Tag Archives: cozy mystery

A Crime Writers Interview: Leslie Karst

Crime Writers Intro image

Prepare to have your appetite whetted, for both Leslie Karst’s books and for a good meal.

leslie karst

The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. She now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries (Dying for a Taste, A Measure of Murder, Death al Fresco), a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts.

Please help us welcome Leslie Karst!

Kass Lamb (on behalf of misterio press):  We like to start with a “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Leslie Karst:  First, that I’ve been in Santa Cruz, where my mysteries are set, since 1974. I moved here to attend college and, after one look at the towering redwoods marching down to the spectacular seaside cliffs, I knew it was where I wanted to live long term. I think of the Sally Solari series as a sort of love letter to the place.

Ziggy at the Beach

     My dog Ziggy at the beach.

Second, yes, I do have quite a bit in common with my protagonist: we’re both ex-lawyers who are obsessed with food, and we both share a love of dogs, cycling, the Giants baseball team, and opera.

But Sally is far braver than I am—perhaps even too risky. I’d never have the nerve to investigate an actual murder. (Then again, I’d make for a pretty uninteresting sleuth, as well.) And I’d never dream of running a real-life restaurant; the work is far too exhausting and takes up too much of your life. But make-believe-running one in my books is loads of fun.

Kass:  What type of mysteries do you write—cozies, traditional whodunnits, historical, etc.—and why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Dying for a Taste Cover

First book in Leslie’s series. Ebook only $1.99 on Amazon.

Leslie Karst:  My Sally Solari culinary mysteries are categorized by my publisher, Crooked Lane Books, as “cozies,” and the covers and marketing for the books reflect this. But to my mind, the series actually falls somewhere on the spectrum between cozies and what are now referred to as “traditional” mysteries. Sally can tend toward the sarcastic and has a fondness for bourbon and the occasional swear word—things not generally found in your typical cozy mystery. As a result, I like to refer to my series as “snarky cozies.”

Since I, like Sally, can also tend towards the snarky, I do love to read this subgenre (the name of which I believe I am the first to employ), and dearly wish there were more of them being published!

Kass:  Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you?

Leslie Karst:  Having worked as a research and appellate attorney for twenty years, I’d say my brain must be wired for tasks that require an attention to detail. Any good mystery story requires the careful and painstaking placing of clues and red herrings, as well as a set of characters who would make for plausible suspects—a process that requires organization and the same sort of attention to detail that my legal career required. So when I decided to try my hand at writing fiction, a mystery novel seemed the obvious choice.

But I also love how crime novels tend to incorporate subplots that are woven into the mystery and which give the reader a glimpse into some new culture or way of life. (Think of Dorothy L. Sayers’ peeks into the worlds of London advertising, bell ringing, and academia.)

Solari's Linguine with Clam Sauce karst

Solari’s Linguine with Clam Sauce

And since I’m an unabashed gourmet, I was of course drawn to the culinary mystery subgenre, where I’m able to indulge in my passion for food and cooking—the more delectably described the better.

What was your favorite book/author as a child? Why was it your favorite?

Leslie Karst:  Okay, this may be super predictable but—like countless other girls who grew up in the 1960s—as a child, I was obsessed with all things horse. So the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley were my favorites, especially the first one, which gave its name to the series. I imagine most kids, at one time or another, have a Robinson Crusoe fantasy of being stranded on a desert island with no adults around, so what could be better than doing so with a gorgeous Arabian stallion as your helpmeet and companion?

Kass:  I loved the Black Stallion books as well, and I’m still a little horse-crazy. Let’s talk a bit about your writing process. What do you find to be the most difficult part—first draft, editing, researching?

Leslie Karst:  As a writer, I’m an absolute plotter (as opposed to a “pantser”). I first come up with a basic idea, next a group of three to five suspects (one of whom will be my eventual murderer), and then a series of plot points and events that will occur during the book. But the last step of organizing these plot points into an effective story arc is by far the most difficult part of the process for me.

With A Measure of Murder, the second in the Sally Solari series, I had compiled a multiple-page list of events and occurrences that I knew I wanted in the book, but which were in a completely random order. Unable to wrap my brain around how to transform them into a workable story line, I eventually printed out the list and cut the events apart with scissors, then spread them out across the dining room table. Over a period of several days I arranged and rearranged the order of events until I had a rough outline I was happy with. I then glued them back together onto new sheets of paper. A literal cut-and-paste job!

Kass:  *smiling* Sometimes old-fashioned scissors and paste work best! In your latest story, what was your favorite (or hardest to write) scene?

Leslie Karst:  There’s a dinner party that takes place midway through my latest book, Death al Fresco. It’s hosted by Sally at her home and her best friends—recurring characters in the series—are all there. I love this scene because it incorporates two of my favorite things to write—snappy dialogue and descriptions of food and cooking.

Sally and her pals are discussing the possible suspects in the case at the heart of the story, but as they exchange comments and jokes—each trying to outdo the others with their witticisms—they savor the luscious Black Cod with Miso and Sake that Sally has prepared (recipe in the book!), washed down by a citrusy Gewürztraminer.

The only problem is that I always find myself heading to the kitchen for a snack when I write these food scenes.

Kass:  And now I want to do exactly that!  Thanks so much for joining us today, Leslie.

And there you have it, folks, a delectable series of “snarky cozies” for your reading pleasure. Feel free to ask Leslie any questions you may have in the “comments” below.

You can visit Leslie on Facebook and you can go to her author website to sign up for her newsletter—full of recipes and fun Italian facts!—and to purchase all of her books.

And here’s her newest release:

Death al Fresco, book 3 in the Sally Solari mystery series:

Death al Fresco book cover

It’s early autumn in Santa Cruz and restaurateur Sally Solari, inspired by the eye-popping canvases of Paul Gauguin, the artist for whom her restaurant is named, enrolls in a plein air painting class. But the beauty of the Monterey Bay coastline is shattered during one of their outings when Sally’s dog sniffs out a corpse entangled in a pile of kelp.

The body is identified as Gino, a local fisherman and a regular at Sally’s father’s restaurant, Solari’s, until he disappeared after dining there a few nights before. But after witnesses claim he left reeling drunk, fingers begin to point at Sally’s dad for negligently allowing the old man to walk home alone at night. From a long menu of suspects, including a cast of colorful characters who frequent the historic Santa Cruz fisherman’s wharf, Sally must serve up a tall order in order to clear her father’s name.

Available on  Amazon,   Barnes & Noble  and  Bookshop Santa Cruz

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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 Magic is in the Process

Magic writing processHey, all! Gilian here. We don’t always publish something here on our “off” weeks, but this week, you got lucky. 😉

The most common question I get as an author is “How in the world do you come up with the stories for your Jade Blackwell Mysteries series?”

I’m happy to answer the question, but I must admit that much of it is magical, and I don’t fully comprehend it myself. Cool, huh? And scary sometimes. And frustrating on occasion. And it’s always messy.

Who knew messy could be magical? Magical Writing Process

To learn about my writing process and the reason I call it magical, follow this link to my blog. You can read all about it here.

 

Stop back next week for a great post!

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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. 🙂 )

A Crime Writer Interview: Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Crime Writers Intro image

Welcome to our second Crime Writers’ Interview! Our goal is to bring to you, our readers, some new and interesting authors and books for your reading pleasure.

Because books are not toasters. We don’t just buy one every few years. They are more like clothes. (Or for some of us, food!) We need a sustainable supply.

headshot Nancy Lynn Jarvis

So please help us welcome Nancy Lynn Jarvis.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years before she fell in love with writing and let her license lapse.

She has worked in the advertising department of a newspaper, as a librarian, and as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years, a philosophy she applies to her writing, as well.

Kass Lamb (on behalf of misterio press):  We like to start with a somewhat open-ended, “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Nancy:  If there was any doubt about it before, there isn’t now: I turn seventy as my new book, “The Two-Faced Triplex” comes out, so I’m officially a geezerette. I was late to the writing party, starting the Regan McHenry Real Estate series at fifty-nine, but I love telling stories on paper so there’s no planned retirement for my writing venture.

My favorite out of the books I’ve written is not a mystery, but a comedy/commentary on the invisibility that comes to older people titled, “Mags and the AARP Gang.” I’ve also edited a cookbook, “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes.”

photo of sunrise

The view my Airbnb guests will see at sunrise.

I like new adventures, so every few years I try something different. Currently, I’ve started hosting Airbnb (yes, there will be a book about it; look for “The Truth About Hosting Airbnb” in March) and what I really want to do is start having writer retreats at my house where five or so of us writers can come together to work on our mysteries while we share creative synergy and, hopefully, have a great time

Kass:  *raising hand* Please put me down for that first retreat. That sounds amazing.

So tell us, why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?

Nancy:  I love the logic of it. It’s fun to think about the order of events and clues and it’s an enjoyable challenge revealing everything the reader needs to know to solve the mystery without revealing too much too soon.

I’m a very visual writer―I need to be able to see what I’m writing about―so I don’t think I’d be any good at science fiction, and writing romance novels simply doesn’t appeal to me.

Kass:  What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Nancy:  My mysteries fall in the cozy genre. Regan McHenry is a Realtor who gets involved in murder because of clients, colleagues, and friends.

I grew up reading Agatha Christie at my grandmother’s house while sitting in a wicker rocking chair that I still have. Miss Marple was my favorite of Dame Agatha’s protagonists and was the perfect cozy amateur sleuth, so that’s the style I chose.

Sadly, since I’ve started writing, I’ve learned how to spot a red herring from miles away and usually I’ve solved the murder by page eighty-six, so I don’t enjoy reading cozies as much now.

Kass:  Where are you in your writing career, newly published, have 20 books under your belt, or somewhere in between? Tell us a little about your stories.

book coverNancy:  “The Two-Faced Triplex” is book seven and probably the final chapter of the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series. I was a Realtor for almost twenty-five years and had many related stories to use for background material and, while I still have more ideas, the technology involved in being a Realtor today has moved beyond my remembrances of working and I worry that if I continue the series, my books will become dated.

I’m currently editing a short story anthology pertaining to Santa Cruz, California (where I live) which will be titled, “Santa Cruz Weird.”

Beyond that, I’ve already begun playing with an idea for a series called “Geezers with Tools” about two single senior men, one widowed and one who thinks he’s a player, who start a handyman business to meet women. I like older characters and want to put more humor in my books. The very title of the series is a double entendre and, in my mind, a great setup to play with. The series will still be in the cozy mystery genre. My protagonists will solve crimes that come up as they work.

Kass:  What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching? Why is that?

Nancy:  I love writing first drafts and think researching for the mysteries is fun, although it does produce some very odd offers for items for sale in my inbox, so I would have to say editing is the hardest part of writing for me.

I was fortunate enough to have a willing (well almost willing) husband who became a great beta reader and content editor who kept me on track in large part, but he died about a year-and-a-half ago. “The Two-Faced Triplex” was hard to write and especially hard to finish because I didn’t know how I was going to get from finished first draft to something I was willing to send to my editor without his input in the middle.

Kass:  Oh my, so sorry about your husband. And I know what you mean about having that one beta reader whose blessing you have to have in order to feel comfortable releasing a book out into the world.

You said you enjoy doing research. What’s the oddest or most interesting thing you’ve ever researched?

Buying Murder book coverNancy:   The most unusual thing I’ve ever researched was the evolution of cat litter. In “Buying Murder,” Regan and her husband buy a house with a permanent resident. He was mostly decomposed, although partially mummified, as he spent time sealed in a wall anomaly filled with cat litter to keep him from leaking body fluids and, well, smelling like death.

He’d been there for sixteen years and, at the start of the mystery, who he was and when he died were unknown facts. I had those questions answered based on the type of cat litter that surrounded him. Cat litter formulations have changed over time, so I had to figure out what the litter components would have been sixteen years prior to the body’s discovery so his approximate death date could be determined.

Kass:  That is fascinating! Thanks so much, Nancy, for joining us today.

Before you leave, let me open up the floor to our subscribers and guests, in case any of them have questions for you.

And folks, don’t forget to check out Nancy’s new release, The Two-Faced Triplex:

The Two-Face Triplex book coverRegan signs on to play consoler-and-chief after the body of Martha Varner, one of her favorite clients, is found and the woman’s distraught daughter begs Regan to stop escrow from closing on a purchase her mother was about to make.

Martha Varner’s death, at first ruled suicide, is quickly ruled homicide. The dead woman’s best friend thinks she knows who Martha’s killer is. The police have a different suspect. And Regan? Well, she has her own ideas about who killed Martha Varner.

She just can’t imagine how complicated playing amateur sleuth will make her life and how dangerous her investigation will prove to be for her husband, Tom.

Now available on AMAZON.

You can check out Nancy’s other books on her Amazon Author Page. Also she is on Goodreads and Facebook.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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. 🙂 )

Love Your Pet Day (Books for Dog Lovers)

by Kassandra Lamb

Here’s this “off” week’s something interesting… Did you know that today is “Love Your Pet” Day?

I’ve recently joined a group of authors who write books with dogs in them. Here’s this month’s collection (romances and mysteries), some of which are on sale or free. Some sales end today; some begin today, so jump on over to the landing page to check them out.

promo graphic

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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. 🙂 )

A Crime Writers’ Interview: Katherine Bolger Hyde

Crime Writers Intro image

Welcome to our first Crime Writers’ Interview! Our goal is to bring to you, our readers, some new and interesting authors and books for your reading pleasure.

Because books are not toasters. We don’t just buy one every few years. They are more like clothes. (Or for some of us, food!) We need a sustainable supply.

KBH photo

So please help us welcome our first interviewee, Katherine Bolger Hyde.

Katherine has been immersed in books her whole life as a reader, writer, and editor. She lives in the redwood country of California with her husband, youngest child, and two obstreperous cats. In addition to several children’s books, she has authored two books, so far, in the Crime with the Classics mystery series, which she will tell us about shortly.

But first…

Kass (on behalf of misterio press):  Let’s start with a somewhat open-ended, “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Katherine:  First of all, I’m a card-carrying nerd. I have always been happiest with a book in my hand. I taught myself to read at age 4, majored in Russian literature in college, and have spent my career as an editor. Books are my life.

Secondly, I do have a lot of other interests, from knitting to designing my dream house to singing in my church choir. When I was younger and fitter, I led a Renaissance dance troupe for a couple of years. So I’m a nerd but not a narrow nerd.

And finally, I’m a bit like my character, Emily Cavanaugh, in that I live with one foot in the twenty-first century and one in the nineteenth (or earlier). I take advantage of modern conveniences (including, unlike Emily, technology), but I don’t believe that change necessarily equals progress.

Kass:  Why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?

Katherine:  I write what I love to read. While I appreciate the best works of most genres, the only modern one I’ve ever found addictive is mystery. I also dearly love many classic authors, which is why I chose to incorporate the classics into my mystery series. What appeals to me most about both, I think, is that they delve deeply into human motivations, which I find fascinating.

Kass:  What was your favorite book/author as a child? Why was it your favorite?

The Little House book cover

Katherine:  I couldn’t possibly pick just one—my favorites shifted as I grew up. But one book that still moves me after all these years is the picture book “The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton. Perhaps because I didn’t have a stable home as a child, that story with a house as its main character touches something in the core of my being—it always makes me cry.

Kass:  What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Katherine:  My published series, Crime with the Classics, is a cozy/traditional series, but my current work in progress is a much darker standalone—sort of a cross between a police procedural and a psychological thriller. I also have a plan for another cozy series that will have a paranormal element.

Arsenic with Austen book coverI enjoy writing traditional mysteries because there’s a lot of scope for humor, atmosphere, and character development, and I don’t have to live in a really dark place for all the months it takes to write a book. As a reader, my first love is the traditional mysteries of the British Golden Age—writers like Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh, and Patricia Wentworth.

Kass:  What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching? Why is that?

Katherine:  First drafts are the most difficult for me. Researching is fun, and editing is second nature to me since I do it for my day job. But the initial process of converting the story in my head into actual words on paper can sometimes be excruciating, especially when I get to a point where I’m not sure where the story needs to go. On the other hand, when the writing is going well, it’s the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done.

Kass:  Boy, can I relate to that! So where are you in your writing career? Tell us a little more about your stories.

Katherine:  At this point I have published three children’s books and two adult mysteries—Arsenic with Austen (Minotaur, 2016) and Bloodstains with Brontë (Minotaur, 2017). The mysteries feature a retired literature professor, Emily Cavanaugh, who inherits a mansion in a little town on the Oregon coast, where her first love from high school, Luke Richards, is the sheriff. While Luke does the police work, Emily uses the insight into characters and situations gained from her love of literature to ferret out the culprits. Each novel borrows elements of character, situation, tone, and mood from the classic author it features.

Kass: I love that premise. I know one of our authors, Vinnie Hansen, has read some of your work, and now I can’t wait to read these stories.

Folks, you can find the first book in the series, Arsenic with Austen, on Amazon HERE, and Bloodstains with Brontë, just released in December, is available HERE. You can connect with Katherine on Facebook or her website.

Katherine, we wish you the very best of luck with this series and all your future stories!

Katherine:  Thanks for this opportunity to chat about books! It’s one of my favorite pastimes.

Bloodstains with Bronte coverBloodstains with Brontë, by Katherine Bolger Hyde

Passions run as dark and stormy as the coastal autumn weather in Bloodstains with Brontë, the second volume of Crime with the Classics. Emily hosts a fund-raising murder mystery dinner on Halloween night. All goes well until the supposed corpse turns up actually dead—with Emily’s young housekeeper, Katie, standing over him, bloody knife in hand. Emily’s loyalty to Katie crashes against her duty to the truth as she fights to save Katie from a murder charge.

On AMAZON

Thanks, folks, for joining us for the first of many Crime Writers’ Interviews. We hope to have one for you at least once every 4-6 weeks.

Any questions for Katherine? Thoughts on her Crime with the Classics premise? What was your favorite children’s book?

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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. 🙂 )

Not One But Two Contests!

Hi, Folks!

As we’ve mentioned before, we’re only doing true blog posts every couple of weeks now (so we can spend more time writing new books for your reading pleasure) but I promised to keep an eye out for fun and/or interesting stuff to share with you on the “off” weeks.

This week, our own K.B. Owen has TWO contests going, one for free audio books and one for ebooks, paperbacks and more! Click HERE to check them out, plus a fun post about researching the 19th century.

Cozy Winter Audiobooks Giveaway #1

January 16th-Feb 3rd

Nine (9) winners will receive all three (3) audiobooks from the Concordia Wells mystery series: Dangerous and Unseemly (book 1), Unseemly Pursuits (book 2), and Unseemly Ambition (book 3).

One (1) winner will receive all three (3) audiobooks, plus a set of wine charms, customized with the first three audiobook covers and the K.B. Owen Mysteries logo. Aren’t they cute?

Cozy Winter Book Giveaway #2

January 16th-Feb 3rd

Five (5) winners will receive their choice of any ebook from the Concordia Wells mystery series, out of the six books so far.

Five (5) winners will receive their choice of any paperback from the Concordia Wells mystery series. I’ll inscribe it to whomever you designate! I’ll throw in a lip balm, too, if you like. *wink*

**P.S. – I’m running separate contests because not everyone is set up to listen to audiobooks, so it seemed best to target that audience separately. But feel free to enter both! ~ KBO

Jump on over to K.B.’s blog to enter!

Bloodstains with Bronte cover

And next week, we have a special treat for you. Our first crime fiction writer interview so you can check out some new authors!

If you like the classics and also a good mystery, then you’ll love Katherine Bolger Hyde. She’s figured out how to combine the two!

See ya next week!

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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. 🙂 )

Séances, Spirits and Murder, Oh My! (and a New Cozy Mystery for You)

by Gilian Baker

Murder Over Medium

Each society mourns and honors their dead differently, and yet one thing remains a constant—humans have been attempting to reconnect with their lost loved ones since the dawn of time.

Séances and mediums first became all the rage during the Victorian era. So it may make you scratch your head that, in our modern age, we’re witnessing a resurgence of interest in the occult.

But all you need do to observe this revival in action is look at the bookshelves in your local shop or channel surf. Witches, hauntings, and all things paranormal are back in fashion.

In the latest Jade Blackwell Mystery, this fascination is explored, tongue in cheek, when Jade welcomes an old colleague, Gwendolyn Hexby, into her home. Unbeknownst to her, her friend is no longer a professor of religious studies, but has found a “higher calling” as a medium. Jade spends the entire book trying to reconcile Gwendolyn’s new beliefs with the woman who demanded empirical evidence years before.

One of the first things Gwendolyn does once she’s darkened Jade’s door is hold a séance.

Séances aren’t only for preteen girls’ slumber parties. Many people visit mediums each year all around the globe, in hopes of reconnecting with a loved one who has left this world. Séances are typically held by a medium, a person who has developed a talent for communicating with those who have passed over. With their help, the dead are able to give messages to those they love who are still living.

Here are some fun facts you may not know about séances and Spiritualism:

  • Famous people who attended séances include Harry Houdini, poet W.B. Yeats andMurder Over Medium Sherlock Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • Nancy Reagan wasn’t the first First Lady to practice the occult in the White House by consulting astrologists. Both First Lady Jane Pierce, wife of Franklin Pierce, and Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln hired mediums to hold séance in the White House to contact their dead sons.
  • In 1840, the world’s first recorded séance was performed by the Fox sisters, Kate and Margaret. They had their séances recorded in text to prove they were the real deal. The two sisters had a huge influence in the world of spiritualism and became highly sought-after mediums. Many years later, they announced their performances had all been faked, though they later recanted that statement.
  • Both First Ladies hired the same famous mediums, the Fox sisters.
  • Harry Houdini was a great believer in Spiritualism and attended séances frequently, until he was unsuccessful at connecting with his departed mother. After that, he put a great deal of energy into proving séances were hoaxes.
  • So obsessed was Houdini with verifying séances were hoaxes, before he died in 1926, he told his wife he would come back to speak with her. They even came up with a code word so she would know it was him. For ten years after his death, she held a séance, but he never did show up. Magicians and fans of Houdini continue the tradition by holding séances each year on his birthday.
  • In 2003, two British mediums, Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker, held a pay-per-view séance to contact Princess Diana. They claimed they connected with her—she told them she was having fun in the afterlife, hanging out with Mother Teresa.
  • The Victorians who brought us the Spiritualist movement are the ones we can thank for the popularity of tarot cards and the Ouija board.
  • Tarot cards had been around since the 1400s, but they started out as a card game to be Murder Over Mediumplayed alone. During the Victorian era, tarot cards became a very common way for mediums and spiritualists to receive messages from the dead.
  • The Ouija board was first manufactured during the Victoria era, in 1891, by a game company. It claimed the power to “provided a link between the living world and the one inhabited by the dead.”

You can enjoy more metaphysical mischief in Book 3 of the Jade Blackwell Mystery Series, Murder Over Medium, which is now available for pre-order here.

Murder over Medium book coverFormer English professor turned blogger, Jade Blackwell, is enjoying her predictable routine when trouble comes knocking in the form of an old friend and colleague. Unbeknownst to Jade, Gwendolyn Hexby is no longer the successful academic she once knew and trusted—she is now following a new calling as a psychic medium, a contentious career that flies in the face of the logic and deductive reasoning Jade values.

At first, Jade welcomes the visit, but things soon turn bizarre as Gwendolyn brings only disorder, danger and disruption. When a murder is prophesied, and a beloved pillar of the Aspen Falls’ community winds up dead, Gwendolyn becomes Sheriff Ross Lawson’s prime suspect.

To get Gwendolyn out of hot water, and more importantly, out of her house, Jade attempts to prove her friend’s innocence. Jade believes she’s finally discovered the truth, but is soon brought back to reality when she learns all is not as it seems in the realm of the metaphysical. Not even murder.

Return to the Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery Series in Murder Over Medium, as Jade jumps into the fray of a territory not governed by logic or reason—in either this world or the next.

 

Posted by Gilian Baker. Gilian is a former writing and literature professor who now uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain cozy mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, snuggled up with her husband watching British mysteries or discussing literary theory with her daughter. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. Gilian is the author of the Jade Blackwell cozy mysteries.

We blog here at misterio press about twice a month, 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. 🙂 )

Where the Research Takes Us and a New Release in Historical Mysteries!

by K.B. Owen

I’m so happy to announce the release of the next Concordia mystery.

It seems that, no matter where the lady professor may go, trouble is sure to follow. Not even wedded bliss can stop our intrepid Concordia from getting involved in something dangerous…

When a killer crashes the honeymoon, three’s a crowd…

It’s the summer of 1899, and Professor Concordia Wells—now Mrs. David Bradley—eagerly anticipates their honeymoon in the Hamptons. She has one errand along the way, to visit a former student seeking advice. About a love interest, no doubt.

If only it were that benign. The young lady, now employed as a switchboard operator, inadvertently eavesdropped on a murder plot involving the high finance world of the Stock Exchange Luncheon Club. How to notify the police without losing her position? Before Concordia can think of something, the girl is murdered.

Without proof, the police give little credence to second-hand conspiracy tales. David convinces Concordia to leave the matter to the authorities and go on with their honeymoon. Little do they know that trouble will follow them to their peaceful getaway, and entangle them in secrets and long-standing grudges until they are fighting for their very lives. “’Til death do us part” may happen sooner than the couple ever imagined.

Available on Amazon for Kindle.

I’ll post more purchase links as they go live, including the paperback. Just in time for your holiday relaxation, curled up in a cozy chair on a wintry afternoon! *wink*

I know many of you enjoy the background research behind my books. While writing Unseemly Honeymoon, I needed all sorts of info: 1899 telephone operations, turn-of-the-century honeymoon customs and behaviors, the terrain of the Hamptons area of Long Island, the system of jurisprudence in Suffolk County, and the Long Island RR in 1899 – it’s stops, platforms, and schedules. And then there’s 1899 baseball, yachting, hotels, and theater performances. Fun stuff! I’ll probably be developing some of these as more extensive blog posts down the road. But for now, here are a few fun little facts that I picked up along the way:

Want to read more? Click here.

Happy Holidays,

Kathy
Posted by Kathy Owen (aka K.B. Owen).

K.B. Owen signing books at Prospero’s Books (Manassas, VA)

K.B. Owen taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature.

A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences in creating her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells.

Unlike the fictional Miss Wells, K.B. did not have to conduct lectures in a bustle and full skirts. Thankfully. No doubt, many folks are grateful for that little fact.

There are now six books in the Concordia Wells mystery series thus far, with book 6 just released.

We blog here at misterio press twice a month (sometimes more often),  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. 🙂 )

5 Tips for Surviving the Most Stressful Time of the Year (Plus New Releases!)

by Kassandra Lamb

I’m over at Barb Taub’s blog today giving some tips on surviving the holiday season…

Christmas: It’s the Most Stre-ess-ful Time of the Year!

I’ve got some new lyrics for this old classic!  See below and sing along.

It’s the most stre-ess-ful time of the year!
There’ll be much to and froing,
And tempers a blowing
When loved ones are near.
It’s the most stre-ess-ful time of the year.

It’s the crab-crabbiest season of all!
With the holiday shopping
and pushing and stomping
when crowds raid the stores.
It’s the crab-crabbiest season for sure.

There’ll be parties for hosting,
Uncle Joe’ll be boasting,
after he’s had enough beer.
There’ll be scary Aunt Glory
and Gramps telling stories
of how he shot the reindeer!

It’s the most stre-ess-ful time of the year!

Can you imagine Andy Williams singing that?!? 😀

Joking aside, this is indeed the most stressful time for anyone who celebrates Christmas. Some years I’m tempted to take up Buddhism.

I’ve learned the hard way, through the years, how to reduce the stress of the holiday season. Here are my top five tips!

1. Lists, Lists, Lists…

funny Santa meme

meme created on imgflip.com

Santa and his elves aren’t the only ones who should be making lists and checking them twice. There are three ways that lists can save your sanity.

First, ask your family members with whom you exchange gifts to make up a wish list. We’ve been doing this for years in our clan. It makes shopping so much easier. One is not bound by the list, but it’s there as guidance and a safety net, as needed and desired.

Second, make a list of the people you give gifts to and which gifts you plan to buy/have bought/have ordered, etc. for each person. No need to stress over whether or not … READ MORE

AND WE HAVE NEW BOOKS RELEASING THIS MONTH!!

My Christmas novella is now available for just $0.99

A Mayfair Christmas Carol book cover

A Mayfair Christmas Carol, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery Novella

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?

AMAZON    NOOK    APPLE     KOBO

And K.B. Owen’s Concordia Wells Book #6, Unseemly Honeymoon, is coming out Dec 12th!!

Here’s the beautiful cover:

Kathy will be telling us more about it next week, so stay tuned!

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist/college professor turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and 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. 🙂 )

An Attitude of Gratitude

by Kassandra Lamb

Thanksgiving is always a reminder that one should be grateful for one’s blessings.

paper turkey and gourds

I found this harder to do this year.

The last six months have been a rough time in my household. We seem to have been slammed with one stressor after another—some of them neutral, some of them bad, none of them all that good.

With all that has been going on, I’ve been way too near the edge of stress overload, and when I’m in that spot, I get depressed. Which doesn’t help one bit.

Well-meaning folks sometimes say, “Well, look at what others are dealing with? They have it much worse.” Sure one can usually find those whose life challenges are far worse than one’s own. But comparing one’s own pain to others is not mentally healthy, believe it or not.

For one thing, if you care about those people (such as the dear friend who was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness), that’s just more depressing stuff to think about.

Also, that makes you ashamed of feeling stressed and depressed. Then you try to bury those feelings. As I’ve mentioned before, buried feelings don’t go away. They just fester under the surface and can erupt somewhere else in a less than pleasant way.

Of course, applying strategies to lessen one’s stress in other areas is always a good idea. But in my case recently, even when the stress let up, I was still depressed.

I have two strategies that I find helpful when I get stuck in a negative mental state like this. One is to stop and count my blessings. Yes, this is a cliché, and it can also lead to shame and stifling the bad feelings if not done carefully.

When I do this, I don’t just focus on the blessings (which are all too easily taken for granted). I do a kind of counterbalance in my mind.

  • Yes, I have friends who are struggling with their health, and that brings home that I will be facing such major challenges in another decade or two. This means I should appreciate my own reasonably good health more and make sure I am living to the fullest during the remaining healthy years I have left.
  • Yes, money is tight right now due to unexpected expenses, but we have a good income and we’ll recover in a few months. I need to appreciate that good income more.
  • Yes, I lost my dog suddenly to cancer. But I now have a new four-legged buddy. He doesn’t replace the dog I lost in my heart, but he’s creating his own spot there. And again, I am grateful that I have the resources to give a shelter animal a new home.

You get the idea.

This process doesn’t eradicate the negative feelings, but it helps to put them in perspective. I don’t suddenly feel great because I have so many things to be thankful for, but I feel less depressed. And focusing on the resources I’ve been blessed with makes me more hopeful that this too shall pass. I will deal with the stressors and move on to better times.

Which brings me to my second strategy. When I am dealing with a major stressor, I ask myself at what point in the future will I have most likely already dealt with it and put it behind me. A month, six months, a year?

Then I keep telling myself this reminder: In a month (six months, a year), this will all just be a bad memory.

If need be, I remind myself of times in the past when I used this strategy, and indeed those stressors are now nothing but memories. If I can remember them at all.

When I first started teaching, I was a basketcase. I’d done public speaking before and wasn’t all that nervous, but facing students was a different matter. They don’t always give much away. They sit there and stare at you (if you’re lucky; sometimes they fall asleep). You don’t know if they are finding your words of wisdom fascinating or boring as all get out.

I gave myself two years that time. “In two years, I’ll be comfortable in front of the classroom and this will all be a bad memory.”

It didn’t take that long. By my third semester I was comfortable, and now years later, I can’t even really remember the anxiety I felt at the time. I just remember thinking, that first semester, that surely I would have an embarrassing accident in front of the classroom (involving bodily fluids) before the semester ended.

And having written this blog post, I now feel better. Not great, but better.

How about you? What strategies do you use to get unstuck from a negative mindset?

One thing I am definitely grateful for is the gift of my talent.

My Christmas novella is now available for preorder … Just $0.99

A Mayfair Christmas Carol book cover

A Mayfair Christmas Carol, A Marcia Banks and Buddy Mystery Novella

A Christmas extravaganza in Mayfair, Florida, complete with an ice skating rink. What could go wrong?

When excavation for the skating rink uncovers a decades-old skeleton, its secrets threaten more than the town’s Christmas plans. Worried about her friends in her adopted town and feeling responsible since the let’s-attract-more-tourists idea was hers initially, dog trainer Marcia Banks is determined to help her police detective boyfriend solve the mystery—whether he wants her help or not. Perhaps href=”http://misteriopress.com/books/to-kill-a-labrador-a-marcia-banks-and-buddy-she can wheedle more out of the townspeople than he can.

But will she and her Black Lab, Buddy, be able to keep the ghost of Christmas past from destroying what is left of Mayfair’s founding family, or will her meddling make matters worse?

AMAZON    NOOK    APPLE    KOBO

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist/college professor turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and 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. 🙂 )