Tuesday, April 9, 2019

What We're Writing #bookgiveaway @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I have so much going on that I hardly knew what to write today. A DEADLY FEAST (food critic mystery #9) comes out on May 7, the new trade paperback edition of DEATH ON THE MENU comes out today (it's gorgeous, I can't help saying,) and yesterday I sent a completed manuscript for the happiness book to my agent. Whew! (As for how book ten in the series is coming along, don't even ask.)

With eight books published in the Key West series, soon to be nine, Miss Gloria has become the character I probably hear most about. At first I envisioned her as an old lady living on houseboat row. I needed her as a throwaway character who would get bashed on the head and propel the plot along. Here, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, is Miss Gloria in the first book, AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. Hayley is a murder suspect in a case of poisoned key lime pie and is living up the dock from Miss Gloria. This is Hayley talking:

Two boats in along the wooden finger and more often than not one season ahead of the rest of the world, Miss Gloria had strung Christmas lights on her porch. They winked a cheerful welcome. She was watching the news in her living room, one eye on the dock. I waved and called hello through the screen.

“Your place looks fantastic,” I told her.
She smiled modestly and ducked down to stroke her feline, a slim black cat named Sparky. “How’s Evinrude settling in?”
“He’ll never be a sailor,” I said with a laugh, “but we’re surviving.” Then, since Miss Gloria hardly ever left her boat, it occurred to me to wonder if she’d be able to vouch for me with the police. I hopped over onto her porch, her boat rocking almost imperceptibly under the change in weight. “Did you happen to notice that I was here this morning working?”
“This morning?” she asked, looking puzzled. “I don’t know, were you? That nice young policeman came by, though. He’s got such a strong chin.”
“I know,” I said glumly. Her touch of dee-mentia, as she called it, wasn’t going to help me in this situation.

Only as the books evolved, it became clear to me and everyone else that Miss Gloria Does Not Have Dementia. Reviewer Phil Jason had this to say about her in DEATH ON THE MENU (from the FLORIDA WEEKLY):  "Miss Gloria is also a comic character, an older woman who doesn’t take her limitations seriously and becomes a kind of role model for senior citizens."

I love that so much! So here she is in the ninth book, A DEADLY FEAST:
Miss Gloria had been clucking and exclaiming during the whole phone conversation. It was hard to tell who was in trouble and in what way, but I’d hear soon enough.
She hung up and ran her fingers through her white hair until it stood up in little whipped-cream peaks. “You’re not going to believe this one,” she said.
“Do tell.” I grinned. She’d tell me anyway, even if I didn’t ask.
 “You know how I’m supposed to cover the nine thirty–to– eleven thirty shift tomorrow at the Friends of the Library book sale, right?” The Friends of the Library organization raises funds to support the Key West Library, and Miss Gloria was a stalwart volunteer.
“Right,” I said. “You and Mrs. Dubisson sit at the front table near the bake sale and sample all the cookies. You’ve got the winning record for selling canvas Friends’ totes and hard-cover mysteries to customers who thought they were done shopping.”
She looked delighted. She loves when people pay attention to what she’s told them—and honestly, who doesn’t? “That’s it. But now, Marsha—she’s the president of the Friends’ board of directors—called, and they’re desperate for help setting up at seven thirty am because the stomach flu appears to have felled half our volunteer force.” She shook her head. “Old folks. Sometimes they are just too fragile to rely on.”

I looked up from my phone to see if she was kidding. People who don’t know my roommate well tend to dismiss her as a frail elderly woman. Before Miss Gloria roared into my life with more energy than most of my peers, I would have thought that too. Now she was positively vibrating and grinning like a monkey.
LUCY AGAIN: In order to celebrate everything going on, I would love to give away a copy of the new paperback of DEATH ON THE MENU. You will be entered if you leave a comment (and your email, which will help me find you!) What book characters have become role models for you?

Read more about Lucy and the Key West mysteries on her website, or Facebook, or Instagram, or Bookbub...


The winner of a copy of CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR is Flora Church. Flora, please email Hallie (Hallie “at” HallieEphron dot com) with your mailing address.

86 comments:

  1. I love how Miss Gloria has grown into her mission of being a senior citizen role model!

    The child in me loves Matilda, who loves books and knows what’s right . . . .
    AE215jfe@aol.com

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  2. Miss Gloria is a favorite of mine, too. Can't wait to dive into the new book here in a couple of weeks.

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  3. Lucy, Miss Gloria has been a favorite of mine since the beginning, and I'm always eager to see what she's up to in each new book. Of course, you know that Haley and your Key West series is a favorite series of mine. I'm hoping it never ends.

    I'd say as far as book characters who've become role models, Miss Gloria has to be on my list because of her amazingly positive attitude about her age. I'll have to think on some others.

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    1. thanks so much Kathy...even if the series ended, I know these characters will carry on and be waiting for you to visit Key West:). But no plans for ending any time soon!

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  4. I love that you allowed Miss Gloria to grow beyond the stereotypes of senior citizens into a real human being with a past and current interests. As a culture, we have the oddest notions about "little old ladies." Once, when I was 49.5 years old, I sat through a presentation by a marketing guru who kept talking about how "50-year-old widows" really liked our conductor. He made it sound like ancient crones were drooling over a studly young man, but I happened to know that the conductor himself was 49.5. I finally called the guy on it, pointing out that a 50-year-old woman finding our conductor attractive was what we called "age appropriate," and in another six months I was going to find all the rest of his "50-year-old widow" stereotypes deeply and personally offensive.

    The truth is, we don't see ourselves as getting older. We see ourselves as having knee problems, or back problems, but we still think we're 35 (or, in my case sometimes, 12) and we still behave that way as long as we can. So good for you for going beyond a cardboard cutout of an old lady, and creating a real old lady we can all relate to. Like Kathy, it's a bit too early in the morning for me to come up with a better fictional role model.

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    1. Good for you for calling the marketing guru on that Gigi! I didn't really allow Miss Gloria to grow, she pushed past me:). I love your theory about aging. We young-older people can't believe we still aren't meant to take on the world!

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    2. Gigi, this is spot on. My mother is 89, and every year she goes to an alumni dinner for the Catholic girls' high school we both attended. Attendants are seated by class tables, and if they don't have enough of one class they seat people with the closest year with other attendees.

      For the last three years my mom has been astonished, astonished!, that she was the only one at the dinner from her class of 1948. She cracks me up.

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    3. I hope, when they seat other classes at her table, Karen, they seat the overflow from the class of 1968 or some even younger group of whippersnappers. I think the fact that I spend a lot of time around high school students keeps my brain in gear and learning younger perspectives.

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    4. Actually, the closest class to hers represented last year was like 1951. She's a hoot, and so youthful that lots of young people are drawn to her.

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  5. Gloria is a peach, truly, Lucy. I think these strong older characters we write are like character actors on screen - they're not the pretty/handsome young stars but often portray a deeper, richer side to the human condition.

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    1. Yes, she's definitely a character actor Edith! that's a perfect analogy

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  6. Maisie Dobbs' best friend Priscilla Partridge. Though traumatized by her WW1 experiences, she is Maisie's staunch supporter, full of energy, love, and firm conviction.
    Martin Walker's Bruno Courreges, chief of police in the Dordogne. Bruno treasures the simple things in life: excellent food he's usually cooked himself, local wines and cheeses, and his truffle-hunting basset hound Balzac.
    Margaret.turkevich@gmail.com

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    1. Good choices Margaret. I'm going to look up Martin Walkers' books right now...

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  7. This is a triumph in every way, Lucy/Roberta! Hurray! Role model—hmmmm. What a great question. ( i’m in the middle of reading domestic suspense novels… And I will tell you, there’s no one in these books who I think is very inspirational!)

    Maybe Kinsey Millhone ?

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    1. So fascinating that domestic suspense characters are not inspirational. Why is that, she wonders?

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    2. And that raises the question of why we love to spend so much time with them.

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    3. I’m just not a fan of domestic suspense, and I won’t read it any more. When I get to the end of a book, I don’t want to feel disturbed or unsettled.

      DebRo

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    4. But wait, isn't that what Hallie's novels are categorized as? I don't feel unsettled or disturbed at the end of them.

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  8. Lucy/Roberta, thank you for portraying an older character with so much heart and truth. We don't need any more "ditzy old woman" characters.

    Although the TV Agatha Raisin is pretty darned young, I like the MC Beaton book version the best. She's old enough to be retired, but is still having romantic flings with great regularity, even if they are only in her imagination. She lives an independent life, though, and enjoys herself thoroughly.

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    1. I have never read an MC Beaton! going to have to fix that. Do you read the Vera books by Ann Cleeves? I am partway through the series. She's a wonderful detective, but as for her personal life--not a great role model. I'm wondering if that will change??

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    2. Yes. Vera is a complex character, and so flawed. I was thinking about her recently, and realized she has zero friends/contemporaries.

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    3. MC Beaton wrote the Hamish MacBeth series that is also fun. There was a BBC series done for those books, as well.

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  9. Miss Gloria sounds like my kind of sleuth. I have not read any books in this series or by this author. Thank you for this chance to win. 1cow0993(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. Miss Gloria reminds me of my Mom. When she was about 90, we went to visit a very nice new assisted living facility. After the tour, I asked her whst she thought if it. Mom’s response was: “It’s nice but I could never live there. It’s for old prople”. She honored us with her presence until she was 94 years young. Can’t wait for the new book!

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    1. Thanks Janice! Your mom is the kind of old person I will aspire to be.

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  11. I love Miss Gloria, how can you not? She suffers no fools and is as feisty as they come. I love when she drives her car around and how worried Hayley gets. There is just something about this series, I was hooked from book one. It's so entertaining and moves along so well. (I still really love Lorenzo the most though.) As far as who has become role models ... maybe not one in particular but women who are strong and get back up no matter what is thrown at them.

    tami.norman@gmail.com

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    1. thanks so much Tami for the kind words. The funny thing is, Miss Gloria's car is the same one my in-laws drove. We always teased them because it was patched up with duct tape everywhere. My indomitable Mother-in-law finally gave up driving it at age 95. She was a role model for sure!

      I will have to make sure Lorenzo gets a big role in what I'm writing...

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  12. Gotta love Miss Gloria.

    I'm not sure about literary role models. Like Hank, the ones that really stand out are from suspense novels and not many of them are ones I aspire to be like.

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  13. Miss Gloria love strong older characters.

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  14. I think Vera is a perfect character, just what I'd imagine her to be considering her history with her farther in that godforsaken house. She is a great role model for me, and I try to channel her when I'm going all silly peculiar over something or other that doesn't matter in the whole scheme of things. WWVD? Maybe it is the Brenda Blythen influence?

    There are lots of great role models out there in crime writing land: Miss Marple, Poirot, Ruth Galloway, Jane Tennison, and Dandy Gilver is no spring chicken!

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    1. I haven’t watched the TV show so it will be interesting to see how the Actress changes my perspective of vera

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  15. Kudos Lucy Roberta, big things in store for you this spring!

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  16. I'm so glad you kept Miss Gloria in your books -- I love her spunk and her interesting outfits, and Hailey is blessed to have her as a roommate. I love all of the protagonists in Mary Stewart's books as they are stong, independent and mystery-solving women ~

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    1. Thanks Celia! I would have to go back and re-read Mary Stewart to remember her characters

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  17. I do love Gloria! She's funny and smart, a great combination. DEATH ON THE MENU *IS* gorgeous! But what I can't wait for is the Happiness book...

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    1. Me too on happiness! I will need everyone keeping fingers and toes crossed that it finds a good home

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  18. I love Miss Gloria too, Lucy. How could you not love a golden-ager who is secure enough to give cemetery tours. She’s funny and she’s wise, the perfect sleuthing partner for Hayley.

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    1. Thanks Ang, We are so happy to see you here! And cannot wait to share your first book with the jungle red world

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  19. Role models have changed as I have evolved. Anna Pigeon is someone I like. At one time I wanted to be a ranger and that before I read Nevada Barr's books. Armand quietly cleaning up corruption. George from Nancy Drew series. Her physical description was not thin and svelte, something I never was either. I like appreciate anyone with an unusual name mainly because my name is constantly mispronounced or misspelled. My folks thought sticking an "A" at the end of Granddad's name was so simple.

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    1. I like Anna pigeon also, though I have fallen out of touch with the more recent books in the series. They got a little dark for me.

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  20. Aww, I am always so happy when you have another book coming out. Hayley feels like a granddaughter to me. As for role models, I don't think I'm quite as old as Miss Gloria but her get up and go spirit and always looking ahead are something to emulate. In any book, a woman who just keeps on keeping on (as a dear old friend from church used to say) and doesn't give in to fear, regret, or bitterness is a role model for me. Looking forward to A Deadly Feast.

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    1. I love that description, someone who doesn’t give in to fear, regret, or bitterness. And also finds joy in the small things in her world

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  21. Lucy, Miss Gloria is my favorite character. I wonder if she looks like the actress Gloria Stuart from Titanic or the actress Betty White? Or the British actress Sheila Hancock ? Our library has most of your paperback mystery novels! And I look forward to your chat with Cozy Experience FB.

    Who are my favorite book characters? There are many! Off the top of my head they would be Maisie Dobbs and Nancy Drew.

    Diana

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    1. Thanks Diana! When I gave a talk in Key West this winter, I introduced to a former neighbor as my role model for Miss Gloria. She is small and very energetic, and she got a big kick out of the connection

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  22. Raising a glass to Miss Gloria and the new book, Lucy!

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  23. Lucy/Roberta,

    I am SO glad your series survived. Several years ago when it looked like it might be ending, I was heartbroken.

    Thank you for continuing to keep Miss Gloria going! In some ways, she reminds me of a dear friend who died fifteen years ago at the age of 93, with all her wits about her, right up to the end. Different personalities but the same sort of determination to stay engaged in life. My friend became physically disabled the last few years of her life. I think she allowed herself thirty seconds of self-pity! Then she moved on, telling me that there were positives to be found in her situation. She couldn’t drive any more, so she sold her car, donated the proceeds to her favorite local charity, then hired a cleaning lady with the money she no longer needed for car maintenance, insurance, registration, etc. I hope to live as long as she did, and to be as spunky!

    DebRo

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    1. I so appreciate your comments Deb! Your friend sounds remarkable and may we all live long and spunky!

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  24. Trixie Belden because she was so full of energy, curious and kind hearted. I do like Miss Gloria she is so interesting and it’s unusual to have a side kick in a book be so much older. I really enjoy this series with Hayley and Gloria so much..

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    1. Thanks Donamae! Your comment made me think of Janet Evanovich‘s grandma Mazur. She was a good character although she had some strange quirks LOL

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    2. Yes! She sure has some weird quirks, I remember reading when she shot the chicken at the table when everyone was eating. Going to funerals for entertainment lol.

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  25. Lucy/Roberta, I can't wait for A Deadly Feast! Or the happiness book--does it have a title yet?

    You know how much I love this series, and I have adored Miss Gloria from that very first appearance. Isn't it fun how characters can assert themselves in a way you didn't intend or expect?

    As for role models, I think I'll go with any of Dick Francis's protagonists, especially the non-jockeys. They are ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances, find courage and ingenuity, and keep their moral centers.

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    1. Thank you Deb’s! I called the book “the happiness connection“ but who knows what it will end up to be. I don’t know dick Francis’s Characters that well but you describe them perfectly

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  26. I'm so glad Gloria got over that bit of temporary "dee-mentia" . . . however she did it (I forget how) should be made widely available. ;-) Gigi's comment reminded me of my 50th birthday, dinner following the last day of the storytelling festival in Jonesborough, TN. Chuck Larkin said that he found women far more interesting after age 50, I noted it was quarter to twelve and said, "The you will find me very interesting in fifteen minutes." Jessica Carlton, youth teller with whom I had done some Shakespeare homework earlier that day (shocking an older couple who passed by when I was explaining the "black ram is tupping your white ewe" line) put quick plans in gear, with a birthday candle on a dish of ice cream and all my favorite storytellers singing happy birthday. Celebrating every trip around the sun! <3

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    1. What a wonderful celebration Mary! I think Miss Gloria got over her Dementia by staying too busy to think about it LOL

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  27. I love Miss Gloria, senior citizens can be quite the characters. Looking forward to reading "Death on the Menu".

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  28. Since Miss Gloria and I share the sane name, I will choose her. There are not so many of us out there.
    browninggloria(at)hotmail(dot) com

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    1. It’s an old fashioned name isn’t it? I bet it will come around again and will see lots of little girls named Gloria

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  29. I don't think I relate to anyone in particular but I certainly do admire certain characters. People who have been through the mill, survive, and just keep on, keep on until things get better. Kate Shackleton, Russ and Clare, Ian Rutledge, Max Tudor, Ruth Galloway, and so many more. Like Gigi, my mental age isn't anywhere near my physical age. I simply can't reconcile the two. I will relate better to a character if he/she is older but not "too" old. I don't know how old Miss Gloria is but I am closer in age to her than any of the characters I mentioned. patdupuy@yahoo.com

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  30. I know The feeling Pat! It is good that we don’t act and feel our age

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  31. Lucy, great news! A new book and a gorgeous cover on the paperback! Wow! And I'm keeping my fingers crossed for The Happiness Connection, although I seem to have missed the fact that you were busy at work on it!

    I can't say that book characters are role models for me--I'm drawn to characters who are so well-written that they come off the page for you--major or minor characters--like Miss
    Gloria, Russ's mom, Duncan and Gemma's neighbor (the fact that names are slipping today is due to my brain fog), etc.

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    1. I should have thought of Russ's mom--she's wonderful. And thanks Flora!

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  32. Book characters as role models. Hmm. I'd say Meg Murry in A Wrinkle in Time - she keeps fighting for what she knows to be true, even when the deck is seriously stacked against her. Or Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables - she finds the beauty and joy in life and generally keeps a positive attitude.

    Thank you for the giveaway! bunkielisa at gmail dot com

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  33. Lucy, I'm pretty sure I've told you this in person, but I also appreciate your commitment to breaking the "old lady" stereotype. I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you look around your community, the people who are in the volunteer trenches getting things done are women over 60. They run committees, they sit on school boards, they plant the flowers in the municipal garden, they raise money for, well, everything.

    For a lot of us, the last decades of our lives are the most free and fulfilling. And we don't see enough of that in movies, TV and fiction! So brava, Lucy, for giving us the inestimable Miss Gloria.

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    1. Every one of the Reds are role models for me! and we adore our readers too, who spur us on...

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    2. Julia,

      Years ago my mom and her best friend, both retired, were sent to represent our church at a diocesan meeting regarding social action. One of the seminars concerned taking care of the needs of the elderly. A speaker said that most churches were doing well with caring for the needs of the “frail” elderly, and asked how the needs of the “well” elderly could be served. My mom, her friend, and many others in attendance said “WE are the ‘well elderly’ and we’re doing the majority of the volunteering in our churches. The younger people don’t have the time.”

      DebRo

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    3. That's it, exactly, DeRo. I remember when I was in my thirties and forties, buried under motherhood, admiring the relaxed, pulled-together women in their late fifties and on who managed to do so much! I love my kids, but getting past the active-mothering portion of parenthood has been incredibly freeing. And, of course, for many women, the post-kids years are either a time to get busy in retirement or to really ramp up their careers.

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    4. DebRo, that is so true! All the volunteers at the hospital, and the women running our local League of Women Voters. and most of the volunteers in the Master Gardener program are all in the 60's and beyond. The world would stop dead without them.

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  34. Miss Gloria is a pip! I've loved watching her character develop through the series and I fully intend to be her when I reach my dotage. Bravo, Lucy!

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  35. Remember when 50 seemed OLD?
    Well, look out! Those older, but not OLD, people are kicking butt!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  36. As someone who is 81, I can relate to Gloris, although she is more energetic and funnier than I am.
    Margaret Pruter
    pruter@comcast.net

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  37. A role model for me when I was younger was Nancy Drew. Legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

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  38. I like a lot of those already mentioned, including Martin Walker's Bruno, Chief of Police.
    Have to add Kerry Greenwood's protag of the Miss Fisher series, as Phryne is smart, sexy, way ahead of her time (set in the late 1920's, early 30's) yet vulnerable and human. And a helluva detective!
    lola777_22 at hotmail dot com

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  39. There are many, but even when I was a very young girl I thought of Mrs. Pollifax, who stepped away from the edge of the roof and into a life filled with adventure. As I've grown older (surprisingly to me, somehow), I've reminded myself of this when life has not turned out the way I expected it to and I've felt like Emily Pollifax--alone, unnecessary, deeply sad.She wasn't done, and neither am I.

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    1. Keep on going Beth--I love that you think of Mrs. Pollifax for inspiration!

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    2. Thanks, Lucy. It makes more sense to me now, when I'm 54, but I like to think of myself as a 10 year old, already able to relate to Mrs. Pollifax and be inspired by her. I like that kid! Drawing on my inner Emily P. got me through being a feeling like a lonely, nerdy outcast, and it has reminded me that I care so much less what other people think now, which is very freeing. Not having the expected life--trad family, kids, now the grandkids everyone else has--also leaves me room to explore, if I so choose. Or, these days, to carry a lot of protest signs.

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  40. Taylor R. WilliamsApril 10, 2019 at 12:35 AM

    I can't say any are role models, but I sure do think this is a terrific series - they are fun, well written with lovable quirky characters - thanks for the contest - tr Williams 69 (at) msn (dot) com

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  41. I like strong cozy sleuths! They are determined, brave, and smart!! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

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