Sunday, November 21, 2010

Barb Goffman Guest Blog: Thanksgiving

Here's a treat for Thanksgiving! Barb Goffman guest blogs about the holiday...or is it a holiday? Thanks, Barb, for stopping by!

Barb Goffman is a short-story mystery author whose work tends to focus on families. Twice nominated for the Agatha Award, Barb is a member of the national board of Sisters in Crime, is a co-coordinating editor of Chesapeake Crimes: They Had It Comin’, and is program chair of the Malice Domestic mystery convention. She lives in Virginia.

Be Thankful You Don’t Have These Families by Barb Goffman

Ahh, Thanksgiving. A wonderful time of year when family gets together. You hug and bond and share happy memories.

At least that’s what the Hallmark Channel movies want you to think. But, c’mon, you know the truth. Every family has one member that everyone else just can’t stand. The brother who chews with his mouth open. On purpose. The cousin who won’t stop talking. The aunt who snoops around the house and then tells everyone what she found. Yep, after a few hours of wonderful family togetherness, you just might want to kill someone.

And that’s why mystery writers love Thanksgiving so much. The essence of a good story is conflict. And nothing provides more conflict than family.

Take my character, Dotty, from my newest short story “Biscuits, Carats, and Gravy.” She’s a grandmother who loves Thanksgiving. The whole family comes to her home, and she gets to show off her gorgeous crystal, her perfect decorations, and her Martha Stewart-like dishes. So far so good. But then throw into the mix a twenty-year-old airhead intent on marrying into the family—and on getting her hands on Dotty’s deceased mother’s engagement ring—and now you have conflict.

Will Dotty let the airhead get her way? Are you kidding? Dotty comes up with a plan to save the ring involving cunning, deception, and some horrible, horrible gravy. Things start out okay, but sometimes the best laid plans ... well, you know.

I had a story published last year, “The Worst Noel,” in The Gift of Murder anthology, that started at Thanksgiving and ended at Christmas. In between was a holiday season filled with so much family-togetherness that my main character, Gwen, was pushed right over the edge. When a narcissistic mother clearly loves one sister more the other, you shouldn’t be surprised when the less-favored daughter decides to seek a little personal justice, should you?

Dotty and Gwen aren’t the only devious character running around these days. The anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry, where “Biscuits, Carats, and Gravy” appears, is comprised of nine Thanksgiving stories, each with memorable characters. Mobsters. Felons. Even turkeys and spuds. Each story is funny, and each one involves a Thanksgiving food, which is perfect, because the only thing better than mysteries with conflict are mysteries with conflict and good hearty laughs.

The Killer Wore Cranberry has been released as an e-book by the publisher, Untreed Reads. You can buy it from all the online bookstores to download onto your e-reader. Don’t have an e-reader? No worries. You can also download the book as a PDF onto your computer. And since we’re talking about a food-related anthology, it’s fitting that if you don’t want to buy the whole book, you can instead buy each of the stories individually, a la carte.

So when you’re on your last nerve this week, with the children screaming and the pots overflowing, and you’re about to beat your husband with your turkey baster, stop, download, and relax. I promise, in the few minutes it takes to read one of these short stories, you’ll regain your sanity and your smile. And then you’ll be ready to spend time with your family. Well, as ready as you can be.

Happy Thanksgiving


vallerose said...

I think this is a must buy. Anything with cranberries gets my vote.

Joni langevoort said...

This is why we have Thanksgiving with only our little family. We're all happier that way, and we can visit others at a less stressful time! We're even splitting our Christmas visits to the inlaws, but that's because the inlaws are getting old and it would be better for them to have two small visits than to have one where we're all there.

Barb Goffman said...

Thanks, Vallerose. I hope you enjoy it!

And, Joni, yes, sometimes smaller visits work better. Of course, that leaves fewer suspects when a murder does occur...