Tag Archive for: Bonnie Stevens

In Memory of Bonnie (B.K.) Stevens

In Memory of Bonnie (B.K. ) Stevens by
Debra H. Goldstein

In the
movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, there
is a line “No man is a failure who has friends.” The outpouring of testamentary
comments on list servs, Facebook, and exchanged through private e-mails as
people learned of the sudden death of Bonnie
(B.K.) Stevens
demonstrates what a success she was.

success was based on talent as a writer, but more importantly the ability to be
a mensch as a person. Whether through a congratulatory note, post, or other
gesture, Bonnie let people know she cared about them. In a date of social
media, she took the time to use those devices to connect with a human touch.

and I became list serv acquaintances in 2014, but our true friendship began in
January 2015 when, while reading back issues of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine,
I came across her short story, Thea’s
First Husband
. I didn’t know it had been nominated for Macavity and Agatha
awards, only that it moved me in a way few stories, other than Shirley
Jackson’s The Lottery, had. As a
bottom of the heap short story writer, I recognized I was reading how a master
interweaves plot, dialogue, and setting to escalate tension and intrigue a
reader. I wrote Bonnie a fan e-mail telling her this and asking if she ever
taught classes. I told her I had had some success with having stories and two
novels accepted, but hadn’t had the guts to try for AHMM or EQMM, but reading
her story moved me and I hoped there was a way I could learn from her.

reply was, as I came to learn, classic Bonnie. Humble and a lesson in itself:

Hi, Debra–

Thank you so much for your kind words about “Thea.” My goodness! That
didn’t just make my day–it made my week, possibly my whole month.

No, I don’t teach any online classes. I’m a retired English professor  (at
least a temporarily retired

one–who knows what the future holds?), but even
when I was teaching, I usually taught composition and literature; I taught
creative writing only a few times, and I’m not sure I was very good at it. I
don’t know of any classes to recommend, but I can tell you that my favorite
books on writing fiction are Stephen King’s
On Writing (especially the
second half of the book) and Francine Prose’s
Reading Like a
. I also like Renni Browne and Dave King’s Self-Editing
for Fiction Writers
–I don’t agree with everything the authors say, but it’s a
thought-provoking book. Blake Snyder’s
Save the Cat focuses on
screenplay writing, but I find the advice on story structure helpful
(especially Chapter 4). And if you’d be interested in some old-fashioned advice
that still seems sound to me, you might look at Anthony Trollope’s
, especially chapters 12–14 (though there’s good advice
scattered in many other chapters,too).

I hope that’s helpful. Again, thank you for what you said about
“Thea.” I’m going to treasure those words!


We exchanged further e-mails and posts of mutual
encouragement and congrats in the next few months and agreed to meet in person
in Raleigh at Bouchercon. We met, embraced, talked and began a tradition with
Paula Benson and Art Taylor of sharing a meal.

In the months that followed I read more of her stories, as
well as her adult and YA novels: Interpretation
of Murder
and Fighting Chance.
We talked a lot about Fighting Chance,
which I five starred and she wrote a blog about on my personal blog, “It’s Not Always a Mystery.” The book
also was nominated for an Agatha and other awards.

We agreed to have dinner at Malice, but she couldn’t join
Paula, Art and me after she fell and was injured just before the conference. We
toasted her in abstentia, but made up for it with a delicious group dinner at
Bouchercon New Orleans and drinks at Malice 2017.  Because she couldn’t do a private dinner at
Malice 2017 (I sat at her table during the banquet where her novella, The Last Blue Glass, was honored as an
Agatha nominee), we made definite plans for dinner in October at Bouchercon
2017. Malice, in Bethesda, was only drinks because she used her dinners, other
than the banquet, to visit with her daughters Sarah and Rachel.

That brings me to the true passion in her life. Family.
Bonnie was like a school girl in her love and adoration for her husband,
Dennis. Seeing them together at conferences or in pictures she posted on
Facebook from their wedding, there was no difference in the looks of devotion
and joy they shared. Her talk of her two daughters, Sarah and Rachel, and of
Sarah’s children’s accomplishments combined praise, love, and pride. This year,
we compared nachas (happiness) of having our first grandchildren’s bar/bat
mitzvahs and kidded we should introduce her unmarried Jewish daughter to my
single Jewish son.

There won’t be any more dinners or talk of introducing our
children, but what I will remember is a package I received a week after Malice
2017. It contained a note and five copies of the May/June 2017 issue of Alfred
Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
that Bonnie and Dennis collected from their
registration bags and the giveaway room. The note told me she knew I would want
extra copies of the issue that had my name on the cover and my first AHMM
story, The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s
in it and that she thought it was an award winning story. Who knows
if it will be nominated for anything at the next events at which it is
eligible, but it won the biggest award in my book – Bonnie’s approval.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A few other excellent tributes to Bonnie can be found at:
Remembering B.K. Stevens – Art Taylor – Sleuthsayers  http://www.sleuthsayers.org/2017/08/remembering-bk-stevens.html

B.K. “Bonnie” Stevens: True Friend and Good Writer – Paula Benson – The Stiletto Gang https://www.thestilettogang.com/2017/08/bk-bonnie-stevens-true-friend-and-good.html

B.K. “Bonnie” Stevens, True Friend and Good Writer

My first panel at Malice with Sally Goldenbaum, Liz Stauffer, Bonnie, me, and Wendy Tyson

by Paula Gail Benson

is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer.”
E.B. White,
Charlotte’s Web
we learned last week about B.K. “Bonnie” Stevens passing, Shari Randall
(writer, librarian, blogging partner, and friend) reminded me of E.B. White’s
novel and his description of the barn spider Charlotte who, by weaving
carefully chosen words into her web, saved Wilbur the pig’s life.
embodied the phrase, “true friend and good writer.” Her life was a testament
to the importance of constantly reaching out to others, eagerly opening your
mind to learn, and joyously communicating.
Charlotte, Bonnie spoke truthfully, honestly, and with respect for the
complexities of the world. She also understood the power and wonder of
individuals sharing their lives with each other.
I did not know Bonnie for a long period of time, but our connection and friendship
is enduring. I know that her inspiration, advice, and encouragement are part of
my life forever.
one thing that drew us together, besides my great admiration for her prose, was
our backgrounds in and appreciation of education. Bonnie spent a good portion
of her life as an instructor and I came from a family of teachers. From that environment,
you realize how delightful discovering new facts and information can be.
I read Bonnie’s longer biography on her website, I realized that her philosophy
of remaining open to whatever life brought her continued to enrich her own experience.
Through her fiction and nonfiction, she passed that joy along to her readers.
reading Bonnie’s stories or being able to discuss writing with her were
incredible treats, experiencing her generosity of spirit was truly humbling. I
once got up the nerve to ask if she would read one of my stories and give me
feedback. She did so promptly with excellent suggestions, but also asked what
others had told me about the story. All perspectives of the writing process
were fascinating to her. Later, she asked me to read and react to a play she
had written. I hesitated, wondering if my comments possibly could be of any
help to her. After all, she had won an award for this play. She assured me that
she wanted to hear from me because I wrote plays and directed them for a drama
ministry, and my view, as someone who had staged a play, would give her
valuable insight.
of the kindest and most incredible gifts that Bonnie and her husband Dennis
gave me was a phenomenal birthday celebration during Bouchercon in New Orleans.
In advance, Bonnie sent me a list of possible venues, each sounding more
wonderful than the last, and asked me to pick the location. She gathered good
friends Art Taylor, Debra Goldstein, and Riley Miller to join us. By the end of
the blissful evening, we had a table full of desserts (including the most
delicious jalapeno lime cheesecake as well as an Almond Joy chocolate cake) and
the great satisfaction of an unforgettable time spent in lovely conversation. [Please
look for Art Taylor’s “Remembering Bonnie Stevens” message and other tributes by fellow bloggers on SleuthSayers.org
and Debra Goldstein’s “In Memory of Bonnie (B.K.) Stevens” to be posted on
Friday, August 25, 2017, here on The Stiletto Gang.]
gave selflessly to so many. Just recently, I saw Kaye George’s remembrance of
meeting Bonnie when she came to Kaye’s book signing at Malice Domestic. Kaye
asked, “Are you the B.K.
Stevens?” Bonnie said she was and asked Kaye, then President of the Guppies,
the online chapter for Sisters in Crime, how she could join. From the time she
became a member, Bonnie was constantly sending out words of welcome and
she began her blog “The First Two Pages,” Bonnie set out to highlight other
writers’ work by allowing them to analyze the beginning of a short story or
novel. Her initial post came from Kaye George and the latest messages are from
the contributors to Kaye’s anthology to celebrate the solar eclipse, Day of the Dark (Wildside Press), some
of whom are making their debut publication.
I prepare to post these words on Monday, August 21, 2017, the day our country
experiences the eclipse from coast to coast, I’m reminded of a special theatre tradition
to recognize the passing of well known members of the Broadway community — the simultaneous
dimming of all the marquee lights for one minute at the 8:00 pm curtain hour.
When the lights come back up, the shows go on.

While I experience
this solar eclipse, I’ll remember Bonnie, my true friend and good writer, and
think about all that she has done for the many lives she has touched. Thank you
Dennis and daughters Sarah and Rachel for sharing her with us.

My New Orleans Bouchercon Birthday