Have a Marlis Day!

Archive for May 2012

It was “Be Kind to Animals Week” and my second grade teacher asked us to bring our pets to school for a pet show. Living on a busy city street in Vincennes, I couldn’t keep a pet alive, so my grandmother loaned me two kittens for the day. When Mom saw the picture she said, “The teacher must like you, Marlis; she seated you right in the middle!”

How I envied Nancy, who won the blue ribbon, with her terrier Topsy. (see Nancy holding ribbon) Nancy always won. She was the May Day queen; I was an attendant. She won first place in the safety poster contest, which I was certain her first-grade teacher mother had made. My parents handed me a box of crayons and wished me luck. I still came in second.

Topsy sat up, walked upright, and shook hands. Nancy brought a little suitcase of dollclothes and dressed Topsy. The judges loved her. My borrowed kittens slept through it all. I have tried to remain unaffected by the whole thing, but it may have some bearing on the fact that I now have a terrier, Gypsy, (Yeah, I know the name is similar)  and she does WAY more tricks than Topsy. She wins ribbons, trophies, and cash prizes when I enter her in pet shows. How I wish Nancy could be in the audience someday.  My counselor/sister says I have carried this unhealthy issue too long, so I’ll never bring it up again. (By the way, did I mention Gypsy jumps through hoops, weaves through my legs as I walk, plays leapfrog, dances, twirls, and plays dead when shot with a toy gun?) If only we could have a rematch….

As a youngster, I loved to sit on the front porch at night and listen to the grown-ups talk. My favorite story was the old unsolved murder that happened in our community some fifty years ago. Many years later,  I wrote  Why Johnny Died and it was published by Sterling House Publishing. (1999). The editors encouraged me to write another mystery, claiming a series sold better than a single. I tried to think of a good plot and the old unsolved mystery came to mind.  And it happened in my own community! In fact, my home sits on part of the victim’s original farm. I decided to dig into the past. I interviewed some seniors who remembered the crime and took lots of notes. I visited the scene of the crime and shuddered as I imagined this 70-year- old teacher being shot, his body thrown into a hog pen.  I talked to people who knew his sons, accused of the crime and then acquitted. I visited the victim’s grave and found the date. Then, I went to the library and read the old newspaper accounts and trial records. I was so enamored with the case, I decided to update it, change names and places, and have Margo Brown solve it.  

In Death of a Hoosier Schoolmaster, amateur sleuth Margo Brown finds a gun buried in her garden. She learns about the murder of the former property owner and is certain she has found the murder weapon. As she and her sidekick, Roxie, investigate this cold case, someone thwarts their every move. Margo must solve this present day mystery before she can piece together the puzzle of the past. The reader gets a healthy dose of humor, Hoosier hospitality, backyard barbecues, Fourth of July celebrations, and even the county fair. Of course, my book is fiction, but inspired by an actual murder. It was originally pubished in 2002 and now has a new cover and is available as an eBook. If you haven’t read this one yet and own a Kindle, Nook, or Ipad, I hope you’ll order it from amazon.com (It’s only $2.99!) Be prepared for colorful characters, a ride of wild twists and turns, and a surprise ending!

This book received favorable reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and The Midwest Book Review. I would love to hear from you!

Hi! I'm Marlis.

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