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

June Interviews

6/3 Gretchen Archer, Double Trouble
6/10 Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth
6/17 Annette Dashofy, Til Death
6/24 Adam Meyer

Saturday Guest Bloggers

6/6 Mary Keliikoa
6/13 William Ade
6/20 Liz Milliron

WWK Bloggers:

6/27 Kait Carson
6/30 WWK Writers--What We're Reading Now


Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!

WWK is proud of our four Agatha nominees. Kaye George for Best Short Story--not her first time to be nominated, Connie Berry and Grace Topping for Best First Mystery Novel, and Annette Dashofy for Best Contemporary Novel--her fifth nomination! All are winners but without Agatha Teapots. Onto 20121!

Look for Kaye George and Margaret S. Hamilton's short stories in the new Mid-Century Murder by Darkhouse Books. Kaye's story is "Life and Death on the Road" and Margaret's story is titled "4BR/3.5BA Contemporary."

Grace Topping's second novel in Laura Bishop staging series, Staging Wars, was released by Henery Press on April 28th. Look for the interview here from April 29th.

Kaye George's second novel in the Vintage Sweets mystery series, Deadly Sweet Tooth, was released on June 2. Look for the interview here on June 10.

Annette Dashofy's 10th Zoe Chambers mystery, Til Death, will be released on June 16th. Look for the interview here on June 17.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!


Monday, May 11, 2015

This Is What Brave Looks Like

Last year I met a remarkable young woman named Victoire.

She was seated next to me on a flight to Rome. Her simple gray and blue floor length habit stood out from the colorful vacation garb of the other travelers. She was a newly minted nun of the Servidoras del SeƱor y la Virgen de Matara order.

She was born in Cameroon and grew up in Maryland. Sister Victoire was traveling to Tanzania to teach in a village school. They didn't have a school yet, actually, they were building it. And they didn't have books either.

"Books?" My ears perked up. "I can get you books." Hundreds of books are donated to the library every week. Some can be added to our collection but many cannot. If they are in good condition they are put into the book sale for very reasonable prices. I figured I’d buy some books myself and send them off.

But when I told friends and coworkers about Sister Victoire's school and their need of books, the donations started rolling in. A full shopping bag of books was donated by Addie and Charlotte, two of my (shhh!) favorite story time attendees and their grandmother, Joyce. Joyce told me that the girls were excited that their books would be used by children in Africa, half a world away. For several days, I found dollar bills on my desk, donated anonymously to pay for shipping the books. Book lovers are eager to share the joy they find in reading.

After I packed and shipped the box, weeks passed with no word from Sister Victoire. I started wondering if the box had made it to the remote school on the other side of the globe, picturing the disasters that could befall a cardboard Priority Mail box stuffed with picture books by Eric Carle and Doctor Seuss.

Then an email came. Sister Victoire was thrilled with the gift and shared photos of children and adults enjoying the books. Turns out she is hours from an internet connection, so communication is difficult, but she sent some photos that show how the school is growing.

One photo showed the young teacher in a standing room only classroom. Mothers nursing babes in arms, grandparents, and children crowded the temporary classroom. Then, a photo of a small but sturdy school. Beaming children. A van for transporting children from remote villages.

The school has started with grade one and plans to add a grade a year. As the school has grown, support jobs like caretakers, cleaners, and drivers employ local people, which helps the local economy grow.

Sister Victoire included a photo of the library - a shelf of books. The books I had sent. They are the only books the classroom has.

I've decided I can't fill those shelves alone. Now I simply ask, and, yes, I receive. There is something irresistible about putting kids and books together.

An author I met mentioned that she had just returned from a safari to Tanzania, a trip of a lifetime. When I told her about the school in Ushetu she said, "Do you think they need school supplies?" She's collecting now, too.

Maybe all these donors just want to clear their shelves and make room for new books. Whatever the reason, readers love to share the gift of reading with others, especially with children. When I think of those children who have no books - not one - how can I not help?

The school is growing. So much so that the van used to transport students is crowded.
So, Sister Victoire needs a bus. Any ideas?


Gloria Alden said...

Such a touching story, Shari. We don't often think of how lucky we are to not only have comfortable homes, food, but also books available for free to read just by going to our local library. I've always admired those who go to Africa to work with the neediest of the needy. I know my youngest brother, who recently went to Tanzania to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, was very touched my the children in the orphanages he visited. One little boy in particular touched his heart.

Kara Cerise said...

This is beautiful and touching, Shari. With all the bad stuff happening in the world it's refreshing to hear about people helping other people.

My niece used a crowdfunding site to raise money for a woman who works in her school's cafeteria and had lost all of her belongings in an apartment fire. So many kids donated money that they reached the goal in two days. Maybe gofundme.com or a similar site would be a good place to raise money for a bus.

Warren Bull said...

My wife and I went on a photo safari in Tanzania. We went to see the animals and ended up being more impressed by the wonderful people. One person on the tour brought two suitcases full of books for a school. We helped a charity that gives bicycles away to graduating students. Bike allow for greater mobility and can raise the economic standing of an entire familily,

Shari Randall said...

Hi Gloria,
What an adventure your brother had! I know how he felt when he saw those little ones.

Shari Randall said...

Kara, thank you! This is exactly why I did the blog post. I will let her know about gofundme. How generous the students and parents at your niece's school were! I will pass this on.

Shari Randall said...

Warren, maybe you can share some photos from your trip. Sounds like you and your wife had a wonderful time. And I will also look into the bicycle program. Funny how such small things, things we take for granted - books and bicycles - make such an impact.

E. B. Davis said...

Wonderful and serendipitous story, Shari. It makes me wonder about connections and how it all happens.

Last night, my daughter mentioned that a friend of hers, a teacher, is flying to Namibia on August to help them design elementary school curriculum. I'm not up on African politics, but I do hope all the foreign national helpers keep safe and healthy.

Barb Goffman said...

Good for you, Shari. You're making a real difference. Connecting children and books can have such a tremendously positive effect on their lives.

Shari Randall said...

Hi EB,
I hope Namibia is a stable country. Your daughter's friend is brave, too!
No State Department alerts on Tanzania. All we can do is hope it stays that way.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Barb,
I guess it's the book lover in me! Thanks for stopping by!

Kait said...

What a wonderful and heartwarming post. I'm sharing this on my hootsuite feeds in hopes of gaining more donations for your school. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

How might one donate books?

Kaye George said...

This blew me away! Imagine you being in just the right place and just the right time. Beautiful story!

Sherry Harris said...

This is wonderful, Shari! What can I do to help!

KM Rockwood said...

Great story!

I know one of the official languages is English, so I bet it's taught in the school, and the books will be a big help there.

When I visited Tanzania a few years ago, we did not encounter anyone outside our group who spoke English from the time we left Dar Es Salaam until we returned there. Our driver/guides spoke English, and one of our members spoke Swahili, much to the amazement of the people we encountered.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kait,
Thank you! I feel like someone out there will be just the right person to hear about this.
BTW, I do not know what hoot suite is, but it sounds adorable!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kaye - It did feel like kismet (is that the right word?) Serendipity?

Shari Randall said...

Hi Anonymous:
If you click the link in the article it goes to the website with address and a contact button:
Aldea de Ushetu P. O. Box 933
Kahama, Kahama
Contact: c.sagradocorazondejesus@servidoras.org (link sends e-mail)
Telephone: Phone: 255- 757022210 / 255-758042241
Thank you for asking!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kathleen,
They speak English and Swahili. Sr. Victoire told me she has been taking Swahili lessons, so I tried to also find some Swahili for beginners kinds of books. I think the school would like the children to learn to read in both. finding books in Swahili = tough.

Susan O'Brien said...

What a wonderful story, Shari. Recently, I gave all our gently used children's books to charity. I wish I'd known about your project. Congratulations on seeing (and seizing) an opportunity to make such a difference.

Shari Randall said...

Thanks, Susan, and it's wonderful that you donated your books. It's a great feeling to know that other children will enjoy them as much as your children did.

Jim Jackson said...

Great story Shari -- it's only through making things personal and one on one that we can begin to address the huge problem of illiteracy.

~ Jim

Paula Gail Benson said...

Shari, this is phenomenal. Thanks for sharing the story and for letting us know how to contribute.