Genres at Mavens of Mayhem

On Saturday I spoke to the SINC (Sister in Crime) chapter to which I belong: the Mavens of Mayhem. SINC was started by Sara Paretsky in the 1980’s to support women writers. At that time, women writers were hardly ever reviewed. (Many sources I see in the Library are still like this. Book page mystery section reviews about 85% – 90% men and the few women who appear are heavyweights like Louise Penney. So there is still a lot of work to do. But I digress.)

So Sisters in Crime was begun and now there are chapters all over the country.

Anyway, I put on my librarian hat and spoke about genres and the difficulty of placing a book in the proper slot. Of course there is a lot of discussion on this; many librarians don’t want to “pigeonhole” but I feel it is an aid to the patron who reads only mystery or only romance. Of course within the genres there are sub-genres (noir, historical, cozy for example) and especially now days there are a lot of books that are more than one genre. The Devil’s Bible by Carpenter is mystery, historical, fantasy and even a little romance. (It is a great book, BTW.) Then the question is, where do you locate such a book so readers will find it?

Since several of the writers and beginning writers in the group have books that cross genres, we had a great discussion. One of the members referenced her attempt to find a book Dinosaur barbecue. In the catalog it was listed: Cookery – Dinosaur.

I will leave the peculiarities of subject headings for another day.

Talks and more

One of the things I most enjoy doing as a writer is going out and talking to readers. I have audiences from a few people all the way up to more than 100. Some of them are wonderful and some challenge me and make me think on my feet, (One audience member accused me of helping teach people how to murder.)

After this busy summer, I have a few weeks off and then I have a talk coming up at the Elm Street Bookstore in New Canaan, Ct. After that, on September 23, I have a talk on Genres (from the librarian side of life) to the local chapter of the Sisters and Crime.

In October I will be at Bouchercon in Toronto, then, in quick succession, at the Bookloft Bookstore in Great Barrington, Mass and the following Friday, October 27, at the bookstore in Chappaqua.

The exciting life of a writer!

Speaking Engagements

I had a great talk at the Newburgh Library last Wednesday. I have two more coming up. On Sunday, October 23, I will be talking at the Orangeburg Library – in Rockland County, New York. The talk begins at 2.

The following Sunday, I will be speaking about witchcraft at my own library – the Goshen Public Library in Goshen, New York. Hard to believe but I have never spoken there. I felt shy pushing myself into a slot where I work.

Come and ask questions.


As I have mentioned before, I love attending Bouchercon. Not just because it is fun, although it is, but because it is so inspiring. This time I was put on a panel with other authors I have read, except for the one whose book has just come out. And one of my favorites as well: Laura Joh Rowland. I attended the interview of Harlen Coben by Michael Connolly – two heavy hitters. And the panel on social media. Well, I don’t need to continue. The point is that listening to other writers talk, about problems I struggle with – and sometimes they even have solutions – re-energizes me.

And the opening ceremonies with the faux Mardi Gras parade! Words cannot express. I wish I had taken some pictures but I was so caught up in the moment I never thought of it – even for the dragon float.

Holding the conference in New Orleans was wonderful as well. The people are so friendly and the food is great. We also took a few tours. My two favorites: the Whitney Plantation and the Mardi Gras World

I saw the two pretty plantations: Oak Alley and Laura.




laura-plantationThe Whitney Plantation is different; instead of the lives of the wealthy it focuses on the lives of the enslaved who made that affluent life possible.


The Antioch Baptist Church; the first African-American church in America.


This is detail from the wall listing all the enslaved at Whitney. I did not take many pictures; it was so sad and horrifying.

If you go to New Orleans try to stop by Mardi Gras World.


fluffy.jpgAnd Fluffy from Harry Potter

Details of the floats. (I thought I would end on a happy note.)

Goodreads Giveaway

The Giveaway ends tomorrow at midnight; two days left to add your name for the Giveaway.

Will and Lydia travel to New York just outside of Albany after a frantic plea for help from Shaker friend Mouse. There they find Mouse had been accused of kidnapping – and she admits it. Shortly after, the mother of the children is found dead and Mouse is the the primary suspect.

bouchercon 2015

I am getting very excited about Bouchercon, this weekend in Raleigh, NC. This will be my fourth. Each one has been in a different part of the country and has been very fun.

My excitement is tempered somewhat by the weather. Flooding in South Carolina. Parts of 95 closed. We are coming from New York but my heart goes out to those just one state away. For those in New York who are planning to fly, the New York airports have delays. I hope that clears up in the next day or so.

My parents retired to Conway, SC and it is strange and creepy to see the areas around them – that I recognized – flooded.

They say that only Death and Taxes are certain. I think weather should be added to this aphorism. Yipes.

Horses, buggies, wagons, and Will Rees

Well, we have had a wide-ranging journey through the domestication of horses and the invention of wagons and buggies.


This is one of the things I find so incredible: horses (as well as donkeys, asses and other equines) were not only the main form of transportation for almost 9000 years, they were, except for shanks mare – i.e. walking –the only form. By the time of Will Rees in the late eighteenth century, wagons and buggies were polished and elegant inventions.


Okay, I can just hear someone saying ‘But what about shocks?’ Right, they didn’t have shocks. But the front wheels were slightly smaller than the rear and they were cupped to make for smooth turning. The axle, as mentioned before, is equipped with other pieces to make the operation both smooth and efficient.


And horses have been domesticated for literally millennia.


What does this mean? Well, as with dogs and the other livestock, (cattle, pigs, sheep) they are used to human companionship. Training a horse is a lot easier (I would say it requires) human contact from a very early age. Horses not only have to accept human companionship but also direction. They have to be trained to a bit and reins. If intended for a saddle horse, the animal has to accept a saddle and the weight of a rider as something normal. Horses destined to pull vehicles have to learn, besides the feel of the bit and reins, to accept the weight and the clatter of something following (Remember, horses are prey so they instinctually run).


In Rees’s time, most of the horses were trained as working horses, pulling wagons and buggies. Saddle horses were expensive and, as had been the case for several centuries, were pretty much owned and used only by the wealthy. A horse trained to pull a wagon could not serve also as a saddle horse unless it had been trained as one also. Horses were divided into the aristocrats and the cobs. The working and middle classes ( and I think of Rees as middle class since he owns property and has a craft) did not have the wherewithal to own saddle horses. They needed workers that pulled vehicles.


Of course things are different now.


For a time horses continued to be used simultaneously with the car. But gradually the engine took over. Although the Amish continue to use horses as they have been for thousands of years, for most of us, the horse has become a luxury animal. And it happened in less than one hundred years.


But not completely. One of my readers referred me to an organization that strives to keep the skills of using horses and oxen alive. Since the use of these animals are more sustainable in Africa than tractors, farmers there are assisted in their use. Thanks Kim for that information! I love it.

Goodreads Giveaway

Last call for the giveaway of my second book, “Death of a Dyer


The giveaway ends Sunday night. In “Death of a Dyer”, Rees goes home to Dugard. He is trying to mend fences with David, his son. Lydia has accompanied him as well, as a housekeeper. Both have baggage from previous relationships and are hesitant to begin again.

Rees is home for only a short while when he is asked to look into the death of Nate Bowditch, Rees’s boyhood friend. A weaver like Rees, Nate has become a dyer. This is a time before the coal tar dyes. Besides indigo and cochineal, most of the dyes used in Dugard would have been natural dyes: some madder, black walnut, butternut and so on. And both indigo and cochineal were very expensive.

I had a lot of fun with this book since I got to include tons of stuff about dyeing and weaving.