G is for . . . Goodbye

From Jane/Sadie/Susannah, who is heading off on retreat in Vermont tomorrow and can’t wait …

Hey, Wicked People. Don’t let the title of this post surprise (or, dare I say, concern) you. I’m not going anywhere, except on the aforementioned retreat. But the mystery world got some sad news last month: the death of beloved mystery author Sue Grafton. That’s the goodbye I’m talking about.

While I never met her in person (I was not at the Crime Bake she attended, and it’s probably just as well because I would have fangirled all over her and embarrassed everyone), I have been deeply influenced by her work. Yes, I have read every single one of her novels, in order. She, along with Diane Mott Davidson, Janet Evanovich, and Rett MacPherson, are the modern authors who inspired me to write a mystery. Not only did these writers get me started toward living my own dream of authorship, they’ve given me countless hours of reading pleasure. How many people you’ve never met can you truthfully say changed your life? And when my first Sadie novel came out (Yarned and Dangerous), it was shelved right next to Sue Grafton’s book X at my Barnes and Noble. I actually cried. I sometimes still tear up when I think about it.

When I heard about her death, my first, very selfish thought, was But What About Z???? Which was followed almost immediately by guilt at my self-centeredness and then empathy for her family. I too have lost more family members than I care to count to lingering illnesses, so believe me, I understand something of what they went through. It didn’t take me long to realize that the family is absolutely right to carry out Sue’s wishes that the alphabet –and the series–now ends at Y. (Although, again, selfishly, I really hoped that she had finished that last manuscript and that it would be released).

Before I got there, though, I did the But Surely exercise. But surely she left notes! But surely she told someone what was going to happen to Kinsey! But surely somebody could finish that novel…

And then, I thought back to another author who left an unfinished manuscript: Elizabeth Peters (a/k/a Barbara Michaels/Barbara Mertz) . She died while The Painted Queen was in process and it was finished by her friend Joan Hess (who also recently passed). And while Joan, who is a legend in her own right, did a really good job, it just wasn’t the same. And it couldn’t be the same, not ever, because there was only one Elizabeth Peters. Just like there was only one Joan Hess. And one Sue Grafton. And one you, dear reader. So I’m just going to be grateful for what these authors gave me, and stop gluttonously wishing for more.

And now I get the joy of imagining my own ending to the series. I’m certain I know which guy she ended up with (it’s been fairly obvious to me for quite  few books where that was going). I’m less certain, but suspicious, about the fate of Henry, Kinsey’s nonagenarian landlord, and her cousin Anna’s onboard passenger, and whether Kinsey will break down and get some 1990-vintage electronics.

If you haven’t read the series, who are the authors whose work you miss dreadfully? If you have, any predictions about what happened to Kinsey after the events of Y is for Yesterday?



Regional Traditions and a Giveaway

By Jane/Susannah/Sadie, who’s still not sick of turkey on the last day of November…

Thankful for Our Readers Giveaway: I’m giving away a copy of Yarned and Dangerous, book 1 of the Tangled Web Mysteries. Leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Sunset view from my cabin

I spent this past Thanksgiving, as I have most every Thanksgiving for the last twenty years, in Northern New York State , where I have rustic (don’t get jealous–I mean it when I say rustic) but comfortable cabin on a lake. On Thanksgiving day, my husband, son, and I trek out through the woods to, well, Grandmother’s house. Or at least my son’s grandmother, my mom.

Like most families, we have our traditional foods to go with the turkey (not all of which everyone actually enjoys): winter squash (usually Hubbard), sage dressing, green bean casserole, cranberry relish (click here for a recipe), crumb-topped apple pie, and of course pumpkin pie. I will leave it to you to figure out which thing on this list is almost universally disliked in the family, but which we have every year anyway because that’s the way it’s done.

But there are certain regional delicacies we have at every gathering, not just Thanksgiving: cheese curds and Croghan bologna (pronounce that “cro-gun bull-o-nee,” please). I would venture to say that most every family, and certainly any with roots deeper than three generations, in the North Country also has these items as appetizers before the main meal on special days.

So what’s a cheese curd? The North Country has a lot of cows and a lot of dairy farms, which means we make cheese. The curds are a byproduct of cheesemaking, and have a flavor somewhere between mozzarella and a mild cheddar, depending on what cheese they’re a byproduct of. When fresh, which is really the best way to eat them, these little misshapen lumps squeak when you chew them. They are usually eaten cold, but they can also occasionally be breaded and deep fried, or made into the French-Canadian, becoming-sorta-trendy treat poutine–french fries and cheese curds covered in hot gravy. Although most people don’t make poutine at home. It’s easier to order out.

Curds and Croghan on a Grinch-colored plate

Now, for the Croghan bologna. This is a type of ring bologna–more of a sausage, really–which has been manufactured in the tiny town of Croghan, NY at the Croghan Meat Market (click here for more information and for photos) for more than a hundred years. The recipe, which came with the market’s founder, Fred Hunziker, from Switzerland, is a closely guarded secret. This is always eaten cold, sliced into rounds about a quarter of an inch thick, sometimes on a cracker (it fits perfectly on a Ritz), or sometimes topped with a cheese curd or a bit of mustard. I suppose some people might heat it up for breakfast, or make it into a sandwich, but in general that’s a no-no.

If it’s Grade B, it’s for me!

The breakfast of choice for the day after Thanksgiving, or Christmas or Easter morning, is pancakes with local maple syrup. In the North Country, most of us like the dark syrup rather than the lighter, more-desirable-other-places amber. I don’t know that I have a particularly discriminating palate, but I can tell the difference between North Country syrup and Vermont. Sorry, Vermont, but I likes what I knows, and my syrup of choice will always be from New York.

For a chance to win a copy of YARNED AND DANGEROUS, leave a comment below, telling us about your favorite regional foods. If you don’t have any, tell us what you think that hated food item is that I reference in paragraph 4, above. You don’t have to be right to win, LOL!


It Never Gets Old

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, enjoying a cool breeze and a hot cup of coffee…

This week I’m ecstatic that my fifth novel, A KNIT BEFORE DYING, is now out into the world. You’d think I’d be less excited this time around, but nope! It’s just as fresh and new and amazing and scary as when FETA ATTRACTION released a couple of years ago. I can say, though, that I think this one is the best, most complicated mystery I’ve ever done. Shhhh! It’s my favorite among my book children, even though we’re not supposed to play favorites, right?

So to celebrate the new book and the approach of autumn, when soft yarnish things and cozy mysteries are exactly what we need to settle ourselves in for the months ahead, I’m giving away two copies of the first book in the series, YARNED AND DANGEROUS. 

Just leave a comment below, telling us either what book(s)you’re reading now (if you’re like me, you have several going at once), or tell me about your pets. Brownie points if you’re reading a book by a Wicked or a Wicked Accomplice, or you own or have owned a tuxedo cat, but neither thing is required, LOL! The giveaway closes at 11:59 p.m., EST, on August 31, 2017. Good luck, and big hugs to all you wonderful writers and readers!


Some Book News

Jane/Susannah/Sadie here, just back from a lovely weekend in Maine, where I taught a class and hung out with the Maine Romance Writers…

Yarned and Dangerous Cover(And no, I don’t feel like I got enough Maine, so I’ll have to schedule a trip back there soon. For sure I didn’t eat my quota of lobster, which warrants a return in itself!)

For the first time in my relatively short career as a published author (Feta Attraction came out in January, 2015, followed by Olive and Let Die and Yarned and Dangerous last fall), one of my books has been deeply discounted! I love a bargain as much as anyone (I don’t believe I’ve ever paid full sticker price for any pair of shoes or article of clothing in my entire shopping life), so I got all tingly when I found out the ebook of Yarned and Dangerous was going on sale. It’s now $2.99 (regular price $9.99), so that’s 70% off. But it’s only for another ten days, so if you’ve been wanting to try out this new series, or if you need an ebook to take with you when you sneak away for a tiny respite from the family picnic this Memorial Day weekend, now’s a great time to pick this one up.

A Killer Kebab CoverAnd while we’re talking about books, the third installment of my Greek to Me series, A Killer Kebab, is now available for preorder. Here’s the blurb:

The Bonaparte House is closed for the season, and Georgie Nikolopatos looks forward to fixing up the Greek restaurant and historic landmark—until her renovation plans hit a fatal snag.
With her divorce underway, her mother-in-law returning to Greece, and the tourists gone, Georgie finally has life under control—and the Bonaparte House to herself. She quickly hires a contractor for some much-needed renovations to reopen in time for a special Greek-style Thanksgiving meal. Georgie is suspicious though when former dishwasher Russ Riley arrives with the construction crew. He still has an ax to grind with the Nikolopatos family—but is it sharp enough to kill?
When Georgie finds the body of her divorce lawyer amid the construction debris and Russ is quickly arrested for murder, something about the case doesn’t add up. While Georgie is no fan of Russ, even a bad egg deserves a crack at justice.

I had such fun writing this book and introducing some new characters as well as bringing back some from the first two. Georgie’s divorce lawyer is found skewered by the restaurant’s gyro spit on the floor of the gutted (ew, sorry!) ladies’ room of the Bonaparte House restaurant. But lots of people had access to the spit and to the restaurant, and lots of people had reasons to want James MacNamara, Esq., dead. And, if you’ve ever wondered about the true origins of Thousand Island dressing–if you’re anything like me, this sort of thing keeps you up at night–look no further than A Killer Kebab, which contains what I believe to be the original recipe.

Now, I’m off to prepare for my family Memorial Day celebration–I have quite a bit of food prep to do, and no commercial kitchen to do it in, like my heroine Georgie does! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with great weather, friends, family, barbeque, and just the right number of potato salads.

Wicked Wednesday–Knit One, Purl Two

yarn4We’re celebrating the release of Sadie Hartwell’s Yarned and Dangerous. So Wickeds, here’s a question for you. Do you knit? If yes, tell us why. If no, have you ever tried? Done it? Success or no? What were the results?

Sherry: My mom had someone give my sister and I knitting lessons once upon a time. For years I moved the two needles with the twenty rows of not-so-neatly knitted pink yarn attached around the country with me. I don’t think I ever made it beyond knit to purl. I admire the dedication and concentration it takes to knit. Who knows maybe some day I’ll give it another try.

yarn1Liz: I’m hopeless at stuff like this. My mother had tried to teach me to sew and crochet, but I really just wanted her to leave me alone so I could read…

Julie: I do indeed knit. My grandmother taught me, and I’ve kept it up. In fact, I have rediscovered it lately–it is meditative. I have been mostly tackling hats and socks lately–quick projects. But I think I may work on a sweater for one of the nieces. PS, Sherry, we have a couple of trips coming up. Maybe I’ll teach you how to knit at LCC.

yarn2Jessie: I am a passionate knitter! I agree with Julie about its meditative properties. I keep a ball of yarn that I like the feel of and a pair of needles on my desk and whenever I get stuck whilst writing I just knit back and forth, making nothing at all. Something about it unlocks my brain. I also love how it is an entirely different sort of creative pursuit than writing and yet the two practices have so much in common. Each is built on one small unit, a stitch or a word, placed with other and another and another until you have created something wonderful to share.

yarn3Barb: My paternal grandmother was a fabulous knitter. I still have some of the things she made me, 35+ years after her death. She tried to teach me, but I have the manual dexterity of the six-fingered sloth. (They probably have great manual dexterity–but with six fingers. Which is how I type.) My sister-in-law, Ann Ross, however, is a tremendous knitter. She teaches and is an all-around knitting maven at GoshYarnIt, a yarn boutique in Kingston, PA. (She took these beautiful photos.) Ann coached me enough that I could put a knitting clue in “Bread Baby,” my Agatha-nominated short story. Julia knits in the next Maine Clambake Mystery, Fogged Inn, but not with good results, I’m afraid.

Edith: I learned to knit in high school. And promptly got kicked out of senior biology for knitting in class (there was some attitude attached to it, you can be sure). In the winter I always have a longing to knit, but since I only pick it up every five years or so, I kind of have to reteach myself. Made a couple of sweaters with spectacularly long sleeves for my sons when they were younger, and realized I really should just stick to scarves. I am a much better seamstress, though, in my defense!

Readers: Do you knit, crochet, needlepoint, sew? Do you like mysteries that incorporate these skills?

Happy Book Birthday, Sadie Hartwell!

Meet Coco, Josie's catLadies and Gentlemen, today we are celebrating the release of Yarned and Dangerous, the first book in Sadie Hartwell’s Tangled Web Mystery series. It’s a special occasion because Sadie Hartwell is our own Wicked Accomplice, Jane Haertel, aka, Susannah Hardy. That’s right, this hard-working author had her first pub this year, then earlier this month released Olive and Let Die, the second book in her Greek to Me Mystery series, and now her third book this year.

Here’s the low down on Yarned and Dangerous.

Time has not been kind to sleepy Dorset Falls, Connecticut, where an erstwhile resident is hoping to bring a tattered yarn shop back to life—but with a murderer on the loose, the whole town is in knots…

Josie Blair left Dorset Falls twelve years ago in hopes of making it big in New York City. But after earning an overpriced master’s degree and getting fired by a temperamental designer, she finds herself heading back to her hometown. Her great-uncle was injured in a car accident, and newly unemployed Josie is the only person available to take care of him. Uncle Eb’s wife didn’t survive the crash, so Josie is also tasked with selling the contents of her Aunt Cora’s yarn shop. But the needling ladies of the Charity Knitters Association pose a far bigger challenge than a shop full of scattered skeins…

Miss Marple Knits is one of the few businesses still open in the dreary downtown. Josie can’t imagine how it stayed open for so long, yet something about the cozy, resilient little shop appeals to her. But when one of the town’s most persnickety knitters turns up dead in a pile of cashmere yarn, Josie realizes there’s something truly twisted lurking beneath the town’s decaying façade…


Wickeds, wish Sadie a Happy Book Birthday!

Sherry: I don’t know very much about knitting but this sounds deliciously creepy! I love the sound of a town that’s decaying and the contrast of this wonderful yarn shop. Congratulations, Sadie!

Liz: I confess I’m not a knitter either but this series might convert me! Sounds great, Sadie. Wishing you a great launch!

Julie: Happy Book Birthday!! I am a knitter, and love yarn shop mysteries. Can’t wait to visit Miss Marple Knits, and get to know Josie!

Barb: I was lucky enough to get to read this in advance. Spoiler alert! I loved it. Here’s what I said. “A tale of murder and intrigue that will ensnare knitters and non-knitters alike. I couldn’t put it down.” You guys are in for a treat!

Jessie: I’m a passionate knitter and, of course, a lover of mysteries. What could be better than combining two of my favorite things? I’ve really been looking forward to this release!

Edith: I love the name of the yarn store! And got my own copy of the book yesterday from Sadie, complete with autograph. Top on the TBR pile. Congratulations, Sadie/Susannah/Jane.

Readers: Doesn’t this book sound awesome? Doesn’t anybody want to know about Sadie’s yarn skills? Ask her a question!

Meet Sadie Hartwell

Hey, Wicked People, it’s Jane/Susannah, back from her little cabin in the North Woods and happy to be home and back at work and away from the mosquitoes.

Today I thought I’d introduce you to, well, me. Another me.

Meet Coco, Josie's cat

Meet Coco, Josie’s cat

Most of you know about my Greek to Me Mysteries, starting with Feta Attraction which released in January. The second book in that series, Olive and Let Die, releases November 3 and is available for preorder now (everybody knows how much preorders help an author, right? Right.).

But what I haven’t generally made known until today is that I have a new series debuting in November. On November 24, I will release Yarned and Dangerous, Book 1 of the Tangled Web Mysteries from Kensington. A new publisher means a new pen name. And do you love this cover or what?

I had SO much fun writing this book. My main character, Josie Blair, moved away from Dorset Falls, Connecticut, right after high school to pursue a career in fashion design. But when her crotchety great-uncle, Eben Lloyd, breaks his leg in a car accident, the same accident that killed Cora, his wife of a few months, Josie’s the only one available to care for him. While she’s there, she is tasked with closing up Cora’s yarn shop, even though she doesn’t know anything about knitting. But the day after she arrives, one of the shop’s regular customers ends up dead, lying on a pile of expensive cashmere yarn in the storeroom. Josie begins to investigate, and in the process learns a little about herself, and a lot about what she wants–and doesn’t want–for her life.

Sadie Hartwell Author PhotoHere’s what somebody we all know and love had to say about Yarned and Dangerous:

“A tale of murder and intrigue that will ensnare knitters and non-knitters alike. I couldn’t put it down.”—Barbara Ross, author of Musseled Out


Thanks, Barb!
Sadie’s website, Facebook, and Twitter will be live soon.
I hope you’ll join me–the Sadie Hartwell me–in November!