Guest Liz Milliron #Giveaway

Edith here, welcoming Liz Milliron back to the blog.

I love her historical Homefront Mystery series and am delighted I have The Stories We Tell to curl up on the couch with – it dropped on my Kindle today! One lucky commenter will win a copy, too!

Here’s the blurb:

It’s December 1942 and Betty Ahern is enjoying her fledgling career as a private detective, investigating everything from missing jewelry to wandering boyfriends. But when Bell Airplane co-worker Emilia Brewka, whose grandmother recently died, wants Betty to prove the death was murder and not natural causes, Betty thinks Emilia’s grief has her seeing things that aren’t there.

After a member of the visiting Polish government in exile is murdered, she learns the grandmother may have contacted him about a secret involving a wealthy Buffalo family–a secret that goes all the way back to the Old Country and the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war. Suddenly, murder looks more than possible.

Betty and her friends travel between Buffalo’s working-class neighborhoods and the city’s high society, determined to unearth the secret and find justice for Emmie’s grandmother. But mixing with the upper class quickly becomes dangerous and potentially deadly—both for Betty’s career as a detective and herself.

Thanks, Edith, for having me back on Wickeds.

The Stories We Tell is my fifth book (five books, how did that happen?). Since it’s kind of a milestone number, it’s got me a little reflective as I gaze at a field of freshly fallen snow.

What a long, strange year it’s been, hasn’t it? Puts me in mind of the Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. I’d like the times to go back to being boring, thanks.

It also makes me wonder how my grandparents would have dealt with all of this, the pandemic and all the political upheaval. I’m specifically talking about my paternal grandparents (my mother’s mother was much more vocal – I know exactly what her opinions would have been).

Betty and Clarence at their wedding

My grandparents were, without a doubt, the product of their generation. Betty and Clarence Lederman grew up in the Depression. Grandma couldn’t bear even the sight of Karo corn syrup, having eaten it so frequently as a child. Papa had a knack for hiding cash (the stashes my dad found upon emptying his childhood home after his parents died were not trivial). He was also one of those people who was impossible to buy for. At one point, he owned four VCRs. When we asked why, he said, “Because I want them.” He’d gone without for so long that once he had money, as soon as he wanted something he bought it.

They were both no-nonsense people. They had no patience with self-pity. Even as kids, my siblings and I got maybe a day – and usually less – to wallow in misery when something happened. After that, my grandparents’ question was, “What are you going to do about it?”

Papa served with the 1st Armored Division in World War II. He had trench foot twice and was told if it happened a third time, he’d be sent home. Grandma worked at Bell Airplane; my dad says she worked mostly on riveting the plane fuselages. She waited while Papa was overseas.

After the war, Papa worked at Bethlehem Steel for 30 years while Grandma raised two boys and worked in a high school cafeteria. In short, they didn’t have time to feel bad for themselves.

Thinking of them, I wish I could hear what they had to say about current events. The pandemic? Wear the mask, get a vaccine, and do your part (sounds familiar to me – during WWII, it was all about doing what you had to do and doing your part). The events of January 6? I think they would have been appalled, even as they had sympathy for the frustrations of people who believe they’ve been left behind. I’m quite sure they’d have had zero patience with politicians and their games, voting to contest the election and holding up the process. I can hear Papa now, “You lost. Stop being a baby and get on with it. Do your job.”

It’s an attitude I’ve tried to bring to Betty Ahern, my protagonist in The Homefront Mysteries. Got a problem? Say a prayer, buckle down, and get to work. I hear Betty (who sounds suspiciously like Grandma) in my ear frequently. “Complaining won’t solve anything. Do your part.” Times are tough. They’ve been tough throughout history.

Grandma and Papa would’ve also reminded me that everything we’re going through now has happened before and we’re still here to talk about it. The world survived the Black Death and the Spanish flu pandemic. We’ve survived two world wars. Everything bad will end.

My grandparents knew it. Betty knows it. And deep down, I know it.

But I’m sure they’ll forgive me if I hope it ends sooner rather than later.

Readers: What’s something your family taught you that you find particularly applicable to current events? One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of The Stories We Tell (U.S. residents only).

Liz Milliron is the author of The Laurel Highlands Mysteries series, set in the scenic Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and The Homefront Mysteries, set in Buffalo, NY during the early years of World War II. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and International Thriller Writers. A recent empty-nester, Liz lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband and a retired-racer greyhound.

46 Thoughts

  1. I was the oldest child in a dysfunctional family, so I can survive practically anything.

  2. Mine I think would be “go with your gut” and “when you know your right, don’t listen to the nay sayers”. I think if both of those were applied more often now that we wouldn’t have all the political mess we are in after such a tragedy of January 6th. If politicians would pay more attention to their gut and less to what the nay sayers were doing, they would do the right thing. We could punish the wrong, help the suffering and get on with life to rebuild this great nation of ours. Money and social status should not determine right from wrong.

    Also remember the grandparents for saying “work hard, provide for your family, remember to save for a rainy day and through it all live to be proud of who you are”. Goals we could all live by.

    It’s a shame that we can learn from that generation where they pulled together for nation, community and family instead of choosing sides and fighting each other.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win a copy of “The Stories We Tell”. On my TBR list and I can’t wait for the opportunity to read it. Shared and hoping to be the very fortunate one selected.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay! Yes, that generation has so much to teach. I wish I’d written down more of what Grandma and Papa told and taught, but it lives in my heart. Grandma is also one of the only people I knew who could perfectly fold a fitted sheet. Now there’s a skill I wish I’d learned!

  3. Congratulations on your book birthday, Liz! Five excellent books – WOW. That is quite an accomplishment.

    You made me laugh about your grandfather hiding money. We had the same when my father’s parents died. At the time, I was immersed in Nancy Drew and thought everyone hid cash in clockworks and the newel post. My dad’s parents were German. Their lesson was much like Winston Churchill’s Never, ever, ever give up!

    1. Yep. We kept finding envelopes of anywhere from $20 to $100 everywhere – his sock drawer, the closet, his photography equipment…the list goes on.

      And that’s a good lesson!

  4. My maternal grandparents loved children so much that they had twelve of their own and thought their grandchildren were super special. They made it through such tough times as dry land farmers. Only once did my grandfather accept government help and he told my mother not to ever do that again. Do it for yourself, make do or do without was his philosophy. But the greatest thing about both my grandparents is that they wanted to ensure all people received an education going so far as to build a school on their land for minorities who did not have a school at the time and could only meet in homes. My grandfather always said, “Get as much education as you can. No one can ever take it away from you.” Liz, your series sounds like one I would enjoy reading. Best of luck with your writing.

    1. Wow, 12 kids! That’s a lot. The view on education sounds like my grandparents. Neither of them went to college and they were quite determined that their sons would go.

  5. Betty Ahern sounds like a “tough cookie” who knows how to survive. I’m the 6th of 8 siblings, so I’m a scrapper. I plan and fight for what I need or want. My mother always said, “You can’t help anyone else unless you’re in a position to help yourself first.” Well I’m no use to anyone else if I don’t mask to protect myself and those around me. It also makes me pay attention to the words and actions of our elected and self-appointed leaders, some of whom seem to disregard anything that doesn’t fit their goals regardless of the damage it does to others. I don’t obsess over it because that would just be unhealthy. So, overall, I think those words help me keep things in balance.

    1. Oh, she definitely is. My grandparents were much the same when it came to others. It didn’t matter if everybody else was doing it “wrong.” Pass over that and do it right.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Congratulations on your fifth book! I’m so happy for you. My dad taught me the value of laughter and a good sense of humor. It gets me through a lot.

    1. Thanks, Sherry! My grandfather was always making me laugh. In fact, the only stories he ever told were funny ones. I wish I’d written more of them down.

  7. Congrats on your new release, Liz! Five books is a huge accomplishment, so cheers to that, too! My parents were members of the Greatest Generation. I learned so much from them, but one thing my mom said a lot was to remember to stop and smell the roses. I think that’s sage advice in all times. Cheers!

  8. This book, and the series, sounds wonderful. Most of the WW II era books I’ve read are are set in Europe, so interesting to have a book about what was happening back home! My parents were both in the army during the war, but neither of them went overseas. They raised us to take responsibility for our lives and our actions, would have had no sympathy for people demanding freedom from responsibility – mask wearing for example. They also raised us to believe in the intrinsic rights of all people regardless of race, religion or swxual orientation. We were expected to earn respect and earn a living, nothing is just given to you. Our upbringing made us quite self sufficient and able to deal with the pandemic.

    1. Thanks, Judith. Yes, my grandparents had no patience with people who expected everything to be handed to them. You want something? Work for it.

  9. Congratulations on your new book release! One thing that I learned from my grandfather was to plan for the future, but enjoy today. He was a wonderful presence in my life growing up.

    1. Thanks, Kelly. I think that’s why Papa would just buy something if he really wanted it. Plans were good, but you can’t live your life always putting off enjoyment of today.

  10. I’m so glad you were able to find that photo, Liz! My grandfather taught me, “If you start something, finish it.” Sage words, except for poorly written books – who has time for that? (I know I don’t have to worry about that with any of yours.)

  11. Congratulations on The Stories We Tell. I’ve been thinking a lot about the sacrifices ordinary civilians made during World War II–the rationing, the paper, metal and rubber drives, working as neighborhood watchmen making sure everyone had their blackout shades up. The blackout shades. Not to mention, moving to new locations to work in factories and shipyards. Could we do it now? Would we? I hope so, but the evidence is scant.

    1. Thanks, Barb. It’s an interesting question. I think some people would, but many would not. Not just in this country, but around the world. We’ve become too used to our comforts in a lot of ways.

    1. Thanks, Julie! Come to think of it, Papa and Grandma would have been close to 90 years married, if not exactly at it. Papa died within a few years of Grandma. I don’t think he had the heart to live without her.

  12. There is definitely wisdom is figuring out what to do about it when something bad happens. Don’t like your boss? Find a new job. Frustrated that another mud run was cancelled? Look to see if you can find a new one to do. (What, that last one was just me? Weird!)

    1. Exactly, Mark. No sense whining about it – do something.

      And while mud runs are not my thing, I have friends who would think exactly as you do. 🙂

  13. Good morning,
    My parents also were/are part of that Greatest Generation. My Mother worked in the San Diego shipyards, riveting hulls. She was a nurse but the demand was for shipbuilding, so that’s what she did. She and my Father grew up in the same little town in Northern Idaho, so they knew of each other, but didn’t “meet” until after the war. Mom once said Dad was a nuance as a little boy. He was 3 years younger than she was.
    They both were raised poor, so they were very good at making do. They both lived by the- use it up, make it do, do without school of thought. In my own days of young poverty, these were words I thought of many times. They were also very much of the “Just Do It” mindset. Something I struggle with. “But, I don’t want to!” Although as I age, I’m getting better at it. Of course that I am now retired might have something to do with it. It’s really nice to sometimes be able to decide, I’m not going to….. fill in the blank.
    The other words of wisdom that came back to me many, many times in my working life was my Father’s “Half the work in the world is done by people who don’t feel like it. ” Oh, so true.
    Your books sound really interesting and right up my alley. I’m so glad to have been introduced to them.

    1. Hi Catherine! “Half the work…” I love it. And yes, I still have my own “But I don’t WANT to” times. At least as I get older, sometimes I can decide it’s really not necessary for me to do the thing I don’t want to do.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Congratulations on your new release! Your book sounds like a Great read. Your grandparents sound like they were very ,very smart people. And yes, there is always a rainbow after the storm. One thing my dad would always tell us , was to Always save for a rainy day, you just never know when you are going to need some money and if you save , you will always have some money when you need it. My parents also told us to stick together as a family and to always be there for our siblings. I know since both our parents have passed my siblings and I have really been even closer. My parents also taught us to have faith and to never lose hope. And they also taught us that hard work pays off and to Always do the Best we can in everything that we do, and to be proud of our accomplishments. Thank you so much for this post, I really enjoyed it. This pandemic has been very harsh,but we must stay afloat. Have a Great week and stay safe.

    1. Alicia, your parents sound like wise people. Rainy days – I think that’s why Papa always had those envelopes of cash. He didn’t exactly distrust banks, but he liked to have cash “just in case.”

      Thanks for stopping!

  15. To always expect the unexpected and roll with it. After all, you can’t control everything that happens in life. What you can control is how you react to what happens. No matter how bad you think you have it, there’s always someone who has it worse. All of these are very good euphemisms that would be good to keep in mind today.

  16. Always have a good sense of humor. Stay positive, not negative. Life will have its ups and downs, its how you react to it that makes a difference.

    Congrats on your book!

  17. Cherish every moment you have with your loved ones – you never know when those moments will come to an end. Congratulations on the new release! And now that I know about your Laurel Highlands series, I’ve got to read it, having grown up in Pittsburgh. I miss all the hills/mountains of southwestern PA!

    1. Anne Marie, yes. You never know what is coming around the bend.

      I hope you enjoy the Laurel Highlands series. I’m a transplant to SW PA, but I love it.

  18. Do not talk to strangers or get too close. Never accept anything from anyone you do not know.

  19. I’d like to say hi to a fellow Pennsylvania mystery writer. Your series sounds great, and it’s wonderful to have these insights into your grandparents and how they faced the world. Sounds like my dad, who was also in World War II. I look forward to getting to know Betty Ahern. Best wishes for the continuance of your series!

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