Very Mysterious!

Dear actual or wannabe mystery-book-loving Readers,

I just discovered and joined a mystery book blog! (Though figuring out how to navigate it is still a mystery.)

The site contains comprehensive lists and commentary about cozy (non-gory) mystery books and series for all ages and allows input from readers.

I certainly hope to see Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets mentioned and praised there early next year. Hint, hint….

So get many clues: If you’re a mystery fan, or want to become one, join at to start lurking in its shadows with me.



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.

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!






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!




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.

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:

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!