April 11, 2014

Mrs Meade Strikes Again

 That is not the title of Elisabeth Grace Foley's latest release, because that would be silly.  But to the great delight of non-Kindle-owners like myself, Elisabeth has (at last!) published the first volume of her Mrs. Meade mysteries in physical form.  Having read The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories, I'm eager to pick up this little book. Here's the scoop:

Meet Mrs. Meade, a gentle but shrewd widow lady with keen insight into human nature and a knack for solving mysteries. Problems both quaint and dramatic find her in Sour Springs, a small town in Colorado at the turn of the twentieth century. Here in Volume One are her first three adventures, novelette-length mysteries previously published individually.

In The Silver Shawl, a young woman has disappeared from the boarding-house where she lives—was she kidnapped, or did she have a reason to flee? In The Parting Glass, Mrs. Meade puzzles over the case of a respectable young man accused of drunkenly assaulting a woman. And in The Oldest Flame, Mrs. Meade’s visit with old friends turns to disaster with a house fire that may have been deliberately set. Quick and entertaining forays into mystery and times past, each story is just the perfect length to accompany a cup of tea or coffee for a cozy afternoon.

To celebrate this event, Elisabeth is doing a blog tour - writing guest posts, answering interviews, giving away things, the whole shebang.  She's here today to revive my blog and talk about historical mystery and classic mystery

Historical Mystery and Classic Mystery: 
Closer Than You Think 

Mystery today is one of the most adaptable genres, or at least one on which a wide variety of variations are made. Booksellers split the main genre into half a dozen subcategories: hard- boiled, cozy, historical, British, police procedurals, and more. Authors have discovered over the years that the classic mystery plot can be given a fresh twist by trying it out in different scenarios and styles, sometimes with splendid results. I’ve read and enjoyed some of these attempts, but the lure of the classics is always strong. I’m always ready to go back to certain settings—say, an English country house in the 1930s, with a mixed bag of suspects and an enigmatic private sleuth to sift them out. One book along these lines may be better than another, but the formula never gets old.

 In my own writing, historical mystery is my sub-genre of choice. It’s a pretty extensive sub- genre in itself—you can have a historical mystery set anywhere from ancient Rome to Regency England or the trenches of World War I. But in spite of this, and in spite of the fact that it’s one of many sub-genres, I personally feel it shares the closest kinship with the “classic” mystery, the style that many of us know best. Think about it for a minute. Mystery fiction as we know it began with authors such as Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and their contemporaries in the 19th century, and was refined into an art by G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and a multitude of others during mystery’s Golden Age in the early 20th century. A genre often permanently retains some of the characteristics of the era in which it was born or became most popular—certain plot devices, character types or literary styles that particularly resonated with the people of those times linger on through decades of later authors’ efforts. The detective novel was born in the Victorian era and came of age during the Roaring Twenties, the glamorous ’30s and the World Wars. I think to some degree, the culture of those times is woven into the fabric of the genre, and filters through our consciousness when we hear the word “mystery.”

That’s true, at least, for those of us who cut our mystery teeth on Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. Modern-day mysteries just don’t hold the same appeal for me. There’s a certain flair and romance to the old standbys of the footprint and fingerprint, the cigar ash, the handkerchief with a whiff of perfume, the railroad timetable, the half-burned scrap of paper and the revolver in the desk drawer. Cell phones and digital technology just aren’t in it. And there’s the plot angle, too. Before the widespread use of forensic evidence, mystery plots focused in on suspects’ motivations, personalities and relationships—the human interaction element—of necessity. This is an element I’ve always found fascinating. Agatha Christie experimented with more dramatic examples of this back in the Golden Age itself, with situations that deliberately stripped away possible physical evidence and relied almost entirely on the testimony of witnesses (Cards on the Table and Five Little Pigs, for example). She even made an early foray into what we would now call historical mystery, setting Death Comes as the End in ancient Egypt.

At the root of it, I suppose, I write historical mystery because I’m a historical-fiction person any way you slice it. Writing in a modern setting has never really worked for me (and I’ve got a couple of failed story drafts to attest to that). When I had an idea for a mystery series, it was only natural that it should be a historical one. Perhaps it’s because of this relationship between history and mystery that I’ve always felt myself on familiar ground while writing the Mrs. Meade Mysteries. My own characters, their home town and their plots may be different, but I still feel I’m following in the footsteps of the mystery authors I’ve read and loved—or at least cutting a new path through a familiar forest.

Elisabeth Grace Foley is a historical fiction author, avid reader and lifelong history buff. Her first published story, “Disturbing the Peace,” was an honorable mention in the first annual Rope and Wire Western short story competition, and is now collected with six others in her debut short story collection, The Ranch Next Door and Other Stories. Her other works include short fiction set during the American Civil War and the Great Depression. A homeschool graduate, she chose not to attend college in order to pursue self-education and her writing career. Visit her online at www.thesecondsentence.blogspot.com .

 Elisabeth is doing a fun giveaway of one signed book and several Mrs Meade bookmarks (sneak peek!). Enter to win, but don't forget to hurry over to CreateSpace or Amazon to buy your own copy.  Supporting your non-local author: it's a thing.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

February 28, 2014

February Snippets

pinterest: wordcrafter
If my labels are accurate, it's been a full year since I did one of Katie's snippets posts.  Several reasons for that, I suppose: most of last year was full of Tempus Regina, and after a certain point it became difficult to share from that without spilling lots of beans.  I and my characters were in Scotland at that point (I mean story-wise, not myself physically).  Interestingly, we are now in Scotland again, only about fifteen hundred years removed from Regina's time.  Do I have some special love for Scotland...?

Second reason for the lack of snippets posts is simply that I haven't had anything to share, unless you want to read papers on Anabaptist martyrs and 17th Century anti-papist polemics.  This is, naturally, sometimes discouraging and frustrating, although of course absolutely necessary.  So to keep the creative juices flowing - and not go beserk and kill anyone - I've pulled out Wordcrafter and begun rewriting it from the ground up.  This is a dabbling kind of thing and I don't know how serious I am yet, but at 10,000 words, I figured I could scrape together a few things to post.

snippets for february

“You never mentioned your name, did you?” 

Still I felt him looking at me; his face flashed by in the tea, there and then broken, there and then broken. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. “…Ethan. Ethan Prince.” 

“Ironic,” I said, without looking up. “My name is Justin King.”

- wordcrafter

The chain of the tea-ball still hung over the edge of my own mug and when I prodded it, the dregs rose up strong and dark and forbidding from the bottom. Nnh. There was not enough hot water in the kettle for a second mug, and barely enough leaves in the tin. I could make my guest his cup, but it was coffee-strong Ceylon or nothing for me. 

Well, then, I would take it coffee-strong.

//

Fortunately I had flour and eggs and the last of a carton of milk, so that with some imagination and fudging—and altogether too much tripping over Ethan, who seemed not to know how to get out of the way—I threw together something like toad-in-the-hole. 

“Heavy on the flour,” I said ungraciously, dumping his steaming plateful at Ethan’s chair— “light on the bangers. I’m running low. Eat up.”

//

“The—tattoos,” I managed, while Ethan got a glass and fiddled with the sink. “Where did you get them? Last time I saw something like that was in a book on the Celts.” 

 He jolted the handle round and the water spat out with a bang against the metal side, spraying him liberally; he hissed and gentled it back to a more reasonable stream, though it still overflowed his tumbler. Then, shutting off the tap and shaking the water off his hands, he answered, “Maybe I got them from the Celts, then.”

//

There were very few things in this world for which a brandy and soda could not atone.

//

The sprawling gravel drive was full and guests had begun to park in odd out-of-the-way corners; holding my breath as though it would make the car smaller, I squeezed between a sleek black Jaguar and a sporty thing I only afterward realized was a Lotus. 

 “Scratch one of those,” I remarked, “and we’re both dead.”

//

...But in the Fairbairn’s foyer, with the black velvet of his tunic melting into the shadows and the chandelier caught in the dash of gold brocade, he looked like a matador sprung out of the ring. And there was, too, something remarkably Castilian in the cold arrogance with which he surveyed Fairbairn: lips drawn, upper canine balanced light and sharp on lower, eyelids low and flickering. He did not like what he saw, and—my heart took a tumble into my cramped and empty stomach—he was making no bones about it. 

//

"Someone must have told you it was a masquerade, Mr Prince."

//
 
meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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Published Writings
The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
Finished Writings
The White Sail's Shaking & The Running Tide: Follow a midshipman in the young U.S. Navy during the First Barbary War and a Syracusan woman who accidentally finds herself tumbled into the harsh world of life at sea.
Both Novels Complete
Currently Writing
Tempus Regina: Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era.
Undergoing Edits

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