Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Edith Maxwell & Mulch Ado... about cats and family secrets #bookgiveaway


HALLIEEPHRON:  We’re alwyas happy to be hosting Edith Maxwell, this time with her new (#5) Local Foods Mystery, Mulch Ado About Murder. Edith writes smart, twisty whodunnits, and this one's got her pondering family and their secrets, my personal favorite vein to mine.

Welcome, Edith!

EDITHMAXWELL: I’m delighted to be back on my favorite blog again. Thanks for inviting me back, Hallie, and congratulations on your new release!

I’m happy to give away a signed hardcover of my own new mystery to one commenter here today.

My fifth Local Foods Mystery, Mulch Ado About Murder, came out recently. In the series, organic farmer Cam Flaherty occasionally thinks about her distant – physically as well as emotionally – academic parents. It isn’t until this book that they come to visit. Her dad, William, is an awkward, funny, entirely unhandy man who finally shows how much he cares about his only child. Her mom? Deb becomes a suspect in the murder in the first scene. Cam learns all kinds of things about her mom’s past during the course of the book, and they eventually grow closer.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about family. Right now I’m sitting with a very ill kitty, keeping vigil to see if he’ll make it through or not. Birdy is the junior member of our family of cats, despite being fourteen, and we never thought he’d go before his older “siblings.” He was one of two felines I brought to the family of Hugh and me when we combined households over a decade ago. Birdy is also the cat in my (that is Maddie Day’s) Country Store Mysteries and has been on every cover.

Our former senior cat, my lovely and neurotic Athena, died in 2012, only a month before my mother also passed away. Hugh already had Preston, now famous as the farm cat in the Local Foods mysteries (and an artist’s version of which graces the cover of Mulch Ado About Murder), and Cristabel, who has ended up the kitchen cat in my Quaker Midwife Mysteries.

Birth families are the ones we usually think of when we mention the word family. In my case my parents were married for twenty-five years and had us four kids all less than two years apart before they were thirty. A few years after the divorce we acquired a stepfather and stepmother, and liked both of them very much. My sisters and I remain close, although we all live far apart, and my quirky brother is in the mix, too. What is it they say about family – the ones who have to take you in? We’re all so different from each other, but that shared past means a lot, and I know they have my back.

A good friend recently heard from his 44-year-old birth son for the first time, so that’s another kind of family. The son was happily adopted as a newborn, but reached out via ancestry.com to my friend, who now looks forward to meeting him.

Yet a different shape of family is the one we form with our partner, whether spouse or not, and their family. Half a year after I met Hugh, he took me to New Jersey for the first time to meet his parents, both retired schoolteachers. My father, who died too young in 1985, had also taught high school. When I walked into Bette and Roy’s apartment, she was working on the NYT Sunday crossword. He was ranting about the latest Republican shenanigans. A dictionary was open on the coffee table, and I thought, “I fit in this family!”

Then there is the family I created when I had children. My two adult sons, Allan and JD, are truly joys – self-supporting, funny, smart, handsome, both happy with women they love, and both staying in close contact with me. All I lack are some grandkids, and I have every confidence they’ll be along one of these years.

I often thank my Quaker family in my book acknowledgements. For almost three decades the members of my faith community have supported, nourished, and challenged me. Unconditional love from a group like that is an amazing gift.

So I believe we make families where we find them, and we find family where we need it. What about you, dear readers and back- blog regulars? What shapes do your families take? Have you learned any family secrets lately?

HALLIE: Edith, love your question and looking forward to reading today's comments. Remember, a book giveaway to one lucky commenter.

EDITH MAXWELL: 2017 double Agatha-nominated and national best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries; as Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies and journals, and she serves as President of Sisters in Crime New England.

A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens (and wastes time as a Facebook addict) north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram.

ABOUT MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER: It’s been a hot, dry spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. As organic farmer Cam Flaherty waits for much-needed rain, storm clouds of mystery begin to gather. Once again, it’s time to put away her sun hat and put on her sleuthing cap when a fellow farmer is found dead in a vat of hydroponic slurry—clutching a set of rosary beads. Showers may be scarce this spring, but there’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered ex-husband, the Other Man whose affair ruined their marriage, and Cam’s own visiting mother. Lucky for Cam, her nerdy academic father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing. Will he and Cam be able to clear her mom’s name before the killer strikes again?
 

103 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Edith, on the new book.
    As you’ve noted we become a family in many ways. In every place we’ve lived, we’ve been so fortunate to be part of a wonderful Church family. And, like most families, we’ve welcomed new members into our family circle as the children married and the grandbabies came along. For us, family is everything . . . .

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  2. Cute title and cover; it sounds fantastic and I hope to get a chance to read it soon. Thanks for the chance :)
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

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  3. An update to the post: I'm sad to say that Birdy did not make it and died a week ago, so our furry family is one smaller now. One son came to visit and we all gave our little boy a lovely burial, planting a lupine on his grave. So many fond memories.

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    1. Edith,

      You have my condolences. Very sad to read about Birdy. He was loved by you all.

      Hugs!

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  4. Congratulations, Edith, on the newest Local Foods mystery. I love this series, and am interested to see how Cam interacts with her parents in this one. Very sorry to hear about the passing of your beloved Birdy.
    grace dot koshida at gmail dot com

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    1. I'm delighted you love the books, Grace! And thanks.

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  5. Families are where you make them. My College Friends have been a huge joy to me and family after my Father and Grandmother died in my 20's...thanks for the chance to enter.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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    1. Exactly, Marilyn. One of my college friends is coming to visit (from Seattle to Mass) later this month - I haven't seen her in decades!

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  6. So sad about poor darling Birdy! What a lucky kitty to be in such a loving family of her own…

    And what a very sweet blog, thank you. So happy to be part of the Jingle Red far-flung family, right? The mystery community itself is a family, too, right?

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    1. Absolutely, Hank. I should have included the mystery community. So supportive and generous - and fun!

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    2. Yes, the mystery community is a family too :-)

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  7. Now that I have grandchildren, I am very conscious of making sure they know about family… It changes the shape of mine considerably! And in the most lovely way.

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    1. I can't wait! My darling goddaughter is having her first child in September, and she's like my sons' sister, so it'll be the first baby in the family.

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  8. Great post Edith and sorry about Birdy. Don't enter me as I have a copy of this book. Families are all around us..it's what grounds a person. Besides my birth family, my favorite family is the mystery community.

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    1. It is surely what grounds us, Dru Ann.

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  9. I'm so sorry about Birdy.
    I love this series. Thank you for the chance!
    peggyhyndman(at)att(dot)net

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    1. Thanks, Peggy. I'm so pleased you love the series!

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  10. Love your books. Thanks for the chance to win.
    judytucker1947@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Judy. It's such a treat to hear that readers love my books.

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  11. News about Birdy - so sad, Edith. Sorry. I do love that all your cats are part of your various books! On families - friends just evolve into family. Siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins in spirit. And our own extended families become closer as we get older - touching base and comparing notes on this strange journey of life. Secrets in the family - not so much - but, having experienced life in so many ways ourselves, as we get older - we might look at the narratives we were given differently and see our family history from a different perspective. Maybe the victim becomes the oppressor, that kind of thing.

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    1. Thanks, Marian. I kind of wish I'd discovered some dark family secret, like the great-aunt who murdered her husband or something. Instead what I have is no secret - the bullheaded obstinate Flaherty side of the family, with twin brothers who didn't speak to each other, and right down to my grandfather who stopped speaking to his firstborn, my mom, shortly before I was born - for the rest of his life!

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    2. So sorry about Birdy, Edith, and kudos on the newest book.

      Families, whoa. I wrote something of an epistle about mine, and then I accidentally erased it when I went back for a final read before posting. One day I will learn to save as I go along.

      So I'm condensing:

      Robert Frost: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

      And, best of all, Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

      What could I possibly say that would top that? My birth family are all dead and gone except for on uncle by marriage, who is 98 I think. I have cousins scattered all over the country, some of whom I keep in touch with, and others I've never met.

      My children are all established, sons in Texas still resenting the divorce of 40 years ago, and my daughter is about to move to the UK, Chester, where she and her husband expect to be for three years. Guess who's going to England in 2018?

      The grandchildren are in various states of growing up, from married Zachary and his wife, Alexandra, who is starting her career as a physician's assistant, to Caleb, who will be going to kindergarten this September. Or is it next? Max is almost 13, God help us, Cooper is 8, and Connor is 6. Our pride and joy, Sarah Ann, 23, is off to Laramie Wyoming to get her PhD, Anthropology/Archaeology, focusing on the peopling of the Americas. Evidently they did a lot of peopling in Wyoming. She applied and was accepted into three different programs, and this is the one that suited her best. Plus she gets a free ride and a stipend.

      My chosen family is Julie's, all living in Rochester, and this is what we arrange our holidays around! Next up is a huge gathering on the shores of Lake Ontario for the 4th of July. If there is still a shore. Our cousins who live there have water in the basement, and their beach is non-existent. I'd better check the back garden, may have everyone here instead.

      One last thing: My birth family has two traditions:

      The first is that son is lost in each generation. I drew the short end of the stick in mine. And it was my sweet first cousin once removed in the current one. I'd like this to stop.

      The second is that we produce one gay individual per generation. This isn't sad at all, especially since those who are coming after me don't need to pretend.

      Finis

      Ann


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    3. So many stories, Ann! Laramie is gorgeous - I was there for a sad occasion in October but I loved the air and the light. Isn't it lovely that the next generation doesn't have to pretend?

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    4. Thanks so much for sharing that Fontana/Ann

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  12. I am sorry about Birdy. Our pets are definitely part of the family.

    I have a big, noisy biological family, but I also wake up every morning to my Sprint family, and my writing community in Delaware I consider my tribe. I was very fortunate to spend a week with 4 writers (a-hem), and I consider those women my retreat family. Because, really, you can't have too many families, can you?

    I have been transcribing my mother's handwritten autobiography into a manuscript we can have published and shared with the family. No big secrets--yet!

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    1. I love being part of both your sprint family and your retreat family!

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  13. First, Edith, you have my sympathy on the loss of Birdy. Cats (and dogs) are important members of the family, too. My own family is pretty far-flung, geographically, but my sister and I were always close growing up, and never take more than a few minutes to get right back into the swing of things when we do get together. Nobody knows you better or longer than your siblings. As an adult, I've cherished those friends who have become like sisters to me. They've stood by me through all kinds of mess and drama.

    I try to pay the universe back for that by supporting and mentoring the younger waifs that come my way. I regularly mentor students at Dallas' arts magnet high school, and have started an informal internship program at work, welcoming high school and college volunteers who want a taste of life backstage. Some have come and gone in a summer. Others have become more like family to me. I still regularly keep up with the first young man I mentored. He is not only the first in his family to graduate from college, he has completed his masters degree and is working his way up the career ladder. Another young protegee has finished her junior year in college and is wrestling with the age-old career v. guy dilemma. I'm trying to steer her straight on that one. I love them all, as well as the furry fosters who flow through my house, and enjoy watching them gain the confidence to find their own way in the world. I think the love we give to all in our families provides that strong foundation they can build on.

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    1. Gigi, your life and connection with the arts fascinates me. Can you tell me more?

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    2. Sure. I was more or less doomed to a life in the arts, as my mother was an art teacher and my dad taught drafting and design. I grew up listening to classical music, got a BFA in Theatre (do note the "re" spelling--that makes it much, much artier, somehow) and spent most of my life writing for one business organization or another. I have worked in mainstream industries, but always felt more comfortable in cultural organizations, so about 20 years ago I focused on that, and in the years since have worked with the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition folks, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and I'm now Director of Education and Concert Operations for the Dallas Winds. I met up with the kids at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts when I worked on a campaign to renovate/rebuild their school, and recognized kindred spirits. I try to give them the kind of career help and moral support I wanted when I was that age. Sometime that's just speaking on career day, and sometimes it's long-term mentoring. They always shower many more blessings on me than I can ever give to them.

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    3. You clearly get a lot out of the mentoring, Gigi - and I'm sure the students do, too.

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    4. I don't have children of my own, and the love has to go somewhere.

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  14. I guess all our family secrets are sealed for good with the passing of all that knew them. And such a great mystery it is too!

    Seems that my Grandfather on my Dad’s side came over from the “old country” as we were told (Austria/Hungary area). Stories we were told and documentation we have found do not tell the same story as to where or time exactly. When he married my Grandmother he took on her Mother’s maiden name changing his name legally. My Dad didn’t know this until he was a young boy when he say a funny looking name on a board up in the barn loft. My Grandfather refused to talk at all about his past. After his death, my Dad found one Aunt that he had been told knew some family history. At the time she was in a nursing home but he went to visit her. Her comment when asked questions was “it’s best to leave the past in the past” and never would reveal anything to my Dad.

    We have always said that our family tree is short because it goes back no further than my Grandparents on that side of the family. Makes you wonder who he left behind and what all relatives we might actually have on the other side of the world.

    I am fortunate enough to have a copy of MULCH ADO ABOUT MURDER, but I’d love to win a copy of this amazing book to mail to the sister that I have not by birth but by choice. I had one brother that I wasn’t very close with after we became adults. He was a brother when it was convenient for him or wanted something. However, a very dear friend because my sister through the years. She has always been there for me especially in my greatest times of need. A prime example is when my Mom came to live with us after a nasty cancer surgery and with Alzheimer, she was my life line and kept me sane in a time when I was confined pretty much 24/7 being full time caregiver. Every Wednesday I look forward to the phone ringing knowing we will chat for an hour or more catching up with the events of the past week. Thank you for the chance!

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    1. Oh, I love digging into family secrets. My late husband's grandfather disappeared in the '30s. Some said he ran off with another woman. Some said he ran off with money that wasn't his. Others said he got sick and was packed off to a TB ward. We were never able to find out where he really went.

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    2. I always find it so sad when stories die with the only people who know them. What a wonderful chosen sister you have, Kay!

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    3. Kay,

      Your story reminded me of the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?" in that both did not know the family story beyond grandparents. In Jessica Biel's case, all she knew was that her grandparents' families came from Germany. To her surprise, she found out that they actually came from the Austrio-Hungarian Empire and that they were Jewish! She never knew that about her family.

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  15. Edith,

    Welcome to JRW! Your new book sounds wonderful. I added your book to my TBR list. When you mentioned the academic parents, I wonder if they have what I call the "ivory tower syndrome".

    Families come in all sizes and shapes. I remember a story about author Jack London's foster mother was a slave.

    And I also was reminded of a book "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child".

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    1. Edith,

      I meant to say Congratulations on your new book!

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    2. Thanks! Explain what ivory tower syndrome is?

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    3. Edith, I am taking a guess here. We often hear about professors viewing the world from the ivory tower?

      Perhaps that means "idealistic" or "unrealistic" view in contrast to people who have different experiences?

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  16. Congratulations Edith on your latest book in this series. I truly enjoy reading your books from the covers which draw my eye to the book to the wonderful story inside. So sorry to hear about Birdy, such a beautiful cat. Presently we have two inside cats, Romeo Luigi, (black), and Ralphie Lee, (long haired orange marmalade), and are tending to a litter of 7 outside beside their Mama. It is so enjoyable watching them grow. I hope to be able to get them before they run off to be spayed or neutered. If my daughter and I have our way, we may even bring in one or two. lol! Your description of Cam's parents sounds so familiar. I loved my parents so very much and miss them since they passed 11 years ago. They were like night and day from each other and yet they somehow made it work for over 50 years. Thank you for the opportunity to enter your giveaway. My fingers are crossed I might get lucky and win a copy of your book. Keep them coming in both this series and your midwife series.

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    1. Thanks, Robin. My older sister also feeds outdoor cats. I'm writing book 4 in the Quaker Midwife series right now!

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  17. Having pets in your family is a guarantee of heart tugging experiences, since we almost always outlive them. It's too sad for me.

    My mother's family just had our second reunion in 51 years this past weekend. The last time was 1991, so there was a lot to catch up on! Mother had eight siblings, so most of the younger kids have no idea who they're related to these days, the family is so huge.

    When my oldest daughter starting dating her husband, an only child, 25 years ago, she anticipated a conflict for Thanksgiving. Jeff needed to be with his parents, who were even then older, and my daughter also had to figure out how to fit in a family function with her dad's side. So I suggested we invite Jeff's mom and dad to come here. They became a part of every family celebration and get-together for the rest of their lives from then on.

    My husband's first wife died in a car accident just a couple months after they got married (after eight years of dating). She was also part of a small family, with two siblings, and parents who would not live as long as they should. Her brother moved back to Cincinnati a few years ago, and we include him in all holiday celebrations; I call him my "step brother-in-law". Of course, we aren't related at all, but it makes no difference, he's family, nonetheless, and so are his sons. And he often sits next to our dear neighbors Lise and Frank, who have shared Thanksgiving with us almost every year since our children were small, since they long ago left their homes and relatives to come here.

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  18. How wonderful to include all those others in your Thanksgiving festivities, Karen. I host the dinner every year and love to invite a few people who otherwise would be alone.

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    1. My family has a tradition of inviting people without families to Thanksgiving dinner.

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  19. Coming in late.(at an airport now) but loving all these comments - so much insight into who we are. Thx Edith

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    1. Indeed! Safe travels, Hallie.

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    2. I just finished reading "You'll Never Know Dear" today--in fact, I sneaked off to have lunch by myself so I could finish it! Really enjoyed it.

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  20. Families do, indeed, come in all varieties.
    Seeing the picture of your sweet cat tells me I need to wish you well in adjusting to losing the "baby." They are truly family, too.
    Libby Dodd

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    1. libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    2. Thank you, Libby. I was away on a week-long retreat when he died, and when I got home five days later and he wasn't here, it hit me all over again.

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    3. Libby, you are the randomly selected winner! Libby, please FB message your snail mail address to me, or email it to edith at edithmaxwell dot com. Congratulations!

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  21. I was saddened to read that your sweet Birdy has crossed the Rainbow Bridge and offer my heartfelt sympathy. I treasure my time with my two cocker spaniels, both of whom are now 11.
    I thoroughly enjoyed your post on families. My dad passed away suddenly in 1985, and my three children lost their dad unexpectedly in 1997. Those sudden, unexpected losses served to reinforce how each moment with family should be savored and not taken for granted. My mom passed away in February, two months and four days shy of her 95th birthday. Even though the past few years were difficult with an initial followed by a rapid decline I don't know who is ever ready to say goodbye to their mom.
    Three years ago I moved 200 miles away from my hometown area to a different state to live near my two daughters' families. My son is 1400 miles away but we visit at least several times a year. My grandkids are my pride and joy and I am anticipating a summer trip to China with my younger daughter as we travel to adopt a second daughter from there. I stayed with my two youngest grandkids in March, 2016, when Megyn and Andrew journeyed to China to adopt their youngest daughter. This time Andrew is staying home with their three kiddos and I get to travel with Megyn to pick up our precious JuneBug.
    Families by blood or by choice are FABULOUS! Life is good!!

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    1. How wonderful you get to see China AND gain a granddaughter! Saying good bye is always painful, no matter what.

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  22. Edith, so sorry to hear about Birdy--sending you hugs. But I think it's lovely that he lives on in the books.

    I'm a great believer in "the families you make." Not because I don't like mine, but both parents are gone now, my only brother is in Tasmania (by choice!) and my only niece (blood-related) is in California. But I have such a wonderful community of friends that I think of them as family. And then there are the REDs, and all the people I've come to know in the writing world, and they feel like family, too.

    I also have a lot of family on my husband's side, and as they've known me since I was a teenager, and knew my folks, they fill a big gap in that need for connectedness.

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    1. So glad you have found family to fill in for the blood relatives, Debs. And thanks for the hugs - I got 'em!

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    2. Agree with Deborah that Birdy lives on in the books.

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  23. Such a loving tribute to family no matter how it is formed.

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  24. Wonderful post. Sorry to hear about Birdy. families are always fascinating to get together and commiserate with.

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  25. I am one of three siblings and never see my brother since he has no use for me. My sister less so but never see her as well. They get along well. Parents are gone. A small family with tensions.

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  26. Congrats on the new book. I had no family has my father took me to police station and told them he was a bartender and that he couldn;t take care of me. So I was at the mercy of foster homes which I just despise there are so few that are good as I volunteered for the county in Ca for 9 years and wow felt so sorry for the kids so I made sure the day I got to spend with them and their real parent or parents was a good one for all involved. I do have some really close friends that i prefer to call my family and my own kids who they love me one min and then using words that you would never call your mom they are calling me on the phone and telling me off the next you would think my daughter who is 40 would of matured and learned as when we were a family she wanted and got everything and that was the problem. I now live in Iowa and my husband and my 2 pups are my family and love talking to my grandkids in Calif as they are just wonderful so is my son they are all keepers. The saddest day for me was when my grandma passed a few years ago at 100 and 1/2 and she fell outside walking to mcdonalds. She was my rock and my hero and always set a wonderful example for me so i try to forget all the bad bad stuff that happened to me in the foster home and be glad by the grace of god that i got to live with her and had her in my life! peggy clayton ptclayton2@aol.com

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    1. It's never easy to let people go. But your grandmother had a pretty good run to make it over 100, Peggy. I'm glad part of your family makes you happy.

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  27. Congrats on the new book, Edith! I'm so sorry that Birdy didn't make it. I feel fortunate to have a wonderful family of origin, as well as friends I consider to be my "family of choice." Sometimes I think people feel too bound by blood and tolerate things they shouldn't. Being related shouldn't be a pass for bad behavior! ;)

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    1. Ingrid, that is so true. Thank you for these words of wisdom :-)

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    2. Thanks, Ingrid. Agree, true words!

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  28. Speaking of Quakers and families, here is an interesting story about my 2x great grandfather in the Midwest. His sister married a Quaker. To my surprise, when she married the Quaker, the Friends excommunicated the husband because he married a woman who was NOT a Quaker. The marriage was in mid 1800s?

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    1. Yes, commonly done at the time. Quakers didn't want to dilute the brand, so to speak, because they had been threatened for so long. It was calling being "read out" of Meeting. My Quaker midwife is facing exactly this in the late 1880s because she's in love with, horror of horrors, a Unitarian! My research says that a member who was read out could appeal it after a couple of months and sometimes was allowed back in. John Greenleaf Whittier's brother Matthew was read out for marrying a non-Friend and never came back.

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    2. Wonder if it is different now.

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    3. Completely different now! Reading out for marrying out us no longer practiced.

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    4. good to know :-) . Thank you.

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  29. Edith, congratulations on your new book! How do you keep up the pace you do? And, I am so sorry about Birdy. What an adorable cat. Living on through your books is a great tribute.

    Families. I include a huge thank-you in my prayers every morning for my family of my husband, kids, son-in-law, and granddaughters. I had a lot of problems with infertility and a tubal pregnancy before I finally got pregnant with first my daughter and then my son (had only one fallopian tube when those miracles occurred). So, I've never taken these two gifts for granted, and the bonus of grandchildren is a a joy I still squeeeee about.

    The family I grew up with, my parents and three siblings, was so important to me, too. One of the best parts was Christmas, as my older siblings went off on their own and started procreating. The presents pile around the tree, the food, the fun of being together.

    And, a family that has enriched my life so much in the last five years is the mystery/crime family. Generous, fascinating soul mates who daily lift me up. I've found sisters and brothers who I can't now imagine being without.

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    1. You are definitely well blessed, Kathy. I feel exactly the same about the mystery community, both my fellow authors and all you fabulous fans.

      I treat my writing like the full-time job it is, working every day but Sunday. So far the muse hasn't deserted me, but I'm in deep trouble if she does, LOL...

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    2. Edith, thank you from a fan :-)

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  30. Kathy,

    families can be wonderful too.

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  31. I have my military "family" from all our moves around the country. But also my sorority family, writer friends family, neighbors who became family and of course my real family. Congratulations of the new book. I loved it.

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    1. Thanks, Sherry! You improved it, too. I love all these sub families people have.

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  32. Isn't it a blessing that we can have many families of our choosing. We are stand-in family for friends in Ohio with few blood relations. We celebrated holidays together. Considered each other's kids honorary sons and daughters. Are godparents. We moved away in 2000 but still remain close. I enjoy my sister's grown kids; my brother's kids have always been clannish so never developed a relationship with them. I loved my parents-in-law, but unfortunately not their other sons. That whole side of the family is problematical. Bleah. So sorry you lost one of your four-legged family members, Edith. That hurts.

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    1. yes, it is a blessing that we can have family of our choosing.

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    2. Many are the blessings! I didn't even mention my best friend and her daughter, who really are family to my sons.

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  33. So sorry to hear about Birdy. Whenever we have a similar loss my granddaughter and I turn to one of two favorite books: Cat Heaven or Dog Heaven. Just seems to help. The family I live with consists of 3 kitties and a dog. It wouldn't be home without them.

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    1. I'll have to look for that book, Judi. Thanks for caring.

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    2. Two different books by Cynthia Rylant. Think you'll enjoy them.

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  34. Well, after the passing of my father 11 years ago and my mother last year, it is just the three kids. But I wouldn't say that we are all that close. My brother and I get along when our time together is limited and there is distance between us. My sister is mainly living her own life. Most of our interaction is through talking about books.

    There is the extended family, but they are all more than 90 minutes away. There is the familiarity of being related but we usually see each other at funerals and marriages or some other kind of gathering where the extended group is obliged to show up.

    Beyond that, I am just not that much of a joiner. I know people and can hang out with them for a while, but I think the need to be surrounded by others is just missing from my makeup. I used to joke that I was closer to the Patterson family from the comic strip For Better or For Worse than I was to my own family.

    I have a regular hangout for lunch and trivia night but that's a couple of hours and I go home. It's more acquaintances than friends, and certainly not family.

    I had what would be considered a family of one's own choosing for about 25 years when I was coaching youth league basketball, but for reasons that are far too long and detailed to go into here, that ended almost 6 years ago and only in the last 6 months has there been any kind of thaw in the severed relationship that became.

    I'm better on my own. I'm set in my ways and cranky. I mean, I LIKE going to movies and concerts alone. Book signings too. This allows me to do what I want, according to my time frame. It frees me from the burden of having to "entertain" someone else.

    This doesn't mean I'm incapable of being around people or being nice to them. (Ask Hank or Ingrid how happy I am when I see them at a signing) I just don't feel a particular need to go out of my way to acquire a large grouping of friends. The ones I have I'm fiercely loyal to and that is enough.

    I saw a great pic/meme from a Facebook friend of mine yesterday that kind of sums me up in general and specifically in terms of romantic relationships, which I have no time for or interest in anymore:

    "People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love, because they have become so used to being single, independent and self-sufficient that it takes something extraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life."

    Pretty much sums me up.

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    1. Sounds like you know yourself well, Jay.

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    2. You're definitely happy to see us at book signings, and we're equally happy to see you! I think it's great when people figure out what works for them and do it. We're each responsible for our own happiness, and it sounds like you've got yours figured out, Jay.

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  35. Congratulations, Edith! I love your post. I do believe you find family where you need it -- like the mystery community. I'm looking forward to reading Mulch Ado About Murder.

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  36. I'm originally from Michigan and most of my immediate family lives in Michigan and we all stay in touch. I also have a Chicago family, my best friend and I are very close and I'm also very close with her family and if I ever need anything or they need anything, we are there for each other. It's nice to have two great families. Looking forward to reading "Mulch Ado About Murder".
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  37. I'm originally from Michigan and most of my immediate family lives in Michigan and we all stay in touch. I also have a Chicago family, my best friend and I are very close and I'm also very close with her family and if I ever need anything or they need anything, we are there for each other. It's nice to have two great families. Looking forward to reading "Mulch Ado About Murder".
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  38. What a lovely post, Edith. I cheered at your comment, "I fit in here."

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  39. Edith,

    I love that title "Mulch Ado About Nothing". Thinking of Shakespearean "Much Ado About Nothing".

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  40. Libby Dodd is the randomly selected winner! Libby, please FB message your snail mail address to me, or email it to edith at edithmaxwell dot com. Congratulations!

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