Thursday, May 19, 2022

2022 Update to My Story by J.Q. Rose #memoir #motherhood #floralshop #lifestory


Arranging a Dream: a Memoir by J. Q. Rose
Click here to find JQ's books at BWL Publishing

Hello and welcome to the BWL Publishing Author Insiders Blog. 

in January 2021BWL Publishing released my memoir, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir. In 2022, there is more to the story.

What is the story? 

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir
by J.Q. Rose

From the back of the book:

In 1975, budding entrepreneurs Ted and Janet purchase a floral shop and greenhouses where they plan to grow their dream. Leaving friends and family behind in Illinois and losing the security of two paychecks, they transplant themselves, their one-year-old daughter, and all their belongings to Fremont, Michigan, where they know no one. 

Will the retiring business owners nurture Ted and Janet as they struggle to develop a blooming business, or will they desert the inexperienced young couple to wither and die in their new environment?

 Most of all, can Ted and Janet grow together as they cultivate a loving marriage, juggle parenting with work and root a thriving business?

Follow Ted and Janet's inspiring story, filled with the joy, triumphs, and obstacles and failures experienced by these blossoming entrepreneurs as they travel the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.

A snapshot of the flower shop on the first day we saw it in July 1975

We purchased the shop and greenhouse operation and lived out our dream to be entrepreneurs. It was a risky chance, but we were young and innocent enough not to know what we faced in the world of business. 

I remember how thrilled I was when we decided to become shop owners. I remember how frightened I was to move away from Central Illinois where we had a team of supporters in our family and friends and the security of two paychecks. 

The small town in West Michigan was filled with strangers. We knew nothing about the retiring owners. We had to trust and pray they were good people.

Sara, Easter 1976 
16 months old
The most difficult time for me was, after nursing my baby girl for nearly a year, I had to give her up to a daycare worker whom I did not know in order for me to work full time at the shop.

But, come to find out, Jackie, the sweet woman who took care of Sara, was the perfect person to care for her. 


We sold the business on March 1, 1995. You can imagine a lot transpired during those 19-plus years of working as business owners. 

In 1982, we purchased property about two blocks from the original chalet-style flower shop and greenhouses and erected three greenhouses, each 50' x 150', for growing plants to keep up with the demand from our customers and to house a garden center. In 1986, we opened our new flower shop and garden center facility which was attached to the greenhouses. 

The floral shop, garden center and greenhouses in one location

Imagining the building that was going to be our new flower shop and garden center was one thing, but planning and building it were another. Dreaming of it was thrilling. Building it was frustrating when we couldn't get the builders to show up and get it done as quickly as we wanted to! Decorating the interior and ordering inventory, moving in...all those things and more were exciting and scary all at once. Figuring out how the design room should be set up, managing the shelving for the shop and garden center, decisions on how to create welcoming, but efficient spaces, were just a few of the responsibilities. 

We celebrated our new facilities with the community with a grand opening in November 1986. That day and the excitement of our customers and visitors still swirls in my memory as one of the best days at the flower shop.

The plans for the new facility were birthed during a lunch date. Here's the excerpt from Chapter 29, Another Move, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir.

Within one year of occupying the new location, we were fed up with running back and forth between the shop and greenhouses in two locations and frustrated with the insufficient space in the design room, coolers, storage areas in the chalet building. We decided in 1985 to build an expansive flower shop with a garden center at the new greenhouse location.

We brainstormed on the place to locate the building on the property, but nothing clicked until we met with our beloved salesman, “Ugly Fred.” He called himself that memorable name to distinguish him from other salesmen. When Fred started calling on us, we liked the tall, white-haired Dutchman. He had experience owning a hardware store, and he shared helpful tips on selecting and displaying products our customers needed. Interacting with him through the planning and setting up of the products, he grew to become our trusted friend and mentor.

At one of those lunch meetings at Samuel’s Restaurant, which seemed to be our home away from home, we discussed the idea of moving the shop to the greenhouse property.

“That makes sense to me,” he said. He grabbed a pen from his shirt pocket and began sketching a drawing on a clean, white paper napkin.

“You can place the shop here.” He pointed to his drawing with the building out front and to the side of the greenhouses.

“That would make room for a large area for the entrance and parking.” Ted’s eyes shone with excitement.

“See, place a door into the greenhouses on this side, a door on the east side into the garden center.” Fred sketched in the doors.

“And the entire front of the building would be the gift shop,” I announced.

Fast and furious came more ideas for storage areas, work areas, delivery space. God bless Ugly Fred and his napkin drawing. I wish I had saved it.

At the ground-breaking ceremony in front of the greenhouses, we invited Fred to be in the photo taken by the Fremont Times Indicator for an article on the beginning construction of the flower shop. Our daughters, Ted and I, Ken Frens, Fred and his boss at Mollema Wholesalers, and building contractor Harold Smith smile brightly in the photo captured by the photographer. What an exciting time to see the shop take form and become a reality.

Now, the rest of the story in 2022:

The owners who originally purchased the shop in 1995 are still in business, however, they sold the shop and property to Aldis grocery store last month. Aldis will bring in the wrecking ball soon to knock down that building whose blueprint was first hand-drawn on a white paper napkin. Soon, our beloved facility will be a pile of rubble, then disappear into a landfill. All the evidence that the shop ever existed will be gone. I'm a bit melancholy about that, even if I haven't been working in the shop for 27 years.

I am glad I have wonderful memories of the times and photos of that era of my life because there is no longer any physical proof of those times. The original chalet building was knocked down several years ago. Only a grassy lot with a  For Sale sign remains where the old shop was located. 

Thank goodness, I have the memoir that leaves our legacy stories for our family and friends and future generations to read and learn about how we made our dream come true. It is a testimony to others to know that dreams can come true.


My message to you is to consider jotting down memories for your family. Or record them using your phone. Your story could be an important piece to encourage others.

Tell your life story!


Janet and Gardener Ted

Click here to connect online with J.Q. Rose


Reading and Writing Buddies by Helen Henderson


Fire and Amulet by Helen Henderson
Click the cover for purchase information

What is the first thing you think of when you see writing buddy? You might picture a critique partner, face tense in concentration as they hunch over a manuscript. The image could even be detailed enough to include scribbled comments in red. Or maybe your idea is three people chatting online, brainstorming ideas for a collaborative work.

My first image for reading buddies was a group of women in comfortable, upholstered chairs in someone's living room. Side tables hold glasses of wine and plates of chocolate candies or other treats. Next was a book club. Their vibrant discussion takes place in a small cluster of chairs in the corner of a library or local book store. However, this post follows a recent meme trend. The reading and writing buddies varied by gender and age, but all have one thing in common -- four feet. The reading and writing buddies are cats and dogs. 

Meet Pepper, my childhood reading buddy. We sat on the ground in the shade of an ancient willow tree. The books being read were my parents' collections and the piles of books checked out of the county library. The westerns of Zane Gray and Lois L'amour competed with the tales of Cherry Ames. No, it never made me want to be a nurse. That was my mother's dream, at least until she graduated high school too early to be accepted.

Many years later, another four-footed companion kept me company. Tighe curled up next to me on the couch and tolerated being petted as I read. Gentle nudges reminded me he was still there whenever the caresses slowed or stopped. He had more challenging behavior as a writing buddy. Lying on my feet or my lap as I typed didn't interfere with productivity. Until he decided it was time for a snack or to go prowl the yard. Then if I didn't respond quick enough to taps on my hand, a leap and strut across the keyboard challenged me to move him. I refuse to answer who won the stand-off. 


I hope you enjoyed meeting my reading and writing buddies.


To purchase Fire and AmuletBWL

~Until next month, stay safe and read.  

Find out more about me and my novels at Journey to Worlds of Imagination.
Follow me online at FacebookGoodreads or Twitter.

Helen Henderson lives in western Tennessee with her husband. While she doesn’t have any pets in residence at the moment, she often visits a husky who has adopted her as one the pack. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Alaska Bound by Nancy M Bell


Kayla's Cowboy coming September 2022 to find out more click on the cover.


My husband and I have just celebrated 45 years of marriage. Wow, where did the time go and I must have been a baby when I said I do. LOL  We spent 7 days cruising from Vancouver BC to Alaska and back. It was a lovely time. We saw whales, sea otters, seals, eagles and beautiful scenery. Glacier Bay never fails to inspire me, so timeless and yet always in motion. No matter how we live our lives one thing is certain, time stops for no one and sometimes that is a blessing and sometimes a curse.
We took the White Rail Line to the summit of White Pass, I can't even imagine how the people of the gold rush managed to get there. Steep terrain, snow and cold and they had to carry one ton of provisions in order to enter the Yukon Canada. Three thousand horses and pack animals lost their lives on that treacherous trail. Dead Horse Gulch is a sad sad place on the way up to the summit. 

I hope you enjoy the photos of Alaska below.

Glacier Bay

John Hopkins Glacier   Glacier Bay AK

On the way to White Summit


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Tell M A Story by Janet Lane Walters #BWLAuthor #MFRWAuthor #amwriting #stories


I probably drove my parents and grandparets crazy when I was a child. I had a grandfather with a great Cockney accent. He bgfan reading to me when I was an infant. Around the age of four I discovered library andgot my first card. Then I could read for myself. My cry became, Tell me a story. Of the adults in my life, my grandfather and father were the ones who were best at this. Then I grew up and decided to begin writing my own stories.

Each one of us has their own way of writing, a method that works for us. This became evident on Saturday at our writer's meeting. I watched my friends who read for critique frantically searching through their pages to add notes as well as accept those ones we wrote for them to take home. Most of them said when they arrived hom, said they would immediately rewrite the scene. I shook my head. 

What I had read was rough draft and I said so. One of them made a remark about wishing her rough drafts made sense. All I could think about was they must be pansters. There are also plotters. I don't fit any of these categories. I am a planner. I always ahve my blurb written before I write a word of the book. every night when I go to sleep, I hone in on my world and ilently i shout, Tell me a story.  My characters don't even have names or descriptions. When I do is dream of their adventures whether it's what they do, what's happening and slowly the story unfolds.

Then I write a chapter synopsis. I never now how long a book will be when I begin. My dreams at night tell me what the next event will be. Then I start writing focusing mostly on plot. There are two more written drafts after scribbling notes all over the printed out what ever draft I'm on. After the plot draft, I head to the setting draft and then the character draft. Then comes the final revision and the book is done.

Works for my but it's taken fifty plus eyars of writing to get this down to a system.

My Places



Buy Mark


Monday, May 16, 2022

A watery bridal veil, by J.C. Kavanagh


The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends

Book 2 of the award-winning Twisted Climb series

Where do you find the following: Little Current, Bridal Veil Falls, Chi-Cheemaun (pronounced Chee-Chee-Mawn), hawberries and the Iron Swing bridge? 

Hint: The largest freshwater island in the world.

Another hint: It's on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada.

Final hint: It's part of the North Channel, also known as the #1 sailing destination in the world.

Did you guess 'Manitoulin Island?' If you did, applause. You're correct.

Satellite image of Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island, at almost 2,800 km² or about 1,070 sq miles in size, is the largest freshwater island in the world. The island itself has over 100 freshwater lakes, including Lake Manitou (104 km² or roughly 40 sq miles) which is the largest lake in a freshwater island in the world. And, according to Wikipedia, an island named Treasure Island in Lake Mindemoya is "the largest island in a lake on an island in a lake in the world." Now that's a tongue-twisting bit of trivia you probably didn't know.

The name 'Manitoulin' is the English translation of the Ottawa/Ojibwe name Manidoowaaling, meaning "cave of the spirit," as they believed the island housed a powerful spirit in an underwater cave. In 1951, Paleo-Indian artifacts were discovered in Sheguiandah, an area on the north-east shore, that dated back 10,000 - 30,000 B.C. It was believed that the ancestors of Native American Indians arrived from Asia in three waves, settling in Chile to the south, and north through what is now Mexico, the United States and Canada. 

Manitoulin Island became part of the fur trade route begun by French and English explorers back in the early 17th century. Fur trappers and traders travelled the great lakes in canoes, trading goods for fur pelts. What is now referred to as the 'Beaver Wars' ensued, where the Iroquois battled for control of the fur trade in Manitoulin from the Anishinaabe people. On top of this conflict, explorers and traders brought an onslaught of European infectious diseases which proved catastrophic to the Native Indians. It is said that the Anishinaabe, in order to purify their lands, burned each settlement that they abandoned. For almost 150 years after that, the island had few inhabitants.

When the war of 1812 ended and the island was ceded to the British, native people from the Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi tribes returned. In 1862, the government prepared what is known as the Manitoulin Island Treaty, allowing non-Native people the option to settle there. The Wikwemikong chief refused to sign the treaty and to this day, the Wikwemikong tribe maintains sovereign rights over the south-east section of the island and surrounding waters. As of 2016, the population on the island comprises European-Canadians (60%) and Aboriginal (40%).

There are only two ways to access the island: via land on a one-lane iron swing-bridge, or via water on a passenger ferry.

The swing bridge located at the town of Little Current, is the eastern waterway to the North Channel. 
Erected in 1913, the bridge is the only land access to the mainland.
The bridge swings open on the hour, every hour, for 15 minutes,
between dawn and dusk during spring, summer and fall. 
Bridal Veil Falls, is a popular tourist attraction near the town of Kapawong,
in central Manitoulin. It's 11 metres (35 feet) high and can be reached via a 5 km hiking trail. The concave contour below the waterfall allows tourists to walk behind it. Pictured above, you'll see me waving behind the falls, in a teal and white shirt.

Bridal Veil Falls

A Twisted Climb-type of full moon overlooking Manitoulin Island.

Hawberries are abundant on the island and so are the jams and jellies.

For the last 16 years, my partner and I have sailed to the North Channel, always stopping at the town of Little Current. We sail through the swing bridge and then dock at Little Current for provisions. The name of the town, Little Current, is quite tongue-in-cheek and I'm sure the Ojibwe and Anishinaabe peoples named it with a good belly laugh. You see, the water current across the top of Manitoulin Island and in particular, the town of Little Current, is not 'little.' Quite the opposite, in fact. It's so strong and changes direction so frequently that many a vessel have rammed into the docks or other boats. Holding course while waiting for the swing bridge to open can be quite challenging.

There's a red, boat-shaped buoy in the channel at Little Current.
The bow (forward section) of the little buoy shows you the direction of the current
and the more the buoy tilts, the stronger the current.

The idea of a cave with a spirit named Manitoulin, is intriguing. In Book 3 of my Twisted Climb series, you'll find out why. Yes, more adventures are coming for Jayden, Connor and Max. Stay tuned! Details will follow before publication in October...

Till then, stay safe!

J.C. Kavanagh, author of
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2)
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll and Best YA Book FINALIST at The Word Guild, Canada
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)
Instagram @authorjckavanagh

Sunday, May 15, 2022

A Return to the Moon



The Peregrine Lunar Lander (Illustration)

After a period of fifty years, America is on the verge of landing on the moon. On December 11, 1972, Apollo 17 landed in the Taurus-Littrow highlands on the moon. Now, NASA plans a non-human landing on this satellite later this year, using the Peregrine lunar lander.

In co-operation with the Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic, the mission aims to deliver twenty-four payloads to the moon. Most will be scientific experiments, but will include commercial payloads as well as cultural messages from various people around the planet.

Originally, the Peregrine mission was scheduled to launch last year, but became rescheduled due to delays caused by the pandemic. Astrobotic CEO John Thornton sees the venture as the first step in creating a sustainable moon delivery market, being the first of many such commercial space missions.

Interestingly, one of the payloads planned for the original launch was a capsule containing the ashes and DNA of the famous science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. The plan was to deposit it on the moon’s surface. The author, fittingly remembered for classics such as the “Space Odyssey” series and “Profiles of the Future,” is remembered for his passion for space travel. At this time, it is unclear if this plan is part of the up-coming mission or will be postponed to a future one.

This idea is the brainchild of a company call Celestis, based out of Houston, Texas.  It seems that there is a demand for final-resting places on the moon. While full burials are not possible at this time, the company has many clients interested in having small capsules containing ashes and DNA of either themselves or their loved ones interred on the moon.

As the company’s CEO Charles Chafer told, “our Luna Service is among the most popular, as it affords families and friends the permanence of an off-planet service and provides a constant reminder in the night sky of a loved one’s final resting place.”


Mohan Ashtakala ( is the author of "The Yoga Zapper," a fantasy, and "Karma Nation," a literary romance. He is published by Books We Love Inc. (

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Goodbye but not Sheila Claydon

Find my books here

When Many a Moon, the final book of my Mapleby Memories trilogy is published on 1 June, I will definitely be celebrating. Writing it has been a challenge but along the way I've learned a lot - about how to manage writer's block, about the thirteenth century in England, about working in an hotel, about the housekeeping duties at a country club, and most of all about how we all carry some of the past with us in our genes and hidden deep within our our ancestral memories.

How did this all start? How did this picture of a derelict building become Many a Moon?

It started with a holiday, sleepy companions, a dog, and an early morning walk. Anyone who has a dog knows that a morning walk, or at least a trip outside, is a necessity. On holiday with friends and a husband who all voted for more sleep and a late breakfast, the dog and I decided we would do our own early morning thing and go exploring. The dog, naturally, opted for somewhere he could be off lead, so we set off for the patch of woodland we could see from our holiday cottage. 

Unbeknownst to me and the dog, the far side of the long strip of woodland marched along the perimeter of a golf course, and the view was spectacular. On that particular morning, however, the only other thing we saw was a large iron statue of a stag. It was a startling find in the middle of a deserted wood and the dog felt obliged to bark at it. Long and loudly! Fortunately the cottages were out of earshot so only the birds and hidden woodland creatures heard him. That walk set a pattern for the rest of our holiday, however. Each morning we would leave the rest of the household sleeping and climb the hill to what, early in the morning, felt like our very own piece of woodland. 

We ventured further each day and then, when we had explored every path and glade we climbed down some rough wooden steps to the golf course below and began to walk around the edge of the nearest green. And that's when we saw it. The old mill!  Except that we didn't know it was a mill then. To us it just looked like a derelict cottage. However, several years later when we returned for another holiday, someone had fixed a blue plaque next to the gaping doorway that stated it had been a functioning grain mill in the thirteenth century. Of course I took a photo, several in fact. Then I stored them away with the rest of my numerous holiday and travel snaps and almost forgot about them. 

Almost but not quite. It was too intriguing. How was it still standing? Who had worked there? Why was it at the edge of a wood, far away from any useful road? And if it was a grain mill, where was the mill pond and the river that fed it? There was a muddy ditch, narrow enough to step across but nothing else, and surely the building wasn't big enough to store grain. Hadn't I read somewhere that mills were often next to bake houses? The questions never ended but I had nowhere to put the answers until I needed a final story for Mapleby Memories. Then everything fell into place because the curtain between the past and the present is gossamer thin in Mapleby as anyone who has read the first two books, Remembering Rose and Loving Ellen, will know.

This was all I needed to be able to travel back to the thirteenth century and immerse myself in its history and culture, and what a journey it has been, for me, and for Ellie and Will the main protagonists of the story. And for all my other characters who live in Mapleby as well because that's the thing when writing a series about a particular place. The characters intertwine, children grow older, jobs develop, friendship circles widen and it all has to be woven together in the story. So most of the characters in the first two books have walk on parts in Many a Moon.

Now the book is finished and about to be published, saying goodbye to them is almost like saying goodbye to old friends. Or children growing up and leaving the nest! I do know one thing though. When I next visit the old mill at the edge of the wood, and I will, the memory of the story will still be there. I will still be able to look out across the golf course and imagine modern day Will riding across it on his red tractor mower, the same as I will be able to imagine thirteenth century Ellen laughing and throwing sticks for her dog. They will always be with me the same as all the characters in my other books. 

And here's a taster:

......Before I could answer her I heard somebody call my name. The voice floated up from below. “Ellen, it’s ready now. Drat the girl, where…” The rest of the sentence was swallowed by a sudden gust of wind as a slim figure with two long brown plaits bouncing on her shoulders ran into a stone building at the foot of the hill.

Telling myself I really must remember that there were a lot of other women called Ellen in the world, I pointed. “Is that another chalet?”

She laughed. “No, it’s not. Come on, I’ll show you.”

We clambered down steep wooden steps built into a wooded slope and the closer we got to the bottom of the hill the louder the noise became. At first I couldn’t think what it was, then I realized it was a fast flowing river. There was another noise too. A creaking sound that I couldn’t identify. As the only way to make it to the bottom of the hill was in single file clinging onto a knobbly wooden handrail, Joanne didn’t elaborate further until we were on the grass at the edge of the golf course. Then she beckoned me to follow her along a narrow path, pushing some spindly saplings out the way until we reached a sun dappled clearing. I looked at the scene in front of me in confusion. Where was the river? Where was the building? I was too busy being confused to hear what Joanne was saying. Her concern brought me to my senses. 

“Yes. Sorry. I’m fine. I guess the climb down made me lightheaded. After years working in a city I’m not used to real fresh air the same as I’m not used to quiet.”

“A week or two living here will soon sort you out. In the meantime let me introduce you to the old mill. It’s not, as you can see, exactly suitable for a chalet.”

She was right, and I joined in with her laughter. Inside though, my stomach churned. What had just happened? Why had I seen someone called Ellen run into this derelict and almost roofless building? And why had I heard the rush of a fast flowing river when there was just a shallow ditch, dry now but probably muddy when it rained?

Joanne was too busy telling me about the mill to notice my confusion. “It was built sometime in the twelfth or thirteenth century when Mapleby was very different from the sleepy village it is today. I’m not even sure why the country club is named after it because nobody knows  anything at all about its history.” 

As we retraced our steps, I saw we were standing on the very edge of one of the greens. “What was here before the golf course?” I asked her. 

She shook her head. “I’ve no idea. Probably fields or maybe a farm. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Terrace Players


Thanks to some wonderful community theater actors here in Vermont (we have a history of knowing how to entertain ourselves), I am now part of the Terrace Players.

Who are we?

We're a group of friends and neighbors who support local authors by giving reader's theater presentations of scenes from our novels. 

The Terrace Players read at the Flat Iron Coffee House in Bellows Falls, Vermont

It started out of necessity. My friend and fellow author Bill had a bout with throat cancer that left his voice damaged, and so he was not able to do public readings of his novels. His friends in the local theater community came to the rescue and volunteered to read for him. When I learned of this generous group of actors, I asked to join and participate, and the Terrace Players (named after the street where both Bill and I live) was born.

We have grown since and now include a beloved local librarian and former radio announcer.

Where do we perform? At Vermont's treasured collection of independent bookstores, at libraries, on local radio and TV stations. It's great fun, and our audiences like hearing interpretations of our stories, and they learn about what inspired our writing. We help local businesses sell their books, donuts, cake and coffee! Out local TV station now has offered to help us turn our books into audio books using their community sound facilities and library of sound effects. The circle of generosity continues.

Authors...I'd suggest you'd give this a try. It is not a great time commitment to actors-- we have one or two read-through sessions before each event.  We now have luncheons and tea parties after rehearsals and performances, so we are becoming social friends. And nobody has to memorize a thing. It's a service you local communities and businesses and helps us sell our books-- a win/win for all!


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention

                                      Please click this link for author and book information

This winter Tourism Calgary sent me an email out-of-the-blue. They explained they were considering a  bid for the 2026 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and wanted my help connecting with the Calgary writing community. The bid needed sufficient volunteer support to host this major convention. Tourism Calgary had done an internet search for local mystery writers and my name popped up in various places. They thought the convention could have numerous spinoff benefits for Calgary.  

I'd first heard about Bouchercon at Mystery Writers' INK, a Calgary writing group I belonged to for many years. Members considered it the premiere mystery writing convention in North America. A couple of them attended Bouchercon 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska. They described their experience as a fun mix of learning, book promotion, and travel. Many Bouchercon regulars plan annual holidays around the convention. 

I was excited by the email and agreed to meet online with two Tourism Calgary contacts, and later with them and the Bouchercon administrator. I learned that Bouchercon is huge. Typically about 1,800 people attend. The majority are mystery fans, rather than writers. Bouchercon is usually held in the USA, although Toronto, Canada, has hosted three times and the U.K. twice. In London 1990, P.D. James was Guest of Honour. Nottingham England's Lifetime Achievement Guest of Honour in 1995 was Ruth Rendell (not Robin Hood). Other Guests of Honour through the years have included Sara Paretsky, Ian Rankin, Harlan Coben, Laura Lippman, James Patterson, Michael Connolly, Anne Perry, Karin Slaughter, Anthony Horowitz -- enough name dropping. 

In October 2017, I attended Bouchercon Toronto. Louise Penny was Canadian Guest of Honour. (Each Boucherson has about a half dozen Guests of various descriptions). I moderated a panel on Noir Mystery Novels to a large audience (scary, both the moderator role and the subject matter). Each convention produces a short story anthology, with the proceeds going to a charity. A highlight for me was my story's acceptance in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon Anthology 2017. This earned me a seat at the author signing table.  

The Bouchercon administrator told us their organization provides a wealth of support and experience for host cities, but, in addition, Calgary would require a strong Local Organizing Committee. I provided Tourism Calgary with names of people and local groups to contact, including BWL. Our publisher, Jude Pittman, was instantly on board and will be part of the committee. Tourism Calgary sent a survey to local writers and organizations and the enthusiastic response exceeded everyone's expectations. Calgary is called the volunteer capital of Canada for good reason. The Calgary Public Library, Calgary Wordfest, and the University of Calgary expressed interest in playing roles.   

Tourism Calgary is now preparing a formal bid to host the convention in 2026. In June the Bouchercon administrator will fly to Calgary to assess the city's hotel and convention capacity. If it meets the criteria, I'm told Calgary stands a great chance of winning the bid when the Bouchercon board votes this summer. 

Since I've been with them from the start, Tourism Calgary asked me to chair the Local Organizing Committee. After some angst, I agreed to co-chair with Calgary author Pamela McDowell, my friend for 25 years. Pam and I will be busy, but it will be fun to work together on this big project. 

Looks like Calgary mystery writers and readers are in for exciting years ahead. Stay tuned.     

Bouchercon 2017 was an opportunity to visit Toronto in the fall. 


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Who Do You Trust, a Cow or a Scientist? By Karla Stover



To purchase books by Karla Stover click this link

 In 1813, French scientist Michel Eugene Chevreul discovered a new fatty acid which he dubbed acide margarique, named, in part, after the “pearly deposits in the fatty acid, “margarites” being the Greek word for “pearly.”


     Enter French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès. In 1869, working with Chevreul’s discovery, perfected and patented a process for churning beef tallow with milk to create an acceptable butter substitute. Napoleon III, seeing that both his poorer subjects and his navy would benefit from having easy access to a cheap butter substitute, offered a prize for anyone who could create an adequate replacement. Mège-Mouriès won.


     Despite Napoleon III’s high hopes for Mège-Mouriès’ product, which the scientist had dubbed “oleomargarine,” the market didn’t really take off.  Not to be deterred, Mège-Mouriès showed his process to a Dutch company called Jurgens. The CEOs realized that if margarine was going to become a butter substitute, it needed to look more authentic, so they began changing margarine’s naturally white color to a buttery yellow.


     Mège-Mouriès didn’t get much for his invention and died a pauper in 1880. Jurgens, however, did pretty well for itself. It eventually became a world-renowned maker of margarine and later became a part of Unilever.


     Margarine arrived in the United States in the 1870s, to the happy approval of the poor, and to the universal horror of American dairy farmers. Within ten years, 37 companies in the United States enthusiastically manufactured it. The terms “margarine” and “butter” had become fighting words.


     In 1886 the Federal Margarine Act slapped a special two-cent tax on margarine and required annual license fees. Margarine  producers were forced to pay $600 a year; wholesalers, $480; and retailers, $48, simply to be allowed to sell the product. “An amendment in 1902 targeted the production of artificially yellowed margarine, imposed a ten-cent tax on (butter-colored) margarine and slashed the tax on the uncolored variety.” 



     Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio went a step further and banned margarine outright. In fact, the Wisconsin law stayed on the books until 1967, which lead to the introduction of clandestine “margarine runs” that friends and neighbors set up. Every couple of weeks they’d send one person over the border to purchase margarine for all of them and illegally transport it back across the state line.


     In June 1886, Washington State passed a bill in the House to regulate the manufacture and sale of “all substances made of oleomargarine, oleomargarine oil, butterine which was butter mixed with a little Oleomargarine to improve flavor, suine which was a mixture of oleomargarine with lard or other fatty ingredients, lardine, an agricultural import from Germany, and all lard extracts, tallow extracts, and compounds of tallow, beef, fat, suet, lard and lard oil, vegetable oil, coloring matter, intestinal fat, and offal fat,” which were disguised as and sold as butter.


     An article in the 7-22-1886 Tacoma Daily Ledger claimed “the butterine vat was a graveyard of compounded diseases putrefied into carrion.”


     At this time, Washington had a State Dairy commissioner named E. A. McDonald. And when he wasn’t approving cheese factories or visiting farms to kill tubercular cattle, he was haunting cheap restaurants looking for fake butter and the people selling it, and seizing what he found. However, he recognized that local dairy farmers were only able to provide about 2 / 3 of homemakers’ demands. The use of oleo was on the rise.


     By the early 1890s, the country was in the middle of a Depression. Businessman J. A. Sproule recognized that Butterine and other substitutes for butter kept longer than the real thing. And one person was making good use of Butterine. His name was Jim Wardner who had been a store keeper in South Dakota until a fire wiped him out. Not to be deterred, he borrowed $5,000, had eggs shipped from the east and began peddling them in mining camps. He then used his profits to buy Butterine which he also peddled until a heat wave melted what he hadn’t sold and the Butterine separated into puddles of cottonseed oil, lard, Vaseline and coloring. So as not to waste his investment, he sold the puddles as industrial grease.


     During W W I, the cost of oil more than doubled driving up the price of oleo. During W W II butter was rationed because most cooking oils came from Pacific lands conquered by the Japanese; the supply plummeted. Fats were also needed in high quantities for industrial and military use. For the homemaker, butter used a higher number of ration-book points than margarine, so “oleo” margarine became more popular.


   Lard was removed from rationing on March 3, 1944 and shortening and oils on April 19, 1944, but butter and margarine were rationed until November 23, 1945. Until 1952, white oleo, came with a packet of yellow food coloring to be kneaded in.


   Gradually, states allowed the sale of yellow oleo. However, a reluctant Washington held out until December 4, 1952, becoming the 44th state to all allow the sale of yellow oleo.


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