Monthly Archives: May 2013

HERE’S A LITTLE SUNSHINE ON A FRIDAY!!

SunshineAward-ORIGINAL

The lovely Jennifer Jensen blessed me with the Sunshine Award. (She mistakenly said that I blog at Writers in the Storm. I wish I were part of that wonderful group of writers, but alas I am not.)

But I’m not giving the award back! It’s mine!

Before I answer the questions, etc. for this fun little meme I’d like to be serious for a moment. A blogger/writer friend, Susie Lindau (The Wild Ride) is always passing along positive energy. Today she needs some of ours. She’s in surgery. If you check out her latest post you’ll see why.

So a bunch of us decided to post this message: Susie Strong, we’re thinking of you! {{{HUGS}}}

Now on to spreading sunshine!

The rules of the Sunshine Award are:
•    Include the award’s logo in a post on your blog. (DONE)
•    Link to the person who nominated you. (DONE)
•    Answer the 10 questions below. (About to do so.)
•    Pass the award on to ten (or however many you want) “Sunshine inspiring” bloggers. (Thrilled to do so.)

Favorite color: It’s always been blue, any and every shade of blue. A close second is peach. In this case, other shades won’t do. It can’t be orange. It has to be peach!

picture of palomino horse

This was taken the day I bought her. Isn’t she gorgeous!

Favorite animal: Horses. I don’t ride much now but I had a small horse farm for twelve years. I had a palomino, Ardilla, who was the sweetest creature. She and I were like one when I was on her back. But she got old and eventually died, and somehow riding wasn’t the same anymore. She’s been dead for a decade and I still carry her picture in my wallet.

Favorite number: At the moment it’s five, for sure. Because I’m about to release my fifth book! Yay!

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: I live in the South now so it’s gotta be iced tea!! But I can’t quite develop a taste for sweet tea. My tea is more “not tart” tea.

Favorite alcoholic drink: Pinot Grigio, very cold, in a very large glass! (Prefer Barefoot brand; it’s got a little effervescence. A few tiny little bubbles that tingle on your tongue.)

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook, definitely. I like Kristen Lamb’s analogy (no relation to me, btw) that Twitter is a giant cocktail party. I like cocktail parties; they’re fun! But Facebook is more like one long, on-going visit with friends and family and my writer buddies.

Passions: Besides writing and psychology, my friends are my passion. I consider friendship to be the most important thing in life! I feel guilty a lot these days because my writing and helping to run misterio press take up so much time that I’m neglecting my friends.

I’m really not the right personality to be a writer. I’m working on developing my inner introvert more. 😀

Prefer Getting or Giving Gifts: Giving now. I used to love getting them too, and I still enjoy receiving gifts. But now I’m old and I have so much stuff (I’m a bit of a pack-rat) that I don’t get off like I once did on getting more stuff.

But I love to shop! Same dilemma though. Why should I buy more stuff to cram into my house? So buying gifts for others gives me a perfect excuse to shop. And I really enjoy their look of pleasure when the gift hits the mark!!

street scene in Colmar, France

A typical street in Colmar, France.

Favorite City: I’m not a big city girl. I like smaller cities. I think my favorite would be Colmar, Alsace, France. We stayed in an apartment there for a week as our home base while visiting other parts of Eastern France. It is a delightful little city!!

The Alsace region is on the border with Germany. You can really see the German influence in the architecture.

our Colmar apartment

Our Colmar apartment. It was great; much better than a hotel room.

Favorite TV Show: Criminal Minds. Hubs and I are addicted to it. He likes it because he used to work for the government. He says the way the BAU team interacts is very realistic. I like trying to figure out the psychological aspects. And I love the characters!

And now to bestow the Sunshine Award on others! Jennifer already tagged some of my favorite bloggers but here are some others I love to bits! If I duplicate anybody else’s picks, well that just means you’re extra popular, I guess. You all (the bloggers) don’t have to feel obligated to do the favorites list but I hope everybody reading this checks out these awesome blogs!

Not in any particular order:

Rhonda HopkinsWhere Reality and Fiction Collide ~ I’m particularly fond of her awesome Authors Give Back series.

Stacy Green’s Get Twisted. Her true crime posts will make the hair stand up on your neck.

Reneé A Schuls-Jacobson has the best sense of humor. Her posts always leave me howling!

K.B. Owen has an adorable blog where she chases the cozy thrill. She writes about history, mysteries, and all kinds of other fun stuff. I love her sense of humor too.

Beverly Diehl‘s Writing in the Flow.  She’s not afraid to take on some tough topics.

Amber West’s A Day Without Sushi is another great blog. She writes about a bunch of different stuff and does so very, very well.

Catie Rhodes just redid her site, Long Roads and Dark Ends, recently. It is spooky and beyond awesome!

Ginger Calem‘s Writers’ Butt Wednesdays are full of good advice, great recipes and lots of laughs.

August McLaughlin’s another blogger who’s not afraid to tackle the tough issues on Savor the Storm, and she’s a great champion of women developing healthier self-images and sexuality. (Her latest post was on female Viagra!)

Marcy Kennedy is not only a writer but she is a fantastic editor (she edited my latest book) and she writes great posts on writerly things.

Aw, gee, do I have to stop at ten? I could list about twenty more. But I’ll leave the others for these folks to tag.

What are some of your favorite things? Come on, don’t be shy. Tell us about them.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by clicking on the RSS symbol above or by filling in your e-mail address, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses)

Five Reasons to Honor Our Troops

I was going to post about something completely different today and then I looked at the calendar, and saw ‘Memorial Day’ staring back at me (Note to self: get out of writer’s cave more often).

I’m currently doing a Tour of Fives blog tour to celebrate the release of the 5th book in my mystery series (you can win a free e-book at the end of this post). So the natural post for today is Five Reasons to Honor Our Troops. There are a gazillion reasons really, but I’m gonna pick my top five.

1.   They have a strong sense of duty. Granted they may have other reasons for joining the armed forces as well, but the men and women who sign on that dotted line do so partly, or sometimes mostly, out of a sense of duty. That is an honorable trait.

2.   They make sacrifices the rest of us aren’t willing to make.  Not the least of which is being willing to put their lives on the line. But they also deal with a lot of other things, some of which we don’t think about. Oh, we get that they have to cope with being separated from loved ones and the facing danger part. But dirt, fatigue and boredom are frequent companions.

USMC-120112-M-RE261-003 troops playing cards

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

3.   They protect our ability to live in a free country by giving up a lot of their freedom.  Their lives are not their own. They can be ordered at any time to drop what they’re doing, say goodbye to their families and report to be shipped out to wherever they’re needed. And some of them will be affected mentally and physically for the rest of their lives.

At the San Diego 20th annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans  )why do we have homeless veterans?)

At the San Diego 20th annual Stand Down for Homeless Veterans (why do we have homeless veterans?)

4.   They ask their loved ones to make sacrifices. If you’ve ever been apart from someone you love for a long time, you know how big a deal this is. They ask their families and friends to go on without them while they serve their country. They are gone for months, sometimes years, at a time. Not only do their mothers/fathers/wives/husbands/children/siblings/grandparents/friends have to miss them and worry about them daily but they will have many family holidays and milestones that their soldiers/sailors/marines/airmen will not be there for. And some of them will never come home.

5.   They protect us from the evil in the world.  As a retired psychotherapist who specialized in trauma recovery, I have seen all too often the aftereffects of that evil. We in the U.S. certainly have our own home-grown evil, but these men and women in uniform keep the evil elements from the rest of the world at bay.

So now I’m feeling quite guilty that I needed a calendar to remind me to honor our troops. We should be honoring them 365 days a year.

A big salute to all the men and women in uniform and those who have served in the past. God bless everyone of you, and God bless America!

female soldier saluting

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

Today through Tuesday are the last days to win an ARC (advance review copy) of my new book. Five commenters will be randomly selected to receive one, so tell us your top reason for honoring our troops and veterans!

COLLATERAL CASUALTIES, A Kate Huntington Mystery (#5) will be officially launched on June 6th!

Speaking of the evil in the world…

book cover for COLLATERAL CASUALTIES, A Kate Huntington Mystery

   When a former client reaches out to psychotherapist Kate Huntington and reveals a foreign diplomat’s dark secret, then dies of ‘natural causes’ just days later, Kate isn’t sure what to think. Was the man delusional or is she now privy to dangerous information?
    Soon she discovers her client was totally sane… and he was murdered. Someone is now trying to eliminate her, and anyone and everyone she might have told. Forced into hiding, she and her husband, Skip, along with the operatives of his private investigating agency, struggle to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer. Skip and his P.I. partner are good investigators, but this time they may be in over their heads… and they all could end up drowning in a sea of international intrigue.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by clicking on the RSS symbol above or by filling in your e-mail address, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses)

Wacky Relatives and Other Wedding Woes (and a new Riga Hayworth Mystery!!)

 

picture of wedding cake

(photo by sparechangekitchen CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 WANA Commons)

When my husband and I were planning our wedding a few of his, shall we say, less stable family members were being a bit problematic. For the sake of cordial relations with the in-laws I won’t get any more specific than that.

He looked at me one day and said, “ You’re not getting a very good deal out of this marriage in terms of extended family.”

I laughed. “Honey, we’ve got just as many crazies in my family,” I told him. “You just haven’t met them because they’re not speaking to the rest of us anymore.”

I thought of that conversation the other day as I started reading the latest Riga Hayworth mystery. In this fourth book in the series, Riga is getting married. Or at least, she’s trying to. But weird and wacky things keep happening. Like a dead photographer who gets up and walks away.

Then some of her crazier relatives show up and she finds out some things about her family that have her doubting whether she should even get married. Is it fair to her fiancé, Donovan, to bring this baggage into his life? But then again, Donovan has his own baggage.

The bottom line is we all do. Show me someone who has no past trauma, no issues from childhood, no crazy family members that make them cringe in embarrassment, and I will show you a… well, a fictional character, because that’s not reality. Actually it wouldn’t even be a very believable or interesting fictional character.

As a psychotherapist, I was always pleased to see engaged couples giving some thought beforehand to what impact their baggage might have on their relationship. It’s always better to know ahead of time what problems you’re likely to encounter so you can perhaps plan some strategies, or at least not be taken by surprise. Facing those possible demons head on right from the beginning is a lot healthier than denial and defensiveness.

groom slipping ring on bride's finger

(photo by cellar_door_films CC BY_NC_SA 2.0)

But I also encouraged them to not let that baggage stop them from getting married. One of the many things that a good marriage does for us is provide healing experiences. Knowing someone loves you unconditionally goes a long way toward countering past hurts. And a loving spouse can help us realize that just because our family tree may have a few nuts in it, that doesn’t mean we’re damaged goods.

Riga knows they have their baggage but they also have plenty of good things going for them–genuine caring, good communication (or so she thinks) plus a few metaphysical talents–that are sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.

It will be interesting to see how their marriage progresses in future books, that is if they can actually manage to get married in this one.

Check out The Infernal Detective below (I love the blurb for this book!) and then let’s chat a bit in the comments. What wacky relative showed up at your wedding? Have you ever felt like you were lugging too much baggage from the past into a relationship, or maybe found the other person’s baggage too hard to cope with?

Or if you don’t feel like getting that heavy (pun fully intended) you can just congratulate Kirsten on her new book. Happy Release Day, Kirsten!!

cover of The Infernal Detective

When Riga Hayworth finds a dead body in her bedroom a week before her wedding, it’s par for the course. When the corpse drives off with her fiancé…

That’s a problem.

Riga knows dead. More intimately than she’d like. So when a murdered photographer gets up and walks away, she believes there’s necromancy afoot. And when she discovers that several of her wedding guests are under the influence of dark magic, she’s certain. But how can she catch a killer and stop a necromancer when even her nearest and dearest are lying to her?

Murder. The undead. Irritating relatives. The Infernal Detective is a fast-paced, paranormal mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, and magic lies just beyond the veil. Available on AMAZON now!

Oh, I almost forgot. Kirsten also has a really cool trailer for the book. Would you like an invitation to Riga and Donovan’s wedding?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by clicking on the RSS symbol above or by filling in your e-mail address, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses)

Five Things I’m Glad There Are Five Of (and a Cover Reveal!)

To celebrate the release of my new book (#5) I’m kicking off a series of posts today about things there are five of. I’m calling it the Tour of Fives. Today’s is a Just for Fun post to go along with the cover reveal for the book.

And you can win something if you stick around to the end. (No, I’m not above bribing people to be my friends. It worked in elementary school so why not?)

So without further ado…

Five Things I’m Glad There Are Five Of (And an awesome cover!)

Fingers: I love my fingers. They are long and slender and quite agile for their age. They do needlework, play the piano (sort of), pet the dog, type (okay, with lots of typos despite the oversized keyboard!), and they squeeze a friend’s hand as needed.

(And no, I am not that mathematically-challenged. I know I have ten of them, but there’s five per hand, so there.)

Toes: I’m not quite as fond of my toes, because they are not long and thin. I’ve got those weird curly-over type toes that aren’t very attractive. Still I’m glad I have them because they keep me upright (most days) and they’re really good for digging into the sand!

little kid toes in the sand

These toes are a lot cuter than mine! Trust me, you DON’T want to see my toes. (photo by cellar_door_films, CC 2.0, WANA Commons)

Toes in the sand reminded me of…

Months in the Summer: No, I haven’t lost my mind. I live in Florida and down here we have five months of summer. It starts in early to mid May and lasts until early to mid October.

I can hear the groans from all the cold-weather types up there in Michigan and Maine. But I love hot weather! And our summer is preceded by two to three months of gorgeous spring weather, from late February to early May. Okay, now you’re envying me! Yup! Sunny, 70’s-low 80’s, low humidity. 🙂

Senses: Where would we be without them!?!?  My favorite sense is touch. When we think of our five senses, it’s often the last to come to mind, maybe because it isn’t as obvious (not like the nose on your face), nor is it as straightforward.

Touch is a complicated sense. It includes pain, pressure and temperature sensors, and they’re located all over our bodies (am I the only one who’s getting a little tingly here?) We also have touch sensors inside our bodies, in our muscles and other tissues.

This is what I love about this sense! Those sensations inside of us tell us (if we’re paying attention) how we’re feeling. And I think I’ll stop right there because I fear another whole blog post is about to evolve here.

Those visceral internal sensations are a true blessing for us writers who want to convey a character’s feelings. “Her throat closed” or “the pressure was building in her chest” are a bit more interesting than just saying she was sad or pissed off.

Which brings us, last but not least, to… Drum roll, please!!!

Books in My Series: Book 5 is on its way! And I’ve been told by advanced readers that this might be the best one yet.

The characters experience LOTS of those visceral feelings (especially fear!) as they are being chased by a ruthless killer. Here’s the awesome cover my cover artist came up with:

book cover for COLLATERAL CASUALTIES, A Kate Huntington Mystery

Let’s hear it for Martina Dalton of The Authors’ Redroom!!  I hope to have this book out by the end of the month, first week of June at the latest.

Here’s what it’s about (and then I’ll tell you about the ‘winning something’ stuff):

When a former client reaches out to psychotherapist Kate Huntington and reveals a foreign diplomat’s dark secret, then dies of ‘natural causes’ just days later, Kate isn’t sure what to think. Was the man delusional or is she now privy to dangerous information?

Soon she discovers her client was totally sane… and he was murdered. Someone is trying to eliminate her, and anyone and everyone she might have told. Forced into hiding, she and her husband, Skip, along with the operatives of his private investigating agency, struggle to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer. Skip and his P.I. partner are good investigators, but this time they may be in over their heads… and they all could end up drowning in a sea of international intrigue.

I’m so excited about this book that I’m going to give 5 lucky people a chance to win an advance e-book copy. I will randomly pick the winners from the comments below.

What, you thought I was gonna give away money or something? hehe! Maybe next time.

So tell me about something there are five of that you’re particularly grateful for? Or just say something inane so you can try to win a copy. 🙂

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by clicking on RSS or filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

A Mother’s Day Tribute to Strong but Conventional Women

A friend recently wrote a post about Gertrude Atherton, a strong and unconventional female author who scandalized 19th century society. I love such stories of women who defied the constraints of their era to live life to its fullest. But the article got me to thinking about all the strong but conventional women of the past who perhaps don’t get the accolades they deserve.

One such woman was Mary Amelia, who was born in 1898–around the time Ms. Atherton was publishing her most scandalous books.

Mary Amelia was the epitome of a strong woman. Not necessarily in the way we might define a strong woman today. Not kick-ass, go-to-the-gym-several-times-a-week strong. But she was emotionally strong. And she was my grandmother.

My grandmother (in the middle) in the conventional swimming garb of her era. Sexy huh?

She was the eldest child of a well-to-do Maryland family. Her father spoiled his beautiful wife. She loved babies, especially since she didn’t have to take care of them. (My guess is she loved the process of making babies as well, but folks didn’t talk about that back then!) So she kept popping them out, and when they were no longer little and cute, she turned them over to the servants to raise.

Then my great grandfather made a crucial mistake. He believed some guy who swore that the land in Florida he had for sale was prime real estate. Great-granddaddy sold his business, packed up his family and moved to Florida, only to discover that he had bought an alligator-infested swamp. (Yes, I am the progeny of someone who actually bought swampland in Florida! Not one of our family’s prouder moments.)

Great-granddaddy slunk back to Maryland and took a job as a laborer. With no money now for servants, my grandmother was pulled out of school at age 13 to take care of her younger siblings. Because heaven forbid her spoiled mother should have to change a nappie. My grandmother rose to the task (and until the day she died she was the matriarch of the family, even while her mother was still alive).

At 24, she was in danger of being an old maid when young “Buck” Roland (no pun intended; that really was my grandfather’s nickname) swept her off her feet. A few years later, she had her own baby, my mother. Unfortunately her new hubby was what they called back then a ne’er-do-well. He couldn’t seem to hold a job or keep a business going.  He was long on promises and short on follow-through.

Now up to this point, my grandmother had played by the rules. She was a conventional woman who tried to avoid those things that “just weren’t done.” But out of necessity she did something that middle-class, married women of her era just didn’t do. She got a job.

With only an eighth-grade education, she became a clerk in the payroll department of a Baltimore chemical company. This was back when credentials were less important than pure smarts and a willingness to work hard. She had so much of both of the latter that she advanced through the years, despite sexism, to the position of payroll supervisor.

In the meantime, her husband was making less and less effort to make a living, and by the time my mother was eleven, he’d given up completely. Women, no matter how good they were at their jobs, didn’t make much money back then. My grandmother realized she couldn’t support three people on her salary.

So she did something that “just wasn’t done.” She looked at my grandfather one day and said, “You’re just another mouth to feed. You need to leave.” And he did.

She never divorced him, however, because that just wasn’t done. And she never took off her wedding ring, even decades after he had died. She went by her married name and considered herself a widow.

My mother, age 14, with her mother.

She raised my mother, as a single parent, in an era that was not at all kind to single moms. And not only did she make sure my mother finished high school, but she pushed her to go to college. Also, somewhere along the way, my grandmother bought her own house. Even though most of her sisters, who were married, were still renting theirs. And in 1959, at the age of 61, she learned to drive, and bought her first and only car.

My grandmother, the proud owner of a spankin’ new 1959 Ford Fairlane. (Yeah, that’s me in the dorky little skirt.)

She used to scare the crap out of my parents. She would get on the Baltimore Beltway, pull all the way over into the fast lane, and then do forty miles an hour. She thought the two lines in the center of the road were for bicycles, and they changed from solid to dotted occasionally just for variety, so that drivers wouldn’t fall asleep staring at them (seriously; I am not making this up!) When my father explained that the dotted line meant that drivers could now safely pass, she just stared at him. She never passed anybody, but plenty of drivers passed her.

We joked about her strange driving habits, but we were actually quite impressed that she had tackled such a foreign activity in her sixties (which would be comparable to one’s eighties today). She lived on her own until the day she died, almost a decade later.

It wasn’t until a few years after that, when I was fully grown, that I realized just how strong my grandmother had been, in her own conventional way.

I’m far from perfect, but I do think that I’ve done her proud in the ‘strong woman’ category. Thanks, Grandma, for being such a great role model!

Have you known any strong and remarkable conventional women? Who has been your most inspiring role model?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!

Fun Friday’s Gone Visiting

Happy Friday!

Misterio press author, Kirsten Weiss, is over at Catie Rhodes‘ cyberhome today, talking about myths about Tarot cards. Pop on over and check it out!

Kirsten Weiss, Author

We blog here at misterio press once a week about more serious topics, usually on Monday or Tuesday. Sometimes we blog again, on Friday or the weekend, with something just for fun.

Please follow us by filling in your e-mail address where it says “subscribe to blog via email” in the column on the right, so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun!