Monday, July 14, 2008

Murder Most Crafty

I’m still working on my niece’s album…sigh. Here’s a rendition of the teddy bear I’m planning to use. If you’d like a copy, email me at and I’ll send the file to you. He’s cute enough for a card topper or to use on a layout or to paste onto an inexpensive gift bag.

I’m not happy with how the album is coming, however. I’m getting better and healthier every day, but I don’t have the stamina I’m accustomed to having. The good news is…I’m getting a lot of reading in. (Sometimes I’m not as astute of a reader as I usually am, but that’s okay.)

I picked up Murder Most Crafty, an anthology edited by Maggie Bruce, at the local library. It’s touted as “15 All-New Stories of Criminal Handiwork and the Art of Detection.” Included is information about papermaking, gourd art, macaroni crafts, mosaics, the sewing of an okesa (a Buddhist robe), knitting, lanyard, fly tying, basketweaving, wreathmaking, indigo dying, candlemaking (two times), potpourri, and collage. It's always hard without pictures to really help people go step-by-step, isn't it? The authors are Susan Wittig Albert, Maggie Bruce, Jan Burke, Dorothy Cannell (always an absolute hoot), Susan Dunlap, our own fabulous Monica Ferris and Denise Williams (with a crackerjack story), Parnell Hall (he’s a very nice man, very generous with his experience), Victoria Houston, Judith Kelman, Margaret Maron, Sujata Massey, Tim Myers, Sharan Newman, Gillian Roberts, and Paula L. Woods.

The stories are great fun. A glance at these names will tell you why. The contributors are all top-notch writers. The ways the authors have chosen to weave crafts throughout the stories are ingenuous. Monica's was a fascinating Sherlock Holmesian bit of detection. I also liked the one by Sujata Massey which was set in Japan. I’ve traveled through that county, and I find the culture fascinating. Sujata also did a great job portraying the rigid hierarchy in Japan, and some of the ways people incorporate Buddhism in their workplaces. I really love when I learn new factoids, and the story about the making of the okesa was a good example.

Jan Burke injected a real spotlight of humor with her craft-impaired Irene Kelly. When pushed into coming up with a craft project, Irene resorts to coloring macaroni and letting the women glue it to paper plates. Shades of summer camp!

While I’m on the subject of book reviews, I’ve just learned that Kirkus Reviews has said that Paper, Scissors, Death, “Kiki's debut, a well-turned cozy with loads of scrapbooking tips, will drive many a like-minded reader to indignation on her behalf.” Hip-hip-hurrah! Okay, I might not be 100% but I’m positively glowing about the kind words.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get organized. (Right, like that's EVER going to happen). I'm working on the baby album, an afghan for my son in his new school colors, a Rastafarian cap for him as a birthday gift, and I have a new Work-in-Progress (WIP) set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

I'm curious... My new heroine is a breast cancer survivor who teams up with her guardian angel to solve a crime she's accused of. How would you expect a guardian angel to act? What might defy your expectations, but be fun or exciting?

Meanwhile...tonight is the return of The Closer and Saving Grace. I'm psyched!


Betty Hechtman said...

For someone still recovering you sound very busy. Great news about your great review.

I bet you're way more organized than you realize. Certainly way more than I am. I've lost track of all my crochet projects and keep getting my foot caught in the plastic grocery bags holding them all.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Betty--I decided to copy you. I looked at all the afghan patterns and decided they were too complicated. You'd said you had a two-stitch version. I decided to do alternating rows of double-crochet and half-double crochet. I'm changing the colors after four sets of each. It's really very nice looking--and solid which I like. But my dogs keep running through the yarn as I work!

Kathryn Lilley said...

I don't know what I'd expect from a guardian angel, but I'd love it if she/he were a wisecracking wit, and maybe a bit too chatty for my taste (all the while saving me from myself, of course!).

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hmmm. Good thinking. I like wise-crackers. Smarty pants. Anyone who doesn't toe the line, actually.

Camille Minichino said...

Maybe the guardian angel doesn't like the assignment (handed down by the Big Angel in the sky) and bucks your heroine all the way. Of course they end up BFF.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Hmm. Very interesting Camille. And unexpected. Which is good...