LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Book launch! So exciting, I’m babbling. AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, my fifth Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, will launch June 8 in trade paperback, e-book, and audio! (Read an excerpt and find the order links on my website.) I’ll be celebrating in towns large and small — Seattle, Augusta, Billings, and Bozeman. (Details on my website, under News and Events.)
And I hope you’ll join me for cookies and more at the Christmas in June book launch party at the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center, from 4-6 on Saturday, June 9. I’ll talk about the book, how it came to be, and other mysteries (grin!), and sign books. The art center’s “Year of the Bird” exhibit will be on display, and all my books will be available. I hope to see you there — or somewhere else along the road!
LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I’m just back from Malice Domestic, the convention celebrating the traditional mystery, held every year just outside Washington, D.C. It’s a long weekend of fun, friends, and books — the Guest of Honor was Louise Penny, the great Canadian writer, and Nancy Pickard, the first elected president of Sisters in Crime, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Any fans of Vera — the books by Ann Cleeves or the BBC series? Actress Brenda Blethyn, who plays the smart, crusty homicide detective, was also a special guest.
And it was a thrill to see my June release, AS THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CRUMBLES, the 5th Food Lovers’ Village Mystery, in readers’ hands, thanks to my publisher, Midnight Ink, who made early copies available in the dealers’ room. Conference goers also received complimentary copies of the May-June issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, which includes my historical short story, All God’s Sparrows, set in Montana Territory in 1885 and featuring one of Montana’s most fascinating historical figures. Early response to both book and story was terrific.
And now, I’m getting ready for my upcoming book launch. Join me Saturday, June 9, from 4-6, for a book launch party at the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center, in the village. The staff are calling it “Christmas in June,” and there will be cookies!
By Karen Wills
Nature writing reaches my heart. It does that through poetic, detailed description of an outdoor setting. In the last months I’ve read three wonderful books by women nature writers. Let’s consider them from earliest to most recent.
Susan Fenimore Cooper, James Fenimore Cooper’s daughter, founded an orphanage in Cooperstown, New York, a town established by her grandfather. She made a success of the enterprise in every way. In 1887 she also wrote Rural Hours, nature writing that covered a year in Cooperstown season by season. Much of it appeared as journal entries recorded after walks that ranged over the countryside. Both writer and artist, she also made watercolors of birds, flowers, animals, and the lake near the town that drew her to its shores over and over. Her writing was accurate and poetic. “Spring has a delicate pencil; no single tree, shrub, plant, or weed, is left untouched by her, but Autumn delights rather in the breadth and grandeur of her labors, she is careless of details. Spring works lovingly-Autumn, proudly, magnificently.”
Already sorry for the damage caused by the post Civil War increase in America’s population, she also conveyed a warning familiar to modern conservationists. “The rapid consumption of the large pine timber among us should be enough to teach a lesson of prudence and economy on the subject.”
Mary Hunter Austin wrote a collection of nature essays, The Land of Little Rain, in 1903. She focused on the Mojave Desert including Death Valley. She considered Nature as an entity with a beneficial connection to Native peoples and recent arrivals alike. She mixed small matters of opinion in with the big themes. “This is the gilia the children call ‘evening snow’ and it is no use trying to improve on children’s names for wildflowers.” She is poetic. “The origin of mountain streams is like the origin of tears, patent to the understanding but mysterious to the sense.”
Finally, there’s Nan Shepherd who wrote her best-known work, The Living Mountain, with a mountaineer’s authenticity. Her setting is the Cairngorm Mountains of Northern Scotland. Writing in 1944, she shared her belief in nature’s grand unity. “The disintegrating rock, the nurturing rain, the quickening sun, the seed, the root, the bird—all are one.”
Each of these writers had a poetic respect and thorough knowledge of her most favored area of the natural world. We are the richer that each shared her love of nature with us.
Face Book: Karen Wills Author
LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Oh, April! Such a tease of a month in Northwest Montana. Days can be wintry or warm, snowy or sunny, often all within a few minutes!
April is also home to National Library Week, April 8-15. The Montana Library Association is hosting its annual meeting in Bozeman, April 11-14, and I’m delighted to be the Author Brunch Speaker on Saturday, April 14. I’ll be talking about the cozy mystery — the light-hearted side of the genre — what it is, a few trends, and some author recommendations.
I‘m also pleased to say that my historical short story, All God’s Sparrows, will appear in the May-June issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, available mid April, by subscription and in bookstores and newstands. Set in 1885 in Montana Territory, the story features Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, who was born in slavery in Tennessee in 1832 and later worked for the Ursuline Sisters at St. Peter’s Mission near Cascade. On a trip to the mill to pick up lumber for the girls’ school, Mary encounters a young family in trouble, and uses all her wits—as well as the skills of young Sister Louisine—to save a child and mete out justice, or as much justice as can be had in this fallible world. Look for another Mary Fields short mystery next year.