Jun 15 2013

A Real-Life Mystery

Melissa Crytzer Fry

I’m not sure if it’s the drug-induced stupor from my recent surgery*, but I could swear that I met Maggie True’s real-life counterpart this past week.

Who’s Maggie True? The main character in J.M. Maison’s cozy mystery, Desired to Death. Many of you might know J.M. Maison under a different name – Julia Munroe Martin (a.k.a. @wordsxo on Twitter).

But wait, yes … there is proof of her visit – I mean, Julia’s, not Maggie’s – even if she would NOT allow any together-photo portraits (okay – I’m not too fond of cameras, either, and didn’t object much):

What’s this? A copy of Desired to Death on the bumper of a car with Maine plates. In front of my house! I wasn’t dreaming at all. Click to enlarge.

After three years of correspondence on Twitter – and beyond – I found Julia to be every bit the sleuth that her protagonist Maggie True is. Case in point: our initial face-to-face meeting was at a BBQ joint, where, of course, our waitress was quite the character.

When our server walked away from the table after regaling us with stories of her life in San Francisco – living with a billionaire – the various places she’s called home (NYC, Chicago, LA, Deroit, etc.), her uncanny Demi Moore resemblance (huh? Methinks that’s wishful thinking), her desire to leave San Francisco to attend a tiny Arizona community college to enroll in “a program,” Julia’s mind went wild (Just like her character Maggie True, a woman who, when faced with the empty nest, turns to amateur sleuthing).

“She has a story,” Julia said of the waitress. “She’s running from something. I know it.” The most laughable part of lunch was when “Demi” said to me, “See you later, doll face.” Doll face? As Demi exited our table, Julia mouthed “doll face” to me, her eyes arched in question, and we could not stop laughing. What a great first meeting! But the rest of the visit, I’ll leave to Julia for explanation on her own blog – when she returns home from her cross-country road trip this weekend. I highly recommend reading her road trip posts. And while you’re at it, comment below by midnight EST, June 23 to win a copy of Desired to Death (or buy your own), signed by the author! A quick, fun read.

So long, Maggie True, J.M. Maison, Julia Munroe Martin. So surreal to see this talented, wonderfully warm woman leaving my Arizona home. Click to enlarge.

For Readers, Writers, Twitterers: My first in-real-life Twitter pal meeting was with @SuzieIvy, a detective, police officer and author who also lives in Arizona. This was back in 2010 when I was brand NEW to Twitter. You can imagine the hilarity that ensued when I texted my husband to say we were at lunch, “having gun.” Those damn iPhone keyboards! Yes, I meant to type “fun.” Read about Suzie’s take on the initial meeting near my hometown, and then see my post about a follow-up visit and officer-civilian ride-along in her neck of the woods the next spring. Her commentary on my visit to her turf is SO worth reading as well.

I also had the opportunity to meet @lroseriver for a hike in Tucson, and then @literarydaze at the Tucson Festival of Books this past spring (and again at the Historical Novel Society Meeting in Phoenix recently, which author @JMcCannWriter invited me to attend — we’ve been IRL friends for years – lucky me!). The Tucson Festival of Books also allowed me to stalk meet fabulous authors and Twitter friends @SarahMMcCoy, @JillianCantor, @jenna_blum, @randysusanmeyer, @IlieRuby, @KrisMcMorris. I love those intersections – when social media connections become real parts of my ‘real’ life.

Have you met any of your Twitter friends IRL – in real life? How’d it go? Did your family and friends think you were NUTS for doing it?

*If you’re wondering about my surgery, the gallbladder is gone – hallelujah – after seven years of discomfort. Thank you, genetics, once again.  And, at the BBQ joint with Julia: I had soup and salad, knowing surgery was days away. Can we say it together? 1-2-3: Awwww… Poor Melissa.


Jun 4 2013

Three Years: Nature, Writing, Connections & a Giveaway

Melissa Crytzer Fry

When I started my blog three years ago today, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wrote my inaugural post about bees, then subsequent posts about great-horned owlets, desert chopper rides, prairie dogs and a host of other desert experiences, feeling inspired by my natural surroundings and buoyed creatively. As the theme of my blog implies, I can and do find writing lessons from what I see in my rural corner of the desert. Still.

Over the years, you’ve indulged me as I’ve shared photos of the fearsome and furry. This is a venomous Gila Monster under my breezeway last month. Click to enlarge.

Never did I expect the sense of community that this little blog – with the help of Twitter – would foster. I’ve met writers, readers, bakers and candlestick makers (okay – maybe not the latter) – people who share my interests, fears, dreams, hopes and who pass along new thoughts and ideas daily.

One of those people is author, Erika Marks, whose third novel – The Guest House – just happens to be releasing today, the very day of my three-year blogaversary.

We met on Twitter back in 2010 when we were both new to the social media scene, soon discovering a shared interest in all-things nature, hiking, biology (her hubby’s a science teacher) and birds (we are among a bird-nerd group incessantly Tweeting photos of our sightings).

What better blogaversary giveaway than an author-signed copy of  The Guest House? I’m excited to read this latest gem, because this book draws from Erika’s past as a carpenter. She’s also been a cake decorator, art director, culinary creator … wait … candlestick maker, perchance?

Before you get the full scoop about this family saga set in a coastal Cape Cod town (a tale of combative families and hidden declarations of love),enjoy this sneak-peek passage that illustrates Erika’s appreciation of the natural world:

The hours of dusk had always been her favorite in the house, watching the evening sun slip lower through the windows, feathering the floors with shades of lilac and silver, bringing with it the gentle breeze of coming night and the luscious smells of earth and sea settling into sleep. It was a sexy time, full of secrets and promise. She’d always thought so. Now, here with Cooper, she felt the stirrings of that promise again. Somehow she suspected dinner with him, their table basking in the lavender glow of sunset, would be a deeply romantic experience.

Ooo la la. Earthy and steamy! Erika’s additional passions – for legend and lore, history, and the power of love – will be apparent to readers of The Guest House. (Did I mention how much I loved Erika’s Little Gale Gumbo and The Mermaid Collector, as well?)

To Win a Signed Copy: Between June 4 and June 9 (midnight EST), just answer one (or more, if you’re so inclined) of the following questions. The winner will be selected using random.org and announced June 10.

  • In what ways has social media surprised you – good or bad? Any stories of lasting connections, friendships, fun or freakiness?
  • In what ways does nature inspire your creativity? I would love to hear personal anecdotes.
  • Why do you want to read The Guest House?