I just finished writing the second Phyllis Newsom Bake-off mystery, MURDER BY THE SLICE. The ladies get involved in a PTO carnival and mayhem ensues.
It has been a lot of fun writing about retired teachers. We have teachers hanging from the rafters in my family. My mother was a first-grade teacher for twenty-six years. She started late in life. She had a degree and job in accounting, but when she started having children, it was harder then to have a job and raise a family. That’s when both my parents decided to go to beauty school and become beauticians. They had a shop that was attached to our house so they could watch us grow and work. This only lasted until we were old enough to manage somewhat on our own, then she went back to school to become a teacher. Watching what a difference she made in children’s lives was great. Each year those children became part of her family. When I married James Reasoner, I married into a major teaching family. His mother, sister, sister-in-law, and later his niece were all teachers. Now both of our daughters are planning on becoming teachers. Our oldest has just graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and plans on getting her teaching certificate so she can teach high school. The youngest is still in college, but after only one year she’s a junior. She takes as many classes as possible and goes during the summer, too. She wants to teach elementary children and she wants that as soon as possible. The personalities of the ladies in my books are a combination of some of my past teachers, some of my daughters’ past teachers, and some of my family, with a strong fictional twist. I really like these characters, and I hope it shows.
It was a natural to add the PTO since both James and I were board members for several years. The PTO ladies in the book are total fiction, since the ladies we worked with were just too nice. It was pure luck that we joined ourselves. I checked the box on a volunteer sheet that my elder daughter brought home from her fifth grade class. I offered to help the room mother with parties. I received a call saying that there was no room mother and could I possibly do that. Since there was no one else, I agreed to handle it. There was a room mother meeting the next week. While attending this, I was approached by one of those wonderful PTO ladies. Our daughters had been going to the same school for years; she was my youngest daughter’s Girl Scout leader, so she knew that James and I wrote novels. She explained that the lady who called me had quit and asked if I’d be willing to join the PTO board as the school reporter. She used the old, “since you write novels, writing a newsletter every month will be a piece of cake.” I told her that I would have to talk it over with James, because I knew it would cut into the work. When I discussed it with him, we decided to handle the position together and share the chores. By the time our youngest was in her last year there, James was the president. If you get a chance to get involved in your children’s school, do it. It’s time you’ll never regret giving.