14 March 2023


I’ve been MIA for my last three SleuthSayers posts, with friends Andrew Hearn, Stacy Woodson, and Sandra Murphy filling in for me. That’s because life events prevented me from writing beginning the day after Christmas and lasting through much of February (more about that in a moment), and my friends, when I told them what had happened, took up the slack. I hope they know how much I appreciate their help, but I also know that I could have asked any of several dozen other writing friends and had the same result.

Temple’s father, who been undergoing treatment for leukemia, took a dramatic and unexpected turn for the worse the day after Christmas. A pair of emergency room visits and a follow-up with his oncologist during the following two weeks led to a hospice referral and an estimated life expectancy of one to two months. The estimate was wrong. Eight days after the referral, on Friday, January 13, James Lincoln Walker passed away in his own home, in his own bed, in the presence of his daughter and granddaughter.

In addition to the emotional devastation that accompanies the death of a loved one, we were faced with the daunting and ongoing task of sorting through my father-in-law’s life. There are bills to pay, paperwork to review, furniture to disburse, personal items to sort through, and all the other responsibilities large and small that became Temple’s upon her father’s passing. We are only now out from under the worst of it, and I am only now catching up on all the projects that went on hold for two months. Luckily, and thanks to help from friends and tolerance from editors, publishers, and clients, I’ve not missed any deadlines.


For the past seventeen-and-a-half years, I have worked part-time as the marketing director for a professional symphony orchestra. Post-pandemic the marketing position changed, and I found the time devoted to it at odds with my freelance writing and editing. Temple and I spent much of last summer and fall discussing when might be the best time to take my leave of the symphony. Though the increased writing and editing commitments and opportunities coming my way were pushing us toward a decision, her father’s passing reminded us how little time we may have left, and it gave us the last  push we needed to set an end date.

I’ve worked too long and too hard to reach this point in my writing career, and it’s time to take advantage of every opportunity. So, my last day with the symphony will be Friday, April 21. The following week I travel to New York for the Edgar Awards ceremony and then to North Bethesda, Maryland, for Malice Domestic. When I return home, I will, once again, be a full-time freelancer.

I was freelancing full-time when I took the symphony as a client—that relationship changed when I officially joined the staff—so freelancing fulltime is not new. What is new is that I’m not doing it alone. I was single the last time around. This time I have Temple with me for the ride, and having someone who understands and supports what I do will make the transition back to fulltime freelancing much smoother than it otherwise might be.

So, 2023 began with a significant upheaval in our lives with the passing of Temple’s father, and our lives will continue to transform with my imminent change in employment.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.


  1. I was sorry to learn of the loss of your father-in-law, and my sympathy to both you and Temple. Such a loss makes one reassess a lot of things and makes present time seem more precious.
    Best of luck with returning to full time freelancing.

  2. It's been a heavy load to carry. Best wishes for the future.

  3. I'm glad to hear you're feeling better, considering everything you've been going through these last few months. Still sending hugs.

  4. I am so sorry about his passing. Very glad you have each other to get through all this. It helps tremendously with the moving forward process.

  5. Michael, always glad to help. Give Temple a hug from Dawn and me.

  6. Michael, I'm sorry it's been such a painful time, but I'm glad you have the support to help you and Temple get through to the other side. We're all getting to an age where Time's winged chariot hurrying near...

  7. All my sympathy for the loss of Temple's father. And glad you're returning to full-time free lance. Take care of yourselves!

  8. Sorry for your loss and all the difficulties you've been facing. Best of luck for the future.

  9. Condolences on the loss of Temple's dad and best wishes to you both for the future!

  10. A difficult time. May we all take our final breath at home. A reminder for all to fill this short journey with love and sweet memories. Best wishes.

  11. Sorting through the belongings of a lifetime is emotionally draining, and handling the paperwork that accompanies wrapping up an estate is exhausting. Having to do both while grieving can be overwhelming. I'm glad you were able to call on others to blog while you helped handle those extremely difficult tasks. Please accept my condolences on your loss and best wishes moving forward.

  12. My condolences to you and Temple. Until it happens, we don't realize that the grief brought by the death of a loved one will be accompanied by the demanding, emotional process of tying up the loose ends of their life. I'm happy for you both to have had the support of friends and one another.

  13. Elizabeth Dearborn14 March, 2023 21:09

    So sorry to hear the sad news. Best wishes to you & Temple.

  14. I’m sorry to hear about your shared ordeal, Michael, but I’m glad you have each other for support.

    Freelancing… I did it in a different career, and it’s one tough and thrilling ride.

    Did I miss the name of the orchestra? My parents took us children to the Indianapolis Symphony 2-3 times a year (and museums and science fairs). Sometimes I forget how much they did to round out a rural barefoot kid of field and forest. It’s as key as literature, so I’m deeply impressed.

    I’m glad to have you with us, Michael, and I hope in our small way we can offer regard and a small community where we appreciate your sharing.

  15. My condolences on the loss of your father-in-law, Michael.

  16. Continued condolences to Temple and you—-and understanding of what the past few months have been like —-
    Wishing you the best success and the most joy with your return to full-time freelancing. There is nothing as precious as using the time one has to follow one’s

    1. Oops. Debra H. Goldstein—- the above anonymous

  17. Three steps forward; two steps back. Just when I thought everything was under control, it wasn't. So, I'm late to respond to your kind messages. Thank you all.


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