Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Quart Before the Horse

Many of the Burma Shave rhymes used puns.  A favorite:

Drinking drivers,
Nothing worse,
They put the quart
Before the hearse.
Burma Shave

A friend and I went to the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday.  I wore my new, expensive walking shoes and put my orthotics inside them.  In happy consequence, my feet never complained once the whole nine hours – but my upper legs did.  Monday they still ached.  Highlight at the Fair: The Willis Clan.  They performed free at the Leinekugel band shell – I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of them.  Their Irish music was spectacular, their harmonies (particularly the three older sisters’) were intensely moving, their instremental talents explosively good.  I’m going to buy an album or two, or maybe ask for one for my birthday in October and/or Christmas. 

A nice thing about Saturday, the sky was thickly overcast early in the day – we arrived a little after 7 am – and temperatures hovered in the low seventies with a delicious cool little breeze.  That lasted until somewhere around three, when the sun came out with a vengeance and suddenly everyone in the Twin Cities who hadn’t yet come decided it wasn’t going to rain after all so why not get to the Fair?  It was literally elbow-to-elbow in the streets and avenues.  One tradition we have (and many, many others do, too) is to make a second-last stop at Sweet Marths’s for a bucket of hot-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies, then, last stop, go to the Moo Booth where you can buy a cup of whole or chocolate milk which can be refilled as often as you wish to get back in line to do so.  But this year the line at Sweet Martha’s was hundreds of people long, though they had every one of the multiple windows open and though they had opened a second bakery, so we each bought a raspberry-banana smoothie instead and watched them judging the charolais cattle while we drank, and came home without that lovely final sweet bite.  The Minnesota State Fair is second in size only to the Texas State Fair, and I think we probably walked over two thirds of it.

In stitching news, I broke down and bought a new needlepoint canvas after seeing it a dozen times at The Club Room.  It made me smile every single time I saw it – and it still does when I get it out to stitch.  I took it with me to Chicago and got some advice on ways to complicate the stitching of it.  I may even take some of the advice!  Here’s a picture of it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Wound Up in Murder

It is official, the name of the third book in he Yarn Retreat series is going to be WOUND UP IN MURDER. I submitted a bunch of titles some of which we may use in the future. Now just to finish the manuscript. I’ rewriting now which is much easier because I have the main thing to start with.

I went to several bookstores this week to sign their stock. The biggest thing I noticed about them was that they all had business. Yay! They also all had SILENCE OF THE LAMB’S WOOL and YARN TO GO from the Yarn Retreat Series and a number of books from the Crochet series. I was happy to see that IF HOOKS COULD KILL went into another printing. I always seem to find out about additional printings when I go in bookstores.

We made a day of it and went out for lunch. I’d heard about this place for a while and was anxious to try it. It’s a Cuban bakery and cafe. The food turned out to be amazing and very reasonable. How often does that happen? It’s a family owned business and they have an interesting story. I think having a story about a place changes the whole perception of a place. Instead of just a business, it makes it personal.

This family came from Cuba in 1960 with pretty much nothing, but the mother’s talent for baking cakes and their willingness to work hard. At first, she baked them out of her house and sold them. When she outgrew that, they rented a place for her to bake.

Eventually, they added the café which features Cuban sandwiches and specialties. The three children grew up and became part of the business and still are though the mother has retired. Her picture is on all of their pastry boxes.

The location (there are 3) we went to was mobbed and it was around 4 which is usually a dead time at eating places. The whole time we sat there, the line never disappeared. And no wonder. I had a delicious spinach and feta croissant and my husband had a fabulous caesar salad with homemade croutons that melted in your mouth. We shared an order of plantains and garlic sauce. The plantains seemed to be baked rather than fried and were a little bland, but only until dipped into the delicious garlic sauce. We had a Cuban coffee drink which was a double espresso with a dollop of steamed milk. Just the pick up I needed.

On the way out, we couldn’t resist going into the bakery line. The array of sweets and breads was mind boggling. We took home a pound cake made with rice flour, which turned out to be wonderful.

I really think knowing the story of the place and seeing the mother’s picture made everything just a little better.

What do you think? Does knowing a story about a business make it more appearing to you?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fat Cats, Music, and Mystery, Oh My!

Hi all and please help me welcome Kaye George to Killer Hobbies today!  I took piano lessons for  over a decade, but I  I never developed her love of music.  And be sure to look at the end of her post for information about her newest "Fat Cat" Mystery series.  Looks like a lot of fun!

If writing isn’t my hobby (which, for IRS purposes, it definitely is NOT), then music probably is. I didn’t intend to become a lifelong musician, but Dad intended for his children to become musicians. I never could understand why he liked music so much. He had a tin ear—or maybe it was made of rock—totally tone deaf. He had no sense of rhythm. He loved big band music and he would move his hands, nod his head, and snap his fingers, nowhere near where the beat was. His family was poor and couldn’t afford music lessons, so maybe he was proud that he could do that for his kids.

However, at many points along the way, we absolutely hated our music lessons. And we hardly ever practiced. Here’s what happened, though.

We were required to take a year of piano. After that, every new school year, we were given the option of having lessons or not. We fell for it every time. Then, the deal was that if we started we had to finish. That meant the end of year recital. Ugh!

After a summer off, we would want the lessons again the next fall. Gradually, we got so we could play. I switched from piano to violin in fourth grade, only because Mom had a violin. I never once heard her play it. She bought it when she was pregnant with me and bored because Dad was away in the Navy. The salesman played Air on a G String and she said it sounded so nice that she bought it. No wonder! The G string was the only one with any resonance. The other side of the top had been damaged and fixed with something that stopped the vibrations in the wood. In sixth grade I got a better violin, the one I still have.

When I started writing mysteries, I was told—along with every other writer—write what you know. VoilĂ —music. I invented a character who composed music and would conduct orchestras, kind of what I would want to do if I made my living as a classical musician. (There is a lot more money in almost everything else, by the way, so that didn’t happen.) That character is Cressa Carraway, the sleuth in Eine Kleine Murder.

None of the other characters in my other books are musicians, but I can’t resist having another one play music in her head. Honestly, I don’t know how to live without music in my head, therefore at least one of my sleuths has to have it, too. Charity “Chase” Oliver, hums show tunes throughout Fat Cat at Large (this one written by Janet Cantrell, who is also me). Her surrogate grandmother took her to summer musicals when she was little (guess who played in summer musicals for many years?), so she grew up knowing and liking the music.

The fact is, I do like knowing how to play the violin and I did thank Dad for persisting against our strenuous objections. Also, I like giving that depth to a character—another tool in my toolkit.

Kaye George, multiple-award-winning mystery writer, writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat debuting in September (Berkley Prime Crime). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.

And here's a little about her newest mystery, Fat Cat at Large
The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.
Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fun with Facebook

I have a Facebook friend page.  I haven't yet tried an author page, and I've heard some of the pros and cons about starting one. 

I admit I'm not always diligent about posting on Facebook.  I'll check it out often and do a lot of "likes," but I don't always stick something on my own page or even share others' posts.

This week, though, I have been posting a few things.  One of them was the celebration of National Dog Day yesterday.  I definitely had to share that.

And on Monday I did a fun post where I mentioned that I'd seen the promotion for the new Disney version of Cinderella, which will be a 2015 release.  That particular promotion really caught my attention since its symbol is a glass slipper.  I consequently posted on Facebook the cover of my own Faerie Tale Romance called--what else?--The Glass Slipper!  It, too, depicts a glass slipper. 

This version of The Glass Slipper is my first republication of one of my backlist books for which I got the rights back.  It's only available on Kindle, at least for now.  The process was fun and educational, and now I'm particularly glad I chose its cover as a symbol.

One of the particularly enjoyable things about posting the cover on Facebook was the number of likes I got quickly.  Apparently friends, both those I actually know and those I know via Facebook, liked that cover and its symbolism, too! 

Will the upcoming movie make any difference in the sale of my story?  Unlikely, but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the movie. 

In case you couldn't tell, I like Cinderella stories! 

How about you--have you seen the movie promotion?  Do you like fairy tales, particularly Cinderella stories?