.  Ama­zon site here.  Smashword’s site here.

The next three books are all cozy mys­ter­ies from authors with series I know and love. The first is Low­coun­try Bomb­shell by Susan Boy­er. Her first book, Low­coun­try Boil, won the Agatha this year for best new mys­tery, so you know this one will be good. Short intro — Liz Tal­bot thinks she’s seen anoth­er ghost when she meets Cal­ista McQueen. She’s the spit­ting image of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe. Born pre­cise­ly fifty years after the ill-fat­ed star, Calista’s life has eeri­ly mir­rored the late starlet’s–and she fears the loom­ing anniver­sary of Marilyn’s death will also be hers. With the heat index approach­ing triple dig­its, Liz races to uncov­er a dia­bol­i­cal mur­der plot in time to save not only Calista’s life, but also her own.  Ama­zon site here. Pub­lish­er page here.

Lit­tle Black Book of Mur­der by Nan­cy Mar­tin is the newest from The Black­bird Sis­ters series, one of my favorites. It stars Nora Black­bird who may have been to the manor borne, but these days mon­ey is so tight, she can’t afford to lose her job as a soci­ety colum­nist. Short Intro — If any­thing can bring the blue-blood­ed Black­bird sis­ters togeth­er, it’s a mur­der inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing high-soci­ety events, glam­orous peo­ple, and the dis­ap­pear­ance of a genet­i­cal­ly per­fect pig that may or may not be bask­ing in the sun at Black­bird Farm. They’ll all have to pull togeth­er this time, because if Nora can’t bring home the bacon, she might have to exchange her bucol­ic estate for a cramped walk-up. Avail­able in hard­cov­er, e-book, and audio­book.  Ama­zon page here. Author page here.

Rhys Bowen, the author of Heirs and Graces, writes three series that I adore. This title is the lat­est in the Roy­al Spy­ness mys­ter­ies that take place in 1930s Eng­land. Georgie’s posh edu­ca­tion didn’t land her a job, or a hus­band, but it does con­vince Her Majesty the Queen and the Dowa­ger Duchess to enlist her help. Short intro for this his­toric mys­tery — As thir­ty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Geor­giana Ran­noch may not be the most sophis­ti­cat­ed young woman, but she knows her table man­ners. It’s forks on the left, knives on the right–not in His Majesty’s back… Avail­able in hard­cov­er, e-book, and audio­book. Ama­zon page here. Author page here.

I also have two mys­ter­ies from authors who are new to me. I’m look­ing for­ward to enjoy­ing their new series. Auld Lang Syne is by Judith Ivie. Short intro — This is num­ber six in The Kate Lawrence Mys­ter­ies. It’s almost New Year’s Eve, and Kate finds her­self at her 35th high school reunion, where she is con­front­ed by The Mean Girls, cir­ca 1978. Worse yet, she’s put on a lit­tle weight, and her high school steady is expect­ed to show. Should auld acquain­tance be for­got? If only that were pos­si­ble. Avail­able in paper­back and e-book. Ama­zon site here. Pub­lish­er page here.

The sec­ond of the new-to-me mys­ter­ies is Armed  by Elaine Macko From the cov­er pho­to of a young woman’s arm, I sus­pect this Alex Har­ris series is ‘armed’ with more humor than gun play. Short intro — When Alex Har­ris, own­er of the Always Pre­pared staffing agency, stum­bles over the body of Mrs. Scott, noth­ing will ever be the same. Along with her sis­ter and part­ner, Saman­tha Daniels, and their assis­tant, Mil­lie Chap­man, the Win­ston Churchill-quot­ing, M&M pop­ping Alex probes and plods through clue after clue try­ing to unrav­el secrets before the mur­der­er strikes again and real­ly ruins Christ­mas. Avail­able in paper­back and e-book. Ama­zon site here. Author page here.

What are your favorite cozy mys­tery series? Leave a com­ment and tell me. I’d love to hear about new ones.

Look for my new YA mys­tery soon — pub­li­ca­tion date ten­ta­tive­ly sched­uled for Octo­ber 2013. In the mean­time, the links to my two mys­ter­ies and one true adven­ture non-fic­tion are on my Books page here.