Sunday, December 11, 2016

Inclusivity and the War on Christmas

When I was a kid, I went to school with a kid named George (not his real name) the son of our bus driver. Some days, George wouldn't come to school. Those days inevitably were the day of our Valentine's Day party, Hallowe'en party, and our Christmas Pageant.

George was Jehovah's Witness, whose faith members don't believe in celebrations like that.

Fast forward to today. The populations of the US and Canada are becoming more and more diverse, with Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, and representatives of many other cultures and faith groups. In the effort to follow two dictates, one of a separation of church and government, but also to foster inclusivity, schools no longer have Christmas Pageants, they have Winter Fests, or something like that. Stores urge their staff to wish everyone Happy Holidays, so as to include everyone, not just Christians.

And apparently, that is driving some people batty. Every year around this time people start griping about the War On Christmas. The memes start... you know the ones.

Like this:

Or this:

And there are the signs:

So, let's dissect what this is saying, shall we? To me, this is saying 'You MUST follow my dictates or you're not welcome in my home.'. Such a welcoming spirit.

I understand when adults lament that kids won't grow up with Christmas pageants and the like, but please realize... you're focusing on YOUR happy memories, not the memories they will make. In years to come they'll be every bit as fond of the memories of their Winter festival pageant.

And in the meantime? They won't be making a kid like George (and many others) feel unwelcome where they ought to feel welcome, in school, by focusing on one religion only, or any religion at all.

Tell me Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Peaceful Kwanzaa, and I will return whatever greeting you like. I'll NEVER tell you you can't say Merry Christmas if that's what you prefer. And in return when I say Happy Holidays, or Season's Greetings, I haven't joined some mythical War on Christmas, I'm just being me.

So... Happy Holidays, whatever you celebrate. I've got up a Christmas tree and will send out Christmas cards that probably say Happy Holidays to cover the gamut. And as for George? I'd wish him a wonderful day.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Gotta Love A Library Sale!

Hundreds of people, thousands of books, dozens of tables... it was a sea of books and readers. I was home!

On Friday I went to my city's library sale, an annual tradition that I don't always get to attend, but try to as often as possible. It takes place in a cavernous room most often used for agricultural displays, or home renovation displays. It echoes with voices and laughter and the line of people checking out with boxes and bags of books snakes back ten or twenty feet at its shortest. There are people  representing every age group, from a baby no more than a few days old carried by its mother in a snuggly front carrier, to an elderly woman shuffling along in a wheelchair.

There were moms with kids and thousands and thousands of children's and YA books - a sight I love to see. I was a huge reader as a child, and my advice always is, if you want to raise a writer, raise a reader. People eavesdropped on conversations and a stranger would shove a book across the table, with a surreptitious, 'I heard you were looking for this,' or 'how about this one?'

It was like coming home, finding my people. Hallelujah!

And I came away with gems. At a UBS or thrift shop the books would have cost me, conservatively, a hundred to two hundred bucks, but instead, it cost me twenty seven.

So... readers, never apologize for buying used books. Never be shy about it either. I got 3 Anne Perry books, a Diane Mott Davidson, and Ann Purser - whose books I have never read but look forward to trying - and more non-fiction historical books than I can hope to read! The picture doesn't even show the cookbooks I got.

It was a very good haul. The library cleared out their shelves and made some cash. A good day all around.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Collaborative Writer

When I pair 'collaboration' and 'writing' in one sentence, I suppose most people would think of those great writing duos, like Ellery Queen, Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, etcetera.

But truth be told, most writers work in a collaborative process, at least for some books. I'm in the middle of that now. I am working on a proposal for a new series. It's not a cozy series, so it's vital that I get everything right the first time when we (my agent and I) approach editors. I'll get no second chance.

My first stab at it, my agent didn't like at all. We had a long conversation, and I took what she said, and what my cozy editor had said about the idea, (My agent had told her about it briefly in a phone conversation) and went back to the drawing board, rewriting everything except the central idea.

My agent read the synopsis and liked it much better, and after some rewriting I sent her the first fifty pages, the standard proposal amount of a book for an experienced published writer. She liked it a lot better, but had another reader read it, and then she did a line by line critique.

Wow... the ideas that are coming from that are so much better than my original! It will take me a little while, but the manuscript will be so much better for her extensive input. Our collaboration will never make it onto the cover, but I will be thanking her in my acknowledgements, you can bet on that. So, when you see those Acknowledgements in the front of a book, you can be sure that the writer had a collaborator (or two, or three) to significantly help form the book into that prose you love so much.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

So... what's the big deal?

I have yet another confession to make. I have never tasted Pumpkin Spice anything... not latte, not muffins, nothing. Nada. Zip.

I mean, I like it in theory, right? I like pumpkin pie. I like spice drinks like chai.

So tell me... are you on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, or no?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Autumn Wandering

When I was young, we lived in the country. I've never forgotten nor lost my love for wandering in the woods: the smell of leaves, the acorns littered among the red and gold leaves, the nip in the air. With the weather turning cooler, I think back, and even though the only 'wandering' I'm likely to do is in my mind, the imagination is a wonderful place, and I can stroll into this photo...

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labour Day... or Labor Day?

When I was a kid, being from a union family on Labour Day meant a parade downtown (once I was in it, on the UAW float!), a picnic and sometimes even a show in the park. And then... school the next day.

Ever since then, the day after Labour Day a kind of 'click' happens in my brain. I suspect many of us feel that way; it's a shift to a back-to-business mentality. Down to work. Fresh starts.

I'm fortunate enough to do what I love for a living, and look forward to many more words to come.

I'm asked often about the state of my cozy mystery series. So, to update...

Unfortunately, the Teapot Collector Mysteries are done. It was work for hire, so I have no option but to let Sophie Taylor and all her friends go, but let me assure you, Sophie and her beau will stay together, Nana and Laverne will let her take over more of Auntie Rose's Victorian Tea Room, and they will even be traveling a bit, maybe to Teapot Island in England.

My beloved Vintage Kitchen Mysteries is not being continued by Berkley either, HOWEVER, I have made the decision to keep writing them as long as sales support the work. They will be published - in ebook format only - by Beyond the Page, who already do a beautiful job of re-publishing my Regency Romances I wrote as Donna Lea Simpson. This will allow me more freedom in some ways. I am writing Book #6, Leave It To Cleaver right now, tho' I don't have a publication date yet. I am contemplating, however, a couple of connective short mysteries in Jaymie's world.

The very good news is, I still have one more book in my Merry Muffin Mystery series. After that, it will depend on whether sales grow for the series if Berkley will continue it or not. Right now I am writing Muffin To Fear; big changes happening for Merry, and more castle chaos, of course!

So... Happy Labour Day, my friends, however you spell it! And I look forward to the work year ahead.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Much Ado About Muffin Blog Tour Deets

Good day, my readerly friends!

I am pleased to say that in promotion of Much Ado About Muffin, Book #4 of the Merry Muffin Mysteries I will be at several blogs over the coming weeks. Here, then, is a partial blog tour list that I will update with links, more information, and additional dates as I get the info.

I'll be doing giveaways at some of them, so check them out!

Much Ado About Muffin Blog Tour

July 25th - First review at Karen Owen's blog! A Cup of Tea, and a Cozy Mystery

July 30th - Cozy Times - Ridley Ridge Reporter

August 1stMystery Lovers’Kitchen Bruschetta Recipe and a GIVEAWAY!

August 1st - SUPER giveaway at Killer Characters New Releases! Check it out for 3 SUPER book packages!

August 8th - Fresh Fiction!

August 9th - Q&A with Karen Owen on A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery 

August 9th – A Day in the Life of Merry Wynter - Dru Ann Love - Book Giveaway!

August 12th – Recipe day at Cinnamon, Spice, and a Little Bit of Murder And don't miss the book giveaway... a signed copy of Much Ado About Muffin!

August 13th - Kings River Life - Guest post and Giveaway! 

August 19th  - Gotta Write Network

August 20th - Lori's Reading Corner - Don't miss the book giveaway!!

August 21st - Killer Characters - GIVEAWAY!

And thanks to Lisa for the wonderful review! "Much Ado About Muffin is the perfect addition to Ms. Hamilton's Merry Muffin Mystery series. Not only does it bring new drama and mystery to the series, it also touches on other ongoing aspects."   

See you at my blog appearances! Follow this blog to keep up with updates and links!

Friday, July 29, 2016

FREE Little Library with my guest, book blogger Karen Owen

1970s Bookmobile
I'm passionately fond of libraries and always have been. When I was a kid, the bookmobile would stop around the corner from me every Friday at 4:30, and I went every single week to get new books. Now, as a writer, I contribute to local libraries, especially the smaller township ones. I used to supply books to my mother's nursing home library shelves.

I have recently become aware of a trend in 'Little Free Libraries', community groups or homeowners put out a weatherproof box and fill it with books that folks can take, read, return, and hopefully supply more book to!

Karen Owen, prolific craft blogger and cozy mystery blogger and reviewer, recently posted about her own adventures with her little cozy lending library. Curious, I decided to ask her some questions. The answers are fascinating and informative!

So here goes:

Q - You have a little free library; can you tell me about it?

A - I have wanted to have a free library for a while now. I have been blessed with the ability to read and review so many wonderful cozies in the last few years and most of them I still purchase in advance. This leaves me often with doubles of some truly wonderful books. I have a great local library and when my library cannot take them for circulation. I was just saving them for friends to read. I don’t sell any of the books I review and was looking for a way to share the cozies I was reading with as many people as I can.

Q - Where did you get the idea?

A - About 20 years ago my husband and I went to Palm Springs California and it was there I discovered free libraries. I thought this was the most wonderful idea and I left behind my holiday magazines at the free library there. I was tickled to leave Canadian magazines for others to find. I hoped it would bring someone as much joy as it brought me when I found different reading material on my trip. Then I began to see free libraries pop up almost everywhere we traveled. Some of my most favorite ones were in Hawaii. I wanted to have one in my neighborhood too so I have been looking for some time for the right box.

Q - Is it a box, or… something else? How did you build it?

A - Though I am crafty and I had intended to build one I have not found the courage to begin. I live on the very “Wet West Coast” of Canada and I need something that is water tight. I have plans still to build one but the one I have at my door now is actually a large wooden breadbox that I bought at a yard sale in early July for $7. There are some wonderful plans on line though I would love to have a much larger one.

Q - How long have you had it, and how has it gone? Do you get drop offs?

A - I have had the little free library at my door for a few weeks now. I brought it home and immediately painted it and ordered a vinyl transfer for the front of the box from a friend in the USA, she helped me design the logo and then made it. It arrived a week ago and I love it. I have had offers for book drop offs but as it is very tiny I have asked at this time to hold off leaving one behind until there is more room.

Q - Do you have neighbors? What do they think?

A - I have a great neighborhood that has a Facebook group, so I have only advertised on that page. I have had many lovely comments and a few visitors stop by. We have a very flat neighborhood that has houses very close together, lots of people who walk their dogs and kids always out and about. Once I build a larger waterproof library I will put it closer to the street but for now it sits under the mail box at my door.

Q - Do you contribute to other little free libraries in your city? How does that work?

A - I do actually a week after I put out my free library a community one opened at a public park about a 15 min drive from my house. I was so excited as the area that the new free library is in an area that some would call economically challenged but it is an up and coming area and the park is brand new. I took a large reusable grocery bag filled to the brim of both cozy and kids books and refilled that library. I plan on returning to add more in a few weeks after we go through my kids books and I finish reading a few more cozies.

Q - What would be your advice for someone thinking of starting up a free little library?

A - I would encourage anyone thinking of starting a free little library to think outside the box! While there are many wonderful plans for wooden tiny libraries I have also seen on line some truly inventive and practical ideas. I have seen tables set up, Rubbermaid containers used, an old red wagon, as well as a night stand and a regular bookshelf. It was from these ideas I found on line I begin to look for something to use for my own and I knew in the moment I laid eyes on the oversized bread box it would be perfect!

Thank you for your answers, Karen. It's been fascinating! Visit Karen at her blog:  

For more information on starting your own Little Free Library, see this wonderful organization!
Little Free Library dot org

Another international take on Free Libraries: BookCrossing

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Thrift Shop Finds!

One of my great enjoyments is to scour thrift shops for junk, er, rare finds and treasures. I buy everything from the extremely useful to the pretty but useless. I have scored vintage kitchenalia, utensils, teacups, clothes, purses, wooden shelves and too much more to even mention.

Yesterday was one of those trips, a visit to the Sally Ann, I there scored something VERRRY pretty.

This is a Wedgwood Ice Rose teacup:

Behold my new treasure, purchased for $2.99, and worth, according to Replacements dot com, $15.99. I always look up the worth of things, and I'm not sure why, because I don't CARE what it's worth, I just love it, the smooth feel of the china, the pretty design, the sheer loveliness.

Is it not pretty?? I was so impressed (tho' you can't see it in this light) with how translucent the china is...

So... do any of you thrift shop haunt? And what are your most prized finds? Tell me, do!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

You made it!!!

Hello, dear reader! I see you found me in my new home. Welcome, and I hope you visit often.

I'll be back soon with the latest on my new release, less than three weeks away now, Merry Muffin #4, Much Ado About Muffin!

I have a couple of giveaways coming that I'm really excited about, and news on the Killer Characters Cozy Up To Summer! Month of giveaways.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Just in time for summer...

Welcome to
Victoria Hamilton Mysteries
on Blogspot!

Hello, all! My name is Victoria Hamilton, and I write mysteries.

For several years I have posted my blog tour itineraries, etcetera, on my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries blog, but in truth, that blog has been outdated for some time. Mostly because I have gone on, since then, to several other series!  This will be my new home from now on, so follow me please! I am keeping the other one online, and there is a link in the upper right hand corner if anyone wants to read old posts.

For the time being I am busy, busy, busy with writing Book #5 of my Merry Muffin Mysteries, working title Muffin To Fear.

I am also working on Book #6 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, Leave It To Cleaver. Though Berkley has declined to publish any more of them, I am happy to tell you all that I have an agreement to publish future books with Beyond The Page Publishing. You should really check them out, if you are looking for quality fiction. You'll find everything to suit your taste: romance, thrillers, westerns, and lots and lots of cozy mysteries! I should know how great they are... they're also publishing all the Regency Romances I wrote as Donna Simpson/Donna Lea Simpson!

I am also working on a TOP SECRET project that I'm not telling anyone about just yet (actually, 2 top secret projects, but who's counting?) but more will be revealed at some point!

I think you all know that I am a regular blogger at Killer Characters. What a great bunch of Cozy Mystery Authors! Most exciting right now is the beginning, on Friday, July 15th, of our month-long Cozy Days of Summer giveaway spree, going all the way to August 14th!! An entire month of daily giveaways. Come back every day, and follow the instructions in the blog to enter to win!

August 1st is our regular New Releases day, so along with that, we're doing a super giveaway... packages of several cozy mysteries just for you!

And of course, on August 2nd, Much Ado About Muffin is being released, though you can pre-order now and help me keep the series alive!

So have a happy summer, sign up for my newsletter (upper right hand side of this page!) and don't forget to follow me here!

Victoria Hamilton

Wednesday, April 20, 2016