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This month's theme: Mysteries

Welcome to the
Mysteries of Issue 3


Fran Joyce




















Welcome to the May edition of This Awful/Awesome Life. Jay and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the April issue. Thank you for sending us such great articles and awesome pictures.

This month we’re talking about mysteries. Who doesn’t love a good mystery- real or fictional? I think it starts from very early childhood. We play peek-a-boo, got your nose, and hide and seek. It never seems to get old because when we have children or are around the children of our friends or relatives, we teach them how to play. I spent many happy winter days pretending not to see or hear the giggling curtains or the lumpy sofa. One mystery I carefully omitted from my list was what happened if you pulled grandpa’s finger, but my sons picked it up somewhere.

When I was a child, our school library was severely limited, so the public library’s Bookmobile visited once a month to supplement our reading choices. Among the stacks of books I discovered The Secret of the Old Clock, the first book of Nancy Drew mysteries, and my life was changed forever. After reading it, I knew I was going to be a writer, and I knew I’d write mysteries. I remember how devastated I was when I learned Carolyn Keene was not a real person, but the pen name of several different writers who wrote those clever mysteries.

As a little girl, I remember watching The Fugitive and Columbo on TV, Saturday Scooby Do cartoons, and going to the movie theater to watch The Pink Panther. As I grew up, Nancy was replaced by adult amateur sleuths and private detectives, but I never lost my love for mysteries.

There have been some interesting real life mysteries, too. Where is DB Cooper? Did I just park on Jimmy Hoffa? Who drank all the milk and put the empty carton back in the fridge? Some events became fodder for conspiracy theories which attempted to create a mystery or offer up an explanation to a long unsolved mystery. I’m not big on real-life conspiracy theories, but I have to admit, in the hands of a gifted writer, a good conspiracy can fuel some interesting story lines.

I own collections of works by Edgar Allen Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, and Sue Grafton. As I began to run out of room on my book shelves, I turned to my local libraries (all 15 moves worth) and discovered the colorful characters Agatha Raisin, KoKo and Yum Yum, Stephanie Plum, and true crime novelists Dominick Dunne, Vincent Bugliosi, and Ann Rule. Whether it’s hard boiled detectives Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade, nuanced professionals such as Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot or busybodies like Miss Marple, I have enjoyed the characters and storylines created by gifted writers.

I shared my love of mysteries with my sons. I still have a collection of Where’s Waldo books. Packed away for the next generation to enjoy are sets of The Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown, and assorted Hardy Boys mysteries.

In this issue, Jay and I will be discussing a few real life mysteries and some of our favorite authors. We’re also excited to introduce you to the works of some talented Pittsburgh writers, and as a special bonus, I will be reviewing the New B.A. Paris novel, The Breakdown which will be released in the United States on July 18, 2017. No Spoilers – I promise!

This month, with a little help from Variety Games Inc., I created a Mystery crossword puzzle to challenge you. Download the page, print it out and let us know how you did. We included the solution on a separate page, but try not to peek.

Also, we started a random page for anything we come across that isn’t about our monthly theme like some adorable artwork from five year old Tae Lani Wigton that we weren’t able to fit in last month’s issue.

Fran and Jay


Fran Joyce is an author and co-publisher of This Awful/Awesome Life.



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