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Guest Blog by NANCY ATHERTON

[ Edited ]

Slight change of plans, folks - Nancy has opted to go with a guest blog rather than a weeklong visit. She found the gremlins, gnomes and sign-in issues a bit daunting (I'm sure you'll relate), so I'm going to act as a middle-man if any of you have questions for her. One way or another, we'll make this work!

 

I've been a fan of the Aunt Dimity books for years. If you haven't read them yet, I hope you'll give them a try!

 

You'll find Nancy's guest blog at the very end of this "thread" - and in between, you'll find recipes, events, Nancy's news and a variety of photographs I think you'll enjoy.

 

Here's a picture of Nancy with a cake version of one of her books, Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon:

 

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From Nancy's website: http://www.aunt-dimity.com/

 

Welcome to Aunt Dimity's world

 

 

"When I learned of Aunt Dimity's death, I was stunned. Not because she was dead, but because I had never known she'd been alive."

                                                                              -- from Aunt Dimity's Death

 

When I wrote those lines nearly twenty years ago I had no idea that they would take me on the most magical journey of my life, a journey filled with mystery and history, romance and fantasy, laughter and heartache,  many, many surprises, and, oh, yes, yummy recipes!

 

I thank my characters every day for allowing me to tell their stories, for keeping me excited, entertained, perplexed, charmed, and eager to know what will happen next. They've proved to me, time and time again, that there's more to mystery than murder.

 

Needless to say, I'm delighted to share my magical journey with you.

 

Illustration from Aunt Dimity's Christmas:

 

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about the author

 

Nancy Atherton is not a white-haired Englishwoman with a softly wrinkled face, a wry smile, and wise gray eyes. Nor does she live in a thatched cottage beside a babbling brook in a tranquil, rural corner of the Cotswolds.

 

She has never taken tea with a vicar (although she drank an Orange Squash with one once) and she doesn't plan to continue writing after her allotted time on earth, though such plans are, as well we all know, subject to change without notice.

 

If you prefer to envision her as an Englishwoman, she urges you to cling to your illusions at all costs--she treasures carefully nurtured illusions. She also urges you to read no further.

 

Because the truth is that Nancy Atherton is a dark-haired American with a generally unwrinkled face, a beaming smile, and hazel eyes, who lives in a plain house in Colorado Springs. She comes from a large, gregarious family (five brothers and two sisters) and enjoys socializing as much as she enjoys solitude.

 

 

So, if you are looking for her at a convention, don't look for a stately grande dame in a flowery dress. Look for a woman in jeans and sneakers who's bounding around like a hyperactive gerbil. That'll be me. And I'd love to meet you.

 

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frequently asked questions

  

Aunt Dimity's Death, Large Print.

 

Many of you have asked whether or not AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH is available in a large print edition. The simple answer is: Not yet.

The longer answer is: Penguin (my publisher) controls the large print rights to my books, and while most of the books are available in large print, Penguin was never able to secure an offer from a large print publisher for AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH.

My literary agent and I hope that, when Penguin sells the large print rights for AUNT DIMITY AND THE VILLAGE WITCH (the next book in the series), they will add AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH to the deal.

If and when AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH becomes available in large print, you can be sure I'll post the news prominently on my website.

 

Do you have a newsletter?

 

No, I don't have a newsletter. I'd rather put my creative energy into my stories than spread it thin with newsletters, blogs, Facebook pages, and whatever else is out there to distract me from my work. Some writers enjoy the distraction, but I love my characters far too much to neglect them.

I may one day add a page to my website where I'll jot random thoughts that might amuse my readers, but I wouldn't expect a newsletter from me anytime soon, or ever, really. I hope you'll agree that my books deserve all the attention I can give them.

 

I love the recipes in your books. Where did they come from? Do you have a favorite?

 

I inherited a few of the recipes from my mother, some were given to me by friends, and others were simply picked up along the way. As for a favorite . . . I love them all, but if I had to choose one . . . No, I can't possibly choose one. It would have to be a tie between Lilian's Lemon Bars and Uncle Tom's Butterscotch Brownies. Yum.

 

Have you ever been approached by people in cinema or television interested in dramatizing your novels, be it as films, or mini-series, or whatever?

 

I was approached once by someone involved in American television, but she vanished shortly after approaching me and no one else has surfaced since. Sigh.

I, too, would love to see my work translated into film. My preference would be for the BBC to create an ongoing series based on my books, (a la Masterpiece Mystery, aka Mystery!) because the BBC would remain faithful to the stories, would get the visual details exactly right, and would cast actors rather than personalities.

Alas, it's naught but a dream at the moment. Perhaps, one day, one of my readers will send one of my books to the Right Person, and my dream will become a reality. Or the Right Person will simply stumble across one of my books and shout, "Eureka!" In the meantime, I live in hope.

 

All of your stories are set in England. Have you ever lived there?

 

No, I have never lived in England. I was nineteen when I first visited the United Kingdom and I've been there many times since, traveling from Land's End to John o'Groats by rail, automobile, bicycle, hiking boot, and thumb. I've had hypothermia on the top of Mount Snowden, food poisoning in London, and a root canal (my first!) in Haslemere, Surrey, so I must love this place because I keep going back for more.

 

How should I pronounce "Dimity"?

 

The correct pronunciation of "dimity" can be found in Webster's Dictionary. (Dimity is an old-fashioned type of cotton cloth.) As you'll discover, it's pronounced DIM-it-tee, to rhyme (more or less) with "trinity."  

 

In what order should I read the Aunt Dimity mystery series? 

 

My books are listed in publication order in the Books menu on my website, from the earliest (top) to the most recent (bottom). You can, of course, read them in any order you like. I suggest that you read them in publication order, however, because the characters grow and change over time, and refer back to things that happened in previous books. By starting at the beginning and going on from there, you'll be able to see the entire arc of the series unfold. But it's up to you!

 

Is there an Aunt Dimity in your life?

 

There are dozens of Aunt Dimitys in my life. I'm blessed with the best friends on earth, which may explain why I write the kinds of books I write. Whenever I hear my stories described as fairy tales, I shake my head and murmur, "If I told them how splendidly the real-life people in my life behave, they'd really never believe me." My books are, to a large extent, a way of thanking the people who've been so kind to me in good times and bad.

 

Where do you get your ideas?

 

From books, film, people, places, scents, sounds--ideas come from everywhere. A chance comment or a lovely vista can strike a spark of inspiration that flares into a full-blown story. 

Lightning strikes rarely happen to me, however. The sparks lit in my brain tend to smolder for a long time before igniting, which is why it's difficult to identify sources.  

Lori Shepherd's character, for example, is based on me (except for the inherited fortune, alas), but I have no clue as to where Aunt Dimity came from. I don't, as a rule, "create" characters. More often than not, they simply show up and start talking (bless them). I get to know them as you do, bit by bit, as the story progresses. 

By the same token, I rarely plan storylines. I don't want to know what's going to happen before it happens--where's the fun in that? So, I let the story unfold as I go along.  

I don't recommend my method--it's slow, inefficient, and disorganized. But it keeps my energy up, holds my interest and piques my curiosity. I can't wait to find out what happens next so it works for me.

 

Are there audio editions of your books?

 

AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH and AUNT DIMITY BEATS THE DEVIL were made into unabridged audio books by Recorded Books, LLC. They assumed there was no interest in the Aunt Dimity audio editions and declined to record any other books in the series. My literary agents continue to look for a company willing to make audio editions of my books. You can aid their efforts by adding your voice to theirs. If you would like to inform Recorded Books of your interest, please feel free to contact them at: www.recordedbooks.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here are a few upcoming events - you can see the full schedule here: http://www.aunt-dimity.com/future-events.htm

 

Milwaukee, WI

Date: Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Place: Mystery One Bookstore

           2109 North Prospect Avenue

           Milwaukee, WI 53202

           (414) 347-4077

       

 

Wauconda, IL

Date: Friday, May 11, 2012

Time: 10:00 AM

Place: Wauconda Public Library

           801 North Main Street

           Wauconda, IL 60084

           (847) 536-6225

           www.wauclib.org

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Re: Guest Blog by NANCY ATHERTON

NYT BESTSELLER!

 

Less than a week after its publication, AUNT DIMITY & THE VILLAGE WITCH has reached #26 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Yippee! I send heartfelt thanks to all of you who put your hands in your pockets (or your purses!) and bought a copy. Without you, Aunt Dimity's adventures would come to a screeching halt. With you, all things are possible! Well, almost all . . .

 

If you would like me to sign your copy, please feel free to send an email with your request. I will do my very best to make it happen.

 

Nancy Atherton, author

You may contact Nancy at nancyatherton@gmail.com

 

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  Aunt Dimity's furry friends

 

My stories are filled with four-legged friends-- Stanley the sleek black cat, Grog the basset hound, and Rosie the chestnut mare, to name but a few--which may explain why so many of you have sent photographs of your animal companions to me. It seemed a pity to let those photos lie unseen in my email vaults, so I've decided to bring them into the light of day. Here, for your pleasure, is a portrait gallery of creatures, great and small, who warm our hearts, make us laugh, and are always there for us, no matter what. Please don't let the heading deter you-- feel free to send in a photo of your feathered, finned, or furry friend. In Aunt Dimity's world, all are welcome.

 


Hubbell
 [Mario Fernandez]

 


Chloe & Emma
[Nancy Atherton]

 


Walter
[Allyson McGill]

 

 

           

                                                      Molly                                                     Puppe
                                                          [Karla Schniering]                                                       [Karla Scniering]

 

 

Karla & Co.
[Karla Schniering]

                           

Front to back: Furrgus, Cluny Mac, Pogadh M'Hoan

[Christiana Anderson]

 

Penny
[Gayle Putt]

 

More pictures here: http://www.aunt-dimity.com/furry.htm

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   Reginald's friends

 

When I first wrote Aunt Dimity's Death, an early reader (who shall remain nameless) exclaimed: "Why on earth would a thirty-year-old woman talk to a stuffed animal? No one will believe it. Get rid of the rabbit." Seldom in literary history has there been a more dimwitted observation.

Reginald, Lori Shepherd's powder-pink flannel bunny, has gone on to become one of the best-loved characters in the series. If you'd like to stand up for your favorite stuffie, send a photo with his or her name (and your own, if you like). Reginald will be happy to add it to his ever-growing gallery of friends.

 

 

                     

              Lotta with Japanese editions of                                                    Teddy Bear Tree
                      Aunt Dimity Mysteries                                                                 [Loni Pearce]
                                     [Chiaki Asazuki] 

 


Andy (aka Andropolis)
[Tara Aarness]

 

 


Pitiful

 

 


Savannah and Karmy
(Loriann Lail Jones)

 


Reginald
(Sean-Michelle Smith)

 

 


Busy Bear
(Sally Ross)

 


Teddy
(Sydney Vickers)

 


Bonnie Blue
[Anne Williamson]

 

 

             

                                 Orange Bunny 1965                                           Little Guernsey Friend
                                [Gregory Nassif St. John]                                                                  [Shirley Green]

 

 

Bunny
[Nancy Vannerson]

 

 

                   

                                           Alcatraz                                                             Pandy 1954
                                        [Gail Hogan]                                                                                    [Cathy Clark]  

 

 

Bunny
[Gail Hogan]

 

 

Butchie 1957
[Joyfuldia]

 

 

Orange Bunny and Friends
[Gregory Nassif St. John]

 


Schafi and Reginald

 


Colorado Christmas - Best Friends waiting for Santa
[Lianna Sandy]

  

 


Ruffy and Friend
[Emily Marlor]

 

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nell's strawberry tarts                              

 

The strawberry tarts in Aunt Dimity and the Duke are exactly the sort of thing young Lady Eleanor Harris would relish. Like Nell, they're sweet, complicated, and terribly English.

 

Click here for printable recipe

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes 8 tarts.

 

Pastry Shells

8 3 1/2-inch tart tins, greased

3 1/2-inch fluted pastry cutter

3/4 cup flour

pinch of salt

1/4 cup superfine sugar

4 tablespoons butter

2 egg yolks

 

Filling

1 medium egg

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons flour

2/3 cup cold milk

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 pound strawberries

4 tablespoons seedless strawberry jelly

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

 

Pastry Shells

Sift flour and salt onto work surface. Make a well in the center; add sugar, butter, and egg yolks; work them together until all the flour is worked in. Add a few drops of water if necessary to bind the mixture. Knead until smooth, then wrap in foil and refrigerate for one hour.

Roll out on lightly floured surface. Use pastry cutter to cut out eight circles. Arrange these in the pastry tins. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, until pale gold. Turn out to cool.

 

Filling

Cream egg and sugar, add flour, and stir to a paste with a few drops of the cold milk. Warm the rest of the milk, then slowly stir it into the egg mixture. Slowly heat mixture until it boils, then cook it for a few more minutes. Remove from heat; allow to cool. Whip the cream until stiff, then beat it into the cooled mixture. Spoon a generous portion of cream mixture into each of the pastry shells.

In the center of each tart, plant a whole hulled strawberry, point upward. Hull and halve the rest of the strawberries and arrange the halves around the whole strawberry to cover the rest of the filling. Heat the jelly with the water and use it to paint the strawberries, then sprinkle with coconut.

 

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sir percy's favorite sticky lemon cake                        

 

Since Sir Percy is a child at heart, it seemed appropriate that his favorite dessert would be a sticky, sweet confection he'd enjoyed ever since his nursery days. I can easily picture him licking the lemony syrup off of his fingers in Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea. I hope you'll do the same!

 

Click here for printable recipe

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Lemon Syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. 
Whisk until the sugar dissolves.

 

Lemon Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups self-rising flour

 

Optional toppings: whipped cream, clotted cream, lemon curd or confectioner's sugar.

Butter an 8-inch square metal baking pan. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and lemon peel and beat until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg, then half of the flour; repeat. Pour the batter into the buttered baking pan. Bake about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake's center comes out clean.

Place the pan on a rack. Use a toothpick to poke holes all over the top of the cake. Spoon the lemon syrup slowly over the cake, allowing it to soak in. Cool the cake completely. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or cut into squares and serve with whipped cream, clotted cream, or lemon curd.

 

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uncle tom's butterscotch brownies                              

 

The butterscotch brownies in Aunt Dimity's Good Deed are my true favorites (so far) because they're incredibly sweet, they require only one bowl, and they're virtually foolproof. A kind woman brought some to me when I was visiting a bookstore in Michigan. She confessed, rather shamefacedly, that she'd left them in the over 45 minutes too long. Happily, she had nothing to be shamed about--they were delicious. As I said: foolproof!

 

Click here for printable recipe

 

Preheat oven to 365 degrees Fahrenheit.

Makes 16 brownies.

 

1/2 cup melted butter

2 cups dark brown sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Butter a 9-inch square cake pan. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, combining them well. Spread mixture
 in the cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until dry on top and almost firm to the touch. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, then 
cut in 2-inch squares.

 

 

 

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claire's lace  cookies                          

 

Lace cookies were one of my favorite things to bake when I was a child. They were easy to make, but they looked as though I'd labored over them for hours. I used them in Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil because they're as sweet and delicate as Claire was when she was a child.

 

Click here for printable recipe

 

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

 

1 cup sifted flour

1 cup chopped flaked coconut or chopped walnuts

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Mix flour and coconut (or walnuts).

Combine light corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter or 
margarine in heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly over medium heat, bring syrup mixture to a boil. Remove from heat.

Gradually blend flour mixture, then vanilla, into syrup mixture.

Drop scant teaspoonfuls, 3 inches apart onto foil-covered cookie sheets (dough will spread during baking).

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cool on wire rack until foil peels off easily. Remove foil. Place cookies on a rack covered with absorbent paper.

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Book List in Publication Order                  


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Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch (Aunt Dimity Series #17)  

 

Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch (Aunt Dimity Series #17)

 

Overview

 

Nancy Atherton's seventeenth cozy mystery featuring the beloved Aunt Dimity-the original paranormal detective

 

When Amelia Thistle moves to Finch, her new neighbors welcome her with open arms-and inquiring minds. Among them is Lori Shepherd, who isn't fooled by Amelia's unassuming persona. Amelia is, in fact, a world-famous artist with a rabid and eager-to-stalk fan base.

In order to keep peace in Finch, Lori must help Amelia conceal her identity. Amelia, meanwhile, sets about working on the riddle that brought her to town in the first place.

 

A fragment of a family diary hints that one of Amelia's ancestors might have been Mistress Meg, the Mad Witch of Finch. Following the clue, Lori hunts through Finch's darkest and most secret corners, all the while dodging nosy neighbors and Amelia's frantic fans. With Aunt Dimity's otherworldly help, Lori inches closer to the true story of Mistress Meg-and Amelia.

 

Returning to the charming world of Finch, Nancy Atherton's latest novel is sure to delight faithful Aunt Dimity readers, Anglophiles, and cozy mystery fans.


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[ Edited ]

Guest Blog by NANCY ATHERTON

 

I've had an emotional roller coaster of a week, dear readers, filled with good news, horrible news, and unbelievably wonderful news.  The good news?  Less than a week after its publication, AUNT DIMITY AND THE VILLAGE WITCH made it to #26 on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Whoo-hoo! 

 

The good news got even better when I remembered that my very first book, AUNT DIMITY'S DEATH, landed on the Seattle Mystery Bookshop's bestseller list last August.  I simply couldn't think of a better way to celebrate Aunt Dimity's twentieth anniversary than to have

my first book and my most recent book hit bestseller lists within months of each other. 

 

Not that it had ever occurred to me to think of such a thing.  When I started out I was firmly convinced that no one, apart from my mother, would read ANY of my books, yet there I was, twenty years and seventeen books later, with two books popping up as bestsellers. 

 

Life is like that, sometimes, and when it is, I try very hard to enjoy it. I was in the midst of doing my Happy Dance when I heard the horrible news.  Life is like that, too, sometimes. 

 

The horrible news concerned Mr. Fluffy.  Mr. Fluffy is a well-fed and well-loved neighborhood cat who drops by almost every day to snack on my cats' food, slurp their water, and snooze in their bay window.  Like my girls Chloe and Emma, Mr. Fluffy is black with yellow eyes, but unlike them, he has long fluffy hair (hence his nickname).  He's an engaging and well-mannered little guy, a thoroughly charming chatterbox, so I was stunned to hear from a neighbor that he'd been hit by a car and killed. 

 

Happy Dance over.  Bestseller lists forgotten.  Heart heavy with the knowledge that I would never see or hear my gossipy little visitor again. 

 

I have to admit that Chloe and Emma weren't exactly cast down by the news, but since Mr. Fluffy ate their food, not mine, I couldn't expect them to sincerely mourn his passing.  I mourned it, though, right up until the following day, when I glanced through my patio door and saw. . . Mr. Fluffy!  Live and in person and asking me to please open the door because he was hungry and thirsty and had lots to tell me! 

 

Having spent the past twenty years in Aunt Dimity's company, I had to give Mr. Fluffy a few solid pats before I could believe he was really real, and sure enough, he was.  I then had the great pleasure of sharing the unbelievably wonderful news with my neighbor:  Mr. Fluffy lives!  Which was by far the best news I'd received all week. 

 

Don't you just love happy endings?

 


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It's a miracle! Mr. Fluffy returns from the dead!!!!:cathappy:

Nancy, have you thought about giving Mr. Fluffy a fictional counterpart who would become Aunt Dimity's furry sidekick?

 

Loved all the photos of the critters and stuffies!

" A murder mystery is the normal recreation of the noble mind."--Sister Carol Anne O' Marie
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Re: Guest Blog by NANCY ATHERTON


Fricka wrote:

It's a miracle! Mr. Fluffy returns from the dead!!!!:cathappy:

Nancy, have you thought about giving Mr. Fluffy a fictional counterpart who would become Aunt Dimity's furry sidekick?

 

Loved all the photos of the critters and stuffies!


I told Nancy I have some regular cat visitors, too - a black cat and a Siamese - but it would REALLY break my heart if anything happened to my raccoon visitors!

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maxcat
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Re: Guest Blog by NANCY ATHERTON

Oh, what a wonderful blog, Nancy. I love Aunt Dimity and her pink rabbit. Good news about Mr. Fluffy....I hate to hear of a death that is close to you.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: Guest Blog by NANCY ATHERTON

Welcome Nancy:

 

I read my first Aunt Dimity book last week called Aunt Dimity: Detective. I really liked it a lot. Now, I will have to catch up and read the rest! I like to read a series in order, so I will have to start with first, Aunt Dimity's Death. I love the fact that Lori Shepherd confers with Aunt Dimity through the blank journal and Aunt Dimity writes out her message. What a clever idea! Love the rabbit too! Your books are so fun to read and are just the right thing to read after a heavy thriller.

 

Hope you enjoy your visit with us and keep on writing!

 

 

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt