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

September Interviews

9/2 Dianne Freeman, A Lady's Guide to Mischief and Murder

9/9 Ellen Byron, Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

9/16 Marilyn Levinson, writing as Allison Brook, Checked Out for Murder

9/23 Rhys Bowen, The Last Mrs. Summers

9/30 Sherry Harris, From Beer To Eternity

September Guest Bloggers

9/19 Judy Alter

WWK Weekend Bloggers

9/5 V. M. Burns

9/12 Jennifer J. Chow

9/26 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

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!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Grandma's Treasures

by Julie Tollefson

My 98-year-old grandmother recently moved into a nursing home, and my mother and my aunts have begun to clean out her house before putting it on the market. The rule governing this difficult process: If an item can be traced to one of the three daughters, ten grandchildren, or I’ve-lost-track-of-how-many great- and great-great-grandchildren, it goes back to that family.

Over the recent holiday weekend, my mother brought the first of what will be several boxes of treasures from Grandma’s house for my brother and me to divide. Tucked in among cards we sent her when we were children, photographs of us at different ages, and cookbooks held together with duct tape were a handful of newspaper clippings from my first paying job as a writer.

The summer after I graduated from high school, the local newspaper hired me to type up the weekly society column announcements. I was ecstatic—I had a foot in the door, on my way to a career in journalism. But then the job got even better when the news editor took a chance and assigned me to write light summery features. My first writing gig!

None of these stories made anyone’s Top Ten list that year. They weren’t prizewinners or particularly noteworthy or even, I see now as I re-read them, very well written.

In one, I interviewed our librarian about the most popular books of the summer of 1982*. Another offered advice for parents planning summer snacks for their children (as I scan it, I see a typo in the seventh paragraph—cringe!). Other stories depicted a Sunday School class for adults with mental disabilities, profiled an 82-year-old woman who baked homemade pies for the restaurant at the tiny Garden City (Kansas) Airport, and delved deep into the idea that “Father Knows Best” the week before Father’s Day.

I remember how proud I felt that summer. I was a “real” journalist writing real stories for a real newspaper, and each story carried my byline.

And Grandma kept copies of them all these years.

Now, with thirty-five years and a lot of career behind me, it’s still cool to see my name in print. My hope, still and always, is that my words mean enough to someone to find a home on a bookshelf or in a box of clippings stowed in a closet.

* According to the article, the most frequently checked out novels of that summer were The Man From St. Petersburg by Ken Follet, The Cardinal Sins by Andrew M. Greeley, Thy Brother’s Wife by Greeley, North and South by John Jakes, and The Parsifal Mosaic by Robert Ludlum. Tops in non-fiction: A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath by John Toland, Weight Watchers 365-Day Cookbook, Jane Fonda’s Workout Book by Jane Fonda, and Never Say Diet by Richard Simmons—I’m sensing a pattern in these last three.


Jim Jackson said...

Nice that your grandmother kept those treasures for you. Now the question is: what are you going to do with them? I always figure that after I go, my kids will have no interest in my “treasures,” but I guess I'll never know unless they put me in a nursing home and have to go through all the stuff while I'm alive.

I have read several of the 1982 "most-lent" books.

~ Jim

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I remember revolving racks of those thick 1982 mass market paperbacks!

Time for a scrapbook, or at least an acid free folder for those clippings.

Julie Tollefson said...

Jim - Good question! I think I have copies of most of them tucked away in my own boxes. It's weird divvying up Grandma's stuff, but there are some bright spots. She's happy that I wanted to keep the old mixing bowl she used to make bread in.

Julie Tollefson said...

Margaret - Just reading that list of most-requested books that summer brought back so many memories! You're right - I should do SOMETHING with the clippings so in 30 or 40 years, my son can have the pleasure of throwing them out!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

If you're into that kind of stuff, a collage of the clippings and some 3D artifacts (floppy disc?)displayed in a shadow box. My daughter had my first anthology publication framed (front and back covers, matted). I hung it on the kitchen wall.

Or Xerox the clippings and start a year by year ring binder of publications.

Love the mixing bowl. I wish I'd kept my grandmother's 1920 edition of Fannie Farmer.

Kait said...

How wonderful that your grandmother kept those clippings! And a testament to the quality of the paper of the day that they survived intact. Margaret's idea of an acid-free scrapbook or other means of preservation sounds great. I expect if documents need to be shrunk it would have to be professionally done though unless you have the room to store morgue size volumes. Having survived the transition of home movies from Super 8 to VHS to DVD and decided no matter what came next, that was it for me - I can attest to the obsolescence of technological media and would advise caution going that route!

Good blog, Julie, and wonderful memories. Glad you wanted the bread bowl. I bet it's beautiful and all the more so for the memories.

Julie Tollefson said...

Margaret - One of the cookbooks I kept is a Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook with the red and white plaid cover. I have a much newer version of it, but Grandma's copy really is held together with three strips of duct tape!

Julie Tollefson said...

Thanks, Kait! I'm a sucker for nostalgic items (like the bread bowl) that have a story behind them. Hmm--imagine that!

Gloria Alden said...

After both my parents died a year apart, my siblings got together and took turns picking out things we wanted. When we got to photographs, if we wanted one we put our names on the back, and my one sister made copies for us. I was the only one who wanted the books and I have them to this day.

Julie Tollefson said...

Gloria - That's a terrific way to handle photographs! We have books--some classics--that used to belong to my husband's grandparents. I enjoy having them on my shelves and thinking about where they came from.

KM Rockwood said...

What a bittersweet task, to be sorting out your grandmother's treasures. I helped go through some of the things from my mother's house. I am the only one left of the oldest four children, and the stories, etc. I hear from the younger ones seem like they are from a different family. I have refrained from correcting stories about some items. After all, suppose I am wrong? I don't want to shatter memories. They are very subjective anyhow.

Julie Tollefson said...

KM, the subjective nature of memories is something I think about quite a bit. Among our longtime friend group, there are some stories that are told again and again. Over the years, some of the details have morphed. I know they're wrong, but the NEW way of telling makes the story better. The underlying truth of the story is the same, even stronger sometimes.

Elizabeth Kral said...

I avoid the subjective "truthful" memory by writing it as creative fiction. I have not yet written anything in present tense. Like Julie Tollefson, I hope my NEW way of telling makes the story better?