Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gonna be at IHS this week for juried Holiday Author Fair

The event is this Saturday, noon until 4:00 pm at the Indiana Historical Society (near the corner of Ohio & West St).  There are about 30-40 selected authors at the event, all based in Indiana (most but not all of the books focus on Indiana history--hey, midwest is close enough, right?).

This is their big Holiday "do", should be fun!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Faithful Unto Death" goes to Marion County Library book/author fair

We spent part of a day meeting and greeting other authors and the public.  There are a LOT of self-published Christian writers and they all appear to have attended this event.  Plus a few actual writers who had some good stuff to show.  (Meeyow!  But still....)

Unfortunately we didn't realize until too late that the library copy of "Faithful" was right on the rack behind me, in "New mysteries"!

Rita Rose, who wrote a delightful teen book about the world's tallest woman (who lived in rural Indiana), was in attendance.  Book review reads,
Sandy Allen was the Guinness Book of World Records holder as World's Tallest Woman seven feet seven and 1/4 inches. Sandy died in August of 2008, after having helped with her friend's book about her high school years--and how she redeemed them through a life of service to young people. This book is an inspiration and insight into the life of different; people this one a lively, bright and interesting lady who scorned the title of freak and lived out her life in dignity.
Great book, and I recommend it to adults as well as teens.

Chatting about arsenic poisoning.

Benzonia/Frankfort book event

The turnout wasn't as grand as we'd have liked, but those who attended were very interested and lively, and it was great going back to Benzonia and looking around again.  We easily found Anna's tombstone and got a MUCH sharper photo that shows the inscription better than our old one.  The old Thacker house (once the Baily house and who knows who else owned it) is crumbling away on the verge of the hill.  No doubt it's the favorite haunted house in the area, and why not?
Anna's headstone

The source of Charlotte's "Frankfort Water".  It's full of sulphur and iron, can't tell what else.

The spring is still pumping out the water, open to the public and it is indeed drinkable, though rather bitter.  We brought a jug of it home for book event "show and tell" and find that as the sulphur dissipates the water is more palatable.  Now its' just mineral water.

Frankfort lake shore.  Beautiful town!

Here's the layout of the Benzonia cemetary.  Not very useful unless you have a key--we'll try to pinpoint the number of Anna's site and see what the chances are of finding out who really placed the stone there.

Inside of the Benzonia history museum, which is housed in the former Congregationalist Church.  The main doors are upstairs, go figure.  Maybe symbolic of what you have to do to get to heaven.  Or the foundation has settled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Upcoming book events: Senior Center, GLBA Author Feast, Benzonia, on and on....

"Faithful Unto Death" is doing the rounds in fall rather than the expected springtime push, so we'll be going to northern Michigan in the bleak rainy autumn, doing Halloween things and the like.

Next weekend we’re off to the Great Lakes Booksellers trade show.  (   I’m invited to appear at the Moveable Author Feast—bookstore owners attend it and the invited authors circulate around the tables (relocating to a new table for each course) and talk about their books.  So in the course of an hour or so, you interact with about 30 different regional bookstore owners.    A great way to get exposure.  Plus we get authors fed a little before the event and have a chance to chat with one another.  The best thing I’m experiencing in all these book/author events is chatting with other writers, hearing what people are working on, how they approach problems, etc.

Benzonia the weekend after that! lists us as their "Haunts of Benzie County" Halloween event.  I hope to have lively discussions with the local folks about their ancestors--I hope they don't bludgeon me in any disagreements. 

The Indianapolis central library the Saturday after that (, lots of authors will be there and we get to sit at tables feeling foolish while people avert their eyes as they go by because they'll think we're selling something.  Which I guess we are, in a way. 

Our librarian pal Cherie S. from Tipton has organized an event at their library on November 5th.  That one will probably be more fun than the main library, they have invited a group of folks who love historical fiction. 
THEN, there’s a break until early December when the local historical society has their holiday author fair:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book group features "Faithful Unto Death" and a whopping farm dinner

Deb B. hosted the book group this month and, in keeping with the farm family theme of "Faithful Unto Death", served a SPLENDID repast of ham, white and sweet potatoes, misc vegies, apple pie, and other savories and treats.

Folks asked interesting questions (the children called Orah "Orah", but my dad says, "We called her Grandma because she was the only one we knew") and were VERY kind in their comments.  They liked the details of life in those days, and the character depictions.

Photos below of the gathering.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Correction to family tree--Orah didn't die in 1924 but in 1947.

That blasted Heritage Family Tree site won't let me make corrections on it.  I need to find a better tool for charting all the relationships, gak.  Maybe I should just use powerpoint or Word and draw little boxes linked together.  It would sure be easier than those easy-to-use family tree things I find on the web.  I fear that this Heritage site is a Mormon plot to drum up more souls for after-death baptism or whatever the hell it is they do. 

But Orah lived much longer than Henry.

Book group features "Faithful"--Dinner hosted by Deb features farm menu!!!

Just got home from book group--Deb B. hosted it and served things of a farm family nature (ham, potatoes white and sweet, gravy, breads, vegies of all kinds, apple pie, other yummy things).  Everyone spoke VERY highly of the book, which was lovely; hope folks will offer comments and suggestions privately if they're too nice to do it in public.  :)  The details of life in those times seems to be what people like, more than the mystery of who killed Anna.

Most folks agree with my theory of 'who done it'.

Next up, trip to Benzonia for their grand "Haunts of Benzie County" event, followed shortly after by a trip to the library at Tipton, thanks to Cherie and her connections.  Onward!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yowza, Grand Rapids Press weighs in!

This is the 9/4/11 issue of the Grand Rapids Press, "16 good books with Michigan ties".  I hope they don't find out that I use one of their very bad articles (circa 1980) about the murder as an example of how much the story, over time, was influenced by rumor and opinion, and how little by actual research.

It was pretty evident from the first trial transcript that gossip and innuendo influents events even in the courtrooom.  "Is there a clear path of evidence showing the accused committed murder?"  "Well, he was carrying on with the  housekeeper"  "Guilty!  Send the murderer to prison for life!"

Things don't change much?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Purchase "Faithful Unto Death" celebratory apparel from Cafe Press

We've set up a site for folks to order cool stuff with book cover and/or Anna's headstone, including some nifty dark items just in time for the Halloween season, ohboy.  I think I need some pajamas for the Benzonia trip!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mushroom invasion in the front yard!

We came home the other night and found the 'shrooms had colonized the trees in our front yard.  We've seen pictures like this in kids' books, complete with elves or hobbits, but never in our own yard.  Too utterly cute!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Library Journal gave "Faithful" a swell review!

Here's what they say, in their Xpress Reviews—First Look at New Books, July 29, 2011:

"Thacker, Becky. Faithful unto Death. Univ. of Michigan. Aug. 2011. c.284p. ISBN 9780472034697. pap. $22.95. MYSTERY
Did solid, dependable William Henry Thacker really poison his beloved wife, Anna, with arsenic? His children deny it, but the Congregationalist town of Benzonia turns its collective back on him, convicting him with dispatch in this highly detailed portrayal of late 19th-century rural Michigan. Scrolling through the family's story, readers are invited to evaluate the evidence and speculate about what goes on behind closed doors. Poor Henry was burdened by having his sickly and venomous sister-in-law Charlotte living with them, but he also had a crush on the family's housekeeper, a collegiate Jezebel. In a staunchly religious community, how things appear can be enough to turn the tide. It's up to Roy, Ralph, and Lottie to figure out how to rectify a wrong, even if they can't solve the crime.
Verdict Authentic atmosphere and a remarkable portrayal of brave children make for a good read. There's more here than you'll ever need to know about arsenic poisoning, but the courtroom scenes are riveting. Drawing on her own family history, Thacker offers a crime story with Midwestern gothic overtones, not unlike Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Regional collections will want.—Teresa Jacobsen, formerly with Solano Cty. Lib., Fairfield, CA"

I'm so delighted with this--not everyone gets such kind treatment from the LJ!

-becky t-

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grand weekend in Michigan visiting folks and doing book stuff.

We went to Ann Arbor to do a podcast to promote Faithful Unto Death, and then to my cousins Penny and John's house for a party.   Allen and Carol came over for the 'do', and it was fun to spend time with the whole crew again.  They have such nice friends, all bright and interesting and fun.  And what a spread! 

Then to the library for a presentation, then more party! 

We stayed in "the suite", which is a slightly redecorated version of Aunt Charlotte's room.  We hate it that she wasn't there for the fun.

Penny sent us off next morning with a very nice breakfast (and blueberry muffins to go!)

Up to Cadillac next, for a book signing at Horizon Books.  Then off to the farm and some quality time with Aunt Ingrid and Uncle Francis.  Special treat, Ingrid shared some of her childhood photos from Germany--lots of stories behind them all, wish she were more interested in writing them down.  She says, "It's hard to remember in German and then write in English".  Which makes sense.

The weekend gave us SUCH added appreciation for our Michigan relatives! 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hey, I got top billing at the Ann Arbor library!

Penny and John are going all out to make us welcome, and plan to round up as many pals as are in town to attend the library 'do'.  The library plans to film this presentation, no pressure or anything.   Maybe I could come down with the measles or something :)

There'll be a (short) slide presentation and I'll tell the story of how the book happened, trying not to give TOO much away!  I think it might be sort of cool.  Fingers crossed, anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Michigan NPR Online has a blurb about the book serialization, yowza!

OK, OK, "Faithful" shares top billing with  "A Spell on the Water" by Marjorie Cole, who has a plug by Barbara Kinsolver.  It would be so grand to get a "I couldn't put it down." note from someone like Barbara Kingsolver.  Or, say, Patricia Cornwell, who could really help pinpoint WHEN the fatal dose was administered, and would probably blow my solution out of the water but in a gripping way.

But still, we're there, in an NPR writeup.  We'll take it!

Friday, July 15, 2011

U of M is serializing Faithful Unto Death.

Feels like Charles Dickens.  Only not quite the rock-star quality.  But anyway, if you're patient and lack the means to buy your very own copy of "Faithful Unto Death" (or don't have a friend to borrow it from, in which case you are poor indeed!), you can read it in installments by dint of "liking" U of M's facebook link.

Personally I'd lack the patience.  When Stephen King did "The Green Mile" in that way, I just waited until the whole thing was done and got all (seven, was it?)  volumns and read them clear through.  Still am pissed about the Delecroix execution.

-becky t-

Monday, July 11, 2011

Grand book event at Bookmamas in Indianapolis!

University of Michigan has released my historical mystery of arsenic murder in Benzonia, Michigan in the 1890s, and we are having a grand book event in August to celebrate this.

The event will be on Wednesday, 8/17, at 6:30 pm (gives you time to get there from work and still have dinner afterwards!).

Bookmamas is located at:
9 Johnson Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46219

Here are the book details, for those of you who are not already in the know:

Faithful Unto Death
-Becky Thacker-

Published by University of Michigan Press:
Ebook Formats

Arsenic shatters a family in 19th-century Michigan

Benzonia, Michigan, 1894: a sleepy Congregationalist community, dedicated to the education of hardworking and virtuous young people of both sexes and all races. Anna Spencer Thacker is the daughter of missionaries, a faithful wife, and mother of five, pious to a fault. She is suddenly stricken with a mysterious ailment that soon proves fatal. Was it truly an unfortunate illness? Or was it murder—or suicide?

Events, here and there.

Have lots of possible things happening in the next few months. BookMamas in east side of Indy in July (still nailing down dates), Ann Arbor downtown library on Friday, August 5th at 7:00 pm, and POSSIBLY a gig at Horizon Books in Cadillac, MI on Saturday, August 6th.
Stay tuned....
-becky t-

Monday, June 20, 2011

Books have arrived!

Two copies of THE BOOK were in the mailbox, thank the goddesses, and not on the porch in the pouring rain.
Hardcover looks very official and academic, plain blue cover with author name and title on the spine and front, no book jacket. It kind of scared me; "Who is this important person?" I wondered. Holy sh*t, it's me! No, it's I.
Anyhoo, the paperback is too cool for words, very moody cover with subtle detail under the shadow.
Harriet and I are arguing about who takes which copy to work tomorrow to show off. She says I'm on a college campus so I should take the collegiate version. I'm going to walk it all over our building. If work permits, that is.
Was it Tina Turner who sang, "I'm so excited!" Too many exclamation points here. But you get the idea.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Faithful Unto Death has arrived!!!

U of Michigan tells me that this grand book is available to bookstores NOW. Also, they're thinking of serializing it on the web site--right up there with Chas. Dickens and Stephen King, yowza!

We're planning some Michigan events, one at Ann Arbor in August, and hope to include one at a bookstore in Cadillac, plus a visit to Macinac Island (Island Books) in September. I expect we'll need to include a Traverse City bookstore, too, since that's close to where the action was.

I sooooo much hate it that Uncle Gale and Aunt Charlotte are no longer with us. I remember them all gathered around the table at the farm, saying things like "No, it couldn't possibly have been him", and "Well, it COULD have been suicide, or even an accident!" "Oh, don't be ridiculous".

Friday, April 8, 2011

We're back from a VERY lovely river cruise

We spent 8 days on a Netherlands/Belgium river cruise, learning about hydroengineering projects, pommes frites, bulbs, chocolate, art, Medieval/Renaissance building, chocolate, cathedrals, and chocolate. Click on the link above to see the pics I uploaded. Warning: it's ALL of the pics, but you can use the slide bar at the top to zip from place to place.

Why here? Welll, it's because a few years ago we saw the movie, "In Bruges", in which two gangsters are sent to Bruges to hide out for a while. One of them falls in love with the place, and much of the movie is a travelogue through the fresh eyes of this one, played against the cynicism of the other gangster ("No clubs, no night life, here we are in fuckin' Bruges").

So when I encountered info about this river cruise and the fact that a side trip to Bruges was possible, I wrote to Harriet and asked her if she wanted to take a river cruise to F*ckinBruges, knowing what the reply would be. And yes, EffinBruges is as splendid as the gangster said, and we're ready to return there any time we win the lottery. Which may take a while since we never play the lottery. But you get the idea.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Tribe went tubing on Saturday! Click here!

I keep thinking about scripture that says, "They shall beat their couch potatoes into tubers" but it's really hard to work that into conversation.

But who knew that sitting in an inner tube and sliding down a washboard of snow would be so exhilerating?

-becky t-

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ice Storm finally thaws!

Up to four inches of ice accumulated--deadly but hey, what a view as you whiz along on your heels, arms pinwheeling madly! And here we are, a week and a half later. The only thing left to show for it all is heaps of really dirty snow and ice at the corners of parking lots.
Birds think spring is coming--are they mistaken or do they know something we don't?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Indy book group reviewed "No Impact Man" and "The Story of Stuff"

The monthly book group met yesterday and we broke slightly from the 'eat goodies and maybe mention the book' tradition, and watched the "Story of Stuff" video to supplement the title read, "No Impact Man".

Those who just skimmed the book did the "What did they do for toilet paper" obsessing as so annoys the author. The rest shared possible actions we might take in our own lives to lessen our impact on the planet.

And of course we ate goodies.

Coming up, "The Heretic's Daughter".