Tuesday, September 30, 2014


This prediction, from the twenties, came true.  But also a set of Burma Shave signs are in the Smithsonian:
Shaving brushes
Soon you’ll see ‘em
Way down east
In some museum
Burma Shave

A few years ago a routine eye exam disclosed that I have glaucoma.  I was given eye drops to use, but they didn’t lower the eye pressure enough to stop the damage happening.  So I got a minor operation during which tiny slits were cut into the upward side of my eyeballs, where the eyelids hide them, and treated to prevent them healing closed.  My eyes constantly leak a tiny amount of the liquid inside them and the pressure is thereby dropped.  That’s kind of a long explanation, and I knew there must be a word for that operation, so I don’t have to describe it to my other doctors.  I finally learned it last week: trabeculectomy.  Cool word, though it takes some practice to master.

I bought this really big goose, almost thirteen pounds, from Bar 5 Poultry Sunday morning.  A part of me feels sorry for him, gone suddenly headless and stripped of his feathers; but if it weren't that humans are meat-eaters, he would never have lived at all, to walk in the sunshine and snatch rich green grass with his bill - Bar 5 is very humane to its critters. So thank you, goose, and God bless him to our use.

Yesterday evening eleven of us feasted on him, sang a song to his curious ability to keep us solvent (“I’m saved from penury”) and prayed to St. Michael the Archangel, whose feastday it was, to continue his work of casting into hell the evil spirits that prowl about the world seeking the destruction of souls.

Then we watched an episode of Secrets of the Dead called “Resurrecting Richard III” on PBS  In it a young man named Dominic Smee, with exactly the same severe scoliosis of the late king (King Richard died in 1485 and his bones were found under a parking lot two years ago in Leicester, England), was taught to ride and fight with medieval weapons and had a gorgeous shining suit of fifteenth century armor made for him.  The idea was to see how that physical problem hampered his – and the king’s – ability to ride and fight.  Answer: surprisingly little! The main problem was that the distortion of his rib cage made him somewhat short-winded.  The armor in fact offered support to his twisted spine, and he found the high-backed wooden medieval saddle easier to ride on than a modern English saddle.  See what actually trying a physical action can prove as opposed to reading a description?  Just another reason I love research!  Tanya, Becky and I are hoping Mr. Smee will be in Leicester next March when we go there for the reinterment of the King in Leicester Cathedral.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Starting Again

I did it. I sent off WOUND UP IN MURDER Sunday night. But that was after spending 12 hours at my computer on Friday and another six hours on Sunday. I baked one of the recipes on Friday night and worked on the worry doll pattern.

As always when I got to the end, I felt a little sad saying good bye to the characters, but I’ll see them again when I get the edits. I am still working on the pattern for the worry doll, so when the edits come back will update it.

There was a relief at finishing. There was that moment when I wondered if I would ever get there. But then the next day I was already thinking ahead. I mapped out the basic idea for the next Yarn Retreat book even though I won’t be working on it until I write the next Crochet book.

I have had the basic idea for the next Crochet Mystery floating around in my mind, but now I need to get specific. I know it is going to start out with the group meeting at CeeCee Collins house and that they are going to find a body in her guest apartment over her garage. The problem was they didn’t know who she was or how she got there and neither did I.

I think I have that part worked out now. Then I come up with each of the character’s arc in the book. That’s kind of fun. It’s sort of seeing what they’ve been up to since the last book.

The hard part is writing the beginning. Since each book should stand on its own, I have a lot of explaining to do. Writing all the back story stuff so it’s interesting and doesn’t read like what it is, an information dump, isn’t easy. And it ‘s a balancing act too. How to explain, but not over explain.

It is hard to believe I am starting on writing the tenth Crochet Mystery. It seems like yesterday that this was all still a dream.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

From Handwork to Hobbies

Hi all!  Please welcome Kathleen Ernst today on Killer Hobbies.  Her newest mystery is her thirtieth book!  (I must now go and hide under my bed in shame.)  Leave a comment below before 9/28 to win any of her Chloe Ellefson mysteries. Welcome Kathleen, and please tell us more about your killer hobbies!

During my tenure as a curator at Old World Wisconsin, a huge outdoor museum owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, I spent a lot of time learning about the activities that kept 19th-century women busy.  Newly-arrived immigrant women would have been bewildered by the notion of a “hobby.”  They sometimes did beautiful handwork (knitting, weaving, basketry), but functionality trumped all. That’s me in the photo below, weaving linen.

However, wealthier or more settled women might take pride in displaying types of craftwork that took time (beadwork, paperpunch embroidery, tatting), but had no practical use.


The heroine of my Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery series is as fascinated with historical domestic arts as I am.  (Go figure!)  One of the pleasures of writing this series is the opportunity it provides for me to feature and explore a variety of folk art traditions.  And since nothing is better than experiential research, I’ve been introduced to some fun activities, including Norwegian rosemaling,


and a Danish needle lace called hedebo.

The next Chloe Ellefson mystery, Tradition of Deceit, features Polish culture.  I decided to incorporate traditional Polish papercutting, called wycinanki, into the story.

I’ve spent the last year taking wycinanki classes and happily snipping away.

Some people write about their hobbies.  Writing the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mysteries has given me several new ones!  Curious?  You’ll find lots more information about the books—and the handwork—on my website, www.kathleenernst.com.


Tradition of Deceit is Kathleen Ernst’s thirtieth book. In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many children’s books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards. 



Curator and occasional sleuth Chloe Ellefson is off to Minneapolis to help her friend Ariel with a monumental task. Ariel must write a proposal for a controversial and expensive restoration project: convert an abandoned flour mill, currently used as shelter by homeless people, into a museum. When a dead body is found stuffed into a grain chute, Chloe's attention turns from milling to murder.

Back in Milwaukee, Chloe's love interest Roelke has been slammed with the news that a fellow officer was shot and killed while on duty. Sifting through clues from both past and present, Chloe and Roelke discover dangerous secrets that put their lives—and their trust in each other—at risk.

Giveaway Info:

Leave a comment before 9/28 for a chance to win any one of Kathleen's Chloe Ellefson mysteries: Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, The Light Keeper’s Legacy, Heritage of Darkness, or Tradition of Deceit (November, 2014). Visit Kathleen at www.kathleenernst.com, www.facebook.com/kathleenernst.author, or www.sitesandstories.wordpress.com for more information.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Working on my Superstition Mysteries Launch!

            New series.  New publisher.  New craziness! 

            As I've said here before, my Superstition Mysteries will debut in October with LOST UNDER A LADDER.  I've been working on launching the series with parties and blogs and more. 

            Years ago, when I started getting books published, I did parties and signings and such to try to get the word out about my books.  But these days I've been learning a lot more by talking to and watching other people.  Or at least I'm attempting to. 

            I have a physical launch party scheduled at the Flintridge Bookstore in Flintridge, California, on Sunday, November 2, at 3 PM.  The book will have been available for a few weeks then but that was the best date and time I could work out, at a store where I attended a friend's launch party a while ago that I really loved.  If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area then, please drop in!  There'll be refreshments, plus a drawing for a basket containing some superstition-related swag. 

            I'm also doing an online launch party on Facebook on Sunday, October 12, at 1 PM Eastern time and 10 AM here in California.  Here's the link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/681148658644904/            There was initially a glitch about looking at it but I think it works just fine now.  Even so, if you're interested but can't join, post something on my Facebook page and I'll try to invite you.  And yes, there'll be giveaways resulting from that party, too--a couple of copies of LOST UNDER A LADDER plus more superstition-related swag. 

            I'm also blogging on some great blogsites, including participating in another Great Escapes blog tour. I'll be on local panels and non-local mystery festivals and more.

            Will it all work and help word get out there so people will know about, and hopefully buy, copies of LOST UNDER A LADDER?  I hope so.  And by the way, reading the Superstition Mysteries is good luck!  (I hope that's true, but I also hope people will recognize that as promotional hyperbole.  I certainly wish good luck for everyone but of course I can't guarantee it!)

            Anyway, as I said, LOST UNDER A LADDER is an October release.  The publisher is Midnight Ink.  Amazon says it's available on October 8, but of course it's available now for preorder.   

            Please wish me luck with it!