Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grand Ole Opry, and A Survey

One of my earliest memories is of my father sitting in a dark room hunched over a radio trying to listen to a static-filled broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry show. He was a huge fan of country music, and Grand Ole Opry was *the* place to find it. But we were in a “fringe“ area of radio reception for the station that carried it, so it was a struggle to hear it. My mother wasn’t a fan and I followed my mother’ s tastes in music most of my life. But now, of late, I’m discovering the pleasures of country. So it was with happy anticipation I attended the upteen-thousandth broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry radio show in Nashville this past Saturday. Eighty-three years on the air, can you imagine?

The show takes place in a huge theater on a huge stage behind an immense curtain. It offers a tremendous range of country music, from old-time cowboy songs to the latest country hit, with everything in between. The show lasted an hour and a half, one of the fastest ninety minutes I’ve ever sat through. It felt very informal -- now and again a performer, on finishing his song, would wander over to where the announcer was giving a commercial and try to get him to crack up by making faces or waving his cowboy hat under his nose.

The needlework market -- my real reason for going to Nashville -- was smaller than in other years, a sign of the struggling economy which has shops closing all over the country. And fewer vendors than usual turned up, too. Still, I saw some beautiful things for sale and bought some of what I saw, too. And had some helpful, interesting conversations about products, designs, and running a small needlework shop. Among my purchases: a small box to be covered with counted cross stitch whose theme is Mary Queen of Scots; a little crewel picture of a thatch-roof cottage; and an elaborate cross stitch picture of a haunted house (I just love Halloween).

I would like to ask the advice of my readers. In the book I’m about to start writing, my murder victim leaves behind a holographic will. This is the sort that is written entirely in the handwriting of the testator (will-maker), sometimes without eye-witnesses and normally without the aid of an attorney. The language is generally casual. I have read that a farmer working in his fields had his tractor roll over on him. He wrote in his own blood, “All to Mother” on the tractor’s fender before dying and it was admitted to probate as a legal, holographic will.

My problem is that holographic wills are no longer legal in Minnesota, where my novel is set.

As I see it, I have two choices. First, pretend they are legal. After all, I’m writing fiction. Or second, weasel my way around it by setting it up so my victim is a resident of North Dakota, where such wills are legal, but is currently staying in Minnesota. Then send Betsy to Fargo for part of her investigation.

What should I do? What do you think?

13 comments:

Peg said...

Oooh, an opportunity to assist a writer!!! Personally when I read fiction with a 'real' situation, that I know isn't true, I find I react by thinking that the writer doesn't know what s/he is talking about. If that's true of many other readers, then maybe you should set the murder out-of-state so that the holographic will can be a 'real' part of your story. Looking forward to reading this one!!!

Anonymous said...

I like the interstate option as it gives you a lot more to work with.

Dee Winter said...

Well, I think field trips are always good for us all. Betsy could go visit the Nordic Needle in Fargo (I had to check to be sure I remembered right and just placed an order) and have a shop owners lunch with the girls there. The Upper Midwest Needleworker Association!!!! Wednesday is Killer Hobbies first read of the morning to read your entry. Thanks so much for such fun books. And yes, I love Goddy too.

signlady217 said...

By all means, send Betsy on a trip to Fargo! My husband has family there, so go for it!

misterreereeder said...

Interesting idea!!! I have not heard of this type of will. I suppose you could establish it's validity - no matter where the person is from.

Anonymous said...

Monica, Like you I grew up with family and friends listening to country music. I just let it fly by me. last Easter, my husband, daughter and I took our vacation to Nashville. The package included tickets to the Saturday night Opry show. WE LOVED IT. My husband quickly got tickets for the Tuesday night show. Surprise, Surprise, the night special guest was Taylor Swift. My 15 year old daughter was thrilled. Now we only listen to country music.

Maybe you could have Betsy travel to another state for a needle work convention. Just like you did with Creewl Yule. BTW, I read the book right before going to Nashville. I asked for the book at the hotel gift shop. I was sure the very grand hotel was the setting for the book. Alas, they did not have it.
Try coming down to my neck of the woods, New Orleans, and write about Mardi Gras. i think Goddy would love Mardi Gras.
Annette

Betty Hechtman said...

Too bad the show you went to was smaller than usual. Going to the radio broadcast sounds like fun.

I think you should have the dead person be a ND resident because even though you're writing fiction, it sounds like knowing it's not legal in Minnisota would bother you.

Julie Rhyne said...

There are usually some exceptions to the prohibition on holographic wills, most commonly an exception for deathbed wills. I'd check with a local probate lawyer to see if there's one which applies to your plot. Speaking purely selfishly, I like it when Betsy stays in Excelsior, among the extended cast of characters, and Sophie, of course. Worst comes to worst, pretend holographic wills are fine, and put in a disclaimer that people should check their own state's probate law before making a will.

Jeannette Hayashida said...

Have the will written out of state because even though it is fiction you will get umpteen jillion complaints about it when the book is published.
Have it written in Fargo. Then Betsey can go visit Nordic Needle.

Monica Ferris said...

It looks as if a visit to Nordic Needle is in my future, which is great! I stopped in to see them at the Needlework Market in Nashville. Thanks for all the helpful comments, you all are wonderful to take the time to be thoughtful about this.

I agree Goddy would adore Mardi Gras. It would also make a good setting for a murder.

Monica Ferris said...

It looks as if a visit to Nordic Needle is in my future, which is great! I stopped in to see them at the Needlework Market in Nashville. Thanks for all the helpful comments, you all are wonderful to take the time to be thoughtful about this.

I agree Goddy would adore Mardi Gras. It would also make a good setting for a murder.

Monica Ferris said...

It looks as if a visit to Nordic Needle is in my future, which is great! I stopped in to see them at the Needlework Market in Nashville. Thanks for all the helpful comments, you all are wonderful to take the time to be thoughtful about this.

DebbraSue said...

Maybe you could use the Red River's annual flood as part of the story. There's that big ole fish statue in Whapeton that might fit right in.