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Julia Spencer-Fleming and the Cover Quote

May 15th, 2006

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail with Julia Spencer-Fleming’s return address on it. Julia, for those of you who don’t know, is a novelist who has won just about every mystery fiction award there is. She’s best known for her Reverend Clare Fergusson series, which is set in upstate New York, and features a female Episcopalian priest/ex-Army helicopter pilot. Clare is newly assigned to the church in the small town of Millers Kill, New York. She becomes involved in murder investigations both by virtue of being pastor to victims and/or families, and through her own compassion and inability to keep her nose out of it. She always ends up working with the local Chief of Police, Russ Van Alstyne , who is also ex-Army, a native of Millers Kill who has returned to his hometown after a military career. Russ is happily married, which is a bit problematic for Clare, for while I don’t want to say she has the hots for him, she does definitely have the warms. The first book in this series, In the Bleak Midwinter, won the Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, Barry and Dilys Awards.

As usual, I digress. Suffice it to say that Julia Spencer-Fleming is a major mystery author. I opened the e-mail, and discovered that it was actually from her husband, Ross Hugo-Vidal (Hmmm. Coincidental name similarity to sexy police chief? I think not.) In an entirely witty message, he told me that Julia was in the process of reading my book with great interest, and “what do I know after 19 years of marriage, but I suspect you may enjoy each others company.” I was most humbly flattered that Ross would take the time to e-mail me, and I felt very happy that someone of Spencer-Fleming’s stature had gotten hold of my book and was enjoying it.

A couple of days later, I got a message from my editor, who told me that Julia Spencer-Fleming had given her a cover quote for Hornswoggled. As Mark Twain would have said, I could have hung my hat on my eyeballs. I thought Ross was telling me that Julia was reading The Old Buzzard Had It Coming. But instead, oh happy day, she was reading the yet-to-be-published Hornswoggled, and liked it. The quote is as follows:

Hornswoggled is a tremendous novel from a gifted writer. Donis Casey’s voice flows like tea syrup, transporting you effortlessly to the Oklahoma frontier. If you fondly recall The Walton’s clan, you’ll adore Hornswoggled’s richly drawn characters. A welcome invite to your great-grandmother’s front porch swing.” Julia Spencer-Fleming, Edgar finalist and author of All Mortal Flesh

I blush.

Of course, I’ll post the quote on the “Books” page of this site as soon as the Hornswoggled space is ready. Please see the “Links” page for a link to Julia’s web site.

One of my zero-number high school reunions is coming up next month. I won’t say which, but it is a depressing number. I graduated from Nathan Hale High in Tulsa, in a very large class. (Nathan Hale is the guy who, while about to be hanged by the British as a spy during the American Revolution, said, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” which I always thought was one of history’s great instances of bravado in the face of death. If it had been me, I might have done my patriotic duty like Nathan did, but when it came time to die, my last words would have been along the lines of , “For the love of God, please don’t hang me.” Of course, nobody would have named a high school after me, either.) I’m sorry to say that I won’t be able to go to the reunion. I’ll be speaking at a Sisters In Crime meeting in Scottsdale on the very day. However, one of the organizers is an old high school friend of mine, and she asked me to send her some posters and promotional material about the books. I’m overjoyed for the opportunity. It always surprises me how one’s past keeps rearing up.

And finally, my brother-in-law was somewhat amazed at my assertion in my last post that I had eaten boiled chicken feet as a child. He noted quite rightly that there nothing much edible about chicken feet. I feel I should clarify that my great-aunt Mary boiled entire chicken legs below the joint, feet attached, and gave them to the little kids to eat. I expect she thought the little kids would enjoy the fact that they looked rather gross. I certainly did.

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