Tag Archive for: #bookclubs

Sharing the Spotlight

Sharing the Spotlight

by Saralyn Richard


When BAD BLOOD SISTERS came out last March, a book club chose it as its first selection, and invited me to speak. This was no ordinary book club. It was the Elks Lodge #126, and they were fund-raising for the Texas Elks Children’s Services, Inc. So enthusiastic were they about BAD BLOOD SISTERS! They split the book club discussion into two events:  1)a tour of the local funeral home with a discussion  about the book in the wake room (because the main character works in death services); and 2)a dinner, book talk, and raffle.

I was touched by the amount of attention they were giving to my latest novel. Sympathetic to their drive to raise money for this worthy organization, I offered to auction the privilege of being a named character in my next book. Asta Timm, Elks Sweetheart, loved the idea and we decided to start the bidding at a reasonable price.

The night of the book club dinner, there was a buzz in the air. The Elks organizers, including Karen Crummett Sawyer and Asta, had a number of fun surprises. We ate, we drank, we talked about the book, we played a trivia game (with prizes). Then it was time for the raffle. The bidding opened and took off with a bang. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to be a character in a book. My head swiveled from one side of the room to the other as friends outbid one another over and over again. Finally, the auction ended, with the closing bid at ten times what the opening bid had been.

The winner of the auction, Tammie Caballero, became one of the key characters in CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER, which was published in September. Tammie was thrilled, because she wanted her family name in the spotlight. She knew her grandfather would be proud. When I replaced Tammie’s name in the manuscript, MS Word made 365 changes.

Tammie has come with me to several book launch events, and I always introduce her and ask her to say a few words about her part in the book’s journey. Her involvement in the book adds a special dimension that we both enjoy talking about. I have a new friend for life, and the Texas Elks Children’s Services has a generous benefactor. I can’t say enough about the Elks, Asta, Karen, and Tammie. I love sharing the spotlight with them!


Award-winning author and educator, Saralyn Richard writes about people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses and disadvantaged urban high schools. She loves beaches, reading, sheepdogs, the arts, libraries, parties, nature, cooking, and connecting with readers.

Visit Saralyn at http://saralynrichard.com, on her Amazon page here, or on Facebook here.

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Hurray for In-Person Events

by Saralyn Richard


When the pandemic hit hard in March, 2020, I had just
released A Palette for Love and Murder, and I had a full calendar of
events for promoting it. Launch parties, bookstore talks, organization meetings,
book clubs—all had been carefully lined up, taking many hours of contact,
follow-up, baking, and swag-shopping.

Then, one by one, in an exorable, painful march
through the calendar pages, each event was canceled. The book came out with a
sigh instead of a bang, and it had to find its readers through different,
mostly virtual, channels.

I’m not complaining. As Bogey says in Casablanca, “It
doesn’t take much to see that the problems of [one little book doesn’t] amount
to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” Like everyone else, I learned to
pivot. I jumped on Zooms, Skypes, and FaceTimes to beat the band.


A Palette for Love and Murder
found its audience, and so did A Murder of Principal, which came out the
following year. Again, Zoom was my best friend, and by then I’d learned a lot
of hacks for having a successful virtual book launch.

Fast forward another year, and I’ve been vaccinated
three times. I have a stylish array of masks for every occasion. Taking baby
steps, I’ve graduated from small, masked gatherings held outdoors to larger,
masked gatherings held indoors. This week, I actually went to my first indoor
gathering where no one was wearing masks.

I thought I might freak out, because I’ve become
somewhat of a germophobe, and the threat of the omicron variant is raising
those same old fears. But when I arrived at the Bay Oaks Country Club and saw
the elaborate table settings, the skirted book-table where I was to autograph
books, and especially the fifty-one smiling ladies welcoming me as a guest
speaker, a particular joy bubbled up inside me, and I wanted the afternoon to
keep going on forever.

Virtual meetings are great. I wrote a post about them several
months ago. They break down barriers of time and space and allow for valuable
human interaction. I taught and enrolled in classes, attended book clubs, and
went to conferences virtually. I enjoyed these so much that I truly repressed
the fact that they are a pale substitute for the real thing.

I’m grateful to Sheryl Lane of the Bay Oaks Country
Club Women’s Group for inviting me to speak at their December luncheon meeting.
We had this engagement booked for more than a year before we could actually
make it happen. Sharing book stories with people who love books is something
akin to heaven.

Of course, we all need to be mindful of and practice
healthy habits and mitigate risks wherever we go, but right now, I’m clinging
to the thought that more joyful reunions like this one will be in my future.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and safe holiday
season and new year.


Award-winning and
best-selling author, Saralyn Richard was born with a pen in her hand and ink in
her veins. Her humor- and romance-tinged mysteries and children’s book pull
back the curtain on people in settings as diverse as elite country manor houses
and disadvantaged urban high schools.

A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery
Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing and literature at the
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, 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.

Serendipitous Discovery!

By Kathryn Lane

A week’s’ worth of newspapers, yes,
old-fashioned printed versions, beckoned me on the coffee table. I confess that
in the midst of downsizing and moving, I’d been too busy to read them.

Working my way through
the papers, I hit serendipity! An article about the changing car culture.

Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle

What was serendipitous
about that? It covered a topic I’d mentioned in my May newsletter.

First, I should explain
that I ask my newsletter readers to submit their favorite quote to me,
promising that I will use it in a future newsletter.

This month’s quote was:
“My friends are my estate”, submitted by Ann McKennis, a fabulously supportive
fan of my work. Instead of analyzing why an introvert like Emily Dickinson would
write these words to a friend in a letter, I explored the idea of friends

So I wrote about the
lifelong friendship of inventors Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. In 1896, Ford
introduced his quadricycle. It ran on gasoline. Edison congratulated his
friend, but told him to “keep at it”, predicting electric cars were the wave of
the future. It also inspired Edison to work on an electric version.

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford 

As a writer, why are
cars important to me? Authors use them in novels all the time. Think getaway cars
in a robbery, luxury vehicles villains use to impress women, and forensic
investigators recovering evidence from cars involved in homicides. Vehicles often
break down on dark, isolated roads in crime stories. The list goes on.

Cars are important in real
life crime as well. John Dillinger, the infamous criminal, made the Model A
Ford synonymous with a gangster’s choice in driving during the 1930s. Then
Bonnie and Clyde used a 1934 Ford 730 Deluxe Sedan, a car later riddled with
bullets when they were killed.

The Bonnie and Clyde Car

I marveled at the
coincidences of stumbling upon a great article about electric and gasoline
cars, especially since Edison and Ford were mentioned. Plus, I learned
something new: in the early 1900s in New York City, there were more electric
cars than those that ran on gasoline.

So what happened?
According to Daniel Yergin, Edison put money, effort, and his personal prestige
into developing an electric vehicle, but Ford’s gasoline Model T won the hearts
of car buyers. Almost a century later, General Motors introduced a mass-market
electric vehicle. In 2008, Tesla introduced the stylish Roadster.

Fiction writers will
follow the trend. Electric cars are here to stay. The infrastructure to support
self-driving vehicles is under construction. I’m anxious to see authors using self-driving
cars for getaways. Of course, institutions that villains can rob may be all
online, making the getaway car obsolete.


Are you using electric cars in
your novels?

Kathryn Lane started
out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public
accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major
multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to
plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn
draws deeply from
her Mexican background as well
as her travels in over ninety countries.



Nikki Garcia Mystery Series: eBook Trilogy

 Photo credits:

Quadricycle: “1896 Ford Quadricycle
Runabout, First Car Built by Henry Ford”
 by The Henry Ford is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford by Tom Raftery is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND-SA 2.0

The Bonnie
and Clyde Car
“DSC_0081” by Jay Bonvouloir is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

Wall Street Journal, Weekend Edition ─ April 24-25, 2021; “The
New World of AutoTech” by Daniel Yergin.

Kathryn’s books – designs by Bobbye

Lesson from Bon Jovi: “Do What You Can”

By Kathryn Lane

When I give presentations on
writing, I’m often asked if I’ve experienced writer’s block – a slowdown of
creativity or the inability to create a new work.

When my creativity slows, I
turn to researching topics I’m writing about and that attracts my creative angels
again. But I’ve heard stories of how dreadful writer’s block can be. Truman
Capote spent the last ten years of his life speaking about the masterpiece he
was writing, a work that never materialized and possibly caused the stress that
triggered his nervous breakdown. How sad is that? 

On the other hand, Gabriel Garcia
Marquez, often spoke of his inability to progress on “One Hundred Years of
Solitude.” He gave up and drove his family from Mexico City, where they were
living, to the seaside resort of Acapulco for vacation. They were just arriving
at the bay of Acapulco when he stopped the car and turned around, explaining to
his wife that he now clearly saw the premise for “One Hundred Years of
Solitude.” Skipping vacation, he drove back to Mexico City, sat at his
typewriter, and banged out his masterpiece, the novel which undoubtedly won the
Nobel Prize in literature for him.

what happens when a writer hits a wall?


news about a song in the upcoming album 

When Bon Jovi’s tour was
cancelled due to COVID-19, he didn’t just stay home and fret. No, he stepped in
as dishwasher at his JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank, New Jersey – a restaurant he
established years ago which often provides food to those in need.


An Instagram posting showing
him washing dishes, stated “When you can’t do what you do, then do what you
can.” That inspired him to create the song “Do What You Can.”


lesson in Bon Jovi’s action is to turn disappointment around when facing
adversity. If it’s writer’s block or any type of setback, flip it over by doing
what you can, rather than forcing yourself to do what you normally do. Until
inspiration hits again!


I experience writer’s block and turn to dish washing, I think my creativity
would return very quickly!


had writer’s block? How did you overcome it?

Kathryn’s books –
The Nikki Garcia Thriller series and her short story collection – Backyard
All available on Amazon.

Kathryn Lane started out as a starving artist. To earn a living, she became
a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance
with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the
corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her
stories, Kathryn draws deeply from



“If I Had Something to Say” by re_birf is
licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

Other photos from public domain.

What Makes Excellent Writing?

Makes Excellent Writing?
Saralyn Richard

I’ve taught creative
writing off and on for years. It was an elective for upper class students in a
large suburban Chicago high school. Part of our curriculum was to produce a
literary magazine each year, and we entered our work in a National Council of
Teachers of English contest. Oftentimes we won awards for our content or
layout, and quite a few of my students went on to become successful writers.
Now I teach creative
writing to adults aged 55 or older at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
I’m finding the learners to be extremely motivated. The problem for them is not
choosing what to write about, but choosing which of many ideas and experiences
to write about first. My learners are serious, thoughtful, observant,
experienced, and well-read. Their responses to assignments are creative and
clever, worthy of being submitted for contests or publication.
I’m often asked what
makes excellent creative writing, and when I consider possible replies, I find
the same things apply to both high school writers and adult writers.

The first element of fine
writing, in my opinion, is the ability to imagine and bring to life one or more
relatable characters. These characters do not have to be alter-egos of the
author who creates them. They don’t even need to be the same gender, race,
creed, or age. They don’t need to be perfect; in fact, perfection would be a
detriment to being relatable for readers.
How do authors come out
of themselves enough to paint a realistic word-portrait of characters who are
unlike them? The process for me is similar to what an actor does in assuming a
role for a play. When I’m writing about a character, I immerse myself into the
body and mind of that person. I lose my own identity as I write the scenes
where my character speaks and thinks and acts.

Another fine point of
excellent writing is awareness of theme. I use the term “theme” to mean the
overall purpose for the story. When the author consciously crafts the writing
based on a specific purpose, all of the narration, exposition, description, and
dialogue fall into place, unifying the readers’ experience. I’ve read many sagas
that took me across generations and geographical locations without tying the
chapters and sections together, and they’ve left me wondering about the
author’s intent. My favorite tales lead me to some truth, some higher awareness
about life or people.
Of course there are many
other important strategies and methods in a writer’s toolkit. As a creative
writing teacher, I encourage my students to practice them all. As a writer,
myself, I strive to do the same. The two books in the Detective Oliver Parrott Mystery
series, Murder in the One Percent and
A Palette for Love and Murder, have
thoroughly imagined characters and (hopefully) articulated themes.

I’m excited to discuss
these and other topics with the Stiletto Gang readers. Whatever questions you
have about creative writing, I’m interested. 


Award-winning mystery and children’s book author, Saralyn Richard, is a
writer who teaches on the side. Her books, Naughty
, Murder in the One Percent,
and A Palette for Love and Murder,
have delighted children and adults, alike. A member of International Thriller
Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn teaches creative writing at the
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and continues to write mysteries. Reviews,
media, and tour schedule may be found at

Follow Saralyn at:

 “A compelling story of worlds in collision, A Palette for Love and Murder plumbs the depths of love and the
human heart.”

Kent Krueger
, author
This Tender Land

“Delightful! Saralyn Richard weaves a deeply twisty mystery around
vibrant characters that will leave readers looking forward to more.” —LynDee
Walker, Agatha Award-nominated author of Front
Page Fatality

“Smart, stylish and sexy, this art world caper
delights with its verve and wit. The character studies are wonderful, and
Oliver and Tonya Parrott are an irresistible pair.”                                           – Ausma Zehanat Khan,
author of 
A Deadly Divide

Everything Old is New Again

This is my first blog post as part of the Stiletto Gang. I’m excited, thrilled, and honored to be asked to be part of this wonderful group of awesome writers.
I lived in Memphis, Tenn. (Home of the Blues/Birthplace of Rock and Roll) for about 18 years before returning home to Charleston, South Carolina in 2016. When I moved to Memphis, I did group sales at a family entertainment center. We were members of a local association called Metro Memphis Attractions Association. Being a part of Double M Double A helped me acclimate quickly to the area and visit all of the historic, entertainment, and educational attractions. I’d been a tour guide in Charleston, so this was right up my alley.
In Charleston we pride ourselves on being the first to do and have most everything, you know like the first female newspaper publisher, first golf course, first municipal college, first museum, the list goes on and on. For my entire life I thought we invented the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain. Imagine my surprise upon visiting the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis and discovering that the former owner of the mansion started The Pig.

My favorite Pig cup.
Clarence Saunders opened his first Piggly Wiggly grocery store in 1916. Before then, shoppers would hand clerks a list and the clerks did the shopping, while the client waited for their order to be filled. When Saunders opened his store in Memphis, Tenn., it was the first true self-service grocery store. He laid out his store in a sort of loop that allowed for a greater variety of items to be visible and bought. Saunders received his patent for the self-service shopping in early 1917. 
Saunders may or may not be surprised to see his concepts still in use since he was a forward thinker. However, here we are in 2020 back to shoppers sending in their lists to clerks who do the shopping for them and bag up the items, leaving the customers to only ensure they have proper payment when picking up their groceries and or having the groceries delivered directly to their door. 
Saunders only had a couple of years of formal schooling and he became self-educated via reading. Which segues into the correlation of grocery shopping and bookstore evolution similarities, somehow, for me at least. 
Amazon has only been around since 1994 but is the giant of the bookselling (and everything else) industry. Jeff Bezos has put many an independent, and quite a few big-box brick-and-mortar stores out of business. And yet, in the Charleston area we have five independent bookstores: Blue Bicycle (downtown Charleston), Buxton Books (downtown Charleston), Main Street Reads (Summerville), Itinerate Literate (North Charleston – it used to be a bookmoblie store, hence the name), and The Turning Page (Goose Creek). Plus, I recently had someone tell me that an independent bookstore will open just over the Cooper River bridge in Mt. Pleasant in the near future. Take that Amazon! (just kidding)
I enjoy visiting and purchasing from independent bookstores. I dig their energy, their book signings, coffee talks, helpful staff, and book clubs. 

Itinerant Literate hosts “Get Lit Bookclub” where you dine at a local restaurant and the small plates of food incorporate the meals present in the book, plus you get a serving of wine with each course. They sell out monthly. 

Buxton holds book talks in their store and in conjunction with the Charleston Library Society next door to them. Buxton is home to Tour Charleston where all the tours are book-based. (Full disclosure: I occasionally give their ghost tours.)

I’m excited to write books and have signings in these local stores. I’m truly hopeful they all succeed. 
And when I plan ahead, a rarity indeed, I love ordering my groceries online. 

Have you noticed this trend of returning to the way we were? In what other ways are we going back to the way things were done once upon a time

You can find out more about Clarence Saunders and the museum collection at www.memphismuseum.org, and the Charleston Library Society at https://charlestonlibrarysociety.org

To learn more about Charleston, SC independent bookstores visit https://bluebicyclebooks.com, https://www.buxtonbooks.comhttps://www.itinerantliteratebooks.comhttps://mainstreetreads.com, and https://turningpagebookshop.com. You can find a book-based tour at www.tourcharleston.com