Monday, December 31, 2012

Ending 2012

What better way to end 2012 than with memories of friends? My friends threw me a surprise goodbye party at The Poisoned Pen on Saturday night. Authors, friends who are from the library world, and readers all together at my favorite bookstore. What a beautiful send-off from Arizona and 2012.

I can't thank Chantelle Aimee Osman enough. She was the instigator for the entire event. Then, Barbara Peters offered to host it at the bookstore. Anna (known not only as a friend, but cat sitter to all of you), worked with Chantelle to contact authors, and Cheryl Kennedy, the Library Director, invited the library staff.

Here's what the party sign looked like, as well as the cover of my gift book.

Jim would have loved the reference to the George Clooney movie. And, I still can't believe there was a Poisoned Pen party for me!

When Barbara showed me the beautiful cake, she said she and Louise Penny furnished the cake.

With Barbara Peters
This is the wrong picture of me cutting the cake. Chantelle told me to look murderous, and in the photo on her camera, I'm holding the knife as if I'm stabbing the cake. Now, that's murderous!



I hope I had the chance to talk to everyone who came. Kris Neri, author and owner of The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona, came down for the event. Thank you, Kris!

Kris Neri and Chantelle Aimee Osman
Library staff came to the event, even though they had been to goodbye lunches for the last couple weeks. That means so much to me. Thank you.

Darrell James came up from Tucson. Donis Casey came even though it was her birthday, and she had a dinner date afterward. I had the chance to see some of my friends from Desert Sleuths Chapter Sisters in Crime one more time. Thank you to them, and to all the other friends who came.



Oh, and Rob Rosenwald, publisher of Poisoned Pen Press, was the photographer for the group shot. But, I managed to catch him, and the only uninvited guest, Odin. (I think Odin was actually the most popular guest, though.)



Chantelle put together a beautiful book for me, with contributions from a number of authors. There are still some coming in, so there will be more later. I have enough wonderful notes to keep the blog occupied for days while I'm on the road and getting settled in Evansville. The book is organized in this order, so I'm thanking the authors that way - Craig Johnson, Louise Penny, Brad Parks, Chris Grabenstein, Julie Hyzy, Hank Phillippi Ryan, James O. Born, Beth Hoffman, Kelli Stanley, Juliet Blackwell, Zoe Sharp, Bryan Gruley, Rebecca Cantrell/Bekka Black, Kira Peikoff, Sophie Littlefield, Avery Aames/Daryl Wood Gerber, Gigi Pandian, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Rochelle Staab, Cara Black, Timothy Hallinan, Donis Casey. I know Chantelle has a note from E.J. Copperman to add to the book. I can't wait to share some of these notes with you over the coming days.

I can't think of a better way to end 2012 than a send-off by friends, notes from my author friends, and all of it at The Poisoned Pen. This year certainly didn't end as I would have expected at the beginning of 2012. We never know where life will take us. Mine is taking me away from friends in Arizona, and heading me to new friends in Evansville, Indiana. I'm taking wonderful memories with me. And, I know that I'll see some of these friends again, and many of the authors. (Some of the authors have already told me they want to come to Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.)



So, Happy New Year to all of you. Readers here on my blog have shared all my travels, my conventions, the author appearances and book reviews. We all share that love of books. This year, I'm not celebrating the New Year with fireworks. Instead, I'm wishing you all Happy New Year. May your 2013 be filled with balloons, and laughter, hugs and good books, and most of all, family and friends to share whatever life brings you in 2013.









Sunday, December 30, 2012

Favorites of 2012

Each year, I summarize my reading with a list of my favorite books of 2012. It's an idiosyncratic list. Maybe the book made the list because it fit my mood at the time I read it. Who really knows? But, my list won't match any other list out there. Here are my ten favorite books of 2012, in the order I read them.

If Fried Chicken Could Fly by Paige Shelton kicked off her Country Cooking School mystery series. It introduced Betts Winston and her grandmother (Gram) who run a cooking school in the fictional town of Broken Rope, Missouri. The town is known for its gruesome history, and capitalizes on it, but when Gram becomes a murder suspect, Betts must work with a ghost to find the true killer. The second book, If Mashed Potatoes Could Dance, is already out.




Melissa Marr moved from young adult literature to adult fiction with Graveminder, the story of a town where the dead would walk unless their graves are not properly tended. When Rebekkah Barrow's grandmother dies, she reluctantly returns to Claysville, only to discover that a Barrow woman is always the Graveminder, and that she must partner with the current Undertaker to set things right in a town where the worlds of the living and the dead are connected.





I described Betty Webb's Lena Jones mystery, Desert Wind, as a book that should scare everyone living in the Southwest. This is the story of about crime on a grand scale. The story starts in 1954 when John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Agnes Moorehead are filming The Conqueror. A horse wrangler on the set at the time may hold the key to unraveling a crime almost sixty years later. The book is powerful, political, and serves as a warning, one of the best of Betty Webb's stories.



Deborah Coates' debut novel was Wide Open. Sergeant Hallie Michaels was a changed woman when she returned from Afghanistan for her sister's funeral. She had a near-death experience, and can see ghosts, which is why she doesn't believe her sister's death was a suicide. And, she's convinced her sister's death is connected with the recent disappearance of other young women in the community. Deep Down, the sequel to this book, will be available in March.





Adriana Trigiani's epic novel, The Shoemaker's Wife, is based on her own family history. It's a story that sweeps two star-crossed lovers from the Italian Alps at the beginning of the twentieth century to New York City, and then separates them during World War I. It's a beautiful story of love and family, war, loss, immigration, and finding a place in the world.






Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder thrillers are favorites. Gone Missing, the fourth in the series, takes the police chief into the Amish world of Rumspringa where Amish teens are allowed to run free. This time, Kate is called on to use her background in the Amish community when teens have gone missing in Ohio, and she's asked to consult on the cases. However, she returns to her own community when a local girl goes missing.





Jodi Picoult teamed up with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer, for the beautifully illustrated Between the Lines. I loved this story of a reader who falls in love with a fairy tale, and the prince who wants to get out of the pages. The characters and the plot are wonderful. The illustrations are lovely. And, I kept my copy and bought one for my niece. It's a story for females who are readers, and grew up in love with books.




The Age of Miracles was an amazing, beautiful debut novel by Karen Thompson. This dystopian novel is told by a narrator who was eleven at the time the earth started slowing down. Walker's novel is beautiful in the starkness of some of the statements of change. No one knows what would happen if the world started slowing down, but Walker makes educated guesses that are believable. And, those suggestions become believable told in the matter-of-fact manner by the narrator, revealing the story of one year in her life when everything changed.




Ellery Adams writes some of my favorite mysteries in her Books by the Bay series. And, I loved her latest, Written in Stone. But, it's the first in her Charmed Pie Shoppe series, Pies and Prejudice, that makes my favorites list this year. It's a magical book that introduces Ella May LaFaye who flees a failed marriage, returning to Havenwood, Georgia to the women who raised her. When Ella Mae was upset, or blue, or happy, she baked pies. The women found her the perfect spot for a bakery, The Charmed Pie Shoppe, so called because Ella Mae's emotions somehow found their way into her pies, and affected the people who ate them. Pies and Prejudice is a murder mystery, but it's also my favorite type of magical realism, reminiscent of Sarah Addison Allen's work. The book is filled with wonderful characters, and wonderful possibilities for future books.

What would my list be without a book by Louise Penny? In the latest Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery, The Beautiful Mystery, she examines music as she takes readers into an isolated monastery in Quebec for a story about balance and reflection, another story about evil and good, a story of the soul. I suggested that readers read it carefully, and pour over the words of this magnificent novel. It's a story that soars to the highest heights of passion, and takes readers to the greatest pain, the pain of betrayal. However, you do need to have read earlier books in this series to appreciate this book. So, readers who haven't read these books need to start with Still Life.

Those ten books are my favorites of 2012. Do you have favorite books that you'd like to share? As I said, my list is a very personal one, but they are my favorites. 



Saturday, December 29, 2012

January Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime & Obsidian

I had a few problems with this month's video, but if you all enjoy the books and the cats, it's worth it. Enjoy!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Employee of the Quarter

Cheryl Kennedy, Director of the Glendale Library System, surprised me yesterday when she came into Velma Teague Library to present me with the Employee of the Quarter award. It was such an honor, particularly since my staff nominated me, and Cheryl added her own comments.

Left to right - Cheryl, Me, Anna


First, the nomination from the Velma Teague staff, as written by Anna C.



Lesa is leaving.  While we are, of course, happy for her and her fabulous new opportunity, we are utterly wretched on our own behalf.  There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Words cannot fully express how much we will miss her as both a boss and a friend. However, the text of my prior nomination of her for the AZLA Outstanding Library Service Award might give some idea why we should bid farewell to Lesa as someone who deserves to be a perpetual Employee of the Quarter.
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Velma Teague Library is a small branch, but thanks to the efforts of branch manager Lesa Holstine, it enjoys a national reputation far greater than its size.   She has used her love of reading and readers advisory to become not just an advocate for libraries, but a stellar example of the librarian's continued relevance to a literate community.

Lesa's nationally syndicated book review blog, Lesa's Book Critiques, has received kudos from authors, readers, and the media. Bill Crider’s “Blog Bytes” column in Ellery Queen praised her “fine, thoughtful reviews,” while this August, the Glendale Republic ran a front-page feature article entitled “Glendale Librarian Lauded for Book Reviews,” praising her as a “literary powerhouse.” She was selected by popular online vote for the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer, and has been asked to serve as an Indie Lit Awards voter.  The accessibility and integrity of her book reviews have made her a leader in the field.  In the words of multiple Agatha-award-winning, bestselling mystery author Louise Penny, Lesa is “one of the most highly respected commentators and opinion makers in crime fiction today . . . . She trusts her own judgment and stands behind it, rather than figuring out where the parade is heading and joining it.”  Lesa reads an average of 20 books per month.  Although her specialty is mysteries, she reads and reviews a variety of genres, including women’s fiction, urban fantasy, romance, thrillers, nonfiction, etc.

Her blog also serves as a forum for authors to reach readers directly with guest posts and interviews, an especially valuable venue for newly published authors.  Generally including a request to share a story about the role of libraries in their lives, Lesa’s interviews have included many testimonials from such prominent writers as Karin Slaughter about how vital libraries were and are to our culture.  She is an advocate for libraries on the most fundamental level; when her husband, Jim, passed away in 2010, she asked her blog readers, friends, and colleagues to donate memorial books to their local libraries in lieu of flowers.

In addition to her online reviews, Lesa is a contributing reviewer for various print publications, including Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, The Strand Magazine, and the upcoming edition of Genreflecting.  Her reputation has even extended beyond the library and mystery spheres; Women’s World invited her to contribute a review to a feature on mystery fiction, and she has appeared on local television news to recommend books.  This spring, Talia Sherer of Macmillan brought her to Book Expo America to recommend mysteries on “The Great Readalike” readers advisory panel, presented by AAP and Library Journal.

Happily, Velma Teague Library has reaped the rewards of all this.  Despite its diminutive size, this Glendale branch is now firmly on the map for author book tours.  Lesa lures over 25 authors per year to her “Authors @ the Teague” program to discuss their writing and sign books sold in collaboration with the Poisoned Pen bookstore.  These events often receive local media coverage, and bring both new and established authors to the attention of our community.  Agatha and Macavity-award-winning author Jacqueline Winspear actually appeared at the Teague on the same week that her latest book hit the New York Times bestseller list, while Beth Hoffman was so appreciative of Lesa’s Library Journal review of her first book, the eventually bestselling Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, that she traveled to Arizona independently of her book tour to appear at Authors @ the Teague.  These programs reach more than simply those who can physically attend them; Lesa always posts detailed synopses of the talks on her blog, along with synopses of many of the author events that she attends at the Poisoned Pen – and all of this on her own time.

Bringing books and readers together is always Lesa’s ultimate goal.  Her colleagues throughout the Glendale Public Library have benefited from her dedication to readers advisory, that impromptu, in-the-trenches form of book reviewing which is more important than ever for libraries to provide to the public.  The chair of the GPL Readers Advisory Committee, Lesa holds monthly lunchtime booktalks in which any interested staff members can bring a book to discuss.  In addition to exposing us to new titles, this program has given us the experience and techniques we need to become more comfortable talking about them to the public.  On a quarterly basis, Lesa also booktalks about fifteen fiction and nonfiction titles in several genres, holding one booktalk for staff and another for the public.

In these changing and often difficult times, Lesa has helped our library retain a positive image and remain relevant in many other ways, too.  Many of the free books that publishers and authors send to Lesa end up in the library’s collection, helping to stretch our shrinking book budget.  Her blogging, tweeting, and email list are the sort of online outreach we need to get the word out to the public about our events.  She helps staff the reference desk, youth desk, and pitches in wherever help is needed with a cheerfully pragmatic, supportive, can-do attitude and good-natured sense of humor that quickly become contagious.  Her unflagging enthusiasm and sheer joy in reading are equally contagious, and have helped keep staff morale at VTL astonishingly high despite staff loss, mandatory furloughs, and budget cuts.  

To our community – and to the wider Internet community of readers, as well -- Velma Teague is the place to meet authors, talk about books, and find a new book to love.   To authors, especially local authors, Lesa is a firm friend who will do everything she can to help them reach their audience; when the Arizona Desert Sleuths, a local chapter of Sisters in Crime, held their first Write Now! conference, she was the natural choice to be their inaugural Fan Guest of Honor.  To libraries, in her over 30 years of working in the field, Lesa is a born advocate, one of those rare souls who views her job as a genuine vocation.
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So, to conclude this Employee of the Quarter nomination, here’s the Understatement of the Quarter:  Lesa, we will miss you. 

*****
And, Cheryl's comments on the award:


Lesa has been amazing in her time spent at Glendale Public.  She has put Velma Teague Library on the map for her fabulous Authors @ TheTeague programming and has been instrumental in developing reader’s advisory training for librarians.  Instituting the Brown Bag Lunches for staff has given librarians other tools in providing reader’s advisory to patrons.  Lesa has been a team player in providing staff when there were critical needs at the other library locations.  She has done a fabulous job in advocating for libraries through her collaborative efforts with the Chamber of Commerce and the downtown businesses.  Thanks Lesa for all that you have accomplished during your time with Glendale Public and I appreciate all your help in making Glendale Public great!  You will be greatly missed, but I wish you well and know that we will continue to hear about the great things you are doing at Evansville Public Library. 

*****
Thank you to all the staff I've worked with over the last eight and half years, and the three Directors I worked with, Cheryl Kennedy, Sue Komernicky, and Rodeane Widom. It's been a joy to work with you. (I did tell Cheryl they should take the pictures BEFORE reading the nomination so the winner isn't crying in the picture.)
 




Thursday, December 27, 2012

Packing

I know why Jim and I always thought we'd never move from our apartment in Glendale. It's time-consuming and tiring to pack. And, when I don't have company, it's what I do every day or evening at home until 8 or 8:30 when I can't take it any more and need a break. I'll get there, but it's not fun to pack. (And, I am taking a break Sunday morning to go to Les Miserables. I love the play, and I've heard great things about the movie from friends.)




Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


Since I haven't been home for Christmas in years, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs. Last year, I was home at the beginning of December. So, to my Mom and sisters, "I'll Be Home for Christmas...if only in my dreams."

 

So, from my home to yours, Merry Christmas. May this Christmas find you surrounded by loved ones, and enjoying memories of the ones we love. And, of course, enjoying a moment of laughter.




Monday, December 24, 2012

Lazy Day for Some

I spent all of yesterday packing. SOME in the family thought Sunday was a perfect day to stay in bed. So, here's a picture for all of you who enjoys the cat scenes.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Everything But a Dog by Holly Jacobs

If you can resist those two dogs on the front of Holly Jacobs' latest romance, you'll be able to resist the charm of the book, Everything But a Dog. The two romantic leads seem as mismatched as the dogs on this book cover, but they, just like the dogs, needed someone to bring them together.

Meet Vancy Salo, known as Nana Vancy, a matchmaking Hungarian grandmother. In the course of Jacobs' "Everything But..." series, readers have learned how Nana Vancy cursed her husband's family, and finally found a way to break that curse. In doing so, she discovered the joy of matchmaking, and successfully brought two couples together. Now, one of her best friends, Annabelle, wants her to match up someone in her family. Annabelle finds a distant relative, a veterinarian named Della McGraw. How can Nana Vancy find a way to make that match? She'll start by adopting two dogs, a smart big black dog named Madame Curie, and a little white puffball, not so bright, but with a big heart, named Clara Barton. And, Curie is smart enough to play her role perfectly when Nana Yancy spots a good-looking young man who turns out to be a single attorney. The only problem? Jonah McIntosh has a terrible allergy to dogs.

Nana Yancy never let a little problem like an allergy interfere with her plans for matchmaking. And, while he first plays along with the nice elderly woman, it isn't long before he's determined to deal with his allergy or die trying.

Holly Jacobs concludes her "Everything But..." series with another fun romance. This time, she spends almost as much time on the importance of finding homes for unwanted dogs as she does on the romance itself. Everything But a Dog is a fitting end to an enjoyable series. There isn't as much conflict or as many problems as in earlier books, but it ties the series up nicely, leaving Nana Yancy as a successful matchmaker, happy with her husband, her growing family, and, now, her determination to find good homes for dogs.

Holly Jacobs' website is www.hollyjacobs.com

Everything But a Dog by Holly Jacobs. Montlake Romance. 2012. ISBN 9781612186740 (paperback), 129p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Paw Prints in the Moonlight by Denis O'Connor

I just read a book about one of the most beautiful love affairs. Denis O'Connor's Paw Prints in the Moonlight tells the story of his rescue and lifelong love of the kitten that became Toby Jug. It's a heartwarming story with a touching ending. Yes, it will make you cry, but it will also make you smile through the tears at the unexpected ending.

In 1966, O'Connor was a lecturer at Almwich College in Northumberland, England. He always loved cats, but lived alone until the winter night when he heard a cat in agony. The vet was unable to save the mother cat and one kitten, but Denis, against the vet's wishes, took the other two-week-old kitten home, and fought to keep it alive. The story of that winter fight, and the determination of man and kitten is powerful. And, the love that Denis O'Connor and Toby Jug shared is remarkable.

O'Connor's writing is lyrical and descriptive. His writing is filled with his love of nature, and the enjoyment he and Toby Jug shared when they were together and outdoors. There are funny scenes, such as the story of the bee invasion. But, most of all, it's the captivating story of the first year the man and cat spent together as Toby Jug grew from a kitten with little life to an exuberant cat, thanks to the compassion of the man who loved him.

Paw Prints in the Moonlight is a tribute to Toby Jug, a story the author once promised he'd write. But, it's also a message of love for all of us who love cats. Denis O'Connor's story can be summed up by what I see as the most important sentence in the book. "To Toby Jug I was family and to me he was more than a cat."

Paw Prints in the Moonlight by Denis O'Connor. St. Martin's Press. 2012. ISBN 9780312668297 (hardcover), 214p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library Book

Friday, December 21, 2012

No Time

I'm afraid I had no time last night to read or blog. I appreciate your patience!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Packing

No blog today. I was packing last night. Jinx packed himself, and then got into a suitcase. He's ready.

Jinx

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Laura Lippman's Best Mystery & Thrillers of 2013


William Morrow and New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman present THE BEST MYSTERY & THRILLER BOOKS

The free digital sampler is a curated volume of excerpts from upcoming new releases by the best Mystery & Thriller authors in the genre.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE New York, NY (December 18, 2012) Perfect for the holiday season, New York Timesbestseller Laura Lippman presents an amazing selection of the most exciting mystery and thriller titles coming out in 2013 in THE BEST MYSTERY & THRILLER BOOKS (William Morrow, E-Book Original, Available: 12/18/2012, ISBN 13: 9780062270900, Free).


Included in the sampler are excerpts from the newest works by the following authors, as described by Lippman:

Peter Robinson has carved out his own territory, literally and figuratively, with his books about DCI Alan Banks. Whenever I meet someone who thinks that a UK police procedural set in the Yorkshire countryside can’t be hardboiled enough for American tastes, I point them toward Robinson’s work and WATCHING THE DARK (William Morrow, Hardcover, On Sale: 1/8/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062004802, $25.99) is a great place to start. 

Charles Todd is the pen name used by a mother-son writing team.  Talk about unique. In a world where a lot of parents and children can barely speak to each other, they have created TWO layered, nuanced series. PROOF OF GUILT (William Morrow, Hardcover, On Sale: 1/29/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062015686, $25.99) continues the amazing Ian Rutledge series, which centers on a World War I veteran.

Deborah Crombie has been on my radar since Dreaming the Bones was nominated for the Edgar, among other prizes, in 1998. A lyrical writer, she throws herself into her research and the results are always compelling. SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS (William Morrow, Hardcover, On Sale: 2/19/2013, ISBN 13: 9780061990632, $25.99) continues her winning streak.

Tim Dorsey belongs to a club of which I am also a proud member – former newspaper reporters who have made crime pay. Tim’s work is wonderfully, bizarrely hilarious. And I’ll cut right to the chase – Serge Storm is back in RIPTIDE ULTRA GLIDE (William Morrow, Hardcover, On Sale: 1/22/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062092786, $25.99). If you haven’t met Serge before – well buckle in and enjoy the ride.

Urban Waite follows his critically acclaimed debut, The Terror of Living, with THE CARRION BIRDS(William Morrow, Hardcover, On Sale: 4/16/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062216885, $25.99). Asked what he most feared, Waite said: “Living a wasted life.” This young writer has nothing to fear.

Hallie Ephron is working in a form dear to me, mining the lives of seemingly ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN (William Morrow, Hardcover, On Sale: 4/2/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062117601, $25.99) is her latest “what-if” book, in which she finds mystery and intrigue in what would strike others as a very commonplace incident.

Jennifer McMahon has been delivering wonderfully disturbing books for several years now. To be caught in her spell is, well, very much like being caught in a spell. Her stories have a quiet, compelling dread that will not be denied and THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND (William Morrow, Trade PB, On Sale: 1/2/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062122551, $14.99) may be her most fabulously creepy book yet.

Lisa Ballantyne is relatively new on the scene, but already an international sensation thanks to THE GUILTY ONE (William Morrow, Trade PB, On Sale: 3/19/2013, ISBN 13: 9780062195517, $14.99). It’s very tough-minded and unflinching, proof to me that the female of the species is not only more deadly than the male, but less sentimental.

THE BEST MYSTERY & THIRLLER BOOKS also includes an excerpt from Laura Lippman’s latest novel AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD and the three bonus short stories that inspired this novel.

"THE BEST MYSTERY & THIRLLER BOOKS sampler gives consumers the opportunity to sample great writers - offering them a sneak peek at books from bestselling authors that they're looking forward to, as well as a taste of authors they may not yet know,” explains William Morrow Associate Publisher and Group Marketing Director Jennifer Hart.  “And because it's free, it's an easy download onto all the new e-readers that will be received this holiday season."

“The Best Mystery & Thriller Books” is available now wherever e-books are sold.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Juliet Blackwell - Guest Blogger

Juliet Blackwell's mysteries are always fun. Her latest one, Murder on the House, is no exception. It's a terrific mystery featuring Mel Turner who prides herself on her team's renovation of historic houses in the San Francisco Bay area. However, Mel has another skill, the ability to communicate with ghosts. She's not so eager to publicize that ability, as we see in the latest interview with Mel Turner, as reported by Juliet Blackwell.

*****


Not long ago, we here at Haunted Home Quarterly heard about the exploits of Mel Turner, head of Turner Construction, in not one but two historic homes in San Francisco.  Mel isn’t an easy woman to track down, as she’s just about the hardest working woman in the construction industry, as far as we can tell.  But this reporter caught up with her—and her dog, who is named, apparently, “Dog”--  at a taco truck outside a mansion she’s renovating in San Francisco’s famed Castro district.  While the spangle-clad general contractor’s mouth and hands were full, we managed to get a few questions in edgewise.
Haunted Home Quarterly:  Mel Turner, it’s a real honor meeting you!  Do you realize you were named “California’s most promising, up-and-coming ghostbuster” in Haunted Home Quarterly’s last issue?
Mel Turner: Um…I really wouldn’t call myself that.  I’m a general contractor, head of Turner Construction, and renovator of historic homes. That’s all.
HHQ: Isn’t it true that you’ve communicated with, and then gotten rid of, ghosts on your last two construction sites? 
Mel:  I…well…okay.  Maybe.  I didn’t exactly “get rid” of them, though.  That makes me sound like an assassin.  I was able to communicate with them, and figure out why they were there, and encouraged them to leave.  But… I really don’t set out to bust ghosts. It just sort of happens. Turns out, there’s a lot going on behind old walls.
HHQ: What about your current project?  A historic place like this, it’s such a great old mansion!  And we hear you’re transforming it into a Bed and Breakfast? Surely it’s harboring a spirit or two?
Mel: What have you heard? (HHQ note: she looked a little nervous!)
HHQ: Nothing much, just that this place used to be a maternity hospital…and the family who built the place back at the turn of the last century –the entire family—was found one day, mysteriously dead in their beds.  Might those spirits be hanging around?
Mel: Tell you what: We’re on schedule to be done in a few months.  You should think about checking in for a night.  You would find it…interesting.
And with that, Mel  fed the dog the rest of her taco, tossed her napkin in the trash, and headed back into the house under construction.  That’s when this reporter noticed the sign up next to the front door: Coming this spring! The Bernini Haunted Bed and Breakfast. Spend the night…if you dare.


Author Biography
Juliet Blackwell is the NYT bestselling author of the Haunted Home Renovation mystery series (If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt, Murder on the House) and the Witchcraft mystery series (Secondhand Spirits, A Cast-off Coven, Hexes and Hemlines, In a Witch’s Wardrobe, and Tarnished and Torn coming July 2013). As Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover’s Mystery series, including Agatha-nominated Feint of Art. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked and studied in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France. She now lives in a happily haunted house in Oakland, California, where she is a muralist and portrait painter. She was a two-term president of Northern California Sisters in Crime.   Visit Juliet at www.julietblackwell.net; http://www.facebook.com/JulietBlackwellAuthor; and Twitter @JulietBlackwell