Spotlight on Four Cuts Too Many

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Debra Goldstein. Today, Debra shares interesting facts about her protagonist, Sarah Blair, and her new release, Four Cuts Too Many.

Here’s Debra!

I’m delighted to be visiting Joanne Guidoccio’s blog. Because Four Cuts Too Many is the fourth book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series, I thought it would be fun to address Ten Points of Comparison between Sarah Blair and me.

1. Although Sarah Blair seems real, she is a fictional character. I’m not.

2. Sarah Blair is a twin. She is tall, with great-bodied dark hair. Her sister, Emily, a former cheerleader, has thin blond hair. I am the mother of boy-girl twins, who are as different as night and day. When people ask about them, I explain that I had a litter. My twins and I have great hair.

3. Sarah Blair married at eighteen, divorced by twenty-eight, and is trying to find her way in life. I didn’t get married until I was thirty, but we’re still hanging in there.

4. The only job Sarah could find after her divorce was as a receptionist/secretary for lawyer, Harlan Endicott. Although her skills and confidence have improved since One Taste Too Many, the first book in the series, she still isn’t the most proficient secretary. I have been timed as typing ninety-nine words per minute.

5. Sarah isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life. Although she knows some things she doesn’t like and plays with the idea of going back to school, having dropped out of college after only two weeks to get married, she’s uncertain what career and personal paths to choose. Her twin sister, Emily, knew from childhood that she wanted to be a chef. Emily’s focus was graduation, culinary school, and finding good jobs that would enable her to move up in the restaurant industry.

I’m goal oriented, but I’ve learned to follow my passion. When I graduated college early, I had two goals: get a job in publishing and become a Jeopardy contestant. In case things didn’t work out, I looked for a job by day, but typed law school applications by night. Eight months later, having accomplished my two goals, I went to law school. My first job was doing international tax, but I realized I hated working with numbers, so I switched to a more people-oriented area. For twelve years, I was a labor litigator for the U.S. Department of Labor and then I was appointed as a federal Administrative Law Judge. On the side, I wrote boring briefs and opinions. I talked about writing creatively but didn’t. Eventually I followed my passion. Six books, forty plus short stories later, I’m enjoying my second childhood.

6. Unlike Emily, Sarah finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder. I feel the same way. I have cooked more during the pandemic than in thirty-seven years of marriage. In doing so, I have caught the interior of the oven on fire, blown the computer brain of the stove/oven, and showered the cabinets, stove-top, and floor in hot oil (I mixed up tsp and tbsp and then added more olive oil to the non-stick frying pan).

7. By Four Cuts Too Many, Sarah is part-owner of Southwind restaurant, with Emily and Emily’s boyfriend, Marcus. Emily and Marcus are fantastic chefs and Emily has a head for the business aspects of running the business. Sarah owns the building that the restaurant is in. Although I understand business issues, I don’t have ownership in any restaurant. To write the Sarah Blair series accurately, several of my friends took me behind the scenes of their restaurants. For Four Cuts Too Many, one specifically taught me about knives and knife cuts.

8. Sarah Blair is devoted to her Siamese cat, RahRah, and her more recently acquired rescue pup, Fluffy. RahRah runs the roost, but also provides Sarah with comfort and often acts as a sounding board. Although we had dogs as pets, never a cat. Consequently, I spent time researching how my friends interact with their cats.

9. Sarah has a propensity for finding bodies. In Four Cuts Too Many, Grace, a friend of Sarah’s who teaches knife skills at the community college, has a run-in with her department chair. When he is found dead, Grace is the prime suspect. Although I have taught new judges and often teach writing related subjects, no one, as yet, has died on my watch.

10. Sarah Blair’s life revolves around family and friends. Consequently, whether it is her twin, their colorful mother, Maybelle, or a friend, Sarah puts their well-being first. I do the same.

Blurb

Sarah Blair gets an education in slicing and dicing when someone in culinary school serves up a main corpse in Wheaton, Alabama . . .

Between working as a law firm receptionist, reluctantly pitching in as co-owner of her twin sister’s restaurant, and caretaking for her regal Siamese RahRah and rescue dog Fluffy, Sarah has no time to enjoy life’s finer things. Divorced and sort-of dating, she’s considering going back to school. But as a somewhat competent sleuth, Sarah’s more suited for criminal justice than learning how many ways she can burn a meal.

Although she wouldn’t mind learning some knife skills from her sous chef, Grace Winston. An adjunct instructor who teaches cutlery expertise in cooking college, Grace is considering accepting an executive chef’s position offered by Jane Clark, Sarah’s business rival—and her late ex-husband’s lover. But Grace’s future lands in hot water when the school’s director is found dead with one of her knives in his back. To clear her friend’s name, there’s no time to mince words. Sarah must sharpen her own skills at uncovering an elusive killer . . .

Includes quick and easy recipes!

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bio

Judge Debra H. Goldstein writes Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series (Four Cuts Too Many, Three Treats Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, One Taste Too Many). She also authored Should Have Played Poker and IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories and novels have been named as Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, and Silver Falchion finalists. Debra serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America and is president of SEMWA. She previously was on Sisters in Crime’s national board and president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bookbub

My Take on Boomer Lit

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We’re the young generation,
And we’ve gt something to say.

Almost five decades have passed since I first heard those catchy lyrics from The Monkees.  At age fifty-eight, the song continues to resonate with me.

I’ve still got something to say.

And so do seventy-eight million other baby boomers around the world.

We are fueling a growing demand for a different kind of literature, aptly called boomer lit. While it is entertaining to read about young vampires and twenty-something women wrestling with relationship and workplace issues, we want our own heroes who are not afraid to change the standard romantic and literary formulas.

Age-appropriate. Nostalgic. Finding meaning in the golden years. Or to quote LuAnn Schindler

Move over, chick. It’s time for the hen to strut her stuff.

I started to seriously “strut” my literary stuff five years ago. After retiring from a thirty-one-year teaching career, I decided to devote my second act to writing. Excited about my first novel, I anxiously awaited input from a visiting screenwriter. That conversation is still etched in memory:

Writer: “You’ve got an interesting storyline here. And I like how you’ve developed the  main female characters. But…

Me: Spill it. I can take it.

Writer: Most of the characters are over fifty. You need to bring in a couple of young’uns. Create a sub-plot with the protagonist’s niece and introduce a love interest for her.

Me: What do you mean by young’uns?

Writer: Characters in their twenties and early thirties. That’s what selling now.

Since then, I have encountered different versions of this conversation whenever I participate in writing workshops and seminars. Several instructors urged me to downplay the “boomer” elements in my books.

“Don’t mention anything about age in your query letter.”

“It’s okay to have an older woman as a sleuth. She’ll be invisible and that works well for sleuths. But make sure you surround her with younger characters.”

“Stay away from retirement homes, senior homes, and nursing homes. Don’t dwell on all that negative stuff. Too depressing.”

Hmm

Thankfully, the writers and producers of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Quartet, The Intouchables and Downtown Abbey did not consider such misguided advice. I can’t even imagine creating younger characters to replace Maggie Smith, Dame Judy Dench, Bill Nighy or Francois Cluzet  in any of their outstanding roles.

I am equally impressed by Jeanne Ray, Lynda Rutledge, Debra Goldstein and other writers who have launched spectacular second acts.  Inspired by their stories, I  have continued to use boomers and their older siblings as protagonists in my novels and short stories. My determination and efforts are finally paying off. In the fall of 2013, Soul Mate Publishing will release my debut novel, Between Land and Sea.

Any other boomer lit success stories out there? I would love to feature you on this blog.

Related Articles…

Are You Ready For Boomer Lit? Laurie Boris

Boomer Lit: Romancing the Middle-Aged Reader by LuAnn Schindler

How I Reinvented Myself at 60 by Jeanne Ray