Saturday, October 31, 2015


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A Stitch to Die For by Lois Winston


A Stitch to Die For (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) (Volume 5) 5th in Series Cozy Mystery • Paperback: 240 pages  goodreads-badge-add-plus

• Publisher: Lois Winston (July 7, 2015)

• ISBN-13: 978-1940795300

A Stitch to Die For-ebook

Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

About The Author :

lois-winston-med-res-fileUSA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. 

Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Tsu at, on Pinterest at, and onTwitter at Sign up for her newsletter at

Author Links 
Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: 

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blog Tour/Book Review: MURDER RUN by Shelly Frome

Praise for 'Twilight Of the Drifter' by Shelly Frome:

"This is a thoughtful, careful study of the south in a way that makes a time and a place come alive. One thing I liked especially about it is the dialogue and the pacing of the narrative. Frome is writing from deep understanding and with a skill that is enviable. A good mystery from a good writer."-Lee Jacobus, 

"Rich in southern history and mystery."- Patricia Gligor, Author of 'Mixed Messages' & 'Desperate Deeds'

"Shelly Frome's southern fried literary characters in "Twilight of the Drifer" haunt the reader like a stirring and heartfelt Blues song. This crime story loses no time in transporting the reader into the dark underbelly of the gritty world of the Mississippi Delta. Mr. Frome's vivid and picturesque use of description paints one unforgettable reading experience."- Gerry Corn, Amazon Reviewer

Praise for 'Tinseltown Riff' by Shelly Frome:

"Capture Real Energy Reading This Fast Moving and Intriguing Book!"- Jo-Anne Vandermeulen, Author of ' Conquer All Obstacles'

"Tinseltown Riff by Shelly Frome took me on a trip through the movie industry that was a surprise and a lot of fun. Not your typical Hollywood story. On this wild ride through the industry, you'll be watching over Ben's shoulder as he does his best to make it in the Big Time, only to trip and fall, time and time again. I recommend this story to readers looking to get away from it all, who are looking for an adventure, and who want to be entertained."- A. McGraw, Amazon Reviewer

"Tinseltown Riff is an amazing collage of false and failed people trying to make it in the superficial atmosphere of Hollywood. Caught in their own world of make believe the oddball characters shuffle the deck and don't always come up with a full one. Scam artists feast on the likes of Ben trying to draw his way back into the movie world, and failed actresses trying to recreate themselves. Add in a hit man from the Vegas mob on the prowl for lost drugs, records and money. This unusual mix of offbeat characters makes for entertaining reading and intrigue."- Julian Stuart Haber, Author, 'A Nail In The Body of Christ' and 'Blood Avenger'

MURDER RUN by Shelly Frome

Publisher: Sunbury Press (August 15, 2015) 
Shelly FromeCategory: Mystery, Detective, Amateur Sleuth, Crime Tour Date: Oct & Nov, 2015 
ISBN: 978-1620066164 
Available in: Print & ebook, 244 Pages 


Murder Run centers on Jed Cooper, a wayward handyman grappling with the untimely death of his employer, a fragile choreographer who secluded herself in the Litchfield Hills. As the fallout mounts, the reader is taken to various locales in and around Manhattan, an escapade in Miami Springs and back again to the Connecticut hill country until this twisty conundrum finally plays itself out.


Jed Cooper, is a young handyman who worked for a choreographer hiding out in Litchfield, CT and tried to help her, but really didn’t know why she was so afraid or of what. He is the prime suspect when she is found dead and he works hard to clear his name. Jed has his work cut out for him as the two detectives are clueless – counting on Jed to either find the murderer or confess, and the corrupt state trooper isn’t much more help. Jed is the good guy and I cheered him on.  With multiple story lines that intersect this is a complex puzzle, but Jed is able to emerge with the solution. 

Shelly FromeAbout Shelly Frome:

Shelly Frome is a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of crime novels and books on theater and film. He is also the film columnist for Southern Writers Magazine. His fiction includes Sun Dance for Andy Horn, Lilac Moon, Twilight of the Drifter and Tinseltown Riff. Among his works of non-fiction are The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. Murder Run is his latest foray into the world of mystery/crime and the amateur sleuth. He lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

Buy 'Murder Run' by Shelly Frome:

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Follow the 'Murder Run' by Shelly Frome Tour:

Denise Costello Oct 12 Review 
Sunshine Book Promotions Oct 13 Excerpt 
SolaFide Self-Publishing Oct 15 Interview & Excerpt 
Deal Sharing Aunt Oct 19 Review & Interview 
Wall-to-wall books Oct† 21 Review, Excerpt & Giveaway 
Keenly Kristin Oct 26 Review 
Christa Reads and Writes Oct 27 Review 
Lisa's Writopia Nov 4 Review & Interview 
I'm Shelf-ish Nov 9 Review 
Cassandra M's Place Nov 19 Review & Giveaway 
Self-Taught Cook Nov †24 Review & Giveaway 
Lady of Books Nov† 27 Interview †& Excerpt 
Bassgiraffe's Thoughts Nov 30 Review
Shelly Frome

Saturday, October 24, 2015



An amateur sleuth, Sheridan Hendley jumps at the chance to work with the defense when a favorite waitress is arrested for the murder of her ex-husband. Determined to prove Zoe’s innocence Sheridan probes into the victim’s past and why he chose to return to Cold Creek 15 years after the divorce. Personalities clash and Zoe’s family closes ranks as Sheridan attempts to unlock the carefully kept secrets of the family that owns and operates the Grill. The closer she gets to finding the truth, the more her own life might be in danger – a situation that strains her increasingly serious relationship with Detective Brett McMann.

I turned the radio on in the empty house for noise when I walked in. As I rolled my suitcase into the living room, I caught the newscaster’s announcement. A murder at the Grill? I searched for my phone, confident my best friend and colleague, Kim, would tell me what happened. She answered her phone as if she’d been waiting for the call.

“Hi, Sheridan! When did you get back? Today? I wasn’t sure if you’d be back today or tomorrow. Has it been a week already? No doubt you had a great time in Williamsburg.” She rambled at her usual quick pace and didn’t sound concerned about a murder or anything else.

“I got home around ten minutes ago. We had a great time. Took a bunch of pics. I’ll tell you about the trip for sure. The morning newsman reported a murder at the Grill? What did I miss?”

“I didn’t hear they determined it was murder. That’s not good.” I sensed the confusion in her voice, no longer as upbeat, and imagined her brows knitted together.

She paused before continuing, “Marty and I were eating an early dinner there last night when it happened. A man keeled over and Zoe screamed. The place was packed. Even the tables outside were filled despite the heat. Everyone just froze for a few minutes. Hirsch came in and an ambulance took the man away. He was dead for sure.”

She took a breath and continued in a more conversational tone. “I have trouble calling Hirsch ‘Chief’, but he took control. Hirsch and Doc Wellburn told everyone to leave their food. Doc told us to write down what we’d ordered and eaten. He cautioned us to seek medical attention if we experienced a headache, nausea, or other intestinal problems. Doc and Hirsch were concerned about food poisoning. Murder?” She finally stopped long enough to take another breath.

“That’s what the KCCX newscaster said. Anything strike you as strange?”

“Other than I wasn’t able to eat my meal and Zoe was hysterical, not really. One minute the man was yelling something and Zoe scowled at him. The next, he’s on the ground, writhing, and then dead. When the paramedics expressed concern about food poisoning, everyone freaked out and grabbed their stomachs.”

“Any idea who the man was?” My curiosity peaked. In my case, curiosity was both a good and bad thing and always active.

“Not at first. He sat in the back corner. You know the table out of the way, near the kitchen and restrooms? Someone said he’d been at the Grill most of Zoe’s shift and gave her all sorts of grief. Then later I found out he was her ex-husband, Jebediah.” 

“Oh, how awful. Sorry this happened to Zoe.”

“Sher, Zoe’s worried. She was afraid someone might think she was responsible for the food poisoning. She delivered the food and waited on him. And they had words and she’s the ex-wife. She was upset. Now with murder instead of food poisoning, she’s liable to be the prime suspect. She probably had a motive. I sure wanted to kill my ex a time or two.”

I shook my head. Kim might have wanted to but murder and her personality didn’t match. She paused, not her usual approach. With a more subdued tone, “I volunteered us. I told her we’d help her if she needed it.”

I chuckled to myself. Kim and I are on the faculty of the local private four-year college. We aren’t detectives, yet somehow we keep getting involved in murders or at least in solving them. 

“Zoe’s always been good to us. She may not need our help after all. I guess there will be more on the news later. Aside from the excitement, how are you?” 

“Good. But I want to know about your trip. How about lunch? I’m guessing the Grill is closed. Chinese?” 

In a small town like Cold Creek, there’s not an abundance of restaurants unless you want to eat at the national fast food chains. The Grill was our “go to” place. With it closed, Chinese sounded good. Besides, I’d just gotten home the night before and there weren’t a lot of groceries in the house.

“Sounds like a plan. I have to go pick up Charlie. About noon?”

“See you at noon. I can’t wait to hear all about your trip.”

Kim hung up and I finished my breakfast. As I sipped my coffee in the quiet of the early morning, I reflected on the past week. I met Brett McMann last fall when a colleague was murdered. We’d been dating ever since. After several months, the time came for me to meet his teenage daughter. Acceptance by Madison was as critical to our relationship as meeting parents. We’d settled on Williamsburg as neutral ground with a variety of activities to keep a teen occupied.

The trip with Madison went very well, despite some awkwardness. How do you figure out sleeping arrangements when the two adults – Brett and I – aren’t married and you’re travelling with an impressionable 13 year old? The solution we came up with was that Madison and I shared a room, with Brett in the room next door. Not all bad. Madison and I had some time to get acquainted with each other. Brett and I managed some alone time after Madison went to sleep. I tingled as I recalled some of those alone times.

As I replayed other parts of the trip, I laughed to myself over the silly things we did and a few of Madison’s comments and questions. Although as a psychologist I have worked with teens, the dad’s girlfriend was a novel role for me. A nerve racking and scary role, in fact. Add in Brett’s naiveté about teenage girls and the trip was full of surprises as well as laughs.

Madison lacked the finesse of an older teen and often blurted out whatever came to mind. Brett and I were both a little surprised at the questions she asked or what she seemed to know and what she was trying to figure out. It would never have occurred to me to ask my mother when to wear lace undies, but maybe that was why she asked me.

I don’t recall suggesting my mother get lacy undies either. I hadn’t packed anything remotely sexy for that trip. Everything I’d brought or worn had a GP rating. Maybe even milder, if that was possible. My selection may have prompted the questions. Then there were the questions prompted by the television ads for Viagra. Brett turned several shades of red over that discussion. I still wasn’t sure if some of Madison’s questions weren’t intended to get that reaction.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Blog Tour/Review: PERFIDY - A Circle City Mystery by Michele (M.E.) May


By M.E. May

ISBN-10: 1494461919
ISBN-13: 978-1494461911

M&B Literary Creations
Paperback: 238 pages
February 2014, $13.95
Harlequin July 2015


Perfidy – noun
Deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery

Mandy Stevenson left home for college even as her family was being torn apart by the loss of her brother, an Indianapolis police officer. But now, four years later, it’s time to return and face the grief and hardships she left behind.

As summer fades, Mandy finds herself in a nightmare when her mother vanishes without a trace. Faced with her father’s skepticism, Mandy turns to her godfather, head of the police department’s Missing Persons Unit, for help. The police investigation quickly uncovers her mother’s secret, nefarious lifestyle – a lifestyle that may have cost her mother everything – including her life.

Just as these secrets begin to unfold, Mandy’s world is again turned upside down by the murder of a dear friend. She soon realizes that his murder may be connected to her mother’s disappearance.

How much grief from personal loss and duplicity can she bear? Will uncovering the most perfidious betrayal of all turn Mandy’s life to bitterness – or end it?


May has created a riveting suspense enmeshed with police procedures that often frustrate, childhood friends, business partners, and for Mandy, a hint of romance. The only person Mandy ever trusted was her brother Charlie, who died years before in the line of duty, and then her friend Alex. As the betrayals and double-dealings unfold, the similarities of these murders to Charlie's and the duplicity, infidelity, and deceit uncovered are consistent with the meaning of "perfidy."

I read this in two sittings, both times staying up too late. The pace is quick and murders and funerals come one after the other. The inter-relationships of the characters are woven gradually and when revealed make sense as does the identity of the murder.  I liked Mandy as a stubborn and smart protagonist. Characters of Mel and Freeman are strong supporting characters. I hope we see more of them in the future. I've added INCONSPICUOUS (the second in the series) to my TBR list.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
Harlequin buy link:

Michele May

M. E. May lives in the Far Northwest Suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Paul, and their white Husky, Iris. Born in Indianapolis, she spent most of her years there or in a suburban town near there. Although she has physically moved away, her heart still lives in her hometown. She has a son, daughter, and four wonderful grandsons living in central Indiana.

She attended Indiana University in Kokomo, Indiana, studying Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her interest in the psychology of humans sparked the curiosity to ask why they commit such heinous acts upon one another. Other interests in such areas as criminology and forensics have moved her to put her vast imagination to work writing crime fiction that is as accurate as possible. In doing so, she depicts societal struggles that pit those who understand humanity with those who are lost in a strange and dangerous world of their own making.

In creating the Circle City Mystery Series, she brings to life fictional characters who work diligently to bring justice to victims of crime in the city of Indianapolis. Michele also hopes her readers will witness through her eyes, the wonderful city she calls her hometown. Learn more about Michele at

Other titles by M.E. May:

Perfidy (Circle City Mystery, Book 1) – winner of the 2013 Lovey award for Best First Novel

Inconspicuous (Circle City Mystery, Book 2) – nominee for the 2014 Lovey award for Best Suspense novel

Ensconced (Circle City Mystery, Book 3)

Purged (Circle City Mystery, Book 4)

Monday, October 19, 2015


Today, something a little different.  When not reading mystery or romance, I enjoy a bit of fantasy.  If you do too, check out this debut novel by J. S. Fields:


Thirty years ago a spell was cast that exploded the magic in those who wielded the power and millions were consumed by fire. Countries and Governments that had grown dependent on wizards for the new arms race were left floundering and confused. Tensions rose and bled into World War III, and the world was broken by the global bombardment. Magic was thought lost forever.

Reese, a young girl of only fifteen, knows the stories and the lore. She has grown comfortable with life in the miles of caverns that make up Mammoth Cave. When Tereo, a wise traveler, arrives to weave a tale of history and fact, the pulse inside her screams out that she is meant for more. Tereo knows that Reese is the only one that can help him perform an unimaginable task. Together, along with her cousin Erik and her friend, Emily, the ragtag team set off to move the Center of Magic – and stop the gathering evil from destroying the final spark.

Dangers, both magical and mundane assault them from all sides. New faces and allies find them while betrayal lurks close. It is a journey of fantastical determination, one that sweeps this group into heights none could dream of before and into the very depths of despair.

Pulling from our own past and myths, this is an alternative history that combines lore, legend, current fiction and popular mythos to create a tale unlike any you’ve read before.

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Spotlight: SNOW JOB by Debbie Brown

TITLE: Snow Job

RELEASE DATE: October 15th
AUTHOR: Debbie Brown
KEYWORDS: Romance, Action, Adventure, Detective, Suspense, Thriller, Snow, Christmas

CATEGORIES: Romance, Action, Adventure 
ISBN: 978-1517489267


She’s just a divorce lawyer, so how’d she end up 2000 mi from home, dodging bullets and running for her life with a park ranger?

SYNOPSIS: When NY divorce lawyer, Sarah Lindquist, stepped out of her office to clear her mind before her next client showed up, the last thing she   expected was to come to in the middle of the Colorado Rockies, with two park rangers standing over her. 
The ex-military rangers are convinced someone wants her out of the way, but how do they find out who, without putting her life at risk and letting that 'someone' know they've missed the target? 

All her life, Debbie has spun stories in her mind, watching the characters come to life. After working as a nurse, teacher, martial arts instructor, artist, and CIC officer in the Canadian military, her life reads like a story itself. Since graduating from the Institute of Children’s Literature, she is finally devoting herself to writing these stories down and taking us all on a ride we won’t quickly forget.




Saturday, October 17, 2015


This is not your average Southern town. With a hint of mystery, a lot of laughs, and unique charm, you’ll catch a glimpse of everyday life in Goose Pimple Junction in this short story compilation. Short & Tall Tales occurs chronologically betweenMurder & Mayhem, book 1, and
Heroes & Hooligans, book 2, in the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. Book 1.5 is a fun escape that will answer questions readers may have about the residents of this quirky small town.

How did Johnny Butterfield become police chief?
How did Tess and Jack get engaged?
How did Ima Jean come to live with Louetta?
How do you celebrate an Apple Day?

These questions and more are answered in Short & Tall Tales in Goose Pimple Junction. Five short stories, one novella, and three recipes will give you more of life in Goose Pimple Junction, make you laugh, and have your mouth watering. If you want a feel-good read, you’ve come to the right place. Grab some sweet tea and escape to Goose Pimple Junction.

It's great to be back in Goose Pimple Junction with its southern charm.  If, like me, you've read MURDER & MAYHEM and/or HEROES & HOOLIGANS,  the short and tall tales are a unique and fun way to learn more about the characters. If this is your first stop here, what a great way to be introduced to the characters and the backstories.  But then do go back and read the other two books! As promised, some questions lurking are now clear - well as clear as possible in Goose Pimple Junction with no doubt that mysteries are likely to arise around the next corner.

Definitely an enjoyable read and at times laugh out loud funny. Easily finished in several hours, and Amy leaves you wanting for more. Hopefully Book 3 will be coming along soon so I can get my next fix.  

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author:
Amy Metz is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. She is a former first grade teacher and the mother of two sons. When not actively engaged in writing, enjoying her family, or surfing Facebook or Pinterest, Amy can usually be found with a mixing spoon, camera, or book in one hand and a glass of sweet tea in the other. Amy lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Blog Tour: Pane and Suffering


To solve her father’s murder and save the family-owned glass shop, Savannah Webb must shatter a killer’s carefully constructed façade. . .

After Savannah’s father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she drops everything to return home to St. Petersburg, Florida, to settle his affairs–including the fate of the beloved, family-owned glass shop. Savannah intends to hand over ownership to her father’s trusted assistant and fellow glass expert, Hugh Trevor, but soon discovers the master craftsman also dead of an apparent heart attack.

As if the coincidence of the two deaths wasn’t suspicious enough, Savannah discovers a note her father left for her in his shop, warning her that she is in danger. With the local police unconvinced, it’s up to Savannah to piece together the encoded clues left behind by her father. And when her father’s apprentice is accused of the murders, Savannah is more desperate than ever to crack the case before the killer seizes a window of opportunity to cut her out of the picture. . .


Savannah just wants to take care of her father's affairs and sell Webb's to his assistant, Hugh, but then he dies suddenly as well. Coincidence? Savannah is devastated.  Finding the cipher her father left her with a warning that she could be next convinces her that neither death was due to natural causes.  She just has to get past the bungling policeman.

The glass shop and class Savannah has to teach provide an interesting context for this double murder mystery. The characters of her father, Jacob, Amanda, and Jonathan and the rest of the people in the class add dimension to the story. The plot moves along with unusual twists and turns in the form of geocaches and ciphers to be solved. A change of pace, this was an enjoyable read, and I learned a lot about glass and geocaching. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.


Cheryl Hollon now writes full-time after she left an engineering career of designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind her house in St. Petersburg, Florida, Cheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass, and painted glass artworks. Visit her online at, on Facebook or on Twitter @CherylHollon.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Blog Tour: DEATH ON THE PRAIRIE (A Chloe Ellefson Mystery) by Kathleen Ernst

Chloe Ellefson and her sister, Kari, have long dreamed of visiting each historic site dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. When Chloe takes custody of a quilt once owned by the beloved author, the sisters set out on the trip of a lifetime, hoping to prove that Wilder stitched it herself.

But death strikes as the journey begins, and trouble stalks their fellow travelers. Among the “Little House” devotees are academic critics, greedy collectors, and obsessive fans. Kari is distracted by family problems, and unexpected news from Chloe’s boyfriend jeopardizes her own future. As the sisters travel deeper into Wilder territory, Chloe races to discover the truth about a precious artifact—and her own heart—before a killer can strike again.


This is the 6th book in the Chloe Ellefson mystery series. Chloe is a museum curator and history buff, this time taking readers to the sites dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder. Not exactly the restful bonding experience of the two sisters, family issues and murder had to the intensity.  

Ernst has done her research with regard to the sites and sounds Chloe and Kari experience.  The characters are well-developed and the pace is steady. While the mystery can be read as a stand alone, I think readers would want to know how relationships were formed. For sure, lovers of Little House on the Prairie will enjoy this book. Leave a comment below and if you are in the US, you could win a copy of the paperback!

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About The Author:
Kathleen Ernst is a former museum curator who remains passionate about history! In addition to the Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites series, she has written many books for American Girl, including nine about the historical character she created, Caroline Abbott. Over 1.5 million copies of Kathleen’s 33 titles have been sold. The Chloe series has earned a LOVEY Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and several of her mysteries for young readers have been finalists for Edgar or Agatha awards.

Author Links:

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And you can start reading now:

Death on the Prairie: A Chloe Ellefson Mystery

Kathleen Ernst

Chapter 1

     “This quilt belonged to who?” Chloe Ellefson’s voice squeaked on the last word. “Did you say…Laura Ingalls Wilder?”

     “Whom, dear,” Miss Lila said. “Yes. This quilt belonged to Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

     Chloe reached toward the folded quilt that had been deposited with far too little ceremony on her desk. Her fingers stopped short. Instead she grabbed a ballpoint pen lying a foot away, terrified that ink might inexplicably geyser forth, and tossed it onto the floor.

     Miss Lila’s forehead wrinkled. “Are you alright, dear?”

     “I need gloves. And acid-free tissue. And…” Chloe sank back in her chair and regarded her guest. “What…how…are you sure? Laura?”

     “Gracious, Chloe.” Miss Lila’s voice held the faint rebuke that can only come from long years of acquaintance.

     Which was to be expected, Chloe thought. Miss Lila Gillespie had lived next to her parents’ house in Stoughton, Wisconsin, forever. She always wore dresses, and heavy stockings that bunched around her ankles. She’d carried the same black pocketbook for as long as Chloe could remember. She was quite thin, with the posture of a broomstick. But a plump and generous heart beat beneath the starched shell. Miss Lila was the go-to grandma for every child on the block.

     “Sorry,” Chloe managed. “It’s just that…well, lots of people contact me about donating heirlooms, but no one’s offered an artifact that belonged to Laura.”

     Miss Lila smiled. “I remember reading Little House in the Big Woods to you and your sister. I don’t know who enjoyed it more, you or Kari.”

     “Me,” Chloe assured her, although Kari had loved it too. Seeing Miss Lila evoked memories of chocolate cookies and delicate china, gleaming old furniture scented with Lemon Pledge, stories read aloud as snow drifted past windows framed with long lace curtains.

     “And now your mother tells me that you’ve been invited to give a speech about that book…? What an honor.”

     “Well, it’s not that big a deal,” Chloe said. “In grad school I wrote a paper arguing that although Little House in the Big Woods is a novel, the historical processes Laura described—churning butter, butchering, maple sugaring—were authentic, and acceptable as partial documentation for historic sites’ programming. Somebody mentioned it to somebody else, and I got invited to talk at a gathering of Little House fans in a couple of weeks. The symposium will be in De Smet, South Dakota, where several of the later books are set.”

     “You must be excited!”

     “Actually, I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it.” Like, None. Chloe planned to blow the dust from her original paper and pretty much wing it from there. “Anyway, how come you never told me about this quilt?”

     “I inherited it from a cousin several years ago. I showed it to Kari, but you were living out of the country at the time.”

     Chloe regarded the quilt. She’d worked in the historic sites biz for over a decade, and had served as collections curator at the huge outdoor ethnic museum called Old World Wisconsin for almost a year. She’d held hundreds of treasures in her gloved hands—some fragile as cobwebs, some folk art treasures worth thousands of dollars, some the only surviving scrap left to honor an unknown woman’s life. But still, nothing like this.

     Based on the fabrics, Chloe guestimated that the quilt had been made during the period covered in the Little House books. Maybe 1883, she thought. Exactly one hundred years ago. Maybe Laura had wrapped herself in this very quilt during one of the prairie blizzards she’d described so vividly. The notion brought a lump to Chloe’s throat, and she felt ridiculously emotional.

     Geez, get a grip, she told herself. She imagined getting all dewy-eyed at the next Collections Committee meeting, while her boss looked on with contempt. That was a scene to be avoided.

     At least no one else is here to see me reduced to a stuttering fan-girl, Chloe thought. Miss Lila had presented herself without warning at Education House—the small home that the state purchased when almost six hundred acres within a state forest had been set aside to establish the sprawling historic site. It was after five, and the curators of research and interpretation had gone home.

     Chloe tried to transform back into the oh-so-professional curator she generally aspired to be. “Tell me everything you know about this quilt.” She retrieved her pen and grabbed a notebook.

     Miss Lila folded her hands. “My cousin Inez gave me a few heirlooms, including Laura’s quilt, before she passed away. Like me, Inez had no children. I’ve enjoyed having the quilt, but I’m eighty-eight. This quilt deserves a permanent home.”

     “How did your cousin come to have it? Is there any documentation specific to Laura?”

     Miss Lila waved a dismissive hand. “Nothing in writing, but it’s come down in family lore. Inez’s husband was descended from one of Caroline Quiner’s sisters.”

     Chloe nodded. Caroline Quiner was Laura’s mother, AKA Ma.

     “Caroline was born near Milwaukee, but Laura was born in Pepin, Wisconsin.”

     Everyone knew that. Chloe’s mind danced ahead to a question she hardly dared articulate. “Did Laura…actually…make the quilt?”

     “Inez used the word ‘own.’”

     “Oh.” Bummer.

     “Laura visited Pepin after she and Almanzo Wilder married,” Miss Lila added, “and gave the quilt to a relative.”

     “Really? I would have figured she had her hands full out in South Dakota after she got married.”

     “That doesn’t mean she didn’t visit her old home at some point.”

     “No,” Chloe allowed, but strands of caution were weaving through her excitement. This quilt might, or might not, have belonged to the famous author. Research might, or might not, answer that question. But she couldn’t present the proposed donation to her colleagues as a sure-thing Laura artifact without more to go on.

     “Laura and Almanzo didn’t stay in South Dakota,” Miss Lila said. “They settled in Missouri.”

     “They did?” Chloe blinked. “I did not know that.”

     Then, with a further sinking heart, she thought of something else. “Have you considered offering the quilt to one of the Laura sites and museums?”

     “I have. Last year I wrote to someone at each historic site that preserves one of Laura’s homes. The trouble is, they’re all interested.”

     “Ah.” No surprise there. Even without verifying that Laura had owned the quilt, just knowing that it might have been owned by her, and had passed down through a branch of the family, would have tickled any Lauraphile’s fancy.

     “I didn’t know which site should receive the quilt, so I just put the problem out of my mind,” Miss Lila confessed. “Then your mother stopped by this morning to ask if I needed any daylilies, and she mentioned your invitation to speak. And I thought—well, there is the answer! Laura was born in Wisconsin, and I knew you’d take good care of the quilt, so I concluded that it should come here instead.”

     Chloe nibbled her lower lip. A curator’s personal artifact lust was not acceptable rationale for accepting a donation. Besides, all of Old World’s restored homes and farmsteads were furnished to reflect the actual family which had once lived there. Interpreters in period clothing used those specific stories to helped visitors gain insight into the larger experience of the Yankees and Europeans who had flooded the state in the eighteen hundreds. If Old World Wisconsin did acquire Miss Lila’s quilt, it might be displayed during some special event, but it could not be exhibited and interpreted as Laura’s on a daily basis.

     The trouble was, Chloe really wanted her site to acquire the quilt. She wanted to be able to look at it whenever she wished. Maybe even touch it with a non-gloved finger from time to time. If she was having a bad day.

     Then a mental image of herself creeping into storage—like an art thief who hung Rembrandts and van Goghs on the walls of an armored room hidden behind bookshelves—popped into mind. And so begins a descent to the curatorial dark side, she thought.

     Reluctantly, she faced facts. “As the owner, you can the offer the quilt to any historic site or museum you choose. But I think it might be wise to reconsider donating it to one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites.”

     “Well, I did have one other idea,” Miss Lila said. “Maybe each Laura Ingalls Wilder site deserves something. I could cut the quilt into pieces, and – ”
     “No!” Chloe’s toes curled in horror. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell, but Istrongly advise against that. Wherever the quilt ends up, it should stay intact.”

     Miss Lila’s gaze held a hint of shrewd amusement. “Then please, dear. Which site should get the quilt? I trust your professional opinion.”

     I think I just got played, Chloe thought. But how could she care, when a quilt that might have once graced Laura’s bed was involved? “Do you have contact information for the historic sites? The names of people who responded to your original inquiries?”

     “Of course.” Miss Lila pulled paper from her pocketbook. “Here you are.”

     Chloe accepted the pages. “Even if your final choice is to offer it to Old World Wisconsin, I don’t have the authority to accept it myself. All potential donations are discussed at curatorial meetings, and the next one won’t take place for over a month. But that buys us some time.”

    “Time for what, dear?”

     “With your permission, I’ll contact each site and discuss your proposed donation. I can get a sense of their storage facilities, whether the quilt would be put on display…that sort of thing.”

     “Lovely.” Miss Lila beamed. “I will leave the quilt in your capable hands.”

     Oh-boy-oh-boy-oh-boy! Chloe thought with giddy glee, before summoning her grownup voice. “Since the quilt is not yet officially a proposed donation to Old World, I’m not sure that I should – ”

     “I’m sure,” Miss Lila said firmly. “What was that you were saying about acid-free tissue…?”

     Played again, Chloe thought, but she didn’t care about that either. Technically she could not provide expensive curatorial supplies to stabilize an artifact that had not been legally transferred to Old World Wisconsin, but shestill didn’t care. “I’ll package the quilt properly,” she promised. “And I’ll let you know what I discover after talking with people at the sites.”

     Miss Lila looked thoughtful. “Each site will send a representative to the symposium, don’t you think? Take the quilt to South Dakota so they can see it for themselves.”

     Chloe leaned back in her chair, picturing herself creeping along dirt roads all the way to De Smet, desperate to avoid fiery collision. And what if she encountered a trunk-piercing hailstorm? Or a tornado? “I don’t think I should travel with the quilt, Miss Lila. That would make me very nervous.”


     “But – ”

     “Chloe.” Miss Lila leaned forward. “I want you to learn what you can about this quilt, and choose its permanent home.”

     Who could say no? “All right,” Chloe conceded. “But before you go, I need you to sign a loan form.” She knew she’d have a nervous breakdown if anything happened to the quilt, but at least she could avoid a lawsuit against her employer by dotting and crossing the legal i’s and t’s. She fetched the necessary form, filled out the basics, and handed it over.

     “If it makes you feel better.” Miss Lila signed with a flourish that suggested schooling in the Palmer Method of handwriting. “There you are.”

     Chloe walked her to the door. Before leaving, Miss Lila paused and put one hand to Chloe’s cheek. “Thank you, my dear. This is important, and I trust you.”