The Skeleton Gives a Test

News: Robeader is the randomly selected winner of Marni Graff’s book! Please contact Marni at

I am happy to welcome back Leigh Perry aka Toni L.P. Kelner. She is giving away a copy of The Skeleton Paints a Picture to one of our commenters! See details below!

By Leigh Perry

It’s been many moons since I attended school, but with the October 10 release of The Skeleton Paints a Picture, I’ve been living in the head of a fictional academic for a number of years. It’s the fourth in my Family Skeleton series featuring adjunct English professor Georgia Thackery and her best friend, an ambulatory skeleton named Sid. Sid walks, he talks, and he tells bone jokes.

This latest adventure is set at an art school, which is a different kind of setting for Georgia and Sid, but it’s still academia, and I guess it’s finally rubbed in. I’m in the mood to toss a pop quiz in your direction. And naturally, I have bones on the brain!

So take a crack—not a bone crack, mind you—at these. Post your answers down below, and on Oct. 24, I’ll figure out who has the most answers write and send that person a signed copy or The Skeleton Paints a Picture. (Or an electronic edition or Audible download, if you prefer.) In case of a tie, I’ll draw a name from the contenders!

  1. Which character on the original series Star Trek went by the nickname, “Bones?”
  2. From what were dice originally made?
  3. The TV show Bones was based on the life and works of what forensic anthropologist and author?
  4. The Skull and Bones is a secret society at what Ivy League school?
  5. What is the longest bone in the human body?
  6. What are the three bones in the human ear?
  7. What is produced by the marrow in bones?
  8. Does the average woman have one more rib bone then a man?
  9. Who wrote and illustrated the epic comic book Bone?
  10. The appearance of sea dog Billy Bones begins what classic book?
  11. Are human bones considered an organ?
  12. An adult human has approximately how many bones in their bodies?  206; 228; or 270?
  13. What bone makes the kneecap?
  14. The tomb of what literary giant is inscribed, “Cursed be he that moves my bones?”
  15. What royal bones were found under a parking lot in England?
  16. What is the bone at the very bottom of the spine?
  17. What adversary did the British derisively refer to as “Old Boney?”
  18. Which Shakespearean character’s speech included the line, “The evil men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones?”
  19. Do giraffes have fewer, the same number, or more vertebrae in their neck than humans?
  20. Put on display for much of his early life, and then living in London Hospital, Joseph Merrick suffered from a variety of skin and bone abnormalities and is known to popular culture by what name?

Note: These questions were provided by the incredibly erudite pair of trivia mavens Merely Players, who provide trivia quizzes and character appearances at venues throughout the Charlotte, NC area. They are available for birthday parties, corporate events, and educational presentations. (And are some of the smartest people you will ever meet.) You can find them on Facebook at:

Leigh Perry writes the Family Skeleton mysteries featuring adjunct English professor Georgia Thackery and her best friend, an ambulatory skeleton named Sid. The Skeleton Paints a Picture is the fourth, and most recent. As Toni L.P. Kelner, she’s the co-editor of paranormal fiction anthologies with Charlaine Harris; the author of eleven mystery novels; and an Agatha Award winner and multiple award nominee for short fiction. No matter what you call her, she lives north of Boston with her husband, two daughters, one guinea pig, and an every-increasing number of books.

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!


Ginger meets Susan Oleksiw.

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



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!


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!


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


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!


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.


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?

Wicked Good Reads: Crime Bake Authors

We’re all headed to the New England Crime Bake tomorrow. Here are some of the books we’re planning to read by authors attending the conference. Tomorrow we’ll try to post live, and will do a report on Monday. Stay tuned!evil-days-new-lg

Edith: I plan to acquire, have signed, and read as soon as possible both Jessie’s Drizzled With Death, since I’m late on that one, and Julia Spencer-Fleming’s new Through The Evil Days. I love her series and can’t wait to dive in.

Liz: Me too, Edith! I finished Drizzled With Death on a recent business trip and loved it – now I just need Jessie’s signature. Love Julia Spencer-Fleming and the Clare/Russ series also. And, I have Daniel Palmer’s Stolen in my to-be-read pile also.

stoneColdcoverSherry: I’m looking forward to reading the Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold anthology by Level Best Books. It’s a book full of short stories set in New England. Perfect reading for those long winter nights! I am also looking forward to A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry (aka Toni L.P. Kelner).

Barb: I need two, too. Katherine Hall Page’s The Body in the Piazza and Linda Barnes The Perfect Ghost. I’ll also be reading Through the Evil Days. I love that series.

Jessie: There are three that I am itching to acquire, complete with autographs: Lucy Burdette’s Topped Chef, Michael Nethercott’s The Seance Society and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The Wrong Girl. It looks like a great season for reading!

Julie: I am moderating a panel on YA mysteries, and really enjoyed reading the books. They included Peter Abraham’s Echo Falls series (Down the Rabbit Hole is the first one), Kate Burak’s Emily’s Dress and Other Missing Things, Beth Kanell’s Cold Midnight, and Kim Harrington’s The Dead and Buried.

Manuscript Sent — What’s Next?

By Sherry Harris

Last week the Wickeds and I had a conversation about what they did the day after hitting the send button. I’m looking forward (in November) to my “day after” submission and asked some fellow authors what they did after hitting send.

Sheila Connolly: Start the next book? Kidding, I think. My editor is usually so backed up that I know I won’t see edits for months, so I can stop thinking about that book for a while. I guess the next step is to purge the finished book from my mind to make room for whatever the next one is—and there usually is one. So I have to forcibly evict one set of characters to let the others in for their time on stage.

I don’t seem to know what to do with down time. Something physical. I’ve re-caned four chairs, and I’m currently stripping a side table to refinish. It’s nice to switch gears and do something that has a physical result. Mind you, it took me ten years to get those chairs done, and I’m a year into the stripping process now!

il_fullxfull.2283478601Barb Goffman: It’s exciting to reach the point of submitting a short story. By that point I’ve plugged any plot holes. I’ve added description (something I tend to forget during the first draft). I’ve polished the writing and have reached the point where I’m happy—perhaps delighted—with the story. I’m hopeful, every hopeful, that the editor will like it, too. So I hit send (or, in some cases, mail the story at the post office) and then…I obsess about the story.

Yep. For a day or two at least, my mind will return to the story over and over. Has the editor read it yet? (Hardly likely.) Is she reading it right now? Maybe this will be an unusual case and I’ll hear a glowing “I love it” right away. (Dare to dream.) At the same time, I’ll be mentally slapping my cheek, telling myself to stop obsessing; I won’t hear for a while so I should think about something else. Anything else.

Sometimes that something else will be another story. Coming up with an idea, making notes, (cleaning up my desk’s notes from the prior story to make room for the new notes), and writing. Blessed writing. It helps if I have a deadline approaching, as I work well under pressure.

11040535-bucket-and-window-cleaning-equipment-over-white-backgroundRoberta Isleib (aka Lucy Burdette): Unbelievable as it might sound, I’ve been saving the job of rooting through my closet and throwing out clothes for after the manuscript was turned in J. So I headed there as soon as I hit send. In the pile: long underwear for skiing (I haven’t been 8iin ten years and can’t imagine going again. Besides, there’s not much call for long underwear in Key West! Also going to get a pedicure. And tackle the long “to-do” list on my desk. And make almond cloud cookies. And go to the library tomorrow to look at children’s picture books—might be my next project. And of course, immediately thought of some ideas that might make the book stronger—restrained myself from emailing editor and asking for it back. I’ll see it again soon anyway…

Toni L.P. Kelner: Panic is definitely on the list, but the major steps are: 1) Do the happy dance 2) Play a computer game or two or three 3) Start obsessively watching email from my editor to see if she likes it.

Edith Maxwell: I felt like a weight was lifted the day after I submitted my second Local Foods mystery. I set up Scrivener and went through the tutorial. I spent some time in the historical archives of my town library, researching for another series. I brainstormed Book Three! I wanted to go to the beach, but those pesky rainstorms and threatened tornadoes kept me away. I fully intended to open the bottle of chilled champagne but settled for a nice G&T instead.

Liz Mugavero: Ugh, my day after was spent in an 8 hour class studying for my Series 6 license. Yep, I sure know how to party! In the evening I went to my Chinese healer for some Tong Ren therapy. And of course, I worried about both the last one and the next one!

mixed-drinkKathryn O’Sullivan:  The first thing I do, since I’ve usually been in my writer’s cave as a deadline approaches, is take a shower. Then I go out to eat with my husband and have a key lime or lemon drop martini (or some other tasty concoction) to celebrate. The next day I tackle cleaning my office and, inevitably, my mind drifts back to the manuscript or play that I sent off and I panic about something I’d already like to rewrite or change.

Sara Rosett: After I send the manuscript off, I usually do something to celebrate. Go see a movie, dinner at my favorite Mexican food restaurant, something like that. I always say I’m going to take a day to relax, but I’m always thinking about the next book–plotting and planning in my head even when I’m “off.”

Barbara Ross: The day after I handed book one in, I also took a class. It was the last day of the Grub Street Launch Lab, and I was desperate to go, to the point I handed in the book a day early. This time I’m supposed to be going to Ecuador (to join Julian Assange and Ed Snowden?) the day after I hand my book in. Oy.

What do you do after submitting your manuscript? Celebrate? Panic? Or plot– there seems to be a lot of plotting going on!

Did Liz Miss Malice or Did Malice Miss Liz?

Liz Mugavero couldn’t make it to the Malice Domestic conference so Jessie Crockett made sure Liz was with us — sort of!

All the Wicked Cozy authors! Barbara Ross, Edith Maxwell, Jessie Crocket, Sherry Harris, Julie Hennrikus

All the Wicked Cozy authors!

Julie and Sherry miss Liz! Julie Hennrikus, Sherry Harris and Liz MugaveroWhen in doubt, Barb Ross and Edith Maxwell ask: What Would Liz Do?Barbara Ross, Edith Maxwell, Liz MugaveroThings turn serious in a discussion with Liz!Barbara Ross, Edith Maxwell, Liz MugaveroLiz hangs out with famous authors!

Sara J. Henry and Louise Penny pose with Liz Mugavero!

Sara J. Henry and Louise Penny pose with Liz!

Liz  Mugavero and Toni L. P. Kelner having fun at Malice!

Liz and Toni L. P. Kelner having fun at Malice!

After the banquet a drink at the bar with Barb, Edith and Jessie!Barbara Ross, Edith Maxwell, Jessie Crockett

After a long day at Malice Liz needs her beauty rest.Author Liz Mugavero

Refreshed after a good nights sleep Liz visits with Wicked Adjunct Author Sheila Connolly.Sheila Connolly and Liz Mugavero

We’ve assured Liz that despite a flat affect and flat hair, she had a marvelous time at Malice.

Where would you like to go? Bouchercon? The New England Crime Bake? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll take one lucky winner with us.

Liz: I am still laughing about this. Hysterically. And honored to have such wonderful friends. I was planning to go next year, but I wonder if I’d have as much fun as “Flat Liz” did? What do you think?

Edith: We missed Full Liz, but greatly enjoyed taking her around with us on a stick, and Sherry and I didn’t mind sharing our hotel room with her at all!

Julie: I loved having Flat Liz with us. I am a little troubled that she met more authors than I did (Louise Penny!), but I can work on that for next time. Excellent Addition to the weekend!