Thursday, March 24, 2011

Under Cover

By Leona Elkin, the true star of Elizabeth Lynn Casey’s Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series

For nearly five years now, I’ve been spending every Monday night with my face plastered in a travel magazine while my twin sister and her friends blather on about fabric and patterns. You see, the Sweet Briar Ladies Society Sewing Circle is a pretty tight knit group, all of its members passionate about sewing.

Correction. All of its members except me—Leona Elkin.

I don’t come to sew. That’s why the “seamstress” section of the yellow pages exists.

I don’t come to compare fabrics. If it’s not silk or cashmere, who cares?

And I don’t really come for the desserts everyone brings. Sure, they look delectable on the plate, but, on thighs? Not so much.

I come for an entirely different reason.


Some Mondays, the best tidbit involves a shelving mishap at Leeson’s Market.

Sometimes, it’s about some backwoods Sweet Briar-an who’s made a spectacle of himself. But sometimes, it’s eye-popping stuff.

Like murder.

That’s right, I said murder.

Only I’m not all that interested in the crime, itself. Sure, it’s exciting at times, but what’s really exciting is all the possibilities that seem to come along with the crime—the cops, the firefighters, the paramedics, the judges, the grieving out-of-town family members (true, the out-of-town family members don’t always wear uniforms, but, still, you get my point).

My circle sisters—as they like to call themselves—aren’t all that interested in men. I suppose that’s because some of them (like the insufferable Rose Winters) are older than dirt. And some—like the new town librarian, Victoria Sinclair—simply need better training from someone with my exceptional grooming (after all, I may be in my sixties on paper but everywhere else…thirties, worst case).

Unfortunately, I think my cover is about to be blown (holding last month’s travel magazine upside down while I was pretending to read certainly didn’t help matters). Which can only mean one thing. I need to find a hobby (something that looks good yet can be done with minimal effort or by slipping a fifty under the table) in order to keep everyone’s granny panties from getting all bunched up.

Any suggestions?

Elizabeth Lynn Casey writes the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries. The fourth book in the series, DEADLY NOTIONS, will release April 5th. For more information on the series and/or Elizabeth, visit her website. There you will find information about Elizabeth, her books, upcoming events & contests, as well as her personal blog. Happen to be on Facebook? Check out Elizabeth Lynn Casey’s fan page!


  1. Well, latch hook certainly takes no skill, but it isn't all that portable. How about plastic canvas? It's like cross stitch, only MUCH bigger holes. And you can actually make cute stuff. I taught Nina Quinn's creator how to crochet though, in about ten minutes, so maybe that'd work.

  2. You could take up reading, that is a hobby since you like reading travel magazines. But then again, you can't be part of the on-going conversations if you're reading a book.

    You could take up scrapbooking.

  3. If you took up crochet, you could make sweaters for your bunny,Paris!

    Just a thought.


  4. Shel, you're a great teacher! Very patient. LOL.

    I like the scrapbooking idea for Leona, though I can see her focusing more on hot guys in uniforms than travel destinations.

  5. Beading... you can make fabulous accessories (necklaces, earrings, bracelets) and work with pretty beads, and the resulting jewelry makes great gifts!

  6. Bunny sweaters for Paris? Hmmm, now THAT sounds lovely. But, really, that's what stores are for, no?

    Scrapbooking might be nice. My twin could take the pictures, Debbie could cut them, Beatrice could arrange them on the page with those cute little cuttings and such, and I can nod my approval. Sounds promising.

    As for Nina Quinn's creator, Brickhouse Kraus told me how that really went down. I think you're fudging a bit on the ten minutes. :)

    Beading? Would diamonds be involved??

  7. Crochet a never-ending chainstitch. When they ask you what you're making, tell them, "It's a mystery." At night, undo the chain. Pulling those chains apart is almost as fun as popping bubble wrap. Trust me.

  8. Leona, I'm partial to Janet's idea. Pulling apart those chains would be fun, but I'm afraid someone might actually catch on to you. How about needlepoint. You could make a pillow and say you're dedicating to your long lost love and stop in the middle of each production and cry your heart out. You'd get sympathy besides gossip!


  9. Well, it's not exactly a hobby but how about solitaire? She can say she read that it keeps the mind sharp!

  10. How about photography, Leona? You could offer to put together a fundraising calendar for a local charity and take pictures of, what else -- men in uniform! At the sewing circle meetings you could be "practicing" on the members, taking their photos while listening for gossip.

  11. Avery, I never ever cry over men. They cry over me! :)

    Janet, I do like bubble wrap... Sometimes, when I'm at my antique shop and a new item comes in, I put the bubble wrap on the floor and do a little dance on it... But don't tell anyone else that, okay? It'll be our little secret.

    Nikki, I once borrowed a little handheld game like that from my great nephew, Jake Jr. I hid it behind my magazine. That irritating old goat, Rose, found me out, though. Accused me of having a hearing aid with all the beeping and I simply couldn't let anyone think I needed one of those...

    Erika, ooooh, a men-in-uniform photo shoot. NOW we're talking.

  12. Leona - you have to go old school and carry a deck of cards with you! They as you peer over the cards on the table you can lean into the gossip conversations :)

  13. I say try fishing (for gossip, facts, men).

    Keep us posted!

  14. Leona, sweetheart, apple of my eye and spring in my step, we've been over this. We both know you're not cut out for parlez in the parlor, right? Sure we do. Ms. Chase has the right idea. You should out and about, sharing your smile, lettin' the good folk of Sweet Briar see that beautiful face.

    And I'm the guy can make that happen. So. I'll knock 50 bucks off the price I quoted last week. Covers three lenses and the body. Camera body, love. Let's stay on track. This is all top of the line equipment. Sure, it's an older model, but it's in great shape and it has character--a circumstance with which I expect you can identify.

    As Ms. Chase so subtly suggested, think of the opportunities: Gritty calendar shoots down at the fire hall, heroic portraits of policemen and paramedics on the job, starched studio shots of Civil War reenactors...and all of them, down to the last, tricked out in full uniform with shiny brass buttons and tools of the trade.

    Of course you'd have to pose them. Get a little hands on. Mold them to fit your artistic vision, as it were.

    And like I said over the phone (and again, Ms. Chase is in my corner, here), you could use those dazzlin' eyes and that wicked-sharp mind of yours to shoot for charity. Provide photos for fundraisers and the like.

    You would, of course, be morally obligated to keep copies for your files. And take down names and numbers. And make follow-up calls.

    Professional courtesy, don't you know.

    Anyway, there's nothin' to it. You pose, you point, you shoot. And if things really click (not the camera, love, stay with me here), you talk portfolio.

    Did I mention I'll throw in lessons? Sure I did.

    So. Whole rig goes on ebay come Monday. Call me.

    Chat with you soon, love.


  15. Leona, why don't you appoint yourself the official group mixologist? Not only will you overhear the conversation, you might loosen up some tongues with your concoctions.

    ~ Natasha
    Domestic Diva Mysteries

  16. Joe, did you say shoots at the firehall? Well, I guess I--

    It's a deal!! Which means, it's mine. All mine.

    The check is in the mail, darling.

    Natasha, perhaps, those same concoctions may be useful during my photo shoots...

  17. Go with the camera, dear. Who could turn down such a sweet deal? Good luck with the new hobby!

  18. Should I be worried that Leona and Brickhouse Kraus are talking about me? *ROFL*. That's great. I might have fudged by about five minutes, is all, we really didn't have that much time. They were clearing out the area all around us, LOL.

  19. Reading has turned out to be my favorite hobby. But scrapbooking and beading are fun too!