I’m Josie Toadfern-Applegate, former Laundromat owner, but still the best stain expert in Paradise… and in Mason County, Ohio. And, I’ll go ahead and say it, in all of the United States. Maybe in the whole world!
Now, in case that sounds like I’m getting too big for my britches, I’ll go ahead and explain. As some of you already know, for years I owned Toadfern’s Laundromat (which I inherited from my aunt and uncle) in Paradise, Ohio, and I wrote a local stain-removal and household tips column, sharing what I learned from helping customers. I also might have poked my nose into a murder case or two (or six) and helped solve them.
After solving my last murder case (involving tie-dyed costumes and a former 1960s singing act), I married my boyfriend, Levi Applegate, who is the director of the residential care home where my dear cousin Guy lives. (Guy is an adult with severe autism.) And my locally-published column became nationally syndicated as Josie’s Tidy Tips: Stain-busting and More!
To promote the column, I set up a web site sharing my stain-removal and household hints, past columns, and communicating back and forth with fans. Well, that took off like a squirrel spotting a hound dog. Before I knew it, I had thousands of followers… on my web site. And Facebook. And Twitter. And even Pinterest.
Then a fan posted on my wall that she had a full-time job and three kids and no time to go gathering up all these supplies—squirt bottles and vinegar and what-not—and really, who in the world had time for all these home-made cleaning remedies? Well, she sounded more harried than my cousin Sally with her triplets, Harry, Barry and Larry, and that’s pretty harried. So I posted in reply that I’d put together a starter kit of my environmentally friendly and cost-effective supplies along with a write up of my tips and send them to her.
Next thing I knew, I was the harried one. Thousands of commenters wanted their starter kits and tips write-up!
I was pretty dismayed at first. All of the dollar stores in all of Mason County didn’t have that many squirt bottles. But then a big time agent contacted me (I can’t say who, due to contractual obligations), and, well, one thing led to another, and soon I had a book published, (Josie’s Tidy Tips, which is still at number one on Amazon in the Books: Nonfiction: Household: Tips category). Then I ended up with a professional manager of my blog, and a weekly segment on Good Morning Live! With Kerry and Micah, giving demos of my expertise. Now, that is usually fun and goes well, although a few weeks ago Kerry was none too pleased when I accidentally squirted her right in the face with my trusty all-purpose vinegar, Dawn detergent and water solution. Turns out, the solution is great for removing makeup…
Anyway, I’ve become so busy that I sold my Laundromat to my cousin Sally and her husband Eddie, and they do a fine job running it. Meanwhile, I drop in when I can, and I’m happy with Levi, the love of my life, and with running my own stain-removal-based media empire.
Which is kind of ironic, since the very first murder I solved was that of Tyra Grimes, a home and lifestyle media mogul, as documented in Death of a Domestic Diva… which, by the way, has just been re-released as an “eBook” along with the other five stories of my mystery solving days. This happy development is, I am sure, due to my national… international!… popularity.
Well, I’ll wrap up by wishing you a happy holiday season, and this tip for removing red wine stains: blot up as much as you can. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and Dawn dishwashing liquid. Dab on stain and let it soak. Then wash. Keep in mind that hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleaching agent, so use it carefully on darker dyes, always testing an inconspicuous area first.
Until we meet again, may your whites never yellow and your colors never fade,
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by noon, December 22, and you will be entered to win (winner’s choice) a copy of either the print OR Kindle version of DEATH OF A DOMESTIC DIVA, OR of Sharon’s newest novel, MY ONE SQUARE INCH OF ALASKA, which doesn’t feature Josie, but does include a mystery subplot! Print copy is U.S. only; kindle copy is open to all.
Meet the Author
In addition to having written the Josie Toadfern mystery series, now re-released by HarperCollins as ebooks, Sharon Short is the author of the novel My One Square Inch of Alaska (Penguin Plume, 2013) in which a pair of siblings escape the strictures of the 1950s industrial Ohio town on the adventure of a lifetime. Opening chapters of this novel earned Sharon a 2012 Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant and a 2011 Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District Literary Artist Fellowship.
Sharon is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News, directs the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and is an adjunct instructor of creative writing and composition at Antioch University Midwest. Additionally, Sharon’s book Sanity Check: A Collection of Columns includes 100 reader-favorites of her weekly humor and lifestyle column that ran in the Dayton Daily News from 2002-2012.
Sharon’s two mystery series are “Josie Toadfern Stain-busting” mysteries, and “Patricia Delaney, eGumshoe” mysteries; she’s also the author of short stories and essays. Sharon lives in Ohio with her husband and is the mother of two adult daughters.
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