I cleaned out my closet the other day, pulling out old sweaters I never liked and ill-fitting blue jeans until two distinct piles formed on the floor. One pile was for those items definitely “out,” the second was for those that didn’t fit anymore or were no longer in fashion, but I couldn’t bear to part with. Clothing is personal. We wear it next to our skin. While it doesn’t make the man or woman, what we wear does impact how we feel and often, how others view us.
It’s the same with a character in a book. For my main character, Meredith Lowe, a move to a different state upended her life. In one day, she lost her home and all that was familiar. Her arrival in Hay City, Idaho – particularly toward the end of winter – takes her off balance and makes her feel particularly vulnerable. In her own home of Oakland, California, temperatures rarely fall to freezing.
(From Crime and Paradise): Her clothes weren’t warm enough for the snowy winter weather; it was as though she needed a new, heavier skin to live here. Not another country. I’ve moved to another planet.
Life starts rough for Meredith and takes a turn for the worse when her abusive husband is murdered and she is accused of the crime. Her clothing throws her off guard in the worst of moments. Even when she attempts to dress up, she will discover a frayed sleeve or a hole in her socks.
In book three, Wild Crime, Meredith develops the confidence to uncover uncomfortable family secrets. A few clothing snafus indicate how easy it is to fall back into old doubtful thinking patterns. In this scene, she still can’t quite pull herself together for a meeting with an attorney, yet she sees others doing so quite effortlessly:
(From Wild Crime): She wore the same blue sundress as before, the only nice clothing she packed, and the kids in their second-to-last last clean shorts and T-shirts. Curtis wore neatly-pressed khakis and a maroon long-sleeved shirt, with the collar open and sleeves rolled up. Somehow, he’d traveled across the country without wrinkling his clothes into a thousand lines.
Curtis, of course, is Meredith’s love interest. He is her cool-headed lodestar, always steady and deliberative in thinking and action. He’s a man prepared for any circumstance, and his clothes are a reflection of this.
Wild Crime releases on Wednesday (Dec. 4). This blog runs on a perfect day, since for today only (Nov. 29), the first two books in the series are on sale for .99 cents. Links to all three books are below.
But first, here’s the blurb for Wild Crime:
"I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer. I'm a murderer."
Those three repeated words discovered in an old letter propel Meredith Lowe in a cross-country pursuit to unveil her mother's murky past. Danger stalks Meredith back to Hay City, Idaho as she peels apart the mystery: who is her father, and did her mother kill him? In finding the answer, will a growing love slip through her fingers?
Past merges with the present as the story races to its stunning conclusion.
And an Excerpt:
Her hair fell below her waist, ripped free of its ties and weighed down by the warm, lashing rain. The sky-blue dress, so carefully chosen for this night and tried on so many times in her bedroom, was ruined. One strap had torn from her shoulder and dangled down her back. Mud splattered the hem. Sweet Cantaloupe lipstick, a lovely coral that heightened the green in her eyes, was smeared like a bruise on one cheek. She ran.
The high school gym behind her, decorated in crepe paper and curtains, vibrated with electric guitars and teen-aged hormones. Couples gyrated on the dance floor and then disappeared into dark corners. It was late and the Spring Dance was in full throttle. No one would miss her for hours.
Before her, trees dripped moss, barely visible in the darkness. She envisioned the moss brushing her shoulders, low branches snagging in her hair, the possibility of snakes both at her feet and above; this made her hesitate. It would take one scream, one gasp, and he would find her.
Buy links for Wild Crime:
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wild-crime-julie-howard/1134112545?ean=9781509228638
Here are links to Crime and Paradise – last day at 99 cents!
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crime-and-paradise-julie-howard/1126668702?ean=2940158815881
Here are links to Crime Times Two – limited time sale at 99 cents!
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crime-times-two-julie-howard/1129472600?ean=2940161941164
About the author:
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series, and Spirited Quest. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal, and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.
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