As I mentioned in my last post, I’m writing frantically to complete The Pirate’s Ruby, the second in the jeweler’s granddaughter cozy mystery series. A few weeks ago, select patrons of JT’s Kitchen had a sneak preview of the book.
JT’s Kitchen is one of Calvert County’s newest restaurants and if you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat. The family-owned business specializes in comfort food and making you feel like you’ve gone over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.
Munching on fried whiting, macaroni and cheese and apple crisp is always delightful; premiering a new book was a bit more nerve-wracking. New restaurant, new patrons, new book… Eeek!
To make things even
scarier, er, more interesting, my talk and reading inaugurated JT’s author/artist program. Periodically, the folks at JT’s plan to host readings and talks given by local talent.
Fortunately, the comfortable atmosphere invited casual conversation. I do casual really well.
The lovely fruit and snacks tray and endless iced tea helped, too.
I’m a firm believer that author readings should properly represent the tone and character of the book. As an avid reader, I feel betrayed when I purchase a book expecting light mystery only to encounter Hannibal Lector.
Despite the fact that, at the age of nine, I titled my first mystery “Bloody Murder,” my stories never show graphic violence. I’m more interested in the way my characters relate to one another and in giving the reader a fair chance at solving the mystery. I also love to weave interesting history and lore into stories and adding a bit of humor. Books that provide a fun way to learn new things have always been among my favorite.
In researching The Pirate’s Ruby, for example, I discovered the origins of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. When you first saw The Wizard of Oz, did you wonder if Judy Garland’s shoes were made of real rubies?
Turns out that King Thibaw, a late 19th-Century Burmese king, wore slippers that were, indeed, encrusted with real rubies. At the time, Burma (now Myanmar) was the ruby mining capital and Thibaw got a bit greedy. He ordered his craftsmen to stick rubies to everything – crowns, robes, ceremonial daggers, so why not shoes? And, generous man that he was, he had a lesser pair made for his queen.
I gotta say here that neither Thibaw’s nor his queen’s shoes were as impressive as Dorothy’s, at least not in the one photo I could find. Thibaw’s slippers had a genie-like curl to the toes. Raw-cut, polished rubies dotted the shoes, but the stones didn’t sparkle as much as the sequins that decorated the movie shoes. The queen’s shoes were even more ho-hum, basically flip-flops with rubies clued to the sides of the soles.
I’m not sure I’d want to wear rubies on my feet – even Judy Garland found the shoes uncomfortable – but the legends and lore surrounding rubies make a good foundation for a mystery. And I’m excited to report that at my reading, the audience at JT’s Kitchen laughed at all the right moments and clamored to read The Pirate’s Ruby right now.
Soon. I promise to release it very soon.
In the meantime, here are some pictures of my new friends.
First up, Sheldon (left) and Frank Taylor, owners of JT’s Kitchen. They named the restaurant after Frank’s father. And I got to pose between two handsome men!
Below are Barbara Bishop (in white) and Dorisa Jones (with the big smile).
More fun ladies, below, left to right: Joyce Freeland, Carolyn Jones, Ruth Reid.
Even though she’s a lovely lady, it took some coaxing to convince photographer Linda Ward, below, to step in front of the camera.
Unfortunately, Phyllis Lester, the sweetheart who organized this event, managed to escape Joan Rose, my intrepid photographer. So here’s a thank you to Phyllis and the wonderful folks at JT’s Kitchen for inviting me into their family.