Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I am getting some gorgeous submissions in my contest to find a boyfriend for my sleuth, Betsy Devonshire. Problem is, I like one thing about this entry, and another thing about that entry, so I’m seriously thinking about cherry picking the descriptions. (This name, that description, the other bio.) But then, how to distribute the prizes?

Meanwhile, if you want to have a go at some creative writing, invent a male friend for my sleuth, Betsy Devonshire. Betsy is middle aged, a little overweight, but she is attractive, bright and hard-working, owns her own business and some other properties, and has this strange talent for solving murders. See my web site,, for more information and the list of prizes. Contest ends November 15.

Turning off access to the Internet during the day is turning out to be a wonderful idea. My writing output has at least tripled. I didn’t realize how much time I’ve been wasting wandering over to check my e-mail or read a blog during my working hours.

We are leaving Thursday morning for Muncie, IN, to attend Magna cum Murder. It is a convention for fans and writers of the mystery novel. I’m moderating a panel this year, called You Are What You Write? Panelists range from writers of the very cozy to a writer of the very hard boiled, so this could get interesting. I’m also going to look for a new hat, as I do every year in Muncie. If can get my act together, there will be photos to post.

This is the season for apples. Minnesota’s own Harelson used to be my very favorite, and since they don’t travel I can’t share them with out-of-state friends. Nor do they "keep," so this is the sole time of year to enjoy them. But this year I’ve discovered Honeycrisp. Wow! They are sweeter than Harelson, but just as crisp and juicy. I bought a whole bag of them at the farmer’s market on Sunday and I’ve been gorging on them all week. I’m going to bring a few along in the car to entertain my taste buds on the long drive to Muncie.

I am discovering – surprise! – that blackwork stitching is hard! (Blackwork is done in geometric patterns with black thread on white cloth – it looks the same on the front and back because it was meant to trim cuffs and collars and to edge handkerchiefs. It’s very pretty with its stylized flowers and figures and animals.) I don’t know why I’m always surprised to discover this. I guess it’s because I was assured by stitchers when I got into stitchery that it isn’t hard at all, and somehow I still believe them when they say, "Oh, it’s easy! It’s just something I do to keep my hands busy." Uh-huh. "To do blackwork, you just go every other stitch in one direction and then fill in coming back." And when it’s a vine and you come to a four-petaled flower with a double cross in the center? "Well, you just look at it awhile and you’ll suddenly see how to do it. It’s not hard – and it’s fun." Uh-huh. I tried a relatively simple pattern, and I studied it six ways to Sunday, and thought I "saw," but when I finished there was this little gap and no way to get to it. Lying liars. I’m going to go see a woman who teaches the stuff to see if she can enlighten me. I follow the rule: write what you know – which means I’d better learn how it’s done. The book is called Blackwork, which means there had better be a chapter about the stuff. Which means I'd better get a grip on how it's done.


Camille Minichino said...

OR .. you could write into the plot that your character (whoever is trying it) just doesn't get it!

It sounds tough!

Glad you're getting lots of suitors!

Monica Ferris said...

I did that with Hardanger, so I don't think I could get away with it twice. I was just grumpy when wrote that. I'll feel better in about a week when I get it figured out.

Some of Betsy's suitors are so delightful I'm wishing I could meet them, they'd make great friends.

Betty Hechtman said...

Blackwork sounds hard and unforgiving of mistakes. It sounds like something you'll figure out enough to write about, but not want to take it up.

Good luck on your hat search. I kind of remember you mentioning a great hat store in Muncie before.

Deb Baker said...

My favorite Magna was the year I met you and the hat lady. I can't make it this year. Have fun.