An Unexpected Accessory: And a Giveaway

by Barb, just back from a beautiful week at the Jersey shore and headed back to Maine

I love it when serendipity happens. Don’t you?

Back in July, Liz Mugavero started a Wicked Wednesday thread here on the blog titled, “What’s in your Character’s Purse?”

totebagI really liked the question, because it was one of those things I had thought about without thinking about it, you know? The question of what my main character Julia Snowden would use as a purse had come up in Clammed Up, the first book in the series. I decided Julia would throw the things she had to carry around with her in an old Snowden Family Clambake tote bag. Julia’s mother Jacqueline had run the gift shop at the clambake for many years, and it seemed natural the shop would offer such a thing.

I thought it would be fun if there was a picture of the tote bag for the blog. So I went on a site that offered custom printed bags and I designed one. Just for the photo, for the blog, mind you. I wasn’t going to order any. I didn’t even price them.

goodiebagsWhy did I know where to find such a thing, you ask? Because for my daughter’s wedding the welcome bags were little, tiny L.L. Bean-style tote bags, which felt appropriate to Maine.

But Liz hadn’t just asked what the character’s purse was, she’d asked what was IN the purse. That gave me pause. I have always been a purse minimalist. When my kids were young, I used to joke, “I am the mother who never carries tissues.” Or Bandaids. Or chapstick. Or photos of her kids.

I think this is because I am an accessories minimalist generally. I have enough trouble keeping track of the essentials, believe me. When I was in seventh grade, the first year I carried a purse to school, everyday the period after my study hall there was an announcement on the PA. “Barbara Ross, please come to the office.” And then I would realize I’d left my handbag hanging off the back of a chair in the auditorium. Every. Single. Day. My husband would tell you this behavior now extends to my reading glasses, my car keys and my phone. He would be exaggerating when he said this. But not very much.

Over the course of the series, Julia has carried some mundane things in the tote bag, like Snowden Family Clambake brochures (Clammed Up) or her mother’s mail, fetched from the post office (Iced Under). She’s also carried some mystery clues, like a copy of an old photo and an insurance report (Fogged Inn) or a priceless diamond necklace (Iced Under).

But what does Julia carry everyday? I decided she was a little less minimalist than me, and gave her “a nylon wallet, sunblock or chapstick depending on the season, a bundle of covered rubber bands to pull back her hair if sheโ€™s on a boat or around food prep, and her smartphone, which works pretty well in Maine, except where it doesnโ€™t.” Not a lot of stuff really. I can also imagine a paperback book and a toothbrush and toothpaste in a plastic holder, a hairbrush, business cards, pens and a small notebook.

toteandeggnogAfter I designed that tote bag for the blog, I couldn’t get it out of my head. So I decided to order some for real to use for contests and such.

So that’s what I’m offering, dear readers. If you comment on this blog post before noon on September 1, you’ll be entered in a contest to win your very own Snowden Family Clambake tote, along with an Advanced Reader Copy of Eggnog Murder, the collection of three holiday novellas by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and me to be published October 25th.

Good luck!

 

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214 Thoughts

  1. such a great giveaway! I love receiving things in the mail so sign me up! Reading is my passion. Thank you for this opportunity.

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  2. First let me say I’m so looking forward to ‘Iced Under’. I have a tote from my small town library but most often use one from an author that I’m trying to get the library to buy and it often works. I recently retired and was couch sitting to much so grab a tote and walk to the nearby CVS or grocery store after tucking in wallet , coupons and house key. As the weather cools I can go to library, the library used book store and Post office on foot. My only grandkids live next door and often join me . My newspaper has raised it’s rates to 60.00 a month yet I can walk to nearby store and buy the paper at a cost of 8.00 a week and buy a few things and a tote reminds how much I can carry.. I agree never to many totes and books.

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  3. I am a little behind reading your mysteries, but I loved the first two.
    I actually have a real-life friend named Julia Snowden (!), and I told her about your books and the tote bag. She was excited!
    My friend Julia grew up in Edith Maxwell’s “Westbury” and was in school with Edith’s son. Kind of an intersection of worlds๐Ÿ˜Š
    I have never discovered the truly optimal handbag contents. When I go minimal, I always need something that I’ve left out. I’m currently in the opposite phase, carrying a well-organized but extremely heavy tote bag. As I get older, I have medications I have to carry, I hate being without a planner/calendar (I know, I can use my phone!), and somehow I can never find a pen when I need it.

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    1. Hi Dee. Your Julia Snowden is the second I’ve heard about, though some people seem to spell it Snowdan. The other Julia Snowden accused her aunt of writing my books using a pseudonym! I still use a paper planner/calendar, too.

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  4. Ha I love these stories that explain your reasons for writing the way you do. These are the reasons your books ring true!

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  5. Never too many totes, and I love the holiday themed three books in one. Always puts me in the spirit of the season. Hope I win!

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  6. Totes are great, and that one is cute. But, an ARC of Eggnog Murder – now that’s a prize! Sign me up, I love to read and review on Amazon!

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  7. What a great story and idea! I like to think I’m kind of minimalist in what I carry, but my purse is pretty heavy! Thanks so much!

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  8. Wow! Cool bag! I just read clammed Up and it was great! I read it too fast! I can’t wait to read more! Fixing up that house on morrow island and her sister having a baby! The new book sounds really interesting! Getting the book would be beyond wonderful.

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  9. I love purses and tote bags!! I love all things Maine too (my grandparents live in the southern part of the state). I’m a librarian, so this would be perfect for carrying books, papers, misc. objects back and forth, to and fro ๐Ÿ™‚ What an awesome prize!!

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  10. I love totes. I have always had one to carry my dog’s things in so that I have his water, bags, etc with us. They always have the photos of the dog that the stuff belongs to as well. I love this series and cant wait for anything you write.

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  11. I fell in love with Julia and Busman’s Harbor. I think Julia would also carry some kind of notebook, but never a pen, or if she had the pen, no notebook!

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  12. What a fun story! And cute bag and of course the treat of a fresh new book! Good luck on the upcoming book release! I would love to win!

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  13. Would love to have the chance to read Eggnog Murder, Death by Eggnog, and Nogged Off. Reading an advance copy seems like the grownup version of summer nights as a kid reading under the covers after you were supposed to be asleep! I’d use the tote bag to organize my summer essentials–book, I pod, phone, water bottle, hat, sunscreen, VHF radio,dry swimsuit and keys!

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  14. Would love to read “Eggnog Murder”, love anthologies. Great tote bag, perfect for carrying a book or two. Great giveaway, thanks for the chance.

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  15. How clever- the bag is adorable. Julia should carry a snack in the bag (probably put in there by her Mom or Chris since she forgets to eat). I’m in love with Gus and Mrs. Gus- don’t forget to get his advice on whether to fix up the old mansion or not. Keep writing about these people- please- they are now my friends.

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  16. Hurray for a giveaway! I might have a tote bag problem but there are worse issues. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Bags and purses I carry vary, but they almost all fit an iPad mini now… somehow.

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  17. great, fun article about the purse and the tote. I do believe there is probably a little bit of everything in my purse. Thank you for the chance to win one of the totes and a book.

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  18. Love the totes, Barbara, and love your books. I tend to carry too much in my purse, then wonder why my shoulder hurts. Every time I to pare down, I inevitably need whatever it is that’s back home on the table.

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  19. I just love tote bags. I don’t think you can ever have too many. I have several author totes and I love them all and use them frequently for all sorts of things.
    I hear you about leaving your purse places, or in your case, a single place. When I was younger, I often left my purse at restaurants, bars, clothing stores (especially trying rooms).
    I always got it back though every time, which was a bit of a miracle.
    Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I love anthologies, and can’t wait to read this.

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  20. Not trying to sneak in an extra chance to win I promise! Just pointing out the fact that you have A LOT of people excited about your Snowden tote! What a great idea it was to produce the real thing! I’m happy for you! Congrats on your success!

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  21. Interesting post. I am a minimalist myself. I don’t like to be loaded down with a bunch of stuff. But do like to be prepared. So I have an emergency it. A small antibiotic slave for just about anything in a 1 inch diameter, 1/2 inch deep canister (Came that way from Watkins) a needle & thread with safety pin, a 4″ emery board from Avon. (long lasting won’t break, a good one), a bandaid, etc. A dozen items in a four by five inch pouch. wallet & cards in same size pouch with keys & a book. Never without a book. 3lbs total weight. Tote has not terribly long handles. So hands are free for just in case, whatever happens. And could use a new tote. The current one is getting kind of ragged looking. Thought the way this all turned out was pretty neat. She asked a simple question and from that spawned some marvelous ideas. And this wonderful giveaway. The first time I ever heard of clambake? The Elvis Presley movies by the same name.

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  22. I’m always baffled by women who carry small purses. The purse I am currently using is an old Vera Bradley diaper bag. I always have tissues,one pack for each family member, my wallet, my three sets of keys, my extra key chain with all my discount cards, a small wallet full of gift cards, a business card wallet that holds my Swiss Army business card ( best 10 cents I ever spent, I used it to cut myself out of a burning car that was upside down), at least three pens, a bottle of Advil, three coupon wallets, a coupon binder, a pad of paper, my husbands medical notebook, 3 pairs of sunglasses, my current book, my husbands current book, a kindle,a hair tie, a pull up, a reusable bag and of course emergency candy. It only weights 7lbs and every time I take something out of it I feel lost. I do need to add some bandaids, I think I’ll just throw in the whole box.

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    1. Definitely put in the box of bandaids. I needed one the other day and, despite having at least ten of those little bandaid dispensers, do you think I could find a bandaid in my purse, knitting bag, glove compartment, trunk ? They were all in the old purse I left at home that day.

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  23. I’m defiantly not a minimalist. I have 5 kids but really 2 sets. My oldest two are 20 and 21 and my youngest three are 10 and twins age 9. If I need something it seems I don’t have it so later I get it and I’ve gotten a lot. When they were younger, I had an over filled the diaper bag. Now it’s my purse. I even carry an extra bag usually when I’m going out for the day with the kids. My youngest three kids play sports. Right now one of my twins is playing football and those games last at least an hour and half but they also have warm ups. I pack for whatever MIGHT happen. Right now in Alabama we get pop up rain showers. I have rain great and umbrellas and stadium seats not to mention extra clothes for all. My purse is bursting with bandaids, sunscreen, and insect repellant. Our first game, a couple weeks ago, was a jamboree where the winner of each age group, with four age groups, played another game that day. We were at the football field for 8 long long hours. It rained, it was sunny and hot, then night came with insect and mud for all. I used everything and my always prepared sister even used our extra clothes for her daughter from mud issues. My sister has a son on the same team. I know I said a lot but hey, over prepared maximus worked that day. Your book sounds great and I loved the cover. Awesome tote as well.

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    1. Since my main character’s sister Livvie is having a second baby ten years after her first, I may need to use you as a subject matter expert.

      Good luck with the contest.

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  24. I love cozy mysteries, eggnog and giveaways! I live in Austin Texas and you have to carry a tote everywhere (no plastic bags). Would love to pull out such a cute tote for my small items!

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  25. Wow! A awesome bag and the book is one I want to read! Thanks for the chance!the clambakes mysteries are a favorite of mine.

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  26. What a wonderful thing to do! Thank you so much for offering a chance for this one of a kind gift! You’ve designed a perfect Clambake tote! I’ve loved every single Clambake mystery and can’t wait for the next. I also like your idea of what Julia would carry in her purse. I hope she also has a small flashlight on her key ring for her night sleuthing! Unfortunately, I’m not a purse minimalist, but whenever I think of carrying less, something happens to convince me it’s good to be prepared, especially since my best friend is a purse minimalist and usually ends up needing whatever is in my purse!

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