Category Archives: Just for Fun

5 Ways Blogging and Writing Fiction Do and Don’t Mix

by Kassandra Lamb

Mia culpa! I’ve been so busy writing guest posts this week that I didn’t come up with one for our blog… So here are the two fun ones I’ve posted elsewhere the last few days.

And I finally have my Hawaii pictures up on my own website (only took six months). Take a look!

~~~~~~~

Around the time I was getting serious about my writing, the buzz in the writerly world was all about how blogging was a must if you wanted to build a “platform” on social media.

Having no clue what a platform was, and knowing nothing about social media or blogging, I took the plunge. Shannon Esposito and I had just conceived of the idea of misterio press, and I was taking care of legal matters while Shannon set up the website. Since I didn’t yet have a blog established, I volunteered to be the main blogger here.

That was four years ago – it seems much longer than that – and I’ve been posting on our blog almost every week, sometimes twice a week. I’m starting to run thin on topics to cover, but part of me just isn’t willing to cut back.

So I thought I’d explore the pros and cons, at this point, of maintaining a blog. With tongue tucked into cheek on some of these, here’s what I came up with:

My_day_at_wikipedia
Con #1:  Blogging takes time away from writing books.

Pro #1:  Blogging takes time away from writing books (i.e., it’s a great way to procrastinate when you should be writing).

Check out the rest at Barb Taub’s site

And I had a lot of fun interviewing the main character in my Kate Huntington and Kate on Vacation series, over at Marcia Meara’s The Write Stuff. Check out what Kate has to say about all the corpses I keep putting in her path.

~~~~~~~~

book cover

Missing on Maui, A Kate on Vacation Mystery, #4

It’s an awkward situation at best, and a deadly one at worst.

Days before Kate Huntington is scheduled to leave for her niece’s wedding on Maui, she receives a frantic call from said niece. Amy’s mother–Kate’s rather difficult sister-in-law–is at it again, alienating the groom’s family and even the wedding planner. Can Aunt Kate come early and run interference?

Soon after her arrival, Kate discovers that young women are going missing on the island, and Amy’s maid of honor is hanging out with a notorious local player. Is he involved in the disappearances?

Hawaii is supposed to be a relaxing paradise, but Aunt Kate is kept busy locating a new wedding planner (the delightful Pali Moon), refereeing between Amy and her mother, and chasing down errant wedding party members… Oh, and facing off with a psychopath.

Just $0.99 for a limited time on…

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Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

8 Tongue-in-Cheek Tips for Scoring Good Reviews ~ Guest Post by Barb Taub

I have a special treat for you all today–a guest post from one of the funniest people I know. I stumbled on Barb Taub’s blog a couple of years ago, and I haven’t stopped laughing at her antics since.

Barb Taub head shot

Her books are considered urban fantasy (a genre I never read, unless it’s her books), but her stories have more than enough adventure and mystery to keep me turning pages, and laughing my head off. (And her latest one–see below–has a hot romance, and a cute dog!)

So with her tongue planted firmly in her cheek, here is Barb’s advice on how to get good reviews…

My Top 8 Writer Tips for Scoring Positive Book Reviews
(and Making a Bunch of Money! 😀 )

by Barb Taub

Last week I did our monthly budget, an act which blurs the boundaries between blind faith and creative fiction. (Warning: I’m a professional writer so I make up sh*t for a living. Do NOT try this at home, boys and girls.)

At first, I wasn’t too upset because I thought that writers were supposed to live lives of abject poverty—garrets, obscurity, perhaps the odd chemical dependency.

But then I remembered reading an article a few years ago about Simon & Schuster’s offer of $920,000 for rights to a first novel, Just Killing Time by Derek V. Goodwin, that was submitted with endorsements from novelists John LeCarre and Joseph Wambaugh. The only problem: Wambaugh and LeCarre denied ever reading the book, so Simon & Schuster canceled the contract.

The real Howard Hughes

The real Howard Hughes. After seven top journalists interviewed Irving’s cohort who was claiming to be Hughes, they all agreed that he was a fake. 

Then there was the autobiography of the famously reclusive Howard Hughes, written with Clifford Irving. Publisher McGraw-Hill was so excited about their literary coup in signing the book that they offered Irving (and Hughes, they thought) a $765,000 advance. The only problem was that some other pesky guy who said his name was Howard Hughes kept claiming that he’d never even met Irving, much less co-authored his autobiography. Nonsense, proclaimed McGraw-Hill. They investigated and eventually had to sheepishly acknowledge that the fakes were Irving and his team. Irving ended up going to prison for seventeen months, and more importantly, he had to return the $765,000 advance.

Do you know what these stories mean to me as a writer?

Of course you do! It means that McGraw-Hill wasn’t out that $765K. And Simon & Schuster never coughed up the $920K.

So those dollars are probably lying around waiting for me to scoop them up, if I can just round up some good reviews, or—as we professional writers say—“blurbs”. (From the Latin word blurbus, the sound made by the Latin critic when the Latin writer holds him under the Latin water until he agrees to say something good about the Latin opus.)

Of course, I’ve learned a lesson from Irving’s and Goodwin’s little missteps. Here are the top eight things I’ll look for in my blurb-writers.

1. I’ll seek blurbs by writers who are unlikely to change their high opinion after actually reading my opus. John Welles understood this when he wrote: “Here are jeweled insights, lovingly crafted by a veritable Faberge amongst wordsmiths, hand-polished erections in the global village of contemporary sensibility, perceptions snatched from the Outer limits of human experience…” John Welles’ review of “Masterpieces”—a book written by John Welles.

Shakespeare monument

It’s just a nasty rumor that my friend Bill is deceased.

2. I’ll find blurbs from writers who couldn’t possibly deny authoring a blurb. Not being (technically) alive helps here. For example, I will use a blurb from my dear friend and fellow writer, Bill Shakespeare. He just sent one which sayeth: “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments of princes, shall outlive Barb’s powerful rhyme. But she shall shine more bright in these contents than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.”

(Hmm, I think Bill’s last line there refers to my housekeeping, so I’ll try to get the publisher to leave it off the book jacket.)

3. Then there are the blurbs which are both literary and literally incomprehensible. Hemingway’s blurb will read: “The afternoon sun shines on the woman who runs with a lot of bull.” And James Joyce will add: “Yes because I give it mindseye form in her novel children are her life running through the mystery world…”

4. And there will be blurbs from people who are so famous they don’t need actual opinions. My blurb from Kim Kardashian will be, “Kim! Kim, Kim, Kim!”

5. I’ll blurb myself a bio so incredible that the publishers fighting to be the first to sign me will look like the crowd at a sorority convention that just spotted the last Diet Coke. I’m thinking something along these lines:

mannequin by store doorway

The author worked odd jobs as an armless, shoeless mannequin to make ends meet.

After spending my childhood as an abused Bosnian orphan, I discovered that I was actually the secret love child of Elvis, Marilyn, and at least two Kennedys (those love quadrangles can be brutal). With only my dreams of a better life to sustain me, I managed to make it to Harvard on a full scholarship, only to recklessly squander that on a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge. With a six-latte/day caffeine monkey on my back, I was forced to prostitute myself as a technical editor just to support my twelve fatherless puppies and my barista. But I never gave up my dream of finding the truth about my parents, all of whose deaths had been faked in order for them to enter the witness protection program where, I eventually discovered, all four are running a waffle house in upstate Maine. Every reader who sheds a tear for my characters, laughs at my jokes, or takes the time to put in a better-than-three-star review on Amazon brings me one step closer to realizing my dream of reuniting with them. Oh, and I’m a flying vampire.

6. If all of the above fail, I can always get 5-Star reviews the old-fashioned way: buy them. (On fiverr.com, a search for “book reviews” came up with 569 hits offering “fantastic” book reviews, some even guaranteeing placement into Amazon’s “Top Sellers” lists.)

tea party

I wonder how many reviews I can buy for my new work, Fifty Shades of Earl Grey. (In their 5-star review, Upper West Middlesex Doglover’s Monthly calls it “Steaming hot!”)

7. If I’m really desperate, I can always go for a spot of trashing the opposition. With estimates of over 600,000 books to be published this year, clearly some writers are taking the “If you can’t beat them, troll them” approach. I noticed one day that two of my books got one-star ratings from a reviewer on Goodreads. Looking under the writer’s name, I saw that she lone-star ‘reviewed’ over fifty other books that day. Not only does she read at something approaching the speed of light, but she’s a glutton for punishment since she didn’t like a single one of those books.

8. Of course, if all else fails, I can do what Eva Hansen did for the erotic Swedish thriller, Red is the Color of Pain.

Described by reviewers as Fifty Shades of Grey meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Swedish News (Svensk Nyheter) called it “The most impressive Swedish detective novel since Stieg Larsson!” Oppna TV Stockholm went on to say, “This Stockholm is a city of sin, feeling, and furious passions that Swedish literature has never before known.”

One reason that Stockholm hasn’t known it is that none of them—Eva Hansen, Swedish News, nor Oppna TV Stockholm—actually exist and the book has a Russian copyright.

So it looks like I should stick with writing my own books. Luckily, that’s pretty exciting right now. My new book, Round Trip Fare, is an urban fantasy with romance, suspense, humor, a sentient train, and a great dog.

Round-Trip Fare book cover

ROUND-TRIP FARE (Null City #4)

Now that the century-long secret Nonwars between Gifts and Haven are over and the Accords Treaty is signed, an uneasy peace is policed by Wardens under the command of the Accords Agency. Warden Carey Parker’s to-do list is already long enough: find her brother and sister, rescue her roommate, save Null City, and castrate her ex-boyfriend. Preferably with a dull-edged garden tool. A rusty one. It just would have been nice if someone told her the angels were all on the other side.

Available for Pre-Order Now on Amazon US and Amazon UK

Although the story is a standalone, the award-winning release is part of the Null City series, which reviewers (actual living humans, I swear!) have called “An amazing story of fantasy, time and dimension travel, and strong heroines with superpowers”—Between The Lines Book Reviews

Hmm, I wonder if my letters from Simon & Schuster and/or McGraw-Hill were misdelivered? After all, I’m still waiting for that letter from Hogwarts.

Posted by Barb Taub, author of the Null City series. In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb wrote a humour column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled Aussie Dog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them travelling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

Kass Lamb’s Review of Round-Trip Fare

Barb’s wonderful sense of humor shines through in her characters, and most especially in Carey Parker, young Accords Warden and all around hell-raiser. I absolutely love this character. And her friends, including her four-legged companion, are almost as delightful.

The plot is convoluted at times but fascinating throughout, with plenty of adventure and suspense to keep this mystery lover satisfied. And then there’s the sexy mystery man… Yum!

Five enthusiastic stars!

~~~

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Quick, Buy More Toilet Paper!

by Kassandra Lamb

Recently a good part of the country experienced the blizzard of 2016. And now it’s snowing again up north.

Montgomery Co. MD, not far from where we once lived (photo by heado, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

Blizzard of 2016 aftermath, Montgomery Co. MD, not far from where we once lived (photo by heado, CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

During the blizzard my native Maryland got about two feet of the white stuff dumped on them. That’s a lot of snow for a state that is technically below the Mason-Dixon line.

But is it really reason to panic?

When did we become such a crisis-oriented society? Oh, yeah, it’s when the media got a foothold…

I’m five feet, four inches tall (I used to be five-six, but hey, old age happens). Yes, two feet is a lot of snow, but it still only comes up to just above my knees. With a little effort, I can walk in it without snowshoes. And with some shoveling and the wonders of modern all-wheel drive, I can drive in it.

When I lived in Maryland, I used to marvel at the run on stores for milk, bread and toilet paper before a snowstorm. I got the milk and bread part, but honestly people, how much time do you plan to spend in the bathroom during the two to three-day period it takes for the snow plows to dig you out? I would think that the 4 to 6 rolls that most households have on hand would suffice.

Have we become such a namby-pamby society that the possibility of running low on toilet paper has us running to the stores? Come on, we’ve got tissues and paper towels and houseplant leaves to supplement before we truly should get desperate.

My point here is that we have been conditioned by the media to go into crisis mode over things that previous generations considered everyday challenges.

Here ya go! Car snowed in; break out the skis. (NW Washington, DC photo by Alejandro Alvarez CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

Here ya go! Car snowed in; break out the skis. (NW Washington, DC photo by Alejandro Alvarez CC-BY-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons)

Funny story. Thursday was grocery shopping day for me when we lived in Maryland, and one week, there was a snowstorm predicted for Friday. I braved the store anyway, and actually we were a little low on TP, so I headed for that aisle.

When I got there, a dozen or so people were staring at bare shelves, with bewildered and anxious expressions on their faces. Surely the store hadn’t sold out of the golden sheets this early in the panic!

Then a store employee walked past. “Hey, didn’t you all see the big display up front. We moved it up by the door.” No, apparently most of us were busily checking our lists or something, not expecting our local grocer to be quite that blatantly mercenary.

I pushed my cart up front and nabbed a precious 4-pack, then went home and reassured my houseplants that their leaves were safe, for now.

We’ve since retired to Florida, but we’re not immune to the hysteria mongering down here. Oh Lordy, there’s a tropical storm headed for the coast. Everybody panic! No, just put away your porch furniture, and to be on the safe side, your grill, because it’s gonna be kind of windy for the next day or two.

In the media’s search for the next big story, they’ve turned this country into the land of fear!

Despite what you see on the evening news, the world is not coming to an end, and you probably don’t need to buy more toilet paper. But you might want to water your houseplants, just in case.

photo by Luis Fernández García CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

photo by Luis Fernández García CC-BY-SA 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

What about you? What has the media made you unduly afraid of in recent times?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

WORD!!

 

image by Vicious Speed, public domain, Wikimedia Commons

image by Vicious Speed, public domain, Wikimedia Commons

by Kassandra Lamb

There’s this thing going around where, in lieu of new year’s resolutions, people pick one word to represent their hopes and goals for 2016.

One word? Seriously? I never say anything in just one word.

But hey, I’m game to try. The first word that came to mind was “Wow!” But that was probably a better word for 2015 than 2016. This past year, my books did particularly well. And I started getting emails, several a week, from readers who had just discovered my Kate Huntington books. I love, love, love hearing from readers!!

Plus my husband and I checked a big item off of our bucket list. We spent over three weeks in Hawaii!

Rd to Hana trop garden 2b

view from a tropical garden in Maui

So 2015 was definitely a Wow year.

I also got an idea for a new series that I’m so excited about, plus a couple other projects I’ll tell you about in a moment.

So I think the word for 2016 is going to be “Possibilities.” So many possibilities are opening up this year, not just for me but for several of our misterio press authors.

Shannon Esposito and Kirsten Weiss both started new series in 2015, and will have some additions to those coming out this year. And Kathy Owen and Vinnie Hansen are also toying with some new ideas.

Book 1 in my new series is with beta readers and I’m getting good feedback. (Phew! It’s always such a relief to hear that a story isn’t the pure crap you fear it will be. 🙂 ) This winter, I’ll also be publishing a guide book for novice authors, hoping I can help them avoid some of the pitfalls and potholes I stumbled into on my journey.

And I may write another non-fiction book in 2016. Not sure yet about that project, so I’ll just leave it at that for now. And of course, there will be new installments in my on-going fiction series, the Kate Huntington mysteries and the Kate on Vacation cozies.

As for this blog, honestly, I’m starting to run out of ideas. I blog mainly about psychology and I’ve run through most of the topics I think are important.

image by Khaydock, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

image by Khaydock, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

So I’ll open it up to you all. What questions do you have about psychology? Please email me at lambkassandra3 @gmail.com if there’s a topic you’d like me to address. Put “psychology question” in the subject line and let me know what’s on your mind. I’ll do my best to answer everyone’s questions as promptly as I can.

How about you? Do you have a Word for 2016?

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Doggy Drama

by Kassandra Lamb

I haven’t been on social media much lately. I haven’t gotten much writing done either. We’ve had quite a bit of drama at our house the last few weeks, related to dogs.

First, our totally lovable, ten-year-old Alaskan Husky/Shepherd mix died. Rather suddenly–she was only sick for three days. I’ve never had a dog go that quickly. It was a shock, as well as very sad.

Amelia, last spring

Amelia, last spring — Note the high, solid fence and big yard; they will be significant later.

And the timing couldn’t have been worse. My husband was leaving the next day for Paris–just five days after the terrorist attacks there–to present at a conference.

I’m thinking, “Oh goody, I get to stay home, all alone, and grieve and worry.”

So even though I knew it was too soon, I went to the animal shelter to check out the adoptable dogs. It was definitely too soon. I was too heart-sore to feel anything for even the cutest of them.

The adoption coordinator suggested I foster a young dog who was waiting for heartworm treatment. Perfect solution! I’d have a dog companion while hubs was away, but I hadn’t committed to loving the little guy until death do us part.

Where hubs was hanging out while I was chasing a rambunctious puppy.

Where hubs was hanging out while I was chasing a rambunctious puppy.

Well, he turned out to be a handful and a half. He definitely kept me too busy to worry for the two weeks hubs was overseas.

Wednesday I took him back to the shelter for his treatment to begin, and while I was there I made the mistake of popping over to the kennels to see the new arrivals. Guess what, not too heart-sore anymore! (Although I’m still grieving my sweet Amelia).

This guy seemed perfect. He was two years old–so not such a rambunctious puppy–and absolutely gorgeous, with a shiny, copper-colored coat. The right size (medium), with short hair (not so many hair balls gathering in the corners–Yay!), and a calm, friendly disposition.

DSC02322

Our new Redbone Coon Hound/Retriever mix–too bright for his own good!

He’s got just one teensy, weensy flaw.

He’s an escape artist!

We now have two pet gates, one above the other, blocking him from going into the rooms with the antiques (until we’re sure he won’t chew or pee on them). The first gate we put up, just one layer deep, he jumped repeatedly.

The newest in dog lover decor!

The latest in dog lover decor!

 

 

But he didn’t quite clear it, so things would go flying on the other side as he landed all skiddleywampus.

The first morning after we brought him home, hubs put him out to do his business in our big backyard, with its six-foot high, solid wood privacy fence. When hubs went out ten minutes later to bring him back in, the dog was gone!

The mutt was two doors down, checking out a neighbor’s garage. Turns out he’d dug a hole under the fence, in less than ten minutes!!

So now he’s on a tether to do his business, while I strive to make the fence dig-proof. I have now spent three days of my life and several hundred dollars on this effort, and I’m not done yet. I had to cut all our bushes back away from the fence first, so I could work in there to lay down wire mesh two feet out from the bottom of the fence, then cover it with heavy, paving stones. As an added deterrent, I’m sprinkling everything with cayenne pepper.

My vet suggested I just try the cayenne pepper around the fence line first. Ha! She does not know this dog.

While I was outside working today, I had him on his tether so he could watch me. He has separation anxiety from being abandoned, so he’s not happy unless I’m in sight. (What he doesn’t get is that his owners didn’t abandon him. I suspect they just stopped tracking him down when he got out of their fence for the umpteenth time and ran off!)

So while we’re out there, he figured out how to get out of his harness. He goes to the end of the tether, faces the post it’s tied to, ducks his head and pulls back as hard as he can. The strap around his middle (that hooks snugly BEHIND his legs) pulls forward over his head, and he steps out of it.

I watched him do it–TWICE, with two different harnesses.

I came in tonight, when it was finally too dark to work any longer, and hubs said, “Why are you doing this? Is it worth it?”

My immediate answer was “Good question!” (BTW, hubs would be helping, but he’s in the end of semester crunch with his classes.)

But then my inquisitive little psychologist’s brain got to chewing on that question. Why was I going to such great lengths for this dog?

The answer, for me at least, is that dogs are the world’s best companions. They will hang out with you, offering total unconditional love, asking only that you feed them, pet them and play with them occasionally. They are the definition of “loyal friend.” (They’re actually pretty loyal even if you don’t pet or play that often, say when you are in the throes of a writing jag because your muse has gone into overdrive. 😀 )

The bottom line is if I send this loving, otherwise great dog back to the shelter, he will end up dead. If we can’t contain him with a six-foot fence (did I mention he’s also a jumper?) then who can? He’ll either end up euthanized as unadoptable or he’ll be road kill.

Doesn't he look innocent?

Doesn’t he look innocent? You notice he’s always lying down when inside; that’s his fiendish plot to fool you into thinking he’s a sedate dog.

Not acceptable for such a wonderful fur baby.

So say a little prayer that wire plus stones plus cayenne pepper keeps him contained. I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, I had named him Cody, but he really doesn’t answer to it yet. I’m considering changing his name to Houdini.

How about you?

Are you an animal person? Do you have fur babies you’d go out of the way to keep safe?

Oh, one of our authors, Vinnie Hansen, has a giveaway going on for her book, Death with Dessert, that is about to be re-released under the misterio press imprint. I’ve read this book and it is GREAT!! So hop on over to Goodreads and check it out. Hope you win a copy!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Oh, Another Thing… (And Hawaii Pics!)

by Kassandra Lamb

I love that famous line of Colombo’s: “Oh, one more thing…”

Actually today I have two things to mention.

One, I’m over at Barb Taub’s place today, talking about the psychology of travel, and finally sharing some pics from our big bucket-list trip to Hawaii.

South of Kailua Kaiwi Overlook 6 Oahu

 

(Including this one; I call it my Medusa look.)

Come on over and join the fun. Barb’s a hoot!!

 

 

Two, please check out our Halloween post from Saturday for some trick-or-treat nostalgia.

11700834_10207866511490704_3801784215681188918_o

Aww, he’s soooo cute!!!!

 

Are You More a Trickster or a Treatee? (and a new release!)

created on tagul.com

word cloud created on tagul.com

For Halloween this year, we asked our authors to share some childhood memories, specifically to answer this question:

Which did you prefer, playing tricks or getting treats? Here are their answers.

Kirsten Weiss:

I was too busy scavenging candy to play any Halloween pranks. Trick time = less treat gathering time, though the folks who gave out raisin boxes on Halloween definitely deserved some payback.

I mean, seriously? We’re going to be healthy tonight? I don’t think so.

Given my candy maximization focus, it’s weird that the treat that always delighted me most in my pillowcase full of loot was Smarties. I think they’re basically sugar + fruit acid, so I’m not sure why I find them so appealing. Plus, they’re super small. Purely from a mercenary perspective, I should have been going for the full-sized candy bars. But nope, it was always Smarties, followed by their tangier cousin, Sweet Tarts.

Smarties (R)

Smarties (R)

Kassandra Lamb:

When I was a kid, I loved trick-or-treating, but not so much for the candy. I was more into the costumes, and the excitement of being out after dark without adult supervision. This was back in the days when parents naively thought kids were safe in their own neighborhoods. I was allowed to go out with just my older brother to look out for me.

My mom made our costumes and they were pretty neat. Often she came up with some theme, like Lone Ranger and Tonto (I was younger so guess who was saying Kimesabe).

I'm the one in the middle with the dorky clown hat. And no, my mother didn't let us go out alone when we were this small; that was later when we were in elementary school.

I’m the one in the middle with the dorky clown hat; big brother’s to the right. (Don’t know who the kid hogging the limelight in front of me is. And no, my mother didn’t let us go out alone when we were this small; that was later, when we were in elementary school.)

When I was a teenager, and my brother was now beyond such juvenile pursuits as trick-or-treat, I went in more for tricks. My friends and I would come up with excuses to get out of the house (collecting for charities was my favorite, and I did collect money for them, but I did so after school before my parents got home so I could go wild that night). Looking back our “tricks” were pretty lame. Mostly we rang doorbells and then ran. Occasionally we toilet-papered the trees in people’s front yards. Again, the appeal was mostly about the forbidden fruit of being out after dark, footloose and fancy-free of adult supervision.

Vinnie Hansen:

My brothers pulled legendary Halloween pranks like moving an outhouse to the downtown hill. But I was a good kid, hustling to Mrs. Wampler’s house because she gave out full-sized Hershey’s bars. I also liked homemade treats such as candy apples.

photo by photogmateo CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons

photo by photogmateo CC-BY 2.0

Mrs. McKay gave out popcorn balls. She may have been a teacher, but she didn’t get the concept of Halloween. When you rang her bell and said, “Trick or treat?” she said, “Trick,” and she expected you to do a trick to receive her treat.

I went into her carpeted living room and stood on my head. I guess she deemed that satisfactory because I received a popcorn ball wrapped all fancy in colored cellophane.

K.B. Owen:

I don’t have much memory of Halloween as a kid, because I was usually sick with asthma during that time of year (I remember one Halloween in the hospital, all us kids were given paper grocery bags, markers, and scissors to make masks). I carved my first pumpkin at age 22.

11700834_10207866511490704_3801784215681188918_oSo for me, the fun of Halloween really got going with my kids! And we’ve had a grand time: making a PVC skeleton we put out every year, concocting decadent goodies, and yes…carving pumpkins! Here’s one of my fave pics, of my now-14-year-old, getting in on our pumpkin-carving action by sampling the goods.

Shannon Esposito:

Trick-or-treating in rural Pennsylvania meant my parents had to drive us around in the car because the houses were miles apart. It was always freezing anyway, so the heater was welcomed. Needless to say, we didn’t get much candy, but we didn’t mind because one of the houses belonged to the Sarrises. They own Sarris Candies, which makes the best chocolate in the world (OK, maybe just in the US). Every year they gave out pure chocolate suckers shaped like pumpkins, cats, ghosts… whatever, it didn’t matter. They were all delicious.

And if you were lucky, there were enough costume-clad kids that you could sneak back around and snag another one. Often they would recognize you and give you a stern look, but it was worth the try.

They don’t know it, but they’re responsible for one of my favorite family traditions: On Easter and birthdays, our family members send each other Sarris chocolates. A piece of childhood wrapped in chocolate. Nothing sweeter.

photo by The Culinary Geek of Chicago, CC-BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

photo by The Culinary Geek of Chicago, CC-BY 2.0

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYONE!

How about you? Did you prefer tricking or treating as a kid?

Or do you still go trick-or-treating as an adult? (I know some people who do.)

 

Please check out Kirsten Weiss’s new release, the grand finale of the Riga Hayworth series. Her books are pretty spooky. They make great Halloween reads!!

Also, she’s having a Halloween blog party today. Check it out for more fun Halloween posts!!

THE HERMETIC DETECTIVE, A Riga Hayworth Mystery

A Monstrous Assassin. A Metaphysical Detective.

Housebound with five-month-old twins, Riga Hayworth just wants to get back in the metaphysical detecting game. But when she’s called to help an elderly woman, haunted and alone, a deadly threat follows Riga home. Can Riga prevent a tragedy and protect her family?

The Hermetic Detective is the seventh and final book in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mystery novels. Buy this book to finish the epic series today.

Amazon    Kobo    Nook

Kirsten Weiss worked for fourteen years in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives. She is the author of The Metaphysical Detective mystery series and the Sensibility Grey steampunk mysteries.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb on behalf of the whole gang. We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

The Golden Donut Award

by Vinnie Hansen

In August I received the “coveted” Golden Donut.

Vinnie golden donut award DSCN0524Sounds like something invented by a cop, right? It is. The Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) awards the Golden Donut.

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews of the WPA, held this year in Appleton, Wisconsin at the new Fox Valley Technical College Public Safety Training Center.

The WPA is a small conference (300 attendees this year) at which law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMTs work hands on with writers who are eager to get their facts straight. Writers learn to handcuff, lift prints, and shoot. They examine blood splatter, practice takedowns, and visit a jail and a morgue. All kinds of fun stuff.

Although attending WPA ranks high on my bucket list, this year I was not able to attend.

However, I did enter the WPA’s writing contest, which is open to non-attendees. The contest starts with a photo prompt. Here is this year’s image:

Vinnie story prompt2012-06-09_14-02-08_578The scene in the image must play a vital part in the storyline. Stories must also be exactly 200 words—not 199 or 201. If a submission doesn’t follow the rules, well . . . this is a contest run by law enforcement!

However, the final judge this year was Sara Gruen *swoon*. I’m doubly honored that she is the one who chose my story “Bad Connection” as the winner of the coveted Golden Donut. For those who don’t know, Sara Gruen is the author of Water for Elephants.

So, without further ado, here is my 200-word story inspired by the two gravestones in the photo.

Bad Connection

Adam and Bette talked via identical tin cans. The connective wire snaked out Adam’s bedroom, across the bare side yards, and in through Bette’s window. In the cookie-cutter houses, their bedrooms matched like shoes.

When they were seven, Adam announced: “We’re going to get married.”

The words vibrated over to Bette’s heart.

“And be together forever!”

Their childhood conversations grew into teenaged angst on house phones, and years into their marriage, continued on mobile phones. Then their voices became texts:

On way home Bette thumbed.
R U txtng & drvng?
Tht’s life.
Me 2 Adam wrote.
Txtng & drvng?
Idiot. 🙂 On way home.
Turnng off Rdrx. She wrote.
Ha! Turnng Frtge Rd
Race? Bette stomped the pedal, knowing Adam’s response as though linked still by a tremolo of wire.

Rotten egg? He barreled down the street.
U R on.

Adam and Bette startled at the other’s mass of metal rocketing toward them, as though God had yanked the string on a pair of nunchuks. They collided head-on, the cars smashed like recycled soup cans.

Now they lie side by side in matched containers, calling to each other across a narrow passage of dirt.

You can check out some of the runner-up stories over at the WPA site.

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her cozy noir mystery series, the Carol Sabala mysteries, is set in Santa Cruz, California.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

Can We Go Home Again?

by Kassandra Lamb

“You can’t go home again.” That phrase has become iconic. (It’s actually the title of a 1940’s novel by Thomas Wolfe, published posthumously by his editor — I looked it up.)

The question of whether or not we can “go home again” has been on my mind lately, ever since we returned from our annual summer sojourn to my native Maryland.

Leaving the harbor at Rock Hall, Maryland

The harbor in Rock Hall, Maryland

It was a good vacation. Unlike some previous visits, nothing drastic went wrong (if you don’t count the broken crown on my tooth the day before we were to return to Florida). Nobody got sick, no vehicles broke down or had flat tires, and all scheduled get-togethers with friends and family went off without a hitch.

We even survived babysitting our two rambunctious grandsons so our son and daughter-in-law could have a mini-getaway to celebrate their tenth anniversary (OMG, I’m old!)

Nonetheless we came home feeling like we might not be doing this quite the same in the future–not in the same way nor for quite so long. Until two summers ago, we owned a summer home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We sold it because it became a maintenance headache. The last two summers, we’ve rented a house there. It’s a very nice house and we’ve enjoyed our stays in it.

IMG_7910_tn

Our home away from home is the one with the van in the driveway.

But still, it’s expensive, and, well, you can’t completely go home again.

Things change over time.

The landscape is different. Houses have sprung up where cows used to graze. Businesses you frequented in the past have moved or gone bankrupt.

And people change too. Some friendships have waned, not able to survive long-distance status.

Others have, interestingly enough, become stronger. We savor our time together, knowing it is limited now.

We still enjoyed our authentic Maryland crab cakes (those produced elsewhere are never quite the same) and the mouth-watering sweetness of Silver Queen corn. But sadly the ice cream parlor on the corner of Sharp and Main Streets has lost a lot of business to the young upstart down the street with the clever title of “Get The Scoop” (they promise “from the cow to you in 48 hours”). We must confess that we probably added to the old ice cream parlor’s demise by “getting the scoop” quite a few times while in town; their ice cream really is delicious.

And we had two lovely sunset sails on the Chesapeake Bay with charter boat captain, Mark and his first mate (and wife), Suzanne. They were a delight as always.

But even they are talking about retiring in another couple of years.

Captain Mark

Captain Mark

 

 

 

 

 

My sister-in-law enjoying a complimentary margarita.

My sister-in-law enjoying a complimentary margarita.

Still, the drive on I-95 has become more challenging every year.

And really the bottom line is that WE have changed. We’ve pulled up our roots that were planted in Maryland for so long and have sunk them into the sandy soil of Florida.

(photo by Geoff Gallice CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

(photo by Geoff Gallice CC-BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

The Sunshine State is home now.

And while it’s good to visit the people we care about in Maryland, can we really go home again?

Probably not, because after a while, it’s just not home anymore.

But we can still enjoy visiting.

How about you? Where do you call home? How successful have you been at “going home again” to your childhood home?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

“Survivor”–Sisters in Crime version

Vinnie Hansen is starting off our August blog schedule with a bang today, with her own version of a reality show. And she’s got some really BIG news to share!

Shh, not until the end of the post though. But it’s definitely something she can BRAG about.

“Survivor”

by Vinnie Hansen DSCN0415What would happen if a villain dropped one of our protagonists into the wilderness? How would our heroine survive?

That question and a love for camaraderie propelled 13 brave members of my Sisters in Crime chapter to attend a Wilderness Survival Camp.

Dan, our fearless leader

Dan, our fearless leader

We met our fearless leader Dan, a consultant to various reality television shows, in the redwood forest of a private vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The first rule for survival is: Don’t Panic.

Air is our most essential element. We can live for only a few minutes without it. Adrenaline sucks up oxygen.

Lack of oxygen can make our limbs go numb and our brain lose perspective. Perfectly outfitted hikers have been found dead in the wilderness because they became disoriented, forgetting where they set their pack or the direction back to their shelter.

After some deep breathing, the sacred order for survival is:

1. shelter
2. water
3. fire
4. food

Before our training, I thought water was the most important concern, but a person can go for days without water. Exposure, not dehydration, is the leading cause of death in the wilderness. Shelter allows one to thermo regulate, which conserves water, and protects against heat or cold.

Dan divided us into three teams, and after a brief lesson set us off to build shelters given the materials at hand. Some simple rules: create plenty of insulation under and around the body, and create a small area of dead air space for one’s body heat to warm. In other words, the shelter should be a snug fit.

DSCN0420 shelterHere’s what my team built. Dan tested the shelter by standing on top of it. All three teams built “tents” that withstood his test

Next we tackled finding water, easy in our spot with a river flowing below us. But even in the desert water exists. Look for the lowest point, signs of vegetation, and animal tracks. Animals have to drink! Even butterflies and bees need water. You can collect water by running your shirt through dew points.

If you have a choice, choose running water over still water, and water that supports algae and tadpoles over water that appears devoid of life.

Boil if possible. We learned how to rock boil water even without a pot.

That brings us to fire.

Dan showing our Sister in Crime Jenny Carless how to make a friction fire.

Dan showing our Sister in Crime Jenny Carless how to make a friction fire.

Making friction fire is an arduous task, involving many steps. Nonetheless, a couple of my sisters did create fire before our camp ended, lifting them to goddess status.

Most of us left vowing to carry matches–everywhere.

Jenny, aka the SiN Fire Goddess

Jenny, aka the SinC Fire Goddess

 

 

 

One participant already reported back that the TSA allows one book of matches.

This was a rewarding experience even if not a single detail finds its way into one of my mysteries. I came home exhausted, but in the way one does after a day outdoors in the sun with a lot of good friends.

Have you ever taken any survival training? How well do you think you’d do out in the wilderness on your own?

BLACK-BEANS-&-VENOM w BRAG medallion

And now the news… Drumroll please. Black Beans and Venom, the most recent book in my Carol Sabala mystery series has won a B.R.A.G. medallion.

This honor is bestowed on top quality indie books by the Book Readers Appreciation Group, and I’m thrilled to have received it. Check out the gold medallion that now adorns the book cover. 😀

 

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her cozy noir mystery series, the Carol Sabala mysteries, is set in Santa Cruz, California.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )