China Bayles
  Susan Wittig Albert & Bill Albert
Mystery Partners MysteryPartners e-Letter  
December 2006  

In This Issue

  • Book Report
  • Out and About
  • Lifescapes & the Pecan Springs Journal
  • Herb Snips

    Book Report

    China Bayles Has Her Own Website!
    We have redesigned the familiar MysteryPartners website to give China Bayles a brand new Internet home of her own, with lots of room to grow. To visit, go to and click on China's famous red boot. Or go directly to and begin exploring China's world of herbs and mysteries. We're planning lots of interesting things for this new site, so be sure to bookmark it and drop in often to see what's new.

    All About Thyme
    Last month saw the launch of our new weekly eletter, All About Thyme, a celebration of herbs, spices, and the changing seasons. All About Thyme is all about growing, cooking, using, crafting with, and enjoying herbs. And it's about our calendar, too—about the many ways that herbs and plants have connected our human lives to the changing times and seasons.

    We sent the first three issues to subscribers of this eletter. If you want to continue receiving it, however, you'll need to sign up. We sent the fourth issue yesterday. If you subscribed but did not receive it, please resubscribe. We had to make some changes in the email program, and we may have inadvertently lost your name.

    Miss Potter
    Have you been hearing whispers about the movie of Beatrix Potter's life? Miss Potter, which stars Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, premiered in London this week and will be released in the US early next year. The script (by Richard Maltby) isn't related to Susan's Cottage Tales, but we've heard good things about the film and know you'll want to watch for it. Meanwhile, keep your eye on the Cottage Tales section of our website. We're planning a special surprise for you!


    Out and About

    Here's a heads-up for those of you who have asked about Susan's writing workshops. She will be leading a women's memoir writing retreat for Story Circle on the weekend of March 16-18, 2007. For full details, including a program description, see the LifeLines page. Registration has already opened. If you're interested, it would be a good idea to register now, as the available places are sure to fill quickly.


    Lifescapes & the Pecan Springs Journal

    Winter came roaring across MeadowKnoll last week, reminding Susan and Bill that it's time to get out the holiday decorations. Keep track of all the Alberts' doings through Susan's blog, Lifescapes.

    And to catch up with what's going on in the lives of your favorite fictional Texas people, drop in on Ruby and China at their Pecan Springs Journal blog.


    Herb Snips: Mistletoe Magic

    Pucker up! The holidays won't be complete without a sprig of mistletoe hung in the doorway to invite yuletide kisses. (Mistletoe lore is connected with the European plant, Viscum alba, but the traditions have been transferred to the North American mistletoes, which belong to the genus Phorodenron). Hanging a sprig in the doorway goes back to the Druids, who called the herb "all-heal" and considered it sacred. At the winter solstice, mistletoe was cut from the sacred oak with a ritual knife and caught in a white cloth so that it did not touch the ground. Hung in a doorway, it protected the home from evil spirits during the darkest time of the year and created a sanctuary where a kiss of peace could be exchanged. In Victorian times, every kiss required the plucking of a white berry. When the berries were gone, lovers were out of luck.

    Medicinally, mistletoe has been used to treat convulsions, hysteria, neuralgia, and heart conditions. Recent research suggests that European mistletoe may also inhibit the growth of tumors and hence be useful in cancer treatment. (Scientists say that the berries aren't poisonous, as has been thought. But it's still not a good idea to eat them.)

    Read more herb snips.


    Bleeding Hearts
    Bleeding Hearts

    "Albert's dialogue and characterizations put her in a class with lady sleuths V.I. Warshawski and Stephanie Plum."
    Publishers Weekly

    "The best of small-town Texas."
    Library Journal

    Click to read the first chapter or to order the book.

    China Bayles' Book of Days
    China Bayles' Book of Days
    Featuring 365 days of recipes, crafts, gardening tips, remedies, and more, this special volume is your personal calendar of the legends and lore of herbs.

    "This is a lovely book to give as a gift to a gardener in your life."
    Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    Click to read more or to order the book.

    Deadly Dull Drive?


    The adventures of China and Ruby will brighten your drive. There are now six books—Bleeding Hearts, Dead Man's Bones, A Dilly of a Death, Indigo Dying, Bloodroot, and Mistletoe Man—in the Recorded Books rental catalog. For details, go to To see all six available books, type in the author's name.

    We appreciate your help in spreading the word about MysteryPartners. Please forward this newsletter to anyone interested in mysteries, herbs, and gardening.

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    This newsletter is a publication of MysteryPartners, PO Box 1616, Bertram TX 78605-1616. It is provided free, via e-mail, to anyone, worldwide. ©2006 Bill & Susan Albert

    Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues with appropriate credit to Bill & Susan Albert.
    This newsletter is written and edited by Peggy Moody & Susan Wittig Albert.