Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages! May I please draw your attention to the center ring! (Spoken, of course, in the booming voice of the circus ringleaders of yesteryear...)
Anyway, enough with the fanfare and on to the good bits: Barnabas and Wilfred have some wonderful news. In fact, they've been holding on to this news for the past week. They've been biting their fingernails, sitting on their hands, hemming and hawing, pursing their lips shut, and shifting from foot to foot (not all at the same time, of course; that would be impossible. Perhaps two or three at once, but no more than that.)
All of that is beside the point, though. The point is that they have been incredibly excited, and have been bursting to share their news with you, with your friends, with your friends' friends....heck, they'd tell the Queen herself if they could catch a moment of her attention!
What they've been so very excited about is this: they've found a publisher, a forever home if you will, with Crooked Cat Books. They've got some work to do, still (wouldn't want them showing up for such an important event with any wrinkles in their trousers or their hats askew, would we?) so they will most likely not be ready to meet the public until October or November of this year. Waiting is so very difficult, but they shall do their best to be patient. As shall I. Sigh.
And of course Barnabas and Wilfred will remain hard at work on their next case (for a good detective must always carry on, no matter how very excited he might be!) whilst they make themselves presentable for their Fall debut.
Tot ziens for now!
So, Barnabas and Wilfred have only just begun their second great adventure, and already they've gotten themselves into quite a pickle. It's a terrible pickle; a pickle of the most distressing sort; the kind of pickle that a nice life in Marylebone doesn't quite prepare one for.
Oh dear. Oh dear, indeed!
Will they bravely prevail? Will they run away, screaming and flailing their arms about in a panic? Will they rescue someone, or will they be the ones in need of rescue?
I don't know yet. I suppose I'll find out when I sit down with them later today, and hear what they have to say. Which brings me to the point of this seemingly pointless, long-winded musing: the two dichotomous approaches to writing (which, it turns out, are not entirely dichotomous at all!)
When one is writing a book, or a story, or really anything for that matter, one is told that one should plot it out carefully. Make outlines, create a story board, stick to your plot points. I've tried that. I've rigidly held the characters to their fates, made them do what they were supposed to do, yada yada yada. It was terribly boring. I was bored. The characters themselves seemed bored, like they were going through the motions.
The opposite advice is that one should just write what comes naturally, go with the flow, see where it takes you. I've tried that too. It's loads more fun. It's like the story is writing itself and you're just along for the ride, like some strange sort of typing medium channeling the spirits of your characters. Delightful.
But, sadly, it's also a bit like going for a run and turning every which way willy-nilly. Fun while you're doing it, but at some point you end up in some random place and you look around and say, 'well, that was great and all, but where am I, why am I here, and how on earth do I get back again?' Then it's a long slow trudge back to wherever it is that you came from, or where you want to go, or whatever.
So I decided to mix the two. I have a rough outline of chapters. In each, Barnabas and Wilfred have a job to do. There's something they need to accomplish; some place they need to get themselves to. How they get there and what they do along the way is up to them. They are free, as long as they do what's expected of them.
This way, I get to experience the joys of letting them choose for themselves, while holding them in line with a few minimal restraints. And let's be honest: if Barnabas and Wilfred were given free rein to do anything and everything they wished, we'd probably all end up watching them sit around a cozy fireplace in Marylebone.
Or, perhaps, stuffing their faces from a cheese platter at a very particular roadside inn ;-)
Duty calls, then, to Barnabas and Wilfred. It's time for them to stop messing around, and get themselves out of that pickle we were talking about earlier.
I wonder how they'll do?
And so it begins. They've hardly finished their first case and already their next one has found them. I'd love to tell you all about the first one, and how it worked out, and if everyone made it out entirely intact, if you will, but Barnabas and Wilfred would be quite cross with me if I did that. It is their story to tell, of course, so I shall let them tell it. Hopefully, the wait will not be too long!
Barnabas and Wilfred have just begun working on their new case (that is to say, I have just begun the telling of the case...) Where they'll go I cannot say, but I can say that they will be frightened and brave and silly and clever and everything in between, because that is who they are and that is how they do things.
Wish our heroes good luck, and tot snel!
Just finished reading this fabulous trilogy. Take one part historical fiction, one part fantasy, one part mystery, then add a nice dollop of feminist sensibility along with a sprinkling of dry wit and you'll have the essence of these books. I won't say too much (to avoid spoiling the story for everyone!) but the series is a smart mystery that will keep you hopping and the heroines are flawed-yet-utterly-lovable, each in her own way. I couldn't put them down and am eager to read the rest of Libba's books. They all look lovely!
So the other day I threw a bunch of stuff in a crock pot and the result was this magical soup. Since I basically made it up as I went feel free to substitute/add/remove ingredients like crazy. Just let me know if you do something different and it comes out awesome!
7 cups water
2 cubes veggie boullion (I used Masset 7 but any brand will do)
4 oz. ocra (I used frozen but fresh would be good too)
4 oz. lima beans (trust me, they won't be yucky when you're done!)
1/2 onion, chopped into itty bitty pieces
1/4 bag of baby carrots, chopped like the onions (I used baby rainbow carrots, but if you can't find those regular baby carrots or just plain old regular-sized carrots would work)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a couple shakes of red pepper flakes, if you like spicy
Dump all of that in the crock pot, turn it on high, then leave it alone for two hours. (Or put it all in a big pot, turn the stove on medium-low, let it simmer for two hours).
After two hours, take:
1/2 roll of vegan sausage (I used Lightlife vegan sausage style veggie grounds)...really any vegan sausage will do).
1 can cannelli beans (or great northern beans, or kidney beans, or black beans. If you want to go absolutely crazy maybe some lentils would be good).
Fry the sausage and beans in a pan, then throw it in with the rest of the soup. Let it cook for another hour.
Boom. Done. Yummy. :-)
“Look here!” said Wilfred, brandishing a letter that had only moments before arrived with the post. “It’s from Cornwall.”
“Cornwall, you say?” said Barnabas, looking up from the fire (into which he had been staring for the past half hour, trying and failing to sort out the details of a particularly complicated case which he had been hired to solve quite some time ago; the client in question was more than a little disgruntled at the delay in discovering the truth and was indeed threatening to cease payment if Barnabas could not come up with an answer to his problem at once).
“Cornwall?” Barnabas repeated anxiously. He was glad of the distraction from his worries, but the arrival of the post always made him nervous. One never knew whether it were to be good tidings or bad one would find inside any given envelope. “Is it from Mrs. Helen Hopwood?”
He squinted at Wilfred as though he might be able to read the writing upon the letter from his chair before the hearth to his assistant’s position at the desk, ten feet away.
“Indeed it is from Mrs. Hopwood,” said Wilfred, looking about the desk for a letter opener.
“Well, what does it say?” asked Barnabas impatiently. “Has she written to thank us for solving her case? Has the constable arrested the butler, as I suggested?”
Wilfred, having successfully located the letter opener, extracted the letter and began to read. His mouth opened, then closed, then opened once more, but no sound came out.
“Come on then,” urged Barnabas. “Whatever is the matter with you? You look a bit upset, like a fish without water.” He paused, considering. “Is something amiss? Did the butler escape? Oh, do say that ne’er-do-well didn’t get away?”
“Oh dear,” said Wilfred carefully. He disliked upsetting his employer, and the news contained in the letter was of the most distressing sort indeed. “That is not exactly what is the matter.”
“What is it then?” demanded Barnabas. “Mrs. Hopwood is quite well, I hope? Oh, please tell me that she is well! Or is she perhaps in need of our further assistance?”
Barnabas stared at his assistant with hopeful eyes, and Wilfred sighed as he realized there was nothing for it but to tell his employer the terrible developments that were detailed in the letter. “It’s just, well, it seems that Mrs. Hopwood is quite dead,” he said at last.
“Dead, you say?” Shocked, Barnabas’s face reddened, and he blinked rapidly. “Dead?” he repeated.
Wilfred nodded, and Barnabas shook his head sadly. “Such awful news! Poor Mrs. Hopwood. She is, uh, well, she was, an amiable lady. This is a heartbreaking development, I must say.” Barnabas slumped in his chair and stared morosely at the floor.
“She was most kind,” agreed Wilfred.
“How did she, ah, perish?” asked Barnabas.
“It was murder,” replied Wilfred. “Just as she feared when she hired us.”
“So the butler got to her after all, even after we exposed his foul plans! But they caught him, I hope?” said Barnabas, looking up. “He musn't get away with it.”
“Ah, yes, well…” began Wilfred.
“Ah yes well, what?” said Barnabas. “They did catch him?”
“Er, no,” said Wilfred. “That is, they did catch the murderer. Only it was not the butler who was the perpetrator.”
“Not the butler!” sputtered Barnabas. “But all of the evidence pointed straight to him!”
“Most definitely,” agreed Wilfred. “Still, poor Mrs. Hopwood was killed by her cousin. He was caught in the act, it seems.”
“So it was the cousin all along?” asked Barnabas, his voice quiet with shame. “Not the butler, as I thought?”
“So it would seem,” said Wilfred. “But truly, the butler really did seem guilty. Anyone would have thought so. No one would have suspected the cousin, I’m sure.”
“Oh,” said Barnabas, looking chagrined. “Oh dear. Oh dear indeed.”
Ummm, Mr. Tew? Yes, you. You can come out now. No, really, it's quite alright. You can stop hiding. Now there's a good fellow.
Barnabas is (or was, I should say, being as he lives (lived) in Victorian London) the bravest, wittiest, most outstandingly clever detective to have lived. Ever. Or, at least, he wishes he was. In truth, he struggles a bit with the bravery bit. And the wit. And his cleverness could use some work. But he has heart, and that can make all the difference, can't it?
So why am I going on about Barnabas Tew, this struggling aspiring detective extraordinaire? Why, because he (along with his ubiquitous sidekick, Wilfred) has just come to life, that's why! Barnabas and Wilfred have just wrapped up their first adventure (with an arguable degree of success, leaving really only a very few dead people in their wake, which was not entirely their fault, of course!). Now they are searching for their forever home (i.e. an agent or good indie publisher). Alas, finding the right home for one's beloved characters is a process that takes time and patience (and patience is not a quality I can be accused of having), but hopefully our intrepid (sort of) heroes will be finding their way to a bookstore near you in the not-too-distant future.
Until then, this will be a place for you get to know Barnabas a bit more. I'll also give updates on my upcoming short stories (mustn't neglect the little ones simply because a great big novel has been brought into the family!), along with various observations on writing, life, and perhaps a vegan recipe or two.
Tot ziens for now, groetjes!