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An Author and a Gentleman


Jeff Sherratt

Jeff Sherratt was a dear friend to me and a great storyteller. He wrote The Jimmy O’Brien Mystery Series which included The Brimstone Murders, Guilty or Else, and Detour to Murder. He raced against the clock to finish his last novel in the series, Cyanide Perfume, but time ran out before the final edits. His loving wife, Judy Sherratt, judiciously completed this novel so it remained Jeff’s work. I know many of you have been waiting for this novel to be released. It took a long time and a lot of hard work by his wife, along with the help of a few others, not the least of which was his good friend and editor, Mike Sirota.  

Anyone who ever knew Jeff would tell you what a wonderful storyteller he was. If you get a chance to pick up his book Cyanide Perfume on Kindle or in paperback on Amazon you can see for yourself. I’m sure you will enjoy it—his final words.

Jeff was a man with integrity, a great sense of humor, and a heart the size of Texas. He gave good advice, shared his knowledge with whoever would listen, and loved his family more than anything on this earth. I only knew Jeff Sherratt for a few years, but he felt like a brother to me. He was my mentor and a dear friend. He took me under his wing and led me into the world of fiction. I have him to thank for my success as a novelist.

Sometimes in life, a friend comes along just when you need him, leads you where you need to go, and watches out for you along the way.  Jeff was that friend to me—and I expect to countless others who crossed his path.  

Whenever Jeff did an event with other authors or attended their events (which he always seem to make time to do), he never failed to buy the other authors’ books. Not only did he buy them, he read them, and wrote reviews. 

So if you want to return a favor he did for you, you can do that by purchasing Cyanide Perfume. And if you enjoy his last book, please go on Amazon and leave a review, or at least tell your friends about the book. Jeff would appreciate it and so would his loving wife, Judy. I know it would make her feel good to know that people cared enough to take the time to do that for him.

Rest in peace, Jeff Sherratt. May your words live on…

Teresa Burrell

Author of The Advocate Series

Georgia Takes Action to Prevent Child Abuse

I’ve been trying to focus on what different states are doing to help prevent child abuse. This week I’m looking at Georgia.

In 2011, Georgia had 21,205 substantiated cases of abuse or neglect, and 76 children died.  That same year the child abuse hotline went down due to lack of funds. The hotline had been established by Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, a division of Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) America. The hotline has recently been revived by a $165,000 challenge grant from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation.

PCA America is based in Chicago. There are forty-eight states that have active chapters. PCA is the only organization whose sole purpose is to prevent child abuse and neglect. It was founded in 1972 by Donna J. Stone, convened the first national conference on child abuse prevention in 1973, and formed the first state chapter in 1976 in Kansas. It has grown since to include every state in some fashion as well as Puerto Rico and Canada.

Every minute a child is abused. Five to six children die every day due to abuse or neglect. Please do your part to help prevent child abuse. Use the provided hotlines.

Tennessee Task Force on Child Abuse

Tennessee needs to take action!

The lawmakers in Tennessee were provided with a report from the Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice/Child Sexual Abuse. Several detailed recommendations were made on how to better protect the children of Tennessee. They include such things as joint training for different groups involved in child welfare, better methods for collecting data, ways to improve the legal system, and ways to raise awareness of child sexual abuse. These suggestions need the backing of the Tennessee General Assembly.

The Task Force is seeking more statewide consistency in child protection. There are recommendations on how social workers, law enforcement, and health providers can better work together on behalf of the children. A lot of emphasis seems to be placed on improving the quality of Child Protective Services within DCS. There has even been a recommendation for increased pay for front-line workers. I found this to be a bold move in this economy. Finally, someone is talking about backing their recommendations with financial support.

The Task Force consists of approximately forty people including lawyers, doctors, and DCS employees. DCS has already tried to implement some of the recommendations. Last year’s recommendations spurred DCS to provide new child protection training across the state. They have instituted a program called In Home Tennessee to help at-risk families with local services.

The report also had data regarding the amount of abuse for a one-year period in Tennessee. There were 93,799 referrals made in Tennessee and 7,852 confirmed victims. That is only in Tennessee . . . a small state. You can imagine what the numbers are nationwide.

If you’re in Tennessee tell your legislatures to get off their duffs and do what needs to be done to protect our children.

Here’s the full report if you want to read it.

A Special Thanks to my Online Readers

Isn’t it enough that a child is born with no pigmentation in his or her skin, to have a condition that affects his eyesight, to be at higher risk for skin cancer, and on top of that to be treated with such contempt by those around you. This is the plight of the PWA (Persons with Albinism).  PWA have to constantly be leery of the sun. Most of them have impaired eyesight if not complete blindness. Images are distorted making formal education a difficult task to manage much less conquer.

In some countries, such as Africa, many people believe albinos are not human, but rather “ghost-people.” In countries such as Tanzania, PWA are hunted down and dismembered, often killed, for their body parts. It is particular difficult for children who cannot protect themselves and are often betrayed by their own family members and sold to witchdoctors.

Under the Same Sun, founded by Peter Ash, is a non-profit organization that has done much to try to help these people. A great deal of time is spent in educating the residents of Tanzania, in providing facilities and education to the children, and in clinics to help them with their eyesight. For more information or if you are interested in helping in this cause, please go to the website:

As many of you may already know, for the past year I have been sending sunglasses to these children. For each book I sold online I sent a pair of sunglasses to a PWA in Tanzania. I want to thank all of you who have helped me in this endeavor. Your purchase of my book has helped to protect the eyes of one of these children. I had initially decided to continue on this path for one year. I have now decided to extend this program for another six months.

It’s that time of year to be giving thanks. Think about all that you have and be grateful.


Thank You, Montana

I just returned from a wonderful trip to Montana where I traveled to Kalispell, Great Falls, Missoula, Helena, and then to Couer d’Alene, Idaho. I had several book events in Kalispell. I spoke at a book club (always one of my favorite kind of events), a luncheon, and a Court Appointed Special Advocate’s (CASA) training class. I have such respect for the CASA program and the efforts made by their volunteers. It is a thankless job and always takes a great deal of time to do the job well. I was especially impressed by this group in Kalispell.

I also got to see my dear friend, Marilee, who was such an incredible hostess. My only regret is we didn’t have enough time. Next time, Marilee…

In Couer d’Alene I met with a Head Start group. They were fantastic and made me feel so welcome. This is a group of women who work so hard every day with our children. Thank you to all our Head Start employees.

But it wasn’t all work. I spent time with my two brothers, my nieces and nephews, and a few very special friends. We made lefsa (an old family tradition), played cards, barbequed, went boating, and had a great visit. It’s such a different lifestyle there, not at all like the hustle and bustle of southern California. All in all it was a fabulous trip.


Sweet Montana life…




The Advocate’s Dilemma

The Advocate’s Dilemma, book #4 in The Advocate Series, has it’s final look!

For me, this is one of the most exciting parts of this process. When the cover is designed it seems to give the book life.

My new book cover designer has been wonderful. So, if you are an author and are looking for someone easy to work with, reasonably priced, and good at what she does, please contact me and I’ll give you her info.

What do you think?



The Advocate’s Dilemma

The fourth book in The Advocate Series, The Advocate’s Dilemma, will be released this summer and I’m still enthralled by the process, from start to finish. I don’t know how other authors feel, but here’s what it’s like for me.

I formulate in my mind some little idea of what I want to write. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a first line. Or an ending. Or a “what if?”

Then, I sit down at the computer and look at a blank page, sometimes with very little idea of what I’m going to do. Then I start to write. Every day (or nearly so) I get up and start writing again. Before long, I’m filling up pages and pages until one day I reach the end. It amazes me every time that I was able to write a whole book.

The editing process is next. I really like this part. It’s when the novel really starts to take shape. My editor, Marilee Wood, is wonderful!

Barnes & Noble at Palm Desert

I spent three days at Barnes & Noble in Palm Desert last week.It was the first Meet & Greet  I have done with the new book, The Advocate’s Conviction. I was thoroughly amazed at the number of readers from the desert that came in the store to purchase a copy of the third book. It was nice to hear all the wonderful things they had to say about the first two books and to see how excited they were to start the third. Thank you, Desert Fans, you made my day.

Every event it seems I meet so many nice people and some of them are quite entertaining. This time was no different. A woman and her mother came into the store. The mother, I would guess, was at least in her 70’s, maybe more. When I asked them if they read mysteries, the older woman shook her head, made an “icky” face, and said, “Oh, no.”

I had just handed them each a bookmark and the daughter realized I was the author. She said to her mother, “Mother, you’re insulting her. She’s the author.”

The mother said, “Oh, I’m sorry.  Let me see your book.”

They walked over to my table and started reading the blurbs on my books. The mother said, “Oh, my daughter, Wendy, would love these. She loves books about legal stuff.”

“Is she an attorney?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said again. “She works for an attorney. She does all the work and he gets all the money.”

I smiled and said, “That’s the way it should be.” She frowned at me and I said, “I’m a lawyer.”

Her daughter turned to her mother and said, “Now, you’ve insulted her twice!.”

The mother said, “Would it help if I told you I’m not from this country? I’m Canadian.”

They bought two books, and we were all laughing about it when they left. A while later the older woman came back to my table to apologize one more time. I said to her, “I thought you came back to insult me again.” Of course I explained to her that I wasn’t insulted at all. She gave me a big hug. I love those hugs.


Third Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign

Rachel Harrie has this incredible platform-building campaign going on. This is her third one and it seems it’s a great way to work together with other writers. If you are a writer/blogger it would behoove you to check it out. I’m excited to be a part of it. The campaign timing is perfect for me with the release of my latest novel, The Advocate’s Conviction, just around the corner.

By the way, today is the last day to get on board. So if you’re interested check it out now. I think this will be a lot of fun.

Okay, so I’m trying to put a link on the “shield” but I can’t seem to get it to work. So if you’re interested in joining the campaign, please go to Rachel Harrie’s Blog Post. 


Bad Language in Novels

My readers often ask me about the use of bad language in my books. I do a lot of book signings at bookstores and talk to many readers, and the one question I hear more often than any other is, “Does it have a lot of bad language in it?”

The concern is often not so much a prudish one, but rather that it detracts rather than adds to the story. I had one man tell me that he expects a writer should be able to come up with more creative words than he can hear every day on the streets. I tend to agree, although there are times when the situation just calls for it and without it, the scene loses authenticity. For instance, I had a scene in my first book where a hardcore methamphetamine user had just lost her children in court. She wasn’t about to say, “Oh, piddle-sticks!” So she said something a little more down to earth.

What do you think? Does it bother you when you see a lot of derogatory words in a book? How much is too much?