Were The Good Old Days Really That Good?

From my column in the Albert Lea Tribune, Monday August 29, 2016

bobby vintonNostalgia: a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. Nostalgia was what I felt as I spent the day painting my porch this past week.

I like to paint when it has creativity involved, but it doesn’t take much creativity to slap some white paint over worn white paint. Yes, I like to see the change in the appearance, but getting there is a little boring to me. So I turned on the tunes on my Amazon Music and set it to a ‘60s station so I could enjoy the beautiful weather and make my painting sentence a little lighter.

I flashed back to my teenage years. I listened to “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton and remembered exactly who I had a crush on and danced with to that song. As I was listening, I also flashed back to what was happening in the world. I don’t think back then in my ninth-grade mind, I connected the words to what was happening in the world. “Mr. Lonely” is about a lonely soldier far away, wanting to be back home and feeling forgotten. The Vietnam War was raging, and I imagine many solders felt that way for many reasons, one of which, they were fighting an unpopular war and were not appreciated. I might not have figured that out in my ninth-grade mind, but I got it on this beautiful afternoon in 2016. It could be a song from a soldier today.

One of the lines hit me, in which the soldier laments he gets no letters in the mail. There was no quick internet chats or email, just snail mail during the Vietnam War, and I remember how long it took for letters to get to someone I loved who was serving in the war. It seemed forever to receive word from those special people to know they were fine and safe, yet because of the time, circumstances might have changed by the time the letter arrived.

As I sang to some of the other songs (I hope the neighbors didn’t hear my off key voice) I wondered why my parents let me listen to some of them. Some songs by popular artists were about drugs and the psychedelic experience. I don’t think my parents had a clue because they didn’t think to listen to the music or they must have tuned it out when I had the radio playing, or they didn’t understand it. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so upset about the heavy metal songs a couple of my children listened to in the ‘80s. It was kind of like calling the kettle black.

I remembered a hit of nostalgia a few years ago at my place of work. It was in the same building as my teen center years, and a song came on the radio as I was working at my desk. I had a flashback to being in the same building at the same spot when I heard the song when I was 16 years old. I never thought when I was 16 I would be sitting at the same place, in the same building years later.

As I kept my paintbrush moving, I thought about my best friend, Karen, who I shared many of my days with in the ‘60s. She is no longer living, but I felt she was right there with me when certain songs played. I wanted to call another of my ‘60s friends, Linda, but I didn’t want to put down my brush for fear I wouldn’t pick it back up again. I wanted to share a time we were driving around the countryside on a warm summer night listening to a song from Donovan. Or “Summer in the City” by the Lovin Spoonful.

There are moments when I listen to the music from my youth, and it makes me sad because we can’t go back and relive those times or be with some of the people who were an important part of our lives back then. It reminds me I am getting older. But the painting day wasn’t one of those times. Listening to my music brought back memories of a time when I didn’t know as much as I do today. A time where I hadn’t experienced as much of life, and it felt like the future held so much hope. After all, we were going to change the world because the generation before us caused all the problems that we were being faced with in those tender young years. We were going to solve those problems.

Some things never change. The generation of today blames my generation for the problems they are facing today, and the young ones feel they will be the ones to fix it. My generation should understand their blame because we experienced the same feelings.

I thought of the race riots of the ‘60s and the threat of the Vietnam war. In 2016 we still have race riots, and we still have war.

My day of nostalgia reminded me the more things are different, the more they stay the same. New problems exist, and old problems rear their ugly head. Each generation shares experiences and hopes and dreams as did the previous generation.

Parents will always question the music of the youth. Youth will always question the decisions of the past generation. People will always fight for a better future and will always protest when they feel there is a wrong needed to be made right.

As much as I remember with longing the years of my youth with my music, when I now listen to the lyrics they remind me “the good old days” had their problems too. Time and age make them seem more idyllic. Music always made me feel better when my heart was shattered over some trivial teenage thing. Music now makes me feel better when my heart is shattered over mind-bending life disasters. That is another timeless treasure which has not changed.

Lisa K’s Review of Granny Pins A Pilferer and A Giveaway!

GRANNY PINS A PILFERERlisaThank you to LIsa and her blog or giving me such a great review for Granny Pins A Pilferer. You can read it here. http://lisaksbookthoughts.blogspot.com/ and make sure you sign up on Lisa’s Blog for the giveaway.

Granny’s back and better than ever! Trust me when I say, if you haven’t read a book in this series, hold on to your socks. Granny is more than just a handful.   

There are a couple of things you can always count on when you read a Fuchsia, Minnesota Mystery. 1) You’re going to laugh until you cry. 2) You’re in for a great mystery.

In GRANNY PINS A PILFERER, author Julie Seedorf once again brings us Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt aka Granny. And boy, does she bring us Granny! Residents of The Next To The Last Resting Place are dying at an alarming rate! With this many folks passing on to their final resting place, it can’t all be from natural causes . . . can it? That’s what Granny sets out to discover, and discover it she does!

I had so much fun reading GRANNY PINS A PILFERER, I was still laughing at things hours after I read the last page! I have read many fun/funny mysteries, but only author Julie Seedorf can having me laughing even as I feel the tension mounting through the mystery of the story. Of course, all becomes clear by the end of the book, once again proving that Granny is a force to be reckoned with!

Well done Ms. Seedorf! You have me anxiously awaiting my next trip to Fuchsia!

Welcome Christa Nardi, Author of The Cold Creek Series

61XHx3MRE6L._UX250_I am pleased to have Author Christa Nardi on my blog today. Her new book Murder In The Theater was release on August 15, 2016. Let’s get to know Christa.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview Christa.

Thank you, Julie, for having me as your guest.

If people are not familiar with Christa Nardi what would you like them to know about you?

I read a lot – and I always have read a lot. I probably talked with the librarians at school as much as anyone else. As a child I mastered reading in dim light when I was supposed to be sleeping and now my kindle has a nightlight so I can read and not disturb my sleeping husband.  The best thing about a kindle (or Murder-in-the-Theater2 (5)other ereader)? When I travel, I can easily bring along four or five books!  Mystery and romance, and at various times, the fantasy side of science fiction were my favorites. 

What is the first thing you ever wrote that gave you the idea that perhaps you would like to be a writer and author?

A short story back in grade school – I don’t even remember what it was about though. It was fun writing it though. In high school, I wrote poetry – much of which was never shared, some shared only with friends.  I wrote some short stories and toyed with the idea of writing a book – writing was for my enjoyment.

You are a cozy mystery writer. Was it an easy decision to write cozies instead of something more gritty? And will you stay with this genre?

As a reader, I am a big fan of cozy mysteries, although I do like romantic suspense as well. I find I “skip” over the blood and guts and grit (and graphic sex) when I read – I’m more interested in the plot and the characters. I realize some readers like the graphic descriptions but that’s not for me.  Will I stay with cozy mysteries?  Probably, though I am working on a new series that is more young adult – still mystery, still not graphic or gritty.

Tell us a little about the beginning of your Cold Creek series. What made you choose the state of Virginia and what inspired the first book in the series?

I’m originally from the Northeast and particularly love the coast so I naturally graduated to the East coast. I didn’t want to draw from “Southern” theme or a “Yankee” one. I like Virginia with the coastal towns and the hill towns. It seemed like a reasonable place for a private four-year college to be situated. 

 As for what inspired the first book, academic settings (and pretty much large corporations of any kind) are the same regardless of where they are in terms of the pressures, academic culture, and personalities. Across settings, there is the eccentric, the bossy, the loner, and the womanizer.  With all the personalities, it was a perfect opportunity to vent my feelings toward “the womanizer” in the workplace (any workplace).

 How has the series progressed?

In the first one, Sheridan (the protagonist) is directed to help the detective investigating the murder of her colleague. Her curious nature leads her to ask questions and make connections between people, much as she would do in her previous life as a psychologist.  At the same time, she is in charge of the crisis response on campus, so has to work with college administration and gets pressured from them.  In each subsequent book, someone else is accused of a murder but believed to be innocent and others ask her to help prove the person’s innocence. At the same time, Sheridan and Brett’s (the detective) relationship progresses with a few bumps.

Was Murder in the Theater easier to write now that the series is established or was it harder knowing your readers expectations?

Both. The relationship with Brett was the easy part. Many readers commented how much they liked some of the other characters (Max and Kim in particular), so they had to be considered as well. The hard part was having the murder happen some place other than Cold Creek – after all how many murders and murderers are likely to be in one small town? A community theater in another town, but still somehow connected to Sheridan fit the bill.

What gives you joy and how is that translated into your writing?

I like solving puzzles or problems and having it all come together. I think that’s why I like reading mysteries or working with others to meet their goal.  I don’t start with all the pieces to the story; I let the characters and the story tell me how to put all the pieces together as the story unfolds. I’m not always sure who the murderer is when I start writing – so creating AND solving the mystery is double the fun!

Tell us a little bit about your character Sheridan Hendley and how did you decide on the name. Was your character named after anyone you knew?

Sheridan Hendley is a smart, warm, curious, and strong female character; she is educated, middle-aged, and divorced. She’s a professor and a psychologist – she looks at problems very analytically. Where did the name come from? I looked through various lists of names and found a first name and a last name I liked.  I’ve never known anyone named Sheridan (or Brett) and I wanted a name that wasn’t very common.

Where can we find your books?

Print and kindle version are available on Amazon, and only on Amazon. http://smarturl.it/Theater

And last but not least, what advice would you give to new writers starting out?

Write, write, and write. Find others who write and talk to them, find a local or regional writer’s group, share critiques, and be prepared to throw out whole parts and start over. Get lots of feedback. Be prepared to learn about writing, publishing, and marketing. Then write some more.



The drama program has never been so dramatic. It’d be the season to be jolly if only someone hadn’t set the stage for murder. When a student is arrested for the crime, Professor Sheridan Hendley is cast in the role of amateur sleuth. Tensions run high, friendships are strained, and the college administration is beginning to panic. As the plot thickens Sheridan is yet again drawn deeper into danger. Will she find the truth before the final curtain call? Cold Creek Series Book 4, Murder in the Theater by Christa Nardi, is another great cozy mystery.



Books in the Cold Creek Series




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