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Tuesday, March 24, 2020


The Author and her Grandson on the Night in Question
Award-winning suspense author Donnell Ann Bell gave up her non-writing fiction career in newspapers and magazines because she was obsessed with the notion she could write a mystery or thriller. Black Pearl, her latest release, is a finalist in the 2020 Colorado Book Awards for Best Thriller. Learn more about Donnell and her books at her website

Role Reversal and Grandmotherly Confessions
My mother used to say she’d never be a mother-in-law or a grandmother. She also claimed she had three only children. So, when it came to family, I think she may have had issues. I thought the mother-in-law/grandmother statements rather odd as one doesn’t generally get a choice in the matter. 

Don’t get me wrong; my mother isn’t a selfish human being. She’s a retired registered nurse who genuinely loves helping people. She just didn’t enjoy the stigma that went along with the older woman titles.

As I got older and approached the mother-in-law stage and grandmother title, I understood a bit of what she was trying to say. I was also correct that my children didn’t consult me when the time came, and made me a mother-in-law and a grandmother, without so much as a by your leave.

Here’s the clincher, with the title of grandmother, my children asked me to babysit. I was happy to do it if they remained close by and I could ask for guidance. I mean, have you seen all the changes that have occurred in the last thirty years?  Babies no longer sleep on their stomachs; car seats are designed straight out of NASA. There are monitors everywhere that I’m told the FBI envies. What if I did something wrong?

My grown children laughed at me. “Mom, you’ll be fine. Here’s the monitor. Text us if there’s a problem.”

I paid attention to all of my, “Mom, these are your instructions,” which brought back a little PTSD as I remember asking the nurse before leaving the hospital when my daughter was born…”Could you show me how to put that diaper on one more time?”

Okay, I wasn’t born with a maternal gene—there I’ve said it.
Anyway, my instructions were simple. As soon as my grandson took his bottle, I was to change his diaper, put him in his sleep sack, lay him face up in his crib, tell him goodnight, turn on the nightlight, the white noise, the monitor, and slip out of the room. Simple instructions, right?

You might as well have told me I would be performing open-heart surgery. My son and daughter and their spouses are so regimented. And get this, their systems work. They can put their children down at night and leave the room! Can you believe it?

Me? My grandson must’ve sensed my anxiety because I followed my instructions to the letter. Bottle, check. Diaper, check. Sleep Sack…. This is where I may have messed up. Poor grandson, he wasn’t the least bit sleepy after I got through trying to get that contraption on. He was wide-eyed and petrified that this woman didn’t have a clue what she was doing.

At that, I did what any grandmother in her right mind would do. I reverted to my old ways. I took that little boy out of his crib, walked him for a solid two hours, then collapsed in the rocking recliner. My son texted me to see how things were going. Grandson and I were so proud, we sent him a selfie. Then my daughter came home, smiled sadly, shook her head at me and took a picture as well. 

All right. I may not have a grandmother gene, but I love these children fiercely and nothing’s going to happen on my watch. 

My kids have taught me so much. I am blessed to have amazing daughters-in-law. They’re pretty patient with me. As the children get older, I’m the best Grammy in the world as far as playing with them and keeping them entertained. But that newbie business is downright terrifying.

Clearly, a bit of role reversal has happened in the last thirty years. 

Black Pearl
A cold case heats up when a 9-1-1 call puts police at a Denver murder scene pointing investigators to the abduction of a Colorado teenager fourteen years before. The connection? A calling carda single black pearl—is found on the newest victim. Is the murder a copycat? Or has a twisted serial killer, thought dead or in prison, returned to kill again?

The hunt for a multi-state killer is on and brings together an unexpected team: a Denver Major Crimes police lieutenant; an FBI special agent who investigated the previous murders, a rookie FBI agent with a specialty in psychology; and the only living victim of the Black Pearl Killer is now a cop.

For Special Agent Brian DiPietro, the case is an opportunity to find answers. For Officer Allison Shannon, the case will force her to face down the town that blamed her for surviving when another did not. And for both DiPietro and Shannon, it’s a chance to find closure to questions that have tormented them both for years.

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Jacqueline Seewald said...

Donnell Ann,

As a grandmother of four, I can sympathize. There's even more anxiety caring for the newborn grandkids than our own children. It's actually more of a responsibility. But I'm certain your children are grateful for your help.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Thanks, Jacqueline, I'm so glad I'm not all alone :) Thanks Lois for letting me get that off my chest ;)

judyalter said...

A grandmother of seven here, and I so identify with your feelings. To make it worse, each of the four families involved had totally different approaches to caring for infants. I had to remember each time whose house I was in. I am so relieved that now the youngest of these wonderful children is twelve.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Judy,seven grandchildren! I stand in awe ;)

Thanks for stopping by and helping me with my therapy.

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Donnell! So far, I've only baby sat little Julia a couple of times. The sleep sack is interesting. I do worry about always being on the back of her head. But understand why. They've embraced eating regular food instead of baby stuff and she does very well. Mostly, we play. I still am not a grandma. Just VB

Donnell Ann Bell said...

VB, you and my mother would get along very well. :) Stay well, my friend.

Janice Seagraves said...

I'm a grandmother, too. But when my daughter switched to cloth diapers, I was like how in the world do you put these things on. They have snaps on them.

Good luck with your release. I wish you many sales.


Donnell Ann Bell said...

Ha, Janice! I feel your pain. That's exactly what I'm talking about. These new-fangled gadgets ;)

Skyewriter said...

Your photo brought back such wonderful memories. One of the things I discovered about being a grandmother was that I could rock a kid in the middle of the night and not feel resentful about the missed sleep because I wasn't exhausted from 24/7 care of a newborn. And those middle of the night moments with my grandchildren were so precious. All my girls nursed their babies so I would assure them feed the baby then go to bed and I'll stay up which they were grateful to do. Something very special about just you and the heavy weight of a sleeping infant in the wee hours of the night.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Skye, exactly. Walking and holding that little boy was one of the most precious times of my life. Parents today have more freedom I supposed by putting their children on schedules. But there's also bonding and touch and love that comes from these special times. He's a keeper xoxo Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Connie Gillam said...


Like you, I love being a grandmother. I think I'm doing a better job of parenting than when my children were babies. I guess experience has made me more relaxed, plus at the end of the day or night they go home to their parents.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Connie, you've always been calm cool and collected, and you nailed it. We get to give them back. I just want to make sure they're in one piece when doing it :) xo

Ana Morgan said...

I am lucky to have three of my four grandchildren living a mile away. I've done lots of babysitting. Best thing is to play and send 'em home tired.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

What a blessing to have them so close by. Stay well, Ana. And yes you can return them :)

crb.writer said...

So many gadgets and rules these days--every word rang true!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

I'm so glad! Many of the younger generations ideas are wonderful! But I still think we did a lot of things right :)

Sandy Marshall said...

Hi Donnell,
You and your grandbaby look so adorable. So much love in that picture. And I'm glad you let him out of his cage.

All the best on your latest book. I understand you are a resident of Las Cruces. Do you ever have release events here? There are a bunch of us who would be interested.

Donnell Ann Bell said...

LOL, Sandy, that's Scout's cage, although my grandson now that he's crawling thinks it's his as well. Thank you very much for the well wishes. Yes, I'm in Las Cruces. Please contact me... would love to connect www.donnellannbell.com