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Monday, February 20, 2017

Guest Author Post - Fran Stewart

Please welcome Fran Stewart to our blog.  This is her third visit with us (click here and here).  When she's not mowing or writing, Fran Stewart enjoys singing, knitting, reading (of course), and volunteering in her grandchildren’s school library. 

Author of fourteen books, including the Biscuit McKee mystery series and the ScotShop mysteries, as well as A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT and FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: a workbook for writers, she lives quietly beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, after having moved repeatedly from her birth through her fourth decade. The small fictional towns she writes about embody the hometown she always wanted—except for the murders.

“Moving Slowly Through Life”

One of the advantages of a cozy mystery is the sure-footed pace, compared to a thriller’s almost non-stop suspense. Oh, there’s still room for plenty of suspenseful moments in a cozy, but they’re couched differently than the more robust action of thrillers.

Rather like the different types of lawnmowers.

One of the loveliest sounds from my childhood was the snip, snip, snip of the lawnmower as my dad tooled around the yard on a Sunday afternoon behind our reel lawnmower. The kind you push. The kind you don’t have to turn on. The kind that doesn’t take gas or electricity. The kind I have sitting in my garage. A reel lawnmower is a cozy kind of mower. Today’s power mowers, riding mowers, and even robotic mowers lean more heavily toward the other type.

There’s a “reel” adventure to mowing my yard. I don’t have to wear earplugs, which means I can hear the squirrels scolding me for getting near "their" birdseed at the bottom of the feeder. I can easily pause to say hello when neighbors out for a walk circle around to the bottom of my cul-de-sac.

I don’t ever have to worry about chopping my foot off if I stumble, just as with a cozy mystery I don’t have to worry about nightmares involving blood and gore.

I can hear the rustling as a neighbor’s cat bursts from underneath the Vinca (which is in danger of taking over the whole yard) and heads over toward one of the oak leaf hydrangeas to hide underneath its massive leaves until I leave the vicinity. I never have to worry that my mower will throw a rock against a neighbor’s child (or car, or cat).

I can hear the wind blowing through the trees above me. I can hear the birds who have learned over the years that mowing time does not mean the end of feeding time. They keep right on zooming in to snatch seed from the many feeders.

Of course, I stop frequently to unstick pines cones that get
wedged in the reel. If I’d take the time to rake the yard free of pinecones before I start mowing, I wouldn’t have to do the un-wedging so often, but that’s okay. When I’m bending down for a cone, I get to look closer at the native red clover to see if any bumblebees have found it yet.

Raking the yard would, now that I think about it, be rather like editing a manuscript. Getting rid of the sticky words, phrases, scenes so the mystery will flow more smoothly. I do that with my writing. I just don’t ever think about it when it comes around to mowing time.

Have you ever had the pleasure of pushing a reel mower? No? Would you like to try? Drop by my house sometime this summer and give it a whirl. I’ll sit on my front porch with a glass of lemonade and watch you have fun.
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THANK You Ms. Stewart for a glimpse into your yard and old school smell-the-flowers mowing style.

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p. m. terrell said...

I enjoyed your guest post today, Fran. You have me thinking about how much we miss today when we're tending our lawns with mowers that make so much noise that we don't even recognize how close we are to squirrels and nature. It's just one reason I love your cozies; they always bring me back to a day and time that was simpler - even with the murders! Very anxious to read your latest book.

Fran Stewart said...

So glad you enjoy my books. There's something to be said for living in a fast-paced way . . . but then there's something else (a lot) to be said for that simpler life you mentioned. I feel nourished at some inner depth when I listen to birdsong.

mom said...

And if while you're out there in the fresh air, you hold in your tummy, take nice long strides and stretch deeply when you pick out those pine cones,it's a better workout that you'll get at the gym.

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