Who is your favorite fictional professor?

The Chronicle of Higher Education wants to know: Who is your favorite fictional professor?

Fictional characters exhibit some of the distinct qualities — whether weird, malicious, or magical — of real-life instructors. So we want to know: Who is your favorite fictional professor?

To respond, fill out this form. The Chronicle of Higher Education plans to share the responses in future coverage.


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New Ex-Nun Cozy: The Clock Strikes Nun by Alice Loweecey

>>>Enter to win an e-copy of The Clock Strikes Nun<<<

When terrified Elaine Patrick knocks on Driscoll Investigations’ door and insists her house is haunted, Giulia Driscoll’s first response is “we don’t handle ghosts.” When Elaine’s housekeeper and crackpot filthy rich cousin descend on Giulia and demand she find out who’s trying to steal sweet, fragile Elaine’s family business out from under her, that’s a different story. They want DI to provide Tarot readings, ghost hunting sessions, and even an exorcism.

Ghost hunting? There are apps for that. Tarot readings? Experts in the skill are right across the street. Exorcisms? Having a priest for a brother-in-law comes in handy. Giulia plunges into a crash course in all things supernatural, convinced everything happening to Elaine is stagecraft.

Except when it isn’t. Giulia’s about to discover a new dimension to sleuthing, if she can survive attempted murder long enough to see through the web of lies around her client.


Island Confidential: Alice, welcome back to Island Confidential! For our new readers, and those who need a little refresher, can you tell us a little about your protagonist Giulia?

Alice Loweecey: Giulia Driscoll is an ex-nun, now married and running her own private investigation agency. She grows her own vegetables, cooks from scratch as much as she can, and is expecting her first baby. In other words, she’s a multitasking kick-butt woman.

How much of you is in Giulia?

AL: Only a little of me is in Giulia. I’m an ex-nun and I grow veggies and cook from scratch, but it ends there. Giulia is much nicer than I am. She’s also a bit more tightly wound than I am. She never cusses, ever. If we met in person we’d probably share recipes and argue about the merits of the Catholic Church, since she’s still a member in good standing and I walked away a long time ago.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

AL: Definitely yes. Giulia is much more comfortable in her own skin than she was a few books ago. She has more confidence and even makes jokes. Her assistant Sidney has mellowed a bit with motherhood but not enough to eat processed foods. Some things don’t change! Her admin Zane was a scared genius rabbit when Giulia hired him. Now he’s going undercover and interacting with humans instead of computer screens.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

AL: Hahaha, no. Karma. I will admit to disguising a few people in my books to make unpleasant things happen to them.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

AL: Absolutely true to life. My books take place in a made-up suburb of Pittsburgh, but my friends in the Pittsburgh area always help me with details. Giulia uses modern equipment and methods and I spend an inordinate amount of time researching. I love research.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

AL: Oh, from your lips to Hallmark’s ears!
Giulia: Cobie Smulders
Frank: Alan Tudyk
Sidney: Christina Milian
Zane: Paul Bettany

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

AL: The worst: “Don’t write strong female characters. They make male readers uncomfortable.” The best: “It’s okay if the first draft is crap. Get the story on the page. You have coffee and edits after you write The End.”


About the Author

 

Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer Horror and Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which might explain a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Falcone-Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).

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New Series (Big Lake Murder Mysteries) and Character Interview: Dumpster Dying

>>> Enter to win a book AND YOUR NAME in the next Emily Rhodes mystery! <<<

Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster.

Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.


Toby, welcome to Island Confidential! Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself? 

Toby Sands: My name is Toby Sands, and I’m a detective with the local police department, but I’m treated like dog doo doo by my fellow officers. Only my captain is any kind of friend, and that’s because we go way back to the police academy where we first met. I did well there–

I’m sorry, it says here you barely passed? Um, never mind. Go ahead.

TS: Yea, anyway, when I graduated, I took a job in Miami where I ran into a bit of trouble. It was all a big misunderstanding on the part of my partner who told my boss I was pocketing money from local merchants. My partner, a woman wouldn’t ya know, said I was claiming to give businesses special protection in high crime areas if they slipped me some cash under the table.

The real story is that a lot of businesses were grateful to me when I warned off gang members and other bad dudes and showed their appreciation by giving me a “tip”, especially if I let them know I could close them down for some legal infractions on their part. I mean, pay at that time was lousy. Everyone knew it, so these friendly folks wanted to show their appreciation for my going out of my way for them. My durn partner also claimed I showed excessive violence when I “talked” to guys we encountered on the street. She said they was just standing there. I said I could tell they was thinking of doing some illegal. That’s why women shouldn’t be cops. They are so bad at reading criminal minds. Anyway, I was encouraged to move on. In return, my record in Miami remains spotless, as well it should cuz I was innocent. Durn femiNazi partner! Luckily, my old classmate from the academy understood how it was, and he hired me.

Someone told us you were hired by your old classmate because the city was desperate to fill a vacancy and you were available. The same source claimed that you got down on your knees and begged, then rolled around on the floor blubbering and crying until you were finally taken on with a warning to behave. Is there any truth to that?

TS: Who told you that?

It’s not important. Let’s move on to something more positive. Who’s the character you get along with the best? 

TS: Well, like I said, my captain gave me a break when I needed it, but he’s coming around to share others’ views of me. It’s totally unfair, and it’s only because everyone is jealous of how quickly I get things done.

I see here that your collars occur in record time.

TS: Darn straight.

How many of those have resulted in convictions? Uh, never mind. You were talking about your colleagues?

TS: So I can’t really say I like too many people. I’ve got a cop’s mindset and that means I can see larceny in a person. I kinda favor some of the bigwig lawyers in town who ask me to do jobs for them. They know how to get around severely restrictive laws and they pay nicely for my help. In a recent event where I took an early retirement, I drew the line at excessive violence. I’m now doing some work for the county as an undercover informant.  [Interviewer’s note: Toby couldn’t be convicted of murder in this case due to lack of evidence.]

Which other character do you have a conflict with?

TS: Like I said, I’m not real crazy about women who stick their noses into other people’s business whether that be another cop who tattles on me or that snoopy little bartender Emily Rhodes who’s sweet on my partner here in rural Florida, Detective Stanton Lewis. See, I know wimmin are best suited to the kitchen or the bedroom. She gives him too many ideas about what I should or shouldn’t be doing with my time. If I’ve been working hard on a case, why shouldn’t I enjoy the afternoon in the bar or a siesta in my cruiser in the shade of a palm tree. This is rural Florida and it’s hot here. A working man needs a drink and a nap to get through this heat and humidity. But I almost got her back for all her snooping. She’d be a white slave in some African country if she hadn’t sicced that wild pig on me. Like to scare me half to death. I still shake thinking about it.

What..? Why don’t we move on to the next question. Just between you and me: What do you really think of your author?

TS: Just another uppity woman who thinks she knows more ’ bout right and wrong than I do, me, Toby Sands who’s been in the crime business for years.

Yes, everyone I’ve spoken to agrees you’ve been in the crime business since you graduated from the academy.

TS: I don’t need no Yankee school teacher telling me when and where I can chew a wad or where I can spit it or nothin’ about how a man should treat his wife. Okay, so I did help kidnap that Rhodes’ woman’s daughter for her husband, but she’d sassed him and no man needs a wife like that. She needed to be taught a lesson, and I was the one who could teach her one—for the right amount of money.

So what’s next for you?

TS: The court says I got to do some time, but I guarantee you I’ll be out sooner than you can spit a wad in an alligator’s eye. No sir. Toby Sands can work the system. I’ll be living the good life soon. Meantime, if you can believe it, the man is free on bail.
It just ain’t fair. No one appreciates me.

[Note: there are so many charges against Toby that it may take the legal system some time to sort them all out.]


About The Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in Upstate New York. In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport. Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse. When not writing, she gardens, cooks, frequents yard sales and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work. She is the author of a number of mystery series and mysteries as well as short stories. The third book in the Eve Appel murders (from Camel Press) A Sporting Murder was awarded a Readers’ Favorite Five Star Award and her short story Gator Aid a Sleuthfest (2009) short story first place. She has fired the alligator that served as her literary muse when she is in Florida and is interviewing applicants for the position.

 

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Something sweet for the kids (and the grown-ups): an inspirational orphan story

As a baby, Daisy Stranger lost her parents to the Spanish Influenza pandemic. Now eight years old, Daisy has seen many of her friends adopted, but she remains at the Bide-a-While Home and School for Children. Daisy does all her lessons, helps the younger orphans, and prays diligently for a real mother. And then one day, her prayers are answered in a most unexpected way…

This gentle and inspirational novella is a wonderful gift for anyone looking for a sweet and wholesome read. Available on Kindle Unlimited and in paperback.


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New Bakery and Biscuits Mystery (with interview!): Bad to the Bone by Linda O. Johnston

>>> Enter to Win a Print Copy of Bad To The Bone by Linda O. Johnston <<<
Veterinary technician Carrie Kennersly, owner of the Barkery & Biscuits bakery for dogs, is reluctant to sell her recipes to pet food manufacturer VimPets. Jack Loroco, a VimPets representative, assures Carrie that it would be a great opportunity to grow her business. His promising new relationship with Carrie’s friend, Billi Matlock, doesn’t hurt his cause. But the budding romance takes a bad turn when Wanda Addler, another VimPets employee, sets her sights on Jack.


After threatening to ruin Jack’s career if he doesn’t give her what she wants, Wanda is found dead. Jack and Billi are put at the top of the suspect list, and Carrie is doggone determined to rescue them from a life behind bars.


Island Confidential: Linda, welcome to Island Confidential. Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Carrie?

Linda Johnston:  Carrie Kennersly is a veterinary technician who always wanted to be her own boss.  She also loves creating healthy dog treats for the patients she helps to care for.  When a friend has to leave the town of Knobcone Heights, California, where she lives, Carrie buys the friend’s bakery and turns half into a barkery where she bakes and sells those treats.  The other part remains Icing on the Cake, the bakery for humans.  And when someone who badmouths her efforts is murdered in the first book and Carrie’s considered a suspect, she also becomes an amateur sleuth first to help save herself and, in subsequent books, to help friends who are also accused of murder.

How much are you like Carrie?

LJ: I’m a real animal lover like Carrie, but I couldn’t be a veterinarian or vet tech because of having to potentially cut patients open or give them shots to save their lives.  Nor am I much of a cook, as Carrie is.  But yes, I’d love to meet her and talk to her about saving and feeding animals, particularly dogs.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

LJ:  Since the protagonists in all my mysteries have love interests, those relationships tend to evolve throughout the series, mostly drawing them closer.  Also, my protagonists kind of get used to the idea of being amateur sleuths, though they didn’t start out that way.  That’s definitely true of Carrie in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries, including her relationship with veterinarian Dr. Reed Storme.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

LJ:  Yes.  Let’s leave it at that–although I of course would not harm anyone for real.  But that’s part of the fun of writing murder mysteries!

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

LJ: For most of my stories now I make up the small towns where my stories occur.  However, my first published mysteries, the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries and the spinoff Pet Rescue Mysteries, all took place in Los Angeles, where I live.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

LJ: As I first saw this question, I got online and looked at the actors and actresses who star in the mysteries shown on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries TV channel.  I even got to hear one of them speak at a Sisters in Crime conference held near my home in the Los Angeles area.  I think it would be great fun to have my Barkery & Biscuits series featured there.  Who could play Carrie Kennersly?  Well, maybe Allison Sweeney, Lori Laughlin or Candace Cameron-Bure.  And of all the love interests in those stories, I’d kind of like to see Cameron Mathison play Dr. Reed Storme from my stories.  I haven’t met a dog who’s just like Biscuit, but I’d be happy with a rescue dog taking her place.

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

LJ: The worst advice?  I’ve heard other authors say they’ve been told by editors or agents that their work isn’t good enough and that maybe they should give up.  I’ve even had a couple of new editors stop buying my work over the years, though fortunately none has been that cruel.  But I’ve also been at this long enough to realize that not everyone will like what you write, so never, ever give up no matter who tells you to quit! The best advice I’ve heard, and that I always pass along?  Keep on writing!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda O. Johnston’s first published fiction appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for Best First Mystery Short Story of the year.   Since then, Linda, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, has published more short stories, novellas, and 38 romance and mystery novels, including the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime, and Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.  She additionally writes the Superstition Mysteries and the the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries  for Midnight Ink.

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New Garage Sale Mystery: A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris

>>> Win a print copy of A Good Day to Buy <<<

HER BROTHER IS NO BARGAIN
When Sarah Winston’s estranged brother Luke shows up on her doorstep, asking her not to tell anyone he’s in town—especially her ex, the chief of police—the timing is strange, to say the least. Hours earlier, Sarah’s latest garage sale was taped off as a crime scene following the discovery of a murdered Vietnam vet and his gravely injured wife—her clients, the Spencers.

BUT IS HE A KILLER?
All Luke will tell Sarah is that he’s undercover, investigating a story. Before she can learn more, he vanishes as suddenly as he appeared. Rummaging through his things for a clue to his whereabouts, Sarah comes upon a list of veterans and realizes that to find her brother, she’ll have to figure out who killed Mr. Spencer. And all without telling her ex . . .


About The Author  

Agatha award nominated author, Sherry Harris, started bargain hunting in second grade at her best friend’s yard sale. She honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series.

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A new Mary-Alice mystery in the Miss Fortune world: Black Widow Valley

Young men have been disappearing in Black Valley, New York–which now has the misfortune of being known as “Black Widow Valley.” As it happens, Mary-Alice Arceneaux has a personal connection with the tiny community, and is called in to help. Mary-Alice is thrilled to be a part of the investigation–but by the time she arrives at the forbidding Kilmer House where she will spend the night, she realizes she may be in over her head. Fortunately (?), Sinful’s Sheriff Robert E. Lee is on the case too!

This modern retelling of Lost Man’s Lane takes the action from the sultry bayous of Southwest Louisiana to the rustic hamlets of upstate New York State.

 

The Miss Fortune series has been described as Miss Congeniality meets Golden Girls, a lighthearted fish-out-of -water adventure with a dash of romance in Louisiana bayou country.

Black Widow Valley is an authorized Kindle Worlds novella written in Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune world.

$1.99 on Kindle


The Mary-Alice Files  

We first meet Mary-Alice Arceneaux in SCHOOLED, where she plays a supporting role. In MARY-ALICE MOVES IN, our heroine relocates to Sinful and takes center stage. In BAYOU BUSYBODY, Mary-Alice uses her expert knowledge (derived entirely from her mystery reading) to deal with a strange missing-person case while Ida Belle and Gertie are out of town. In THE VANISHING VICTIM, Mary-Alice is eager to join Gertie and Fortune to do whatever it takes to save Ida Belle from a terrible injustice. ALOHA Y’ALL takes the action from the bayous to the Big Island. BLACK WIDOW VALLEY gives Sheriff Robert E. Lee a turn in the spotlight, and brings Mary-Alice way up to New York State.


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A new Living History Museum Mystery from Amanda Flower: The Final Vow

>>> Win a Print Copy of The Final Vow by Amanda Flower (U.S. Only) <<<

Summer weddings in Barton Farm’s picturesque church are standard procedure for museum director Kelsey Cambridge. At least they were until the Cherry Foundation, which supports the museum, orders Kelsey to host her ex-husband’s wedding on Farm grounds.

Ambitious wedding planner Vianna Pine is determined to make the bride’s Civil War-themed wedding perfect. But each time Vianna’s vision threatens the integrity and safety of the Farm, Kelsey has to intervene.

When Kelsey finds Vianna’s dead body at the foot of the church steps, everyone’s plans fall apart. With both the wedding and Barton Farm at risk of being permanently shut down, Kelsey has to work hard to save her own happily ever after.


Island Confidential: Amanda, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us about your protagonist? 

Amanda Flower:  Kelsey Cambridge is a hardworking and driven single mom and the Director of Barton Farm, a living history museum near Cleveland, Ohio.

How much of you is in Kelsey? 

AF:  Kelsey is very driven and determined, which is me all the way. Our big difference is she’s had a harder life, with her divorce at least, than I have, so she’s more guarded than I am. If I met her in real life, I know we would be friends, but I think she‘d get frustrated with me because I’m super high energy most of time.

Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

AF:  Yes, all my characters evolve throughout the series. In The Final Vow, I think Benji, Kelsey’s assistant, has the biggest transformation.

Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean? 

AF:  Ummm… no comment.

How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

AF:  The setting is based on real living history museums that I have visited across the country. I always worked at such a museum when I was in college, so the setting is very accurate in my opinion.

When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

AF:  That’s a tough one, but I think I would have this line up:

Kelsey Cambridge: Jennifer Garner

Chase Wyatt: Chris Hemsworth

Krissie Pumpernickel: AnnaSophia Robb

Vianna Pine: Vanessa Hudgens

What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

AF:  The best advice I have ever received was from author Heather Webber aka Heather Blake, who told me to be always writing something new. The worst advice, I have ever received was that I don’t need a literary agent. I listened to the best advice and ignored the worst.

 


About The Author  

Amanda Flower, a national bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words.

Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children’s mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children’s/YA Novel. Andi Unstoppable won the Agatha Award for Best Children’s/YA Novel 2015. Amanda is a librarian in northeast Ohio. She also writes mysteries as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. Visit her at http://www.amandaflower.com.


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First in a new paranormal cozy series: Magick & Mayhem by Sharon Pape

>>> Enter to win a copy of Magick & Mayhem (An Abracadabra Mystery) by Sharon Pape <<<

What’s in a murderer’s bag of tricks?
Twenty-something Kailyn Wilde has learned to embrace her unpredictable life as a descendant of small-town New Camel’s most magickal family. She just didn’t expect to inherit her mother and grandmother’s centuries-old shop, Abracadabra, so suddenly. The surprises keep coming when Kailyn goes to finalize the estate at the local attorney’s office—and stumbles over the body of her best friend Elise’s husband . . .
As a brash detective casts the blame on Elise, Kailyn summons her deepest powers to find answers and start an investigation of her own. What with running a business, perfecting ancient spells, and keeping up with an uninvited guest of fabled origins, Kailyn has her hands full. But with the help of her uncanny black cat Sashkatu and her muumuu-clad Aunt Tilly, she’s closing in on a killer—who will do anything to make sure she never tests her supernatural skills again!


About The Author  

I started writing stories as soon as I learned how to put letters together to form words. From that day forward, writing has been a part of my life whether it was my first attempt at a novel in seventh grade or the little plays I wrote for my friends to perform for neighbors and family. After college, when I was busy teaching French and Spanish to high school students, I was also writing poetry — some of it in French.

After several years, I left teaching to be a full time mom, and when my two children started school, I went back to writing. To my delight I found that the muse was still there, still waiting patiently for me to come around. My first novel, Ghostfire, was published at that time. It went on to be condensed in Redbook magazine (the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed.) Then came The God Children and The Portal. Redbook also published my first short story, which was subsequently sold to several foreign magazines. With two great kids, a golden retriever and a loving, supportive husband (whom I’d met at the beach when I was fourteen — but that’s a story for another day), I felt like I was exactly where I was meant to be in my life. But fate had another plan for me, and it went by the name of “breast cancer.”

Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was that the cancer was discovered at such an early stage, but at the time it was all very overwhelming. Once I was back on my feet, I wanted to help other women who were newly diagnosed, worried and afraid. I became a Reach to Recovery volunteer for the American Cancer Society and went on to run the program for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. A number of years later, with the help of my surgical oncologist and two other volunteers, I started Lean On Me, a nonprofit organization that provides peer support and information to breast cancer patients. When Lean On Me celebrated its tenth anniversary it no longer required as much of my time, and I once again found myself free to pursue my first love — writing.

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New Quaker Midwife Mystery and Research Guest Post: Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell

>>>Enter to Win a Print Copy<<<

Praise for Delivering the Truth
by Edith Maxwell (Book 1 in this series)

Ms. Maxwell weaves a sturdy cloth from the stories of the various characters in Delivering the Truth.
~Back Porchervations

I enjoyed every minute of this book…
~Shelley’s Book Case

This was a very entertaining read. I really enjoy reading Edith Maxwell’s writing as it flows so well.
~Melina’s Book Blog

…a different type of historical cozy…I enjoyed reading a book where the protagonist is a midwife and of the Quaker faith…
~Storeybook Reviews

Rose is a smart character and the history of the story is done well.
~A Chick Who Reads

The author takes us into Rose’s life, making us feel as though we are right there with her in every situation. The mystery is well-developed and leaves the reader guessing right to the end.
~Book Babble

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying the 1888 Independence Day evening fireworks with her beau when a teenaged Quaker mill girl is found shot dead. After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally figuring out one criminal – only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?


Runabout, Phaeton, Brougham, Rockaway?

 I had the great fortune to go riding in a carriage last summer with a woman who really knows her stuff.  I’m always looking to improve the details in my late nineteenth-century Quaker Midwife Mysteries, and Susan Koso is one way to do it.

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She owns a mare named Hope. She owns a number of horse-drawn vehicles that my midwife Rose Carroll might very well have ridden in. She knows what kind of bridles and tack were used in 1888. And she’s written academic published papers on the roads, the carriage industry, and the economics of the late 1800s. How could I go wrong?

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I first met Susan at a couple of years ago at an Amesbury Carriage Museum event, where this not-young woman showed herself to be more agile and flexible than me, crawling around helping to secure carriages the museum was moving down from a second-floor loft.

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In late June when the flies and mosquitoes were all hatched and bothersome, I drove to our riding appointment a few town’s south of here, and I met her horse, Hope. Hope’s crocheted ear guard is similar to those horses would have worn to keep the bugs out of their ears and eyes. Susan hitched Hope to a beautiful restored runabout (an open two-seater conveyance with four wheels pulled by one horse), handed me a helmet, and off we went.

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We wandered around Essex County Greenbelt Association trails, rode all through Appleton Farm (which used to be my walking route when I lived in that town), and moseyed back, talking all the way. I got to experience Hope trotting, I hung on for dear life on bumpy trails and around corners, and I generally soaked up the atmosphere.

On a couple of trails, Susan said, “This would have looked exactly the same in Rose Carrols’s day.” I had to agree!
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As when I went riding the year before, I wore my long linen skirt and low boots to get a small feel for the clothing of the day.
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I never stopped picking Susan’s considerable brain. I learned more about all the different kinds of vehicles: phaetons, broughams, traps, and Rockaways, among others. She said the dash board in front of our knees – named to prevent hooves from dashing mud up onto passengers and drivers – might have been covered in patent leather. She told me a horse pushes a carriage rather than pulls it (which I still don’t quite get). I even heard about the “fifth wheel” – but that one’s going to need further study before I use it in a book.

She suggested a couple of convenient ways for a malicious villain (oh, I guess that’s redundant) to do away with someone by cutting almost through an important strap or to cause a horse to be a runaway. This is a woman after my own heart. Susan had also finished reading Delivering the Truth, and kindly pointed out a couple of small errors in horse-and-carriage procedure. I thanked her, of course. And then she read the manuscript for Called to Justice within a couple of days’ time and corrected me on several points in that book, too.

I’m so delighted and grateful to have found a subject matter expert willing to share her extensive knowledge with me. Guess who’s getting a complimentary copy of each book in the series as long as it runs?


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