If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Friends and Family and the Fourth of July

By Julie Tollefson

This weekend, as we have nearly every Fourth of July for almost three decades, we’ll host a party and crawfish boil. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, full of fun and sun and the people I love. Some friends and family, dispersed over the years by job opportunities and new adventures, will travel hundreds of miles for this annual reunion.

Fourth of July tank battle
The irony of hosting this particular holiday party for more than half of my life, though, is that I don’t like fireworks. I’m a worrier, and once we started adding children into the mix, I worried more. For a holiday so closely associated with fire and explosives, my concerns are not entirely unjustified. And we’ve had some close calls.

One year, wind knocked over a big night display and spewed horizontal balls of fire toward the metal stock tank “pool” where the children were “swimming.” Another year, an errant rocket flew between the legs of one little guy, burning a perfect hole in his shorts and narrowly missing skin. He hung those shorts on the wall of his bedroom for years, a Fourth of July trophy.

Children in poolOur neighbor, a volunteer firefighter, once climbed up on the roof to ensure our house didn’t burn down. And a few years ago, we cancelled nightworks altogether because drought had sucked every bit of green from the field surrounding our new house, leaving it crunchy, dry, and vulnerable to the slightest spark.

With that rich, complex history of anxiety and joy as a foundation, I knew exactly what I would write about when the Short Mystery Fiction Society announced “Flash and Bang” as the theme of its first anthology. I channeled 25 years of unease and apprehension into my entry about a man who wakes the day after his annual Fourth of July blowout to find his wife dead in the backyard, buried under fireworks detritus. Because he’s never liked the holiday, he spent most of the party drinking bourbon in the house. Bits and pieces of the night before come back to him, fractured and fragmented and horrifying.

But that’s fiction, thank goodness.

In real life, my worries have dimmed a bit as we’ve grown older and our gathering has lost some of the flash and bang of our youth. We’ll eat crawfish and enjoy adult beverages, sure. Some of the children, now grown, will touch my heart by making an appearance when they could be with young people their own age. But mostly, we’ll enjoy hanging out together and re-telling our shared stories.

Crawfish boil

What are your favorite traditions or holidays? How do you celebrate?

7 comments:

Margaret Turkevich said...

what a wonderful Fourth! This morning I read a warning about veterans and PTSD triggered by fireworks.

We have a 10 month old puppy experiencing her first Fourth. Last night, fireworks pounded the sky somewhere nearby, so 45 pounds of standard poodle joined us in bed for the duration.

Jim Jackson said...

Fireworks were illegal in New York while I was growing up. Sparklers were about as flash/no bang as you could get. However, my father had bought some large firecrackers back when they were legal and kept them at my grandparents’ farm where we would spend the fourth. Dad would make a big production each year of setting off a half dozen, blasting tin cans high into the sky, while my grandmother worried her son might lose a finger or two because the firecrackers were so old, etc.

KM Rockwood said...

We leave the fireworks to the professionals.

When my kids were very young and we lived in Chicago, we'd go to a friend's apartment on the 22nd floor that had an unobstructed view of fireworks being shot off from a stadium toward downtown.

After we moved here, the local Fireman's Carnival was held over the weekend of the 4th, and they had fireworks one night. We always took the kids.

Now that all of us are older, we will go meet my brother and his wife for a late dinner on the patio of a restaurant that has a great view of fireworks being set off from the top of a mountain that's been developed into a resort.

The most spectacular fireworks I've seen were the 1976 bicentennial display in NYC. One of my brothers lived there, and we went to his place for lunch, saw the fireworks (I think they were set off on a barge in the Hudson River, but I could be wrong) and went back to his place until the crowds cleared.

Kim Striker said...

How wonderful, Julie, and I am glad that you and yours have survived the 4th relatively unscathed over the years.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the 4th and the fireworks that go along with it. As children we used to go to the "display" as it was called. We'd head out at lunchtime, my mother having packed a huge picnic lunch and we'd lay out on a scratchy, wool, St. Mary's buffalo plaid blanket. You can tell how much of an impression that blanket made on young me, I can close my eyes and see it. The hillside was filled with families, all sharing picnic baskets, with lots of kids playing. The actual fireworks display didn't take place until dark, of course, and the hillside we all gathered on overlooked a stadium, which is where the display took place. At dusk to dark we all watched the stadium. They had ground displays until deep dark. Sparkly fireworks outlined images of George Washington, lit flags, spelled out 4th. It was magical. Then the event began and seemed to go on forever. We loved it.


Gloria Alden said...

It sounds like a great celebration you have, Julie. What fun. When our kids were younger, we used to take them to local fireworks. Now they're grown and sometimes my siblings get together for a picnic, but this year nothing is going on.

Like Margaret, it's been in our newspaper more than once that some veterans who suffer from PTSD suffer from fireworks shot off by neighbors and to not do it unless you warn them in advance. One year my grandsons shot off some fireworks while I was on vacation, and the pony I had then was frightened by the whistling ones (He was used to army planes flying low overhead) and he raced around his pasture and hit the fence with his nose. They had the vet out and he had to euthenize him. I came home to see his grave with a cross on it behind the barn. I'm sure a lot of animals are terrorized by the noise, too.

My favorite fireworks were always at the New Year's Eve event in my local town with lots of music, magic and other events going on in different churches and other places around the courthouse square. And then a midnight a most awesome fireworks display went on accompanied by music, and followed by hugs and wishes of a Happy New Year.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Julie, thank you for sharing your memories and story inspiration. Being with friends, gathered together, enjoying wonderful summertime food, is a big part of my July 4th celebration. And, because I'm in the hot South, watching celebrations and fireworks on TV, out of the heat!

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your memories! My favorite part of the holiday will always be gathering with friends - and virtual friends are part of the fun!