History — Four Views

History — as viewed by four authors

His­to­ry is bor­ing, dull, ho-hum. No, no, his­to­ry is excit­ing, new and fresh! Which is it? Is it thick books filled with facts, dates, wars, inven­tions, and famine? Or is it a live­ly nar­ra­tive, full of mys­tery and intrigue?

Answer—it can be either! Amaz­ing­ly, the sub­ject you may have hat­ed in school, just might be retold in anoth­er way, a way that keeps you glued to the pages, think­ing not of sleep or a TV dra­ma but of what comes next with the turn of a page. And, the same his­toric facts may form the basis for mul­ti­ple books, each com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. His­to­ry may even be fic­tion­al­ized. (That is, turned into a sto­ry pos­si­bly even more allur­ing than the facts. But you knew that, right?)

The four books illus­trat­ed here approach his­to­ry in four dif­fer­ent ways. How is that?

On the left, Paper Woman by Suzanne Adair (the first of sev­er­al books) tells the sto­ry of a woman dur­ing the run-up to the Amer­i­can rev­o­lu­tion when British sol­diers and colo­nial rebels were very much in the pic­ture. Suzanne bases her mys­ter­ies on lit­tle-known facts of the south­ern states dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. She aug­ments those facts by tak­ing part in reen­act­ments. She knows what it is to dress as they did then, to pre­pare food, in fact, so many details of every-day life. A list of inven­tions, dates, and lin­eage? No—this approach to his­to­ry is the next best thing to being there—without the dan­ger!

The cov­er of The Blue may remind you of a col­orist gone wild, and that may be the intent, for it is, indeed about blue. Not blue as in sad, or even blue as in the sky, but blue as in invent­ing a dye that caused inter­na­tion­al upheaval in the world of porce­lain. Author Nan­cy Bilyeau com­bines her own her­itage as a Huguenot with fic­tion­al char­ac­ters to tell the sto­ry that spreads from 18th cen­tu­ry Lon­don to France. Inven­tions? Work­ing on that, for sure. But did any school book dwell on the king of France and obses­sion about porce­lain? This one qual­i­fies as a thriller.

The last two are not fic­tion. A Knuck­le­head in 1920s Alas­ka is the retail­ing of sev­er­al trips to work in Alas­ka for col­lege mon­ey. This is the sto­ry my father told me in six audio tapes. He made the tapes when he was 88, gave them to me (as the writer in the fam­i­ly) and asked that I write them for fam­i­ly and friends. It took a year and a half to orga­nize (and agree) on the con­tent, but we did it. Some years lat­er, one of my daugh­ters designed the cov­er and I pub­lished it for all. It’s an account, as he remem­bered (and named) it of  a hot-head­ed kid who need­ed to fin­ish grow­ing up. He told me he’d made anoth­er trip to Alas­ka, tak­ing his broth­er, but he hadn’t includ­ed those sto­ries. He said, “I wasn’t the knuck­le­head any more. Fred was.”

Spies In The Fam­i­ly, by Eva Dil­lon, is just that. After her par­ents had both died, Eva and her sib­lings found a wealth of papers in the attic. I’m still read­ing this one, but it has amaz­ing his­to­ry. At the height of the Cold War, her father was a U. S. gov­ern­ment agent han­dling the CIA’s high­est rank­ing dou­ble agent, a Sovi­et gen­er­al. Besides a lot of weird CIA action, the book includes infor­ma­tion gath­ered from the Sovi­et general’s son, now liv­ing in the Unit­ed States. To me, this is tru­ly a grip­ping sto­ry that I can’t wait to com­plete. (No mem­o­riz­ing dates here!)

Each of the book titles are linked to their Ama­zon page. Tell me, how did you view his­to­ry when you were in school? Did you find it inter­est­ing or bor­ing? Or, per­haps, since I’m waaaay out of school, the his­to­ry as taught now is more inter­est­ing. Or, per­haps, it is non-exis­tent, which is a shame. Like some­one once said (and I real­ly should look it up, but I won’t) those who don’t know his­to­ry are des­tined to repeat it. (Or words to that effect.) There are a mul­ti­tude of ways to present his­to­ry. What are your favorites?

New Book Count-down

New e-book - A Jo Durbin Mystery Series

What does an author do when she decides to change cov­ers on the way to pub­li­ca­tion? If she’s me, she just does it! Wis­er heads may not agree, but, there… you have it. Did, and done. But it occurs to me that those who ordered it with one cov­er may be con­fused when they get a book with anoth­er cov­er. So, I’ll spread this graph­ic around the inter­net, start­ing with my blog.

So, let’s go with the inci­den­tals. Pub­li­ca­tion date: Decem­ber 14, 2018. Avail­able as e-book only, but for very e-book read­er I know about. Amazon/Kindle link here. Uni­ver­sal Link here that includes Nook, Apple/itunes, Kobo, and a few oth­ers.

How about the blurb for this 3-book mys­tery vol­ume?

Jo Durbin, frus­trat­ed busi­ness writer, cat believ­er, and acci­den­tal ama­teur sleuth wants to up her game—parlaying tem­po­rary lifestyle into a best­seller. She tries real estate pro­mo­tion, the bag lady life, and reen­act­ing an 1813 woman at war. But the byline she scores, instead of “a killer caught,” might be “DOA.”

This col­lec­tion includes the com­plete series: Hid­den Body, a pre­quel nov­el­ette, Yesterday’s Body, Book 1, and For­got­ten Body, Book 2. Jo is helped, or hin­dered, by her sis­ter Kaye, by Mel, the man who wants to be more than a friend, and oth­er char­ac­ters, not the least of which are the police who seem to always be on her case.

The pre-order and intro­duc­to­ry price of 99 cents will last through New Year’s Day. (Inci­dent­ly, which cov­er do you like the best? Not that I’ll change it back again — just curi­ous. Did I make the right deci­sion or am I all wet?)

The End (Not Really)

What’s a Mystery Writer To Do?

I mean, when she can’t fig­ure out who the killer is? Now, you real­ly can’t have a mys­tery with­out a killer, that’s for sure. But when I wrote Death of a Hot Chick, I went through a mil­lion drafts (seemed like any­way) with­out find­ing my killer.

I’d worked on my mys­tery for months, seemed like years. Well, yes, it did run over twelve months for sure. But—I’d hit a brick wall. Who killed the vic­tim in chap­ter one? Who would be revealed as the nasty guy in the last chap­ter? She was dead—no doubt about it. But who dun it? What to do?

Write anoth­er draft. Sure­ly the killer would be revealed. I start­ed all over, honed the sen­tences, refined the clues, brought out new sub-plots, added and sub­tract­ed scenes. Even got a chap­ter or two fur­ther along toward the fin­ish line. But… no killer stepped up.

Okay, try again. Piece of cake. Answer will burst forth. Umm, no. Sev­en drafts lat­er and the brick wall was ever high­er. There were clues, red her­rings, false accu­sa­tions, but no killer stepped for­ward.

I had three guys well posi­tioned, each with a rea­son to off the hot chick of my mys­tery. Her father, her fiancé, and the guy whose boat she’d end­ed up with due to a bit of finan­cial hockus-pokus. (Okay, although some of my char­ac­ters believed the vic­tim was a sweet young thing, she had issues.) But, I just couldn’t pin-point the killer. What to do?

Des­per­a­tion lurked. I stared at my three guys, and final­ly said, “I give up. Tell me.” I hand­ed them the vir­tu­al pen and let them have a go at explain­ing their actions on the day in ques­tion. They went at it. A short while lat­er, one of them, at the end of his half page, said, “And then I killed her.”

Whew. Problem solved. And, added benefit, reviewers have said they absolutely could not figure out before hand who did it. (Although, I can’t recommend this seven-draft system, it did work for me that time.)

When I’m read­ing, I espe­cial­ly like a book, espe­cial­ly a mys­tery, where I can’t pre­dict the end­ing. I do like to guess what will hap­pen, and some­times I’m cor­rect. Some­times I change my mind with every chap­ter. That’s a great read! I don’t mind at all being fooled—as long as the solu­tion makes sense. (One can always go back and find those hid­den clues and red her­rings. So much fun!)

How about you? Do you like to be puz­zled, or do you pre­fer to solve the mys­tery along with the sleuth?

(Okay I’ll add the uni­ver­sal link for all e-book read­ers here.)

Guppy Mysteries

Guppy Mysteries? What are they?

That does sound fishy, doesn’t it? So, I’ll admit—the Gup­pies are a chap­ter of Sis­ters in Crime. I’ve been a Gup­py for years and years, but I met all my chap­ter-mates on line only. Until… I went to Mal­ice Domes­tic a few years ago. Then I met sev­er­al Gup­pies. (Yea!) And they are pro­lif­ic mys­tery writ­ers. Three of them have new books just out (or com­ing in a few days). Here are their new cov­ers.

All three pub­lish more than one series. Daryl Wood Ger­ber writes under two names. Her oth­er author name is Avery Aames. (You will find each author’s Ama­zon author page linked to their names.) A Souf­flé of Sus­pi­cion will come out July 10, 2018. This is the sec­ond of her French Bistro mys­ter­ies. The blurb starts this way: The buoy­ant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sis­ter, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of men­ac­ing char­ac­ters. Oh, that does sound like an entic­ing read!

Mur­der at the Man­sion is the first mys­tery of Sheila Connolly’s fifth series! (Which is why I’m only send­ing you to author sites. Soooo much to choose from with these Gup­pies.) A bit from the blurb… Kather­ine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end home­town of Ashe­boro, Mary­land. Fif­teen years lat­er... she is invit­ed to return… There’s the high school neme­ses… Who turns up dead, in the man­sion. This was pub­lished June 26, 2018. It sounds like a deli­cious read. Sheila also has the Coun­ty Cork series that takes place in Ire­land.

The Diva Cooks Up a Storm is Krista Davis’s most recent­ly pub­lished mys­tery, pub­lished May 29, 2018. It is the lat­est in her Domes­tic Diva series. The blurb starts: When a trendy, under­ground din­ner club leaves some guests six-feet-under the table, enter­tain­ing pro­fes­sion­al and ama­teur sleuth Sophie Win­ston hopes she has all the right ingre­di­ents to put a mur­der­er on ice in New York Times best­selling author Krista Davis’s new Domes­tic Diva mys­tery … Krista also had anoth­er mys­tery pub­lished on Feb­ru­ary 27, 2018. It’s Col­or Me Mur­der, the first of her third series, and the front and back cov­ers can be col­ored!

I knew these authors (elec­tron­i­cal­ly) before they were pub­lished! It was won­der­ful to meet them and oth­er Gup­pies in per­son.

Vis­it their Ama­zon author pages to see an amaz­ing choice of sleuths and mys­ter­ies.

New history mystery — on preorder

Killer Debt — Mystery on the battle line

Now that my blog is work­ing again, I can belat­ed­ly tell you about an his­toric mys­tery from one of my favorite authors. This month it’s on * pre-order * with an option of perks. (Since I’m so late, some of the perks are no longer avail­able.) But let’s for­get that and focus on the book. It will come out in May and is the newest in the Michael Stod­dard series. Stod­dard is an Eng­lish offi­cer under orders to pro­tect an Amer­i­can arriv­ing under white flag to con­sult with the British. His main adver­sary is anoth­er British offi­cer, as he also strives to keep an Amer­i­can lady safe. (Or, maybe I’m say­ing too much here? Can I men­tion that they real­ly do like each oth­er?)

Author Suzanne Adair brings our Amer­i­can his­to­ry to the pages, shin­ing a light on much that has been for­got­ten about our past. The sto­ry is fic­tion, but the his­to­ry under­ly­ing this mys­tery is real. What bet­ter way to dis­cov­er the for­got­ten past than in a thriller that por­trays colo­nial life as well as Eng­lish and Amer­i­can sen­ti­ments in our Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War? While you are on the site linked above, (set off by stars), check out the video telling more, the link to Suzanne read­ing chap­ter one, and a link to a PDF of the first chap­ter.

 

Mystery Aboard

Mysteries, Boats, and Boaters

Two of my favorite mys­tery authors are boaters. So, what else do they do but set their mys­ter­ies aboard? Actu­al­ly, not only do I love their sto­ries, they inspire me. (Okay, I have a mys­tery aboard.  Not a series yet, but I’m writ­ing as fast as I can.) So, here they are: Jinx Swartz and Chris­tine Kling.

I Love a Mystery — Historic Mysteries

Three Favorite Historic Mysteries

My favorite books are mys­ter­ies, true, but I like to read in sev­er­al gen­res. When I find a delight­ful his­toric mys­tery, I’m dou­bly thrilled. In fact, I so love his­tor­i­cal mys­ter­ies, I have to show­case three series. 

Laugh Out Loud Mysteries

Two humorous mystery series

A good mys­tery may keep me up late at night as I fol­low an excit­ing sto­ry and try to uncov­er clues that lead me to who-dun-it before the sleuth. If I’m sur­prised, that’s an added ben­e­fit. Nail-bit­ing? You bet. Fear for the safe­ty of a total­ly imag­i­nary hero or hero­ine? Oh, way sure! But laugh all the way through until tears flow? Some­times that’s exact­ly what I’m look­ing for. And two of my favorite series fit the bill.

Tamar Myers is one author. Her Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch Mys­ter­ies (with recipes, even) fol­low Mag­dale­na Yoder as she solves mys­ter­ies while run­ning her own Pen­nDutch Inn. Some books in the series were pub­lished twen­ty years ago, and oth­ers more recent­ly. One review­er of Too Many Crooks Spoil The Broth said, “Part Agatha Christie, part Key­stone Kops, with a few tan­ta­liz­ing food stops along the way.” Some titles are: Play It Again, Spam, The Crepes of Wrath, and Custard’s Last Stand. True sto­ry: She sold each book on the title alone! Okay, maybe not the first one.

Kaye George is anoth­er author who fits the bill. Choke, Broke, and Smoke, are the titles in her Imo­gene Duck­wor­thy Mys­ter­ies. One review­er said: “Ques­tion: If you com­bined Lucille Ball with Inspec­tor Clouse­au, what would you get? Answer: Imo­gene Duck­wor­thy, ama­teur PI…” Immy, the ama­teur sleuth who real­ly wants to be a pro­fes­sion­al, is one of a kind. She tries her darn­d­est, while the read­er won­ders how she can pos­si­bly suc­ceed, but cheers her every effort any­way. I could add, the read­er also enjoys her unex­pect­ed detours from those detect­ing chores.

Both authors have oth­er series as well, series I great­ly enjoy, maybe not just when I’m in a sil­ly mood. Do you have a favorite fun­ny mys­tery or series? I’d love to add to add to my, ahem, over­whelm­ing pile of BTR (books to read).

 

 

E-book Links Updated

All of my books are avail­able as paper­back and e-book through Ama­zon, but most are also avail­able in for­mats for the oth­er e-book read­ers. Time to pull it all togeth­er. Through books2read, it’s pos­si­ble to give one link for each book. (The Kin­dle link will also show the paper­back site.) Some mar­kets oth­er than Ama­zon also car­ry the paper­back issues.

I’ll start with the Jo Durbin Series links.

Hid­den Body — Pre­quel nov­el­ette, e-book free every­where

Yesterday’s Body — Book 1

For­got­ten Body — Book 2

The Cyd Den­linger Mys­tery — Death of a Hot Chick  

Cher­ish — A YA Ghost Mys­tery

A Knuck­le­head in 1920s Alas­ka — The true adven­tures of a young man

The Desert­er and Oth­er Sto­ries — Ten short sto­ries, includes recipes.

Avail­able in paper­back and all email for­mats. This ebook is a free pre­mi­um for mem­bers of Norma’s Chat. Once a month or so, I send a vari­ety of pub­lish­ing news, links to free mys­ter­ies, maybe a recipe, a review, or news of mys­ter­ies on sale. Go to the Free Book site for more infor­ma­tion, or straight to the Book Fun­nel link here.