Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Fun of Being in an Anthology by Betsy Ashton

I've been very lucky over the past few years. I've had a poem about my mother dying of cancer in two anthologies, Voices from Smith Mountain Lake and Candles of Hope. Proceeds from each publication went to charity: Voices supports the scholarship fund for Smith Mountain Arts Council, and Candles supports a UK cancer charity. Voices also published a short story and an essay which had run their life-span for contests. Last year, Reflections on Smith Mountain Lake picked up a different short story and essay. This collection honored the 50th anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake. Again, proceeds went to the same scholarship fund listed above.

And this year, I was invited to submit a story for 50 Shades of Cabernet collected by many of the same writers who were involved with Virginia Is For Mysteries. My story, a true tongue-in-cheek accounting of a winter solstice at a New Age church was too much fun to write.

First, I was honored to be invited. These same writers, many of whom are members of Sisters-in-Crime Internet Chapter, are terrific mystery writers. I felt like a charlatan being in their company, but I put on my big girl panties, put fingers on keyboard and let the story flow.  Many drafts later, I was satisfied with "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape" and submitted it. Yes, it's a send-up of In the Garden of Good and Evil. It's also a send-up of many New Age churches, including one out in San Francisco, the Church of the Holy Grape, which is authentic and exists so that the "leader" can buy wine without paying sales tax. But that's a story for a different blog post. Maybe.

Other stories include "Whose Wine Is It Anyway?" by Barb Goffman, "Love the Wine You're With" by Teresa Inge, "Wine, Women and Wrong" by Maggie King, "Life is a Cabernet" by Jayne Ormerod, and "Cobblestones and Cabernet" by Jenny Sparks. Yes, Cabernet had to be mentioned in the story to be included. Overall, there are seventeen stories in the collection.

Here's the plot.

Ryan is a member of this New Age church, the Church of the Holy Grape, which meets four times a year on the solstices and equinoxes to celebrate food and wine. He extracts a promise from,his reluctant wife to join him at the winter solstice meeting. First she reneges, then finally agrees to go one time only. He's ecstatic, because he is supposed to rise in the church to be a guide and wants Lucy to support him.

Things go horribly off track when the leader of the group, the Wrong Reverend Ruby Cabernet, intones a forbidden prayer and summons spirits of the past. These include The Mighty Zin and Madame Sauterne, among others. Mayhem ensues. Let's just say the evening goes so far off script that even Ryan can't see where it will end.

This collection will be out in March 2017. Look for many of us, in small groups or solos, to offer book signings at local wineries. Even if no one shows up to buy a book, we can always indulge in tastings. I wonder how far off script we can go next summer.


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and NobleI'm really excited that the trade paper edition of Uncharted Territory was released this week. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.


Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh sign me up for the signings! If only I lived closer. This sounds like my kind of relax and read topic. Please supply the buy link when 50 Shades of Cabernet comes out. Love it!!

Andrea Downing said...

Good luck with the book. And you've been lucky with your fellow authors I think--I've heard some horror stories so things can go either way with an anthology I guess.

Jannine Gallant said...

What a fun idea! I hope you sell a ton of books!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Wonderful PUNS, Betsy. You're among an imaginative group of women. Lucky you! Nothing better than a good wines and good stories!

Susan Coryell said...

Sounds like wacky, winey fun!

Diane Burton said...

Sounds like a fun anthology. Best wishes, Betsy.

Leah St. James said...

How fun! I'll watch for the signings!