Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Question, Strange-flavored Beer

It occurs to me that I am not the only author who has written more than one series. (Really, Mary Monica? How amazing!) What I mean is, the focus of my current series is needlework. But I also wrote a series featuring a fifteenth-century nun living in northern Oxfordshire, and another featuring a police detective whose wealthy wife raised Arabian horses. I hardly ever get to use that acquired expertise in my current series. It also occurs to me that many non-authors have expertise or have done studies in areas that they never get to use in their current occupations. How about some of you reading this tell us in the commentary what serious interest(s) you have that you never, or no longer, get to display?

I would like a set of my running characters in my Betsy Devonshire series to have a dog. They are Jill and Lars Larson, who have a toddler daughter, Emma Beth, and will soon have a new addition, Erik Lars. I would like to ask my readers to invent the dog. Is she (he) a purebred – what breed? Is he (she) a mutt? How did they acquire the animal? A chance wanderer? Humane Society? Rescue? Breeder? What is his (her) name? This isn’t exactly a contest, but the one I like best will turn up in the book, either Blackwork (in progress) or Buttons and Bones (being researched). Write to me via e-mail, you’ll find my address at my web site,

I had company last night, a beer tasting party. It ran late, so I didn’t get to write a post for this morning. I will only say that The Four Firkins beer, ale and wine shop continues to amaze. Last night we had some interesting stout and a barleywine that would have been better if the brewmaster had a lighter hand with the hops. But we also had the Duchesse de Bourgogne, a very fruity wine with no hops at all. It tasted like new wine. There was Linderman’s Lambic, made of an ancient recipe. Antique beers didn't have yeast that came in packages. The makers of beer (and wine - and bread, too) would start the process, then put it out in the air to capture wild yeasts floating by. Often the result was not happy. So with Lambics they would add fruit and brew it again. This was a Kreik or cherry beer. It is made without hops. It tasted very much like an inexpensive cherry soda or a cherry cough syrup, not at all like beer. But then there was Lefman’s Lambic Kreik, also without hops and flavored with cherries. It tastes strongly of cherries but is not too sweet, and with complex undertones. Again it does not taste like a beer – well, it’s called an ale – at all! I thought it was fabulous!

I love my work.


caryn said...

Although I'm not much of a beer drinker, the local little brewry, Schlafly, puts out a series of seasonal beers that are interesting. I like the summer raspberry brew though the fall pumpkin brew is a little heavy for my tastes. It's fun to go to the tastings though.
The dog should be a rescue. I'm partial to mixed breeds because then every dog is its own unique self, but as long as it's a rescue animal its good by me.
Caryn in St. Louis

Camille Minichino said...

You seem to be having a lot of fun with this series, Monica, but I'll bet you have another series idea waiting in the wings! Care to share??

Monica Ferris said...

Camille, another series??? Well, hold on a minute, actually there is an idea. I was already starting to work on it when this needlework series caught fire. (I thought I'd just write the first three and be done. But it didn't work out that way.) I was going to have an auctioneer sleuth, one who travels the US doing private auctions of failed businesses and the homes of the deceased. I had spoken with someone who told me she worked for a realtor who bought houses "as is" from the relatives of the suddenly dead. Usually they were elderly, but not always. The relatives didn't want to travel and get caught up in the complexities of emptying and rehabbing and selling the family home. She said she'd go in and find breakfast dishes in the sink and housework half done, clothes in the washing machine -- as if the deceased would walk in any second. She said you could get a very intimate look at the life the deceased was living. I found that very interesting and likely to hold lots of clues . . .

Betty Hechtman said...

Even though I'm not much of a drinker -- I have trouble finishing a glass of wine -- you got me curious to taste all those kinds of beer.

The auctioneer idea is interesting and has a definite eery quality.

I'm with Caryn about the rescue or they could get a dog like one of ours. He was pushed out of a car and abandoned down the street from us. Lucky for him, his horrible owners picked a good location to abandon him. Our welcome mat is always out.

He was a wonderful little black mutt. It was hard to tell which end was which if he didn't get a hair cut. And he was so grateful to find another home, he was like a stuffed toy and just wanted to be carried around and loved. said...

how about if they adopt the dog of your next victim...suddenly left homeless...his name should be ARCHIE (I just lost an Archie dog to kidney disease)
I think he should be a mutt, smallish, say under 30 pounds, so he is pickupable and not too intimidating for a tot.
It seems like forever since your last book...can't you hutty the publishers along??? please??
Barb in CA

riona said...

I definitely endorse miniature schnauzers ... absolutely lovable animals ... and according to the AKA website ... the most "human" of all dogs ... I can vouch for this ... our beloved Scooter of fond memory loved our whole family but really bonded with my daughter and had many ways of announcing his loyalty. Whenever I scolded her for anything, I would invariably find a small puddle at the feet of my dining room chair. Whenever I scolded Scooter and sent him to his room [aka my daughter's room] he would go but he would bark over his shoulder the whole way down the hall and up the steps just to let me know he had a strong opinion on the matter. He also had a great deal of dignity hence he was frequently very vocal and sulky about the various ways we would mortify him, e.g.: inflicting the standard schnauzer grooming on him [he abhorred pantaloons], having him wear anything seasonal [reindeer antlers, bunny ears, and the like]. Scooter was a joy to know and full of personality ... I think Emma could have a lot of fun with one of his kin.

riona said...

I forgot to mention that Scooter was a rescue ... something I think is very important ... we adopted him from a family that thought having pure-bred dog would be a decorative status symbol ... and then found they hadn't the patience to deal with his temperament.

Julie (Chloe's mom) said...

They should have an extended discussion of what type of dog to get, finally agree on a breed, visit breeders to check them out, and ultimately adopt a mutt, who isn't very lovable at first, but turns out to be strikingly intelligent (as mutts often are) and plays a part in either solving a problem or saving someone from harm. And the dog should be able to control Emma Beth when her parents can't. Perhaps he/she keeps the child herded into the yard, when she won't listen to Jill. Funny how easy it is for me to think up things for other people's books.