Sunday, August 25, 2013

Interview with Mystery Author Caroline Taylor


Caroline Taylor's two traditional mysteries from Five Star.


When did you begin writing? Why?

I launched my career as a writer and editor in the mid 1970s at the National Association for the Education of Young Children where I was assistant publications director. Later on, as editor of Humanities magazine, I did a lot of writing about scholarly work in that field. I wrote some fiction, none of which was published, but I kept the stories just in case. Three decades later, I used the experience I’d gained editing annual reports for various employers in government and the nonprofit sector to write Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade (Jossey-Bass, 2001). 

I have always loved the creative, colorful side of writing. I kept toiling away at short stories and finally got one of them published in May 2002. It was titled “Beginner’s Lessons,” and featured my mystery lead character, P.J. Smythe, as a private investigator just learning the ropes.

When and why did you begin writing mysteries?

I’m good at spoofs. I used to write them for holiday skits and farewell parties—send-ups of management and departing staff. When I was director of publications for World Wildlife Fund, one of my staff, a very meticulous but somewhat precious editor, decided to leave. As a farewell gift for him, I wrote “The Case of the Murdered Manuscript,” which featured the trials and tribulations he’d faced aiming for perfection under trying circumstances. It got a lot of laughs and was so much fun that I decided I had a real flair for mysteries, so why not turn “Beginner’s Lessons” into a full-fledged novel?

Are you writing a series or a stand-alone? Explain your basic idea for your series.

It’s a series that features Annapolis-based skip tracer P.J. Smythe. In the short story, she was a private detective, but after researching the novel, I learned that one needs at least ten years of “relevant” experience to become a licensed PI in the State of Maryland. P.J. was way too young, so I decided that, in What Are Friends For? (Five Star-Cengage, 2011), she would get roped into playing the lead role in a documentary featuring a private eye learning on the job and filmed by her socialite friend Alicia Todd Ritchie. They actually attract a real client, who winds up murdered—with P.J. as the most likely suspect.

Tell us about your journey to publication with this book.

It was painfully long and frustrating. I started the novel, originally titled “Beginner’s Luck,” in 2002. When I finished it a year or so later, I sent it out to a book doctor in New York, who gave me some useful advice about how to pitch the novel to an agent. I tried. Did I ever try. But I failed so many times that I finally decided to go straight over the transom. That didn’t seem to be working too well either, until—via Duotrope’s Digest on the Web (—I found a packager called Tekno Books, which negotiated a contract with Five Star in 2009. What Are Friends For? came out in 2011. Yes, it took that long! 

Why did you choose to set the book in Annapolis?

I began writing fiction while living in Washington, D.C., and I knew that readers tend to expect the Washington novel to be about “corruption and conspiracy at the highest levels.” P.J. Smythe doesn’t have a political bone in her body. She might eventually stumble onto a conspiracy, but it won’t be at the apex of power. She needed a smaller, more intimate setting than the nation’s capital, and Annapolis seemed just right—especially because not too many books are set in that lovely town.

How have you found it to be published? Share that experience.

When I was still trying to get the first novel published, I was sure that signing a book contract would be the highlight of my life—a moment of unalloyed happiness that would dwarf all other previous accomplishments. This was mostly because getting a publisher turned out to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. Of course, I was thrilled. But the thrill lasted only as long as it took me to understand that Five Star would only pick up a second in the series if the first book “did well.” So I spent a lot of money getting a Web site and lining up reviews and signings and hoping that these efforts would pay off. Being an introvert by nature, I find all of the marketing aspects painfully uncomfortable. These activities also kept me away from my computer where I was trying to finish what I hoped would be the second in the P.J. Smythe series. Don’t get me wrong. I love being a published author; I just wish it didn’t involve so much “shameless self-promotion.”

Do you have comments from readers or reviewers you’d like to share?

Of course. Publisher’s Weekly: “Readers will want to see more of ditzy P.J.” 

Kirkus Reviews: “Taylor’s bright debut throws in enough laughs to please a wide audience.” 

Foreign Service Journal: “This novel will delight mystery lovers looking for…masterful character development, compelling drama, and intelligent humor.” five-star reviewer: “I truly did not want to put the book down once I started reading it. It kept me interested and intrigued from the start. I very much look forward to other books about P.J. Smythe.”

What other books have you published and where and when?

Jewelry from a Grave, the second in the P.J. Smythe series, was published by Five Star in March 2013. (I guess that means the first one “did well.”) As I mentioned earlier, I am also the author of a nonfiction book about nonprofit annual reports.

Do you have a work in progress now? Is it part of a series?

I am on tenterhooks, awaiting word on possible publication of what I hope will be the third in the P.J. Smythe series. This one’s called Dead Ringer and has P.J. searching for somebody who could be her twin sister—except for the lip ring and a serious heroin habit. 

I am also trying to find an agent or a publisher—whichever comes first—for two stand-alone novels. They’re mainstream novels featuring women who are facing crises in their lives. The Typist is set in a small Midwest town in the mid-1960s. Climbing Toward the Light is set in Washington, D.C., in the early 2000s. In trying to find a publisher for these two novels, I have come to realize that mysteries seem to be much more attractive to editors and publishers.

What else would you like to say about your books?

The P.J. Smythe series appeals to people who like Janet Evanovich’s books. These are light-hearted spoofs of the hard-boiled detective genre that offer a genuine mystery, but one that is cloaked in humor. Like her creator, P.J. Smythe may eventually wind up in North Carolina, but she’ll never stray too far from her mentor, Guy Noir. She’ll always be a wannabe hard boiled private eye, a not-so-classy dame with a bit too much curiosity for her own good.

I recently joined Sisters in Crime, and I haven’t yet attended any mystery conferences like Malice Domestic.


Caroline Taylor’s short stories have appeared in The Chick Lit Review, The Corner Club Press, The Dan River Anthology 2009, Della Donna Magazine, Fiction365, The First Line, A Fly in Amber, Fresh Magazine, Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine, The Greensilk Journal, IdeaGems Magazine, Long Story Short, Notes Magazine, The Oddville Press, Orchard Press Mysteries, The Storyteller, Strange Mysteries 2, Work Literary Magazine, and Workers Write! Tales from the Capitol. She is the author of two mystery novels: What Are Friends For?(Five Star-Cengage, 2011) and Jewelry from a Grave (Five Star-Cengage, 2013), and one nonfiction book, Publishing the Nonprofit Annual Report: Tips, Traps, and Tricks of the Trade (Jossey-Bass, 2001). Visit her at

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Re-Finding Manazar

Photo of Manazar, thanks to Rosemary Madero


A month ago I received an email with the heading “Manazar.”  I knew that name, but it had been over thirty years since I’d heard from him.  The email was from Manazar’s niece, Rosemary Madero.  She has been working with Manazar’s poetry and other writings, and she had come across my name.  She was excited because finally she had found me.  It occurred to me that my correspondence with Manazar (Manuel Gamboa) when he was in Soledad Prison near Salinas, CA, and we began writing, would be at Duke in the Women’s Archive, because they had all my papers and correspondence going back to the early seventies and through 1995.

I wrote to Laura Micham, who directs that archive, and she assigned one of her staff to find our correspondence and get copies to Rosemary.  Apparently, they’ve found a hundred pages of it, and it is now in Rosemary’s hands.  She’s very excited, and so am I.

I can’t remember exactly when Manazar and I began corresponding.  Paul Foreman and I began our poetry journal Hyperion, in 1970.  We also joined COSMEP (Committee of Small Magazine Editors and Publishers) and by 1973 we were attending their conferences.  It could have been at the 1973 conference in New Orleans or the New York City one in 1974, but I learned of Joe Bruchac’s Prison Project, hooking up Cosmep editors with writers in prison.  I began writing to Manuel.  Those were tense times, a lot of social change–integration finally coming to NC, the Vietnam War.  Cosmep had many members bringing about social change, feminist presses, new Black presses, anti-war mags.  

A lot was happening for me personally, too, in1974-75.  In late 1974 I separated from my husband.  I had begun a small press distribution project called Cosmep South, and I was the paid project director ($2000/year).  I had also begun corresponding with a N.C. “prison poet,” T.J. Reddy, one of the Charlotte Three, put in prison for burning a stable of horses, which he did not do.  Our U.S. Justice Dept paid witnesses to testify against him and the two others, and then sent those witnesses to Mexico.  T.J.’s crime had been to try to persuade young black men to avoid the draft so they wouldn’t go to Vietnam.  I reviewed and praised T.J.’s book of poems in the local paper and, as a direct result, we were evicted from our rental farmhouse in Cedar Grove.  I found an apartment for me and the kids in January 1975 in Chapel Hill’s new Interfaith Council Housing.  There were only two white families; the other thirty-eight were black.  

By summer 1975 I’d been elected Chair of Cosmep.  I was also collecting N.C. poetry for our magazine Hyperion and setting up readings for local poets in Chapel Hill and Durham restaurants. Manuel wasn’t getting very many letters from me.

He awakened my interest in him in a big way when he answered a letter around 1975–I know I was already living in Chase Park–by saying that he looked forward to hearing from me in another six months.  That he had that kind of humor and patience while he was serving an indeterminate prison term woke me up.  I began then enjoying our correspondence more and taking it more seriously. 

The 1975 Hyperion, which had many N.C. poets, also had one of Manazar’s poems.  Several subsequent issues had them, too, in 1976, 78, and 80.  I especially love this one in two languages:

Steel and Justice

The convicts walk... and walk... and walk
the convicts walk in blue streams
back and forth (back and forth)
in and out of a nameless day
through four gates marked
“Time” “Sentence” “Penitentiary” “Solitude”

Rivers of eyes running through a sewer
of steel and justice
Rivers of marvelous colors submerged
inside a concrete rainbow

We are no longer individuals
they have made us one the size of all
and in time (and in time)
they will augment us more and more
until they make us one
the size of the world

Acero Y Justicia

Los presos andan...y andan....y andan
Los presos andan en arroyos azules
pa’ tras y pa’ delante (pa’ tras y pa’ delante)
entrando y saliendo de un dia sin nombre
por cuatro puertas marcadas
“Tiempo” “Sentencia” “Penitencia” “Soledad”

Rios de ojos corriendo por un albanal
de acero y justicia
rios de colores maravillosos sumergidos
dentro un arco iris de concreto

Y no semos individuales
nos han hecho uno del tamano de todos
y con el tiempo (y con el tiempo)
mas y mas nos van a aumentar
del tamano del mundo

Published in Hyperion 16, Focus South, 1980, the last issue of Hyperion.

One thing I had forgotten, and my friend Sharon Ramirez reminded me, I had visited Manazar at Soledad.  Rosemary also knew this. Sharon says, when I was spending some time with her in 1976, that I pushed her into taking me to visit him in Soledad, giving her some of his poems and saying how talented he was.  She took me.  I knew he left Soledad (Rosemary says in 1978), and I remembered that he went to work for Beyond Baroque, a literary organization in Venice, CA.  Its leader, Sandy, was at one or more of the Cosmep conferences.  From Rosemary I learned that in time he became an administrator at Beyond Baroque, that he worked tirelessly with young Latinos, trying to turn them away from crime and toward writing.

Rosemary is writing his biography and also bringing out a book of his poems, many not yet published.  After prison he called himself simply Manazar.  How glad I was to learn about him again and to feel that our correspondence had been important to him, that he had been so active helping other young lives.

I’m at the time in my life when it is very reassuring to know that things you did years ago bore fruit.  I’m very curious about those letters.  How good that they still exist, and that Rosemary is writing the story of his life and publishing his work.


Here is Rosemary and her "Journey to Manazar."


Raised by a single mother of seven children, I was born in the rough neighborhood of East Los Angeles in 1959.    My mother, Cenovia, was a musician—composer and songwriter—who endowed us with her talents.  When she divorced my father in 1965, music was her way to make what money she could, and she taught us to sing and play guitar.  We performed throughout the L.A. area at talent contests, church bazaars, dinner parties, and in church.  A Mexican Von Trapp Family, we had five girls and two boys, just like them.  I moved to Montana in 1981, living in East Helena, Glendive, Bozeman, and now, Missoula.
Writing is something I gravitated towards growing up, mainly bad poems.  I hoped one day to write fiction, I suppose following my mother’s example—stories instead of songs.  It wasn’t until I moved to Bozeman that I entered college in 1989 and received my BS in Business Management/Human Resources, with a minor in writing, in 1994.  I never pursued writing wholeheartedly and wasn’t dedicated.  Instead, I thought I should join corporate America and worked for United Parcel Service (UPS) from 1989—the same year I began college—to 2008 as an hourly clerk and package car driver.  Promoted to management in 2000, I worked as an On Car Supervisor and Human Resources Supervisor.  I left UPS because I’d grown tired of the “you’re a hero, but a zero” corporate cutthroat mentality.   With my then husband’s encouragement, I returned to college as a Post-Baccalaureate English major to finally engage myself in the passion I suppressed all those years:  writing.

This is when I discovered Manazar.  

My mother wrote me of his passing in 2000, but I didn’t attend his memorial.  If I had, I surely would’ve heard of his legacy from family and friends.  In 2007 I was in the biography section of Barnes and Noble and found a book, “Always Running,” by Luis J. Rodriguez, a memoir about the author’s life as a gang member in East L.A.  Intrigued, I bought the book and checked out his website where he mentioned my uncle.  I emailed Luis and he responded in kind.  He told me that my uncle mentored him in conducting writing workshops in Chino Men’s Prison and Frontera Women’s Prison and spoke of their friendship affectionately.   Though fascinated, my imagination wasn’t yet piqued.  

In 2008 after I left UPS, I decided to write my mother’s story of growing up in Chavez Ravine and the musical legacy she left.  She was Manazar’s counterpart.  Google searches kept popping up Manazar’s name, and in May 2008, his papers and materials were donated to UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Library.  I emailed UCLA, told them who I was and my curiosity about the collection.  They forwarded my email to Michelle Kholos Brooks, a friend of Manazar’s and literary executor, and she told me the archive included stories on my family, the Gamboas.  But life’s distractions and my unraveling marriage curtailed any further curiosity.

In the fall of 2009, I decided to write a paper on Chavez Ravine, and once again Manazar’s name surfaced in website searches.  I learned there was a documentary about his life as an ex-convict, poet, and community activist called Poetic License, but I couldn’t locate the film.  I also found he self-published a book, Memories Around a Bulldozed Barrio, but I was unable to locate that either.   I emailed Michelle and asked if she knew about the film and book, and she sent both to me.  Thrilled, I had no idea that my life was forever changed.

When I watched Poetic License, the man I remembered as a little girl, who visited my mother between prison stints, now had grey hair, was old, and resembled her.   In one scene, there’s a large framed wedding photo of my grandparents, which my mother lugged around until the day she died in 2004, and that linked me to my uncle.  I made it my mission to find out more and with a grant in hand from Montana State University, in 2010, I traveled to UCLA and the archive.

And there he was, inside eight grey boxes filled with poems, plays, photos, and stories of his childhood—ones my mother often told as well—in Chavez Ravine.  I ended up traveling again to UCLA in May and July that same year to scan and digitize all the material in the archive—over 3000 images!  

I asked the archive manager at UCLA if we could fire up Manazar’s Mac computer —to my knowledge, it had lain dormant for over 10 years—and sure enough there was his work.   It appeared that in the last years of his life, Manazar was organizing everything before he passed away.   All the files were saved using ClarisWorks, an obsolete software program, and we had to figure out a way to transfer them to my PC.  Thank God for thumb drives!!  One of the boxes in his archive was full of floppy disks and I purchased a portable drive and went through each floppy searching for duplicates from his Mac —121 disks to be exact!

I experienced several serendipitous moments going through his papers:  in one of the boxes, an article on Chavez Ravine and the Dodger Stadium debacle lay inside —I used this same article for my paper on Chavez Ravine.  For a poetry class in 2011, I compiled a chapbook of his poems thematically—barrio, prison, ladies, sketches, and reflections— he’d categorized them in his Mac using some of the same titles; and the list goes on.   

Because Manazar was writing his autobiography, there are details of my family’s life in Chavez Ravine—character studies on each family member, stories about my mother and Aunt Julia who performed as the Gamboa Sisters;  life in his barrio;  and shocking revelations on  incestuous relationships.  How could I not be intrigued?   I realized I needed to take my uncle’s work out of obscurity and have his poems published as a collection.  I am writing a hybrid memoir/biography on Manazar and that is what brought me here to the University of Montana in Missoula—it’s my thesis project.

At this juncture, the manuscript of Manazar’s collection is complete with an introduction written by me and a preface by the well-known Chicano poet, Jimmy Santiago Baca.  Deciding which poems to select was an arduous task and once selected, I had to determine what version to include—some poems have three or more versions.  I stayed true to his authorial intent in organizing the collection thematically,  and titled it An Elephant That Walks on Alphabetical Feet, a line from his poem “Paperback Dreams.”

As I continue my research for the biography and contact people who knew Manazar, such as yourself, it keeps me motivated to continue this project.  I’ve met many wonderful writers, poets, and artists he’s brought to my doorstep.  At a time when my world was falling apart and I was devastated at the ending of a 20-year marriage, Manazar was there guiding me, helping me to move forward into a new writerly life, and for this, I am grateful.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Review: Brave Hearts by Carolyn Hart


Brave Hearts, Carolyn Hart.  Seventh Street Books, August 2013 (Amherst, NY).  Paperback: $13.95 ISBN 978-1-61614-797-6.  E-book: $9.99.  ISBN 978-61614-798-3.  267 pages.  Originally published in 1987.

Carolyn Hart says that her suspense novels are about courage, and we do, indeed, witness the main characters, Catharine Cavanaugh and Jack Maguire, summoning their courage in wretched wartime conditions, first during the London blitz; then in Manilla when the Japanese took control after bombing Pearl Harbor; and then on Mindanao, another island in the Philippines, where they, Catherine’s husband, Spencer, and a few other Americans took refuge in the mountains to escape the Japanese.

Most interesting to me was the emotional transformation that Catharine makes from a loveless marriage and ongoing grief for her baby son, to a new love that, in the beginning, is hard for her to trust but ends by helping her to endure privation and terror that would cause most of us to flee for our lives.  

When we look back sometimes at what we ourselves survived to emerge whole again, and think back in history to harsh and cruel conditions that human beings have managed to live through, we marvel at the resilience of the human spirit.  It is very manifest here.

The secret for Catharine and maybe for all of us getting through especially rough times is human love.  I remember reading the psychiatrist Victor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning, when I was young.  He lived through several Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz and he attributes  his survival to his love for his wife, which he kept alive in his mind’s eye.

Spencer Cavanaugh, an American diplomat, is preoccupied with his career, which Catharine’s inherited wealth and her support with entertaining, have helped.  Now, in late 1941, he is sent to the Philippines to rescue the gold there.  He must take Catharine because the Philippine government needs to believe that the Americans aren’t worried about a Japanese invasion.  Spencer also loves outside his marriage, but his career and the gold he’s responsible for trump love.

For Catharine and Jack, love and being together trump everything else.  Catharine doesn’t love Spencer, but she feels responsible to help him, and this is hard on Jack.  Eventually she has to choose.  The harrowing wartime experience, plus Jack’s courage, ingenuity, and love hang in the balance until she decides.

I have enjoyed all three of Hart’s World War II novels: Escape from Paris (see blog for June 8) also re-issued earlier this year from Seventh Street, and Letter from Home (2003) (see blog for May 25, 2013).  Carolyn and I were both children in those war years (1941-45).  In a way that war shaped the rest of the century.  Its weapons, brutality, and its fights for preserving home, love, and peace are still with us.  Many countries in the world have since then known terrible wars and human suffering on a grand scale.

It’s bracing to be reminded of what human beings have managed to do to live and outwit dangerous foes and to keep love and hope alive.  That story never grows old, and we need it as much today as at any time in human history.



Carolyn Hart is the author of 50 novels. Her 50th new novel - DEAD, WHITE AND BLUE, 23rd in the Death on Demand series – was published in May 2013. 

Recent titles include DEATH COMES SILENTLY, 22nd in the Death on Demand series. Forthcoming in October 2013 will be GHOST GONE WILD, 4th in a series featuring the late Bailey Ruth Raeburn, an impetuous red-headed ghost who returns to earth to help someone in trouble. 

LETTER FROM HOME, a stand alone novel set in Oklahoma, was published by Berkley in 2003. Gretchen Gilman is 13 in the summer of 1944 and working on the small town newspaper. Murder occurs on the street where she lives, changing her life forever. LETTER FROM HOME was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at Oklahoma State University Tulsa. Letter from Home won the Agatha for Best Mystery Novel of 2003 and was a New York Times notable book. 

Hart was one of ten mystery authors featured at the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington D.C. in 2003 and again in 2007. In March 2004 she received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. She has twice won the annual Oklahoma Book Award for best novel. In April 2004 she spoke at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on mysteries in American culture. She received the Ridley Pearson Award at Murder in Grove, Boise, Idaho, in 2005 for significant contributions to the mystery field. She has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Malice Domestic and the Amelia Award in May 2013. 

Hart is a native of Oklahoma City, a Phi Beta Kappa journalism graduate of the University of Oklahoma, and a former president of Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Authors Guild, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the International Crime Writers Association, the International Thrillers Association, and the American Crime Writers League. She taught professional writing in the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism from 1982-85. She is the author of 50 mysteries, winner of three Agatha Awards for Best Novel, two Anthonys and two Macavitys. 


Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Two Great Issues of Our 20th Century

Can you find the monarch (black and yellow) butterfly?



Some years ago it became clear to me that the two issues we must resolve in these times, if we are to survive as a human race, are: (1) understanding and accepting all other human beings on our planet.
It means welcoming diversity, changing hatred to love.  Then (2): taking care of our earth’s environment.  We must stop poisoning, deliberately, or through carelessness, our air, water, and earth, or we die.  Call it climate change or what you will.  We are ourselves, by our polluting habits, destroying the earth, our human home, making it harder every year to grow food, be healthy, live without fear of violent storms, lack of water, inadequate protection from whimsical heat waves and devastating cold.

In the books I have written and am now publishing, all of them, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, you will find these themes, these concerns.  Beaver Soul (now due out early September) is about discovering that the Cold war enemies I never questioned as a child, are human beings.  The first Russian I met in 1989, Mayor Korobov, so impressed me in our five-minute conversation through an interpreter, that I later told everyone I met: “The Russians are friendly!”

In the early 90s I made several trips to Russia, 1990, 92, and 95, and I hosted Russian writers here in 1992 and 93.  Beaver Soul records my early experiences, discovering new, dear friends in Russia.

Farm Fresh and Fatal takes up the issue of genetically modified seeds (GMO).  At the time I wrote it, I was only beginning to learn how scary food grown the GMO way was for human consumption. The seeds have been modified two main ways: (1) to protect the plant against weeds so the farmer can spray Roundup (weed-killer) and it won’t hurt the plant.  Then (2) to protect the plant from insects, the seeds are modified so that insects that eat the plants develop leaks in their stomachs and die.  This means, for human beings, that the GMO food we eat carries traces of Roundup and also can cause our stomachs to leak undigested food particles.  This sets off allergies.  Most corn, soy, sugar (from sugar beets), wheat, and rape (which gives us canola oil) is grown from GMO seeds.  90% of North Carolina’s crops are GMO.  The only completely “safe” food is now that which is grown organically.  

Furthermore, our local electric companies (Duke Power now owns all of them) and the local, largely rural co-ops which get their electricity from Duke) use Roundup under power lines to kill young trees and other vegetation.  This poison goes into our groundwater, and it affects pollinators.  Honey bees themselves don’t die when they visit flowers that have been sprayed with Roundup, but they take the poison back to their hives, and it gets into the honeycomb and soon the bees abandon their hives, and not in the usual way, with a new queen, so more honey bees are lost.  They aren’t our only pollinator, but they’re a main one.

Last time Roundup was sprayed across the road from me, I noticed fewer bees and pollinators in my flower garden.  I wrote to Central Electric Membership Corp complaining. No answer.  Recently I learned I could get no-spray signs from them to erect across from my house, so I went to their headquarters in Sanford and signed a paper and got two signs to put up.  Right now my backyard flower garden is full of honey bees, bumble bees, miscellaneous wasps, butterflies, and even hummingbirds.  I don’t want to lose them.  My vegetables and fruit trees need all possible pollinators.
We all need to work on taking care of our earth and its people.  I have a bumper sticker on my truck: Celebrate Diversity.  Let’s do it.  No time like the present to begin, especially since our now Republican-dominated legislature in N.C. is going the wrong way in these already difficult times, repealing good environmental legislation, and working toward fracking, an environmental disaster for our state, as well as attacking voting rights, unemployment, Medicaid–an all-out attack against poor people, and especially against African Americans.  It will take determination, courage, and ingenuity to get us into a healthy, safe twenty-first century, and I hope my books help.  That’s why I wrote them.

Beaver Soul will be available in early September.  To buy ahead and have it shipped: $14.50 (includes tax) to Judy Hogan, PO Box 253, Moncure, NC 27559-0253; to buy and pick up: $12.

Farm Fresh and Fatal will also be available for pre-sales in September (Oct 1 is pub date): to buy ahead and have it shipped: $20 (includes tax); to pick up,$17.