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.”

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.

Another Stellar Performance – Francelia Belton

Another Stellar Performance – Francelia Belton

Francelia Belton’s “Siren Song” appeared on April 1, 2023 in Stone’s Throw, A Rock and Hard Place Publication. Congratulations Francelia!

This short piece is a terrific read.  Here’s the opening from “Siren Song”:

I think most men considered me a challenge: reel in the sea loving mariner, tame her, and make her your wife sort of thing. Only that’s not how it works. You can’t ‘domesticate’ a seafarer. They love the salty wind in their hair, the cool water against their skin, the sound of the waves crashing against the hull of their ship.  

Stone’s Throw is a monthly companion to the Rock and a Hard Place Magazine. In addition to their regular issues, Rock and a Hard Place Press deliver shorter, sharper content that feature all the same grit and hard decisions as their usual fare. Each month, writers are given a submission prompt, and the best of the best, by their estimation, will be posted to the site the following month. Then at the end of year, all twelve of the 2023 Stone Throw’s stories will be collected and published into a Stone’s Throw Anthology.

Your Next Great Read?  Macavity!

Your Next Great Read? Macavity!

Psst!  Wanna tip about where to find your next great read?  Spend some time with 2022’s Macavity Award winners and nominees.  You’ll find favorites, I’m sure.  More importantly – who are the new kids on the block you’ll want to sample? 

The Macavity Awards, established in 1987, are literary awards for mystery writers. Nominated and voted upon annually by the members of the Mystery Readers International, the award is named for the “mystery cat” of T. S. Eliot‘s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

Why should I care about nominees?  Mystery Readers International is one of largest organization of mystery readers in the world. Its members include fans, critics, writers, publishers, and editors. Past winners include Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, and Tana French. The award is given in five categories—best novel, best first novel, best nonfiction, and best short story and the Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery.

2022 Macavity Award Nominees

Best Mystery Novel:

  • S.A. Cosby: Razorblade Tears (Flatiron Books) winner
  • Michael Connelly: The Dark Hours (Little, Brown and Co.)
  • Val McDermid: 1979 (Atlantic Monthly)
  • Alan Parks: Bobby March Will Live Forever (World Noir)
  • Chris Whitaker: We Begin at the End (Henry Holt)
  • Colson Whitehead: Harlem Shuffle (Doubleday)

Best First Mystery:

  • Mia P. Manansala: Arsenic and Adobo (Berkley) winner
  • Alexandra Andrews: Who is Maude Dixon? (Little, Brown)
  • Abigail Dean: Girl A (Viking)
  • Erin Flanagan: Deer Season (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Wanda M. Morris: All Her Little Secrets (William Morrow)

Best Mystery Short Story:

  • Richard Helms: “Sweeps Week” (EQMM, July/August 2021) winner
  • Tracy Clark: “Lucky Thirteen” (Midnight Hour, Crooked Lane Books)
  • Steve Hockensmith: “Curious Incidents” (EQMM, January/February 2021)
  • R.T. Lawton: “The Road to Hana” (AHMM, May/June 2021)
  • G.M. Malliet: “The White Star” (EQMM, July/August 2021)
  • Gigi Pandian: “The Locked Room Library” (EQMM, July/August 2021)
  • Dave Zeltserman: “Julius Katz and the Two Cousins” (EQMM, July/August 2021)

Sue Feder Memorial Award for Best Historical Mystery:
Naomi Hirahara: Clark and Division (Soho Crime)

  • Rhys Bowen: The Venice Sketchbook (Lake Union) winner
  • Susan Elia MacNeal: The Hollywood Spy (Bantam)
  • Sujata Massey: The Bombay Prince (Soho Crime)
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Velvet was the Night (Del Rey)
  • Lori Rader-Day: Death at Greenway (William Morrow)