Thank You!

Hello, Kids and All Readers!

I hope each of you had a meaningful and joyous holiday season.

Mine was wonderful! I drove a short distance across town to my cousins’ lovely vintage home that was aglow with scented candles in every room, a to-the-ceiling Christmas tree, a fireplace ablaze, and much good cheer. Eight of us gathered around the dining room table for a delicious Christmas dinner of roasted chicken, tri-tip roast, homemade popovers, green vegetables, and chocolate cake with peppermint-meringue topping. Later, we were blessed to open many gifts.

On this late-December day as the year winds down, I want to thank each of you who has faithfully read and reviewed my books, attended my author takeovers on Facebook’s Cozy Mystery Party, tuned in to live Instagram interview events spotlighting me, and entered by newsletter giveaways. You have warmed my heart more than you know.

Research for Book 6, Upas Street: Shocking Specter, is nearing completion. One piece of that work has involved my reading a fascinating biography of Kenneth Strickfaden, the man who came to be known on the sets of Universal Studios’ horror classics from the 1930s and ’40s as “Dr. Frankenstein’s Electrician”!

In mid-January, I will begin writing the first draft of the book. I can already hear our four Botanic Hill detectives calling to me to sit down and get their next challenging case underway. And I always do what they ask!

So, get a clue, Readers. I hope you have a wonderful, prosperous, peaceful 2024! And may much good reading be in store for you. ~Sherrill

Happy Holidays!

Hi, Everyone,

The holiday season is here! I hope you’re getting into a festive spirit.

I just returned from Pennsylvania where I had Thanksgiving with family. I traveled to my son-in-law’s parents’ home. Then, my daughter, son-in-law, two grandkids, and granddog drove up from Virginia for the big feast and long weekend. Everyone pitched in! At the house, we grandparents prepared the usual suspects: roasted turkey and gravy, mashed and sweet potatoes, rolls, and apple and pecan pies. My daughter and family brought cranberries, roasted vegetables, and stuffin’ muffins. A truly delicious meal–with leftovers! 

On Friday, we visited Dutch Winter Wonderland in Lancaster County and rode the theme park’s train where we were dazzled by the twinkling lights that illuminated so many trees. Magical, especially for my train-and-truck-loving two-year-old grandson!

On Saturday, my daughter and family brought out chocolate cakes and gifts and held a joint birthday party for the two grandmas for our November and December birthdays. And I got to spend an entire weekend playing with my sweet, active, healthy, happy grandkids. My abundant blessings gave me a warm feeling as we could all be together. 

Now, I want to thank all of YOU for being loyal newsletter subscribers, accompanying me on my publishing journey, and purchasing my books. And I hope your Thanksgiving gave you pause to realize your blessings, too.

As you probably know, Book 5, Jacaranda Street: Gravestone Image, launched in September, joining the other four Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries. I enjoyed showcasing one of my favorite writers, Edgar Allan Poe, in Book 5. Book 6, Upas Street: Shocking Specter, will keep me busy as 2024 arrives. Look for it in the fall.

So, get a clue, Everyone. I hope you experience the magic that the holidays can offer, whether you are with family, friends, or spending quality time with yourself. Now, dig out those holiday books, movies, music, and recipes. Whatever you do, all four Botanic Hill detectives and I send you our best wishes for a joyous holiday!  


Now That’s Scary!

Hello, Adult Readers and Scary Story Aficionados!

Withered leaves rattle in the chilly wind before their death-drop. October shuffles to its end. Darkness descends sooner now, encouraging owls and bats to fly about the countryside in search of earlier feasts. Jack-o’-lanterns glow and burn to ward off evil spirits. Some trick-or-treaters venture forth while others decide to huddle indoors with a bowl of popcorn, some candy, and a book or movie to elude banshees on the loose . . . out there.

All these signal that Spooky Season is upon us, culminating in Halloween!

What better time of year than now to share with you the THIRTEEN MOST TERRIFYING BOOKS AND SHORT STORIES OF ALL TIME?

Below is the frightful list according to Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library in Nassau County, New York. To read the books’ or stories’ synopses, please click HERE.

  1. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
  2. The Island of Dr. Moreau, by H.G. Wells
  3. The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allan Poe (Yay, Poe!)
  4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  5. The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
  6. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
  7. The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty
  8. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
  9. Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
  10. Hell House, by Richard Matheson
  11. Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin
  12. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  13. House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

What?! No Agatha Christie? Sheridan Le Fanu? Shirley Jackson? Robert Bloch? Ann Radcliffe?

So, get a clue, Readers. Were your favorites listed? If not, maybe they’re on BUZZFEED’S list. Or check at BOOKRIOT. Or try THEUNCORKEDLIBRARIAN. Whatever deliciously terrifying horror fiction you dare to open this spooky season, please remember: First, make sure all the doors and windows are locked. Happy, haunted reading!

(Photo Credits: Dracula–E.A. Holloway; Turn of the Screw–Eric Pape in Collier’s Weekly; Frankenstein–Karoly Grosz; The Cask of Amontillado–Harry Clarke. All images are Public Domain from

Champion in a Roadster

Dear Kids and All Readers,

She drives a roadster (first maroon, then blue), is a force for good, unafraid to speak up, and delivers the baddies to Chief Pete McGinnis with time left over to get to Ned Nickerson’s college football game without a hair out of place. And she’s been doing all that for 93 years! Who can this powerful woman be?

None other than my forever-eighteen-year-old mystery-book hero and fictional BFF, Nancy Drew!

I recently joined the Nancy Drew Fan Club. We members are called Nancy Drew Sleuths. No surprise that there is such a club, right? But joining begged the question, “Why do many of us still worship Nancy Drew after all these years?” I mean, her books have never been out of print and have sold over 80 million copies!

First a little history to put things in perspective. Since her creation in 1929 by Edward Stratemeyer, head of the children’s fiction literature syndicate, Nancy Drew made her appearance in her first three cases in 1930 (The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, and The Bungalow Mystery). Would you believe that Mr. Stratemeyer considered naming Nancy Stella Strong or Diana Daring? Fortunately, her unostentatious but still forceful honorific, Nancy Drew, won out.

Nancy’s first twenty-three cases were written by a newspaperwoman named Mildred Augustine Wirt (later Benson) under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. She used Mr. Stratemeyer’s chapter-by-chapter, detailed outlines to bring to the pages “an up-to-date girl, at her best, bright, clever, resourceful, and full of energy.” In the 1950s, Stratemeyer’s daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, mostly took over for Mildred Wirt Benson. It wasn’t until 1980 that Benson was revealed to be the original ghostwriter of the Nancy Drew mysteries.

Nancy Drew has inspired generations of readers including Sonia Sotomayor, R.B.G., Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Clinton, and yours truly. Maybe you as well. Legions of us.

So what accounts for Nancy Drew’s staying power and appeal? According to Alexis Soloski in her October 4, 2019, article for the New York Times, “Nancy Drew and the Mystery of Her Enduring Relevance,” [the girl sleuth’s] “appeal has always been that people relate to her in various ways: She is an archetype, just generic enough for readers to imagine themselves in her sensible heels,” imbued with her confidence, respect, and authority. We garner vicarious sparkle and elan when we become her in her adventures.

According to Melanie Rehak, author of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, “[Nancy] will live on as long as we continue to crave heroic, fearless women, or women who face their fear and move past it.”

If like me, you’re a huge Nancy Drew fan, here’s where you can shop for Nancy Swag! Bags, jewelry, clothing, party favors, and more–all for love of Nancy Drew.

So, get a clue, Readers. Who is your fictional hero and why? What was and remains their appeal for you? Please let me know HERE!






First-Day Jitters

Hello, Kids, Teachers, Librarians, Families, and All Readers,

While on my usual early-morning walk today, I couldn’t help but think that it’s the First Day of School!

Kids were supposed to start school yesterday here in San Diego, but Hurricane Hilary blew through as a tropical storm on Sunday and granted students a Bonus Day of Summer. San Diego Unified is the second-largest school district in California, serving more than 121,000 students in 226 schools. The school board president wanted to make sure the schools and grounds were safe and ready to receive everyone; hence, the reprieve.

As I headed home, I encountered two little neighbor girls, all dressed up with First-Day-of-School tiaras proudly displayed. They were ready to skip up the street three blocks with their dad to the same school that I attended. The sisters had already met their first grade and TK (transitional kindergarten) teachers last week.

The girls looked thrilled. Dad looked a little anxious. I felt those old first-day jitters creeping in on their behalf!

Even though I retired ten years ago from a long teaching career, this time of year still churns up the butterflies–no! Make that Pterodactyls flapping around inside my stomach. I remember years ago as I stepped out of my car in the school parking lot, a senior teacher told me that she still got the jitters. We teachers want everything to go well so that our students feel welcome, relaxed, and ready to learn. And if the kids were happy, I was happy.

Perhaps your child needs help dealing with school anxiety. Try this ARTICLE with five tips from pediatricians at Cleveland Health; and/or this ARTICLE with tips to empower your child against anxiety from Psychology Today.

So, get a clue, Everyone. Some things never change! To whom this applies: I wish you a Happy New School Year! And may those pesky raptors within settle down quickly so we can crack open our books.


The Authors Guild Calls on AI Industry Leaders

Hello, Adult Readers,

You’ve probably noticed that in Hollywood, CA, many members of the Writers Guild and SAG-AFTRA are on strike, bringing focus to the emerging use (and abuse) of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the movie, television, and radio industries.

Perhaps you aren’t aware that fiction and nonfiction authors are also demanding intellectual property rights and protections in the wake of unregulated use of AI impacting their craft and finances. Enter the Authors Guild.

The Authors Guild (AG), a national organization to which I belong along with about 13,000 other U.S. authors, is actively advocating for us, demanding that Generative AI leaders “obtain, consent, credit, and fairly compensate writers for the use of copyrighted materials in training AI.”

In mid-July, “AG submitted written testimony before the U.S. Senate Intellectual Property Subcommittee in connection with the government’s July 12 hearing on artificial intelligence. The Guild’s testimony underscored the threat to the writing profession from unregulated use of generative AI technologies that can produce stories, books, and other text-based works and displace the works of human authors in the marketplace. The testimony also called Congress’ attention to the inherent unfairness of AI companies’ use—without consent, credit, or compensation—of millions of books, articles, essays, and other written works to “train” generative AI systems and essentially making them a part of the AI’s fabric.

“AG emphasized that unless Congress intervenes to put guardrails around the development and use of generative AI technologies, the important copyright incentives that drive original expression and enrich our cultural discourse will be rendered meaningless.

“AG proposed detailed policy recommendations that would require AI companies to seek permission for using writers’ works, pay compensation to writers who allow their works to be used, disclose training data, and pay writers for use of their styles, names, likeness, and parts of their works in AI output.”

Last week, “AG delivered its AI open letter to the CEOs of OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI, IBM, and Microsoft, as well as all 535 members of Congress. Since then, the letter has been written about at NPR, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, United Press International (UPI), CNN, BBC, CBC, Al Jazeera, the Daily MailForbes, Bloomberg Law, InsiderThe Economic Times, and more.

“As of now, more than 10,000 AG writers and their supporters have signed the letter. Signatures include luminaries such as Dan Brown, James Patterson, Jennifer Egan, David Baldacci, and others.” Signatures from the rest of us not-so-luminary authors are included.”

For more from AG about its advocacy, artificial intelligence, and AI’s impact on writers, please click HERE.

To read more about AG in the News, including info on 8,000 authors demanding that OpenAI leaders pay them for unauthorized use of their works, click HERE.

As an author, reader, and/or supporter of authors, you are invited to sign AG’s AI open letter by clicking HERE. Check out my name on page 11 of 124.

So, get a clue, Readers. AI is here to stay. And it owes its livelihood to creatives; therefore, I believe we need to seek positive, fair, common sense ways to integrate AI into creative endeavors with the fair and legal use of copyrighted works for writers’ compensation. What do you think?

(Photo Credit: Anna Shvets on