"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Special Tuesday Edition of Cozy Wednesday with Sally Goldenbaum (Giveaway too!)

Sally Goldenbaum has been a good friend since I started this blog and when we realized we share Wisconsin as our home state the friendship has grown. The latest Seaside Knitting Mystery really brought back some fabulous memories of my wedding, which I will share more about following her post.  Right now I am just delighted she found time in her busy schedule to spend some time with us!!!

Welcome Sally!!!

I love visiting Dollycas’s Thoughts. Thank you for having me back, Lori.

And what nice company I’m in—lots of cozy mystery authors are stopping by to say hello. Which got me pondering what many of us write about. Nice people in lovely towns, interesting jobs, great crafts, good food, and….well, yes—murder.

So why do these things seem to go together so well? Why do so many of us write mysteries around a theme, like food or knitting or gardening?

Who needs herbs and bamboo needles or a trowel when you have a dead body? Why isn’t a plain old murder enough?

Why, indeed?

Although each of us would probably have a different slant on why we’ve chosen to stir all these elements together in our mysteries, we’d probably agree on one thing: adding a craft or particular job or profession can provide a kind of centering to our stories.

In writing a mystery series, we are not only inviting readers back to follow the same characters story after story; we’re also inviting those characters back. The same ones, book after book after book. And having some sort of anchor—a ready-made reason for those characters to get together, to interact, to gossip, to grow together and develop their friendship in new ways—is helpful in structuring a plot.

Nell, Birdie, Izzy, and Cass—the four friends in my Seaside Knitting Mysteries—gather in Izzy’s cozy yarn shop to think through the things going on in Sea Harbor—whether those things are joyful happenings (like the wedding about to happen in THE WEDDING SHAWL), or tragic events, like a sports car that careens off a cliff and into the ocean (in MOON SPINNERS). The knitting isn’t instrumental in solving the crimes, but it provides an ‘excuse’ to be together, to deepen friendship, and to explore a murder.

Another thing that knitting adds to the novels, I think, is a kind of sensuousness. Imagine a basket filled with cashmere yarn. You can hardly keep your fingers out of it. Soft and silky, vibrant colors so luscious you can almost taste them.

Food and drink do the same—a common theme in so many mysteries. Savoring Nell’s garlic grilled shrimp salad with fresh flakes of basil sprinkled on top—and clinking together four glasses of Birdie’s chilled pinot grigio —are certain to stimulate and sharpen the senses and help the Sea Harbor knitters explore the intricacies of a neighbor’s untimely death.

But why did I pick knitting and not some other craft? Lots of people ask me that. And I’m sure those who write about quilting and gardening and cheese shops are asked the same. Again—there are probably lots of different answers, not the least of which might be that the author happens to be an expert quilter or gardener.

Me? Not so much!

When she was eighty years old and I was ten or eleven, my grandmother taught me how to knit. And though she was an amazing, accomplished woman, she failed in that one aspect of her life. Knitting and purling escaped me.

And then I grew up and became a writer.

AND had grandchildren.


And so I picked up the needles, filled a shelf with fine cotton yarn, and tried all over again, this time with a new passion, if not great skill.

And at that same time, I was thinking about a new mystery series. A series about four smart, funny, hopefully wise women who care about each other and the seaside town in which they live and love and work and eat delicious seafood. A former lawyer, a retired nonprofit director, a lobster fisherwoman, and a grand dame with life’s lessons at her fingertips.

But I needed a way for these women to get together frequently. Something that suited their personalities.

And that something became Izzy’s yarn shop, with a room in the back that overlooked the sea—with a fireplace, fine pinot grigio and fantastic seafood pasta on the coffee table, yarn baskets beside each comfy chair.

The Seaside Yarn Shop became the knitters’ safe haven, the place where the women of Sea Harbor settle down with their yarn and their needles. It’s the place where they gently sip their wine or tea and peel away the layers of their friends’ and neighbors’ lives, discovering secrets in order to solve crimes and to bring peace back to the town they love.

Knitting—and the Yarn Studio—is where their friendship is nourished, right along with their sleuthing skills.

A warm, safe, and cozy place.

And as they work on their projects (I say, hopefully) they will teach me something about picking up dropped stitches and weaving in loose ends.

And even some things about life.

Knitting. Mysteries. Friendship


Is she a great lady or what???  
Thank you so much Sally!!!
Her latest book is:
Jacket Illustration
by Doug Martin
An Obsidian Mystery
A Division of Penguin Publishing
Was Released May 3, 2011

A Seaside Knitters Mystery
5th in the series

Izzy is getting married and all her friends are getting together to knit her a beautiful wedding shawl. Everyone contributing their knitting talents to one wonderful project. What a treasured gift!!!

Oh yes, there is mystery too, as the hair stylist for the wedding participants disappears and later is found dead. This lands the Seaside Knitters in the middle of another murder investigation.  But these ladies can handle it, they will finish the shawl and solve the crime to get the towns focus back on wedding bells instead of jail cells.

You know I loved this book because I truly love this series.  The friendship these women have, their personalities, their wisdom, added to the perfect setting, all brilliantly written, makes every trip to Sea Harbor a well deserved vacation with the friends we have come to love. Yes, the sensory factors are amazing, you can almost smell the sea air, feel the yarn fibers and taste the seafood and fine wine. 

Sally is right about the connection needed in these wonderful cozy mysteries I have grown to love.  I was a very crafty person before my accident, knitting, crocheting, sewing, macramé, quilting, cooking, anything to keep my hands busy.  That is what first drew me to these kinds of books.  I may not be able to actually do the craft myself anymore but I sure can read about it. 

This story brought back a wonderful memory.  While not a knitted wedding shawl, I was blessed to have a hand crocheted wedding dress and jacket made just for me.  I found the pattern way back when I was in high school and fell in love with it and tucked it away. When my husband and I became engaged I was bound and determined to make this dress, but there were just not enough hours in the day, so a family friend took over and completed a monumental task as you can see from the picture below.
I wish I could find some pictures of the stitching close up.  We sure have had fun looking through all the old pictures.  The dress underneath is sleeveless and the jacket has like 30 little small pearl buttons to hold it closed.  It was dry cleaned, sealed in a special box, tucked away in my cedar chest, and is waiting for a daughter or granddaughter to wear it someday.  It is quite the treasured heirloom just like Izzy's shawl. Thank you Sally for such a wonderful memory.  Someday I will share the bridesmaid dresses fiasco :)

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel  Agent
Now I would like to share with you a hard copy of each book Sally mentioned in her post.
Followers will receive 2 extra entries for each entry.
Be sure to show Sally some love by leaving a comment!!
Because some of you may have already read Moon Spinners I have broke the giveaway down so you can fill out a form for each book you would like to win.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Obsidian Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  


Steve Capell said...

The Wedding Shawl really sounds interesting. I love murder mystery novels. Wishing you the best.

cyn209 said...

i'm new to Cozy Mysteries & i've already purchased the 1st 2 books in Sally's series!! i would LOVE to add more of Sally's books to my ToBeReadList!!!
thank you for visiting us & for the giveaways!!!


debbie said...

I always love it when authors include knitting in their books. I taught myself to knit when I was 8, and have been doing it ever since. Your book sounds great, I can't wait to read it.

Stacie said...

I LOVE cozies and this is a new series for me. It sounds like a really good one. I love the concept & enjoyed hearing how you developed the idea. The description of their friendship makes me want to be part of the group. I welcome the chance to join them. The mention of garlic grilled shrimp salad sounds yummy :)
Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

Anonymous said...

I'm a couple of books behind in this series, but intend to catch up soon. I love Sally's comment about the sensuousness of the yarn and food as a counterpoint to the sharpness of murder. I agree. To me, traditional mysteries are about relationships that are fractured by crime and sleuths that work to fix them.

Lori, you were a beautiful bride and your dress sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing with us and thanks for hosting Sally. Great series!

Tina said...

Oh this looks like a great series - I'm always looking for warm, cozy mysteries with lots of knitting, cooking and a good tale to tell. Can't wait to get started.

Tami said...

Your books sound wonderful. They are on my list for the next bookstore trip. Thanks for the insight into "themed" mystery series. I love returning characters and places, but had never really thought about why authors use a theme to "anchor" their stories. Thanks for the informative and fun post.

Sally Goldenbaum said...

And Steve--I just checked your beautiful website. What talent! Not only that, we are neighbors.

Mona said...

I love cozy mysteries. Unfortunately, I have no talent when it comes to crafting but I do enjoy reading about it.

Mona said...

I am a total foodie as well so I enjoy reading books and watching movies/TV shows about food. But they tend to make me hungry. So my personal take on a well-known saying "a moment on the eyes, a lifetime on the thighs" :D

Natalie W said...

I haven't read any mysteries involving knitting!! This sounds like a fun read. Thank you!
Natalie ;0)

Carol N Wong said...

Thank you so much for being a cozy mystery writer! They are the best tonic for feeling blue,
edgy or being sick or just wanting to do something fun. I love knitting too. I cannot go into a yarn store without feeling the yarn and maybe cooing to it too!


Tore said...

Thanks for the great giveaway. I would love to read your books and series. Tore923@aol.com

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

I recently read another review on this and the blogger was kind enough to send me a link to the wedding shawl in the book .. which is the exact shawl I'm currently knitting myself! :) That just makes me want the book even more!

Beverly said...

Thanks for the great post - thanks for hosting too! Sounds like I need to get reading these!

Carol M said...

I tried knitting when I was young but I wasn't very good at it so I gave it up. Maybe now that I'm a grandmother I should try again! This sounds like a great series. I'm sure I would enjoy it. Thank you for the giveaway!

hedgerhousehold said...

I love that this is a series. Can't wait to find the first one and dive in. Thanks for the giveaway.
jenhedger at hotmail dot com

Lexie said...

All of these look really good! Thanks for the giveaway! :)


MarthaE said...

These books sound like fun! I love the idea of the cozy yarn shop. I remember The Moon Spinners by Mary Stewart so that title caught my attention. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

THx Sally! just the intrigue and comfort balance i love...

Kelly said...

Both of these books sound perfect for summer. Thanks Sally!

justpeachy36 said...

I read and reviewed The Wedding Shawl which is just a wonderful book, but I haven't read any of the previous books in the series. I would love to win The Moon Spiners.

Thanks Sally and Lori!

tfalick said...

The books sound AWESOME! thanks so much for the giveaway!