Friday, October 26, 2018

The Collapse of Compassion --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.

In police work, tragedy was a daily affair. I learned how to erect a professional wall between my personal emotions and what I encountered—abuse, rape, murder. Without those walls, I couldn’t have functioned effectively. I couldn’t take every abused child home. I couldn’t even ensure the abuser I put in jail would stay there and never hurt another. I survived by focusing on my job and trying to do it the best I could, while staying alive myself and trying to ensure the same for my fellows.  

I didn’t change the world. Did I affect lives?  I think so.

The tragedy in our world is still a daily affair and still overwhelming—war, famine, disease, disaster. I still have barriers because I can’t absorb the hurt of every other human in a personal way. For years, I couldn’t bear the thought of the Holocaust and refused to visit a Holocaust museum. Frankly, I feared fully acknowledging the weight of what had happened would disintegrate me. What if I couldn’t put myself back together? (Eventually, I visited the amazing Yad Yashem--The World Holocaust Center in Israel and I survived.)

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have security for our basic needs can be assaulted by guilt and confusion when we’re confronted with stark poverty, rampant disease, the results of natural disasters, or abuses humans visit upon one another.  We are told by TV ads that a cup of coffee a day can buy health for a child on another continent or a new life for a pitiful dog in a cage.  How do I drink my coffee without a crush of guilt? 

Far more often than not, I simply shake my head. There is a label for this—collapse of compassion. We simply cannot emotionally process the ills of the world.  

In The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama--perhaps the world’s model for compassion--recalls an event where he was in severe pain. On the way to the hospital, he passed a man on the side of the road who was clearly in worst straits than he.  The lesson he took from this was one of perspective on his own pain, but when I read this passage, I wondered why he didn’t stop and help the man, despite his pain.  Wouldn’t that have been the truly compassionate thing to do?

The Dalai Lama must see people worse off than he every day. He also hears of the world’s wrongs. I imagine at some point he too has collapse of compassion. It is a survival mechanism.

We tend to perceive and process everything, including our values and morality, through the lens of circumstances and group psychology. The death of thousands or millions is an in-absorbable statistic that leaves us bewildered at how to exercise compassion in the face of the enormity of the pain or the impossibility of changing it. So we turn a blind eye. According to Max Fisher and Amanda Taub in a recent NYT article, “It’s not that we can’t care about a million deaths, psychologists believe. Rather, we fear being overwhelmed and switch off our own emotions in preemptive self-defense.” 

But we can identify with the pain of one person, especially if circumstances present a doable solution that doesn’t cost us “too much.” If we discover a homeless child or dog on our doorstep, we are more likely to open our door than send money to a far-away charity of possibly dubious nature or to be a "drop in the bucket" of a crushing need. If the Dalai Lama had not been rushing to the hospital, he might have stopped to see if he could help the man on the side of the road. When the media covers stories about a single person’s tragedy, we are more primed to react, to actually do something.

Our values of compassion are deeply rooted in our cultural and evolutionary heritage, but they are  called on in a way that is outside the framework of their evolutionary origins. For most of our history, we have lived in small communities that could absorb the needy stranger or widow, but today we are exposed to and confronted with problems on a global level—refugees from terror and economic scarcity at our borders, victims of warfare, disasters of fire, flood, wind and earthquake. All of these have been with us for millennia, but we have previously only faced them on a local level. Now we are aware (bombarded) on a daily basis, of what is happening in the world and with that comes a seemingly overwhelming burden of responsibility, so we switch it off.

Our first commitment is to our own well being and security. It makes no sense to let ourselves or our children starve in order to feed the homeless. My father told me often to remember the story of "the richest man in Babylon." He taught to give yourself (save) the first 10% of whatever you make and that preparing for the future security for yourself and your family is a noble and worthy goal.

On the other hand, religious leaders have warned about clutching all of what we have too tightly (“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”) And they have provided a practical response in the 10% tithe rule. In Judaism, this is expected of everyone, even the poor, because giving is such an important part of becoming a fully-realized member of the human family.  It is not important how much, just that we do it.

The conflict and guilt and helplessness we feel at tragedy is human. Our walls are also human. Our inaction is human. Our actions to fix the things we can is human. How we choose to respond is an individual decision. There is no “right” or “wrong” way. You may volunteer coach. You may run for political office. You may be a philanthropist. You may speak out about the ills of the world or your community. You may, like the Dalai Lama, focus on being a joyful, compassionate human being and sharing how to do that. You may pick up trash along a river bank. You may write stories.

Just find your way.  

A retired police captain, T.K. has written two award-winning historical novels, NOAH'S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold backstories of extraordinary, yet unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of the world’s most famous sagas. The New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’ behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. Coming soon: HOUSE OF ROSE, the first of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre. 

She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. More info at Join her private newsletter email list and receive a two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Wine & Murder

by Bethany Maines

I want to kill someone in public.

I don’t have a particular person. Just someone.

Last weekend I volunteered for my business districts wine walk event.  It was a fun event that paired artists and wineries with local businesses.  Visitors bought a ticket which guaranteed them ten tastings from the wineries of their choosing and then they walked to the various locations ogled the art, tasted the wine and walked to the next stop.  This puts visitors inside local businesses, exposes an audience to new wines and gives everyone a chance to enjoy a fun fall outing.  It’s also a large crowd with people going every which way, no one is really paying attention, and half the crowd is a wee bit tipsy.  That seems like a great place for a murder!

Could I slip something in their tasting glass? Could I stab them quietly in pop them in a business’s back room while no one was looking?  Leave the body in their car apparently “sleeping it off”?  Or is it better to kill them and then stick around as a surprise witness.  Oh my God? someone’s killed Kenny!  And… surprised face.

It's a bold move to go for a public murder, which makes it probably unpremeditated.  My motivation would have to be strong.  Lots of money or a truly horrible victim.  And then, perhaps the small town police chief could solve the mystery?  And bam, we've got a novel plot.  Although, in general, I should probably not tell anyone what I think about at these events.  I’m going to end up on someone’s list…


Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, 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 fourth degree 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 YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Mystery of Crime Fiction

By Lynn McPherson

Have you ever wondered what draws a reader to crime fiction? Is there not enough crime in the real world that the human psyche longs for even more? Today, let’s explore the possibilities behind the love and longing for books that focus on the darker side of humankind. There are several sub-genres within the crime fiction family. I’ve chosen three of my personal favourites to discuss.
I love cozies. I read them. I write them. I have a mental note of books as long as Santa’s gift list of those I still have yet to read. I never seem to tire of them. The greatest part of cozies is getting to know the town and the characters that make each series unique. It’s like visiting your hometown or settling in to a comfy lounge chair to watch your favourite movie for the umpteenth time.  There is a familiarity that readers rely on and expect that cozies must deliver, if they are going to be successful. The protagonist must be likeable and the town must be where you’d love to spend time, as well as a recurring set of characters that draw the reader in, making them want to come back and visit with each new story. Comfort, escape, and a whodunit to challenge one’s intellect make it a no-brainer.
What about suspense or psychological thrillers? There is no known path. The reader must race through the pages to see if the character in jeopardy is going to be okay or achieve what they need to in order to get things back to normal—or at least, a semblance of order. When I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I had heart palpitations. I raced through each page, gripping the paperback novel like the outcome depended on it. There were moments I thought I couldn’t take it and would have to jump to the end—just to stop my anxious musings. But I knew there would be an end and that gave me the comfort and patience required to get there without cheating. There was great satisfaction with an ending that tied together all the most relevant details of the case. A perfect example of why they are so captivating to read.
Finally, let’s talk about police procedurals. These books have a professional detective in the police force who must follow the proper rules in order to solve the assigned case. This presents challenges that the cozy or amateur sleuth novels do not have to deal with, such as sticking to the law and proper procedure. You won’t see a detective sneaking around a suspect’s home to see what they uncover—that is, unless they have a proper warrant (I never like that part). However, they are granted access to crime scenes that a regular citizen is not given. The reader gets to walk in a police officer’s shoes and see what they see, with the tools and training given out by the department. We are given a glimpse into the mind of a police officer while we ride along like the proverbial fly on the wall. It’s fun to try and figure out if we make the same decisions and reach the same conclusions as the professional protagonist. It is an intellectual challenge and a journey into a life that most of us never get a change to experience.
With each category above, there is a different style and attraction that draws a reader in. However, the similarities cannot be denied—there is a puzzle to solve, a defined end, and a chance to live vicariously through the protagonist’s lens. Crime fiction allows a reader to escape into a dangerous story, path, or situation in which one would likely not experience in real life. By the end of the book, the reader can put it down, feeling satisfied that the story has come to completion. This, in itself, may be the best part of all.

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 two books out: The Girls' Weekend Murder and The Girls Whispered Murder.  

[Lynn's Author Site] - [Buy Lynn's Book]

Monday, October 22, 2018

a little of this and that

I had a post all ready in my mind, that is until I discovered that the updated document is at my office. Anyway, I recently attended the ADCOLOR Conference for marketing and media minority and diversity professionals. Can you imagine walking into a conference and seeing hundreds of “like” professionals that look like shades of you? It was an awesome experience. This year’s topic was “moment of truth” when you realize that you have to do what is best for you when others at the “table” won’t let you in. It was very inspirational. I did have some takeaways –

  • Allow fear and don’t fear failure
  • When you inspire, you give life
  • Create a safe place to be yourself
  • Just because it is popular doesn’t mean it is the best
  • It doesn't matter where you are now, you can create light from darkness and that light will take you anywhere you want to go.

Anyway, between the conference, I was able to hang out with several of my friends who just happen to be authors.

Then came home and had lunch with more friends who again, happens to be authors

Last but not least two Raven Award recipients out on the town

That's all from me.
Dru Ann

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Favorite Fall Treat - One Bowl Pumpkin Bread

by Shari Randall
Yes, I need to work on my food styling.

The joys of fall are many - the blaze of crimson and orange leaves and the satisfying crunch of walking through them on a country lane. Apple picking and corn mazes. The cooler weather, making it a perfect time to wear cozy, soft woolen sweaters.
But pumpkin spice everything? Blech.
There's only one pumpkin flavored fall treat I do love: pumpkin bread.
I've seen many recipes but this version is one I've stuck with for years - the holiday spice aroma and one bowl easy clean up make it a winner. Whip up some up and let me know what you think. You can make two loaves from this recipe or a few more than two dozen generously sized muffins. Bon appetit!

2 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. oil
2/3 c. cold water
1 lb. can pumpkin

Mix all ingredients together with electric mixer.  Grease 2 loaf pans (do not flour). Bake at 350 for one hour.  If you do muffins, they'll take 18-22 minutes. Check doneness with a tester inserted into the middle. Enjoy!

Shari is the author of Against the Claw, the latest in the Lobster Shack Mystery series. Check out her Facebook Author Page for giveaways, appearances, and more.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ode to a Library

Ode to a Library

By Cathy Perkins

When was the last time you visited your local library? 

Libraries have been around for a long, long time. The earliest libraries date back to 2600 BC. Yes, that’s Before we started counting time forward a couple of thousand years ago in the Western World. While we’ve ditched hundreds of ideas and customs as passé, in the digital age libraries are still in style. More than in style, they’ve adapted to the rise of ebooks and audiobooks. In fact, there are several great ways you can access my books from your local public library without leaving the comfort of your favorite reading chair. How great is that?!

My books are available to libraries via Overdrive, a leading digital distribution platform. Overdrive supplies the industry’s largest catalog of eBooks, audiobooks, streaming video and periodicals to 38,000 libraries, schools and retailers worldwide. (Here's the OverDrive link for So About the Mone

Other upcoming services include Bibliotheca, an up-and-coming library-oriented option for acquiring digital content. Your library can request an author’s book through this program as an alternative—or in addition to—OverDrive. 

These digital access programs mean anyone with a library card can remotely check out an ebook or audiobook if your library owns a copy of the book. After a reader borrows a particular title (say, my Holly Price novel So About the Money), it automatically goes to their reading device through OverDrive. Since “my” libraries are forty-five minutes and two hours away by Interstate, browsing through my phone is a lot easier than driving to the physical building! Instead, the requested book shows up on my e-reader in moments.

If you’re new to OverDrive you can sign up HERE. Signing up is a quick process and allows you to customize your experience by choosing your preferred genres. You can even opt-in to receive book recommendations. You need a library card to access books using OverDrive. I have two library cards (yes, more is better 😉 ) and both libraries appear in my OverDrive account.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, here are several ways that you can take advantage of this terrific library resource.

OverDrive recommends the Libby app for public library users. I admit, I eyed the app skeptically at first. Why mess with what’s working beautifully for me? Libby is a free app that streamlines the virtual borrowing process and lets you get those books from the library straight to your device. Best of all, Libby is compatible with Android, iOS, or Windows 10, and is one of the easiest ways to access library books on your devices.  

The original OverDrive app may be a better option for you if your library isn’t public, if you are using an older device, or you want to read on your computer (Windows or Mac). This app also has some great features to personalize your reading experience, such as adjustable font size (which I love for reading in bed at night without reading glasses), highlighting favorite passages, and a bookmark function.


Sounds pretty neat, doesn’t it? Now before you start borrowing my entire Holly Price Mystery Series, here are a few things about how requesting ebooks from the library system works:

1.    The authors’ and publishers’ responsibility is to make books available to the libraries. We have no control over whether your library will stock my books, unfortunately. Wish we did!
2.    If your local library doesn’t stock my books, sometimes simply asking your librarian to get them for you will be enough. Librarians are resourceful people! Once requested, the library can request a book for purchase or loan through Overdrive or Bibliotheca.
3.    You need a library card to use your library, whether you are reading ebooks or listening to audiobooks on your devices, or physically checking out “tree books” from the library. Ask your local library about their card policies. (For example, one of my library cards is free. I pay an annual fee to use a larger regional library since I live outside their city limits.)
4.    While OverDrive is available at most public libraries, there are still some libraries that are not connected to the program. You can check to see if OverDrive is available at your library HERE.

Wrapping up

Libraries are a great way to keep on top of your TBR pile without breaking the bank. At my libraries, I hunt for new to me authors or download favorite authors when the publisher prices the ebook at $14.99 (yikes!) 
Digital loans are eco-friendly. No trees harmed in their production. 😉
And an additional benefit? No late fees! (Yay!) Not through reading/listening to the book at the end of the loan period? Simply request it again.
So grab your library card and find out how easy it is to enjoy a slew of library books (including all of mine!) from the comfort of your sofa. 

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 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 Killer Nashville Claymore Award.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Before the Wishlist. The Beatles! and Tales of Yesteryear

By Kay Kendall

Ah, the ease of the online wish list. I battled against the concept for years. But I finally succumbed.  What I GAINED: several hours of my precious time. What I LOST: the joy of watching loved ones delighted by their surprise gifts. If you are a boomer (as I am), then you recall when gift-giving before the wish list hit the scene. You tried to surprise the gift recipient—to surprise and delight. My joy of gift giving and wrapping came from my maternal grandmother who reveled in every aspect of gifting. 

In my boomer youth, I watched her decorate packages imaginatively. She could have hired on for Neiman Marcus—a store back in the day that did elegant and fanciful wrapping. (Their efforts today are a sad, pale imitation, fie!) What my grandmother could not do—not to save her very soul—was to keep her gifts a secret. She got so excited that she just had to give you hints--hints so major you could easily figure out what your gifts would turn out to be. I took such pleasure in her enjoyment that I didn’t mind.

Maybe telling Santa what you wanted for Christmas grew into the concept of wish lists. Yet today's wish list has more power. Woe to you if you give someone under-forty a present not on his or her wish list. I fought against wish lists until a dear friend said she gave up trying to surprise her offspring with delightful gifts. Finally she switched to the dreaded wish list or gave gift cards. Otherwise her grandchildren and children were chagrined. That’s how I discovered my offspring was participating in a societal shift. A generational difference, clear and simple. And so . . . I threw in the towel. But I remember a different time. I recall a December when I was a graduating high school senior. I wanted Beatle albums and 45s. When asked what I wanted for Christmas, “Beatles please” was my instant answer. My ONLY answer.

Meantime my mother and grandmother were in the kitchen making cranberry loaves, fudge, and mounds of cookies...all the while talking about the Christmases of their youths. My mother said she’d been pleased with mandarin oranges and pecans in the toe of her Christmas stocking, back in the 1930s. My grandmother recalled helping her mother go into the farmyard in Ohio and select a goose for neck twisting, in the first decade of the twentieth century--the holiday meal to be! I loved their quaint tales of the good old days. (Probably these stories helped grow my lust for history.)

When the morning of December twenty-fifth dawned. I went into the living room with my parents (I, an only child, admittedly a tiny bit or more spoiled). I had expected to call this my very own Beatles Christmas. But no. Arrayed beside the brightly lit tree was a set of three luggage pieces.

“You’re going off to college next year,” Delight shone in Mother’s eyes. “We knew you needed nice suitcases.” I tried to murmur sincere thanks while eyeing other presents. Where were the telltale signs of even one 33-long-play album? But John, Paul, George, and Ringo were nowhere to be found. All was not lost however. My paternal grandparents sent a check that I promptly cashed and turned into two longed-for Beatles albums. But, oh, I still recall the rush of emotion, the dramatic upheaval.

Things are so different now in the high season of gift giving. Well something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day. That’s the way the song goes, Joni Mitchell’s beloved “Both Sides Now.”

So then, what’s your opinion of the wish list phenomenon? What do you remember about gift giving and receiving in the “good old days?” What’s the routine at your house? I’d sure love to know.


Meet the author

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff. In 2015 Rainy Day Women won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville. Visit Kay at her website <>or on Facebook <>


Monday, October 15, 2018

Where Will Those Ruby Slippers Lead Us?

by Paula Gail Benson


Toni L.P. Kelner and Dr. Stephen P. Kelner, Jr.
I’ve read books about and spent time in a number of writing classes where story structure and character motivations were explained by using examples from The Wizard of Oz. One example would be Debra Dixon’s excellent text, GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict.

This past weekend, at a terrific workshop about The Psychology of Writing, organized by the Atlanta Chapter of Sisters in Crime, with Debra H. Goldstein as event coordinator, I heard another analogy to Oz’s characters presented by Dr. Stephen P. Kelner, Jr., husband of author Toni L. P. Kelner (the Laura Fleming and Where Are They Now? series and numerous short stories), who also writes as Leigh Perry (the Family Skeleton series).

First, I have to express my admiration for Toni allowing her husband to analyze her reasons for writing before an audience. I thought it was incredibly brave. When I mentioned it to her, she brushed it off, saying she was used to it. Still, the honesty with which she and Stephen approached the subject made it truly informative for the listeners.

Second, I think Stephen’s evaluations and theories, explained in greater detail in his book, Motivate Your Writing!: Using Motivational Psychology to Energize Your Writing Life, are very insightful. They certainly helped me to better understand my own writing motivations and characters.

Stephen suggested that there are three basic motivators:

(1) achievement,

(2) affiliation, and

(3) influence.

He said these motivators described the goals of the characters we see in The Wizard of Oz and in the Harry Potter series.

The achiever wants to accomplish a great deal. This person will do all he or she can to increase production. Like the Scarecrow and Hermione, they are depended upon for intellect and direction. What sometimes makes them less effective is their aim for perfection or their need to micro-manage.

The affiliator is interested in establishing and building relationships. Like the Tin Man and Ron, they want to be liked. Sometimes, they can be too anxious about gaining friends or hurting feelings.

The influencer wants to leave a legacy. This person asks, “Who will remember me?” Like the Lion and Harry, influencers may be competitive. They may push others aside in order to be noticed and get ahead.

Photo from
Interestingly, in his studies, Stephen found that although achievement is part of writers’ goals, for most, including Toni, the primary motivator is to influence, to be remembered. When influence is the focus, a writer needs to find a way to measure what has been accomplished. Otherwise, the writer may get lost in being part of a writing community rather than actually producing work. After all, it’s wonderful to go to conferences and discuss craft with others, but that takes time away from producing stories.

Photo from the Harry Potter movies
For Toni, the answer became setting a manageable number of weekly words. She began by aiming for 600 words a day, writing 4 days, for a total of 2,400 per week and approximately 65,000 words per year (at that time the size of most mystery novels). Once she was able to reach and maintain that goal, she increased it to 800 words per day.

Both Toni and Stephen cautioned against selecting a ridiculously high goal, which would just set a person up for failure. Also, realize that life does not always proceed at an even pace. There may be times when, due to other obligations, a writing goal cannot be accomplished. Be forgiving, but get back on track and, Toni encouraged, always do your best to meet deadlines.

The workshop was a terrific success and I commend everyone who was involved with it.

I’m looking forward to reading Stephen’s Motivate Your Writing! and Toni’s latest as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Paints a Picture. (Her next, The Skeleton Makes a Friend, is available for pre-order and will be released November 6, 2018). For more about the workshop, please check out my post tomorrow on the Writers Who Kill blog.

Meanwhile, keep on following that Yellow Brick Road!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Generational Gifts

Generational Gifts by Debra H. Goldstein

When I was four years old, my parents told me I could attend a Broadway show once I proved I could sit through a regional theater performance. To this day, I remember seeing Betsy Palmer in the King and I at the Paper Mill Playhouse, located in New Jersey, only miles from New York City. From the moment the musicians began the overture, I was enchanted. My parents deemed the evening a success. I’ve been hooked on theater ever since. And yes, they kept their word.

I made the same deal with my twins when they were four. The only difference was the regional theater they attended was in Birmingham, Alabama – a far piece from New York. Consequently, my husband and I raised the stakes. They had to sit through shows, basketball games, and the symphony. When we took them to New York a couple of years later, we compromised and saw a show as a family, but on one evening, my daughter and I attended a performance of Phantom of the Opera while my husband and son watched the Knicks play at Madison Square Garden. They still both enjoy theater and sports.

Recently, I spent time during an Alaskan cruise with our just turned five grand-daughter. Every night on the ship, she put on her pajamas and brushed her teeth, so she’d be ready for bed. Holding one of my hands and one of her father’s tightly, she swung between us as we took her to the ship’s late show. Excitedly, she sat on her father’s knees, her eyes never leaving the stage until moments before the show ended when she’d crawl against her daddy and fall asleep.

Upset the next day that she’d not made it to the end of the show, we explained how it was a family tradition to miss the final moments of a show --- when her aunt was six, she fell asleep during the last five minutes of The Secret Garden and we all refused to tell her how it ended. She was forced to read the book and even then, we refused to tell her whether the ending was the same. She had to wait another seven years to see the show again.

But, back to my grand-daughter. She came to Birmingham two weeks ago and while the rest of the family was at an Alabama football game, Abby and I attended a regional performance of Hello Dolly. Dressed in her Sunday finest, Abby loved the show. She is ready to see another one. My hope is that one day, soon, she can experience the tingling thrill I still have when I hear the first notes of a Broadway musical.

There was a time I went to New York often, but life got in the way and I didn’t have the opportunity to go for several years. Then, my sister and I decided, as a tribute to our late mother, to meet in the city and see a few shows. We both flew in and celebrated the memory of our theater loving parents by seeing Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Hello Dolly (with Bette Midler), and Come From Away. This past weekend, I met my daughter in New York for forty-five hours. We crammed a lot into those hours, including Kinky Boots, The Band’s Visit, and the marvelous Come From Away.

I’m older than four now, but I still feel the same way when the houselights go down. Only now, I can glance at my family members sitting next to me and know I’ve instilled my love of theater in the next two generations. What’s even better? I’ve also shared my love of reading with them.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Supposed to be...

by Bethany Maines

I’m not supposed to be writing this.  I have a pretty stiff yearly schedule on what I intend to write.  And while the Stiletto Gang blogs are on my schedule, I have currently abandoned all sanity and schedules and have started committing time to a project that is NOT on the calendar.  I should currently be writing my San Juan Islands #3.  Unfortunately, while I had a fantastic idea for the opening, my idea pretty much stopped there. And an inciting incident does not a plot make.  But after I stared and stared at the screen and then stared some more, nothing was coming to me. So I started doing a writing exercise to get the creative juices flowing and now… I can’t stop. 

I think I’ve fallen in love with my own characters.  They keep popping up with more things for themselves to do.   And I keep thinking, “What a great idea!  I’m sure that will only take me twenty minutes to jot that down.”  Note to self: nothing you want to write takes twenty minutes.  And now my cushion of time for making my deadline is whittling down and I’m actually starting to worry.  So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stop writing this and stare at my screen and try and figure out why Tobias is in jail.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery Series, 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 fourth degree 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 YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.