Pie in the Sky

Recent­ly I saw a car­toon that men­tioned “pie in the sky.” I’ve heard the expres­sion before. I decid­ed this would be my first blog entry in some­thing new—a once in a while series of mem­o­ries con­nect­ed to his­to­ry. Um, that sounds weird, does­n’t it? Maybe I’ll just start with an illus­tra­tion and con­tin­ue from there. Okay?

Now for the mem­o­ry of “pie in the sky.” Actu­al­ly, it’s my father’s mem­o­ry, one he shared with me when we were orga­niz­ing his sto­ry of work­ing for col­lege mon­ey.

In 1923, when he was nine­teen and liv­ing in Wash­ing­ton state, my dad got a job in Alas­ka. They sent him by boat, but not by first class. He and sev­er­al oth­er men had bunks in the hold, along with five cows. One of the oth­er men they called Baldy since he was par­tial­ly bald, and the old­est of the group—maybe twen­ty-nine or thir­ty. Anoth­er one they called Shorty.

Shorty was being sent to Alas­ka to spread the word about the Indus­tri­al Work­ers of the World. He gave quite a talk on Com­mu­nism, which was new to my dad.

When Shorty got through, Baldy had his say, which was, “Hooray for free speech. I believe in the IWW, free speech, and over­head sew­er sys­tems.”

Short­y’s response was to sing the fol­low­ing song.

A long-haired preach­er comes out every night.
And he tells us what is wrong and what is right.
He tells us when we’re flush, give our mon­ey to the Lord.
And he tells us when we’re on the bum.
Work and pray, live on hay.
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

My dad had the impres­sion that was an Indus­tri­al Work­ers of the World song, but Wikipedia has a bit dif­fer­ent sto­ry. Pos­si­bly the IWW appro­pri­at­ed the last two lines of the orig­i­nal song. But “pie in the sky” meant the same thing it does today.

Anoth­er thing that spurred this blog is my dad’s book, his mem­o­ry and my deci­sion to start post­ing my mem­o­ries. The book we put togeth­er is A Knuck­le­head in 1920/s Alas­ka, now avail­able as a paper­back and as an e‑book for all e‑book read­ers here.

Do you have a mem­o­ry about “pie in the sky” to share?

New Bonus Book

A New Bonus Book — for Norma’s Chat Members

I love my newslet­ter mem­bers. We have some love­ly chats. Recent­ly, they helped me design the cov­er for my lat­est book, a free-be for them and any­one who wants to join my chat group.

You can see from the cov­er what is includ­ed. But I’ll give you a hint about what is inside.

The two new short sto­ries are rep­re­sent­ed by the stone and the donuts. The amaz­ing his­to­ry (the War of 1812 on Chesa­peake Bay) is hint­ed at by the sail­ing ship. The gold nugget and the black cat? Oh, they are impor­tant in a cou­ple of my pub­lished books. I’ve includ­ed a brief men­tion of each book. (Try­ing to lure you into buy­ing one, of course.) A taste of each, you might say.

Speak­ing of taste, that’s for the kitchen hacks. Not recipes, but tasty ideas for straw­ber­ries, slop­py Joe sand­wich­es, and a super sauce. Yum.

The com­plete book is avail­able in three dif­fer­ent forms through this Book Fun­nel link. You will be asked for your e‑mail address to be signed up for my usu­al­ly month­ly newslet­ter. I always include oth­er author’s books (and some­times one of mine) on sale or free (usu­al­ly cozy mys­ter­ies). I include any writ­ing news, and try to enter­tain. (Well, try, any­way.) No spam, and no e‑mail address­es shared. If you are already a mem­ber, use the same email address so you won’t get dupli­cate newslet­ters. Enjoy!

 

 

A Memorial Day Reflection

A day of remembrance

My hus­band’s uncle died in World War II. My uncle served, but returned. My hus­band, broth­er, broth­er-in-law, and so many oth­ers we knew served in Korea, some my hus­band knew nev­er returned. And there have been oth­er bat­tles since then. Now, with­out the draft, it seems the same small per­cent­age of Amer­i­cans vol­un­teer to take on our bat­tles over and over, with each per­son return­ing to the front (wher­ev­er it is) repeat­ed­ly. No more is it the two or four year block of life removed from the draftee or vol­un­teer as in Korea. Or “the dura­tion” as in WW II. Now it seems a life-style of the select few. Which leaves a large por­tion of our cit­i­zens uncon­cerned about those fight­ing for free­dom around the world. Indeed, many of the young gen­er­a­tion seem unaware of the exis­tence of the rest of the world, except as a pos­si­ble place to vaca­tion.

I planned to see beau­ty in this day, but some­how, I’ve missed the con­nec­tion. Oh, there is beau­ty. Our tulip poplar tree in bloom. Pic­tures of our great-grand-chil­dren on Face­book. The orange I had for lunch. (Love­ly taste, too.) Most com­ments about this day might dis­play a flag or a mil­i­tary salute to vet­er­ans. I could do that as well, and it would be mean­ing­ful to me. But I’ll break with tra­di­tion and post the tree blos­som. Just for a moment, I’ll think beau­ty. But in the back of my thoughts will be that flag, those vet­er­ans, and why can’t it be dif­fer­ent?

Tomor­row, per­haps the sun will come out, and life will go on as before, as it did yes­ter­day.

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.

 

Kindle Scout book coming-Forgotten Body

Forgotten_ebook final coverNovem­ber 14, 2015, is the big day! I just got word this morn­ing (the 12th). My next mys­tery, For­got­ten Body, will be on Kin­dle Scout.

Okay, you want to know exact­ly what Kin­dle Scout is? It’s part­ly a choose-your-own-read, in that any­one can nom­i­nate books they would like to read. After giv­ing the read­ing pub­lic thir­ty days to choose a book, Ama­zon decides which ones they will pub­lish in e‑book form. (Part of their deci­sion is based on the book’s pop­u­lar­i­ty.) The best part for the read­er: You receive a free e‑book copy of each of the books you nom­i­nat­ed. Okay, that’s only true if they decide to pub­lish the book. (If not, they tell you where it is avail­able.) As a read­er, I’ve nom­i­nat­ed many books I’d like to read. (They allow three nom­i­na­tions at a time.) Sev­er­al have been pub­lished by Kin­dle Scout, so I’ve received free e‑books. They were all great reads. They earned four or five stars when I placed my reviews on Ama­zon and Goodreads. (Since I know those reviews help the author and the read­er, I try to review every book I read.)

Of course, there’s good news for the author too. The Kin­dle Scout pro­gram offers a favor­able con­tract with advance and roy­al­ties, as well as pub­lic­i­ty.

The Kin­dle Scout site for For­got­ten Body will include the one sen­tence teas­er, the blurb, and almost all of the first two chap­ters. It will even tell you some­thing about me and ask me ques­tions. (I answer, of course.) Mean­while, I’ll tell you For­got­ten Body is a sequel to Yes­ter­day’s Body. Jo Durbin, my ama­teur detec­tive will do her thing (along with that elu­sive, imag­i­nary cat) at a reen­act­ment of the War of 1812. On Sat­ur­day the 12th, the whole thing will go live here. So vis­it, and if you like what you see, nom­i­nate. If you have any ques­tions, ask here.

Five Stars for Deadly Occupation

10-19 Bloody OccupationDead­ly Occu­pa­tion is a just-pub­lished pre­quel to the oth­er Michael Stod­dard his­toric mys­ter­ies. Lieu­tenant Stod­dard is a British offi­cer sta­tioned in the Amer­i­can colonies dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion. As such, one might not think him a hero to a 2015 Amer­i­can read­er, but that is not a con­cern for this Amer­i­can read­er. I have read the oth­er mys­ter­ies in this series, and while I rec­og­nize char­ac­ters from those, this book gives back­grounds of char­ac­ters with­out spoil­ing or reveal­ing any­thing from oth­er books.

The Stod­dard books bring out the ambi­gu­i­ty in Amer­i­ca at that time. There were Amer­i­cans who pre­ferred British rule as well as those who did­n’t. (And there were nas­ties on each side, one revealed for sure.) Dead­ly Occu­pa­tion also illus­trates the ambi­gu­i­ties of his­to­ri­ans, for Suzanne Adair has delved into his­to­ry that is sel­dom report­ed. Makes for a (excuse me) damn good read!

Oth­er read­ers agree. Here’s a bit from one Ama­zon five-star review: “Michael Stod­dard is a young, 27-year-old, Lieu­tenant with a gift for solv­ing crimes, a chin full of blem­ish­es, and a murky past. In this nov­el, he choos­es an assis­tant, 18-year-old Nick Spry. Spry has his own tal­ents, an eye for detail and a relaxed way with peo­ple that encour­ages them to open up to him. He’s young, but he’s no one’s fool. They are an unlike­ly pair, yet they get results.

Whether sta­tioned in one loca­tion or on the move with the Reg­i­ment, the set­tings are well-craft­ed with his­tor­i­cal details that bring each scene to life. The sus­pects and char­ac­ters pop­u­lat­ing the nov­els are real­is­tic, with basic human moti­va­tions. They are col­or­ful, inter­est­ing, and many are seem­ing­ly drawn from authen­tic his­toric fig­ures.”

One place to order Dead­ly Occu­pa­tion is Ama­zon. (There are oth­ers as well.)

Five Stars for The Witch Doctor’s Wife

9-28 Witch doctors wifeWith The Witch Doctor’s Wife, Tamar Myers delves into her per­son­al his­to­ry as the daugh­ter of Chris­t­ian mis­sion­ar­ies in the Bel­gian Con­go. Rich and alive with the sights and sounds of the continent—as excit­ing, evoca­tive, charm­ing, and sus­pense­ful as Alexan­der McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detec­tive Agency novels—Myer’s unfor­get­table excur­sion to colo­nial Africa recalls Bar­bara Kingsolver’s The Poi­son­wood Bible, even the Acad­e­my Award-nom­i­nat­ed film Blood Dia­mond. Award-win­ning author Car­olyn Hart raves: “Mes­mer­iz­ing….The Witch Doctor’s Wife will long linger in the hearts and minds of read­ers. Authen­tic. Pow­er­ful. Tri­umphant.”

The above is part of the pub­lish­er’s blurb for the book that fol­lowed many of Tamar Myer’s two won­der­ful­ly fun­ny and clever cozy mys­ter­ies. I read The Witch Doc­tor’s Wife about five years ago, before I joined Goodreads, before I had a blog, and, mainly—before I began review­ing the books I read. How­ev­er, I remem­ber it fond­ly, so you know it has stay­ing pow­er.

I did inter­view Tamar for the Sis­ters in Crime blog. I remem­ber a cou­ple of answers from that inter­view. For one, she had a com­put­er ded­i­cat­ed to writ­ing, with no games or inter­net access. (That’s one I real­ly, real­ly should fol­low.) Also, she said she did­n’t write the story—it was already writ­ten. All she did was ask the Uni­verse to deliv­er her dai­ly por­tion of cre­ativ­i­ty and it did. She then sat down and wrote a thou­sand pol­ished words a day, five days a week.

And that is tal­ent!

Inci­den­tal­ly, she has writ­ten more books in that series, as well as con­tin­u­ing the cozy series. In fact, she has a four-page Ama­zon author page. For a taste of Tamar’s fun, I would sug­gest read­ing the acknowl­edg­ments in Death of Pie.

War of 1812-Recruitment, A Matter of Money

What was a young man to do when his coun­try went to war? Sol­dier, mariner (sailor), what? Go where the mon­ey was best, of course. At least, that’s what hap­pened.

Pos­si­bly some want­ed to be on the sea, sail­ing and fight­ing against the British ships. Since most of those ships win­tered in Bermu­da, a few months off prob­a­bly did­n’t hurt recruit­ment. How­ev­er, sev­er­al army units were enlist­ing men and giv­ing them boun­ties of $30 plus $8 month­ly with only one year enlist­ment. The marines (navy) gave them less. One could always sign onto a privateer—they paid bet­ter as well. There was anoth­er option. Hire on as a sea fen­ci­ble. That brought in $12 a month for one year. An advan­tage was that a man could not be called up in any oth­er ser­vice, he would be close to home, and in the win­ter unless some­thing else came up, he could take his food home to the fam­i­ly. Pos­si­bly as a result of the dif­fer­ent pay sched­ules, many blacks were marines. From the his­to­ry I’ve read, they were clothed and worked as equals.

This is anoth­er of my War of 1812 series. I am still dis­cov­er­ing his­to­ry I did­n’t know, still find­ing in quite inter­est­ing. My next mys­tery involves a reen­act­ment of that war, which is why I’ve been read­ing up.

It’s two hun­dred years since The War of 1812, for­got­ten by most of our his­to­ry books. It is, still, a part of our his­to­ry. Do you find it as inter­est­ing as I do?

 

Five Stars for Murder on Lexington Avenue

8-31 Victoria Thompson coverMur­der on Lex­ing­ton Avenue is the 12th in Vic­to­ria Thomp­son’s Gaslight Mys­tery series. I’ve read sev­er­al, but this one is a favorite of mine. My review: Sarah Brandt, New York mid­wife in the ear­ly 1900s, keeps get­ting involved in mur­der while deliv­er­ing babies. It isn’t any­thing about souls pass­ing in and out, it’s just that the same peo­ple are involved. While one woman is hav­ing a baby, some­one she knows, be it her fam­i­ly or her neigh­bors, is mixed up in mur­der, often as the vic­tim. Sarah is handy and will­ing to help out an Irish cop, Detec­tive Sergeant Frank Mal­loy. In this case, the teenage daugh­ter of the vic­tim is involved with con­flict­ing schools of train­ing the deaf. Her father is a gen­er­al­ly dis­liked busi­ness own­er. But, who killed him? Seem­ing­ly he was alone at his place of busi­ness. His busi­ness part­ner, and sev­er­al oth­ers may have vis­it­ed. Or, none of them saw him, if one is to believe the tes­ti­mo­ny. And, even if Frank Mal­loy finds the killer, 1903 in New York often meant Frank, although he was the police, would find it dif­fi­cult to accuse any­one who had the mon­ey to make sure he did­n’t keep his job. Then anoth­er mur­der com­pli­cates the pos­si­bil­i­ties.

The ambiance is authen­tic, the plot is devi­ous, the char­ac­ters are a mix from delight­ful to dev­il­ish. Best of all, the out­come is com­plete­ly unex­pect­ed, but, oh so absolute­ly right! High­ly rec­om­mend­ed to mys­tery and his­to­ry read­ers.

Vic­to­ria Thomp­son has been nom­i­nat­ed for an Agatha for his­toric mys­tery. There are now 17 books in the series. Her Ama­zon author page is here. (I believe the mid­wife and the police detec­tive sergeant are plan­ning to wed in the lat­est. Must read that too!)