Tag Archives: exotic places

The Danakil Depression

by Kirsten Weiss (with intro by Kass Lamb, who will also be replying to comments)

Kirsten, in her day job, sometimes ends up traveling to some pretty exotic places. When I put out a plea for some blog posts for February, this is what she sent in from Ethiopia (feels almost like she is our foreign correspondent 😉 )

Kirsten Weiss

 

Drop the words “Danakil Depression” at a cocktail party, and most people will think you’ve got an exotic mental ailment. But the Danakil isn’t a state of mind, it’s a place. One of the harshest environments in the world, it lies in Ethiopia, near the Eritrean border.

I wasn’t supposed to go there.

There are bandits. Eritreans (the Ethiopians are in a hot/cold war with them). And like Death Valley, it’s below sea level and hot enough to kill.

But it also has some of the most fantastic geology on the planet. Sulfur fields blazing orange and green and yellow. Salt mountains striped purple and white. A boiling lava lake. Salt flats.

I traveled there as part of a tour, because this is one place where do-it-yourself won’t cut it. It’s too hot. Too dangerous. And you need special permission to trek to certain places.

When I read the tour itinerary, I thought the salt flats would be the least interesting part of the adventure. Blah, blah, get me to the boiling lava lake! But the salt flats were the most memorable. Camel caravans laden with salt swayed across their sparkling whiteness. We reached the salt lake at sunset. One-inch deep, my fellow travelers appeared to be walking on water, the sun turning the world into a shimmering blue and pink haze.

But this is one of those times when words won’t cut it. So enter the Danakil Depression photo essay:

Danakil Collage

No, I probably won’t be writing a mystery novel set there, although my martial arts instructor is convinced I need a fight scene on camelback. However, since I write paranormal mysteries, some of these otherworldly aspects might make it into a book, somewhere. You never know where you’ll find inspiration.

Posted by Kirsten Weiss. Kirsten is the author of The Hoodoo Detective, book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasies, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She’s also the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense.

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My Next Big Thing (it’s kinda small)

I seem to be the last of my writer friends to participate in this fun Blog Hop called The Next Big Thing. I got tagged by the funny and talented fantasy and sci-fi writer, Samantha Warren. If you don’t think she’s funny and talented, just read her bio here.

My Next Big Thing is actually a little on the small side. It’s my first crack at a novella (about 1/3rd the length of my other novels).

Here’s how this works. I answer ten questions about my work in progress. Then I’m supposed to tag five other authors, but like I said, I seem to be the last one arriving at this party. So if you’re a writer, and you want to brag talk about your Next Big Thing, consider yourself tagged.

1.  What is the title of the work?

The title was going to be “Sal of St. Augustine, A Kate on Vacation Cozy Mystery” but then my daughter-in-law (one of my best beta readers) said that was kind of boring (she said it much more diplomatically than that, but that’s what she meant).

So I’m looking for ideas for a better title. After you’ve read a bit more here about the story maybe something good will come to you. And just to make it interesting, I’m gonna give a $20 gift card to anyone who comes up with a title so wonderful I decide to use it!

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

I was joking around one day with fellow misterio press author, JoAnn Bassett. Her mystery series is set in Hawaii and her protagonist is a wedding planner (named Pali Moon) whose weddings always seem to go seriously awry.

Why not write a book together? I said. My protag, Kate Huntington, could come to Hawaii for her niece’s wedding (for those of you who’ve read Family Fallacies, wouldn’t Phyllis, Kate’s sister-in-law, make the perfect mother-of-the-bride from hell?) Then Kate and Pali (pronounced Polly) could end up investigating somebody’s murder together.

JoAnn pointed out we’d probably end up like the best friends who become college roommates, and end up hating each other after one semester.

I agreed and the writing it together idea got scrapped. But a seed had been planted in my fertile little brain. Why not write some shorter, lighter stories starring my main characters while they’re on vacation. Thus the concept of a parallel series to my Kate Huntington books was born.

This first one is set in St. Augustine, Florida, when Kate and her family go to visit her parents for Christmas. I have a second one planned, a locked-room mystery that will happen on a cruise in the Caribbean, and then the Hawaii wedding one (JoAnn’s going to be my consultant on that one!)

3. What genre is the book?

It’s a ‘cozy’ mystery, designed to be a light, fun read. (In this case, think Miss Marple meets Alex Delaware.)

4. What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Even on vacation, Kate Huntington can’t seem to stay out of trouble; while visiting her parents for Christmas in St. Augustine, she and her private detective husband get sucked into investigating when her parents’ friend disappears.

(Yeah, I know. I cheated by using a semi-colon to get in two sentences. I’m really bad about following rules.)

5. Which actors would you choose to play your main characters?

Gonna need some help with this one too. I am absolutely horrible at remembering actors’ names (names in general). Who comes to mind to play Kate and/or Skip, folks? I’d love some suggestions, just in case Hollywood ever comes calling with an offer.

Oh, and while I’m asking for help again, here are some pics I took in St. Augustine this past Christmas. I’m considering using one of them as the cover. What do you think?

Too busy maybe?

It’s sunny 362 days of the year in Florida. Wouldn’t you know it, the day I go to St. Aug to take pics is one of the three when it’s overcast! But I can probably get that doctored by a cover artist.

 Please vote for one (or rank them) in the comments. I’m having trouble deciding.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m a control freak, so self-published, of course.

7. How long did it take you to write this book?

About three weeks. Granted it’s a novella, but still I’m not usually that speedy. But when I tell myself a project is “just for fun” it tends to go much faster.

8. What other books would you compare this to?

Maybe Mary Daheim’s Bed and Breakfast series (if I may be so bold) in which the protagonist gets caught up in the shenanigans of the interesting (sometimes downright weird) people who come from all over to stay at her B & B. Only in this case, Kate is doing the traveling.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I think we’ve already established that it’s JoAnn’s fault. 😛

10. What else about your book might pique readers’ interest?

Part of the idea with this parallel series of cozies is to showcase some interesting vacation destinations so readers can do a little vicarious traveling.

Despite the mild temperatures, no place does Christmas quite like St. Augustine, and the town is chock full of historic sites. A Caribbean cruise and Hawaii speak for themselves. Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a fun book set in one of those exotic places?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Check out her Kate Huntington mystery series.

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

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