Saturday, April 30, 2022

A Weird Place by Liz Flaherty

I'm late again. I doubt most people are aware of it--it's only 6:39 AM on Saturday morning. I've watched the morning sky, fed the cats, and gotten the coffeepot in the house ready for when Duane gets up. I haven't written the blog yet, although I like to have it done on Friday. I want for it to be there, ready, like the purple and pink sky and my Keurig, when I come to the office on Saturday. That hasn't worked this week.

I'm in a weird kind of place, one I imagine most people my age can identify with. I'm a septuagenarian, thank you very much. I've earned a long word for being as old as I am. I'm happy and grateful for my life. I laugh a lot and I love my family with a depth that there aren't any words long enough to describe. I am blessed in so many ways. 

And yet.

It's not much of a secret, since I talk about it all the time, that I'm a dweller. I don't get over things. It's one of those things you hope will go away with that age I was talking about, but for me it has sharpened. Instead of fading into a gentle Monet landscape, loss and grief and anger stand out like mountains on relief maps. It's only now, in these brittle days since my sister passed away, that I realize I can be grateful and happy and realize my blessings and still dwell on hurt and loss. Still wake every day with the thought that I won't see her again. 

Nancy, my sister, was big on get over it. It was how she got through things, how she survived, how she held onto happy and grateful. She was the eldest of us, however, and she was unprepared for two of our brothers to pass before her. How dared they to go out of order? We laughed when we said that, but she didn't "get over it." She mourned with a depth I didn't fully understand, even though they were my brothers, too. 

She worried about my brother and me who are still here, because she already felt betrayed by the out-of-order thing. Despite the depth of her own grief, I don't think she'd understand that I'm having trouble accepting that she's not sitting at her kitchen table anymore. She'd roll her eyes and remind me that I have everything. 

I do. And I'm grateful, happy, and blessed. But I don't have her. As wonderful as septuagenarianism is--and it truly is--it is pockmarked with those things I talked about. Loss and grief and anger all leave marks, don't they? They add substance to our lives, to who we are, but they hurt. Forever. 

I don't know how to end this, because I am indeed still in this weird place. But maybe writing about it (and making you suffer along with me) has helped. It's reminded me of the pink and purple morning sky, that I had the best sister in the world for over 70 years, and to keep laughing because joy keeps those scars of grief and loss and anger from running together and taking you over. 

I miss you every day, Nance. Love you.

That's it for now. Have a good week. Tell people you love them. Be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

A POTATO AT REST by Emily Perkins

Photo by Erica Freeman
I am so grateful to Emily for visiting the Window today. Beyond pretty and funny, she's also scary talented. - Liz

My hair color comes from a box.

Actually? My HAIR comes from a box. Essentially, my stylist is the UPS guy. I’ve worn wigs for the last twenty some years, and I wanted to share some of my story.

When I was 16, I went in for a haircut. My hair was thick at the time. My stylist would always say she could thin it out and it would still be two heads’ worth of hair. But at this haircut, she asked me if I knew I had a dime-sized bald spot on my head. I honestly hadn’t noticed it. We decided to get it checked out, just in case.

The doctors ran a variety of tests. I had to have an ultrasound and bloodwork, as hair loss can be caused by a variety of reasons, many of them indicating more serious health issues. What it ended up being was alopecia. You may have heard a little bit about this in the news recently, but back then, I had never heard of it.

Not much is known about what triggers alopecia, but they do know that once it starts, your immune system sees your hair follicles as foreign bodies and begins to attack them. Specifically, I have Alopecia areata universalis, which affects the entire body. Leg hair, arm hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, even down to nose and ear hair.

At the time, though, it was just a small circle on my otherwise thick head of hair. One bald patch became two, two became three, and then I finally began to notice it elsewhere when half of one eyebrow began to fall out.
My first wig

Between my junior and senior year of high school, the loss had increased to the point that I decided to get a wig. I had actually been quite candid with my classmates about my hair loss during the previous year, but many still didn’t suspect that I was wearing a wig when I returned to school.

Looking back, I have made some. . . questionable wig choices. This one wasn’t that bad, for a first-time user. It was short and blond, and didn’t really draw that much attention, but then, being the dramatic soul that I am, I decided I wanted a long, curly red wig. The first week I wore it to school, some guy bullied me in the hallway. Shortly after, a kind teacher randomly complimented me on my new hair color, not knowing about the incident that had occurred moments before. I ran to the bathroom and cried.

It wasn’t the first or last time I cried over my hair loss. Hair is really tied to women’s identity in most cultures. How many ads have you seen where the gorgeous model has her lustrous waves blowing in the wind? And there was I looking like a potato at rest. Anyway, I do remember that bullying incident fairly clearly, but I also remember the number of people who came to my defense against that jerk. My supporters vastly outmatched my detractors. Even people whom I was not particularly close to offered their support. I count myself lucky to have that environment when I was going through my formative years with my hair loss.

The first month or so at college, I would wear my wig down to the dorm bathrooms and wrap my bare head in a towel turban so that no one would know my secret. It took many years to come to the point where I felt comfortable letting people know that part of me. Many more years passed before I finally began to feel beautiful in my own skin.
Photo by Justin Schuman

When I lived in NYC, I regularly celebrated Hairless July and August, as it was too dang hot on the subway to deal with wearing what essentially feels like a sock cap on a crowded, sweaty subway. These days, I wear a wig most of the time. Not because I’m embarrassed, but just so I don’t have to deal with questions from every Tom, Dick, and Harry that I encounter on a daily basis.

I’m more than willing to share my story with people one on one, I just don’t want it to always be the first thing people notice about me. My pasty dome can be a bit of a distraction. I do, however, go without my hair when I’m out and about, specifically in the summertime. I’m very frequently told how “brave” I am.

While I appreciate this sentiment, I long for the day when women can step out of the house looking however it is that they ACTUALLY look, and feel confident and like their best version of them. I shouldn’t have to be brave to look the way I do. Yes, it is unusual, and yes, I certainly have plenty of moments where I wish I was “normal,” but this is just how I am. And I'm okay with that.

Below, I’ve compiled some tips I’ve gathered over the years, in regards to Baldie Beauty. They are not at all comprehensive, and I’m by no means an expert, but I wish I had had something like this when I first began this journey. 

I make most of my wig purchases online. I've used Vogue wigs and with good results. There are, of course, varying levels of quality of wigs available, so read the descriptions and reviews carefully.

I tend to buy synthetic rather than real hair. Aside from being less expensive, they hold their style better and require less upkeep.

Long wigs and curly wigs also require much more upkeep. I tend to go no longer than shoulder length. I do find that short (less than chin length) curly wigs often look the most “wiggy.”

Bear in mind when purchasing a wig, many don't have a crown that will allow you to do any sort of crisp part. If that's a look you desire, go for a skin top wig.

A lace-front wig will allow a natural looking hairline. Be sure to get a lace that matches your skin tone. (There are many wigs that are made specifically for African Americans, for example, and the lace would not blend in with my pasty whiteness.)

As far as brows and lashes, I use Clinique brow powder with a Smashbox angled brow brush. The long handle allows for more control. The powder will definitely last through a normal day. If you are doing something more strenuous, you might keep it in your purse for touch ups. If you sweat, DON'T RUB that area. They might fade slightly, but they won't come off unless you rub them.

I usually start with a very thin brow on each side so that I can make sure they are even before filling them out.

I use a Revlon twist-up eyeliner in brown black, although lately I've been trying out L'Oreal's Le Liner with great results. I line the top and bottom of my lids and I find the twist-up will go on more smoothly closer to my lash line than a pencil would.

I save the false lashes for special occasions, and even then, only my upper lid.

If you're smooching someone for long enough, you'll likely lose an eyebrow, so make sure that's a risk you're willing to take.

The most important tip: LOVE YOURSELF AS YOU ARE. My friend Ambyr and her partner Justin wrote a song that I like to listen to on repeat. The chorus gently encourages to “tell yourself you love you.” Do it. Love YOU. Even if you feel like a potato at rest on occasion, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a hot potato.
Emily Perkins has always had a penchant for the dramatics and graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy with a certificate in the performing arts. Since returning to her hometown of Wabash, she has enjoyed performing in many community theatre productions around the area, as well as a few professional gigs. For her day gig, she works as an optician at Family Optometry in the great little community of Peru. She's a proud Auntie and has a pretty decent boyfriend. If you are experiencing hair loss and have questions for her, get her contact info from Liz.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Just for now... by Liz Flaherty

This was first on the Window in April of 2022. Like April of this year, it was a time of changing, of sorrow and dance, of ...well, April being April. I hope you won't mind reading it again. 

I've always known what the word ephemeral meant, but I've never used it--possibly because I didn't know how to spell it and I'm not completely sure of its pronunciation. It means, in case you aren't sure, "lasting a very short time."

Coming from my position on life's calendar, I think that includes everything except possibly hot flashes, bad movies, and sleepless nights. However, the ephemerality is often in retrospect, isn't it? When my kids were young, I thought the terrible twos went on for about twelve years. When it was my grandkids, it only lasted minutes--days at the most. 

The bluebird's on the clothesline this morning. He's so quick. I wish he'd stay, but he has too much going on to pose outside my office window for long. 

The forsythia bush is like its own little sunbeam in the corner of the yard where it's been the whole time we've lived here. Sunrise this morning was brightly, achingly beautiful. One of my favorite pictures ever is of the rainbow that lit the sky over the neighbors' barn. They last such a short time, don't they, and yet they last forever, too. 

If you don't like who's in the White House, his tenure lasts an agonizingly long time. If you do like him, you relax a little because you feel safer, but no sooner have you put up the footrest of the recliner than it's election year yet again. 

Loss makes you more aware of how fleeting everything is. That's when you realize that the term a good, long life is subjective. Because to the ones left behind, long wasn't nearly long enough. Loss also reminds you to be grateful. Again and again and again. For family, friends, and memories--and for that life that wasn't long enough.

Nothing is more transitory than weather, although I believe the wind and rain are 
Photo by Regine Brindle
here to stay. What we need to do, other than wait it out, is find the beauty in it. Regine Brindle does that better than most. She's one of my gratitudes today, for sharing her pictures. More than just visual, they gift the other senses as well. For the writer in me, she always makes me find words. Lacy, anyone? Fragile? Tenderness? 

My grandson took this picture, which I stole without conscience, at Kilgore Falls in Maryland. I don't know its story, but I do know looking at the photograph builds a story in the mind. 
Photo by Skyler Wilson

The objects of the photographs move instantly from how they look there. The ice blows off the trees. The waterfall continues to roar and move the wood in the picture. Ephemerality at its best. 

And maybe that's what I'll end this with. Because of photographs and memories, we get to keep those moments. Even if we are at a point that we don't actually recall them, I'm not so sure we don't always remember on some plane how they made us feel. I'm not so sure we can't still experience the joy. I hope so. 

Have a good week. Be grateful. Be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Talk Wordy to Me by Laura Hunsaker

Laura Hunsaker wrote this post for another blog we're both part of. Virtually all writers feel about libraries the way she does, but she said it better than most, so I asked begged her to let me use this. Find Laura at

I'm in a book group on Facebook where we talk about "everything books." All genres, all questions, all formats, and especially photos of book hauls. Every now and then someone complains about people buying books and how they should use the library. It usually winds up with lots of wild popcorn-worthy comments. 

One thing that got me thinking though, is that I do go to the library. Often. I take my younger kiddos, and my eldest takes herself. We utilize the crafts they do, the classes they offer, the story time, the challenges, the read-alongs...literally anything the library offers, we are there for. Recently my youngest checked out a pre-loaded kindle. It was pretty amazing.

I've also noticed (about myself) that I prefer to own certain books. Certain books I like to borrow.  Often we borrow a book at the library and like it so much, we purchase it. So I like to think that as much as I support my local library, they also support us. We read so much in my house.  I couldn't afford my book habit if it weren't for the library. 

My library even has a few of my books listed in the local author section, which I find so incredibly cool. I've had book signings, given talks, and even met some amazing authors through my library.

So what about you? I realize not all places have the kind of access I do to an amazing and supportive library system, but if you do, do you utilize it? What's your library like? Are you far from one? Do you prefer to own the book, or are you like me, where you're sort of a mixed bag?  


Laura Hunsaker is an award-winning author who writes romance set in the Scottish Highlands, but with a twist. Somewhere in between Historical and Paranormal, she writes Scottish Time Travel Romance and Paranormal Romance. She's hard at work right now, writing adventures about protective men paired with strong women who knock them off their feet.

She is a hybrid author being both traditionally published and self-published, as well as a member of Romance Writers of America® Cactus Rose Chapter and the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

After earning degrees in English and German, with a specialty in British Literature, she taught for a few years. As of now, Laura has a full-time job day job, which leaves nights for traveling through the mists of Scotland.


Saturday, April 16, 2022

About Siblings by Liz Flaherty

I wrote the following column in November of 1994. I found it odd that when I went looking for it among the pre-internet clippings, it was the first one in the first binder I picked up. But maybe not odd at all.

It's flawed, for which I apologize, but it's important to me that I share it today. I hope you'll bear with me.


I'm writing this on my brother's birthday. He's older than me, of course. I wouldn't have mentioned it at all if he'd been younger. He has one more kid than I do. He also has completely different memories of our growing up years than I do. I'm sure he thinks his memories are different because he's old, but that isn't true.

They're different because he's wrong.

And that's one of the joys of having siblings. You always think they're wrong and they always think you're a brick shy of a load. You will scream at them and give them hard looks and tell their spouses you don't know how they can stand them day after day after day. They will scream at you and hang up loud in your ear if they think you're being stupid. (Note from Liz--this was also pre-cellphone, in case you hadn't figured that out.) You're not stupid--I know that. It's your siblings we're talking about here. You know how they are. They'll tell your parents they spoiled you rotten and that's why you're the way you are. 

You can go for years without seeing your siblings and then when you do, it's like  you saw them yesterday. You can hear one of their voices over the phone and know exactly who you're talking to even if you get your own children's voices confused.

I have four of them. They're all older than me--see, guys? I got that in there again--and they're all smarter than me. They still pick on me for childhood eccentricities I left behind 35 years ago. If we were all together and there were only four seats, I'd still be the one who sits on the floor. When I make comments, they look at my husband and say, "Is that right?" like I'm still not mature enough to be believed.

One of my brothers still calls me Yitsy, which is what I called myself before I could speak plainly. Another brother calls me Lizzie Bird.

Seriously, is this how you talk to a woman who is a grandmother?

Well, yes, if you are her brother or sister and have known her since the day you were brought home from the hospital.

Because siblings share something even spouses and children don't. They have a history that goes all the way back to the cradle. They not only know and accept the way you are, but realize why you are that way. Even as they are screaming at you, even though they may not always even like you, they will defend you to the death against any and all outsiders. They will say, "That's just the way she is," and invite no more comment. 

Then they will tell you to grow up, straighten up, act right. They will tell you growing up was rougher on them than on you and they will remember things...differently.

And maybe they're not wrong. Maybe you are.

There's another thing about sisters and brothers, a really important thing.

If I ever called any of them and said, "I need you," they would be on the way before the words were completely out of my mouth. I would do the same for them.

It's nice to know that. 


Nancy Dotson 
8/25/1936 - 4/13/2022

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

How Would I Know? by Debra Jo Myers

As I write this, Easter is near. It makes me remember my mom getting me up on that Sunday morning, and putting on my new dress, shoes, and hat for church.  After we had a big dinner at Aunt Sue’s with my cousins. My favorite part was the Easter egg hunt! Uncle Ron would hide dozens of eggs outside with candy and change inside. One gold egg had a $1 bill, so we all tried to find it first. I didn’t understand what Easter really signified. Some years it was the only time we went to church. It wasn’t because Mom didn’t want to or didn’t believe. I think it was because by Sunday, all she wanted was rest. When we went to church, it was First Baptist. I remember my mom sometimes said a prayer before dinner, and she did tell us to say our prayers before bedtime. I would ask God to take care of us, give us food and shelter, and take care of sick people.

When we’re young, we don’t have control over our religious actions or beliefs. They come from parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers…and the church itself. I had a children’s Bible with stories I liked to read, but honestly, I thought they were just stories. They talked about heaven too. I thought they were make-believe stories like my other books were. 

One Easter when I was in third grade, we got baskets of candy at school from our teacher. She told us we couldn’t eat any until we got home. As we were leaving, I was sneaking to open up my ring pop. A boy leaned up and whispered to me “If you eat that now, you will go to H-E double hockey sticks!” I knew that was a bad word, and I told him so. He said it wasn’t a bad word, it was where the devil lived. He said he was going to heaven to be with God, because he was going to do what the teacher said. Walking the nine blocks home to my house sucking on my ring pop, I started wondering if I was really going to H-E double hockey sticks. I don’t think I understood God at all, but that night I prayed.  I said I was sorry for eating my ring pop before I got home. I asked God to let me go to heaven.

As I got older, I heard and read more about God and heaven. When I was twelve, I went to a weekend camp sponsored by the church. It was there that I learned that you either believed or you didn’t believe. I was a smart kid, so I was intrigued to figure out which category I fit in. There was a girl at camp I knew in middle school, Denise. When it came to religion, she seemed to know more than any of my friends. I didn’t know her well, but she wanted to help me. She said she loved spreading the "word of God."

Denise told me I would get messages from heaven from loved ones who had died and gone there. She told me stories about messages she’d received from her great grandma, June. My Pawpaw had never sent me a message. He was the only person close to me who had died then. Denise said I needed to believe the Bible was true. She told me if I went to church every Sunday, I would be a believer. As I mentioned, I was inquisitive. I needed to do research, to get facts about God, Jesus, heaven and hell, miracles, and these messages.

I learned religion is based on faith. Parts of the bible can’t be proven. To have proof that God exists, you have to BE God. Denise had been right and wrong. The bible may not all be factual since it a combination of 66 books written about hundreds of people. There are parts that are actual historical events. Others contain what can be described as symbolic, yet they teach love and faith. After asking questions without definitive answers, I spent the next decade confused, not willing to commit, and unsure what I believed.  

It was after my dad, Ernie, died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 26, that I felt compelled to learn more about heaven and hell. He was only 48. We didn’t have much of a relationship after he and mom divorced when I was young. I was struggling with why he had to die just when I had reconnected with him. Two weeks earlier, he’d met my two daughters for the first time. But I didn’t remember him ever going to church. I don’t think I ever heard him talk about God or faith.

Friends at his funeral said they were praying for me, and that Dad was in a better place. The preacher giving the sermon didn’t know my dad. I listened closely as he talked about life after death in heaven with God. I was afraid. As horrible as it is to say, I wasn’t sure if my dad was in heaven. But what was the alternative? Surely, he wasn’t in hell. It seems that death is as mysterious as life can be.

I wanted to be a believer. I wanted the facts and the lessons. I got a Living Bible and started reading. I became hooked on finding answers to my questions through its words. I was working full-time and raising three children, but each night I read and prayed.

At 36, I got my first "Message from Heaven." I was in the kitchen cleaning up supper. My seven-year-old son, Derek, randomly asked me about my dad. I rarely talked to my children about him, especially Derek, since he died before he was born. I began telling him about his grandpa Ernie. I left out that my dad was an alcoholic, that he’d spent time in prison, and that I hardly knew him. What I did tell him were the great things about Grandpa.

Derek loved basketball. My dad was a star in high school. He held the free throw record for twenty years. My dad played with us whenever he was home. He got down on his hands and knees and gave us horseback rides. We went to his softball games. He got hot dogs and popcorn for us while we watched. He liked to tease mom and scare her, so she’d scream, and we’d laugh. Derek loved hearing the stories, and afterwards he went outside to tell his friends about his grandpa Ernie.   

Back at the kitchen sink, I looked out the window. There it was. My first message from heaven. I had never seen a caterpillar climbing up this window. How did I know it was a message from heaven? Whenever my dad would find caterpillars in our backyard, he brought them inside for us to see and feel. There it was. My message. My dad must be in heaven. It was the first of many more to follow. I am no longer confused or uncommitted. I have to admit there are still times when doubt creeps in, but I have faith. I am a believer, not because of facts. Because of "Messages from Heaven."   




Saturday, April 9, 2022

Still More than Just A Building by Liz Flaherty

I already posted this on Facebook, but it's still going on, so consider it a reminder. Below it is a revisit of an article I wrote several years (and several books) ago about the library and supporting it. While the article didn't change anything, I still feel the same. Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Be nice to somebody. 

It's National Library Week. In recent years, the term "a safe place" has often been decried as a sign of weakness. (Insert a snort here--I don't know how to do that in emojis.) The library is the ultimate safe place. It's where we can visit every place in the world by reading about them. It's where we can find fiction in any genre to fill that well we all have in us. There are movies there, too, and computers and audio books. Libraries are places to research, to socialize, to listen to stories, and to participate in programs. They are places to be warm when warmth is hard to come by. Safe places. Thank you to all of them and to the people who staff them. #NationalLibraryWeek


Peru Public Library
It’s about the library.

You know where it is—it’s the big old building on the corner of Main and Huntington. It’s been remodeled in the past year so that the children’s floor is bright and cheery and the tables and desks on the adult floor are refinished and waiting for you. There’s room between the stacks to get around and plenty of places to sit and read the paper and decide if you really do want to read the book by a new author in your hands or if you want to stick to the tried-and-true.

If you have things to look up, there’s a handy-dandy reference room back there to do it in. There are computers for everyone’s use and all kinds of paper-and-ink books you can lose yourself in. More tables and chairs and pens and scrap paper to make notes on. One of those books, the 1875 History of Miami County, led to my third or fourth book (you forget after while), Home to Singing Trees. Most of the history in my book came straight from that other big one, only I used my own words. (To have used someone else’s is plagiarism. I learned that word early on. In the library.)

I’ve written something like 14 books now. Some with a large publisher, some with a smaller one, some released on my own. Writing books is one of those things that’s kind of like a good pizza—it’s everything it’s cracked up to be. You probably won’t get rich, but you’re going to have a good time and you’re guaranteed some satisfaction that comes from inside.

Before I wrote those books—and while I was writing them—I wrote a column for the Peru Tribune, “Window Over the Sink.” It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing and I’d still be doing it if the climate in newspapering hadn’t changed. I wrote feature articles, too, and had a few stories in magazines.

I didn’t go to college. I didn’t “know” anyone. But I had good teachers—thank you, North Miami—and I had the library. If it hadn’t been for those two components, my life would have been very different.

Would it have been ruined? Nope. I’d still have my family, maybe the job I retired from, our home. Would it have been less? Yeah, I think so.

I wouldn’t have written 14 books (and still counting). I wouldn’t have written a couple hundred newspaper columns. I wouldn’t have spoken to other would-be writers and said “yes, you can.” Because I wouldn’t have known it. I learned it from those teachers, whose names I can still recite to you 50 or so years later if you want to hear them, and from what’s inside buildings like the one at the corner of Main and Huntington in Peru, Indiana.

It’s easy to get a library card. Just take your ID in and fill out an application. And, if you live outside the city limits, pay $75.


Now, personally, I don’t think that’s a big price for a year of being able to borrow books, audio-books, movies, and music from the library. However, that’s just me. If my three kids still lived at home, it would be $300 for the four of us and the truth is we probably wouldn’t have done it even if it meant they got to borrow books on their very own card and they got to take part in a Summer Reading Program that’s just like that pizza I mentioned earlier—all it’s cracked up to be. However, kids are weird; they have to eat and wear clothes and their shoe sizes change every two weeks--$225 for their library cards would have been a prohibitive expense.

But if we paid a tax to the library the way city residents do, it wouldn’t be. I’m just like everyone else in that I don’t want to pay more taxes, but the cost of supporting the library would be pretty small if it were spread out. And the payoff would be huge.

I know—yes, I really do—that there are those of you who won’t want to pay a library tax because you’re not going to use the library. You are the same ones who don’t want to pay school taxes because you don’t have kids in school. Well, just as I thank you for helping pay those school taxes so that all of those who attend county schools can do so, I would also thank you for paying a tax that would grant library privileges to county residents.

The kid over there in the third row in English class? He’ll thank you, too, when he’s writing his fourteenth book and his two-hundredth column because you and the other people who cared about the kids in this county paid those taxes. He’ll talk to kids in classrooms and library meeting rooms and he’ll say “yes, you can” because he came from somewhere that cared enough to take care of their own.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

A Little Murder by Susie Black

If there is an inheritable gene for story-telling, mine came from my mother’s mother. My nana

should have been a writer. No one could tell a story like her. She was the eldest of six children of a modest immigrant family from Eastern Europe that settled in Boston at the turn of the century. My great-grandfather was a tailor who managed to clothe, feed, and shelter his children, but there was precious little left over for extravagances like a day at the cinema for one child, let alone for six. Nana had a cousin Jenny who played piano at the local silent-movie house and Jenny was able to get a free pass for relatives. Nana and her next oldest sibling traded off weeks going to the serialized show every Saturday afternoon and then came home to tell the story to all the other kids. The other kids hated it when it was my great-aunt’s turn, because she gave a short synopsis and called it a day. They were thrilled when it was Nana’s turn. She set up two rows of chairs in the parlor like in the movie house, served popcorn, dimmed the lights and played background music on a Victrola as she recounted the episode of the serial. Nana would take her time, slowly build up to the cliffhanger and stop talking right before the finale. Nana would wait until my  great uncle Murray would yell, “Go on Rae, go on!” before she’d finish telling the story. Talk about pacing and how to build tension to the finale? Nana had it down pat. I kept Nana’s story-telling skills in mind while writing Death by Sample Size, my debut humorous cozy mystery. Somewhere in the great beyond, Nana is smiling her approval. Take a look at the book and see what Nana is smiling about.

Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery series, I am a ladies’ apparel sales exec. From the start of my career, I have kept a daily journal that chronicles the quirky, interesting, and often challenging people I’ve encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. The journal entries are the foundation of all my writing. With a dollop of imagination, a pinch of angst, and a decades-long career chocked to the gills with juicy characters, I had more stories itching to be told in my daily journal than time to write them.

My parents swore the first word I uttered was not Mama or Daddy or No…it was WHY? Candidly, I’ve never stopped asking that question. I came to write in the cozy mystery genre because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…) LOL. So, writing mysteries was the natural next step for me to take.

As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was  important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All of my characters are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds and broken the glass ceiling. Holly Schlivnik, the main character, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. The plots and premises of my stories all take place in the fast-paced ladies' apparel industry.

 Set in the heart of the competitive Los Angeles apparel industry, Death By Sample Size is the story of one woman’s relentless quest for power regardless of the cost. Since she didn’t think any rules applied to her, buying office big shot Bunny Frank had no problem breaking them all. Ruthless, driven and power hungry; from bribery to bullying to extortion, Bunny Frank did whatever it took to make her buying office the biggest and best no matter who she had to step on to succeed. The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. It was no surprise Bunny Frank had finally pushed someone beyond their limits. The only surprise was it had taken so long. The question wasn’t who wanted Bunny Frank dead. The question was who didn’t? When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge.


Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Fashion & Foul Play Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.

Susie reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.

I would like to thank Liz and Window Over the Sink for this opportunity to introduce myself and my series to all of you. As a special gift to readers I have included a Swimwear Fit Guide.

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My website is: www.authorsusieblack

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Keep Hunting by Liz Flaherty

Sometimes you just have nice things happen. Isn't it great when they do? Yeah, I'm going to do the Pollyanna thing again. And, please, feel free to join in. I've read recently that blogs are dead--please, no!--and I don't think they are, but commenting isn't very healthy anymore. I miss that. But, anyway...Pollyanna...

On Thursday night, we went to Ole Olsen and saw Drinking Habits in the dinner theater performance. We got to sit with friends, catch up with friends we hadn't seen for a long time, eat a delicious meal from Club 14 and laugh so hard that my stomach hurt. (That could have been the turtle cheesecake on top of that delicious meal I just mentioned, but I'm not going to admit that.) 

The play will be on tomorrow and next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (matinee). If you don't have your tickets yet, call 765-472-3690 and leave a message or go to Don't miss it...don't even be late. I was singing that right there--did you hear me? No? You're welcome.

Then, last night, my daughter Kari and I went to Beef & Boards in Indianapolis and saw Hello, Dolly. Even without me singing along (I think they were okay with that--what is it with people and my singing?), the cast did a great job. Once again, the food was good and the service was great. We made new friends at the table next to us and someone thought Kari and I were sisters. I mean, maybe they didn't really think that, but I accepted it gracefully anyway.

One day this week, it was 70-some degrees, the kind of warmth that sits gently on your skin and lets hope dance around your soul. Admittedly, the wind blew that warmth all over the place, but it still felt good. Still smelled good. Still made me think spring really is here somewhere, greening up the grass and inviting color to pop joyfully out of the ground. 

Three of our grandkids have had birthdays in the past 10 days--one of them is today. Their birthdays always make me think of them when they were little--Tierney only a few weeks old napping on Duane's chest and them snoring together; Fionnegan at five in Ireland, laughing so hard when he and his dad jumped out from behind a post; Eamon not yet old enough to walk, solemn-faced, bobbing his head with the music. The joy of those memories makes my eyes a little leaky but my heart so glad.

On Facebook, I saw where two scared little boys knocked on someone's door and received the kind of help frightened children everywhere should get without even asking. It would be better if children weren't frightened at all, but when they are...when they are...we need to fix it. My thanks as a nana to the person who protected them.

Sunrise was orange this morning. The colors in the sky are so amazing this year. I think I probably say that every spring, but this time, I really mean it. And next time, I will mean it even more.  

There is much to mourn in the world, much to generate anger (and many to proliferate it avidly), much to create the sadness that does its best to squash that dancing hope. 

But there's still the orange, still glorious music, still stomach-wrenching laughter, still people who protect children. As Eleanor H. Porter wrote in Pollyanna, “... there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”

Be glad this week. Seek out the orange, thank the givers and the doers, sing along (it's Brandi Carlile and me this morning--I think she's probably a little better), laugh hard, find the joy. Be nice to somebody.