Murder on Cape Cod Cover Reveal!

News Flash: Sheila Golding is the randomly selected winner of the author apron! Congratulations. Sheila, please send your mailing address to edith at edithmaxwell dot com and I’ll get the apron out to you.

Maddie Day here, otherwise known as Edith, at Barb’s Boothbay Harbor home with all the other main Wickeds on our annual retreat, and boy, is it ever lovely.

I’m using one of our occasional Saturday posts to share some exciting news. The preorder page for Murder on Cape Cod, complete with a special exclusive edition cover, is finally ready over at Barnes & Noble. This is book one in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, due out December 18, and I’ve been waiting to show you all this cover for a while. I’ll celebrate by sending one commenter a special author apron!

Here’s a little about the series, but you’ll be hearing more about it in coming months.

The series is set in the quaint fictional Cape Cod village of Westham, which is replete with a salt-water taffy shop, craft distillery, gourmet ice cream store, fudge shop, nautical-themed gift shoppe, bakery and cafe, sushi restaurant, lobster shack, and indy bookstore. The shops are bookended on each end by churches, with the town hall, library, and police and fire stations in the middle. Many of the proprietors are members of the Cozy Capers book group – a group that reads and meets to discuss one cozy mystery every week – as are the almost-due-to-retire police chief, the head librarian, and the town clerk. Unfortunately, murder starts popping up in and around the town’s shops.

Mac Almeida is our protagonist, a wiry thirty-six year old with short black curls, who owns and operates Mac’s Bikes, a bicycle repair and rental shop serving locals and tourists alike.  She lives in a tiny house behind the store. Her parents reside in the UU rectory, her half-brother and his little daughter live in a local lighthouse, and her baker boyfriend is just down the road, too. I’ve loved setting up these new characters and this fictional town.

So are you ready for the cover? Ta-da!

MURDER ON CAPE COD with sticker 1.5

I love it! As you can see, Murder on Cape Cod is an exclusive deal with Barnes & Noble for the first year, but after that Kensington Publishing will re-release it on all platforms. My agent and my editor were both excited about the unusual arrangement, and who was aprontenpercentI to say no? The books will have seaside-based recipes and lots of intrigue. Oh, and murder – on the bike trail in this book!

Readers: Who has been to Cape Cod and what do you love about it? If you haven’t, what’s your favorite waterside place to visit (or live)? I’ll send one of you an author apron!

Wicked Wednesday: Writing Goals for 2017

writing-goalsWickeds, we all have deadlines, series, proposals, and blog posts that are keeping us busy. What are your writing goals for 2017?

Sherry: Since I went to the Sisters In Crime conference on Adapting Your Work To Hollywood in Los Angeles last April I’ve wanted to write a story to try and sell to the Hallmark channel. I’ve pondered and discarded many ideas and think I’m finally on to one. I’m also writing a couple of new proposals. And working on what is next for Sarah!

Barb: For the first time in years, I don’t know what my writing year holds. Maine Clambake #6, Stowed Away is due in March. Then I’ll work on the proposal for the next three, along with a short story I’ve promised to an anthology. The rest of the year is a blank. Fingers crossed for a series renewal, but if not, there are plenty of things I want to accomplish.

Edith: I’ll be writing three books: Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #1, capewaterfreestockcropQuaker Midwife Mystery # 4 (IF my contract is extended…), and Country Store Mystery #5. <gulp>  Oh, yeah, and keeping up with blog posts, book releases (three in three months), two short story anthology releases (bringing total releases to FIVE in three months), and every other writing task. But I’m living my dream and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Liz: Lots on the horizon! Like Barb, I’m working on book six in the Pawsitively Organic series, due April 1. After that, will also be writing a proposal for three more (so more finger crossing!). I will also be working on book two in the Cat Cafe series by Cate Conte. And I have another passion project that’s been in various stages of editing for a long time. This is the year that I want to get it finished and sold. And who knows what other fabulous opportunities will come along??

Julie: I am working on copyedits for CHIME AND PUNISHMENT, and then have two more novels to write. So I am working on a plan for the year that allows time for writing, and for editing. I love Sherry’s goal of thinking Hollywood. If I can figure out the time, I need to try and write a screenplay, or a stageplay, and learn how that works.

Jessie: I am plotting away on my next mystery in my Beryl and Edwina series. I have a proposal to write, revisions for one book to complete and copyedits coming up for Whispers of Warning, the next Change of Fortune mystery. It looks like it will be a busy year!

Writers, friends, and fans: What are your work goals for the year? How about hobby goals, or other pursuits?

Assembling Quilts and Stories

Edith here, staggering a bit from all the delicious rich foods of Thanksgiving, and still aglow from a lovely long visit with both of my sons.

Today, continuing our Wicked Month of Thankfulness, I’m giving away a promise to send the winner an ARC of one of my three 2017 mysteries as soon as I get them. It’ll be your choice of When the Grits Hit the Fan (written as Maddie Day), Called to Justice, or Mulch Ado About Murder. So make sure you leave a comment at the end of the post before midnight EST tonight, and don’t forget to check the blog Sunday when we post the week’s winners.

edith-2017-books

Right now I’m trying to polish my fourth Country Store Mystery, Biscuits and Slashed Browns. I’m also about to move into writing a new book in a new series, the first in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. And, of course, the Christmas season is creeping up on me way too fast, so there will be decorating and  baking in my life pretty shortly, not to mention coming up with ideas for gifts and then implementing them (which might or might not involve shopping). Life is very busy.

That said, the lovely quilt my late mother made me about twenty-five years ago is in tatters on our bed. Mommy was a master quilter, creating probably a hundred quilts in her retirement years. A few years before she died in 2012 she asked me what colors I’d like in a new quilt. She never finished it, though, and I’ve had a bag of the fabric for it in my closet for almost five years now. So I resolved to bring it out and finish it.

oneblock

I thought I had the pattern stuffed into the bag. I didn’t. To my delight I counted 46 four-fifths completed blocks, and 46 strips. I didn’t realize how much of the work my mother had already completed on the project. It was much like if someone I loved died with only part of a novel completed, but enough of the writing in place for me to see the way forward to finishing it.

I figured out where to add the strips, so I commissioned a son to haul my sewing machine down to the dining table and went to work.

machinework

After I added all the strips, I pressed the blocks and trimmed off the uneven edges while listening to my Saturday radio shows. Working with cloth, thread, and iron brought me so close to memories of my mom and older sisters. Sewing was part of our lives from a very young age – Mommy made our clothes, ballet costumes, Halloween costumes, nightgowns, even hand puppets, and we graduated into sewing our own dresses in high school.

The following picture is NOT of us in our high school dresses, obviously, but was taken a few months before our mom passed away, with one of her quilts on the wall and one her own mother made on the bed. (Now you could call us the Silver-Haired Spectacled Scarf Sisters, I guess.)

img_1579

Once the blocks were ready I was presented with the problem of how to lay them out. I thought maybe some of my far-flung quilter friends on Facebook might recognize the potential pattern, and many suggested some permutation of Irish Chain, but the examples Ms. Google showed me didn’t look like my blocks. It was a mystery! Again it was kind of like a book, where I set up the suspects and the crime, but often I’m not sure who the actual villain is until I write well into the story.

I did a little math before getting to the layout. Seven down and six across would use 42 of the 46 blocks. I could figure out later what to do with the spare four blocks. I smoothed out a plain-colored blanket on top of the worn-out quilt on our  bed and began to lay out squares. After a few false starts I figured out a pattern that worked, didn’t bring any color except the dark in contact with itself, and used all the blocks without any odd corners sticking out.

layout

I posted the layout picture on Facebook and a quilter pal suggested it should be more of a crossover line, but I’m happy with the look of those rings. It’s a little small for a double bed, so I’ll add several narrow borders and a wide one in between. Yet another quilter pal, author Betsy Bitner, suggested fitting the four extra squares into the corners of the border to extend the pattern. Brilliant!

Once again it’s like the stage of authorship I’m in right now with my Country Store mystery – the book is too short, but I always get up to the word count my editor expects by enriching the language, adding the five senses, including things like my protag’s reactions which I knew but forgot to actually write down. Sometimes I even discover a new subplot that betters the story.

The basic top is assembled, so after I add the borders it will need quilting.

top-complete

One thing I really don’t have time for is hand quilting my mother’s project, so I’ll either hire someone to machine quilt it or I’ll see if I can hire a group to hand quilt it – just like I use an independent editor to help me improve my books. I’m not in for a major hobby of quilting, so I don’t plan to join a quilting group (my mom’s group was called “Stitch and Bitch,” which I always loved). Here’s a shot of the now-tattered quilt when it was new, with my mom (second from right) with some of her quilter friends, all of whom helped hand quilt this lovely piece.

wedding-quilt

I’m sure I’ll find a good solution for the quilting stage. And then we’ll have a beautiful new bedcover that will always connect me to my mom.

Readers: Do you quilt? What handcraft, recipe, or custom connects you with departed family? Remember, a special ARC giveaway to one commenter!