Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ladle to the Grave by Connie Archer: Guest Author & Giveaway

The name is Champ (not Nessie)
by Connie Archer

Vermont is a fascinating place.  That’s why it’s so much fun for me to explore the news, research history and generally, as much as possible, keep myself informed about all the doings in the beautiful state where the Soup Lover’s Mystery series is set. 

For example, did you know that Vermont has its very own lake monster?  Champ.  Not Champ, as we would say in English, but Champ, with a French accent. 

Situated between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York, Lake Champlain is a 125 mile long fresh water lake shared by New York and Vermont as well as Quebec, with the Champlain Canal connecting the lake to the Hudson River.  The lake was named after the French explorer Samuel de Champlain who first encountered it in 1609.  Although Native Americans had dubbed it by various names long before.  The Iroquoi called it Caniaderi Guarunte, meaning “door of the country” and the Abenaki called it Petonbowk which means “the lake in between.” 

But to get back to Samuel de Champlain . . .  In 1609, Champlain spotted a fearsome underwater creature five feet long, thick as a man’s thigh, with silvery gray scales that a dagger could not penetrate.  He is supposed to have claimed that the monster had jaws as wide as two and a half feet with sharp and dangerous teeth. 

As it turns out, this account is somewhat exaggerated.  Champlain’s actual words are far less dramatic: 

“. . . [T]here is also a great abundance of many species of fish. Amongst others there is one called by the natives Chaousarou, which is of various lengths; but the largest of them, as these tribes have told me, are from eight to ten feet long. I have seen some five feet long, which were as big as my thigh, and had a head as large as my two fists, with a snout two feet and a half long, and a double row of very sharp, dangerous teeth. Its body has a good deal the shape of the pike; but it is protected by scales of a silvery gray colour and so strong that a dagger could not pierce them.” 

Debunkers of Champ believe that Champlain saw nothing more than a large sturgeon or garfish.  Nevertheless, there have been hundreds more sightings of Champ over the years.  In 1873 and again in 1887, the showman, P.T. Barnum, even offered rewards for Champ, dead or alive. 

But here’s where it gets really interesting.  In 1977, a vacationer named Sandra Mansi, relaxing by the lake shore with her family, was fascinated and terrified to see a strange creature rising from the water.  Fortunately, she had the presence of mind to snap a photo.  That Champ photo is now world famous and has given the debunkers of Champ a lot to chew on. 


Spike TV even aired a special program about Ms.  Mansi’s experience. 

Then, in the summer of 2005, two fishermen, Dick Affolter and Pete Bodette, managed to take video footage of a plesiosaur-like animal.  Two retired FBI forensic image analysts who reviewed the tape stated that it appeared authentic and unmanipulated. 

Another piece of evidence of Champ’s existence is an echo recording taken in 2003 by the Fauna Communications Research Institute as part of a Discovery Channel program. The group believe the recorded sounds are similar to that of a Beluga Whale or perhaps an Orca, but not of a known animal.  The echolocation itself was recorded in three different areas of Lake Champlain including a man-made navigation channel in the deepest part of the lake.  

Many cryptozoologists believe that the creature could be a plesiosaur, a zeuglodon (a what?) or another unknown or extinct creature, similar to Nessie of Loch Ness fame.  Although plesiosaurs are believed to have died out 66 million years ago, this theory is defended by a British cryptozoologist, Dr. Karl P.N. Shuker, who argued that a surviving plesiosaur could have evolved an ability to tolerate colder temperatures, as well as a different neck structure. 

Whatever Champ is or isn’t, he (or she) has spawned an industry – newspaper and magazine articles, books, radio and television specials, keychains, mugs, T-shirts – even Champburgers (seafood patties on sesame buns).  The village of Port Henry, New York, has erected a giant model of Champ and holds “Champ Day” on the first Saturday of every August.  Champ is also the mascot of a minor league baseball affiliate, the Vermont Lake Monsters.  And a statue of Champ is on display at the lakeshore in Burlington, Vermont.  Champ is quite literally the best known lake monster in North America, a bigger celebrity even than Ogopogo in British Columbia

I for one am very glad Champ has never been captured.  And if the imaginary village of Snowflake were just a little farther west and closer to Lake Champlain, it would be such fun for Champ to make an appearance in the Soup Lover’s Mystery series. 

What do you think?  Do you believe in Champ?  I believe . . . I want to believe . . .

Connie Archer is the national bestselling author of the Soup Lover’s Mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. A Spoonful of Murder, A Broth of Betrayal and A Roux of Revenge are set in the imaginary village of Snowflake, Vermont. The fourth book in the series, Ladle to the Grave, will be released in March 2015. You can visit Connie at her website and blog: conniearchermysteries.com, Facebook.com/ConnieArcherMysteries and Twitter @SnowflakeVT.

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About the book: By the Spoonful is Snowflake, Vermont’s most popular soup shop, but owner Lucky Jamieson doesn’t have any time to enjoy her success—she’s too busy trying to keep a lid on false accusations against her loved ones…

It’s almost May, and some of the local ladies have organized a pagan celebration in the woods to welcome spring. But the evening goes terribly wrong when one of the attendees winds up dead, apparently poisoned by an herbal concoction prepared by Lucky’s grandfather, Jack.

Lucky’s sure her grandfather could not have made such a tragic mistake. But before she can clear him of suspicion, her best friend, Sophie, is diverted from planning her wedding to By the Spoonful chef Sage DuBois when she finds a dead man floating in the creek on her property. Now it’s up to Lucky to get both Sophie and Jack out of hot water before a killer stirs up more trouble…

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, March 2nd for your chance to win a copy of Ladle to the Grave. (US entries only, please.)

63 comments:

  1. Oh, Champ! I was born in Vermont and raised in new Hampshire on the Vermont border, so I am a huge Champ fan. When I was eight years old, my sister went to Champlain College and I remember that after we dropped her off, I dragged my parents, who were exhausted from hauling her stuff up to her dorm room and emotional from the day, to the banks of Lake Champlain so I could try to get a glimpse of the elusive Champ, whom I saw as a Puff the Magic Dragon type. I didn't and haven't to this day, but, yes, I like to believe Champ is out there.

    Love this series and am very much looking forward to heading back to Snowflake.

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    1. Champ does look a little bit like Puff the Magic Dragon! And I love your story. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  2. Thank you for the information about Champ (I didn't know about Champ before now). Now I want a Champ T-shirt! :)

    Ladle to the Grave sounds like a great book, and the cover is lovely. Thank you for the giveaway.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. You're welcome, Jen. I'll have to check if there's a way to find T-shirts online! Good luck today!

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  3. I g=have heard of "Champ"; interesting story; thanks for the chance to win :)
    jslbrown2009(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hi Lisa - I wish I could have had a sighting of Champ at the lake! Best of luck!

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  4. Looks like a great cozy mystery.

    xzjh04@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Kiki- Thanks for stopping by. I hope you can visit Snowflake, VT soon!

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  5. Ah, Champ as in Champlain! What a fun story, I look forward to the new story in Snowflake. Thanks for the chance to win. JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I believe in Champ! I think I'd rather be standing on solid ground if I saw her (or him) though. Good luck today!

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  6. I love this writer's work—can't wait to read this book!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

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    1. Oh thank you! I hope you enjoy your next visit to the village and best of luck!

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  7. I LOVE this series. And the recipes are such a bonus. And SOUP is one of my favorites especially with the weather we are having!!!! PS. I saw Champs story on Spike and loved it. I've found the Loch Ness Monster fascinating for years!!!

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    1. Oh thanks so much! I LOVE soup too and I could live on it all winter (maybe summer too). Good luck today!

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    2. Champ really is fascinating! And it's hard to argue with that photo!

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  8. That is so interesting. I never heard of Champ until now. The book sounds good too.

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    1. Not many people know about Champ. He (or she) definitely could use more PR. Plus, I thought Melissa, being a Vermonter, would really enjoy this post. Hope you're able to visit the village soon!

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  9. When we lived in Montreal we used to drive to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine in the summer for a holiday. Lake Champlain was very impressive, scary and amazing. I know about Champ and am fascinated with the creature. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Lake Champlain is really beautiful. And I love the ferries that go back and forth to New York, so much fun to ride them. Maybe they'll be another sighting some day, I just hope Champ is never captured!

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  10. I think I've seen Champ on tv. Reminds me of the Sinclair dino. Whole series is on my TBR list.

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    1. Oh I don't know about the Sinclair Dino. For real? Or a story? I wish they'd air the Champ story again! Good luck today!

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  11. You just gave me another reason to visit Vermont---I'd love to look for Champ.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Sue - you'd really love Vermont! So peaceful and lots of little towns to visit. In July I think, the town of Vergennes holds a rubber ducky race, so silly but fun! Glad you could stop by today!

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  12. "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
    From an imaginative writer's point of view, I guess that isn't quite accurate since you can dream of most anything!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. How true, Libby! But then they say, "Life is stranger than fiction." I read news articles and think no one would believe this if they read it in fiction. Best of luck today!

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    2. I heard Carl Hiaasen speak a few years ago. It seems that when he started he'd suggest story lines and the publisher would tell him they were too unlikely. But he was basing them on newspaper articles! Seems Florida has an overabundance of strange stories.
      After some years of (seemingly) never ending news articles from Florida of this odd ilk, the publisher backed off and told him to go for it.

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    3. Good to hear that! I'm appalled at some of the news articles I read!

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  13. Sure I believe in Champ, just like I believe in Nessie, why not? Who knows what can be living in the depths of lakes, you never hear of any one searching them like they do the ocean. I think I heard something similar was spotted in one of the Great Lakes, I think Superior.
    Congrats on your release!
    momzillasteel@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks, Debbie. I am excited that Ladle is finally almost out! I always try to keep an open mind, even about space aliens! Why couldn't this creature exist today? We know so little about what constitutes ? 75 percent of our planet. And if the plesiosaurs are smart, they'd do their best to avoid humans! Good luck today!

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  14. This was a first I didn't know about Champ but it is fascinating!

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    1. Isn't? I'm glad I'm able to spread the word a little bit. I knew about Nessie in Scotland and had heard about Ogopogo in British Columbia, but I was so excited to learn about Champ! Good luck today!

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    2. Oh, it looks like my reply didn't go through. Sorry about that! Champ is fascinating and that photo is amazing. Some people have tried to poo-poo it as a log rising to the surface, but I don't think so! Thanks for stopping by today!

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  15. Well, Indiana was never this interesting. Although the most I would like to see of Champ is him in that back yard!

    (Did I imagine a post earlier about the Hollywood Cemetery??)

    As you know, still eagerly waiting for the release.

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    1. Hi Sally ~ I agree, I'd be a little freaked to be in rowboat if Champ popped out of the water! Yes, I did mention Hollywood Forever Cemetery today at Blue Million Books. Just a coincidence that both blogs are running on the same day. It's really a lovely place and I've wanted to see it for years, and finally did last Halloween! It was daylight, I'd be a little scared at night. They have a website where you can investigate who's buried where. I do want to blog about that place, but I'll need to go back and take more pictures. Fascinating place!

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  16. Champ is a local folk hero in Ticonderoga also. sclickner@juno.com

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    1. Oh, I didn't know that! How cool! Thanks for letting me know, and best of luck today!

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  17. I've never heard of Champ before.

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    1. Well, don't feel bad, Sandy. I'm sure lots of people haven't. Maybe Vermonters are afraid people will flock to their state and bother the poor creature. Good luck today!

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  18. I hadn't heard of Champ, either. I certainly think he could be there...experts find new species all the time.

    I'm looking forward to reading "Ladle to the Grave"...congratulations, Connie! patucker54 (at aol dot com)

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    1. Thanks, Patricia ~ I agree. I'm sure lots of creatures have survived for millions of years, especially water creatures. How would we ever know what could be living in deep underwater trenches or caverns? I think Champ's real. How can you argue with that photo? Good luck today!

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  19. We have heard about Champ before, and we do believe that he/she could exist. Ladle to the Grave sounds great; thank you for the opportunity to win! :)

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    1. Best of luck today! I do wish I had a Champ T-shirt to wear, now that would be fun. I think he/she exists, but I certainly wouldn't want people to go hunting for the poor creature!

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  20. How interesting this is :)
    Have never heard about him/her but like the idea .
    Nice that you don't have to go to Loch Ness to see a creature like this ;)
    Purrs Georgia and Julie,
    Treasure and JJ
    in Canada

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    1. Hi Georgia ~ Hi Julie ~
      Yes, I think it is great we have our very own monster! Although I think Champ looks rather sweet. Don't forget Ogopogo in Canada, B.C.

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  21. We hadn't heard about Champ before but we watched the video and it was spooky! We had to mute the music to avoid Mommy having nightmares and we live clear across the country from it! Thanks for the opportunity to win though!

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    1. LOL! Don't worry, you're safe. The video is quite strange and weird, isn't it? Good luck in the giveaway today!

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  22. Big thanks and hugs to Melissa for hosting my guest post today!!!

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  23. Sometimes the unknown makes life more interesting! Thanks for the opportunity!

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    1. I'm checking back to Melissa's site, a few days later. If I missed your comments, I apologize! Yes, you're right Barbara, mystery is the spice of life!

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  24. Have never heard of Champ but I have heard of the Sinclair Dino which was the mascot for Sinclair Gasoline here in the midwest.
    rjprazak6@gmail.com

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    1. Oh, now that's interesting, Becky! I'll have to Google the Sinclair Dino and find out more!
      Thanks for visiting!

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  25. Now that was fascinating...I've never heard the Champ story but of course most people have heard of Nessie. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win.

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    1. Hi Glenda ~ checking back for comments I missed. Thanks for visiting! I can't believe that photo was faked! No way! Champ is real!

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  26. I love champ. I've heard the story for years. I can't wait to read this book. Thank you.
    Moonbay7399@gmail.com

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    1. Hi Candace ~ I only wish I could squeeze Champ into a story set in the village! Hmmm, maybe the pond in Snowflake could have an unidentified creature??? Now that's an idea!

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  27. Ah, soup and a cozy mystery, what a comforting combination.

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    1. Hi Helen ~ I agree, I love soup and I love mysteries. Thanks for visiting!

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  28. Great cover, I'd love to win a copy :) I had not heard of Champ either but I had seen the Sinclair Dino :)
    dkstevensneAToutlookD otCo M

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    1. Hi Deanna ~ Becky mentioned the Sinclair Dino a few comments back. Now I really have to find out more! Thanks for visiting!

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  29. this series is in my TBR pile, which I so need to conquer!!!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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  30. I know what you mean! My TBR pile sometimes gathers dust! I hope you get to the Soup Lover's Mystery series soon . . . strange things are happening in Snowflake, VT!

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  31. Connie, I picked up a copy of A Spoonful of Murder -- I like to read series in order from first to most recent, so it will be a while before I get to Ladle to Grave -- and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. Snowflake's a great town (even with the murder).

    I never saw Champ during the 26 years I lived in Vermont, but I have four friends who were hiking on one of the islands and saw Champs swimming, headed south. They watched him/her for quite a while, until a motorboat rounded the tip of the island, and Champ sank out of sight. They told me they'd been in complete awe at the sight the entire time.

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    1. Wow! What an incredible story, Fran. I would be totally in awe too. And I certainly don't see why a prehistoric creature couldn't have survived for millenia -- that's what the field of cryptozoology is all about. I just hope Champ is never captured and swims free and maybe there are lots of little Champs under the water too!
      It's so great to hear you want to start from the beginning of the series! A Spoonful of Murder lays the groundwork for everyone's stories. It's a lovely place to visit or live in, in spite of the murder rate! Good luck in the giveaway!

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