Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Molly MacRae: Writing About Small Towns, Plus a Giveaway


Note: The winner of this giveaway is Sue E. Congratulations to Sue and thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.

I’m delighted to be participating in author Molly MacRae’s virtual blog tour for her recent release, SPINNING IN HER GRAVE, the latest installment in her tantalizing Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries.

Molly joins us today to talk about what it’s like to write her mystery series set in a small town. I’m also sharing my thoughts on this charming cozy murder mystery. In addition, thanks to Molly and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of SPINNING IN HER GRAVE to giveaway to a lucky visitor to Thoughts. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.

First, here’s a brief synopsis of SPINNING IN HER GRAVE:

Kath Rutledge is settling in as the owner of the Weaver’s Cat, a fiber and fabric shop in Blue Plum, Tennessee. But nothing, not even the ghost haunting her shop, prepares her for the mystery that will leave the whole town spinning....
      It’s time for Blue Plum’s annual historical festival, and everyone—including Kath and her spunky fiber and needlework group, TGIF—is getting in on the action. Expert spinners are being gathered, and a businessman has approached Kath about using the second-floor windows of her store for part of a reenactment. But the reenactment ends in real-life bloodshed when local baker Reva Louise Snapp is shot—with a bullet from a modern-day gun.
      Kath has her theories about who wanted to end Reva Louise’s life. But there’s also talk of a sniper stalking Blue Plum, and Kath’s shop is suspected to be the murderer’s hideout. Now Kath, her TGIF pals, and the gloomy ghost, Geneva, must unravel the mystery quickly, or someone else might be left hanging by a thread....


Now Molly joins us to talk about writing a series set in a small town. Welcome, Molly.

What’s it like to write a mystery series set in a small town? It’s like having the coolest set of blocks to play with that you can imagine—complete with action figures and accessories! 

For my Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries, I took my blocks and built Blue Plum, Tennessee, borrowing the best parts of my favorite small towns for inspiration. The streets crisscross a creek (with fish) that meanders through town. The courthouse is there, and the library (with real books,) and if my action figures get hungry they can stop by Mel’s on Main, the best café in town (with real pastries in the bakery case—that you can smell!) And then, of course, there’s the fiber and fabric shop called the Weaver’s Cat. It’s in a three-story, antebellum brick row house and it comes with gorgeous yarns, flosses, quilting fabric, needles, notions, spinning, dying, and weaving supplies, and a window seat in the study up in the attic. And I get to play with all of it! 

Kath Rutledge is the main action figure for the series. She’s new in Blue Plum, but getting settled, and she’s playing nicely with her friends. There’s Ardis, her shop manager; Mel, who owns the café; Thea, the librarian; Joe, the fisherman; Joe’s brother Clod, the sheriff’s deputy; Argyle the cat; and Geneva the ghost. Each of their mystery stories comes with an Action Figure & Accessories bonus pack, too. For SPINNING IN HER GRAVE, their latest adventure, the bonus pack includes a baker, a piano salesman, working spinning wheels, a bass boat, and a piglet that really squeals. 

In this story, everyone is getting ready for the annual heritage festival called Blue Plum Preserves. Oh—and the bonus pack also includes pavilion tents, a music stage to set up on the courthouse steps, banjos, a high wheel bicycle, and antique rifles. Fun! (Although the rifles are a little disturbing.)

Spinning in Her Grave coverThis business of writing a small town mystery takes a love for micro-scale world building and playing with dolls. It takes a love for something else, too—something related to the love for driving little cars around the streets and creating window displays at the Weaver’s Cat. But this goes beyond a love for picking paint for other people’s kitchens or dressing some of the action figures with questionable taste. A key part of writing mysteries is a love for meddling in other peoples’ lives. 

I set Blue Plum up so that it’s just right—add trees, porch swings, a festival on a pretty summer weekend where people are having a good time—and then I start tinkering, tweaking, and tossing problems at them. What if the piano salesman is directing a piece of street theater involving guns? What if he approaches Kath and asks if one of his actors can hide in the Weaver’s Cat and shoot blank rounds from a second-story window? What if she says no, but someone does it anyway, the rounds aren’t blank, and the baker dies? What if Clod, the sheriff’s deputy, still thinks Kath might be interested in him? What if Geneva, the ghost, discovers she’s afraid of ghosts? Do you see what I mean? Why can’t I leave these poor people alone?

People might assume, after reading SPINNING IN HER GRAVE, or the first two books in the series, that I spin, dye, weave, or knit regularly and well. Especially knit, because the action figures belonging to TGIF (Thank Goodness It’s Fiber) challenged themselves to knit 1,000 baby hats by the end of the year and they’re always talking about self-striping yarn and other knitter stuff. I do knit, in a rudimentary way, and I’ve done a bit of weaving, spinning, and dyeing. But what I really like to do with knitting needles (or spindles or shuttles or crochet hooks) is poke around in the lives of my action figures, gum up the works, and see what happens. I’m not mean, though, except for killing one or two people in each book. These are cozy mysteries, after all, and I care about my action figures. Even the poor things who do end up dead—bless their hearts.

So, what’s it like to write a mystery series set in a small town? For me, it’s a great way to knit (or spin, weave, or dye) vicariously. It’s a way to indulge my meddling gene safely. And it’s just plain fun. 

Molly, thanks so much for joining us today and sharing this look at writing a small town setting. I like your take on what it’s like. It does sounds like a lot of fun.

Now here’s a bit of background on Molly.

Molly MacRae spent twenty years in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Upper East Tennessee, where she managed The Book Place, an independent bookstore; may it rest in peace. Before the lure of books hooked her, she was curator of the history museum in Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town.

Molly lives with her family in Champaign, Illinois, where she connects children with books at the public library.

For more on Molly and her writing, visit her website, connect with her at Killer Characters on the 23rd of each month, visit with her at Amy Alessio's award-winning Vintage Cookbooks & Crafts blog on the first Monday of each month, and connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.

TOUR PARTICIPANTS:

You can also follow Molly on her tour by visiting the following blogs:

03/03/14 - The Qwillery- Guest Post, Giveaway
03/05/14 - Lesa’s Book Critiques- Review, Giveaway
03/05/14 - Stuff and Nonsense- Guest Post, Giveaway
03/06/14 - A Prairie Girl Reads- Review
03/07/14 - Socrates’ Book Reviews- Guest Post, Giveaway
03/11/14 - Debbie’s Book Bag- Review, Giveaway
03/11/14 - Mochas, Mysteries, and Meows- Guest Post- Giveaway
03/12/14 - Gotta Write Network- Review, Guest Post
03/13/14 - Everyday Life of a Mama and Wife- Review
03/14/14 - Reader to Reader- Review
03/29/14 - Lori’s Reading Corner- Guest Post, Giveaway

Here are my thoughts on this fun read.

SPINNING IN HER GRAVE by Molly MacRae

Kath Rutledge, owner of the Weaver’s Cat, a fiber and fabric shop, was expecting the annual historical festival in Blue Plum to create extra work, potential customers, fun, and excitement. What she wasn’t expecting was to find a dead body.

The annual Blue Plum Preserves has been enhanced a bit this year with a large re-enactment playing out in town with men firing guns. Following one of the loud scenes, Kath walks outside her tent to discover Reva Louise Snapp has been shot.

Reva Louise has been helping her half-sister Mel out as a baker at Mel’s Café in town. Kath believes Reva Louise might have been helping herself with much more. With a killer on the loose, Kath and her energetic fiber and needlework group – better known as TGIF – begin unraveling the mystery before the killer claims another victim.

Author Molly MacRae has created a cast of zany and funny-loving characters that readers will adore. She combines the elements of a cozy mystery with a touch of paranormal by featuring a melancholy ghost, Geneva, who haunts the Weaver’s Cat and gives advice to Kath. The characters are well-developed and realistic.
The small town atmosphere draws readers in and holds them spellbound with the charming setting and quirky residents. The warmth and friendly-feel of the Weaver’s Cat adds depth to the story.

SPINNING IN HER GRAVE is the third installment in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery series, but can be read on its own. The charming characters and tantalizing mystery blended with the colorful fabric shop makes for an entertaining read.

Spinning in Her Grave by Molly MacRae, Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Book #3, Obsidian , @2014, ISBN: 978-0451240644, Paperback, 352 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one print copy of SPINNING IN HER GRAVE. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.

To enter this giveaway, just answer the question below in the comments. Be sure to include a valid email address with your comment, if one is not available in your profile. “Are you a member (or have you been a member) of a knitting or crocheting group?”

If you wish not to be entered in the contest, just say ‘Not entering’ and then comment all you’d like. I don’t want to discourage someone from commenting just because they don’t want to enter the contest.

The deadline for entering the contest will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, March 13. The winner will be selected by Random.Org and I will notify the winner by email with the subject line ‘Thoughts in Progress Spinning in Her Grave.’ The winner will have 72 hours to respond to the email with their mailing information or to notify me they’ve already won the book elsewhere. If there isn’t a response in 72 hours, a new winner will be selected.

BTW if you’d like extra entries in the giveaway, tweet about the giveaway (return and share the link), share it on Facebook (return and share the link) and pin it on Pinterest (return and share the link). 

Thanks so much for dropping by and spending a bit of time with us. Remember, answer the following question for a chance to win a copy of SPINNING IN HER GRAVE: “Are you a member (or have you been a member) of a knitting or crocheting group?”

31 comments:

  1. I am neither a knitter or crocheter - have tried to crochet before but am just not coordinated enough, so my answer would have to be no I have not belonged to a club. griperang at embarqmail dot com

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    1. I like the idea of a club, Angela, but at my level of knitting skill, I'd be embarrassed to join one!

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  2. I love small town mysteries - and small towns are a blast to create!
    (Don't enter me as I'm in Canada!) Thanks for the tip on the series - off to check it out :)

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    1. Small towns have all the troubles and joy of the world, just in a cozier package. Keep warm up there in Canada, Jemi!

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  3. Molly, thanks again for joining us today. You make having a ghost around sound intriguing. Wishing you much success. Morning all.

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    1. Thanks for having me, Mason, and for hosting the contest!

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  4. Hi Mason and Molly - it sounds like BluePlum has been layered up well .. and small towns do change ... so murders could occur .. but I don't knit or crochet either .. and I can't stand wool .. so I'd avoid some of the stores!

    We had to knit squares and then a jumper at school .. I hated it - the wool irritated and I didn't enjoy it .. the jumper got one side to the armhole and then stopped! Not a happy memory, but better than a murder!!!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. I'm a pretty befuddled knitter myself, Hilary. I have dreams, but haven't gotten much beyond the scarf stage.

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Dezmond. I like coming up with them.

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  6. I have never been part of a knitting or crocheting group. My abilities in that area are pathetic. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Ha! Mine, too, traveler. Such a pity. Luckily, I have relatives who knit like pros. Me, I just write prose.

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  7. I love to crochet, but I don't know how to knit (yet!). I also live in a small town, so these books are so much fun for me. Congratulations on the new release Molly!!

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    1. Thank you, Kelly! Have fun learning to knit. I have fun - every single time I learn again. Someday I'll stick with it.

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  8. I would love to be able to knit and crochet. Alas not to be. Congratulations and best wishes. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  9. But knitting and crocheting vicariously through books is just as satisfying, petite. Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. i used to knit & crochet a bit when i was younger...nothing serious, just for fun....i probably learned in camp......

    thank you for the givewaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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    Replies
    1. Those camp skills come in handy! Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. I can't knit or crochet but I do really enjoy those types of cozy mysteries. I can do stamped cross-stitch. I have the first book in this series.
    catbooks72(at)gmail(dot)com

    https://twitter.com/MichelleFidler1/status/441015554497736705

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    1. Good to hear, Michelle! I hope you like it.

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  12. What a great feature, I need to check these out!

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    1. I hope you do check them out, Pamela, and enjoy them, too.

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  13. No, I am not a member of a knitting or crochet group, but my book club was just laughing about how many of us crochet and knit. suebradfordedwards (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  14. A multipurpose group, Sue! Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. I've never been a member of a knitting or crocheting group. I've never learned how to do to either of those. I would still enjoy reading this book!

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    1. Forgot my email.
      mittens0831 at aol dot com

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  16. https://twitter.com/CarolAnnM/status/441589630442303489
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

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  17. https://www.facebook.com/carol.mintz.7/posts/528174310632358?stream_ref=1
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  18. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/142707881916698050/
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have never been in a knitting or crochet group, since I can't do either. But I loved the first book.

    kaye.killgore@comcast.net

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  20. No, I don't know how to knit or crochet. I've always wanted to learn how, though!! Thanks for the chance to win this one. Looks awfully good.

    mlawson17 at Hotmail dot com

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.