Tag: The Burnt Island Burial Ground

You will never find closure

The vet school where I work when I’m not writing the Mount Moriah Mysteries runs a Pet Loss Hotline, and I sometimes volunteer there. Many of the callers use the hotline to support them through the acute, initial phases of grief. The sympathetic ear we provide can be particularly helpful if the pet’s death has been traumatic or sudden, or if the owner’s friends, coworkers, and family are the kind of people who think they’re being helpful when they offer suggestions like, “Let’s go to the Humane Society this weekend and pick out another cat for you.”**

**Note to those inclined to give such advice — For many people, their pets mean as much to them as your human relatives mean to you. So unless you’d feel comforted by someone saying, “Let’s run down to the assisted living facility this weekend and pick you out a new grandma,” maybe keep that particular bit of advice to yourself.

Grandma shopping aside, there’s an aspect of these calls that reminded me of some of the struggles the protagonist of my Mount Moriah mysteries, Lindsay Harding, has faced. Many of the callers are haunted–often for months or even years after their pet’s passing–by unanswered questions. “Did I euthanize Fluffy too soon? Would the cancer really have killed her, or should I have tried another round of chemo?” “What did Max actually die of? Was it really unavoidable, or did my vet just make a mistake and cover it up?” A variation on these calls comes when the pet has simply gone missing. “Where is Bailey? Is he happily living with a new family, or was he hit by a car and killed?” In all these cases, the callers’ brains drive them around the same rutted track, night after night.

My books, too, contain some unresolved mysteries. I don’t want to be accused of dropping spoilers of my own work, so suffice it to say that book two, A Death in Duck, ends with the fate of a major character unresolved. In book three, The Burnt Island Burial Ground, there is still no resolution, and the tension that comes with not knowing impacts many of Lindsay’s actions in that book. I have the luxury of being able to decide if, when, and how the mystery of that character’s fate will be resolved, but my poor protagonist still doesn’t know. One thing I’ve been at pains to have her avoid, though, is seeking closure.

As a hospital chaplain, Lindsay will have heard many variations on the themes of the Pet Loss Hotline’s callers. And I’m sure that she, like me, will have quickly picked up on the idea that it would be counterproductive to offer answers to the person’s questions. Saying something like, “I’m sure Bailey is fine. He was a smart dog, and I bet he’s living a really happy life on a farm,” may fool a five-year-old, but it’s certainly not going to help someone struggling with profound grief. (And if any of you have ever been told the “Bailey went to live on a farm” story as kids, you know how well that worked out!)

So how, then can we find closure when we are confronted by unanswerable questions? Well, we can’t. And I think it’s silly to try.

That may sound harsh, but one thing that has seemed to help callers to the hotline is for me to suggest that humans are hardwired to try to fill in gaps. We are creatures of meaning. We may complain that it’s unrealistic when our favorite TV series ends with a series of perfect weddings and happily-ever-afters, but we roar in agony when they end in cliffhangers, à la The Sopranos. Unanswered questions sit on our brains like itchy scabs, refusing to heal, demanding our attention.

So if we accept that such rumination is normal, what are we to do about it? My belief, which I’ve planted in Lindsay’s head, is to focus on living. Little by little, allow yourself to smile, breathe, and love again. Congratulate yourself when you do. When the unanswered questions start to poke their little fingers into our thoughts, remind yourself that they will always be there, but that you don’t have to let them drag you back to that same mental rut right now. You can choose instead to use those thoughts as reminders to take an action that would honor your loved one or pet. Bailey loved walks? Well, when you start to think about his disappearance, might it honor him if you took a walk and remembered the good times you had? Thinking about Fluffy’s tumor? What is something that might channel that question into something life-affirming? Perhaps putting a dollar in a jar each time you think about her diagnosis, and then donating that money to an animal charity?

As for Lindsay, she struggles to put this into practice, but I’m confident that she’ll keep trying. Sometimes it’s good to know that you’re in control of someone else’s happy endings, because in real life, closure is elusive.

Two days, 9 hours, seven minutes, 24 seconds. Make that 23 seconds!

I’m not a savvy shopper. I love stumbling across a bargain as much as the next guy or gal, but in general I’m a person who goes out with a pretty fixed idea of what I want. If I’m in the market for an eight-roll box of Earth Rated® Poop Bags Dog Waste Bags, for example, I won’t be swayed because I see that the EZ Scoop brand comes in purple or that ordering a bulk box of 100 rolls would make them slightly cheaper. And, although I see the benefits of my mother-in-law’s willingness to drive to five different grocery stores to ensure she gets the best price on Saran Wrap, you won’t find me among the ranks of the Super Couponers. Not that I automatically buy the most expensive things. I’m devoted to CVS brand cosmetics and non-prescription medications. I would buy Food Lion’s generic sodas for the names alone. After all, who wouldn’t want to drink Mountain Lion or Dr. Perky? But for most purchases, I don’t care about price as much as I care about getting exactly what I want.

Food Lion sodas have the best names!

Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe it’s an affectation of a newly-bourgeois person who was raised without much money and who is trying desperately to appear to not have to scrimp. Maybe it’s a affectation of a control freak who is trying desperately to be in a position to demand exactly the products she wants. Whatever Freud or Marx or any other German-Austrian dude from the nineteenth-century would have to say about my shopping habits, the fact is you won’t find me shoulder-deep in bargain bins or sleeping in the Walmart parking lot in the run up to Black Friday.

But just because I don’t get a contact high from clipping a two-for-one coupon for Stainless Steel Chicken Beer Can Roaster Deluxes (with Recipe Guides!) doesn’t mean I don’t like to offer my loyal readers a good bargain now and again. In fact, lots of readers have told me they discovered the Mount Moriah Mystery series through a BookBub freebie deal or an Amazon 99-cent discount. So for the next two days, The Burnt Island Burial Ground, book three in the series, is only 99 cents on Kindle (regularly $4.99). If you do snag this bargain, please don’t forget to leave a review and tell everyone what a great deal you got!

Murder is better with a spoon full of sugar (or a cookie)

Book3-updatedI recently paid a virtual visit to Brooke Blogs, a website curated by a small-town Ohio librarian. She was kind enough to feature my newest release, The Burnt Island Burial Ground, which is the latest installment of the Reverend Lindsay Harding mystery series.

Pop on over to bookish Brooke’s blog to find out why, if I’m going to write about something as dark and sinister as murder, I need to do it with a spoon full of sugar (or a gigantic cookie) firmly in my grasp.


 

Oh, and if you’ve managed to read all three books in the series, I’d love to know which Lindsay Harding book was your favorite!

Vacations–virtual and otherwise

I’m going on an epic vacation this summer–a month traveling around England, Scotland, Wales, and Iceland. I know that conventional wisdom says you shouldn’t put things like this on social media, but since our house will be occupied by some strapping graduate students and a ferocious miniature Schnauzer, I’m confident that all the criminal types who follow my blog won’t easily be able to break into my house and steal my TV. Also, our TV is a piece of junk, so good luck when it shorts out in the middle of your favorite episode of Hillbilly Handfishin’. Anyway, much of this travel involves visits to family and friends, and some of it is research for a new series. Pubs! Castles! Volcanoes! Whatever people see in Wales! I can’t wait.

But before I depart, I wanted to let you know about a virtual vacation I’ll be taking in early June. Starting on June 8th, I’ll be doing an Escape with Dollycas blog tour for The Burnt Island Burial Ground. Hope you can join me for a stop or two!

June 8Brooke Blogs – Guest Post

June 9Shelley’s Book Case – Review

June 10Babs Book Bistro – Spotlight

June 11readalot – Review

June 12Back Porchervations – Review

June 13 LibriAmoriMiei – Review

June 14Frankie Bow – Guest Post

June 15Jane Reads – Review, Guest Post

June 16Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview

June 17Author Michele Lynn Seigfried’s Blog – Review

June 173 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,&, Sissy, Too ! – Spotlight

Exclusive sample of The Burnt Island Burial Ground

Book3-updatedThe Burnt Island Burial Ground, book three in the Mount Moriah mystery series, is available for pre-order on Amazon! For the eReader-less among you, the paperback will go on sale in June.

I’ve posted an exclusive sample here:mindyquigley.com/burnt-island-sample/. Use the password “burntisland” for a sneak preview of the first two chapters.

Clean Indie Reads Interview

I had the pleasure of being interviewed today on the Clean Indie Reads blog, home of “Flinch-Free Fiction.” So what exactly is flinch-free fiction?

While flinch-free books aren’t squeaky-clean Disney-Princess pure in every imaginable way, they are “clean” in the following ways:

They contain no erotica or sexually explicit scenes. There should be nothing that gives a play-by-play description of a sexual encounter or describes nudity in detail. Mild innuendo, reference to sensual or sexual activity that is “off screen” and not graphically portrayed may be used in some books written for adults, but that will show up in the interview with the author on the book’s page.
They contain no graphic violence or gore. There should be nothing that paints a very specific and horrific image in the reader’s mind. Scenes generally described as appropriate for war stories, crime stories, etc. may be present, but that will show up in the interview with the author on the book’s page.
The authors have curtailed offensive language. There should be no use of the “F-word”. Other words commonly considered as swearing and/or racially offensive terms should be used very sparingly, if at all. If such words are present in an effort to mimic speech in times of great duress for a character (and not just peppered in gratuitously), this will be noted in the interview with the author on the book’s page.

Read the full interview