by Barb, just back from a beautiful week at the Jersey shore and headed back to Maine
I love it when serendipity happens. Don’t you?
Back in July, Liz Mugavero started a Wicked Wednesday thread here on the blog titled, “What’s in your Character’s Purse?”
I really liked the question, because it was one of those things I had thought about without thinking about it, you know? The question of what my main character Julia Snowden would use as a purse had come up in Clammed Up, the first book in the series. I decided Julia would throw the things she had to carry around with her in an old Snowden Family Clambake tote bag. Julia’s mother Jacqueline had run the gift shop at the clambake for many years, and it seemed natural the shop would offer such a thing.
I thought it would be fun if there was a picture of the tote bag for the blog. So I went on a site that offered custom printed bags and I designed one. Just for the photo, for the blog, mind you. I wasn’t going to order any. I didn’t even price them.
Why did I know where to find such a thing, you ask? Because for my daughter’s wedding the welcome bags were little, tiny L.L. Bean-style tote bags, which felt appropriate to Maine.
But Liz hadn’t just asked what the character’s purse was, she’d asked what was IN the purse. That gave me pause. I have always been a purse minimalist. When my kids were young, I used to joke, “I am the mother who never carries tissues.” Or Bandaids. Or chapstick. Or photos of her kids.
I think this is because I am an accessories minimalist generally. I have enough trouble keeping track of the essentials, believe me. When I was in seventh grade, the first year I carried a purse to school, everyday the period after my study hall there was an announcement on the PA. “Barbara Ross, please come to the office.” And then I would realize I’d left my handbag hanging off the back of a chair in the auditorium. Every. Single. Day. My husband would tell you this behavior now extends to my reading glasses, my car keys and my phone. He would be exaggerating when he said this. But not very much.
Over the course of the series, Julia has carried some mundane things in the tote bag, like Snowden Family Clambake brochures (Clammed Up) or her mother’s mail, fetched from the post office (Iced Under). She’s also carried some mystery clues, like a copy of an old photo and an insurance report (Fogged Inn) or a priceless diamond necklace (Iced Under).
But what does Julia carry everyday? I decided she was a little less minimalist than me, and gave her “a nylon wallet, sunblock or chapstick depending on the season, a bundle of covered rubber bands to pull back her hair if she’s on a boat or around food prep, and her smartphone, which works pretty well in Maine, except where it doesn’t.” Not a lot of stuff really. I can also imagine a paperback book and a toothbrush and toothpaste in a plastic holder, a hairbrush, business cards, pens and a small notebook.
After I designed that tote bag for the blog, I couldn’t get it out of my head. So I decided to order some for real to use for contests and such.
So that’s what I’m offering, dear readers. If you comment on this blog post before noon on September 1, you’ll be entered in a contest to win your very own Snowden Family Clambake tote, along with an Advanced Reader Copy of Eggnog Murder, the collection of three holiday novellas by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and me to be published October 25th.