The Burgundy Briefcase


THE BOOK: The Burgundy Briefcase.

Burgundy BriefcasePUBLISHED IN: 2015.

THE AUTHOR: Roberta Burton.

THE EDITOR: Adrian Fogelin, Heather Whitaker, and Gina Edwards.

THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing has published a number of award winning books and helps its authors market their books.

SUMMARY:  After the death of her husband, Lee moves forward with her life—or, so she thinks. Instead, she finds herself repeating the same mistakes with Frank that she made in past relationships.

While working on her doctorate, she learns about those old patterns and begins to understand her relationship is a sham. Her progression through the doctoral program is threatened by double messages and false promises. She must respond by confronting her professor and Frank’s bizarre behavior. Are they connected? What does it all mean? Will she get what she wants or what she needs?

THE BACK STORY: While still in graduate school, my friends kept telling me I needed to write a self-help book. Since I don’t learn very well when someone tells me what’s wrong with me, I decided to write a novel and show the reader how life can change when we change our thoughts and our behavior. My doctoral program and the clients and patients I have seen over the years provided my research. I began writing bits and pieces in 2008 and completed the book in 2014. Because I needed to relearn how to write creatively instead of academically, I took advice from everyone with an opinion. I ended up rewriting the entire novel three times changing tenses and points of view with each rewrite.

WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a story behind this title. I was in a workshop where the presenter had us write a scene using a metaphor. I chose a briefcase to represent the place where Lee stores all the things she will think about or deal with later.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The people who read and like The Burgundy Briefcase seem to be people who are looking for answers about the meanings of their lives. Since the novel is written with a 12-Step prospective, people, with addictions or who are or have been around someone with an addiction tend to like it. Anyone who is or has been in an abusive relationship finds meaning in the book.Roberta Burton


* By rokinrev: “The author, a therapist herself, has written a “grande drama” of a book that readers will connect with viscerally.”

* By DFM: “I loved this book. It was really a help to me in understanding some of the relationships I have had in the past. When I was asked what I like to read I used to laugh and say “sex and psychology.” This book has it all. Hated for it to end.”

* By: A Human Being: “This book could be of great value, perhaps even a life-saver, to people

AUTHOR PROFILE: Besides having a master’s in clinical psychology and a doctorate in marriage and family therapy, I hold also a private pilot’s license. I am an avid reader, even been known to read labels when nothing else was available. My other interests include alternative healing modalities, spirituality, quantum physics, and philosophy. I continue to take classes in these subjects. One of my long-held beliefs is that I am responsible for the choices I make. And, on a good day, I believe that everything is exactly as it should be at this moment in time.

Like Lee, my biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. Tenacity kept me writing for six years on one book and keeps me holding on to ideas, relationships, and anything else long after I need to let go. My biggest aha moment was the discovery that all my writing has been about my search for meaning.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: When I began thinking of this book, I wanted a story that would help others see how they can change their lives. By the end, my motivation proved to be my search for the meaning in my life. Yes, even fiction can bring out those hidden beliefs.



There comes a pivotal moment when one’s life will be forever changed. This was such a moment for Lee Lindsey.

Sylva, North Carolina, April 22, 1991

You ducked into the coma just in time, didn’t you, Alex? I crawl into bed with you. Then, the Lindseys descend. Your mother parks on the chair beside the bed, your father at the foot. I clutch your arm like my favorite childhood teddy bear while your mother brags about your brother’s exploits, and your father grunts agreement.

My heart cries as I remember your whisper at the door of your brother’s home. “You are about to meet my parents’ only child.”

From your coma, I know you hear your mother, and my heart cracks.

I feel your chest muscles tighten as she bows her head and lets it rest near your groin. I cringe. The odor of rubbing alcohol seeps under the door. “He doesn’t want your head there.”

She sits up. Your body relaxes. The mind-body-spirit workshop I took two weeks ago awakens my awareness of minute changes in your muscles. You already know that, don’t you?

The hospice nurse enters and takes your vital signs. Your dad reads a newspaper he found discarded in the waiting room. Your mother clicks on the bedside lamp, and afternoon settles into evening. She sits in silence, hands folded in her lap. Are you as grateful for her silence as I am?

Almost midnight. Suddenly, you sit straight up and look at your father. I recognize the

I take five slow, deep breaths. My jaw relaxes.

I eat the overly sweet crème-filled doughnut. Knowing how you hate crumbs in the bed, I’ll finish it before I sit with you. Ah, you’re taking another breath. I’ll wait until the social worker leaves before I go to you.

I stare at the sugary remnants on the cafeteria plate. During these final weeks, we have bared our souls and said everything we needed to say. I felt as if my skin peeled away and exposed my heart. Yet, you never turned away.

I watch and wait. You breathe in just the way you always do.

You’re in control and have everyone’s attention while I subsist on sugar. I won’t let myself feel. Not in front of other people.

What is the social worker saying to you? Her with her accusing looks in my direction.

You breathe out.

You don’t breathe in. Another pause?

No breath in.

You look so peaceful. No more pain. No more agony. I know you’re still here with me.

It’s as if everyone in the waiting room simultaneously understands that you are dead. Friends and family come in and make stiff or tearful goodbyes, then retreat.

Time to call your brother? No, your best friend will do it; he’s in the hallway. He promised to call friends and co-workers. Will your brother inform your daughters? He said he would. My love, you continue to make life easier for me, even in death. I have to call my family.

The nurse’s aide arrives to prepare your body. “I will do it,” as I place a protective hand on the sheet.

She snatches the sheet from my hand and off your body, leaving you naked. I grab the sheet. How disrespectful. You would hate this. I cover you. I begin to wash you. I wash your face and neck, moving from your arms to your torso. I stand so she can’t watch. I cover your top half. I uncover and wash your legs and feet. Together, we turn you over.

As we roll you onto your stomach, I see it. A decubitus ulcer. One I’d not noticed. Didn’t know about. Bright red. The color of raw hamburger. A cavern of bone and meat. Oozing yellow pus. You never mentioned it.

Had I walled myself off so effectively that my whole being said, I don’t know and I don’t want to know? Was this detachment?

Survival? No trips into the danger zone of the psyche for me. I simply hadn’t paid attention.

Guilt arrives, carrying its own bag.

LOCAL OUTLETS: My Favorite Books, Tallahasee; Books-A-Million, Black Dog Café @ Railroad Square

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:,, Barnes &, Kindle, Nook, and currently being formatted for i-Books. PRICE: $14.95.

CURRENT EVENTS: Book signing at My Favorite books, Tallahasee,FLA, Sept. 12, 11 A.M.-1 p.m.


Facebook: Ask Dr Lee

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

3 thoughts on “The Burgundy Briefcase”

  1. I was privileged to be one of the editors on Roberta’s novel. Roberta repeatedly said, “I know my audience,” and she does. She writes for anyone who has struggled with addiction or who has grappled with trying to understand the workings of human emotion. Roberta manages to mix the strengths of a novel with an analytical take on the human heart with all its weaknesses, delusions, and courageous leaps of faith.

    Adrian Fogelin


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