That is the question.
Right now I’m in the process of working on the third Mary MacDougall mystery, tentatively titled The Widower’s Wrath. But buried in the story—barely noticeable—are some references to a relative of our heroine who seems to have fallen on hard times. Her name is Jeanette Harrison and she is a first cousin of Mary’s mother. What’s her significance?
Well, in the first, original Mary novel—written years ago and published by Xlibris in 2001, now out of print—the tale was told by Jeanette. That first Mary came into being as a mashup of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock and Helena Bonham Carter’s Lucy Honeychurch. And she needed a Watson. Enter Jeanette.
The second canine cozy mystery in the King Harald series is coming ever closer to publication. And last week I finalized the cover art with designer Steve Thomas. Once again, my cover boy is Fiver—alas, no longer with us. I had two enjoyable backyard photo sessions with Fiver and there are enough good shots for a long series of books. I’m so grateful to Fiver’s “boss”—my friend Kelly—for allowing me to use his image.
Up until now my two Mary MacDougall mystery novellas were only available as e-books, leaving out folks who are not fond of e-book readers. (Sue and I were at a party recently and just about everyone we encountered had nothing good to say about Kindles and Nooks.) Well, now readers who prefer their books not on an LCD screen can read the two historical mysteries on good old-fashioned paper. At the moment, the nearly 300-page paperback is only available on Amazon. Click here for a look. But in coming weeks it will become available at Barnes & Noble and any other book retailer who sells print-on-demand books.
My new Mary MacDougall mystery, The Stolen Star, is fast approaching the finish line. And I just wanted to show off the novella’s cover. Steve Thomas did a great job on the design again, using public-domain art that Sue and I found. The painting is “Girl in White” by Alfred Maurer. Interestingly, the painting itself resides in the collection of the Weisman Art Museum, just a couple of miles up the Mississippi from where we live.
We’re still a month or two out from publishing The Stolen Star as an e-book. For those who prefer paper books, we’ll be doing a print-on-demand edition pairing Star with its precursor, A Pretty Little Plot.
Though I was reasonably satisfied with the cover I concocted for my first Mary MacDougall mystery novella, I knew that a pro could do a lot better. So I decided to splurge and put Steve Thomas on the job. Here’s what he came up with.
All that I did was provide him with some samples of cover looks that I liked, and a disk of public domain art from Dover and Atheneum. He did all the rest, and I’m delighted with it. Steve is also an artist who does terrific retro style poster art; the same style he used for both Johnny Graphic covers. Check out his stuff here.
Anyway, thanks for the great work, Steve.
Of the books I’ve written, perhaps my favorite is The Karma of King Harald, which recounts the misadventures of a crime-sniffing canine and his human. If I could get one series really rolling, this would be it. It’s also my favorite cover from among the seven titles we’ve published so far. And it’s such a fun cover, because of a dog called Fiver–our model for King Harald.
I got the distinct impression Fiver didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight. The dog was positively camera shy. He had all sorts of moves to get out of the frame. It wasn’t as though he was mad or anything. It was just more apologetic and a little hang-dog: Nothing personal, but I really, really wish you’d stop following me around snapping that thing.
But if you take a few hundred shots of a good-natured but shy dog, you’re still apt to get some that work. And I was able to. Here’s one of Fiver from our last photo shoot in October.
Sadly, Fiver passed away a couple weeks ago at the age of 15. It is certainly a tough transition for our friend Kelly–who shared that big, beautiful house with Fiver for many years. Any time a beloved animal friend leaves us, it leaves a hole in our heart that’s tough to fill.
Sue and I are so grateful that we got to meet Fiver and make him a cover boy.
Not too far from where I live, overlooking the west bank of the Mississippi, is the Danish American Center–where Danish heritage is celebrated. (Though happily not celebrated in the manner seen in the country’s most famous export, The Killing.) On one Sunday morning a month, through the cold seasons, the center puts on a Danish breakfast featuring ebelskivers. Think church pancake breakfast without the church.
What in the world are ebelskivers? you ask.
Well, ebelskivers are simply Danish spherical pancakes, as you can see on my breakfast plate this morning. They’re fried in special pans and take a little bit of skillful touch to make.
The very friendly volunteer waitpeople at the Danish center will keep bringing your ebelskivers and eggs and sausage until you whimper “Uncle” or your stomach bursts. Are they better than plain old pancakes? Not really, but they still taste darned good and the $8.50 all-you-can-eat breakfast is a pretty fine deal. You betcha. You can track down the ebelskiver schedule at http://www.dac.mn/.
So why a post on ebelskivers? I’ve got a soft spot for them, since they figure importantly in my canine cozy mystery, The Karma of King Harald. It’s by hunting down a legendary ebelskiver recipe that my hero Andy Skyberg identifies the serial killer haunting Beaver Tail county.
On the way out of the Danish American Center, Sue and I also happened across a caterer who was selling those scrumptious little Danish sandwiches, aka smørrebrød. Well, we couldn’t resist.
For those of you who stumble across this site, I’m mainly blogging at: http://drmartinbooks.com/ . But I’ll still post here from time to time.
I want to thank Ariel Wulff of National Animal Books Examiner for her fine review of King Harald. Ariel is a great advocate for animals and animal rights, and she definitely took a shine to New Bergen’s most popular canine.
She writes, “Cozy mysteries are fun, but there’s nothing more fun than a cozy mystery with a dog who helps solve the crime. Richard Audry’s The Karma of King Harald is just such a mystery.”
Click here to read Ariel’s review.
My wife happened on a story about an old mutt who roams the town of Castle Rock, Washington at will. His name is Bear Dog and he is much beloved among all the townspeople. Signs say: “No Dogs Allowed, Except Bear Dog.” Bear Dog sounded to me a lot like the hero of my canine cozy, King Harald–who wanders New Bergen and stumbles on mayhem and murder. But there’s no mention of Bear Dog having a nose for crime. Which is probably a good thing.
Here’s the story from a local paper.