Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Standing Together

I had planned to follow up my "Lunch With Agatha" blog with a "Lunch With Dracula" entry, but real life stepped in and has changed the nature of my post. I recently returned from a three-day trip to North Carolina. I drove down to visit my mom and my grandmother, who has recently entered a hospice. It has been a tough year for my grandmother, as she has gone from using a walker to barely being able to stand, to the complete loss of the use of her legs. She has always been a fiercely independent woman and this physical weakness has really taken a toll of her emotionally.

I’m not sure if there are bleaker places than rest homes and hospices, but her sparse room became even colder when she asked me to go over to her house and pick out the things I wanted “once she was gone.” I didn’t want to, but it was important to her that I fulfill this request, so I did. My mom and I walked around her quiet, clean house using subdued voices and found ourselves reluctant to touch anything.

I’m sure everyone out there has had to face some kind of loss and one of the hardest things we must do is sort through the minutia of someone’s life. I picked out some antique toys for my children and a scrapbook full of letters my mother had written about her own three children to her mother, my grandmother. I was dry-eyed and spoke without a tremor in my voice until my mother held up a cheap, chipped hand mirror that had been in my grandmother’s bathroom as long as I could remember. I could see her holding it up as she brushed her long, silver hair. She only has a few white tufts now and I’ve got plenty of gray hairs myself, but it seemed only yesterday that I was a stringy haired blond girl watching my lovely grandmother wind her hair into a perfect bun.

When I got back to Virginia from NC, I was stunned by the violence that occurred at Virginia Tech. The city of Richmond is still subdued this week and I’ve been feeling rather down. It’s been a challenge to write light-hearted murder mysteries when cold-blooded, life-changing murders have ruined lives forever down the road.

There has been a silver lining to all this bleakness, however. Elaine Viets, author of the Dead-End Job and Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper mysteries, is recovering from her stroke. Everyone in the writing community was shocked that someone so young and healthy had been suddenly hospitalized with a dire prognosis. Elaine is doing much better, but clearly cannot tour or promote her new book. The MWA, Sisters in Crime, her promotionist at Breakthrough Promotions, and her fellow authors have rallied around her to promote her latest Dead End Job Mystery, Murder With Reservations.

A call to help Elaine has been answered by many: readers, authors, librarians, bookstore owners, etc. It has made me feel grateful to be a part of such a generous and caring group of people and also reinforced the notion that this is a small world after all. We all feel pain, loss, and fear, but once we reach out to one another, we become aware of the power of goodness.

Please support Elaine by pre-ordering her book. It will be released May 1st and on that date, it would be great to see it soar to the top of the Bestseller List! Clock here for the Amazon link and learn more about Elaine and her works on

Now, do me a favor and reach out to someone you love. Give them a hug, a kiss, a call, a prayer. Carpe Diem, my friends.


Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Great posting! And thanks for continuing to spread the word about Elaine Viets.

Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles has made the commitment to have Elaine's new book for sale at its monthly meetings and at its June 10th No Crime Unpublished Conference.

We may murder and maim people on paper, but in reality, I don't know when I've met a better bunch of people than the mystery community.

jbstanley said...

You are so right, Sue Ann. I can't wait to meet more nice people at Malice and good going, SinC LA! You gals rock!

Joe Moore said...


Thanks for mentioning Elaine. She's a good friend and fellow South Florida author highly active in the MWA and other organizations. We're all wishing her the best.


Candy Calvert said...

I've just returned from visiting my father who has been placed on hospice care in California. Knowing it could well be a final visit is beyond sad. So your words about your grandmother struck a very strong chord with me. I truly understand how hard that is. And, yes, the Virginia Tech tragedy extended the misery beyond imagination. My "murders," too, are "light-hearted," --though my heart isn't right now. Such strange irony.
But GREAT news about Elaine, and a GREAT reminder, too, about the "heart" in our writing community. It's the reason that I just dedicated my third Darcy mystery to my fellow writers!
Now to order Elaine's fabulous book--a win-win situation indeed!
Great post!