Friday, August 28, 2020

Susan's Story --by T.K. Thorne

 

 

Writer, humanist,
          dog-mom, horse servant and cat-slave,
       Lover of solitude
          and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.

 

 

 

Susan had never told her family about her experiences. In fact, before Louisa Weinrib called her in 1990 for an interview, she she had never talked about what happened to anyone other than those who had gone through it with her. Hers is a true story of amazing strength, resourcefulness, and friendship.

 

Susan Eisenberg’s childhood was full of promise. An only child, she was born in 1924 into a family that proudly traced their Hungarian lineage back a hundred years. She grew up in the small town of Miskolc, where her father had a successful business buying and exporting livestock and grains for a farming cooperative. 

 

Susan was aware of anti-Semitic sentiment, but it didn’t touch her early life. The Jewish community was well integrated into Hungarian society, and she had many Christian friends. She spoke Hungarian and German, loved to ice-skate and ski, and wanted to go to college, but by the time she was of college age, Jews could not attend.

 

Her loving and close-knit family gathered after synagogue at her home, where they also celebrated the Seder. On weekends, they offered a tradition of high tea for family and neighbors. 

 

Trouble began in 1938 with a small Hungarian Nazi party that grew in strength, paralleling the party’s growth in Germany. After Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Polish refugees fled into Hungary, bringing what seemed unbelievable stories of what was happening in Poland. Without a birth certificate validating birth in Hungary, officials shipped the fleeing civilians back to Poland. An army friend confided to Susan that, in reality, the Poles were taken across the border and shot. Even when people began wearing brown shirts with swastika armbands and spouting slogans, Susan recalled, the Jewish community just ignored it. 

 

In 1940 Hungary became an Axis power. Hitler, who invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, demanded that Hungary join that war. Susan’s uncle died when he was forced to walk with others into a field between the German and Russian armies to test for the presence of land mines. Her father was taken to a work camp. Released the following year, he was ill and depressed and died soon after at 44. After his death, Susan and her mother moved to the city of Budapest to live with relatives.

 

Although the Jews in Hungary suffered under tightening restrictions, Hungary’s regent protected them for a time from Hitler’s “final solution”—extermination—until Hitler discovered the regent was secretly negotiating an armistice with the US and the UK. On Easter Sunday in March 1944, Susan was having coffee with a friend on a cafe terrace and saw German panzer tanks rolling over the bridges into Budapest. The Germans occupied and quickly seized control of the country.

 

The Nazis rounded up her family members who were still living in the countryside. The relatives sent postcards—which Susan and her mother later learned the Nazis forced them to write—advising they were well and going to Thersienstadt (a concentration camp/ghetto in Terezin). All of them perished in that camp.

 

In Budapest, Allied forces regularly bombed the city. Everyone carried bags of food at all times, never knowing when they might have to run into the air-raid shelters. Jews were required to wear a yellow star patch on their clothing and live in designated housing. Restrictions dictated when they could leave the house and forbid them to go to public parks or even walk on the sidewalks. They could work only in manual labor positions. Jewish professionals, doctors and dentists, could only practice on Jewish patients.

 

Susan was 19, with light blonde hair and blue eyes. She pulled off the yellow star from her clothes and snuck out into the country to get food. Once, on her return, Germans soldiers in a vehicle, not realizing she was a Jew, picked her up. They asked for a date. Heart pounding, she agreed, lying about where she lived, and promised to meet them later. Safely home, she looked down at her clothes and realized that a closer inspection would have revealed the stitch holes from the star she’d removed. 

 

When the Russian army was approaching Budapest, the Hungarian Nazis ordered Susan to report for labor with her age group and sent them to dig foxholes. Their Hungarian Nazi guards were 14 or 15-year-olds. When a young girl working at Susan’s side sat down and cried for her mother, those guards immediately shot her.


For two days and nights in the cold and rain, with no food, the guards ran them back to Budapest to work in a brick factory where she met two girls her age, Ferry (Ferike Csato) and Katherine (Katherine Goldstein Prevost). Susan pretended to be crippled and part of a group of sick and injured destined for Budapest and death. She escaped and made it to her aunt and uncle’s house, but the following day Hungarian gendarmes (police) rounded her up with others. The gendarmes forced even mothers from their babies to join with those in the streets.

 

Their Hungarian guards told them they were taking them to Germany to die. “The one who dies on the road is lucky,” they said. Over a ten-day period in October, they walked in rain, ice, and cold from Budapest to the German border (125 miles) to Hegyeshalomover. Thousands were shot for lagging behind or collapsing. A few country people along the way gave them a piece of bread. Others stripped them of their clothes. Guards kicked them. They slept in flea-invested hay. 

 

Anyone who had anything of value traded it to the peasants for food. They fought for a share of rare carrot or bean soup.

 

One night, the guards packed them onto a barge on the Danube River. Overwhelmed by the press of dying people, Susan escaped by swimming to the bank in the freezing river. She begged a man she encountered to help her or just get her something dry to wear. He agreed but instead returned with police who escorted her back to the prisoners.

 

At the German border, they marched another ten miles to trains. Jammed into cattle cars, they traveled for days but couldn’t see out because black slats covered the cars. She was only aware of repetitive stopping and starting. 

 

Finally, in October 1944, the trains arrived at Dachau concentration camp in Germany, their destination. The smell of the crematorium camp would stay in her nostrils for the rest of her life, as would the shock of her first sight of the skeletal prisoners who mobbed them, begging for bread. Guards beat the prisoners back.

 

The newly arrived assembled in a large open field, waiting to go in. But even with bodies being constantly cremated, there was no room for them in Dachau. Susan and her two friends, Ferry and Katherine, went with other girls to Camp Two and then Camp Eleven (nearby work camps). They slept in bunkers below ground on a wooden floor and a pallet of straw. Camp Two, they quickly learned, was the “sick camp.” The next stop for Camp Two occupants would be the crematorium in Dachau.

 

At the satellite camps, they were given striped uniforms. About 500 people lived in each barrack with a block leader in charge. Food came once a day in a big wooden barrel with hot water and big hunks of sugar beets. At night they received a piece of bread that “oozed sawdust and a piece of artificial marmalade.” At first, she couldn’t swallow it. The older inmates encouraged her to “eat it, no matter what.” 

 

Each day, the prisoners were called out to stand, sometimes for hours, in the cold for a count and work assignments (Appell). “If you fell out, you were beaten or shot. If a friend was dying, you made sure that she stood up, no matter what, and wasn’t left in the barracks.” 

 

In the first Appell, Susan was picked to work in a kitchen where she peeled beets. Germans brought in prisoners for punishment, hanging them from rafters and beating them. She and the kitchen workers constantly cleaned the blood from the floors. She hid beets inside her baggy shirt and shared it with her camp mates and the Muselmann—the starving, skin-and-bones prisoners resigned to their impending death.

 

Susan was transferred to different camps for work assignment. At one, German engineers of the Wehrmacht (Armed Forces), instead of SS troops, ran the camp. More humane, their military task masters distributed pieces of food to the workers, food that kept Susan alive. Barehanded and dressed only in the thin striped uniforms and sockless wooden clogs, Susan and her fellow prisoners pulled wagons of wood in the Bavarian winter mountains. Sometimes she was taken from the camp to wash clothes for German housewives. She also worked in the Sonderkommando (work groups at crematoriums) to remove teeth from the corpses of the murdered for the gold fillings.

 

Her health was deteriorating. She had lost weight and suffered from reoccurring high fevers. Typhoid broke out in the camp. There was no medication. To isolate the prisoners, the guards stopped letting them leave, throwing beets and bread over the fence. 

 

In early March 1945, after the epidemics, a female guard beat her for speaking defiantly to a camp commander. People all around her were giving in to despair, but she refused to do so, vowing she would survive. 

 

At another work camp, Susan joined women prisoners building an underground airplane hangar. They were forced to carry 100-pound bags of cement across a catwalk several stories high. The Muselmann went down instantly under the burden, falling to their deaths. “There was,” Susan said, “as much blood and flesh in that hanger as cement.”

 

An inmate orchestra played as she and other workers left the camp and on their return. Guards made the orchestra watch and play during beatings and hangings and while starved prisoners--who had tried to grab potatoes from a wagon—were strung up between the electrical barbed wire, potatoes stuck in their mouths.

 

Once, the Germans spruced up a barracks, putting in furniture and stocking it with people they found “not in terrible shape” for the Swiss Red Cross, who had come to inspect the treatment of prisoners. As soon as they were gone, the Germans took the untouched piles of canned foods, condensed milk, and chocolate the Red Cross had left for the prisoners.

 

One barrack’s occupants were expectant mothers. They were allowed to give birth to their babies and tend them. Then one day, without warning, all the infants were taken away and the women sent to the work groups. 

 

To use the open trenches to relieve themselves, Susan had to walk through knee-deep mud at night, sometimes stepping on top of the bodies of those who had fallen there and died in the mud. Survival, she knew, depended on not allowing yourself to feel and thinking only of the moment.

 

Her last assignment was in a dynamite factory. By this time, the air raids were almost continuous. Landsberg, a nearby town, was under siege by the Americans. In April 1945, guards took her and her friends to the main camp in Dachau. They spent a night in the showers at Dachau, believing they would next be taken to the crematoriums, which were still “going strong.” But the next day, with thousands of young people, they were marched out of the camp. As they left, they could see the trains that continued to bring prisoners from other camps [to keep the Allies from discovering them], many already sick and emancipated. When the doors opened, dead bodies fell out. Inmates stacked them like mountains in front of the crematoriums to be burned. But the Germans had run out of time. The American guns were days away. 

 

They marched from Dachau, walking at night and hiding in the woods during the day. Allowed to dig in the fields they passed for roots and potatoes, they ate them raw. All understood the guards’ orders were to march them into the mountains and kill them in the forests where the Allies would not discover their bodies. Guards shot in the head anyone who lagged or fell. Susan was sick and feverish. She could not walk on her own, but three friends, Katherine, Ferry, and another supported her, keeping her from collapsing.

 

As they struggled through the mountains and meadows of Bavaria, guards began deserting in the cover of night. American planes flew low enough Susan could read the insignia on the wings. The pilots, who surely saw the striped uniforms, refrained from dropping bombs.

 

Five days later, what remained of their group arrived at a work camp for Russian prisoners in the small German town of Wolfratshausen. The first task of their remaining Nazi guards was to take the Russian prisoners of war and shoot them. Knowing they were next, Susan lay on the roadside, too sick and exhausted to react. Then she heard a roar—the first American jeep of the Third Army coming down the road—liberators.

 

The German guards fled, but the liberators were combat troops, unable to care medically for the freed prisoners. The Americans moved on, and the liberated were left to fend for themselves.

 

Typhoid once again thinned their ranks. Her friends held out tin cans for food the passing American soldiers threw to them. Survivors that were able, brought supplies from the town and cooked soups. Reports that Americans fed and clothed German prisoners, playing baseball and basketball with them in the prison camps, ignited bitterness and anger. Many Jews took abandoned weapons and hunted the German SS who had tortured them and killed their friends and families.The sound of gunfire in the surrounding forests peppered the nights.

 

They spent the summer in the woods, slowly regaining their strength, then Susan, Katherine and Ferry trekked to a displaced persons camp. Although her friends wished to immigrate to Israel, Susan wanted to go home to Hungary. And they chose to go with her. 

 

They walked to Prague, a journey of 145 miles, where a Russian troop train allowed them to ride. Arriving finally at their destination of Budapest, they found it devastated. Susan couldn’t find her house in the rubble . . . or her mother. They tried to find work. Inflation made money worthless. A friend of her uncle finally gave her a job in the ministry [government] which paid the workers in potatoes and bread. They lived in a room open to the elements; bombs had destroyed the windows and doors.

 

Ferry convinced Susan to go with her, Katherine, and two Sabra (Israeli) agents who were attempting to get fifty Polish Jewish children to Israel. The children had survived by hiding in Christian homes. Susan and her friends rode with them by train to the Hungarian border where they had to walk about 200 miles.

 

The friends, with the two Sabra agents and three other men, accompanied the children through heavy snow in the fields and woods. Twice, they paid off Russians who stopped them, but the third time, at the German border, they had to make a run for it. They abandoned all their belongings in their dash for freedom. Older children carried the younger ones. Russian bullets followed them. Once safely across, the children continued through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Cyprus and then into Israel. But Susan still did not want to go to Israel. 

 

Later, Susan said she regretted that decision and felt pride in what Israel stood for. “You know, even if you have to die, if you die on your feet fighting, it’s a heck of a lot different than to be shoved into a gas chamber [to] die like mice or cockroaches, or whatever.”

 

Susan lived in Germany for three years, then married a GI and came to America in 1948, becoming a U.S. citizen. She had two children, Diane and Leslie, and lived on Long Island, NY. Struggled with multiple health issues, she worked in various factories to pay her medical bills before getting a clerical job on Mitchel Air Force Base, which turned into a civil service career of 30 years. 

 

She divorced and eventually married another serviceman. With his transfer to Maxwell Air Force Base, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama.

 

Ferry and Katherine joined relatives in America, and the three friends kept in touch for the rest of their lives. Finally locating her mother, who had returned to Budapest, Susan brought her to Montgomery in 1956. 

 

Susan Petrov Eisenberg died in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2008.

 


 

Note: I had the privilege of compiling Susan's story. She was one of the survivors who made Alabama their home after WWII. Others’ stories and a wealth of educational material about survivors and the Holocaust is available at the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center website—bhecinfo.org

 

 

 

T.K. is a retired police captain who writes books, which, like this blog, go wherever her interest and imagination take her.

 

 

 

 


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Why I Became An Activist by Juliana Aragón Fatula

Bridging Borders Leadership Program

2020

1990

Dear Reader,

I thank you for returning every month to read my posts. I am honored and thrilled to be invited to write for the Stiletto Gang and be a part of a collective of women mystery writers who change and shape the world we live in by merely using words. Words, words, words.

The United States of America is diverse. We are made up of people from everywhere and of all religions. No one is better than anyone else. No religion is better than another. No man is better than any woman. We are all equal. Or so I thought.

When I was growing up in my small town of predominately white citizens, I thought I was the same as my neighbors. But when I was a small child riding my bike by the new neighbors house on the corner, a boy hurled rocks at me and called me nigger. I asked my father why the little white boy called me a nigger and hated me.
1970
My father told me that the new white family had moved to Colorado from the deep South and that the boy was ignorant to people like me that were dark skinned from being kissed by the sun and he only knew one word to label me.

My father told me to be proud of my dark skin, hair and eyes because I was one of the children of the sun. A mestiza, a Chicana, a Mexican Indian who had ancestors buried in the earth here for thousands of years and generations of people who had lived here and still lived here.

My father told me that the white boy's ancestors came from another country far away. My father told me that some day the white boy would grow up and realize that he was wrong to call me names and hurl rocks at me because he was no better than me or anyone. But until that day, my father told me to watch, listen, learn, and study the ways of these white boys and defeat them by going to college and becoming an educated Chicana.

So that is what I did. And now I write stories about my youth and how that boy affected my life. I became an activist to fight discrimination and racial profiling. I joined organizations that fight injustice.

I became powerful and strong. I met women and men who led the fight against the haters. I watched, listened, learned, and studied how to defeat the haters. I taught others to do the same. I taught my students about diversity and one world one love.

I taught my students to vote and march against the oppressors. I taught young women in Bridging Borders to become leaders and to change the laws.

I am that little brown girl who was called a nigger for riding my bike in my own neighborhood and I listened, learned, studied, and became an activist.

Today, I'd like to find that little white boy who hurled rocks and names at me and educate him about who I am, who my ancestors were, why I'm proud to be an educated Chicana.

I wonder about him. What happened to him. Is he alive? Dead? In prison? A politician? A healer? A lawyer? Or is he still hurling rocks at people that look different than him, pray differently than him, speak a language he doesn't understand, or loves a partner of the LGBTQ community?

I don't think about him often. Only when I watch people refuse to wear masks or practice social distancing, or who paint over signs that say BLACK LIVES MATTER, or who drill for oil and destroy sacred Native American land.

I wonder why he is ignorant to the idea of one world one love. But mostly, I just wonder if he ever changed his heart and became a true human being or if he remained full of hate and greed.

If this post offends you, I don't apologize. I tell the truth. I tell my story. My herstory.


Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Play Ball!

by Bethany Maines


I recently read Dru Ann Love’s post about all her virtual conference activities.  It was nice to hear that someone else is platform bouncing as much as I am.  Zoom and GoToWebinar and Facebook Live and, and, and… whew.  The list goes on.  I’m going to get Zoom burn out before I get COVID.  Of course, it would probably help if I wasn’t supporting three different on-line events through my day job as a graphic designer.  Meanwhile, authoring hasn’t stopped just because we can’t go talk to people.  Online sales and launches have always been important, but now they’re even more so.  Between the two, it’s as though my computer centered life has become a mushroom cloud of eye fatigue and poor posture.  On the plus side, I have now introduced my dog to everyone I’ve ever had a meeting with as he head butts my office door open on a routine basis.  Currently, Kato would like to play ball and I would like to do that also, so I’m going to do a quick update on my author news and then get on out to the backyard!

This week in author news, my publishing company Blue Zephyr Press is running a sale across their entire catalog.


¢.99 - My book, The Second Shot – Book 1 of the Deveraux Legacy,an intriguing and at times hilarious Romantic Suspense novel with a captivating cast of characters and action that will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you like page-turning action, and award-winning writing, then you’ll love The Second Shot. BUY NOW: https://books2read.com/The-Second-Shot

¢.99 - And book 2 – The Cinderella Secret – is now available for pre-order exclusively on Apple BooksIt will only be ¢.99 thru release week, so grab it now!  ORDER NOW: apple.co/2FILmMd 

And there are many more fantastic ¢.99 sci-fi, mystery, romance, and adventure novels available. Learn more about the other items for sale: https://www.facebook.com/KarenHarrisTully/posts/2630716057180650

**

Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of the Carrie Mae Mysteries, San Juan Islands Mysteries, Shark Santoyo Crime Series, and numerous short stories. When she's not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, FacebookInstagram, and BookBub.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

On The Road Again...

By Lynn McPherson
As another summer comes to an end, it’s time to grab hold of the remaining time and run with it. It’s been a challenging stretch and we’ve decided to do something special this year. That’s why, after much talk and contemplation, we’ve decided to hit the road. Yes folks, we’re heading out on an adventure, to see where the wind (and Google Maps) takes us.
It’s time for a family vacation!
Since we are not good at packing light, we decided to go big, try something new, with more space and more comfort. We are renting an RV. A shiny 28-foot vehicle will be waiting for us, complete with a kitchen, a bathroom and beds for four. We are driving north, completing a 1,500-mile circle. I said adventure, right?
Our first stop is The Canadian Polar Bear Habitat, whose mission it is to promote polar bear sustainability through research and educational tourism. There are four polar bears currently living in the 24-acre enclosure. It sounds fantastic. The kids are stoked. We are confident this will be a smashing success.
Next on our tour is Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes of North America. The facts surrounding the massive body of water are impressive. The shoreline, for example measures 2,726 miles (4,385 km), according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are hundreds of shipwrecks and loads of interesting history, worthy of research and reading. The beaches look beautiful, if cold, and it will provide endless opportunities to explore and enjoy its natural beauty and its one-of-a kind fun.

Finally, we will head to Manitoulin Island, the largest fresh water island in the world. Rich in history, beauty, and community, it is the perfect place for a final stop. Our plans include going to the beach and star-gazing, exploring and relaxing.

So, what are my final thoughts on hitting the road? What do I hope to accomplish? There are three things I want to do. The first is to have fun with the family. Second, explore new places while meeting new people. Finally, take time to appreciate the joys of a new experience.
While images of Chevy Chase and Wally World invade my dreams, I remind myself of all the fun things that are out there to see and enjoy. If anyone has suggestions for not-to-miss places along the way, please let me know.
How are you spending the last weeks of summer?
Lynn McPherson has worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ran a small business, and taught English across the globe. She has travelled the world solo where her daring spirit has led her to jump out of airplanes, dive with sharks, and learn she would never master a surfboard. She now channels her lifelong love of adventure and history into her writing, where she is free to go anywhere, anytime. Her cozy series has three books out: The Girls' Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder, and The Girls Dressed For Murder.  

Monday, August 24, 2020

Virtual Activities by Dru Ann Love

The year is almost three-quarters done and activities that we would have attended in-person are now virtual.

I’ve never gone to a noir before because 1) they are in bars, dark bars 2) they are at night 3) they are never in my neighborhood 4) I prefer not to take trains at night and 5) it is mostly authors I don’t read. Virtual noirs changed that, and I’ve discovered so many authors I would not have blinked twice at if I saw their name. So, hooray for virtual noir. A shout-out to A shout-out to Ed Aymar and Alex Segura.



Then there is zoom. Oh, how I remember the original TV show (%Come on and Zoom, Zoom, zooma-Zoom%). But we are not talking about that. I’ve participated in a zoom talk with Sisters in Crime - Central Virginia chapter, attended a zoom memorial for a favorite author, attended several zoom book launches, and attended many a zoom talks with authors and friends. With one set of friends, we played this game, Spicy Farkel. I like zoom the best because you can interact with people.



Then there are the indie bookstores that are holding book launches as well. I’ve attended several of those and enjoy listening to the Q&As from the book seller. I don’t buy print books, but I will donate to their virtual tip jar – what a great concept.



Then there is Facebook. I’ve attended a few Facebook Live video author events and you are listening to the author and to interact with them, you leave a question in the chat area and the host will ask it for you. Some have book launches in their feed, whether it’s on their page or in a group page, where you have to “refresh” the page. I’m not a fan of constantly having to refresh, but it is a way to interact with the authors one-on-one during the book launch.


Now, here is the BSP – my fellow blogger, Kristopher Zgorski and I have a joint YouTube venture called BOLO*Musings where we talk about books. Another example of being with our friends and talking books. You can see our YouTube videos HERE.


Have you organized or participated in virtual activities? Do you have a preference?



Friday, August 21, 2020

Welcome to Mystic Bay!

by Shari Randall

If you're like me, you had a lot of travel plans canceled this summer. My consolation? Armchair travel with my TBR (to be read) pile. One of the great things about books is that they let us travel without leaving home.

So I thought I'd take you to the setting of my cozy mystery series, Mystic Bay. "Mystic Bay" is modeled on real life Mystic, Connecticut, a village on Long Island Sound that is always on those lists of best places to vacation. History? Check. Great scenery? Check. Charm? Check. Great restaurants, especially that New England specialty, the lobster shack? Triple check!

I'm including pictures of the real life Mystic that inspired scenes in my Lobster Shack Mystery series - a real slice of New England. Get out your cameras - the tour's about to start!
Here's the lobster shack that inspired The Lazy Mermaid. Ford's was used as a location shot in the movie Mystic Pizza, so it may look familiar. Their lobster bomb is the best!
This is one of the beautiful old sea captain's homes you'll find in Mystic. Note the enclosed widow's walk on the roof. The house overlooks the harbor where whaling ships returned after voyages that could last several years, and the captain's wife kept watch from the walk. Yes, many of those wives did indeed become widows - whaling was a dangerous profession.
Mystic Seaport is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country. Nothing is more relaxing than watching ships - especially historic ships like the Charles Morgan - on the Mystic River.
Ah - fall color in New England! I set my third book, DRAWN AND BUTTERED, at Halloween so I could bring in the sights and sounds of autumn - fall festivals, glowing jack o'lanterns, and pumpkin spice everything!

I can't let you leave without a delicious, buttery lobster roll. If you'd like a further taste of Mystic Bay, you can check out the Lobster Shack Mystery series, which includes recipes for some New England favorites. Enjoy!




Shari Randall writes the Lobster Shack Mystery series about Allegra "Allie" Larkin, a ballerina who is injured in a mysterious accident. While she heals, Allie returns to her hometown of Mystic Bay where she works in her quirky Aunt Gully's Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. When Aunt Gully falls under suspicion of murder, Allie discovers that she has a talent for detection. 

Where is the last place a book took you?

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Perseverance

 Perseverance

By Cathy Perkins

We’re living in crazy times right now. The world feels turned upside down and inside out by the pandemic and I refuse to mention the horrible political climate in the US. When I talk with friends about writing, the publishing industry, and life in general, I hear a constant refrain of how difficult it has become.

Last week, my husband and I finally ventured out of our bubble and visited my daughter’s in-laws. (Yes, we like our kids’ in-laws!) One of our many hikes ventured into ancient lava flows – stark, alien terrain. Obsidian faces as bright and shiny as a new penny belied the 7000-year-old explosion that created them.


But amid all that desolation, there was a tree.

A small tree, it put down roots and built a home. And slowly, slowly, it thrived.

The lesson is obvious but still so hard to hear. Patience. Determination. Willingness to take a risk.

As an author, I’ve slowly built a library of books. I’m so grateful to the people who read them. They’re the reason I write. If you’ve read one or more of them, thank you for rewarding me with your faith in my ability to tell a story and offer a few hours of escape and entertainment.

This picture, however, reminds me that even in these uncertain times, it’s up to me to find a way to thrive.


(And for a tiny bit of shameless self promotion, So About the Money, book 1 in the Holly Price mystery series is on sale today. http://bit.ly/AllAmazon_SATM

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.  Visit her at http://cperkinswrites.com or on Facebook 

Sign up for her new release announcement newsletter in either place.

She's hard at work on sequel to The Body in the Beaver Pond, which was recently presented with the Claymore Award.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Summer of our Discontent - Covid, Politics, and Shakespeare

by Kay Kendall

This post marks the 100th one I've made here on the Stiletto Gang. I am writing it on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. You know that one, don't you? It gave us women the right to vote, at long last.

So on this doubly auspicious day for me, I wish I were feeling more cheerful. Well, at least effortlessly so.

I'm reminded of what Shakespeare wrote in his drama, "Richard III." If you substitute the name of the sea

“Now is the summer of our discontent."

In the play, Richard III expresses the idea that he has reached the depth of his unhappiness (he says WINTER to note that) and better times (SUMMER) are yet to come.

As for me in this summer of my own discontent, I am hopeful that by wintertime our various problems will be alleviated, thinking of the twin evils raging across our beloved nation--the virulent pandemic and the equally virulent political divide.

What helps me hold onto hope in these perilous times are signs of the goodness of our fellow citizens. I saw an outpouring of this yesterday on television. Even if you saw it too, it is worth watching again. Here are fifty Americans singing our national anthem. Not an easy song to sing--tis true. But nonetheless they do a magnificent job. I hope this lifts your spirits as it has mine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t15hVyzCvwo

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Kay Kendall writes the Austin Starr Mystery series that captures the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. The amateur sleuth exploits are told in Desolation Row, Rainy Day Women, and After You’ve Gone. Her Bullet Book, Only a Pawn in Their Game, introduces a new character that will be featured in her series. Kay’s degrees in Russian history and language helped to ground these tales in the Cold War, and her titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. Kay is a winner of two Silver Falchion awards, a past member of the national board of Mystery Writers of America and president of its southwest chapter, and was a contributing editor to The Big Thrill, the online monthly magazine of International Thriller Writers. 

Visit Kay at her website http://www.austinstarr.com/  
or on Facebook 
https://www.facebook.com/KayKendallAuthor


 

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Art Meets Love and Murder

Art Meets Love and Murder

by Saralyn Richard

I’m not sure when my fascination with art began. Perhaps it was in seventh grade, when Ms. Gahagan incorporated a fine arts curriculum into our elective class. Many students groaned. They’d taken art class to get away from reading and writing—pounding clay was more satisfying then. But I enjoyed learning about artists and techniques and movements, and I fell in love with the Impressionists.

In college, I majored in English, but my curriculum required me to choose areas of concentration for my elective choices. I chose art history, and then my fate was sealed. From then on, I frequented museums, admired the works of the famous and not-yet-famous artists in my path, and even harbored ideas of “taking up” art, myself, at some future date, when I had the time.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to some of the most famous museums in the world, and each one has left its mark on me. One of the most interesting of the small museums I’ve enjoyed is the Brandywine River Fine Arts Museum in the beautiful and rustic Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania. The museum highlights the works of local naturalist, impressionist, and modern artists, particularly those in and around the Wyeth family.








Brandywine Valley is the locale of my Detective Parrott Mystery series, and, while MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT centers around the equestrian crowd, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER deals with the artists. The book opens with an art heist. Someone has stolen two valuable paintings that artist Blake Allmond had earmarked for donation to the National Arts Club in New York. Allmond is a reknown painter whose depictions of water have earned him notoriety and fame.

Detective Parrott is assigned to investigate the theft from the artist’s own studio, and the investigation puts him in the milieu of artists, collectors, dealers, teachers, and warehousers. Soon theft leads to murder, a treasure hunt for a lost masterpiece, and a palette full of secrets.

Throughout the mystery, readers are led to wonder at the value of art, its power to transform. If you love exploring art museums, as I do, put the Brandywine museum on your bucket list. If you love reading about art, check out A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER. It’s a page-turner with a lot of ’art, a brush with death, a landscape for murder—well, you get the picture.


 

Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard strives to make the world a better place, one book at a time. Her books, NAUGHTY NANA, MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, and A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, have delighted children and adults, alike. A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Reviews, media, and tour schedule may be found at http://saralynrichard.com, or check out her author page at https://www.amazon.com/Saralyn-Richard/e/B0787F6HD4/ref. Now meeting virtually with book clubs and other organizations.

 

  

Monday, August 17, 2020

A Writer’s Weekend

 by Paula Gail Benson

Sometimes you have to dedicate time to your writing craft. In pre-Covid-19 days, that was accomplished at writers’ conferences. You spend some time listening to master classes and panels, then you learn what’s going on in the business by talking with fellow writers in the hall and bar.

Now that travel and in person gatherings are extremely limited, how do you recapture the experience and energizing effects of a writing conference?

Fortunately, virtual meetings have become the norm. By scheduling carefully, you can piece together the perfect writing retreat. Just be sure to build in some breaks so that you don’t exhaust yourself.

On August 7 through 9, I stayed at a local Airbnb (more on that in tomorrow’s WWK ) and set up to spend a day virtually with writing buds. I started with Murder on the Beach’s presentation of John Dufresne’s “How to Write a Story.” For $35.00, you got the program, plus the bookstore sent you Dufresne’s Storyville without shipping charges. I found both to be extremely helpful and inspiring. The book is one to read brief passages from each day to keep the encouragement going.

The following week, I attended Debra H. Goldstein's excellent program on writing conflict. John and Debra's events were part of what Murder on the Beach calls Florida Authors Academy Workshops. Future events are listed at this link. It's a great and very economical series.

Next, I attended the Triangle Chapter of SinC program to hear Lori Rader-Day talk about “Turning an Idea into a Novel.” She spoke about her own journey in writing The Lucky One and shared some of her experiences in writing her current work in progress, a mystery based on Agatha Christie housing children refugees during World War II.

Here's a link to Triangle Sisters Website.

At the end of the day, I joined the business meeting of Sacramento’s Capitol Crimes Chapter of SinC. Hearing about how that chapter is regrouping and planning for the future gave me ideas to suggest for our local chapter. Here's a way to access the future events planned by Capitol Crimes. It has some great upcoming speakers.

What virtual programs have you been watching during the pandemic?