featuring guest mystery authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Friday, February 1, 2013

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--GUEST AUTHOR BARBARA GRAHAM


Barbara Graham returns to Book Club Friday for another visit today. Barbara is a mystery writer and quilter who writes a "Quilted Mystery" series featuring Sheriff Tony Abernathy and his wife Theo, also a quilter. Read more about Barbara and her books at her website

Barbara is offering a copy of Murder By Vegetable to one of our readers who posts a comment. As always, please be sure to include your email address or check back on Sunday to see if you’ve won. Too many books are going unclaimed because we have no way of getting in touch with the winners. -- AP

Magpie Brain

I have “Magpie Brain”, which strictly speaking, makes me a birdbrain. I’ll admit to making up the designation, it’s not in medical textbooks but it describes how my mind works. Whether I’m designing a quilt, cooking dinner or working on a new mystery, I am distracted by the “shiny thing in the grass”. When I try to control it, stick to an outline or a recipe or a pattern, it doesn’t seem to work as well. I don’t know why. I know many creative people who are not birdbrains, writers whose characters follow the script and they get more written, faster than I do.

I still manage to kill a lot of imaginary people. All my research on the situation assures me it is not illegal (or immoral) to kill someone who doesn’t exist, never did, and never will.

I wrote at least seven books before I sold “Murder by Serpents” to a publisher. The not quite magnificent seven acquired an impressive number of rejections from publishers and agents. To be truthful, they weren’t very good—they were practice pieces. While “Serpents” was traveling in and out of offices and meeting my editor, I worked on a totally different book. Again.

During this period, I took a trip back to Tennessee where “Serpents” is set. I visited the wonderful Museum of Appalachia near Norris and just by chance spied a fabulous murder weapon. A flax hackle, a device vaguely resembling a scrub brush but with rows of closely set metal spikes. “Ooh, I should kill someone with that!” I exclaimed to myself. I must have spoken out loud because a man standing near me jumped away, a fearful expression on his face. I did use it, on paper, and the series officially began. While working on that book, I had an idea that didn’t fit in, so I moved it down the line, and so on.

I love writing, I love my imaginary friends. I spend hours with them and if they annoy me, I can dispose of them. Legally. However, the work part is less fun. Each book must stand alone, but there are things a new reader must know, and bringing them up to speed without annoying the readers who already know the situation is a tightrope walk. Remember to watch out for alligators!

My personal biggest problem is keeping track of these people. One might have shown up in Book One and not again until Book Three. What have they been doing in the meantime? Good works? Crimes? Marriage? How much does it matter?

I like to think I’d be more organized if I had planned all along to write a series, but who can say for sure. I know writers who have notebooks, yes, more than one, detailing everything about each character. Height, weight, scars, grade school teachers, relationships and family history are charted out with accompanying pictures and color swatches. These people (A) always intended to write a series and/or (B) have the gift of organization. How I envy their skills. Seriously. My editor once sent a message asking me if I had a new character halfway through one of the later books—or—had I changed the character’s name? Argh, name change. Fix it. Please, fix it.

The downside to a series is if you kill someone in Book One—they had better not be seen drinking in the bar in Book Two, unless you are moving into paranormal writings. Ooh, now there’s an idea. I could add a ghost to the next book, and try killing him again.

Murder By Vegetable
The fourth in the "Quilted Mystery" series featuring Tennessee Sheriff Tony Abernathy and his wife Theo, a dedicated quilter.

Springtime in the the Smoky Mountains is being celebrated by a festival in honor of ramps, a pungent member of the onion/garlic family. The festivities are disrupted when a potato launched by a cannon strikes, and apparently kills, unpopular game warden, Harrison Ragsdale.


37 comments:

Ana Morgan said...

Murder by flying potato. I love it! I can't grow ramps in northern Minnesota so I raise lots of onions and garlic.
Sacks of both are nearby right now as I type. No vampires or germs, though.
I love your cover, Barbara!

Ana Morgan
sgmorg@wcta.net

DirtyMartini said...

It's certainly good that there are no laws against killing people that don't exist...or quite a few of us would be in big trouble...just sayin'

Cheers,
Alan W. Jankowski
Exakta66@gmail.com

missminamurray said...

Death by potato is certainly creative! Sounds like fun.

Mina Murray
missmina (at) miss-mina (dot) com

Pam/NY gnieman@twcny.rr.com said...

Hi Babs-
You inspire all your want-a-be writers and quilters. Love all your books and your quilts...Keep producing both...
Pam/NY

Terry Ambrose said...

Hi Barbara! Magpie Brain is a great term! I love it. I just did a recent post about how people and popsicles are alike so when I saw this, I had to check it out. Wonderful!

B J Elder said...

I have been wanting to read her books. This one sounds delicious! LOL

Liz said...

Writers who talk to themselves out loud might do well to wear tee shirts with appropriate warning label.

Carol-Lynn Rössel said...

Whee! Please enter me into the contest.
rossel@fairpoint.net

cmgren said...

I would love to win a copy of Murderby Vegetable - looks like a great read.

Irene said...

Better to kill on paper than in real life, I always say. Love the title of the new book!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

You have a wonderful sense of humor! I'm certain your novels are wonderful to read.
Wishing you much success.

Linda Robertson said...

I would love to win a copy of "Murder by Vegetable". Please add me to the list of potential winners!!

Barbara Graham said...

The tee shirt with the "I'm talking to myself" label sounds like something I ought to wear in public. Should I mention--the potato is innocent until proven guilty?

Anonymous said...

Death by potato, sounds delicious!

Please enter me in your contest- powerburke@aol.com

petite said...

Love this captivating series. thanks for this wonderful feature.

traveler said...

Murder by Vegetable is unique and special. Love the post. Many thanks.

Marguerite Hall said...

LoL, and here I always thought of that as "Oh look...a bunny" syndrome. At least I know I am not the only one easy distracted by shiny or fuzzy objects (real and/or imagined)

I would love to win a copy of Murder by Vegetable. I am so glad to have taken the time to check out this posting

Margie
margie2092@yahoo.com

Ann O. Heberlein said...

Murder by potato--how perfect! Sort of like pumpkins or frozen chickens (for testing airplane windshields) shot out of a cannon.

I hear what you're saying about organization. I'm working on a follow-up novel to my first that's under consideration and am in the beginning stages of number 2's story. Organization is a must! Expanding the characters from the initial novel have to be kept track of especially, as you mentioned above, if I plan to use them in the future (thanks for the tip!).

Good luck with Murder by Vegetable. Ann

Barbara Graham said...

Now, now, I never said it was the potato. There were other vegetables present at the crime scene. Should I get the spud an attorney or let it get mashed without representation?

Shiny things in the grass, or fuzzy objects, I'm glad I'm not alone in the easily distractable group.

mariposa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mariposa said...

I love your idea of adding a ghost to the next book. this sounds like a great book to burrow under a quilt and read.

Anonymous said...

Your books sound interesting! I would also love to be entered into the contest. My mind flits from topic to topic too. Sometimes my notes about possible future novel outlines surprise me.

BrendaW.

Julie Golden said...

It's funny that your inspiration was a flax hackle. Your post shined a new light on my shopping trip through the produce section today. My husband gripped a Yucca Root, and I saw it as another of Barbara's possible weapons. I told him to put it back. www.Vagilantes.com

Judy Dee said...

It's hard to think of veggies in the same way after reading this and the comments. I'm sure I'm in good company. Love to sample the giveaway. Thanks.

Judy Dee said...

I'm at judydee22002@yahoo dot com

Pat D said...

looking forward to reading MURDER BY VEGETABLE, PHEW! Hope my garden doesn't get any ideas.

Barbara Graham said...

I will be the first to admit that looking for deadly vegetables does make the produce section more entertaining. I don't know about where you live, but the PRICE of fresh fruits and vegetables out here is well, frankly murderous. Can't wait to plant my garden again.

Katt patt said...

Sound delish.Can not wait to read Murder by Vegtable.

Pat, The Dizzy Crafter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat, The Dizzy Crafter said...

I suffer from Magpie Brain as well, and I love your description of it. Your new book sounds fantastic and I can't wait to read it, and catch up on the others in the series.

Pat E. dizzycrafter@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

After reading the first two books and getting to know the characters, I can't wait to see what Tony does with this murder.

Mary Jo A.

Barbara Graham said...

Actually, this is book four. The first, Murder by Serpents, is still available as Kindle or Nook--#2 Murder by Artifact, #3 Murder by Music, and # 4 Murder by Vegetable--Number 5 will be out this fall. I like making Tony work harder.

Anonymous said...

Barbara, Loved all your books....can't wait to get my hand on this one. Debbie (QWU)

Maggie Toussaint said...

I think Blogger ate my previous comment - boo hoo. It was a good one. I enjoyed your post, Barbara. Nothing like a cozy quilt to warm up with after a little cold blooded murder.

Love the vegetables in this story. I'm a veggie fan!

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

I'm a fan of any kind of mystery especially when it involves quilting and has quirky twists. Would love to win a copy of this book. thanks for chance. Cindy (QWU)

Alcea Rosea 31 said...

Growing up reading my mums crime books ( Christie, Sayers, Allingham ) and being a vegetarian, allotment owner, I can't wait to read your book. Are they all available on kindle?

Anonymous said...

The potato did it? What fun. Would love to read the book.

boots9k at wowway dot com