That Was A Close One!

By Sherry — feeling fortunate

A couple of weeks ago I helped author Donna Andrews with a yard sale. It gave me a chance to put my money (or Donna’s in this case) where my protagonist Sarah Winston’s mouth is. Garage sales are a lot of work and in this case Donna had things from her grandparents and parents along with things of her own to sale. The picture below is while we were setting up. You can read Donna’s take on the event here!

What do you want to accomplish? The first thing I asked was what was more important, making money or getting rid of stuff. Donna was more interested in getting rid of things than making money. The reason to ask that is for pricing and bargaining the day of the sale.

We got together a few days before the sale to price. Donna had already arranged a lot of like items together in her garage. There was so much stuff we decided not to individually price things (even though Sarah usually does). Donna made signs for things like albums $1.00, glassware $2.00, etc.

Vintage Jewelry Donna also had a lot of vintage jewelry. We used box lids with towels in them to arrange the jewelry. A friend of Donna’s who sells jewelry had been over to take a look at things to make sure nothing was too valuable. As we arranged the jewelry I would flip it over to look for signatures. Also to see if there was backing on the jewelry – that is usually a sign there aren’t gemstones set in the piece. I took some of the pieces home to check prices on eBay. Below is an example of the backing from a brooch I bought last spring at a sale:

Open! The weather the day of the sale was perfect, not too hot and a gentle breeze – almost unbelievable for August. Garage sales make for interesting people watching and become a study in human nature. Yes, we had early birds. The starting time was 9:00 but by 8:15 we were open for business. Donna did scare one woman off at 7:45 when she told her she could look around as long as she helped carry out a few boxes.

Patterns Donna had stacks of patterns from the forties, fifties, and sixties. I’d looked up prices on eBay and thought she’d probably have more luck selling them there. But we stuck them out anyway. We sold one. However, so many people stopped by to look at them. And it was lovely how many people told me stories of their moms or grandmothers making clothes. It was one of the best parts of the sale for me.

Hipsters Two young men came by who were interested in the albums Donna had for sale. She had nine boxes with everything from rock to Irish folk music to classical in them. The hipsters were interesting to watch because first they sorted through the albums in the garage setting asides ones they were interested in. Then they brought them out into the light and took the album out of its cover to look for scratches. After that they made their final decisions about which ones they wanted. At $1.00 a piece they were a great bargain. One of the guys said he loved Irish music because he could jig around the house to it. The image of this bearded hipster doing a jig still makes me laugh.

Culture clash Northern Virginia is a very diverse area but twice now I’ve seen how cultures can clash at a yard sale. A woman was looking a jewelry and had made a little stack to one side. Two other women swooped in and tried to crowd her out. They immediately went to her little stack. I intervened and explained that was spoken for. Then I bagged it up for the first woman. Since she was still shopping I took the jewelry, put it in a box with some other things she wanted, set the box to the side and covered it.

About fifteen minutes later one of the women brought me a couple of bags full of costume jewelry and asked me how much. I was holding one of the bags and flipping it back and forth to see what all was it in. All of the sudden the woman blurted out, “It’s her bag” and points at the first woman. Then she said, “I took it from there” and points at the box where I’d set it. A confession – if only Sarah could get information so easily! I rolled my eyes and took the bag back over to its spot.

Oh, boy. So here is my confession – Sarah would be so upset – it’s the big one that almost got by me. A woman was looking at the jewelry as I was hovering nearby. She holds a necklace up and says, “This is a Victorian mourning necklace.” I take it from her, flip it over, and sure enough there is this amazing woven hair. My first (and continuing thought) is how the heck did I miss that when I was looking through the jewelry?!!!!

I told her I’d have to look up a price. On eBay similar pieces were selling from $50 to $600! And those pieces only had a swirl of hair nothing like the intricate piece I was holding. Plus I wasn’t sure Donna would even want to sell it. When Donna finished up with the person she was talking to, I took it over to her and explained the situation. Of course she didn’t want to sell it! Fortunately, the woman understood. If I hadn’t been standing right there or if she hadn’t said anything it would have been gone for a couple of dollars. Ugh, I’m still upset!

All of us go to garage sales to find a treasure for next to nothing. But that was a close one!

The End By the end of the sale, Donna had made some money and gotten rid of some things. What didn’t sale was sorted into piles to give away or sell on eBay. Garage sales are a lot of work, but you can also learn something unexpected.

Readers: What in your life has taught you something unexpected?

Crime Bake On A Stick 2016

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3img_1749Today we are giving away goodies from Crime Bake! It includes a Crime Bake tote bag, a filled out bingo ice breaker card (with author and attendee signatures), a folder with tablet and pen, a copy of The Writer magazine, a Crime Bake survival kit, and a moose tea candle holder (our table won it in the limerick contest — William Kent Krueger picked the winner!) Here’s our winning limerick:

At Crime Bake having a ball
We met a strange moose named Saul
We thought he was dead
From the hole in his head
But 🎹 he’s going to make it after all🎹  (we sang the last line to the tune of the Mary Tyler Moore show theme song). Leave a comment for a chance to win.

Ginger Smith was the winner of our Fan On A Stick contest and here are some of her adventures:

img_1738Ginger arrives at Crime Bake!

The first person Ginger meets is author Donna Andrews!

The first person Ginger meets is author Donna Andrews!

Ginger runs into Liz and Jessie at her first panel.

Ginger runs into Liz and Jessie at her first panel.

First panel -- Our Big Guns and How They Got There with Joseph Finder, William Kent Krueger, Leslie Meier, B.A. Shapiro and moderator Sharon Daynard

First panel — Our Big Guns and How They Got There with Joseph Finder, William Kent Krueger, Leslie Meier, B.A. Shapiro and moderator Sharon Daynard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ginger happens by the bar and meets Barb, Lea Wait, Edith, and Kate Cone. Then she spots Julie and Sheila. But wait there’s more — there’s Toni L.P. Kelner and Sid!

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Ginger meets Susan Oleksiw.

Ginger takes a break and goes up to her room. What a view!

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Back downstairs Ginger runs into the Wickeds again and author Ray Daniel.

Then it’s time for the banquet Let Loose With The Moose at the Pinewood Broiler  — a salute to William Kent Krueger’s books and Minnesota.

There’s even a dinosaur (Rhonda Lane)! img_1694

Ginger finds Sherry and author Shari Randall wearing their plaid. But who is that? It’s Rocky and Bullwinkle aka Hank Phillippi Ryan and her husband Jonathan!

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Ginger out on the dance floor with Hallie Ephron and Lucy Burdette. She bumps in to author Marian Stanley and agent Paula Munier. Then finds authors Eleanor Carwood Jones and Diane Vallere. And oh my there is William Kent Krueger and his lovely wife!

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After a wonderful day and evening Ginger is all tuckered out!

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Thanks for joining us, Ginger!

Readers: Do you have a favorite event that you attend? Leave a comment for a chance to win the Crime Bake swag!

 

New England Crime Bake Time!

By Julie, enjoying fall in Somerville.

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3Today is my day to do a giveaway! Reader’s choice–either Just Killing Time or Clock and Dagger! Comment to enter.

I missed the first New England Crime Bake, but have been to every one since. The first one I went to was the debut of the Level Best Book’s anthology. My friend Regina ran around, getting everyone’s signature on their story. “This is a goal for us,” she said to me. “To be in this book.” Two years later Regina passed away, but I think of her at every Crime Bake, and know thrilled she’d be to collect signatures on the latest Level Best anthology. I thought of her every time I signed my story in the three anthologies I was in. (My story, “Her Wish”, was inspired by Regina.)

This is part of what Crime Bake means to me. Partly a wonderful conference with fellow writers, where I learn and get inspired. But mostly it is a reunion with dear friends. Part inspiration, part therapy session, part gossip fest. The Wickeds are all together physically, which is a rare treat and my favorite part of the weekend.

What else am I looking forward to this year?

  • William Kent Krueger is the Guest of Honor. I’ve seen him on a couple of panels this past year, and know how lucky we are.
  • Learning about branding. We have a Friday night keynote about it, and a Sunday session on using podcasting to create a brand.
  • Celebrating the debut novelists. We started this last year–during “Death and Desserts” everyone with a debut novel gets a ribbon and congratulations.So great to cheer on folks who had their dream come true–I was one of them last year!
  • Spending time with Donna Andrews repping MWA and Diane Vallere repping Sisters in Crime.

We’ll report back on how the weekend went. Follow the hashtag #CrimeBake, and we’ll post this weekend.

Readers: Do you have a favorite annual conference or gathering, small or large, that you attend and look forward to all year? Writers, what’s your favorite meeting of the fans-and-fellow-authors tribe?

Crime Bake On a Stick 2015

We have so much fun with our “Stick With The Wickeds” contests. This year’s winner was Mark Baker. Mark is an avid reader and reviewer of cozy mysteries and has a wonderful blog Carstairs Considers! So here are some pictures of Mark’s adventures.

Mark takes in the view from his hotel room. IMG_6071He spots Wickeds Liz Mugavero, Kim Gray, and Julie Hennrikus and stops to pose for a picture. IMG_6073Donna Andrews jokes around with Mark. IMG_6075Whoa, is that Dorothy Cannell? Mark rushes over for a photo op. IMG_6077Shawn Reilly Simmons, one of the new Level Best editors, stops to pose with Mark. IMG_6080Mark heads to a panel. IMG_6104After the panel Mark runs into Jungle Red Writers, Hallie Ephron, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Lucy Burdette.IMG_6108IMG_6103IMG_6120

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Authors Marni Graff and Leslie Budewitz greet Mark.IMG_6092

Mark meets debut authors Sherry Harris, Cheryl Hollon, and Michelle Dorsey.IMG_6141IMG_6137IMG_6101

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark takes a quick water break before heading back out to meet more people. IMG_6099Mark is happy to run into Wickeds Barbara Ross and Sheila Connolly.IMG_6096IMG_6087

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark rushes over to meet author Kate Flora. IMG_6131Then he spots author Peter Abrahams aka Spencer Quinn. (Let us say Peter was a bit startled by the fan on the stick but gamely posed for a picture, followed by a lovely conversation!) IMG_6109

Mark takes in another panel.

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After the panel Mark finds lots of people hanging out — first he runs into Wickeds Jessie Crockett and Liz Mugavero. IMG_6127Jessie and Liz are joined by G.M. Malliett, Edith Maxwell, and Ruth McCarty.

IMG_6139Soon Mark finds himself in a large group of writers and readers. IMG_6154

Mark goes to the new author panel.IMG_6133

It’s time for the banquet. Mark spots Toni L.P. Kelner with her husband Stephan Kelner and, of course, Sid.IMG_6156Next he finds Phryne Fisher (Edith Maxwell) and Hercule Poirot (Cheryl Hollon).IMG_6169After the banquet Mark poses for a picture with the Wickeds.IMG_6204After a wonderful time at Crime Bake, Mark needs a bit of rest. IMG_6221The next morning before heading back to Southern California Mark goes to Starbucks and meets Lily. IMG_6234IMG_6238

 

Readers: Do you have a favorite author fan (pun intended) moment? Is there an author you hope to meet some day?

Wickeds on a Stick at Bouchercon!

As we said on Wednesday, Jessie, Liz, and Barb couldn’t make it to Bouchercon this year, so the other Wickeds oh-so-graciously, took them on a stick.

Wickeds, what did Jessie, Liz, and Barb get up to at Bouchercon?

Answer: A lot! 

The Wickeds set off from Northern Virginia with Barb Goffman behind the wheel, Donna Andrews riding shotgun, and Shari Randall and Sherry Harris as backseat drivers.

Check out the rearview mirror!

Check out the rear view mirror!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shari Randall is happy the Wickeds are on our road trip.

Shari Randall is happy the Wickeds are on our road trip.

Art Taylor who is also from Northern Virginia is the first person the Wickeds run into after check in!

Art Taylor who is also from Northern Virginia is the first person the Wickeds run into after check in!

 

Dinner with reviewer and author Patti Phillips!

Dinner with reviewer and author Patti Phillips!

 

Walking the mean (okay really nice) streets of Raleigh and meet fan Karen Palmer.

Walking the mean (okay really nice) streets of Raleigh and meet fan Karen Palmer.

A beer and barbecue nachos hit the spot.

A beer and barbecue nachos hit the spot.

Lunch time for the Wickeds.

Lunch time for the Wickeds.

 

The Wickeds go to a panel moderated by Catronia McPherson and panelists Kaitlyn Dunnett and Leslie Budewitz.

The Wickeds go to a panel moderated by Catronia McPherson and panelists Kaitlyn Dunnett and Leslie Budewitz.

 

Authors Matthew Clemens and Catriona McPherson.

Authors Matthew Clemens and Catriona McPherson.

 

 

The Wickeds are always happy to see Hank Phillippi Ryan.

The Wickeds are always happy to see Hank Phillippi Ryan.

 

Liz, Barb, Jessie, and Sherry go to see how the silent auction for the Wicked items is going!

Liz, Barb, Jessie, and Sherry go to see how the silent auction for the Wicked items is going!

 

Reader Risa Rispoli and the Wickeds.

Reader Risa Rispoli and the Wickeds.

 

Toasting Julie Hennrikus's debut book Just Killing Time.

Toasting Julie Hennrikus’s debut book Just Killing Time.

Liz, Barb, and Jessie are so happy to run into Dorothy Cannell.

Liz, Barb, and Jessie are so happy to run into Dorothy Cannell.

 

Happy to run into authors Julie Hennrikus, Leslie Budewitz, Kathryn O'Sullivan, and Nancy Herriman!

Happy to run into authors Julie Hennrikus, Leslie Budewitz, Kathryn O’Sullivan, and Nancy Herriman!

 

A panel with debut author C. Michelle Dorsey. She talks about her book No Virgin Island.

A panel with debut author C. Michelle Dorsey. She talks about her book No Virgin Island.

Dinner with one editor and two thriller writers.

Dinner with one editor and two thriller writers.

Look! It's author Alan Orloff and his wife Janet.

Look! It’s author Alan Orloff and his wife Janet.

The Wickeds wouldn't miss Hank Phillippi Ryan moderating a panel.

The Wickeds wouldn’t miss Hank Phillippi Ryan moderating a panel.

 

Lunch -- more Southern ood! Grits, barbecue, charred carrots, and sweet potatoes!

Lunch — more Southern food! Grits, barbecue, charred carrots, and sweet potatoes!

 

New England authors Kate Flora, Kathy Lee Emerson, and Edith.

New England authors Kate Flora, Kathy Lee Emerson, and Edith.

Leslie Budewitz and Cheryl Hollon love Liz, Barb, and Jessie.

Leslie Budewitz and Cheryl Hollon love Liz, Barb, and Jessie.

 

Attending the panel Julie Hennrikus was on. Debra Goldstein was the moderator.

Attending the panel Julie Hennrikus was on. Debra Goldstein was the moderator.

The Wickeds once again run into Karen Palmer who they met the very first night. She won their basket at the silent auction!

The Wickeds once again run into Karen Palmer who they met the very first night. She won our basket at the silent auction!

They are really excited to see Molly Weston who is on the board of Sisters in Crime and does the wicked awesome newsletter.

They are really excited to see Molly Weston who is on the board of Sisters in Crime and does the wicked awesome newsletter.

 

And last but definitely not least they run into Sarah Glass the amazing webmaster for Sisters in Crime.

And last but definitely not least they run into Sarah Glass the amazing webmaster for Sisters in Crime.

 

 

 

 

All in all there was lots of food, friends and fun but Liz, Barb, and Jessie are wicked tired!

Readers: Do you have a favorite moment from a conference you attended?

We Have a Winner — guest Donna Andrews

We are so happy Donna Andrews could join us today.

nightingale_before_christmas_-_tilted_eWhen my latest book, The Nightingale Before Christmas, came out, I notified the readers on my email mailing list with a short newsletter. Since I also had a Meg Langslow short story—and a Christmas story at that–in Homicidal Holidays, the latest book in the acclaimed Chesapeake Crimes short story anthology series, I decided to have a drawing to give away a few copies of Homicidal Holidays. And to make the giveaway more fun, I asked people who entered to tell me “which of Meg’s friends and family members is your favorite character?”

A hands-down winner emerged: over a third of the readers who responded chose Meg’s father, Dr. James Langslow, as their favorite. Since Dad was inspired by my own father, this doesn’t displease me at all. Not even the fact that Dad got more votes than Meg herself, because the way I asked the question did rather suggest that I meant “other than Meg”–although in spite of that, a few people simply listed her as their favorite and others began their emails with variants on “well, apart from Meg herself, of course.” But Dad was definitely the winner.

I didn’t require people to tell me why they chose the characters they did, but many of them did anyway—which was really kind of cool. I wasn’t planning a survey, but that’s what it turned out to be. I thought I’d share some of the reasons people cited for choosing Dad as their favorite—with the authors’ permission, of course.

I like his zest for life, and his resemblance to the Elephant’s Child–who was full of ‘satiable curiosity,” Sue Kamm says.

He seems to be such a Renaissance man with so many interests and hobbies,” reports Lauri Walker. “I just get a kick out of him with every book.”

He has mellowed over the last few books,” Sharon Kay says. “He is not as manic. Dad is a wonderful person, gave his children a life-long interest in animals, flora, medicine and mysteries whether they wanted it or not.”

Dr. Langslow is the perfect combination of confusion, intelligence, and curiosity in a fumbling, bumbling, eager-puppy sort of way,” Happy Herbert says. “He’s very endearing, and I love when he gets involved in the actual escapades, not merely just rushing in to apply some medical skills. I would enjoy seeing him and Meg team up to solve a mystery/crime.”

He’s hilarious, smart, inquisitive and tackles everything with gusto!” according to Peggy Woods. “He’s always ready to offer his medical services and thinks that Meg is capable of anything.”

Maureen Niford calls him “adorably bumbling but also brilliant,” and Denese reports that “Even after thinking about it for a while, I’m going with the first character to pop into my head: Meg’s dad. He’s just so likeable!”

He is quirky, and fun,” Jessie Secrest says. “I think that he is more intelligent than what he lets on in the stories–he is a doctor. He is always encouraging his children and grands from a more sidelines role, allowing them to grow and shine. He’s just cool.”

I think the character who makes me happiest when he enters the scene is Meg’s dad,” says Elizabeth Gosney. “Who can resist Dr. Langslow’s childlike enthusiasm and unfailing confidence in Meg’s ability to solve any problem?”

emusI think if Meg’s dad were reading this, he’d be blushing with pleasure, and perhaps exclaiming some variation on Sally Field’s famous “You like me, right now you like me!” But you don’t need to worry about him getting a swelled head—in another five minutes he will be off to treat a particularly fascinating medical case or collect cuttings from an interesting new (and probably poisonous) plant cultivar. And there’s nothing more exhilarating for a writer than to know her characters resonate with the readers—though I, too, am unlikely to get puffed up because all too soon I will be trying to think up another plot, with the added pressure of worrying about whether I’m giving not only Dad but all the reader favorites a large enough role.

But who else turned out to be a reader favorite? I’m keeping that a secret for now. Partly because I’m going to reveal the rest of the survey results later this month at the Femmes Fatales blog—and partly so I can offer a challenge: if you can guess which character came in second in my informal reader poll, you’ll be entered to win a copy of Homicidal Holidays. Heck, I’ll even throw in a second copy to be randomly given away to someone who guesses wrong.

DonnaAndrews057Many thanks to the Wicked Cozies for letting me share the results of my accidental survey.

Donna Andrews was born in Yorktown, Virginia, the setting of Murder with Peacocks and Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos, and now lives and works in Reston, Virginia. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she’s messing in the garden.

 

Readers do you have a favorite character from Donna’s books?