An Interview with Saul Golubcow

by Paula Gail Benson

Last Monday, I introduced you to Saul Golubcow, whose Frank Wolf and Joel Gordon mysteries have just been compiled in The Cost of Living and Other Mysteries, available through Amazon and the publisher Wildside Press. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve enjoyed reading each new story and been bold enough to ask Saul for more! I think you’ll find his characters and situations so intriguing it’s difficult to put a story down until the end. Saul’s been gracious enough to answer some questions about his life and how he found his way to writing fiction.

Thank you, Saul, for agreeing to be with us.

If you haven’t already been reading his work, now is a great time to start!

(1)        What made you decide to write fiction? 

Hard question as it suggests a definable or rational causality. But here goes. I think when I was much younger, feeling inside a pulse and rhythm of the English language and resonating viscerally to so much of what I read, I thought perhaps I could bring forth life through a fictional rendering. And perhaps I thought if others can do it, why can’t I? But in the same way I try to present Joel in my stories, I was immature not so much from an impulsive or know-it-all perspective, but rather as Joni Mitchell may have put it, I couldn’t see “both sides now.” It took decades of growing up to feel comfortable with myself writing fiction. Writing non-fiction opinion pieces demands much less in its two-dimensional approach to a subject. But I realized if I wanted to really depict Holocaust survivors, I had to devise a multi-dimensional way which could only be done through a fictional world of relationships, tensions, nobility, hypocrisy, loss, and vindication. I thought I was finally ready to create lives.

(2)        How did you create the characters of Frank Wolf and his grandson Joel Gordon? 

An easier question. As I mention in the “Acknowledgments” section, for one of my drawer-kept projected stories, I thought about the life and personality of my father-in-law. He had lost his first family during the Holocaust, and he arrived in the United States in later middle age following the Hungarian Revolution. He was well versed in religious practice, history, arts, the sciences, and the technologies of his time. I was also struck by his various observations of the human condition. Although he never attempted private detective work, he often spoke of “critical analyses” as an imperative for reining in impulsive and rash decision-making, the core skill of a good detective. I back then wondered, might I create a Holocaust survivor character who becomes a private detective in Brooklyn?

But also, Frank Wolf represents that spirit of Holocaust survivors that has insisted that while they suffered horrible victimization, they would not succumb to victimhood. Even before I met my father-in-law, this response to suffering was bred in my bones. I also saw it in my own family. My parents also lost whole families in the Holocaust. Grateful for the opportunity to make a living as poultry farmers in South Jersey even though they knew nothing of farming, nor later of being hotel managers in Atlantic City, they demonstrated a resilience in the midst of enduring pain, building a new life in which my sister and I were protected and a path into our future developed. My father often insisted, “I can’t give up.” These traits are infused into my Holocaust survivors’ characters, regardless of their individual and differing personalities.

As for Joel, I think my wife and I are the models for his character. Young, sometimes over-confident, sometimes self-doubting, sometimes respectful, sometimes imperious, we wrestled with our “Frank Wolf” and learned a good deal about love, trust, and respect as we did so.

(3)        Tell us a little about Frank’s background, which is unique. How did you develop it? 

As mentioned above, I took my father-in-law’s real-life background as the blueprint for Frank Wolf’s character. Before the War, though not a university professor, he was well educated in both secular and religious studies. He may have become a professor or a Rabbi or both had he, as the eldest male in the family, not been forced to take over the family business after the early death of his father. Frank Wolf before the Holocaust was the easiest task for me. The challenge was conceptualizing his life after, and seeing him as a private detective the way I present it in the stories seemed the right way to go.

(4)      How do you determine the length of a story? What length do you feel most comfortable writing? 

Intriguing question. When I am in short story conceptualization mode, I must deal with the constraints of forums accepting just so many words. So I go into “less is more” mode, and that’s ok for that particular genre. But as it occurred for me with “The Cost of Living” which was originally published as a short story, I wanted to say so much more about Frank’s background and life story that turned it into novella length. I gave myself the same leeway with the other stories (especially “The Dorm Murder”) because I wanted the reader to understand so much more about psyche, feeling, and crime solving method that I couldn’t advance in a word limited short story. I am comfortable novella length, but it’s possible my next mystery will be even longer.

Saul Golubcow

Saul’s Bio:

When he is not immersed in the New York of the 1970s with his detective Frank Wolf, Saul Golubcow lives in Potomac, Maryland with his wife, Hedy Teglasi. His Jewish themed fiction centers on the complexity of and challenges Holocaust survivors in the United States have faced. His stories have appeared in Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Weekly, and Jewish Fiction.NetThe Cost of Living and Other Mysteries is his first book-length publication featuring Frank Wolf, a Holocaust survivor. In addition, his commentary on American Jewish culture and politics appear in various publications.  

Goddess in the Garden – T.K. Thorne

The last few weeks (during the heat spell, of course), I’ve spent on my knees with copious streams of perspiration running down my face (or as the Southern phrase goes, “sweating like a stuck pig”).

A few years ago, I was working full time and squeezing every minute of free time available into writing. The   yard rarely got attention. Over the years, I planted a few things next to the house and basically let ground covers fill in.

Then I retired. My goal and dream was to write. But Covid hit. I was afraid of the groceries. I didn’t know who of my loved ones would die, how many would fall, or if I would die.  I couldn’t write.

At some point, I looked out the back window and realized that the small piece of wisteria root I had thrown into the woods thirty years prior had not only taken over the woods but had taken down large trees and eaten half of the backyard! Apparently, I had not ventured there for thirty years.

Unable to write, I learned what a mattock was and used hard labor to feel like I had a purpose. I dug up (some of) the long, stubborn roots spread all over the yard. It was the beginning of the Wisteria Wars . . .  which is still ongoing, but now skirmishes fought with spray. Like Kali, the Hindu goddess of Destruction, I hacked and chopped, in order to sleep at night.

Kali, Hindu goddess of Death

 

One day, I noticed the green moss on the brick walkway in the front yard was full of little weeds and grass. Something else I never had time to notice. Moss is magic. When he was little, I took my stepson into the woods and explained that elves lived in the rotting hollow tree trunks and that the emerald splotches of moss in the woods were actually “elf carpet,” touching off his vivid imagination, which he still expresses in his art. When he eventually had children, he passed on the wonder of elf carpet.

Forgoing the fearsome Kali for Venus, (who was a goddess of the garden and cultivated fields before the Romans assignation as the Queen of Love), I spent several hours absorbed in the work/craft of pulling up tiny weeds from carpet without tearing it. A different kind of gardening than hacking wisteria roots, it offered a calmer sense of purpose and absorption.

Venus

A huge weeping yaupon arches over that walkway. (Although mine is higher than the house roof and trimmed to have a “tree” bark, a yaupon is technically a bush with small leaves containing caffeine that the Creek Indians used to make “Black Drink,” for social bonding rituals. Translate:  having coffee with friends.) I love the “tree” (as do the birds—especially the waxwings—that descend on it on their way to wherever they are going and devour the berries it produces). But the shadow area it creates over the front yard has always been a scraggly place of weeds and dirt where grass refuses to grow.

I had the area scooped out in a waxing moon shape and re-dirted. (Writers can make up words, y’all; it’s in the writing rule book. You can look it up….) Then spent three days picking out embedded rocks. I considered many kinds of shade-loving plants, but discovered I really wanted a place for the elves. So, I went moss-fern-rock hunting in the nearby woods and raided the ditch next to our driveway that becomes a stream when it rains, careful to only take a part of the mound to allow it to grow back (a nod to First People wisdom).

My sister sent me a photo of a meditating frog statuette she found. She knew frogs make me smile), and I had to have it. The elves would love it!  The meditating frog has a home now, as does a huge bell and a dragon my husband gave me and other cherished things, including a piece of driftwood from the Gulf beach and three black stones from my husband’s beloved Big South Fork of the Cumberland River in Tennessee.

 

It’s just a beginning. It will take time and patience and lots of sweat, I know, but my garden gifts me with daily joy, and a big smile every time I pass my frog, even though he doesn’t smile back, being absorbed in seeking enlightenment.

The garden reminds that creation requires a balance of destruction and growth.

Destruction is only a changing of forms. The unwanted plants transform into soil, feeding a new generation of life.

The garden is a place of humility. When new life stirs the soil, it also stirs the realization that you are only the tender, that creation comes from the Universe itself and even as you affect it, it affects you.

The act and process of gardening is a metaphor for many things, as is writing. Words blossom. Some need pruning and some need to be pulled out altogether to make room for others that work better. But even that act of creation comes from somewhere that is more than the sum of parts, as any writer will acknowledge.

And often, if you put sweat (metaphorically or real) into it, both words and weeds can create something unique, something beautiful, and maybe even inspiring.

T.K.Thorne is a retired police captain who writes Books, which, like this blog, go wherever her curiosity and imagination take her.  More at TKThorne.com

The Cow Jumped Over the Moon by Lynn Chandler Willis

Back when my now-adult daughter was in kindergarten, I excitedly attended her first parent-teacher conference, anxious to hear the teacher’s impression of how hard I’d worked––um, I mean, how hard my daughter had worked at kindergarten preparation. She could spell, write, and read her first and last name, address, phone number, mom’s name, where her mom worked, etc…She knew her colors and shapes. She recognized the alphabet letters and numbers to 1000. Out of sequence. Okay, I might have exaggerated the numbers a little bit. I was not expecting her teacher to tell me my daughter was having trouble recognizing her farm animal sounds.

I smiled politely and said in my pearl-wearing, sweet tea drinking best southern drawl, “Oh my goodness! Well, we’ll work on that tonight.”

I left that elementary school seething. How dare that teacher say my child couldn’t recognize an oink from a moo and the animal it went with. My child. She knew her farm animal sounds as well as she knew her numbers. We had a See-N-Say at home.

A few days later, I was driving home from somewhere with my daughter strapped into her booster in the back seat. We passed a couple of farms along the way and I spotted some horses grazing in a pasture. I seized the teaching moment, or at least the moment to prove the teacher wrong, and said, “Look, Nina––what does the horsey say?”

My daughter happily waved to the horses and said a big ‘ol “Mooooo.”

Flash forward a few years and my now married daughter had her own baby. I had offered to babysit one day while Nina had to work and she was going to drop him off at my house on her way. All is fine until about 5:30 in the morning and I get that phone call no parent wants to get at that hour. I spring up in bed and grab the phone and Nina’s on the other line, crying, screaming, nearly hysterical and she shouts, “Mom, I had a wreck!”

My heart racing, I jump out of bed and quickly get dressed with the phone in the crook of shoulder and neck. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she cries.

“What about the baby?”

“He’s fine, too.” More sniffles and gasps for breath, then, “We’re both ok but I think the cow’s dead.”

It took me a minute. I bit my tongue. I would not ask her if she was sure it was a cow.

I asked her where she was and told her that her brother and I would be there in a minute. We got to her about the same time the Highway Patrol did. In her defense, she was not speeding. It was still dark outside, rainy and cold and she was on a curvy, rural road and we don’t have street lights on rural roads around here. It turns out that one of the local farmer’s fence had fallen into disrepair and the bovine trekked across the street to greener pastures.

Except it wasn’t just one cow. It was a HERD of cows. A herd. A follow-the-leader line of cows crossing the road on a rainy, dark morning.

After she gave her report to the trooper, she turned to me, still crying, and said, “It was awful, momma. Cows were flying through the air like bowling pins.”

The trooper walked away at that point. I suspect he might have been laughing.

The Unpackables

By Barbara J Eikmeier

I was prepping a sheet pan for a dinner of oven roasted veggies when I ran out of non-stick spray. Shaking the container I didn’t hear or feel even a drop sloshing around in the can. In 38 years of marriage, I’ve rarely emptied a can of Pam. It isn’t that I don’t use it often, and it isn’t that the spray nozzle is notorious for breaking before it’s empty, although that has happened. It’s more about the amount in the can. It’s too much to use up in 2 years.

As a military family we moved often. When the crew came to pack our household goods and load the moving truck, they’d give us a list of things they wouldn’t pack. In the end there was a small cluster of bottles and cans left on the kitchen counter: Pam, vegetable oil, and Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes there was an opened bottle of tequila or whiskey among the unpackables. Hair spray and shaving cream were left in the bathroom. Charcoal lighter and briquettes were left on the patio. Sometimes we’d use the briquettes and throw some hot dogs on the grill to feed the movers. When they were gone, often after sunset, we would toast farewell to our former home with a margarita, or when lacking margarita mix, a shot of tequila, or when lacking a glass, we’d just pass the bottle. If our neighbors weren’t also moving (with their own box of unpackables to deal with) we would gift the last of our liquids to them. It is possible that the same bottle of Worcestershire sauce has been passed from house to house in the same neighborhood for many years. Maybe I should write a story from the Worcestershire bottle’s point of view! It could be my version of the Traveling Pants story!

In 2008 my husband retired from the Army. We haven’t moved since and recently celebrated 14 years in the same house where last winter I actually emptied a bottle of Worcestershire sauce – until then I didn’t know that it gets kind of icky near the bottom of the bottle. There were other unexpected things I learned when I stopped moving: Such as the need to wash curtains and clean the carpet every now and then.  And after a lifetime of absentee ballots I’ve been delighted to learn that the volunteers at my local polling station know me by name.

In a writing workshop an instructor taught a technique of zooming in on a small detail, then zooming back out to see what you can write about the detail.

While changing from a nomadic lifestyle to living in one place my perspective continues shifting – even 14 years later! As I’m zooming in, then zooming back out I notice small things in my environment – like the magnolia tree doesn’t bloom at the exact same time every year, and perennial flowers take years to get perfect – military wives prefer annuals because we don’t stay in one place long enough to see perennials mature. And an empty can of Pam doesn’t make any noise when you shake it.

In my writing I’m continuously working on character and point of view. Zooming in helps. If your character is moving, what’s left on their counter? What do the unpackables reveal about your character?

Barbara J. Eikmeier is a quilter, writer, student of quilt history, and lover of small-town America. Raised on a dairy farm in California, she enjoys placing her characters in rural communities.

Live Theater

   When I was a little girl, my mother made sure I was exposed to books, music, movies, and live theater. She explained these were important ways to learn about and experience culture. The lessons “took,” and my support for the arts cemented. My entire life I’ve been an avid consumer and patron of the arts. (In fact, one of my job titles for several years was Fine Arts Department Chair at Thornton Township High School.)
   Arguably, the least accessible of these forms of art is live theater, yet it is the most potent. I’m exhilarated every time the curtain rises, and I’m right there in the same room with the entertainers. Whether the show is a concert, a play, a comedy act, a dance troupe, acrobatics, or a visit with a celebrity, I’m enthralled by the talent and energy emanating from the stage.
   For me, the arts are what make civilization civilized. They spin the threads that connect people of all races, creeds, and nationalities, so much so that throughout history, tyrants have sought to subvert the arts. One need only look to a society’s artistic expressions to understand its heart.


   I’m proud to be a patron and supporter of The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas, my hometown. The Grand is one of America’s historic theaters. The building itself is a treasure. The art deco touches make the view from the stage, according to performer Michael Buble, “a veritable birthday cake.”
   The Grand’s new season opens on September 17 with Three Dog Night. The rest of the season is stellar, as well, with shows as diverse as Fiddler on the Roof, the music of Sam Cooke, Seong-Ji Cho pianist, and Jose Feliciano.
   I’ve served as program chair, executive board secretary, and president-elect of The Grand, and I’m excited to take the reins of the presidency next month. I’ll continue to work hard to keep our theater the vibrant hub of culture it is in our city, and to keep the arts alive in all communities across the globe. I hope you’ll do the same, and if you’re headed my way, let me know. I’ll send you information about The Grand!

 


Saralyn Richard is the author of five books, including Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, A Palette for Love and Murder, A Murder of Principal, and Bad Blood Sisters. She loves connecting with readers and invites you to subscribe to her monthly newsletter via the website: http://saralynrichard.com.

Saul Golubcow, author of the Frank Wolf and Joel Gordon Mysteries

by Paula Gail Benson

I began reading Saul Golubcow’s stories in the issues of Black Cat Weekly Mystery Magazine. His protagonist, Frank Wolf, survived the Holocaust with his daughter and resettled from Vienna, Austria, to New York City. In his earlier life, Frank was a scholar, but proof of his academic background was destroyed by Nazis. Unable to pursue a career as a professor, Frank became a security guard for a library. Then, eventually, he set up an office as a private detective.

Meanwhile, Frank’s daughter marries and has a son, Joel. When Frank’s daughter is widowed, Frank steps in to help raise Joel, who makes them both proud by attending law school in the 1970s.

So far, there are three Frank Wolf mysteries, now collected in The Cost of Living and Other Stories.

I enjoyed these stories so much that I wrote Saul a fan letter. He graciously responded and agreed to answer questions for posts here and on Writers Who Kill. Today, he tells us about his background and previous experience with writing. Next Monday, we’ll talk about his stories.

SAUL GOLUBCOW:

I can’t say I’m an up and coming young writer but rather a “been there” baby boomer ready to write. As a member of what is called the “Second Generation” child of Holocaust survivors, I was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany after the World War II and came to the United States when I was two. I don’t remember how I learned English, but I am told my first English words were “push me” when sitting on a swing at my cousin’s house in Brooklyn. But even though we did not speak English in our house when I was growing up on a poultry farm in South Jersey, I somehow at a very young age came to love the English language, its nuances, choreography, possibilities for expression and meaning (perhaps much like a musician who is drawn to sounds and rhythms). I was that one kid in sixth grade who loved sentence diagramming.

I cannot remember a time I wasn’t reading, and so I believe expression through language became a part of me waiting for the right time for it to come out. I dabbled in high school writing immature fiction and newspaper articles. In college at Rutgers, I wrote short stories for the literary magazine, and my writing was noticed by an English Department professor who was the editor of a prestigious literary journal (I won’t drop names). He encouraged me to tend bar in New York after graduation as a way of nurturing my writing. But I am not temperamentally a Hemingway, or Kerouac, or Mailer type of person. I might properly be called “the writer as a homebody.” For instance, I am now married 50 years and still love my wife. So I used the Vietnam War and draft as an excuse why I couldn’t follow his advice and, instead, went into VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America, the stateside Peace Corp) and served in the South Bronx (an experience as good as bar tending).

I then worked for a weekly newspaper before heading off to graduate school at SUNY-Stony Brook earning a doctorate in English Literature (I got to read voraciously with a payoff). I wrote my dissertation on “Baseball as Metaphor in American Fiction.” As I indicate in the “Acknowledgments” section of my book, “in graduate school, I had started to scope out stories about Jewish Holocaust survivors in the United States. I had wanted to offer my perspective on these extraordinary people who came with their shattered lives to this wonderful country and, somehow, emphasized living and the future despite the death and destruction they had experienced.” One such character was to be Frank Wolf, loosely based on the personality of my father-in-law. I put these notes away in a desk drawer thinking I would soon come back to them. It took 50 years, as life including raising two wonderful children happened. I taught university level English for three years before leaving teaching and entering the business world (mortgage also happened). During those decades I wrote “thought” pieces on various American and Jewish cultural issues that appeared in different local outlets.

After receiving my doctorate, I taught English courses in Western Pennsylvania at a Penn State University campus and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My wife Hedy was also an academic, and when she was offered a position at the University of Maryland teaching school psychology, we couldn’t turn down such an opportunity, so we moved. But at that time in the late 1970s, we were in the midst of hard economic times (stagflation) with few jobs opening in English. So I left academia to work (ala Wallace Stevens) in an insurance company as a project director (two children and a mortgage driven also). But I did enjoy my work and also did pro bono teaching of my beloved English grammar to customer service representatives whose enthusiasm and thirst for growth was wonderful. From time to time, I tried to write fiction, but I think the exigencies of work and home life did not allow me to create new worlds (and perhaps I still had more growing to do). So I wrote non-fiction opinion pieces which were much easier to construct. But when I retired, the opportunity to create opened to me, and I said, “It’s time.”

When I retired six years ago, my writings increased dramatically. But I wasn’t satisfied as regularly I would pass by that desk with the aging notes inside. Finally a few years ago, I opened the drawer, retrieved the notes, and felt I was ready to fulfill my younger days’ mission. I’m not sure having tended bar would have hastened the fictional output, but my own version of “bar tending,” living my life and growing up and becoming older made me more ready. So I started writing stories about Holocaust survivors in the United States, and when I published a short story with Frank Wolf as Holocaust survivor turned private detective, I wanted (and encouraged by readers) to keep writing about him.

Please join us next Monday when I ask Saul about his fiction. If you haven’t already discovered him, I’m sure you’ll want to add him to your “to be read” list!

 

Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Wedding? by Debra H. Goldstein

Summer is wedding time, and when my friend Debra H. Goldstein’s newest book arrived with a wedding theme, I couldn’t wait to dive in and ask her Just One Question: Is there such a thing as a perfect wedding? Debra’s answer is below, along with a chance to win her latest terrific mystery, Five Belles Too Many! Take it away, Debra! — Shari Randall/Meri Allen

When I think about a “perfect wedding,” I think about a beaming beautiful bride and a thrilled groom. They only have eyes for each other as they happily share their vows, oblivious to everything else at the moment their union is sanctified. It is a wonderful illusion.

Wedding reality differs – none are ever perfect.

From the moment a couple decides to get married, tension ensues. One may want a large wedding, the other a small wedding and the parents may have a third idea as to what they can afford. There may be religious differences that impact who the chosen officiant will be or the venue that can be used. Are there allergies that prevent the use of flowers? Is there a venue rule that prohibits animals which makes it difficult to have the couple’s dog be the ring bearer? Do the parents like the groom or bride? Is there a bridezilla or Mamazilla involved?

Even if all of the pre-ceremony issues can be resolved, things can go wrong during the ceremony. Someone may faint. Rain may disrupt the planned outdoor wedding. Bees may beset a fruit display used as the centerpiece for food being served on the lawn. The rings may be lost or, as happened during my wedding, instead of being tied to the pillow with a slip knot, the six-year-old ringer bearer may re-tie them with double knots so he won’t drop them going down the aisle. To this day, I remember the best man, when asked for the rings twice, saying, “Dammit, Rabbi, I’m trying!” as he feverishly unknotted them.

In the newly released fifth Sarah Blair mystery, Five Belles Too Many, I incorporate the concept of the “perfect Southern wedding” with what happens behind the scenes of reality TV shows. In Five Belles, a New York TV show comes to Wheaton, Alabama to tape five finalist couples vying to win that “perfect Southern wedding.” Four couples are in their twenties, but the fifth couple is Sarah Blair’s sixty-plus-year-old mother, Maybelle, and her friend, George. They entered the contest on a lark, although Maybelle was sure they had a good shot at being finalists because of the demographic need for an older couple.

The show requires the five competing Southern Belles to each have a chaperone. Because Sarah’s twin, Chef Emily, works at night and Mother Maybelle doesn’t want to inconvenience any of her friends, Sarah is forced into the role. Not only does Sarah have mandatory chaperone duties, but she also must juggle her law firm day job and caring for her furry pets, RahRah and Fluffy. What makes it even worse is that the show contracted with Sarah’s greatest nemesis, Jane Clark, to have the contestants and chaperones stay at Jane’s bed and breakfast. Mother Maybelle assures Sarah it won’t be a big deal because she’ll be sleeping most of the time she’s at Jane’s Place, but, unfortunately, on the first night the TV show’s producer is murdered and Jane is found kneeling over his body with blood on her hands. When it is decided that the show must go on, Sarah must find the true killer before any more of the contestants or crew are permanently eliminated.

For a chance to win a copy of Five Belles Too Many (U.S. only), tell me, do you have any “perfect wedding” stories like what happened with the rings at mine?

 

Bethany Maines drinks from an arsenic mug

Maverick Release Day

by Bethany Maines

Maverick Cover, a paranormal romance from Bethany MainesRelease Day

There comes a time in every author’s life when they just go mad and shout “EEET’S ALIVVVVVVVVVVE!” like a mad scientist.  Usually that time is 12:01 am on the release day of their latest book.

Yesterday was that day for me. Maverick, the latest in my Paranormal Romance world of the Supernaturals launched itself out into the world.  Each release day is a little different.  Sometimes we do it up big and smash champagne across the bow and sometimes it’s more of a Bon Voyage as we wave from shore.

Maverick is more of wave from shore launch.  The Three Colors Trilogy that set up the world were done in a “quick release” style with a book coming out every five weeks.  And while that was fun, it was also tiring.  Maverick is a stand-alone book in that same world, that for fans will answer some “but what happens next?” questions and for readers new to the world will be a fun introduction. And while I’ve scheduled a few things, I didn’t feel up to an entire launch sequence.

I enjoyed writing Maverick because although it is part of an existing world it isn’t part of a series.  Series are great because the world of the books gets developed and fleshed out, but they do cause all kinds of chaos and headaches in the plotting.  But with Maverick, I got all the fun of writing in a world where I knew all of the rules, but I didn’t have to worry about setting up the next book.  And the romance ends with a happily ever after (of course) and we can safely the main characters to their happy ending with out any cliffhangers or worrying that it will all be upended next book.

So if you’re looking for a spicy dose of paranormal romance and adventure that won’t leave you hanging – check out Maverick.  Or check out the Three Colors Trilogy for more shmexy shifters with their shirts off.  bethanymaines.com/supernaturals/ I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I have!

MAVERICK: Maverick Lacasse—shifter wolf, bank robber, rebel—didn’t mean to take Deya Jasper with him on his way out of Littleton Texas, but fate had other plans. But as the two flee for California, vampires dog their every step, and both Deya and Maverick find themselves questioning if the unexpected bond they feel can withstand the dangers they face.

ADD MAVERICK ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60863243-maverick

BUY NOW: https://amzn.to/36CMNti

LEARN MORE: https://bethanymaines.com/supernaturals/

***

Bethany Maines the award-winning author of romantic action-adventure and fantasy novels that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind-end.  She has published several independent novels, two novels with Atria, and many 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 TwitterFacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

Welcome to My Living Room

I read somewhere that clutter is a physical manifestation of unmade decisions, and what creates our clutter is procrastination. I know. There’s proof of it right inside my front door.

 Welcome to my living room.

There’s a reason why it resembles the loading dock at your neighborhood Goodwill.

After months on the market, I received an offer to buy my mother’s place, but only if I handed it over within days, which meant clearing out everything: all the furniture, art, clothes, books, tchotchkes, and mementos from Mom’s life and from generations before her.

I sprang into action and gave away furniture to anyone who would haul it off, toted dozens of boxes and bags full of clothing and household items to local charities, lugged a couple of lawn bags heavy with decades of paper receipts to the shredder, and offloaded books (Mom owned hundreds of them) to various collectors. By the closing date, everything was out of there. Whew!

The rest of the stuff landed at my place. Most of the mess is in the living room, but there’s more in almost every previously unoccupied space in our home.

During the move-out frenzy, I had to pause my writing schedule. But as soon as I could make a walking path between the boxes, I returned to my desk to finish the third Samantha Newman Mystery. I had to, for my own sanity, and for my wonderful readers who were expecting it months ago. The writing is going well, except for times when the chaos in the living room starts cluttering my mind.

What to do with the 17 pair of gloves that Mom wore to all her fancy lady events? I’ll keep a pair or two for sentimental reasons, but my heart won’t let me trash the rest. And what about her golf cleats and bowling shoes, and the elegant chandelier that’s now crated up and needs a new home? I could go on, and on, and on, and on, but there’s no point cluttering this post with the rest of it.

There’s a time and a place for everything, or so the saying goes. I hope so. Like Book 3 of my mystery series, the clearing-out is still a work in progress. For now, I’m going to concentrate on finishing the book, except for the occasional bagging and boxing and carting off. Eventually, the mess in the living room will sort itself out. Until then, procrastination can take a seat, if he can find one.

Are you okay with the clutter in your life?

Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mysteries including The Body Business and The Body Next Door. Book 3 is set for release in 2022.

The School of Always Learning

By Donnell Ann Bell

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ― George Eliot “

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” ― Andy Warhol

I didn’t go to Harvard. I write a character that enjoys a sterling curriculum vitae, but unlike him I didn’t have what I would call a crowning education. Growing up in a small town, I received the basics, doing well in English and science, things that interested me. But when it came to advanced math, I was lost. I knew it early on in Algebra class and certainly by the time I enrolled in Geometry.  It never occurred to me to seek out a guidance counselor, nor was it ever offered.

While my plight may sound pathetic, I was bright. I liked to write. I also made good grades. I enjoyed my humanities and sociology classes, and a favorite of mine was (forgive the age-old stereotype) Secretary Office Practice. I particularly loved Shorthand. I reached 120-words-per-minute and won awards, and to this day I use Greg shorthand to write my stories. After college, I became an administrative assistant in the Land Department, and when my boss, the Division Land Manager, was offered employment elsewhere, he invited me to join him. By doing so, I earned a substantial raise and more education. When he retired, I stayed at the company and became a supervisor in the division.

The reason I make this deep dark confession about my education is because I am reading repeatedly how the pandemic has set our children back and how public education is failing. I cannot argue either point. We are facing a crisis. According to the World Bank, literacy is trending backwards.

Still, I remain ever hopeful.

Years ago, a young woman came to my house with her two small boys. During our visit, she lamented the boys’ teacher had not taught her children to read. I was rather stunned that she felt she should leave such an important task up to one person. One of my greatest joys as a parent was reading to my children. As my kids grew older, I’d take one page, they’d take the next. It was solid gold, not only in spending time with my children but in educating them as well. A teacher is merely one cog in the learning machine.

Here’s another lesson I learned about education. It’s not stagnant. As human beings, we have the ability to learn and grow throughout our lifetimes.

My husband is a chemical engineer and enjoys giving back. He’s tutored students in math, and when my children were small, he became involved in Junior Achievement and a program called Math Counts. My children attended a small Catholic grade school, kindergarten through eighth grade. Les worked with the seventh and eighth graders on Math Counts and discovered the students in the upper grades were behind. He insisted we move our children, stating, “If a child falls behind in reading, they can catch up. In math, not so much.” We moved our kids to a more affluent school system. They did well. My son is a CPA. My daughter graduated with a B.S. in Business, emphasis in supply chain management. She now works in IT.

Was my husband correct in his assumption that those children who stayed behind could never catch up?  One student in his former Math Count’s program is a medical doctor in Denver and heads up her department, so you tell me.

I have a friend who barely graduated high school. At one time, he was so down on his luck, he missed car payments. His dad invited him to help him build a small golf course in Montana. My friend had never played golf in his life. His response? “I don’t know, Dad. Let me go play a round, and I’ll get back to you.” A long success story considerably shortened, that invitation led to my friend building and working for celebrated golf-course designers in the U.S. and internationally.

Back to me, after college and as a working adult, I used my love of shorthand to go to court reporting school. I learned English, anatomy, and, of course, medical, and legal terminology–courses that admittedly fascinated me.  Although I achieved speeds of 245 wpm and passed my state boards, my career was cut short by a hand injury. A window opened, however, and I left that career and went to work for a weekly business newspaper. My role as topic submission editor and in writing spotlight articles led to my fiction career.

Yes, 2020 and the Pandemic have put us behind. But while traditional K-12 education is a vital steppingstone to college, it’s not the only avenue for additional learning. There are numerous outreach organizations that support advancement, particularly in literacy. http://literacyoutreach.org/   The situation is bleak and for now that’s where the focus and headlines remain.

However, as parents, grandparents, and other caring individuals, I cannot believe all is lost. That opinion is bolstered each time I start a new book and am astounded by the additional knowledge I obtain in researching a novel.

How about you? Are you a member of The School of Always Learning? Do you have a story to share, and are you enrolled in my school?

About the Author:  Leaving international thrillers to world travelers, Donnell Ann Bell concentrates on suspense that might happen in her neck of the woods – writing SUSPENSE TOO CLOSE TO HOME. Traditionally published with Bell Bridge Books, she has written four Amazon single-title bestsellers, with her most current release Black Pearl, a Cold Case Suspense, book one of a series, and Until Dead, a Cold Case Suspense, book two, which was released May 31, 2022.

Donnell has won or been nominated for The Colorado Book Award, The Epic Award for Best Thriller Suspense, Greater Detroit’s Booksellers Best for Best First Book and Best Single Title, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and the Holt Medallion, among others. She co-owns Crimescenewriter, an online group, in which law enforcement, forensic experts, and a multitude of related professionals assist authors in getting those pesky facts right in our novels.

To learn more about her books, sign up for her newsletter or follow her on social media, check out www.donnellannbell.com