I devoured book one in Christine DeSmet's Fudge Shop Mystery series as if it was a piece of the Cinderella Pink Fudge featured in her story. In Christine's novel First-Degree Fudge, "diamonds discovered in fudge create a rock-solid new cozy mystery series." Christine dropped by my blog to talk about her unique setting, and to explain why no kermis is complete without booyah. Welcome, Christine!
I feel a kinship with Catherine Dilts’s series because rocks—diamonds—are at the core of First-Degree Fudge, my first novel in the Fudge Shop Mystery Series from Penguin Random House. Catherine and I met at the Malice Domestic mystery conference in Bethesda, Maryland in May.
My series features Belgian American Ava Oosterling and her Grandpa Gil. They operate Oosterlings’ Live Bait, Bobbers & Belgian Fudge & Beer in Door County, Wisconsin.
Door County is the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” It’s quaint. Fast food chains are banned in the upper half of the county. It’s that thumb of land in Lake Michigan surrounded by 300 miles of coastline peppered with 11 lighthouses and canal lights
The rocky geology and picturesque high bluffs are part of the Niagara Escarpment, a formation carved by glaciers that stretches from Wisconsin to Niagara Falls.
The county is a leading U.S. producer of cherries. Ava makes cherry-vanilla Cinderella Pink Fudge, part of her Fairy Tale Fudge line. Ava’s fudge is used to hide diamonds and choke a famous actress to death in First-Degree Fudge.
For Book 2, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, published this past June, the crime involves the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, which in real life was chosen as “Featured Lighthouse of 2014” by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival Association. I highly recommend the tour as well as a drive around Door County in late September to see the fall foliage.
That lighthouse is at the top of my web page, www.ChristineDeSmet.com.
I like to think of Ava as the 21st century Hercule Poirot; that famous Belgian character debuted in 1920.
Door County and neighboring counties courted the Belgians in the 1850s with land for sale at $1.25 an acre. Over 15,000 Belgians came to the area. All of Door County’s population today is just 28,000. The area is said to have the largest rural population of Belgians in the U.S.
The Belgians were hit hard by the Great Fire of 1871, which happened the same days as the famous Chicago fire.
Around 1,500 people were killed in Door and nearby counties, with 3,000 left homeless. In comparison, the Chicago fire took about 300 lives.
The resilient Belgians rebuilt with brick. When you travel through Door County you’ll see green farmland dotted with red-brick houses.
Book 3 of my series, Five-Alarm Fudge, deals with fire and an arsonist. Book 3 also puts Ava Oosterling on the hunt for a famous divinity fudge recipe in the real St. Mary of the Snows, a church in Namur, Wisconsin. The church is now used as the Belgian Cultural Center.
On Sunday, September 21, 2014, a kermis will be held on the grounds and you’re invited. A kermis (Dutch origin) is a harvest festival, replete with games such as Belgian rolle bolle (a lawn game), music, raffles, famous Belgian pies, chocolate pastries and confections, and Belgian beer.
Most Belgian communities in Wisconsin hold a kermis sometime during September and October. The public is always welcome.
No kermis is complete without booyah. That’s a chicken stew made over an open fire in large kettles. Booyah features a light tomato base instead of a thick sauce. Recipes for booyah are in Hot Fudge Frame-Up.
You can also visit Door County and a kermis vicariously through my books and find easy-to-make recipes for fudge.
Christine DeSmet is the author of First-Degree Fudge, and the new release, Hot Fudge Frame-Up, in her Fudge Shop Mystery Series (Penguin Random House). She teaches writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies.
Thank you for visiting my blog, Christine. And thanks for introducing us to Door County, Wisconsin.
Inspiration for fiction comes in many forms. A few years ago, I spent a lot of time on the Santa Fe Trail. I haven't hiked or run it much lately, but I recently enjoyed a morning walk with my daughter and step-daughter. This trail provided the outdoors setting for a scene in book one in my rock shop mystery series, Stone Cold Dead. In my novel, it is January, and pretty bleak. This summer, we've had more rain than usual. The trail is green and lush. Lots of folks were hiking, running, and biking. A women's running club shared the trail with us, along with a gentleman in possession of four large poodles. (Click on play to see the slideshow and read the photo captions.)
Before we get into today's topic, I received mention on another blog yesterday. Mystery author Liesa Malik participated in the Writing Process Blog Hop - http://liesamalik.wordpress.com/ Check out Liesa's fun answers to the blog hop questions.
And now to Pushing Back Politely.
My vegetarian granddaughter ordered a seasonal salad. The bowl of lettuce, pecans, and strawberries arrived buried under a mound of chicken flesh. We sent it back.
In this clear-cut case, what was ordered was not what was served. All involved were calm and sensible, and she received a new salad. I checked to make certain the chicken had not been merely plucked off, and the error re-served. You have to be careful about these things.
Is it just me, or are you also finding yourself having to do a lot of pushing back these days? The errors run from little things like botched restaurant orders and incorrect change to big mistakes on business-related paperwork like leases and contracts.
Sometimes I receive a blushing, sincere apology. Sometimes the person who receives the request for correction reacts poorly, perhaps even seeking to blame the recipient of the incorrect service.
One of the worst was when a friend was drenched with a side dish. Oily vegetables spilled down his brand new shirt. When concerns expressed to the waitstaff were met with indifference, his wife demanded to speak to the manager. Said manager would not show his face.
Our friends are persistent as well as observant. They tracked the manager down to the restaurant loft. He sat at a table in dim lighting while his minions, the restaurant employees, scuttled up and down the stairs to consult him. This was a brew pub, not the headquarters for a mafia godfather.
The young and obviously inexperienced manager was not particularly helpful. We walked the ticket.
This brings us to my rules for Pushing Back.
1) Verify that you are in the right. Nothings stinks worse than having to apologize after throwing a temper tantrum over something that was your own fault.
2) Escalate your complaint gracefully. Address the person who erred first. Work your way up the chain of command as needed.
3) Don’t use bad service merely as your excuse to throw an out-of-proportion fit. The poor clerk doesn’t deserve your venting inspired by events that have nothing to do with this incident.
4) If your complaint is addressed to your satisfaction, let someone know. The individual involved, their manager, or even corporate headquarters.
Righteous indignation comes with a price. How can you expect good service from the barista, bank clerk, or insurance claims adjuster if you are careless in your job? Give 100% in your daily work. Honesty is the best policy. Sure, you hate receiving incorrect change that is to your disadvantage, and you should get that corrected asap. Likewise, we’ve all received incorrect change that was to our advantage. Be quick to rectify the error by returning money that isn’t rightfully yours. You know the drill - do unto others etc.
Those are my thoughts on pushing back. Do you have any stories to share? (Please do not include names of individuals or businesses.) Oh, and by the way, we had no issues at Adventure Miniature Golf. My granddaughters and I had a great time!
I am participating in the Internet phenomenon My Writing Process Blog Relay. Like an old-fashioned chain letter for writers, each new post refers to the writer inviting this post, and mentions the upcoming writers. Each answers four questions about writing process.
I met Charlene Dietz at Left Coast Crime 2013 when we both appeared on a short story panel. Charlene Dietz attended both the University of Wyoming and the University of New Mexico. She received her Bachelor and Masters degrees from UNM focusing on art, science, and education. Her writing includes award winning short stories, published articles, and children's stories. Cuba Libre Conspiracies is looking for an agent/publisher home. Her second book in this series, Illusive Inheritance, is in progress. Visit her on Facebook or follow this link to learn her answers to the four questions. http://inkydancestudios.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/blog-hop-a-game-of-tag-for-writers/ Thank you for tagging me, Char!
Here are my answers to the four writing process questions:
1) What am I working on?
I have two projects going right now. I am working on an amateur sleuth short story, and brainstorming ideas for book three in my Rock Shop Mystery series. I have two novels waiting on the sidelines for when I have time to polish them.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
“There is nothing new under the sun,” according to Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NKJV)
Still, I like to think I have a unique take on the amateur sleuth murder mystery. For example, I am unaware of any mysteries set in a rock shop. Several of my short stories take place in a factory. My fiction that focuses on the West portrays my vision of New West sensibilities, with environmental themes and modern cowboys and cowgirls.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write what I want to read. I enjoy amateur sleuth mysteries that are on the cozy end of the sex and violence spectrum. I don’t need to see entrails and brains strewn around, and I don’t care to view the bedroom activities of characters. I hope I’m writing fiction that my grandmother would have been comfortable reading.
4) How does my writing process work?
Pain, suffering, beating my head against the wall, and then voila – a completed story. I begin short stories longhand on a notepad, then type them up on the computer, then work on a printout, back and forth. Novels mostly begin and end on the computer, with some work on printouts late in the process. As far as the creative process, I typically am struck with an idea for a scene, a character, an unusual setting, or a line of dialogue. That original spark may or may not stay in the story, but it is what gets things rolling.
Who is up next in the blog hop?
I met Liesa at a Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America meeting. At the time, we both had novels in the queue with Five Star. I was so happy to know someone with whom to share the anticipation, and to compare notes on the publication journey. Mystery author Liesa Malik's second Daisy Arthur novel, Sliced Vegetarian, has recently been purchased by Five Star Publishing, and is currently scheduled for release in the summer of 2015.
Subscribe to this blog: