About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries: Clammed Up, Boiled Over, Musseled Out, Fogged Inn and Iced Under. Her holiday novella featuring amateur sleuth Julia Snowden was published along with novellas by Leslie Meier and Lee Hollis in Eggnog Murder from Kensington Books in October 2016. You can visit her website at http://www.maineclambakemysteries.com.

Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you want to fall in love (again)

Okay, I admit this one is a little more obscure, with our “movies that make you…” theme, but what I’m looking for here are love stories. Wonderful, stories that sweep you up in the romance. Romances, historicals, and romantic comedies all count here. Go!

Jessie: I love You’ve Got Mail. There are so many great moments in that movie that I watch it at least a couple times each year. And I adore Love, Actually. It does such a great job of showing so many facets of the complex thing we all sum up with the single word, Love.

Julie: Does the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehie Pride and Prejudice count? Cause I’d put that on the top of my list. But if you want movie-movies, I really love When Harry Met Sally. Charming, funny, romantic. Sleepless in Seattle is also a favorite of mine.

Sherry: Oh, Julie, I love that version of Pride and Prejudice too! Colin Firth, be still my heart. That brings me to my choice Love Actually! I think I could have listed Love Actually in the last categories, laugh, cry, love. It hits every level of emotion. Maybe I’ll go watch it right now!

Barb: I’m a sucker for romantic comedies. Nora Ephron, Nancy Meyers, Richard Curtis–bring them on! It’s hard to pick a favorite. I love When Harry Met Sally. I love Four Weddings and a Funeral. I watch Love, Actually every Christmas season–preferably while doing something Christmas-y like writing cards or wrapping presents. I’m also a sucker for Nick Hornby novels made into movies, no matter how much they mess with the originals, which I also love: Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and my absolute favorite, About a Boy.

Liz: I love When Harry Met Sally too, Barb! I haven’t watched Love, Actually in years – maybe I need to refresh my memory. This may sound totally cheesy, but there’s something about the Jack and Rose love story in Titanic that gets me every time. That whole right side of the tracks meets wrong side thing, I guess…

Dr-ZhivagoEdith: Dr. Zhivago. Does it get any more romantic than the Russian Steppes, Omar Sharif, and Julie Christie, with balalaika music in the background? Other than that, I’ll also vote for Sleepless in Seattle, even though I saw it a long time ago, and will bring Bridges of Madison County back in for a replay, even though I already used it in the movies-that-make-you-cry post last week.

Readers: Dish! Share your favorite romantic movies.

 

Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you cry

Sometimes we all need to cry. When this your mood, what movie to do you seek out? Bonus points if you can name one that doesn’t lose its impact even if you watch it over and over.

Julie: An Affair to Remember, with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant. I SOB when he sees the painting at the end. SOB. Kills me. I can watch it again and again. I’ve also cried at other movies, but can’t bear to rewatch. An Affair to Remember is that fine line of romantic melodrama that just works.

Jessie: I had a tough time with this question. I have never looked for a movie that gave me the opportunity to cry. It just isn’t my way of being in the world. That being said, some movies have made me cry. I can’t get through Forrest Gump without a few tears.

Bridges of MadisonCountyEdith: Bridges of Madison County. I don’t care what anybody else says, I love this movie and its hopeless romance. I cry through most of it every single time.

Sherry: I’ve cried my way through a lot of movies over the years from Disney to Love Story to classics like West Side Story. I guess I cry easily at movies!

Barb: It’s time to admit I’m a big blubberer. I’ll cry at books, plays, movies, TV shows and even commercials if you catch me in the right mood. For a good cry, I’ll go with Beaches, the female buddy movie where they don’t drive off a cliff at the end. But there’s always Terms of Endearment (sobbed through the book, too) or Steel Magnolias. For a sad time, call….

Readers. what movies make you cry? Is that a good thing or a bad thing.

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Three New Maine Clambake Books to Come! (And a Giveaway!)

by Barb, sitting in her front porch in Boothbay Harbor, Maine on the most gorgeous day

I’m thrilled to announce that Kensington has asked me to write three new Maine Clambake Mysteries after Book 6, Stowed Away, coming December 26, 2017. And, bonus for me, and I hope for you, there will also be a second Christmas-themed novella. I’m so happy to have the opportunity to tell more stories about Julia Snowden, her family and their friends and Busman’s Harbor, Maine.

In September, 2014, when I announced books four through six, I thought I knew what those books were about. You can read my descriptions here. The first two, Fogged In and Iced Under did get written, though the title of Fogged Inn changed slightly. The third book, Elvered After did not.

The original plan was to set three books during the tourist season–Clammed Up, Boiled Over, and Musseled Out–and three in the off season. But then I had the chance to write my first Christmas-themed novella, “Nogged Off,” and that made three Maine Clambake stories that took place in the fog, ice, and snow. So my editor at Kensington, John Scognamiglio, and I decided we needed to get back to sunshine and lighthouses and clams with book six.

Kensington also felt that most people wouldn’t know what elvers are, and when they discovered they’re tiny, transparent baby eels, it wouldn’t help the book’s appeal. (Not to mention, what would be on the cover?) I, on the other hand still love the story. Did you know that the elver fishery is the second largest by revenue in Maine? That opposite of most sea animals, eels go to the salt water of the Sargasso Sea to spawn and return to the fresh water of Maine’s rivers to mature? That a Mainer with an hard-to-get elver license and a place on a river to fish can make a year’s income in nine weeks? That the elvers are sold to eel farms in Asia to become sushi and other delicacies? That elvers are worth $350 a pound and the business is transacted in cash, so people are walking around the docks with tens of thousands of dollars in cash in their pockets? Plenty of reasons to kill someone, right?

But I’ll reluctantly put the elvers aside for now to explore other aspects of life on the Maine coast. And try to answer some burning questions, for example…

  • Are Julia and Chris going to make it?
  • Will the Snowdens rebuild Windsholme, the mansion on their private island?
  • Will Julia’s mother’s extended family be in more books?
  • What’s up with Julia’s father’s family? Don’t they live in Busman’s Harbor? Are we ever going to meet them?
  • And Chris’s family. Why does he never talk about them, even when asked directly?

I know some of the answers, but not all of them, and I can’t wait to find out.

I do know what’s in the holiday novella, which is my current WIP, but I’m not telling!

Readers: Do you have any feelings about the burning questions above? Is there anything you’d like to say about what you hope happens in the Snowden family saga? Let me know and one commenter on the blog will win a Snowden Family Clambake tote bag.

There are also three chances to win a tote bag offered in my newsletter, where I announced the new contract today. If you’d like to sign up for my (very occasional) e-mails, you can do so here.

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It’s A Full Moon

Today is the full moon. Not just any full moon, but the smallest and the lowest of the year. In the northern part of the country, even at it’s highest point, at 1:00 a.m., the tiny moon is only a third of the way up in the sky. Because it’s so low, it often has an amber color, which is why some call it the honey moon.

I know the Wickeds run from hot to cold on the woo-woo stuff, but tell me, fellow writers, are you affected by the full moon? Do you believe others are?

Liz: Oooh, my kind of post 🙂 I love learning about the moon phases and what they mean. So for this strawberry moon, I learned it’s in my sign (Sagittarius), and that means I can be rewarded for “hard and smart work and passions,” according to one horoscope site. Unfortunately it also means my emotions can be stronger as well, which isn’t necessarily a good thing these days!

Sherry: I’m on the not so woo-woo side of the Wicked woo-woo spectrum. That said, our dog Lily barks more in the middle of the night the few days before and the night of the full moon. I’ve also noticed that people seem to drive crazier around the full moon. But maybe that’s because they are tired from their dog barking in the middle of the night.

Julie: I love the moon. I took a class once, and had to go out for three nights and chart the path of the moon. It was October, and I was really grouchy about it the first night. Then I loved learning, watching. That, and From the Earth to the Moon was one of my favorite TV series ever. So full moons make me smile. But I also do feel affected by the moon, and notice it in others. According to an astrology site, I should stay clear of emotional triggers during the full moon. Considering Friday I have a graduation (morning) and wedding (evening) on the docket, fat chance of that!

Jessie: I am all about the woo-woo and the moon is no exception! Some people believe that the new moon is for setting intentions and plans for those things you wish to accomplish or to bring into your life before the next new moon. They believe the full moon is for letting go of things that no longer serve you like bad habits or clutter. I confess, more often than not I try to use that rhythm to move through my life.

Edith'sChartEdith: I’m also not a particularly woo-woo person, but I do think there is something to be said for astrology. My sun and rising sign are in Scorpio – intense, given to extremes – but my moon (and I was born during a full moon) is in Taurus, which is how most people see me – the “crunchy granola” type (truth – I’m both). I love following the progress of the moon. As a former doula and now author who writes about a midwife, I can say that midwives swear there are more births during a full moon. The moon affects the oceans, why wouldn’t it affect the amniotic fluid in a full-term pregnant woman?

Barb: My mother-in-law held the moon in great esteem. She called herself a “lunatic” and swore she couldn’t sleep when the moon was full. The problem was, she never checked to see if was actually full, and often claimed not to have slept when it was not. I’m the blog skeptic, I know. I don’t believe in astrology. And I just read an article from a scientific journal that showed statistically that emergency rooms are not busier when the moon is full, even though we all believe they are and remark on it. I think it’s a noticing bias. But, the moon does exert a gravitational pull and control the tides–so on that level I’ll concede, who knows what it might be up to? And I do love looking at the moon, no matter what it is or is not doing.

Readers: Are you moon believers, or moon skeptics? Any good moon stories?

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Wicked Wednesday: Movies that make you laugh

Hi all. In June the Wickeds are dreaming of Hollywood and talking about some of our favorite movies.

Sometimes we just need to laugh, and I mean belly laugh. When laughter is what you seek, what is your go-to favorite movies and why?

Jessie: I love A Fish Called Wanda. I always adore movies featuring John Cleese and his performance as a straight-laced solicitor whose life takes an exciting turn when he falls for Jamie Lee Curtis never fails to make me laugh.

LifeofBrianEdith:  I’ll vote for just about any Marx Brothers movie: “Night at the Opera,” “Day at the Races,” you name it. Also,  and here’s another nod to John Cleese, Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” really cracks me up. When his mother says, “‘E’s not the Messiah, ‘e’s just a very nau’y [naughty] boy!” When the people are standing so far back they can’t hear him and they think he says, “Blessed are the cheesemakers.” When he’s running from his followers and loses a sandal and they stop and declare, “The shoe is the sign!” And on and on.

Liz: Ok, I’m really behind in my movie watching, so I have to go back to the 80s (but really, isn’t everything awesome from the 80s??) – “Adventures in Babysitting” with Elizabeth Shue. OMG, that movie never fails to crack me up, even today if I catch bits of it in reruns. It’s about a girl who gets stood up by her boyfriend on a Saturday night, so instead she goes to babysit for a family with a young daughter and a teenage boy who has a crush on her. But her best friend decides to run away from home and gets stranded at the bus station in downtown Chicago, so she has to go pick her up. And of course, everything that can go wrong…it’s freakin hilarious.

Barb: I loved A Fish Called Wanda and Adventures in Babysitting. One of my fondest memories is of seeing It’s a Mad Mad World in a theater in Manhattan with my grandparents. My little brother laughed so hard he got wedged between his seat and its back and had to be rescued by an usher. Now that’s a comedy. Just to prove that the Wickeds have laughed during the twenty-first century, I really loved 40 Year Old Virgin, Crazy Stupid Love, and Mean Girls.

Sherry: I loved Crazy Stupid Love and Mean Girls too, Barb. First, my oldest one — Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder and Madeline Kahn. I can still recite lines from that movie. Jump ahead a decade to Jumpin’ Jack Flash with Whoopie Goldberg. The first 3/4 quarters of that movie are so funny, it makes me chuckle to think about it. And the end is sweet and romantic. I noticed when I looked to see what year it came out it’s called a action/thriller. It has elements of that too. My third pick is Saving Grace (2000) with Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson. The blurb on IMDb says: A small-town English widow, facing financial troubles after her husband’s suicide, turns to agriculture of an illegal kind. This wouldn’t usually be my thing, but oh, my!

Julie: I love, love, love to laugh. In addition to many of these (A Fish Called Wanda–I haven’t seen that for years!) I have to add two Rob Reiner movies, Spinal Tap and The Sure Thing. I’d add When Harry Met Sally, but that isn’t belly laughs. Also, have to call out the genius that is Christopher Guest–Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind.  PS, Barb, I love the story of your brother laughing that hard.

Readers: What are your go-to movies when you really need a laugh?

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Welcome Author Meg Macy!

by Barb, in Maine wondering if spring will ever come

I first met author Meg Macy at Malice Domestic, the place where so many good things happen. At the time, under the name D. E. Ireland, Meg and her writing partner Sharon Pisacreta had written a book featuring Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle as sleuths and were seeking representation. Why don’t you query my agent, I said–and the rest is history.

Now Meg’s back with a new series, the Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mysteries. The first one, Bearly Departed, was released by Kensington Publishing this week. Cozy mysteries featuring teddy bears, how does that work, you ask? Meg is here with the answers.

Teddy Bears and Murder?

Who doesn’t love a teddy bear? They’re cute, cuddly, fuzzy, and sweet. The farthest thing from murder, right? But in my new Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear cozy mystery series, those cute, cuddly, fuzzy, and sweet teddy bears are involved – in a roundabout way, of course.

I first had the idea when I learned that the Chelsea Teddy Bear factory had moved out of Michigan to Missouri. Rats! I’d always wanted to take the tour and missed out. But fiction is second best to reality, and I figured the setting of a teddy bear shop and factory might be intriguing to cozy readers. So I got to work on a proposal and sample chapters; my agent shopped it around; lo and behold, I snagged a wonderful editor at Kensington. Wendy McCurdy loved the idea – but she wanted my book cozier. Cuter. Sweeter. After all, people love teddy bears. I’ve known that for a while, but I’m discovering just how deep that love goes from people excited to hear about my series and the first book, Bearly Departed.

How do the teddy bears feature in a murder mystery? Let’s just say that no bears were harmed (much) in writing the story.

But a cozy mystery wouldn’t qualify as such without a murder! Plus plenty of secrets that swirl around the characters, which makes my amateur sleuth, Sasha Silverman, work hard to prove her crotchety uncle innocent of killing the company’s sales rep. I can’t give away too many details without spoiling the plot. But I can tell you I had a blast ‘mixing’ together several small towns in southeastern Michigan, close enough to where I live, to create Silver Hollow and the Silver Bear Shop & Factory. Sasha Silverman has been managing the shop for seven years – her parents own the shop but are retired – since her divorce from a cheating husband. Her younger sister Maddie works in the office, and together they have to deal with small town gossip, a family crisis, plus staff problems while hosting the annual teddy bear picnic – it all adds up to plenty of adventure.

Bearly Departed is available on May 30th, 2017, from Kensington Books in trade paperback and e-book editions

About Meg Macy:  Award-winning mystery author Meg Macy lives in Southeast Michigan, close to Ann Arbor, Chelsea, and Dexter — the area she chose for the setting of her new “Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear” cozy mystery series for Kensington. She is also one-half of the writing team of D.E. Ireland for the Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins Mystery series; two books have been named Agatha Award finalists. Meg’s first published book, Double Crossing, won the 2012 Best First Novel Spur Award from Western Writers of America. She’s a graduate of Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. Meg loves reading mysteries, historicals, and other genre fiction, and also enjoys gardening, crafts, and watercolor painting.

Readers: Join us in congratulating Meg on her new series. Is there a teddy bear in your life, or in your memory?

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Opening Lines

Here’s our opening lines–rotten vacation edition.

(photo by Bill Carito)

Sherry: He always complained that I was too literal. I’m sure he regretted telling me he was dying to get into the vacation club.

Liz: Jeez, that was a long line…

Barb: “You’re in luck, sir. A room has just opened up.”

Julie: She arrived in what could only be described as hell for workaholics, and died trying to relax.

Edith: I said I’d win the damn bowling tournament or die trying.

Jessie: Our resort is so popular that some of our guests will do just about anything not to have to leave.

Readers, add your opening lines in the comments section.

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