Fighting the Good Fight

Fighting the Good Fight—For the Arts

by Saralyn Richard

My first foray into the world of teaching was as an English instructor, and I learned a lot about working with students in a required academic subject.  Several years into that career, I earned a graduate degree in administration, and I switched out of the English department and into Fine Arts. The Fine Arts department consisted of visual arts, speech and theater, music, and foreign language (still a mystery how that fits, except that foreign language does involve some performance skills).

As the Fine Arts chairperson, and later the Assistant Principal in charge of Fine Arts (and other departments), I learned a few things immediately:

  1. As elective subjects, the students were more motivated to learn, attended more frequently, and earned better grades than in the required subjects.
  2. The arts provided extensive opportunities for extra-curricular activities that enhanced and enriched the school community as a whole. In essence, Fine Arts was the heart of the school.
  3. Every year when it was time for students to choose electives, the Fine Arts had to fight for its existence.

One might wonder why classes that were so successful and valuable would have to justify their worth continually. The reasons run deep, and they extend beyond the school system and into society as a whole. There are mandates—required subjects take precedence, so resources of time, space, and personnel must be assigned to them first. There are budget restrictions. Performing arts may require expensive equipment, uniforms, and supplies. The extra-curricular activities associated with the classes add another layer of expense with travel to competitions and coaching costs.

The annual effort to promote the department and recruit students to take the classes was monumental, and it included some extraordinary teachers and events, like a Fine Arts Festival, to make a difference.

Fortunately, our board members, administrators, teachers, and parents embraced the value of the arts and pushed to keep the department viable.

Fast forward to the present, and I find myself still in the fray. As an author, I face increasing challenges in the literary arts—publishing and marketing woes, intense competition for reach into audiences, threats of AI, and more. I also serve as the President of the Board of our local historic theater, and I find the same challenges there, a scarcity of resources, a need to fill the seats for the shows, a competition for entertainment dollars.

The arts are still considered frills—nice if you can have them, but easy to cut if you need to trim the budget. Yet I can’t imagine life in a society where there are no books, plays, concerts, ballets, symphonies, or art galleries to provoke thought and discourse and to touch people’s hearts. We can’t have culture without arts, and we can’t have a full life without culture.

I dislike politics in all its forms, but I always stand up for the arts wherever and whenever I can. Do you?

Saralyn Richard writes award-winning humor- and romance-tinged mysteries that pull back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. An active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature, and continues to write mysteries. Her favorite thing about being an author is interacting with readers like you. Visit Saralyn here, on her Amazon page here, or on Facebook here.


Missing Malice – A Love Letter

by Sparkle Abbey

Awards Banquet Table

Malice Domestic is the annual convention that celebrates the traditional mystery and frankly it’s one of our favorites.  This year we were unable to attend and we were so bummed. From our very first Malice Domestic and multiple ones since that first one, the mystery community welcomed us. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to meet readers who have become friends. And thankful for all the wisdom shared, advice offered,  and great tips from other mystery authors. Sometimes tips about things we were too new to the business to even know we were going to need to know. We listened, we took notes, and we soaked it all in.

It was necessary but so very difficult to not be there this year. We were sad to miss getting to meet new people, see old friends, and share in the celebrations. To everyone who posted photos on social media, thank-you so much. It was wonderful to get to live a little bit of that Malice magic vicariously.  To all of the Agatha Award nominees and winners that we didn’t get to congratulate in person – congratulations! If you missed the list of Agatha winners you can find it here: Announcing the Agatha Award Winners

And if you have not yet read these books, you should. All of them.

And by the way, registration is open for Malice Domestic 2024. And we’re not missing out again. We hope to see you there!

sparkle and abbeySparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the website


Hi. I’m Debra and I’m an author on a deadline which means I’m working on and thinking about my WIP 24/7. Not only do I have a deadline looming, I have a release in about 50 days of a brand new series. So this is why this month’s post will be an excerpt. I seriously can’t think of anything to write. My brain is fried and it needs a break from words.

The excerpt below is from my upcoming novel, HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES, and it’s the first book in the Cookie Shop Mystery series. It releases on June 20th in print, ebook and audio formats.

Here’s the excerpt and I hope you enjoy meeting Mallory Monroe, a cookiepreneur turned amateur-sleuth.


“Why was the cookie so angry with the baker?” Kip Winslow asked the group of five women as they tied their aprons. He waited for a beat before sharing the punchline.

Mallory Monroe paused as she walked out of the bakery’s kitchen. She tried not to roll her eyes at her friend and employee’s joke, knowing the punch line was going to be just terrible—and that she’d laugh all the same.

“He had a chip on his shoulder,” Kip finished with a chuckle.

The women, who had signed up for the beginner cookie decorating class, laughed at the silly joke. Though Mallory noticed one of them, who had introduced herself as Elana Peterson, barely cracked a smile. Even Kip’s worst jokes usually got a small smile. Or a groan. Something.

Once the women were settled, Kip returned to the kitchen to make sure the sugar cookies would be ready to swap out when it came time to start decorating. Mallory took her spot at the farmhouse table she’d found while antiquing. Because of her tight budget, which had no wiggle room, she had to be creative regarding the bakery’s décor. But, thanks to flea market trips, learning how to sand and paint, and a lot of elbow grease—hers and Kip’s—she had unique furnishings that added the extra oomph she wanted for the bakery.

“Are you ready to decorate?” Mallory looked at each woman, and four out of five nodded enthusiastically. The fifth, Elana, gave only a slight nod, and even that seemed half-hearted. Her friends noticed, and their excitement seemed to temper. Mallory didn’t need the group’s energy dipping. To keep the upbeat mood— after all, cookies were supposed to make people happy—Mallory quickly launched into the story of how she had become the owner of The Cookie Shop.

“I’m so happy you’re here today because I get to share with you my passion for cookies and cookie decorating. When I was a little girl, I visited Wingate and I spent most of my time right here with my Aunt Glenna.” Her voice choked, and she wondered when she would be able to talk about her aunt without getting emotional. It seemed like only yesterday Aunt Glenna had given her blessing at the re-grand opening of the bakery.

“She was a wonderful woman,” the woman to the right of Elana said. “Excellent baker.”

“Thank you. It was here, with her, that I discovered my love for baking and decorating cookies.” Mallory blinked, hoping to keep back the tears. She missed her aunt so much. She missed how her aunt smelled of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger—her own spicy fragrance from hours of baking. She missed how her aunt whispered, “When it’s made with love, the recipe is never wrong,” when Mallory messed up a batch of cookies. She smiled at the memories and then continued.

“Back then, I dreamed of being a baker like my aunt. But then life happened. I grew up, got a degree, and found success in advertising.”

“You’ve had quite a change in your life,” the gray-haired woman seated across from Mallory said.

“I have. The one thing that never changed, though, was baking and decorating cookies every chance I got. Then one day, I discovered cookie bouquets, and I was hooked. I made them whenever there was a birthday or new baby or promotion.” The last word stuck in her throat, and she swallowed hard. She hated to admit it, but she still harbored some bitterness after not getting the promotion she’d worked so hard for. Looking back, perhaps it had been for the best. It was one of the reasons she had taken the biggest leap of faith in her life—buying the bakery. And then changing pretty much everything about it.

“You’ve certainly made this place your own,” said the woman seated next to Elana.

Mallory nodded as her gaze traveled around the bakery. She’d loved the bakery just the way it was, but her vision for the space was more colorful and whimsical than her aunt’s had been.

Once the keys were handed over, Mallory had gotten to work. She’d revamped the front of the bakery. The white walls were given a fresh coat of light green paint, and then she added framed wallpaper panels. She chose a floral wallpaper with giant rhododendrons in pastel colors. Over the antique wood floor stood a long console table she’d found at a tag sale. After stripping and painting it lime green, she used it to display a variety of cookie baskets she offered. An oversized, chunky pedestal table in the center of the bakery had also been stripped and then painted a deep coral. She topped it with two smaller pedestal stands. There she displayed smaller cookie baskets and the hand-dipped gourmet apples she also sold.

She continued speaking for another minute, wrapping up her story, and then got to work. For the class, they were making simple cookie pops. Gathered together, they’d make a sweet bouquet. She demonstrated how to roll out the sugar dough, cut out the daisy-shaped cookies, and insert the bamboo stick.

She made her way around the table to check everyone’s progress. This wasn’t exactly a difficult task. Mallory expected these women to have had some experience with this basic skill of baking.





To celebrate the release of HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES I’m giving away bookmarks and stickers.

If you send me a screenshot of your confirmed pre-order for HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES along with you mailing address (US domestic addresses only) I will mail you a bookmark and sticker.

If you get your print books, ebooks or audio books from your local library, send me either a confirmed hold or borrow for the audio or ebook when it’s available in your library or a photo of the print book you’ve taken out of the library. Be sure to include your mailing address. Also, if the book isn’t available in your local library, please request it. 🙂

The email address to send your order confirmation is or just reply to this email.





Debra Sennefelder is the author of the Food Blogger Mystery series and the Resale Boutique Mystery series.

She lives and writes in Connecticut. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking, exercising and taking long walks with her Shih-Tzu, Connie.

You can keep in touch with Debra through her website, on Facebook and Instagram.

What’s Your Superpower?

I’m sitting in a condo at Hilton Head Island, enjoying the rainstorm. I keep hearing the beep-beep notification of an alarm or battery going dead. I try and pinpoint its location to no avail. The maintenance guy sat on a counter chatting with the front desk operator. I explained that I have a Superpower which is great ears, and I keep hearing a beep. The maintenance guy asked what room I was in. When I told him, he said, “Aha, the door alarm.” He followed me down the hallway, but his key, a real key, not a pass card would not fit in the door marked, “Employees Only.” He headed back to the reception area to find a housekeeper who he said had the proper key.

Upon his return he shook his head and told me the door he wanted was outside, not the one he’d been trying. He asked if I still heard it because he could not. I said I did. He went outside. He returned and asked me to follow him. The rain had moved on to a faint shower, and I barely got wet when I took his steps behind my condo, which was on the corner. Inside a two-story tall eight-by-ten room was a bank of computer screens high on the wall. And the beep-beep got louder.

He pointed at the screens. “Is this what you’re hearing?”

“Yes.” We shared a high-five.

He looked up at the screens and said, “Now, to remember how to fix this.”

I waved to him before I returned to my room. Twenty minutes later, a knock came at the door.


I opened the door and greeted him.
“Can you hear it now?”

“No.” I said. “Great job. And thank you for listening to me.”“Thank you for having great hearing before I left for the day.”

What’s your superpower?

My boss likes to as this question of others. It’s a great conversation starter and makes one think about their assets, their strengths, their abilities in a positive manner.
Besides hearing, I’m also good at knowing someone needs something before they need it. I’ll hand someone a writing instrument and a pad of paper before they think they want to take down a note. I’ll have a water bottle at the ready before speaker’s voice begins to falter and they rea

lize they need a drink.

What’s your superpower?

Lean into it today. Realize your worth. Enjoy you being you. We all have something to give to the world.


Robin Hillyer Miles

Robin is currently editing “Cathy’s Corner,” a contemporary romance with a pinch of magic realism that she is determined to get published before her 60th birthday this November. In the meantime, enjoy one of her short stories that can be found in “Love in the Lowcountry Winter Holiday Volumes I & II.”

Rejects Pack Trilogy

by Bethany Maines


So last year I swore I wasn’t going to do another “quick” release of a trilogy because that was just too much work.  The Supernatural world of the 3 Colors Trilogy was so much fun, but was I ever tired by the time A Brighter Yellow came out.  I thought that I would revisit that world, but I thought maybe I’d take a breather.

Side note: quick is in quotes because some people think quick is a book a week. To misquote Sonny and Cher – that ain’t me, babe. One a month is plenty fast.


Well, apparently delivering books is like delivering babies.  They’re just so dang cute that you want another one and the mind blocks out the pain.  So, this summer I will be bringing you the Rejects Pack. The inspiration for the series was really that I watched too much Indiana Jones and The Mummy and thought… There should be werewolves in this. I love that light-hearted banter, the sweet romance, and heroes who swash and or buckle even if they’re not in full pirate mode.

The Rejects Pack Trilogy focuses on a pack of wolves (and one human) who have been rejected by their birthpacks, only to be welcomed by Alexander “Alekos” Ash in the magical wasteland of Greece. Alekos is searching for vindication–attempting to prove that his brother wasn’t responsible for the Night of 1000 Deaths that stripped Greece of magic during WWII.  And it finally seems like that goal is within his reach.

Hudson (book 1) – May 10

Hudson is a shifter wolf with a YouTube channel focused on hand-forging period accurate weaponry and he falls headlong into love, adventure, and a mysterious tomb with Yazmin Hunter-Blake, an Egyptology student looking for a treasure trove of Egyptian artifacts.

Killian (book 2) – June 14

Killian is shifter wolf on a mission to the long lost Library of Alexandria to bring back the spells to create a werewolf and save his human packmate, but amnesia, a beautiful she-wolf named Moira DeSandre and a horde of warlocks are all causing some problems.

Alekos (book 3) – July 19

Alpha wolf Alekos has been looking for the mystical cause of the Night of 1000 Deaths that stripped magic from Greece and killed his brother, but fate is about to bring him face to face with his brother’s murderer, an ancient magic, and Eliandra Smith, the human who might be his fated mate.

Stay tuned for additional fun things like Goodreads Print Editions Giveaways and E-book Edition Giveaways!

Pre-Order Here:

Add to your Goodreads List:

Enter to Win a Print Edition of Hudson:

Watch the Trailer:


Bethany Maines is the award-winning author of action-adventure and fantasy tales that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind end. She can usually be found chasing after her daughter, or glued to the computer working on her next novel (or screenplay). You can also catch up with her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and BookBub.

How to Connect with Your Local Libraries by Shari Randall

I’ve invited two guests today, Susan Hammerman and Cari Dubiel. Both have served with me as Sisters in Crime’s National Library Liaison and they have a wealth of information and advice to share with authors eager to connect with libraries.  Susan interviewed Cari and got her helpful tips on how published and aspiring authors can connect with their local libraries, get their books added to local library collections, and pitch great topics for public programs. Cari is a published author and the Assistant Director of Twinsburg Public Library in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Susan is a writer, former rare books librarian, and coordinator of SINC’s We Love Libraries program.

Thank you for joining us! xo Shari

Published authors want to get their books on library shelves and in the hands of library patrons. What should they do to get their novels added to a library’s collection?

A writer should come in and ask for the name of the person who handles collection development for the library. Making a personal connection with the collection development librarian will really help you. Tell them about your book, where it falls, and a little about yourself. If you’re not comfortable starting the conversation in person, you could begin by sending an email to introduce yourself.

Which Libraries Should Published Authors Target?

Your local public libraries, where your books will be popular and circulate.  It’s better to contact the libraries around you—near where you live or where you’re from, where there’s an obvious connection to you or your book.

What about a broader approach? Should authors reach out to as many libraries as possible through cold calling, mass email, or bulk mailing?

I probably won’t buy a book based on a blind mailing, a cold call, or an email that went to every library in the country. There is nothing about it that would hook me in. I have to spend a lot of my budget on bestsellers. In order for me to be interested in a backlist title, I have to have a personal or direct connection to the book or the author. I have limited money to work with, but if I see a title set in or around Twinsburg or from a local author, I usually buy it. There’s an author who grew up in Twinsburg, who now lives in Georgia. His reaching out to me to tell me about his book made sense. He has a real connection to our library.

A local public library can’t purchase every published book. What should authors, especially indie and self-published authors, do to confirm their books fall within the scope of a library’s collection?

Read your library’s collection policy to make sure your novel fits. The collection policy describes what the library purchases. The policy should be posted on the library’s website. If it isn’t posted on the website, explain to the librarian that you’re an author, and ask for a printed copy of it.

What else can published authors do to connect with their local library?Think about what you can do for the library, like offering to lead a public program for them.

What are some ideas for public programs that authors could suggest?Think of broader topics that are tied to your book and would have public appeal. An author who writes a cozy series about garage sales asked me for ideas, and I suggested she have a program on how to get the best deals at garage sales. Everyone would come to that. My books have codes and cryptography. I could have a program where I talk about the history of cryptography and ciphers.

You had to research something when you were writing your book. Think about whether you could turn that research into a public program. Ask your local public librarians. Find out what’s popular.

What about writing-related topics?Those programs are really popular. Patrons like hearing about an author’s writing journey. I also had success with a program where the author talked about the difference between traditional and indie publishing.

What about authors trying to get their local libraries to host their book signings?

Unless you’re famous, a library probably isn’t going to host a book signing for your book. Solo book signings usually do not do well. You could do all the PR in the world, and unless you have a huge investment in it and a big network of your own, you’re not going to get people to attend it. If the library is willing to do it for you, then you need to make sure people show up.

Not all libraries have them, but if your library has an author fair (Twinsburg does, and it’s very popular), then try to get included in that instead.

Should aspiring authors try to connect with their local librarians or is it better to wait until they have published books?

You should try to get to know your local librarians—but in an authentic, genuine way. Ask the librarians about themselves. Get to know them. You could ask them for recommendations for comp titles for your manuscript, which would allow you to describe your work, or ask for recommendations for books on writing craft. Another option is to attend public programs you’re interested in. Also, if your local library has a writers’ group, go to it, and share your successes.

Susan Hammerman, a former rare book librarian, is the Library Liaison and coordinator of the We Love Libraries program. Susan writes crime and neo-noir short stories. Her stories have appeared in Suspense Magazine, Mystery Magazine, Dark City Mystery Magazine, Blood and Bourbon, Retreats From Oblivion, and the Stories (Within) anthology. Website and Twitter

Cari Dubiel is the Assistant Director at Twinsburg Public Library in Ohio. She was the Library Liaison for the National SinC board from 2012-2017 and remains active in the Northeast Ohio chapter (NEOSinC). Her short stories appear in several anthologies, the most recent being Family (Writing Bloc, 2022). Cari is represented by Lynnette Novak of the Seymour Agency. Cari offers an exclusive work for her fans and followers, HOW TO REMEMBER, an award winner from the Mystery Writers of America (Midwest Chapter) and Library Journal. Get a free copy at





Readers, have you visited your local library lately? 



Clicking Our Heels – Our Favorite Food Places to Speed Dial

Last month, we talked about some of our favorite foods. Rather than leaving that topic, we began to wonder what food or restaurant we each have as our respective speed dial favorites. As you can imagine, our answers are a mixed bag.

T.K. Thorne – Assuming we had such a thing where I live (our neighbors are cows), sushi.

Bethany MainesThere is a restaurant down the street that makes the BEST wonton soup, but due to the cost they’re the speed dial button I only use in case of emergency. However, Tatanka Take-Out, down the block in the other direction does know our names and will stay open an extra few minutes so we can run over and pick up our order.

Debra H. Goldstein – Pizza. Any and all pizzerias.

Anita CarterGateway Market for their Cranberry Walnut Salad with Grilled Chicken.

Shari Randall/Meri Allen  I have way too many take out spots on my speed dial. My kids call me the Take Out Queen. But if I had to pick one, I’d say tacos.

Mary Lee Ashford – There are several local eateries on my speed dial and I have to confess that during the pandemic I added a few more. One favorite is Main Street Bakery & Cafe and they have the best Cuban in town. But then for burgers, there’s Lachele’s Fine Foods, and for Italian food there’s Latin King, and … well, my speed-dial is extensive. Bottom line, there are a lot of great restaurants in town and mostly my favorites are the locally owned specialty spots.

Barbara Eikmeier – La Mesa, the Mexican restaurant down the road. I love their Chicken Fajita Taco Salad, their Spanish speaking servers, and their brightly colored painted chairs carved with parrots, flowers and fruit.

Linda Rodriguez – I have a favorite Mexican restaurant, where I am considered familia, the oldest daughter is my goddaughter, and their food is fantastic, so we patronize them a lot. Just a couple of blocks from our house is a soul food restaurant, where we’re also considered family with some of the best Southern home cooking you ever ate in your entire life, and if we’ve not been there for a while, they worry about my health and check in on us.

Lynn McPherson – An NYC deli with big sandwiches, please!

Lois WinstonBecause takeout involves someone other than just me, and he has very pedestrian taste in food, I’m sorry to say that it’s always the boring trifecta of pizza, Chinese, or hoagies.

Kathryn Lane – My own kitchen is my favorite place for favorite meals! I like to know what’s in my food, and I like fresh vegetables year-round, cod chowder when it’s cold, and guacamole in the summer!

Gay Yellen – Hu’s Cooking. Mr. Hu delivers fresh, authentic Chinese every time. Three Cups Chicken, full of garlic, basil, and ginger. And yes, he’s cooking.

Saralyn Richard – My default go-to restaurant is a small, cozy, clean, and friendly Greek restaurant called Kritikos Olympia Grill. Everything on the menu is fresh and healthy, but I always get the same thing–an avocado Greek salad.

Robin Hillyer-Miles – My favorite thing to order is a poke bowl with rice, lettuce, shrimp, edamame, corn, and whatever fits my fancy.

Dru Ann Love – Chinese.

Donnell Ann Bell – Hmmm, I haven’t ordered in since my husband and I moved to Las cruces. Thinking back to Colorado Springs let’s go with Thai food or pizza.

The Countdown to Malice is on!

By Lynn McPherson

Today marks only thirty days until Malice Domestic, the annual mystery conference. I can’t wait. I’ll be on a panel, too, which makes it extra exciting. For anyone who hasn’t been, I highly recommend it. I went last year so I know it is well worth attending. The conference is in North Bethesda, Maryland, not far from Washington D.C. I’m flying there from Toronto with fellow author Desmond P. Ryan. If the timing or location doesn’t work for you, there are lots of other fabulous conferences to choose from.

Here’s a list:

Left Coast Crime, Sleuthfest, Bouchercon, Thrillerfest, Crime Bake, Killer Nashville… I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two, but it’s a start. As I menti

oned, I went to Malice Domestic last year. I was lucky enough to go to Thrillerfest in 2019 too. I was lucky enough to be on a panel there as well. It’s worth doing your homework to decide which conference works best for you. In the meantime, I thought I’d outline reasons for attending in the first place.

  1. It is a great way to meet fellow authors, readers, and industry professionals. Like a kid in a candy store, these festivals are perfect for anyone who loves mystery. Everywhere you look, you’ll be surrounded by other mystery lovers. What’s not to love?
  2. Networking. Love it or hate it, in today’s competitive market, it’s important to get your name out there. Mystery authors have a reputation for helping each other succeed. It’s nowhere more obvious than when you meet people in person. Author friends are fun because they understand what you do, they love to talk writing, and they will share tips about what works for them. It’s not always easy to put yourself out there but it’s worth the effort. What’s better than meeting a new friend who shares your passion? Maybe you could decide to cross promote or interview each other on your website or retweet good news. That’s all networking is–making friends and helping each other succeed. Not so bad, huh?
  3. A chance to get out of your comfort zone. As writers, it’s important to engage in the world. See how others think, behave, move. Why not do it where you can learn, have fun, and be inspired? Simple.

There you have it, folks. A few reasons to take a chance and attend a conference. Is anyone else planning to attend Malice? If so, hope to see you there. Please come and find me if you do!

Lynn McPherson is the former Vice-Chair of Crime Writers of Canada, and a fan of all things cozy. She is the author of the Izzy Walsh Mystery Series, and has a new book coming out with Level Best Books in 2024. She also has a book under the pseudonym Sydney Leigh coming out next spring with Crooked Lane Books. You can find her at

When Will We Learn? by T.K. Thorne

It felt like a blow—what the woman beside me was saying.

Questions flicked through my mind: Was this what happened? How could I not remember that? Why did I not remember what had triggered the entire thing?

Circa 1980:

My partner and I went into a well-known restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama to eat dinner. We were working the Evening Shift (3-11 pm). Though we were both young female officers in the Birmingham Police Department, the shift sergeant had put us together to work a beat that included two housing projects, a couple of fast-food joints, and one “nice” restaurant—the one we walked into.

Females and black officers were a small population. My partner was a member of a smaller demographic as a black female officer. I was a minority of “one” as a Jewish police officer, evidenced by my engraved name tag.

My religion was not something I spoke much about, unless someone asked a question. Thankfully, I never encountered direct prejudice from fellow officers about it. Dealing with being a rookie and a female rookie was enough. But that is another tale.

This story began when we entered the restaurant and sat at a booth. One of us took the portable radio from her gun belt and placed it on the table, as was customary for uniformed officers when eating. The man in a booth behind us twisted around and asked if we could turn it off. I replied we would turn it down and did so. When he repeated his request, I explained we had to keep the radio on in case we were called or there was an emergency we needed to respond to. Again, we adjusted the volume as low we could and still hear it.

This did not satisfy the “gentleman,” who stood and snarled at us.

I have always remembered what he said as being something that included the “N” word; he got loud in the restaurant with his remarks; and we arrested him for Disorderly Conduct or (possibly) Public Drunk, not without some trouble. After being told he was under arrest, he became passive-aggressive, sitting down again in the tight booth and refusing to stand up. It took several officers to carry him to the police car.

Forty-plus years later at a retired female officers’ luncheon, I sat next to the woman who had been my partner that night, the first time I had seen her since those days. She told me the story as she remembered it. Her recollection, though similar in the basics to mine, contained a particular addition that stunned me. After twice requesting that we turn off our radios, the man stood and said, “What do you expect from a ‘N-word’ and a Jew?”

She threw the contents of her salad bowl at him.

I don’t know and didn’t ask if the lettuce connected, but I assume (and hope) so.

Apparently, he had spoken loud enough that others heard him and, according to my partner, something like a bar brawl ensued, with people taking sides, and I called for backup. Several went to jail. In court, the judge required him to make contributions to a charity of our choice (a unique sentence, but one that seems aligned with the principles of justice).

What disturbs me is not that I forgot many of the details—I have forgotten way more than I remember about the past—but that I forgot the “. . . and a Jew” part.

Did I just pass it off as a drunk idiot, and it faded from my mind? This seems odd, since I distinctly remember the first and only time someone called me a “kike” (a derogatory slur for a Jew) in middle school. It stunned me. It is one thing to know intellectually that some nebulous people hate you, another to hear it from the mouth of your peers.

So why did I forget?

I don’t know the answer. But I know that anti-Semitism has increased 500% over the past decade in the country I call home. And it is still on the rise.

And that makes me profoundly sad . . .  fearful . . . and angry at those who spew hatred and spread conspiracy lies that have roots hundreds of years old.

I have researched and written about the Civil Rights days of my city. I know that the movement for Black rights—to vote freely, to sit in the restaurant of their choice, to go to a school with White children, etc.—was decried as a “Black-Jewish Communist Conspiracy.”

Blacks and Jews have their own stories, their own histories, but we are particularly linked.

In a deeper sense, the entire human race is linked. As Dr. King wrote from the Birmingham Jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

And from a song of my youth: “When we will ever learn? When we will ever . . . learn?”

T.K. Thorne writes stories and books about whatever moves her and wherever her imagination flies.






T.K. Thorne writes stuff and books wherever her imagination flies.








Teaching Creative Writing

Teaching Creative Writing

By Saralyn Richard

I always wanted to be an author, but I was sidetracked into teaching by my parents, who felt writing was not a real job. I didn’t mind that much. I loved teaching, too, and when the opportunity arose for me to teach creative writing to high school students, I was in heaven!

I had a slew of very talented and creative youngsters, as well as some who elected to take the class in order to get out of writing a term paper in the more academic English classes. Many of the students took creative writing for two years, so I got to know them well. As a bonus, the creative writing classes were responsible for producing the school’s annual literary magazine. The magazine was technically an extra-curricular activity for first-year students, but the second-year students worked on the publication during class and took editorial roles.

Many of my students became writers or teachers of writing, a fact that continues to thrill me. They remain part of my writing community.

After I left the high school classroom, I started teaching creative writing to senior citizens, ages fifty and older. Our venue was the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Most of the learners there had retired from a wide diversity of careers, not writing. They wanted to give writing a try.

Here are some insights I gained from teaching in these different age groups:

High School Senior Citizens
Had trouble coming up with subjects to write about. Had so many subjects to write about, hard to pick just one.
Target audience was typically narrow, other teens. Target audience was broad and diverse.
Limited in their reading experiences Extensive reading experiences made for better vocabulary and development of ideas.
Harder to find a point of view and voice Easier to conceptualize POV and voice
More imaginative and willing to take risks More likely to follow traditional patterns of writing
More curious and willing to explore new avenues Less willing to “break the rules”
Great storytellers Great storytellers

Many of the lessons I taught to both groups were the same:  writing with specific details, imagery, figures of speech; dialogue; how to write exposition, narrative, and description; creating characters and settings; point of view; stylistic devices. All of the classes were super-fun, and I learned as much as I taught.

Have you ever taken or taught a creative writing class? What was the most valuable lesson you encountered?


Saralyn Richard is the award-winning author of the Detective Parrott mystery series, BAD BLOOD SISTERS, A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL, and NAUGHTY NANA. Check out her website at, and sign up for her monthly newsletter for fun content, contests, and opportunities to connect.