A Gertie Christmas eStory only 99 cents!

Gertie wanted to do something special for her readers to thank them for their support. Hope you enjoy.

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Murder Trims the Tree is a Christmas novella (15,000 words)

When Gertie and her cohorts decide to do their court-ordered community service at the local assisted living home during the Christmas season, they get more than they (plea) bargained for.

"A hoot with a heart."  Cozy Library

"A delight to read. In addition to the engaging mystery, it's a wonderful story of the love of family and friends.”  Mysterious Review

"One of the most memorable heroines in recent crime fiction."  Lansing State Journal

What I Have To Put Up With!

This month I’m going to get rid of my dearly departed husband’s mother if it’s the last thing I do!

Grandma Johnson is ninety-two and her tongue is poisonous, like a rattlesnake. She’s also my mother-in-law. I’ve never forgiven Barney for dying and leaving me to deal with her. The two of us get along like milk and orange juice. Mix us together and we curdle for sure.

Yesterday, I opened the screen door and walked into the living room. The door snapped shut behind me with a bang like my twelve-gauge shotgun going off, but Grandma didn’t hear it. She was watching the local news on television and had the volume cranked up as high as it would go.

Think I cook just for fun?” Grandma crabbed. “Where have you been?”

I could have told her the truth, that I was out chasing bad guys, but that would just set her off, so I said, “I’ve been around.”

You…” Grandma shook a crooked finger in my direction. “You will be the death of me just like you were the death of my boy.”

Grandma’s comments are outrageous, figments of a warped imagination. I’ve learned to ignore them.

All the while she was complaining, she gave me the evil eye. I helped her get up from the sofa after watching her rock back and forth trying to get momentum on her own. She gripped my offered hand with her own, cold and bony like the remains of a scaled fish.

Grandma Johnson is shriveled up like an old apple you’d find in the back of your refrigerator when you finally decide to clean it out. One that’s so old and moldy it takes a few seconds to identify it. And she smells like a nursing home, which is where I keep suggesting we put her. No one else agrees with me. Yet. That’s because they aren’t the ones having to deal with her all the time.

I don’t know why Grandma showed up on my doorstep with her suitcase. Unless she planned to drive me crazy.

The only thing that looks new on Grandma Johnson is her dentures, which really are brand-spanking new. She wore an old faded housedress with an apron tied around her waist and she snapped her new teeth.

“I better go check my bird,” she said, “before I go burning it up. Almost forgot.”

She sent one last glare my way and headed for the kitchen. I shut off the television, then followed her and watched as she opened the oven door. Holding hot pads in both hands, she carefully pulled the roasting pan out of the oven. My mother-in-law set it on top of the stove and removed the cover.

“See there,” she said. “I did almost burn it.”

I looked over her shoulder and couldn’t help noticing the chicken was so rare it could almost fly away. I also noticed that she had forgotten to turn on the oven.

Maybe after the family digs into this chicken, they’ll agree with me about that nursing home.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

~excerpt from Murder Grins and Bears It

Da Yoopers

In the U.P. we love everything Yooper. Da Yooper Tourist Trap is cool. So is Da Yoopers. Deer camp isn't until November but we can dream, can't we?

How to Act Like A Natural Born Yooper

My brand new squirrel proof bird feeder.
(That's a turkey, in case you couldn't identify the creature.)
It's still cold and white here in the Michigan Upper Peninsula. But it's beautiful. I just love it. The one thing we all have in common up here is a real love for nature and wildlife. And it's right outside our door all the time. Deer, rabbits, turkeys, birds of all sorts, a bear here and there, and a whole mess of others, including wolves and coyotes. But they aren't usually on my doorstep. Being shy, they keep their distance and sing to each other every evening. That's the only way we know they are neighbors. Although we see tracks in the snow when we go out in the woods.

You might not be a real Yooper, but you can act like one by caring about the wildlife around your house. Put out feed for them - bird seed and corn will do the trick. And ask more questions before you buy a bird feeder. Like what about being turkey proof?


How To Look Like a Natural Born Yooper

The snow is getting ready to fly and the temperature is about to plummet. In the Michigan Upper Peninsula we're ready for anything. Even the tourists (aka out-of-state hunters). We can see them coming a mile away, packed into mini-vans and station wagons and not dressed at all right for the climate. Here's what you need to wear to sort of fit in. Not to mention, stay warm:

1. Sorel boots.
2. A good wool hat with ear flaps. Try a Stormy Kromer.
3. Since we're into hunting season, wear a blaze orange hunting jacket, whether you hunt or not. Women, our men love a women in orange.
4. Snow mobile bibs. Pick them up at Fleet Farm.
5. Leather gloves.
6. Wool socks.

Okay, you're set. Just don't open your mouth or we'll know the difference, eh?

Blaze Orange Alert for Youse Tourists

We Yoopers are smack dab in the middle of deer hunting season in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, which I write about with Deb Baker in Murder Passes the Buck. If you hang around this area long enough, you realize that hunting is more than a sport. It's survival for us; the way we make ends meet. So wasn't I surprised when Deb's editor told us we couldn't kill any animals in our story.

"What?" I shouted (that's me, Gertie)
"I can see her point," Deb said. "Some people aren't used to our way of life."
"But they buy meat at the grocery store," I pointed out.
"It's the killing part that bothers them."
"Okay, we won't kill any deer, but can we kill people?"
Deb nodded and smiled that wicked grin that told me she was thinking about murder. "As many as we want."

So that's how we ended up writing three hunting murder mystery stories without harming a single deer or bear or turkey and you know what, I kinda liked it that way myself.

Back to deer season, hunters are running all over the woods and some of them are from Chicago or places where they don't know safety rules, so WEAR YOUR ORANGE!

And to break you in to the season, watch Escanaba in da Moonlight, Jeff Daniel's funny movie about a guy from Escanaba who still hadn't shot a buck. There's even a song and here's a little taste of it.

"Reuben, he loved hunting but he never had no luck.
After 30 years of tryin', well, he still ain't bagged a buck.
Some say he's unlucky, some say he's just cursed,
Some say when he pulled that trigger, Reuben was the worst."
~The Ballad of the Buckless Yooper~ Jeff Daniels

Oh, and read our book, Murder Passes the Buck. You'll like it.

See you at camp.


Albino Moose spotted!

Some lucky traveler had the opportunity to snap this picture on a highway near Marenisco, Michigan. Here in the Upper Peninsula we love our wildlife, every color, every size, every temperament. These two albinos look gentle, but don't let that fool you. A moose will always stand its ground and watch you. If it starts stomping, you are in deep trouble. In that case, head for the hills or a tree or if you have no place to go, play dead.