If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sasscer Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Promise Kept

by Julie Tollefson

Aboriginal stencil art, Carnarvon Gorge National Park, Australia

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s birthday. A dozen years ago, Nona entered hospice with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. During the long days and nights that followed, she and I talked, often about her children and grandchildren and her hopes and fears for their futures. She was fiercely devoted to her family and took great delight in their delight. When I joined the family, it took me a few years to realize that, to her, a Christmas list was not a wish list; it was a shopping list. She loved to give her children and grandchildren everything they wanted. Seriously. Everything.

One afternoon, she told me that though she had little interest in travel herself, she regretted that she'd never sent my husband to Australia, a place he'd wanted to visit since he was little. Caught off guard, I stammered, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure he gets there. I promise.”

Which is how, in June, I found myself and my intense fear of flying on a 14-hour flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane. 

Koala in a tree, Magnetic Island, Australia Python, Townsville, Australia Feeding a joey, Noonbah Station, Australia Tiny rental car, Magnetic Island, Australia
The promise was never far from my thoughts over the years, but 2016 saw a confluence of events that made the trip make sense: Our son graduated from high school and, a few weeks later, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. If ever there were a year to take a big trip, this was it. And when we asked the boyo where he wanted to go, he chose Australia without hesitation.

The trip was everything we hoped for and more. We saw kangaroos, wallabies, a koala so close to the trail we could have touched it, crocodiles, emus, a dingo, numerous tropical birds, tree frogs, and a few species of snakes (though not as many as my husband, a biology teacher with a passion for reptiles, would have liked). John added 154 bird species to his life list.

We marveled at the giant pines and stinging trees in the Bunya Mountains; hiked the Art Gallery trail in Carnarvon Gorge to see the amazing Aboriginal stencil art on the gorge’s sandstone cliffs; drove 40 kilometers off our intended path to visit a place marked on the map as White Blow, which turned out to be a huge chunk of quartz sitting atop a hill (not, as we had speculated, some kind of drug thing); stayed with generous friends of friends on a 140,000-acre cattle station, where I had the privilege of giving a bottle to an orphaned joey in the temporary care of station owners Karen and Angus Emmott.

We snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, drove a rented Barbie car around Magnetic Island, ate dinner at Sydney’s Opera House, cruised the Daintree River, and drove to the end of the road at Cape Tribulation (the end of our road— only four-wheel drive beyond the point at which we turned around). In all, we covered more than 4,000 kilometers in our rental SUV (a real car, not the Barbie car) and met and talked with dozens of interesting people during our three weeks in Australia.

Through it all, I kept thinking, “Is this real? Are we really here?” And then I’d look at the joy on John’s face and the wonder in my son’s eyes and think, “Yes, we really are here, and it is everything.”

Every night while we were there, I sat down and wrote about the day’s events. Preparing for this post, I re-read some of my entries, and I caught myself thinking, “Nona will be delighted when she hears about this.” She would have reveled in every story and every photo, and I’ve never been happier to keep a promise.

Tyto Wetlands, Australia


Jim Jackson said...

What a great trip, Julie. One you’ll remember forever for the trip itself, sharing with family, and for keeping your promise.

And what a tease you are: 154 new bird species spotted and no pictures!

Art Taylor said...

What a great post and super memories indeed. Very nice present to both your husband and your mother-in-law, keeping that promise. Wonderful. :-)

KM Rockwood said...

Creating memories for your family and honoring your late mother-in-law all in one trip! It sounds wonderful.

Shari Randall said...

What a wonderful trip! I am sure Nona was smiling down the whole time.
Fourteen hour flight? The longest flight I've been on was just over nine hours and that was long enough for me. How did you cope?

Margaret Turkevich said...

The trip of a lifetime. Happy anniversary and graduation! I'm with Jim, more bird photos, please.

Warren Bull said...

The trip of a lifetime with memories to last.

Julie Tollefson said...

Jim and Margaret - Ha! You're right, Not a single bird photo here, even though of the 1800 photos we took on the trip, at least a third are of birds! What was I thinking? So to rectify that, I'll point you toward my husband's site, where he's been posting day by day accounts of the trip. Many bird photos, and I'll bet many more to come. http://johnftollefson.blogspot.com/

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks, Art! We had such a terrific trip. My husband's already talking about going back again, but I don't know about that 14-hour plane ride...

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks, Shari! I'll admit I had some pharmaceutical help coping with the flying. Still, when we flew over Hawaii and still had 8 or 9 hours to go before Brisbane, I wanted to beg the pilots to please just pull over and take a little break. :)

Gloria Alden said...

Julie, what a great trip, and such a beautiful story. It brought moisture to my eyes. I loved the pictures, too. I'm not sure I could stand a trip that long though.

Kait said...

What a great trip and what a beautiful remembers of your mother-in-law. Thank you so much for sharing.

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks, everyone, for your sweet comments!

Grace Topping said...

You were so smart doing something like this now while you all can enjoy it. I've learned the hard way that it's the things in life that we don't do that we regret the most.