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

July Interviews

7/1 Lena Gregory, Scone Cold Killer
7/8 Jessica Baker, Murder on the Flying Scotsman
7/15 TG Wolff, Driving Reign
7/22 Leslie Budewitz, The Solace of Bay Leaves
7/29 Cynthia Kuhn, The Study of Secrets

Saturday Guest Bloggers

7/11 Mark Dressler
7/18 James McCrone

WWK Bloggers:

7/4 Valerie Burns
7/25 Kait Carson


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!

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.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Chapters of My Life

Today, August 11th, I’m celebrating my 78th birthday. Well, maybe not celebrating. It will probably be just a normal day starting with a walk in the woods, then weeding, writing and caring for my numerous critters. However, the most amazing thing happened this past Friday. I was supposed to drive my ex to dinner at a restaurant where friends of his were meeting. I walked over to my son’s house at six p.m. to take him in his car since he can’t drive anymore. There were quite a few cars there, but he’d said my son was having friends over so I didn’t think anything of it. I walked in to find almost everyone in my extended family was there shouting Happy Birthday. It was so touching because this is the first birthday party I’ve had. My parents would fix a dinner I chose on my birthday, and there’d be some gifts. My sister-in-law once had a dinner in a restaurant for me and two of my sisters on my birthday, but nothing like this. My granddaughter and daughter prepared all the food; my granddaughter’s husband drove my ex all over to pick up a cake, flowers, helium balloons and food. I got gifts from everyone, but just having them all there meant more to me than anything.

My very first picture.
Recently as I approached my senior years – what I had always referred to as upper middle-age – I
started thinking about my life and since I’m a writer, I realized the different ages of my life are like chapters in a book.

My brother Jerry & I on the beach at Lake Erie

Chapter One:  The years between birth and when I started school at six years old. I remember almost nothing of those years. I know my parents lived upstairs in her parents’ farmhouse until my dad could build a house on the lot grandpa gave them. I know I fell down the steps and broke my leg, but I have no idea which leg it was. My brother Jerry was born sixteen months after I was born. There was the time when my dad, grandpa and uncles were painting the large garage. When they went in for lunch, I decided to paint my uncle’s brand new, dark green Buick white. Neither my uncle, who is now 93 years old, remembers that nor do I. I think I was around two or three at the time. They must have been able to clean it off.

My brother Jerry and I a little older.

Chapter Two:  Are my elementary school years when I learned to read. I remember my first grade teacher asking what we wanted to be when we grew up and I said, “A mommy and a teacher.” After first grade I wanted to move out west to a ranch with hundreds of horses. I galloped everywhere on my imaginary horses. I still wanted to be a mother with at least ten kids. Some dreams I’m glad were never realized, although I did become a mother and eventually a teacher.

Me, cousin Jack, and Jerry

Those were the years spent with siblings, cousins and neighbors roaming freely on my grandparents’ farm and in the woods. Sometimes I galloped down the road on Wildfire, or maybe it was Thunder, to visit my cousin. I read every horse and dog book in our small school library. On summer evenings we played softball or kick the can after supper. On Halloween we went trick or treating in homemade costumes for more than one day and without our parents. 

Sisters Elaine and Suzanne

They were also the years the years my two sisters were born; Elaine, seven years younger than me, and Suzanne nine years younger.

My adorable baby sister.

Chapter Three:  The awkward teenage years when I wasn’t quite ready to leave childhood; the years I was shy and developed acne. Still, I had fun. I also got a baby sister when I was thirteen. Catherine or Cathi as I always called this baby sister I adored.

The crazy teens playing cards on a Lake Erie beach.

A new family moved into our neighborhood with two sets of sisters, one set the mother’s, the other set was the father’s. Ten of my friends and I formed a club we called The Crazy Teens. We weren’t really very crazy, but we had a parties and played records. Remember those? It was also when I received my first kiss when the four girls who had moved in had a party in their basement and played spin the bottle. Naughty! Naughty! A neighbor boy used to ride his bicycle to my house. We sort of had a thing for each other, but it didn’t go anywhere since he wasn’t old enough to drive, and I wasn’t allowed to date. I had several small parts in plays, and was editor of the school newspaper. We didn’t have a very large school so that wasn’t a biggie. It was in those years I started a journal in a three-ring binder. I also wrote poetry and short stories.  I went to my junior and senior proms. I remember one of my best friends saying, “You look nice. It’s too bad your face is broken out.” This was the same friend, who the following year was secretly dating my prom date. It wasn’t that I was in love with him, but when I found out later, I still felt betrayed. It all worked out. They eventually married and have been happily married ever since.

Chapter Four: After graduation, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college, so I had to look for work. They’d only saved enough to send my brother, who had worked through high school on my grandparents’ farm and saved his money. I’d only had a few babysitting jobs and a job at a small clothing store Monday evenings and Saturdays. I got something like $5.65 a week for my work, and much of that went for clothes I picked out when they first came in.  My dad dropped me off mornings in the nearest town on his way to work so I could look for a job. I walked and walked for days on end and usually walked the five miles home rather than wait for him to get off work. I finally got a job with a hardware business that sold supplies to manufacturers. I did some bookkeeping, answered phones, ordered the items they sold, and washed dishes. I met my husband, Jim, a few weeks after I graduated.  We dated for a little more than two years before we married. 
Jim and I cutting the cake.

Chapter Five: Would be my married years and raising children. Ji lived in apartments for a while and then bought a duplex.

We were married almost three and a half years before John, a long wanted child, was born. I quit working. Two years later Joey was born. Eighteen months later along came Susan, and fourteen months after that Mary arrived. They were a lot less than the ten I’d wanted when I was young, but still a lot of work. At one time I had three in diapers, even though Joey only wore night diapers,  the kind that had to be washed and in nice weather hung to dry.
John, Joe, Susan and Mary

Jim started building a house when Susan was a baby.  It was a nice house on a semi-wooded lot. Mary was born after we moved in. During those years I volunteered for Head Start, I was room mother at school, taught catechism at my church, was a den mother for Cub Scouts, and led a Brownie troop. I continued with the troop and was a Girl Scout leader for ten years. I took them to Girl Scout camps, Washington D.C., Niagara Falls, and other events.  I took my children to music lessons, and Joey to baseball and football practice.

brother Phil, Suzanne, Johnny, me, my  mom  at Thousand Islands

Every summer our family went camping in many places throughout the east.

Joey with Nikki, the house I had the longest.

Eventually, we decided to buy a house with more land.  Once we moved, Jim got me the horse I had so long wanted, and he built a barn. Our kids joined 4H so we had more horses. He also built a place for chickens and peafowls. That’s when I learned to pull a horse trailer so I could take them to riding lessons and riding contests. They were good years even though having four teenagers at one time can be as stressful as having four little ones at the same time.

Our son John.

Chapter Six: This is the year when tragedy struck. Our son, John was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma. We discovered it in February of 1980. He’d had it for a while, but chose to ignore the swelling. There was surgery, followed by months of chemo, radiation, and time at the Cleveland Clinic. There were days when he suffered and was too sick to keep anything down. I spent a lot of time at Ronald McDonald House, or driving him to the hospital and home. I always get teary eyed when I remember him walking across the stage to get his high school diploma. The audience was told to hold their applause until everyone got their diplomas, but when he came across the stage with his cane, there was a standing ovation for him. John died on October 3, 1980, at home in my arms.  A little over two months later, my mother went in for open heart surgery to have a valve replaced. She came through it, but it took a long time for her to recover. Meanwhile, we were all grieving for John.  It was as hard on his siblings as it was on Jim and me. Every year I write a poem for him to put in the Tribune as a memorial for him.

One of the 20 classes with kids I considered my kids. 
Chapter Seven:  The grieving years. I dealt with grief the best I could. At age 42, the year after John died; I entered Kent State University for a degree in Elementary Education. I was looking for some way to make a difference. I loved the whole college experience. I enjoyed the classes and after the first year took overloads each year so I could take every writing, literature or poetry class offered. I also had an essay and many poems published in the ICON, the twice a year publication put out by the Trumbull branch of the college, where I went most of the first years. When I graduated with honors, the following year I got a job teaching third grade at Hiram Elementary in Hiram. Ohio. I loved teaching the kids and the school. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t still grieving.
My parents stone

Chapter Eight: My life started falling apart. My father suffered a stroke days before their 50th wedding anniversary for which we’d planned a big event. He ended in a nursing home for over a year unable to walk or talk even though he could understand us. Then my mother-in-law died of cancer, and her second husband moved in with us. While I was in England, he suffered an aneurism and died. The following February, my father died on a Saturday. His funeral was on a Tuesday. That night a friend, who worked where my husband did, called to say she was sorry about my father. As we were talking I told her I was worried about Jim who seemed so depressed since he’d been diagnosed with diabetes. She told me he had a girlfriend and bragged about her at work. The next day we went down to see a lawyer. He’d already set up divorce plans with the lawyer. Then on Saturday our house went on the market.  I had to start looking for a house. Eventually I found a small farm on 20 acres with an old house in deplorable condition; two basement walls were collapsing and the roof leaked, but I liked it. We refinanced our house, and I got enough money to make a sizeable down payment and do some of the repairs. I got the farm with house and barn for only $48,000. I can’t begin to tell you how much I spent getting it into decent shape with a new kitchen, walls that had been removed so my son could put in new wiring  to replace the original 1917 wiring. I can tell you that taking an ax or hammer to walls is extremely therapeutic.
Joe breaking the walls while Mary and I were hauling it out.

Chapter Nine:  Eventually, we sold the other home, and I moved in with the kitchen cupboards still in boxes in the living room. Over the years Joe, has done so much to fix my old farm house into a comfortable home. He dry walled it, refinished the hardwood floors. He’s added on to it, and fixes things for me when they need fixed. These have been mostly good years. My mother died from her second open heart surgery before I moved in, but had seen the house I bought. I loved decorating my house to my taste. I’d sold my horses because I didn’t have the money to put in new fencing for the pasture. I was happy with my home, my gardens and my life as a teacher. Then my first grandchild, six-year old, Megan, died. It would take too long to tell her tragic story here.
Me and Elaine on one of our backpacking trips.

Chapter Ten: I started backpacking at the age of sixty with a sister, and that first year with three of her teenagers. Once we went with another sister, her husband, my youngest brother and four teenage nephews. We did sections of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, and different places in Pennsylvania. We quit when she had a heart attack one winter and didn’t want to continue in areas with no cell-phone coverage. I started writing mysteries during those years, too, as well as poetry. I retired from teaching in 2006, and the following year my daughter Mary took me to Italy. It was the year I first went to Malice Domestic and joined Sisters in Crime and the Guppies. I joined two book clubs, started volunteering for Mobile Meals, and continued going to my local writing group, and started meeting with a group of mystery writers in the Cleveland area. Eventually, we formed a SinC group.

Chapter Eleven:  When I joined the Guppies, I became part of a critique group I’ve been with since 2009. There are only three of us, one is in Cincinnati, and the other one in England. We’ve become good friends over the years. After finding out about self-publishing through the Guppies, and liking some of the self-published books I read, I went that route and my first book, The Blue Rose came out in 2012. I have seven books in my series out now. Except for the deaths of my brother and best friend nine days apart, these years have been good ones. I enjoy my life with my critters, my writing, and all in all I’ve been pretty healthy, and hope I’ll have more chapters to add to my life. This year my ex moved in with my son next door after his third wife died this past spring. His health isn’t good. All feelings of anger had passed a long time ago. Now we are friends. In fact, he bought me a tombstone to put next to my son and granddaughter’s grave. It’s the strangest and funniest gift I’ve ever received.

The back of my home now with gardens and trees.

Have you ever thought of your life in chapters?


authorlindathorne said...

Yes. I think of my life chapters all the time. Sometimes I wished they'd go away as I'm busy with a day job (even though I'm well past retirement age) and I'm busy with promotion and writing projects.

I found this very interesting. I think life chapters for all of us are sort of the the same but different. Thank you sharing.

Nancy Cole Silverman said...

What a lovely way to look back at a well-lived life. Thank you for sharing.

Gloria Alden said...

Linda, I'm glad to hear someone else thinks of their life as chapters. I didn't retire until I was 68 years old, but then I didn't start teaching until I was 48, and after I retired I did
some substituting for about three or four years.

Thank you, for stopping by Nancy.