Considering we’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, we figured it would be the perfect time to have today’s guest. Everyone, please give a warm Season’s Greetings to Bethany Blake, who writes the Lucky Paws Mysteries. The fourth, A Midwinter’s Tail, just came out!
Squirrely for the Holidays
For many Christmases, members of my family annually re-gifted an oven puller in the shape of a squirrel, with the word “Texas” branded—literally branded, with fire—on the side.
If you can’t picture what that object looks like, don’t even bother Googling it, because I just tried. You’ll find squirrel oven pullers… lots of squirrel oven pullers… truly, a surprising amount. But none of them announce, boldly, their Texas origins. And the state designation was kind of what made it special.
Nobody knew where it came from. And nobody knew who would get it, from year to year. It was the recipient’s special responsibility to guard the hideous thing, spring, summer and fall, then re-wrap it and sneak it under the tree on Christmas Eve. And, because a full 365 days had passed since we’d last seen the squirrel, we would inevitably all forget that the joke was coming, which made it all the funnier.
Sadly, the oven puller has disappeared—most likely into my sister’s cavernous, suburban home, where she admits it is probably languishing amid fifteen years of Pottery Barn catalogs and sweatshirts she hasn’t worn since high school, but can’t bear to give away.
(Did someone say, “Borderline hoarder?”)
But the point is, that weird tradition sums up everything I love about the holidays. Gathered around a glowing tree in my parents’ little ranch-style house, safe from the icy Pennsylvania wind that whipped the snow outside, while we snacked on leftover turkey and my mother’s scrapple stuffing—don’t Google that, either—all of us laughing at a stupid, inside joke… That’s cozy, to me.
And that’s the feeling I tried to recreate in my new book, A Midwinter’s Tail. It’s kind of an ode to the Christmases I loved growing up. Warm, fuzzy, snug—and funny.
Of course, there’s also a murder, which wasn’t the norm at my family gatherings. But, hey, maybe your clan celebrated in a different way!
No matter what holidays you commemorate, or how, I hope you enjoy this special span of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and that your memories are magical, too. And, seriously, if you’re looking for a great gift idea—squirrel oven puller is the way to go. It’s truly the gift that says, “I don’t want you to burn your precious fingers, and I am willing to pay almost seven dollars to keep you safe.” Talk about warm and fuzzy!
How about you? What fun holiday traditions do you like to celebrate?
Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing, cooking for pets and people or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and used to operate a pet sitting business called Barkley’s Premium Pet Care.
About the book
Professional pet sitter Daphne Templeton loves the holidays in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania. And nothing gets her into the spirit more than the town’s annual Bark the Halls Ball. The whole community will be there to wag their tails, especially this year’s special guest—Celeste “CeeCee” French, founder of a national chain of pet care franchises, who’s returning home to announce plans for a bright new flagship store.
But not everyone’s celebrating CeeCee’s homecoming. Daphne’s friend Moxie Bloom, owner of Spa and Paw, a unique salon for people and their pets, has plenty to growl about. So when CeeCee is found face down under Sylvan Creek’s town Christmas tree, stabbed with a distinctive pair of professional-grade pet shears, suspicion lands squarely on Moxie. Despite Daphne’s promises to Detective Jonathan Black, she quickly reprises her role as amateur sleuth. Ably assisted by her basset hound sidekick, Socrates, she must hurry to prove her friend’s innocence before a killer barks again.
Click here to purchase on Amazon.
Click here to purchase on Barnes & Noble’s site.