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July newsletter

Hi folks.

I have just sent out the July copy of my newsletter, you can sign up here, and thought I would share a copy here.

July 15, 2022

Hello my readers,

Don’t fall over. This is my first emailed newletter from Babs Emodi author in a long, long time.

Where have I been? I have been writing and writing this year. The first in my Gasper’s Cove Crafters series Crafting for Murder is due to be released September 1. If you are interested in a free advance reader copy, and hopefully can leave an honest review on your favourite online retailer (readers read reviews), please let me know by contacting me at babsemodi@gmail.com

But before we get to that wanted to share with you why I decided to write stories.

This is how it is. I have been around for a while and have collected many stories, human and humorous in my head. I really wanted a place to put them.

The main character in my series is Valerie Rankin and she teaches sewing classes in the family general store in Gasper’s Cove Nova Scotia, and later helps her community set up a crafter’s co-op.

Sewing classes have been a big part of my life, both as a teacher and before that as a student.

Let me tell you a story.

I am the oldest of four girls and grew up in a small town. When I was still in single digits my mother had my youngest sister, who is deaf. At that time, and in that place there were not many resources for helping deaf children (incredibly I can remember my grandmother suggesting she would be happier in an institution “with her own”. Aren’t we all glad we are no longer living in the good old days?)

Anyway, my mother somehow found out that the actor Spencer Tracey had a deaf son and had set up a foundation to send out mail order type lessons to teach small deaf children. My mother became obsessed with this program and our home was quickly blanketed with snap cards. (My sister by the way turned out brilliantly).

In the middle of all of this I was a bit of a nuisance. I had been given a hand powered metal sewing machine by a Czeck woman who lived across the street. This changed my world as I was always up to some scheme, as I still am to be honest. One of my enterprises was to run a doll clothes factory out of the garage. There I forced various small children to be my cutters and I stitched up my collections, which were then sold to whiny kids, some of whom were my cutters, (I hope I gave them a discount, I can’t remember) who went home begging for 5 cents or 10 cents to buy my clothes.

As I remember I was doing a roaring business until the mothers on my street banded together and decided to shut me down. I was in fact summoned to a meeting with the mother union. I distinctly remember riding my bike down to one house and knowing that I was going to get a good talking to when I got there. 

Back at home, sitting on the grey rug in the living room with a hyper toddler surrounded by educational materials from Hollywood, my mother snapped. She decided I needed to be sent off to a summer program of some kind to keep me out of her hair and to shut down the phone calls from her neighbours. The problem, of course, was that in ancient times summer programs for kids had not been invented. So, in desperation she signed me up for adult sewing lessons at the Singer Sewing School in the musty basement of the Singer dealership downtown.

And so, it all started. From that basement to Gasper’s Cove and Valerie Rankin. One straight line.

I completely loved every minute of learning to sew. The teacher was the most elegant woman I had ever seen, no housedress, just a light purple linen shift dress with beautiful, perfect, hand-running stitches accentuating every one of her princess seams.

I am happy to say that the curriculum was not adjusted at all to accommodate me. There in that basement, taught by a bouffant Jackie Kennedy look-alike, I learned to make tailor tacks and bound buttonholes. By the end of the summer I had made my own ten-year-old self a fully lined pink wool suit, and learned the first rule of wardrobe planning, sew what fits your lifestyle or you’ll never wear it.

Even more interesting to me than construction techniques was the conversation in that class and the first glimpse it provided to me of the stories women have to tell when they are given a chance.

There you have it, why I am writing.

And I think I’ll just tell little stories in these author newsletters. What do you think?

You probably noticed that my novels are murder mysteries too. Why not? There are a lot of mysteries in this life and people reveal who they really are under pressure. 

Which reminds me.

Did I ever tell you about the body they found in the professor’s office when I was in university?

Next time.

Thanks for reading, so much appreciated.

Your friend,

Babs

Featured

The return of flypaper thoughts

For new readers I should explain. Flypaper thoughts are a transfer from my old long running sewing blog. In them, I put the thoughts that pass through my head in no particular order.

And here we go

  • I took a pause
  • Honestly what a crazy couple of years
  • And at the end of it some insane maniac decides to play around with a world war
  • I mean most of us just want to walk the dog
  • In the middle of this my 94 year old mom moved into assisted living
  • There’s too many old people here
  • Nice apartment and she is safer but divesting a lifetime of stuff has been interesting
  • I have fabric I bought to make you a dress in 1972
  • Do you want it?
  • But so many bright spots
  • So happy with my writing
  • Finished my first novel and sending it out to edits
  • Very light but really
  • I am not that deep
  • So it’s a good match
  • Main objective was to make myself laugh
  • Also getting a small sewing book ready
  • Think I am going to keep writing those in short versions
  • Old dog has had the rest of her teeth out mostly
  • And is now officially deaf
  • Never been better
  • Her life revolves around the cat
  • Jumping around and playing with her
  • Grooming her and sleeping with her
  • It is a miracle
  • This old puppy mill mom has a baby back
  • Who would have thought this tiny rescue barn kitten
  • Would come in at the senior years of an old dog’s life
  • And heal her
  • Complete her
  • When Daisy goes out
  • The cat watches from the window and cries until she comes back in
  • The little stuff in life is actually the big stuff
  • Send that message to Europe
  • Visited my sons in the US
  • Just made avocado toast with chilli oil for breakfast
  • Yes I was in California
  • Wait my 3 year old granddaughter said when I was leaving
  • I have a present for you
  • A small pom pom and two goggly eyes
  • Just what I wanted
  • Went to Austin Texas to see another son
  • Volunteered while I was there at a creative recycle place
  • Spent a morning measuring and bundling fabric donations
  • Do you know what a selvedge edge is?
  • Yes I do
  • My mother saved our Barbie dolls
  • And knitted outfits made by an elderly aunt
  • About the only things that could fit on those bodies
  • Mohair stoles
  • Got a tattoo in Austin
  • Of course
  • Was drinking natural wine in a garden with my son and ran into a tattoo artist
  • Let’s do it she said
  • So I did
  • Tiny
  • The initials of my children and grandchildren on my wrist
  • So I can see them when I work
  • I almost wanted to tell her that when I was young
  • My dad and his friends thought pierced ears where “cheap”
  • I had a friend whose parents wouldn’t let her wear “silk stockings” until high school
  • But pretty sure that a wine bar in Austin was not a place where they would get that
  • But you smile to yourself
  • And think you should put this in a book

What I like to write and read

I have been writing all year. I have one novel finished and am half way through another one. They are part of a mystery series called the Gasper’s Cove Crafters and set in Nova Scotia, in a setting much like my picture on the homepage of this site.

It was a transition from writing non-fiction to fiction for me. but I am really enjoying it. I write about things I know and my characters are collected from my own encounters and experiences. When I sit down to write I go into a world that is very familiar to me.

But what I love most about writing is when I can make myself laugh.

Which brings me to what I like to read.

I have always read mysteries but am very specific about what I like. Here are my main criterion:

  • No awful violence. Don’t start with someone buried in a box underground, a child being abused, or a psychopath. Yes, I know this is all designed to grab my attention but the news is bad enough these days without choosing to read more of it.
  • Humour. Look, if it’s not funny I won’t enjoy it. Call me shallow. Call me someone who isn’t reading Tolstoy. I find life funny and like to see this reflected back in what I read. BTW I avoid any blurb that describes the main character as “snarky”. Snarky makes me tired.
  • A place that I don’t know a lot about. Recently I have become addicted to Icelandic TV series, mainly because I don’t know what it’s like to live in Iceland. Despite the cultural appropriation issues I enjoyed the #1 Ladies Detective Agency books because I know noting about Botswana (and I loved Jill Scott in the series). I like a bit of education thrown in. Set in rural Sweden? I’m in.
  • Authentic characters. I’m not a fan of characters who seem always good or always bad. People aren’t like that. Most of us are good at heart but have to work at staying that way. I like to get into a character’s head and understand why they feel the way they do. Some of my favourite series, Goldie Schultz in Diane Mott Davidson’s books, Kinsey Malhone in Sue Grafton’s, and the Spellman family in Lisa Lutz’s, are all about the characters for me. I was thinking, and having read each of these series in their entirety, I can tell you all about the main characters but can’t recall one single crime, one single mystery in any of them. What does that tell you?

Now what about you? What do you like to read and why?

My first book is getting closer to launch. If you are interested in a free advance reader copy please let me know and in return I would appreciate an honest review on the site of your bookseller of choice.

You can contact me at babsemod@babsemodi.com

In the meantime keep reading and stay in touch.

Babs

Flypaper thoughts cheer up edition

  • I know this is a funny title
  • But I have been noticing something and decided to speak up
  • A lot of folks when into their houses during Covid
  • And are staying there
  • Yes there is bad news
  • Terrible news outside of the front door
  • Which is exactly why it’s time we
  • Baked more jelly rolls
  • Fed more birds
  • Threw more balls to the dogs
  • Put a stamp on a card and put it into the mail
  • Wore something that is too young for us
  • Painted our toenails
  • Made a paper airplane and flew it across the living room
  • Sang a song out loud
  • Just to hear your own voice do it
  • Walk outside barefoot
  • Even in the rain, and let’s hope not snow
  • Buy a man flowers
  • I had a sort of an aunt
  • Who was a star of the dances at the beach during the war
  • She used to say
  • “You have to have your jazz band dancing”
  • There’s no app for that
  • Do something useless
  • Blow up a balloon
  • I have a theory
  • Actually I have many theories
  • You know that already
  • But so many sad things
  • The really big ones but the little ones too
  • Of these years
  • Has drained something away
  • But here’s the thing
  • We are our own batteries
  • What if we all released a bit out there
  • Like bubbles kids blow in the backyard
  • It’s about time
  • My aunt’s name was Bonnie

Flypaper thoughts, bird edition

  • There is no better sound than the rumble of a cat’s purr
  • Because she snuck into the bedroom and is in there with everyone else
  • So pleased with herself
  • Most nights she is put out
  • Because if we don’t get up when she’s ready at 4:00 am
  • She starts knocking things off the bedside table
  • My 94 year-old mother is now in an assisted living apartment
  • Too many falls at home
  • Still self-defined as a nurse
  • Grappling with the fact she’s not an administrator
  • Lots of old people in here she says
  • But don’t worry
  • I know how to talk to them
  • I am considering becoming an activist
  • What do you think?
  • Should I start sending emails for people to roll their eyes at?
  • A&W
  • Good organization and I drive the kids through there sometimes
  • Because they give a lot to MS
  • Which my high performing daughter, their mom, has
  • Back on topic
  • There is a Mama, Papa, Teen, Baby, Uncle, Grandpa and even a Buddy burger
  • So where’s the Grandma burger?
  • Or the Aunt?
  • Where are they I asked?
  • Who do you think is in there making the burgers said my middle granddaughter
  • 4,000 years of human history
  • Summarized
  • Don’t get me started on the fact that the coffee thermos my husband ordered for me
  • To match one a kid bought him and keeps coffee hot for 27 days
  • Well he ordered one for me too
  • In pink
  • Turns out it holds half a cup less
  • For the same price
  • When I have straightened out this burger issue
  • I’m onto them
  • Huge excitement around here
  • A pair of Blue Jays has decided to build a nest in the shutters beside our front door
  • The cat is exhausted
  • Nearly fell off the back of the couch
  • Couldn’t keep her eyes open
  • Maybe now she will sleep in
  • My husband installed a webcam so he can watch them all day
  • Everyday
  • Up close
  • Considering re-routing traffic to the back door out of respect
  • This is a project for everyone
  • My first novel is finished
  • Off to the editor and then I’ll put it out
  • A product of someone who sat in her chair with her dog
  • And made herself laugh
  • Writing fiction is a place for me to put things and people I have noticed
  • And enjoyed
  • I don’t like the idea of what I appreciated knocking around inside my head
  • Unacknowledged
  • In a month or so
  • If you are interested in receiving a free advance copy
  • In return for a review on the retailer’s site of choice
  • Let me know (babsemodi@gmail.com)
  • I can imagine the reviews now
  • This reads like it was written by a woman who sat in her chair with her dog all winter
  • Waiting for the bluejays
  • Which would be true

Flypaper thoughts Valentine’s Day version

Hello my readers, both new and those who have followed me here from my now retired, but still available, sewing blog. Here is a personal update.

  • Well what do you know?
  • I have cancelled three flights in the last year to see my boys in the US
  • But was there in the fall and be back in the spring
  • Honestly
  • That’s all there is to say about that
  • So where have I been?
  • Sewing for family all over the place and sending it out
  • Question
  • Packing tape
  • You know I think if they can figure out a way to find the end of tape on a roll
  • That person should get a Noble Prize
  • Also been writing
  • When you can’t go anywhere in your body you might as well go somewhere in your head
  • Getting better at it I hope
  • Takes time
  • Things happen like a character showed up the other night
  • Where did this guy come from?
  • Not sure if I trust him
  • A hurdle for me is the bad stuff
  • I am personally not a murderer
  • But I am discovering my past life working with politicians is helpful
  • Best things of this year
  • Got to say it is this cat
  • A rescue we got on a whim
  • Also because one night when I was along four mice ran across the floor
  • They are long gone
  • My old damaged rescue dog Daisy
  • Freed from the puppy mill
  • And I am sure friendless most of her life
  • Has bonded to this cat
  • They play every night, sleep together, groom each other
  • When a miracle happens in your living room
  • You really have to pay attention
  • Down the street from me there is a giant magnolia tree in someone’s yard
  • What business does an extravagant magnolia have to do living in Nova Scotia?
  • When it blooms we can’t believe it
  • Does it know where it is?
  • The other day I was walking in the ice and snow and wondering when it would all end
  • I walked by that tree and noticed that it was covered in buds
  • Grey fuzzy bundles on its bare branches, like Pussy Willows
  • Is it supposed to do that?
  • But then I thought
  • That tree is adapting and it remembers
  • That the flowers of last summer
  • Are coming back this year
  • I mailed my last two packages yesterday
  • A pair of pants to one sister
  • ‘And four tops to another
  • Dropped off a cardigan to a granddaughter
  • Today I am going to see why this character showed up
  • And write a description
  • Of a press secretary who once yelled at me in a hall, backed me up to a wall
  • He might finally get what he deserves today
  • And he’ll never know
  • In my breaks I am going to start my summer sewing
  • For myself
  • Because when it comes
  • I need something new to wear

A Campsite of Culprits

” Made in the woods” a story about a traveling dressmaker visiting Austin Texas is included in this anthology

As I work on my first series, I have continued to write for anthologies. I find working with other authors a great way to test out my characters and my locations. My story for this one, “Made in the Woods” is set in Austin, Texas. We have a son there and have visited the wonderful McKinney State Park, a few miles out of town, many times in our RV. Austin is such a cool spot. I miss it. When the pandemic we don’t need to talk about is over, we will be back. In the meantime I am doing my traveling in my stories.

This one was particularly interesting for me as it allowed me to revisit a time, many, many years ago when one of my sisters and I made wedding dresses. It was a short-lived venture, and one that ended dramatically. I will never forget the morning we arrived at a big house to deliver dresses for the bride, bridesmaid, flower girl, and grandmother of the bride and we were nearly knocked off the front step by the groom as he shot out through the door, having just called the entire wedding off.

Nothing like that happens in this story, but plenty of other things do.

Here’s a preview:

What’s a traveling bridal dressmaker to do when her dresses and place of business go missing?

Not anyone can run a bridal dressmaking business from a campground picnic table but Hazel Rollings does just that. The question is, can she solve a mystery too? With her business, her family’s reputation, and a wedding on the line she has to. Can this seamstress from Nova Scotia find her way around Austin Texas fast enough to solve a crime or will a clever opponent force her to pack up her scissors and thread and head back home in defeat?

Enjoy,

Babs