Time for a Sea Change?

Dear Readers,

A few weeks into the pandemic, there arose an opportunity–blessing, actually–for me to tune in via Zoom to “Friday Reflections” sponsored by San Diego Oasis, an organization that offers classes to those 50 and better for enrichment and lifelong learning.

“Friday Reflections” are just that–reflections by the incomparable Peter Bolland, professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Southwestern College in San Diego, CA. I have watched and listened, enthralled each Friday, to what Peter has to offer. His mission is to bring into the present some enlightenment from ancient and current masters and prophets of philosophy, poetry, and world religions. (Buddha, Jesus, Eckhart Tolle, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Cicero, Wordsworth, and Mary Oliver to name a few.)

On Friday, November 20, Peter’s topic was “Gratitude.” He posited that gratitude isn’t merely thanking someone for what we receive. On the contrary, it isn’t an endpoint, but rather a beginning where we have to reprogram, or retrain, ourselves to intentionally look for the beauty, abundance, and support the world has to offer daily. To consciously and aesthetically appreciate life. To leave off with cravings since they create dissatisfaction. And isn’t that a powerful message to send during the pandemic, or maybe because of it?

Peter explained that according to psychology, our minds have a “default negativity bias.” We are rewarded for worrying and finding the threat, problem, scarcity, and solutions in our lives. Important, yes, for survival, but bad if it becomes calcified as our daily mindset and action plan. We must start with accepting what is to create a well of peace within ourselves, then take steps to correct injustices through our right actions. He said that this is what Buddha called “The Holy Yes,” or what Jesus called “The Kingdom of Heaven.” Peter quoted Cicero as saying, “Gratitude is the parent of all the virtues” because from it are born courage, warm relationships, kindness, friendliness, balance, and compassion to help us weather the storms of our lives.

Peter asked, “What if we choose to make this radical shift in perception and assessment to see and measure things differently? To ascribe value to things differently?” He challenges us to remember kindness, not mistakes–ours and others’. To rise up out of negativity since it is in Peter’s words, “fake news,” factually a distortion of reality coming from within us.

So get a clue, especially at Thanksgiving, dear Readers. Isn’t it time to reprogram our operating software–if we haven’t already–to see what is going right, not wrong, and what is supportive and generative, not depletive, in our lives? Even amidst the horrors and revelations of the pandemic, we can come into an appreciation of what is and count the miraculous abundance the Universe has already given us. This is the fruit of the consciousness of Gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving and Every Day!






Interest in Pinterest

Hello, All Readers,

I recently learned that with 175 million active members on Pinterest, including many teachers, author such as myself should jump on it!

I already have a personal page, but watch for a link to my author page soon.

The list of pin-worthy topics I’m considering are as follows:

The Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries; Mystery Books for Kids; Classic Mystery Books and Movies; Vintage Book Covers; Anything Nancy Drew; Anything Sherlock Holmes; My Newsletter Archive; Characteristics of Mysteries; Ancient Egypt; Gemstones; Synesthesia; and ???

So, get a clue, Readers. What on-topic pins would YOU like to see on my Pinterest page? Let me know at http:sherrilljoseph.com/contact. I look forward to your ideas! Then watch for the announcement that my Pinterest page is ready to see if YOUR idea made the final cut. Thanks in advance.


Hello, Blackbirds!

Hi, Kids and All Readers,

I am so honored to announce that I have been accepted as a member of Blackbird Writers!

This is a group of nineteen writers of mystery, crime, cozies, thrillers, and suspense for adults and children. It was founded during the COVID quarantine by author Tracey S. Phillips. In her words, Tracey “wished to create a community of like-minded authors willing to help promote each other and share their love of stories with readers.” Tracey is the author of Best Kept Secrets, an adult mystery. More information is available at http://blackbirdwriters.com.

Why “Blackbirds”? Blackbirds represent knowledge and quick wit. They are very intelligent birds that flock to care for one another. Think crows and ravens.

So, get a clue, Readers. Check out Tracey’s and other members’ books, including mine, at http://blackbirdwriters.com/bookstore. You can find something for both adults and kids. And please subscribe to our quarterly newsletter at http://blackbirdwriters.com. Click on the black and white subscribe button at the top of the page. Thank you!


I Get Questions

Dear Kids and Other Readers,

Now that my Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries Books 1 and 2 are published, the question I’m now being asked is, when is Book 3 coming out, and what’s it about?

Thanks for asking! Book 3 is Walnut Street: Phantom Rider, and it’s ready for a turn in the publication line. The expected release date will be late 2021.

So, what’s this next adventure all about, anyway? Here you go:

Objects of value have been disappearing from the Mayfield family’s rural California horse ranch and youth saddle club for kids with emotional issues. In town on Walnut Street at a welcome barbecue for the newest club members, the four thirteen-year-old Botanic Hill detectives—Moki Kalani, Rani Kumar, and twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt—also guests, are hired to investigate.

Adding to the excitement is that somewhere on the forty-acre ranch just outside the mountain town of Cody is a long-lost gold mine staked in 1875 by thirteen-year-old Ben Mayfield’s five-times great-grandfather, Pappy Mayfield. Pappy was one of California’s first Black deputy United States marshals turned gold miner. (His character is modeled after the first real-life Black deputy United States marshal, Bass Reeves.)

That afternoon following the party, a nervous Ben reveals his frightening secret to the detectives. At the ranch, he alone has seem a threatening black-clad figure on horseback whom he calls the Phantom Rider. Who is this mysterious person? Is he responsible for the ranch thefts? Why are objects disappearing? Is he somehow connected with the lost gold mine, and the ghost town of Rainbow Flatts? The detectives aim to find out.

Walnut Street: Phantom Rider is a family-friendly read harking to the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries but vastly updated with four diverse, tech-savvy close friends turned sleuths, and other characters of color.  In addition to a challenging mystery on horseback, the Botanic Hill detectives offer middle grade readers, and special education students in grades 3-12, valuable role models in how friendship, kindness, perseverance, and teamwork can help anyone solve complex problems to benefit many.

So, get a clue, Readers. Watch for Walnut Street: Phantom Rider to debut in late 2021. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy Books 1 and 2. And please remember. They’ll make great holiday gifts!



Dear Readers,

Bad news: My books are in prison! Good news: Their time in the slammer is temporary.

What crime got them “booked” and incarcerated? None!

It’s all my fault. I’m having a beautiful new bookcase built. It won’t be ready for installation until New Years, so my sweet book friends are doing time in twenty-three bankers’ boxes in the spare room. Out of sight but not out of mind.

Woe is me! No Dickens’ A Christmas Carol! No Shelley’s Frankenstein! No Stoker’s Dracula! I’ll just have to watch the movies instead for the holidays this year.

But what a Palace of Tomes awaits my bookish jailbirds! For starters, elegant glass doors to protect them from pesky dust. They will practically leap off the shelves with delight after shedding their prison-issued, striped dust jackets–one of these days.

I miss my wordy friends. We can’t celebrate their jail break soon enough.

We Have a Book!

Dear Readers,

I hope you have enjoyed weeks of excerpts from Book 2 of the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse.

So happy to announce that now, you can read the entire story. Eucalyptus Street released on October 20, 2020. Hurray! Just in time for Halloween. That will make sense when you read the book.

Thank you to everyone behind the scenes at Acorn Publishing and beyond who helped make my book a reality.

A very special thank you to you, my readers. Reading and writing are mutual endeavors. We need one another. Thanks for your ongoing support!

In case you need a copy, here are the purchase links:    Paperback on Amazon     eBook on Amazon      or      eBook at Barnes and Noble and Other Fine Retailers.

For those who like to frequent their local indie bookstore, Eucalyptus Street will be available by order (in person or online) in paperback at any bookstore by mid November. (Hmm, Books 1 and 2 would make a wonderful gift set for a child, aged 9-12.)

So, get a clue, dear Readers. Like our intrepid detectives, may you always have courage to seek out what is hidden. Happy reading!