Eggnog Murder–the Real Story Behind the Story

by Barb, who just finished making her famous (in small, exclusive circles) mincemeat. The holidays must be coming.

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3The Wicked Cozy Authors’ Thankful for Our Readers month continues. Leave a comment on this blog post to win a copy of Eggnog Murder, along with a Snowden Family Clambake tote bag.

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When my agent called me to say that “Kinda out of the blue,” Kensington had asked me to contribute a novella to a collection called Eggnog Murder, I was thrilled. My novels are always too short and my short stories always too long, so I suspected novellas were my true calling.

toteandeggnog
Today’s giveaway

But another reason I was pumped was because I had been sitting on a gem of an eggnog anecdote for almost thirty years.

To wit:

Many moons ago, when I was a young manager, I interviewed an even younger woman for a sales position. This is how it went.

Me: “And why are you considering leaving your current position?”

Interviewee: “Well, I kind of food poisoned every person in my company and all their guests at the office Christmas party.”

Me: (mouth open, no sounds coming out)

Interviewee, continuing: “My mother has this great recipe for eggnog. She makes it every year for our holiday open house. But something went wrong. The eggs were bad. Everyone was throwing up, and…” (ominous pause) “…worse.”

Me: “Oh, my God. Were you fired?”

Interviewee: “No, but once you’ve been in the ER, hooked up to an IV, being re-hydrated, next to your boss, and your boss’s boss, I figure you really don’t have much of a future with the company.”

Me: “You’re hired!”

Eggnog Murder CompActually, I didn’t hire her on the spot. We did the usual reference checks, etc. But I knew in that moment that I wanted to hire her. As one of my mentors had taught me well, you should always hire employees who are “pre-disastered.”

In John Irving’s The World According to Garp, Garp and his young wife are standing on the front lawn looking at a house for sale when a small plane flies straight into it. Garp turns to his wife and says, “We’ll take the house. Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical. It’s been pre-disastered. We’re going to be safe here.”

Of course, as Garp learns, having survived one kind of disaster does not prevent another. And so it is with employees. Pre-disastered doesn’t mean they’ve gotten their disaster “over with.” It means that having survived one, they know what to do. Tell the people who need to know immediately, honestly and completely. Ask for help. Treat the situation like a problem to be solved. Not, hope it will blow over, hope no one will notice, try to solve it by yourself until it gets even bigger. That sort of thing.

So, the action in my novella, “Nogged Off,” kicks off when Julia finds out her young subtenant has brought her mama’s eggnog to the office holiday party, and….

Readers: Have you been “pre-disastered” at work? Tell us about it in the comments, or otherwise just leave a comment for a chance to win.

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109 Thoughts

  1. Pre disastered…that’s a good one. I work in a mental health facility, in the x-ray dept. I suppose you could say that since our patients have mental illness problems, every day is a pre disaster because you have no clue what you’re going to have to deal with.

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  2. What a great story! The closest I’ve come was when I was working in municipal finance, and one of my colleagues and I were pitching to a major potential new client. Colleague and I were women, but most of the interviewers were middle-aged men–with one notable exception: the state treasurer. Colleague and I adjourned to the ladies’ room at some point, and I made the comment, “bunch of ### grey men in suits.” Guess who was in another cubicle? And we got the job.

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  3. Barb, how about sharing that mincemeat recipe? The neighbors who hunt our land are always very generous with venison, which I like better in pies than in slices.

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    1. Hi Heidi. I should have mentioned my mincement is “meatless.” I didn’t say that this year, because we used beef tallow for the fat, but I made it meatless for many years.

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  4. “Pre-disastered” is a perfect word for life at work… It is a “no good deed goes unpunished” situation at times. As a teacher, who was team leader through most of my career, I was pre-disastered more times than I can count. It usually went like this, “Your team is so great… You all just seem to get along and each one does a great job….” Then, a short time later from the principal or consultant, “You are such a good leader… Would you take over the team that can’t seem to get along and get the job done???”
    rvcwms@yahoo.com

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  5. It is wonderful when life gives you a story and then you have the opportunity to use it! I loved your story in Eggnog Murders and look forward to reading the other two.

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  6. No pre-disasters for me. Not that I can think of. Maybe I blocked it out to save myself? haha Thanks for the chance to win and the blog post.

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  7. That poor girl. I am glad you hired her. Can’t wait to read Eggnog Murders. I love the Clambake series šŸ™‚

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  8. I’ll excuse myself from the contest since I already have your book but wanted to say I just love that you used a real life story to weave your tale from! I really feel sorry for the girl and she’s lucky you hired her šŸ™‚

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  9. I love these three novella holiday books. Each story is just the right length in the midst of all the Christmas madness. Hope I win!

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  10. I finished Nogged Off yesterday and loved it so much!! The clambake series has become a top favorite of mine. I’m so looking forward to Iced Under!

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  11. I can’t think of any incidences where I’ve dealt with a disaster before it actually happened but it would be wonderful to anticipate something like this. Thanks for including Eggnog Murder on the blog today.

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  12. Wow, that poor girl! Now you have made me way about enjoying any eggnog, except virtually via your Eggnog Murder novella!

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  13. What a wonderful story! After many years of interviewing & hiring I thought I had heard it all but that is a new one! Love your series & can’t wait to read this new story collection that you and Julia are in.

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  14. You guys look like you are having so much fun. I’m currently working on my first book and I would love to have friends like that in the business.

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    1. Fellow Wicked Julie Hennrikus always says, “You write alone, but you get published (and promote) in groups.” Good luck finding your tribe. I recommend Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and your local writing center or association.

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  15. I haven’t had egg nog in years–probably not since my sweetie and I had some at my grandma’s house. I forgot to warn said sweetie that gran’s egg nog was about 90 percent Scotch. Surprising for him! Egg nog-themed mysteries sound like fun.

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  16. I have not been pre-disastered at work but love the story of the woman you hired! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  17. I love the clambake series and would love to read the Eggnog Murder. I’m sure all three stories are great!

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  18. I’ve had food poisoning and know that could put a serious buzz kill on the office party — bless her heart! Best of luck with Eggnog murder, it sounds like a lot of fun!

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  19. I’d tell you, but I’d have to…wait, what? Lol I’d really love to win this giveaway!! Thanks for the chance, great blog!

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    1. I know. She was so honest in her interview, she almost left me speechless. But it was one of the things I valued about her, both in the interview and as an employee.

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  20. I’ve never been “pre-disastered” at work but I love the clambake series and all things Maine! šŸ™‚

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  21. Loved this article today. In my case, I had two things happen just after beginning a new position as an Executive Assistant in a big company. The first was that while driving to work at 7 am a drunk driver slammed into my car when driving through a stop sign at about 50 mph through an intersecting street that I so unluckily was passing by. My car was pushed into a banking and I could not get out of the car until rescue people arrived. I was bruised and battered from being pushed clearly to the opposite side of the drivers seat. The worst part was that I suffered a miscarriage a day later whether from this trauma or not who will ever know. Then a month later I slipped off of the sidewalk leaving work and fractured my ankle. No high heels for quite some time after that incident. But despite all of this and more, my boss said that anyone who only missed two days of work with all of this happening, had a job for as long as she wanted it. šŸ˜

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  22. Pre-disastered…I like that thought! I certainly have felt that way many times at work with all the drama on some days.

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  23. I was a manager/server at a restaurant many years ago. The local police officers came in every morning for breakfast. One morning 3 out of the 4 guys ordered large meals and the 4th ordered just toast. To the office that ordered the toast I made the comment, “You sure are being a pig today.” They looked at me and one guy said, “We’re all ‘pigs’ everyday.” I just about died. I left red-faced and did NOT want to take the food back out there. Well, I did and we all had a good laugh after I apologized my butt off. Not sure if that qualifies, but it left a lasting memory for me and possibly, them.

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  24. Love the story, Barb. I already have “Eggnog Murder”, so I’ll disqualify myself from the contest. I don’t think I’ve been pre-disastered. I was pre-disastered at work many years ago. I left my desk piled high with case folders one evening. Overnight there was a major rain storm. I came in to work to find that the roof had leaked big time and my desk was a sodden mass of unreadable claims. It took weeks to reconstruct the files. I worked so much overtime I was able to replace my 12 year old car that year, so I guess it wasn’t all bad, though. Never had another major disaster, although I helped others dig out of theirs occasionally.

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  25. I don’t think I’ve ever been pre-disastered, anywhere. I love the clambake series and hope they keep coming out.

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  26. On my last day of driving a school bus, I damaged the bus as I was parking it for the final time. I guess that is really a post-disaster. Would love to have Eggnog Murder to sooth my soul. šŸ™‚

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  27. worked with a girl once who was always having bad luck…on her wedding day as she was ready to enter church, a latecomer threw down their cigarette butt, it ignited the train on her dress, her Dad has to stomp it out & they had to cut off the burnt edges, when she got to the hotel on their wedding night, her “hubby” had packed the suitcase that had her jeans & t shirt & sneakers that she wore to the church before she changed into her gown…(back in her apartment was the suitcase with her “nighties”) & when they arrived in Jamaica for a honeymoon, there was a hurricane & they were stuck inside a boarded up resort until they could get a flight home…LOL

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  28. I haven’t had a “pre-disaster” story to tell regarding the workplace, but, if you want to count my previous two marriages…well, let’s just say that I have been forewarned! Thanks for a change to win! sxygrndma48{at}yahoo{dot}com

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  29. Wow, I can’t believe you waited 30 years for the perfect time to share that! I’ve got nothing that would come close! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  30. I survived an in home disaster when my sister was visiting. It was late and we were getting ready to go to bed and she was taking the dogs out and I was getting up and I tripped over the foot stool and hit my head on the corner of the TV stand and cracked my head open. The next thing I knew I woke up in the ER getting stitches in my head. I didn’t remember the paramedics in the house or the ride in the ambulance. Luckily my sister was here at the time and everything healed just fine. I guess that was pre-disastered.

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  31. I can’t wait to read this but I must admit I hate eggnog but my hubby loves it Thanks for the giveaway

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  32. I had to laugh at your interviewee’s story of food poisoning but she must have felt absolutely horrible! I’ve never had a work disaster like that but I’d love to read the book.

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