Murder was very much on Mary Clark's mind.
Murder was very much on Mary Clark's mind.
"Our first idea was that we wanted to kill someone," the owner of the Always in Stitches quilt shop in the Mill Street Market said with some gusto last week.
Some members of the Monday Morning Reading Group were aghast at the notion.
"They threw a fit," Clark recalled.
"Even in the beginning I had some reservations," confessed group member Janis Biggs. "I didn't want to provide a blueprint on how to knock someone off."
And so, homicide was mostly set aside.
The novel that the book club began creating two years ago at the behest of member Diana Forrester does contain its share of mayhem, but its focus is primarily on quilting as well as the "friendship and support women can give to one another," according to Forrester.
"This is about quilting and a real shop, so it's not so far-fetched," Clark said.
"The Guild in the Granary," which was eventually co-written by Clark, Biggs and Forrester, is the first offering from Grove City-based McDiggs Publishing. The writing trio formed the firm in order to get their fledgling effort into print.
The Monday book club, one of two that meets at the quilting store in the former Farmers Exchange Building on Broadway, had been reading mostly quilting-themed works, of which there is a limited supply.
"We were running out of material, so we decided to write one of our own," said Biggs, a retired United Airlines accountant who moved to Grove City from San Francisco to be closer to a grandchild.
"Diana said, 'Let's write a book,' " Clark said. "We were, like, 'We've always wanted to do that.' "
Forrester brought the most writing experience to the table, having spent the past 10 years studying the craft through online groups. She said she's had short stories published in 10 different countries, and even had one read on the BBC.
"So I've learned a lot about writing," Forrester said.
"I think we all bring something different," Biggs said.
At first, all the women in the Monday Morning Reading Group contributed characters and ideas.
In the acknowledgments at the outset of "The Guild in the Granary," the co-authors of their thanks to Rosemary Cline, Charlene Hayes, Wilma Rogers, Earlene Sanborn, Kathy Stumpf, Judy Phillips, Sheryll Hatfield and Terry Crosier.
Eventually Clark, who opened Always in Stitches in 2005, Forrester and Biggs began taking turns working on chapters for the book.
"We started out not knowing what we were doing," Forrester said, admitting the trio had three or four false starts.
"We met and talked about what was going in the successive chapters," Biggs said. "Sometimes we would take left turns from what we planned to do."
"It does flow, but it wasn't easy," Forrester said.
"It will be easier the next time," Biggs said.
Clark feels this first McDiggs Publishing project will have considerable local appeal, as it deals in part with the creation of a quilting shop named - surprise! - Always in Stitches and is set in a place called, ahem, Buckeye Grove, Ohio.
"People are trying to figure out what's real," Clark said.
Once the work was completed, and underwent some rewriting following review by the other book club members, the authors faced the problem of getting it into print.
"We looked into all different ways of publishing," Biggs said.
After speaking with some quilt-themed book authors, who complained of losing creative control of their work once it was turned over to a publisher, and consulting with a friend of Clark's who publishes how-to books, the three woman decided to form a limited liability corporation. McDiggs Publishing derives its name from Mary Clark's initials, the first two letters of Forrester's given name and the final three letters of the third writer's last name.
The ostensible author of "The Guild in the Granary" is Alma Lynn Thompson, a nom de plume that reflects the names of people special to its trio of writers: Alma Oksness was Janis Biggs' maternal grandmother, Kyleigh Lynn Hannon is Forrester's much-beloved 2-year-old granddaughter and Clark's late grandmother and enthusiastic craftswoman was named Dallas Thompson.
Initial response to "The Guild in the Granary" has been encouraging, the writers indicated.
"I'm very pleased with people's reaction to it," Forrester said. "They say they couldn't put it down."
"They're also saying they can't wait for the next one," Clark added.
"The Guild in the Granary" is available at Always in Stitches, online at www.mcdiggspublishing.com or out of the car trunks of all three authors.