Tag Archives: boxed set

Six-Degrees to Success

by Vinnie Hansen

Authors, even well known ones, can find themselves at events where few people attend. I once did a book talk and signing with the famous Laurie R. King at a local bookstore. The audience was fewer than a dozen people.

Laurie King and Vinnie

Laurie R. King and me

It’s comforting at such moments to remember the six-degrees-of-separation theory–that everyone is connected, by six or fewer steps, with everyone else. A friend of a friend of a friend knows your friend… At some events, we might not sell a single book, but who knows where the connections might lead.

This year, I was invited to join in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries, a boxed set of 10 full-length books featuring murder and assorted mayhem by 10 authors. The collection offers 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuths, capers, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars!

I am not nearly as well known as the other authors in this collection. I can only speculate how my name was thrown into the hat for this great, good fortune.

I could have been chosen for my scintillating personality. However, I suspect the invitation arose from my participation in some past event.

Sleuthing Women boxed set cover

There’s my Murder, Honey, all the way to the right

The initial contact about the boxed set came from Camille Minichino, a fellow member of the Northern California Chapter of Sisters in Crime. We first did an event together back in 2005, a book-signing fundraiser for a high school library! So maybe this current opportunity was set in motion on that long ago, and long April afternoon.

While Camille informed me of the project, if I were to lay a bet on how I came to be accepted in Sleuthing Women, it would be that I guest-blogged—twice—on Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, the site of Lois Winston, organizer of the boxed set. I wrote decent pieces, met my deadlines, and persuaded others to visit the posts.

Guest blogging can seem like a dead-end with no obvious sales bump. On the other hand, in this case my participation may have pushed the first domino that led to my inclusion in Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries.

To go back to that sparsely attended high-school fundraiser, I shared a table that afternoon with Cara Black. Cara later became a very well known mystery writer, who supplied me with a blurb that I use on everything.

I could list for pages, the lackluster events that manifested valuable friendships and worthwhile connections. So even on those rainy evening book talks with five people in the audience, I give my all. You just never know which of those people might know someone who knows someone….

What about you–have you ever had some seemingly mundane connection lead to something bigger? Do you believe in the six-degrees-of-separation theory?

Available now for just $2.99 on  AMAZON    APPLE    KOBO    BARNES & NOBLE

Sleuthing Women: 10 First-in-Series Mysteries is a collection of 10 full-length mysteries featuring murder and assorted mayhem by 10 critically acclaimed, award-winning, and bestselling authors. Each novel in this set is the first book in an established multi-book series–a total of over 3,000 pages of reading pleasure for lovers of amateur sleuth, caper, and cozy mysteries, with a combined total of over 1700 reviews on Amazon, averaging 4 stars.

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. 🙂 )

Bah Humbug Deux

Most of us here at misterio are running around like crazy, doing last minute tasks required to launch new books before Christmas. So I thought this would be a good time to re-run a post from last year. It’s about how to cope with the holidays if you are a bah humbug person who really doesn’t like Christmas.

I hate to say it since I love the holiday myself, but Christmas is not for everyone. Some people just barely tolerate it, some flat out hate it and some find it incredibly depressing. And the fact that everybody else is so gleefully looking forward to it just makes their lack of pleasure in it that much more pronounced.

Is blue your favorite color for Christmas lights?

If you dislike Christmas, or know someone who does, here are some tips for handling the Christmas Blues.

#1: Stop feeling bad about not liking Christmas. And especially stop feeling bad about yourself for feeling that way. First of all, you can’t control how you feel, only how you act (I know I do harp on this idea, but it’s true!)

Secondly, I am quite sure you came by your negative feelings about Christmas quite honestly. Perhaps you’re not as fond of Christmas as you once were because the people you once shared it with are gone. Even though I still love Christmas, I don’t get nearly as excited about it as I once did. It’s never been quite the same since my mother died. I didn’t realize how much her enthusiasm was the driving force behind everyone else’s pleasure, not until after she was gone. I’ve had to adjust to the new normal for the holidays, that I am now the matriarch of the family. *shudder*

Or perhaps there are unpleasant associations to it because of experiences from your past. You are not alone. There’s a reason why “A Dysfunctional Family Christmas” is one of Saturday Night Live’s all-time favorite skits.

#2: Establish new holiday traditions that feel right for you and your family.

This really helped a friend of mine overcome his bah humbug reaction to Christmas. He grew up with an alcoholic and abusive father. The holidays were just an opportunity and excuse for his father to get more drunk, more often which totally tainted all the Christmas traditions for my firend.

When his children were young, my friend and his wife started a new tradition. The family would go together to a nearby cut-your-own tree farm to pick out a tree. It became quite a ritual. The kids would spend an hour or more running around, trying to decide on just the right tree. Once it was cut down and paid for, while the tree farm staff tied it to the roof of their car, they would huddle around drinking hot cider and trying to decide if this year’s tree was better than last year’s.

Now the decorated tree didn’t remind him of his parents fighting anymore. It reminded him of the fun his own family had picking this tree out.

If you don’t have a family and/or it’s impractical to be with family who live far away, this may very well be why you aren’t all that into the holiday. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, you are being bombarded with images of happy families celebrating, while you’re looking forward to a lonely day.

#3: One approach can be to think of the Christmas holiday as just another day or two off from work, like Memorial Day weekend or Veterans’ Day. Breathe a sigh of relief that you have the time off and do what you would with any other day off. Lay around the house in your jammies and read a good book, or even catch up on household chores or gardening.

#4: Travel. If you’re part of a couple but neither of you feel strongly about Christmas with your extended families, give each other a nice vacation, like a four-day cruise (or longer if you can afford it) to the Bahamas. If you’re single, find a friend or acquaintance in the same boat (no pun intended) and take that cruise, or go skiing in Colorado for a long weekend.

#5: An old standby is to volunteer at a senior center or soup kitchen serving Christmas dinner to those less fortunate. This can provide a sense of camaraderie and belonging with your fellow volunteers as well as a sense of satisfaction in the altruistic task.

#6: If dealing with extended family is what makes Christmas so hard, you can do one of several things. One option, if you’re not up for a family scene because you just didn’t show up, is to officially declare either Christmas Eve, or maybe the weekend before or after Christmas as your Christmas. Then Christmas Day itself becomes just another obligatory visit with the annoying relatives. (You may notice that nowhere in the Bible is the date of Christ’s birth mentioned. Biblical scholars don’t believe Jesus was actually born on December 25th; this date was chosen by the early Church of Rome because it was a pagan holiday they were trying to supplant.)

If you’re single, perhaps you have a circle of friends with whom you are closer than you are with your family? Then make them your ‘family of choice’ to celebrate the holiday with. Again, you may want to do this on a different day, so everybody can appease their biological families by showing up for turkey. But in your mind, make the day you gather with friends your “real” Christmas.

#7: Keep in mind that it’s one lousy day out of the year and this too shall pass! Again, it’s okay to not like Christmas.

#8: Adding a new item this year. If you hate to shop and that is bumming you out this time of year, here are some ideas to make life easier. Focus on online shopping; it’s still shopping but without the crowds and you can do it in your jammies. 🙂 Also consider taking a friend or family member out to lunch or to a fun event as a present. Gift cards may seem impersonal but if it’s to the person’s favorite day spa, or for books for an avid reader, that can make it special.

Think about gift ideas that are easy for you and yet the person will indeed enjoy the gift. I have a friend who hates to shop but she’s a fabulous cook. I asked her to bake me something yummy this year since I’m not much of a cook. A win-win!

If you happen to have mystery or pet lovers on your list, we can make life easier for you. Check out these two posts: Shannon Esposito’s Five Holiday Gift Ideas for Pet Lovers and K.B. Owen’s Cyber Monday for Mystery Lovers (and check out our boxed set below; it’s on sale this week!)

Women of Mystery boxed set cover

 

Three great mysteries, just 99 CENTS for a limited time.

Available at AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and KOBO

Volume 2 will be out NEXT WEEK!

 

 

Are you a bah humbugger or do you love Christmas? Do you know someone who struggles with depression or loneliness over the holidays?

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

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 harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

The Secret Ingredient–Some Autumn and Holiday Treats

Every few weeks, the misterio press authors do a joint post. Today, we thought we’d share some of our favorite stick-to-your-ribs, cold weather dishes and some ideas for holiday meals and treats.

We’ll start off with Kathy Owen, whose cooking skills make me absolutely green with envy. I can’t wait to try this recipe, an easy meal you can throw together on a  busy day. (Easy is my favorite word when it comes to cooking. 🙂 )

some of the ingredientsSo here’s Kathy with her Crockpot Beef:

Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onion*
1 cup chopped celery*
1/2 cup chopped peppers*
(*I use already chopped veggies from the supermarket’s salad bar, or the freezer section.)
30 oz tomato sauce
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 cup water
3.5 lb eye round or rump roast (I used two small ones, adding up to about 4 lbs)
2 or more cloves of garlic, minced (I use the already-minced stuff in the jar.  See a theme here?)
ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Mix veggies together, and spread half of the mixture in the bottom of crockpot.  Set the other half aside for the moment.

2. Season roast(s) with garlic and black pepper.  I just use a fork; it’s awkward no matter how you do it.  Don’t worry if some garlic falls off.

2 small roasts, seared3.  Sear roast(s) on all sides in a heated pan or skillet with a little oil, until they look something like this.

4. Then plunk those little cuties in the crockpot, on top of the veggies. Put the rest of the veggie mixture on top of the roast(s).

5. Pour all of the liquid ingredients on top of that (no need to mix them; just splash them in).

Finished dish

6. Cover and set on HIGH for 6-8 hours.  The house will smell soooo good.  Be prepared for major stomach-rumbling.

7.  Then, it’s time to shred!  What I like to do is spoon the liquid into a separate receptacle temporarily, then use two forks to pull the meat apart right in the crockpot.

8. Pour the liquid back in, stir, and serve over rice or noodles.

Kass here again. While we’re on the subject of easy, I’ll throw in my contribution. This recipe actually comes from my cousin who is a fab cook. This is a variation on a popular holiday side dish that I just love.

Cranberry Yams: (NOTE: This makes a lot, so if you’re feeding a smaller group, you might want to halve everything.)

Ingredients:
2 large or 3 medium-sized cans (45-50 oz.) of yams (in their own juice, not candied)
1 ½ cans (16 oz.) apricot halves
½ can of whole cranberry sauce (or 1 cup fresh cranberries)
3 tbs. light brown sugar
2 tbs. cornstarch
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup golden raisins

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Drain juice from yams and arrange in one layer in large casserole dish.
3.  Drain apricots, saving the liquid. Set it aside. Place apricots between the yams. Spread cranberries on top.
4.  Add enough water to apricot liquid to make 1 ½ cups.
5.  In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in the liquid. Add golden raisins.
6.  Bring to a boil, stirring often. Syrup should thicken.
7.  Pour syrup over the yams, etc. and bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 10-12 servings. And you can make it the day before, but allow more time for heating it through when it comes out of the fridge. It’s probably got a thousand calories per serving but I try to focus on all the good vitamins, minerals and fiber from the fruits and yams.

For a more health-conscious side dish here’s Shannon Esposito with another recipe easy enough even I can make it.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole:spaghetti squash casserole
Microwave 1 spaghetti squash for 12 minutes, then shred it.

Chop and saute the following:
2 carrots
1 zucchini
1 red pepper
garlic

Mix in 1 jar of Trader Joe’s marina sauce,
1 box of Trader Joe’s turkey bolognese,
1/2 pack shredded mozzarella.

Bake @ 350 for 30 min.

(You can substitute any marina sauce & plain ground turkey but it won’t taste as good, says the Trader Joe junkie that I am)

And now here’s Catie Rhodes with another holiday classic.

Southern Sausage-Cornbread Stuffing:

 What you need:
1 lb. ground pork sausage (I buy Jimmy Dean “hot.”)
2 medium white onions chopped*
4 stalks celery chopped*
6 cups cornbread crumbled (two envelopes of cornbread “mix” prepared will yield 6 cups.)
3 cups white bread cubes toasted (6 slices of bread will yield 3 cups of cubes)
2 tsp. rubbed sage
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
4 cups chicken broth (If you don’t make homemade broth and reserve it for stuff like this, buy chicken bullion cubes. That way you always have enough.)
4 large eggs, slightly beaten (2 for the cornbread)

[*Celery and Onion Note: If you have a food processor, I recommend processing your onion and celery until nearly smooth. People seem to like this recipe better when it doesn’t have chunks of onion and celery.]

How you do it:
1.  Prepare cornbread according to mix instructions.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3.  Cook sausage, onion, celery in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring and breaking up sausage as it cooks. When sausage is cooked through and celery and onions are soft, you may drain grease. (I don’t drain my grease.)
4.  In a large bowl, combine cornbread, bread cubes, sage, salt, and pepper. Stir well, making sure cornbread is crumbled. Stir in sausage mixture. Add broth and eggs. Stir well.
5.  Spoon mixture into greased 13″x9″x2″ baking dish.
6.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. When top is lightly brown, stuffing is ready to eat.

Yields 9 cups. (And there will be NO leftovers, I guarantee it.)

[Note: You can prepare this the day before and refrigerate it overnight. If you do this, it’s going to need at least an hour in the oven. Also, have some extra chicken broth on hand. Sometimes it can get dry.]

And for dessert, (here comes my favorite word again, ‘easy’)…

Also from Catie — Quick & Easy Pumpkin Pie 

This was my mother-in-law’s pumpkin pie recipe. It makes two pies, but I usually half it and make only one pie. This is an old fashioned recipe and is not as sweet (and decadent) as most modern recipes. To me, that’s part of its charm; however, I understand most people like knock-your-socks-off-sweet at holiday time.

pumpkin pie surrounded by pumpkinsWhat You Need:
1 can (29 oz.) pumpkin (15 oz. can works for 1 pie)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
2 Nine Inch Pie Shells

(I make my own pie crusts. They’re delicious, and it’s nowhere near as hard as it sounds. For a tutorial, click here. This tutorial shows you how to make two pie crusts. I usually freeze one and use it later.)

What You Do:
(You don’t need an electric mixer for this recipe. I use a fork to beat the eggs and a spoon to mix the rest.)
1.  Preheat over to 400º F.
2.  In a large bowl, mix eggs and milk until eggs are slightly beaten.
3.  Add other ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shells.
4.  Bake 1 hour at 400º F.

(After the first ten minutes of baking, you’ll want to cover the crust edges with foil or a crust cover so they don’t burn. Here’s a link showing you how to make a crust cover out of tin foil, which is handy because those store-bought crust covers often don’t fit.)

piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream

photo by Johnny CC-BY-SA 2.0, wikimedia commons

If you’re really feeling ambitious, here’s Kathy Owen again with  Spiced Whipped Topping for that pumpkin pie.

Mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp nutmeg; stir in 3/4 cup heavy cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla.  CHILL FOR ONE HOUR.  Whip until stiff, and serve immediately.

And yet another treat from Kathy

Peppermint Fudge:

Ingredients:
1.5 tsp plus 1/4 cup butter (softened, divided)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
12 oz white baking chocolate, chopped
7oz jar marshmallow creme
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Directions:
1.  Line a 9 inch square pan with foil, grease foil with 1.5 tsp butter. Set aside.
2.  In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, sour cream, and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
3.  Bring to rapid boil; cook and stir until candy thermometer reads 234 degrees F (soft-ball stage).
4.  Remove from heat; stir in white chocolate and marshmallow creme until melted.  Fold in peppermint candy and extract.
5.  Pour into prepared pan. Chill until firm.
6. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan; cut into 1-inch squares. Store in refrigerator. Makes 2 pounds.

I don’t know about you all but I am now starving! LOL What’s your favorite holiday or cold weather recipe? Please share in the comments.

Women of Mystery boxed set cover

 

Oh, and here’s another holiday treat. A boxed set of three great mysteries, just $4.99 (only available for a limited time).

Available at AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, and KOBO

Volume 2 coming soon!

 

 

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. 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 harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)

Veterans, Gratitude and My Post-Menopausal Fu Manchu (plus boxed sets)

November is a crowded month. We have Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, plus another event I’ll get to in a moment.

First, a big salute and thank you to our veterans! They endure and sacrifice so much and I think everyone would agree that we should take care of their needs when they come home. Did you know that Gulf War era II (deployed since Sept, 2001) veterans’ unemployment rate, while on the decline, is still almost 3% higher than the national average? Come on, America, we can do better than that!

On a lighter note, here’s the hubs in his Army days!

young serviceman

Handsome devil, isn’t he? And dig that psychedelic, early 70’s wallpaper in the barracks. He says they only got away with that because they were deployed out in the middle of nowhere.

If you look close you’ll see the beginnings of the mustache he grew in the Army, and sported for several decades after. Which brings us to that other thing that’s happening in November.

One of my online writer friends, Susie Lindau, is a breast cancer survivor, But she hasn’t just survived and endured, she has thrived and inspired (see her Boob Reports). And now she’s participating in No Shave November or Movember, an initiative by the American Cancer Society to raise consciousness about cancer, and also money.

The idea is that you let your hair grow wherever it may–mustaches and/or beards for men, legs and/or underarms for women–and then donate what you normally spend in a month on self-grooming to the cause of fighting cancer.

I certainly plan to make a donation, but this whole thing got me thinking about menopause and hair.

After menopause, women’s hormones shift. Well, duh. You already knew that. But what you may or may not have known is that it isn’t just estrogen and progesterone that go down. Testosterone also goes down some in women post-menopause.

Wait! What? Testosterone in women? Yup, women have small amounts of testosterone produced by their ovaries and adrenal glands. This testosterone is responsible for sex drive (yay!) and body hair (nay!)

So here’s what happens hair-wise for older women like myself. Less testosterone equals less body hair. I now shave my legs every other week instead of every other day. But the little bit of testosterone we have left in our systems isn’t as cancelled out by estrogen (which discourages facial hair). So now we have hair on our chinny-chin-chins. And mustaches. Oh, goodie!

I may not have to shave as often but I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror plucking out my fu manchu, and bitching mentally about how unfair it all is.

So what hit me right between the eyes about Susie’s post was this – November is also the month of Thanksgiving, of gratitude. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I now have a mustache, I’m going to focus more on being grateful: for my health, for my wonderful family and great friends, and for not having to shave my legs all that often!

And in response to Susie’s “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours” dare, here’s my fu manchu!

Kass's photo with fu manchu mustache drawn in
Another thing we at misterio press are grateful for are our wonderful readers, and to show our gratitude we’ve put together boxed sets of some of our books for Christmas-giving ease (or your own reading pleasure). Volume 1 has just released and Volume 2 will be out in December.

Women of Mystery boxed set cover

Just $4.99 ~ three books for the price of one. Yay!!!

WOMEN of MYSTERY, Volume 1 (click on titles below to see the descriptions):

Dangerous and Unseemly, A Concordia Wells Mystery

Collateral Casualties, A Kate Huntington Mystery

The Alchemical Detective, A Riga Hayworth Mystery

Available at AMAZONBARNES & NOBLE,  and KOBO

How about you? What are you grateful for? And just how hairy can you get for a good cause?

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 (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 harvest, lend, sell or otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses.)