After a busy and exciting spring, having three new short stories accepted for crime anthologies, I got word in September that a FOURTH story has been added to the mix.

Historically Speaking: I’m thrilled to learn my story “The Lady’s Maid Vanishes” has been accepted for inclusion in the anthology, Murder Most Historical , to be published in time for the 2017 Malice Domestic mystery conference.

More She-Bang: November 2016 will see two of my stories appearing, along with those of 17 other Canadian crime writers, in the new anthology, The Whole She-Bang 3

Swimming with the Guppies: My short story “Gossip” will be included in the next Guppy crime anthology, Fish Out of Water.

The Guppies are a Sisters in Crime group of writers whose first three anthologies all have a distinctly fishy flavour.

 The Lady’s Maid Vanishes

1931 in the Canadian Rockies. When her maid goes missing from the viceregal entourage while travelling through the Rockies, Lady Byng, wife of the Governor General, is determined to find out the truth.

 A Death at the Parsonage

1823 England: When a not-very-well-liked clergyman dies a suspicious death while preparing his Sunday sermon, a quick-witted lady turns detective to come to the aid of her friend.

Family Traditions

Stuck in the kitchen on the biggest turkey-and-football day of the year, a long-suffering housewife takes a new look at sacred family traditions.


A successful artist returns to the small town she left behind nearly twenty years ago, and discovers her reputation is not what she thought it was.


Pandora in Blue Jeans

I love this picture. Grace Metalious posing for Larry Smith, photographer at the Lanconia Citizen. It appears on the back cover of her 1956 debut novel, Peyton Place, along with the blurb:

Grace Metalious is the most surprising new novelist of the year.  In  PEYTON PLACE  this Pandora  in  blue  jeans  lifts the lid off a small New England village, in the most explosive novel since KINGS ROW.

I suppose those are the proofs in the picture.  I wonder if she actually wrote at that tiny table in such an uncomfortable position.  But I strongly suspect the ashtray and cigarette are real.

So this (dare I say iconic?) picture of the small town girl turned best-selling author has floated through time in various incarnations.  First and most valid is this image of Allison MacKenzie, played by Diane Varsi, in the 1957 movie.

diane varsi as alison mackenzie

Diane Varsi as Allison MacKenzie, 1957

Clearly Allison lives in a higher rent district than her prototype, and she writes in the living room instead of the kitchen, the table is fancier but smaller and there’s no ashtray in sight. She looks just as uncomfortable.

The movie, by the way, scrubbed up a lot of the events and characters as they were portrayed in the book. Worst job was on the Harringtons, father and son team of slimeballs. Leslie Harrington goes from controlling, conniving town boss to benevolent mill owner, and his complete-waste-of-skin son Rodney, instead of being every mother’s worst nightmare, who dies with his girlfriend in a drunken driving crash, is a decent guy who is killed in WWII and lauded as a war hero. Go figure.

girl on the bestseller list


Our next Pandora incarnation is The Girl on the Bestseller List, 1960, by Vin Packer.  The ashtray is back, the table is even smaller and she looks just as uncomfortable as her predecessors in her Room of One’s Own.

From what I found at Goodreads, it’s a crime story centred around Gloria Wealdon, who writes a novel based on the people in her small town.  Hmmm.

Vin Packer is actually Marijane Meaker, who has written a ton of books under a variety of pseudonyms. Vin Packer was her crime novel persona.




Laura Rider's Masterpiece

Decades pass

In 2009, Jane Hamilton, who should know better, writes Laura Rider’s Masterpiece, a fairly silly tale about a woman who engineers her husband’s affair with another woman. Yawn.

But wait, look at the cover….

Yes, it’s Grace alias Allison alias Gloria. Now she’s become Laura Rider. Yet another Pandora in Blue Jeans.

But….what about her friends? Where did they come from?

I’ll tell you.  They came from Louisiana.






In 1956, the year Grace Metalious hit the big time with Peyton Place, Jack Woodford and John B. Thompson wrote Sugar Doll.

They look like nice people, though, don’t they?





Pandora in Blue Jeans bobble head doll








Pandora in Blue Jeans just lives on and on.  How about  a bobblehead doll from the New Hampshire Historican Society.

No manuscript, but there’s the ashtray.  Only one cigarette.  I guess she’s trying to cut down.

me, strangely like Grace










Several years ago, a friend snapped a picture of me at the cottage, working at my laptop.

I know, I know.  But I swear the plaid shirt and jeans and pose are just me. I didn’t notice the resemblance until just recently.

There’s no ashtray.







So now this brings us to Pandora’s final incarnation.  As I said, I love the Pandora in Blue Jeans image. So much so, that I recreated it in miniature.  (Why yes, I am a miniaturist, but that’s another persona.) Here is Grace in 1 inch scale.

Pandora in Blue Jeans_06-a_1

Pandora in Blue Jeans_04-adj_1

Hope you enjoy the many incarnations of Pandora.

For more about this guilty pleasure, take a look at mystery writer Susan Van Kirk’s blog posting.

Or just pick up a copy and lose yourself in the world of Peyton Place.


With all the fun of trying to write long and prosper, I have the honour of being asked to participate in two writer panels this week.

Death to the Day Job – Thursday, May 21, 7:00 pm

At the Toronto Sisters in Crime May meeting I’ll be appearing on a panel with Elizabeth J. Duncan and D. J. MacIntosh, hosted by Melodie Campbell.  All of them are accomplished, multipublished Canadian crime writers.

The topic?  Death to the Day Job or, Let’s talk about how you quit your day job and now spend your days making stuff up and getting published and earning lots of money.

Right. Let’s admit that for me, at least, I’ve got the quit the day job part down cold. I had many reasons to leave the evil corporate financial world behind, one of which was, “Gee, I’ll have time to make stuff up and get published and earn lots of money.”

We’ll be holding forth 7:00 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at the Northern District Branch of my favourite institute in Canada, the Toronto Public Library. Guests are welcome at $5 a pop.

Anyone in doubt of how much I love the Toronto Library system (which just opened its 100th branch this week!) can refer to my short story in The Whole She-Bang 2, “Poetic Justice” (aka The Booklover v. The Politician).


Women and Crime – Brantford Public Library, Saturday May 23, 2:00 pm

May is Mystery Month in Brantford, and the Library is holding a panel on Women and Crime.  Writers appearing in the anthologies The Whole She-Bang 2 (Canadian Sisters in Crime) and Thirteen (Mesdames of Mayhem) will be participating.  I’ll be joining Catherine Astolfo, Helen Nelson, Jill Downie, Melodie Campbell and Madeleine Harris-Callway.

We’ll be at the Main Library at 173 Colborne Street, Brantford, Ontario, from 2:00-3:30 pm, talking about Women (who we are) and Crime (what we do).

The Whole She-Bang

Yes, it’s official. I’ve turned to a life of crime.  My short story “Poetic Justice” is being included in the newest  anthology from Canadian crime writers, The Whole She-bang 2.

Following the 2011 success of the first book, The Whole She-Bang, the Canadian members of Sisters in Crime decided to publish a second anthology of crime stories by Canadian writers, from first offenders to hardened veterans.

The Whole She-Bang 2

The Whole She-Bang 2

Editor Janet Costello and her crew have pulled together 24 stories ranging from cosy to noir, from deadly serious to dying laughing.  I’m thrilled to be included among such a talented crew of sisters and brothers.

What other writers are saying….

The Whole She-Bang 2 is wonderful! With accomplished short stories that range from hilarious to gruesome to downright unsettling, this is a collection sure to appeal to any taste. It does Canada’s female crime writers proud. —Louise Penny, New York Times Bestselling author

Thoughtful, well-written and above all, entertaining, this collection of short stories by established and up-and-coming crime writers is as Canadian as a polite little murder on a winter’s afternoon.    —Elizabeth J. Duncan, award-winning author of the Penny Brannigan series.

Are the stories in this new collection by Sisters in Crime ingenious? Check. Well written? Check.  A delight, a surprise, and unputdownable, story after story? Check, check, and check. If ever there was an anthology worth checking out, this is it.    Scott Mackay, Arthur Ellis Award winner for best short mystery fiction

You can buy a copy at The Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto’s Independent Mystery Bookstore,

or order it online,  hard copy or e-book.

Release date November 20 2014..


Sigh.  Everyone’s gone home (though some are still travelling) and I’m left with memories of a whole ton of good times and some really nice gifts.

This post covers the last day and  our leave-taking.

Tuesday morning found most of us still at the cottage, but because of the rain, we had no more cavorting on the dock.

Karen takes a shot of the dock from the canoe.  She's so talented.

Karen takes a shot of the dock from the canoe. She’s so talented.

Instead, we sit around the cottage eating breakfast (scones and strawberry jam by me, excellent scrambled eggs by Karen) talking and playing more games. Oh, the hardship.

Sulie, Karen, Perry.  Plus Tricia

Sulie, Karen, Perry. Plus Tricia

Then lunch, and we have to finish up the

a – Butter Tarts

b – Nanaimo Bars

c – Cherry Pie

And then we pack the cars. Of course, the sun comes out.

Perry has decided that though her new “two-person” tent (all campers know what that means) is a good tent, she’s no longer up for sleeping on the ground.  So I inherit a new tent for my grandsons to enjoy.

Back at Neill-Wycik by suppertime.  Susan M has already left in the morning for Colorado, then Walla-Walla, Washington so we’re down to 9.  We enjoy Thai food courtesy of Kristi, plus chow down on a few leftovers.

A lot more talking and then bedtime.

Jerri leaves first, at 6 am, to begin her long trek back to Arkansas, to the waiting arms of Dan. Delta tries hard to make her miss her connecting flight, but they fail, and she reaches the departure lounge with a whole 10 minues to spare and gets her seat back from the stand-by passenger it was given to.

Perry is heading out on her own in her truck, and Betty (Tennessee) is taking Linda (Virginia), Kristi (New York)  and Karen (Tennessee) back in her van.  The planned departure is 8:00.

Tricia, Linda, Perry and Karen make final farewell, at 8:05. (Betty is in the van)

Tricia, Linda, Perry and Karen make final farewell, at 8:05. (Betty is in the van)

At 8:06 (because Betty is very good at herding cats) the two vehicles roll out of the garage.

Tricia and Sulie and I go upstairs and check out, and then we put Sulie in a cab for Billy Bishop Airport; she’s flying to Montreal for a few days before going home to Olympia, Washington).  Then Tricia and I pack my car (I’m taking her to the airport this afternoon to fly home to Victoria). Then….

Tricia helps with the jacking up, and reads the directions to me while I change the tire.

Tricia helps with the jacking up, and reads the directions to me while I change the tire.

So I leave Tricia in the big city to make her own way to the airport, while I drive home and work on getting a new tire.

So there we all our, heading back to our respective homes.

Everyone who is driving crosses the border without incident, and even the peaches make it across without being confiscated (that was an accident).

This has been a wonderful wonderful time.  I’m so happy everyone who came came, and that they all enjoyed themselves so much.  Everyone contributed so much to the fun and fellowship, and it’s absolutely astounding how we can meet up with each other, years apart, and feel like we’ve been been hanging out together always.

Now to start planning the next one.

final post: I’ll put up some pictures Dessies have sent me for a final round-up

It’s our last morning together (though we’ve already lost Alice on Sunday)

Jerri, Linda, Sulie, Anne, Kristi, Alice, Susan, Karen

Betty, Sulie, Susan M, Linda, Kristi, Perry, Jerri, Tricia, Karen, Susan D

Susan Monahan has to return home on Tuesday so we leave her in Toronto for a solo patch, and the rest of of head out of town overnight.

Linda joins her friends in Guelph.  I’m attaching her report, lifted out of Facebook… (hope that’s okay, Linda)

So sorry, but I’m still having fun. Just spent two days in Guelph with Lou and Klaus Niemann. They deserve medals for driving through extensive traffic to get me and to bring me back. Plus, Lou took me out to tea for breakfast, then she and Klaus took me to an all you can eat Mennonite restaurant. Coconut Butter Tart PIE!!! Lou also took me to the home of John McCrae, the man who wrote the poem In Flanders Fields. Very moving standing in the garden surrounded by poppies.

John McCrea memorial in Guelph

John McCrea memorial in Guelph

As if Linda hasn’t had enough LMM in Leaskdale, they drive past the other Ontario church where she spent much of her adult life.

Norval, where LMM and her family lived until 1935

Norval, where LMM and her family lived until 1935

Meanwhile, the 8 other Dessies head towards Canning Lake, near Haliburton, to spend some serious fun time near, in and on the lake.  Betty is driving one party, and Susan the other.  We meet up in Minden at the Kawartha Dairy (with the cow on the roof) and stock up on ice cream. Then on to the cottage.

Perry, Jerri and Sulie set up Perry's new tent, which she will sleep in for the first -- and last -- time.  Everyone else gets a bed in the cottage or sleeping cabin

Perry, Jerri and Sulie set up Perry’s new tent, which she will sleep in for the first — and last — time.

Perry roughs it. Everyone else gets a bed in the cottage or sleeping cabin.

We make sandwiches, and take them down to the dock to eat lunch, then everyone (ignoring our moms’ advice about swimming after meals) hits the water.

Tricia and noodles

Tricia and noodles

Karen and noodle

Karen and noodle

Jerri with noodle

Jerri with noodle

Lots of Dessies with noodles

Lots of Dessies with noodles

We have to take lots of pictures with noodles, so Sally, English Dessie, will understand what it’s all about.

Betty the Birthday Queen gets the luxury toy.  It's a big one for her today.

Betty the Birthday Queen gets the luxury toy. It’s a big event for her today.

Kristi with, you guessed it, a noodle

Kristi with, you guessed it, a noodle

Karen tries out the hammock

Karen tries out the hammock

Betty and Jerri on the dock

Betty and Jerri on the dock

Next it’s time to get out the canoe and the kayak, and I go into camp counsellor mode, showing everyone what to do, and getting them safely in and out.  No one fell into the lake.

Betty in the kayak

Betty in the kayak

Jerri in the Kyak.  Firt time, but she's game for more

Jerri in the Kayak. First time, but she’s game for more

Tricia and Karen in the canoe

Tricia and Karen in the canoe

Tricia in the kayak, with Karen and Sulie in the canoe

Tricia in the kayak, with Karen and Sulie in the canoe

Whew!  After all that, it’s time for Wine with Marie Biscuits.

a truly Dessish treat, Marie biscuits with wine.

a truly Dessish treat, Marie biscuits with wine.

And then dinner of fresh corn, roasted chicken, Caesar salad and garlic bread.  And wine.

Suppertime at the cottage

Suppertime at the cottage

Dessert. More butter tarts and….

Betty gets birthday cake Nanaimo Bars

Betty gets birthday cake Nanaimo Bars

MUCH talking, much game playing (such as guessing which DES character you are from the name on your forehead) and then we find our various beds and settle in for the night.

Tuesday: our last day together.

Alice leaves us today to drive home Ohio after far too short a stay.  Then I pretty much disappear from the Dessie scene today, with a personal commitment, so everyone else has to have fun without me.

Perry takes Linda, Betty, Sulie and Karen to find a polo match north of Toronto.  Here is Linda’s report stolen from her facebook page:

DES member Perry Palmer is a lifetime aficionado of polo and we couldn’t find the big polo match in the Ontario countryside, but did happen upon practice chukkas (hope that’s the way to do the plural). Perry gave us Polo 101 and it was so much fun to see that the ponies know how to play polo and avidly follow the ball even with total newbies in control. Wow.

the players

the players

THEN we came back to Toronto and ate Spicy Indian food and went to the Textile Museum. As Perry tried to get into the parking lot the gatekeeper kept saying to us: Adam Sandler! Adam Sandler! We were stymied by this and thought we were mishearing, but finally ignored him and parked. Then we saw huge semi-trucks and paraphernalia and there may or may not be an Adam Sandler film in progress. It turns out that there are secret code words that these movie people use to throw people off the trail. My theory is that the parking attendant thought that we were arriving old lady stand-ins.

Jerri and Susan M took the ferry to the Toronto Islands. 

Ferry to Toronto Islands

Ferry to Toronto Islands

Susan enjoyed looking at the old cottages on Ward’s Island, and then Jerri found her way to the Centreville Amusement Park, where she delighted in riding the antique merry-go-round, selecting an Ostrich for her mount, because it’s a Thirkell thing.

Jerri's selfie with Ostrich

Jerri’s selfie with Ostrich

When we’re all back at Neill-Wycik, we have a challenge round of Kim’s Game, DES style, arranged by Kristi and me.  Not only do Dessies have to remember the items, they have to explain the significance of each one.

Kim's Game

Kim’s Game

Time for presents.  Tricia is given a lovely scarf from the Textile Museum, as a thank you for all the games and presents she’s made for us, including our crocheted necklaces and hats,  and I am presented with a pair of magnifying lornettes and some book-buying booty.

Thanks everyone. You’re all so sweet.

Monday: One of our group stays in Toronto; the rest are off to the wilds of Guelph and Minden, two major Ontario hot spots.  We use noodles.

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