Tasting Words

Can you taste words?

Rani Kumar, one of my Botanic Hill detectives, and I can! We share an extra sensory ability called synesthesia. No, it isn’t fatal! It’s actually fun.

Synesthesia is a mixing of the senses in the brain where one type of brain stimulation–such as hearing a word or name–makes you experience something else. For Rani and me, that something else is a taste or a smell. We were born with it, and it can’t be “turned off.”  But we wouldn’t want to. It’s like eating, minus the calories!

Some synesthetes associate a word, number, or musical note with a color. Those are the most common types. Rani and I associate words and names with foods or aromas. Our type of synesthesia is very rare. Two to four percent of the world’s population has some form of synesthesia. But only 0.2 percent or lower of the world’s population has our type, lexical-gustatory synesthesia. Some famous people with synesthesia were Van Gogh, Duke Ellington, Plato, and Socrates.

I know what you’re thinking. You want some examples, right? Well, my first name–Sherrill–makes me taste a cherry lollipop. My last name–Joseph–is a Mounds candy bar. (My maiden name–Johns–is Ivory soap; I’ll take candy over soap any day!) And Rani’s examples? Well…you’ll have to read the book!

So get a clue, synesthetes and non-synesthetes: Watch in Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets how Rani uses synesthesia as the detectives solve their case.

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What’s Jean-Francois Champollion Doing Here?

Dear Readers and future Egyptologists,

Recently, I was looking for appropriate images for my book cover for Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets. Hieroglyphics came to mind, the picture script of the ancient Egyptians that decorated the temples, tombs, and sarcophagi of their kings and queens. That’s when I discovered Jean-Francois Champollion!

Champollion was born in France and lived from 1790 to 1832. By age sixteen, he had learned six ancient languages, in addition to Latin and Greek. Whoa! Using those skills, Champollion noticed Greek words on the famous Rosetta Stone (Look this up!) next to some hieroglyphics. He figured if he used the Greek, he could translate each hieroglyph. Viola! He was correct! His discovery helped scientists unlock the secrets of ancient Egyptian culture, history, customs, and burial practices. Champollion earned fame, book deals, and the title, “Father of Egyptology.”

So get a clue from Monsieur Champollion and his hieroglyphics: Use your talents and keep your ears and eyes open. You never know what secrets you might unlock–or where–that could benefit the world!

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I Write

Dear Readers and Writers,

In 2013, when I retired from a long career in teaching, I missed kids–especially interacting with them daily. Their creative questions and insights taught me much about them and more about myself. Their ability to fix my tech tools on the spot showed me that I didn’t know everything. They kept me grounded in the present and hopeful for all our futures. I took seriously, then, my wise students’ challenge to write a better story than the one we were reading. Lo and behold, by 2014, the first book, Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets, in my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries series was born!

I don’t pretend that I will ever become rich and famous from my books. After all, I’m not J.K. Rowling! Those are not my goals, anyway. And the self-satisfaction I get from expressing my creativity through writing, which is considerable, is secondary. Rather, I write to try to get a good whodunit with kindred, role-model characters–who make being smart and respectful, cool–into kids’ hands and hearts. If even one reader gets half as much enjoyment from my work as I did from reading Nancy Drew as a child, then I will have accomplished my mission. And just maybe that one reader will be…my granddaughter!

On February 1, 2020, when Book 1 is released, I will be reminded that I cannot predict what influence, if any, I might have on readers. Each could have their own takeaways from my work far beyond my imagination. But I will become rich in the knowledge that I have given back to kids. So get a clue and get ready to reap my rewards!

 

 

 

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Take Flight(s)

Well, I’m still stuck on the staircase!
Here is a quote I like that involves staircases. It was written by a European writer named Franz Kafka, who lived from 1883-1924. Ponder this deeply: How does this quote apply to your life?

“So if you find nothing in the corridors, open the doors, and if you find nothing behind these doors, there are more floors, and if you find nothing up there, don’t worry. Just leap up another flight of stairs. As long as you don’t stop climbing, the stairs won’t end. Under your climbing feet, they will go on growing upwards.”

So get a clue, Readers, and keep exploring and growing upwards.

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Keep Climbing

Hey, Kids,

If you read last week’s blog, you probably know by now that I LOVE staircases.
It occurred to me that I should share my Staircase Pinterest board with you. Most of the photos are of staircases from the 1920s and ’30s. Maybe, I’ll use one of these ideas for my house. The style is called Art Deco, also a favorite of mine.

So here’s the link:

https://www.pinterest.com/mysteryshewrote7/art-deco-staircases/?eq=art%20deco%20staircases&etslf=11402

Do you have a staircase in your house? (Lucky you!) If yes, does it look anything like any of my saved photos?
So Readers, give me a clue by letting me know! Go to my Contact page and send me an email with your answer.
While you’re at it, send me a question, too. I might feature it and an answer on that page!

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Up, Up, and Away!

Hello, Kids and Other Readers,

Today, I want to share with you a somewhat quirky, favorite thing of mine.
Staircases.
Yes, staircases! I have never lived in a two-story house. I hope to build a second story onto my home someday so that I can have the overdue pleasure. Of course, I will have to add a unique staircase to proclaim the addition.

My love of staircases originated when I was a little girl. One summer day, I went with my grandmother to visit her sister, my grandaunt Edith. She and my granduncle Christy lived out in the countryside thirty minutes away from my house in San Diego. I can still smell faint cigar smoke mingled with the aroma of fresh-baked cherry pie that wafted through the house that day.

Once all the adults were busy talking in the living room, I disappeared to explore the house. Have you ever done that–or wanted to? Well, I found myself in the kitchen. Not too interesting until . . . I spied a faded green cotton curtain hanging from an arched doorway. I hoped a breeze, and nothing else, was causing the curtain to billow slightly back and forth. What could be behind there? Of course, I had to find out. Bravely, I approached–after checking that no adults were around–and ever so slowly, pulled back the cloth. What do you think I saw?

A staircase! A beautiful winding wooden staircase that went to I didn’t know where. Fascinating! There was even a small open window up near the landing to light my way. I was about to start climbing when I heard my grandmother call me. Everyone was waiting for me at the dining room table to begin lunch. Drat! No chance to explore. But maybe, that was a good thing. It left me to wonder and make believe what was at the top. Unknown rooms? Certainly. Pictures of my great-grandparents? Ancient cabinets full of treasures? A ghost or two dancing in the dust? Hopefully.

Even now as an adult, whenever I enter a person’s house where there is a staircase, I want to climb it to see what mysteries are on those upper floors. Of course, it’s not polite to explore without permission. And not too many people want me tramping around in their private spaces. Instead, I satisfy myself by traveling back in time to that little girl who visited Grandaunt Edith’s house and discovered the “hidden” staircase so many years ago. And I smile.

If you read my Botanic Hill Detectives mysteries, you will no doubt notice that most everyone in my stories lives in a house with one or more staircases. Now, you know why.

So, get a clue, Readers. Head up, up, and away! That’s where mysteries live.

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