Night Of The Living ThreadI’m Willow Vanderling. I live in Pennsylvania on the shore of Lake Erie. Thanks to the textile arts shops lining the main street, our village has earned the nickname “Threadville.”

I have two dogs who are part border collie and very active and enthusiastic, and I also have two tuxedo cats. So the first thing I do every morning is take them out. The female dog herds the cats inside before they get into mischief.

Then I go upstairs to my shop, In Stitches, where I sell everything anyone could need or want for doing machine embroidery at home. Although I have a part-time assistant, I work long hours in the store (yes, I take breaks to look after my pets…) We demonstrate our wonderful machines and we also offer classes and workshops. Busloads of Threadville tourists show up nearly every day.

Many evenings, I work on my online business. I create embroidery designs. People send me photos of pets, cottages, boats, scenery, and even grandchildren, and I make a design (the process is called “digitizing”) that they can stitch, or I stitch the design for them on a wall hanging or on a panel that they can incorporate their own project. Quilts and placemats are popular.

When I’ve filled all my online orders, I sew and embroider. Sometimes, I create garments and soft furnishings to hang in my shop as examples. I make most of my own clothes. Nearly everything has at least a touch of machine embroidery. I can’t help embroidering nearly everything.

Recently, I’ve spent lots of my spare time helping organize Threadville’s Get Ready for Halloween Craft Fair, a two-day event geared to creating Halloween décor and costumes. It’s been getting out of hand, and a few exhibitors whose “crafts” don’t seem very closely related to Halloween will be there.

The day after the fair ends, Edna, who owns Threadville’s notions shop, is getting married. Edna loves bright and shiny things. The rest of us talked her out of gowns that might make her resemble a frilly wedding cake, a disco ball festooned with beaded ruffles, or a snowman draped in twinkly silver lights.

However, we can’t help teasing her. She doesn’t know that most evenings, the rest of us have been creating a huge skirt that Edna can (if she dares…) wear over her slightly more sedate gown during the reception. We’ve embellished the overskirt with nearly everything we know how to craft from fabric, thread, yarn, and glittery, shiny things. In addition, my special friend, Clay, has wired the skirt for sound and lights. Getting together to make the skirt is taking large chunks of our time and is causing a lot of hysterical laughter. The skirt is almost finished.

When we planned the craft fair and Edna scheduled her wedding, we expected that out-of-towners could stay at the Elderberry Bay Lodge. However, a bunch of zombie enthusiasts are holding what they’re calling a “retreat” that week, and the three craft show exhibitors with the most unlikely crafts did not book rooms in time. Those women will be the guests of three of the Threadville shopkeepers, including Edna. I thought Edna might host her mother, but her mother will be staying with my best friend Haylee, instead. A little tension between Edna and her mother, perhaps?

No one has been eager to stay in an apartment with two dogs and two cats, so as far as I know (that could change), I won’t have a guest. That’s fine. My to-do list is about a mile long.

Despite how much we cram into our days, my dogs still need long walks. Haylee usually helps me take them for their last walk of the evening. We’ve discovered that dressing in black helps us blend into the night, especially when we’re feeling the need to snoop. The police chief does not approve, and probably won’t admit that Haylee, my dogs, and I have discovered clues that were crucial in solving murders.

We’ll have wedding guests, craft show exhibitors, and people dressed up like zombies, all wandering around Threadville at the same time.

Haylee and I won’t have to dress in black or snoop into anything, though, right?

You can read more about Character in Night Of The Living Thread, the fourth book in the “Threadville” mystery series, published by Publisher. The first book in the series is Dire Threads. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

Comment on this post by 6 p.m. EST on June 23, and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of NIGHT OF THE LIVING THREAD. One winner will be chosen at random. Unless specified, U.S. entries only.

Meet the author
In addition to reading and writing, Janet’s hobbies include sewing, knitting, and machine embroidery, including using software and killer (!) sewing machines to create original embroidery designs. Discouraged by the lack of sewing and yarn shops near her home, Janet invented Threadville, Pennsylvania, a village of textile arts shops.

The first Threadville Mystery, Dire Threads, was nominated for the Agatha Award for the Best First Mystery of 2011 and for the 2012 Bony Blithe. The second mystery in the series, Threaded For Trouble was nominated for the 2013 Bony Blithe. The third book, Thread And Buried, was ranked a National Bestseller and nominated for the 2014 Bony Blithe. The fourth book, NIGHT OF THE LIVING THREAD, was published on June 3. The fifth Threadville Mystery will be released in 2015.

Between writing and revising, Janet walks her dogs, who are strangely similar to the dogs in the Threadville Mystery series.

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