Simply The Best

Simply The Best

Tina Turner was an unstoppable artist and performer who made her way into people’s hearts across the globe. She’s survived every kind of adversity—from segregation to a hard and exhausting marriage to Ike Turner—and rose from the ashes spectacularly.

Tina became a superstar in her 40s (!) and continued to top the charts for many years following—she is an inspiration to any woman with a dream.

Tina died on Wednesday in her quiet home in Küsnacht, near Zurich, after battling illness for many years. May she rest in peace.

Tina taught us a lesson in personal power. She gave us hope in rising up and redemption. She lived an example to follow in staying always on the high road.

You’ve touched our hearts, Tina; you’re Simply the Best.

True Grit, The Price of Achievement – Susannah Scaroni

We’ve all heard the rejection accounts from the most successful authors. Stephen King was turned down 80 times by publishers, with his horror story CarrieHarry Potter almost never saw the light of day because of the number of rejections J. K. Rowling had from publishers. After his 27th rejection, Dr Seuss considered burning the book he had worked on over many, many months. Even the amazing Agatha Christie fielded six rejections prior to success with one of the most iconic detectives ever, Hercule Poirot.

Fast forward to April 17,2023 as Susannah Scaroni, paralympic gold medalist, scored her first win after nine attempts at the Boston Marathon, Wheelchair Division. She finished in 1 hour, 41 minutes, 45 seconds. She beat the former record holder by a more than five minutes.

 A car crash had left Scaroni paralyzed when she was 5. She determined she would never let that hold her back.  Scaroni represented the USA in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London followed by the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Los Angeles.  She touched gold in the 2021 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo. Susannah Scaroni has challenged almost every major U.S. marathon. She captured first place in Los Angeles (2013 and 2014) and winning two back-to-back victories in New York and Chicago Marathons, both in 2022. Boston Marathon was a stunning achievement; she was alone at the finish.

Why mix Susannah Scaroni’s achievement with writing?  Writing can be a dalliance or a commitment. Maybe you like the idea of being seen on a book tour, having your name in big letters on a book cover, or wistfully fantasize about a movie deal. The test of attainment is consistency and self-motivation. 

It isn’t endless drudgery, but it is a core motivation that you shore up with time management, working when you’d rather binge watch.  It is always keeping an eye out for improvement, not just hearing it from the critique group or your partner, but using it when it means starting over or throwing out favorite passages.  And it is the commitment in the way an athlete trains with a dedication to self, to the work and to a “room of one’s own.”  Every day.

I leave you with a quote from Stephen Covey: “I’m not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

A Blast From the Backlist – Something You Missed?

A Blast From the Backlist – Something You Missed?

In a 2003 interview this is what Carol O’Connell had to say about her character, Mallory: ”The way her character is,” O’Connell said by phone from her home in New York, ”Is in that line from James Joyce’s ”Ulysses” — I’m sure you’ll remember when Bloom is downstairs, looking at his wife’s cat — the cat is also a metaphor for the wife: ”Cruel. Her nature. Curious mice never squeal. Seem to like it.

The chilling descriptors above set the tone in O’Connell’s Blind Sight.  A blind child and a Catholic nun disappear from a city sidewalk in plain sight of onlookers. There, then gone—vanished in seconds.

Detective Kathy Mallory and the NYPD’s Special Crimes Unit enter the investigation when the nun’s body is found with three other corpses in varying stages of decomposition left on the lawn of Gracie Mansion, home to the mayor of New York City.  Sister Michael was the last to die. The child, Jonah Quill, is still missing.

Unknown to the police, that blind boy is with a stone killer.  Though he has unexpected resources of his own, his rescuers have no suspect, no useful evidence, and no clue — except for Detective Mallory’s suspicions of things not said and her penchant for getting to the truth beneath lies.

Carol O’Connell has penned a thriller of singular intensity.  At times the plot switched back and forth, making the read a bit confusing.  O’Connell also introduced a number of characters early; this gives the reader pause to try and sort who’s who.  Nonetheless readers are rewarded by Mallory’s logic and relentless pursuit.  

Mallory takes the lead on this case. Unlike her fellow detectives, Mallory is not bound by the limits of the typical.  Her intuitions and her street smarts are unique tools.  Mallory is spot on and, as always, she keeps her SCU colleagues in the dark as she hunts.

There are many instances of “blind” in this thriller.  O’Connell thoroughly captures the world of the physically blind in her portrayal of Jonah, the kidnapped boy, where reliance on other senses is critical for survival.  But the police are blind as well – few clues, few suspects, and few opportunities to connect the dots.  

As for Mallory, she seems blind to the human aspect of the crime.  We bear witness to how Mallory armors herself to create that façade.  Deep in her psyche, she carries the eternal flame of love and compassion even if she wishes to hide and protect that vulnerable part of herself.

Blind Sight is well worth the read.  Stick with the maze of a start because the ending will blow you away.

Sharon Kriegisch is a psychological thriller fan, a beta reader/editor and successful entrepreneur

Isn’t It Time To Treat Yourself With A Terrific Read?

Isn’t It Time To Treat Yourself With A Terrific Read?

Now’s your chance. Legacy of Secrets by Helen Starbuck is yours today and today only for FREE!  

Some families pass down their stories, Kate Earnshaw’s family passes down painful riddles without answers, and where secrets disappear from one generation to the next.

Kate’s father’s suicide has left many unanswered questions, including what to do with the abandoned family ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado and what to believe about Evan Hastings, a neighbor who seems to have as many secrets as her father and knows more about him than she does. But there’s something about Evan that calls her back to her father’s home. Something that threatens to unearth more than the past.

Reviews are great:

Helen does it again. I was so sad to finish the Annie Collins series that I was hesitant to read this standalone book. I prefer reading series, as I love following characters. But sure enough, like never imagining it possible to love more than your first born, she delivered another wonderful story and re-captured my heart.

Amazon Verified Purchaser

A book about a city girl falling for a country boy is always something I enjoy. Throw in a mysterious death and I’m all in!  Legacy of Secrets, Starbuck’s “will they or won’t they” romance/mystery, fits that bill! An intriguing whodunnit chaperones this bittersweet love story, making for a very engaging read!

Nannette K.
Amazon Verified Purchaser

Pick it up because you won’t put it down!  AMAZON

Colorado native and former OR nurse, Helen Starbuck is an award-winning author of The Annie Collins Mystery Series and standalone contemporary romantic suspense. When she’s not writing, you can find her dressing up like a princess and ballroom dancing with her friends or reading books about strong women and interesting men who find themselves in suspense-filled situations. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and her web site.

Will They Lose Their Marples Over This?

No better way to spark a fire storm than change.   There is a proposal to sanitize works of long-dead authors. Whether the cause of anti-censorship, history preservation or the fever dreams of conspiracy addicts, people have protested against editing out racism and xenophobia (among other unpleasant actions and ideas) from literature. HarperCollins was one of the first to see the reactions when Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming were “cleansed.” Passages that referred to weight, gender, race, violence, mental health and more were altered, with some being removed altogether.  The publisher thought it was worth it – writers not so much.

Passages from these novels have been “reworked or removed” to elide references to ethnicity or simply to omit physical descriptions altogether.  Without having reviewed these texts cited above, it’s hard to tell where changes were needed and where the publishers may have applied an over-abundance of caution. Regardless, many readers have argued that to strip a text of its worst qualities is to dismantle important historical context.

Be that as it may, Agatha Christie’s work got that makeover. There are a number of instances in her books that are blatantly offensive, particularly by modern standards. Christie was notable for stereotypical depictions of Asian people.  Also descriptions referencing characters as Nubian, “gypsy,” and “a Jew” have been removed from of her novels.

Like Dahl and Fleming, Christie saw some of her most flagrantly poor word choices changed in her lifetime. The bestseller, “And Then There Were None”, was infamously published in the U.K. based on a British minstrel song repeated in the novel. Even in 1940, the title was too objectionable for publication in the U.S. and the slur was largely removed from the text. As such, there’s a degree of precedent for these new edits.

All things considered, I thought we might take a look at Dame Agatha characters.  I chose Miss Marple because of the amazing number of actresses (14) who took on the role.  I have whittled it down to the top five who perennially swap positions now and then – with only one surviving all others to be the perfect Marple.  Watch for fun and maybe a little something you didn’t know.