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Special correspondence from Annette Vetter

you know... Vetter, and I'm gonna tell it like it is. Now I've been 15 years old for going on 41 years now. That's a long time to be an adolescent, don't you think?

Anyway, I think it's high time I talked about my so-called relationship with the woman who writes my life. I'm talking about Miss Ulrich, as in Ann Carol... only now it's Miller too. Ulrich was the name she got stuck with after being a published author for the first time. Boy, talk about an identity crisis...

I've always known who I am, because she's kept the story line pretty much unchanged for over 40 years. Of course, I'm not counting when Penny, Mandy and I solved The Mystery at Hickory Hill. We got swept up from the desert heat near Fort Worth, Texas, and plopped down near Gunnison, Colorado instead!

Can't complain, though. Colorado turned out to be the more desirable setting for the story. At least Pen and I could cool off at night, it being 8,000 feet in the Cochetopa Hills.

That Mandy still kept her Texas accent, though. Oh well, everyone says I have a Wisconsin accent. Now what's that? I thought everyone talked like we do in west central Wisconsin. Ann's shaking her head at me, saying something about a "twang."

Well, back to my creator. She's always writing about me, so I thought I'd write about her for a change. I know more about her than she realizes, actually. For one thing, she grew up with a dad and she had plenty of siblings. She deprived me of those things. Guess she figured I'd be the stronger for it. Also, her mother didn't work. Mine does. She's a nurse, by the way.

Yeah, I'm alone a lot. Oh, it's true I hang out at the Duncan farm with Tim and Penny. They're like my family really. But, hey, enough about me...

Miss Ann had lots of close chums in her neighborhood when she was 15. They had sleep-overs and slumber parties outside in their backyards, and those girls were crazy about boys. They'd stay up half the night talking about them and contemplating the mysteries of the grown-up world. Yeah, they were pretty sheltered, but they still had fun.

Hey, believe it or not, Miss Ann wanted a horse too, like me and Penny. She had it all planned how she was gonna save up and buy a horse after she got into college. She thought about boarding it at her older brother's property near Stevens Point. He had a barn on 20 acres out in the country. But, unlike so many of her dreams, she didn't get the horse.

For one thing, her brother moved to the city and sold his place. But the other thing... the main thing was... she got a steady boyfriend. That changed everything right there.

Miss Ann was a country girl stuck in the suburbs. I'd like to change places with her. Let her get up at six every morning to milk the cows, feed the chickens and do all the chores. Who do you suppose gets stuck with shoveling snow to the barn when there's no man around? Mom and me, that's who. And we don't even have a tractor. Nowadays people have snow blowers, ATVs and other such fancy stuff. Heck, we didn't have any of those things in the '60s.

I sure don't know how I lived this long.

We have telephones with cords, and they're just starting to make them with push buttons instead of rotary dials. We have no answering machines or cell phones. We don't have boom boxes, computers or VCRs. Okay, I did have a groovy little transistor radio I liked a lot. We play LP records and dance in Penny's basement, and we drink Pepsi-Cola out of real glass bottles that you get money for when you take them back to the store.

Mom and I have a black-and-white TV, and one set is plenty. We get only three channels, but, ya know, I think we get a better selection of programs to watch than you and your satellite, and it's free. At midnight the stations go out and all you get on the screen is snow and static.

Unlike my authoress, I lack any real creative ability, at least in art and music. My friend, Chris Hilgert, who was in my art class (The Secret of the Green Paint), really did a number on me using her very special green paint. That girl was an artist, like her dad. I can't even draw! Now Penny's very accomplished at the piano. I love to listen to her play. Me, I can't hardly carry a tune.

Mom says not to worry, everyone has their special gifts. I guess mine is sniffing up a good mystery, or getting into trouble, anyway. And, hey, I'm not half bad at pool. Sometimes I can beat Tim... well, after all, he taught me the game. I also like ping-pong and badminton.

I guess I'm not too different from other girls, no matter what decade it is. School is sometimes a bore, and there's too much homework, and never-ending chores to do at home.

Oh sure, I'd like a boyfriend, but the one I'm interested in is so darn bashful, it's depressing. At least Pete has shown an interest in me. Poor Pen is hung up on that stuck-up old Steve Newton. But our moms say we're too young to date anyway.

Hey, ya wanna read the latest mystery? It's coming out this month... July 2008... pretty close to 40 years after I lived it. You owe it to yourself to buy, borrow or beg a copy of The Pouting Pumpkin Mystery. It's about me and Pen solving a drug ring mystery that involves ham radio and... well, pumpkins of all things!

After all, it does take place in October 1968, and I was kinda hoping Pete would ask me to the Homecoming dance. Things don't exactly turn out the way I'd hoped, but...

Oh, you'll just have to read it! Miss Ann will send it to you, and even autograph your copy, for $12.95 total.

Gad, but books cost a lot these days...


To order your copy of The Pouting Pumpkin Mystery, go to




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